Surly Disc Trucker Build

February 8, 2015 in Designs, Photos

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I thought I wanted an Amsterdam style bike for commuting, specifically a WorkCycles bike. I love the aesthetic of these bikes. I love the low maintenance, and built-to-last qualities. I’ve enjoyed riding this style of bike while traveling. However, when I saved up the cash and went to buy one, I could not get past the test ride stage. I test rode for several hours over multiple visits. The shop made numerous fit adjustments, and despite wanting to roll away with a new WorkCycle more than anything, I couldn’t get over the fact that the frames felt too relaxed. My mid 30s body wanted something with a bit more leverage. I was not ready to make this jump. So I began the painstaking process of a new bike build, based on a frame style that I was familiar with, but incorporating all of the feature that I love about the WorkCycles.

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Components:

  • Surly Disc Trucker frame
  • Jagwire cables
  • Brooks grips
  • Tektro Auriga Comp Hydraulic Disc Brake
  • Toba Randy Rear Rack
  • Surly Singleator
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tires
  • Shimano ZEE M640 Crankset
  • Woodman Axis SPG Headset
  • Kalloy Laprade Seatpost
  • SRAM i-Light Dynamo Front Disc Hub
  • NuVinci N360 CVP Rear Hub
  • Velocity Chukker Rims
  • VP Vice platform pedals
  • Velo Orange Wheel Stabilizer
  • Gamoh front rack
  • Oopsmark U-Lock Holster

I’ve rode this bike for over a year without doing any maintenance, aside from adding air to the tires on a rare occasion. I finally pulled it in for some adjustments because I noticed the gearing has gradually gotten easier. Aside from that I plan to fix a squeal in the front disc brake, tighten the grips which have loosened at the ends, lower the handlebars slightly for better leverage, and I may swap out the saddle for a wider Brooks model.

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It was strange to transition to this style of bike. I ride much slower now. People pass me often. But I feel safe, and comfortable. I never hesitate to stop at a free pile, or to get groceries. I never have to think about how I will carry something. And I never have to think about what to bring. I just hop on and go. I wouldn’t take this bike touring, or on a long road ride, but I can’t imagine a more enjoyable bike for commuting and getting around town.

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Project Bike Stereo

May 6, 2013 in Designs

I wanted a bicycle stereo for an upcoming event, and felt it would make for a fun DIY project. I already had a B.O.B. trailer for touring and decided to use that as my base. Next, I thought about the features that were important to me.

Features:

  • easy to take on and off
  • contained in one unit
  • bluetooth enabled
  • rechargeable
  • water resistant
  • loud enough
  • sounds halfway decent

I started researching amps on parts-express.com. The amp I decided to purchase had an option to include two speaker-like devices called “exciters”, which can turn any panel into a speaker. I started researching and found that people have used them on everything from glass museum displays to fiberglass jet skis. I was inspired, and excited to come up with an original way to use them. I realized that it might be necessary to have the panel suspended in order to eliminate any vibration, and that single idea inspired the ultimate design.

Parts:

  • marine plywood
  • used bicycle tube
  • old camping pad
  • mounting hardware including leather washers
  • rechargeable bluetooth receiver
  • 12 Volt 2 Amp Sealed Lead Acid Battery
  • 6V-12V Switchable Charger with Alligator Clips
  • DAYTON AUDIO DAEX25 SOUND EXCITER PAIR
  • LEPAI TRIPATH TA2020 CLASS-T HI-FI AUDIO AMP W/POWER SUPPLY
  • 2.1 X 5.5 MM POWER PLUG TO SCREW TERMINALS
  • BANANA TO ALLIGATOR TEST LEADS

 The bluetooth dongle holds a charge for eight hours and works great with an iPhone. The rechargeable lead battery powers the amp for even longer. It is loud enough, though the sound quality suffers significantly at the highest volume, which I suspect is a limitation of the plywood as a conductor. I’ve had it out in the rain, which caused the underside to collect a lot of dirt and mud, but the components weren’t damaged. I think adding some protection on the grate in front of the rear wheel would prevent that from happening.

Pedal Lift

October 12, 2012 in Tips

If you are new to biking you might be wondering which pedals are right for you. In the US, the biking industry is very performance oriented, so most bikes and accessories are designed with racing or exercise in mind, rather than casual city biking or country touring.

The cycling industry may lead you to believe that you need pedal clips (i.e. rat traps) or “clipless” pedals for an efficient and tolerable riding experience. While both of these pedal types have their advantages, I recommend using platform pedals, also known as “flats” for every day riding. Flat pedals allow you to use any footwear, and make the process of starting and stopping much simpler and more enjoyable. Many flat pedals (especially BMX type pedals) have pins that grip the sole of your shoe providing even greater mechanical advantage.

Here’s a tip:

Even though you are using flat pedal, you can still apply the same basic principles used in performance designed pedals. When using flat pedals, try lifting up your rear foot during the upstroke. Not so much that it is coming off the pedal, but enough to relieve your other leg from having to lift any dead weight. Try this method while going up a hill and you will find that it reduces the overall effort required to maintain your speed and it may help you reach a faster cadence, which will make the entire climb easier and more enjoyable.  I like to call this method “pedal lift”.