Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BikemanforU Show, Episode 7: "Truing a Wheel"

A renewed call to action emblazoned on the BikemanforU tee-shirt shouts: One less car! 

Ride a bike instead. As gas rises above four bucks a gallon, the fight against our oil addiction become more compelling.

BikemanforU carries the green message forward in this episode, which is all about "advanced" truing of the bicycle wheel, and as the our favorite master bicycle mechanic points out, "This is not for the timid." 

The repair problem lies with an old-school Schwinn World road bike,  built in Taiwan in the early 80s and now used as a serious commuter. Its ancient derailleur slammed into the wheel, ruining the derailleur and banging the rim out of round. 

He calls on Mr. Pump to bring on the IBM mainframe.  The original dual processor, this isn't Big Blue big iron, but two matching 2 x 4s, labelled IBM (don't ask). 

After marking out the affected areas of the wheel removable black magic marker, the rim is strategically placed horizontally over the "mainframe."

The master mechanic then dances the old soft shoe in his Red Wing boots to make an initial corrective adjustment.  He applies his 230 pounds to give a rough truing to the section in question. Viewers can actually hear the bike wheel reclaim its shape. Afterward, fine tuning is accomplished with a spoke wrench.

Results may not be perfect, but the repair is strong and solid enough to ride the bike again without having to spend big bucks. 

Episodes upload regularly to the BikemanforU YouTube channel.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BikemanforU Show, Episode 6: "How to Install a BMX Brake Cable"

Die young, stay pretty?  Have you seen roadkill lately?  In episode 6, the master mechanic imparts the wisdom that if you're gonna ride in the streets on a BMX bike, you ought to have brakes.  Makes sense. 

He allows that some riders carry their rigs to BMX parks, and don't strictly need brakes since they are not in traffic or in danger of running into pedestrians.  

For BMX street riders and mechanics, this BikemanforU Show episode is a concise and focused lesson on installing a front brake cable.  BMFU gives a shout out to Seth and family in Texas, who ordered the bike used in the video, a new Diamondback Grind Pro.

All the bases are covered in this instructional video.  At the brake lever end, threading the cable, snipping off the casing (using Park Tools CN-10 parrot nose clippers), and using ferrules to keep things together.   

At the brake end, spring adjusting screws and anchor bolts are explained, along with why you should have enough cable slack.  This is really great nuts & bolts learning, without a lot of distractions.  A must for serious BMX builders.

-- JPorter

Monday, April 9, 2012

BikemanforU Show, Episode 5: "Hillbilly Garden in the Hamptons"

Not to be confused with CMT Network's "My Big Redneck Vacation," this Bikemanforu Show episode is about low tech, low cost methods of neighborhood small scale farming.  (Disclaimer: no bicycles were used in this video, only the bike shop property!) 

Mr. Pump brings back lessons learned from the good old days of Victory Gardens around World War II.  He calls this modern effort a Cook's GardenforU.  He promises food for the table, beautiful fruits and vegetables for the summer and fall.  Flowers, too.  Growing your own food fits right into the one less car philosophy, good for the environment and good for you. So, if you aspire to be a small scale farmer for economic reasons, or just to enjoy super fresh, healthy eats, this video could be your ticket.

Some things you will witness: the mini-greenhouse for germinating seedlings converted out of the old ice-fishing shack. Using cut-off Milwaukee Best Premium Beer cans as cheap planters.  The raised bed style of planting areas, using layers of composted horse manure covered by cardboard, and then another layer of topsoil.  Worms are shown aerating the manure, and adding to the organic base.  The cardboard prevents unwanted weeds from sprouting up.  Rainwater is collected from the roof gutters, soaker hoses use Rube Goldberg inspired contraptions to pre-heat water and prevent temperature shocks.  

Hopes are high for a bumper crop.  Expect progress reports and more of Mr. Pump's garden secrets in subsequent episodes.  Feel like getting your hands dirty?

-- JPorter

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Big Wedgie Expando Bike Seat Bag 'O Goodies To Go

Here is a case where the product name may pause the conversation, but the value and functionality are excellent. Big Wedgie?  Isn't that what happens to kids when their underwear gets yanked up by the school bully? 

This is a well-designed, wedge-shaped bike bag that expands to a whopping 123 cubic inches.  I filled it up with some goodies (bike tools, spare tube,  and such) before taking it for a spin.  Before we go there, some details on the Big Wedgie:

It installs easily under your bike seat and seat post with velcro straps. A  Big D shaped entry boasts a heavy duty zipper, and a similar zipper on the expandable section.  Inside is a clip for your keys and a mesh pocket for some cash or ID. 

The bag material is thick, water-resistant polyester.  The outside is adorned with highly reflective, highly brilliant, 3H trim. The trim apparently utilizes micro glass beads to attain its superior visibility.

Now for the goodies I filled it with:

Quik Stik Bicycle Tire Lever Tool

Forget American Express, get a Quik Stik.  As BikemanforU will tell you, don't leave home without it! 

If you ride, chances are you are eventually going to get a flat.  A Quik Stik makes it easier, faster, and safer to take off a bike tire.  It is cheap and effective, and being plastic, it won't scratch your rims. 

Park Tool PMP-3 Pocket Protector Micro Pump

Another nerdy name for a fine tool. Pocket Protector?  This pump is super small and goes up to 100 psi max.  It is compatible with both Schrader and Presta valves, and comes with a frame mount if you aren't packing it in a Big Wedgie!  Fixing flats these days requires you to have a pump that travels, and this one doesn't get in the way.

Park Tool GP-2 Sticker Patch Kit

This is the easiest and lightest option when you need to fix a punctured bicycle tube.  You get six  24mm square patches and a small piece of sandpaper.  It all weighs four grams. 

You use the sandpaper to clean around the tube puncture hole.  Then you peel one of the patches and press it down over the hole.  Done!  Glue-less, no mess.  The tool manufacturer partnered with 3M to make the patch material stretch, flex, twist and turn along with your tube. 

For more permanent patches, turn to a vulcanizing patch kit with glue. The VP-1 comes in a complete flat fix kit with the even smaller Park Tool mini pump and Quick Stik.

Park Tool AWS-10 Fold Up Hex Wrench Set Allen Key Multi Tool

Finally, some good allen key, hex wrenches in a tough, composite handle.  You get seven sizes that range from 1.5 mm thru 6 mm.  The wrenches are made of Hi -Torque Protanium industrial steel.  Professional quality, the tips are chamfered for easy fit.  In case your seat needs to be adjusted or something. 

Slice of Pizza

Just kidding.  That would make for a messy Big Wedgie!