Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Saturday, December 31, 2011


The fat bike continues to take shape.

I took the black Brooks B-17 saddle off of the ti Funk, and mounted it on the fatty.  The comfort level immediately jumped up about 1000 points.  I also aired the tires up to 20 psi, front and rear.  I had ridden down to the coffee shop, and back at 10 psi, and I wondered if the low pressure affected the feel of the bike.

D Funk test-rode it, while we were leaving, as did Dave from behind the counter.  Both of them mentioned the weird "dropping to one side" feel that the bike had, just as you initiated a turn.  After I aired the tires to 20 psi, though, the handing became much more normal.  Plus, it rolls a bit more easily, now, as well.

The Shimano Nexus 8-speed rear hub shifts nicely.  I have never owned an internally-geared hub with more than three speeds, before, and I am pretty impressed with the operation of the hub.  I may eventually put a 2 or 3-ring crank on the bike to give me the ultra-low granny gear I would want to ride up some of the Front Range climbs, but the current set-up seems fine for around Denver.

I replaced the saddle on the Funk with a brand-new Honey Brown B-17 that I ordered from Nashbar, a while back.  A combination of sale price, one-day-only price reduction and free shipping got the saddle to my door for $69.00.  I had to wait about 12 weeks, because they were out of stock, but at that price I won't complain.  Eventually, I will rewrap the bars with some brown tape, or something.  Maybe some Ergon grips...?

I also put these new pedals, from Performance, on the Funk.  They have a lower profile than the older model, but with the same size platform.  They are quite a bit lighter in weight, and the color matches the ti frame a bit better than the old black pedals.  I bought these for this bike, after swapping the older pedals over to the fat bike.

So now, with the addition of the fat bike, I have 11 bikes on which I have to take at least one epic ride, this year.  Tomorrow is new Year's Day, but I haven't really planned my annual ride.  I think I might keep it solitary, this year.  Turnout has been pretty light, the last couple of years, anyway.

I think I might just take the fat bike out for the afternoon, and get acquainted.


Friday, December 30, 2011


A while back, I wrote a post on this blog called Need...or...Want, which was about my desire to get a "snow bike" or "fat bike" (depending on which term you prefer).  Then, last Thursday, we had a snow storm which made me actually need one of those bikes.  But, I still couldn't afford to buy a Pugsley or a Mukluk.  And I certainly couldn't afford a custom bike.

Coincidentally, a bike rental shop in Florida was selling off its fleet of Fat Sand Bikes, on eBay.  They are a cheaper alternative, with a bit different design (particularly the long rear triangle).  But, at $820.00 shipped, I could justify it as a Christmas gift to myself.

So, I ordered one up, and it was waiting for me when I got home from Tennessee, last night.

I put it together, today, but not in the exact set-up that they sent.  For one thing, this weight-lifting equipment that they call a seat and seat post had to go:

I'm not sure what happened when I loaded this photo onto the computer.  Maybe the gravitational field of the thing bent the light, or something.  Anyway, that set-up weighs 6 or 7 pounds, so I stuck another seat post and an old Flite saddle on it, for now.  It may end up with another seat.  We will just have to see.

I also put some better pedals on it.  I like the heavy-duty bmx pedals from performance, so I screwed a pair of them into the crankarms.

It has no front brake, out of the box.  But, I had an old Avid BB-5 lying in the parts box, so I jacked it on.  I had to put spacers behind the rotor to keep the caliper from pinging the spokes, but otherwise it went right on.

The fork actually allows for dual discs on the front.  But, the fork is flexible enough that I don't know if that's a good idea.  Plus, the single disc on front , along with the band brake built into the 8-speed IGH seems to stop the bike pretty well.

The long rear end makes wheelies a bit difficult, and that might come into play on a trail ride.  If you need to lift the front end to get over an obstacle, it might be a drawback.

But, it is a blast to ride around, so far.

When I first decided to get a mountain bikes, I was in a similar frame of mind to how I now feel about the Fat Bikes.  I wasn't sure how much I would use one, and I couldn't throw down the bucks for a high-end bike to find out.  So, I went to Sam's Club and bought a Motiv, which was a pretty good beginner-level bike, at the time.  As it turned out, that bike was a springboard into a very important part of my life.

