Monday, March 26, 2007


click on the images for a full view

I got this beach cruiser from justbicycles.com with not much expectations. I was more interested in the frame itself which is a forward bottom bracket design. Man, was I ever surprised! I've been into cruisers lately and I enjoy the laid back riding position a lot. I had looked into the Electra Townie, but the one I could afford didn't look that great and the nice looking cruisers they have were out of reach for my budget. Then I saw this thing in the justbicycles.com online catalog. It was advertised as a cruiser for tall people with an ordinary picture, but the frame design looked interesting. If you want the lowdown on how I put it together, check out this post.

So I got this out of the box and I flipped. The frame is of solid construction with that nice big hump of a top tube. This cruiser is a one speed coaster brake job with 26X2.125 white wall Kenda Flame tread tires mounted on aluminium rims. It weighs in at 34.5 lbs and as a wheel base of 47.5 inches from axle to axle. The pedal axle is 5.5 inches forward in relation with the seat tube.

It has some nice parts to it like the handle grips made of simili-leather, nice big looking seat, killer design solid chainring and those huge handlebars. I wasn't expecting that much, but the whole bike comes together and looks like it's worth a lot more. The ride is very comfortable and quite special with those handlebars and front tire way ahead of you. It almost feels like riding one of those old motorcycles.

After riding it a little (ok a lot!) it was time to take some things apart and see what it was really made of. I had recently bought a Huffy cruiser and to my surprise found no grease at all inside all of the bearings, so I was curious with this one. I knew almost immediately that this thing was greased properly just by feeling the way the fork was turning in my hand. Sure enough, after taking the fork and bottom bracket apart I found both to be well greased.

I have no big issue with this bike. The only small thing that bugs me is the seat that makes noise when I hit a bump. But it's not surprising with those springs underneath, it is to be expected. I found a few scratches on the finish when I unpacked it. After taking some pictures of the damage that was caused prior to it being packed, I sent them to justbicycles.com by email and i got a prompt reply. I will be receiving replacement parts from what I have been told. I'll keep you posted. There is one thing about buying a bicycle online compared to your local bike shop and that is you have to wait for shipping. It's not perfect, but I am satisfied with the quick response of their customer support.

All and all, this bicycle doesn't have a cheap feel to it. It is of solid construction and the ride is amazing. I have to say that I have fallen in love and it's a good thing that my other bikes are not jealous! I'll be making some modifications to this bike in the coming future and I will keep you posted on the progress. The first thing I want to do is go for a Shimano 3 speed Nexus coaster hub...and a suicide shifter. ;)

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.



A while back, Sue from justbicycles.com contacted me to add some of my articles to their website. I went over to check things out and found a no frills website and blog about selling bicycles online. Being a cruiser bike maniac myself, I was happy to see that they had a nice selection of cruisers, even a tandem, among the other regular bikes. The prices were also very decent. So you might have noticed the banner for them at the bottom of this blog for a while. I figured that it would be more to the point than some Linux banner.

Anyways, I was going through their online bicycle catalog and I found this bike, The Chief. It was on sale at $140, shipping to Canada was $65, with duties and exchange rate, the total is a bit over $CDN300. Not bad considering that we don't have too many cruisers around these parts and the price for something like this would be a lot more.

click on the images for a full view

The bike was shipped with Fedex and I received it within 7 days. The bike was very well packed and the only loose thing the box was the seat, but it was very well protected for the trip. I have pulled hundreds of bikes fresh out of the box while working for stores and bicycle shops and this one was very much up to standard.

To be fair and find out if it was easy to assemble, I enlisted my daughter to take on the job. Now Sarah is not unfamiliar with bike maintenance, I have taught her well. But she never had the chance to assemble a brand new bike together. Don't think for a minute that I gave her the job just because she's a girl. Sarah can tune a bike, flip a boy bigger than her over her head and she sword fights with the toughest of them in Live Role Playing.

The first thing to do is to get that bike out of the wrapper and get your tools ready. You'll need a set of Allen keys, a 15mm socket wrench for the wheel, a 15mm open ended wrench and/or an adjustable open ended wrench. Cut the tie wraps holding every thing together and remove the wrapping paper over the frame by hand. The only thing to watch for while unpacking the bike is the front wheel. It is slipped into the left crank arm and you must slide it out carefully. Install the front wheel and pull out the kickstand so you can work easily for the rest of the assembly.

