Browse Category by DIY
Bicycle Racing, Cyclocross, DIY, Seattle, Washington

Broke Ass Racer: aka the BAR bike

Cyclocross season is coming up quickly. Next month, people will begin attending CX camps to hone their skills for the upcoming race season, which begins in September.

10733846_10204050088066291_2340075667420873788_oFor those of you not familiar with ‘cross racing, Ryan described it best as “combining the worst elements of bike riding and long distance running into one sport.” Admittedly, CX racing is, by nature, a sufferfest. You ride what equates to a road bike equipped with knobby tires over courses that may contain some or all of the following:

1) Dirt

2) Mud

3) Sand

4) Stairs

5) Barriers that require riders to shoulder their bikes and run with them.

Weather. Does. Not. Cancel. EVER.10750013_10204049976903512_5293972783870888779_o

In fact, race organizers have been working with the CIA and Area 51 to ensure that the worst weather of the year occurs between September and late November requiring  CX races to take place in ankle deep mud and freezing rain and Category 5 hurricanes. While the racing may be miserable, watching your friends suffer before or after your race, brings miles of smiles. 

10683568_10204049999424075_4987743583948998782_oThe Seattle area has two CX racing series: MFG and Cross Revolution–neither of which are UCI sanctioned. Even though non-sanctioned racing can be frustrating to aspiring pros who are chasing points, removing the UCI licensing rules and requirements opens the door to anybody that wants to come out and play in the mud on whatever bike they want or can afford.

I’m pushing 40. I sit behind a desk 5 days a week and I’m lucky to get in an hour of riding a day Monday thru Friday. My training regimen consists of riding my bike for 6-8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday, followed by large plates of food smothered in gravy and hot sauce.

That said, I could probably take racing more seriously, but that would take all the fun out of it. While I know many a racer who has thousands of dollars in their CX race bike, why spend all that money on something that you’re just going to destroy over the course of a race season? Cross racing ruins shiny paint jobs, makes derailleurs surrender their powers (they are a French invention, after all), and turns wheels into tacos for lunch.

For a weekend warrior like me, I just can’t justify literally throwing away thousands of dollars for the sake of entertainment….unless porn stars are involved, then it’s anybody’s guess.  In all honesty, I’ve seen people on cobbled together mismatched rides decimate riders atop full carbon unobtanium steeds many, many times.

After watching my friends race for a couple of seasons, I decided to try this thing called cyclocross myself. Being a man of modest means, I found a budget ride at big box bike store Nashbar for about $400. I figured if I didn’t like racing cross, or if I wasn’t any good, I could always turn the bike into a commuter.

As it turns out, I LOVE racing cross…although, I’m still not any fucking good at it.  I raced the bike mostly stock, save for the pedals and a secondhand saddle (thanks, Rob!) for 2 seasons. Realizing that the bike was pretty much useless going into the 3rd season, I decided a rebuild was in order. I knew I wanted to upgrade the brakes and I also wanted to go single speed for added simplicity and drivetrain strength. As a beer gutted man who hovers around 180-190, when mud and hills are added to the mix, things like spokes and chains and things begin to break.

Using the power of the internet, I found clearance parts, NOS pieces from a few years prior, and rebuilt the race bike for just a few hundy. I also scoured the used parts bins at the local non-profit bike shop. Most of those hundies are wrapped up in my Vuelta wheels. They are handbuilt, but I suspect that they are built by the same kid who builds electronics at the Foxconn facilities. I’ve created these fantastic infograms below showing how I pulled off such a feat.

So now, when I finish at the back of the pack, rather than people saying, “That guy sucks AND he has a $5000 race bike. What a dick!”, people say, “Wow, that guy sucks but he’s on a shitty beater bike. Dick.”

