Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

EighthInch Scrambler Update pt2

November 13th, 2011 [print] No comments

In my previous post, I stripped the paint off my frame, sprayed on some primer, and was beginning to sand it.  Well, I eventually got around to painting it, but I wasn’t happy.  Even a perfect spray paint job still looks like spray paint, so I took it to a professional and had it powder coated 80-90 Jet black.  One upside to powder coating is, the powder melts very nicely into the welds.  This frame always had crappy looking welds, so now they’re a little easier to look at, although I doubt Gary Klein has anything to be jealous of.

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The sad part is, I spent more time fucking around trying to paint it on my own, than I did driving back and forth to the powder coater in a city about 40 minutes away.  The guy who did the work was Jeff at Xtreme Body & Paint in Jefferson City.  He was really easy to work with, and does awesome work.  Turn around time was a mere 2 days.

Once I got the frame back, I had to visit my local bike shop to get the BB threads chased, and the head tube re-faced, but that’s to be expected after any paint job.

Since I’m running a front derailer now (and because I don’t want to run full-length cable housing) I decided to install an STI cable stop on the downtube, and an under-BB cable guide.  I got both parts at Nova Cycles for just a few bucks.  For the STI stop, I used a 1/8" drill bit and some 3mm x 3mm aluminum pop rivets.  The cable guide needed to be screwed on, so I drilled with a 5/32" bit, and used a Park TAP-8 5mm x .8 tap.  Installing the guide was as easy as it gets, but the STI stop took some work.  I’ll mention how I got that on in another post.

You’ll notice I also have rear brake cable guides, so I never have to zip-tie full housing to the top tube ever again.  I installed those prior to painting, and once the powder coat melted all around them, they look like part of the frame.  I intentionally left the STI stop off until after the paint job, because I didn’t want paint–or powder–to get inside the threads.

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Unfortunately, along with some pretty easy mods, I’ve also had some very annoying issues.  Because I’m turning a track bike into a 2-speed cyclocross bike, I’m having clearance issues, most specifically with the tires.  I verified long ago that some 32c Kenda Kwicker tires fit the frame and fork, but what I wasn’t expecting was for them not to clear the Cane Creek SCR-3L brakes I just bought.  Due to the design of the calipers, the mounting bolt is higher on the body than it was on my Alhonga brakes, meaning the brakes hung too low below the fork crown and rear brake arch.  Because of this, 32c tires rubbed big time, so I had to order some 30c Kenda Kwick tires instead.  BUT, I wanted 32c, dammit, and I wasn’t about to give up.  Currently, I’m waiting on a set of Tektro R538 brakes, which should give me the clearance of the Alhongas, with the reach of the Cane Creeks.  Once I get that worked out, I’ll be able to use either tire, depending on where I’m riding.

As for other clearance concerns, they all seem to be working themselves out quite nicely.  My biggest concern with running a non-track crankset with dual chainrings is, the inner ring may come in contact with the frame.  As it turns out, I have about 4mm clearance between the chainstay and a 39T ring on my SRAM Force cranks.  It’s tight, but that’s more than enough room to get by.

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My other issue was whether a water bottle bolt would get in the way of the front derailer clamp, but I have just enough room to make it work.  I can’t use that bottle mount anymore, but I don’t think I ever have before anyway.

I did luck out with my rear tensioner set-up, so I’m happy about that.  I’m using a Paul Comp. Melvin tensioner, with a DMR chain tug, which includes a rear derailer hanger.  The Melvin has 3 spacers to help align the pulleys, and once I was finished configuring them, alignment was perfect.

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This is basically where I sit for the time being.  I’m waiting on an STI barrel adjuster and the Tektro brakes.  Once those pieces arrive, I should finally be able to go for a ride.

Central Park vs Forest Park

July 17th, 2011 [print] 2 comments

In my opinion, the best thing about Central Park in NYC is the wide-open bike path.  Technically, it’s part road, part multi-use path, but I’ve only ever used it as a bike path, and I suspect many others do as well.  The route itself circles the 843 acre park, and measures approximately 6mi in length.  Leave the path on foot, and it’s possible to get lost in the park, and spend an entire day exploring.

Not until recently, though, did I realize a similar bike path existed not too far from me, in St. Louis, at Forest Park.  Sure, I’ve been aware of the park for years, and even driven through it a few times, but I was never aware of the bike path.  On a recent trip to St. Louis, I finally took my bike along, and Forest Park was one of my destinations.  I entered the park on the north-east corner somewhere, cruised around for 15-20 minutes, and left fairly unimpressed.  At the time, I had no idea what I was missing.

Later, checking out Forest Park’s Wikipedia page, I learned that the park is over 50% larger than Central Park, at 1,293 acres.  I eventually discovered the bike path, too, and found it’s 7.5mi in length, a full 25% longer than the one at CP.  I was a little pissed at myself for having left so soon, without bothering to really look for the path, so I’ll have to make up for it next time I’m in town.

