Monday, November 29, 2010

Winter Commuter Project Bike: Day 20ish


Finally I feel that I have gotten somewhere on this bike. Got the crankset on, rear tire put together and cogged, fork on with headset and stem, brakes mounted, and seat mounted.  I need to switch out my chain to a 3/32" spacing as it has a lot of lateral play on both the cog and the crank, but that should be the last part that I need for the bike. I also needed to purchase a new tool this weekend, which was a little thing that looked a lot like my bottom bracket tool but was used to tighten my cassette (or in this case, my cog an spacers) on my rear hub.

Still need to put on the brake cabling, install the chain and pedals, and get the tubes and tires on the wheels. But then I should be good to go! Im excited, especially considering that only a week ago I was so behind and frustrated that I thought seriously about just getting a bike that was built already.

My only concern now is that the new bottom bracket doesnt have the right spacing for the frame, which puts the chainring dangerously close to scraping the frame at the rear. Like, no more than 2mm space there. I will have to make sure that the frame doesnt flex too much and cause it to actually scrape, otherwise I will need a new bottom bracket. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Also, keep your fingers crossed on this weather. I dont have my snow tires in yet, so Im hoping the lack of snow holds out for another week or so at least.

Here is what it looks like so far:

PS - munsoned, you were right about the brake studs. I had to strip them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Commuter Project Bike: Day 17

Started building the bike on Saturday morning with optimism in my heart. Little did I know, the day would be wrought with failure.
I figured that the bottom bracket was the logical place to start, so I got out my shiny new bottom bracket and bottom bracket tool. Watched a quick youTube video on 'How to Install a Bottom Bracket' and got to it. I had a Shimano ball and cup style one, so I started with the ball, as the video instructed, on the right side. It felt a little tight, but with some elbow grease I was able to set it all the way in. Then I started putting on the cup part, and it went it with a few stuck spots until about the 3/4 mark. Then it felt really stuck. Thinking that I could give it a little persuasion, I really cranked on it, and heard a distinct *CRACK*.
The teeth part of the cup that were still sticking out of the frame had separated from the rest of the cup and went flying in multiple directions. The cup now only had about half its teeth, and was impossible to remove as it was. After a moment of panic, in which I had visions of the broken plastic piece of the bottom bracket being stuck in the frame forever and fears that I would have to scrap the whole thing, I was able to remove the other side of the bottom bracket first, and then get the plastic piece out VERY CAREFULLY.

This left me a little frazzled (not to mention minus one bottom bracket), but I decided to press on. The fork assembly was the second idea that I had for where to start, so I tackled that. I soon found that the powder coating had put too much width on the stem, so I couldn't fit it into the fork. Not to be thwarted twice in one day, I gathered my frame, fork, stem, and seatpost (which had the same problem as the stem), and my resolve, and headed over to my grandfathers house (where I was going anyways for a family Thanksgiving get together) to use his power buffer. The power buffer was working well, and just when I thought that I was getting back on track it started shooting flames. Well, OK, no flames, but lots of sparks and lots of smoke, from the inside.  So no more power buffer.
At this point a crowd of my redneck uncles had gathered to drink and watch me work (the use of power tools  and/or beer seems to draw them like flies to dung), and one of them helpfully suggested I use an angle grinder. Dont get me wrong, my redneck uncles are an inspiration in my life, but I knew that the angle grinder was the equivalent of using a sledgehammer on finishing nails.  However, at this point, I was frustrated enough to try anything. (which, by the way, is the point at which you should QUIT. Im just not the brightest bulb in the knife drawer)
So out came the angle grinder, and after a brilliant array of white paint chips and enough vibrating to make me completely numb from the elbows down, I had everything stripped that I wanted to. At this point it was about noon, and I decided that it was 5 O'clock somewhere and started drinking heavily.
The rest of the day was a blurry mess of good beer, good food, and good times. I didnt get home until well past the closing time for Greenstreet, despite my good intentions of getting there.

Im going to try to get a new bottom bracket today and tackle the project again. Wish me luck, I apparently need it...

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Pothole Alert!

OK, so since I know a lot of people that read this blog are commuters in Omaha, I thought that I would put this message out. Was riding in this morning and saw a new really bad pothole on Leavenworth. It was just after the interstate bridge, in the right-most lane, right in the middle of the lane.
I just wanted to bring this one to light because it would be a for sure rim-bender. It was about a foot in diameter, at least 6 in deep, and looked like a perfectly symmetrical cylinder, almost like it had been drilled out for construction or something. It is especially deadly because in the early morning light you cant tell how deep it is, and it is only a bit smaller than a pothole, so at a glance it could be mistaken for one. And I know that a lot of people take Leavenworth in, so the route has a lot of exposure.
Spread the word, and, as always, ride safe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winter Commuter Project Bike: Day 14

Parts, Parts, Parts. And some tools?

