Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cargo bike conversion?

   I love my cargo bike, as you probably realized from my many posts about it. So, when I say a conversion kit for a cargo bike, I was doubly interested!
   The guys over at LIFT have made a conversion kit that can take a normal bike and make it a cargo bike! "A BETTER CARGO BIKE" according to them. The kit works by accepting your fork like the Apollo Module accepting the LEM. Just throw your front wheel in the trash, because you have a cargo bike now!

LIFT in action

    Look at this happy family! This can be you!

Go family, go!

   The simple, rigged construction of this thing is confidence inspiring, and the larger front wheel will provide stability and good handling.

The Good!
- Cost: at $900, it is a cheap alternative to a $3k+ purpose built cargo bike
- Give life to that old hard tail!
- All the other benefits of a cargo bike

The Not so Good:
- It is hella long, due to the rake of the fork
- Rigidity is bound to be compromised as there are fastener connections rather than welds.

   Here's a handy graphic form the KickStarter page:

Helpful Graphic

   What if you want to full on cargo and pair this with an Xracycle? And have the longest bike on the block? Check this out (also mad PhotoShop skills):

The Future.

   Turning radius of the Exon Valdez. I won't be trading my Bullitt in any time soon, but it would sure be neat to see more cargo bike on the trails. Check out a more in depth review on BikeRumor here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

What the Hell is Boost?

   You may have ben hearing of a new trend in mountain bike standards called 'Boost'. What is boost?


   Boost is a new standard of hub spacing. Time for a history lesson:


   Originally, Mountain bikes had 130mm rear hub spacing and a 9mm axle. This was for 7 speed set ups. Upsetting the norm (and a lot of cyclists), manufacturers started using 135mm hub spacing, still with a 9mm axle, which provided a wider and more stable platform for rear wheels. In 2011, we started seeing a new trend spread across the industry: 142mm. This was a 12mm thru axle that could be quickly removed for wheel changes. Different bike companies have different axles, but they all work pretty similar. These are the two common standards - there are a few others out there, but most bike manufacturers are sticking to these.

124mm x 12mm axle

   Boost is a hub standard that increases the spacing of not only the rear, but the front as well:
  • 142mm becomes 148mm (rear) on a 15mm axle
  • 100mm becomes 110mm (front) on a 12mm axle
   In the rear, Boost pushes the hub flanges 3mm outward on each side  to increase the angle your  spokes lean in and therefore increase wheel stiffness. A wider hub is a wider platform to support your rim.

Boost hub

   We have 29ers to thank for this new standard, for a couple reasons:
1. The larger the wheel, the less stiff it is, so large 29" wheels are less stable than a 27.5" or a 26". Boost 148mm is supposed to bring 142mm 27.5" stiffness to a 29" wheel.
2. Stuffing a 29" wheel on an XS frame has always presented a challenge, and wider chain and seat stays make things a bit easier (but you should really be on a 27.5"...).
All of this will add up to give you God-like handling abilities.

Boost on a Trek Remedy

   As pointed out on Art's Celery Blog, there is a fundamental difference between 135/142 and 148: The actual hub spacing of 142 was the same as 135. The extra mm's were frame thickness. This meant you can easily adapt wheels back and forth with a simple axle caps, like the many, many offered by Stan's. The new 148 requires you to take much more dramatic steps, as pointed out in this article about un-boosting your bike using interchangeable dropouts and witchcraft.

   Companies like ENVE are all about it, praising the stiffer, more efficient wheel they can sell you. Other manufacturers are not turning their backs on the current standard so quickly. If you're running 142mm you'll still be able to find wheels to fit your rig for at least as long as it lasts before you are forced to buy something new. Then, maybe Boost will be a good option.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday WTF: True Sandbagger

Thanks to Jamie who was riding the Mount Evans Hill Climb for spotting and photographing this one:

Origin of the meaning?


Monday, June 20, 2016

DIY chain tensioners

   Keeping your chain tight is the cassette is paramount to smooth running drive train. "Tighter is righter."  For a bike with vertical dropouts, the best way to keep your chain taught is with a chain tensioner. A standard chain tensioner looks like this:

Old reliable

   In the absence of a normal tensioner, cyclists have had to create something to keep things moving forward with whatever is laying around. Lets start at the top and work our way to the most... creative.

