Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Snow Ride...Take it Easy...

If Foghat was around, that's what they would be singing.

 Of course, we didn't get quite as much snow as predicted, but we got enough.

 It was snowing lightly as I left the house at 4:25 A.M.  As I went north, the rate of snow, and the size of the flakes, increased.  There was a slight north wind, but nothing bothersome.  All in all, it was a pretty pleasant ride.  The snow in the parking lot was about as much as I saw on any pavement.

 On the way home, there was plenty of snow on the grass.  But, the roads and bike paths are still clear. but wet. 

 The trees are catching the brunt of the storm.  This one has already lost it leaves, but those which are still leafy are bowing in obeisance to the snow gods.  There were plenty of small limbs, and a few big 'uns, lying in the road, or in people's yards, on the way home. 

The bar mitts kept my hands toasty in the 28-degree weather.  Wool pants sweater, along with a breathable waterproof jacket kept the rest of me warm and dry.

The warm weather, of late, kept the pavement too warm to accumulate snow.  The temperature is supposed to drop to 18 degrees, tonight, though.  So, I suspect that the roads will be a bit icy, in the morning.  I suspect the studded tires will come more into play, then, than they did, today.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Snow

We are supposed to have 3 to 6 inches of snow on the ground, by the time I go to work, tomorrow morning.  It was 80 degrees, two days ago, and 55 degrees, today.

Fall, in Colorado.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I swapped the studded tires onto the fixed gear commuter.  Then, I made sure all of my necessaries were in the panniers, and hooked the charger up to the headlight.  The replaceable batteries in the flashing headlight and the rear blinky check out.  Once I had the bar-mitts strapped on, I was prepared.

I rode the motorbike to work, today, just because I probably won't get to for the rest of the week.  Tomorrow morning (and afternoon, if we get the total of 12" of snow they are predicting) should be fun.

Of course, the temperature is supposed to be in the mid-60s, this weekend...


Thursday, October 20, 2011


Check out this picture I took, on the way home, over on my Tumblr.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Points Of Interest About My Handsome XOXO

 When I built up the XOXO, I used the 175mm XT cranks that I had taken off of the titanium FUNK.  I took them off of the ti-bike because I was having a severe problem with pedal-strike in turns.  I had accidentally specced the bottom bracket height a bit low, on the FUNK, so I figured that the cranks were just too long for the bike.  I replaced them with 165mm XT cranks, and put these aside for later use.

Now, I have the 175 cranks on the XOXO, with a standard 12-1/2" bottom bracket height.  And, I am having problems with pedal strike in the turns.

Now, I will admit that any crank/pedal combination can be touched down, if you are riding aggressively enough.  I'm hitting the pedal on the pavement  as I turn from one street to another at 12 or 13 mph!

Take a look at the picture, above this paragraph, and note the wide Q-factor (distance between the pedals) which is produced by a combination of the outboard bottom bracket bearings and the profile of the crank arms.

Yes, the pedals are fairly large, but they are actually a bit smaller than the pedals on my Bridgestone XO-2 (which also has 175mm cranks), and I don't have this problem on that bike.  The XO-2 has a standard bottom bracket, and lower-profile crank arms.

I plan to try to just adapt my riding-style to mitigate the problem, but I may end up replacing these cranks, yet again.

 You can see, by the amount of material removed from the pedal spike, that when I say I am grounding the pedals, I don't mean that they are just brushing the pavement.  When this happened, it kicked the rear wheel up into the air, and I almost crashed.

Another interesting point about the bike concerns the drivetrain.  I originally built the bike up with a 9-speed SRAM cogset, 8-speed Ultegra shifters and this SunTour XC Pro derailleur.  I planned on using the shifters in friction mode, so the mismatch of the components didn't matter. But, I didn't like the 9-speed cogset for a friction-shift bike.

I found the 9-speed cog spacing to be just a bit too close for me to easily get good clean shifts.  I am used to 7 or 8 speed cogsets, in friction mode, and I wasn't enjoying having to spend so much attention to the shifting.  (Yes, I am a lazy bicyclist.)

So, I found some 8-speed cogsets and chains at a good price, on Amazon.  When they came in, last Thursday, I installed an 8-speed SRAM cogset and chain. 

Cool.  Now the friction-shifting should be easier.  Just for kicks, I set the shifter to "Indexed" mode.  I knew it wouldn't work, because SunTour derailleurs are not interchangeable with Shimano derailleurs.

Except, apparently, in this case.  The combination of Shimano Ultegra shifter, SRAM cogset and Suntour XC Pro derailleur indexes perfectly.


I wish had another of these derailleurs, to see if it would work, or if I just have an odd derailleur.

I think that, maybe, this is a 7-speed derailleur, and the Suntour 7-speed cog spacing must have been very close to Shimano 8-speed cog spacing.  Anybody out there know if this is the case?

