Monday, October 27, 2008

Biomega Part Twee*

*two, "twee" is what you call Dutch
Remember the Biomega? We finally got around to working on it(That only took a day or two, getting my lazy ass to write about it, that took a couple of weeks.)

As cool as the bike looks it has some major issues in the quality department.(Hoo-boy does it)
First thing was the BB. We noticed it was unscrewed some when the bike was dropped off, that was the good part. Turns out the "shell"(Actually a chunk of alluminum inside the plastic monocoque that is also part of the cantilevers)is threaded backwards with the left hand threads on the non-drive side.
Then we had real trouble getting the chain tensioned and the wheel straight at the same time. Turns out the manufacturer did not realise that you need to have dropouts parallel.

This is ranks in the top five of stupid bike ideas.

While aligning the wheel(An event requiring two people swearing) we also noticed that the cantilever stays are not in plane with the front wheel.

That makes for exciting handling when you take a hands off the bar.

On top of all that the angled drop out interfered with the housing stop for the internal hub. So much that it locked up the shift mechanism. We ended up using axle spacers to widen the spacing enough for the stop to clear. This also helped correct the poor centering of the wheel.

I could not find a retail price for this model but Biomegas conventional frame bikes start at around $1650. That is a bunch of coin for a bike that fails to offer even the quality control found on a WalMart bike(Yes, the Lamborghini is a better buy).
While looking around I found several sites praising the "design" of the bike. I guess design appreciation does not incorperate application.
Were I present it might go something like this:

Designer, "Look at this beautiful lamp I have created"

Me, "But there is no way to turn it on."

Designer, "Can you not see hows its design allows it to flow from the shade all the way to the top of the table."

Me, "I can't even find the cord"

Designer, "A cord would have ruined its symetry"

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Rare Sight

Here we have a Shimano nine speed cassette with... a nine tooth cog. I bet most of you have not seen one of these before. The only time they show up is on some Bike Fridays and a few other odd recumbent bikes that could not use an adult size wheel.

It has SHIMANO right on the tiny, tiny lock ring.

I know you are asking, "Where can I get one? My 53-11 is just not enough for my massive quads"
Well, they only come from a couple of places. Bike Friday has them and I hear a couple of recumbent specific websites do as well. But don't rush right out to grab one because they only fit a special free hub body, also from Shimano. The free hub(sorry I forgot to take a picture of it) has splining about half the length of a regular free hub then it necks down to allow the smaller cogs to fit. These cogs have their own splining and mate to each other rather than to the central hub.
Very cool if you have a bike with a sixteen inch wheel.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does Lamborghini really need the money?

What the hell...

makes Lamborghini, whose cheapest car is over $100,000, want to crap all over their brand by licencing it for a piece like this?
This is a 32 pound, $130, road bike(It cast a similar shadow anyway). You can see, in the shot there, that it is has Gripshift shifters on it.
I know what you are thinking,"What magic was used to get those things that far up a set of drop bars"? I'll tell you. They cut the handlebar in two. Yep, sawed it right down the middle. It makes it real easy to put Gripshifters on. Of course you now need this wide ass stem with guide pins to keep the handle bar from falling out or getting misaligned. And you get the bonus(?) of Gripshift.

Gripshift did make shifters for road bikes about 15 years ago but they had the good sense to stop that silliness. And at least when they did make shifters they were meant to fit on the ends of the bars(Usually they were to be found on triathletes aerobars. No doubt a rumor was spread about the three second advantage in the 100K they offered) so you did not have to saw your Cinellis in two.

You may have also noticed the quality assembly work as well. The assembler at MalMart(Name changed to protect the guilty) must have based this fork setup on all those shopping carts he had recently brought in from the parking lot.

Look close and you can see the defeat of the invention: aerobrake levers. See that? The cables just come straight out of the back of the hoods rather than being run cleanly under the tape. This is the most ironic part of the whole bike(Even more than the name) They built this thing as cheap as possible and then spent extra for brake levers with a feature that did not get used. They could have dropped the price another five bucks if they had just put some non aero levers on. Would have matched that lovely single pivot brake much better.

Reminds me of this awesome thread on BikeForums. A lovely exchange between the MalMart fans and lovers of actual bikes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Something Simple

How often do I hear, "I need something simple, like an old English bike. Them new fangled De-Rail-Eurs is to complex for me to handle" (Tip: A bunch)

So I point them to the one bike, in the shop, that has an internal hub. When they see that the "simple" bike of their dreams cost eighty bucks more than the one with a derailleur, they run screaming from the shop. No doubt in search of two sticks with which to light up their next Marlboro.

