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Thursday, December 25, 2008

HOW-TO MAKE A REAL CHEAP HARD SADDLE BAG

Sometimes you look around the house and miss the obvious treasure trove of stuff just lying there or about to be tossed away. Case in point, a simple plastic peanut butter jar and a pair of plastic tie wraps can give you a very usable hard saddle bag.

Clean any plastic jar with a screw-on lid, just make sure it's not too wide. If you hit it with your legs while pedaling it will be very annoying after a few miles.

Use a marker and while centering the jar under your seat, mark two spots on each side of the seat rails. Cut four small holes and pass two plastic tie wraps in there. Use quality tie wraps on your set up, unless you don't really care about losing your new container.

Strap them on the seat rails and fill it with stuff. If you want to make it completely water proof, simply add a dab of silicone over the holes for the tie wraps.

That's it. you're done. I hope some of you will find this post helpful.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL


So Santa Claus gave the reindeers their walking papers and got himself a disk brake equipped mountain bike to do his deliveries tonight. Actually that is reader Ian spreading some Christmas spirit in his 'hood and the Elf in the back is his son.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming New Year. I also want to thank all of those like Ian who give me feedback and ask questions, either by email or by commenting on the blog itself. This is a big part of making this blog a living blog and I couldn't do it without you guys. When I hear that the info on this site has helped folks to earn a living, made a single Mom into a hero to her kid or brought together a Father and a son, I feel like a million bucks every time because I know that this effort is actually making a difference somewhere somehow.

A thousand pardons for not being regular with postings, but my life has been busy lately. If you ever want to test your marriage, remodel your kitchen yourself! Yes, we did make it thru fine, minus a few scratches, in the end. For those of you waiting for my book, don't worry. It's all written and I just need to format the thing so it looks better than a simple Word document. I hope to make it available for download within the month.

Until next time, ride safe, easy on the Eggnog and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

LEARN A NEW SKILL, CUSTOM BIKE HEADBAGDE


For those of us who are stuck indoors during the winter months, a great way to pass the time is to learn a new skill. I've always wanted to make my own headbadges for my bikes and a recent purchase motivated by my model building hobby has provided me with that opportunity. I bought a jewelers saw, grabbed some scrap aluminum sheet I had laying around and I'm having a lot of fun. The end result is then banged on a scrap steerer tube on my big vise to give it the rounded shape and voila! My own custom bicycle headbadge. I use epoxy or clear silicone to attach them to the bike.

I'm also using the time to rebuild part of my bike fleet, but this will only last so long and I figured that it's always good to learn a new skill. Investing in yourself is never a waste. I also bought a set of vintage hand engraving tools at a flea market and I'm trying my hand at it. Mind you I'm not that good at it, but I figure that practice will provide me with better skills at some point.

In these hard economic times, knowledge and tools are always a sound investement. You don't need to buy it if you can make it yourself and scrap material is freely available if you look hard enough. Some of this stuff might already be in your possesion!

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Friday, November 07, 2008

DERAILLEUR QUESTION FROM READER MAIL


I receive quite a few questions by email on a regular basis. I figured that some of you might have the same problems or questions, so I decided to share. I'll be posting these once and a while. Don't hesitate to write me.


"Gerry: I have a '74 Le Tour 10-speed. Does the procedure you describe to adjust the derailleurs on your website apply to my bike? I'd love to be able to learn how to do this...! Thanks! ...Ben"

Hello Ben,

The only thing that could differ from my tutorial is for some older Suntour derailleurs that have the spring tension reversed. This would mean that if you remove tension in the cable, the derailleur would rest on the gear closest to the wheel rather than on the smaller gear closest to the frame. Everything else is the same.

Gerry :)

Here's a link to the original article: http://www.howtofixbikes.ca/2006/12/how-to-adjust-front-derailleur.html

Friday, October 24, 2008

HOW TO FIX BIKES ON FACEBOOK AND HOW TO CONTACT ME


That's right, howtofixbikes on Facebook is now a group. I've been a member of Facebook for a little while now and find that it is a great way to make contacts and share ideas. Hence the creation of the "HOWTOFIXBIKES.CA" group.

Come join us to share, rant, rave and post pictures of your ride with all the other readers of this bicycle repair blog. I hope to make this a true international bicycle exchange of ideas. The combination of this blog and the group should make for some interesting exchanges. Don't be shy and post your stuff, ask questions and have fun. I'll be there at least once a day to maintain the place and keep you posted on the latest here.

Come and join us today here: http://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#/group.php?gid=49048827216

You can also contact me directly at: howtofixbikes@gmail.com



See you there soon, Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

THE LAZY AND EASY WAY TO BUILD A BICYCLE WHEEL.


First off, this technique is only good if you need to replace a rim. Also, it will only work of you are replacing the rim on your wheel with the same diameter rim. You won't be able to put a 26 inch rim on an old spoke and hub set up for a 700 bicycle wheel.

Now that we got that out of the way, on with the show.

For the benefit of this post, I will switch rims from alloy to steel for a cruiser project. What you need is your bicycle wheel, a replacement rim of the same diameter, spoke key wrench and some masking tape. Make sure that you are replacing your rim with a straight one. A bent rim will only provide you with more reasons to curse. You can easily check this by laying the rim on a flat surface and any bends will magically be revealed.

Next, take the new rim and tape it to the old one. Now you must match the two rims together. This means that the valve holes must be aligned with each other and the sides of the spokes as well, ie a left spoke hole matches a left spoke and a right spoke hole matches a right spoke, etc...



Now start removing the spokes from the old rim and transfer them to the new rim one at a time. Don't screw the spoke nipples tight on the new rim, we just need them to hold in place.


Once all the spokes have been transferred to the new rim, remove the tape and the old rim. Voila! You have just built a new bicycle wheel the lazy and easy way.


Take your newly rebuilt bicycle wheel and screw all the brass nipples until you can't see the thread on the spokes. If you know how to true a bike wheel, now is the time to put it in the stand and true it. Tension will be put in the wheel after this initial truing and you'll top it off with a final true after that. For those of you who can't, you can go to my article with a video on the subject listed at the bottom or you can bring in your wheel to your local bike shop for final truing. Hopefully you will save some bucks since they didn't have to build it for you.

