Sunday, February 16, 2014

My god, it's full of... holes.

Here's a project which has taken a while to germinate. I've been interested lately in snow bikes, bikes with big wheels, bikes with intermediate sized wheels, and bikes with wheels that "bring the trail alive". Given that I already have plenty of bikes, I decided that this season's new look for the faithful Orange Bike would involve tire enlargement. There are plenty of ways I could have gone about this, but I chose the one which was a) cheapest, and b) involved drilling holes in things. 

Back in the mists of time, bike geeks used to drill holes in their rims (among other things) to reduce the weight. Of course this is pretty futile if you ride in the mud, as they just fill with mud... plus your bike will probably break, but I've never let a thing like sense get in the way of an interesting project. Thus an idea was born.

I've known about a stash of very wide bike rims that I've been trying to think up a purpose for for years, and now the purpose has arrived. A set of long forgotten olde-worlde Alex DX32's were secured for a small sum, and I drilled a bunch of 7/8" holes in them. For the record, this removed about 100g, bringing them to a still fairly weighty 670g each. I now have a vacuum-cleaner bag full of metal shavings.

And here they are, some old rims tempered with with mystic drillium.

This is what it looks like when you put wheels like that on your bicycle.
This weekend we were supposed to go skiing, but a combination of people throwing explosives out of helicopters and general inclement weather made that seem like a poor choice. So instead we ate a fried breakfast in the pub next to the railway line and then headed out in the sunshine to bike (me) and run (Lina) some Mt Fromme trails before the storm hit. It was slightly snowy, but we caught the weather window and I enjoyed my new holey-rollers very much. They weren't startlingly different to my old wheels, but there was lots of grip to be found, and I didn't tear the back tire off the rim in any corners (which had been known to happen with the old narrow-rim-big-tire combination). I did still get a flat, but nothing's perfect eh.

We also happened across a nice man who pointed us in the direction of some covert trails, and everyone knows the best tings are kept a secret. I suspect he was mesmerized by my hypnotic wheels.

Espresso (except it's actually called Expresso) with some white stuff on top... does that make it Cappuccino?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Some things I would rather remember

Seeing as it's been one million years exactly since I last wrote on here... this is a collection of things that have happened since the dawn of complex multicellular life which I would like to remember. 

Thing #1: Lina's commuter got some chop-shop treatment thanks to a defunct old Norco frame which donated a seatstay to become the brace on this disk brake mount. The rear brake mount, and the one for the fork came from Paragon machine Works, who make lovely metal things for bikes. Though the welds are pretty horrific due to my lack of practice, I didn't blow any holes through anything and it hasn't broken yet. The rear disk mount is upside down and backwards to get it out of the way of the rack. The front one is on the wrong side and on the front, which I think Pace did first... and makes sense to me.

Thing #2: It did actually snow, then it stopped, and now it's snowing again. At Mt Baker one weekend I got to try out something I've been wanting to for ages namely "snow dog action cam" photography. My real plan is to strap my GoPro camera to the end of my ski-pole, and instead of holding it in the air and filming myself gurning through powder turns (examples of which consist of about 90% of the ski-related internet), I will film running dogs. Now that's entertainment. I fell foul of not actually having the GoPro with me, so I experimented with skiing past the action-dogs then attempting to turn and ski backwards in front of them whilst taking pictures. I managed to get one picture I like, and am inspired for a more concerted attempt... maybe soon!

Thing #3: We have clean windows. I've been meaning to do this for five years, and I still haven't, because Lina did it. Now we can see things like this, without the soft-focus (train soot). Hooray!

Thing #4: There has been a lot of bicycle riding of all kinds lately. It's been the best winter ever for mountain biking so all three of my knobbly-tired bikes have been seeing regular action. The real action is my daily commute though. Kermit has seen somewhere around 3500 km of commuting since August and so far nothing fell off or exploded. As a reward, I thought I would finally get the internal-gear hub that I had designed the frame for, rather than my spare-parts bin drivetrain (which had worked amazingly well). I found all the stuff I needed at the right price from a nice man in Ontario who had abandoned a project involving a Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub. A bit of tinkering later, I had a wheel built around the thing and finally made Kermit what he was supposed to be.

Bike-dorks can rejoice in the neatness of this thing. I also managed to lose that bit of gear-cable housing at the back that usually gets full of road grit and stops your gears from working by routing the cable straight into the "cassette joint" as Shimano call it, or "shifting doofer" as I prefer.
So far I'm happy with the Alfine. I get slightly less gear range than my old drivetrain, but I set it up so I only lost maybe 2 gears at the big end. I probably didn't need to go down hills that fast anyway. For the record, here's a comparison of my old and new setup. Seeing as this bike will end up doing more annual kilometers than our car at the current rate, I figure putting its gears on the inside is only fair.