Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tech-y Post: Replacing a Spoke

This is a long one, so bear with me! While mountain biking this past weekend, I broke a spoke. This can happen as a rim slowly gets out of true and puts more tension on a part of the wheel than another, or by an awkward impact. They can break near the hub or the rim, but usually don't break in the middle. When this happens mid-ride, it's best either remove it (if you can) or twist it around a neighboring spoke to keep it from becoming entangled in the drive train. 

Here's how to replace a spoke on a back wheel on the drive side of a geared bike. 

Step 1: Since the spoke is on the drive side, the cassette will have to come off in order to get at the spoke. On the front wheel, you wouldn't have to remove the cassette (...). There are many kinds of cassette removal tool for the different kinds of cassette. The one we need looks like this:

Cassette removal tool for a Shimano Cassette 

Since the freewheel naturally spins to the left, when you take it apart you have to keep the cassette from also spinning. This is easiest done with a chain whip (the blue tool on the right). If you try to use your hand or a rag you will end up using the rag to stop the bleeding on your hand.

Chain whip and cassette tool on the wheel

Step 2: Once the lockring is loose, you can un-thread it with your fingers. After it's out, the cassette will slide right off the free hub body. You can see that the outside free hub body is splined, and the pattern matches the inside of the cassette. This pattern only allows you to put the cassette on one way, so the shifting works smoothly.

 Pulling the cassette off

Step 3: With the cassette removed, we can easily slide the spoke out and the new spoke in. A word on spoke length: it's important that the old spoke and new spoke have the same length. Too short and the threads on the spoke won't reach; too long and it can go all the way through the spoke and puncture your tube.

Removing the spoke

Step 4: Take the tire and tube off and peel back the rim tape and you can see the top of the spoke. 

Pulling the rim tape back

In this case, the end of the spoke had broken off in the end of the nipple (top) and needed replacing along with the spoke.

Nipples, old vs. new

Drop the new nipple in the rim and thread it onto the new spoke. The top of the nipple is slotted to fit a flat head screwdriver, which makes getting the threads started much easier. Don't forget to replace the rim tape.

Step 5: Use a spoke tool to tension the spoke and true the wheel. The wheel will probably be a little out of true after losing a spoke. Use a spoke tool to tighten and loosen the spokes until the rim is true and properly tensioned.

Using a spoke tool

Step 6: Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly. When tightening the cassette a chain whip is not necessary as the freewheel is working with you by against you. Note: be sure you have the directional tires going the correct direction!

Sometimes, after truing a wheel and riding, it will settle and some minor adjustments will need to be made.  Piece of cake! Now, reward yourself with a beer!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Biking to the Bike Park

I had a bit of a dilemma recently where my financier had the truck and I wanted to go to the bike park. It's a bit of a haul to ride the 20" all the way out there. I'd talked about carrying it on my back while riding another bike with a friend, and suddenly that became a necessity. Here's how it worked:

The set up

Bungee corded the bars and cranks in place, and then strapped the whole thing to my back pack. She got back right as I was leaving, and snapped this picture (then restrained the dog):

Vicious Max approves

It worked out great, just have to be careful that I don't go through anywhere to narrow!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spot Ride Report

Had a chance to take the Spot out for a ride this weekend and here's the ride report:

Spring Creek Loop

Overall I'm very happy with this bike! It handles like I expected a 29er to - little sloppy in the tight stuff; smooth and stable over bumps and a solid climber. The bottom bracket must be farther forward, or the top tube is short, because I felt farther forward than I'm used to when standing up. 

  • The bike climbs very well
  • When sitting, it has great, comfortable geometry
  • Power transfer feels solid and efficient
  • SRAM x-9 derailleur shifts very crisply
  • Dura tires are really great; the round profile makes cornering easy and tight tread pattern makes rolling resistance lee-low
  • about 2-1/2 pounds lighter than my Motobecane
  • I felt a little too far forward on the downhills when standing
  • 29" wheels are still a lot to muscle around in the tight stuff and felt flexy
  • Chain guide isn't infallible. Proper chain length is as important as the guide
Unrelated ride notes:
broke a spoke
lost my vest
ran out of water

All in all, a pretty good ride! I'm really looking forward to putting some more miles on this bike!