How-to true a bicycle wheel video link

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

THE KLUNKER BIKE BUILD


Yes, yet another bike build is on the way. The good folks at ratrodbikes.com yelled "BIKE BUILD OFF" again and this time the theme is a Klunker bike. Klunker bikes were the genesis of the mountain bike back in the late 70's in Marin County California when a bunch of guys and gals decided to race old cruiser bikes downhill on a trail famously known as the Repack. It was called this because at the bottom of the hill, after every run, the coaster brake hubs had to be repacked with grease since they would smoke them out on the way down. The need for better brakes, multiple gears and the shrinking supply, not to talk about the limitations, of classic iron motivated the development of what we know today as the mountain bike.

I got my hands on this Klunker wannnabe from a friend for a mere $10 CDN. I had stashed it away for next season, but the build off requires me to get going now, so I figured I would take a chance and share with you guys at the same time. I plan on fixing this thing more than going for a full out rebuild and selling it on Craigslist as soon as possible.

What we have to work with here is not incredible. We are talking about a late 90's, chain store, klunker look alike. The diagnosis so far is grim. My main concern is the seized seat post. This problem could bring this project to an end if I can't pull it out. Thankfully it is a steel seat post inside a steel frame. Aluminum seat post in steel frames are a lot harder to get out when jammed. It will also require, at first glance, new brake calipers, cable and cable housings all around, shifters and pedals. That's for now until I put it on the workstand and do a more in debt autopsy of the beast.

So keep posted while I scrape my knuckles and curse myself to eternal damnation to finish this bike before Winter shows up it's true ugly face with a monster dump of snow. I'm sure it's going to be a blast.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

THE END IS NEAR!


Well, to the riding season anyways here in the snowbelt. It is possible to ride in the winter, but for those of us that actually did it, it's not as fun as a nice ride on a warm sunny day. For the past four days I've been hit by a nasty cold and within the daze of the sickness and medication, I have managed to reflect a bit about my riding season.

I came to the sad conclusion that I didn't take as many riding opportunities as I should have. Sure we had gray and misty days most of the summer, but I was in good shape and more than able to ride. It kinda reminds you that some people don't benefit from that privilege due to ailments or physical disabilities. We should all thank our lucky stars that we can ride and enjoy it to the fullest every chance we get.

Hopefully I will get better real soon and I swear to you that I will ride as often as I can until that white crap hits the ground. Sorry I couldn't write a how-to post, my brain is just floating in a gooyee fog this week folks. This cold is so nasty that the usual combination of Advil sinus and NyQuil knock out aren't as effective as usual. However, I did try something on the home remedy front. I made some chicken noodle soup and added a dash of hot sauce. This provides relief for a couple of hours.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :/

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1956 Raleigh Sports, the conclusion.


After the initial long ride with the Raleigh, I realized two things. My legs were definitely not used to riding a regular diamond frame anymore and I really liked the way it rode, but it was missing something. This bike was definitely not right for the upright cruiser position. Maybe it's the skinny tires (For me those are skinny, but I know some dudes who find those tires huge!) or the frame geometry, I don't know, but something was just not feeling right.

I hang out with a bunch that ride fixies and I must admit that I love how vintage road steel comes alive again with modern wheels, components and how attractive the purest form of the bike is. One thing that I find very cool is how they use flipped and cut drop bars. I found a pair of alloy drop bars and by using a pipe cutter tool, I trimmed off the excess. I then covered them with fake cork grip tape.


I was a bit worried. One of the reasons I had stopped riding diamond frames was because my hands would get numb quite fast. But so far the combination of the grip tape and gloves seem to work. I did splurge for the grip tape since I wanted a vintage look, $22CDN. What the heck, you only live once last time I checked.

I disconnected the Nexus hub since it didn't need the gears and I am replacing that wheel with a single speed coaster hub soon anyways. The ride is sublime, a bit nimble and that Brooks saddle is still as plush as ever.


So, what is this bike? A wannabe fixie? A violated vintage roadster? A piece of junk? I don't really care what people will think, I'm in love with this bike like you wouldn't believe. What caught my eye the first time I saw it was that dimpled fork. I have loved those forks since I was 10, I had a Raleigh Chopper. The fact that the saddle was also original equipement, that crane chain ring, the racing green, the faded hand painted gold pinstripes, all are factors that makes me able to sit and just look at it for a long time. It not only looks great, it rides great. I am very happy with the fact that I was able to keep the most important (for me) original parts, add some modern rubber and bring it down as close as I could to it's most purest form.

As of today, it sleeps indoors. I hope you enjoyed this build, the spend-o-meter has stopped at $48 CDN.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1956 Raleigh Sports project bicycle build, ride and review.


After correcting the small problems mentioned on my last post, I finished putting the bike together and went for a spin. The ride was nice and as expected. But I wanted to take it for a decent ride before I would declare my happiness to the masses.


A long ride teaches you something about a bike that a spin around the block will never do, especially if you have to be somewhere at a specific time. The first thing that hit me, or rather my leg muscles, was how tall the gearing was. The Nexus was in first gear and that thing was kinda hard to push up a hill. Now I understand why Nexus equipped bikes come with those tiny 36 tooth chainrings. Well I wasn't too sad about that. My first idea for the bike was to see if that hub was operationnal since it's going on a future project. Mission accomplished on that front minus the fact that I am still in the "educated gueswork" stage for adjusting the speeds on the Nexus.


That rear wheel will be replaced by a one-speed coaster hub. The other reminder that I got, after arriving at my destination, is that running smaller and higher pressure tires makes you more vulnerable to flats. Yep, got one. It's a good thing it happened right next to the Mile End bike garage.


Lastly, I have to talk about the Brooks B66 touring leather saddle that came with that bike. I've heard from many sources that those saddles were worth their high price( around $150CDN) and, after a few decent rides, I must come to the conclusion that they are right. Wow! What smoothness, comfort and smashing good looks! To think that the one I have is over 50 years old. This is the best saddle I have ever had on a bike.

Now normally this would be the end of this little project, however, it's not. I'm not done yet. I'm still going to change some stuff and I'll write about it next week. I just don't like those handle bars.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ride like you are invisible, you're not car proof!

The bike above, or what remains of it, belongs to a fellow volunteer at the Mile End community bike shop where I give some time. His name is Elton and he's a spirited young rider. This is his second crash this summer, that I know of anyways. Bike 0 Cars 2. Luckily he came out of it a bit shaken and bruised. The bike suffered a destroyed fork and wheel. No big deal, the kid is alive and well, that's all that matters.

Then a few days ago my friend Riley, another volunteer at the shop, got rear ended by a drunk driver and ended up in the hospital(The driver was arrested and charged.). Thank God he came out of it without any major injuries. A bad case of road rash on his hip from what I heard. Now Elton's incident may have been partly due to his enthusiastic way of riding, but Riley's was totally unpredictable and those are the scary ones.

