Monday, November 30, 2009

Derailleurs and Chain Wrap Capacity

Back on November 12th I posted about chain size and how mine changed in relation to the different chain rings/rear cassette I installed on Musette. See - Chain Length

In my continuing drive train saga I learned about the derailleur cage and chain wrap capacity. Chain wrap capacity is how much chain the derailleur will take up as you shift through the gears. Sheldon Brown has a good article on it here - The derailleur cage is that long part on the rear derailleur through which the chain passes containing the two little pulleys (jockey and tension pulleys). From my understanding, generally the longer the cage the more chain wrap capacity your derailleur has.

I could have got into trouble with this when I replaced my small chain ring and the rear cassette as this gave me a greater range. Fortunately I didn't exceed my rear derailleur's capacity. I was, however, having problems with the jockey pulley riding on the largest gear (28t) in the cassette. This wasn't so much a problem in riding/shifting but would eventually prematurely wear out the jockey pulley. Normally the "B" screw on the back of the derailleur could be adjusted for this but mine was already at it's limit. I found a solution (Downgearing Your Bike) in Sheldon Brown's site. Use a larger screw or take the "B" screw out, turn it over, and screw it in again. You gain the added few millimeters from the head of the screw. I'm sure there is a limit to this in the derailleur but it worked for me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Next Bike? - Touring Bike? - Country Bike?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my next bike and I finally started saving to make it happen. I should probably have enough by next summer, if not sooner. I think I've narrowed it down to a Rivendell Sam Hillborne.

The Sam Hillborne is sort of a step down from Rivendell's Atlantis, their true touring bike. They refer to it as "country bike" and it has all the things I'm looking for. Strong lugged steel frame, many brazons for racks/water bottles, wide fork/frame clearance for fatter tires and room for fenders.

It's interesting how my preferences in a bike have changed over the last 10-15 years. In my 20's and early 30's I owned a Specialized Hardrock Ultra. I wasn't into commuting or long rides. I guess I was more of a trail guy. In truth the bike sat around and didn't get rode that much like most bikes of most people. I probably didn't get more then 500 miles on it.

Now we move to my early 30's It was in 2002 that I decided I was going to start riding to work. I quickly noticed people on road bikes zipping past me and figured I needed something different. I remembered the junker $50, garage sale, road bikes I had as a kid and went in search of one. New not garage sale. But, of course, I was limited in money so I settled on a steel frame, entry level Fuji. Still much faster then the Hardrock. I loved it. Actually this turned out to be a really good bike for me. At least the frame, lasting until this very day with 9000+ miles on it.

I rode most every day, through the summer, to work. I tried to ride through the rainy season but just couldn't do it. I wasn't prepared mentally and the bike physically. The following year, 2003, I picked up commuting again and managed to ride through the winter. Most days at least. I was liking the bus less and less. Now at that time we were still a 2 car family and I would treat myself to driving to work on many days when I felt I just couldn't ride even though this meant paying for parking. This is also the time when I finally picked up some fenders for the bike. Growing up in Arizona fenders on a bike seemed pretty sissy but just like fashion the more I saw of them the more they became "normal". Once I got a pair, managed to cut, fit, and jerry-rig them in that bike's tight frame clearances I loved them. Of course this meant my tire size was now fixed to a low volume, high pressure 700 x 28c or smaller but that didn't matter at the time. I dreamed, occasionally, of lighter faster bikes. Carbon fiber, aluminium, titanium.

2004 we moved back to Arizona. Rides were few and far in between. Work was to far for commuting by bike. Suburbia. Sprawl. Traffic moving at high speeds. Phoenix. It was not a bike friendly place. The bike mostly hung upside-down in the garage.

In 2006 we returned to Seattle. I started commuting daily, by bike again. I sold my car in the move. One car between us now. Picked up a rear rack for the bike. Wore out a lot of parts. Learned a lot about bike repair. Learned how easy bike repair is when you know how. Changed my body position on the bike which made longer rides more enjoyable. While there are many times I do enjoy it I became less concerned with riding fast. This is also when I started to really see the bike as a thing of sustainability, freedom and a money saver.