Now look, the first thing is that an internal hub only seems simple because you cannot see all of the stuff inside the hub.

(Note, this is what you see if you break even one of those hair springs(They look like hairs in the shot)and need to replace it.
ALSO, this is the simplest internal hub, it is a three speed. Most modern hubs have twice the gears and twice the parts)

A derailleur is much more simple in construction and is as easy to adjust(if you know how) on the rare occasions that you might need to do so.

(Note, this pic is far more "apart" than you ever see your der. because the most likely thing to break is a pulley which involves only the removal of a single screw. You do not even need to take the wheel off)

An internal hub uses a set(or sets) of planetary/ring/sun gears to give several different gear ratios. This makes for lots of little gears and springs and pawls, and a couple of more springs then a separate gear carrier. Oh, and then you have the shift action that is part of the hub. And if you want the "simple" brake, the coaster or foot brake, add another spring, some friction material, a drum and a screw engagement. And an indexed shifter.

A derailleur just uses a properly length parallelogram setup that indexes to the shifter.

Pay no attention to the exposed derailleur. Its apparent complexity is a LIE.
If you set up a der. right it will work without flaw for years.
To be fair, so will an internal hub. Until a hair spring fails and you have to completely disassemble it(see picture above)

But here comes the fun part:
You want the internal hub because it is simple and you want a simple bike when you ride back and forth to work.

What happens when you get a flat?

Well first you unscrew your carefully adjusted cable and unhook it from the hub(It shifts thru the end of the axle(Sturmey) or thru a mechanism on the hub shell(Shimano). Then you remove the cable guide, undo the nuts, take off the axle index washers, and hook the chain over the dropout so it does not lay in the dirt while you repair your tire.

To reinstall: you slip the axle back into the dropouts, making sure to line up the chain, reinstall the index washers(after remembering where you laid them down) by twisting the axle to the correct angle(with your fingers), finding the nuts(near the index washers, in the dirt, by your foot)you install them, while trying to keep the wheel straight and the chain properly tensioned.
If you also needed coaster brake "simple", include: Line up torque arm and find torque arm hardware(in dirt by foot).
Flat tire repair time: twenty minutes. Wait, you are the guy that wanted a "simple" setup. Actual Repair Time: How long does it take you to call some one on the cell and get them to haul you to the bike shop and have the shop fix the flat for you?

Now if you have a derailleur equipped bike:
Shift to small-small gear combo.
Open quick release, remove wheel. The der. will hold the chain in place.
Fix flat.
Slip the wheel back in to place and re tighten quick release.
Repair time: Ten minutes, (I can do it in three, you are just slow)

All I can figure is that people looking for a "simple" set up have a vague recollection of three speed "English bikes" back in the mist shrouded by-gones of friction shift road bikes.
All bikes are index shift now. Click and shift. If you can read this column, you can operate a modern thirty speed bike(Unless you have some kind of inner ear balance problem).
Modern bikes have a better range of gears. This means smaller jumps between gears as well as a lower low gear and taller top gear.
So go ride a derailleur equipped bike before making some kind of silly judgement based on vague recollections of bikes you never rode in the first place.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review Time

First a couple of warnings:
The closing credits have music by Randy Newman(I beleive he did all the music but he is singing for this part).

Now to the movie. James and the Giant Peach is based on a Roald Dahl book and he really likes putting little kids in stressful situations that are resolved by the childs plucky determination and wit. You would think this would be pretty bad but not so in this case. The movie is very engaging. It is also pretty short, around seventy minutes so even those ADD should be able to sit thru it.

The movie blends live action with stop motion animation and 2D animation.
The live action stuff is ahot on forced perspective sets, a very spiffy effect.
The stop motion makes you think instantly of Tim Burton, and he produced the movie so no surprise there. There is even an appearance of Jack Skellington as a pirate.
The 2D animation looked so much like Terry Gilliams style, I had to roll thru the credits looking for his name. No dice.

All three combined for a fun little flick. Three astericks all around.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Biomega

You have just come out with a new city bike. It has a plastic monocoque frame made from two halves bonded together. It features an internal hub for easy shifting and a nice, big, comfy seat.
But somethings missing. What does it need? Yes! I know!
It should glow in the dark.