I posted about safe riding a while ago and I want to use this post to again emphasize the importance of being aware, extremely aware, of your surroundings when you ride. Take for granted that most drivers don't have any consideration for you or your safety. A lot of them out there don't even know how to operate the heater in their car for crying out loud, but they are very good at multi-tasking with their make-up, cell phone and newspaper. That's until something on the road happens to break their concentration. Remember that even if you are in the right, the law of physics has always precedence over anything else, one ton of car will always win in a collision. Ride as if you were invisible, always.

I don't know if it's because my kids are in the same age group as the guys and gals at the shop, but whenever I hear about one of them getting involved in an accident, I feel terrible. Just as if they were one of mine. I've chatted online with Riley today and he did tell me he was OK, but my mind won't be at peace until I see him in person. I only wish that this post will help someone avoid getting killed or seriously injured so that something positive came out of those incidents.

Until next time, DO ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry

Sunday, September 07, 2008

1956 Raleigh Sports project bicycle build, putting it back together .


Putting newer components on older bikes has always a few surprises in store for you. In the case of the rear wheel, the vintage 52 year old frame did not measure up. The drop outs were too small for the bigger axle of the Nexus and the width of the new hub will need to be helped in there as well, it's a bit tight. There was no way around the drop outs however, I had to file them in order for the axle to make it in. I used a hand file since I wanted to keep control of steel removal! If you are doing this type of work, check your progress often, you don't want to take too much off. If you do so, there's no way to put it back. It took me 30 minutes to do both sides. Afterward, with a big flat head screwdriver, I was able to squeeze the new wheel in.

Next I Installed the tires on both wheels with my new 26 X 1.5 slicks. They fitted the frame and fork well with enough room for clearance on both sides. I also installed a chrome chain I had lying around from a previous build.

Now the Nexus is equipped with a coaster brake, but you will agree that two brakes are always better than one. So in that spirit, I installed a front brake caliper on the fork. I put on a set of V-Type brake pads on them for better stopping power. My riding style is that I always use the front brake to slow down and I actually stop the bike with the rear brake.

Before going any further in this build, I decided to do the best test there is to see if I was on the right track with every thing, a road test. This was not a waste of time. I found out immediately that the original pedals were crooked and that the rear tire was not fully set in the rim. The bump bump bump that I felt while cruising was the sign that something was wrong with the rear rubber. The front brake was working marvelously and so did the rear one. Every thing else was coming together as I had hoped.


After the test ride, I replaced the pedals with a pair I had lying around, reconnected the Nexus shifter to the hub, installed the last grip on the handle bar and started to gather up the accessories that will go on the bike.

Keep posted for next week's final installment of this build. With the brake pads added, the spend-o-meter now sits at $26 CDN.

For more info on caliper brakes, check here: brake article
For more info on installing a chain, check here: Chain how-to
For more info on installing pedals, check here: Pedals how-to

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

1956 Raleigh Sports project bicycle build, tear down!


When rebuilding or restoring an old bike one of the first things you need is a good working area and place for storage. You need a dedicated shelf or box to put every little piece you take off the bike. You'll be saving yourself a ton of time and headache medication from looking around for stuff later on. Keep everything for now. Even though you might think you won't use a certain part, you just don't know what might happen down the road.

This is especially true about custom jobs like the one I am attempting. Tearing down the bike was pretty straight forward. I removed the wheels, fenders, chain, brake calipers and cables. These parts were not going back on the bike. I then removed all the brackets, seat, seat post and handle bar. These went on the storage shelf. I was left with the frame, bottom bracket assembly with cranks and the fork assembly.

I removed the fork from the frame and I was very happy to find that the bearings and cups were in decent shape. These old bikes did not hold the bearings in crowns. They have all individual bearing balls. One must prepare for such a thing when dismantling a fork. Lay down a blanket on the floor or a big empty bucket because these little suckers will fly all over the place. Reassembly is pretty straight forward, make sure you have the same number of bearing balls on top and at the bottom of the fork head set. Lay down some grease in the top cup on the frame and on the bottom one of the fork. Insert each ball bearing, grease the cup under the frame and on the one you screw on the top of the fork. Carefully insert the fork and be ready to screw it in right away. Did I mention that this was a bit of a messy job? It is. :)


I was also going to repack the bottom bracket with grease. But this one is equiped with cotter pin crank arms. In order to remove these, you must hit the cotter pin out. I partly removed the nut on the cotter pins and whacked them 2 or 3 times with a hammer on each side...nothing happened. No movement at all. That's the way of the cotter pin crank, it's a 50/50 chance that they are seized every time you need to remove them. The only other way for me to remove them is to drill out the pin. Now I am on a time limit for this build and the bottom bracket seems fine. No looseness anywhere and the thing cranks over pretty smoothly. So I decided to let it be.

Next step was to go over the frame with a Scotchbrite pad dipped in soap water to remove some house paint splashes and to generally clean the frame before applying a coat of clear lacquer all over the original finish. I also cleaned the chrome parts with a steel wool dipped in Mother's polishing cream. Another part that required some attention was the seat. The Brooks B66 leather saddle was not in bad shape, but the hide was starting to become a bit dry. It was wipped with Dubbin at least four times. The result was pretty good.

Next I located a stem and handle bar in my pile of parts. I really don't like the riding position of the original. Now that the frame is ready, it's time to figure out if those new parts fit on the frame...and that's for next time.


For more info on a complete bike tear down, including fork removal, consult my blog on the subject: http://bikeoverhaul

I bought two lights for the bike so that now sets the spend-o-meter at $21 CDN.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

1956 Raleigh Sport project bicycle build

Well I haven't been the best of blogger lately. A crappy summer and all of a sudden the weather is nice. I've been selfish and spent my time riding and enjoying the nice weather. Yesterday I got my hands on 2 bikes that I plan to turn into one. So in trying to gain the forgiveness of my faithful readers, I will share this build with you. :)

So the story goes like this, a friend of mine had a pile of bikes he wanted to get rid of and called me to come and pick them up. I had no clue what he had, neither did he, but I rushed to his place and I was quite happy with what I found. The first was the CCM cruiser. Despite it's very bland looks my eyeballs zeroed in on the rear hub immediately, a Nexus 4! Four inner gears with a coaster brake, even the shifter was there, I couldn't believe my luck. That's until I turned my head and saw the Raleigh. Wow, the Brooks leather saddle caught my eyes right away and just by the general looks of it, I knew I was dealing with some very sweet vintage British iron. The rest of the pile was brought to the community bike shop.


