Two Wheels

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects including everything from fixed gear bicycles to hopped up motorcycles.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Good Thing I'm Fond of Spam

Because I spent the grocery money on this little number:

It's a 1985 Gibson Flying V, which I picked up from J.B. Hart Music in Grand Junction, last week. I saw it there, week before last, but it was already sold. A guy had put a deposit on it.

I told Jan Hart that if he ever came across another Flying V or an Explorer, that he could sell this cheaply, to give me a call. The next day, just after we had returned to Denver, Jan called and told me that the guy who had bought the V came in to pick it up, and then decided that he would rather have a bass. So, Jan let him apply the money toward the bass, and called me.

Coincidentally, I had to return to Grand Junction on Monday, to inspect the CDOT lab, there, so I pulled some cash out of the bank and took it with me.

It didn't look like much, but the guitar played nicely and sounded like ... well, like a Flying V! These things growl, down low, and just have a real snarl, all over the fretboard.

 As I said, it was a bit of a Frankenstein, when I first saw it. The neck has been repaired. Then the whole guitar was rattle-canned red, over the original red paint!

 The Kahler tremelo (so 1980s) has been removed, and its cavity filled with a wood block.

 I ... I just don't know what this is all about...

 I removed the spray paint from the headstock and the neck. I left the original paint in place, where it still existed.

 Then, I resprayed the headstock in black, to match the original paint. I also replaced the weird, mismatched tuners, with some locking Sperzel tuners I had in my parts stash.

 The neck is factory paint, the body is still in Krylon, though I did sand it smooth to remove the runs, drips and orange peel.

I don't know why this one spot was down to bare wood. I may strip the entire back of the neck, eventually. I really do prefer the feel of the bare wood.

So, for about 30% of the normal cost of an Asian-made Epiphone V, I have a made in Nashville (June 5, 1985) Gibson. Yeah, it's been repaired, and the paint is weird, but I would rather have this on stage than a mint-conditon example. If something dings it; so what?

I played it for about an hour and a half, yesterday, after I got it put back together and restrung it. It's a beast! Expect to see it onstage, with Skull Full Of Blues, the next time we play.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

One Ride, One Flat

I was out of town, on the Western Slope, for work, last week. We left on Monday, went to Durango, and ended up in Grand Junction, at the end of the week, and back in Denver, Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, no room for a bike in the truck, so no riding was done.

Yesterday, I rode down to Kaladi Bros, Coffee, then rode around the neighborhood with Carol. We just toured the D.U. area, and rode the bike path along the drainage ditch, to get back to the house. All in all, 9 miles of knocking around on two wheels.

About a half hour after we got back to the casa, I looked over at the fat bike, and noticed that the sidewall of the rear tire was wrinkly. Sure enough, the tire was going flat.

I haven't had time to even look at it and see what caused it. Maybe, tonight, after Noella's b-day party...


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bike Build Saturday

I spent yesterday afternoon building up a bike for Adam Moore (of the Outsiders Band). He had come over, a couple of weeks ago, and we found a frame which suited him, along with some old-school 8-speed Shimano XTR parts to hang on it. The only thing that I wasn't enthusiastic about was that I didn't have any wheels which I deemed appropriate for the level of the build.

The frame is a Chromoly steel hardtail, with a clearcoat paint job, which Danny McGrady gave to me, a while back, in hopes that I could put it to good use. The XTR components came to me in a box of miscellaneous parts, from Daryl Funk, and consisted of shifter/brake lever assemblies, front and rear dearailleurs, and crankset/Octolink bottom bracket.

To complete the build, I pulled an 8-speed cassette out of my spares box, along with a saddle, bar, stem and RockShox Judy fork (old enough that it has the removable fork crown, rather than the press-fit assembly the later Judy had).  I didn't have any brakes, or a decent set of wheels, so I figured that I would buy some inexpensive Performance V-brakes, and use the wheels I had, with the idea of upgrading at some point in the future.

First things first: I set about cleaning up the rather gunky parts...

The main assembly has been cleaned, a bit, already, in this photo. The rear cage and pulleys show what the whole derailleur looked like, when I started.

The front derailleur was no cleaner.

But, it came out pretty nice, after 15 minutes of scrubbing and wiping. Imagine my aggravation, though, when I realized that I couldn't use the front derailleur for this build. The clamp is sized for an aluminum frame, and the lever arm is a bottom-pull configuration, rather than the top-pull that this frame requires. Luckily, I had an XT front derailleur, from the same era in time, which did work.