For anyone who might be looking for it, here’s a detailed map of the full bike path at Forest Park:

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And for anyone wondering just how much bigger Forest Park is compared to Central Park, I made this map using Google Earth, with CP laid over FP (both rotated east to west):

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FP is about 2mi long and 1mi wide, while CP is 1.6mi long, and .6mi wide.  At the end of the day, though, I’d still rather spend my time in CP.  The park is far livelier, with hotdog vendors, horse and buggy rides, and a few thousand people sharing the bike paths and sidewalks.  Forest Park seems a bid deserted, on the other hand.

Cobra Tube

July 8th, 2011 [print] No comments

The guys at have a new innertube available that allows you to swap tubes without removing your tire.

Cobra Tube -

Basically, the tube has sealed off ends that, when the tube is inflated, butt up against each other.  Since it’s not round, this means you can simply remove one side of the tire, pull the old tube out, and slide the new one in place, all without removing the tire.  I like the concept, but I’d like to see it with road and MTB applications, on top of just BMX.

For more info, check these links:

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Spidey on a bike

July 2nd, 2011 [print] No comments
Spiderman bike
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Flickstand, pt. 2

May 28th, 2011 [print] 15 comments

If you recall, I did a post on a vintage bike part a couple months back, called the Flickstand, made by now-defunct Rhode Gear USA.  Well, I’m happy to say, I’m now the owner of one.

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They’re pretty difficult to come across nowadays, but I was fortunate enough to find one for sale on Craigslist the other day for $10.  It’ll go on my singlespeed if it fits, but since that bike is awaiting me in NYC at the moment, I’ll have to wait a few days to see if it fits.  Even if I’m not able to use it, it’s something I’ll definitely hold on to because I love rare parts.

Edit:  It fits.

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Dia-Compe DC139 Brake Lever

May 26th, 2011 [print] 8 comments

I’ll admit, I don’t need these, since I already have some very nice ‘n light Shimano Dura-Ace track levers on my singlespeed.  However, they’re just too cool to pass up, and you never know when I might want some in the future.

(not my photos)
Dia-Compe DC139 bullhorn brake lever - black
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Basically, they’re curved levers that wrap around underneath the bar, allowing you to brake from the flats or the ends.  On the old French bikes, this style was referred to as Guidonnet levers.  Google that term, and you’ll find many classic examples.  Throw "Dia-Compe DC139" in the search results, and you’ll be able to track down a pair of these for around $30.  It’s far easier to find them in silver, but I was able to track them down in black.

They also work on drop bars, assuming the bars have enough reach before the drop, which most probably do.

SOURCE:  Dia-Compe

Building some road wheels

May 1st, 2011 [print] 2 comments

I had fun learning how to build wheels for my singlespeed last year, so I decided that’d be the way to go for the road bike, too.  The SS wheelset has held up extremely well, so I had no reservations about building another set.  The only new challenge was, I’d be building an asymmetrical rear wheel this time, as opposed to a symmetrical one, like the SS uses.

For hubs, I picked a red anodized pair from, 24-hole front, and 28-hole rear.  I’d considered going 20/24, but ultimately, I’d prefer endurance over weight, and the weight penalty wasn’t too great anyway.

(pretty, huh?)
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I didn’t bother with a photo on the scale, since BHS has one on their site, and the weight of these hubs was accurate to what they list: front 77g, rear 211g.

The rims are Stan’s ZTR Aplha 340, which can be run tubeless or with innertubes (I’ll be using tubes).  The name "340" is supposed to refer to their weight, but it doesn’t, unfortunately; the front weighs 347g, rear 355g.

Spokes are a mix of DT Swiss Revolution and Competition.  I’ve ridden Revolution spokes on my Rolf MTB wheels for a decade or more now, and have always been impressed with them.  They’re also what I built my SS wheelset with.  The front wheel will get all Revolutions, and the rear non-drive-side will, as well.  The drive-side is what will be getting the Competitions.

Nipples are a mix of alloy and brass; alloys up front and non-drive-side rear; brass on the drive-side.

The front wheel was pretty straight forward, although it did require a call to my buddy to ask about the spoke pattern.  I went with a 1-cross pattern, as opposed to 3-cross, so I was lost about how to do it.  After he explained, it went pretty smoothly.  It also helped that I had a Park spoke tension tool on hand this time around.  No more trips across town to the bike shop to bother those guys for theirs.

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For the front, all spokes will have their heads on the outside.  No reason other than I like the way it looks, and since my Rolfs are just the same, I figured it’d be strong enough for a road wheel.

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….And done.  This is prior to tensioning them properly, but that’s the boring part.

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(ready to ride)
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With the front wheel done, I got started on the rear.  I was too busy working to get any photos taken, but I promise it was a pain in the ass, and took much longer than what I’d hoped for.

When it comes to getting the correct tension for the rear, the best advise I found was this:  get the drive-side spokes tensioned properly first, then do whatever it takes to the non-drive-side to get the dish perfect.  Tension seems low on the NDS, but part of that may be the thinner Revolution spokes.  The same seems to hold true for my Rolfs, so I’ll just leave them as-is and see how it goes.

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Weight:  545g front, 742g rear, w/o rim strip or skewers.

