My unicycle, an inexpensive Torker LX. Came with a really cheap tire, but I put on a Specialized tire which (due to its Kevlar cords) can hold 100 lbs pressure. Made a big difference.
This is the shot we planned to make, and it's fine (except that the subject could definitely stand to lose a few kilos). But I like the candid she took right afterward, and the one after that even better.
I should stop giving Diane shooting instructions; her candids are great. And check out the next one...
As I circled around for another posed shot, Diane saw this moment and grabbed it. A visual abstraction is sometimes the best picture, and this one is my favorite.
My new unicycle: a Nimbus trials' 20-incher.
Nimbus trials detail
My current main bike, on the day I bought it (before I reflectorized it). I've had it since '08 I think, and it has proven out very well in all kinds of weather. It's now my favorite bike that I've ever had. This bike is from Bloomington Cycle & Fitness.
My current favorite ride, a Specialized mountain bike. I've reflectorized the frame and forks, and equipped it with serious taillight and headlight. It handles great in all weather. Purchased from Bloomington Cycle & Fitness, and they give fantastic service.
I also run LED headlights and taillights, but notice something important here: the actual "reflectors" in the bike's wheels don't really do much compared to DOT-approved reflector tape. (I ride at night a lot)
My bike headlight is shining on the porch. It's amazing how good bike lights are nowadays. There's no excuse for riding at night without lights; it's just taking foolish chances with your life.
Projection pattern of my bike's taillight. The variation in color is a digital artifact; all the LED's are red, producing a pure spectrum.
Dawes bicycle nameplate, circa 1970's. I found this bike in a trash pile and rehabilitated it.
Dawes track bike, circa 1975. This one started out in life as a 10-speed, but someone modified it, and years later threw it away with their trash, where I found it. It is silent in operation, with nearly zero rolling resistance (I put some 115 psi kevlar tires on it) and handles beautifully.
Glad to see Dawes is still in business. According to their website, they're still building bikes in Birmingham, England. But this frame is "Made In China", so the word is "assembling", not "building". Sad.
My old Haro bike, since passed on to another owner. Wasn't bad, for as little as it cost, but it wasn't up to a 200+ lb insane rider either.
Haro mountain bike
It's dizzying how fast you can ride a bike around the inner circumference of a bowl. This is my friend Pete on his Fuji bike. He is way too crazy for a hybrid bike and rides a Specialized mountain bike now.
I hope this chap keeps riding his skateboard after he joins the corporate world!
I noticed this outside a coffee shop in Normal. Old bike, gears don't work anymore. Remove dérailleurs, direct-connect the two center chainwheels. Use excess chain to make a permanent chainwheel guard, paint it white. I think this was an old Panasonic/
Very clever solution.
Town Of Normal's new "on-street" bike rack next to Jimmy John's and Coffee Hound. They are intended to be used during the peak riding season, then removed for Winter. Awesome idea, but design-wise it's in the "almost got it right" category. See next view for the reason why.
Town Of Normal's new "on-street" bike rack next to Jimmy John's and Coffee Hound. Awesome idea, and I totally give them an "A" for doing it. But there is a design problem: how would you attach the frame of a bike using a U-lock? By backing in the bike, perhaps? When a lot of bikes are backed in, it can be nearly impossible to step around the handlebars to reach the lock. A slight redesign of the support arm curvature would allow U-locks in either orientation. For instance, it could be a little longer and angle upward a bit.
Informal bike parking. Bike racks need to be close to destination or you will see this a lot. It does no particular social harm - I have not seen anyone tripped by a parked bike - but occasionally I have seen bikes parked in an inconsiderate fashion that impedes pedestrian traffic. This one slightly impedes traffic in and out of Coffee Hound - and it's about 10 feet from one of Normal's excellent Theta-style bike racks, which was not in use. Dude, I can understand if there's not a bike rack nearby, but... WTF?
Bike rack - the most common and space-efficient kind. If institutions are not sure what kind of bike rack to get, and are short on resources, this kind is not too bad. They holds the bikes perfectly upright, and make it easy to lock the frame and front wheel to the rack. Unfortunately, the rack itself is weaker than most bike locks.
