Cool Tools From the Days of Yore

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By Paul de Valera

Not to say a disparaging word about any contemporary bike shop,  but it is just my perception that “back in the day” there was more of an inclination for repairing things rather than just being a glorified parts swapper. Sure, bikes have become more complicated with a myriad of component and frame materials and the next “new standard” ever looming on the horizon. Still, there is a certain satisfaction in being able to take a bicycle that needs repair and being able to reverse the damage. And a lot of old bikes from the 60’s through the 90’s still roll through my doors all the time. Are you going to remove that cottered crank with a hammer? Do you even know what that is? At their rudiments, a bicycle has functionaly changed little in the last 100 years or so, it’s just that the details of that function have been altered. Here are some cool tools that I’m glad to possess. Several of them come in handy more often than you’d think.

First, some homemade goodies…

I usually wind up using simple homemade tools a lot in my daily wrenchings. The first one here is just a tube that I cut out of a Murray for added leverage in getting stubborn bolts and pedals off. I simply slide whatever wrench I’m using into the tube and apply Archimedes basic theory of leverage that would give even some chicken-armed roadie gain the strength of a titan. You can also use it to straighten out a bent crank arm.  I also use the bar that I bolt by back door as a big lever when faced with really stubborn stuff, which is always a fun one for people to watch. “Is it going to come out?” they ask. “Does this look easy to you?” I blurt out between deep breaths. A good lever is an asset in the bicycle mechanics’ arsenal.

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Another homemade tool is an awl that you can use to hog out the ends of a freshly cut cable, fish out a small objects, and other forms of small, detail work. Made from a spoke and piece of cable housing, I wind up using this tool all the time every day. You can make one by filing the end of the spoke into a sharp point and then sliding the housing over it. Simply bend the spoke so the J bend of the spoke catches the housing in a loop configuration. A free tool that will serve you time and time again.

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Next, we move onto some old school tools that as far as I know are no longer made. Like the Brute.

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I love this tool! It is a modified bumper jack that is used to straighten forks. You place one end on the bottom bracket and the other in the front wheel and just like a car jack, one clicks away until you get the fork straight again. You typically have to go one past where it looks straight as the metal will flex back some. Best to make sure the fork is not cracked anywhere and you can’t fix any fork that has a creased tube, but for those run into curb head-on type of scenarios this thing will save the day. I have saved so many forks with this tool; it is surprising that no one makes it still.

Flat spot pulling tools.

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Made by the Overland Inc, a company long gone as a far as know, this tool is designed to pull a flat spot out of a rim. You loosen the spokes in the damaged area and then place the fingers in the worst part and tighten the clamp against the rim. These tools work ok. I have made many a 1970’s BMX rim much better than they were with these tools. You know you can’t always expect it to be 100% again but you can make a wheel that was crooked as a politician useable once again. I’d say a wider area where the tool contacts the rim and longer handles would make a better tool but this one’s a good idea none-the-less.

Bottom Bracket Removal Tool

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Made by Kingbridge. I use this tool so much I made copies of them. If you have a stubborn or cross threaded bearing race in your threaded bottom bracket (remember those?) This tool will be essential in getting it out. How it works is you’ll have to first get one side of your bottom bracket out and then insert the tool in the shell. Then taking two wrenches, tighten it against itself as tight as you can, see the leverage bar above if you need more gusto. Then, using a large wrench you can break the stubborn shell free. Sometimes I’ve had to whack the wrench with a hammer for an impact wrench type effect or use a giant bar to break loose some Walschwinn factory installed cross threaded mess. Generally, the tool wins. I’ve near worn mine out I’ve used it so much and I gather it is older than I am and was used when I got it, such a good durable tool, if you could only say the same thing about that 1000 dollar fork you just bought…

Cottered Crank pin removal tool

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Made by Park, tool #4 I think if I can make out the number on the casting. Here’s the deal with cottered cranks: They work. They work ok. I had a 1950 Olmo with cottered cranks that I rode to the top of every mountain with some heavy ass steel cottered cranks so I know they can take a beating. There are lots, I mean LOTS of different pins and crank pin hole diameters, angles etc. being this crank interface has been used and is still in use near a 100 years or so, not 100% sure once again did not “google it”, so forgive the blurry line on that one. The tool allows you to press out the pins on a cottered crank without damaging them so you can reuse them. I have a whole box full of pins and still get bikes in with pins that are different than what I have. One just lines up the tool to press out the pin and it pops out like magic. I think someone is reproducing this sort of tool again but not sure on that. Hope you enjoyed and will perhaps look to fixing things on your bicycle before replacing them next time around.

Paul is the proprietor of Atomic Cycles, publisher of Chicken Head Records Zine, promoter of the Coaster Brake Challenge and purveyor of cruiser bits at genuinebicycleproducts.com. This all takes place around the San Fernando Valley in southern California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pedaling Toward Simplicity

By Lettie Stratton

Photo by asoggetti / Unsplash

Photo by asoggetti / Unsplash

Cycling can be a meditative and spiritual experience. Nothing leads me to a space of quiet contemplation and reflection more reliably than focusing on the whir of wheels on pavement and the steady rhythm of pedals repeatedly rotating around a crank. The intermittent squeaks of an unsatisfactorily greased chain and the occasional squirrel blocking my path are the only interruptions to my meditation.

I didn’t always know cycling could lead me to this place. It wasn’t until I found myself pedaling uphill with full panniers in my lowest gear into a relentless wind for what seemed like forever that I discovered I could be content with discomfort. Now, I find that I can get to this meditative state rather quickly on a bike, and bicycle-inspired musings are a given whenever I go for a ride.

Challenges

Now back to the wind. Cycling into the wind presents its own set of challenges, both physical and mental. Personally, I found the mental aspect to be more challenging. Feeling like you’re moving backward with every pedal stroke is not the most fun thing in the world when you’re one hour into a six-hour day of biking and halfway through a two-week cycling trip through New Zealand’s South Island. There is literally nowhere to go except forward, and “forward” seemed to be a place I could not go.

No matter how beautiful the scenery (and New Zealand offered some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen), feeling like you’re on a stationary bike when you’re actually on a real one is far from ideal.

Finally, though, I relaxed into the struggle, pedaling not just to reach the top of the pass but rather to just pedal for the sake of pedaling and enjoying the ride. This was a new concept for me. I found it easier said than done to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. But somehow I surpassed my point of struggle and settled into the discomfort.

“Sure, this hill may be the steepest and longest I’ve encountered so far,” I thought, “but why just wish for the top? If I do that, I’m missing the experience entirely. I’d rather be present, even when the going is tough.”

I think that had this happened on day one, I would have remained in struggle mode. Something tells me that I earned my reprieve through many days and many miles of pedaling, pedaling, pedaling — all day long. My newfound wisdom of settling into discomfort was something I had to pay my dues to receive.

Mental Blocks

Long-distance cyclists are familiar with certain mental blocks that must be pedaled through. Every day or every hour on on the bike is not necessarily the epitome of a good time. Some days are perfect — the wind is at your back, you have a delicious mid-afternoon snack in your pannier, and the sun is shining (but not too brightly).

Other days, you grit your teeth, do a series of bicycle-specific hip-opening stretches in hopes of helping yourself make it over the mountain pass without cramping, put on a trash bag that you fashioned into a makeshift rain coat, pack up your essential cycling gear (I never leave home without my Lifestraw and travel pump — and good thing because both came in handy on my windy day), get in the saddle, and hope for the best.

Halfway up the hill, perhaps the only thing that sustains you is thinking about all the calories you burn biking and how you’ll be able to replace those calories in the form of ice cream when you reach your destination (if you ever reach it!).

Breaking through these blocks and coming out on the other end not only unscathed, but better because it was hard, is one of the greatest joys of long-distance cycling.

Simplicity

At its core, cycling is simple. Push on the pedals and your bike will be propelled forward. Just keep riding. Sometimes I see this as a metaphor for life. The simplicity of cycling helps me find what’s important in life. In the saddle I’ve realized things like how few material possessions I need to be happy and how unnecessarily complicated we often make our lives.

