Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Apparently, I'm Tough on The Equipment...

As I was rolling the snow bike out of my cubicle, today, at quitting time, I heard an odd sound as I rolled around the corner.  With a sneaking suspicion that I knew what was wrong, I looked at the rear wheel as I pushed the bike along the hallway.

Sure enough, the rim was tweaking over and hitting the brake pad.  I stopped and looked more closely at the wheel.  Sure enough;  I had another broken spoke. It's the fourth broken spoke I've had on this bike;  three on this wheel, one on the Rolf wheel with the non-studded tires.

I have no idea what the problem is.  The spokes on the bike are 14 gauge, stainless steel spokes.  That's pretty standard for mid-grade mountain bike wheels.  The rims are fine, and the hubs are in good shape.  The wheels (which were on the bike when I bought it) look to be in good shape, with no evidence of hard use/abuse.   But, I'm losing spokes like a meth head loses teeth.

Luckily, the roads have pretty much cleared off with the warmer temps we had, today.  So, I'll ride the yellow bike, tomorrow.  Even if the roads were still icy, I think I'd just put the 700c studded tires on the yellow bike and ride it, any way, because I am tiring of replacing spokes.  I  might just build up another snow bike, and repurpose the DiamondBack.


A Short Rant

You know those "SNAP" thingies people have on their blogs, which flash up a little preview of a link?

I hate 'em.

I hate how they pop up and obscure what I'm trying to read as I accidently scroll across them. And, I hate how they shut down my server about half the time.

That is all. Return to your normal routine.



Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Magic Bikes"

One last post for the day.
I now have two 1980s Specialized mountain bikes converted to 700c wheels.  The yellow bike is (I think) a 1988 model and had below-the-chainstay rear u-brakes, originally.  It is now fixed gear, and has only front v-brakes mounted on a replacement fork from a Giant hybrid.

The black bike is the 1984  StumpJumper Sport I've been working on, all week.  

Over the past few years, I've built up three or four other similar bikes, and ended up selling them.  I call them "magic bikes" because there is something about this set-up which seems to make the bike faster than it should be.  When I commute on the yellow bike, and just loaf along, I still get home faster than I do on my other bikes when I try to go fast.

The geometry of the frames make them very stable, but they have a more lively feel than a touring frame.  Plus, they are brick-tough, having been designed for off-road, use and I don't have any qualms about commuting daily with loaded panniers on them.

Not to mention that I just like the looks of them.  These were mountain bikes that I wanted, when they new, but couldn't afford.  So, I get a bit of pleasure out of just seeing them sitting there.

I think both of these bikes are due for refinishing.  The yellow one has original paint, but it is in sad shape and needs to be redone (and the fork doesn't match).  The black Stumpy has about 3 pounds of rattlecan paint on it.  

I plan to paint the yellow one in the fastest color known to man (orange), and I think I'll have the Stumpy powder-coated in black.  I like the old-school look it has with the black paint and silver components/fork.  That has to wait until the cash-flow picks up a bit, though.


Updates To The LeMond

While I working on the Stumpy and the orange bike, I also pulled the LeMond down and fixed a long-term annoyance.  I removed the front Avid Shorty cantilevers to put them on the Stumpy, and I replaced them with some old-school Shimano cantis.  This made me want to finally get the v-brakes off of the back of the Lemond, and replace them with more of the old-school Shimanos

I had left the v-brakes on the bike when I converted it from being a cross-bike to it's current fixed gear state.  The v-brakes had worked well with the Campy Ergo Shifters I had been running,  but they were completely useless with the brake levers I installed when converting the bike.  But, the bike had no accommodation for a cable stop, needed to run cantis, so I left the v-brakes on just to avoid having a dead brake lever attached to nothing. 

I modified the seat post collar to make room for a bolt-mounted hanger, then modified the hanger to fit the bolt.  It took about 20 minutes of grinding and filing to get everything to work.

I think these are awesome-looking brakes.  I'd like to run these on the Stumpy, but my brake pad relocaters won't work on them, so they wouldn't line up with the 700c rims on the 26"-wheel frame.