Last December I rode to work in the snow. While everyone else was trying to figure out how to get to work it was, although a little challenging, business as usual for me. The lower West Seattle Bridge was a little slippery and I realized again how beneficial a fatter tire would be.

A buddy and I did a few "long" day rides in the more rural areas outside of Seattle this summer and I am now mesmerized with the idea of bicycle camping. Just riding out some rail trail or logging road, into the mountains and camping overnight. And just today I lowered my tires to the minimum pressure. Usually I ride the max. What a difference in comfort.

Camping, back country roads, higher volume lower pressure tires, the ability to haul stuff, comfort and a change in mental attitude have brought me to the Sam Hillborne. I'm going to purchase the frame/fork and transfer many of the components over from Musette. It should make for some good posts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brooks - Break-In

I've rode 2286 miles now on my Brooks B-17N and the saddle is still in great shape. While the saddle never really felt bad to me it wasn't until about 1000 miles of riding that I really noticed it feeling "broke in". It was a sunny summer day and I hopped on Chromie for a change of pace. Half way to work I remember thinking, "This saddle (a Bianchi saddle) actually doesn't feel as good as my Brooks.

I never did any of the crazy break in remedies I've seen on the web such as soaking your Brooks in oil or using leather conditioners other then Proofide which Brooks recommends. I only use Proofide about once every 3 months now. Some people complain that Proofide costs to much for so little but it only takes a tiny amount to do the whole saddle. My tin is still almost full and will probably last me many years. I weigh 175 pounds and in 2000 miles I've never needed to adjust the seat tension although I did add a few laces to the bottom. Of course I don't store my saddle (or bike for that matter) in the rain and if it is left out, while stopping somewhere, I cover the saddle.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chain Length

I was browsing through my Park Tool Big Blue Book on Bicycle Repair and I came across a section on chain length. (See Park Tool Article Chain Length Sizing.) Low and behold, when I last replaced my drive train, I had cut my chain too long. Even though I matched it up link for link with my old chain I didn't take into consideration that the smallest sprocket on the new rear cassette and the smallest new chain ring were, in fact, smaller then before and thus the chain would need to be resized.

Park Tool Website

Monday, November 09, 2009

Leather Bike Bags

Back in July I fabricated some leather bike bags/panniers for Musette. The first image shows the leather, freshly purchased, rolled up on the back rack (as I wait for the lower West Seattle bridge to close again) where it would soon be sitting in a lightly different form day in and day out. The next images show various stages of construction and the final product on the rack and hanging with the shoulder strap attached. All attachment points are snaps for quickly removing the bag while the bike is parked somewhere.

What about leather and Seattle rain? I oiled the leather well. As long as it gets to dry out after being rained on and treated once in a while with a leather conditioner it will be fine. In fact the color of the dye actually blended more evenly after it was rained on. I wouldn't leave it soaking wet for a long time as I suspect mold would grow. My bikes/bags are stored inside.

The best part is I get compliments on it most every day.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Delta Leonardo Da Vinci Wall Rack

Over Halloween weekend we re-arranged our living room. In the process we removed one of two bookshelves and wall mounted my two bikes with the Delta Leonardo Da Vinci Wall Rack. Leonardo Da Vinci wall rack is a kit from Delta, Leonardo being the actual hook the bike hangs from and Da Vinci being the lower wall mounted tray for the second tire. Both parts can be purchased separately or together for about $20. They're rated to hold bikes up to 40 pounds. I've heard they don't work well with fat mountain bike tires but they are great for my 700c. This whole process freed up a bunch of space in our tiny, 1 bedroom condo. The bikes sort of divide our living room from the entry way and at the same time don't. The energy in the whole room is better although the photo doesn't do it justice.