Monthly Archives: January 2007

The finishing touches…

My credit card flexes against the strain, and I make my final push towards completion on my new bike. I got a bunch of really good deals at Citybikes (turns out the good one is the repair shop, not the annex) in the used parts bin, which left me inspired to finish it up quick. If you’re in need of stuff, I highly recommend it. If I had gone there first, I may have kept the original u-brake and saved myself some money. I managed to nab an 8-speed 11-32 Sunrace cassette for $6 (probably closer to it’s actual worth than the $20 they seem to fetch on eBay and the like), a set of 7-speed index-plus-friction Suntour thumbshifters for $8, a pair of good probably-Wellgo MTB platform pedals with clips for $10, and a set of Deore LX blued hollowtech cranks for $20. The rings are a little worn, but hey, it was $20 and they’re light. I can replace the rings (hell, I have some sitting around that came with the frame that will probably work fine). In a fit of mechanical tinkery and obsessive completionism, I lubed up the old Shimano cantis for the front, the headset (it’s missing a ball, actually, but I’m going to just let it ride for now, as I have no huge downhill aspirations for the bike at this point and it seems silly to replace the headset when I’m not planning on keeping the fork), and nabbed some Hutchinson 26×2 tires from my dad (takeoffs from the big slick tire conversion for their bikes). I also followed my own advice and GREASED EVERYTHING, sanded some of the surface rust off the seatpost, did a quick onceover in the seat tube, smeared both with a fistfull of “boat trailer grease” (aka blue waterproof grease) and did the snake dance to get as much goop in the hole as I could. Lubed up the little front derailleur pulley bit and all the threads. Once it got up to standing on it’s own rims with tires and looking like a bike, I got the bug to go buy parts.
I’m going to set it up initially with the Cannondale riser bars I bought a while back on a whim and the barends that came with the frame, as nobody seems to have the Nitto Albatrosses in under $80 here in town, and I want to ride it around soonish. However, I needed cable housing, cables, brake levers (I might have been able to get some at Citybikes, but it would have required grinding off a rogue shifter pod mount, so I didn’t), a new stem (as my older long stem had gone missing, and besides it was a 26.0 so it would have required a shim), shifter cables and housing, some inner tubes for 26 (I have an odd number of 700xrealskinny tubes around, I’m not sure why), and a bottom bracket for the V2 variety of Octalink (I almost didn’t buy the cranks because of this, but they were light and half the price of anything square taper, and much nicer than anything else at the shop). I had tried Weir’s shop (the St. Johns local) for stuff and came away with only the brake levers, so I decided to cut to the chase and go to Performance. Dropped a brace of Hamiltons and came away with just about everything, less the increasingly aggravating bottom bracket.

So, I started getting it set up. It has a really odd stance, something that would have been considered aggressively downhill when I last set up a mountain bike, but now it seems that crowd has left normal bike shapes behind and meandered off into motorcycle territory. The hugely long RSA Mozo Pro forks (I have no idea what kind of travel they offer, but they have about a 500mm axle-to-crown at rest and probably a 480 with me seated on it, so I’m guessing 100-130) are actually kind of a nice color now that I’ve cleaned some of the gick off, the blue of the frame is nicely contrasted by the godawful yellow of the forks. This color combo won’t stick around when I get the Surly Instigator rigid fork to replace it, but for now it’s kind of nice. Depending on how ambitious I feel, I might paint the whole bike, but there is a certain appeal in just smearing some POR-15 on the rusty spots and leaving it ugly.

Once I get some permissions junk figured out I’ll add some pictures of it, but needless to say it really makes me smile to get it up and going, even though I probably could have bought a Kona Smoke or something for about the same price. If I had it to do over again, I’d have definitely looked longer and harder for a square taper crankset. It would have made the difference between having the bike rolling now and having it rolling like Wednesday at best, but hey, them’s the breaks. I may even just steal the crank off the fixed gear, set it up as a double, and put the hollowtech on it, because it should have the right chainline. Dunno, it could happen, we’ll see. I would certainly like to have the funky bars in hand so I can see how much I like them, but if I were a shop I wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to order a $60-wholesale set of bars just so some asshole can mung them up trying them. Meanwhile the riser bars have the right look for the bike as it stands. I can’t wait to get it dialed in and cruise around town on it.