Yes, that is the frame glowing in the dark.

Made by Biomega, this interesting rig showed up the other day. The customer picked it up in ,New York and the shop(Not a bike shop more Neiman Marcusesque) he picked it from had done a pretty sloppy job with the assembly so he dropped it off for a looking at.
The Biomega does have some cool features. The plastic bonded one piece frame(actually two pieces glued together) is pretty cool, not super light but it will not rust. The dropouts are large aluminum plates slotted into the plastic cantilever stays. You slide them along this channel to adjust the chain tension.
For some reason it also has folding pedals, a little odd as nothing else on the bike folds. They may have seen that the average person trying to take a 12 inch wide bike thru a three foot doorway was to much of a challenge and folding pedals would improve the odds.
For a city bike it has a pretty extreme handlebar/seat position. and the fork is track steep. Must be for quickly weaving thru traffic for that first orange mocha frappuccino of the day

Friday, October 10, 2008

FRAUD, What is it good for?

Abslo-freaking-lutely nothing.

Today we are going into the topic of getting screwed.
"Why", you ask, are we heading into this dark realm?
Because we had a scam call at the shop the other day.
Actually we get annoying ,spam calls all day, every day. They usually are along the lines of, "I just need to confirm your info for our incredible online phonebook, the fake Yellow Pages"
If there are any small biz guys reading, NEVER DO THIS. They will send a bill for $29.95 for listing your biz address in a place anyone can find it for free about a half million times.
We also get loads of automated, "finance your impending doom" BS. "2" is your Friend(Altho I have a theory that pressing "2" just confirms you were idiot enough to listen to the whole message)
Back to point. Monday we got a call from a guy in Florida, two states and ten hours away, that needed two high end Specialized FSRs shipped next day, he had a CC number ready.
At this point you need a bell to go off and it is not the GREED bell. This is one of those things that falls in to the "To good to be true" column.
As luck would have it, our guys are not complete idiots and saw the con coming. They picked the guy for every bit of info they could get out of him. Then told him it would take time to arrange such a sale as we needed to assemble the bikes and then repack them to keep our dealer agreement(Wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Now, What Do You Do?
Why you call the credit card company, they are being defrauded. Turns out the CC company could give a rats ass. "we don't do investigations" was their shrill call, "You must call the Police"

Do a quick Google search(PoPo, John Law, The Man) and call the first number that comes up.
It was a sad day, as at the other end of the line was Officer Himmel, of the Raleigh Police Department. Not only was he disinterested in a fraud of several thousand dollars, he was annoyed that we even contacted him. Seems we must have reached the secret number of the officer in charge of cafeteria at the RPD. And then called when he was busy with a rough salisbury steak crisis.
After much grumbling we finally got a number that had a receptive officer at the other end and we passed along all the info we had.
Then OJ went free, but seriously folks.

If you have a deal that just seems to good to be true, think about it. Don't think about the money. THE PRETTY GREEN MONEY, OH MY PRECIOUS, IT WANTS TO KEEP IT FROM.... Oop sorry. Anyway you get the idea. When someone contacts you from out of state, ready to pay right now with a credit card or money order, or wants to pay extra to "guarantee" the item, you want to think twice about the deal. If it sounds to good to be true, IT IS.

This all reminds me I need to do some stuff on buying/selling on Craigslist and Ebay. That should be up in the next week or two.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Down by Law

Yep, another review.
I got on this Jim Jarmusch kick a while back(2006) and put a bunch of his movies in my Netflix que. I like to spread my addictions out so I spaced them out in the 300 or so movies I keep in my que. Hot Tip: Keep lots of movies in your que then you don't have delays and it is always a surprise when you open that little red package.

This week the little red package held "Down by Law".
The movie dates back to 1986 and has a young looking Tom Waits as one of its cast members. Also on the roster are John Lurie, Ellen Barkin, and Roberto Benigni. As usual with a Jarmusch flick, the pacing is pretty deliberate, no crazy cut shots and lots of single camera work. But that works well as the focus is on the dialogue and interaction of the characters.
Shot in black and white, I have to admit I was hooked before the opening credit roll because of the beautiful footage of New Orleans. It really was that good.
The rest of the movie was also guite good. A bit of backstory on the lead characters leading to them both getting setup and winding up in Orleans Parish Prison. Where they meet Roberto. Followed by escape and resolution.
What can I say, the movie is worth watching. I don't want to just tell the tale, that would remove the need to watch it.
My rating: ***(Remember *** is as good as it gets)