If you’ve never built your own wheels, keep this in mind:  you’ll wind up paying less for lighter wheels if you do it yourself, and you get to pick exactly the parts you want.  Sure, it’s difficult if you’re still new to it (or only do it once a year, as I seem to), but it’s a great feeling to know you’re rolling on wheels you built yourself.

Now all I need to do is get my bike built, let the rain end, and get out for a ride.


April 25th, 2011 [print] No comments

Well, isn’t this some clever shit?  Browsing Reddit, I came across a post where someone was wondering what this device mounted to his downtube was.  Someone came to the rescue with this from Wikipedia:


While not strictly a kickstand, the Flickstand is a small bracket that flips down from the down tube and engages the front tire to prevent the front end from steering and tire from rotating, and thus enabling the bike to be safely leaned against an object without danger of the front end turning and the bike subsequently falling to the ground. These were made by Rhode Gear Company in the 1970’s and 1980’s. While the Flickstand is no longer made, a Velcro strap can be employed for similar success by strapping a brake lever to lock the brake or strap the front wheel to the down tube.

(photo credit to roburrito at Reddit)
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I thought I’d seen it all, but this is definitely new to me, and I don’t appear to be the only one.  Why this ingenious little device was common on older bikes, yet they are all but unheard of today, is beyond me.

Via Reddit


April 18th, 2011 [print] No comments

After a year and a half of riding my SS road bike, and repeatedly singing the praises of riding with just one gear, I’ve decided it’s time for a geared road bike.

I love Manhattan which, ironically enough, is derived from the old Lenape Native American word Manna-hata, meaning "island of many hills", yet is now damn near ruler flat.  To ride there for the rest of your life, you’ll need exactly one gear.  Columbia, MO, on the other hand, is nothing but hills.  One visiting rider from Wisconsin once said to me at a stop light, "Around every corner is another hill!"  He was right.  Occasionally, you may be lucky enough to spend a minute or so on a flat section of road, but it won’t be long before you’re doing 45mph down a large hill, or climbing up an even steeper one at 8mph.

I run a fairly high gear ratio one my singlespeed so I can enjoy the descents, but it makes climbing a huge pain.  Going to a slightly lower ratio makes all my climbs somewhat easier, but I end up coasting down all the hills.  As a speed freak, the coasting part sucks, and as a guy who’s about to turn 35, the hard climbs are beginning to wear me out more and more.  So, the only viable option is to have a geared bike for the bulk of my riding, while keeping the SS around for my NYC trips, or shorter rides around town when I feel the need to blast my quads.

I’ve spent some time working out a decent build, and plan to have something ready to ride as soon as possible.  It’ll be based around a generic Chinese-sourced FM015 carbon frame–do your research, they’re loved by all who take the plunge into no-name bike land.  I’ll be using that extra Sram Force crankset I bought a few months back at ridiculous discount, as well as other Sram drivetrain components, and some wheels I’ll build up myself.

Lots of photos and info will follow once I begin piecing it all together, so stay tuned.

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Snowed in, again

February 26th, 2011 [print] No comments

Mid-Missouri got hit with some ice and snow this week, so it looks like I’ll be sitting around waiting for it to melt once again.  Fortunately, we only got an inch or so, as opposed to the 17-18" from last time.  Since I have nothing better to do at the moment, I thought I’d post some random crap…

Not sure what’s going on here, but I think the guy could use a little more tubing to complete his bike:

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Colnago releases their Master 55th Anniversary frame, painted gloss black, with gold accents.  As beautiful as it is, I couldn’t imagine anyone ever riding it.  Check out Colnago Con Brio for more info and a ton of photos from every angle.

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I don’t have a reference for this one, but it’s great inspiration for learning how to braze my own frames.  Most kids have to make due with heavy, crappy discount store bikes, but I’d like to give my (future) children their own custom bikes–much like this one, sans the awkward top tube.  I like how they’re both pushing the same gear ratio, but I think maybe dad could’ve gone with something a little more knee-friendly for junior.

Valparaiso Cerro Abajo 2011 – my favorite style of downhill racing:

Via Vimeo

I ride a singlespeed road bike most of the time, and I’ve come to rely on 16T and 17T freewheels.  Typically, that means taking one off in order to install the other.  But, what if I could just have one freewheel, with the option to run either ratio?  Well, now I can.  Coming in at 194g, it’s about 60g heavier than a standard freewheel with only one set of teeth.  I doubt I’ll use it often, but on longer rides, it’d be nice to have a couple different ratios to choose from.

They’re fairly cheap (under $20) but can be a little difficult to find online.  I’d suggest checking eBay–which is where I found mine–and picking one up if you think you might want it in the future.  I’m not sure if they’ll continue being available, or if ACS will eventually pull them from the market.

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I have some more interesting updates on my own bike that I’ll get to in a day or so.  In the never-ending quest to get it just right–while spending as little money as possible–I’ve upgraded a few components, both reducing weight, and getting a better seating position.  I’ll just say that anyone that spends retail on bike parts is doing it wrong.  Thanks to eBay, Competitive Cyclist, and Amazon, I was able to get some pretty great deals on parts that I otherwise would have spent literally hundreds of dollars more on.

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