REVOLUTIONS- biking in NJ
Saturday, 21 January 2006
Finishing touches -- Fixed gear mtb...
Topic: tales from the garage
1/21/06 - My Trek 4500 fixed gear mtb worked fine today, but ponderng chain tension, I figured a halflink would ease it -- the chain was really too tight for both safety, and longterm wear concerns. So I installed a bmx chain with a half link. Turns out the wider bmx chain was slightly longer -- you could see the difference but it was hard to measure -- and I didn't need the halflink afterall. The bmx chain was enough. This is an old somewhat beat-up chain, so I hope it lasts until I can get to the LBS to get a new one -- and I hope the new one will be the same dimensions. There are so many variances among bmx chains -- different widths, different coatings and finishes -- that I hope a new one will work when I need it.
But for now, the wheel spins easy and free -- fixed, with just the right tension.
Friday, 20 January 2006
Surly 1 spd hub!
Topic: RIDE REPORT
1/20/06 - Just installed the Surly ss rear wheel. It's double freewheel threaded on each side so I threw on a 16t cog. My chainwhip was a POS and broke so I used two wood liners to protect the teeth, and a bench vise. Will add an old bb lockring when I get around to it. The 34x16t gearing gives a VERY tight chainline, tension is bordering on too tight, but the bike rides fine and it will hopefully losen up just enuff. I thing if I used an odd numbered cog (15) in the back, or a odd numbered chainring (35, 41) up front, because the chainline was off, but not as tight, when running the odd numbered 34x11. In the meantime, there is always a halflink if I need it...
Wednesday, 18 January 2006
Still riding the 4500 ss....
Topic: RIDE REPORT
Still riding the 4500.... but mighty unsatisfied with the 34x11 gearing! Maybe I shoulda' left the whole rear gear cluster on and just run the chain over the third one like I had it before. It looks cleaner with the one cog but 11t is brutal!
...so I spent my lunch break taking apart wheels and looking for spacers so I can run the 13t rear cog ss instead of the 11t. Only found two spacers so I decided to try and cut my own, which came out horribly and probably would have caused me to crash and die if I used them. So it stays at 34x11t gearing until it gets set up "fixed"... after that it's all good!
Still, it bombs over stuff, and the fork, which is too heavy and basic for the woods, performs admirably agains curbstones! The teenyweeny rear cog looks sick -- err, slick -- but that slightly off chainline is still bothering me. I know it's there, dammit!
In the meantime, the like 3.09 to 1 gear ratio is mad fast on the street even with the knobby tires. I passed a car this morning in the rain and he just looked at me like I was daft. Just hard to get up hills. Real hard. And forget going up even moderate hills offroad on grass or dirt! For comparison, picture riding a trackbike with 53x17 gearing uphill or offroad. That's 3.11 to 1 which is like pure speed and knee pain and this is about as bad. But it kills on the flats. Maybe if I could rig up a 28t front chainring, like those "granny gears" udes on triples... but fer that I need new cranks.
I plan on running like a 17t cog with the fixed rear wheel so it'll be a bit easier to ride even if I keep the 34 up front; more spin, less ouch.
Anyhoo ....wind blew the damn thing over this morn'. Looks like no damage but durned if that's why I dislike aluminum! Good news: Adjusted the seating of the wheel and the drive side brake stopped rubbing. But rain is a b!tch -- got home soaked as a drowned cat and will get just as soaked riding tonite. Why can't I feel happy driving like a "normal" person?
Tuesday, 17 January 2006
RIDE REPORT -- Trek 4500 modified - AGAIN!
Topic: RIDE REPORT
1/17/06 - A few days ago I began riding my Trek mtb in the snow. Hey, the snow bike was a cool invention but not practical for more than a mile or so given the gearing and cranks.
After riding int he snow I realized I wanted a fixed mtb. Not a fixed offroad road frame with 35c 'cross tires like my Centurion which was spotlighted in www.63xc.com
or my Specialized steel mtb which ran 700c rims, but a true mtb using mtb (26") rims and a modern frame design -- spoling toptube, high seat. Like my Trek 4500 mtb. Except that had virtical dropouts and gears...