Apologies thanks to Time Warner

I recently got talked into upgrading my Internet service by a Time Warner sales rep.
Little did I realise that "upgrade" is an euphemism "straight down the toilet"
Usually the problem is just fluctuation in speed, as low as 40kps. Last night it disconected for several hours. As these hours were the ones I use to be awake, nothing got posted. And the slowdowns have made it frustrating to do a complete entry with links and pictures.
But don't fret dear reader, I plan to keep this up if I have to haul a thumb drive to work for uploading and do my pictures in ASCII.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beard Piercing

The Next Big Fad.

Started in the Bike Shop. Just like Fixed gear hipsterdom(Fixed gears not really created by New York hipsters in 2006)

Just to lighten the mood

Because yesterdays post might have been a little much for those not used to my(lack of)style.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The customer is always...Stupid?

That can't be right. 99% of customers are fine people. Some of them(7.3%) are even friends. However...
{{If you are the kind of person that believes the customer is always right and you also have no sense of humor(You look around when others laugh at Monty Python sketches) then you might want to change the channel, flip the page, hit the back button(To the Family Circus archive, no doubt) This is for everyone else

I had something all planned for this column, but then she walked in.
It was(key on WAS) a pretty Monday. Two employees short, busy as hell, but we were handling the situation.
She walked in, and grabbed the guy that just spent seven months being treated for leukemia, to help her get the bikes out of the SUV. I diverted her to another employee that has not spent the last half year bedridden.
He went out and got one of her two bikes, telling her to wait and he would get the other one. She failed to wait and cut her leg with the kickstand(Still extended for some reason? Must be handy when the bike is laying on its side in the back seat)while getting the second bike out. This was our fault, you see the obvious logic. We brought out bandaids and paper towels to no effect.

And the bikes were two.
The first bike, a Mongoose BMX bike. Rear wheel off, brake pads missing, bits askew.
The second bike, a Trek 4500, two flats, cables frayed, neglected.
She wanted tuneups. and I was letting another guy handle it. UNTIL, I heard her ask what she could sell them for. I had to jump in.
The mechanics worship of the almighty dollar, so often reported as the reason for our various scams and schemes, on the poor, easily swindled customer. Well that driving need was overcome. Overcome by what you ask? Overcome by the need to help a customer not screw themselves.

A TIP: Do not spend any money on the shitty old bike you found in the garage before you try to sell it on CraigsList. You will not earn this money back. You are wasting your money. Your plan will fail. You will blame the guy you paid to fix the bike. AND, it will NOT be his fault. Finger pointing, four fingers pointing back and all that.

So here we are at the jumping in point. I thought I was helping her out. Seems I was wrong.
She wanted to know what the bike was worth. She had bought it from us(Actually no. We have not sold Trek in 21 years) and we had told her earlier via phone that we did used bike values(This was a surprise to me and I have been here fifteen years)
We explained to her how to figure value by looking a past Ebay sales and looking on CL for similar bikes. This was inadequate.
So, trying to be helpful, I looked the Trek 4500 over and gave her my honest opinion(Based on selling used bikes via CL for several years) that the bike was worth about $150, maybe. I told her this was a good start point and gave her room to negotiate down(It later turned out she believed this bike to have been purchased for $699. Retail $$ are irrelevant in the used bike world, but not in the "crazy lady" world. Also, $280 new.). I also told her this was assuming the tires held air and that everything worked as it was supposed to. Then I asked, "Do the tires hold air" She replied, "No" I told her what we would charge to remedy this situation and that it would be better to try and sell the bike with flat tires because she WOULD NOT GET HER REPAIR INVESTMENT BACK.
That's right, I was turning down a repair, cash money, in what is usually the third slowest month of the year because it was in the customers best interest to do so. I could have, easy, lied about what the bike was worth and charged this woman(apologies to all other women) over $100(it needed more than tubes) for repairs she would never see a return on.
I tried to point out all the items that needed attention on the BMX bike. This was the bike that had to carried IN PIECES to the store.
My reward? A bitching out by proxy. Yes, she took it out on the guy that helped her bring the bikes back out to her car and load them. Read it again, after telling this woman, straight up, that she would be making a bad investment and helping her put everything back in her car. The best she could do was bitch out the person helping her. He is a counselor in the real world and tried to get her to talk about it. She refused, her foolish rage was not to be sated by cool logic. And off she went, no doubt to talk trash about the shop that refused to "help her"

I have spent the last twenty minutes massaging cut white onion in to my eyes trying to bring up a tear for this woman. NADA.

