Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Car Bait 2, the Chopper bicycle

I'm permitting myself to blow my own horn this week. I've taken the time over the last week to paint this last bicycle chopper project of mine,. Sanded, sprayed with a coat of primer black and finally sprayed it semi-gloss black. Touch ups are a breeze. I also added the stick shifter from Jenna Saykwa that graciously donated it for this project. The shifter rest on a tank plate that I cut from the backing plate of an old 1950's fridge. I kept the original finish on the plate. The bike now carries the name "Car Bait 2" in honor of a previous perfect ride that snapped a frame tube after being ridden too hard for over 5 500 km.

I also took the time to redo the face plate of the speedometer. A simple scan of the original that was used as a basis for the new one that I made using Gimp. I took the time to convert it to metric as well since everything is "faster" in metric.  :) I printed the new one on card stock and glued it behind the original plate before screwing it back into place. I like how it came out.

I added some cargo capacity by bolting on a pair of lunch boxes on the sides. I have my tools and spare parts in one box and the other is empty to carry different items.

The last dilemma that I had was the fenders. I need fenders because i just can't stand riding with my back sprayed wet. But, on this bike, they would have looked ugly. So I took an inspiration from British sports car builder Vanwall who went around the same problem by making fenders out of old tires, thus "camouflaging" their existence. I did the same thing using old rusted fenders and brackets that I cut down to shape using tin snips. I then put the scissors to a pair of old tires I had lying around, a large one in back and a skinny one up front. The tires are simply bolted on the supporting old fenders using the existing attachment points for the frame and brackets. I really like how it came out, a good compromise.

This bike is now my main ride. I've put over 110 km on it in the last week and I have had no problems to report. This bike is just a dream to ride. There will be more things happening to it in the future and I will keep you all posted on the results.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles post
and download my free bike maintenance book if you haven't already.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fix It Up Montreal event photos

Last Saturday on August 13th I was at the Fix it up event on Ste-Catherine street in downtown Montreal. The street was closed for some events like Under Pressure, a skateboarding competition and a presentation by the Bikurious bike shop, the Montreal Bicycle Film Festival of this event. I was present at the skidding competition which was well represented by the guys and gals from the Starley Rover Society. The winner, Christopher on the orange carbon bike, won the event by skidding beyond the marked course!

I had a great time hanging out with old friends and making new ones. So without any further delay, on with the images captured during the event.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles post
and download my free bike maintenance book if you haven't already.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Made Stretch Bike

I guess I love long bikes but this one is special. I've always wanted my cake and to eat it too. Comfort, performance and good looks. I think I pulled it off.

Back in June my buddy Vince showed me his custom made 26 inch lowrider he extended with the back of a mixte frame. It gave me an idea, going longer than Vince and making a kinda semi-recumbent cruiser. As it happened I had the cruiser frame and the mixte frame just lying around the house. Lucky me.

I hacked the frames and left some extra metal since I wasn't too sure on how I was going to pull this off. I don't have a welder or any idea on how to use one.

I bolted the pedal axle from the mixte frame to the cruiser frame at the chainstays. I then married and bolted the seat stays from both frames together using graded bolts. I have no flex in the frame but as soon as I find a good welder, I'm having all this welded proper.

I put on a set of 26X1.95 in the back with barely 2mm of clearance on both sides of the frame. In front I put 26X1.50 slicks. The shifter you see is a temporary set up but the foot rear  brake will remain.

So far the home made stretch bike rides like a dream. A 20 mile shake down cruise proved to be without any problems. The only thing I would have made differently would have been to use a jig. Doing it by eyeball is good but not perfect. It's a bit crooked but it doesn't show while riding.

Next on the list, paint job!

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles post
and download my free bike maintenance book if you haven't already.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

FIX IT UP BBQ and Bike Jam

More of a local announcement. On Saturday Ste-Catherine street will be closed to traffic for the FIX IT UP Bike Jam event between Ste-Elizabeth and Sanguinet. A great way to meet local bike riders. I will be there Saturday afternoon.

