Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fender? Heck, I Hardly Know Her...

Nothing says "geeky commuter bike" better than a set of nice, black plastic fenders. Needless to say, I am quite pleased with these.

The sticker says:


No Emissions Vehicle

I have sold the rear ENO-hubbed wheel on the bike to a fellow with an older Cannondale (like I originally used this one on, with good results), so I ordered new wheels for the Diablo. They should be here sometime next week. I sorta wanted silver, but it is quite a bit cheaper to buy prebuilt wheels than to buy the parts to build them, myself, and the prebuilt ones I wanted only come in black.

They will look good with the other black components, but silver seems more appropriate to the age of the frame. Of course, I run black rims on the Orange Peugeot, which is 15 years older than this bike, so I don't know why it even concerns me. This bike is meant to be utilitarian transportation, anyhow.

Though, that doesn't stop me from wanting to make it esthetically pleasing; in other words, "Fly." (To steal a line from Soul Coughing.)

In other commuter news, I hit 83 consecutive work days of riding in on the bike, and 1500 miles of commute last Thursday.

The weather is in that mode where I wear a lot of clothes in the morning, then have to pack most of them in the panniers on the afternoon ride home. This is my favorite time of year to ride, because of that.

It's supposed to rain on Tuesday, so the fenders may come in handy. One drawback is that they don't leave enough clearance for the snow chains, but I don't think the U-Brake has enough clearance for them, anyway, so it probably doesn't matter.

I'm hoping the 29-inch wheels on the GT will work better in the snow, anyway. We'll cross that snow bridge when we come to it (hopefully more successfully than Robert Wagner in The Mountain).


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nuff Z Nuff

I got up to find the fourth flat in three days on the GT, this morning. I'm beginning to have doubts as to whether using it as a commuter is a good idea.

It's Fall, here, and the goathead thorns are plentiful. Riding a bike with no thorn protection on any of the bike paths, or even on many of the streets around here, is just asking for a flat. But, I have yet to see a 29er tube that is self-sealing, nor can I find a Mr. Tuffy liner (or its equivalent) in a length and width which would offer any protection. I ride a short distance on a bike path on my afternoon route, and I suspect that's where I'm picking up the thorns.

So, this bike, which I put together with the idea that it could be my backup bike, may just become the primary commuter, since I can get thorn protection to fit the 26" tires.

The bike is a Jamis Diablo from the late 80's or early 90's with a fillet-brazed front triangle and below-the-chainstay u-brakes on the rear. I put it together out of leftover parts (the ENO hubbed wheelset from the pink bike's fixed gear days, the Mungo bar from the KHS I sold to one of the Adams down at Kaladi, the Wright's saddle from my Triumph fixed gear, etc.), and it just happens to be one of those bikes that fell into place just right.

The paint and decals are in near-perfect condition, and I kinda like the pastel green. If I park it and the pink bike side-by-side, it's like being in Miami.

I figure I can get along with the ENO on the Jamis because the bike has horizontal rear dropouts, and I don't have to rely on the eccentric axle to maintain the chain tension. If I come up with a better wheelset, later, I might swap out. Then again, I might not.

Anyway, I think I'll put a cyclometer on it, Slime tubes in the tires, and start using it on the commute and see how it goes. The 29er might just get a bigger cog on the back and become a true off-roader that I can use as an emergency backup.

This is my favorite angle from which to photograph bikes.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Composition: Tires in the Key of A Flat

I got up this morning and went about my normal routine. I turned on the TV to get the weather and news, fed the dog, etc.

After I put Jack out in the dog pen, I was brushing my teeth when I wandered into the livingroom to look at whatever was on the news. (Am I the only one who wanders around the house while brushing his teeth?). That was when I noticed that the GT was sitting on a flat rear tire.

It seems like it's always the rear; the harder of the two wheels to remove and replace.

So, I got dressed, packed my lunch into the pannier and rolled the bike out to the shop. I figured that, since this was a "convenient" flat (at home, not on the road) I'd throw the bike into the stand to simplify things.

After unhooking the trailer from the pink bike and stowing it away, hanging the pink bike on its hooks and taking the singlespeed MTB I'm building up for Tom Turley out of the bikestand and perching it on the futon, I put the GT in the stand.

Simplify...ummm, yeah.

Anyway, I grabbed a 29er tube off of the shelf, loosened the axle nuts and got started. After extracting the tube, I put some air in it to see if I could locate the leak. No such luck.

Then, I ran a cloth around the inside surface of the tire in an effort to locate whatever had punctured the tube in the first place. Again, no go.

