Bicycle

You are currently browsing the archive for the Bicycle category.

Resurrected 1994 Bridgestone RB-T
In the spring of 1994 my parents bought me a Bridgestone RB-T for a cross-country (Seattle to Portsmouth, NH) ride that I was preparing to do that summer.  The previous summer I had my first experience with extended bicycle touring when I participated in a month-long  700 mile bike tour around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  While that trip was van supported, my cross-country trip was not and therefore the road bike I borrowed from my cousin (a Nishiki, probably 14-speed) would not suffice.  I needed a bike that could be loaded with front and rear panniers and that had proper gearing for crossing the Rockies.  My father and I went to a number of bike shops in the greater Boston area, and we happened upon a bizarre bike shop that neither of us had even been to, and I don't know if I've been there since we purchased the bike: Farina's on Galen Street in Watertown, MA.  I say "bizarre" because not only do they sell bicycles, but they also sell lawnmowers, snowblowers and various other assorted gas-powered yard equipment.  The whole experience was markedly unremarkable in that I don't really recall much about buying the bike.  Little did my father or I know that we were to come home with a bit of a cult icon in the bike world: a Bridgestone RB-T ("T" for touring).  For those that don't know, Bridgestone was then run by Grant Petersen who currently runs Rivendell Bicycle Works, and 1994 was the last year that Bridgestone sold bicycles in America.  Considering that I grew up in Newton, we should have gone to Harris Cyclery, home of Sheldon Brown, but we lived in a different part of the city, and I guess that Harris wasn't really on our radar.  Sheldon has a whole section on his site devoted to Bridgestone, including all of the catalogs up to 1994 when they ceased operations in the US.  Here is the page from the brochure depicting what my bike looked like when I got it.
1994 Bridgestone Catalog Page (from Sheldonbrown.com)
I went off to college in Portland, Oregon and chose to bring my father's old beater Specialized Rock Hopper rather than the RB-T, which stayed in my parents' basement.  I put slicks on the Rock Hopper and it served its purpose as a college bike admirably, although it got ridden much less than one would imagine considering how much I currently ride and that I was living in Portland.
I subsequently moved to Atlanta for grad school and I brought the Rock Hopper rather than the RB-T.  I didn't ride much while I lived there as that city is so car-centric.  Were I to live there now I would ride, but at the time it just wasn't part of my plan.
I moved back to Boston in 2006, settling into life in JP.  I began riding regularly within 6 months-or-so and I retrieved the Bridgestone from the basement and it became my primary ride for a while.  The wheels were screwed up and I bought some Ritchey deep-section wheels with bladed spokes from Nashbar that ultimately looked ridiculous on it.  I then built up a fixed-gear and that became my primary ride during my blossoming bike obsession over the following 5 years.
A Beauty Reborn
The Bridgestone became my winter bike and was a bit neglected.  As I began to appreciate the beauty of this bike, I realized that at some point I would like to do a complete rebuild of the bike.  When I first resurrected the bike when I moved back to Boston I had gone in to International Bike to ask them what they thought it needed.  I was told that it was not worth putting any money into it, that I should just buy a new one.  Needless to say, I didn't take their advice, and I began to see that there are numerous types of bike shops, not all of which have a philosophy about cycling that is one I agree with.  I'll save more on that for another post.
The pictures here are of the completed project.  It is the first bike that I have ever built entirely by myself from the ground up (not including the frame (obviously) and the wheels which I had built for me).  It was an amazingly fun activity, and was all the more rewarding considering that I rode this bike across the country so there is obviously some sentimental attachment.  While this might be heresy for some who think that bikes like this should be restored with period perfect parts: I actually think the bike is more beautiful than it was the day it was new, and any parts that I have added (as opposed to reusing) are certainly superior to the original equipment.
So here is the part-by-part breakdown of my rebuild:
Tange double butted tubing on the RB-T. The paint is in remarkably good condition considering that the bike is almost 20 years old.
I replaced the original triple crankset with a Fluted Triple 24x34x48T from Velo Orange.  This give the bike lower gearing than it originally came with, as the bike previously had a 52T large ring.  The front derailer (Sheldon spelling...) is the original Shimano RX100 clamp-on.  The pedals are Velo Orange City Pedals that I had sitting around, they will probably be swapped for something a little larger or something with SPD compatibility.  I used new VO bottom bracket as well, as the spacing was different for this crankset relative to the original.