Final rating: 4.5 apples out a possible 5

Monday, March 26, 2012

WTF Trials Bike of the Day

Spotted this home made wonder at the Valmont Bike Park the other day. The guy said that it's his third 'garage bike'. With square tubing, there's no need for any fancy jig, he used clamps for welding. He also said he ordered the head tube and bottom bracket shell, since they had to be machined precisely, and just made the rest out of stock steel.

Looooow top tube!

Some nice Magura HS33 brakes

It's not pretty, but apparently rides like a trials bike ought to: stiff. The owner was a little older, I'd say pushing 50.  And according to him, "Now all I have to do is learn to ride it properly." I hope when I'm that old I'm building crazy bikes and learning to ride them!

Friday, March 23, 2012

New GS Boulder Kits

Quick post - Got our kits last night from our new cycling team GS Boulder! Very exciting, here's Max sporting the slick vest:

Lookin' sharp

I've only really ridden Hincapie and Pearl Izumi in the past, and this gear is Pactimo. They are very comfortable for siting on the couch drinking gin, tomorrow we'll see how they are on the road...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Replacing the Motobecane

Last year I got a screaming deal on this Motobecane Outcast 29er single speed on eBay. This bike was a great way to dip my toe in the 29er waters. Over the last year I've been was slowly upgrading the parts to a semi-respectable ride:

 Motobecane Outcast 29er

I have ridden the thing pretty hard, including the Colorado trail trip last fall. It came with a couple parts that needed replacing, such as the terrible Rock Shox Dart 3 fork, and heavy, however strong, wheel set. It also has a real old XT 8 speed group from my Dad's cruiser. I have been pleased with it, but always on the lookout for a nicer frame. Recently, that frame came to me!

 Spot Longboard 9 

The beauty is that it came with components but needs a fork and a wheel set, which is what was upgraded on the Motobecane. And since I am a pack rat and kept the original parts to the Motobecane, I am able to rebuild it and someone else can shred on it.  Here have a pointless graphic:
I wish I were really organized enough even to have a box that says "old Parts"

Weight wasn't a reason to build this bike up, but here are the numbers:
Motobecane orig build: 28.8
Motobecane upgraded build: 27.5
Spot: 26.5

 Making progress...

And the final result:

 All finished!

I am really pleased with how this bike turned out. The white, creme and baby blue look nice together. What's left is minor tweaking, tightening and adjusting. Keep an eye out for a first ride report and anyone looking for an entry level 29er, give me a shout!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New bike rack review

Our old bike rack was the kind that your bike hung from by the top tube. For a while I've ben unhappy with how this style can wear on your bike, two bikes can bang into one another and bikes with shocks in the main triangle need to be mounted creatively. 

'Ol scratchy

   In addition, several of our bikes have the cables routed under the top tube and this rack caused the cable to rub the frame. Lots of reasons to look for something new...

Fast forward to two weeks ago!

   Natalie found a used Thule T2 on Craigslist that we were able to pick up for a good price, as well be able to keep the bikes much safer. Worth a couple hudred bucks? Yes!

Closed up like a clam

Closed up it takes up very little room and doesn't make any noise or anything. It folds down easily for loading, and even over-opens so you can tilt it outward and get in the back without unloading the bikes.

Open wide!

Bikes are held by the front tire, which is harmless to them. The tire grabber has a locking mechanism even, which wouldn't suffice for overnight storage, but is fine for short stays. 

Final rating: 4 apples out of a possible 5

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bean bag Toss Game Boards

This last St Patrick's day our friends had a BBQ and party, and we decided to bring over the bean bag toss game. But before doing that, we had to make the bean bag toss game. I failed to get many pictures of the process, but here's the final:

Custom paint job

They have some hinged legs so that they are the proper height for playing, but also fold up for storage. 

In action

If you look close, you can see the blue bag in the air at the upper left of the picture. All in all they turned out great and should be hours of fun this summer. Now, someone throw another party!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New life into the Miele

Had a nice bike land in my lap a few months ago, with the only instructions to give it to someone who would ride it. Apparently Miele is a French-Canadian company that specialized in Italian style race bikes until cheaper imports drove them out of business. Luckily, this one made it's way to my garage:

 Original build

Mason and I had to take turns trying to get the tire off the front wheel. It was the worst!