When it’s just you, the bike, and the passing landscape for a long period of time, it’s difficult to distract yourself from what’s really going on in your head and your life — especially when you’re cycling into adversity, like a strong headwind. Even when you think you can’t go on, you somehow find a way to keep going, settling into discomfort and pushing forward.

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Lettie Stratton is a writer and urban farmer in Boise, ID. A Vermont native, she is a lover of travel, tea, bicycles, plants, cooperative board games, women’s basketball, and the outdoors. She’s still waiting for a letter from Hogwarts.

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Racing in the Delaware Valley, Looping the Past into the Present

By Jessie Bird

“Racing: A Need for Speed”- an emotion that we’ve all felt and the title of a recent exhibit at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA. This exhibit followed the evolution of this need for speed from footraces to horse races to bicycle racing to motor racing, with a special insight into local Bucks County and Delaware Valley history. Artifacts, photographs, stories, and some interactive displays steered the visitor through the exhibit to see how each iteration of racing has built on previous generations. Have you ever raced the Philly Phlyer road race that happens every spring and thought about the shape and history of the course? Probably not when you’re facing heavy winds and just trying to hold on to someone’s wheel, but in this exhibit, you could see where this race borrows part of its course from 1920’s auto-racing in the same area. As I walked through this exhibit with Davey Dawson, a pro-cyclist for Delaware Valley’s own Team Skyline (a different and helpful perspective to add to my experience), we started to see how the races and rides that we know and love today evolved from a rich racing history in the area.

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It turns out that the Belmont Plateau is not only the urban mountain biker’s best friend but used to be known for its horse races. One placard in the exhibit quotes a local newspaper from 1881 about the excitement surrounding a particular horse at the Thursday night Belmont race. Mountain bikers resumed the Thursday night racing tradition with their new mechanical steeds in 1989 and continue to shred into the present day. Photos of the Tour of Somerville (New Jersey) from 1964 prompted Davey to share his experience coming in top 10 in that same race this year. The Tour of Somerville started in 1940 and is still considered one of the most prestigious races in the area today.

Tour Of Somerville race trophy, Center.

Tour Of Somerville race trophy, Center.

However, some artifacts of the exhibit remain in the past, for better or worse. The text panel introducing the “Bicycle Racing” section laments the quick rise and long decline of the American cycling craze. In the now industrial wasteland of South Philadelphia near I95, there existed the thriving Point Breeze Park Velodrome that disappeared along with the waning revenues generated by cycling.

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point breeze velodrome

However, I felt less disappointed to see other artifacts stay in the past. No matter how beautiful the welding is on an 1868 Velocipede, I’m glad that the industry has developed lighter alloys and designs that bring us beyond the “boneshakers” of yore.

Boneshaker

Boneshaker

For a fun mixing of past and present, the museum mounted a mini-high wheel in a gold sprint type set-up and challenges visitors to test their speed. I asked Davey to be the guinea pig and comedy ensued as his pro-cyclist legs almost torqued the museum display out of its platform.

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Overall the exhibit flows well and showcases the underlying human desire for speed and entertainment that gives runners, equestrians, cyclists, and drivers something in common. Each sport has built off of the other as technology advances and human limits push further and further. The exhibit ended with a bang on September 9th, the same day as the Bucks County Classic. If you’re in the area I highly recommend checking out the cycling events and making some time for the incredible Mercer Museum and all of its exhibits.

A board game.

A board game.

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Into the Wind- Cycling across South America

By: Mark Greiz

You ask me why I pedal to far away places;
I smile and close my eyes,
Words can’t describe the reason why;
The blue water glistens, the birds fly high.

January 29th, 2018. Although it was the height of summer, it was a cold and windy day in Punta Arenas, Chile’s southernmost city in the region of Magallanes and Antartica. My plan, cycle north over ten thousand kilometers (6,300 miles) to Guayaquil, Ecuador within the five months I allotted myself. Several miles out of the city and as I headed inland from the coast I was blasted with powerful direct headwinds of up to 80 kilometers an hour. My legs cramped up and my progress came to a standstill. I barely rode 60 kilometers that day and slept in an abandoned wood shack on the side of the road.
I did not know that those headwinds would be with me for most of the journey, taunting me, punishing me and testing the limits of my patience.

For me the allure of extreme cycling touring is more than a mere physical pursuit, it’s a form of spiritual cleansing and renewal. As a marketing consultant and adjunct lecturer in New York City, I know what it is like to lose touch with nature, to live within our own secure bubbles, daily routines and mundane pursuits. Although New York City is a megapolis, it is easy to feel claustrophobic and to feel disconnected from life. Cycling alone through remote regions, sleeping rough in the wild and challenging my body both physically and emotionally, not only humbles me but also lets me peer deep within my soul. It grounds me, it brings me an inner peace, often times fleeting, but easy to conjure back up in my time of need.

Cycling the Andes Route 3S in Peru

Cycling the Andes Route 3S in Peru

On this most recent trek across South America, I cycled 10,400 kilometers (6,500 miles) and encountered some of the strongest and most consistent headwinds I have ever experienced lasting for days and weeks on end. I cycled through hailstorms, through deserts and towering mountains in the Andes. I camped rough on the side of the road, in deserted shacks, in my tent tucked away in the woods or the desert sands, in abandoned trailers and forsaken structures. I was sideswiped by a motorcycle in the Argentinean Pampa, having to pick my bruised and bloodied body off the road to continue riding in the scorching heat. I cycled on long stretches of deserted road with nary a car in sight, as well as through dreadful traffic with tractor-trailers speeding by inches from me. I experienced the mystical allure of the high Andes as well as the raw beauty of the Patagonias.

3.Mesmerizing landscape and rugged conditions from Chile Chico to Puerto Guadal in Chilean Patagonia.

Mesmerizing landscape and rugged conditions from Chile Chico to Puerto Guadal in Chilean Patagonia.

Starting the trip in Punta Arenas in the Southernmost region of South America, I cycled north through the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, passing remote regions were I encountered punishing headwinds daily, as well as some of the most scenic spots on this trip. While I feel that cycling the Carretera Austral in Chile is overrated and filled with cyclists heading south on short excursions, for the more intrepid cyclist there are still some very technically challenging and unfrequented routes to take, one of them being the off-road stretch from Chile Chico on the shores of the majestic Lake General Carrera to Puerto Guadal. After cycling north on the Carettera Austral I turned back to Argentina and crossed the border near Futaleufú, a beautiful area surrounded by pristine nature and fast flowing rivers.

Camping in a remote spot in Argentina’s Patagonia region.

Camping in a remote spot in Argentina’s Patagonia region.

Crossing the border back into Argentina, I cycled to the quaint European style city of San Carlos de Barloche on the shores of Lake Nahual Huapi and then onward to the charming Spanish colonial city of Salta, Argentina. What stood in the middle between Barloche and Salta was 2500 kilometers of mostly remote, flat and arid scrubland. Averaging 100 kilometers a day, I cycled this whole stretch within 24 days taking only one rest day. The riding was dull and monotonous and I encountered daily headwinds making for long, hot and arduous days. Villages were few and far between in this part of Argentina where numerous estancias occupy the barren land and fences run the length of the terrain. Most nights are spent sleeping meters from the side of the road hidden behind some thorn bushes, fighting off insects and watching rodents scatters about here and there, the sound of nocturnal animals adding to the midnight chorus.

One of many tarantulas camping out in the Argentinian Pampa between Barloche and Salta.

One of many tarantulas camping out in the Argentinian Pampa between Barloche and Salta.

Argentina is rife with visible wildlife from guanacos, lizards, wild boar, different types of rodents, tarantulas, fox and large birds related to the ostrich. There is no shelter from the sun during the day and there is no choice but to cycle into the wind for hours on end enduring the heat and rationing droplets of water to quench an unending thirst. Cycle, sip, sweat, sleep, cycle, sip, sweat, sleep, cycle, sip, sweat, sleep on the side of the road, day after day, week after week.