Off came the gears, I set it up as a ghetto ss using the middle cog up front (34t) and the third cog in from the outermost in the rear. Perfect chain tension. Decent chainline. When I removed the shifters I had to swap out the brakes as the bike had those "rapidfire" shifters where the brake lever and shifter controls are one unit. But I only had one decent mtb brake lever -- everything else was road stuff -- in the parts bin. Not wanting to run mixmatched levers on what was my nicest mtb so far I simple left the front brake unconnected and taped the cable to the housing of the rear brake. Then after some pondering I removed the front brake entirely so I'm running just a rear, like a bmx'er.
My Girl was supposed to show up this morn fer coffee but was a no show until much later, so rather than sit on my bum, I took another wheel -- the one fitted with my first attempt at studded ice tires -- and after realizing I did indeed possess the right took, removed the cassette. The last 5 gears were a rivited unit with what looked like plastic and brass spacers... the first two gears (the two smallest) were loose. Looking in vain for spacers, then cutting my hand in an attempt to pry the rivit heads off the cassette to access what spacers might be in there, i cursed. Then I realized that I had a serviceable gear... the last and outermost gear, which rested on top of the freehub body and therefore needed not spacers!
Putting this last and smallest cog (I think it's 11t)on, I took the tire off the Trek's stock wheel and swapped it to the now one-cog wheel. Inflating to to make sure I hadn't busted it -- the bead was harder to seat than the older tires I had used -- I installed the wheel on the bike fearing the worst: no way to achieve cahin tension without wasting the halflink I had been saving until the bike's fixed wheel arrives, or the second worst: a f-ed up chainline. No dice, tension was solved by removing a link and the chainline was ok. A tad crooked but workable. Of course the much smaller cog makes it harder to ride offroad etc. but it should be fine for the street, I don't plan on hitting trails until I get the fixed wheel for it given the winter weather and the fact that they don't plow the woods! ;)
Currently that's how it sits -- got a halflink for chaintension with those virt drops which I will wait to use 'til the fixed wheel arrives -- waiting for the new dbls fixed 26" one the LBS got -- coming in a week so they say.
I am one happy camper!
Come summer I plan to hit the woods on this thing; otherwise it's going to be my sub-urban assualt bike for the streets. I figure two pairs of tires, one semislick, one treaded, will made it do-able. My only regret is that without an eccentric rear hub like the Eno or White industries, I'll have to run the same gear offroad and on. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!
Anyway, I used the same one gear on my ss stingray when I stripped it down and used it for the trails and the town years ago... How diff is this?
Pic coming soon...!
Wednesday, 11 January 2006
1-11-05: A recent picture on the cover of the New York Sun highlighted the "ghost ride" to memorialize cyclists killed while riding. Another article in the Village Voice highlighted the issue. While the Voice is normally an atrocious liberal rag, I find it's coverage of the cycling issues to be much better than most of the mainstream media, on par with that of the Sun, which fairly told both sides of the "cops seizing parked bikes" issue during a recent crackdown.
However, this being another eleventh -- Januaery 11, to be exact -- I think of other memorials, like those for the victims of Sept. 11 terror. What was the purpose of those memorials? To honor those who died, true, but beyond that memorials -- even those for the dead of centuries past -- are a cal to action. The ancient Greek sagas of heroism in war call across the ages, making the reader's soul stir to bravery. More recent death's such as the Sept. 11 victims make hte purpose of memeorials clear -- they provide an emotional grounidng for the action needed to ensure that the deaths never occur again in a similar fashion. They provide a reason -- and justification -- saying, in effect, "this is why we do what we do now". And they spur us to do it.
Any memorial that does not stir the spectator into a participant in some way is a failure. Any memorial that just says, "here person X died", is a bland excuse in a noble tradition's clothing.
Memeorials, then, are only useful -- in emotional, philosophical, and practical terms, if they spur action. Therefore the ride -- a small ride of only a hundred and fifty or so -- is noteworthy for getting it's picture in the NY Sun and other papers. But if it results not in any action, by those who see the pictures, or witness the ride, and it's memorials, it was as if it had never been.
