Category Archives: Bikes

I like bicycles for the riding.

A short one about bike nerd stuff

Seriously look at this fucking turdball. Let me tell you what, magicians. I guarantee you haven’t solved some materials science paradox and that means that you’re gonna have broken welds at every junction on this OPEN C SHAPE, but that is frankly the LEAST of your problems. Ergonomically, having your feet pedal slightly behind where you sit? That means you’re laying, full body weight, on your balls. Unless it hooks into a cleat on your belly button. But that’s still retarded. The steering geometry looks like a fucking six year old drew it up. I guarantee you with that little trail and the nonexistent stem, with little hipster bars? It’s gonna be jumpy and fucking horrible, no matter how much random mountainbike shock you cram into it.

Face it folks, this is just a motherfucking Unicycle with a steerable training wheel. It’s a clown bike. Stop reporting on it like it’s the next big step in cycling.

Update on the Raleigh

So, I’ve been slowly acquiring parts and doing work over the long, long winter, and now that the sun has come out, I’ve raced to get this done. It looks pretty awesome, and aside from having a pretty worn out Sunrace (cheapass) cassette on it (gear skipping in 4th, 6th, and 7th gears), it rides pretty great.

I had to install a bottom bracket cable guide, because it used a screwball cable-to-derailleur-stop setup on the original derailleur. And while I could have stayed with that Suntour unit, I wanted to get a more modern front (went with a Shimano RSX, which is slick as hell).

The rear is a Nexave Rapid-Rise, which is a low-normal derailleur (first time I’ve played with one, doesn’t seem to have any negative consequences for me).

These cranks were the “center of the build” in all reality, I scored them for $50 on eBay with shipping. Never had a modern two piece crank before either.

The Brooks B67 Conquest or whatever it’s called is very comfortable.

Barend shifters and non-aero levers leave a lot of swoopy cable housing on the front end.

All in all, I’m happy with it. Sourcing a new cassette soon.

Some pictures of the Haro

After I got her all shaped up. It’s fun to ride, got a little bit of chopper flop from the fork being too tall plus it gives new definition to “relaxed” geometry in the back end too. But it’s nice enough to get me back and forth to work, and I think it might even work as an offroad machine, as long as I’m not being too aggressive.

This shows the control area a little better. The shifters are XT rapidfire pods, the right is an 8-speed, the left is a “mega 9”, so they are mismatched, but so is everything else on the bike.

The saddle is a nondescript Vetta I took off my second ever mountainbike, a Trek 7000, when I replaced it with a Vetta SL with the little silver plastic bumpers on it (I wish I could source one of these for this bike). At least this is the right vintage for the frame, since I’m such a purist.

Raleigh To-Do

1. Pull cranks, measure spindle. See if I can mount it with the 52 tooth ring at 42mm chainline. If so, I’ll buy a 20 tooth cog to whack on there and that’ll be that. The cranks are good looking enough, especially if I can shed the inner chainring.

2. Triangulate rear frame, triangulate fork. Just want to make sure it’s not off kilter. The q/a specs when the frame was new probably weren’t stupendous, and I’m sure time hasn’t made them any better.

3. New saddle. I have a bid in on a Brooks B5N, we’ll see if that works out. I could always throw the B17 on there, but I want something a little different, plus new Brooks saddles are expensive as hell right now thanks to the freefalling dollar.

4. A bag. I don’t know what, exactly, I want. Something small for the back, to hold a wrench, some allen keys, a patch kit, a spare tube. Something larger for the front to hold my camera, my phone, my wallet and keys.

5. Put the fatter tires on. I have a set of 700×32 Urbanmax’s right now, one that I think needs a boot and one that is brand new. I should be able to toss those on and improve the ride considerably. Those 700×25 Armadillos just aren’t cutting it in the comfort department.

6. New wheels. As for rims, I’m pretty much sold on the Mavic A119, they appear to be a decent bang for the buck option. But on hubs – while I’m plenty happy for this to be a fixed gear for right now, I’ve still got the jones for an 8-speed internal gear hub. The Sturmey Archer has some interesting historical links and whatnot, but I think with it’s design (bottom gear is direct drive, all others are step-up gears), a 52 tooth chainring would be a death sentence (even with it’s stock 25 tooth cog), so that is something to think about. I’d hopefully be in the position to buy some nice cranks for this bike before/while this wheel build was going on anyways, but it is still a consideration. The Shimano Nexus has 5th as direct-drive. With a 52 tooth ring and a 21 tooth rear, that would make direct drive 68-ish gear inches, right where my fixed gears hover. Very interesting indeed. I will note that right now, the Sturmey hub is cheaper, but not by a factor which would include a new set of crankarms.

Bike Update 2

So, I rode the new bike to work today. Aside from this Concor Lite saddle being a total fucking ass hatchet, and the fact that I was way too optimistic about how warm it was? Worked out great. Here she is in her final form.

