Friday, September 30, 2011


Getting our schedules in line enough so that Jetaime can commute to work again....She likes the Catrike a lot!

Added some power grips and a Kleen Kanteen Reflect water bottle.....This model has zero plastic in the bottle or the cap and looks lusciously retro and stylie.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The balance beam.....

A Monty T219 mod trials bike is how I keep my bicycle balance up to par.

This one is pretty old.....I bought it from it's second owner way back in the early nineties. It's held up nicely though!! The only real issue it's ever had is that I replaced the headset a few years ago and, oddly enough, this is a Mexican bicycle but it has a French headset.

I actually sold the bike once and it was given back to me years later.....Then I gave it away to someone in need and it made it's way back to me even more years later. It's like when you set free the one you love to see if they come back. Hard to believe I first jumped onto this bike twenty years ago!

You don't need to do anything "extreme" to gain skill from a trials bike. Just jump on and do 5 minute balance/riding stints around the house without allowing your feet to touch the ground. It's helpful for building your strength, balance, and reflexes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Vee brake stuff...

Brakes have really changed over the years. Back in the nineties, canti brakes mounted a certain way. You've got your post that's brazed onto the frame/fork and then you've got the brake that slips over that post and rotates around said post. That's pretty simple and if you don't look toooo closely, it looks like nothing has changed. But besides the one obvious fact that vee brakes and disc brakes have taken over most of the market it's also now normal for the vee and canti brakes to mount up in a different way.

Back in the old days we bike shop mechanics would have to file many a brake post to get the brakes to work smoothly. Then someone came up with the bright idea of a "cartridge" style mounting method. The way this works is that the brake arm still mounts onto the braze on like normal but now there are two sleeves (instead of just one) inside the brake. One sits stationary on the brake post and is tightened down during assembly while the other sleeve rotates on the inner sleeve whose job is just to sit there on the brake post. While it's more complicated to produce, it's actually a plus for speeding up the bicycle assembly process. No more filing the brake post. It's sort of an idiot proof style of building brakes.

Paul does this type right by sealing everything up with o-rings and making it rebuildable but that's also a pricey way to do it which is why I don't have Paul brakes at this time. <----- Notice the pun...Paul and Price used in the same sentence. I dream about Paul Motolites, though.

Anyway, when building up my Tour Easy, I found that Tektro still makes an old style vee brake that's also dirt cheap. So I bought a set, sanded my brake posts, and slapped them on. That created a nice feeling of nostalgia over a (necessary) ritual of times past. Funny how MORE work can be fun when assembling a bicycle. The "old style" doesn't work better than the "new style" but it's my preference. The facts that they'e cheap and shiny silver also help the cause.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The light of day....

Jetaime's Catrike made it outside. I carried it sideways through the house. I knew it would be tough to get it outside when I built it inside because all of our doors are narrow but I wanted to be able to build it at my leisure in our office and it was a relaxing thing.

After building this, I must say that my appreciation for Catrike has shot through the roof! This just seems like such a high quality vehicle. All the Catrike proprietary parts are so nice and fit so well. The building process may have been tooooooo nice because now I want one too.

The rear derailleur is slightly messed up because the low gear limit setscrew wasn't adjusted properly and it looks like it went into the spokes on a test ride. I could make a big deal out of this and make an angry phone call but I'd rather not talk to those guys again. It will work in 8 of the 9 cogs so it's still useful until we get another.

We've ridden trikes before so this isn't anyone's first time on one but it's the first time either of us has ridden one east of the Mississippi. All of our experience has been riding KMXs, a Terratrike, and the elusive Catrike Silvercat on the bike friendly streets and Greenbelt of Boise. This is probably the first Catrike that's ever been in this particular town.

Tires are backwards 

This angle makes the boom look crooked

Too big for him

Also gathering herbs for drying since it's getting colder 

Jetaime likes it ! 

Jetaime's new ride....

After a fair amount of searching, we found a trike for Jetaime. It's a Catrike Villager and I just gotta' say I've always loved the concept of the Catrike company because they're an American company who actually make their own stuff and have even gained a few patents along the way. That sounds like a nice brand to support!