So what needs to be done?
While I don't often agree with the Voice -- as stated -- it's coverage of cycling issues is exemplary. Same goes for the Sun's article on seizure of bikes which I have commented on earlier. The news media as a whole could take a cue and get a clue, about the life and death issues involved.
I have been hit by cars several times, and have been injured from a large pothole that was surely exaserbated by the large volume of truck / SUV traffic here in NJ so I sympathize with the NYC riders. I have one leg a half inch shorter than the other, and a shoulder that will never be quite as good as new.
Drivers need to be held accountable for what they do. The media can help -- oftne a media call to action preceeds a political response. This is usually a bad thing -- rushing headlong into political choices soles to placate the papers -- but it can be used for good. If the people lead, as the saying goes....
Our society takes people who could never ever pass the bakcground check for a gun and sets them loose on the streets in 4-wheeled bullets ready to hurt others.
Drivers also need to be better educated and trained. As drivers, they are trained from the moment they get their license to look for other cars; often they look right past bikes or pedestrians and do not see them.
Drivers also find bike speed harder to estimate than that of cars. Drivers therefore need to be taught that bikes are there, and that they are not stationary fixtures of the landscape; bikesa can get up to like 60 mph, but realistically, a geared road biker will usually get up to 30 mph on an open road and a fixed gear such as I ride in the winter can easily get up to 20 mph sprinting in traffic. Cruising speed varies; some average 17mph on road bikes. If drivers were aware of this they might realize the follow of trying to get in front of that "slow moving" bicycle, especially on a crowded street where the car's average speed might work out to about the same!
"Just the other day" -- and this could be any day, 'round here -- I was almost hit by a car. I been hit several times. One of my coworkers got hit by a car that stopped short on a 40mph street right in front of him with no turn signal. Okay, technically he hit the car, but whose fault was it? No turn signal, dead in the water in the middle of a street? These drivers need to be careful. The cyclists are already careful, but we aren't mind readers!
If drivers ed (do they still teach that?) was updated with a section on bikes and new drivers started out right, while old ones are reminded -- and punished when they kill or maim someone -- it would be a start. If that doesn't work we can always start breaking the fingers of drivers who don't use turn signals...
Thursday, 5 January 2006
A new (old) ride!!!!
Topic: RIDE REPORT
1-05-06: Starting the new year off right with a new bike!
My black Schwinn Tempo roadbike is now a fixed gear roadbike... I removed the shifters, big chainring, and a length of chain. I cleaned it and then outlined the lugs using brown car touch up paint -- it came out a metalic tan, just perfect! Currently it's running 42x18 with both brakes.
Monday, 19 December 2005
Guns and Cars -- Only Slight OT
After riding my FujiFix yesterday (I gotta get soem 'cross tires for it -- winter IS here) I was tired. Went to sleep and dreamed good dreams cause I read some old detective thriller. In my dreams I was Mike Hammer chasing down gangsters.
Woke up to reality and had to go to work! As I ate my breakfast some slob on NBC's morning show was talking 'bout the need for new gun laws after a recent series of shootings. Some crooks took shots at cops. I won't repeat the details as it was in alla da papers. Well here's this guy on the tube saying they need to regulate guns like they do cars...
...Wonderful, that's all we need. Anyone who rides a bike'd know the idiocy of that idea. After seeing the lunatics, morons and careless fools who drive the streets -- and ona bicycle you see loads of 'em -- I you bet yer gramma's pushup bra you won't want guns regulated like cars.
Every idiot and his brother would own a gun then. They wouldn't need a license to buy own, someone else could buy it and transfer it to another person's name, no one would need a license to operate one on their own property...
I would much prefer that cars be regulated like guns, not the other way around. Require background checks just to buy them. No more parents buying cars for their kids. Strict limits on the type of vehicles or their capacity (the equivolent of those silly assault gun bans), fingerprint car buyers... it'd make the streets safer.