When I first got my hands on these, I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to do with them. I had hunted for a Nexus for the past 3 years to put on one of my custom bikes, but now all those wheels are built up and painted. I wanted to try out the Nexus a bit before rebuilding an entire wheel for one of the customs with it. So I finally decided to use the Raleigh as a test bed for the Nexus and build it up. I took the CCM cruiser for a spin to make sure that the hub and shifter worked properly before disassembly. To my great relief, it worked fine.

Whenever you set up yourself up to start a project like this, there are many things to take into consideration. It's not just a case of slapping some parts from one bike to another. You most also decide to what extent you are willing to go. For this build, I decided I liked the original finish too much to repaint it, besides I have neither the means or the time to recreate the original art and decals put on there by the workers of Notthingham 52 years ago. I will simply lay a few coats of clear over the existing finish. I will also keep the signature Raleigh dimple fork, one of my favorite features of these bikes.

The Raleigh is equiped with 26 X 1 3/8 wheels, at first glance this size would seem to be the same as any 26 inch wheel, wrong! 26 X 1 3/8 is a little taller than balloon cruiser or mountain bike 26 inch wheels. The frame is also not wide enough to accept 26 X 2.125 whitewalls. I have no intention to lace the hub to the original rims, this would be time consuming and there is also the fact that there is one or two kinds of tires that fit on 26 X 1 3/8, that is if you can find them. I have gone and bought two 26 X 1.5 slicks that will fit inside the frame and fork.

The other thing to consider at this point, are the axles of the new wheels going to fit in the frame and fork? Axles today are pretty big compared to back then. I will use a quick release hub in the front, the smaller diameter axle will fit so I don't have to grind the fork stays openings. I will also have to verify that the back drop outs are wide enough to accept the Nexus hub.

There are a bunch of things to consider when doing this type of custom bicycle build, but in the end it's all worth it. I will post a progress report within the week...promise. The spend-o-meter now sits at $13 CDN.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

HOW TO REPAIR OR OVERHAUL A COASTER BRAKE HUB

There isn't much I can't fix or service on a bike, but I will freely admit that rebuilding a single speed coaster brake hub is not something I am very good at. Seriously, every time I try to rebuild a coaster brake hub, it commits suicide shortly thereafter.

Since many of you have been asking for information on this matter and I wouldn't be a reliable source to provide it, I have found a couple of great sites that can help you out. The first one is a step by step total rebuild from Steve Litt. Extremely well detailed and with lots of photographs. You can find the article here: http://www.troubleshooters.com/bicycles/1speed/1speed_overhaul.htm

The second valuable resource can be found at ratrodbikes.com's how-to section in the discussion forum. Member new_dharma and others have posted some diagrams of many hubs and this could also help you out. The information can be found here: http://ratrodbikes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1162

There is one thing that I can contribute in your quest to overhaul a single speed or any other coaster brake hub:
  • Prepare a clean working surface, no piles of little knick knacks that can be confused with tiny hub parts.
  • Use a rag to cover your working surface that will prevent parts to bounce off into the 5th dimension of your workshop, never to be seen again until just before you move after selling the house.
  • If you have a camera, be smart and take pictures as you dismantle(This one applies to anything you ever decide to take apart for the first time, trust me.).

These 3 little simple steps will save you a lot of headaches and should keep your money out of the cursing jar! Don't rush things and you'll be fine.

Until I find a hub to rebuild and find the time to try Steve Litt's steps, this is the best I can do for you. Good luck to you all.

Til next time ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

INSTANT KARMA

With my last post on safe riding, I was a bit surprised to stumble upon this little video a few days later on Youtube. You don't see much on the first watch, but the slow motion replay shows you in detail what happens to this moron. He was a rear seat passenger in a car and he opened the door so he could hit a kid riding his bicycle. I'll let you discover for yourself what happens next.



I have no clue if the dude was hurt badly or won a Darwin award. In fact, I don't care.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

HOW TO RIDE YOUR BIKE SAFELY


I’ve done many articles about bike maintenance, but one area that I realize I haven’t addressed is safe bicycle riding. You can have a properly maintained ride, but if you are not careful out there you could be killed or maimed.

So the first thing you must have in mind at all times in your head when riding your bike is this: BE ALERT AND BE AWARE.

BE ALERT

I don’t care if it’s a beautiful sunny day on the bike path and traffic is light, if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing with your head in the clouds and your eyes on the pretty birdies, you open yourself to whatever will happen to you. Unconsciously riding your bike anywhere but in your driveway is THE recipe for disaster. Keep tabs on what is moving and not moving around you. Look ahead and anticipate what the other guy might do, may he/she be a pedestrian, driver or even another cyclist. Keep an eye on the road surface as well, missing manhole covers and crater sized potholes can seriously ruin your day. This might sound complicated and impossible to do, but consider that you have an unobstructed view of everything, your rate of speed is a lot more manageable than a car or motorcycle and, if your brakes are in good condition, you can stop pretty quickly on a very short distance.

BE AWARE

Being aware is not just about your surroundings, it is extremely important, but it is also about being aware of yourself and your bike. What kind of rider are you? Fast, slow? In what condition is your bike? Good brakes, gears working properly, anything about to break on it that you are aware of? Take all these things into consideration before that first push of the pedal. I ride around on a big cruiser sometimes with very bad brakes (for my taste anyways) and knowing that fact I will ride it very casually at speeds that I know it can stop fast…relatively speaking of course. You will never catch me doing stupid stunts in weekday traffic on that thing!

Here are other things to consider:

BIKE PATHS AND CYCLING LANES

Ah yes the safety and convenience of bike lanes…NOT! Even the best case scenario of the protected and dedicated bike lane that physically keeps vehicle traffic away from you has it’s dangers, just imagine what the painted line on the ground variety is like. The list is long in both cases: Opening car doors, unconscious morons on foot using or crossing without looking, Lance Armstrong wannabes, kids sent there by there mothers with their tricycle doing donuts, kids or regular brain-dead cyclist weaving from side to side, parked maintenance vehicles or moving vans, rollerbladers taking both lanes to skate, wheelchair type scooters, and a whole bunch of other things that I’m sure some of you could add. Keep this in mind next time you go for a leisurely ride. The one that freaks me out the most are the mothers walking their baby stroller right in the middle of the path, I think these ladies failed their physics class since a rider and bike moving at 30 km/h can cause serious damage if they or their baby gets hit. Hopefully that rider will have read this post an managed to avoid her in time.

