Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Bikes and an S24O

When I bought Henry's 24" Specialized Hotrock last winter, I hoped it would last through at least this summer. But recently on a whim, I asked him to try a throw a leg over Jodi's 26" wheeled Trek to see if it would fit, and he hasn't stopped riding it since. Since Jodi wants her bike back, I spent some time scouring Craigslist for Henry's next bike. Bike shopping is an onerous task, but it's something I can finally put my well honed skills to use for. A week or so later, we landed here:

It's a 26" wheeled/13.5" frame size Giant Boulder. It has a lousy suspension fork, but Henry finds the trigger shifters easier to use than the twist shifters on his old Hotrock, it's in good shape overall, and he likes the colors. For $100, I think we did pretty well. And it's even steel... though so grossly oversized, it looks more like aluminum. I don't think it's ever going to "plane" for Henry.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Paths to Single Speed

Riding buddy Chris, after moving here to the flatlands of Ohio, is starting to see the light after some drivetrain issues and has asked me about singlespeeds (I can relate: after finally getting a dry spell, I was able to ride Chestnut Ridge yesterday where my geared Mukluk had all kinds of shifting issues. Good thing I had also brought along my single speed Twin Six, but I digress). For Chris's education, I'm making this quick guide to singlespeeding. There are four things he'll have to learn:

1) Gearing: 32x20. Done.

2) Frame material: Steel. Done.

3) Suspension: No. Done.

4) How to tension the chain: well, that's a longer story.

Without a rear derailer, you need some way to keep the chain taunt so it doesn't fly off. Most single speed frames have some sort of gizmo to adjust the distance between the crank and the rear hub, so this length can be adjusted to compensate for different gear combinations while keeping a tight chain. Single speed message boards are filled with discussion about the best way to do this, and here's my take, based on the many, many bikes I've had. These are listed roughly in the order I like them, my favorites to types I will never use:

1) Paragon Swinging Dropouts: As featured on my latest Twin Six:

These check all my boxes: They're easy to adjust, with just two big bolts to loosen. They stay adjusted and don't squeak. The integration into the frame is clean and smooth. The adjustment range is adequate, about 20mm. Wheel removal is quick and easy. As a final bonus, they're made in the US, and replacement dropouts only cost about $15.

Bad points: finding a frame that uses them

Friday, July 17, 2015

Everything But Mountain Biking

This has been an endlessly wet summer here in Central Ohio, setting rainfall records left and right. As a result, I haven't been mountain biking at all in the last month due to the wet trails (our soil is all clay around here, and the idiots who ride in the wet destroy the trails for the rest of us. Go on, ask me how I feel about them). Anyway, without weekends spent mountain biking, I've been doing what I can to get out.

Over shutdown break, I took the chance to take Sam to his summer school reading program via bike. This means Sam had to get up about 15 minutes earlier for his already early 8:15 start date, but he wanted to do it. Henry and Kate rode with me to pick him up one day, but the ~3 mile trip there wore Kate out and she didn't want to pedal home. My solution:

I wasn't carrying motorcycle tie downs in the trailer by accident.

Speaking of kids riding bikes, Sam has finally determined that he is ready to ride his bike:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The $25 Technium

I've been riding my $25 Raleigh Technium a bit more since I bought it a few weeks ago. So far, I have to say I am very impressed with it. Perhaps because I am coming from a spell of riding my Camargue as my only road bike, but the Raleigh just feels super lively. The Camargue isn't bad, but loaded down with bags and racks and hampered by its thicker tubing, it doesn't have much zip for me... at least compared to this Raleigh.

To recap, the Raleigh looked pretty good when I bought it (did I mention it cost just $25?):

But I only did one ride stock before I started in on the changes:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Iowa Vacation, Again

When we asked the kids what they wanted to do for vacation this year, the twins started chanting, "Great Wolf Lodge! Great Wolf Lodge!", but Henry just quietly suggested that we should go visit Great Grandma Daume. My Grandma isn't getting any younger at 96, so figuring she would enjoy some time with her great grandkids, we loaded up our comfortable and efficient Honda Pilot and headed west.

Since Iowa typically isn't the most amazing tourist destination, we tried to add some fun activities on the way there. We only did a short drive on Friday, stopping at Indianapolis so we could visit the children's museum on Saturday:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Vintage Bike Days

Back in the day, buddies Marc and Brian and I would regularly ride our motorcycles up to Mid Ohio each July for the Vintage Bike Days. We would check out the swap meet, the bike demos, and the racing that looked pretty fast until it was compared to the Indy races a few weeks later. These days, we're all grown up and pretty much motorcycle-free, much to our quiet desperation, but we still enjoy our bicycles. Well, at least Marc and I do.

But back to the vintage theme. I regularly trawl my local Craigslist, and in the last week I've come across two deals that were too good to pass up. The first was a vintage Specialized Stumpjumper, backward seatpost and all, for just $119:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This Post is for Greyson

My nephew wants to be a car engineer, bless his heart, so I thought he might enjoy some of these pictures I took from my last trip to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in Virginia. I was there for a workshop on their new child seat usability rating system, which was a pretty interesting topic if you're both a car guy and a dad.

If your name isn't Greyson, might as well skip this one.

One of IIHS's newest tests is a small overlap test. This simulates a car hitting a narrow object, like a light pole. Because the object often misses the main structure of the car, it can do terrific damage to a car. Here's a Chevy Equinox that did pretty well:

And here's a Mazda CX-9 that did poorly: