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Archive for the 'Working on bikes' Category

The LHT gets some TLC

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I didn’t ride much last week, as I was sick. However, I did find some time to work on the Trucker a bit. It needed a good, thorough cleaning, and the handlebar tape was wearing out. Last time, I cleaned the bike with Simple Green, and it worked well, but this time I used regular Dawn dish soap. I think the Dawn worked even better.

Nearly every time I work on my bike, I mess something up. This time, I lost some parts when I took the chain off to clean it. I thought I had only lost part of the master link, but it turns out I lost a few other parts as well. I looked for them for quite a while in the yard, but could not find them. Unfortunately, I had to buy a new chain. The old one only had about 1900 miles on it. What a waste! Well, now I know to be more careful next time, and I know what pieces to watch for.

When I went to buy new handlebar tape, I decided to try something different. I liked the Cinelli natural cork tape I had before, but it’s expensive and the shops I checked didn’t have it anyway. I settled on a roll of RavX red cork/gel tape. In the box, it looked like a deepish red. I had a harder time wrapping the bars than usual. I think this tape is thicker and a little softer and it doesn’t stay in place quite as well.

Once I had the tape on the bars, it appeared much brighter shade of red than I thought.


No worries, I planned to finish the job with some twine and shellac anyway. I had to finish both ends with twine; with barend shifters, you can’t put the tape in the ends of the bars, and it kept unraveling. The twine holds it in place nicely. A few layers of amber shellac helped the color a bit. It’s still not quite the deep red I had in mind, but it’s growing on me.

Even though I had more difficulty than usual, I enjoyed changing the handlebar tape. It’s a relatively simple and inexpensive task, but it significantly changes the look and feel of the bike.



I’m fairly happy with how the bars turned out. What do you think?

Winter mountain biking setup

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Since I’ve done a few snowy rides recently, on very different trails from where I rode back in Indiana, I’ve noticed some serious shortcomings in the way my mountain bike is set up. Here are the problems I’m experiencing, and what I plan to do about them. Of course, now that I’m getting laid off, anything that costs money is going to have to wait.

Poor traction

I already replaced the Kenda Blue Groove I had on my front wheel with a Panaracer Fire XC Pro, on the advice of my closest bike shop, Main Bike World. I’ve only done one ride on the new tire so far, but it worked very well. Now, I’ve noticed the rear Kenda Nevegal isn’t gripping too well. It’s fairly worn anyway.

Possible solutions: Get another Fire XC Pro (2.1″ wide) to put on the rear wheel. Or, get a Fire FR (2.4″ wide) for the front, and move the 2.1″ tire to the rear wheel. I’m leaning toward getting the wider tire for the front; I haven’t needed it yet but once the snow gets deeper, I think I will need it.

Clipless pedal problems

My Shimano SPD cleats are always getting leaves, mud, snow, and ice stuck in them, often to the point where I can’t clip in at all, or I randomly come unclipped. It’s infuriating. I am constantly having to bang my shoes on the pedals to try to get anything caught in the shoes to fall out. It’s especially bad when I have to push my bike for a while; when I try to get back on the bike, my shoes are clogged.

Cold feet – even with shoe covers, my feet get cold.

Possible solution: Put platform pedals on my mountain bike. I switched to platforms on the road when I got the Trucker, and I love the ability to wear any shoes I want. I’ve been sticking with clipless pedals on the mountain bike, and prefer them in general. For winter, going with platforms would allow me to wear my hiking boots, which keep my feet warmer and won’t get so clogged with snow and ice. Bonus: I have an extra pair of platform pedals laying around.

I am not good with a wrench

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I made some changes to the Long Haul Trucker, or at least I attempted to do so. I ordered some different handlebars (Nitto Noodles) and some fenders from Velo Orange. I ordered the VO Fluted Fenders, more because they’re the right width than because I wanted the fluted style, but they do look great.

In the process of attempting to install them, I broke a piece that is supposed to hold on the rear fender. These things are incredibly difficult to install. I’ve spent several hours on them already and was almost done when I broke that piece; now, I have to wait for a replacement. Chris, the proprietor, has been helpful with my e-mail questions though and is sending me a replacement bolt at no charge, I think.

I had less trouble installing the handlebars, although I did somehow screw up my shifting in the process (which I hope I’ve solved now, we’ll see) and did a pretty poor job installing new handlebar tape on the right side. I’ll probably undo it completely and try again. I also plan on some twine and shellac but given how badly I did the wrapping, I’m glad I didn’t do that yet. I also moved my computer from the road bike to the Trucker. Once the replacement fender bolt comes, I can install the rear fender and then the rear rack and this bike will be a lot closer to the kind of setup I’m shooting for.

I didn’t get a lot of riding in over the weekend. I was hoping to do a nice long ride but it was just too hot, so I did shorter rides both days. My shifting was messed up so I switched to friction mode. It’s great to have that option.

Shilo Ride on Saturday

I had heard they finished repaving Shilo Road, so I figured I ought to check it out. I actually liked how rough Shilo was; it made it fun and challenging to ride. I hoped they hadn’t ruined it.

It was so hot and humid that there was a pervasive haze everywhere I went. This added interest to the scenery and the sky, but mostly I just boiled.

New fender

I saw a lot of wildflowers, but things are looking rather parched. We had flooding this spring, but it really hasn’t rained much since. There are lots of golden and brown plants. It’s both pretty to look at and a bit sad.

The sky

Wildflowers and brown corn

Great fence

This section used to be riddled with potholes

My bicycle

I can’t believe how smooth the road is now

As I rode my fears were confirmed: Shilo is nowhere near as fun to ride on as it used to be. It’s a smooth, easy ride now, but the challenge is gone. I still enjoy it, but I liked it better when I had to dodge potholes.

The Trucker by Shiloh Cemetery

Another view

Some spots of light penetrate the canopy

The flats on the Nitto Noodle bars sweep back a bit, for comfortable upright riding. It looks funny but feels great.

Hills in the distance



I really like the Nitto Noodle handlebars so far. They are wider than the ones that came with the bike, and sweep back toward you slightly. I find it a lot more comfortable to sit upright with my hands on the top of the bars, with these. The ramps are nearly flat which makes riding there or on the hoods more comfortable, as well. I also love the look of the Cinelli Corky tape. I think it’ll look even better with a couple of layers of amber shellac, and some twine.

The fender seems good, but the front end tends to vibrate a lot. I wonder if there’s something I can do about that. It doesn’t rattle, it just shakes back and forth. Hopefully, I can find something to stabilize it.

It feels good to make the Trucker feel more like my own. It was great straight off the sales floor, but as I customize it, I can see that I can turn this into something even better. It’s such a versatile bike that you could do just about anything with it, and unlike my road bike, I can see having this bike for years to come.

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