BEING DOORED

This has never happened to me, but I’ve had two close calls. From what I’ve gathered when talking to victims of this type of incident, deceleration is instantaneous and extremely painful. One cyclist ended up in intensive care last week clinging to life after being doored. She bounced off the door and was projected onto incoming traffic and got hit by a truck. When riding next to parked cars, keep an eye inside the vehicles and side mirror to detect movement inside. If you can’t see the inside of a car because of tinted windows or other reasons, take for granted that it is occupied and prepare to evade or stop. Keep an eye on the traffic behind you at all times. I’ve equipped all my bikes with a decent bell so that when I see movement in a car I ring it to make sure the occupant is aware that I’m there. So far it’s worked wonders.

STRATEGY AND TACTICS ON THE ROAD

When riding with traffic you have to take some precautions and adapt your way of riding. Never ride facing oncoming traffic, it’s a myth that it’s safer. Drivers find you out of sync and might not react well, at night your red rear reflector or light is not visible and neither are you. Avoid sidewalks at all cost, it is dangerous for pedestrians and illegal in most places. Don’t forget to keep an eye on what’s happening behind you and keep your ears open. Use all the feedbacks from the road, may it be visible or audible. Never forget that in a hitting contest the car will always win. If you have priority and a driver decides otherwise, don’t insist or you might get killed to get your point across. When you get to an intersection and there is more than two cars competing for the right of way, play it safe. Stop, sit up on your saddle and cross your arms over your chest. This way the other users will see that you are not going anywhere. You can now wait until they’ve all settled their arguments, in a matter of speaking, moved along and safely go through once the intersection is clear. Those few seconds that you’ve waited will insure that you can ride on instead of wasting some precious riding time in a hospital bed. Blasting thru stop signs and red traffic lights is of course extremely suicidal. At least take the time to slow down and look both ways.

SOME PEOPLE HATE YOU

Yes it’s true. Either it’s because we look different, save money on gas or just because we seem to enjoy ourselves and the world, some people find this offensive in the sense that everybody should be as miserable as they are or they are simply stupid period. This type of idiot can try to aggress you with his/her car or throw things at you just for the hell of it. In this type of situation it is imperative that you avoid and evade immediately. Your first priority is your safety and survival, Police reports and arguments will have to wait for later. A car as tons of horsepower, but you are extremely mobile and you can go anywhere. Go places a car can’t go or follow you, keep moving and if you have to, even consider going against traffic. Once you’re in a safe place you can call the Police if need be.

RIDING AT NIGHT

Bikes usually come equipped with reflectors and most people think that this is enough to get by when riding at night...WRONG! Nothing beats a good front light and a red blinker in the back. LED equipped bicycle lights are now available in both red and white. They are inexpensive, easy to find and don't require a cumbersome dynamo to slow you done. If you want total visibility at night, throw in a lime yellow safety vest and only a total blind man or idiot won't see you. There is no technical reason why you should ride at night without being visible. Reflectors are only good so a driver can notice you seconds before he/she plows into you.

LAST WORD

In your mind, prepare yourself for any and all problem that you might encounter while riding. You would be surprised at the difference it can make in any situation. Lastly I will quote a Montreal bike courier who once told me this: “I ride as if I was invisible.” That means that you always take for granted that nobody sees you and you ride your bike the proper way, defensively.

Til next time DO ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)


Update

Here's a copy of an email I received from one of our readers telling of his experience and I think it is worth sharing here. So here it goes:

"I consider myself a very safe and alert cyclist based on many years of riding a motorcycle with the attitude that "everyone out there who can get me, will" and always having an exit plan. I commute 14 miles each way 2-4 days a week to work. I have since given up the motorcycle after my dad lost his life to a drunk driver riding the motorcycle on which I learned.

One situation I never anticipated caused a friend of mine a broken jaw and over a year's worth of surgery. Road conditions were excellent: sunny, dry, and clean roadbed. There was a nice bike lane and the street was long, straight, relatively flat with infrequent cross streets. My friend was in front of me on a road bike, me behind on my Vision recumbent. Traffic was heavy and stop and go while we were cruising along at about 12 mph. A medium sized panel truck stopped in traffic just ahead of us, but since traffic was stop and go we didn't think anything of it. However, the panel truck driver had actually stopped to allow an oncoming truck to turn left into a business driveway (i.e. in front of the panel truck and across our bike lane). The turning truck accelerated and roared in front of us, giving us no time to see him and stop in time.

My friend's jaw hit the bottom edge of the turning truck's flatbed. His jaw was broken and he endured over a year of oral surgeries including a length of time with his jaw wired shut. Had I been in front, I would have gone under the truck due to my lower riding position. I shudder to imagine what that would have been like.

I am used to watching out for traffic turning in front of me from behind, in front, and the sides, which is common at street intersections whether there is a bike path or not. What I learned from this experience was be very wary during stop and go traffic when obscures my vision of oncoming traffic.

Toby
Portland, OR"

Thanks Toby for sharing your experience.

Gerry


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

UPDATE ON THE BLOG AND OTHER THINGS


Well I'm approaching the second anniversary of this blog in a few days and I thought it would be cool to do a little recap and let all of you know what's coming up. When I started this website I had no clue what I was doing, well apart from fixing bikes of course. :) If I had, I would have done a few things differently, but i guess that's what life is for. After all, success is a lousy teacher. I must say however that I'm very happy with the way things are turning out. I've met a bunch of people on and off line, helped a few on the way, helped participate in the rebirth of more than a few bikes and had a great time doing it.

A big "thank you" to all of you, you've made this blog what it is and I think it is more than appropriate to adorn this post with the picture of a reader's bike. The one speed you see pictured is the pride and joy of Johann from South Africa and if you can believe it, he crossed a 100km desert with it. He's planning a 2300km cross country trip next year. Awesome ride Johann.

I know that how to articles have been slow to come lately, but don't despair. I have one around the corner about replacing a rim the easy way stemming from my current Rat Bike Build Off project. Answering emails, comments on the blog and giving time at the local community bike shop has also kept me very busy. A recent email has also prompted me to start something I have been putting on hold for too long, a book.

I was contacted by a publishing agent to write a book about bike repair. The deal never came to fruition and I decided to go about it myself. Wow, talk about a mine field when it comes to publishing a book! My day to day job is a cake walk compared to that.