Eventually, as the bike took shape, I made the decision to use the Rolf Dolomite wheels which were originally on my pink Gary Fisher, along with the Avid V-brakes from the same bike. I don't think that I will ever build that bike up as a multi-speed mtb, again, and this was a good use for parts which have languished in my storage building for almost 10 years.

Ten years ... Good Lord!

Here's the bike, complete. The only new-from-the-package parts on it are the chain, cables, brake pads and headset spacers. Everything else came from the used parts bins, including the cool 26x2.35 Maxxis tires, and the tubes in them.

Adam plans on using this as an urban bike, so I put the semi-slick tires on it, and spaced the stem up to get the handlebar even with the seat. The bike looks good, and rides good. I told Adam, at the Outsiders Band show at Lost Lake, last night, that I almost hoped he wouldn't like it, so that I could keep it. But, in reality, I am glad to put all of the parts and the frame to good use for someone.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Multipurpose Time

When I got the new titanium fat bike frame, I planned on making use of it as not only a fat bike, but as a standard mountain bike, as well. I was going to build a rear wheel with the 170mm hub, and use a second fork in order to run a standard 29er wheel on the front.

The other day, I saw a set of wheels on eBay, with the 170mm rear hub, 135mm front hub and 29er rims for less than the cost of the parts to build them. Three days later, they were on my front porch.

I mounted larger disc rotors and tires on the wheels, and adjusted the rear derailleur to make complete swing over all nine cogs, and rode the semi-skinny wheels to the coffee shop, this morning.

 After I took these pictures, I mounted an outer chainring onto the crank set, in place of the "grind guard" it came with. Now I have the full range of gears, for mountain biking.

If I happen to come up with a suspension fork, I will be able to run it with a standard 29er wheel. Until then, it looks like I am going rigid, again...

Once I got everything set up, I swapped the wheels back to the big fat monster tires. I get such a kick out of riding around on those big mamajamas.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Walgoose Fat Bike Coming

Well, I obviously haven't been on the RatRod forum, for a while...

I got a question, in the comments, about my opinion of the Mongoose Dolomite. The only bike I knew of by that name, was a bmx model, from years ago. So, I looked at RatRod, and MTBR, and this what I found.

This is basically the Beast, with disc brakes, 1x7 freewheel gearing and a threadless headset. The projected price is $250.

I'm excited that the Mongoose is going to be available with gears and disc brakes, out of the box. $250 for that? Hell, yeah! I spent more than that converting my Beast. Admittedly, I ended up with better parts than what this bike is specced with. But, not having to modify, engineer and fabricate everything, in order to hang those parts, would certainly have made things easier.

And, this actually provides an entry-level machine to get into fat tire riding. And, before you leave a nasty comment about the bike being useless offroad, keep in mind that I have ridden my Beast conversion on some pretty gnarly Colorado Front Range trails, and it worked just fine.

I am tempted to order one of these, once they are available, and upgrade it a bit. Then, I would have a "guest bike" of the fat persuasion (which I would ride, and put the guest on my ti bike), to introduce people to the joys of fat bikes.

But, I am really trying to get out of the bike shop mentality, which makes me feel that I need to keep a fully stocked inventory of bikes around, for stuff like that. Maybe I'll just try to convince some of my friends to pop $250 on their own Walgoose, and then help them with the upgrades...


Monday, February 17, 2014

More Work On The Fat Ti Bike, And a Trip to Trader Joe's

I got some parts for the bike, last week, and finally got them all installed. First up, was a Problem Solvers bolt-on cable stop.

 I coupled that with the Problem Solvers Cross Pulley, which allowed me to use the bottom-pull derailleur I already had. I didn't really want to buy another derailleur, and this piece was affordable.

New seat post clamp

I had a mismatched set of GripShift shifters lying about, So, on they went. (Thanks to Danny Mc for the rear shifter!)

 The cog set had to be spaced out so that the  chain wouldn't rub the tire while using the small ring on the front.

The large cog on this stack is a 36-tooth. I should be able to climb trees with this rig!

I actually broke out the Funk ti bike, today, and rode over to the new Trader Joe's at Colorado and 8th, with Brad. Brad wanted some bottles of Two Buck Chuck, and I just went along for the ride. I ended up getting a Colorado whiskey I had never seen, plus one bottle of the wine.