Front brakes.  (I hate it when Blogger rotates my pictures for no reason, and I can't un-rotate them.)


L'Orange is Back On The Road

The above photo shows the orange Peugeot with its new shoes.  I re-spaced a 27" road rear wheel, centered it, installed the cog Rotafixie-style and mounted it up along with the matching front wheel.  Performance brand 27x1-1/4" tires are a close approximation of the 700x35c tires which were on the wheels with which I had originally built up the bike.

Here is the bike in its original configuration.  Those black wheels went to the yellow commuter bike.  The rear rim on the yellow bike was blowing out, so robbed Peter to pay Paul.  I then ordered in new rims to lace to the hubs, which are sealed bearing Formula flip-flops and well worth saving.  

I have yet to size up spokes, though; partly because I really wanted to put silver wheels on the Peugeot.  You didn't see black anodized wheels in 1974, so I wanted to put on a wheelset which was more period correct.

Unfortunately, I don't have a silver set of track wheels sitting around.  And, I didn't want to buy another set of wheels.  So, I went very period correct and used the 27" high-flanged Milremo hubbed wheelset.

I got this Brooks Professional at VeloSwap, last October.  It replaced the B-17 which was on the bike (and which I sold on a bike).

Once the black wheels were off, the black handlebar looked out of place.  Since I had shellacked the bar tape, I didn't want to unwrap the bar to remove it and replace it with a silver bar.  Out came the package of fine grades of sandpaper.  I started with 100 grit and worked up to 1200 grit. 

It came out pretty well.  Whenever I actually do remove the bar from the bike, I'll finish up the rest of the sanding.

I'm excited to have my prettiest bike back on the road.  I think I'll take it to the coffee shop, tomorrow morning.


Obsession Bike Complete (I'm Pretty Sure, Anyway)

So, let's see.. In the past week, the 1984 StumpJumper Sport was first a 26"-wheeled fixed gear mountain bike.  Then, it was a 29er single speed.

I rode it to the coffee shop in 29er mode, yesterday, and I was a bit aggravated by the way that the tires would buzz the frame and/or the fork whenever I would stand up and pedal.  So, I went out into the shop and started to work on trying to increase the tire clearance.  As I was working on the bike, I glanced up into the rafters of the shop and saw the derelict Redline cross frame hanging in the same spot it had been occupying for the past year and a half.

Keeping in mind that I had been for so long putting off building that bike up, and that I had been trolling eBay looking for a steel cross frame, I had a sudden burst of inspiration:  It was time to quit messing around and build a Monstercrosser.

So, I took the wheels and Campy drive train off of the Redline, and installed them on the Stumpy.  I mounted up the 700x35c tires from the orange Peugeot (more on that in the next post), and some Origin8 Gary bars with Shimano bar-end shifters (set to friction to deal with the Campy derailleurs).  I pulled the v-brakes off of the fork, and replaced them with the Avid Shorty cantilevers from the front of the LeMond (more on that, two posts from now).
You can see the avid brakes and the Gary bars really well, in this picture.
This Racing Triple crankset (and bottom bracket) and front derailleur were the first Campagnolo components I ever bought.  They have been on six different frames, through the years.

I had to fabricate an aluminum shim for the seat tube, in order to mount the derailleur.

It is a nice all-rounder, very reminiscent of the Surly Long haul Trucker.

So, there you have it.  Rather than sell the Miami Vice bike, I will use it as my fixed gear MTB.  I will sell the Redline frame, instead.

I plan to pick up some Bontrager Jones 29x1.8" tires to put the "monster" in the monstercross.  I have a spare set of wheels that I can mount them to, and I'll just swap wheelsets when I want to do a serious multi-terrain ride.  Most of the time, I'll ride the 700x35c tires.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stumpjumper 29er

Okay, I'll admit it; I can be somewhat obsessive at times. I'll get an idea in my head, and it just won't leave me alone. Sometimes, I can overcome this, and other times I work for months on something which, really, is just not that important. This is one of those projects.