Wheel-slot type rack in heavy use. These racks work well, but are not without problems.
The down side of this type of bike rack. You can have the best bike lock in the world, but it won't do you much good if the bike rack itself can be chopped in 30 seconds with a hacksaw. (Inset: detail)
Bike rack of the worst, most offending wheel-jamming type. Whoever designed it must not have ridden a bike since grade school. Over the last 20 years I've seen dozens of bikes damaged by this particular rack close to my home. Including one of mine, when I was working in the building next to it.
Another "wheel-jamming" wheel destroying bike rack. May this design die and be forgotten, except as a warning.
"wheel-jamming" wheel destroying bike rack. May this design die and be forgotten, except as a warning.
Detail, "wheel-jamming" type bike rack. Die, you monster - die!
A squiggly bike rack. Well-intended concept, poor execution.
Some bike racks on campus now feature tire pumps!
Squiggly bike rack. Ostensibly a good frame-supporting design, it only provides good parking for four bikes. But its proper use (with the frame in the open space between verticals, and at the end) is not obvious enough for many users, so it ends up damaging bikes. When there are a lot of riders, it ALWAYS ends up looking like this. Nice try, no design award for this one.
Bike racks in pi shape. This is an pretty good design, illustrating the principle that the bike rack should be tall enough to hold the bike upright. Each rack holds two bikes, and supports the frame, not the wheel. The little hooks can hold the frame or hook under the gooseneck. Or the bike can simply lean against it and lock to it if desired.
A good simple bike rack shaped like the Greek letter theta. It supports the frame, not the wheels, and accommodates different bikes. You can hook one of your pedals in a half-circle section, which stabilizes the bike nicely. This rack will hold 2 bikes. The town of Normal has recently adopted this as their standard bike rack. Yea!
Oh boy, another bike rack design! This one in the shape of a spiral. See next view for comments.
Too low to hold a bike upright, and each slot slanted to boot. And it would only hold bikes at all if the cyclists obligingly parked their bikes pointing opposite directions in each slot. So very few bike racks show evidence of being designed by cyclists. Rather, they look like they are designed by stylists who think of bicycles as a problem to solve. Or who just don't think, at all.
For some reason there are people who think it's funny to deliberately bend wheels in bicycle racks. I suppose they exist to give snipers something to do.
Sorriest, saddest example of a "bike rack" that I have seen. This rusted-out, badly-designed thing has been next to the College Avenue McDonalds for as long as I can remember. Once in a while they go out and put another coat of silver paint on it. I've never seen a bike on it.
Detail of the "bike rack" at the College Avenue McDonald's.
It isn't hard to identify a jerk from the signs they leave around.
Yes, we have a lot of riders on-campus. It's staggering to think of the fuel, congestion, pollution and time that are saved just by the riders represented in this picture.
There are three U-locks on this bike rack. One of them secures this bike in place.
Bike rack in Chicago with integrated advertising. Good idea.
Bike rack seen near Lincoln street in Chicago. I like this one a lot; it has the potential to secure and support the bike very well.
An extremely unusual bike rack in Chicago, designed to hold a bike by one of the wheels. It should work OK, I guess, though the complexity and storage density are a bit higher than practical. People forget that bicycles have handlebars.
Bike racks are almost always secured in place by... bolts. Meaning, no matter how sophisticated the lock, your bike can be stolen by someone with access to exotic tools like a 9/16" box-end wrench. Note to municipalities: there are more secure fasteners. Please use them.
Most bike racks fail to account for the width of the handlebars. Of course this is inside a bike shop, but imagine getting your bike out of this tangle. A related problem is when half the bikes fall over on serpentine racks (which provide poor frame support) and get all tangled together.
Most bike racks fail to account for the width of the handlebars. Of course this is inside a bike shop, but imagine getting your bike out of this tangle.
Inverted-U racks. This is actually an excellent design, providing two-point frame support and (providing the bikes are parked in opposing directions) accounting well for the handlebars.
Overhead view, inverted-U bike rack. An excellent design. It would be improved by securing the bottom of the U with conduit clamps screwed into the pavement using BlueScrews, and by using security fasteners instead of ordinary hex bolts at the ends.