My thoughts about this bike are that, if I get seriously into riding this kind of bike and the frame design becomes a hindrance, I have all of the parts I need to build up another frameset.  So, I might end up buying a Mukluk frameset, in that case, and swapping parts over.  I did that same thing when I got into riding 29-inch mountain bikes, too, and it worked out nicely.

Happy trails!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas

I am spending some time in Tennessee, with my mother, for the holiday.  I hope that you all are with loved ones, as well.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fun/Not Fun

As I left the house, this morning, there was about 10 inches of snow on the street.  For once, the weather guessers got it right, and we actually got the big storm they had been promising.  But, even though the snow was deep, it was rideable, and I had a fun ride into the lab.

My return trip, however, was no fun at all.  During the day, the auto traffic on the streets had churned the snow up, in places, rather than packing it down.  I ended up pushing the bike about as much as I rode it.  In fact, I had to carry it for a block, at one point, because I couldn't roll it!

It took me over two hours to cover the nine miles between the lab and home.  I was not happy, when I got here.

Thousand yard stare...

I had shoveled the walk and part of the drive, before I left this morning.  During the day, we got a few more inches of accumulation:

You can see the tracks, above, where I rode the bike into the driveway.  Notice the footprints where the cranks dug down into the snow. The snow is almost up to the bottom bracket on the bike, which is 13-1/2 inches high, since I converted the bike to 700c wheels:

I am heading for Tennessee, tomorrow morning, to spend Christmas with my mom.. I am hoping it won't snow while I am there.  I have already had enough of this for the winter, and the snowiest months are yet to come.


Thursday, December 15, 2011


About a week and a half ago, I wrote a piece on the story blog about Moots Mounts.  Here, if you want to read it.

Today, I was thinking about the challenges that I am facing with getting brakes installed on the Fuji Touring, with 700c wheels, and I was inspired to look at the Problem Solvers website.  I figured that if anyone was going to have a similar product, it would be these guys.  Unfortunately, they had nothing like the Moots Mounts.

But, they did have a page on which you could request a product which they don't already have.  So, I sent off a request for a Moots Mounts-like item.

Tonight, I saw that I had a reply from Ben, at Problem Solvers.  He assured me that he would run it past the Product Manager, and get back to me.

Fingers crossed!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Art of Dubious Taste

If you are interested in such, check out my new piece...


Thursday, December 08, 2011


Do you ever decide that you want something so badly that you come to feel that you need it, even though your life is perfectly fine without it? 

I have (on numerous occasions).

Currently, the "need devil" on my shoulder is whispering in my ear about a Fat Bike.  You know; a Surly Pugsley, or a Salsa Mukluk, or something similar.

There is a couple of things keeping me from running out and buying one.  The first is cost.  These bikes range from $1599 to close to $2000 new, and used examples are rare as hen's teeth (and not much cheaper than a new one, to boot).

Now, I could come up with the money, if I really wanted to.  I am no stranger to robbing Peter to pay Paul.  I could sell some stuff and finance the purchase.  But, the other consideration, the thing that actually keeps me from pulling the trigger on purchasing one of these bikes, is that I have absolutley no real use for one.

When I bought my Handsome XOXO, I justified the cash outlay by deeming the bike to be a commuter.  And, I have used it as such.  Every time I ride it to work, the cost becomes that much less of a concern to me.

But, the Fat Bike would be nothing but an expensive toy.  I couldn't really use it as a winter commuter.  The problem we have in the winter is not deep snow on the road but, rather, ice on the road.  No matter how fat the tires, if they aren't studded they are going to slip on ice.

And, it's not like I have a bunch of friends going snow-biking all winter and leaving me behind.  I would be the only person in my acquaintance who had one of these, and I would end up riding alone (and therefore, not very often).

So far, I have managed to stay logical and hold on to my money. 

But, man, that new Mukluk is awfully cool!


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Five Below Zero

That was the temperature, when I left for work on the bike, this morning (20 below, for you Celcius-heads...).  I wore my thick Alpaca sweater, rather than my usual thin wool sweater.  Plus, I had my snowboard gloves, with liners, inside my bar mitts, and ski socks over my bike socks.  Otherwise, I just wore my usual gear, and I was quite comfy.  My feet were just beginning to get cold as I arrived at work (38 minutes).

