Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Beat but not beaten...

Rather than rebuild the rear wheel on the Cafe Scorcher with a flip-flop hub, I decided to utilize an inexpensive set of Performance Bicycles disc wheels to do the trick. I had read an article about the the Boone disc-mount fixed cogs on, so I decided to get one and try it out. I figured that, since a mass-produced Dura Ace track cog will run you anywhwere from $22.00 to $28.00, paying $40.00 for a titanium bolt-on cog is a bargain.

The cog came in the mail, today. What a cool product; more a piece of art than a piece of equipment. Not only is it precision-cut from titanium flat stock, but it features a machined ridge which fits around the disc mount on the hub, strengthening the connection between the cog and the hub body. This thing is way cooler than a flat piece of metal has any right to be.

I installed it on the disc mount, and installed a single-speed adapter I had ordered form Quality Bicycle products, though my LBS, last year on the other side, producing a flip-flop fixed/free rear wheel. I had wondered how everything would line up, but apparently for no reason. Both the free side and the fixed side yield perfectly straight chainlines.

The singlespeed adapter, being black, looks like part of the hub, and really cleans up the looks of the hub.

Now, I guess I need to send the frame off for powder coat. I originally built this bike as more of a styling exercise, and painted it in a hurry. The paint isn't really holding up too well, and I am actually using the bike quite a bit. So, I should probably put a more robust finish on it.

Of course, I have a fully-lugged steel KHS mountain bike sitting around, which still has the rear brake mounts. With the freewheel side of the hub in play, that would come in really handy. Not that I plan on using the freewheel, but you never know.

So, maybe I will rebuild the original rear wheel of this bike, repaint the frame, and sell it. Then, powdercoat the KHS, and build it up as my one-gear flip-flop mountain bike.

Stay tuned, sports fans...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Jon Versus Math. Math Wins Again!

I'm such an idiot about numbers. I posted that whole long thing about using math in everyday life, and did the calculations completely wrong!

A 48 inch gear means the equivalent of an old-fashioned high wheel bike with a 48 in diameter front wheel (which I happen to have, so you think I would have caught this mistake before now).

Circumference equals 2 x radius x pi. I looked it up to be sure.

Therefore, one pedal revolution on a 48 inch wheel moves you forward 150.8 inches, not the 48 I used in my original calcs.

So 63,360 inches in a mile for 20 miles means I travelled 1,267,200 inches.

Divide that by 150.8 and you get 8403 pedal strokes on that particular ride on the black bike.

If anyone wants to check my math, this time, feel free to tell me if I messed it up again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The French Connection

I'm developing a taste for the Gallic cycles...

I picked up yet another Peugeot, last night. This one is destined to stay in the fleet as a singlespeed freewheel bike.

Burd Phillips tells me I should breed it with the PX10. But, who needs a bunch of baby bikes rolling around smoking stinky French cigarettes?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Su Su Suzue, Goodbye

Brad Click ( and I went to Fruita, on Friday, and rode some of the primo singletrack there. I took the Cafe Scorcher, with it's new lower gearing, and we rode Mary's Loop and Lion's Loop.

Well, Brad rode those two. I rode all of Mary's and part of Lion's.

Mary's Loop, if you've never been there, is a combination of some double track, and rocky singletrack. It follows along the edge of a cliff overlooking the Colorado River for much of the way, and is one of those scenic rides where you stop every now and then to just look around. The trail demands enough attention that it's hard to sight-see while pedalling.

The trail is perfect for fixie riding, though. The rocky ledges and climbs were all easily negotiated; challenging but fun. We were having so much fun, in fact, that we decided to turn onto Lion's Loop and get another 5 or 6 miles of riding in before the sun set.

We looped around Lion's until we were once again paralleling the river; the most technical part of that particular trail. What a blast.

We got to the long climb which takes you to the top of Mack Ridge, and I noticed that I was having more and more difficulty in keeping good traction as I climbed. I had been thrown off of my rhythm a few times,already, by the rear wheel slipping on climbs, so I didn't think too much about it.

Then, I had a reason to think a lot about it, as I realized that I wasn't spinning the tire. I was actually spinning the cog on the hub.

Aggravating, but not surprising. On the drive from Denver to Fruita, I had mentioned to Brad that I was planning on getting a sturdier hub, now that I'm actually riding off-road on the bike. The rear hub which came on this bike, in 1988, is a pretty crappy Suzue, and was never intended to take the kind of abuse that fixed gear off-road riding puts on a hub.

Of course, I wasn't planning on replacing it in the middle of a ride.

I hoped that I could take the lock ring off of the hub, put it to the inside of the cog, and have enough good threads left on the hub to at least get out to the road back to the trailhead. So, I took out my old Alien tool, put the blade of the screwdriver in the notch of the lockring, and whacked it with a rock in an effort to break the lockring loose. What I broke was the Alien.

With the screwdriver blade now separate from the rest of the tool, I continued to try to remove the lockring. Finally, I got it to move, and eventually spun it off.