Public bike rack + shelter. I love this design. It would be perfect for apartment houses, etc.
Closeup of the public bike rack + shelter. Note how adjacent hanging hooks are staggered so the handlebars don't interlock. This is a seriously great design.
Someone backed into my son's bike, drove off.
Bicycle and Hummer H2, clearly different directions.
Metal fatigue. If you ride enough, you'll have parts break this way. Shown is a Shimano 7-speed shifter with the two parts side-by-side. I epoxied the parts back together before giving the bike away. They should last for a while.
Stress fracture of handlebar.
A damaged crankset bearing - the hardened surface has eroded away on the left cone.
ROMANCE: her bike and mine, on a theta-style rack.
Diane suiting up for a ride to breakfast at Cosi's. Chilly morning? No problem! And the food was great.
Pete's helmet after a wreck. I wish I could show you my helmet from the wreck I had, but i wasn't wearing one. Pete had a story to tell, and I had five years of (partial) recovery.
There's more to the condition of your tires than whether you have enough tread. the sidewalls on the lower tire were failing, but the replacement tire was a tremendous upgrade, improving the bike over what it had been even new.
Rusty bike chain - note wear on bearing surface. This chain was actually in use, in this condition. A little oil would go a long way, y'know?
A fixed-gear hub
I enjoy seeing customized bikes, and here's a really good one. The tall-ship frame is from an old Fuji 5-speed. But the custom rear wheel has a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub, which is awesome. Tough plastic fenders, a rack, taillight, Brooks saddle. Would like to see a headlight there, and some better pedals, however. Overall a very, very nice job.
The can reads: Out of gas? Recharge your engine. Helps aid your recovery from the effects of exercise, stress, travel, late nights, alcohol and pollution. 90% pure oxygen concentrated for natural recovery.
Oxygen Plus, 90% oxygen enriched natural natural natural oxygen natural revitalizing oxygen empty before recycling.
Seems dangerous to me. If you routinely run short of oxygen, you need a better training program and perhaps more realistic expectations.
Open House at Bloomington Cycle & Fitness, may 2010
Open House at Bloomington Cycle & Fitness, may 2010. FogDesigns had a pneumatic launch ramp and BMX track set up. Lots of fun!
Open House at Bloomington Cycle & Fitness, may 2010. FogDesigns had a pneumatic launch ramp and BMX track set up. Here's jumping the Volvo!
You should NOT have cheap, slippery plastic pedals on your bike. Slipping off a bike pedal is an invitation to injury. In this case, the injury was very minor: I was dismounting and the pedal (a well-designed but very worn aluminum MB pedal) was covered with ice, and I fell. I was hardly moving and the accident was more embarrassing than injurious. The marks on my leg correspond to the treads on the front tire of my bike. But plastic pedals become slippery in even light rain, and you might slip off while maneuvering in traffic.
Most bikes sold today have these kind of pedals: a plastic frame on a chrome-molybdenum axle. They're very cheap, though trips to the hospital are very expensive. The plastic does not provide good grip to your feet. If you walk through wet grass, then ride, your control of the bike will be seriously impaired.
Medium-quality platform pedal. Excellent when new, would prefer steel studs because these aluminum studs need sharpening from time to time. The studs shown in this picture need sharpening.
Worn pedal stud: sharpen it! Simply use a file to flatten the top so it will have sharp edges for grip.
A worn pedal stud. Sharpen it!
Sharpened pedal stud; much safer.
A pedal stud after filing: control of bike much improved. Even better are steel studs with straight, rather than slanted sides. Keep in mind that cast pedal cleats can benefit from this treatment as well. Use a bastard file and don't remove any more metal than necessary to square off the edges.
Simple cage pedal. Cheap, does a good job for light use. Far superior to common plastic pedal. These cleats could use sharpening.
Cage pedal. This one has been repaired a couple times. Toothy steel rim gives secure grip. Note DOT-approved reflector tape; much better than those plastic reflectors.