Gerry :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2 Cyclists die in Montreal this week

I started my day today by learning that a 17 year old cyclist involved in a collision yesterday didn’t survive the night. He was the second cyclist to die in Montreal this week. The first one was a 56 year old man who got crushed by a cement truck turning right while he was trying to go straight on his green light. The case of the young teen is a debate on who went through a red light. Whatever the reasons or the blame to lay, 2 people are needlessly dead.

Now this prompted a big debate over the local media about cyclists being chronic scofflaws or drivers being homicidal maniacs. The numbers are in about this. Of the 800 incidents involving bike collisions last year, the Montreal Police reports that responsibility is split 50/50 between cyclists and drivers. I admit that I see bikes blowing red lights and stop signs. What we need for that is more regular enforcement. Cops on bicycles should do regular operations to enforce traffic laws for cyclist as their counterparts in cars do with motorists. The occasional spot checks don’t work. Cyclists here know that getting a traffic ticket while biking are in the same range of odds as winning something at the lottery.

The biggest concern in my opinion however, are the riders who go out there and ride unaware. Unaware of the risks and dangers. Unaware of the consequences of ignoring basic safety issues. Unaware of the fact that they are invisible to most drivers and since a lot of drivers are also out there unaware, collisions are bound to happen. Riding a bike with your brain switched off is suicide.

Here are some tips that will keep you safe and hopefully alive out there:

Be aware

Make sure all your senses are available for the task. No ear plugs, both hands on the handlebars and your eyes open for traffic next to you, behind you, in front of you and beyond. Anticipate so you don’t get caught reacting at the last moment.

Assume nothing

Prepare for the worst scenario every time. Don’t assume that the door won’t open, that the car driver is going to go straight, or stop or go or turn or see you or anything else for that matter. Hoping for good things to happen instead might get you killed. I did that mistake only once and ended up flying in the air launched from a car windshield. I assumed that the driver saw me while I was crossing the street on foot, on a green light and he was about to turn right in my path. Luckily I survived unharmed, you might not.

Respect traffic laws

Riding on sidewalks with pedestrians present is dangerous, get off your bike and walk. Pedestrians should get the respect that you expect from drivers on the road. Stop and wait at red lights. I know that it’s a bummer when there is no traffic but leaving on a red while cars are waiting only perpetuates the myth that all cyclists are bums. If we want respect from drivers, we need to share at least a little of their time wasting frustrations like this one. Slow down at stop signs at the very least, proceed through only if there is no traffic present whatsoever. Don’t ride against traffic. The reasoning that it’s less dangerous to have traffic in front of you being safer is absolutely stupid. Drivers get confused when they see you and this could actually cause you harm. If you are paranoid about cars behind you, get a mirror or two. They are cheap and available everywhere in all sizes.

Be visible at night

Forget riding in the dark with only reflectors, they are unidirectional and a driver might see you only when it is too late. Less than $10 will get you a blinker for the front and back of your bike with enough power to last an entire season. Want to stand out big time? Get one of those lime yellow reflective vest, you will never go unnoticed.

Wear a helmet

I’ll mention this sticker I saw on a courier’s helmet: “I wear a helmet because of the way you drive.”. You just never know when your head will smack the pavement. It is proven that helmets reduce the risk of major head trauma by 70 to 80 percent. Use your brain and put a lid on it.

Physics, it’s the law!

And it’s always right. That should be your prime concern when riding. A 3000 pound car will always win against your flesh and bones. This law prevails over any traffic law when riding. Yeah you may have had the right of way according to the traffic code but if you are 6 feet under pushing daisies you won’t really care about the slap on the wrist that driver gets.

After reading all this you might wonder if I ride like a paranoid maniac all the time. No I don’t. Becoming aware is like anything else, you get used to it and it becomes second nature after a while.