Curious dog approaches me as I am taking a selfie on the road into Salta.

Curious dog approaches me as I am taking a selfie on the road into Salta.

After having cycled over 2500 kilometers in flat arid plains and ready to depart Salta, it was time to climb into the mountains as I headed back to Chile. The route I chose was through Argentina’s Puna region to the desolate border at Paso Sico. The Puna region or Atacama Plateau stretches from North West Argentina into southern Chile. It is an arid and remote area consisting of high plateaus with elevations between 4000 to 5000 meters. The road from Salta to San Antonio de Los Cobres was several days of climbs on windy, paved and often winding roads, then there were 150 kilometers off-road were I cycled on gravel, rocks, and sand as I made my way to the Chile border at Paso Sico. The region is stunning in a rugged, harsh, yet calming way; alpacas roam freely and nary a passing vehicle is encountered on the whole road to Paso Sico. As I camped out nightly in the windswept and freezing high plateau, the night skies lite up with a myriad of stars, I was mesmerized by the sight and humbled by the majesty of this otherworldly landscape.

As I sat outside one night starring at the sky, pen in hand I began to write…

Sleeping under a glowing moon,
There is no other soul for miles to see;
What does it take to still your mind,
to set your body free?
Sleeping under a glowing moon,
From the daily grind I chose to flee.
The only companions present now…
are the stars, the sand, the gods and me.

Alpacas grazing on a less traveled road heading from the mountains back to the coast of Peru.

Alpacas grazing on a less traveled road heading from the mountains back to the coast of Peru.

Having crossed back into Chile at Paso Sico, the region was equally barren and stark, the roads winded up and the headwinds were fierce. It is a rough region to cycle in and an equally brutal region to sleep out in. As I slept out at high altitude in frigid temperatures amid violent winds I found comfort knowing that in a few days time I would begin my descent in the Atacama desert and arrive in the land of espresso, cold beers and pizza- the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama.

Days later, drained and ragged from a period of poor eating, long arduous climbs and sleeping out in harsh conditions, I cycled into town a zombie on my steel horse. As I cycled through the maze of dusty, narrow streets of San Pedro De Atacama I was overwhelmed, there was a cornucopia of activity, tourists on rented mountain bikes, artisans hawking their wares, backpackers sipping lattes chatting away about their most recent adventures and poseurs, the kind of which of might see in Pai, Thailand flaunting away on the corners.

I felt out of place, like I didn’t belong.

Camping in a wind swept valley in northern Chile as I approach the Peru border town of Arica.

Camping in a wind swept valley in northern Chile as I approach the Peru border town of Arica.

After just a couple of days in town and having eaten my fill of quinoa, pasta, salad, and pizza, I felt the long lonely stretches of road beckoning me once again. San Pedro De Atacama is like a trap and it was time to leave its grips before it was too late. From San Pedro I would continue my descent through the desert to the coast, sleeping in abandoned shacks on the side of the road or camped in the desert sands. For days, I followed the scenic northern Chile coast north passing seaside shantytowns where the locals eek out a living from fishing and seaweed harvesting until I reached the coastal city of Iquique. From there it was a few more days to the Peru border.

Raw beauty of Chile’s northern coast.

The raw beauty of Chile’s northern coast.

After crossing into Peru at the Arica border, I followed the coast north then turned inland. Leaving the coast I would now need to contend again with high peaks as I made my way to Arequipa and then Cusco. The road from the coast to Cusco is mostly climbing with elevations between 4500-4800 meters with a mixture of different conditions; there were stretches of dreadful traffic and utter mayhem as hundreds of lorries would pass in waves of caravans inches from me and other areas off the beaten path where Alpaca graze freely in the high Andean plateaus while Quechua shepherds tended to their flocks.

Quechua shepherd tending her flock on the high plateau on the way to Cusco.

Quechua shepherd tending her flock on the high plateau on the way to Cusco.

Cusco is a beguiling city; once the capital of the Inca Empire, the city center is filled with Spanish colonial architecture, trendy eateries, and hordes of tourists. It is easy to get seduced by her charms and I knew I had to leave after only three days or else I may have never left. After departing Cusco I cycled north on the Andes route passing small Quechua villages and larger cities including the charming city of Ayacucho with its historic city center. This city retains much of its old world charm but lacks the foreign tourists that crowd into Cusco. Cycling north on route 3 is a continuous cycle of slow climbs with elevation gains of 2000 meters in one shot and fast descents with numerous passes between 4500 and 4900 meters.

Quechua lady knitting a sweater while watching her flock on route 3.

Quechua lady knitting a sweater while watching her flock on route 3.

While most cyclists on the Andes route continue on to Huaraz, I decided to take a lesser-known, far-flung road and make my way back to the coast. At the small village of Shelby on route 3N, I decided to head east to the compact coastal city of Chancay, some 200 grueling kilometers away. The majority of this road is rocks and dirt with an arduous and long multi-level climb with the highest pass topping out at approximately 5030 meters (16,500 feet). It is a wild, rugged and awe-inspiring landscape where Alpaca graze casually next to crystal clear mountain lakes and not a soul for miles around.

The views were from over 16,000 ft. as I prepare for a hard two-day descent to the coast.

The views were from over 16,000 ft. as I prepare for a hard two-day descent to the coast.

As I stood at the high pass at 16,500 feet, I noted the dirt road snaking its way down the mountain. I took solace in the fact that this was my last climb of the trip as well as my last portion of off-road riding. I stood silent, gazed into the distance, mesmerized by my surroundings, relishing the solitude.

Descending to the coast was technically challenging as the roads were steep, winding and mostly rocks. As I descended from over 16,000 feet to sea level the topography slowly changed from cold wind swept arid plateaus, to lush mountain vistas with fast running rivers and then to the heat, stench, and pollution of the Peruvian coast. From Chancay it would be about another 1600 kilometers to Guayaquil, my final destination. Although this part of the Pan American Highway is filled with trucks racing up and down, for the first time on my trip I had no headwind and even some days with a slight tailwind. My progress was quick, almost too quick beckoning the end of the trip. I cycled hundreds of kilometers mostly through desert and then up the coast to the Ecuadorian border, sleeping along the way in dreary, dirty towns and alone in the desert wilderness.

Crossing into Ecuador I cycled for days through mile after mile of banana plantations in the heat and humidity. As I approached Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city I knew my trip was coming to an end. My emotions were mixed; I was glad that the trip was coming to an end, yet feeling incomplete, that there is still more riding to be done and more places to see. I turned 50 years old on the day I crossed the border into Ecuador-“maybe I am getting to old for this,” I thought to myself. Sleeping rough off the side of the road for days on end does not excite me as much as it used to, but the cycling life is constantly enticing me back. There is a little voice in the deep recesses of my brain often urging me to pack up my bike and head off to some distant land. My thoughts were running rampant as I cycled through the traffic-clogged roads. As I made my way over the bridge that crosses the Guayas River into downtown, my rear pannier swiped a truck tire on the side of the road and I went flying. My arms and legs bleeding and swollen; I was in pain and disbelief that an accident would welcome my entry into town.

I picked my bicycle up, reflected for a moment, “maybe I am getting too old for this.” I got back on my bicycle and rode through heavy traffic into downtown Guayaquil; the trip was over.

End of the trip, cycling through the Santa Ana Hill, Guayaquil on the way to downtown.

End of the trip, cycling through the Santa Ana Hill, Guayaquil on the way to downtown.

To see more pictures and videos from this trip follow Mark on Instagram @theadriftcyclist
To read other articles from Mark click here, here, and here.

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How We Roll: Laird’s Chopper Tallbike

Here’s something cool, Laird Rickard’s Tallbike-chopper-tallbike. Sometimes it’s a chopper…

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Other times it’s a tallbike. As you might guess from the photos, Laird lives and rides in the Bay area. Yes that is a trombone, cuz ya never know when a jam might break out.