It's the StumpJumper I just built up, the other night, converted to 29 inch wheels and tires. I had only built it up because I was so aggravated that I couldn't get it to work as a 29er. Then...a breakthrough!

Let me back up a bit. A while back, Frankenbiker contacted me, looking for a frame and fork to use as the basis of a monstercross bike. He hoped to be able to run 29er tires, with a fixed/free flipflop wheelset. Unfortunately, the only donor bikes I had would only run 700x35c or 40c tires, and had vertical dropouts.

But, I have a plethora of vintage mountain bikes with horizontal drops. Would one of them work? I mounted up some 29x2.2" tires on a spare wheelset and started experimenting. I found that I could shoehorn the tire into the rear of the Stumpy, but the fork was a different story. So, I started searching for a 1" steertube fork which would accept a 29er tire.

After trying every fork around the place, I figured out that nothing I had would work. So, I started looking for one, online. Finally, I decided to try a Kenesis cross fork. I had used the 1-1/8" version on Dan's On-One, so I figured it might work. Eighty five dollars later, I had one on the way.

Unfortunately, the smaller steerer tube apparently moved the curves of the fork legs closer together, and the 2.2" tire just wouldn't work. Hmmm...

Here's where the obsessive stuff starts. The fork won't work with 2.2" tires. Fine. I'll get some 2.0" tires and see how that works.

I found a pair of Kendas, cheap, on eBay and hit the Buy It Now button. (One hundred ten dollars spent on this , so far.)

I hoped that they would arrive by the weekend. Unfortunately, they didn't. That's why the bike got built up with the 26" wheels.

The Kendas arrived, yesterday. And, with a bit of manipulation, they work in both the fork and the frame.

There's not a whole lot of clearance to be had at either the the fork crown...
or in the rear triangle. You certainly wouldn't want to ride in muddy conditions. And you'd better not knock your wheel out of true, either.

I was able to retain the XT V-brakes on the front, since the fork is built for 70oc wheels. The rear triangle of the frame, though, was obviously built for 26" wheels, and the brake studs are too close to the axle to allow the pads to line up with the rim.

But, again with the obsessive personality...I had made adapters, weeks ago, to move the brake pads on cantilevers up to 700c level on a mountain bike. Just because... y'know...

The two lower bolts mount the adapter plate to the Avid Shorty. The brake pad then mounts in a slot, allowing fine vertical adjustment, just like the original slot in the brake arm.

I had to use the cantilevers, rather than the V-brakes, because the tire is taller than the V-brake arms and the cable can't run across it. Luckily, the added leverage on the pads allows the use of the V-brake lever with the cantilever brake. Usually, that doesn't work, at all.

Another view of the brake pad adapter.

So, the bike is rideable, but not quite finished. I still need to do a bit of frame tweaking, and gearing (it's currently a freewheel, as I didn't have time to swap out the fixed cog from the other wheelset).

I don't know that I'll leave the bike set up as a 29er. It makes the bike a bit big (the freaking bottom bracket is 13-1/4" off the ground, and the standover height is a tad high). I may revert it to 26" wheels, and do the 29er conversion on a smaller RockHopper I have out in the storage.

But, the important thing is: I won! Yeah! In your face, Stumpy! I knew I could make you into a 29er!!! Bwahahahahaha!!!


Monday, January 19, 2009

In and Out

This is one of the pictures I used on the Boulder Craigslist ad I put up in order to sell the Miami Vice bike. "What?" you say, "He's selling the MVB?"

Yeah, I didn't think it would happen, either. But, then I built this up:

It's a 1984 StumpJumper Sport fixed gear MTB. I pretty much put it together from the parts bins. I did have to buy a decent seatpost, and the saddle is the old Wrights saddle from the Miami Vice bike. Other than that, though, everything was just lying about the shop.

The wheels are spin-on freewheel type mountain bike wheels I picked up off of eBay a while back then re-spaced and re-dished for single speed use. The tires and tubes came with the wheels. The crank was on the frame when I got it. The stem came off of Danny M's Stumpjumper (we had to go to a face-off style stem to install a Midge bar on his bike), and the carbon (!) bars were some I picked up at Performance for the Trek STP, and never installed. Since I sold the STP frame, last week, I suspect that they will never get installed on it. I utilized them on this build because they were the only riser bars I had in the shop.

