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Archive for the 'Working on bikes' Category

“New” bike!

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I have a “new” bike. My old commuter, which was a GT Timberline from 1994 or so, finally reached the point where it could no longer be repaired. I had been watching various possible bicycle acquisition channels for some time, and finally found something suitable, a Miyata Street Runner, sort of early hybrid, apparently from 1984 or so. I picked it up for just $40 from someone on Craiglist. Sorry about the sub-par photos, but I really wanted to snap a few shots of the bike in the living room, after I finished working on it. I’ll take some better photos soon. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it has a nice, lugged CrMo frame.

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After I bought it, and rode it a few miles, I confirmed that the frame was solid, but the components were really showing their age. I intended to try to see if I could swap some parts over from my old commuter, but I quickly realized I would be in over my head, if I tried that. So I took both bikes to a local shop and had them do it. After hearing how much trouble they had with it, I was glad I hadn’t attempted it myself. I felt they didn’t do a great job with the rack and fenders, so I tweaked them a bit myself. They’re still not perfect, but they are much improved.

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I intend to take the knobby tires off soon and replace them with some slick tires, at least until we get some snow or ice.

So far, I’ve only taken the bike for one shakedown ride, but my first impression is that it’s a lot of fun to ride. It’s a bit more upright than I’m used to, and it feels a like driving a truck. A truck that likes to go surprisingly fast, given its age and weight.

It also looks like a bike that could survive the apocalypse. I’m hoping I won’t have to find out about that, but if that should happen, now I’m prepared!

I think I’ll call this bicycle The Beast.

Cracked Velo-Orange Fender

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

I’m still sick. No more rides to report.

But I wanted to revisit my fender problems. My front fender developed a crack on my ride to Tunkhannock, during a bumpy chipseal descent. These are Velo Orange 48mm fluted aluminum fenders that I bought in mid-August of last year and have about 2000 miles on them. The crack is where the fender attaches to the L bracket that joins it to the fork crown. Here are some photos of the damage.

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Whenever a piece of gear fails, it makes me think: was this a defective sample? Did I install it wrong or otherwise abuse it? Or is it an inferior product?

In this case, I honestly don’t know. I installed the fenders with leather washers, although I realized when I removed the fender that I did not put leather washers on the underside of the two bolts above — only on the top of the fender, by the bracket. I do a lot of riding on gravel roads and a bit of trail riding on this bike, so maybe the fenders have sustained more vibration than normal. But I don’t think I used them in ways they weren’t intended to be used. I sent an e-mail to VO to see if they have any thoughts, and to find out if they are under warranty.

My experience with these fenders has been mixed. They look fantastic, but I found them very difficult and time-consuming to install. I justified it by telling myself that they would last for many years. Now, even if VO replaces the front fender (which I doubt), I have lost a lot of confidence in them. I think aluminum may just be too brittle for this application.

I’ve also noticed that my fenders show a lot of wear. I’m not someone who babies his bicycle. I ride on all kinds of surfaces, I lean my bike on the ground, or up against things, without thinking about it too much. And I sometimes carry my bicycle on a trunk rack on my car. All these things can cause some wear on a bicycle, and that includes the fenders.

Fortunately, I don’t care if my bicycle looks pristine. However, this fender looks beat up enough for me to think that maybe they’re not rugged enough for my needs. Looking at the photo below, man, that left stay is bent.

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I’ll see what the folks at VO say, but I assume this damange won’t be covered under a warranty. I plan on getting some Planet Bike Cascadia or SKS P* fenders instead. I have SKSes on my old mountain bike-turned-commuter, and I’ve had a great experience with them. And I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Cascadias as well. I’m leaning toward them, mostly since they have built-in mud flaps.

Tire Pressure

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I’ve been experimenting with tire pressure lately. I still have the stock tires on my LHT, nice and wide 700x37C Continental Contact tires, with a slight tread on them. They work well: great puncture protection, and good traction on paved/gravel/dirt roads, and light trails. But they’re heavy and I’ve always thought they have a bit of a harsh ride.

The recommended max tire pressure for these tires is 85 psi. I’ve been running them at about 75 psi on the front tire, and 80 on the rear, since I got them — without giving it much thought. However, I’ve recently been thinking more about tire pressure, and I felt like I was running them too hard. So I tried a couple rides at around 65 psi in the front, and 70 in the rear. This made the Trucker’s ride even smoother, and improved my traction — but the tires were still firm enough that I didn’t have to worry about pinch flats.

Checking the late, great Sheldon Brown’s site, I see that he has a table of recommended tire pressures. It’s as follows (as seen on this page).

Wheel load 50 mm 37 mm 32 mm 28 mm 25 mm 23 mm 20 mm
100 lbs/50 kg 45 60 75 100 110 120 130
70 lbs/35 kg 35 50 65 80 90 100 110

I think I can comfortably take the front tire down to about 60 psi, and this should yield an even smoother ride. When it comes time to replace these tires, I’ll probably go with something more supple — possibly Panaracer Paselas — but I’m really pleased with how much better the bike feels simply by lowering the tire pressure.

What tire model/width/pressure do you use? Have you experimented with different tire pressures?

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