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There are certain advantages to riding a tallbike. Being high above the crowd is one. That people are trying less hard to kill you is another. Tallbikes seem to bring out the best in people, friendlier reactions, and less hate. Plus a better view of where Flock Of Seagulls are playing later.

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I had never seen such a thing, so I was rather impressed. But apparently, there’s a bunch of information on the internet provided by people who do this sort of thing. Yes, It’s a thing. A thing that “Makers” make. You know how to weld? And grind? If so, all you’ll need is a “Huffy” or other department store suspension frame, steel for the extensions, and gas shocks for the up and down motion. The gas shocks come in different lengths and strengths, so you will need to be careful about selecting the right shocks for your weight and the bikes geometry.

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And you’ll need to be able to fabricate an extension to the fork to create a chopper fork. Back in the day we used to cut the legs off of one fork and jam them onto the ends of another to create a chopper. But heck, if you can weld you can do pretty much whatever you want.

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Simple as pie. Right? Well, you also need to extend the rear triangle. Laird did this with a piece of rectangular steel, but I’m sure you could use something else as long as it is strong and not too heavy.

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Check out the video…here…

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Avoid Dropper Post Installation Mayhem and/or Amplify Your Confusion with these Tips!

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Everyone rides a dropper post right? Bicycle Times contributor Scott Wilson is a believer! Let us listen for a second as he shares this novel idea-Ed.

By Scott Wilson

You ride up to a red light and all the other jokers in the bike lane line up in various states of immobile balance. Someone has both feet flat on the ground and bike in between, reminiscent of the kid who drops his shorts all the way to his ankle at the urinal; another has one leg down and one up on the pedal, like a Lycra flamingo; the worst of them tries to track stand, fails, lurches forward a pedal rotation then tries again but halfway in the intersection this time.

You’ve seen it; you’ve been there.

Now imagine if you could just flip a switch to lower both feet onto the ground without removing your butt from the saddle. Imagine: stoplights become a pleasure, a chance to sit comfortably and inhale the vibrant world around you. Imagine the awe of your fellow commuters, watching, transfixed, as you lower yourself like some kind of technologically advanced alien sex god.

This dream can be your reality, but before you jump straight into the bike tech avant-garde, here are some of the little details people tend to overlook that will determine your success with the drop.

Before you buy, these are the measurements you should take.

Tools needed: Calipers and tape measure. Maybe some hex keys. 

  1. Stock seatpost diameter and/or seat tube inner diameter. If they don’t make a dropper post to match your frame: dang.

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  1. Distance from seat tube collar to saddle rails. Seatpost companies advertise 100mm drop or 120mm drop, but that’s just a measure of how much the saddle goes up and down, it doesn’t account for the size of the saddle cradle or the crown at the base of the stanchion. The minimum height for the “100mm” dropper post in the picture is actually 158mm when fully extended.

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  1. Internal seat tube depth. There are mysteries inside the bike frame. I’ve found Chinese candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and all kinds of mischief in brand new bikes, but if you have a small frame the most worrisome obstructions are the things that can’t be removed: water bottle bosses and fender braze-ons. To find what’s in there, loosen your seatpost collar and let your stock seatpost drop as far as it can, then pull it out and measure the distance between the seatpost collar and the base of the seat post. You might need 250mm or more to fit a dropper.

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  1. Handlebar clamp diameter. Stock dropper post control levers are usually made for 22.2 handlebars, so a lot of drop-bars are too big, even at their thinnest point, but some companies make a lever for 31.8 bars. If you’re tricksy you can retrofit a shifter to work as the dropper lever. There are guides on how to do that elsewhere on the Internet.

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“But what if my post bottoms out on something inside the frame?”

Water bottle bosses are the most likely enemy. Sometimes all you have to do is take out the water bottle bolt and that’ll give it the room it needs. There might also be a burr down there, which you can remove using a cylinder hone on an electric drill. Do not use a reamer or any other cutting tool because seat tubes are wicked thin and you’re liable to cut right through.

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“But what if the dropper post sticks up too far and my stinking feet can’t touch the pedals?”

How comfortable are you with cutting pieces off your frame? Some frames come with what frame builders call “smokestacks” – a section of seat tube that sticks out beyond the top tube junction. These smokestacks might be longer than necessary. Or, they might be exactly as long as they need to be. Only one way to find out for sure: use a hacksaw to cut a bit of spare stack away, then smooth it down with a file. Keep cutting, little by little, until you’ve effectively lowered the max saddle height, or until you’ve ruined your frame forever.

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Now that you have the dropper post down in the sweet spot, let’s figure out cable routing.

Tools needed: cable/housing cutters, 1.5mm to 4mm hex keys, zip ties?

This is the fun part. The cyclocross frame in the pictures has an extra braze-on for top-swing front derailleurs so I was able to run the cables through there, easy cheesey. Don’t have extra housing braze-ons? Don’t worry! Zip ties work fine. I suggest you tie up to the brake housing instead of the frame because it won’t move around as much. You can also buy housing guides that mount around the top tube.

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Before you cut the cable and housing, make sure that you can move the handlebars back and forth, all the way.

PRO TIP: Dropper post cables often come with what nerds call “compressionless housing” or “shift housing” to the layperson. The problem with compressionless housing is that it isn’t very flexible. Instead, I use brake housing, which handles bendy routing a lot better. I use a 5mm to 4mm stepped ferrule at the end to fit the housing into the dropper post cable-stop and the lever cable-stop. The bad part about brake housing is that when you flex it a lot the metal coil inside lengthens, effectively pulling on the cable. To overcome this, install the cable with an itty-bitty-bit of slack. Also, the dropper post is designed to work with a thin cable, while the brake housing is meant for a thick one. It’ll wear out quicker than normal. Deal with it.

Frequently Asked Questions:

“The saddle drops whenever I turn the handlebars. Whuddupwiththat?”

The housing might be too short, or the cable might be too tight. Make sure the housing isn’t pulling out of the ferrule when you turn. Also, installing a flexible elbow bend (sometimes called a noodle) might help.

“The saddle returns super slowly.”

You might just need to give the cable some more slack, or there might be some drag in the housing or lever. Might as well give up.

“I hit the lever but the shit don’t drop.”

First, try putting your weight on the saddle, dummy. If that doesn’t do it, then you might need to tighten up your cable, and double check that all your fasteners are tight too.

“At first it worked great, but now it keeps dropping when I don’t want it to.”

The housing might have dislocated from the ferule, so check that.

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“My dropper post has an electronic/hydraulic lever so none of this applies to me, but I’m still having problems.”

That’s what you get for trying to be fancy. Did you plug it in? Try turning it off and on. Is there even fluid in it? Air bubbles? If it’s an electric dropper and there’s fluid all over, then you’re really in trouble. Good luck, sucker.

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BIO: Scott Wilson has been repairing bicycles in shops across the United States for over a decade. He’s an acolyte of Doug Fattic’s frame building praxis and a dubious mentor for the next generation. He has an MFA in nonfiction writing and sometimes teaches English, whether asked to or not. Visit his blog: www.bikeblogordie.com

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Thinking about Lubes, with Ric Hjertberg

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By Ric Hjertberg, PBMA Board Member

grease monkey noun [ C ] /ˈɡriːs ˌmʌŋ.ki/ 
A mechanic.

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It’s a fact of life. Lubricants are everywhere in our work and there’s a flood of maker-generated info available. Fortunately, common sense prevails and prices are relatively competitive. Still, less experienced mechanics may wonder what they need to know. Here are some general musings for their benefit.

Toxicity
Most lubes in the bike world are organic and non-toxic. Makers knock themselves out on this topic and deserve credit. However, as a user whose hands are coated somedays from dawn to dusk, there is a difference between organic, nontoxic, and food safe. 

Organic means derived from naturally occurring sources and able to go back to nature in a moderate amount of time.

Nontoxic means non-poisonous, where exposure does not lead to long-term damage.