I installed the new tube and aired it up. That required 115 strokes on my floor pump to reach 65 psi. I usually air the tires up to 80 psi, then ignore them for a month before re-airing. But, I was in a hurry, and really didn't want to do any more pumping.

Then, I proceeded to reinstall the wheel...only to be reminded that the WTB ExiWolf 2.3 tires on this bike won't fit throught the V-brakes when inflated.


Well, I for sure didn't plan on deflating the big monster and pumping it up again. Down from the tool board came a 5mm allen wrench, and off the bike came the left brake arm. Then, once the wheel was back in the frame, I reinstalled the brake arm, hooked up the cable and I was ready (finally) to go to work.

As an aside, I have to say that I really do like the eccentric bottom bracket/vertical dropout setup on the bike. No messing around with chain tension or wheel alignment is necessary. Just hook the chain on the cog and chainring and then swing the wheel up into the dropouts. Sweet and easy.

When I build a fixed MTB or cross frame, I will probably go this route, although I will still use standard horizontal drops in a road fixie, just because I like the way they look.

At 5:55, twenty minutes after I wheeled the bike out of the house, I was finally on the way to work. I was in the building, at CDOT, by 6:30, still a half-hour before I am required to be there. That's one reason why I leave so early: A delay won't necessarily make me late to work.

The other reason I leave so early is to miss the automobile traffic. I saw a bit more than normal, this morning, but still had an easy uneventful ride in.

At about 2:30, I walked into my cubicle only to be confronted with a flat front tire.

Great! Another "convenient" flat. How much convenience does one man rate in a single day?

Was it a slower leak from the same source as the flat on the rear, or something I picked up on the way in? I don't know.

I found two thorns in the tire, and pulled them out. I took the wheel off and proceeded to remove the tire, only to realize that I had no tire irons in my tool bag.

Man, oh, man.

I managed to get the tire off using the handle of my nail clippers as a tire iron, then pumped some air into the tube.

Sure enough, there were two holes, one for each thorn. I decided to patch them, rather than replace the tube. I wanted to save my spare tube in case I had some bad luck on the way home. I only carry one tube, and I prefer to save it and my CO2 cartridge for roadside repair.

Long story short, 265 strokes of my frame-mount mini-floorpump gave me 65psi in the tire.

The flat this morning was my first one in a good while. In fact, I have over 500 miles on the GT, alone, since I bought it and that was my first flat on it. I'm hoping it's at least that long before I have the next one.

Speaking of mileage, I hit 1400 commuter miles and 82 workdays in a row that I've ridden the bike in. In fact, I can only account for about 5 days since May 1 that I haven't ridden the bike, at all. My motorbike, truck and scooter are all kinda neglected, at this point.

Time to go check the tires for thorns, I suppose.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Summer Is Over

Regardless of what the calendar says.

This past week I noticed that not only am I leaving the house in the dark, I'm also getting to work in the dark. Well, not pitch-black, when I get to work, but still dark enough that I wouldn't ride without lights.

So, the long lazy days of summer are gone.

Of course, the 45 degree temps as I leave in the morning feel more Fall-like than Summer-like, also.

Now, I've never really liked Autumn. Everybody always talks about how pretty the leaves are, and how nice the crisp autumn air is. I've always just seen the impending descent of Winter, the loss of daylight and the inexorable march of time. Fall made me feel sad... and old.

That's whay I'm a little confused, this year. I'm actually digging the changing weather, and I sorta like the dark ride into work.

I don't know. Winter-time drove me crazy, last year, with all of the snow we had here. I'm really hoping we don't have a repeat of that. But, for right now, I'm just enjoying the nice weather while we have it. I'll worry about Old Man Winter when he gets here.

I hit 1350 commuting miles, last week. Seventy some-odd days of riding back and forth (though I now have a loop I ride, rather than actually back and forth). That may be one reason why I am not hating/dreading the weather. In a strange way, I am looking forward to riding to work in less-than-ideal weather.

It's a challenge, I suppose. And that makes it fun. I don't do a lot of mountain biking, nowadays, because I just don't want to drive my car somewhere in order to ride a bike. So, I don't have that form of challenging riding to keep me interested. Riding in the dark/rain/snow/wind to get to work turns riding to work into an adventure of sorts.

I guess, for me, the adventure makes up for the crappy weather to come.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thrills! Chills! Outright, White-knuckled Fear!