Terrible tires!

2 tire tools down

Finished and only broke 2 tire levers! This bike has an interesting set up - a flat bar road bike. This is becoming more commonly known as a Hybrid bike. Great for tooling around town and commuting. Now that the tires are fresh, seat raised and brakes adjusted, this thing is ready to fly!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Target Gets On Board The 29er Craze

   Spotted this at Target last night getting some new pantaloons. I was a bit surprised to see such a bike at a box store. I guess 29er is no longer the new and cool thing to ride.

Free expert* assembly  (*not actually expert)

Sound advice

   For those of you with less than perfect vision, it says, "Recommended for riders 5'2 and above". Sound advice.
    Writers and forums and magazines go back and forth all the time about shorter riders and 29" wheels. Companies are making a lot of options these days for bikes that have 29" wheels and still fit shorter riders both male and female. Now that 29ers are old hat, time to move to the next craze:

The mighty 36er!

Bring it on, Target.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stazio Crit

This Sunday out at the Stazio softball fields the CU Cycling team hosted the Stazio Criterium. This was a fun, fast course featuring some frech asphalt even! There was a short climb on the North side, followed by a long, fast descent on the East and South sides. It was, however, longer course than the North Boulder Crit in the summer, and less exciting for that reason.
   A group of four got an early break away and kept for the rest of the race. By the end they were about a minute ahead of everyone else.

The lead out 

The pack

The course

All in all, it was a fun event. There was a good showing by CSU, Mines and DU. Props to CU's cycling team for putting on a successful event!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Catastrophic curb impact

Let me paint you a picture... a picture with words and also a picture. I'm riding along in the Denver Cruiser ride last summer, and hear this pretty big impact followed by air escaping and a lot swearing...

Curb, meet wheel

Went back to check it out and it was a guy who'd tried to get up a curb by just lifting his front wheel... except it a sharp curb and he was moving really fast when it happened. I think with a truing stand and a spoke wrench... yeah, we can get that out just fine. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Retro brake of the day

These are called roller cam brakes, and they saw their height of popularity in the 80's. They work on a pretty slick system!

Spotted on pearl

Sexy Animation

These brakes have a low profile, which was a nice change from a cantilever brake, but also made wheel removal problematic. (read: impossible) They weren't mounted on the same posts either, meaning that you were kind of stuck with them. All things considered, with the advent of the V Brake a few years later, the popularity of the Roller Cam brake was cut tragically short.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daily WTF

Spotted this ride outside BSR in North Boulder. The frame has what looks like cardboard, but is actually a steel plate welded in the front triangle that was cut to say some team name. The guy took a lot of care to weld it all the way around and then grind it down so it was super smooth. Even left a place to grab the top tube through! 

The next wave in cycling style?

Probably be a nightmare with the 40+ mph winds we've been having though!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sexy trials gif of the day

That's a level of control we'd all like to have! What's funny to me is the gif is called, "trial_bike_vs_boob".

Bam! Second base.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pro Cycling Challenge to come through Boulder!

Exciting news from the folks at the Pro Cycling Challenge. On August 25, the 6th stage this year of going to come through and then end in Boulder, Colorado! VeloNews posted this great article about it on their site. The course goes like this:

  • Starts in Golden
  • Rides across Highway 93 to Boulder
  • Come through Boulder and turn West up Canyon
  • Turn North in Nederland and get on the Peak to Peak Highway
  • Turn back South in Lyons and get on Foothills Highway (36 North)
  • Turn West up Lefthand Canyon
  • Climb over Lee Hill and drop back into Boulder
  • Come back through Boulder and head West up Flagstaff
  • Finish 3.5 miles up Flagstaff at the amphitheatre

Here's a map of the scheduled course:

Coming through Boulder twice!

As well as a link to that map. The race is going to come through Boulder once before it finishes there, so it should provide ample opportunity to view the excitement. The other stages are posted here, and the final stage is in Denver again this year, so clear your schedules from August 20th - 26th!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sweet Fixed gear shirt of the day

Saw this up at CSU while watching the basketball team upset UNLV 66-59. The guy told me it's from a bike shop in the mid-west, but the silhouette is based off a guy from Fort Collins! Think you could chug a beer while doing a no handed track stand?

Looks like we have a new challenge on our hands.