Friday, December 28, 2012

Montreal Snow Storm Biking

Montreal is known for people biking during its harsh winters. You'll find anything from old bikes to fixies going at it in the snow, slush and ice covered streets. The sometime Arctic cold is not even a deterrent for most.

Yesterday however was another story with the biggest snow storm to hit the City in the last 41 years, 45 cm of snow on the same day. I went about most of the downtown and Plateau area to find one lone cyclist pushing her ride off to the sidewalk. Most bikes were snowed in for the day. Enjoy the pictures I took while walking about in the storm.

I'd like to wish a Happy New Year and all the best for the Holidays.

Ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lighting, thinking outside the bike or the Xfire safety light.

I saw this video on You tube and at first I was sure it was a joke. Well it's not. The people at Xfire came up with a great idea for lighting by thinking outside the box or more precisely outside the bike.

Their rear light actually draws two red lines on the ground creating what is usually the imaginary safety box occupied by a bike and its rider. This visible cue for oncoming drivers is the best lighting application I have ever seen. The price is very decent at $39.99 and I can guaranty you that I'm getting one for next season. Check it out here: thexfire.com .

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cargo Bikes, the future from the past!

Cargo Bike, photo by Brian Yap.

Could it be that cargo bikes, who were ever so present in the past in most big cities, make a come back? This article in Lowtechmagazine seems to say yes . I would agree since a cargo bike is much more agile in inner city traffic than a van or truck and many cities are seeing them operate right now.

Great article and good read: http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2012/09/jobs-of-the-future-cargo-cyclist.html#more

Ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Montreal Mini Maker Fair

On August 25th and 26th from 12 to 6, I'll be at Monttreal Olympic Stadium with a couple of friends and our home made custom bikes. If you make it to the fair, don't be shy and come to say Hi. It will be our pleasure to meet you.

Gerry :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Blogger friend needs your help.

Lindsay from You ain't got Jack is moving her whole family to England and she is facing some logistical issues. If you are in the UK, take the time to read her post and see if you can't help her out in any way. I'm sure there is someone who reads this that can give the some assistance.

Thanking you in advance.

Gerry :)

You Ain't Got Jack: Your thoughts and ideas are needed-: I know we've all moved before, we all know it sucks, yada yada...but I've never moved on such a limited budget and an international move at...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Time capsule from the 1990's

I recently found a bunch of films in my fridge that was almost 20 years old and had them processed this week. What a surprise when I found these 3 shots. All of which represent a first in my cycling life.

My first commuter bike, a cheapo mountain bike from Consumer's Distributing. It came in a box and I had to assemble it myself to save $10.

My first real mountain bike, a Velo Sport made here in Quebec. Until about 5 years ago it still had the rigid fork. The only reason that motivated that purchase was the bike's colour: red!

And this one, the genesis to all my recumbent builds. It wasn't the best looking, weighed a ton but it did the job very well. This picture was taken after it's very first ride. This machine was the result of my very first search on the web.

I'm glad I finally got these processed.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did.

Gerry :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Bike project 2012 from Hell!

I've heard of the book "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance". Until recently I never bothered to do the search on Google of what it actually was. I imagined it was about being Zen when actually doing motorbike repair. Turns out I know as much about that book as I do about motorcycle insurance!

If my original understanding was true that the book was about being Zen when working on a bike, I could say that I've hit a massive wall. Talk about the Universe turning on its ass to tell you, you are waisting your time!

In the beginning the idea was to get a decent City bike together in order to have a ride to take me around town during my first vacation week in May. I needed something to carry my photo gear, my new found passion. As some of you know, it was going pretty well until this happened:

Don't let the image fool you, the streets are not ablaze every night, in fact this was a rare occasion and I was lucky to be at the right place, at the right time.

Daily protest in Montreal, my hometown, that started out for student tuition hikes and then rallied the rest of the population against a corrupt government. When you dream of someday being a photojournalist and this type of thing is right at your doorstep, you just have to be there.

The one thing that is present every night is the no quarters given to media people from the Police on the streets. A camera is not a get out of jail or all access pass. This factor is important because when people get arrested, that's a risk present every evening, when they have a bike, it just gets tossed in a pile by Police on the side of the street. The owner is lucky if the bike is still there when released 10 hours later.

Carrying a bike also slows you down and that's not a good thing when riot geared cops are running around. Walking and the subway in this case is the best way to get around town. So that kinda killed the motivation behind the project.

Whenever I actually had time to work on the bike, tools magically vanished, parts disappeared and things that usually mesh together started to get out of whack and refused to work in unison. I mean fenders are pretty straight forward and on this set up I might have to go with a full homebuilt custom job. But the cherry on the sunday is the rear tire.

