Saturday, December 18, 2010

Free Bike maintenance Book now in Spanish

We live in an awesome world. This morning I opened my email to find a wonderful gift from one of my readers in Chile. Eugenio Valencia of San Felipe took the time to translate my free Ebook on bike maintenance into Spanish.Eugenio told me that he has cycled since he was 5 and that he has covered at least half of his country by bike since then.

Join me in thanking him for his great gift and all the best to you all for the festive season. Take note that the Spanish version is a bit big since it is a Word document. Anybody out there that could convert it to pdf would be greatly appreciated since I don't have the means to do so right now.

Update: Neil Massey, a reader from the US, provided me with a pdf copy which you can download now.

Free Bike Maintenance Book in Spanish .doc

Free Bike Maintenance Book in Spanish .pdf  (Thanks Neil )

Free Bike Maintenance Book in English

Gerry  :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cadbury's bicycle factory, not a scam.

Back in September my cage was rattled when someone spammed my comments section with something about the bicycle factory and I ranted about it in a post.

I'm happy to report that I received a personnal Email from a real human being who represents Cadbury's venture to help out people to get bikes in Africa. It's legit, it helps people and they were profusely sorry that the blog ended up being spammed that way. Seems they found out about it by accident and they had no idea that this type of tactic was being used.

I have a lot of respect when people own up to their mistakes and they did. So feel free to visit the site and help out if you can. Here's a brief explanation that was sent to me today from Sara Beckford :

"In a nutshell: Canadians can visit www.thebicyclefactory.ca and enter the UPC from any Cadbury goodie includingCaramilk, Dairy Milk¸ Maynards, Dentyne, Stride, Trident and Halls and watch it magically transform into a virtual bicycle part that will help build a new bicycle for a child in Africa.  Each UPC code is equal to one bicycle part, and 100 UPC codes equal a bicycle. With your help, Cadbury will send 5,000 bicycles to Ghana, Africa.  The factory closes on November 14, 2010.

This is the second year for the program.  In 2009 Cadbury delivered 5,000 to Ghana."

Here's a video about the program as well

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, November 08, 2010


I've already published a post about bike storage previously and I invite you to read it here: WINTER BIKE STORAGE.

But over the week end it was time for me to store away my big cargo bike "Jenna Saykwa" and the shear size of it prohibits storage indoors. Off to the shed she must go for the winter months. The humid plywood shed that is.

Since I can't store the entire bike inside the warmth of my family dwelling, I elected to remove some parts that would stay warm inside for those cold weather months.

I used to ride junk bikes made from junk parts, but this one has a nice Brooks leather saddle and an expensive set of cream Schwalbe Fat franks that cost me over $100 for the set. I don't know why, maybe some of you more enlightened about the subject can comment on this, but tires left outside in the cold too long seem to become biodegradable and just rot away.

So I think I made a smart move by getting these parts indoors. I know for a fact that the leather saddle should be treated as if it was a living thing, after all it is made from real cows and it doesn't fair too well when exposed for too long to humid conditions. As far as tires go, I've seen my fair share of rotten ones and I feel that bringing those inside would at the very least not be harmful.

One last thing, I turned the handlebars and removed the pedals so I could make it melt into the wall. Space is at a premium in my shed! I played it smart and left the pedals in the saddle bag. That is the best way to avoid going around like a mad man trying to find them 5 months from now on the first nice sunny day begging to be ridden. It's also a good time to oil your chain and look over the bike for potential problems for next spring.

I know that I have a full bottom bracket rebuild waiting for me next April, nice.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The real Bike Bums

Bike Bum noun. Definition: devoted bicyclist or enthusiast, somebody who spends most of the time bicycling. Uses the bicycle as a primary means of transportation by choice. (Source: http://howtofixbikes.ca)

In my previous post I was blabbing about my one week wannabe bike bum experience. The most important part of that experience was the great people I had the chance to hang out with. Some reader feedback suggested elaborating more on those subjects, what a fantastic idea. I decided not to limit this post about some awesome bike friends that I know to that week in May, but I also figured it would be cool to present a few other great folks I met and rode with thanks to this blog here in Montreal in the past 4 years.


