Tuesday, December 30, 2008

4-Speed Again

This is the third time I've converted this bike to an internal gear (Sturmey Archer 4-speed). Maybe I've gotten it right this time.

I've had two problems using internal gear hubs with this bike in the past. The hub slips in the drop outs as if I hadn't tightened the axle nuts enough. This happens no matter how tight I make them.

The second problem is this bike has short horizontal drop outs. I haven't measured them, but they are just short enough to make it difficult to get the chain tension correct with certain cog/chain ring combinations. It seems that the ones I've tried are all difficult ones.

I've tried a few cures, but they didn't work. I mentioned this to Bikesmith and he sold me these beautifully made Sturmey Archer anti-rotation washers shown in the photo below. Previously, I'd only used stamped washers with a single "tooth." The new ones provide more surface area for the hub to bite into the drop outs. The new ones looked like they'd work, but they made the second problem worse by shortening the effective length of the drop outs. I tried this anyway and couldn't get the chain tight enough to stop the chain from jumping off the cog. So I put a rear derailleur back on the bike a month or so ago.

Compare my drop outs shown below with the array of drop outs shown on Sheldon's website (scroll down to the entry for drop outs). If my bike had long drop outs, setting chain tension would be easy.

A few days ago, I decided to try the anti-rotation washers again and add the chain tensioner mentioned in the last post. I installed it all today and gave it a ride. It seems to work. I've learned, however, that it'll take more time on the road to determine if it slips. Last year, I had it working until I installed clipless pedals in the spring. Then it started slipping again. I have hope for this setup though.

It's snowing and there are lots of ice ruts hidden under the snow. This prevented me from really putting the pressure on the pedals. It's time for skiing anyway.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back from Vacation & New Bike Project

I returned from vacation. My family and I traveled to see my dad and brother. I had secret dreams of getting out on a bike, any old bike would do, but it didn't work out.

I'll share a few photos out of the hundreds I took. The digital camera gives me more freedom to experiment with photos and one or two of them turned out nicely.

Back home, I tried to ride my winter commuter and found the new chain rusted into an orange mess. I tried to loosen up the stiff links with oil and by gently bending it sideways. I didn't see much improvement. The bike is unrideable. I've had this problem before, but never to this extent.

I have a solution, a permanent one. Tomorrow I'll install the 4-speed hub again. Some of you may remember I had chain tension problems with that setup. This time, I'll use a chain tensioner.
The newest version of the Surly Singleator impresses me. I owned one of the originals, before it was called Surly, and it was less refined. The old one worked, but it required fiddling. The new features on this one look like they'll address the old ones shortcomings.

The work will begin tomorrow, because I want my bike ready for the HC New Year's Day ride. If it's like last year's, it'll be memorable. It was on that day that we got to see more of Jim than we expected.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I'm going on vacation today for a week.

It's with great pleasure I leave you with this YouTube video I found on BoingBoing. Have a little patience -- the fun starts about 25 seconds into the video. I'll never be able to dance again.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dec. 13 Hiawatha Cyclery Ride

About ten riders turned out for today's HC ride. Most of us complained of being overdressed as the temperature had risen to 20 degrees F and kept climbing throughout the ride. By the end of the ride the snow was mush and didn't provide the oatmeal quality it had earlier in the morning. Oatmeal sounds funny, but it makes handling difficult. It never lasts very long though, because it can only exist in a certain temperature range. When the temps warm up, the oatmeal turns to pudding and when the temps go down, it turns to angry ice.

The sun came out and I think the ride was one of the best ever. I can't tell you why, but that's how I felt.

After the ride, I attended our neighborhood holiday party and ate my weight in egg dishes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Old Blog Posts are Worth Reading

I was looking through my old blog posts for a certain photo. Which photo is not important to this purpose of this post. The important point I want to make is that it's fun to read the old posts and the comments. I laughed and laughed.

The posts in which I describe bike projects are useful too. They helped me understand the progression of bike changes.

It's nice to reread the posts and remember things I'd forgotten. Over the past few months, I've questioned the value of a blog. After looking over the old posts, I have the answer: my blog is valuable to me.

Maybe all of you already found that answer, but if you haven't, I recommend you take a look at your old posts.

The Photo?
I took the photo on yesterday's ride to work. This is the Minneapolis skyline from the top of a hill north of downtown Minneapolis. I think that someday I'll capture the photo in a way that pleases me. But I haven't done it yet. I took this with a pocket camera steadied on my Frost River saddlebag. Yes, a better camera and a tripod would help. I set the shutter speed to about 1/4 of a second. I tried lots of other shutter speeds and froze my nipples off in the process.

Shopping Season Music

I went shopping the other day for xmas gifts. I heard lots of xmas songs while wandering around the stores. Lots of them are old songs with a beat track added, like Bing Crosby's version of White Christmas with a fake drum beat added. I don't like it. These songs become really stale after being over played, but adding hip-hop beats doesn't make them better.

I tried to find an audio clip that I could put in my blog, but I had no luck in the 30 seconds I spent searching.

For a good example of the bad music I'm referring to, go to this link and listen to any song on the list -- wait, first put a bucket in front of you to catch the puke you're gonna spew.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dry-Skin Season Tip #1

I found another advantage of having a shaved head. During the dry-skin season I sometimes put too much lotion on my hands and need somewhere to wipe the excess. My shaved head is perfect for this.

A Little Snow

I rode the winterized commuter to work for the first time today, because we had a little snow. It turns out that the amount of snow was too small to deserve the studded tires. I know this because at the end of my ride, the snow tongue was tiny.

But the headwind was huge. I don't know the wind speed, but it was enough to make me cold. The good side is that I'll fly home, unless it changes direction. If it does change and I ride home in a headwind, I'll whine about it here.

I saw tracks of three other bicyclists along the Diagonal Trail in NE Minneapolis. This trail doesn't see much traffic so it was nice to see others out at such an early time of day in the snow.

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