Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Bits and pieces: updates

1. After trying some ergonomic grips on the All-Rounder and liking the additional support they offered, I went ahead and found some for my Peugeot as well.

These corky rubber grips by Asti/Shorex are a nice, more affordable alternative to the Ergon GP-1 grips which retail for over $40 even on Amazon. Yes, they’re made in China. And they cost less than half of what the CP-1’s cost. Now that I am unable to work very much and find myself on a very tight budget, I will get what I need for as little as possible in order to be able to ride my bike.

They have a slightly larger diameter than the used set of ergo grips I found for the All-Rounder, which may actually be beneficial for my arthritic hands. (According to my OT, a larger diameter grip means I don’t have to bring my thumb and forefinger as close together to maintain a grip, which can ease some of the strain and pain.)

2. Remember that funky saddlebag rack I got, then cleaned up and had powder-coated? Well, it works far better on a road frame than on my ATB frames, so I’m letting it go cheap. US shipping only please. I’m asking fifty bucks because it’s cool, vintage and British. Even at that price I’m eating much of the powder-coating cost and you’re getting a heckuva deal. Reach out to me if you’re interested.

3. I hope to start volunteering a couple times a month at Bike Farm now that Passover is behind me. My task will be to show up during an evening open shop period and be available to answer questions and talk someone through a repair as needed. (The idea is that I talk them through in order for them to learn hands-on, and because I can’t really do the repairs myself anymore.) First and third Tuesday evenings for Alphabet Night. Come in, say hi and give the Bike Farm a little love in the form of spare change.

It will be nice to lend some support based on my knowledge and experience, even if I cannot parlay that into paying work anymore. I still love bicycles and their elegant technology and this is a nice way to give something back.

4. Later this spring when the weather warms up, I will be selling off pretty much all the rest of my shop tools and accessories at a discount. I may wait until there’s another swap meet, pay for a little table space and offload them there. But if there’s anything you’re looking for specifically, reach out to me now and ask. I am more than happy to see if I have what you need and let it go separately. The time has come when I can’t really do significant work, even on my bikes, anymore. 

I think that the first time I have to pay a shop to fix a flat it will positively gall me. Looking at it another way, I’ve paid my dues and then some, and it might be nice to pay younger hands to lavish some love on my bike. The jury’s still out on which perspective shows up when the time comes.

5. After unsuccessfully trying to sell my singlespeed, I’ve decided to hang onto it for another year. I’ll put some ergonomic grips on it, and since I’m going mult-modal (bike and bus) a lot more often, it could be the right bike for trips in town where I don’t have to bring groceries home.

It’s spring. Happy riding!

Friday, April 26, 2024

Nobody asked for them.

Here’s a great article by Eben Weiss, aka Bike Snob NYC:


In it, he makes all the reasonable arguments against an entire bicycle industry dropping older technologies in favor of promoting the false idol of “racing trickle-down.”

And if you like that one, here’s another: 


Again, same thing. The bicycle industry insists on infantilizing consumers by presuming they know what’s best, rather than the people who ride the damned bikes every day.

The last time I dared to question this attitude deeply, I was still working in the bicycle industry and I got my head handed to me on all sides — entirely by men, by the way — because in poo-poohing the 650b renaissance, I had somehow blasphemed the bicycle industry gods.

I built up a 650b test bike for Kogswell twenty years ago. Matthew (of Kogswell) had asked me to be part of the testing group because all his other test-builders were tall guys, and he needed someone shorter to fill out the sample group. I learned a lot from the process, and I’m glad to have done it. But in the end, I simply was not tall enough or big enough to notice a meaningful difference from n ride quality between 650b and my standard, go-to tire size of 26”/559. After the testing was finished, I sold my Kogswell to someone else and went back to my 26’er bikes with no regrets, and watched from the sidelines as two men with considerable social capital proceeded to bully the entire bike industry to invest deeply into 650b. My shop bought some tires, but we never sold very many. Our customers, living on smaller budgets and riding mostly older bikes, didn’t need another t wheel size to devote garage space to. (Rivendell Bicycle Works, which made my 26’er All-Rounder back in 1999, no longer makes frames to fit that wheel size. Too bad. However, they have yet to make a bike with disc tabs, so I mostly forgive them.)

The hard, ugly fact is that racing trickle-down is what helps to pay for the juggernaut costs of racing bike and component development and production. And racing is what gets the company name out in front of the media, not some old fat lady peddling her city bike at 10mph on her way to the store.

Which is a big part of why this old fat lady no longer shops at bike stores for anything new, and why she has a supply of overhauled freewheels on hand to see her out.

Can’t afford the new and shiny stuff? Don’t worry. There are plenty of used bikes and parts out there at downright cheap prices. Relax, and go ride your bike.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Kickstand swap.

For about ten years I’ve been using a center-mount kickstand on the Rivvy. It wasn’t ideal, but the bike was more stable this way. I didn’t want to use a two-legged center-mount kickstand because of the added weight; I don’t carry stupid-heavy loads anymore and it would’ve been overkill. Plus, they’re expensive.

Then I came into a used rear-mount kickstand that would give me the stability I wanted without further risk to the chain stays near the bottom bracket shell. So I swapped it in.

(Pro tip: determine the contact points on your rear triangle, and give those a few wraps of cloth tape to protect the paint and give the mounting bracket a good place to grip.)

I had to remove the rubber tip from the old kickstand, which required some cutting through super-glue.

The rubber tip adds a few mm of height to set the angle where I’d like it, and protects the metal end from scraping against the sidewalk and wearing down. I didn’t have a spare, so I rescued the old one. They’re meant to fit the Pletscher or Greenfield kickstands, and you can buy them at any bike shop for about $3.

After removing the rubber tip, I installed it on the replacement kickstand. Because of the cut I’d had to make to get it off, I applied super glue and then wrapped a zip tie around it to hold it in place while the glue dries. Eventually, I ,Amy fill in the split with either more super glue, or some plastic resin. But right now it seems to hold together fine on its own. I’ll probably leave the zip tie alone.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Wayback Bicycle Machine: on thrift and common sense

I came across this article in an old Bridgestone Bicycle catalog. Written by Peter Egan, who would go on to work for a time at Rivendell Bicycle Works, it makes as much, if not more, sense today as it did in 1994. Enjoy it, and then go ride your bike.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Bike Farm needs some love. You can help.

I’m going to start helping out a couple times a month at Bike Farm, to get out of the house and not focus on my own stuff for a little while.

The Bike Farm is a workshop that allows people to rent tools and bench space, and learn how to repair their own bicycles. The shop is volunteer-run and depends on donations from the public as well as volunteer hours. 

If you’d like to find out more, check out their website: https://www.bikefarm.org/