Food safe means ingestion is harmless.

To appreciate the differences, consider that cyanide is organic (produced by certain bacteria, fungi, and algae and found in certain seeds and fruit stones). Citrus cleaners may be nontoxic but ingestion is not healthy. Why not lobby for food safe lubes since regular skin contact is as good as ingestion, especially over time?

Exposure
Many of us do not wash hands during jobs nor wear nitrile gloves. I once picked lubes based partly on what smells good because hands smell like the lube much of the day. WD40 once smelled good to me. I built wheels with Triflow for years, preferring its mild odor. On the topic of smell, beware of aerosols—overspray cannot be controlled. What you smell or breathe, you’re eating.

Recommendation—minimize exposure, use gloves when you can, wipe down and wash clean as regularly as practical. Less exposure= better.

Lubricants vs surface protectants
They’re quite similar and can do each other’s work but keep them straight. WD40 (original formula) is a great cleaner and corrosion inhibitor with mild lubricity. It is not a lubricant and isn’t trying to be. A lubricating oil offers high load capacity and resistance to water, a very different mission. Likewise, silicones (ArmorAll) and graphite pastes and powders are good lubricants but are not oils.

Grease is a more stable preparation of oil wherein oil is suspended in a gel-like matrix and weeps out at a slow rate. A bearing packed with grease runs on oil. As the oil is depleted, the grease turns to chalky powder but it beats the chore of constant re-oiling.

Lubrication is where you can claim some territory. Have preferences, collect credible opinions from others, avoid bias. Since lubrication needs are super regional, you need to configure a program that’s compatible with where you are. Dusty, windy, dry? Wet, sandy, cool? Salty, humid, breezy? These are elements that will affect lubrication. Expertise in CO is not simply transferred to NH. Our riding environments are too varied.

The Good Old Bicycle
While we all want to be experts at lubrication, and lube makers are fanning the flames, let’s reflect on the bicycle. Much of the genius of the bicycle is its practicality and ease of maintenance. Lubricants are mandatory and specific throughout the machine world..how about the bike?

Bicycles tolerate most anything for lubrication. Olive oil, beeswax, soap, lard, automotive products—the most advanced bicycle mechanism will not know much difference. (Pro-tip: avoid lard in the high country as bears are about this time of year.) The loads, temperatures, RPMs, and efficiencies required for cycling are casual compared to most machines. We see weather and dirt but life is easy with a bicycle, one of humankind’s easiest to care for friends!

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Got ideas? Got recipes? Got stories? Want more?  Pedros will be providing an in-depth look at the chemicals we work with at the upcoming PBMA Technical Workshops.

From the newsletter of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association

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NICA GRiT program gets more butts on bikes!

After spending a few years as “Adult Supervision” with the El Cerrito, California NICA high school mountain bike team, I am a true believer in their work. Currently, girls represent 20% of the NICA national student-athlete participation. This is great compared to participation in other segments of our sport, but could always be better, right? On that note, I present the following press release.

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NICA GRiT is a national program that aims to increase female participation in the sport of mountain biking by 10% over the next five years with a focus on recruitment and retention of girls and female coaches in NICA leagues. Currently, girls represent 20% of the NICA national student-athlete participation. Focused efforts are needed to increase teenage female involvement as well as the number of adult female coaches. By providing skills development, promoting positive physical health, confidence and self-esteem and providing coach training, NICA’s goal is to provide a fun, safe and competitive environment for young women to excel.

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GRiT Panel at the 2018 National Conference. Photo: Todd Bauer / TMB Images

NICA has been extremely effective at establishing middle and high school cycling programs in 25 state and regional leagues over the last 7 years. 2018 NICA programs are projected to include over 15,000 registered student-athletes and nearly 7,000 licensed coaches. While the number of student-athletes participating in NICA programs has grown nearly 30-40% annually, the overall percentage of female student-athletes participating has remained consistent at 19-20% for the entirety of NICA’s existence.

NICA programs, although successful in retaining females once they join, are not currently reaching as many girls and women as they should. In order to recruit and retain more women and girls into NICA programs, it must change some aspects of its programming and recruiting to invite girls and women to ride mountain bikes. With help from the Walton Family Foundation, a number of other sponsors and NICA leagues across the country, NICA is now making a concentrated effort to increase the number of girls and female coaches in NICA programs. The GRiT Program is NICA’s approach to recruit and retain more girls and female coaches in NICA programs.

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Tern GSD compact longtail review part Two: Stewart’s ride

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By Stewart Port

I’m a 64-year-old guy with heart disease. I ride for everyday transportation and errands when I can, and occasional 10-20 mi. jaunts for exercise and recreation. I’m otherwise in good shape, but I have a hard limit for sustained exertion– the arteries to my heart are narrowed and propped open with hi-tech Chinese finger-cuffs. So when my (mostly younger and healthier) pals urged me to join them on their annual weeklong bike camping trip. I really wanted to go, but was torn. I didn’t really have any rolling or camping gear that was up to the trip, and 30 miles of all-out effort while potentially rolling along by myself with the pack far ahead didn’t sound like much fun.

And then there was the Tern, conveniently on loan for evaluation to the publisher of this fine outlet, who happens to be my neighbor, and one of the instigators of the tour.

At first, I hated the idea of being the old guy on the e-bike, but Moe patiently explained that it wasn’t a regular e-bike, but rather an e-assisted bike– Pedal, and the motor amplifies your efforts, with a choice of four levels. No pedal, no go. Hell, you could even turn off the electricity and kick the entire 60 lbs down the road purely on burrito power. And the cargo deck solved the problem of having no proper compact, lightweight camping gear– I just stuffed my quilt and pillow in a soft bag and gathered up my usual car camping kit and backpack and mini-cooler, and bungeed the whole impossible pile down on the rear cargo deck.

First, a short ride to the train station. Starting out in the lowest gear, my first pressure on the pedals produced powerful acceleration. (Note: Hold on tight when starting out! There’s a bit of a learning curve, but the various power levels make it possible to really dial in the effort, spin rate and speed for varying conditions) With a hand from an obliging conductor I loaded the thing up into an Amtrak San Joaquin, and we were off to Antioch, our starting point at the edge California’s Sacramento River Delta.

The trip from Antioch to Locke, a picturesque old Chinese town up the Delta, was about 30 miles, and apart from the half mile of 7% grade climbing up the Antioch bridge, the route is the very definition of flat, though the winds can be stiff. For the most part, I found myself switching between equal periods of pedaling unassisted and using the first level (“Econo”) to keep up with my crew’s 10-12 mph pace (Yes, the speedometer is very cool!). I found myself wishing that there was an even lower level of assist available. When I used the assist, I consoled my wounded pride by figuring I was using just enough battery power to make up for the thing’s fat tires, 60 lb curb weight, and the ridiculous pile of gear strapped behind me. I was surprised at how easily and smoothly it rolled un-assisted.
The fit adjustments were convenient, especially the handlebar quick-release adjustments which made stopping and making minor changes to avoid fatigue a reasonable solution to the straight bars’ lack of different places to grip– If I were using it mainly for touring, I would want to add climbing pegs or some sort of bar extension. When we got to our bivouac for the night, an orchard and adjoining wood, the fat tires did nicely on the rougher surfaces.

On the trip back, I put it to a harder test. I was traveling alone for the last 15 miles, and I had a train to catch, so I allowed myself the second and third levels (“Touring” and “Sport”) and cruised along at 15-16 mph, switching to the highest level (“Turbo”) for the bridge. At about a mile from the station, I noticed the ride getting a little squooshy, and sure enough, the rear tire was looking low. With no patch kit or pump, and not much time to spare before my train, I gave it the juice– I put it on the highest setting and the lowest gear, and pedaling hard, fishtailed into the depot on a completely flat tire, with scant minutes to spare. Amtrak came through for me again in Oakland– The agent was kind enough to let me leave the rig in the secure baggage area while I walked to my house to get my car. Getting it into the trunk of the old Jetta for the ride home proved easy enough, and without taking off the wheels it only projected a foot or so beyond the back of the car.