Picked up a big box o' bike parts from Greenstreet yesterday. I had to reorder my crankset, because apparently there are about a million different types of crankset to bottom bracket interfaces, and mine were incompatible. Go figure.
I also just got a call from a lady at my apartment complex informing me that my Nashbar order (another big box o' parts) had come in today, so after the new crankset comes in, I should have everything I need to build this thing.

A few important things I learned yesterday:

This isnt compatible with That
If you are thinking of getting something new other than a strap on accessory, and wondering to yourself "I wonder if this compatible with that?" the answer is probably not. Sorry. Not to be pesimistic, but there are a million variations of every part ever made for a bicycle. Im not sure why each bike company feels the need to make everything different from every other company, and different from themselves year to year. Pretty much nothing is standardized, at least that I have found. Between all the different variations of width, spacing, tube diameter, threading, bolt size, and even bolt shape, it is extremely hard to interface components with other non-matching components. So the lesson is, do a lot of research (and talk to someone who knows bikes) before buying something to make sure that it will fit.

I need tools? I have a hammer, is that good enough?
One of the things that a particularly enlightened bike shop worked once told me is that the main difference between people that can build their own bikes and the people that cant is tools. You may think, like I did, that determination, elbow grease, basic mechanical know-how and a set of alan wrenches was all you needed to build a bike from the ground up. Nope, you also need some very specialized and specific tools. This was disheartening to hear at first, until I realized I could just buy the tools I needed, and instantly become one of those people that builds bikes (some experience and educated googling helps, though).

I have a full list of tools needed on the above tabbed page, "Building a Bike".

Daily Commute Musings for Nov 11

Rode in this morning with the thermometer showing 33 degrees, the coldest ride that I have done to date. With the colder weather, I added a second layer of gloves (thin skiing gloves with my padded cycling gloves under) and a second layer of pants (sweatpants underneath my khaki pants, over my tights). The extra gloves were perfect,  my hands weren't cold or hot. The pants were entirely too much, and my lower body was sweaty after only about a mile.

So I rode in on the coldest day yet, and sweat the whole way in. O well, this is how you learn!

And for the record, being too hot and sweaty was way worse than being a little cold.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Winter Commuter Project Bike: Day 12

Gear Ratios

So after reading extensive stuff online about fixies and single speeds, I have been trying to decide for myself what gear ratio to use. I have a 175 mm crank and 26" wheels. I was thinking about a 42/18 or 42/16 gearing for winter. Anyone have any thoughts?

Update on my component order: Sarah said that the gear should be here by Wednesday! Assuming that my supplementing Nashbar order (for pedals, tubes, etc) comes in by Friday (and also assuming that I am super ambitious... riiiiiight.), then I can have this thing together in time for Cranksgiving!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Winter Commuter Project Bike: Day 11

Well it has been few weeks since I posted anything on here about my winter project. I am calling this day 11 since I really havent worked on my bike at all since the last post.

Went to the bike shop yesterday to talk to them about ordering parts. I was super bummed to learn that I couldnt use the Sturmey-Archer kickback hub with my bike due to the fact that it has the wrong axle spacing. I need a 135 hub for my bike, and the kickback is only available in 116 and 120 (for a 700c wheel instead of my 26").  When I learned that, I seriously considered scrapping the frame and starting over from scratch, or to buy a  prebuilt like that has what I wanted. But I decided to press on, continue on my path, and finish what I started. I figure that it would be a good experience to build it myself anyways, and will learn a lot for future reference. Plus, its for the good of the blog.

That being said, I picked out some wheels, brakes and levers, crank, and bottom bracket. Andy gave me an old set of mountain bike handlebars that he had laying around the shop, so that was a bonus. They have cogs, chain, and chain tensioner in stock. Everything else I am getting from Nashbar because Im not worried about compatibility issues with things like the seat, grips, fenders, etc. Hopefully the parts will all get here before next weekend so I can actually start building this thing.

As a side note, I did talk to Andy about getting a wheel built around that kickback hub, and thought that I would share that with my 3 readers, since I know Scott will at least be curious. He said that the rims would be about 60 each, labor was 60 per wheel, spokes (need 32 for that hub) are $1 a piece, and then the hub itself is about 90. So total is just under $240 for the rear wheel, including labor. If you are interested, ask your local bike shop of choice to see if they can put in a pre order for you, the hub is not technically available yet but has shipped out to the distributor (United Bicycle Supply) so it should be ready to order here in the states in about a month. For those of you that dont know what Im talking about, here is a link.