He's the tall dude on the right (I'm the shorty on the left). I met Riley at my first Critical Mass in April 2007. Actually his bike trailer hitch caught my attention. I was looking at it and found it looked really familiar. I asked him where he got the idea for it and his response was: "Are you Gerry from the website?" . We've been good friends from that moment on. Riley was the one who introduced me to Community Bike shops and he is the link to all the other people I know in Montreal bike circles. Riley rides 12 months a year, doesn't have a car and believes in sustainable living. He once spent an entire summer riding on the US West Coast. I'm sure that adventure could fill a book. Riley is also a very good carpenter, he built a few shelves and the bike stands at the old Mile End community bike shop location.


Jeff is from Portland Oregon and one day he got tired of the scene there and got on a train to Montreal(That's what he told me anyways). He stayed here for a little over a year and I had the chance to work with him at the Mile End bike shop. Jeff would jump on his bike and go for a ride to Ottawa to meet up some friends, taking the scenic route back and forth! He worked has a courrier and rode in this city 12 months a year. Jeff is one of the calmest and coolest guys I have ever met. I miss you Man.


The Queen Bee of the Mile End bike shop of old. She came from BC and was one of the fastest women on a bike in Montreal. Hanna is a fearless rider and a dedicated organizer. How can I say anything bad about somebody who rides a vintage Raleigh Sports? I remember that she would have her wheels in the truing stand at least once a week. A perfectionist at heart.


Pat is a local that I met at Critical Mass. A true year round commuter, he rides a no nonsense flat black earth cruiser. That beast runs 12 months a year and it is equipped to survive the elements. Pat is not afraid to show off is true colors by various stickers on his bike like "One less car". Although you would never guess it if you met this mild mannered individual off the saddle.


Max is one of the most hardcore riders that I ever had the pleasure to ride with. From New Brunswick, Max can and does ride anything hard. I do mean anything, he owns an old folding bike and he rides it the same he does all of his other mounts. Skidding, bunny hops and popping wheelies is part of any ride whatever the bike. Last May while bombing down St-Urbain at midnight, I saw Max pull a wheelie from his fixie at 30 mph. He held it for at a least a quarter mile and in that distance he went off the road to zoom through the underground entrance of a hospital! That little clip is etched in my brain until the day I die.


Me-"Vlad where are you from?" Vlad-"I'm from Lithuania, it's a small island in the Pacific." Me-"You're shitting me right?" Vlad-"Most people usually believe it since they have no clue where Lithuania is." I knew where Lithuania was but I was still nowhere near decoding this mysterious 20 something with stunning good looks (Sorry ladies, I don't have a  picture). Vlad has been all over the world from his homeland to riding in Los Angeles. He's even spent some time at Burning Man. If you ever meet Vlad, you'll want to be Vlad. Although mysterious, he is still a very down to earth guy and an intense rider. I truly enjoyed his company back in May.


I don't know much about Kelly since I only met her last May and recognized her from this shot that I took at an annual Montreal Winter race. You'll notice that she has a big grin in that picture. Just imagine how miserable those conditions were, wet, muddy and cold. Despite that she smiles and that's the way Kelly is all the time. Last May she was actually riding her bike with a sprained ankle and she was still smiling. 


I saved the best for last. Ritchie is a local Master Bike mechanic in his 60's but despite a heart attack, reduced lung capacity from years of chain smoking, you wouldn't give him a day over 55. Ritchie doesn't own a phone, so if you get a voice mail message from him, he'll make sure to mention that you just cost him $0.50 for nothing. He's also a Wheel-smith and an excellent one. I mean I build wheels, but this guy creates them. Ritchie rides year round on a few bikes that he built himself from the ground up, of course. Ritchie will pop up at Critical Mass every so often and I'm always happy to see him, not everybody shares that opinion. His knowledge of bike mechanics is unmatched, not even I can hold a candle to that. But sometimes he can be a little patronizing and people can take it the wrong way. I've heard from reliable sources that he even managed to make a douche cry once(I got it from the ex-girlfriend of the douche). This man might have a few missing elements in the people skill department, but he makes it up big time in mechanical skills. Ritchie is a rich man, not because he has a lot of money, but because he lives the way he wants to and doesn't give a damn about any complicated nonsense. I envy him. I don't have a picture of Ritchie, but if you ever meet him, you'll know right away who you have in front of you.

There are tons of other people that I have cross tire threads with out there. If you haven't seen yourself in this article, don't feel bad. I can't make this article too long, I don't remember your name, I don't have a picture of you or I don't feel like sharing you with the rest of the world. The most important part is the joy of riding together and sharing our love for the ride. Here's hoping to meeting you out there and for you to make the acquaintance of other bike bums.

Ride safe and free. Godspeed.

Gerry :) 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

So you wanna be a Bike Bum?