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone abuse defenseless rubber and aluminum so, but the wheel and tire appeared none the worse for wear when I broke them down to patch the tube (A small sliver of glass that had worked its way through, and eventually cut the tube..)

All in all, the GSD, and its fine-grained pedal assist control system is a great addition to my life. For a lot of folks and situations it can tip the balance towards making a trip on two wheels as opposed to four, or not at all.

Read Part One here: Tern GSD review Part 1

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Two-Wheeled Musings with Paul de Valera

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By Paul de Valera

My bicycle is my best friend, my only true ally in this world. My bicycle will never betray me, well it may break and throw me off of into a bush or go flat and make me push it now and again but it will never work towards my undoing, not intentionally that is. My bicycle is always there when I need it and as long as I take care of it, the bike will take care of me. By using my bicycle I get to go places, see things, and travel under my own power. Powering my self makes me empowered. My mind becomes sharper and my body stronger. By using a bicycle I become a better person, a stronger person. The bicycle is a stalwart companion when all of my human interactions have failed me again for the umpteenth time, where tears race down my face as I pedal to the top of a mountain each pedal stroke has a leveling effect, bringing me back to balance. All the sense of loss, hurt, and anger created in this world is pedaled out, the bike propping me up when if left alone to my own strength I would be in a fetal position. When troubled, the bicycle unravels mental and emotional knots, helps to solve problems and keep one even-keeled. There are times when you can’t articulate what is wrong but your bicycle won’t care it will just be a good friend to you and take you on your way for as long as you need, it has eternal patience. When my father died and I was sobbing out of my head with grief I shunned the comfort of my family and got on my bike. I rode and rode and pushed up a couple peaks. As I kept pedaling I processed my whole life experience and before you I knew it, I felt so much better because I had the best friend ever to lean on, my bicycle.

Paul is the proprietor of Atomic Cycles, publisher of Chicken Head Records Zine, promoter of the Coaster Brake Challenge and purveyor of cruiser bits at genuinebicycleproducts.com. This all takes place around the San Fernando Valley in southern California.

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Swrve Keiu Rainjacket Review

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Keiu (Say Kay-u) means “welcome rain” in Japanese. I welcomed rain while wearing the Keiu jacket from Swrve. First to see if it was actually waterproof, and secondly because it is actually waterproof.

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But more on that later. The first thing I noticed about the Keiu was the number of compliments on how it looks on me, with many folks grabbing my lapels or sleeves to feel the hand of the fabric. The Keiu is fancy. Fancy is not my jam necessarily, but I do like to take a compliment or two on occasion! Neutral in color, dark heather grey they call it, cut for cycling. The slim cut XL size fits me well while offering enough room for a light layer of down for cold times.

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There are a nice selection of features… Removable hood, Napoleon-style chest pocket, long tail to cover your ass, hand warmer pockets, fleece around the neck for coziness and Velcro-adjustable cuffs. Zippered vents low enough to not interfere with a backpack. The zippers have a high-quality feel to them, although I need to report that the main zipper tended to get caught in the internal binding tape on the way up.

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Anyway, the Keiu is pretty waterproof. 15k waterproof, which means that if you put a square tube with inner dimensions of 1×1” over a piece of this fabric, you could fill it with water to a height of 15,000 mm (32.8 feet) before water will leak through. This waterproofing is accentuated with seam-sealed construction in a modified-raglan design to keep water away from the seams. It’s also breathable to a level of 10k. This means that 10,000 grams of water can pass out through a square meter of the fabric in a 24 hour period. Not to get all tech on you, I just googled this stuff.

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This is all fun and games though. The only garment that’s really, 100% waterproof is an impermeable rubber or plastic one like you see on fishing boats and school crossings and such. These types of garments are great for standing around in the rain but you will find yourself drenched in sweat as soon as you start exerting yourself. Hence the quest for waterproof, breathable fabrics. In practice, I found the Keiu pretty darn waterproof but not 100% breathable, as I did find myself slightly damp with my own internal moisture at times. But this fine. It is really more important that the jacket keeps the water out, right? I think this fits in well with the casual nature of my riding style, you see. If I was racing or into super heavy workouts this might be a different story.

I dig this jacket. Lots of nice little details, the right functionality, the right amount of waterproof and style on the street. $300 from https://swrve.us/ or one of their dealers.

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Smuggle Documents Like a Tour de France Champion

By Scott B. Wilson

Italy’s greatest cycling superstar, Gino Bartali, is best known for winning the 1938 Tour de France, then huffing cigarettes and downing chianti for ten years before winning again in 1948. It’s considered one of the most unprecedented comebacks in sports history, but recently historians and journalists discovered Bartali’s involvement in a far more dramatic plot – rich in clandestine subterfuge and unsung heroism – that took place between his two epic wins, at the behest of World War II.

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It’s a story that defies plausibility: a priest and forgery expert, Father Niccacci, and an atheist printer, Luigi Brizi, enlist professional cyclist Gino Bartali to use his celebrity status and the ease of movement that comes with it to transport fake passports to Italian Jews and other at-risk populations hidden in monasteries and safe-houses throughout Nazi/Fascist-controlled Italy. By rolling documents and stuffing them in his handlebar and seat tube, Bartali personally saved hundreds of people and kept it a secret (he didn’t even tell his wife!) until making a meek admission on his deathbed.

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Now as harrowing as the current worldwide political flavor may be for believers in democracy, things aren’t quite as bad as they were in Bartali’s time. Nonetheless, it might do the cycling contingent of a republic well to take a few tips from the Italian champion’s heroism.

So, should anybody ever need to their adapt their training routine to double as a covert messenger service, here are the best places to hide documents on la bicicletta.

Level I:

As an international celebrity bike racer, Bartali enjoyed more freedom of movement around the countryside than regular citizens, though he still had to stop and submit to searches at road barricades. Apparently,  the authorities didn’t think to unplug his bar ends.

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But I would like to point out that underneath the bar wrap is a great spot to hide documents, provided you bring along some finishing tape for re-wrapping.

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Level II:

Because it’s slightly less obvious than inside the handlebars, the hollow of a seat post conceals a rolled parchment nicely. Depending on the tube’s internal diameter, a bar plug or wine cork will work to keep the docs from falling into the bottom bracket.

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Level III:

Here’s a secret hiding spot that has only come about since the advent of threadless headsets: behind the handlebars. The modern stem has about thirty cubic centimeters of wasted space inside, might as well use it for smuggling.

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Shimano users might also want to take advantage of the watertight space behind the Hollowtech II crankset’s preload bolt. Just make sure to clean out the grease first.

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Level IV:

It is said that as Bartali became increasingly nervous of his frontline role in the plot to undermine the Nazis and the Fascists, he took greater precautions to hide docs in ever more challenging locations. But one of the hardest storage spots to find on a bike is also the one with the greatest capacity: the downtube. On most –but not all– bicycles the downtube can be accessed by removing the crank and bottom bracket. On a steel frame, sandwiching the docs to the inner tube with a powerful magnet will keep them in place.

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A nefarious reader might see this article and draw certain felonious conclusions. But to be clear, Bicycle Times and all its affiliates do not condone the use of bicycles to smuggle narcotic contraband, and this article is in no way intended to be a guide on how to turn a cyclist into a drug mule (we’ll save that discussion for an article on Pablo Escobar’s continental racing team). This is a work of speculation designed to entertain and provide historical context to the life of Gino Bartali during WWII. So, we will be extremely disappointed if dozens of drug-totting bikers show up to the after parties of any Bicycle Times or Dirt Rag sponsored events, and start passing out “freebies.” That would be, like, very uncool.