I decided to bring up a picture of the bike(she said she already had it listed on CL, and yes this is the actual bike. What you bet there is less than an inch of seatpost in that frame?)
Here she be:

You can't see it but there is a pump just out of shot, otherwise those puppies would be pancake flat. I considered posting a direct link to the ad. But I am not that big a dick, as I know the evils of the interweb.

There was a little satisfaction from this. When I looked this ad up, right after she left, the bike was priced at $250. When I just searched it again, to put up the picture, the bike was listed at $125. Looks like she must have talked to another bike shop out just to ruin her day and make no money.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I got a bad case of the CLAMP

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds-Emerson

Oh, man. Chuck is going all literary on us(Don't fret I left in some grammatical errors)
Anyway. Let that little phrase marinate til the close of my screed.
So I was down at BikeForums earlier and a young squire wanted to know if it was OK to clamp his carbon Cervelo by the top tube to do minor tasks like clean the bike or swap a wheel.
Having done this hundreds of times I could only tell him that if he was smart about it and only clamped the bike tight enough to keep it from falling to the floor it would be fine.
Of course, I was immediately beset by the hoard for my blasphemy. So was laid the foundation for this column.

I fix bikes for a living, as my three steady readers well know. I have worked on bikes, trikes, tandems, triples, high wheelers, unicycles, hand cycles, and wheel chairs. Part of that is getting the damn thing off the ground so you can get at all the bits and spin them around. But,...but you have to do it with out damaging the item of the moment. This is where NOT BEING STUPID comes in to play. You have to ask yourself a hard question, "Am I an idiot"? Be honest. You can even narrow it down, "Am I an idiot when it comes to all things mechanical"? If you are, that is OK, you are probably a great painter or maybe your Mom likes you. But if you answered "yes" to this question then you need to leave things like working on your bike, fixing a toaster, or hooking up a DVD player to the Pros(Or more competent amateurs)

For today, this revolves around the ability to clamp a bike with out crushing, breaking, or causing a possible severed limb. So we will focus on the humble repair stand clamp. Back in the early days when bikes only had two wheels, the repair stand was a pipe with a large washer welded about half way down its length and you removed the seat post, flipped the bike upside down and set it down on this post. It got the bike at point you could work on it standing up and it was in a position familiar to every kid that has every lubed a chain.
Then came the clamping stands. Most of these used a coarse screw to operate the clamp and the bike was held by the top tube. The clamps even had a groove for the rear brake cable to run thru(Park still has this on their clamps)
Then Park came out with their "Pro" clamp. This was like sliced bread(And if you don't think that stuff is great, make sandwiches for a week using a french loaf), In an instant the bike was in the stand ready to earn you a couple of bucks. Way better than the screw clamp, that had to be unscrewed far enough to get the tube in then screwed back down enough to hold the bike tight. And it would hold the bike good and tight. This was back in the day of steel frames and they were all pretty much the same size so you rarely needed to make much adjustment and the tubing was pretty thick so you had to be a real idiot to hurt the bike(Plus you were clamping the seat tube, the thickest tube, and you were usually clamping in an area that also had the beef of the seat post behind it. About the only thing you had to be careful of were decals, one twist of the frame and those dry transfer decals were toast.
But then came aluminum. Still not a big deal because most early aluminum frames were pretty burly,...til Cannondale. After Cannondale it became a VERY big deal to only clamp a bike by the seat post. As a Cannondale would often crack just from the force of gravity(I have owned a bunch of them) risking it to the curse of the CLAMP was begging for failure. However, if you were not stupid you could clamp a Cannondale by the seat tube or top tube with no ill effects.
There have also been some super thin, very easily damaged, steel tube sets out there but they never suffered from the hysteria of potential clamping failures. Maybe because a guy wanting an Aeromet frame was careful of his baby(Or he could afford to have an actual person hold it up while he worked on it)
Then we were visited by the gods of carbon(They already visited in the mid nineties, but nobody was ready for them then, Cadex anyone?)
These bikes came with huge stickers warning of the dire consequences of clamping the frames tubes with a repair clamp. Frame failure, hair loss, hammer toe. It was enough to make you think twice about even keeping the damn bike in the house. The cat might scratch it and it would explode, taking the breakfast nook with it.
The reality is you can clamp a carbon frame, as long as you are not an idiot. Don't clamp it tight, just use the repair stand to hold the bike at working height. The stand IS NOT a force receptacle for any of the tweaking and torqueing you might be doing to the bike. For that you need to hold onto the frame, or cranks, or whatever you are applying force to.
Be gentle. Be smart. Don't be an idiot.
And don't be a fool. There are "rules" to repair, set out to keep the inexperienced from doing something stupid or dangerous. If we followed all of these "rules" our bikes would never do anything but collect dust and dirty clothes as they cluttered the corner of the den.