10393568_10203924414444529_8351267471148815253_n 10750468_10203924416684585_8138978821645992097_o

 

Bicycle, DIY, Mountain Biking, Seattle, Washington

On the Cheap– (Don’t?) Try This At Home: Rockshox Coil to Air Fork Conversion

Full and utterly not shocking disclaimer: The advice in the forthcoming article WILL (not maybe, probably or might) void any SRAM/RockShox factory warranty on your fork. If you’re not comfortable reading service manuals and/or if the thought of beating your forks with a mallet makes you ill, don’t try this at home. If you’re ok with those things, by all means, try this at home.  

I recently purchased some stickers from AHTBM which read, “My Life Is a Cautionary Tale.” Those words echoed in my head as I stood on the deck of my apartment beating the lower legs off my 2014 RockShox XC 32 29er forks. Up until this moment, the forks had another year left on their factory warranty.

Let me back track to explain how a man in his late 30’s gets to the point where he feels the need to take a plastic mallet to a perfectly good suspension fork:

I purchased a squishy bike on clearance from my LBS late last summer. Obviously, a budget bike isn’t going to be spec’d with a high end menu of parts. In the case of the Fuel EX 5, that means a  fantastic Monarch R  air shock in the rear and a coil XC32 fork up front with a 15mm thru axle. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those products on their own, the mix of a tunable air shock on one end and a basically non-tunable coil on the other end makes the bike do sketchy things when the terrain gets sketchy at sketchy speeds.

I’ve been a fan of RockShox products for years, mainly due to their easy maintenance. In the case of the XC32 coil, there is basically no maintenance to be had and changing spring internals to help “tune”  the fork to the rider’s weight is a 10-15 minute process with spring kits running about $25 from my LBS. Changing the firmness of the springs on this fork really does make a significant difference. You can even adjust travel from 100–120mm by adding or removing the rubber spacers included in the spring kits, which is a nice feature on such a wallet friendly fork.

But I was also aware that RockShox makes a Solo Air version of this fork, which I could purchase for a couple hundy. However… I heard rumors on the ol’ interwebs that any rider worth his blood alcohol level could convert one of these babies for around $70. Since the Solo Air system is a self contained cartridge system, it appeared to be a simple plug and play process as the IT nerds say.  I found out that it really is pretty much plug and play, but with fork oil and hammers involved.

Things you’ll need:

1) A copy of the SRAM/RockShox service manual

2)  A SRAM/RockShox Solo Air cartridge for the XC32 fork (DUH!!). I managed to finagle one from Bikewagon for about $55.

3) A long handled 5mm hex wrench, or in my case, a ratchet with a long extension and 5mm hex attachment. More on tool length to cum.

4) A 2.5mm hex wrench

5) 24mm wrench or socket.  An adjustable Crescent style wrench will do the trick as well since this is just used to remove the top caps from the fork.

6) 15wt fork oil

7) Graduated fork oil syringe with about 5″ of rubber tubing. Brake bleed kits work great for refilling this fork. I tossed my brake bleed kit because I’m an idiot, so I used the body of an old ball point pen to get all up in there.

8) Not a requirement, but I also recommend a seal kit because you’re going to have the whole fork pulled apart anyway, so why not rebuild the whole damn thing, Capt. Halfassington?

9) A bike stand or at least a good bench vise. Remember, you will be beating things off with a mallet, and everyone knows that beating off requires good grip.

10) A rubber tipped or plastic mallet

11) Last, but not least: a drip pan. There won’t be a lot of oil that comes out with this procedure, but you probably don’t want fork oil all over the floor. But if you don’t mind a little floor lube, who am I to judge?

The Plan:

In hindsight, I recommend removing the fork completely from the bike. Just makes shit easier to work on. I kept the fork attached to the bike, so it’s definitely possible to do it, but I think it would have been easier to remove the fork before proceeding.

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Alaska, Bicycle, DIY, fat bike

Tire repair 101

The tires on the bike go round and round…

…until you find something sharp and hard and that at once identifiable swan song “PSSSSSHHHHHSSSS” rings out- your stoke deflating as quickly as the tube in the tire itself.