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Want to learn more about Gino Bartali and his wartime efforts? I suggest starting with Pedalare! Pedalare! by John Foot, followed by Road to Valor by Aili and Andres McConnon. The 2014 film My Italian Secret also provides some excellent first-person accounts from individuals saved by Bartali, though I take issue with the anachronistic bicycle they use in the cut-away scenes to represent Bartali ([Caution: nerd alert ahead] it has a parallelogram-style derailleur, which Bartali famously refused to implement on any of his racing setups). Still, it’s a nice movie.

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Biking around the world and getting married along the way.

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Listen on Soundcloud to all 14 minutes!

Driving along “The Loneliest Highway In America” as determined by LIFE magazine back in the 80’s, Nancy and I came across a couple of characters riding their bicycles down the road. Out of curiosity, and my need to fill this space on the interwebs, we stopped and asked if we could ask a question. I know. That’s already a question, haha. Fortunately, they were not flip, but all-around nice. I caught a rough yet stereo, recording with my phone, which you can listen to in its entire 10 minutes here…

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BT: What are your guy’s names?

Mike: I’m Mike and this is Helen. We started 13 months ago today. 23,000 kilometers on the clock so far. We started in Scotland, Glasgow, went to the Netherlands, then Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Eastern Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Georgia. So. Central Asia.

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Helen: But then I got altitude sick, even though it wasn’t very high, but we didn’t have time for me to acclimatize. So it’s sort of going through central Asia. We flew to Beijing, cheapest flight we could get, to Siham Chung. So we kind of doubled back on ourselves a bit. And then, down to Vietnam, Saigon into Cambodia to Bangkok all the way down the coast of Thailand and Malaysia and Singapore. We just turned around again and went back to Kuala Lumpar to get our flight to Australia. Then flew to the west coast of America and we’ve cycled from San Diego.

BT: So you got married?

Mike: Yes, two weeks ago in Yosemite Valley in Cooks meadow.

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BT: How did you… did you find a justice of the peace?

Mike: My friends a minister, she actually lives in Kentucky, so she flew out to meet us there. And then we had a couple of friends come over. Parents each. Yeah.

BT: You had it all planned out?

Mike: Yeah, we actually started planning it before we left. There was a bit of a gamble, but we figured if we could make it a year on the road and not kill each other, we could go ahead.

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BT: Oh, that’s so awesome. Congratulations! Have you guys had many mechanical issues?

Mike: Yeah, but it’s mostly been ok. I mean a couple of things. We’ve been replaced like new drive train, new cassettes. Obviously lots of new chains, but Helen is still on her first set of brake pads.

BT: Brakes. They only slow you down.

Mike: Yeah, just tough. I think I’m on my fourth set of tires

Helen: I think I’m on my second set of tires. But nothing major. Everything’s built to last.

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BT: Meeting any nice people?

Overwhelmingly! We were quite concerned that we weren’t going to have enough water as we headed across the 50 here. And just didn’t quite make it as far as we wanted to yesterday. So this guy stopped this morning and was like, hey, guys, need some water? I’ve just been rafting in Utah, and have gallons of water in my van. So amazing timing. Um, but yeah, we have a story per day. China was amazing for that because they just want to give you food and take you home and take care of you.

BT: You guys blogging or anything like that?

Helen: A bit of writing and videoing as much as we can. I haven’t updated since the wedding, so I need to do that soon. Because we’re going east, it’s evereast.co.uk. We’re doing it for a charity, called MIND, they do mental health advocacy and awareness. They do a lot of lobbying the government for approved mental health services and they do awareness campaigns to just try and reduce the stigma within companies. They kind of go into offices and HR departments and stuff. So very, very nice. Very nice.

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BT: Well great. Great. Thank you so much for stopping. Bye!

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Pedal Fest Coming to Oakland, California

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PedalFest, a one-day outdoor festival of all things cycling, is coming to Jack London Square in Oakland, CA on July 28th. And it’s free!

People from all walks of life make Pedalfest great. People who are totally new to cycling walk in off the street and we bike nuts share the love with them. More butts on bikes!

Where else can you see Pee Wee Herman?

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Or a Pedal-powered stage?

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Or a Whiskeydrome?

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Or THIS whackiness?

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Those were a couple of my favorites from the past few years. Read the press release below for more info!

Amphibious Bike Race

Watch a spectacular display of land- and sea-worthy bikes as they pedal through Jack London Square and into the Oakland Estuary.

Rock the Bike Pedal-Powered Stage

Hop on a stationary bike and pedal to generate power for Rock the Bike’s off-grid sound stage! Stage lineup is coming soon!

Kids Bicycle Parade

Be a part of the Kids Bicycle Parade and help kick-off Pedalfest 2018! Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and the Oakland Public Library will be hosting an awesome decorating station where kids can deck out their bikes with spoke cards, streamers, stickers, and more! Join the decoration station at 11am. The parade will cruise through Jack London Square at noon.

Electric Bike Test Track

Curious about electric bikes? Visit our E-Bike Test Track, presented by Trek Bicycles of Berkeley, and take a spin! Visit with manufacturers’ reps, see the latest in bike tech and ride a variety of e-bikes, including electric cargo bikes. Find the E-Bike Test Track at the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero. Riders must be 18 years of age.

Bicycle Stunt Shows

Professional stunt riders Zak Maeda and Casey Holm will wow crowds with exciting, two-wheeled stunts showcasing bicycle balancing and agility on obstacles!

Kids Bicycle Rodeo

A team of youth cycling instructors will lead a fun-filled bicycle rodeo for children throughout the day including a bike safety course, skills building lessons, and bicycle safety instructions. Bikes and helmets will be provided to participating children, grades 3-6.

Drake’s Brewing Lounge Area

Kick back under the palm trees and enjoy a cold one! All proceeds from Drake’s Brewing will support Bike East Bay.

Whymcycles

Builder Peter Wagner brings his cycling creations to Pedalfest! From penny-farthing high wheelers to miniature hand cycles, he has spent years creating an eclectic collection of handmade bicycles built from recycled car parts, trampolines, old bicycles and more!

Bike Punk Carnival Rides

Step right up! Ride pedal-powered carnival rides with the Cyclecide bike punk collective.

Women Bike Area

Stop by any time to chat with our Women Bike Book Club, Women Bike Happy Hour organizers, local bike advocacy leaders, intro to bike camping organizers, and other women, trans and femme leaders and doers. Activities include yoga with Redfrog Athletics, book signing with Elly Blue, and bike maintenance basics with Hard Knox Bikes.

Theft Prevention Photo Booth

Register your bike at the Dolan Law Firm’s Theft Prevention Booth and learn all the best tips for keeping your favorite two-wheeled machine safe. Come take a photo of your bike and get a free listing on BikeIndex.org.

Learn to Unicycle

Local riders will perform unicycle stunts on the main stage and teach you how to balance on one wheel at their learn-to-ride station.

Oakland Public Library Bike Library

The city’s bike-powered bookmobile pulls into Pedalfest with cascading bookshelves filled with books for locals to browse and even check out!

http://pedalfestjacklondon.com/

Interested in being a vendor or sponsor? Please email our Events Manager, Hyeran Lee, at hyeran@bikeeastbay.org

 

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Instant Karma with a Crust cargo bike fork

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Given my fascination with cargo bikes, I had to ask Jimmy over at Luckyduck in Oakland, CA about that funky-looking cargo bike parked in front of the shop. An 80’s Cinelli Ottomila mountain bike with a giant cargo container on top of a little front wheel. How could this be?

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The answer is the Clydesdale fork from Crust Bikes, a google-worthy outfit out of Belmar, New Jersey. Crust makes frames, forks, stems, and more! Some even US-made. The Clydesdale fork is designed to turn your old non-suspension-corrected MTB or tourer into a solid cargo hauler. It’s built over a 20” wheel for a low center of gravity, to make hauling easy.

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The basic platform is ready for whatever you want to put on it. There are plenty of braze-ons to screw things into to the top of the platform so you could mount a box or just a flat board if that suits your needs. There are also mounts for both disk and cantilever brakes, as well as fenders.