If you wish to keep your head in the sand and still ride with an attitude that it won’t happen to you, here’s another story that happened this week as well: A man turned himself in yesterday 5 years after hitting and killing a cyclist. He hit a 43 year old Father of 2. The driver took the time to unjam the bike from under is truck one kilometre away from the collision and tossed it in a field before he drove off. He didn’t bother calling 911 to get help to his victim which he left to die by the side of the road. I’m not saying that every driver is out to kill you but if you ride as if they are, you’ll have an edge and have a much better chance of avoiding a collision.

Hopefully this post motivated by this sad tragedy might prevent someone, somewhere from getting hurt bad or dead.
To both families, my heart and sympathies go out to you.

Ride safe and ride free.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to remove old rusted crank arms

Every once and a while you'll come across this mess. A rusted crank arm that needs to be removed on a bike that's been sitting out in the elements for years. The odds of an easy job are 50/50 but with a little preparation, that goes up 95/5.

Hope of an easy job is for amateurs. Taking these simple steps will save yourself time, frustration, stress, bloody knuckles and some money out of the swear jar. Another benefit will be a longer life for your tools, read on.

The first step is removing that crappy little plastic cover that hides/protect/prevent access to the 14mm lock nut on the axle. Use a big coin in the slot and unscrew it. This will give you better torque control and the larger surface will distribute the energy more evenly (I'm sure there's a special tool for that but you probably, like me, already have this freely available in your pocket.).

Did it work? It came off no problem? If the answer is yes, buy a lottery ticket. These damn things usually explode in pieces because they get brittle over time. You didn't win the jackpot then? No worries, just jam a very small flat head screwdriver between the plastic and the locknut. Then slowly pry the remains of the cover off.

Second, using a 14mm socket wrench, remove the axle locknut.

Third, prepare! Before going any further you need to do a few things. Get yourself an old toothbrush, again free, and clean the thread inside the crank arm nut housing. Next use a lubricant (NOT WD40) and lube those threads. You would be surprised on how one grain of sand can ruin your day here. As far as lube goes, anything but the aforementioned fish oil stuff will do. I use Duralube engine treatment, 1 quart goes a long way on everything and it's like liquid bearings.

We're still not done. Apply oil on all the threads of your puller and on the end of the shaft that will push off on the axle. While using your puller, the friction creates a lot of heat and that's what can damage your investment in the long run. Be cool, lube your tool.

Click on image for full size

Click on image for full size

Now you can go ahead and use the puller and the crank arm should fall right out as it did in this case. Hope you found this useful.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles post
and download my free bike maintenance book if you haven't already.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fixie Bike fix Montreal

I don't think that the majority of my readers are into this but I cannot go and not mention the fixie bike in this blog. A recent bike ride organized by the Starley Rover Society here in Montreal provide me with the oppotunity to capture on camera some fine examples of the breed.

The fixie bike is the purest form of the bicycle. The bike is about the same as a track bike. Fixed rear hub, so the pedals always turn if the bike moves, no accessories and no brakes. Braking is done by the rider shifting his/her weight on the front of the bike and locking the legs on the frame. This puts the bike into a skid. You need to be a very good rider to mix with traffic here in Montreal where things that can kill you can pop up at any given time.

An interesting fact is that in a lot of jurisdictions, such has Montreal, it is illegal to ride without at least one working brake mechanism on the rear wheel. The offender faces a $37 fine here!

Fixies are also a fashion accessory for hipsters but I think they are on the way out since they are getting too mainstream. Courrier riders have been riding fixies for a very long time. Although very simple, some of these bikes can cost as much as my car. Check out the orange one made out of carbon fiber. I hear the rider/owner is sponsored. Others are old vintage road frames brought back to life, my favorite kind.

Here's proof that messengers have been riding fixie for a while. Pictures were found at Shorpy's.

I love looking at these bikes and I admire the people that are crazy enough to ride them but I will never ride one myself. I'm more than happy with my single speed coaster hub.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles post
and download my free bike maintenance book if you haven't already.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)