Edit: Hey, figured it out. Here’s the beastie.

Haro Extreme Hardtail - Early Setup

Suspension of disbelief…

I have tried, from time to time, to pretend that this country is just experiencing a “dry spell” in good leadership. I meander and pretend and argue that, much like my sex life, the country has just been very busy the past few years and doesn’t want to be bothered by making a real effort to correct the course. We will just wait and then in 2008, we’ll take care of it then, no big deal.

Then, Alberto Gonzales opens his idiot trap. Now, before anyone jumps to his defense, I’m not going to even entertain the idea that he’s not some kind of pez-dispenser with a dead mink on his head. I’d rather have Joe Arpaio in the AG spot right now than Alberto Gonzales, and I believe that Joe has had people killed.

This is not a unique situation. Gonzales says something incredible, and I mean that in the “not credible” sense of the term, and then a bunch of people jump up and say “He’s not saying what it sounds like he’s saying, he’s just not fooled by the common interpretation of laws.” It makes me want to just cry and not wake up until 2009, absolutely amazing. However, the relatively calm reception of his crazy-man freedom-elimination jabber leaves me vexed almost as much.

A tiny victory

Got that stupid piece of bottom bracket adjustable cup out, just had to slot it a little with a hacksaw blade. It cut like plastic, then just chipped out, so I guess I’m grateful for that. Now to get a bike shop to chase the BB threads. I have sprayed a bunch of WD-40 down into the seat tube, top tube, and down tube in the hopes that it will abate some of the rust that seems to just be everywhere inside that frame. Blech, bad purchase, but whatever, it’s kind of neat looking, plus I am kind of fond of that u-brake.

I’ve heard nothing but bad things about ISIS bottom brackets, but I’m loathe to chain myself to octalink, which has already been usurped like three times by Shimano’s own products. Maybe I’ll just stick with a frickin’ square taper. I could go with an external bearing model, but they’re pretty dear.

Lessons in Bike Maintenance

Maintenance is key to many, may hobbies. Cars require regular service. Airplanes ditto. Computers are a nearly constant maintenance nightmare. Bicycles, to many, are devoid of this requirement, and thus the horribly damaged frames I’ve ended up.

There are only a couple rules here, it’s simple, people.

1. If it moves, grease it. Seriously now. Brake studs? Grease em’. Threads on anything? Sure, grease away. If it’s not the rims, the tires, or grips, put grease on it. It won’t hurt, and it most certainly will help. The bike frame I’ve ended up with may be ruined because of a failure to grease bottom bracket threads, and the previous seatpost-bound frame was almost certainly a product of no-grease seatpost installation.

2. If it breaks, replace it. That brake caliper you’re leaving dangling in the wind isn’t helping anyone. Cables are cheap and it would cost almost nothing to fix. The rear rim is wobbly? A quick true-up might cost twenty bucks, but it’s not gonna be the end of the world.

3. THERE ARE ONLY TWO RULES.

Seriously? Is that hard? I mean, damn. The sheer number of bikes I see around that are just destroyed by usage is disgusting. Now I have to make the hard choice of trying to figure out if I can get the little sliver of BB out of this frame without buggering the threads, buggering the threads and replacing it with one of the thread-free cone types, or finding YET ANOTHER FRAME for this cheap bike project. Next time you take the old bike out, oil something that squeaks, and hopefully when you sell it, there won’t be someone out there cursing the day you were born.

Hoes and the Pimping Thereof

I should note that I have been emailing a girl in perpetual fright that I might be attracted to her for the past couple of weeks. She has revealed that she is a reporter, to which I responded with almost immediate paranoiac fear. My roommate indicated that this may be a sign of mental illness.

I believe he may be in league with the reporter.

Townie, as in gay

I finally found a bike frame for my “going around town in normal shoes” bike. It’s a Haro Extreme, set up for a 3.5″ travel fork. Unlikely fodder for a relaxed-bicycling concept? Probably. But I’m a sucker for slighly messed up, no-kill-like-overkill frame designs. Curvy bit just before the seat tube? Yes please. Weird downtube-headtube junction gussets with little chevrons on them? Please may I have another.