One of my favorite things about these trikes is/was the solid/non adjustable seat because it equals one less thing to go wrong out in the real world. You pretty much buy the Catrike that has the built in seat angle that you prefer.....Whether it's super laid back or more upright. There are plenty of other variations in the models but I suspect many people start with the seat angle and go from there. Recently, Catrike decided to give the Villager and Trail models an adjustable seat and to phase out the frame style I prefer. I wish the old style could have stuck around as an option but that's not for me decide. The new style is very solid and very nice but it still takes away some of that wonderful simplicity and I think the old style frame also looked better. So having said all this...We searched until we found an old style Villager sitting unsold on the floor of a bike shop way up in Wisconsin.

Because of events that have happened in the last year, my mind wanders and remembers the swarms of angry Wisconsinites skipping out on their schools and jobs to protest and make themselves into a spectacle. It seems sadly ironic that this Villager (which is a giver of smiles) would be sitting there as an orphan right under their noses. If one is going to skip out on school and work, you should take a happy ride instead of doing the angry mob thing......But thanks for leaving this Villager for my wife.

Anyway...Here's pictures......

The big box 

There it is....Somewhere

Pulled out the Park tool case

I love the skeletal look of the naked Catrike

Finished, but how do I get it out of the room? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

New member of the household....

Suddenly got word yesterday that we would have a new person in the house for a while. This isn't the first time this has happened but it might be the most sudden time. My wife and myself are "Godparents" and, sometimes, things happen that might put that title into action. This means we gotta incorporate a toddler into our bicycle loving lifestyle. This isn't a big deal as there are so many child carrying options out there but we're thrust into this situation so suddenly that it's tougher. If we had months to prepare, we could get everything lined up and purchased and it would be nice and easy with the great products we cyclists are blessed with nowadays. Wifey and myself are both Xtracycle riders and there are tons of options for this. The Yuba Mundos, Bakfietsen, and all the different trailers are great too! It's just a wide open world of child carrying options out there and we have so many choices that I can't help but brag about the bike industry for a moment.

Thanks to all the innovators and practical thinkers.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

11,000 mile tires...

Specialized Armadillo Hemisphere tires are unbelievable! These were rotated regularly but 11,000 miles is a lot for any tire. This is over the course of about five years too. I didn't just rack up a bunch o' miles in one season. The tires have mostly ridden on my cargo bike and have battled goatheads in the Northwest, actual armadillos in the midwest, and chunks of coal on the road here in the Appalachians. They carried people and large touring loads at different times. The kevlar casing seems to be the key to the durability of these particular tires. I've gone through many other tires due to sidewall cuts.

Coincidentally, both tires messed up in the same week. The tread had just gotten so thin that it tore and started coming off the casing. It was like a bologna (baloney) skin. I was alerted of this problem because the tread was flapping against my fender and it make me think it was either a sidewall bulge or a bent rim. The actual cause was more of a surprise and I was unprepared for this event.

Had to ride these tires in this condition for about a week as I waited for new tires to arrive on the big brown truck. I expected that the casing was probably tougher than the tread so I didn't worry about a blowout. I did have to be careful cornering though because the casing is slick when you hit that spot, plus the tread was wallowing around on the casing a little bit. This gave the bike a bit of a vague feeling in the turns so I slowed down.

Unhappy cranks...

Cranks live a hard life.....Especially if they're mounted on a cargo bike and ridden by a former BMX'er who happens to be a clydesdale.

Here's what these poor cranks look like after about 9,000 miles. The shape actually created a stress riser at the source of the crack. As much as I want to glorify my thunderous/crank arm murdering thighs, these cranks really just committed suicide.....So I must stay humble. Guess this is why these have been off the market for years.

Clean yo' bike every now and then to find these ticking time bombs. My friend Todd had a BMX crankarm break while he was powering down the street and it absolutely messed him up. Scratched up face and broken teeth. I got lucky with these


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Setting up the Tour Easy...

Adjusting the fit in a tiny room. Never fear.....I'm not balancing on the kickstand. My left arm is against the wall to support us.

This is actually my wife's yoga room.

