Wednesday, July 30, 2008


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


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


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 :)


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.

Portland, OR"

Thanks Toby for sharing your experience.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


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 :)