Align the front wheel properly and make sure that the washers are between the nut and fork. Tighten the nuts with a 15mm socket wrench. Now pump both tires to the indicated tire pressure, in this case 40 psi. Moving to the handlebars, remove the protective plastic cap on the stem and adjust the bars temporarily by unscrewing the 2 top Allen bolts. The bar is shipped that way to save on space. Insert the stem inside the fork tube until you can't see the safety line on the stem. Align it with the front wheel and screw it in hard. Now you can adjust the angle of the handlebars to your preferred position permanently.

Now insert the seat tube inside the frame and lock it in by screwing in the Allen bolt. Install the seat, adjust it to be level with the ground and tighten the nut with an open ended wrench. To adjust the height of the seat, you will have to install the pedals first with a 15mm open ended wrench. Make sure you don't mix them up! On the pedals, you will find a stamped "R" or "L". Left and Right, with right being on the side of the chain drive. The reason this is important, is that the left side pedal is reversed thread. This means you have to go counterclockwise to screw it in. After installing the pedals, you can now adjust the height of the seat by making sure that with your heel on one pedal, your leg is straight while sitting down on the seat. Check out this article for a complete explanation.

That's it, your done. Make sure that everything is tight and aligned. You also have an owners manual that comes with the bike. It is not specific to your particular bike, but it includes all kinds of valuable information on bicycle maintenance. Don't throw it away, keep it for your future needs. This bike being a one speed coaster brake, it was pretty easy to put together, but if I had gotten a multi speed bike it would have involved adjusting brakes and gear shifting. All that information is contained in that booklet. Kind of a hard copy of howtofixbikes ;)

For a review of this bike, check out this post.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.


Monday, March 19, 2007


Well with spring around the corner, many of you are aching to get that favorite ride of yours out of the shed or basement and on to the pavement. Before you do so, there are a few things you should check out on your bike before you head out into cycling bliss. Here's a checklist to guide you in that task:

  • CHECK TIRE PRESSURE AND INFLATE ACCORDINGLY Those rubber tubes are actually porous and you do lose some air during that storage period. Don't be alarmed about that, it's normal.
  • CHECK FOR TIRE WEAR Look if you have any bald spots or balloons in the sidewalls. If you don't need to replace the tires and you have a matched set, rotate them from front to back. They will wear evenly and last a lot longer.
  • CHECK BRAKE LEVER AND CALIPER ACTION Nothing sucks more than ruining your first ride with your brakes deciding not to show up for work at the first corner. Don't end up has a hood ornament on a Mack truck and make sure these work properly.
  • CHECK BRAKE PAD WEAR Pads do wear out after a while. If they look decent, do a rotation and they will last longer. In general the rear pads wear out faster than the front ones. It may be the other way around according to the way you ride.
  • CHECK ALL CABLES Derailleurs, brakes, check everything. If you see rust or a cable starting to fray, don't wait and replace immediatly. Especially the brake cables, remember that hood ornament thing?
  • CHECK YOUR CHAIN AND LUBE IT Back pedal and watch for any links that are jammed. Oil the chain with anything but regular engine oil or WD40(I use transmission fluid myself). If your chain has many thousands of miles and looks slack, replace it.
  • CHECK FOR ANYTHING LOOSE I mean everything. If it's screwed or bolted, it will come loose at some point. Check them all!
  • CLEAN YOUR BIKE Yes that's right, clean it. Dirt and filth actually helps a bike to deteriorate. Take some lemon furniture polish and clean it nice. Your bike will thank you for it and you'll be looking good. It smells nice too!
Last thing to remember when you go out there for the first time, is that the roads might not be up to snuff. Be careful since it takes a while before all the roads are cleaned of dirt, debris and pebbles. Don't forget the potholes and those brainless SUV drivers that are not used to seeing you on the road.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.


Monday, March 12, 2007


Ok, this has nothing to do with bike repair. But I find this so amazing that I have to share it with you. If you click on the image, you will see the most amazing bike ever. This thing is actually a bonafide rideable bike. It's 8 feet long, the weight is 90 lbs, it has a custom made aluminium frame, disc brakes and 8 speeds. It can actually climb hills. Nothing sucks more than having an awesome ride and having to push it up hills, not going to happen with this ride.

