Screw you, Shimano

February 16th, 2011 [print] No comments

Shimano Dura Ace BL-TT78 brake levers come with set screws, which you can use to adjust your reach to the lever.  There are very few levers–road or MTB–on the market that don’t offer reach adjustability.  However, the BL-TT78s are the first I’ve encountered that have plastic screws.

To save maybe a gram of weight, Shimano chose to go with plastic screws, and they also cut them extremely short.  An extra 3mm would have worked wonders, so what’s the point in making them so short?  Not aware of either the material or the length, I began tightening them to shorten the reach of my levers to the point that I could get the first bend of my index finger around them, only to reach bottom, and then snap the head right off one of them.  Had the screw been metal, I could have felt that it bottomed out, but because the plastic is so soft, it’s almost impossible to distinguish a difference in torque between the screw turning freely, and the head twisting against the shaft of the screw as it’s breaking off.

Click for larger image

Fortunately, I only made the mistake once, so I only had one headless screw shaft to get back out of the lever–not an easy task.  The other one, which you can see in the photo above, is still intact, so it was to be my reference for going to the hardware store and finding a new one with the same diameter and thread count.  I don’t know how many hours of my life I’ve wasted in hardware stores, trying to find screws, bolts or nuts that don’t exist, and I guess my subconscious decided to save me all the trouble before I did it again.

As I was getting ready to walk out the door, I suddenly got the idea that I should go check some old MTB-style Shimano brake levers, on the off chance that the set screw might have the same thread size.  As luck would have it, it did.  It was also much longer than I needed, which gave me the ability to cut it down to the right size (middle screw).  Hacksaw > file > done.  It turned out so well, I went ahead and did a pair, so now as I bottom the screws out inside the levers, they’re at exactly the right reach for my hands.

It was an hour or more wasted because Shimano made a bad design choice, but at least I worked it out.  In the end, I gained 1 measly gram.

I’ll leave this posted as a how-to for anyone else who may come across the same problem.

Categories: How To Tags: ,

Bicycle drifting – sure, why not?

February 10th, 2011 [print] 1 comment

The video may be pretty corny, but this looks like a pretty good skill to have, and the dude is definitely having fun with it.  Must be hell on rear tires, though.

Via YouTube

Categories: Videos Tags:

Snowed In: Eye Candy for Bored People

February 5th, 2011 [print] No comments

Last Tuesday, the mid-West got hit with a blizzard, and we’re still digging out.  Mid-Missouri got around 18" dumped on us, so I’ve had to trade biking for shoveling to get my exercise.  I’ve probably spent 8 hours or more since Wednesday morning pushing a shovel, mostly to get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine.  With another 2" or so dumped last night, and more coming in the next day or so, it looks like I won’t be riding anytime soon.  On the upside, it gives me plenty of time to post crap like this:

Cyanide and Happiness, 2-5-2011:

I have no idea where this next one comes from, but it’s pretty incredible:

BMX Backflip

I have no reference for this one, either, but I think it’s called a stepper crank.  Very interesting set-up, but I think I prefer to spin my pedals in circles:

Stepper crank mechanism

Let’s just forget we saw this one:

Typographic Bicycle art, by Aaron Kuehn, at

Click for larger image

Fabian Cancellara’s Specilized S-Works Red Hammer, about as aero as it gets:

Click for larger image

And finally, one of the most beautifully simple lug joints I’ve seen.  Matte gray, on a JK Cross frame, made by Kirk Frameworks:

Click for larger image

I may be stuck inside for awhile, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still goofing around with my own bikes.  For the second–and final–time, I decided to try out a drop bar and road levers on my singlespeed…

Click for larger image

Looks good, I know.  Unfortunately, due to my hand size, lever angle, and the fact that I prefer to stay on the hoods, the brakes just don’t perform with as much ease as I’m used to with bullhorns and tri levers.  So, once again I’ve gone back to bullhorns, but this time, I’m trying out a Profile Design Airwing OS, with about 35mm of additional drop.  It won’t get me as low as being in the drops on a proper road bar, but it’s a good compromise for better aero dynamics, while still using a brake set-up that I prefer.

Click for larger image

I’m in no rush to get it installed, but I’ll post pics once it’s all put back together and I have a chance to get outdoors again.  Until then, if you’re under a foot of snow right now, good luck keeping busy!  And if you’re lucky enough to live in a warmer climate, piss off. 😉

Categories: Cartoons, Links, Photos, Videos Tags:

How to Fold a Brompton

January 16th, 2011 [print] No comments

The Brompton folding bicycle is the modern urban commuter’s dream. From a full sized bike to a convenient piece of hand luggage in a matter of seconds. Cycling has never been so simple!

Via YouTube

Categories: Videos Tags: ,

1-15-11 Links

January 15th, 2011 [print] No comments

Queens NYC councilman wants every adult cyclist to register to ride:

New Jersey lawmaker proposes the same ridiculous law (is this becoming a trend?):

Want to ride w/ a slower rider, but make the ride potentially more dangerous?  Try the BicycleBungee

Rael concept bike w/ rear-facing cameras and LCD monitor:

Rael Concept Bike

Portland Design Works is installing a mini velodrome inside their headquarters:

Circulus from machine project on Vimeo.


Study: Bike infrastructure projects create more jobs than auto-based initiatives:

5 California cyclists arrested for biking while intoxicated:

Winter Warriors – which type are you?

