Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Shall Bikes Be Named?

What are the best names for a bike?  A number, like Trek "800"?  An animal, like the Trek "Antelope"? After a member of the "Three's Company" cast, like Raleigh's new "Furley"? Or after a soothing drink, like the bike below?  Yes, "Coffee" ain't so bad for a bike name. After all, it might be the reason many of us hop in the saddle to go for a ride.

Certainly you, dear readers, have ideas for bike names. After your favorite aunt? Historical epoch? Submit your responses!

I Name You....COFFEE    [Washington DC]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Freewheel Hub + Freehub = Frustration

How many of you know the difference between a free hub wheel and a freewheel hub?  I didn't until yesterday when I finally had a chance to dismantle my warped wheel and install its cassette to my newly ordered wheel. Alas, here are the confounding details:
Freehub Wheel (what my cassette fits on)

Freewheel Hub (what I ordered anew, arrhh!)

More detailed schematics of these two types are available at Wikipedia. Unfortunately, my former lack of knowledge left me with the wrong wheel. Further investigation also taught me that I am likely to need spacers to properly fit my old 7-speed cassette to a new hub because the latter are generally designed for cassettes with 8-10 gears. Those of us who are satisfied with merely 7 gears will need to cope/adapt. Anyway, this additional wrinkle made it likely (to me, at least) that additional online shopping for spacers could lead to more error in parts selection. Therefore, this morning I opted for the bike shop, where my Trek sits being repaired in a well-stocked shop.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stand and Chain Whip Ready

In anticipation of, and preparation for, my forthcoming bike repair, I've made a bicycle stand and chain whip. The stand is atypical because it's not really a stand but a hook of sorts. Unlike pricier professional models that rest on the floor, my hooks are simply an assembly of two 2x3"s bolted to my garage shelf. Their notches hold the bike's crossbar.
Planning always helps!

My Trek held steadily in place!

As for the chain whip, I found pointers from QBike editor David Alyea. I am not certain about the importance, function or parameters for the small loop of chain that is found on all chain whips, but any adjustment is easy to make.

Now I'm just waiting for one more part before making the repair...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's As Smooth as a Well Tuned Bike?

Or perhaps even smoother?  It's Milt Jackson, folks.  So, if you're not on your bike right now (or you are fixing it, like me), and want to put yourself in the groove you get when you're rolling along the road, take a listen to this beautiful sweetness from 1956:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Incremental Bike Knowledge

I am decided to fix my rear bike wheel on my own.  The shop says, unsurprisingly, it is kaput. I was going to have them do the work but instead ordered a new rear wheel and "Park Tool FR-5G Cassette Lockring Tool with Guide Pin" from Amazon. As for the necessary "chain whip" tool I believe I can fashion my own without much trouble. After all, I have a workshop AND a garage (with a radio in each) and many tools and materials, AND an inkling to hack and create.  Why should I have someone else fix the bike? Well, OK, because a bike mechanic will fix it right the first time. But replacing an old wheel and re-installing the cassette doesn't seem to be too much trouble (unless I've been misled by YouTube), so I am forging onward. In doing the work myself, the cost savings is minimal, but I'm putting growth of my bike knowledge ahead of fiscal calculus.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Slam Warp!

On many Sunday mornings I look forward to my short jaunt to the Hess Station for a copy of the Sunday Times. The ride is shy of one mile. This morning, as I turned into the station and leaned into my final turn, my rear wheel suddenly slipped from underneath me. My right foot immediately went to the ground to prevent a fall. Somehow the rear wheel came off the ground (perhaps because I pivoted the bike off my foot) and then slammed back onto it. I recovered without falling, and rolled another 20 feet to park and buy the paper. When I returned to the bike and walked it a few feet from the wall I usually lean it on, I noticed the rear wheel scraping the brakes. Then I noticed loose spokes! And then the worst: my rear wheel is completely warped! Alas, I don't believe it can be trued and a new wheel is going to be necessary. With 20 years of spinning round, and carrying me so many places, I believe it doesn't owe me anything...

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's Missing

Readers, take a look at the photo below:

What is missing? Do you know? For most Earthlings, it's no surprise that what is missing isn't known, because they drive their cars, insulated from the elements. Today's elements include a touch of rain -- that's a clue. Know what's missing now? Or have you not commuted enough in the elements? In them, as in commuting not sheltered from them. When you are exposed,  the cool moisture on a rainy Fall morning is available to the senses. As is the slick sound of tires pushing and skimming through a film of water on the road, and the gray horizon threatening rain on the return ride. These are more clues about what's missing. For the cyclists, I might have provided enough information. Here's another clue: it's in the trunk of my wife's Civic! What's missing in this photo? Might it be useful for the impending wintry mix as well?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Starting Hill

It is not always the most pleasant way to start a morning commute, nonetheless, I've got about a one-quarter mile, 6-8% grade at the very start of my ride! Good for the legs!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Borough Bike

I had to grab a prescription at CVS this afternoon (via car, unfortunately), and because I cycle around town, I know off-map spots to park the minivan and thus avoid rush-hour intersections. This cyclist (yes, the cyclist is represented by the bike; they are one) seems to know them too, as I saw her bicycle locked behind the CVS. However, why not lock up better?  Why not fully employ the 6-foot lock? Instead it is neglected, carelessly looped around only one part of the frame. Why not lock the wheels with your fine cable, and ample railing? Was it the gloomy weather that had you rushing from your bike?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Shorts in November

Yesterday proved to be a counterfactual to my earlier post, in which I claimed my last day commuting in shorts. My failed weather-clothing prediction is no bother, however, as we cyclists never complain about riding in upper 60s temperatures.  

My commute takes me along this section of the Pike each time, where I've got at least four feet of berm to separate me from traffic:
3700 Block of Carlisle Pike
Ideally this  space would be converted into a bike lane. Simple pavement stickers and some signage would be (I hope) sufficient encouragement to get more cyclists on this route. Is it insufficient political push that hinders such progress? The route passes our state senator's office. Perhaps all cyclists ought to drop by her office and make their case, one by one, as they pass by.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Greenwich Cyclist at Night

I just learned that a friend was injured on his motorbike while commuting in the thick of London traffic. Ee gads! The news sent me perusing our London photos, shot during our January travels there. One evening we all walked up a long hill in Greenwich to its famous observatory. It was very dark, yet cyclists persisted to pedal up the winding, misty road that leads to the prime meridian. Here are their wheels in motion, visible in a long exposure...

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I get all the news I need from the weather report...although not yesterday.  

Yesterday morning's weather report presented a rather gentle descriptor: "breezy." I'm not sure if this was intended as a meteorologist's euphemism or whether it was another miscalculation. "Windy" would have been a more accurate adjective, although even this latter term would belie the very strong gusts that made my ride in a tough one. The gusts even prevented me from accelerating on downhill stretches.  None of this wind caused any real problem for me, except when my preference to move quickly across major intersections was undermined by gusts. In this case, as soon as I pedaled into the crossing of 21st Street and the Bypass I had to fight the biggest crosswinds of the trip. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

More Expo Photos

The neat thing about bike shows is the variety and creativity you find in bike designs. This rather impractical model has a fantastic stick shift coming off of the rear hub (click to enlarge). Its maker was a very laid back gentlemen from New Jersey who felt comfortable vocalizing, rather loudly, his wares. I can't see riding this bike too far, especially because of its low, low profile. The bike parts boxes are always interesting visually, although to date I have never incorporated old parts into my bike.