After finishing the paint and installing the fork, I decided to put on the wheels and tires in order to see how this was coming along. Slapped my white Fat Franks on the rims, pumped the air up and installed the wheels on the bike. BOOM! That's what happened 30 minutes later while the damn thing was on the work rack in the Sun. Left it like that until I worked on the bike the following week. Check the tube, found a hole that indicated shavings on the inside of the rim. Fixed the rim, changed the tube, put in some air with 10 psi of loose just in case.

That was in the morning, in the late afternoon...POOF! AGAIN! Took it apart again, looked like I didn't do a proper job on the rim, fixed it, changed the tube, pumped it, left 10 psi loose and parked it. Guess what I found when I went back to work on it a week later? You guessed it, the rear tire flat as a pancake. So I just closed the door to the shed and decided to give it a rest.

The project is not dead. At some point in time the feel for it will come back and you will be the first ones to hear about it. This is not the first project I've tackled that came to a screeching halt before the finish and it won't be the last. Funny thing is when I do get back to it, it might get done in a day or two. Hey, a guy can dream right?

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles.

Ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Man tries to steal a bicycle from a cop in Montreal

Warning, some sarcasm ahead!

So here in Montreal for over 110 days, people have been protesting in the streets every evening. It all started with the students protesting tuition hikes and then the Provincial Government passed a Law to limit the right to protest and it became a whole new ball game. There's a lot more to it but it's basically that in a nutshell.

Which brings us to this incident last May 20th in Émilie-Gamelin Park where a police officer and a citizen were having a verbal exchange, content of which is unknown. Unfortunately it turned physical and the man ended up unconscious, in tie wraps and finally transported to hospital where he woke up the next day. He was promptly charged with attempting to steal the police officer's bike, a criminal charge.

The man is Sebastien Tranchard, a teacher and a physicist. Even though he has enough brains to become a physicist, it seems that the Montreal Police thinks he was dumb enough to try and steal a bike from an armed cop with 20 of his colleagues around and hundreds of witnesses, some of which had cameras.

I invite you to watch the video and draw your own conclusions.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chicago PD on Cycling in the City.

I heard that Chicago was making leapts and bounds in regards to bike lanes and making the roads more accessible to cyclists but I had no idea that it went this far.

The Chicago Police Department has put together a very well done video promoting not only bike safety but motorist safety as well and they seem to take bikes very seriously. Here's hoping that this becomes the case everywhere.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles.
Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Monday, May 07, 2012

City Bike Build, the semi-gloss black paint coat

The stars finally lined up. The weather was nice, temperature was not of the arctic variety, the winds were not of biblical proportions and I wasn't being attacked by a virus, time to get back to building a bike!

Rack, fenders and rigid fork have been installed

Since the primer had ample time to dry I wasn't too worried about scuffing it. The final coat of semi-gloss black was another thing however. Since time is getting shorter by the day for this build, I need to get in gear and waiting days for paint to dry is not an option.

Always check for clearance of fenders and brackets prior to paint.

The next best thing is to attach the most parts I can and than shoot everything right there on the bike. This doesn't make for a very good or durable paint job but since I'm using semi-gloss black it's really not a real problem. Touch ups are a breeze and paint is cheap, time isn't.

After the first coats have been applied. Kinda looks like Batman's bike!

So I pulled out a pair of plastic fenders I had lying around. These are perfect because they are light. I'm building a fully dressed bike and weight can go up real fast if you don't watch it. Next was a nice Aluminum rack, light weight and sturdy. Since I don't want to mess around with any of this after paint, it was important to get the proper nuts, bolts, lock washers and brackets right off the bat.

After painting, bake it in the Sun. Every little bit helps.

Nuts and bolts were the hard part. I'm sure you're wondering why. Turns out that my filing system for spare parts is not the best. I just take a bucket, box or toolbox and fill it until it's full. Then I fill another one. Every time I end up doing a build I am reminded that my system has a serious issue when it comes to small parts. They always end up at the bottom. After covering my shop floor with three buckets I found my small nuts and bolts and realized I was running low on these.  The washers were not a problem, the nice people who made the box I bought had them all filed in separate compartments by size. I also have a bucket full of brackets somewhere but of course, it was nowhere to be found.

The rack will be carrying my camera gear so it has to be sturdy. This baby ain't going nowhere!

I did the next best thing, I built a set of brackets to hold that rack to the frame. I made them using a roll of punched sheet-metal strip used by plumbers and a pair of snips. If you ever want to play with any kind of sheet metal, you need a pair of snips. They are the scissors for sheet steel and aluminum.

This is what I used to make the brackets for the rack.