The brakes and brake levers are first-generation XT V-brakes which came off of a bent Gary Fisher frame. The frame predates these brakes by quite a bit, and they would not be appropriate if I am able to repair it. Plus, V-brakes negate the need for a headset mounted cable stop on the Stumpy.
I have been wanting to do some fixed gear mountain biking, and I considered just removing the rack and fenders from the MVB and using it off-road. But, two things made me want to not do that:
1. The riding position is a bit more aggressive than I want for technical trail riding, and
2. I didn't want to gack up the paint bashing and thrashing on the trails.

Therefore, I figured I would set up the Stumpy, which has been badly rattle-canned black, and use it for the rough riding. But, I just don't have room (literally or figuratively) for two fixed gear 26" mountain bikes in my stable. That led to the decision to sell the Miami Vice bike. Hopefully, some commuter-type Craigslister will want it and snap it up.

I had planned to put the bike on ebay, but Mark told me I should try the Boulder CL, first. He has a good bit of success moving bikes there, and he thought that this one was well-suited to the Boulder market.

I hope he is right. I priced Miami Vice at what it's worth, so it may not move. I'll give it a week, then hit ebay with it, if it's still here.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How 'Bout That Weather?

I got up, this morning, and really wasn't in a good frame of mind about the ride to work. This was Day 3 of riding on studded tires, in "cold" temperatures. Thirty two degrees is actually pretty warm for 5:45 A.M., in January. But still, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Then, I turned on the tv and heard the weather forecast for Minneapolis. The forecasted high?

Six degrees below zero!

So, basically I just told myself to STFU and get on the bike.

Of course, it turned out to be a really nice morning for a ride. But; aren't they all?


Monday, January 12, 2009

Yep, It's Monday

When I went to bed, last night, the weather forecast for today was for noontime snow showers producing maybe one inch of precipitation. So, I loaded up the yellow bike, and went to sleep.

When I got up, there was already three inches of snow on the ground, and all of the weather forecasters were letting loose a collective "D'oh!"

So, I swapped all of the stuff into the bags on the snow bike, and transferred one of the tail lights from the yellow bike. Then, I noticed that the tail light which was already on the snow bike needed batteries. So, I went to unsnap the light from the mount, and pulled the mount off of the sizing shim.

That meant that I had to unscrew the band, and remount it on the rubber shim (changed the battery while I was at it).

Finally, I was able to leave the house, and ride north into what the weather guesser said was a 39 mph sustained wind. As I rode, slipping and sliding on the slushy ice under the snow, I began to overheat from the exertion. I unzipped my outer wind layer a bit, and continued on. Some of the heat I was producing escaped through the open zipper, and I was comfortable for the rest of the ride.

I got to work, after about an hour (everyone who drove complained that it took an extra hour or two to get there), and when I took off the outer jacket, I had about an inch of snow on the front of my wool sweater. I guess the headwind had pushed it down my collar as I rode.

The snow stopped around 10:00 A.M., and the main roads cleared up a bit. Of course, I don't ride home on main roads. The roads I was on were pretty icy, so I took it easy and rode even more slowly than normal. Good thing, too, because about a mile and a half from home I hit a nice little patch of ice with a thin layer of water on top.

This might well be the surface that inspired the coining of the word "slick". Even my studded tires were ineffective, and I fell flat on my face. Smacked my knee pretty well, but otherwise no harm done.

Tomorrow morning's ride promises to be interesting.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

American Porteur

Back on Pearl Harbor Day, I posted about finding another Schreckingost-designed Murray cruiser at the thrift store. Yesterday, I went out into the shop with the intention of mounting the alloy fenders on the Portage, but ended up falling under the spell of the cruiser.

I began by switching the original wheels out for a set of alloy-rimmed Sturmey/Archer 3-speed wheels I had picked up for another (since abandoned) project. I also mounted a "commuter" bar, bell, front brake, centerstand, headlight and a front porteur rack, complete with wine crate cargo box.