This past Summer I took a week's vacation in late May while the rest of the family was still out working. The goal, to be a Bike Bum for a week.

Stuck in the modern trappings of a wife, 2.5 kids, a mortgage and a demanding job, I have always envied those free spirits on wheels that I see cruising along the streets of Montreal. Fortunately for me, I happen to know a few of those young free riding spirits.

So the idea was to get myself on the bike every morning and just go somewhere. I also decided to take on any group ride that happen to come my way. In a great stroke of luck, I had fantastic weather all week and I was able to ride out every day, not that rain was going to be a problem.

I must say that I had amazing experiences with all those that I had the privilege to ride with. In spite of having ridden most of this City, I still managed to find new places I hadn't seen yet. I rode next to crazy and daring riders who gave me a show in riding prowess that should belong in one of those rock videos. I rode myself to bicycle overdose! I never taught that could be possible...it was.

At the end of the week, I had lived an amazing chapter in my life but came to a sad conclusion. Being a Bike Bum is not just riding your bike everyday, it is a life style. At this stage in my life I can only hope to be a wannabe in the face of all those fantastic free spirits who live it everyday. I shall envy them to the grave and love them forever.

Ride free and safe. Godspeed

Gerry :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I hate SPAM in all it's forms. I don't care who you are.

So you want to promote your cycling/community cause and wish to do it with this blog? Fine, send me an email with some info and I will post about it. (xddorox at gmail.com)

Spamming my comment section in a post will get you deleted and make me angry. That is just rude. I don't know  if Cadbury's Bicycle Factory is legit, a scam or another way for a big box corporation to look all nice by trying to be do-gooders, but linking there site, with no email contact for me to report such rudeness, in one of the comment sections is all wrong.

Note to all wannabe spammers, I do check my comments on a regular basis and you will be deleted. To those of you fighting out there for the cause, send me an email and I will gladly help you out if I can.

Well one good thing came out of this, it got me so pissed that I actually posted again. Stay tuned since I have a few pieces on stand by, including a how-to article in the works. It's been a lousy Summer bike wise, but I'll try and make it up.

Rant over.


Godspeed to you all and ride safe.

Gerry   :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike Part 3

Sunday was a lovely day and the good people at MEC (Mountain Equipement Coop) had organized Montreal's first Bike Fest. Of course I had to go down there to meet up with a lot of people I know and I sure did.

I met some familiar faces that day and even a pair of readers. It's always fun to meet people who read my stuff. You know who you are both of you. :)  We had the presence of many community groups who promote biking, from the all season commuters association, the bike moving company and the gardeners on bikes. Even the gals in blue showed up to give safety tips to kids and they held a raffle for a cool looking helmet. Eric Hannan and his crew showed up with their mad Choppers and grabbed all kinds of attention as usual.

I spent the rest of the day with a ride downtown. The last one was over a year ago and the nice warm day was all indicated to go at it. I was surprised to see Ste-Catherine so crowded on a Sunday afternoon. I'm not phobic about crowds but it seems that their was a lot more people than I am use to. I cruised away from the "Cat" and took some shots of Windsor station. If you recognize it but can't put your finger on it, it has been used to portray many cities in movies.

It was a great day and I hope that Bike Fest will be done again next year. The Féria du Vélo in the beginning of June is nice but too corporate. The Bike Fest was more down to earth and really reached out to the grass roots people.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike Part 2

Today I decided to look over the bike before heading out to a short ride in my immediate neighborhood North of the City. Turns out the front brake pads came out of alignment and were rubbing on the front tire. The rear pads were not fairing as good either since they had a lot of toe-out that made them yell like crazy!

All came back together with a bit of tweaking. I even managed to get my saddle height correct and now that 50 year old Brook's saddle feels great. I went for a short 10 kilometer ride today but it was well worth it. I happen by chance to get hungry near a little place on Gouin at the corner of Delorimier called Pitabec. I had the best Shish Taouk pita sandwich in my entire life. That pita sandwich alone was worth getting the cruiser out today.

Big bike fest tomorrow(Sunday May 23rd) at Lafontaine Park starting at 10am. If you are in Montreal, come look for me there tomorrow.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike Part 1

So the first day of the vacation started off with a late evening ride that is posted on the Fixed Gear Montréal group on Facebook. It's every Thursday evening at 10H30 pm starting in the park at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Joseph.