After everything was installed nice and sturdy, I took the bike outside and applied the Krylon semi-gloss black. Multiple light coats were done in two applications with about an hour between them. The frame is now drying off and I might be able to pursue this build within a week weather permitting. So far it's not looking good but you never know.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles. 

 Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

City Bike Build, applying the primer.

Well since I'm working outdoors and the Montreal weather hasn't been the warmest lately, shooting paint has been put on hold until yesterday. I managed to lay the primer on between 2 gusts of wind and still got some over-spray in my glasses.

I found a place to hang the frame and as you can see from the images, it wasn't a pretty place! My number one concern was not to get any paint fly off on the finish of my car or the neighbor's house while still being able to have good access to the frame for the paint application.

Not a pretty paint booth but it works.

Since the surface to prime was already sanded and clean, see previous post, I was ready to shoot. The first thing you apply the paint to is underneath the frame and all those hard to get places. The top and sides always get ample coverage, it's always the bottom and those little nooks and crannies that get ignored in the process. So good coverage there when you start is a pretty good guaranty that you won't miss anything.

Start priming underneath and in those hard to reach places first.

Next you shoot the rest of the frame and make sure you have covered the entire frame. In this case it's pretty easy for me since I'm using a black Krylon Rust Tough primer on a red surface. Missed areas pop out pretty quick. Lay the paint in many thin coats, this will greatly reduce any drips. If you have drips that show up on your paint job, you're pretty much screwed at this point. Don't add more paint to the area, this will make it worst. Wait for the entire frame to dry, sand the spot in question and re-shoot the spot.

Frame fully covered in primer.

Talking about drying, you should wait at least 24 hours before shooting over with the finishing coats on the primer. Spray paint works this way, the color pigments are carried to the surface with thinners and you also have some propellant gases in the mixture to get all this stuff out of the can. It takes some time for all those chemicals to evaporate from the surface. Adding more to the mix by shooting another coat of paint over this doesn't help matters.

Direct sunlight will help the drying process and make any mistake pop out like Pee Wee Herman at a Board meeting!

One of the best ways to dry paint and stabilize this chemical cocktail is to expose your work in the Sun. I was lucky yesterday with bright sunshine and I was able to hang the frame in the sunlight for the afternoon. Despite this, I can still smell the evaporating thinners from the paint job this morning in my shop. I'll probaly wait another 24 hours to shoot the finish coat. Direct sunlight also has the advantage of making any spot you missed pop out instantly. It's nature's way of slapping you with a "You missed a spot".

Parts gathered so far.

I've started gathering some parts from my parts bin and other bikes that I have that are on ice for the time being. I hope to keep cost down by using what I have.

That's it for now.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles. 

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

City Bike Build, prepping the frame for paint

Now that all those funky stickers have been removed, it's time to prep the frame for paint. The one thing that is of the utmost importance for making a great looking paint job is proper surface preparation. The time you spend here will save you an enormous amount of time later for fixing mistakes or even worst, starting all over again.

A well prepared surface is the key to any, and I do mean any, paint job. The first thing we need to do is to clean the frame in order to have a clean surface before doing anything else. I removed the left over glue from the old stickers with lighter fluid. You can use other products as well like WD40 or other goop removers. I hope that if you do use lighter fluid, you have at least half a brain to do this outside or else...BOOM!

Removing left over glue.

Next we need to clean the surface. After making sure that all the glue was gone, I went over the frame once with mild dish soap and rinsed it. I then went over the entire frame again with paper towels in order to dry it.

Washing the frame down.

Now that the frame is clean and degreased, it's time to sand. Some of you might think that in order to do a proper job it means to sand this sucker down to the bare metal. If you plan to have the frame powder coated or painted by a professional, it's not a bad idea. If, like me, you're planning a straight spray can job, I don't recommend it. No amount of spray cans can equal the toughness of the original finish when it comes to protecting the frame from corrosion and dings.

Exposed metals dings smoothed out with rough sand paper.

So what I am doing is going over the exposed metal areas with a rough sand paper in order to smooth it out with the surrounding finish. While doing this, I try to keep as much of the original finish as I can. After taking care of all those rough spots, I went over the rest of the frame with a fine sandpaper in order to give grip to the first coat of primer. Again, I do this while trying to keep as much of the original paint job as I can. A good way to know if you've done enough is to remove the shine out of the finish. Don't freak out if you see metal coming through fast, some bikes have very poor and thin paint originally.

Entire frame done with a fine grit sand paper. Original shine of the finish is gone.