I won’t be putting any lights or fenders or stuff on her, she’s going to be a fair weather bike. The black wheels do not work for the look, I’ll be building up some wheels later for it. I’m thinking about making it a geared bike, like I said, I have a hankering for an internal gear hub. A set of nice, bright silver rims would complement everything. Something wide enough to set some 28 or 32’s on it without looking lame, I’ve been treated very well by my Salsa Delgado Cross rims on my IRO, but I think I’d like to try something different, maybe a Velocity Dyad or a Mavic A719? 36 3-cross front and back.

Oh, and a saddle better suited to my wide ass.

It’ll be beautiful.

Confessions of a Rivendell Whore

I admit it, I really, really, really wanted an Atlantis, or an A. Homer Hilsen.

But I can’t afford that shit, so here is my Technomic and my Noodle bars freshly installed on the Raleigh. Coming together very nicely. You can see the lovely Dia Compe non-aero levers installed but not yet cabled.

I am, as ever, about 20 seconds from breaking out and buying every slick-willy part I can find on ebay (sugino super mighty cranks are the current squeeze, but that could change any time), but for now, it’ll sit with the crappy raleigh-branded whatevers that are on there now with the perma-52 ring. One day I might even get up the gumption to grind it off. The ATAC pedals will go on tomorrow, and if I get the brakes set up, it might get its first ride to the office on Wednesday. The old bars will go in the parts pile, and probably end up as a flop -n- chop set. Someday.

Raleigh Update

The Raleigh is looking much nicer now, with my somewhat-discarded Concor Lite and a Kalloy 25.4 post (it was all I could find at Citybikes, and it holds my ass up). I pumped up the tires, put a lockring on there, and took it out for a spin.

Decided the bars were too low for me to be comfortable on it, and they were too narrow to begin with, so I eBayed a nitto technomic and a set of B177 “noodle” bars in 44cm width (I was tempted to go wider, but they were much more expensive because of the heat treating), and the janky Nashbar aero levers I used to replace the even jankier safety levers weren’t cutting it, so I found a set of Dia Compe non-aero levers. They came in the mail and I’m just waiting for the bars so I can get this show on the road.

Pictures when the sun comes back out again.

A new bike…

So, I was out trying bicycles for fun. I rode a Bike Friday Tikit. I rode a Surly Long Haul Trucker. Two of the bikes that have piqued my curiosity lately. I might go out and test ride some others – filling out the ticket, if I can find them in my size, a Salsa Casseroll, a Novara Randonee, or a Jamis Aurora.

The Tikit is a very slick bike for what it is, but I really don’t think I have enough of a call for a travel bike, and the 16″ wheels are not ideal for every day riding. It came off feeling very sketchy at low speeds and I’m not sure how much better it would have gotten at high speeds. I was also worried every time I came to a crack or pothole that it would grab that tiny tire and make me eat gravel. The frame didn’t feel loose or flexy in the slightest though, it’s an engineering marvel. Perhaps when I’m older and awesomer, I’ll look at something like a New World Tourist, for biking on vacations.

The Long Haul Trucker, however, is just a very well thought out bike. It’s surprisingly quick for as “heavy” as it is (it’s heavy only by racey standards, I think it’s probably lighter than my IRO commuter, despite having gears and derailleurs), and it is a remarkably well engineered machine. It is, in a word, solid. You could take one out of the box and probably do a nation-spanning tour on it without thinking twice about the machine itself. The barend shifters are simplicity itself (so good, in fact, I bought a set just now on eBay) and the handling is superb. It goes where you want it to go without steering resistance or whippiness. It was almost good enough to make me buy it on the spot, and were I not such a bike nerd bitch tinkering doofus, I probably would have.

But I am, so I bought something else instead…

Yep, I decided that instead of buying one of the best thought out, most solid bicycles I have ever put between my thighs, I should buy a 30 year old basketcase from a company with a record of fucked up threading, made during an era where quality control was a joke.

Because, quite clearly, I am a genius. (The 95% lower price helped swing the scales, as did the idea of doing some fangly bike stuff)

Anyways, the pictures there show it in my old Formula/CXP22 fixed gear wheels (which I bought for my first fixed gear, ironically, also a Raleigh from this era), and I’ve stripped off the Raleigh-branded Suntour derailleurs and stem-shifters (blech). It’s got the Worlds Nastiest Brooks on there, for the time being. I need to source a new seatpost (I guess it’s 25.4, there’s no markings on the post itself, other than the Sturmey branding) and a new saddle, really. Look at this thing.

It’s the inverse of comfort and quality. It’s the vinyl manifestation of Raleigh of Nottingham’s pride being drawn and quartered.