I also managed to score a pair of utterly unused Specialized wheels sans cassette for $60, and a nifty-oversized-pulley Acera rear derailleur, Deore front derailleur, and a pair of mostly worthless but probably OK 8-speed flat bar brifters for $15 bucks. I also busted out some cash to replace the utterly demolished u-brake on the back with a new DiaCompe Hombre in silver. Tres sexy, plus I like BMX parts. No sense of balance, so I can’t really do freestyle, funky older MTBs with weird parts are my only hope of being able to buy weird stuff like this. The bike came with a really decent set of Shimano cantilevers on the front which I’ll probably reuse, as well as the seatpost, and probably the neat and sort of odd FSA Conix star-fangled-nut replacement, simply because it’s such a fantastically overkill solution.

The previous owner of this frame was of the “ride it until it crumbles” mindset about just about everything. The frame is knicked here and there and shows signs of rust just about everywhere. I don’t think I’m going to spend a whole lot of time doing the whole inside-the-stays and every which a where rust converter thing, as it’s just not that great of a frame, but I am thinking about just sanding down the outside and doing a rattlecan/shadetree job once the weather dries out a little. Maybe Rustoleum Farm Implement paint in John Deere Green. The ride it till it dies attitude was in full effect on the consumables too, front brake pads were worn all the way to the metal plate. Rears were razor thin. Derailleur pulleys were mangled little nubs on a completely seized wheel. The front derailleur relies on a little pulley (built before top-pull was an option), which was likewise seized. Old U-brake was filled with mud and allowed to sit until worthless. The headset was in OK shape, but looked to be a newer addition to the bike.

I’m shopping for a new fork, too, maybe I could do a NYCBikes rigid fork in yellow for the full effect. Then again maybe not. I’ve already decided the accessories are going to be silver, as the wheels and brake I picked up are silver, so I’m thinking silver headset, the Sugino cranks from my Rob Roy (to replace them with something neat and black there) with a 48/36 double on the front. A touring 8-speed cassette on the back to finish.

And finally, the bars. After much kvetching and whatnot, I think I’m going to go with the Nitto Albatross. Barend shifters. Maybe the Rivendell Silvers, maybe just a Shimano set (if I can source them cheaper, this is supposed to be a cheap project and $80 shifters and a $50 handlebar are upsetting my ju-ju). A nice set of cork grips sure sounds good too. I’ll likely be using my old Vetta Lite until I can come up with the money for a better seat. It’s gonna be great.

Of Broken Bicycles…

I drove halfway across town to Hillsboro to buy a bike frame Sunday, an older Raleigh road frame/fork that I aspired to make into a townie. Well, when I arrived, I saw a very high quality older Raleigh frame, probably Reynolds 531, pantographed seatstay ends, very, very suspect. The gentleman selling the frame was not present, but a woman of limited english let me in the garage to look at it. A year or two ago, I’d have bought it immediately, a bargain, a steal. Luckily, I’ve been jacked around a lot in the intermediary times and learned my lesson. I began to go over the frame with a critical eye, and immediately found the problem.

Bent. Demolished. Must have been quite a crash too, the top and down tubes were bent so heavily that a card set on the top radius sat half a centimeter above even the steerer lug. The owner still had not shown up and I decided to leave. Sigh.

Back to the search. I have a freebie Bianchi MTB frame I scored out of the free pile at Citybikes, but it needs a fork. A 1″ MTB fork isn’t exactly a super common item anymore. Webcyclery offers one for $50, but it seems like a goofy expenditure for what is intended to be a really cheap build. I might do it anyways, since one of the major reasons for me wanting to make an around-town bike is the awesomely retro BMX Kenda K-Rad tire. But the reason it was in the free pile is that there is a seat post abso-lutely jammed into the frame. I don’t feel any damage from it, but it’s in there pretty good just the same. I guess I’ll try to pry that sucker out first. Lame.

I also want to make this bike with an internal gear hub, but the cost comparison for a 7 speed or 8 speed rear wheel, versus JUST ABOUT ANY OTHER THING is not favorable. I could potentially build a 3×8 or 9 setup for the same price. Super lame.

Now that I have akismet figured out, I might turn comments back on. I still don’t quite know how comment spam was getting in, but whatever.