So in the spirit of Wikinomics and this blog, I've decided to publish it myself and make it available through here. No middle man, so I'll be able to offer it for donations. Just like Radiohead did with their new album, you'll be able to download it and give whatever you want. A hard copy will also be available through Cafepress for a decent price. The writing is all done(no copy and paste, all fresh text) and I'll use some of my vacation time coming up in the next weeks to take the pictures. That's it, I've just committed myself, so keep posted.


Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

RAT ROD BIKE BUILD OFF 3


Once again it's time for THE build off of the year over at the very friendly ratrodbikes.com discussion forum. To my wife's great chagrin it is also time for me to build another bike. This time I will be using a modern Chinese made cruiser frame that I reviewed last year called The Chief. The bike frame is in almost new condition and in keeping with the rules I am not modifying it. I have slightly scored it with sandpaper, sprayed with Krylon white anti rust primer and layed down two coats of Krylon red over it. It now sits to dry and i will be applying multiple coats of Krylon epoxy clear as soon as weather permits (I'm outdoors you know). This also keeps in with the rule that the builder must apply the paint himself, no fancy thousand dollar paint jobs here.

So go over to see the other builds here: http://ratrodbikes.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=24

Or better yet, sign up and join us in the fun. Last build off winner was karfer67 who ratted out a vintage Schwinn delivery bike. Anything goes folks, within the rules of course. :)

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

COMMUNITY BIKE SHOPS


One great way to get your ride in running order is to join a local community bike shop. These places are run by volunteers who can help fix your bike and teach you how to do it yourself at the same time for a very reasonable price. They don't all work the same way and their hours might not be as many as regular bike shops (volunteers remember)but you are sure to find some good help. Community bike shops are also a great place to get your hands on used parts at the fraction of the cost compared to new ones.

Apart from the nuts and bolts, they are a great place to make new friends who share your passion for the two wheeled wonder. If you want, you can also become a volunteer yourself and join them in spreading the knowledge that you've learned. I am listing some shops here that I know of around the world, if I'm missed yours, please email me and I will add it to the list. If you don't have one in your area, I suggest you might look into starting one. I have enjoyed helping out people at the Mile End Bike Garage here in Montreal for the past year and recommend the experience to everybody with the knowledge.

Montreal, Canada

Right to move

Mile End Bike Garage

McGill's SSMU Bicycle Collective
3600 McTavish Street, room B-04

Vancouver Canada

The Bike Kitchen

USA

Phoenix

Omaha

Charlottesville

Bellingham WA

San Francisco

Iowa City

You can also check out the Bike Collective who list many community bike shops around the world: http://www.bikecollectives.org/

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Friday, June 06, 2008

HOW TO USE THE SHIFTERS AND GEARS ON YOUR BIKE


I’m always surprised to see that often times people are riding multiple speed bikes and are completely clueless about how to use them. Then I realize that not everybody as the sacred knowledge to decipher these gears, shifters and all possible combinations. I can understand that all this can be a complete mystery to many of you, so let’s go ahead and solve it.

First off, I’ll explain what you have to work with, we’ll use the typical 3 gears in the front and 7 in the back to explain how to use your drivetrain effectively. On a multiple speed bike you have generally 3 gears in the front, called chain rings, and 6 to 8 in the back on the rear wheel. The front gears are controlled by the shifter on the left of the handle bar. The first one is the smallest and the easiest, it is often called the “granny gear”. That gear is typically used for climbing steep hills or getting people back on bikes like it did for me 16 years ago. The middle gear is the one that is used the most on flat surfaces while at cruising speed. The biggest and hardest gear is used when you are going downhill with the wind at your back.

Some of you more experienced riders reading this are probably going “what is he talking about?”. Remember that I am addressing the neophyte here and most people who get back on a bike don’t have the same legs as Lance Armstrong. Strong riders with many miles on their leg muscles can ride a bike from a dead stop using only the biggest gear or chainring. A newer or more casual cyclist would bust his/her knees doing this. So to recap, smallest gear = easy, middle gear = normal cruising, biggest gear = hard.

Now the front gears are used with the combination of the ones on the rear wheel that are controlled by the shifter on the right side of the handlebars. In this case, the logic is reversed, the first and biggest gear being the easiest and the last and smallest being the hardest to pedal. I will list some combinations that will make your riding easier and you will see that although you might have a 24 speed bike, in reality you will effectively use about 5 or 6 of them.

Climbing a steep hill

1st or 2nd gear in the rear, first gear in the front.

Riding on a flat surface or slight incline

1st to last gear on the rear, middle or second gear in the front.

Riding downhill

Last gear in the rear, 3rd or biggest gear in the front. (If you’re not scared. If so, stay in the middle gear)

If you are a new or recently returning cyclist with dead legs, you can stay on the smallest gear in the front and use all the gears on the rear wheel for all your riding. At some point you will develop more endurance and be able to move on to the middle one. Hardcore cyclists who ride thousands of miles a year will be able to do just about everything with the biggest gear only, but for the mere mortals like you and me, you should stick with the middle one.

One final note, always shift gears ahead of time. If you change gears while applying full power to the pedals, you take a chance of breaking your chain. Plan your shifts ahead of time and you’ll be ok. I hope I managed to explained this properly. Your comments and questions are, as usual, more than welcomed.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry J

Sunday, May 18, 2008

HOW TO BUILD AN INEXPENSIVE SUSPENSION RECUMBENT BICYCLE AT HOME PART 4


Now that the seat is installed, it's time for the job that will rack your brain big time: chain management. On regular bikes this is pretty obvious, the chain goes straight from the chainring sitting in front of the rear wheel not too far ahead.

In our case, the chain has to make a few detours to get from the chainring to the rear wheel and must avoid a whole bunch of things on it's way there and back. Before you start making your chain management set up, make sure you install everything on the bike, brakes, cables and every little doodad that goes on there. You must know what will be in the way of the chain before you install it. Remember, we're not working with plans here! One of the easiest ways to bring the chain from the rear to the front is with black PVC type tubing. I use the kind that is put in the ground for lawn sprinkler systems. 100 feet for $12, it should last you a lifetime. Those types of tubes usually last one season, so all the extra is not for nothing. It is surprisingly quite, you just have to make sure you secure the tubing with a good amount of duct tape strategically placed so the tube doesn't move with time. Leave the very front and back of the tube loose so that the chain can move when shifting from one gear to another.