I built the front rack by chopping off a portion of a standard mountainbike rear rack, narrowing the spacing, and bolting the lowers to the fork dropouts in some existing holes. I then braced the rack to the front brake mount with a Blackburn-style rack mounting strut, cut to fit. Then, I bolted steel trapping to the box, and thence to the rack top. (I don't know why this is being underlined. Grrr!)

The wheels came with "all hardware included". "Hardware" apparently, doesn't include a shifter or a cable. So, I left the bike incomplete and called it a night. This morning, I pulled a shifter off of a derelict Sunbeam 3-speed, along with a "universal" cable end. I modified the ball end of the cable so that it would work in a 3-speed shifter, hooked it to the universal adapter and got the shifting going. The bike is now operational.

But, I wouldn't call it "finished". I want to put a sturdy piece of plywood in the bottom of the box to replace the slightly brittle slats which are there, now. I'll probably also varnish the box with a marine-grade product to waterproof it.

The fork needs a bit of alignment work, and I need to make a few other tweaks such as getting the headset cup to fit more securely in the head tube.

You can see the stem-bolt mounted headlight and two-legged center stand pretty well, here.

When I bought the bike, it had the brand-new Electra tires and SRAM PC-1 chain on it. Oddly, when I swapped the tires to the new wheels, I found cloth rim tape in the old wheels. (I re-used the rim tape.) Somebody put a relatively large amount of money and effort into a bike which they then donated to the ARC Thrift.

Now, maybe I'll be able to get started on the Portage fenders, next time I try.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Busy Day

I came in from the shop at 9:30, eleven hours after I started working on bikes, this morning.

During that time, I managed to clean up the shop a bit, put the STP frame on eBay, clean up Sean's Bontrager frame and fork to list later and I gave my chrome Spaceliner

to my neighbor Reed,

in exchange for a nice little air compressor.

(I've had the compressor for a while, and Reed wouldn't take any money for it. The other day, he mentioned how much he liked the chrome bike, so...)

I also got a lot of work done on another project. I'll post more about that, tomorrow, after I snap a couple of photos.


Friday, January 09, 2009


On Tuesday, I bike commuted for the 350th consecutive day. It was also the first commute of the year (I called in sick on Monday, since I was still coughing up a lung).

Another first: I had my first flat of the year. As I was getting ready to go home, I looked at my bike and noticed that the rear tire (why is it always the rear?) was completely deflated. I tried airing it up, hoping it was a slow enough leak that I'd be able to get home and put the bike in the stand to change the tube.

Nope, that was not to be. The tire leaked about halfway to flat by the time I had changed clothes. So, I flipped it over and changed it before I left. I hope this isn't an omen for how the year is going to go.

Fingers crossed.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Raleigh Portage

Back in June of last year, I picked this 650b-wheeled Raleigh at a yard sale. It was in such good shape, I would have thought it was brand new if I didn't know that these were built in 1988. The tires were even the original "Raleigh" branded items.

I had originally planned on selling the bike, hopefully making a couple of bucks in the process. But, I started riding it around, and decided to keep it and put the "Clubman" project on the back burner. I put some wider bars and a Brooks Professional saddle on it, but left it otherwise stock. Until, this week, that is...

Friday, I went to Cycle Analyst and picked up some Schwalbe tires and a pair of Nitto Mustache Bars. I had decided to build it into my version of a Bridgestone XO-1.
I cleaned up an old pair of Suntour Bar-Cons (I only went so far as 800 grit sandpaper, which gave me a finish which closely reproduced what those shifters looked like out of the box), and routed the cables under the bar tape, contrary to the traditional routing.

I like the look of mustache bars with exposed brake cable housing, but I think adding exposed shifter cables makes them a bit busy. They seem to shift, just fine, routed in this manner so I think I'll leave them that way.

Too bad the paint is so nice. I sure would like to paint it orange like the bike I linked to, above. I don't think I'm likely to find an orange XO-1, any time soon. It was a limited production bike, with 1000 units being built each year in 1992 and 1993.