1. This is a simple hack that uses the quick release axle as a mounting point. probably needs to be adjusted a lot since gravity is working against you. And you better have your skewer tight! Score: 6/10

Tensioner #1

2. This is interesting because it mounts on the inside of the frame. Same issues as above but it looks a little cleaner. Score: 7/10

Tensioner #2

3. Good 'ol yankee ingenuity! This is an open ended wrench re-purposed into a tensioner. The open end of the wrench is bolted to the derailleur hanger, so probably needs to be very tight. Score: 7/10

Tensioner #3

4 & 5. The next two are more like chain guides than a standard tensioner. But they do keep the chain on, and they are hack-tastic. One is metal pipe hanging tape and the other is a short piece of garden hose, an extra point for simplicity. Combined Score: 8/10

Guide #4

Guide #5

6. Next come the chainstay mounted tensioners. These are mounted under the frame and can be used with or without a derailleur. This one looks pretty professional, minus the zip ties. Score: 7/10

Tensioner #6

7. We are getting away from civilization. This is a clamp and some bent metal. Than bent metal probably provides a little springy-ness to keep the chain tight, even if unintentionally. I do appreciate the rubber on the clamp to maintain the integrity of that bike (sarcasm).  Score: 6/♧

Tensioner #7

8. What problem can't be solved with a trip to the silverware drawer? Score: ♫/10  

Tensioner #8

9. Last, but certainly not least creative, this is an example of necessity being the mother or invention. Another testament to the structural power of dict tape. And they left the remains of the derailleur on there as a message to the other parts as to what happens to quitters. Score:  ♲/

Tensioner #9

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday WTF: Beer Carrying

What a week ! Here are some clever ways to carry beer to take your mind off the heat:

Front rack

Rear rack

Top tube 6 pack holder

Growler cage

Bullitt bucket 'o beer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Where Have I Been!? Vacationing!

   We have been in sunny Grand Junction visiting the grandparents, and in Glenwood Springs relaxing at a pool. Activities included:

Boat rides!

Pig rides!

Gondola rides!

Eating ice cream!

Sharing ice cream!


   Regular, boring bike related posts to resume tomorrow! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Making the Commuter a 1X

   The Haanjo commuter has been a great bike. It gets me to and from work in efficient style. One of the only changes I've been considering is simplifying the gearing. Right now it is a 36/46 in the front and a 11/29 cassette. There is a lot of gear overlap with that set up, and I'd like to simplify things by changing to a single chainring in the front. I set up a spreadsheet to explore the possibilities and be sure I didn't short myself on gears. 

Gearing possibilities

   In addition to the high and low gears, I was curious about overlap, so I set up a list of every gear possibility. You can see here that there is a lot of overlap between the 36/46, with more than half the gearing options duplicated. The new set up give me less top end speed, but identical climbing flexibility while reduce gearing redundancy. 

All gearing possibilities

   I fretted over a 40t vs a 42t chainring, so I rode around in the comparable gear with my existing set up and tried to get a feel for it. I like the 42 because it keeps the climbing gear the same, but still gives me a decent top speed. 

The Parts! I sourced everything from Ebay for this build:

1. Chainring: I found this super cool looking Kingstar 110 BCD chainring. Cost: $24

No narrow wide :(

2. Cassette: The Pro's Closet had this great XT cassette just waiting for me to come pick it up. Cost: $13

11/34 Cassette

3. Chainring bolts: I'm an adult now and there's no cutting down long bolts. I splurged and got myself some ready made single speed bolts. Cost: $7

Single speed chainring bolts

   Here are all the parts laid out:

Not too bad

   The whole swap was a pretty standard affair:

1. Freewheel swap
2. Chainrings off
3. Break chain
4. Derailleur off
5. Chainring on
6. Fix chain
7. Shifter/cables off
8. Adjust and test ride

All done!

   One thing I hadn't counted on was clearance on the inner chainring position. Since I was going from a 36 to a 42, I should have been conscious about this gap. Luckily, things worked out.

Chainstay clearance

   So I saved a modest amount of weight, simplified things a bit, gained some handlebar real estate and had a fun time doing it!