Daily Archives: January 1, 2012

State of the Bike 2012, Wreck-Free Sunday

A while back Jay from my bike club “loaned” me a 2008 Fusion with 192 miles on the clock, a handlebar mounted mirror and a RANS rack. The mirror got knocked off in the first 2 months of using the bike as transportation as other people would barge up against it when it was locked up to racks outside places that actually had bike racks, but the rest of the bike has held up well.

The bike now has 3300 miles and is still using the OE chain that was delivered with the bike from RANS. It is on the third set of brake pads since I got it as I do a lot of stop and go routes with way too many stop signs. Fortunately the KoolStop Black pads I use are very gentle on rims so they are in decent shape. The OE tires started allowing large numbers of flats (especially rear flats) this summer so they had to be relegated to “backup” status and were replaced by Performance “City” tires in the same size that had very similar rolling resistance and much higher wet grip.

Added since I got the bike are some custom fabricated fenders that started as Wald 26″ Middleweight stainless fenders. I pretty much used the rear fender as it came on the rear, but the front fender is a second rear fender cut short and drilled for 2 sets of fender stays plus the bolt that goes through the fork crown. Also added was a mud flap that was cut for a gallon milk jug. I now have fenders that keep water off my feet and road trash off my legs for all-weather riding without having to shave my legs to let me tend to the numerous tiny cuts I used to get from the little bits of glass kicked up off my front tire while I rode during the summer in shorts. Making all this fit on the disk-brake front fork so that it wouldn’t interfere with the disk caliper when I upgrade the brakes was a struggle as I went through various mount configurations. Ultimately the solution was a simple extended bolt on the single fender mount on the fork that spaced the fender stays away from the caliper mount far enough to prevent interference, with jam nuts to make the bolt stay in the correct position, and to hold the fender stays away from the fork.

The most noticeable addition to Blue since I got him was the kitty-litter bucket panniers. This also was a major undertaking to mount. I have used 3 different ways to mount then to the rack. The first 2 were variations on a theme using pipe hanger strap attached to the parts of the bucket where the handles were fitted as a bucket. While this worked for carrying light loads the buckets would bang and bump against the rack and the bike frame. This was so annoying that I removed the buckets to re-think the way to mount them. The new mounting system uses fewer bolts than the older system, and uses heavy aluminum angle rather than pipe hanging strap which reduces the installed weight of the system, plus the angle is much neater in appearance than the pipe hanger straps which to be totally honest would make Rube Goldberg toss his cookies. I wanted a system that would require power tools and several minutes to remove to reduce the possibility of theft while the bike was parked.

A minor change was the addition of headlights, first a 9 LED flashlight held on by interlocking hose clamps. That one is still installed but has been re-aimed to pick out street signs and stop signs up close as the new headlight, a Cateye EL-503, throwns most of its light output in a narrow cone that leaves such things as street signs and stop signs invisible once you get within about 50 feet of them if the light is aimed to light up the road.

The final change made in 2011 was the tail light, which also went through several iterations. First attempt was to drill a hole for a regular blinky bike tail light. That didn’t work as the switch for the light was not accessible when the light was mounted. Second attempt was to use a flexible glue to shock-mount the blinky light so the switch was where the light could be turned on and off. that worked for about a month before the people running into the bike in the bike racks caused it to come loose and eventually come off on a night ride. The final solution was to build a successor to the Honkin’ Huge Taillighttm that would mount to the bracketing that holds the kitty-litter buckets to the bike. Honkin’ Huge Taillight II The Doublingtm uses 2 LED marker lights from Harbor Freight and a 12V battery assembled from 10 2.1 Ah NiMH cells that take up less than half the space and weigh about 1/3 the previous HHT’s 12V 1.3 Ah SLA battery. The end result is a light that has more light (about the same light output as the HHT had on the high setting) for more time than the HHT. The theoretic burn time for this light is 17 1/2 hours, the HHT had a 16 hour burn time on low, or 1 3/4 hours on high.

So, I have a bike that will do 90% of the things I need to do with a bike, while I build bikes that cover that other 10% plus a little overlap.