I met up with three other riders, Max, Vladimir and a reader of this blog who chose to remain nameless. The plan was to go South, so we did. South from that point in Montreal is downhill so it was a lot of fun despite the fact that in the back of my mind I would have to climb those hills on the way back at some point in the evening. But I live in the now and truly enjoyed the ride all the way down to the Old Port. We ended up on top of the belvedere at the Old Port with a superb view of the skyline.

We moved out West passed the old Five Rose flour plant. It was great to see that the neon sign, which is a City landmark, is still working and to be this close to it was pretty cool. We rode the Lachine canal all the way up to St-Henri were we parked it in a local pub. Riding the canal at midnite is quite different than riding it during the day with tourists, commuters and Lance Armstrong wannabes. The darkness and absence of said populace made it surreal.

We shared a large pitcher of a refreshing beverage, the beer kind. It was quite refreshing to hang out with a few twenty somethings discussing bikes, life and existence in general. 2 am came along and we parted ways. I had 15 kilometers ahead of me to get back home, of which at least half was uphill and I was completely smashed!

I learned a lot of things during that gruesome ride.

1- I do live in one of the safest cities in North America. The Canadien hockey club just won 5 to 1 against the Philly Flyers that evening in the Stanley Cup series and although people were in a very high party mood, all was done in a civilized manner.

2- My bike weighs a ton! Pushing that thing up St-Laurent boulevard made me realized that I have to be more weight conscious when I slap a bike together.

3- You're less likely to get doored at 2 am. The more you get away from the City core, the quieter it is.

4- Some people love my bike. Determined by the fact that a drunk girl yelled out "I love your bike!" while I was concentrated on the pain of pedaling it uphill hard.

5-  Beer doesn't numb the pain enough. I still felt my butt, legs and back hurting all the way.

I made it home in one piece and I was quite happy with the day's riding. I will cherish this late evening ride forever. Would I do it again? I most probably will next week. Many thanks to my riding buddies who made this experience truly awesome.

Until next time ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike

I had a week's vacation coming and I wondered what to do with it. Fortunately the recent nice weather here and me having to get around the City for many reasons made me realize that I live in a pretty cool place that needs to be explored.

So the idea is to take my bike and camera and go out there everyday. It all started today with the ride back from work which was exhilarating not too say the least. The kind of epic ride where everything seems to mesh perfectly together. Wind, road, traffic, body and the bike all came together in perfect unison to make a small commute awesome. A great Omen for the week to come.

I will share with you in text and image as I explore my City on 2 wheels. Not only the usual tourist attraction but also less visited neighborhoods that are still quite interesting and lucky for me there are a few biking events scheduled for the next week as well.

So keep posted on my adventure in Montreal on a bike.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sons of Jenna

As some of you know, I have entered my homemade stretched cruiser bike in the build off at ratrodbikes.com. It would seem that my attempt at trying to make a utilitarian bike look cool has spawned two more of these in the ratrodbike.com community.

Member Hsean has slapped together "Imma Hauling" from a classic Raleigh Three speed roadster

Meanwhile member and moderator Hooch as taken some vintage American iron and actually entered the bike in the build-off. The bike is called #2, for now anyways.

It's always nice and flattering to inspire others. :)

You can follow the builds here:

Imma Hauling


Jenna Saykwa

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Murphy's Law and Bicycle Repair

Let me share with you here 18 years of mishaps and battle with Murphy. This being a bike repair blog, I will go one up and recommend the preventive measures to avoid dealing with the Murph man.

1- If you leave your pump or spare tube behind, you will get a flat. The risk grows with the potential distance you will have to walk if stranded. Darkness, rain, hurricanes, squadrons of biting mosquitoes will also contribute to the odds of you being stuck with a dangling tire from your rim.

Solution: Always have some kind of working tire pump with you and a spare tube of the proper size.

2- Your crank arm will fall off in the middle of nowhere. If Murphy is really into you, it will happen in a desert and you'll risk dying from the ensuing ordeal.

Solution: Check your crank arm bolts for tightness every so often, especially before a big ride. To eliminate all risk, carry a crank wrench.

3- Even though you come across it all the time when looking for something else, you will not find the 13mm socket when you absolutely need it. This applies to any other tool that is always in your way but magically vanishes when you somehow desperately need it.

Solution: Be tidy and always put your tools away in their proper place right after you are done with them.

4- That air bubble squeezing itself out between the tire and the rim will explode milliseconds before you reach the air valve to let the air out.