That takes care of the top part of the chain, now for the lower part or the return section of the chain. When the chain is moving in the lower section, it isn't under tension and we can get away with less strength in our deviation set up. I use a grinded rollerblade wheel secured at the old bottom bracket by using a front wheel axle jerry rigged on the left bearing cup. It holds pretty nice and is very quite. I allow the wheel some movement on the axle so the chain can remain more straight in its path back to the rear wheel. I also added another wheel which I made from an old printer bracket wheel that I attached to the clip that holds the front boom. I sandwiched an old derailleur wheel on it. I used that one to clear the top of the fork while the chain is on its way back to th rear of the bike. I could have used another rollerblade wheel type of arrangement there as well, but I already had that set up lying around.



Now at this point the bike can be powered. Before you start installing all the accessories and other little knick knacks, install a working rear brake and take it out for a ride to see if your prototype is actually functional. I did with mine and that's when I found out that...

IT'S A TOTAL FLOP!

Yes, sadly this is a possibility when you hodge podge a homebuilt bike together. Before I started this build, I figured there was going to be some flex when pedaling the bike caused by the rear suspension, but I wasn't expecting that much. The thing bounces around like a clown bike when under full pedal power from a dead stop. Climbing hills is just very hard labor and extremely slow. I had tightened up the spring on the cheapo shock absorber, but it wasn't enough.

Mind you, the suspension does its job while going downhill or when you're up to speed on the flats. But unless you want to train to get legs like Lance Armstrong, going on even the slightest incline is murder for your leg muscles. There might be a way to lock the shock when you need it or a better quality shock might work better, but I don't have the time or money right now. I need a working recumbent for a big critical mass event in 2 weeks. Not only does it need to work, it also has to be broken in, no time to do repairs on a big ride like that. So on with:

PLAN "B"



Plan "B" is my previous short wheel base recumbent that my son affectionately called the "Pocket Rocket". It is made from and old CCM mixte frame. It runs on a 20 inch rear wheel and a 16 inch front wheel. I had some elements like the front boom and brake bosses welded on by a welder for hire. Cost of the welds back then came to about $20. Next post will be about slapping the Rocket back together. Sorry about this let down, but things like these happen when you make stuff yourself from junk. Remember that practice makes perfect.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Homebuilt recumbent part 1
Homebuilt recumbent part 2
Homebuilt recumbent part 3

Monday, May 12, 2008

HOW TO BUILD AN INEXPENSIVE RECUMBENT BICYCLE AT HOME PART 3

Well it's been a while, but the snow has finally melted and the Sun has decided to come out. So it's time to build bikes again. In this post I will talk about 2 sections of the build, the steering column and the seat brace and seat, so off we build!

MAKING THE STEERING COLUMN

This recumbent has over the seat steering. This requires for the handlebars to clear your legs while they crank the pedals. I accomplish this by using a few parts from scrap bikes.

Part 1 is a stem that I took from a mountain bike. I removed the clamp that holds the handlebar and kept the sides so that I could attach the second part. Part 1 actually goes into the steerer tube of the fork, it's the main stem.

Part 2 is just a piece of frame from the top tube of a racer bike cut to lenght. I then drilled some holes so I could attach it to Part 1, the main stem.

Part 3 is a regular road bike stem that is shoved inside Part 2 and tightened up as usual. I chose a road stem since I wanted the handlebars close to me.

Part 4 is a pair of moustache handlebars that can usually be found on old roadster bikes. You can also use a regular flat bar. I chose these because that is my riding position of choice.

Get all this stuff together, bolt everything real tight and you have yourself a steering column for your recumbent. Did I mention bolt everything tight? Don't skimp that part for later.





THE SEAT BRACE AND SEAT

The seat brace was going to be a challenge on this suspended bent. I couldn't use the rear stays for support since they are moving. I found the solution in some left over tubing from an old bike rack. The tubes were pre-bent to shape. I flattened the bend to add some strength, drilled a bunch of holes in the tubes, bike frame and then I bolted everything together tight with nylon lined bolts. The seat is just 2 pieces of plywood slapped together with door hinges and bolted to the braces in the appropriate holes.

This set up is my worst looking educated piece of guesswork that I have ever done. Awkwardly, it is also the most sturdy! The seat will have some fine adjustement done later on and will be padded. The rear suspension will take most of the hits, but plywood is still not that comfy, it will be padded.



The next installement of this build will be about chain management. This is the part where you get headaches.

Remember that if you are building one of these things, overbuild and tighten every thing down hard. In this build alone so far I have 10 added combination of nuts and bolts not found on a regular bike. That means 10 other things than can go wrong, don't forget it.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Homebuilt recumbent part 1
Homebuilt recumbent part2
Homebuilt recumbent part 4

Sunday, April 20, 2008

BIKE ADVOCACY, IS IT FOR EVERYONE?


Well, it should be. For those expecting a How-To article, bad news, this isn't it. Be warned, I'm pulling the soap box and I'm about to vent. So either you go back to Google or get yourself a drink and read on.

Back in January I participated in a "Bike Show" protest type of event outside the building holding the annual car show. I found it was a neat idea to have such an event in the cold of winter and decided to join in. The event was a lot of fun and to my surprise a lot of people attended. It was great to see that the City had some real hardcore people that believed in the cause. I figured if such an event was held for real during the warmer months in a more convenient venue, it would be awesome. Will it did happen this week end, a lot of people showed up, it was great with lots of cool bikes and...I missed it! No ones fault but mine. I tried to do three different things in one day, I planned my day poorly, got lost like an idiot and finally showed up when every body was packing.

This is where, in a nanosecond, this article was born. When I got there with my daughter, we were riding our scooters back from our first club ride. The looks we got from some of the attendees would have made you think we had just slaughtered a beluga whale or dumped a ton of bunker oil right there on the pavement!

We recently managed to pay off our big gas guzzling mini van that my better half loves profusely and that I hate with a passion. Our current situation makes it so that living without a car is impossible. I tried to motivate my honey to bike to work, but it just didn't happen. I even forked the bucks for an electric assist bike, but to no avail. After getting my daughter her scooter last summer, I figured that it would be a much better idea to get one for me and my wife so it could be used for her to go to work and for distant errands instead of the pos mini van. Using the scooter 7 months a year would also stretch the life of the gas guzzler so we wouldn't have to buy another car for a while. Being a newbie at scooting, joining a club is a great way to network, get educated and having some fun. low and behold, my sweetheart is crazy about it and now we will burn 10 times less fuel during those 7 months. Trust me, the fact that I managed to pull this off is close to a miracle, she just loves that mini van!

So by now you're thinking, "what's this got to do with bike advocacy?", absolutely everything. Those looks reminded me that bike advocacy has in it's mist some, willing and unwilling, snobs. Bike advocates are a great bunch, I know a lot of them. Some might say that they aim for Utopia and that's fine. Ever heard of somebody working hard to get to the middle of anything? Neither have I. However, this can be harmful to the cause where people can become purists and expect everybody else to do so. What happens is that the masses get pushed aside unless they completely adhere to the philosophy and the movement just slows down to a crawl.