Old-fashioned rubber block pedal. We all had these when we were kids, but they're really not very safe. Even when new, they are slippery when wet, and as they wear, the rubber blocks can actually rotate around their mounting axles, causing loss of control.
No! Bad pedal! Carry your health insurance card if riding on these.
Grease port on a pedal.
Pedal with both replaceable and pressed-in studs, plus a grease port.
Pressed-in steel pedal stud
Replaceable pedal stud
I'm seeing some very high-end bikes with these cheap plastic pedals on them. I don't consider these pedals safe. But the explanation is that they are "test pedals" because, if you're buying a high-end bike, you're going to choose pedals that you like anyway.
Specialized "HardRock" frame, size L, just acquired as the basis for a Winter bike that I intend to build.
Lately I've noticed a lot of bike seats getting stolen. This is a non-trivial loss with a $35 seat post, a $40 saddle, a $20 taillight, and an $18 fender all for flipping a lever. So my question is: WHY do bike seats have quick-release levers? The obvious solution of hiring a sniper to watch the bike racks in town involved too much paperwork, so better to improve the security of the bike itself. I thought about finding a BMX seat clamp and fitting it with a security-Torx bolt, but (because I had the materials already on hand) opted for a different solution; pinning the seat tube. The hollow pin is hidden under the seat clamp, and requires the use of a drift punch to remove. See the next few photos for that process.
Remember as you drill through the frame and seat tube, you'll generate shavings that you don't want falling into the frame. Stuff a large chunk of foam rubber into the seat post (to catch the shavings) and reinsert it back into the bike. Note the piece of tape marking the original height of the seat!
Set your bike vertical (use a level) and then drill level through it to get a good perpendicular hole. I used a 5/32" drill to make the hole for the pin. Note the use of a C-clamp to hold the seat post in alignment. Needless to say before drilling is a good time to verify from several angles that your seat is in the correct forward orientation.
I got it mostly perpendicular to the tube. Notice the aluminum shavings on the outgoing drill bit.
Since the seat tube collapses about a half-millimeter when the clamp is fixed, make the pin just a bit shorter than the cross-tube diameter.
The hollow pin is made of carbon steel (notice the exploding sparks) and gets pretty hot. Rotate the end against the grinding wheel to get an even grind, and stop every couple touches to measure and also dip the pin in some water.
The finished pin hides under the seat clamp (loosened here for illustrative purposes). Removing the seat post requires the use of a drift punch.
This smart couple is using Razor scooters to get around. They fold up and fit under a chair, perfect for campus.
Schwinn 3-speed, before.
Schwinn 3-speed, after.
Broken bearing race and cup after an accident.
I really like this tire from Specialized. It does a great job in adverse conditions like snow and slush, and handles wet pavement gracefully.
New Specialized tires for Diane's bike. Significant improvement in handling, for reasons that are not clear to me.
Standard Men's bicycle seat. This one is designed to support the rider's weight on the hip bones, and provides a groove to protect the penile blood vessels and nerves from compression injury. There isn't much padding, nor should there be.
Rido R2 bicycle seat. This one is designed to elevate the hip without pressing on the perineum, so as to prevent injury to the penile nerves and blood vessels, and to avoid putting any pressure on the prostate gland. The hip bone supports appear softly padded, but they aren't. Soft padding would actually defeat the purpose.
Worn bicycle chain is hazardous. when you sense your chain is worn, replace it now. Don't, for example, buy a new chain, hang it on a nail in the garage, and forget to change it until you are reminded by this happening.
Crankset from one of those $100 dimestore bikes; it LOOKS like a nice aluminum crank but close-up it's actually cheap, heavy steel with a thick plastic coating for appearance's sake. It weighs almost double what a nice aluminum crank does. Every component on the bike was similarly junky and heavy, and it adds up. Dimestore bikes are no bargain.
Dimestore (probably Wal-Mart) bike rescued from trash. This is not the high-quality Raleigh you remember from childhood; it's a Chinese knock-off, sold under contract to "Raleigh USA". I'm not picking on that brand - the same junk appears under many names.