After this was all done, I wiped the frame down with a tacky cloth to remove all the dust. I also sprayed all the exposed bare metal spots with primer in order to prevent rust until I have time to work on it again. Exposed metal can rust pretty fast especially when exposed to any kind of moisture. I use Krylon's Rust Tough since it reacts with rust and this will inhibit any that I have missed in the sanding process. Those spots of paint will also tell you if your surface is clean for more spraying later on. If there was any problem with the surface, you would see bad reactions like fish eye or orange peel on your new coat of primer. If this happens, strip it, clean it and start over.

Ready for primer.

That's it for now, next step: Primer and paint.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles. 

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

City Bike build, getting down to the bare frame.

There wasn't much left on the bike but I still had to get it down to the bare frame. First thing to go is the fork. I'm not planning on using the bike in trails anytime soon so no need for the extra weight of the suspension fork. It will be replaced by a leaner rigid fork.

Removal of a threaded fork is quite easy. After removing the stem by unscrewing the top bolt a few turns, punching it down with a hammer and pulling it out, you can start removing the fork by unscrewing the locking nut, that's the real big one. Then the rest comes off easy, the washer, unscrew the bearing cone off and then just slide the fork out. The bearing cups on the frame can be removed by gently tapping them inside the frame with a hammer and a long piece of steel like a worn out screwdriver. I've re-installed all those components back on the fork afterwards for storage. Until I locate a decent replacement fork, I don't want to lose those bits in my shop somewhere.

Next up is the crank arms and the sealed cartridge bottom bracket. Here you need bike specific tools like the puller and the sealed BB socket. There's no going around those.

To remove the cranks, start by taking off the locking nuts inside the crank arm with a 14mm socket wrench. Before you insert the puller tool, lubricate everything that moves on it. The friction you are about to create is the enemy of that tool. Protect your investment and make the job easier by taking a few seconds to do this. Clean the threads in the crank arm with an old tooth brush before you proceed. Screw the tool in by hand all the way in. If you are having a hard time doing this by hand, you have dirt in there, clean it again. If you don't screw it all the way in, you take a chance of pulling the threads out and if you do that, YOU are screwed! Once you have all that done, turn the handle and the arm should come right off.

Next is the sealed bottom bracket cartridge. Insert the special socket on the chain side and go clockwise in order to unscrew it. The thread is reversed on that side of the bike. Once it's out, remove the cartridge and proceed to remove the holder on the other side by unscrewing it counter-clockwise.

My seat post was stuck, so I installed a seat on it to use for leverage and managed to pull it out easily.

The last thing left to remove was the stickers. The best way to go about that is to heat the sticker using a hair blower on the warmest setting. This will melt the glue partially and help you remove the stickers with less residue on the frame. Whatever is still left can be removed with WD40 or other stuff made for that.

That's it for now. Next step will be to prepare the frame for primer and paint.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles. 
Ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Announcing Bike Project 2012

The snow is melting away and it is time to prepare for the new riding season here in Montreal. Last year I had some fun with my fleet of 3 bikes but i felt there was definitely a hole to fill and I also did some changes.

The big bike known as Jenna Saykwa will be transfered to my Son who has been salivating over it ever since it's been created. Since I built my stretched Chopper, I don't have a need for it anymore. The 1958 Raleigh Sports will be sent to semi-retirement after surviving last year's Beat the Main race. Turns out my Dad had the exact same bike back in 1958 so I want to preserve it.

Not much to look at but you know me.
That leaves me with nothing to ride around town and haul my photo equipment. That means it's time for a bike build. I need a versatile ride that's comfortable and that can carry a small load. The pile of junk that you see here comes into play.

This use to actually mean something and it will again.
This is the very first mountain bike that I ever bought back in 1992. It took me on off road single track, the city as a commuter and even served as a Winter bike for a very short time. It's been gathering dust for many years and gave away most of its parts for various projects. I love how this frame rides and I never had the guts to get rid of it, smart move!

Yeah those are ape hanger handle bars on there...don't ask!
The first step is to clean the frame and paint it in order to rebuild the bike. Keep posted as I will document this build from beginning to end.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles.

Ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One carless year!

One of our readers has decided on one big challenge for herself this year, to go without a car for an entire year. Most would say, "so what's the big deal?". Well Lyndsay lives in Washington State and will not only have to carry herself, but also her 20 month old toddler where ever she goes.

Lyndsay is not an avid over the top cyclist. She even describes herself as a couch potato. She did the smart thing and researched her bike well. She needs not only a bike that can carry her and her stuff but she needs to carry all that with her kid safely every where.

She settled down on a Yuba Mundo. A serious cargo machine with a good child seat and a sturdy kickstand. I think she planned her adventure well and she should be able to pull it off.

Let's give her some morale support. You can follow her blog here: You ain't got Jack.

Go for it Girl, you can do it.

Ride safe and free.

Gerry :)