"I thought of that while riding my bicycle."
- Albert Einstein
Sunday, April 18, 2010
The other day at work a bicycle came to me to be repaired. Now that's no surprise as repairing and rebuilding bicycles is what I do almost all day and for 6 days of the week. This one particular bike made me think a little bit. First I'll describe the basics of this bike - it was only 2 or 3 years old and still is a top-of-the-line machine built around a titanium frame, carbon fork, and Campagnolo Record 10 speed components. Just a quick guess without looking up the numbers is that this was a $4500-$6000 bicycle. That in itself isn't unusual for where I work but the repair for this bike was. The bicycle already had a triple crank set installed and the repair called for a new carbon fiber fork, new stem, new handlebars, chain, and cassette. The fork steerer tube (the part that goes through the frame) was to be left uncut allowing for maximum range of adjustment. The stem was to be one with a 45° rise and the bars had the shallowest drops possible. The stack of spacers under the stem allowed the drops of the handlebars to pass over the top tube of the frame. Basically a very upright riding position for what was intended to be a very race-worthy bicycle. Moving to the back of the bike the cassette was to have a range of 12 to 32 teeth on the cogs. 32 teeth is about the maximum most any derailleur can handle and this makes for a very low gear ratio and a very low speed. Now it's not hilly in the least around here but that's not to say the gent doesn't travel with his bicycle. I don't know if he does or doesn't. So anyway, I did a full tear-down of the bike with a cleaning and inspection of everything and installed the parts as requested. The repair bill with parts and labour I estimated to be at least $700. Looking at the bike in its new state I thought it looked so far removed from it's previous incarnation and frankly, a bit silly. I wondered why would anyone spend this kind of money to gain the riding position the same as found on a hybrid bicycle and ride his bike a style that will never again fully utilize the performance of insanely expensive race-inspired carbon and alloy parts. Then I thought this was just a bit of machismo in me and took the bike for its test ride. It was oh-so-comfortable! and this bike didn't really want to go fast. It did want to make it easy for the rider to move the same as your best shoes make it easy to walk. Cruising along going through the gears and every other 'real life' check of the bike I can't reproduce when it's in the repair stand I now started to notice the landscape and other businesses and I wasn't nervous to turn my head to see what truck was now barreling down behind me in the industrial park. With this bike I felt like I was part of the ride and not just part of the pavement which is about all I usually see when I ride a race bike. Now all the high $ bikes I repair are a pleasure to ride one way or another but this is one I could of (no... not really) taken home with me! I really could of spent all day on this bike it was so enjoyable. Again, no not really as I'm paid by the hour! So to the customer with all the disposable income I may never meet - congrats on your new ride. I hope it brings you many hundreds or thousands of very enjoyable kilometers. I also wanted to say I'm in no way jealous of your bike however I will be watching your street for yard sale signs and I'll be there bright and early should you have one ;)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Actually a tale of 2 wheels told twice over. Spring is on its way, or so I tell myself, and while I get an early start on my spring cleaning I came across a couple pairs of wheels I built. I wanted to try Sturmey Archer's new 3 speed coaster brake hub, their 5 speed drum brake, and their Dynamo front drum brake hub. I'm already familiar with the front drum brake and love how it looks with it's sheriff's star cut-outs so I built a front to the 3 speed with one of those hubs. I planned on building a his & hers city bikes but haven't found frames I felt were worthy of these wheels so I decided to get a couple of custom frames made my way to roll these wheels on. Future blog entries will follow the design, frame building, parts and accessories selection, how and why I decided to do what, and how it all turned out. A little peak into the ideas about the bikes is his bike will have a frame built around the British influence of old Raleigh and Phillips bicycles and have the Sturmey Archer X-RD5 5 speed and drum brake rear and the X-FDD Dynamo front hub with drum brake. Both wheels were built with DT spokes and Ambrosio Excellence black anodized rims. His bike has 700 x 38c Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. Her bike frame will be built as a Mixte with the design influenced from French Peugeots and Gitanes with Sturmey Archer's SRC3 rear hub with 3 speeds and a coaster brake, or 'back-pedal' brake, and X-FD drum brake in the front. Those wheels were built with black spokes just because that was my mood when I built them. I like the contrast of the black spokes against the (somewhat) polished aluminium hubs. Because her bike doesn't have a Dynamo or electricity generating hub it will receive a "bottle generator" either on the frame or fork. Her bike has 700 x 38c Duro Protek "Puncture Protection" tires in case He isn't there to be chivalrous and fix a flat (but future blogs will have a how-to on fixing flats and other maintenance because knowledge makes for confidence and confidence is sexy) . While I think Schrader valves, the type that is commonly found on cars and can be pumped up at most any garage, are more convenient my choice of rims doesn't allow for the larger valve and so I installed Presta valves. Presta valves require a special brass adapter or a floor pump that can handle both common types of valves. I chose internal gear hubs for both bikes so that there wouldn't be any chance of chains falling off on potholes (of which my city has lots and lots of!) or on country roads. Also by not having derailleurs makes it easier to fit a chain guard to protect pant legs from getting dirty and will add more style to the bike. It's fairly flat where I live and the gear range offered by 3 and 5 speed hubs should be good enough for comfortable riding on more than 90% of the roads here. As for the rest of both the bikes they are only thoughts and ideas but will most definitely have fenders, comfortable seats, front and rear lights, baskets and/or racks, kickstands, and bells. After all, it's only sensible!