The rear derailer is the original Shimano RX100.  The RB-T came as a 7-speed drivetrain, but it is increasingly hard to find decent parts that are 7-speed, and there was really no reason not to go up, so I have changed to an 8-speed SRAM PG-850 11-30T cassette.  Because I am running the original barcon shifter in friction mode, there is no problem making this switch.  The chain is a Wipperman ConneX 808.
Mavic A319 rims are new. Double-butted stainless steel spokes with brass nipples laced to...
Ultegra 32H front hub laced 3X, and...
Ultegra 32H rear hub laced 3X. These wheels were hand-built by www.bicyclewheelwarehouse.com.  I would have preferred to have them built locally, but I saved a ton of money on these and I was already spending too much money as it was.  I still need to cut the fender stays.
American made Paul Components Touring Canti with polished finish up front.  Another serious upgrade from the original brakes.  Front fender is a 52mm Velo Orange Zeppelin.  The headset is original, mainly because it seems like it is in decent shape, I serviced it with the help of Broadway Bicycle School a number of years ago, and I don't have the proper tools to remove it myself.  If this one ever needs replacing, I'll put a Chris King in there.
Paul Components Touring Canti with polished finish in the rear too.  Same VO 52mm Zeppelin fender.  Paul gives you a pair of salmon Kool Stop pads when you buy their brakes.  It's the least they can do considering how expensive they are...
Brooks B17 saddle.  This is much better than the Avocet saddle that the bike came with.  That thing made it hurt to pee!
A little Japanese flair: an NJS stamped Nitto Jaguar SP-72 27.0mm seatpost that I ordered off Ebay from a guy that sells used Kerin gear.  You know you are a bike dork when you get excited about a seatpost, and this one is a beauty.  I have a Jaguar on my Iglehart (in 27.2mm guise) too and it is much more appropriate for this bike than a Thompson IMHO.  The original seatpost was an ugly cheapo giveaway.  All parts that I did not reuse that were still functional were given to Bikes Not Bombs.  The brake cable hanger is original.  The kitty sticker is not.
I'm pretty proud of this piece of improvisational bicycle mechanics, and I really hope that this was my idea and that I didn't see it somewhere a long time ago, filing it away for a time when I would need it, because I think it is slick as hell:  the rear fender is mounted to the brake bridge using an old threaded presta tube valve as the connector between the frame and the "L" bracket.  The VO fenders come with 2 brackets for the rear fender, one that wraps around the fender, and one that requires you to drill into the fender and then screw the "L" bracket into the fender from beneath.  I originally used the former, but it looks ugly, and I had tire clearance issues with it.
I used 3 of the screws that typically go on a presta valve and some of the extra leather washers I had.  This is rock solid so far, and looks pretty killer if you ask me.
Nitto Pearl 110mm 1" threaded quill stem.  I considered going for a matching Jaguar, but the slope of the Jaguar stem is really severe and considerably more expensive.  The Pearl is still a gorgeous stem with that sheen that Nitto is known for.  For some reason the RB-T originally came with a black stem.  I have no idea what the aesthetic thinking was for that, because it looked awful from day one.  This is a major aesthetic upgrade.  Original Shimano barcon bar end shifters set to friction mode to accommodate the 8-speed drivetrain (and because that's how Grant says you should use them).
In true Grant Peterson fashion, I used moustache-style bars and finished the bar tape with waxed thread.  I had an extra pair of Soma Oxford bars, so these are not the Nitto Moustache that Grant designed, but they are close.  I have them turned down.  The brake levers are the original Shimano SLR Exage.  Bar tape is a retro perforated felt-like variety.  You can see that I had to use a Nitto stainless stem shim in there to change from the 26.0mm stem to the 25.4mm bar clamp area.  This was the result of a mislabeled Ebay purchase that I was none to happy about.  I wound up scratching the handlebars pretty good trying to get that thing in there. Oh well.  The front brake cable hanger is original.
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 700x35c.  It turns out that these are really like a 37c, and that therefore the 45mm fenders that I originally purchased would not fit as there was tire rub.  From everything I've read about these tires they are great. I think I've officially been converted from a Conti man to a Schwalbe man.  All my bikes have them now, including the Marathon Winter studs which are great btw.
From the front
From the back
I couldn't be more pleased! See you on the road.

