Handy Bike Tip #1

When you get a flat, make sure you check not only the tire for burrs, pokes, nails and bits of glass, but also the rim & rimtape for damage, holes and rough bits. I’m on my fourth tube since swapping my rear Kenda out for a road tire, 100% due to the fact that there’s a hole in the tape. Even the wrenches at the bike shop missed it. (It’s not a puncture issue from the end of a spoke — just as pressure point for the tube.) Wasn’t a problem at 80psi, but became one quickly at 120psi.

Dropped a chain

Which is quite an accomplishment on a singlespeed, I contest. In fairness, it’s been sagging a bit for over a week now, so the blame falls entirely on me.

I was dodging and weaving through the detritus left on Packard after the snowthaw this week, and came to a particularly dilapidated spot (basically the whole block between Hill and Division.) I took the lane and was presented with a more deadly pothole. Puma-like reflexes prevented a Land of the Lost-style plummet into the past, but I think the quick course adjustment is what set bad things in motion.

From the Thompson light to the Division light, my poor bike was making some sort of horrible noise. It sounded like a rubbing brake disc, so spun the wheel to test it out. It was still making the noise, but I figured it would get me in to work without issue. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but crossing Division, I was suddenly spinning out like crazy. I looked down in mild panic — and ah, yes, chain knotted around crank. I coasted to the crosswalk, got off, and examined the situation. Some sort of mechanical cat’s cradle, it seemed. If there hadn’t been a hearty drizzle going, I would have pulled out my phone to snap a shot. Now I wish I had. I turned the cranks back once, but it was still a mess, so I began walking.

Half a block later, I realized it was foolish to give up on it for two reasons: 1) without a cassette or jockey wheels to tangle on, more backpedaling should clear up the knot, and 2) if it were capable of falling off it must be able to just fall back on. Correct on both counts, I was able to nudge it back around the chainring and finish the ride in. Delicately.

Who doesn’t like a touch of excitement on a soggy day?

New Bike!

Yesterday was my first commute on the new Sutra-framed build I recently had done at Wheels in Motion.  Totally awesome.  It was a bit of a drawn-out experience at first, but once I started working with Marc, things came together very quickly.

It’s a Kona Sutra frame from 2007:  The final year they offered this frame with sliding dropouts, which will become important in a moment.  This frame is totally badass.  It has a nice wide fork for a goodly range of possible tire options, and mount points for disc brakes, rear AND front racks, plus some other mount points I can’t even identify.

The sliding dropouts were key because this needed to be an all-weather brute.  I had it on good advice from Charles at the Music Library that singlespeeds are handy in the winter, as there’s way less to go wrong when it gets wet and salty.  For a singlespeed to work, there needs to be some way to tension the chain across both gears, as there won’t be a derailleur and jockey wheels to keep it snug.  Usually one would accomplish this with a horizontal dropout, but the sliding ones on the Sutra frame manage just the same.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘Marc’) built up the frame with all the requisite bits and widgets:

  • Disc-ready hubs + spacers to make up for lack of a cassette (Cheaper than SS/Disc hubs)
  • Caliper-brake rims, (Again, for unknown reasons, cheaper than disc rims)
  • Avid BB7 brakes
  • Sugino crank and some gears and stuff

Of course, with New Orleans 70.3, and, uhm, some ‘other events’ looming on the horizon, I’ll be in the market for a timetrial bike in the coming months.  So it won’t be quite so drastic next season when I’m training and commuting, we finished off with:

  • Vision TT handlebars
  • Profile Design T2+ aerobars.

That’s right, aerobars on the commuter.  I think they’re more comfortable than handlebars anyway.  Coupled with bright orange bar tape (to match my garish bike shoes, of course,) I should be pretty easy to spot zipping up and down Packard.  I’ll add some pictures to this post as soon as Marc gets them sent to me.  Check The Stable for the nitty-gritty on component details and the rest of the photos (when available.)