Then, I spun the cog off. What I didn't realize was that I also spun the rest of the threads off of the hub. I reassembled the lockring and cog onto the hub, in reverse order, got on the bike, and immediately spun the cog off of the hub.

Tired of working on the thing, by then, I just tied the chain up out of the way and started walking. Brad rode along, slowly, with me for a while. Then, we decided that he should go ahead and ride back to the trailhead and get the truck, since it was 7 or 8 miles away.

And, I walked, eventually taking a wrong turn onto Mack Ridge Trail, which was a fortuitous accident as that cut a lot of distance off the hike.
Rough trail to walk, though, particularly in bike shoes.

Eventually, I called Brad's cell phone and told him I was on the Mack Ridge, and would meet him at the Mack Parking Lot. He had taken the same turn, and was already at the parking lot with the truck.

And, on I trudged, contemplating how aggravating it is to push a bike on a really cool trail, rather than riding. Finally, I reached the last half mile of the trail, all downhill and rideable with only a front brake, and coasted on down to the truck.

The margaritas and buffalo burger at the RockSlide went down well, that night.

The next day, we rode (I had the Pink Bike with me, as well, on the trip) with Rich, Brian, Adam and Pat on the same trail, with the addition of Horsethief Loop. Then Brad and I drove home.

It's been a while since I had an adventure like that. I didn't realize how much I missed it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Paintjob Redux

Burd's frame and fork are painted, and the bike is built! This may well be the coolest Montague/Rudge folding mountain bike ever. Formula flip-flop hubs, Truvative Isis-drive crank and BB, Deore V-Brakes, Ritchey moab Bite 2.1 slicks, Sun CR18 rims, etc., etc.

Burd wants the bars cut down, some, and the brake lever on the left, rather than the right. Then, it's complete, and I get to disassemble it partially and ship it away. Another baby bird leaves the nest...

Art Swap

BreAnne Erickson is a local artist, here in Denver, and also happens to be one of my favorite baristas down at Kaladi Brothers Coffee. She had a showing of some of her art, this month, including one really cool painting she did of the house band at Dazzle.

Being the Jazz fan that I am, I really wanted this painting. But, I pretty much spent all of my available cash on the Campy tool kit. What to do? What to do?

Well, I mentioned this to Bre, and she told me she was looking for a cool old bike to cruise around on. Just so happens...I had a fuschia Schwinn Suburban 5-speed from the mid to late sixties (near as I can tell), and I sent her a picture of it.

It was covered up in Spruce sap, generally dirty, with rotten tires and rusty chrome rims. Oddly enough, Bre was very hip to swapping.

So, I cleaned and waxed the frame, took off the old wheels and replaced them with aluminum-rimmed 27-inchers, ditched the drop bar and replaced it with the stock bar and white grips from a 40 year old Western Flyer, stuck on a white seat to match, and overhauled the bearings and drivetrain, including installing a new chain. A Grinder Bikes sticker on the rear fender finished it off, nicely.

I think it came out to be a really cool bike. I've had it for almost a year, just waiting for someone to come along who likes the color as much as I do.

I took it down to Bre at the coffe shop, this morning. The color made it appropriate in an "Easter Egg" kind of way.

I get to bring the painting home in a week, or so. I'm very happy, and Bre seems to be, as well.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Math? Math? I don't Need No Stinkin' Math!

Anyone who knows me is well aware that mathematics is my least favorite subject, ever. I never enjoyed it in school, and avoid it whenever possible, now.

Yet, statistics always intrigue me, and there's really no way to arrive at them without some applied mathematics. So, Dottie Hutchinson was right when she told me, as my 10th grade Algebra teacher, that I would, indeed, someday use it.

Today, I accidently ended up taking my Cafe Scorcher on a 20 mile ride. I bumped into friends at Kaladi Brothers Coffee, and tagged along on their Sunday-morning jaunt. Only problem was, I was on the Cafe Scorcher, which I have regeared for off-road use.

I have a 30x16 drivetrain, which yields about a 48.75 inch gear on the MTB wheels. There are 63,360 inches in a mile. Divide that by 48.75 and you get 1,299.69 pedal strokes per mile. Therefore, being on a fixed-gear and unable to coast, I turned my pedals approximately 25,994 times in the 20 mile ride.

Math, it's what's for dinner...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Bicycle Paint Job In 126 Easy Steps

I don't really know how many steps are involved, but a rattlecan paintjob which actually looks good and will stay on a bike for awhile takes some time and effort.

Here is the Rudge folding bike that Burd is having me build (and paint) for him. It came from Merry Olde England, via regular Parcel Post. Only took about six weeks to get from Blighty to here.

The paint was somewhat beat, and the decals were pretty much trashed, on one side, so the decision to paint it was made. Simple enough. Of course, we had many, many different proposals going back and forth as to what color, exactly, it should end up.

While we thought it over, I got to work on prepping the frame. Burd wanted no fittings other than the ones which lock the frame in place, and front brake studs. So, I got busy with the tools of the trade; angle grinder, propane torch, file and sandpaper.

