Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Next Step

This job is much easier when you have a repair stand but you can do it with the bike upside down. When you install the Extracycle you just about have to do it with the bike upside down, more on that in a minute.
First you want to remove the rear wheel, rear brake, rear derailleur, the cables, chain, and the kickstand if it has one.
Now if you don't already have the bike upside down flip it and gravity will hold the extracycle in place while you get it all sorted. Be sure to follow the specific instructions in the manual so the dropouts fully support the new addition. The nuts need to insert in the extracycle frame or they will not tighten properly.

Now some pictures:

The nuts sit in the dropouts like this.

A close up of the fitting.

The front part of the Extracycle rests against the the chainstay bridge.

Here is the plate they provide to clamp the front down. If your bike lacks a stay bridge, you will need to get a second one to clamp the stays properly.

Next time we start putting all the parts we stripped off back on and setting it all up.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Technical difficulties

Looks like there is an issue with the images below. Trust me the other half of that bike is somewhere, but that is just going to wait for tomorrow to fix

Edit: Fixed, forgot to resize.

Making an Xtracycle

So. It has been about 8 (Yes, eight) months since my last post. Games, work, movies, what-not.
But I am going to make up with it by doing some posts on setting up an Xtracycle. If you don't know, an Xtracycle is a frame that you can bolt on to a bike collecting dust in your shed to create a great new cargo bike.
There is also a prefab frameset, made by Surly, called the Big Dummy. But we want to recycle an existing bike.
First you need to get a (near)complete bike to bolt the Xtracycle to. I used a '94 M800 Cannondale I had set up as a commuter bike, that had become the shop dust collector, so it was a perfect start for this project.

(Yes I know the seatpost is sticking way out of the frame, relax. I don't have a 50" inseam on a 5'10" frame. That was "pre adjustment"

Next we need the Xtracycle. The kit I got included the frameset, all the hardware to mount the frame, a snapdeck, two freeloaders, and instructions.

Here is the frameset,


Next time we strip the brakes and derailleur and get ready to install the Xtracyle frame. You also might get to find out just what a freeloader and a snap deck are.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bring the Bike In

Bring it in, bring the bike in,BRINGTHEBIKEIN. Please just bring me the freaking bike.
There is something about bringing a bike in to get a issue looked at. The need to not bring this malfunctioning heap in increases as the ability of the owner to describe the problem decreases. There is also a correlation between how annoyed a customer gets with you and their inability to describe the issues at hand.
Recently we have had a spate of customers with issues that were not willing to bring the bike in to get a diagnosis.
In one case it was just the frame. That should fit in just about any car, it would be easy to carry, and they even let you take it on the bus. He did bring the fork in, he had tried to JB weld the steerer back on after cutting it to short(This is not a good idea. Do not do this) He needed a headset after trying to knock out the old one with a screwdriver(also a bad idea) and cracking the cup. We gave him a new one based on his info and the fork he brought. The headset did not fit. So he made a trip back with the serial number from the frame. We called the Man. and got the "correct" headset. Oops, still wrong. Finally he brings in the frame, I make a few measurements, and a few days later we have the right parts in the door.

Next up.
The girl that wants to put brakes on the flat part of her drop bar. We tell her she will need cross levers. These are more than she wants to spend, so she goes to a shop that tells her what she wants to hear and sells her a BMX lever. This, surprise, does not fit, just like we said it would not. Neither shop has seen the bike. She buys some Crosstops from us then returns the BMX lever to the other shop. Shows back up at our shop a day later, again with out the bike. The crosstops don't fit, the bolt is to short. Now,..I am pretty sure the reason the bolt seems to short is because the lever clamp(This clamp is hinged)is a pretty tight fit and you have to spring it. I could confirm this, but again, no bike. We show her the tight fit, she waves it away and says she wants a longer bolt. We install it on a handlebar in the shop and show that the bolt will bottom and the lever will be loose. This is ok. Read that again, the floppy brake lever is OK. What? Quote: "It can be loose, I just need it for emergencies" Awesome, if the standard is low enough, anyone really can fix a bike.