Anybody can build a cool looking bike, but can they actually ride it. This is where this thing is just amazing. You can ride this bike all day like any other bike, just don't mind everybody looking at you. I recently went myself inside the shop where Eric Hannan builds these bikes and I just couldn't believe it. The construction is amazing and they are very comfortable. They can even be taken apart in a few minutes and will fit inside a Honda Civic. Eric is just coming back from bike week in Daytona and he told me that his Choppers were a hit. This only shows that you can be cool and good to the environment at the same time. It demonstrates that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

Now I'm sure you're wondering how much something like that cost. Well, it's in the neighbourhood of 5 grand. But some people shell out that kind of cash for a road racer that just looks like any other racer out there. You won't go unnoticed on this thing ever!

We are living in great times and I sense that the Custom Bicycle is about to come into it's own.

Check out the site at Hannan's Customs.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed


Saturday, March 03, 2007


Pop quiz, you're riding down the road minding your own business when all of a sudden you crash and seriously bend a wheel on your faithful ride to the point that it looks like a taco. What do you do? Let's say that you have no tools, you're miles away from home, there is not a bike shop anywhere in site and no way to get a lift home. Supposing that you have survived the incident intact and you don't require ambulance transport, you're on foot and you need to get back home.

At this point, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your wheel is busted and you'll have to replace it anyway. You can work the wheel roughly back into shape by putting it on a hard surface, place your feet on the raised side of the "taco" and with both feet, jump firmly on the wheel to press it down. It should come back into a rideable shape. Do some more spot presses if you have to. The idea of this maneuver is not to have a perfect wheel, you'll have to replace it anyways, but to bring it back to a decent shape so you can ride back home slowly. At this point, the wheel will do it's job, but it won't be balanced and safe. So avoid any serious speed, especially downhill.

Let's face it, the worst ride beats the best walk! In the images, I used a wheel without a tire. Wheels with a tire usually come back in pretty good shape if I refer to the few times that I actually had to do this. Don't kid yourselves after this, the rim and spokes are shot, so go to your local bike shop and get another wheel once you get home safely.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.



This blog has covered a lot of fancy things like taking apart a bottom bracket, adjusting various components and building trailers. But I just recently realised that one of the basic things was never covered, like how to remove a bicycle wheel. For people like me who fix bikes it's pretty darn obvious, but I realise that for some of you it's not.

So let's get cracking! Removing a wheel is easy once you know a few things. The front wheel is the easiest to remove. Simply unbolt the nuts, pull the washers and you are done. The only thing to remember is to remove a brake pad to clear wide tires. Just one should suffice, it will avoid you the trouble of disconnecting the caliper and having to reajust it afterwards. Ajusting just one pad is much simpler. When you put the wheel back on, it is much better to have the bike and wheel sitting on the ground. This way you will be certain that the axle is sitting even in the fork and the wheel won't be crooked. Another way to find out if your wheel is on straight is to look and see if the center thread of the tire is aligned with the caliper hole in the fork.

The rear wheel is another story. Depending on what type of bike you have, there are some things you have to know before removing the wheel. Let's check it out one type at a time.

  • One speed coaster brake First thing to do is to remove the bolt that holds the brake arm to the bracket on the frame. Then untighten the wheel nuts, wiggle the wheel to slacken the chain and remove the wheel. When putting the wheel back on, make sure the brake arm is aligned with the bracket and put the chain back on the gear before.
  • 3 speed or more internal gears Disconnect the cable to the hub mechanism before you do anything. Do the same thing as the coaster hub wheel to remove and reinstall it.
  • Multi speed derailleur Make sure that the chain sits on the last gear closest to the frame. Unbolt the wheel and push it forward while pulling on the derailleur cage. The wheel should slide right off. When reinstalling it, put the chain on the last gear again, pull the derailleur cage and slide the wheel back in place.
When putting the wheel back on in all 3 cases, start by bolting the right nut(The one on the side of the chain) as you make sure you have proper chain tension for coaster and inner speed hubs and that the axle sits at the very bottom of the drop out hole for derailleurs. Once that nut is tight, grab the wheel near the pedal axle and align it straight with the bike frame. While you're holding the wheel in place, tighten the left nut.

That's it, you're done.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.