Bike advocacy must appeal to the masses because the masses are the target, not just a few people who are willing to change their way of life completely overnite. If you keep going in this direction, you'll be preaching just to the choir pretty fast. What the movement needs to do now is to look at the "enemy" and start doing what they do, appeal to the masses. Wally World and the such use mass appeal to get people to buy crap and people do because it's easy. Anybody is welcomed to go in there and throw there money on stuff they don't really need, it's cool, it's great and it's fun. Is it really? Of course not, but people think it is. On the other hand, biking is easy and fun...I mean for real. There's half the selling job already done.

Bike advocates must welcome anyone that is willing to throw a leg over a bike, even if it's once a week. Why should we care if they don't recycle every thing at home or still drive the car because it's raining? Habit comes with use and those people might change their ways in a not so distant future. Even if they don't, at least they will have made a contribution where none was present before. A war is won with many little battles as well, not just big ones.

If you are an open minded bike velorutionary and welcome every one to the fold, I admire you and support you. I do hope that there are many of you out there and I tend to believe that there is. As for the bike advocate snobs, stop it! You are putting the tire pump in the spokes of a great and necessary movement. Sell biking, not how we should be living.

I shall now step off the soap box, peace.

Gerry :)

p.s. The scooter has in no way killed off my passion for bikes. If anything it reminded me that you are totally free on a bicycle.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

REGULAR BICYCLE MAINTENANCE, WHEN IT'S NOT AN OPTION ANYMORE


Bicycle maintenance is always important, but at some point it becomes necessary to organize yourself a regular, if not yearly, routine. Case in point, I recently had an interesting discussion with one of my readers, I will call him Robert (That's his bike in the picture by the way), who met this nice French woman, moved to France, ditched his car and started using his bike to get around everywhere. Now Robert, not his real name, is faced with the fact that his bike needs some well deserved maintenance and attention.

If you decide that your bicycle will become a more regular means of transportation in your life, there are some things you have to be willing to do. Now that your bike is not in the same category as lawn furniture priority wise, it is time to look after it with more regularity. When a bike is just used for recreation once and awhile, people take them to the shop or replace them when they break down. What you have to realize is that a well taken care of bicycle can last you a lifetime.

Chain lubrication should be attended to at least once every season and twice that if it sleeps outdoors (step AWAY from the WD40, use real bike chain lubricant). Schedule rear brake cable replacement at least once a year. If the cable is still good, rotate it to the front brake and get rid of that cable. Check your brake pads if they need to be replaced, rotate them fornt to back once a year. Rotate your tires front to back once a year to make them last longer. If you do any kind of serious mileage, replace your chain once a year. Take a look at your derailleur cables and schedule replacing if they are rusted or frayed, rotate them as well if you can. Put a dab of lubricant on every piece of exposed metal at least once a year and spot paint any paint chips on the frame. These task can be done by anyone with very basic tools. The only special tool needed in what I mentioned in this paragraph is a chain tool, you should definitely have one of those and carry it with you when you ride. Trust me it will pay for itself the first time you bust your chain in the middle of fraking nowhere! Clean your bike once a week, dirt is it's enemy. I use lemon Pledge furniture polish, it's a degreaser, it leaves a protective coat of wax so dirt doesn't stick on my frame, it makes the finish look very shiny and it smells nice too(make sure you don't spray any on your drivetrain, it will absolutely remove any lube you have on there).

Now you can always go for the big jobs like re-greasing all the bearings on your bike once a year. This will require some specialized tools and the knowledge dispensed elsewhere in this blog. If your are not confident enough to do the work yourself, don't despair, just farm out the work to your local bike shop. Since you are educated about the needs of your ride, you can be more specific about the work you want done to it and it will save you time and money.

Lastly, make simple verifications on a regular basis. A loose nut and bolt here and there is quickly fixed and will prevent bigger problems down the road. Also check your tire pressure once a week, you are the propulsion system and even 1 psi too low will affect how hard you have to crank those pedals.

When you own a car, you are a slave to it working long hours to pay the monthly bills that it generates, but with a bike it is the reverse. It is so low maintenance and low cost that it serves you. However, keeping it in good running order will make it happy and you as well in return.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

HOW TO REPLACE A DERAILLEUR BICYCLE CHAIN

Some time ago i published a video on how to use a chain tool to remove and replace a bicycle chain. This video is more in depth where it shows you more details on the job. Chain length can be an issue, too long or too short and other such little details are included in this epic production... Ok, not really epic, but I am trying to get better at this. Making movies is not that easy. So enjoy and I hope this will help you out. You can check out the first video that showed a close up on using the chain tool here.

Til then next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THIS BLOG?

Well it's more like what's going on with this blogger! Has most of you have noticed, this place has been pretty quite for a while. I even had some of you writing to me asking when will the next how-to article be put up. Let's just say that my real world life has been keeping me busy lately. Home renovations, quitting smoking, a brutal Canadian winter have all contributed to the mess that my shop is right now as you can see in the attached picture.


Let me say that the state of my shop is very much a reflection of my personal condition as well. You'd think that quitting smoking after 25 years would be a piece of cake and that it would in no way put you in a position of questioning just about everything in your life! Of course it does, that and the sudden desire to maim and badly hurt every idiot that decides to magically cross your path when you are in that phase. However, I'm happy to report that this has in no way put to rest my passion for bikes, the desire to share said passion with you and I haven't inherited a criminal record for sending any low life morons to the underworld.

I just need 2 weeks to get the creative juices flowing again and I will be back stronger than ever. Just to let you know, I have a how-to video ready for editing and a review of the bike show that was announced on this site a couple of weeks ago. This summer looks good with at least 3 project builds, including the conclusion of the homebuilt rear suspension recumbent, that I will be more than happy to share with you.

I have taken the time to clean up the blog a bit. I have also posted some links to affiliate programs that I'm a member of. I know that you folks are not dumb and I would never try to fool anyone into anything they are not interested to. That is why those links are clearly marked in the "Shameless plugs" section in the sidebar. I'm not looking into being a millionaire, just trying to get some more time with my family and my bikes of course. ;)

Lastly, I look forward to putting some more interesting content in this and my other blogs and sharing the stuff with you. I'll leave you with a nice winter portrait of our winter so far in Montreal.

Godspeed

Gerry :)