Saturday, July 25, 2009

I don't do Carbon Fiber

Why don't I do carbon fiber? I mean besides the fact I can't afford it? Rivendell bikes sums it up pretty well here - Here are some quotes from the site -

Failure mode is one of those "more important factors." It is how suddenly failure occurs after the first crack, hole, or gouge. Nobody talks about it, but it's really, really, really important.

Materials that fail fast are said to fail "catastrophically." Of all materials used in bikes, none fails more catastrophically than carbon fiber, and none fails more slowly than steel. You want your bike stuff to respond to trauma by bending and denting, not shattering and snapping. Metals tend to do that. And once that's covered, you want plenty of time and lots of warning between the onset of failure (a crack, for instance) and total material separation. Steel is the first place winner here, too. Reparability is desirable, too, and steel wins that one, also.

Another quality to consider in a frame material is how well it ages; the degree to which it stays strong as it gets old, and environmental stress in the form of ozone, ultraviolet radiation, salt air, and temperature extremes affect it.

In this regard, metals are far superior to rubber, plastic, and carbon fiber. The resins used to hold the layers of carbon fiber together degrade with exposure to ultraviolet.

Defect tolerance is the ability of a material to be safe even when defective.

It matters because perfect quality control is impossible, no matter how white-coated engineers in sterile rooms you have monitoring production. Some bug or booger or bubble will work its way in, and then what?

Then you want a material that maintains its integrity.

The least defect-tolerant material used in bikes is carbon fiber. (And most carbon fiber comes from China, as a matter of fact.) The most defect-tolerant is steel.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Swiss Army Bicycle Trailer

Riding home the other day, past the local lumbar yard, I saw a man loading some wood on a bike trailer. I stopped and talked to him a while about it for he didn't just have some short 2 x 4's. He was loading up something like four or five 2 x 4 by 10's and maybe a 2 x 10 that was 16 feet long. I, of course, thought this was great.

But as we got to talking what I found more fascinating was the bike trailer itself. It was a Swiss Army bicycle trailer designed to carry a stretcher. The Swiss Army had a bicycle brigade/unit (as well as many other armies) up until, I believe, the mid nineties. The man picked it up from an army surplus for about $400. Although quite heavy, the trailer was obviously very strong and could hold a lot. I found some photos of one of these trailers online. I believe it might be from the same man's flickr account.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Surly Pugsley

I just came across this on the web and had to post about it. While I would probably never own one of these, this the Surly Pugsley is quite an innovative bike. I'm not even sure Surly still makes them.

Designed to go anywhere, through sand, snow into the back wilds. Here's a quote from Sheldon Brown's website, "Who should ride Pugsley? Hunters of all types (animal, mineral, or vegetable), beach/desert riders, snow/ice riders, wilderness explorers, and anybody else in need of a bike that will provide extra stability, traction, and floatation when the terrain gets loose and unpredictable. If you fall into any one of those categories, you should ride a Pugsley."

And this, which I really love, "Since this bike is intended to be capable of serious wilderness travel, Surly decided to make the wheels interchangeable! The front fork is designed to accept a 135 mm rear hub. The usual setup is to provide a singlespeed rear hub for the front, with a single sprocket. Thus, if you're off in the wilds of northern Saskatchewan and you prang your rear derailer, you can shorten the chain, swap wheels, and ride home in a single gear."

Read more about it here -

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Commute record - to work.
  • Time - 19:01
  • Average speed - 18.6 mph
  • Top speed - 42 mph
  • Distance 5.94 miles
  • Odometer - 8053.3
1 minute and 14 seconds faster then the previous record! Had the wind at my back and carried no baggage, not even a tool kit. Dropped down Genesee instead of Yancy. Did about 22-24 mph up E. Marginal Way. Cut in towards Pioneer Square at Main. Took Cherry from 1st to 3rd. Chain fell off at about 3rd and Union but I had to stop for the light anyway. It's amazing, just a month ago I thought I could never match 20:46 again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

700 x 25c

I changed Musette's front tire back down from a 700 x 28c to a 25c. I think this is the sweet spot for this bike. With such a tight front fork the 25c doesn't rub on the front fender but still has some substance to it.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I just had to tighten the bindings on my clipless pedals. Over the last 2 months or so I've pulled my right cleat out of the binding like 3 times. Today was the kicker. I was sprinting up Pike. I took the middle lane because it was open and being out there I wanted to keep up with traffic. I got up to a moderate speed, shifted, stood up on the pedals, got the bike rocking back and forth and it happened again. Things became a little squirrelly as my upper body kept rocking the bike back and forth and my legs weren't spinning anymore to balance it. Adrenaline went up, time slowed down while I some how managed not to go down. Anyway, I did not want that to happen again so the allen wrench came out and the tension went up. Five clicks clockwise.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Yet another new record time riding to work. This time by a significant 29 seconds.
  • Time - 20:15
  • Average Speed - 16.6 mph
  • Top Speed - 34.5 mph
  • Distance 5.65 miles
  • Odometer 8004.4
Although there were times I thought my heart was going to explode. The stoplights were actually nice rest stops. I had a light to moderate tailwind. Also it was on this ride that I rolled over Musette's odometer past 8000 miles.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Musette's Front Wheel

While I've had my back wheel rebuilt 2 times the original front Fuji wheel has lasted almost (20 miles short) of 8000 miles. I've only needed to replace 1 spoke, until yesterday. I was riding down a steep hill, in traffic, which meant a lot of braking. Just at the point where I was about to turn off I had to come to a complete stop and that weight was just too much strain for the front wheel to handle. Boink, broken spoke. Now that I think about it the 1st time a spoke broke I had also come to a quick stop on a slight downhill. The wheel was warped pretty bad. It kept hitting the front fork and acting like a brake. I started to carry the bike but that got old real quick so I got back on and just powered through. After work I carried my wheel up to Velo to get the spoke fixed and just decided to replace the wheel.

The new wheel cost me $100. It's hand built and has 36 spokes as opposed to 32 so it should be stronger then the old wheel. It feels very close in weight. It's composed of a Campy hub and a Mavic rim although I know nothing about the spokes.