Final quiz:
Clamp a soda can in your repair stand.

If it looks like this:

Proceed with bike repair

If it looks like this:

Start knitting career

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What really happens...

..when the customers are not around.
We do stuff like this:

That is a large plastic bag, snuggly affixed to the managers head with a rubber band, then inflated with the compressor. We then had him go to the grocery store and get lunch.
Another time, as condition of employment(not really), we taped a new employee into a bike box and he had to escape. Best part: He started struggling, knocking the box over just as a little kid came in to the store. The flopping box freaked the young lad out a fair bit.
This same employee also spent some time wearing "pigtails".

There is also the Sumo competition.

We have also built water rockets(using coke bottles, card board, and bike pumps), seen just how big a tube can get, tested the flammability of various items(and made a flame thrower), ghost ridden junk bikes off walls, had boffer wars, and it goes on.

You also need to be willing to work on rubber band balls. The rubber band ball is the heart of a bike shop. Every bike has a handful of rubber bands holding the bits on it when you pull it out of the box. You must(It is in the secret charter) make those rubber bands into a ball and expand that ball until it can go no further.

The ball pictured(Note the quarter for size reference, yes a quarter, not a nickel, we don't skimp at the bikeshop) is fifteen pounds, fourteen ounces. Just two more ounces and we can retire it. It will be tough, as we can barely get the bands around it now. But hope springs eternal. We had a junior ball in the works, but someone swiped it.
And yes, the doofus in every shot is our manager.
What can I say, hiring selection is done by interpreting a casting of broken bike parts on the shop floor. The person with the most recent, crash related, concussion does the interpretation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tool Time

I wanted to do this on Tuesday because I like alliteration. But Tuesday is ride night and it ran a little long(Another story, got to whore up my count somehow) Anyway, no writing got done last night, but plenty of thinking and I did take the pictures so the plan was there. Basically, I am planning for that professional writing career by pushing my hypothetical deadlines.
I really want to do a hand made tool every week, but I just have not made that many tools, so to fill the empty space I decided that there were some cool tools that not everyone might have seen.

First tonight is the KoolStop tire bead jack.

(Note the Yellow tape, far better than peeing on the tools to signify ownership.)

This is a great tool, every customer is amazed by it and lots of my shop buds have not seen one. It reduces mounting a Continental to a Matrix to a minor struggle. If you are old enough to get the Conti/Matrix reference, you are dirt like, as I am.
The way it works is to place the fixed part of the tool, against the rim and lever the tire bead on to the opposite side of the rim.(Yeah, that is a crappy description, look at the pictures)

Sadly, this only works on pretty narrow tires. Look for a Tool Time scratch build of one that will work on fatties. Hook Worm anyone?

Next we have a homemade tool. (I really wish I could make enough to do this every week but I am not that creative)
Some suspension forks have seals that are easy to install, so I have heard. Just about all the seals require either a special tool or prayer to get them in straight and not screwed. Just about every one makes a tool for their fork, so you can just buy the twenty different seal installers or you can make a pair of these.

This is a section of a Thomson seat post cut in half, then the end was flared to clear the lip part of the seal.
To use this wonder, you slide the seals(and the foam oilers)on to the stanchions, then you slide the (aptly named) sliders on to the stanchions. Now you place Chucks custom seal tool between the seal and the crown, place the fork on the floor and push down on the crown. Seal installed, Tah-Dah.

To make the installer all you need is to find some weight weenie that wants you to hacksaw a couple of inches off of his $100 seat post so he can save 15 grams. Now bisect the remnant and flare one end. I used a T-dolly and a ball peen hammer, but you can do it with a claw hammer and the horn part of a bench vise.
You can also make similar tools with PVC and a dremel tool