Resurrected 1994 Bridgestone RB-T
In the spring of 1994 my parents bought me a Bridgestone RB-T for a cross-country (Seattle to Portsmouth, NH) ride that I was preparing to do that summer.  The previous summer I had my first experience with extended bicycle touring when I participated in a month-long  700 mile bike tour around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  While that trip was van supported, my cross-country trip was not and therefore the road bike I borrowed from my cousin (a Nishiki, probably 14-speed) would not suffice.  I needed a bike that could be loaded with front and rear panniers and that had proper gearing for crossing the Rockies.  My father and I went to a number of bike shops in the greater Boston area, and we happened upon a bizarre bike shop that neither of us had even been to, and I don't know if I've been there since we purchased the bike: Farina's on Galen Street in Watertown, MA.  I say "bizarre" because not only do they sell bicycles, but they also sell lawnmowers, snowblowers and various other assorted gas-powered yard equipment.  The whole experience was markedly unremarkable in that I don't really recall much about buying the bike.  Little did my father or I know that we were to come home with a bit of a cult icon in the bike world: a Bridgestone RB-T ("T" for touring).  For those that don't know, Bridgestone was then run by Grant Petersen who currently runs Rivendell Bicycle Works, and 1994 was the last year that Bridgestone sold bicycles in America.  Considering that I grew up in Newton, we should have gone to Harris Cyclery, home of Sheldon Brown, but we lived in a different part of the city, and I guess that Harris wasn't really on our radar.  Sheldon has a whole section on his site devoted to Bridgestone, including all of the catalogs up to 1994 when they ceased operations in the US.  Here is the page from the brochure depicting what my bike looked like when I got it.
1994 Bridgestone Catalog Page (from Sheldonbrown.com)
I went off to college in Portland, Oregon and chose to bring my father's old beater Specialized Rock Hopper rather than the RB-T, which stayed in my parents' basement.  I put slicks on the Rock Hopper and it served its purpose as a college bike admirably, although it got ridden much less than one would imagine considering how much I currently ride and that I was living in Portland.
I subsequently moved to Atlanta for grad school and I brought the Rock Hopper rather than the RB-T.  I didn't ride much while I lived there as that city is so car-centric.  Were I to live there now I would ride, but at the time it just wasn't part of my plan.
I moved back to Boston in 2006, settling into life in JP.  I began riding regularly within 6 months-or-so and I retrieved the Bridgestone from the basement and it became my primary ride for a while.  The wheels were screwed up and I bought some Ritchey deep-section wheels with bladed spokes from Nashbar that ultimately looked ridiculous on it.  I then built up a fixed-gear and that became my primary ride during my blossoming bike obsession over the following 5 years.
A Beauty Reborn
The Bridgestone became my winter bike and was a bit neglected.  As I began to appreciate the beauty of this bike, I realized that at some point I would like to do a complete rebuild of the bike.  When I first resurrected the bike when I moved back to Boston I had gone in to International Bike to ask them what they thought it needed.  I was told that it was not worth putting any money into it, that I should just buy a new one.  Needless to say, I didn't take their advice, and I began to see that there are numerous types of bike shops, not all of which have a philosophy about cycling that is one I agree with.  I'll save more on that for another post.
The pictures here are of the completed project.  It is the first bike that I have ever built entirely by myself from the ground up (not including the frame (obviously) and the wheels which I had built for me).  It was an amazingly fun activity, and was all the more rewarding considering that I rode this bike across the country so there is obviously some sentimental attachment.  While this might be heresy for some who think that bikes like this should be restored with period perfect parts: I actually think the bike is more beautiful than it was the day it was new, and any parts that I have added (as opposed to reusing) are certainly superior to the original equipment.
So here is the part-by-part breakdown of my rebuild:
Tange double butted tubing on the RB-T. The paint is in remarkably good condition considering that the bike is almost 20 years old.
I replaced the original triple crankset with a Fluted Triple 24x34x48T from Velo Orange.  This give the bike lower gearing than it originally came with, as the bike previously had a 52T large ring.  The front derailer (Sheldon spelling...) is the original Shimano RX100 clamp-on.  The pedals are Velo Orange City Pedals that I had sitting around, they will probably be swapped for something a little larger or something with SPD compatibility.  I used new VO bottom bracket as well, as the spacing was different for this crankset relative to the original.
The rear derailer is the original Shimano RX100.  The RB-T came as a 7-speed drivetrain, but it is increasingly hard to find decent parts that are 7-speed, and there was really no reason not to go up, so I have changed to an 8-speed SRAM PG-850 11-30T cassette.  Because I am running the original barcon shifter in friction mode, there is no problem making this switch.  The chain is a Wipperman ConneX 808.
Mavic A319 rims are new. Double-butted stainless steel spokes with brass nipples laced to...
Ultegra 32H front hub laced 3X, and...
Ultegra 32H rear hub laced 3X. These wheels were hand-built by www.bicyclewheelwarehouse.com.  I would have preferred to have them built locally, but I saved a ton of money on these and I was already spending too much money as it was.  I still need to cut the fender stays.
American made Paul Components Touring Canti with polished finish up front.  Another serious upgrade from the original brakes.  Front fender is a 52mm Velo Orange Zeppelin.  The headset is original, mainly because it seems like it is in decent shape, I serviced it with the help of Broadway Bicycle School a number of years ago, and I don't have the proper tools to remove it myself.  If this one ever needs replacing, I'll put a Chris King in there.
Paul Components Touring Canti with polished finish in the rear too.  Same VO 52mm Zeppelin fender.  Paul gives you a pair of salmon Kool Stop pads when you buy their brakes.  It's the least they can do considering how expensive they are...
Brooks B17 saddle.  This is much better than the Avocet saddle that the bike came with.  That thing made it hurt to pee!
A little Japanese flair: an NJS stamped Nitto Jaguar SP-72 27.0mm seatpost that I ordered off Ebay from a guy that sells used Kerin gear.  You know you are a bike dork when you get excited about a seatpost, and this one is a beauty.  I have a Jaguar on my Iglehart (in 27.2mm guise) too and it is much more appropriate for this bike than a Thompson IMHO.  The original seatpost was an ugly cheapo giveaway.  All parts that I did not reuse that were still functional were given to Bikes Not Bombs.  The brake cable hanger is original.  The kitty sticker is not.
I'm pretty proud of this piece of improvisational bicycle mechanics, and I really hope that this was my idea and that I didn't see it somewhere a long time ago, filing it away for a time when I would need it, because I think it is slick as hell:  the rear fender is mounted to the brake bridge using an old threaded presta tube valve as the connector between the frame and the "L" bracket.  The VO fenders come with 2 brackets for the rear fender, one that wraps around the fender, and one that requires you to drill into the fender and then screw the "L" bracket into the fender from beneath.  I originally used the former, but it looks ugly, and I had tire clearance issues with it.
I used 3 of the screws that typically go on a presta valve and some of the extra leather washers I had.  This is rock solid so far, and looks pretty killer if you ask me.
Nitto Pearl 110mm 1" threaded quill stem.  I considered going for a matching Jaguar, but the slope of the Jaguar stem is really severe and considerably more expensive.  The Pearl is still a gorgeous stem with that sheen that Nitto is known for.  For some reason the RB-T originally came with a black stem.  I have no idea what the aesthetic thinking was for that, because it looked awful from day one.  This is a major aesthetic upgrade.  Original Shimano barcon bar end shifters set to friction mode to accommodate the 8-speed drivetrain (and because that's how Grant says you should use them).
In true Grant Peterson fashion, I used moustache-style bars and finished the bar tape with waxed thread.  I had an extra pair of Soma Oxford bars, so these are not the Nitto Moustache that Grant designed, but they are close.  I have them turned down.  The brake levers are the original Shimano SLR Exage.  Bar tape is a retro perforated felt-like variety.  You can see that I had to use a Nitto stainless stem shim in there to change from the 26.0mm stem to the 25.4mm bar clamp area.  This was the result of a mislabeled Ebay purchase that I was none to happy about.  I wound up scratching the handlebars pretty good trying to get that thing in there. Oh well.  The front brake cable hanger is original.
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 700x35c.  It turns out that these are really like a 37c, and that therefore the 45mm fenders that I originally purchased would not fit as there was tire rub.  From everything I've read about these tires they are great. I think I've officially been converted from a Conti man to a Schwalbe man.  All my bikes have them now, including the Marathon Winter studs which are great btw.
From the front
From the back
I couldn't be more pleased! See you on the road.