That was my experience a couple weeks back on a ride through Boulder Alley and up the east side of Sheridan Lake. A really fun place to ride, the lake was freezing, as were the puddles that accumulate in the low parts of the trail. Most weren’t thick enough to support me riding across, and 9 puddles out of 10 I would break through. I made it to the lake and rode along the ice edge- the water level much lower than normal enabling me to get closer towards the Sherman Glacier than usual.

IMG_8314

On my way back to the truck, I didn’t make it far before it happened. I swear it was a damn piece of ice, but it could have been a stick- a sharp stick. All I know is that I thought to myself. “It’s a good thing I didn’t pack a pump, patch kit, or any tools.” It was a 3 mile walk out- not the end of the world, but enough to kick myself for being over confident and under prepared.

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Alley Cat Racing, DIY, Events, Media, News, Ride Your Bike, Seattle, Travel, Washington

Mobroll Tour 2014: May 1st – 18th

“Imagine biking with your friends to all the dope Puget Sound seaside cities and going to shows, alleycat races, seeing art, watching films, doing workshops, camping out, and going on critical mass rides. Now stop imagining and do it.” – Thomas Kolb

mobroll_tour_2014

MOBROLL 2014 is coming to your town! Grab your bike and ride along. Starting May 1st in Bellingham and ending May 18th in Olympia. Riders can ride the whole tour, a few days, or just join for the afternoon. However long you can ride along one thing is for certain, you are going to have a blast on two wheels!

May 1st-4th Bellingham
May 4th Anacortes
May 5th Whidbey Island
May 6th Port Townsend
May 7th Kingston
May 8th Bainbridge Island
May 9-11th Seattle
May 12-13th Bremerton & Port Orchard
May 14th Gig Harbor
May 15-16th Tacoma
May 17-18th Olympia

Full list of events, dates, cities and RSVP HERE.

DIY, Events, Handmade Bicycles, Travel

The Berliner Fahrradschau

Editors note:  This is the first post by one of two new Go Means Go contributors.  They are Northwest kids living in Europe and embarking on a bike trip.  You’ll be able to find their ramblings here on GMG.  Part diary, part travelogue, with writings from the road- we’re happy to have Ben and Chase onboard.  Ride on, you crazy diamonds.

A bicycle can get you where you want to go, but like many 20-somethings, we don’t always know where we’re going. It is times like those when it is sometimes good to let your bike take the lead. We, along with hordes of others, let our bikes guide the way and this time all roads led to Berlin for the Berliner Fahrradschau (Berlin Bicycle Show).

We consciously chose to do no prior research or investigation of the show and its vendors so that Berlin itself could show us what its bike culture, fashion, and ambition is. With no expectations, we rolled up to the venue, and it did not disappoint.

fahrradschau-8

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Bicycle, bikes, DIY, News, Travel

Spinlister: Person-To-Person Bike Sharing

Bike sharing programs are popping up in major cities all over the globe, but one is a little different (alright a lot different) than the others. Spinlister is an open marketplace that allows users to rent bikes from one another. Think Airbnb but for bikes. Craigslisters and the like should feel right at home with the concept. Once you sign up to be a member (which is free and only takes a few seconds) you can both rent bikes from other users and post your own ride or rides up for rent.

spinlister_screenshot

Traveling with a bike can be a major pain in the ass, especially for short trips, not to mention the constantly climbing cost of flying with a bike. I haven’t had a chance to use Spinlister myself yet, but hope to soon. I am traveling to Alaska and had hoped to find a bike to rent, unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any Spinlister users in our nations largest and most Northerly state. (Ryan perhaps you could pop the 49th state’s Spinlister cherry?) I will however be posting a “loaner” bike of mine for rent soon in hopes of being able to review how Spinlister works. More on that to follow. In the meantime friends of GoMeansGo, Back Alley Bikes, has several rental bikes posted on Spinlister HERE. So if you are in the Seattle area and looking to rent a bike check them out.

DIY, Film/video

Handmade Doll Bicycle

Hey Ryan, I know you are going to have a lot of down time this winter up there in Alaska, so I thought some crafting could help you pass the time. Have fun!