Phone rings.
Me-Hello, The bike Shop, this is Chuck, how can I help you?
Her-I need a commuter bike but I don't want to buy one. Can you set one of my bikes up with a rack and fenders?
Me-Probably. What have you got?
Her-A Giant.
Me-Which one?
Her- A mountain bike, I got it from you a couple of years ago(This is what customers call "narrowing it down")
Me-Does it have rack eyelets?
Me-Eyelets. They are threaded holes near the dropouts and up near the seat post. The rack bolts on to them.
Her-I don't know.
Me-Maybe you should bring it in. Then we can find the best solution and show you the racks, fenders, and panniers.
Her-What is a pannier?
Me-It is a basket that hangs from the side of the rack. It comes from the french word for bread. Why don't you just bring it by?
Her-It's raining, I don't want to get it wet. Can I just take a picture of it?
Me-How about tomorrow then? A picture might work but it would be better if we just had the bike.
Her-No. I want to have it ready for tonight(OK, you don't want the bike to get wet driving it over here, but you want to put a rack and fenders on it so you can ride it around tonight, in the rain?)
Me-O..K... Why don't you just come by and we can show you what we have. Then you can decide what will work.

Last one(These all happened over about ten days)
The customer has spent about ten minutes inspecting our brake pad selection and finally selected a pair. She buys them and leaves. About an hour later she is back. These pads are wrong and she needs the correct ones, "thinner". We ask what she is putting them on. It is a road bike, she is holding road pads. We go thru a back and forth trying to figure out if she has some really old bike with an odd set up or if it is a touring bike with cantis. After some deliberation, we determine that she has regular road calipers.
We also find out the bike is about a hundred yards away on a parking rack. We ask her if she can bring it in. "NOPE, it has my groceries on it and I can't bring it over here" WTF? How will you be able to ride it home if you can't walk it a hundred yards? I end up up getting my walk in going back and forth between the shop and the bike, several times. Turns out the bike is a Co-Op special with parts from a half dozen bikes on it. This includes a touring fork with lots of tire clearance and shortest dual pivot road brake ever. Some how she managed to wear a set of pads down by rubbing them against the tire without cutting a hole thru it.
We had the correct brake caliper, but she seemed determined to continue her search for "thinner" pads.

So, could you just bring the bike in? I promise to not hold it hostage. I might even fix a minor issue for free.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A book, a good book

Everyone comes here looking for bikeshop dudes talking about the bikeshop life. But there ARE other things. Hence the movie reviews.
Today, instead of the planned, "Just Bring the Bike in" episode, I have got to tell you about Neil Gaiman's, The Graveyard Book. Just fantastic. As you well know, I enjoy the graphic novel, so Gaiman is not an unfamiliar name(He wrote the Sandman graphic novels, great stuff) I had only read one collection of his short stories early last year but I had just seen in the local screed that his new children's book(Screw that "children's book" hype, a book is a book) had won a Newberry medal. So I had to run around the corner to the LBS(Also stands for local book shop) Quail Ridge Books, to see if they had a copy. Alas, the shelf was empty, but the kind lady in the children's sections searched thru the UPS delivery and found me a copy. They provide the same kind of great service the other LBS(That would be us, the Local Bike Shop, duh)brings every day.
So short post. Go buy the book, The Graveyard Book, then make some tea or pop a beer and settle in for a quiet evening. It is a great read(on page 221), gotta go.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


is the resistance of an object to a change in its state of motion.
That pretty much sums it up right there. I got a bad case of inertia. Time was, I would sit down and crank out a column a day, then I came upon an obstruction(Fallout3, we shall speak of it no more) Suddenly it is two months later and not a word has been written.
It is amazing how hard it can be to start something up again. Back in November, the rides came easy. It was great, everybody wanted to go and GO we did. Several times a week. Sure it was cold, sure it was dark, but that didn't matter we were on a roll. Then it started raining, we missed a ride, then another. Holidays came up and people were missing more and more rides. Finally the rides just stopped. Inertia grabbed us with its knobbly hands and then let go, because we were not going anywhere.
It can be tough to motivate this time of year, but the gang is going to do it, we are getting back up to three rides a week(Tuesday and Saturday night as well as Sunday morning. If you are in the area give us a call to see what is going down)
I am motivating as well, Another day is back and will be bringing you my wonderful pralined misanthropy as well as the three asterisk movie review.