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What will you need? A 20” wheel with a 9mm axle and a bike. The Clydesdale fork is designed for a 400mm (15 ¾”) crown-to-axle height and a 72˚ head angle. If your bike is designed around those numbers, which are pretty common, then you will have achieved perfection and the rack will ride level. If your axle-crown is higher or lower, your frame angles will change by about one degree for every 10mm of height. This is all described in detail on the website and slight variations are not the end of the world. Other stats include a 340mm steerer tube and availability in both 1″ and 1 1/8″ steerer tubes, both threadless. The 1″ model includes a shim for using 1 1/8″ threadless stems, and comes with a Cane Creek 40 headset.

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Jimmy does a lot of the shopping for the shop and has had up to 70 lbs on there, including “The Dog”. Crust doesn’t list a weight limit but I am seeing a picture of a human riding on one, what fun! A clean and simple way to create a cargo bike, do check them out. $245 for the 1 1/8” model. $265 for the 1”.

http://www.crustbikes.com

6/22/18 Correction: Only the 1″ model comes with a Cane Creek 40 headset

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Hiplok Z LOKs provide compact security

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Just running into the convenience store for a pit stop? Sitting at an outdoor café with your bike in sight? Maybe your bike is up on the car’s roof rack. In times like these, when you feel like you need a little more deterrent than just tying your helmet strap around the front wheel, Hiplok Z LOKs are there. These guys definitely do not replace a solid U-Lock or fat chain, but they do provide a little piece of mind in certain situations.

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First, there’s the original Z LOK steel core security tie. Weighing in at 20 grams and measuring 420mm long, you can either lock your bike to a pole or lock your wheel to the bike so it can’t roll. The key, (Which has new-and-improved all-metal construction for increased strength over earlier versions), inserts easily into the lock to open. But do note that there is only one key to fit all the LOKS. A single Z LOK will run you 12 bucks or you can get two for $20.

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Then there’s the Z LOK Combo. Weighing in at 100g, and sporting a thicker 8mm steel core with programmable 3-digit combination lock so you don’t have to concern yourself with keys. These are $25 each.

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I found Z LOKs pretty ideal for securing my heavy cargo bike while unloading at the UPS Store and such. I also used them on casual group rides as a quick bit of security while grabbing a beverage. And Touring! So many times we’ve left our loaded tourers outside the grocery store because we did not want to be carrying a lock, right? Problem solved. Like I said, a little deterrent, a little piece of mind, a little lock. The added convenience and security of the combo model would make that my go-to for most uses.

 

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks sing about bike lanes

I don’t know how much the average bicycle rider cares about my favorite band, Pavement, or Steven Malkmus’s “current band” (sorry man), The Jicks, but the Folks over at https://dangerousminds.net were kind enough to turn me on to the trailer for the new Jicks record “Sparkle Hard” which is coming out (“dropping”?) in a few days. It really gets good at about two minutes and 30 seconds in, when the Jick’s get into playing their Pavement-esque new song “Bike Lane”. Enjoy!

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Cool Shop: Luckyduck Oakland

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One has to appreciate a good bike shop. Especially one that builds the community around itself. These days it’s a key to survival in this disrupted economy we live in. Luckyduck has been open since August of 2016, and successful enough that the owners are just starting to scale back from the 16-hour workdays it took to get going. Luckyduck brings bikes, food, beer and community to downtown Oakland. I’ve stopped in on several occasions for just those items.

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For starters, the sandwiches are awesome. Living in the Beast known as East Bay, there’s a lot of great bakeries to spoil you, so Luckyduck starts with some awesome bread, from Firebrand. Everything after that is gravy. And if you’re up in the morning there’s breakfast as well. Sealing the deal is beer. Great beer from local breweries. Mostly local, delivered by the brewery. All California. Keep it local. ‘Nuff said.

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Partners Jimmy Ryan And Aaron Wacks curate the shop. The food menu is tight. And so is the bike selection. Each bike is special. Some are bikes that they have come across as bike geeks. Some are on consignment as well. Everything from a vintage Colnago to a sweet 80’s Rockhopper converted for the streets and priced at $316. Or maybe you’re into the Kona Kilauea bikepacking bike or the Winters show frame.

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The shop section is simple and tidy. A well-curated selection of accessories fulfills your most important needs. Helmets, bags from Inside Line, Ruth Works, and Road Runner. I hate the word “Artisinal” but there ya go. Everything in its right place, like Radiohead says.

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In the end, it’s all about community. The Saturday ride is casual and the yoga classes will keep you limber. There’s bands, art on the walls, and friendly faces. Luckyduck is surely not the first bike shop to espouse this mission, but it does sum things up in a well-said fasion:

“Luckyduck grew from our desire to make riding a bike accessible to everyone. To us, this means expert bicycle service housed in the positive and relaxed vibes of our neighborhood coffee shop and cafe. No pretension or pressure. Just genuine human connection in the name of increasing bicycle ridership throughout the bay.”

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Wow these people “Get it”

302 12th Street, Oakland, California 94607

Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 7pm

Luckyduckoakland.com

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Alien Socks Invade Utah

Greg Bagni has been spreading his love of aliens around the bicycle industry for as long as I can remember. Every year at Interbike, Greg would be there, with socks, stickers and love for all his friends. Now he’s going public with these hot aliens that everyone can enjoy. Yes they are bright. So bright that motorists will have no trouble avoiding you on your bicycle, unless they are aiming for you.

Here they are (A different style) in their natural environment. I love this planet!Made in U.S.A. Dig it at https://aliensocks.com

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Artist Spotlight: Julián Dorado

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We just got an email from an artist in Buenos Aires, Argentina with some fresh imagery we thought we’d share with you. Julián Dorado is his name and he’s really into the old-school road racing thing. Specifically the Gino Bartali vs. Fausto Coppi rivalry. Enjoy the art and a couple of questions and answers! Pretty cool how this…

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…becomes this!

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So I ask Julián…
How do you get from the photos to the art? Are they scanned in? Traced? Freehand?
The process begins by browsing the web. I start looking for pictures of a specific cyclist or brand that I want to represent. Once I find an image that’s interesting, I freehand the first sketch (which is almost final). After I have the freehand version of the illustration I scan it and adjust/change some minor details. Painting occurs in Adobe Photoshop, I am particularly interested in turning B&W pictures into colorful artwork!
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Do you have a particular era of cycling you are interested in?
Yes of course! I am mad about the Gino Bartali vs. Fausto Coppi era, it’s great. In Argentina, we have very strong Italian roots so we can relate to the passion and rivalry this two had.
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What inspires you about these old-time cyclists?
All of it, I love the technology of the bikes, the components they had (shifting systems, wooden rims) and of course the challenges they had to endure to get to the finish line. Professional Cycling has always been extremely rough, but back then they were almost superheroes.
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What bike do you ride daily?  What kind of riding do you do?
Actually, I own like 10 different vintage bikes, not all rideable but still, I like to ride some of them from time to time. For daily bases and to get around town I use a Brompton HL6, it’s incredible how useful and agile that bike is. I ride Mostly around the city, I use the bike as my main transportation method.
How’s the cycling scene in Buenos Aires?
Cycling here is getting crowded and the city it’s growing in terms of bike lanes. We have a great weather and a extremely flat land, so the city is perfect for a ride. People are starting to realize that they can use bikes as their main transportation media, which is great. But on the other hand, we are still lacking the infrastructure to make it friendly for riders that come from the suburbs.
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Travel much? Been anywhere interesting?

I did a trip to Europe in 2016 and biked around some capitals such as London, Paris, and Brussels. It was an amazing experience, the trip combined work and pleasure so in my free time I unfolded my Brompton and rode all day long. Europe is great for biking, on the first couple of miles you understand that the state takes city biking pretty serious. Everything is prepared and ready to make the ride smooth and comfortable. My next dream trip will be connecting Paris and London by bike, I know they do this on Bromptons every now and then.

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OK! Thanks for sharing! Check out Julián’s Instagram for more: https://www.instagram.com/goldenbikes/
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