Solution: Put in only 10 pounds of air in the tube and stop. Check the tire on both sides to see if it's properly seated in the rim. Make corrections if necessary and resume inflation without fear of going deaf or making your spouse think you just fired the shotgun in the garage for fun.

5- If you know how to use a chaintool, your chain will break if you don't carry one. The longer the chain, the bigger the risk.

Solution: Always carry a chain tool even if it's a cheap one.

6- The spare tube you bought has a Presta valve, you don't have an adapter because you didn't know it had a Presta valve. You now curse the very existence of Presta valves and who ever came up with that bright idea to the 8th degree.

Solution: Always check tubes out of the box before you just toss them in your bike bag. Make sure you got the right thing before you need it in an emergency, then store it away.

7- You willingly use inner tubes with a Presta valve (curse them %$#&*@ things) but you do not have an adapter when your only source of air is a service station pump.

Solution: Always have an adapter already screwed on one of your tires air valve.

8- A simple repair job will always take up a lot more time than you thought it would.

Solution: Plan for twice the amount of time you think it will take. Be proactive and actually triple it.

9- When installing or repairing an expensive derailleur you will be stomped by a missing or broken $0.25 doodad that you can't find or buy just about now.

Solution: Keep on hand a few nuts and bolts, cable stoppers or any other small thingamajig that gets overlooked on any repair job until you absolutely need it. Trash bikes are great for those.

10- The cheap brake pads that were everywhere growing like weeds are nowhere to be found now that you need to replace a set.

Solution: You see a good deal on brake pads, cables or any other stuff that your bike goes through anyways? Buy them now, you'll use them eventually at some point in time. Don't hoard, just buy what you'll need.

I'm sure there are a tons of others, so feel free to leave them in the comments.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, May 03, 2010


One of the steps in the Flat Top Cruiser build is to repaint it. However, my time and budget being very limited, I have to be fast but I still wanted something that looked decent. Hence the quick and easy method using rattle cans. One thing though, this only works good with flat or semi-gloss paints. You can try with a gloss finish, but I don't feel it would look that good. Remember, this is a rattle can paint job and it won't be as tough as a factory finish. Oh yes, there will be scratches!

First step, take the thing apart. Want to know how? Just go on my other blog here:http://bikeoverhaul.blogspot.com/

Second, whatever you don't want to take off but don't want to paint, mask it. Use some tape and an X-acto knife to trim.

Third, wash the entire bike. I use Simple Green which is a great degreaser. The removal of grease or oils is the key to avoiding weird looking reactions when applying the paint, so any good degreaser/cleaner should do. Use a clean rag or paper towels to dry the frame.

Fourth, sand, wet sand or steel wool it. Whatever you do make sure you dull that original finish(Keep the original finish if you can. It can't be beat to protect your frame.). It will give some grip to the primer and even out the surface for a better looking finish.

Fifth, primer that thing. You can use regular primer on painted surfaces but if like me you want to paint on chrome, you must use a self etching primer. This stuff runs about $15 a can and can be found at automotive supply stores. After you prime it, go for multiple light coats, give it some time to dry. 24 hours should do or until the primer feels untacky to the touch.

Sixth and lastly shoot the main color coat. I used Krylon flat black here but it comes out in a semi gloss finish, which works out great for me. I apply a few light coats with about 20 minutes between each. Leave in the Sun to dry. Don't start putting it back together right away. Give the paint a chance to dry for at least a day before you start messing with it. Don't do like I did. :)

So it's not a factory finish, but the bike is one nice even color and looks a lot better. Anyways, paint is only temporary.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed!

Gerry :)

The Flat Top Cruiser, my build off bike

So the Rat Rod BikeBuild Off #5 started off officially Saturday morning and I decided to toss my hat in the arena. My Build Off bike will be my everyday ride which I have decided to call the "Flat Top Cruiser".

The challenge here is to make a cool, yet still very practical bike. I love the ride of this bike and the stretched out frame is practical to carry a lot of stuff. However, it's just plain ugly.

My plans are to make this into a mobile bike shop since I intend to give free bike repair clinics along some of Montreal's bike paths starting in the next few weeks. This bike has to carry the tools, be used as a work stand and look cool while doing it.

I'll share some of my work on the blog and you can also follow the build thread here:http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=26164

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed!

Gerry :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Well it's that time of the year again for the annual big event over at ratrodbikes.com, the Main Bike Build-Off. Rules are simple, you start with a stock mass produced frame and you build from it. The frame cannot be modified by cutting parts or stretching it. This is to have a level playing field for those of us who don't or are not equipped to weld.