Skywalker – the 12ft tall bike that comes equiped w/ a ladder:

Skywalker Tallbike

Frostbitten cyclist discovers just how cold Siberia is:

And finally, a classic video from Lucas Brunelle playing on the ice:

Categories: Links, Videos Tags: ,

High School Student Makes Wooden Bicycle

January 8th, 2011 [print] No comments

We’ve all seen bicycles made of wood before, but it’s typically just the frame.  Occasionally, you’ll find some hardcore enthusiasts that even sport wooden handle bars, and wooden wheel rims go back a hundred years; in fact, you can still buy them today.

But what makes this bike stand out is that it’s entirely made of wood.  Even the chain is wood!  Click on through to the article to see high school student, Marco Facciola’s, all-wood bicycle that he completed for a school project.

Marco Facciola - Wooden Bicycle


Categories: Miscellaneous Tags: ,

1-4-11 Links

January 4th, 2011 [print] 1 comment

You’re Welcome Mr. Motorist by James D. Schwartz – The Urban Country

Google Maps Bicycle Layer Cyclelicious

Blog of an Irishman who cycled around the worldGlobal Cycle Ride

I biked to the hospital the day my daughter was born by Susie Weber – Silent Sports

That’s all for now, just wanted to get them out there.

Categories: Links Tags:

Snow Plow Trike

January 2nd, 2011 [print] No comments

I shovel hand by snow.  Although it wears on my back, it’s great exercise, and the cheapest method of removing snow.  But what if there was a way to combine tedious winter work, with something I’d prefer to be doing, like riding my bike?

Craig Smith, of Milwaukee, WI, does just that, with a custom-made trike with snow plow attachment.  He says it only works during lighter snowfall, but even so, it sure beats doing it with a manual shovel.

If you’re looking for something a little simpler, check out the Sno Wovel on Amazon.  It features a handle bar and front wheel, but lacks pedals and derailers.

Snow Plow Trike

Snow Plow Trike

Via via


Categories: Miscellaneous Tags: , , ,

Metric Century & Goodbye 2010

January 1st, 2011 [print] No comments

Click for larger image

2010 was certainly my most memorable year of cycling since I began back in 1998.  All told, I rode a personal record of 4,103.25 miles, 3,580.50 on my singlespeed road bike, and 522.75 on my mountain bike.

I also rode my first century, after a decade of telling myself that this year would be the year that I’d do it… each and every year.  My first was last May, over Memorial Day weekend, on my singlespeed.  Then I backed it up with two more on my MTB, riding on the MKT/Katy trail.  One was impulsive, the other a trip halfway across the state of Missouri.

To wrap up the year–and to make up for a pretty pathetic number of miles over November and December–I rode a somewhat impulsive metric century (100km, or 62mi+), on New Year’s Eve.  My idea was to get up to 4,100mi, just to hit a nice, round number.  But as the ride went on, I convinced myself that I might as well go a little further than the 59.5mi I needed, and do a metric century.  The day began nice, with temps in the low 60s, plenty of sunshine, and a moderate breeze.  Once the sun began to set, however, the temps dropped rapidly, the wind picked up–twice it nearly knocked me off my bike–and I had to struggle to finish.

With about 5 miles left, I was back on my end of town, and decided to stop by my house for a minute to grab a jacket and gloves.  The windchill was 32°, and my hands were so numb, I was having trouble grabbing my brakes.  I didn’t want to end the year by getting smacked by a car at a 4-way stop, so I used better judgment for once and bundled up.  By the end of the ride, my feet were numb and my legs (I was wearing shorts) were bright red, but my upper body was once again able to function.  It made for a great end to the year, so it was definitely worth the effort.

One of my resolutions from last New Year’s was to get started on brazing a steel bike frame, but I never got around to it.  Between work and wanting to ride, I didn’t have much time left as each day passed.  I also didn’t end up racing, but the weather was to blame for that; I was more than prepared, and all pumped up for it when a huge storm rolled in the night before the race, and park officials closed the trails to cyclists.

In 2011, I’m going to make time to work on a frame, even if that means a little less time spent riding.  As much as I love my singlespeed, I know that I can get faster on a geared bike, but I promised myself if I have a geared bike, I’ll be building–not buying–the frame for it.  I’d like to have it done before mid-summer, so we’ll see how that goes.  As for racing, I can take it or leave it.  I really wanted to do it last July, but I’m not particularly wanting to at this time.  Maybe I’ll change my mind when summer hits, but I’m not a very competitive rider.  If it strikes me to race, I’ll race; if not, then I just won’t bother, and I won’t feel bad about it.

I’m also not done with the Katy Trail:  once the weather is warm, my wife has agreed to drive me to the western-most end of the trail, drop me off, and let me find my way home.  It’ll be 120mi+, longer than the trip to St. Charles.

Another of last year’s resolutions was to get out of my city more, since I log most of my miles here.  I hit Jefferson City, St. Charles, and New York City (plus a little on the Jersey side).  I hope to do even more riding in new cities this year, and I already have plans to head back to NYC in the Spring.  Memphis would also be a blast, so I’ll see if I can work that in.

I wouldn’t mind beating my mileage record, but I really think quality counts over quantity, so that’ll be my focus for 2011.

Categories: Cycling Tags:

Downhill MTB Race in Brazilian Slums

December 24th, 2010 [print] No comments

Downhill racing typically consists of flying down the sides of mountains, but what if you were to take it inside a tightly space city area instead?

Legendary mountain biker brothers Dan and Gee Atherton go for a ride through the Dona Marta slum in Brazil. The course was designed and built for the unprecedented Red Bull Desafio no Morro race.

Via YouTube

Categories: Videos Tags: , , ,