Our society takes idiots who could never pass the already strict regulations for guns and sets them loose on the streets in dangerous cars. Take back the streets. Regulate cars like guns. It'd be no skin off their @ss for honest drivers, but illegal aliens, stolen car punks, and illegal street racers would think twice, as would geriatric geezers who are just not physically fit enough any longer to control their cars. Yesterday i was almost hit by this old guy driving 20 mph in a 45 zone, in both lanes! You wouldn't let someone legally blind get a shooting license -- why let them drive?
The idiot on the tube finished his spiel by saying he wanted people to brign their guns in for registration like you would a car.
Fine. Great. I'd love to see it happen. You think gangsters and hoodlums are going to tote their nines down to the police stationhouse to renew their nonexistant registration? Criminals by definition break laws! In the meantime we have a boatload of people driving around in unregistered cars, most of them without licenses. Like 10 or 11 million estimated (get a kick outa that phrase -- what'd they, take a poll?) illegal aliens who drive illegally.
Regulate cars like guns. If you can get people to obey the driving laws, maybe then you'll actually be able to convince people you can make the shooting laws stick. But I doubt it.
Wednesday, 14 December 2005
12-14-05: Busy thinking.... see Thoughts on Dec05
... It's been a wierd year in a wierder world.
Monday, 12 December 2005
Snow riding in Jersey
Once the snows off the main roads I been riding my Trek XO1 cross bike a lot. The overal setup helps with the slick wet slush that remains.
However, for riding IN snowstorms I built a "snowbike". A 24" wheel frame fitted with a 2' rear wheel, fixed (borrowed from my Dahon fix) and a road fork with a 700c up front. Short cranks tho with the lift of the front wheel I could probably fit 170's. Front brake and drop bars with griptape only on the tops. Rides okay but my next project is to make a studded rear tire for it. I experimented with making a studded 26" (MTB) tire but the screws I used were too long and it hit the 'stays while spinning. Winter sux but with a little ingenuity it can be made bearable. For what it's worth everything - even the BB -- on the snow bike came from the rubbish - except the 16t rear cog.
The rear wheel/fixed cog is going back on my folding fix, but I am keeping the Snowbike.... will rebuild it as soon as I come by another cheap and solid BMX wheel and cog....
It makes blizzards fun! ;)
Sunday, 20 November 2005
Over the mountain
Topic: fixed gearing
11-20-05: After my mundane morning ride, I latched onto a fellow cyclist riding a hybrid at a decent road clip. He was headed for the Rez.
I've ridden the Watchung Reservation several time, but not on a fixed gear, and my last trip was a fun, memorable jaunt on an old geared roadbike. So, I was not aware of the ease with which I would make it up the hills on my fix.
Conversing with my fellow cyclist about general bike stuff, I wasn't aware he didn't know I didn't have gears. Somewhere right before one of the bike climbs, it came up. "You have no gears? You must be some kind of maniac!"
I have heard of people on fixed gears arousing this sort of reaction from geared cyclists but never really heard it myself. Now I have.
Climbing was a cakewalk until the last few dozen yards, when my lungs had a mite of difficulty keeping up with my legs. But I made it with no complaining. The pain in my legs turned into a nice warm fuzzy buzz. I was high on something. What? Sun streamed through the leaveless branches and I realized what. Life.
The view was great -- falling leaves covered the woods but also cleared the trees, leaving a wide view on each side of the road through their claw-like naked branches. I turned around right outside of mountainside and then headed down the mountain, watching my speed on the winding curves but totally enjoying myself. It was peaceful, and refreshing, and awesome. It was Bicycling!
So, does 44x18 make for good hill climbing? I won't ride anything else in those winding ascents and fun downhills. With the cantis up front to control speed, the fuji fix handled admirably, even if I didn't -- several times while rounding curves I took a hand off the bars, and I am probably very lucky to be alive. I only saw two cars, but one was leaning over the center line and she was on a cellular phone.
With a smile I got home, the "immortal" themesong from highlander playing in my head as I unclipped my helmet and enjoyed a toasted tuna sandwich. What a way to start yer morning!
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