The results are amazing despite what some would think considering we are using only stock frames. I will be entering this year with the intent of ending up with a cool yet very practical bike. Only 3 days left before the mayhem starts.

Keep posted.

Gerry :)

Monday, April 26, 2010


This is a video, I assume, of a bike thief caught in the act. I can't say that I have all the information on this event, actually I have none. So suffice it to say that it would be dumb for me to comment on it at length.

However, if it is a fact that this guy was trying to jack someone's bike, too bad for him. I'm not one to support vigilantism in our society, (Would you trust your next door neighbor with your life? I wouldn't.) but I also understand the frustration about bike theft not being taken seriously by the justice system. So I will gladly admit that I wouldn't shed any tears for a bike thief scum getting smacked around after being caught red handed.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, April 19, 2010


So I was all Father figure yesterday bitchin about people not lighting up their ride at night. Well it happens that I was reminded today that having a light handy can be a lifesaver or at the very least very practical aside from death prevention.

I was fixing my bike this evening (that will be for another post). It's too big to bring inside the house so I have to work outdoors. Sure enough I ran out of light before I had a chance to finish. It figures, always plan for twice the time you think it's going to take.

Then I remembered that I had some light on board with my little turtle LED light. I had previously used it in the same fashion, to brighten up my "work space", when my bike crapped out on me twice at the worst possible time in the dark. So I was able to fine tune my repairs and right after slapped it back on the handlebar with it's twin, yes I have two, for a test ride.

Who said safety equipment can't be practical. To quote the great Red Green : "If women don't find you handsome, at least they can find you handy.".

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010


2 weeks ago I almost did the unthinkable, hit a cyclist while driving a car! It was dark, in a badly lit neighborhood, I was turning right after a mandatory stop and out of nowhere a guy on a single speed passed me on my right. Thankfully I hit the brakes pretty fast and the rider was in no danger.

The one vital element that was missing on that bike was any kind of lighting device. One tiny blinking white $3 LED would have avoided this brush with disaster and any other future mishap in the making for that youthful, yet foolish, rider. That little blinky is also a great way to prevent another bad ailment, death.

In this day and age I am just fraking amazed that people are still riding at night with no lights at all. I mean gone are the days of the 2 day battery life light or energy robbing dynamo. We do have 21st Century solutions for seeing or being seen in the dark and some are cheap too! I hear some of you saying, "yeah but I have reflectors on my bike". Reflectors only work when light is directly aimed at them, "reflecting" said light, and won't do anything for you to tell the driving kind that you are on the road from multiple angles.

You have to determine what you need. You want to be seen or you want to see is one factor to consider when you start shopping. If you live in the city and most streets are well lit, you want to be seen. In this case you can get yourself a white LED blinker for the front and a red LED blinker for the back of your bike. Blinking lights grab attention and that's what you want in an urban setting full of distractions. These range anywhere between $3 to $25. Over $10 I think you are paying too much. You can also think outside the box and go shop elsewhere for blinking LED's. The bike pictured in this post had it's vintage headlight refit with a $1 book reading LED light from the dollar store.

Now if you want to see, this will be a bit more expensive but if you are handy this too could be a lot cheaper. I've bought light "pucks" with a dozen white LED's powered by 3 AAA cells for less than $5. That unit would be easily adapted to a set of handlebars. If not, your local bike shop carries a full range of options. I would stick with LED's since their power consumption is very low. Remember to change your batteries once a season. Don't wait for your lights to dim, spend a few bucks each Spring.

On a final note, for riding at night more lights is always better than not enough. So if you want to put more than the basic, go right ahead. Money spent on basic safety is an investment in yourself.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, April 12, 2010


As crazy as it might sound, wood bicycle fenders are not a new trendy thing. Wooden bike fenders have been around since the late 19th Century during what was called the Golden Age of the bicycle.

Nothing can look as good as a nicely laminated wood fender if you want a real vintage look. Modern varnishes can keep them looking good for a long time.

A local artisan here in Montreal named Nicholas Knowles has started making them and he's offering them for sale. It would seem that Nick was tired of getting his butt and nice Brooks saddle all dirty. I've asked him about a set of full lenght touring fenders and he's working on it with no release date for now.

Check out his stuff here at Red Tail Fenders: http://www.etsy.com/shop/redtailfenders

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Not a very brilliant post but I have been wanting to do an original demotivational poster of my own for a while. I came up with this. I've received so many comments about King Kong the wrench on my Youtube videos, I figured it warranted to be immortalized.