On the way out of Trader Joe's, I found this squeaky-toy giraffe. In the background is a really cool two-sided sundial, in a park on the way home.

The top side tells time, in the summer, and the bottom (where Brad's bike is) tells time during the winter. I thought it was really cool.

This giant spider is in the back yard of a house across the street from the sundial. We managed to get by it, without it seeing us...

 Heartbreak awaited, when we arrived home. Apparently, the bottle of wine knocked a hole in my bottle of whiskey, as we rode. I didn't even get a sip!

Overall, though, even with the broken bottle of booze, it was a good ride, with temps in the low 60s and plenty of sunshine. Not too shabby for the middle of February.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Elk Meat Pies/Titanium Fat Bike

What do elk meat pies and ti bikes have in common? I assembled both in my house, this week...

Danny Mc brought me some elk meat, part of the elk that he took in this year's hunt, which included some ground meat.

 I browned some of the ground meat in the skillet, along with onions and garlic. Then, I rolled out some canned biscuits, put some of the meat, along with some cheese on it. and folded the dough over.

 Once folded, the dough got sealed along the edges, with a fork. Then, into a 350 degree oven. (I used my toaster oven, to cook 4 at a time.)

I cooked them until one side was brown, then flipped them and waited until the second side was browned, as well. (The photo makes the browning look a little darker than it is, by the way.) They were quite delicious, and I plan on making them, again, soon.

 This is the titanium fat bike, which I also assembled, this week. The frame is from a local frame builder, John Hargadon. I couldn't really afford it, but the price was such that I didn't feel that I could afford to pass it up.

 The wheels, brakes, bars, stem, rear derailleur and fork came off of the Walgoose Beast. The rest of the parts are either new, or parts I had in the shop, awaiting use.

 The Beast will go back together as a fat-tired cruiser, for Danny's wife. I plan on lacing an internal-gear hub into the rear rim, and the frame will get an orange respray.

I'll miss the Beast. It is the only bike I have ridden within the past 3 or 4 months, and I ended up with just shy of 650 miles on it, since I added the odometer. If I had the money and space, I would keep it around. But, at least it is staying in the family,

 I stayed up until 12:30, this morning, getting the bike ridable for this morning. Appropriately, and typically for me, the first ride on it was to Kaladi Brothers Coffee. The temperature was a relatively balmy 25 degrees, so I didn't put the bar mitts on, this morning.

 It's still not complete, but it is usable.

 I haven't figured out how to run cable to the front derailleur. Oddly, there are cable guides for a front shifter, but no cable stop on the frame. Not sure how I am going to get around that. Plus, I have a bottom-pull derailleur, and the routing is for a top-pull.

 While the frame accepts a 30.9mm seat post, I shimmed it for a 27.2mm post. This way, I can swap the seat between this bike and the other ti bike, depending on whether, or not, I want the saddle bag on the bike. It is a lot quicker and easier to swap the whole assembly than it is to take the bag and support off of one bike, then reinstall them on the other. (That cheap seat post clamp will go away, as soon as I find another one which fits. It was just what I had in the shop.)

 I bought Ergon grips for the bike. I have them on the Funk titanium bike, and they are pretty comfortable. I have a pretty severe problem with hand numbness, on longer rides, so the relatively expensive grips are worth the cost, to me.

 I am not a big fan of Shimano Rapidfire shifters, but this one was lying around, and I needed a shifter. It works great, as the Shimano units usually do, but I am not fond of the complexity of the shifter. I will probably find a GripShift shifter for it, eventually.

The ControlTech seat post is new, also. It has a bit of a set-back on the clamp, which works well with the Brooks saddle.

My eventual plan is to build up a conversion kit (rear wheel, suspension fork, and front wheel) which will allow me to run 29er tires on this frame. At that point, I will have the two ti bikes which allow for all of the different styles of riding I care to do (except for fixed-gear riding). I will have the fixed-gear road bike, and a fixed mountain bike with studded tires (for icy commutes), as well. If all goes according to plan, I hope to sell the majority of my other bikes, both to pay or this frame and to simplify my life, a bit.

It is easy to become a slave to one's possessions, and I feel that I have, to an extent. So, I hope to mitigate that, somewhat, by clearing out a few bikes.