Resurrected 1994 Bridgestone RB-T
In the spring of 1994 my parents bought me a Bridgestone RB-T for a cross-country (Seattle to Portsmouth, NH) ride that I was preparing to do that summer.  The previous summer I had my first experience with extended bicycle touring when I participated in a month-long  700 mile bike tour around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  While that trip was van supported, my cross-country trip was not and therefore the road bike I borrowed from my cousin (a Nishiki, probably 14-speed) would not suffice.  I needed a bike that could be loaded with front and rear panniers and that had proper gearing for crossing the Rockies.  My father and I went to a number of bike shops in the greater Boston area, and we happened upon a bizarre bike shop that neither of us had even been to, and I don't know if I've been there since we purchased the bike: Farina's on Galen Street in Watertown, MA.  I say "bizarre" because not only do they sell bicycles, but they also sell lawnmowers, snowblowers and various other assorted gas-powered yard equipment.  The whole experience was markedly unremarkable in that I don't really recall much about buying the bike.  Little did my father or I know that we were to come home with a bit of a cult icon in the bike world: a Bridgestone RB-T ("T" for touring).  For those that don't know, Bridgestone was then run by Grant Petersen who currently runs Rivendell Bicycle Works, and 1994 was the last year that Bridgestone sold bicycles in America.  Considering that I grew up in Newton, we should have gone to Harris Cyclery, home of Sheldon Brown, but we lived in a different part of the city, and I guess that Harris wasn't really on our radar.  Sheldon has a whole section on his site devoted to Bridgestone, including all of the catalogs up to 1994 when they ceased operations in the US.  Here is the page from the brochure depicting what my bike looked like when I got it.
1994 Bridgestone Catalog Page (from Sheldonbrown.com)
I went off to college in Portland, Oregon and chose to bring my father's old beater Specialized Rock Hopper rather than the RB-T, which stayed in my parents' basement.  I put slicks on the Rock Hopper and it served its purpose as a college bike admirably, although it got ridden much less than one would imagine considering how much I currently ride and that I was living in Portland.
I subsequently moved to Atlanta for grad school and I brought the Rock Hopper rather than the RB-T.  I didn't ride much while I lived there as that city is so car-centric.  Were I to live there now I would ride, but at the time it just wasn't part of my plan.
I moved back to Boston in 2006, settling into life in JP.  I began riding regularly within 6 months-or-so and I retrieved the Bridgestone from the basement and it became my primary ride for a while.  The wheels were screwed up and I bought some Ritchey deep-section wheels with bladed spokes from Nashbar that ultimately looked ridiculous on it.  I then built up a fixed-gear and that became my primary ride during my blossoming bike obsession over the following 5 years.
A Beauty Reborn
The Bridgestone became my winter bike and was a bit neglected.  As I began to appreciate the beauty of this bike, I realized that at some point I would like to do a complete rebuild of the bike.  When I first resurrected the bike when I moved back to Boston I had gone in to International Bike to ask them what they thought it needed.  I was told that it was not worth putting any money into it, that I should just buy a new one.  Needless to say, I didn't take their advice, and I began to see that there are numerous types of bike shops, not all of which have a philosophy about cycling that is one I agree with.  I'll save more on that for another post.
The pictures here are of the completed project.  It is the first bike that I have ever built entirely by myself from the ground up (not including the frame (obviously) and the wheels which I had built for me).  It was an amazingly fun activity, and was all the more rewarding considering that I rode this bike across the country so there is obviously some sentimental attachment.  While this might be heresy for some who think that bikes like this should be restored with period perfect parts: I actually think the bike is more beautiful than it was the day it was new, and any parts that I have added (as opposed to reusing) are certainly superior to the original equipment.
So here is the part-by-part breakdown of my rebuild:
Tange double butted tubing on the RB-T. The paint is in remarkably good condition considering that the bike is almost 20 years old.
I replaced the original triple crankset with a Fluted Triple 24x34x48T from Velo Orange.  This give the bike lower gearing than it originally came with, as the bike previously had a 52T large ring.  The front derailer (Sheldon spelling...) is the original Shimano RX100 clamp-on.  The pedals are Velo Orange City Pedals that I had sitting around, they will probably be swapped for something a little larger or something with SPD compatibility.  I used new VO bottom bracket as well, as the spacing was different for this crankset relative to the original.
The rear derailer is the original Shimano RX100.  The RB-T came as a 7-speed drivetrain, but it is increasingly hard to find decent parts that are 7-speed, and there was really no reason not to go up, so I have changed to an 8-speed SRAM PG-850 11-30T cassette.  Because I am running the original barcon shifter in friction mode, there is no problem making this switch.  The chain is a Wipperman ConneX 808.
Mavic A319 rims are new. Double-butted stainless steel spokes with brass nipples laced to...
Ultegra 32H front hub laced 3X, and...
Ultegra 32H rear hub laced 3X. These wheels were hand-built by www.bicyclewheelwarehouse.com.  I would have preferred to have them built locally, but I saved a ton of money on these and I was already spending too much money as it was.  I still need to cut the fender stays.
American made Paul Components Touring Canti with polished finish up front.  Another serious upgrade from the original brakes.  Front fender is a 52mm Velo Orange Zeppelin.  The headset is original, mainly because it seems like it is in decent shape, I serviced it with the help of Broadway Bicycle School a number of years ago, and I don't have the proper tools to remove it myself.  If this one ever needs replacing, I'll put a Chris King in there.
Paul Components Touring Canti with polished finish in the rear too.  Same VO 52mm Zeppelin fender.  Paul gives you a pair of salmon Kool Stop pads when you buy their brakes.  It's the least they can do considering how expensive they are...
Brooks B17 saddle.  This is much better than the Avocet saddle that the bike came with.  That thing made it hurt to pee!
A little Japanese flair: an NJS stamped Nitto Jaguar SP-72 27.0mm seatpost that I ordered off Ebay from a guy that sells used Kerin gear.  You know you are a bike dork when you get excited about a seatpost, and this one is a beauty.  I have a Jaguar on my Iglehart (in 27.2mm guise) too and it is much more appropriate for this bike than a Thompson IMHO.  The original seatpost was an ugly cheapo giveaway.  All parts that I did not reuse that were still functional were given to Bikes Not Bombs.  The brake cable hanger is original.  The kitty sticker is not.
I'm pretty proud of this piece of improvisational bicycle mechanics, and I really hope that this was my idea and that I didn't see it somewhere a long time ago, filing it away for a time when I would need it, because I think it is slick as hell:  the rear fender is mounted to the brake bridge using an old threaded presta tube valve as the connector between the frame and the "L" bracket.  The VO fenders come with 2 brackets for the rear fender, one that wraps around the fender, and one that requires you to drill into the fender and then screw the "L" bracket into the fender from beneath.  I originally used the former, but it looks ugly, and I had tire clearance issues with it.
I used 3 of the screws that typically go on a presta valve and some of the extra leather washers I had.  This is rock solid so far, and looks pretty killer if you ask me.
Nitto Pearl 110mm 1" threaded quill stem.  I considered going for a matching Jaguar, but the slope of the Jaguar stem is really severe and considerably more expensive.  The Pearl is still a gorgeous stem with that sheen that Nitto is known for.  For some reason the RB-T originally came with a black stem.  I have no idea what the aesthetic thinking was for that, because it looked awful from day one.  This is a major aesthetic upgrade.  Original Shimano barcon bar end shifters set to friction mode to accommodate the 8-speed drivetrain (and because that's how Grant says you should use them).
In true Grant Peterson fashion, I used moustache-style bars and finished the bar tape with waxed thread.  I had an extra pair of Soma Oxford bars, so these are not the Nitto Moustache that Grant designed, but they are close.  I have them turned down.  The brake levers are the original Shimano SLR Exage.  Bar tape is a retro perforated felt-like variety.  You can see that I had to use a Nitto stainless stem shim in there to change from the 26.0mm stem to the 25.4mm bar clamp area.  This was the result of a mislabeled Ebay purchase that I was none to happy about.  I wound up scratching the handlebars pretty good trying to get that thing in there. Oh well.  The front brake cable hanger is original.
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 700x35c.  It turns out that these are really like a 37c, and that therefore the 45mm fenders that I originally purchased would not fit as there was tire rub.  From everything I've read about these tires they are great. I think I've officially been converted from a Conti man to a Schwalbe man.  All my bikes have them now, including the Marathon Winter studs which are great btw.
From the front
From the back
I couldn't be more pleased! See you on the road.