Why not do so and plug my blog as well. This huge wrench was given to me by my Father. He had bought it while working on the Olympic pool back in 1976. It was used once on that job and then became dead weight in his tool box for the next 20 years. He gave it to me when he retired and it saw more work in one week than the entire time it was with him.

King Kong the wrench, also known as Kowalski, has never surrendered to anything. Jammed freewheels and rusted nuts are no match for it's awesome brute force. Sometimes all I need to do to loosen a nut is to drop it. The shear weight takes care of things. It has also been used as an anvil, big fraking hammer and frustration outlet.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, April 05, 2010

My first real spring bike ride of 2010

April 3rd of this year was amazingly warm and sunny for Montreal. We usually still have snow waiting to melt away and a snow fall waiting to hit us one last time before Summer. That day was also a holiday for me and my big cruiser was just begging to be taken out for a ride.

This was also my first serious ride since being hit by a car while crossing the street on a green light as a pedestrian. Blind luck and a Ninja move kept broken bones and death at bay. I was in pain for 3 months with my body aching all over.

With a hint of edgy nerves, I strapped on my helmet and pedaled into traffic. Turns out I haven't become paranoid but I am a lot more aware of my surroundings. I wasn't scared either, I felt right at home in Montreal traffic and didn't jump every time a car passed by a bit close.

That was a very good thing since this turned out to be an epic ride on a blissful Spring day. In typical Montreal fashion, all the people come out of their Winter hiding and plunged themselves into the beautiful weather by just hanging out, lye in the Sun or blow bubbles at passing cyclist from their apartment window accompanied by a fantastic smile(no joke, this happened for real). Everyone was happy and it showed. I just kept on riding and ended up doing 30 km. I also stopped in the Mile End district for my favorite Portuguese chicken sandwich, hmmmm good!

On the mechanical side of things I realized that I didn't follow my own advice before leaving. First off I had left the bike in storage without taking the tension out of the derailleur cable. It took at least 15 minutes to up-shift on the next available gear and now the spring has been stretched for so long that I'll have to replace the derailleur. It just won't shift into the last gear anymore.

I also left without checking for proper inflation of my tires. I did the stupid side squeeze (I should know better) of the sidewalls and resistance told me that "Oh yeah that looks like at least 30 pounds, I should be good." Wrong, ended up being lower than 20 pounds. Thankfully the good people of Cyclo Nord-Sud were on my route and helped me out with a killer foot pump to get pressure up to standard.

All and all it was a glorious ride, I came out of it refreshed and energized. If cars and heart ailments don't try to kill me this year, it should be an awesome riding season!

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Leather saddle break-in procedure

This was left as a comment on another post by an anonymous contributor. I felt I should share it with you here. from what I know of taking care of leather it's seems to make sense. I haven't tried it myself but I plan on getting a new Brooks this summer and I will definitely try this out.

Any of you have tried this method? Let us know and comment.

"Unapproved Brooks leather saddle break-in procedure:

1) Select the saddle that seems to fit you in the store. Don't bother to get an "Aged" version, because they do not last as long as the regular versions.


Step 1) is important, because if you do this to anyone else's saddle, you will ruin it for them.


2) Take it home and Proofide the bottom thoroughly, and put a thin coat on the top surfaces.

3) LOOSEN THE SADDLE TENSIONING BOLT. Go ahead, loosen it all the way if you want.

4) The day you are going to break it in, put a moist washcloth on the back half of the saddle and leave it there for an hour or so.

5) Put on your cycling shorts that match or are darker than the saddle color, because a little of the saddle color may bleed onto your pants.

6) Remove the damp cloth, and ride for about five miles. By now it should feel bouncy like a firm mattress.

7) Ride for about another five miles. You should notice a distinct "hammocking" of the saddle, and it will be hard to sit all the way back on it.

8) Let the saddle thoroughly dry out.

9) Lightly Proofide the top of the saddle, or use regular wax-based shoe polish.

(This step merely exists to shine up the leather and limit the amount of water the leather absorbs, so just use plain-old shoe polish wax if the saddle already feels OK, or use Proofide if it still seems a mite stiff.)

10) Tighten the saddle tensioning bolt. (I had to use an adjustable spanner, as the supplied wrench slipped once I pulled the leather back into the stretched position.)

That's it! Ride and enjoy!