The top layer snow on the roads is too cold to pack down, and it's a lot like riding through sand to push through it, though the snow from the previous two storms is packed pretty nicely underneath.  We have had three Arctic cold fronts move through Denver in the past week, it has snowed on 4 or 5 occasions (depending on what part of town you live in), and our temperature has not gotten over the freezing mark since last Wednesday.

Tomorrow, we are supposed to hit 40F, here in town.  I hope I don't have a heat stroke on the way home.

I have to admit that I am glad we've had all of the snow.  It gives me an excuse to ride the bike, and no excuse to not ride the bike.   And, I need to ride .  While I don't want to go back to the "bike every day, no matter what" mode, I miss the fitness benefits.  So, this week has been good, if somewhat tiring, so far.

One thing I don't miss about the every day bike ride, though, is having to go to bed early in order to not be dragging my butt in the morning.  That is one of the big benefits of riding the motorcycle to work:  I can watch Letterman, if I want to.

But, the big downfall of tht is that I had to let my belt out a notch, after Thanksgiving, and I haven't gotten it back to the original notch yet.  Hopefully, this week's activity will help with that!


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Snow! This Entire Mountain Is made of Snow!

One of my favorite scenes from Better Off Dead is when Charles De Mar (played by Curtis Armstrong) makes the exclamation about the snow, and starts snorting it off of his tophat.  It is a totally absurd scene, in a movie full of them.

I rode to Kaladi Brothers, and back, in the midst of a large amount of snow this morning.  It was the first time I had been on a bike in a couple of weeks, and it felt good.

I could have ridden in the snow going to work and back, Thursday and Friday, but I was out sick.  I had a heck of an allergic reaction to something, and ended up with a hives-like rash (Allergic Dermatitis, as the doctor said, yesterday) on my neck, wrists and groin.  It felt a lot like someone had poured gasoline on me and set it on fire.

The doc asked if I had worn any new clothes, used a new detergent or shampoo, etc, trying to find an explanation for it.  The only new and/or unusual thing in my life was my little fir tree that Joy sends me for Christmas, every year.  I noticed that my head stopped up, immediately, as I pulled it out of the box, last week.  I ended up putting it on my table in the front yard, Wednesday night.

The tree looks pretty cool with the snow on it.

The rash is better, and the antihistamines, plus prescription anti-itch cream have allowed me to finally sleep through a night.  So, hopefully, I am done with that nonsense.

Looks like I will get to ride on some ice and snow for the next few days.  I'm looking forward to it.


Friday, December 02, 2011


Many of you recognize the fact that my Fuji Touring bike was built for 27" wheels.  Of course, I wish to convert it to 700c.  I've done this with dozens, maybe hundreds, of old road bikes throughout the years.  Some have been a straight swap of the wheels, adjustment of the brake pads and ride away-type conversions.

Others have involved various levels of modification to the brakes, or frames.  Most have not involved cantilever brakes.

The last touring bikes I got ahold of and converted to 700c were a couple of Panasonics.  Luckily, the cantilevers were mounted in a spot on the frame and fork which allowed the smaller wheels to be run with a minimum of adjustment.

You probably have figured out, by this point, that this is not the case with the Fuji.

Here is a close-up shot of the new brakes and new wheels on the bike:

At the lowest setting of the pad, it hits the tire.  So, it would seem that the pad needs to be lower.

With that in mind, I clamped the brake arm into the drill-press, and punched a lower hole to mount the pad.  (So much for any warranty...)

Unfortunately, even with the lower position, the pad still hits the tire.  The cantilever mount on the fork (and the frame, on the rear) is too close for the brake to swing through a decent arc, with these rims.

Since I can't move the pivot outward, I decided to try a narrower rim.  These rims are 25.4mm wide; a full inch.  I really wanted to use them, since the burly cross-section makes me feel more comfortable on mixed-terrain rides.

I have a set of wheels with 19mm Wolber rims on them, and they seem to work, though just barely.

As much as I love the look of these brakes, I may have to try something else.  Even with the narrower rims, they are barely useable, and the fit certainly doesn't leave much room for knocking a rim out of true, or out of round, on a rough ride.

Stay tuned.