Gov. Patrick has banned all vehicular traffic after 4pm in THE WHOLE STATE! Woo hoo.  Throw those Marathon Winter studded tires on your steed (if you have not already done so) and get out there and ride.  My commute this morning to work was a breeze and I’m pumped for the ride home.

Come one come all, for tonight we ride.

Meet at Copley Square between 5:30-6pm.

Also, check out this great poster made by Mona Caron for the upcoming 20th anniversary of Critical Mass this September in San Francisco.

 

Believe it or not, this is a bicycle wheel (click on the image for a high-res version)

Things have been a bit slow at work lately, so I decided to expand on my 3D modelling skills and teach myself the intricacies of Grasshopper, a parametric/generative modelling plugin for Rhino which is a NURBS modelling program used extensively in architecture (my field) as well as jewelry and boat design.  Essentially, Grasshopper is a visual programming infrastructure that allows one to easily modify a design through parametric relationships.

The wheel that I have modeled here is based on a Phil Wood (natch) high-flange front track hub laced radially to a Velocity Deep-V.  I suppose I should have chosen a Mavic Open Pro if I really wanted to mash-up the old school bike standards with new school technology, but alas.

The image of the definition above represents a wheel that is 99% parametric: other than the profile of the rim (which I drew based on an image from Velocity’s website) everything else about the wheel is easily modifiable with sliders.  The spoke count, spoke thickness, flange height, flange width, hub width, wheel size and tire size are all variable.

Wheel With 32 Spokes

 

Wheel With 48 Spokes

I’m pretty sure that I have messed up the lacing a little bit, as I think that the holes on the left and right side of the hub would be offset from each other to ensure that the spokes are truly radial, but it’s really close right now.  I’m not very good with data structures, so I know that there is a much easier way to create a Grasshopper definition without so much repeating of commands.  I will be further refining this and will hopefully attempt to model other components of a bicycle until I’ve got the whole thing.  If you’re interested in the Grasshopper file, hit me up in the comments and I’ll figure out a way to post it for people to use and modify.

Calling all Boston riders: did you know that one of the best times you will ever have on your bike is only 11 hours away?  Take the train with what looks to be nearly 400 cyclists from South Station to Hopkinton and then ride along the Boston Marathon route into Boston under the cover of darkness.  It should be a blast.  Check out the Boston Societies of Spontaneity’s page for details.  The weather should be perfect.

37 Tooth Ghostring

This weekend I finally solved a particularly tough chain tension problem that I’ve been having on my winter commuter/guest bike with the addition of a “ghostring” or “ghost ring” or “ghost chainring” (I’m unsure of what the proper name for it is, if there is one).  The idea is simple, but when first presented with it any well-seasoned cyclist will surely look askance at the contraption.  I’m here to say: so far, so good!

A little background:  I purchased the bike, a Felt XCity 3 off CL this winter, as it exactly fit my criteria for an ideal winter commuter bike: it has a Nexus 3-speed internal hub, disc brakes, generous toe clearance so that there is no toe overlap with heavy boots, clearance for wide tires (I put on 700x35c Schwalbe Marathon Winter studs that fit under the included fenders), it is aluminum so I don’t have to worry about the frame rusting from road salt, and it was relatively cheap.  The main problem is that the previous owner was a bit of a hack at bicycle mechanics (apologies to the previous owner if by chance you read this blog, but you must know it’s true), and he managed to let rust or strip-out nearly every bolt on the bike.  Most importantly, the two tiny bolts that are on the underside of the bottom bracket were seized in the BB shell.  The purpose of these two bolts is that they are what allow for the adjustment of the eccentric BB which in turn is what allows for an adjustment of chain tension.  To make matters worse, in attempting to remove one of the bolts, I snapped a 3mm hex key in the bolt, and now it’s really not coming out.  Because this bike has vertical dropouts, the eccentric BB was originally the only option for adjusting chain tension.  After a ton of back-and-forth with the people at Felt in California, they scrounged up a replaceable dropout that included a derailleur hanger in the hope of being able to install a standard pulley chain tensioner.  However, because of the shifting mechanism of the Nexus hub, there is not enough clearance to mount the device.

The Nexus shifting mechanism doesn't provide enough clearance to the derailleur hanger

Because I view this bike as a beater (albeit a nice beater) I’ve been hoping to avoid spending a bunch of money on it as I only plan on riding it 3 or 4 months out of the year.  If this were not the case I found these snazzy eccentric bottom brackets for tandems that would appear to do the trick, but they are $120 and it would involve me taking a chance on hammering the existing BB out of the frame one I removed the cranks.

After a lot of searching around on the internet (way more drivetrain-related forum posts on random bike blogs around the world than I would care to remember) for solutions, I came across the ghostring.  The idea is that you place an extra chainring in the middle of the drivetrain that serves to tension the chain.  Because the chain is going at the same speed in both directions, the chainring does not move fore or aft so long as it is in there tight, it just rotates with everything else.  It’s one of those things that one needs to see to believe.  The mechanics at Bikes Not Bombs were highly skeptical of the idea when I went in this weekend, but they humored me in bringing out a whole bunch of variously-sized chainrings so that I could find the right one.  After getting the chain as short as I could (including the addition of a half-link) I settled on a 36 tooth for the ghostring.  I could probably get away with a 37 or maybe even a 38 to get the chain ever tighter, but I would then run into the problem of the ghostring rubbing against the chainstay. Plus, as it is right now, there is an ever so slight rubbing of the tips of the teeth on the ghostring with those on the rear cog.  It’s a very slight clicking that I assume will go away when the harder steel cog wears down the softer teeth of the aluminum ghostring. If this were on a fixed gear I might be a little bit more concerned about the rubbing, but in this case I don’t think it’s going to matter.