The color is british racing green but I'm so "blue collar" that I feel the name is a lil' too fancy for me so I tend to call the color coleman green.

Tour Easy...

In May, 2011 I got a new bike. It's a medium/large Tour Easy from the Easy Racers bike company. Back in 2008 I got a Kentucky blue Tour Easy but had to sell it because of financial reasons. I regretted that decision very much and had been saving pennies for another one ever since. The Tour Easy is what I think of when you say the words "recumbent bicycle". To me, it's the quintessential recumbent that handles well and the position works for me and how I ride.

Now I finally have another and went a step further this time and got a semi-custom color because most of the Easy Racers standard colors feel too flashy for me and I'm also not a fan of black bikes. There's nothing wrong with any of their stock colors but I wanted something that felt more like.....Me. The way their system works is that the powder coater has the E.R. standard colors in stock, plus a few extra colors from past custom work. It's like $300.00 to get a full custom color but that price is cut in half if you use a non-standard color that they happen to have sitting around.

My inner cheapskate won the day so I didn't go full custom but asked them to find me a good color that they already had on hand. I specifically asked for military colors...Grays, tans, browns, or greens and E.R. got back to me and said the closest they have is a nice medium green. I told them "green sounds good". The fork is painted to match the frame because chrome forks look perfect on old Italian road bikes but this is not one of those.

Big box, tiny dog

Well packed frameset
 You can see the well wrapped frame, fork, handlebar/stem, seat and a giant mass of paper....Plus Atlas the puppy
 Those plastic caps are VERY WHITE and are about to be replaced with the corks in the background
 Corked but not yet shellacked 

How I see the bicycle world....

I can't think of any sort of one, two, three, or four wheeled, human powered machine that I actually don't like.

I'm a cyclist.....Not a snob.

I ride......I don't just sit back and criticize.

For whatever reason, I just can't get enough of the bicycle. I gotta' look at them, touch them, ride them, fix them, and think about them. It's fortunate that I'm not this way with women as it would destroy any chance of  having a meaningful marriage....Which I'm lucky to have. As a matter of fact, if I were so obsessed with cars, it would probably be a marriage destroyer as well because I just don't make enough money to obsess over anything pricier than a few thousand dollars.

When I turn on the computer I see that there are BMX blogs.....Freeride blogs.....Commuter/utility blogs......Mountain bike blogs.....Road bike blogs.....Fat bike blogs.....Recumbent blogs......Cargo bike blogs.....And fashionable/pretty lady blogs. Often a person who prefers a particular style of cycling or bicycle will hold that style way up on a pedestal and insult all the others. It seems alright to love a particular style but it seems less alright to criticize others for simply exercising their freedom in finding their own preferred style.

The cycling world is full of Nazis.....Helmet Nazis, light Nazis, lyrca Nazis, facility Nazis, trail Nazis, handlebar height Nazis, sidewalk Nazis, seat angle Nazis,  and plain ol' bicycle Nazis.  This one makes fun of lycra while that one makes fun of black socks, and that other one makes fun of recumbents. Slow cyclists, fast cyclists, skinny and fat cyclists are criticized . Some completely ignore fashion and ride naked and even these clever folks are still the "butts" of jokes.

Fat bikes, skinny  bikes, heavy bikes, light bikes, plastic bikes, steel bikes, big wheels, small wheels, cheap bikes, and even pricey bikes are all fair game.

We all deal with the "do it my way" crowd but that's the opposite of what I am. Ride whatever you want and I'll give you the thumbs up. Tell me what to ride and I'll give you two thumbs down. Right now I have two bikes and they are not "normal. One is a Surly Big Dummy, and the other is an Easy Racers Tour Easy recumbent. My wife has a Bianchi Milano with an Xtracycle on the back. We hope to get her a recumbent trike as well.

We rarely wear a helmet, our lights are not supa' bight, and we even (carefully) ride on the sidewalk when the occasion arises. The rabid bike Nazis see us as shining examples of cyclists who need to be exterminated/assimilated . According to some, we do everything wrong and it's okay to believe that....Just don't expect us to change because you say so.