I have ridden to work, the past two days, despite the fact that my Achilles tendon still hurts.  I figure I will just have to get a referral to a foot-and-ankle doctor and see it the specialist can help me out.

In the meantime, I am digging the bike and enjoying the ride.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's Been a While

I put up a new post over at 52 Card Pickup, today.  It is about building a new cigar box guitar.

Check it out here, if you are interested.

 There is a bike part on the guitar, so I think that makes it okay to post here.  ;-)


Monday, October 10, 2011

New Links

As many of you know, I like to play guitar and screech sing the occasional song.  Lately, I have added to my enjoyment by building cigar box guitars and playing them.  Oddly, since I started building and playing my own instruments, my store-bought guitars have gone almost completely unused.

Anyway, if you check the blog links to the right, you will see a link to the Cigar Box Nation site and also a direct link to my video page on the The Nation.

Give them a look-see if you are interested.

EDIT:  I also added Myles' Rat Trap Press Tumblr, as well.  He is using it, as I do, for those random pictures he wants to share, but not necessarily blog about.  I have fun with my Tumblr, I hope Myles does, as well.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

I Am Easily Distracted, Once Again

I had the best intentions of installing fenders on the Handsome, yesterday.  But, I got distracted by my Raleigh XXIX.  I had disassembled it, last year, and used the parts on other bikes.  It hung in the shop building as a frame and fork for way too long.

Eventually, I decided that it needed to become a bike, again.  So, I ordered some wheels, and started setting parts aside.  As I sorted the parts in the shop, preparing for the yard sale, I found a stem here, a seatpost there...I had a set and a half of Avid BB5 disc brakes that I had gathered up one caliper at a time, and some mismatched levers, etc.

I ended up with everything I needed except for a cartridge bottom bracket.  I had an old-school bottom bracket, but it just wasn't appropriate for the bike.

Last week, I ordered a UN-54 bottom bracket off of Amazon.  Yesterday, it showed up in my mailbox.  So, I stuck it in the frame, to keep it from getting lost.  One thing led to another, and I did a 90% build on the bike while I was at it.

Today, I put a headset together out of the bottom half of a threaded headset, and the top of a threadless, and cabled up the brakes.

It ended up with an original-version Gary Bar, with the shallow drop, my old Frankensaddle that I repaired a couple of years ago, after the nose tore off, and 42c Kenda WormDrive cross tires.  I am running it with a 36/20 drivetrain (48 gear inches, approximately), which should allow me to ride both offroad and onroad, without too much difficulty.

Hopefully I will get a bit more use out of it now that it's back on the road.

Now, maybe I can get started on the fenders on the Handsome...


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

Since I have had the Handsome XOXO built up, I have debated with myself about whether or not to put fenders on it.  I think all "everyday" bikes (commuters, grocery getters, whatever...) should have fenders, but I really like the look of the bike without them.

Plus, it has been warm and dry and I have not been bicycle-commuting on a daily basis since I built the bike up.  Therefore, fenders, or lack thereof, were somewhat meaningless.

Today, I got up to a skim of snow on the back yard, and a steady, fairly heavy rain was falling.  I wanted to ride down to the coffee shop but, the XOXO has no fenders, and I don't like spraying road grime all over myself!  So, I pulled the RockCombo off of the hooks, out in the shop building, aired the tires up, and rode it to Kaladi Brothers.

That pretty much made the decision for me.  I keep the commuter in the house to avoid having to pull a bike down for casual rides and errand-running.  So, the XOXO is getting fenders, either today or tomorrow, depending on how my other projects pan out today.


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Drill Press

When The Denver Spoke went out of business, they sold off their shop tools and supplies.  I bought a big load of tools, including a nice drill press.  Since I have had it, I have had it sitting on a stool, in the shop building.  It was usable, but its perch was somewhat pecarious.

Recently, at work, we got a new triaxial chamber for our resilient modulus machine.  It was shipped to us in a nicely-built plywood and lumber shipping crate. After I unpacked the chamber, I started looking at the crate, and my imagination took hold.  I asked my boss, Paul, what we were going to do with the crate.  He told me that it was destined for the dumpster, and that I could have it if I wanted it.

Yesterday, Paul hauled the crate to my house for me, so that I wouldn't have to drive the Dodge to the lab and back.  This morning, I got the power tools out and went to work.  I sawed the panel out of one side of the crate, bolted a couple of the 2"x4" shipping braces to the sides and then cut a plywood shelf to sit on top of them.

Then, I screwed the top back on, and bolted the drill press to it.


I have my drills stored on the bottom shelf, with bits on the upper shelf.  On top of the stand, I bolted my bench vise down next to the drill press.  Behind the press, I have the batteries of my rechargeable drill charging up.

The shop building is slowly coming together.