Super tight clearance between ghostring and cog

It worked flawlessly on my ride home and whenever I have a friend in town that needs to borrow a bike it will get tested further. I’ve swapped out the studded tires (for Marathon Plus 28c’s that I had lying around) for the warm months. Otherwise it will have to wait until next winter for the true test. Do you have any experience with this franken-solution? Thoughts?

Closeup of the ghostring (apologies for the crappy iphone photo)

 

I recently purchased a new headlight, and I’ve been so pleased with it that I figure it deserves a little write-up.  The light is the Niterider MiNewt.600 Cordless, and as the name suggests this model blasts 600 lumens (from a single LED) and does not require any wires to dangle from your bike or helmet.  I’ll go into some details about the light in a minute, but first a little synopsis of my experience with front lights over the past 7 years of commuting in Boston:

When I first started riding regularly, I purchased a series of $30-$50 headlights.  They were all of the “be seen” variety, and made of cheap plastic.  None were rechargeable and they all had a light output around 25-30 lumens.  They all sucked.  The batteries never lasted very long, the mounts were flimsy, and they were completely useless for displaying the subtleties of road imperfections or illuminating that one section of the J-Way bike path that winds through the trees at the bottom of JP and is pitch black at night.  I was originally unable to stomach the prospect of spending north of $100 for a light and never considered them.  Once I finally bit the bullet and bought a Light and Motion Stella (about $100, 100 lumens from a single LED) I was converted.  This light had a number of modes including a strobe that I once accidentally looked at from 2 feet and from which I was temporary blinded.  It was also bright enough to somewhat make out the road in really dark spots when set on a steady setting.  It was rechargeable so I wasn’t burning through batteries, and it was encased in metal and survived a number of trips home from the pub.  Recently however, the light became finicky, and the rechargeable batteries were not lasting as long as they were originally.

Thus began my online searching for reviews of bike lights.  I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit comparing models, light output, price, features, etc.  The most helpful place for comparisons (and from which I ultimately made my decision) was this article.  What I learned is that the recent advances in semiconductors have not gone entirely into making your smartphone faster: much progress has been made in the efficiency and output of LED’s (which are a form of semiconductor for the non-physicists out there).  In fact, in the span of just 4 years, the light output that I settled on was more than 5 times that of my L&M Stella and was purchased for roughly the same price.  The Niterider MiNewt.600 is bright.  Stupid bright.  Here is the review from mtbr.com that convinced me to choose this model.  With the MN600 I can easily see the road: this is my first “see” (as opposed to “be seen”) light, and it makes riding at night much more pleasant and safe.  A really slick feature that this light features is that it is rechargeable via a USB cable rather than a proprietary charger (as was the case with the L&M light). One nit that I can pick on this front is that the connection on the light is standard USB rather than micro USB.  Even though I carry an iPhone, my wife has an Android phone that takes micro USB (like almost all non-apple phones these days) and I can’t use her charger for the light, thus necessitating yet another cord on our kitchen counter.  Regardless, I’ve got plenty of old cords in the house so I’m able to keep one at the office, and one at home and never have to worry about charging the light.

The worst part about the MN600 is the mount.  It comes with both a helmet and a handlebar mount, both of which are very under-engineered and flimsy.  Because my old L&M Stella has a little life left in it I left the mount on my primary bike, and decided to try out the helmet mount.  While the helmet mount is not great, it has worked so far, and I have more confidence in it than the bar mount.  There is no better way to rock your dork cred than with a light mounted to your helmet, and while I generally pride myself on my dorkiness, I previously drew the line at the spelunking style of a light on my dome.  I’m here to say that I’ve been converted!  Particularly with a light this bright, everything is visible.  The on-ramp signs downtown explode with reflection when I look at them, and I’ve found that cars are considerably more aware of me when I’m riding.  There is nothing like giving a jerk driver a blinding 600 lumen stare down while riding.  People actually stop for me, and it feels like cars give me more space on the road.

Prior to this “winter” in Boston, I was a 3-1/2 season commuter.  I bought studded tires this year and installed them on a CL-purchased beater with disc brakes in anticipation of the snow and ice, but both have gone mostly unused.  Combined with our lack of snow this year, this light has turned me into the holy grail (for me anyway) of a 4 season commuter.  If you are still riding with a piece of junk front light (or horror, none) save your pennies and get some lumens for your ride.  If you can bear it, mount it to your helmet (you do wear one, don’t you?) and give those Beantown bruisers the lumen look.

cheers!

This is always super fun.  Meet at Green Street Orange line stop in JP tonight @ 8pm.

See you there:

http://halloweenbikeride.net/

Costumes encouraged.

Ride in solidarity with Occupy Boston.  Who’s streets?

 

 

As anyone who lives in Boston and has visited New York knows: New York is better.

Architecture:  The best we can do is Copley Sq. (an absolute treasure) but when held in comparison to the best of NYC, we lose.  Olmstead blessed both our cities with his creative energies, but I think that Central Park bests the Emerald Necklace (especially when Boston makes little effort to connect the gems).

NYC Subway vs. the T: service after 11pm, thank you.

Pizza: have you had a “grandma slice” in Brooklyn?  N. End Regina’s is good, but that’s all we’ve got

Rock scene: Brooklyn, enough said.

Arts: we call it “ahts”.