The crankset wouldn't turn at all; I thought "Oh, it must have rusted solid". Nope - it was just adjusted so tight that it wouldn't turn except by great effort. The crank bearings were damaged from brief use while over-tight, but the bike showed evidence of sitting unused for several years. Don't let the low prices fool you; these bikes are no bargain. I'm going to make it into a working bicycle for the first time.
Hollow seat posts are perfectly positioned to channel crud and water to your bottom bracket bearings through the frame. Just squirt a little expanding foam into the top of the post to solve this and help keep the bearings clean.
A $5 turkey-flavor injector from Wal-Mart, with the pointy tip ground off the needle, makes a dandy grease gun for bicycle bearings.
Use a piece of inner-tube rubber as a slush/mud guard for your front derailleur. I've zip-tied it on the seat tube and the little brace behind the bottom bracket, so it is secured top and bottom.
This is as much fender as you need to keep stuff from splattering up your backside. Note powerful taillight. Not shown: equally powerful headlamp. I turn them on even on cloudy days.
Trek bicycles advertise that they are "Made In America". Some of their higher-end frames are, but none of their primary components. Look, it's fine that bikes are international products but "assembled" and "made" are not the same thing.
Sticker on Bianchi Volpe bike says; "ONE LESS CAR"
The relative size of these disk brake pads is a clue to the amount of heat energy they have to dissipate in stopping the vehicle to which they pertain. One is for a bike, the other for a car.
RIDE A BIKE
A week ago I got back to the office after breaking a rib on my mountain bike, to find this awesome get-well sign my co-workers left for me. :-)
Decal on a chrome fender on a beautiful Triumph bicycle I noticed on campus. This bike was in nearly flawless condition. Where had it been for he last 42 years?
Another view of the 1970 Triumph 3-speed I saw on campus last week. These are the original handgrips, seat, pedals, even tires I think... and they're not in bad shape. Where has this beauty BEEN for 42 years?
These were great bikes, by the way. Reliable and a joy to ride.
Another "Made In USA" Trek bicycle. It's OK to make bikes in China, but stop claiming they're not.
Surly Pugsly at Bloomington Cycle & Fitness. This bike is much lighter than it looks, and you can run over many obstacles in your path with impunity. At minimum, you can laugh at potholes and storm grates. And squirrels, curbs, small children...
Salsa El Mariachi from Bloomington Cycle & Fitness. I like this bike a lot; it instills confidence when riding over large bumps, curbs, etc.
Salsa El Mariachi. I like this bike a lot; it instills confidence when riding over obstacles, maneuvering in rough areas, etc.
Specialized Hard Rock. Modifications for nighttime riding include 3-LED headlight, 5-LED taillight (3 facing back, and two side-facing) and extensive frame reflectorization using DOT-approved reflector strips like on a semi trailer. Though as my son pointed out, this makes it easier for the ones who are trying to hit me...
Serpentine bike racks don't offer very good frame support, it's true. This fellow's solution was to take all the spaces for himself. He will probably graduate and become a Wall-Street banker, drive a Bugatti and park it across 3 spaces.
Latest bike project - "Bicycle Company of America" or BCA. The frame is a 1970's-era tall road design by Miki Sakai with single-butted Tange tubing so it should be very lively and responsive.
Not sure what "America" refers to in BCA, since the frame is Sakai and all the components were either Suntour or Sugino. I checked the frame for straightness, then took off all the components and cleaned and re-packed the headset and crankset bearings, which were all in perfect condition.
The bike was rescued from trash pile ignominy by musical middle son, who will receive a cool hipster ride when it is finished.
BCA bike nameplate
High tensile frame tubing is probably single-butted Tange.
Frame was actually made by Miki Sakai. These were decent low-end frames - far superior to anything one might buy in a dimestore today.
Mathematical son, visiting from California, on my fixie (and that's my fat self on the mountain bike). Despite his residence in California, he seemed to be riding a fixie for the first time - but he liked it.
Bike repair station near Watterson Towers at Illinois State University.
A public tool rack for bikes. I have no idea how much this set is used, since it takes ten minutes to disentangle the tools. When you are finished, the wind re-entangles them in about ten more minutes. Still, it's a very nice idea.