This may the scariest thing I ever ride. It is for sure the scariest thing I've ridden, thus far.
The seat is about 5 feet off the ground, even about 10 inches higher than the seat on my highwheeler.

It's not really finished, yet, and I've only ridden it across the yard (with no air in the front tire). Stay tuned for further developments (chain tensioner, rideable tires, a less flexible method of attaching the top to the bottom, etc.).


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More (Yawn) Commuter News

As of the end of August, I had ridden to work and back 72 times for a total of 1230 miles.
I've changed my route home, so that I now ride a loop rather than an out-and-back route. The new route also keeps me off of a couple of unpleasantly busy streets and takes me through a neighborhood made up of Mid-50's Modern homes.
I mounted the 29er tire to a flip-flop wheel on the rear so that I could run fixed gear, and I am running the stock wheel in front. A new rack, solidly bolted on, and a Thomson seatpost have solved the loadshifting and seatpost-slipping problems I was having.

I've been adding some graphics, by hand. I thought the white paint was just a bit too plain.

I'm running 32x18 gearing which gives me 51.5 gear inches. Cruising speed is about 17 mph at 100 rpm, but I don't want to push these huge tires uphill with anything bigger. Commute time is still about the same as with the higher gear and smaller tires, since I slow down or stop so many times between here and there that cruising speed is less of an issue than accelleration.

I'm wondering how well it's going to work for me, off-road.


I noticed, today, that I have over 11,000 hits on my site counter. That means each of my 6 readers has been doing some multiple checking-in, I guess!

I don't get a lot of comments on the blog. That's partly because most of my friends either email me, or just mention in person that they read it. It's also because I have a fairly boring blog, I suppose. It's more of an informative blog, about what I've been up to, than an entertainment site, I guess.

I read a few blogs on a regular basis which tend to get quite a few comments. The Comics Curmudgeon ( will get up to 400 or 500 comments, sometimes. Bike Snob NYC ( doesn't get that many, but he gets quite a few on a daily basis, as does Planetary Gears (

All of these sites have one thing in common; Snark.

Snarking is, to me, probably the lowest form of humor. It is akin to sitting on a bench at the mall, making fun of people as they walk by (without them hearing, of course). While some wit may come through, and the conversation is amusing, it really doesn't take great comedic talent to point out that out-of-shape people need to not wear belly shirts, or that old guys with bald spots shouldn't have pony tails.

I read these sites because I find the snarky comments amusing, and kinda funny at times (particularly BSNYC's take on bad Craigslist Ads). But, what confuses me, is the rabid response that the peanut gallery throws in on the comments page.

This is particularly true at Comics Curmudgeon. I swear, these people assign an altogether unhealthy importance to the comings and goings of comic strip characters, especially those in the comic For Better or For Worse.

Sometimes, it's like you can actually see the spittle flecking their monitor screens as they foam at the mouth in a frenzy of vitriol.

I'll admit that I have posted on that site a couple of times, usually to answer questions people have posited. And, I scan through the comments, but mainly to check out links to parody sites, and such.

Anyway, I find such nonsense a little unpleasant, after a while.

Even more unpleasant is the tendency of BSNYC's commentors to belittle people who don't ride whatever kind of bike the commentor rides. And, there is a lot of "hipster fixie poseur" talk by (supposedly) "real" fixie riders, such as bike messengers and track racers.

Sorry buddy, but just because I like to ride fixed doesn't mean I'm trying to "steal your cool". Believe me, if I was going to pretend to be someone, it wouldn't be some penniless skeezix who delivers boxes for a living, or some anorexic who rides in circles as fast as he possibly can.

Sorry if that sounds kinda nasty, but I'm really getting tired of that particular crap. I'm not pretending to be a courier, or a keirin racer. I'm just riding the kind of bike I most like to ride.

So, what's the point of all this? I don't really know; I was just thinking about it on the ride home from work today, in the rain, and thought I'd just put it out there.

Check out the three sites (they are entertaining), and let me know what you think, if you want.


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Goth Cruiser

I built a cool bike for Lisa, down at Kaladi Bros. At least, I think it's cool (hope she does, too). She asked for a 3-speed cruiser, flat black, with "skulls and snakes and stuff" on it. Coincidentally, I had just picked up a Huffy 3-speed at a yard sale, so I told her I would fix it up.

I got to thinking that the Huffy frame was kinda boring, so I transferred the parts from it over to a 1940's Texas Ranger frame I had sitting around, after painting and "decorating" it.

I tried to not go overboard on it.

I'm particularly fond of the "Re-entry Skulls" on the top tube.