February 9, 2013
January 21, 2013
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s crying with all her might and main,
And she won’t use the bike lane – ice pudding again -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
Pictures taken January 8, snow from before the New Year.
But at least, when we get to the light, bicycles have their very own plowed lane:
October 29, 2012
I read, over on comments on a blog entry at the Atlantic, that New York City government employees are asked to report to work tomorrow, even though the subways are likely to be out of order, and at least one of those employees is peeved at the prospect of traveling seven miles by foot.
And I know if I say “you could ride a bike — in fact I plan to ride a bike to work tomorrow, 10 miles, because of the likely traffic jams”, that this mere statement of fact will mark me as a smug asshole, totally out of touch with the life of ordinary-salt-of-the-earth-Americans. But in fact, if you rode a bike often enough to stay in some semblance of shape, you could do this, and your mayor is even putting in all sorts of bike lanes and cycle tracks to make this somewhat easier, and would probably have installed even more by now if ordinary-salt-of-the-earth-Americans did not make such a tremendous fuss every time he installed a new one.
but if you were thinking about getting a cargo bike, the coming-soon Xtracycle EdgeRunner is a pretty nice-looking piece of work. Here’s the promo for Interbike, here’s the technical guy from Xtracycle explaining features.
I’m not sure what I could say to add to their own advertising, except to confirm that this stuff is real, meaning you really can do what you see in the video, and these guys really do know their stuff. Xtracycle’s first product (the FreeRadical) was a wonder; three attachmnt points and it’s securely on, the only mods to the bike itself are longer shift and brake cables, plus an extension to the chain. Miraculously, the derailer chain would just fit in the available space between all the structural parts. The snap deck was light, strong, and good looking, and even then the design was “open” enough that people made their own replacement decks (for example, a snapdeck skateboard).
A choice of a cargo bike involves tradeoffs, but this design made some nice ones. More torque, longer wheelbase, lower load, stiffer, and nice new accessories for carrying kids or really heavy stuff with ease. The big advantage of longtails (over the other large-bike choice, front-loading Long-Johns and bakfiets) is that they maneuver “just like a bike”; unloaded, you can walk or ride them through narrow places with relative ease (front loaders are more convenient to load, but ride less like a “normal” bike, and tend to have mandatory width, though it varies).
There’s a serious electric assist option — 910 watts; that’s almost 3 of me, meaning that I could haul a 110-pound load up a 10% grade at 12-15 mph, depending on how hard I wanted to work. That drives up the price, however.
For bonus fun, it’s a relatively open platform; the electric assist is designed to use standard connectors, not proprietary ones, and the specs for the cargo area of the frame itself are “open“.
For double bonus fun, the frame’s designed by the fastest (self-propelled) man on earth.
August 26, 2012
Not of general interest, but I am proud of my handiwork. This is for a Rohloff hub and tensioner. The problem with the tensioner, at least on my bicycle (Big Dummy), is that there is a stop-peg for setting how far forward the cage can go, that also limits how far back the cage can go, and this gets in the way of removing the wheel. For something as expensive as a Rohloff (and the Big Dummy’s not exactly cheap, either), everything should just work, and it didn’t, so this was a problem. Looking at it, I realized that I could build my own stop from any sort of flat stuff (I also have some Corian countertop scraps that would have served), and then remove the peg. I did this, and after one false start (hand to do a second pass with a Dremel) it worked.
I suppose I should do the work to render this into a 3-d model, so that I can have them fabbed by Ponoko or Shapeways or something, but I’ve got mine, and the market for Big Dummy’s equipped with Rohloff hubs AND chain tensioners is probably not that large.
July 2, 2012
Lacking those newfangled power-metering hubs, I am reduced to boring calculation. 400lbs gross vehicle weight, up at hill that peaks at a 10% grade (maybe more hard to tell), minimum speed 4mph, faster in the not-so-steep parts. That’s 320 watts, my huffing-puffing not-much-fun power output over a period of several minutes. 400 = 220 (me) + 110 (passenger) + 65 (bike, tools) + 5 (backpacks). Plus a few watts for the always-on lights, plus a few watts for rolling resistance.
The waste heat output (we’re not that efficient) is almost a kilowatt. Yes, I was quite warm.
June 30, 2012
June 28, 2012
It worked much better than I had expected. Yet another thing it turns out you can do on a bicycle.
June 21, 2012
Do not buy a bike with “mountain bike” handlebars. Those are the ones that are essentially a straight piece of metal tubing, maybe with a little bend. If the bike store you are buying from attempts to tell you that these are good for anything, find another bike store.
The specific problems with these handlebars are:
- For riding in traffic, they are too wide.
- They provide only one hand position; notice all the aftermarket nonsense to help add positions?
- That one position that they provide is pessimal, especially if you are older, especially if you have had problems with your wrists (e.g., carpal tunnel) in the past.
- They don’t work well with baskets.
- When you go to replace them, either because your hands hurt or are going numb, or because you want to use a basket, you’ll discover that the one-piece brake+shifter lumps do not play well with the new handlebars, and you’ll need to replace that, too.
- Even if you don’t replace them, that one-piece brake+shifter lump will go bad; the shifter on one side or the other will start to not reach all the gears. The guys at my local bike shop said: “spray it with lots of WD-40 and work it back and forth, and it might get better, otherwise, there’s no point trying to fix it”.
Some positive advice: for retrofitting a mountain bike for civilized use, I recommend replacing the bars with Velo-Orange Left-bank or Porteur bars (22.2mm lever diameter), an appropriate shifter (Falcon thumb-shift is cost-effective, though not indexed; SRAM twist 7, Shimano 7, or Shimano 6), and Tektro brake levers. There are 8-speed options at Amazon. The Velo-Orange cork blend grips are comfortable, durable, cheap, and black (which goes with everything and does not show dirt). To install them, be sure that there is room on the bar to push them all the way on, get their insides wet, and push them on quickly. If they fit loose, a little bit of tape on the bar that runs the length of the grip area and curves around into the end will help (if it doesn’t curl around the end into the inside, it can get pulled loose and bunch up as the grip slides on). Spurcycle grip rings, when available, are another nice choice (I bought some on Kickstarter, and they work quite nicely, especially when trapped at both ends by a lever and end-cap).
June 3, 2012
Very often when returning home from work, Lowell St in Lexington is a parking lot, though it clears out towards Arlington. Last Thursday I decided to count how many cars I passed, and vice-versa. I passed 60, then 25 passed me. There was a little pass-me-pass-them-pass-me at one intersection that counted as only one pass-me. The last car to pass me, was a motorcycle that I passed at about #30, then I crossed into Arlington.