The one exception to this hierarchy is sports franchises (of course), but otherwise there is no contest. Case in point: NY has Janette Sadik-Khan, we have Nicole Freedman. Ms. Freedman has done some admirable things for this city over the past (5?) years—especially considering the cycling infrastructure in Boston in the previous millennium—but when compared to JSK there is no contest: we have Hubway and suburban tourists who haven’t been on a bike in 20 years deciding to give it a go on the Greenway in order to get from Faneuil Hall to Paul Revere’s house, and a city government that cowers to the townies in Charlestown that are unhappy with bike lanes because they weren’t consulted prior to their installation; NY has protected bike lanes down 9th Ave (among others) and challenges nimby opposition to them (as they did during the ruckus that was caused after lanes were put in along Prospect Park).  We re-pave Columbus Avenue through the South End (it’s currently in process) and leave in place a 3-foot wide section of cobblestones that if removed would allow the city enough room to install a protected bike lane that connects the SW Corridor with downtown.  But cobblestones make the city feel so “antique-y” I can hear them say…

Frank Bruni has a piece in the Times today extolling the virtues of cycling and it is a refreshing break from the vitriolic provincialism that our local rags have attempted to hold up as journalism.  If you are not familiar with Janette Sadik-Khan, I highly recommend you also read this New York Magazine profile from 2009.  The citizens of Boston consider themselves more enlightened than those in the rest of the country, yet our city is so rarely at the vanguard of urban thinking.  Perhaps it’s just the execution of contemporary urban planning, as plenty of urban ponderers are based here but it is rare that Boston is the place where their ideas are experimented with.  NYC has always been the place that gets shit done.  New York confronts the same issues of political obstinacy as Boston—only they are an order of magnitude larger in NYC than they are here.  Why we can’t be in front of NY on bicycle infrastructure is beyond me.  We live in a smaller city with a highly progressive political base that would appear to be game for a change.

“Oh, but the weather is terrible here, much worse than NYC and our streets were designed for cows (or cars according to Brian McGrory).”  Minneapolis and Chicago have more bike commuters as a percentage of population than us and far worse weather.  So does Portland for that matter, but PDX is another story entirely.

When Nicole Freedman was first hired as the Boston Bike Czar, many of us in the local urban cycling community were ecstatic that such a position even existed in the city, and we were happy to have anyone that gave a shit about cyclists’ concerns.  Perhaps it’s time that we (the Boston cycling community that is) demand more from the official that occupies this office.  Why should we be content to just have a warm body in this position?  There is no identifiable vision coming from the office.  We deserve more.  We deserve someone that challenges the status quo and fights for progressive urban solutions to distinctly urban problems.  I’m sure there is a job at Alta Planning waiting Ms. Freedman on the other side of her public service anyway.

I appreciate what Nicole Freedman has done for the local cycling community, but to paraphrase  Lloyd Bensten, “Ms. Freedman, you’re no Janette Sadik-Kahn”.

Well, this is a strange world we live in: I just picked up the police report from the BPD and it contains the name and address of the person who ran me and a bunch of other cyclists down on Friday night. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m “friends” with this person on Facebook. It’s a very distant connection, and I haven’t had any contact with this person in at least 15 years other than accepting their friend request. They “friend-ed” me if that makes any difference. Anyone who is on FB knows that you are “connected” to tons of people to whom you have no real connection.

If you were one of the other cyclists that was hit and need the information, please let me know. I have also retained counsel and will be proceeding with a suit against the perpetrator. My lawyer has agreed to take the case on contingency, and has offered to represent others if they are interested.

As for the ongoing issue of police indifference, stay tuned…

Last night while riding my bicycle with a group of friends, I was violently assaulted.  I was almost killed and my bicycle was run over by the offending vehicle who INTENTIONALLY tried to hit me.  Fortunately I am alive.  Here is my bicycle:

Smushed Brooks

While I have yet to get my frame checked out, it appears to be OK.  The saddle is obviously toast.  My Planet Bike Superflash got splayed on the road, but was fully functional after putting it back together.  My bombproof rear wheel that was hand built by the people at Bikes Not Bombs and probably has around 10,000 miles of Boston riding on it is out of true, but amazingly it’s not that bad and I think it’s salvageable.  I was even able to ride home (not having a rear brake helped as the wheel wobbled from side to side).  Not being able to sit down the whole way was a bit of a struggle.

I discovered a video on universalhub that an onlooker posted to youtube of 30 seconds preceding the incident:

Comm Ave & Harvard Ave Corking

Regardless of your view of corking, the ensuing reaction of the driver (which is not caught on video, at least not that I know of) is obscene.

I am actually visible in this video NOT corking the intersection, but rather standing on the far corner (I pop in and out of the frame around the 19s mark, wearing white pants, black shirt, black helmet, basket on the front of my bike with a blue jacket in it). After the circling started to dissipate I proceeded through the intersection on Harvard Ave. It was after I was about 100 feet down the road that I heard the roaring of the engine and turned around to see this homicidal maniac zig-zag at the group of people that were still behind me riding. When I saw that he was coming straight at me, I quickly hopped off my bike into oncoming traffic to avoid being hit. My bike went in the opposite direction and within a second he drove over it. Luckily I am fine, my bicycle not so much.

The car was a grey Honda Civic. In fact the license plate (as given to me by an onlooker who saw the whole thing) is MA 53we31. The cops didn’t seem to really give a shit. I had to propose that they take down my contact info after one of them just got in his car after yelling at other cyclists who were imploring them to do something. Unreal. I called the Allston branch of the BPD later in the evening to follow up and they told me to call back in 48 hours. Nice. There is a person who attempted to kill dozens of citizens out there driving the roads of Boston. Whether you are in a car, on your bike, or walking, this should horrify you.Fortunately I have in-house counsel (read: wife) and will most certainly be pursuing all avenues of the law that are available to me.

To those that encourage violence against anyone, bikers or not: Fuck you.

If you have more info/pictures/video hit me up in the comments.  If you want to turn this into an indictment of critical mass, don’t bother because I won’t post your comments.  CM or not, no one deserves to be assaulted in this way, and the BPD needs to start focusing on the real problems on our roads: cars.  Enough of the bogus capitulation to automobile interests, and ticketing of cyclists.  Should cyclists behave better in general? Sure, but let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture: cars kill people.

 

People, you need to seriously reconsider this riding with headphones in your ears business. It is crazy dangerous. As an owner of earbud headphones, I’m fully aware of how completely oblivious the wearer is of the outside world. Unless you can taste a car coming from 50 feet behind you, hearing is the most important sense (next to vision, of course) that one employs whilst riding. I have seen so many riders doing completely stupid shit because they are zoned out listening to the jamz. If I listen to music while riding, it’s only through the crappy speaker that is built into my phone. It’s not the most sonically pristine way to enjoy my music, but it does the trick and I retain my ability to hear one of those squealing CT1’s that’s about to come within 6 inches of my left side.
If a diminutive speaker just doesn’t cut it for you, splurge on one of those water-bottle cage iPod speakers, or better yet build yourself a car battery-powered PA speaker setup on a trailer.
The crazy thing is, so many of the people I see riding with headphones are also wearing a helmet. Without inciting another tired helmet debate, you should see there is a fundamental contradiction here…
We get pissed (rightfully so) when drivers are texting and chatting while driving, don’t you think we should try to keep our wits about us while we ride?

This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” products:

Gyrobike front wheel demonstration

Sure to reduce the stigma of training wheels for tots, I look forward to throwing on a 700c version to avoid falling into the gutter the next time a car gets a little feisty on the streets of Boston…


I am now 24 hours away from my month-long stay in Paris. I've been busy packing, and assuring that I have as many art supplies that I can fit in my bag, as I'm going to be spending a majority of my time there drawing. I've also been preparing for my cycling adventures around the city, and came across a great bike map of Paris. I will be living at the southern edge of the city, and there are three bike paths in the immediate area. The first appears to be a ring road that encircles the city along the Périphérique, the second is a N-S route that terminates at the Pte de Clichy, and the third is also a N-S route that terminates at the Musée des Sciences et de l'industrie at the NE corner of the city. The bike route network appears to be very logical, with multiple ways to get around or through the city. As I don't know Paris very well yet, I'm not sure why this is, but the Eastern portion of the city does not have much in the way of radial paths toward the center of the city, and instead has a number of circumabulatory paths. It will be interesting to see what it is about the part of the city that has resulted in this differing bike route development. I'm guessing that it is related to the socioeconomics of the area, but it may also be related to the manner in which the urban fabric is constructed here. We shall see!

I am now 24 hours away from my month-long stay in Paris. I've been busy packing, and assuring that I have as many art supplies that I can fit in my bag, as I'm going to be spending a majority of my time there drawing. I've also been preparing for my cycling adventures around the city, and came across a great bike map of Paris. I will be living at the southern edge of the city, and there are three bike paths in the immediate area. The first appears to be a ring road that encircles the city along the Périphérique, the second is a N-S route that terminates at the Pte de Clichy, and the third is also a N-S route that terminates at the Musée des Sciences et de l'industrie at the NE corner of the city. The bike route network appears to be very logical, with multiple ways to get around or through the city. As I don't know Paris very well yet, I'm not sure why this is, but the Eastern portion of the city does not have much in the way of radial paths toward the center of the city, and instead has a number of circumabulatory paths. It will be interesting to see what it is about the part of the city that has resulted in this differing bike route development. I'm guessing that it is related to the socioeconomics of the area, but it may also be related to the manner in which the urban fabric is constructed here. We shall see!

I am now 24 hours away from my month-long stay in Paris. I've been busy packing, and assuring that I have as many art supplies that I can fit in my bag, as I'm going to be spending a majority of my time there drawing. I've also been preparing for my cycling adventures around the city, and came across a great bike map of Paris. I will be living at the southern edge of the city, and there are three bike paths in the immediate area. The first appears to be a ring road that encircles the city along the Périphérique, the second is a N-S route that terminates at the Pte de Clichy, and the third is also a N-S route that terminates at the Musée des Sciences et de l'industrie at the NE corner of the city. The bike route network appears to be very logical, with multiple ways to get around or through the city. As I don't know Paris very well yet, I'm not sure why this is, but the Eastern portion of the city does not have much in the way of radial paths toward the center of the city, and instead has a number of circumabulatory paths. It will be interesting to see what it is about the part of the city that has resulted in this differing bike route development. I'm guessing that it is related to the socioeconomics of the area, but it may also be related to the manner in which the urban fabric is constructed here. We shall see!

I lived in Portland, Oregon for 5 years and for the most part I loved my time in the city.  However, as everyone knows it tends to rain there now and again.  What most people don’t know is that the Summer tends to be drought-like and beautiful.  June tends to be one of those really nice months in pdx, and the sunshine generally lasts into October before it becomes obscured by the pacific northwest clouds until the Spring.

This June in Boston has reminded me of a typical March in Portland, and it’s safe to say that I am officially “over” the whole rain thing.  Besides what it does to one’s mood, it also makes your bike a complete mess.  I cleaned my bike a few weeks ago, and this is what my chainring looks like now:Dirty bike 2

It seems odd that my first post for this blog would be about Paris rather than Boston, but C’est la vie. On July 1 I leave for a month-long program for my M.Arch degree in Paris. I will be living on the boundary of the 13eme and 14eme and the Périphérique (map!). I am getting toward the end of my Master’s degree (that I am earning from the Boston Architectural College-or BAC) and it was the perfect time to go away for a month, as I am currently unemployed. I’m obviously very excited about the architecture-related experiences that I’ll have, but just behind that is my anticipation for all the bicycle-related Parisian tomfoolery that is sure to ensue.

I hope to make extensive use of Paris’ new bike-sharing program, the one that the proposed Boston program is based on. I have read on the internet that you may need to have a credit card with a special chip in it (one that American-based cards generally don’t have), and that without one it may be between completely impossible and extraordinarily difficult to utilize the program (Times article). If that doesn’t work out, I’ve found a place up in the 8eme 18 Velo Vintagethat appears to sell some nice 70’s and 80’s steel steeds that should do the job (27″ wheels or not…) Otherwise it seems like there are a smattering of cheap bikes on Paris Craigslist that I could pick up for $100 and sell for that much if not lose a few bucks, in which case I get a bike to ride in Paris for a month for $25, sounds like a deal. It appears that in Paris they rock the Critical Mass schedule a bit differently than we do here in The Bean. They roll on the first Saturday of every month. Personally, I like that we roll on Fridays here (the last of the month to be specific) because there is generally a larger exposure of the mass to the rest of the vehicular-commuting populace. That being said, it will be really interesting to ride in CM’s that are so close temporally, if not geographically.

November 2017
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930