Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Gentleman's Hack

I've been commuting by bicycle ever since I was allowed to ride my Sears Spyder (Sting Ray knock-off) to school in the 3rd grade. This is my current working ride, adapted to my needs and preferences.

This started out as a Bianchi Avenue hybrid bike I bought via Craigs List for about $150. The Planet Bike fenders were the first addition, as the rack was part of the original deal. The Topeak front basket has been a mixed experience. It secures to the handlebars with a cable that's a little non-trivial to figure out, and I've broken 3 of them so far. Topeak customer services has been good about sending me new ones. I DO like the convenience of a front basket, and the ability to use it as a shopping basket. But next time, maybe a Wald paperboy's basket.

I like generator lights as readers of this blog are well aware. I'm partial to the Lumotec stuff Peter White out of Massachusetts peddles, but I felt like going cheap this time, and had Bay Area Bikes put on a cheap Asian import set, with a rear generator mount. I added a ground wire - don't leave home without it.

When I bought the bike it had typical flat-ish MTB bars on it, and a cheap and cushy vinyl MTB saddle. I came to realize I really wanted a more upright position, that my hands were not in the right place, and the saddle finally fell apart. So, I had Bay Area Bikes remodel it.

The bars are Nitto "Priest" (Albatross) Bars in aluminum, the saddle is a Brooks B67. Note the stem extender. I also dropped the gearing substantially, as I never got out of the low ring on the old gears, by fitting a new crankset. The BB was shot, so it got replaced, and the new bars require new shifters. I like the shifters more than I expected to; they are MUCH more ergonomic and easier on my middle aged wrists than the twist grips that were on the bike before.

The new crankset didn't come with a chain guard to keep my work pants out of the teeth, so I made a new one out of scrap plexiglass. I initially slathered hot melt on to hold it in place; the orange bits are cardboard shims to space the plexi away from the chain links. When I knocked it off, drilled holes in the plexi and threaded some tiny ty-raps, the bailing wire of our times.

The auxiliary saddle is for the days when I have to take my 11 year old with me to/from the BART station when he's with his mom on the the other end of the journey - we're a "remodeled" family. It's only about 4 blocks, and he wears his helmet when he's en pillion.

I didn't like the way the saddle was spreading, and becoming sort of sway-backed. So, since this picture was taken, I punched a series of hole just below the Brooks logo, and laced some scrap shoe lace, tying it to the opposite rails, and pulled the saddle back into it's original shape. While aesthetically it's an improvement, it's LESS comfortable now than before. I may change out this saddle for a nylon shell/padded saddle.

The panniers are "Oyster Buckets", my favorite utilitarian panniers. Almost totally recycled materials, sturdy, waterproof. The panniers come off when the kid rides 2-up.

The brass air hose coupler arouses a great deal of interest. It's the hitch for a trailer I found abandoned in front of a rental house on my street. I stole the idea from an Instructable, but found later that it's used on Bike Fridays.



At 4:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Humm, I prefer to conmute with a front suspension bike.

I just can get to work on some fridays, as I have to wear a suit, petty.

As for the plane, I have been following you for years (even when you, for some reason (divorce?), did not provide a link "find it" you said), and I would really like to see you finish your plane...

Good luck!!

At 10:06 PM , Blogger flybynightkarmarepair said...

I find front suspension to be a weighty excrescence on anything but a mountain bike. I have FAT tires for shock absorption, and a VERY upright riding position. With no weight on my hands to speak of, I don't need front suspension to keep my wrists from hurting, although I do need the Priest Bars to keep them in neutral position. The former MTB bars and twist grip shifters definitely hurt my wrists.


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