I think this will make a nice little long-ride bike. I plan on trying for my Super Randonneur status on it, this year.


Seen at The Thrift Store

It has a Homelite chainsaw engine mounted on it, with what looks to be an 8-inch wheel on the back. I almost bought it for the princely sum of $49.99.

But, I figured ithat if it was in running condition, it probably wouldn't be at the thrift store, and logic prevailed.

It's actually not a bad installation. The chainsaw unit is fairly self-contained, so that you don't have to mount a separate gas tank, etc. I don't understand the tiny wheel, though.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

2008 Mileage

Lots of people have posted their mileage totals for 2008, recently. I don't keep up with my bike mileage that closely, though. I can tell you that I put around 4000 commuting miles on the bikes (I have the exact total in a log, at work), but I really don't know how many errand miles and recreational miles I put on top of those.

I can, however, tell you how many miles I put on my truck in 2008:
That's 1342.3 miles, or about 112 miles per month: Five tanks of gas. Of course, I put about 3000 miles on the motorcycle, 2500 of which were the trip back and forth to Tennessee to see my family.

Still, I put more miles on my bikes than I did on both the truck and motorcycle, combined. So, I feel good about the whole "car-light" aspect of my life.


Ties That Bind

When the weather turned cold, this past fall, I started wearing wool sweaters (mostly from the thrift store) when riding my bike. Recently, I decided that I would start wearing a shirt and tie under my wool sweaters. I like the look, and it falls into the "Gentleman Cyclist" mode that I attempt to follow.

Oddly, this little change in attire has resulted in a lot of attention at the coffee shop, and elsewhere. I have finally come up with a "reason" for wearing the tie, for those who need a reason:

Every day at work, I wear brown pants and a black t-shirt. On the weekends I like to wear something to different. It is the same (though opposite) as how someone who wears a tie to work every day generally wants to wear a t-shirt on the weekends.

The weather will turn warm, again, and I will go back to riding in t-shirts and shorts (or rolled-up pants), just because the heat makes a buttoned shirt and tie a bit uncomfortable. Until then, I'm enjoying the "1930s casual" look.


Bigfoot in Denver

Randy recently sent me the following email, about my post about using a plastic bag as a helmet cover:

Someone mentioned a long snouted monster as the source for your surprised look. I sharpened your "Riding in Too-Cold Weather" picture that is on your blog, and found something fascinating behind you. Take a look!
I guess I need to pay more attention to my surroundings!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year's Day (Ride)

Four of us showed up for the NYDR, this year. From left to right: Mark (of Junqueyard fame), Brian, Yours Truly, Anthony (who was just passing the time of day with us) and Carl (of getinlost). I had never met Carl, in person, so it was really great to have him show up. I always like to increase my circle of friends.

The weather was little more temperate than last year, and all of us but Brian ended up peeling off clothes as we rode. The official high temp on New Year's Day, 2008, was 23 degrees and there were 8 to 10 inches of snow on the ground. On that ride, we stopped at every coffee shop we could find (more to warm up than due to any uncontrollable coffee-lust).

Today, we enjoyed temperatures in the mid-fifties, with lots of sun and a few clouds. There was a bit of a breeze, occasionally, but nothing excessive. We rode through Washington Park, picked up the Cherry Creek Trail and rode up to Confluence park. From there, we followed the South Platte Trail south to Mississippi Ave., then wended our way through the neighborhoods back to Kaladi Bros.

Along the way, we caught up with a fellow riding a nickle-plated highwheeler. We also met Dave Nice as we rode along. We ran into him and his NYD Ridemates at REI, last year. This year, he was riding alone. I would have flagged him down and invited him along, but I figured our casual little 15 mile ride wouldn't even warm him up.

After we got back to Kaladi, we sat a bit and had some hot chocolate, then dispersed to our separate days like dandelion seeds to the wind.

A nice, low-key bike ride on an unseasonably warm day is (I hope) a good omen for the coming year. It is certainly a nice way to kick it off.