--Alan, another satisfied Brooks customer.

p.s. I was able to mostly break in a new B17 saddle in about 20 miles, and it's truly a joy to use now. "

Again, many thanks to our anonymous reader for the tip.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


One of the most popular posts on my blog is the one about rust removal on Chrome. Naked metal left by itself to the elements will react with ambient air and oxidize, the by-product of which is ugly rust. Chrome plating bare metal parts protects them but sometimes the elements and time are strong enough to go through that barrier and still cause rusting. There's also a question about the quality of the plating. Not all plating jobs are equal. There's a big difference between a plating job on a cheap Chinese bike and a triple plating show Chrome job on a Custom Harley.

Back to our main topic. Chrome parts on a bicycle look awesome but the opposite can be said about the parts being slowly eaten away by the evil result from the natural chemical reaction of oxidation. In the previous post I showed you how to get rid of it by using steel wool, some Chrome polish and a polishing cloth. Many of you left comments on how good this worked and then we had a bizarre suggestion about using regular Aluminum kitchen foil with water!

I can confirm, as many of you already have, that it works remarkably well to remove rust from Chrome bicycle parts. I myself use Chrome polish and even WD40 instead of water with the foil and the results speak for themselves. It removes the rust a lot faster than steel wool.

Simply cover the part in water, WD40 or metal polish and rub with a bunched up piece of foil and voilà! Chrome looks amazingly good.( See the image above of one of my CCM Marauder fenders.) This will not reverse serious pitting or flaked off plating, some parts are sometimes just too far gone.

So try it yourself and be amazed like thousands of our readers. Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

p.s. Don't forget my free ebook on basic bike maintenance for newbies. Download from here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Most bike repairs can be done with regular tools that you can find at the hardware store. Some however are very specialized and specific to certain tasks. For example the chain breaker tool or the pedal crank puller are pretty specific items that any starting mechanic should get.

Tools are not cheap and one source that might get you a bargain are the omni present flea markets and garage sales. Used tools, of any kind, are sometimes of better quality than the newer items and the price is often very decent.

The examples in the picture above are mostly meant for carrying in a saddle bag but I would be confident in using that 50's era tool that is at the bottom of the pic. That tool has everything I need to take apart an old style three piece bottom bracket and cotter pin cranks. The others I grabbed because I collect old bike stuff and I found that the tire spoon part could be practical. I got the whole lot for $6. Yes $2 a piece! Buying all the tools separately to take apart that bottom bracket new would cost over $60 easy.

Keep an eye open for old and used tools at flea markets and garage sales. Look up online for images of bike tools so you know what you are looking for. Chances are the person selling it doesn't know what they have and the price should be more than decent. That is one of the best way to get your hands on cheap bicycle tools.

Good hunting.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, March 08, 2010

CCM Marauder restoration

Snow is melting away and the sun was present all weekend with temperatures above zero. All that is needed to go for a ride. I went in the shed and the only bike not tied up in a knot with all the others was my CCM Marauder.

The ride was nice but the bike is truly falling apart at the seams. Even if it doesn't show up in my pictures, a recent clean up of my shop afforded me some space to start a new project. I have found most of the missing parts for this bike and I was planning to rebuild it, so now is a good time as any to begin the restoration process.

I originally bought the bike for $10 but with the different parts that I got for it, the spend-o-meter now sits at $90. I plan to salvage what I can and use what I already have to avoid any more expenses.

If you want details on how I took this thing apart, just follow one of my older blog here: bikeoverhaul.blogspot.com The information there covers the tear down of the exact same type of bike.

What I do want to share with you are a few tips that can make things easier, especially for when the time comes to rebuild the thing.

Tip number one is to set aside a box that you can dedicate to your build for the loose items big or small. Sounds too obvious, but it can save you a lot of cursing in a near or distant future when you are looking for that elusive, impossible to replace, little thingy part that you absolutely need.

Tip number two is to leave whatever you take apart in some relative state of sub assembly until you are ready to work on that specific part. Example: All the bearings and cones left on the fork or brake calipers with all the attached nuts and bolts.

Tip number three is take a picture! You're about to take something apart for the first time in your entire life? Take a picture of it with all the parts exposed in a few angles and Bingo! You got yourself documentation to save your life when that little gizmo goes "Pop" somewhere in your shop. Most everybody has a camera these days, you just have to discipline yourself to use it.

All these tips will help you even if you are just doing a simple repair job, not just a full restoration. When you come back to your bike after a long work week or a couple of months down the road, all the parts and information will be there, ready to continue from where you left off.

I'll keep you posted on the build.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)