There were a lot of fittings to remove, including rear brake bosses, rear brake cable stop and cable guides, derailleur hanger and cable stops, a front drailleur braze-on and the eyelets on the dropouts. All of these required either cutting or torching the frame, then filing and sanding the area smooth. I had a day of good weather, which made the work relatively pleasant.

Then, I stripped off the remaining parts (headset, bottom bracket, QR's and pivot lock), and took it to the bead blaster to get all the paint off.

I had the blaster use plastic media, because I was afraid that the sand would infiltrate the pivot mechanism (essentially one tube inside another, lubed via a grease zerk) and queer the works. Two days after dropping it off, I got the frame back from the blaster, and threw some black primer on it. You have to primer it pretty quickly, after blasting, or it will develop a layer of surface rust which then has to be sanded off before painting.

Then, a quick rough assembly just to make sure everything goes together before the paint goes on. I had to do some grinding and shaping inside the bottom bracket shell, then chase the threads (yay Campy tool kit!) in order to get the Isis-drive cartridge bottom bracket to fit through the bore. That's the kind of thing you don't want have to deal with while trying to protect a brand-new paint job.

Due to a mix-up on the hub order, I only had the rear wheel built, so I used the front wheel off of my Cafe Scorcher to mock it up. At this point, we mounted three different bars to figure out what suited. A 2" rise MTB bar was the choice.

So, once again, I removed the components, and prepared to paint. It was finally decided that we would go with a white frame/black fork combo, with all black parts. This required another coat of (white) primer on the frame. Once it was dry, I applied three coats of Glossy White Krylon to the frame, an hour apart, and three coats of Glossy Black to the fork.

Tonight, I'll cook it in my bathroom (I have a space heater which will bring the temp up to 135 degrees F!), and then wet-sand, tomorrow, and apply a coat of Crystal Clear.

Then, cook it Sunday night, and repeat the process on Monday. Should, at that point, be done with the paint.

I'm basically painting this to match my dog, Jack.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dream Come True

I (and most other bike mechanics my age) have always dreamed of owning a Campagnolo tool kit. Problem is, they haven't made them for years, they were expensive enough when new, and collectors have driven the price up out of most people's reach.

However, the shop I worked at had one, and I got to use it for years, even though it wasn't mine.

Just recently, I talked my ex-boss into selling the Campy kit to me, and he actually let it go for a reasonable price (under a grand)!

I just picked it up, today, and I keep opening it up just to look at it, and handle the tools. Campy tools, like Campy components, just have a certain feel to them. I can't really explain it. If you are a musician, you know how a top-end instrument actually just feels better to the hand than a student-level model. It's like that.

I mean, even the wooden box it comes in is cool.

Anyway, I love having all of the cutting tools and everything at hand. Can't wait to rethread a fork, or something.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

At Least It Got Me Home

I took a nice little 30 mile ride on the Fat Black Cafe bike (as I've taken to calling it), today. About two hours after I got home, I moved it from the living room to the bike building area, and found that the front tire was flat. It had been fine when I got home. I never noticed it getting low, or anything. But, there it was, flat as a pancake.

Now, I don't find it surprising that it went flat. Part of the ride took me down a portion of the Highline Canal Trail, to the Cherry Creek Trail, here in Denver. Both of those trails are notorious havens for the "goat's head thorn", which cause many, many bike flats in this area.

About 3-1/2 miles of the ride was on the dirt singletrack mountain bike trail which parallels the Cherry Creek Trail. Again, a high risk area for flats.

No, it didn't surprise me that my tire was flat. What surprised me was that it didn't go flat during the ride. Instead, it got me safely home before succumbing to its wounds.

The singletrack part of the ride was very interesting. The trail I was riding is not much of a challenge, technically, on a geared bike. I used to ride it on my highwheeler, to make it interesting, a few years ago, and I haven't ridden it at all in a year and a half, probably. So, it has changed, somewhat in the meantime.

Where the creek bank has eroded, the trail has moved to the side. New anti-erosion sections of rock have been added in places, and some short, steep, drop-offs have been added. It was fun, even though I was over-geared and had my stem a little too low. (The bike is set up for around-town duty.) It was challenging, and fun, on the fixie.

This evening was Roller Derby night, at the Bladium. My friend Randy and I went. Our local team, the Rocky Mountain 5280 Fight Club went at it with the Neander Dolls, from Las Vegas. I took some pictures, but it's kinda dark in Bladium, and they didn't really come out very well, so I can't post them. Suffice it to say, it was a good show and a fun time was had by all.

Oh, and the PX10 I bought off of eBay a couple of weeks ago is built, complete with white powder coat, black painted Nervex Pro lugs and a new decal kit from

Watch for it on the page in the next week, or two.

I'm working on another Triumph bicycle, too, which will actually go up for sale on my site (I'm keeping the PX). It is back from powder coat, and I hope to have it built in a few days. Watch this space, as they say.