Anyhow, I am trying to decide what to do with it. For now, I think I’ll clean it up, upgrade the seat, put my old fixed wheels on there, and ride it around for a bit. Probably put some nice cartridge brake pads on the front centerpull, yank the back one off (for now), and use it as a fair weather rig. I will definitely be taking the stupid turkeywings off, and the very poor quality levers with them. I might be installing a set of riser bars for the time being, just to see how I like it, but I have some other drop levers I can install on these bars (they’re not terrible) if need be.

In the long run, I kind of want to set this up as the road-ier bike. Skinnier tires (28’s maybe), higher gearing (I’m thinking about a Sturmey Archer 8-speed internal gear hub). I’m thinking about taking the Nitto Randonneur bars off the IRO and putting them onto this bike, and putting the riser bars onto the IRO, which could have some coolness. Maybe I’ll pick up some Mary bars for it. Hmmm.

Short shopping list, a new lockring, another set of ATAC pedals, some nice brake pads, probably a new chain.

Long shopping list, a new set of cranks, a 1/8 chainring, an internal gear hub… the list goes on.

Winter Gear Tracking: January 7

This morning was incredibly mild and wind free, which is both bizarre and pleasing. I managed to only sweat a little this morning, largely helmet sweat from my waterproof lid thingy. I believe some fangle is going to be required to get that to stop, probably just taping over some vents and dealing with the fact that sometimes my head will be wet. This goretex may be the best, most breathable watertight fabric in the world, but man does it make my noggin sweat.

This morning it was (according to the Google) 36 and calm, 93% humidity. I wore my granny panties (underarmor long johns) and my shorts (plain ass cargo shorts) along with the Burley jacket over a t-shirt and undershirt. More would have been overkill. Could have used less head heat, and undone some of the zips on the jacket.

Adventures in Cheapersitting

So, once I quit smoking, I started riding my bike again. That pretty much coincides with moving up to Oregon, so say 2004. I rapidly remembered that riding bikes with soft soled shoes kind of sucks, so the Trek 4900 I was riding got a pair of Shimano PD-M535 pedals. I got my IRO Rob Roy in early 2005. At that time it was wearing the same SPDs, which were switched out for a pair of used Time ATAC pedals when I started having spud problems (false engagements and a couple of high rpm disengagements). After two years of rock solid service, I figured my pedal worries were largely behind me aside from some bearing maintenance down the road.

The other day, I had another disengagement at speed, which almost resulted in a crash. I knew this was different from the first moment, because trying to re-engage the pedal just wasn’t working….

I had pulled my foot from my shoe.

See, I had noticed some poor velcro performance before. These were, after all, 3 year old entry level MTB shoes. The velcro had kind of fluffed out, so I gave it a little trim about a year and a half ago. It did it again, so I gave it another shave about three months ago. Apparently two shavings is the limit for velcro, because my non-drive-side shoe just let the two upper straps go and then nature took it’s course.

My worn out Body Geometry Sports Side view, fucked out velcro

I started shopping for new shoes, dreams of some fancy expensive Lake or Sidi shoes, the kind where you can get actual widths and whatnot (my wide feet aren’t particularly comfortable in most narrow-as-shit bike shoes, though the Body Geometry shoes were comfortable enough). After getting hit with some unexpected expenses, $170-$250 shoes just weren’t in the picture. I started looking at Nashbar for cheap shoes, but I had ill visions of ordering some $30 closeouts and not being able to ride in them without footcramps. I was kind of staggering around the whole thing, thinking about maybe going back to clips and straps (I have a spare set on my as-yet-unfinished-but-not-abandoned Beater/Grocery bike project) and normal shoes. I got as far as trying to figure out how to keep my shoelaces out of the chainring (which is an annoyance on a freewheel bike and damned near a tragedy on a fixed gear) when it hit me.


So I headed off to the craft store (Since when did Michaels only have one aisle of sewing stuff?) and pick up some eyelets ($2 for 25 eyelets, $2 for the setting tool which is handy but probably not necessary) grabbed my hammer and clicky knife and set to work.

The Mise en place for eyeletting

They’re more comfortable now than they were with velcro, but time will tell if the laces are more trouble than they’re worth. Here’s a shot of one completed shoe (less laces).

Mommy I'm a cobbler! DSCN2001

Update : All laced up and done with the first test ride.

Ready to ride

Conclusion? Cheap and effective. They’re comfortable and I feel more secure in the shoes than I have in a long time. When the laces are double knotted there isn’t much chance they could get into the chain. Aside from the ugliness factor of bright white tennis shoe laces, the vague chainsuckdeath paranoia, and the last metal ring (which I may or may not just leave there, maybe I can think of a use for it), I’m quite happy with the results. If nothing else, it has saved me from having to make a rush purchase of an item and gives me the freedom to search for a good value (and try on shoes in the store).

It also reminded me how long it’s been since I rode my bike without my laptop in a pannier bag, I got up to sprint a little and the back end went all wonky on me. Time to start doing that more.