Category Archives: Bicycle Parts

Sweet Success

After five years of use, the battery on our Garmin GPS was on its way out.  Could have let it go as it is most often powered through a car’s electrical system, but unplugged use is sometimes helpful.  According to Garmin, the battery isn’t user replaceable.  According to Newpower99, it most certainly is.  Who do you think I believed?  I ordered a kit and it came today (two days after I placed my order).

For about $30, the kit includes a battery (that’s the old battery in the picture above, but the new one looks just like it), a small phillips head screwdriver, a small torx  screwdriver and a plastic pry tool.  No instructions with the kit, but the seller provides a really good instructional video on youtube.

On first view, the video kind of gave me the willies.  You have to go pretty deep into the thing to replace the battery and some awfully small connectors stand between you and success.  I am happy to report that I had the battery installed and the device was working in under 30 minutes.  Not too bad!  Thanks Newpower99!  

More?  I ordered parts for a coaster brake wheel for my ANT Light Roadster.  Fixed is good, but just now I think coasting might be more fun.  I will also enjoy having two brakes on that bike (instead of just the front).  The coaster brake hub is kinda special.  A Velosteel from the Czech Republic.  Not common, but not new.  It has been manufactured since 1904 (originally by Fichtel & Sachs)!  They aren’t terribly easy to get in the US, unless you have access to the web, in which case Guy Doss will be happy to sell you one.  He is a big fan of the hub and based on his description, I think I will be as well.  So far I can say that Guy is a pleasure to do business with.  He answered my email questions almost immediately, scooted over to Phil Wood to pick up the cog I wanted (3/32″ rather than 1/8″) and then shipped the hub the same day.  Impressive customer service!  He’d be more than happy to build a wheel for you.  Sounds like he is very experienced in that department.  I am building it myself, though, so I can have a bit more experience.  More on all that later (after I get the wheel built and have a test ride).

Be well!


Plastic Bearings

Shudder!  Didn’t know they existed.  Just read a review of Ergon PC2 pedals here.    The plastic pedal bodies caught my attention first, but it was the plastic bearings that really woke me up.  Is this good?

From the KMS site (a manufacturer of plastic bearings), we are told plastic bearings run smoother, quieter, more efficiently and with less maintenance than conventional bearings.  No lubrication necessary (but special lubricants are made which can result in near silent operation)!  Interesting.  All good stuff if plastic bearings hold up.  KMS doesn’t mention it, but with steel prices rising, plastic bearings may be cheaper.  That will get any manufacturer’s attention.  My guess is cost played a part in Ergon’s choice when specifying plastic bearings.

I am not looking forward to opening my first hub and finding plastic bearings.  Want to take bets on how long it will be before you find plastic bearings in Phil Wood hubs?  Aftermarket ceramic (which are very expensive), maybe, but plastic?  Really?  I have too many friends working at GE to doubt that plastics can do amazing things, but this old dog isn’t biting.  Just yet anyway.  You know any other uses of plastic bearings in the world of bicycling?   I found this and this.  If you know of others, especially specific parts, please share.

You know, I may eat my words sooner than later with respect to the pedals.  The more I read about them, I find myself kind of intrigued.  I am a fan of platforms, these look fine (that said I’d put them on a contemporary bike or an older bike which I am not trying to keep period correct) and seem to be well designed.  Check out the video here (or as they say, “find some infos”).  Watch it all the way through to see the bearings (which aren’t what I expected–plastic sleeves instead of ball bearings in races–which don’t seem as sketchy as plastic ball bearings sound).   There are some pretty positive reviews in the comments here.  We’ll see!

Take care.


Forty-five degrees today, so I finished my work and pedaled the new to me Rivendell Road around the neighborhood.  Just a couple of miles, but enough to know all is well.  Better than well.  Amazing.

The fit is perfect.  I might even be tempted to ride in the drops if a headwind becomes annoying.  It tracks perfectly straight (I didn’t expect otherwise, but it always nice to confirm when you get a used frame shipped to you).  The build results in a nearly silent ride even when coasting.  Silent, that is, after I had a second go at recogging the Sachs freewheel.  A couple of the cogs I put on the freewheel body were worn more than appearance suggested–enough to skip under load.  Luckily, I had another Sachs freewheel on hand and was able to move the 3rd through 7th gears over.  It pedals great now (no skipping) and I’ll say twice in say in one paragraph how much I love silent coasting.  Hooray for Sachs freewheels.  As a point of comparison, I will share this.  I am surprised they are proud of the sound.  I’d hesitate to buy their cassette hub after hearing it (or if I had one, I’d never stop pedaling).   Loving the Rivendell Roll-y Pol-y tires, too.  Comfortable with a nice shape.  No squirminess whatsoever.  Joy.

I found closely matching paint at the hobby store and touched up all the tiny nicks.  I did the work inside under poor light so I don’t really know how it looks in full sun.  As I moved about the bicycle today, I didn’t notice any blobs or mismatching hues.  In fact, I didn’t think about the nicks at all.  That’s a pretty good indication that the paint is a good match and that I didn’t put too much anywhere.  Otherwise, the touched up spots would holler out.

As I pedaled by the pond I noticed the ice was perfect–like glass.  Best I have ever seen.  Although I haven’t witessed anyone venture onto it this year, I suspect more than a few are thinking about it.  I stepped onto it, just at the edge, and gave a bounce.  Seemed solid, but I’ve never been the first to skate on a pond and that is a record worth maintaining.  It is a funny time of year.  I want snow and not snow.  I want it to be cold and not cold.  No matter what I want, right?

Frida is happy to be outside again.  The air temp may be 45 but sun on the outside thermometer gives an elevated reading of 60!  As Frida lays in the sun and with her black fur, I suspect she feels something north of 60.  Dog days of January!

Happy Friday!

Vegans Rule

Sticking with the theme of sharing old news (does it sound better if I call it aged or vintage?), I just finished watching the Food Network Challenge Donut Edition and Sara Beth Russert from Mighty-O took home the prize!  Not surprised in the least.  Those folks know what they are doing.  I always pick up a couple when I am in Seattle.  It has officially been way too long.

This reminds me that Chloe Coscarelli brought home the win for team vegan in the 2010 Cupcake Wars.  A positive trend.  Can’t wait until they do a chocolate challenge and invite Lagusta or a macaroon challenge and invite Samantha and Ian.  Love to see our team win two more!  Go vegan!

Rollers this morning.  It had been weeks since I have turned a pedal so I worked in my easiest gear and was happy to make the pins spin for 30 minutes.  Quick shower then a dog walk.  Hating that winter temps are here (only 18 degrees just now).

Wanted to warm up so I cranked the oven to 450 and tossed in an eggplant and garlic cloves and ended up with a great baba ganouj from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.  Nice roasty and lemony flavors.  I’ve mentioned this cookbook before, but it bears repeating.  No funny business in this one.  Donna Klein includes only reliable recipes that are historically vegan.  All I have tried are impressive.

While the eggplant was roasting, and knowing that the food processor was going to get dirty, I whipped up a batch of mushroom paté from Veganomicon.  Discovered this a few months back and I’m already on my fourth or fifth batch. The stuff just rocks.  Brought the last batch to my inlaws (Brooklyn Jews) and they went nuts for it (I pitched it as mock chopped liver).  They hadn’t had the liver version in years and said the mock version they grew up with was made with green beans.  No reason that couldn’t be good, but I am happy to have discovered the recipe with mushrooms, walnuts and onions.  We ate half and as we were leaving I asked if they wanted to keep the leftovers (they usually send home with us everything vegan they bought for us and everything we brought).  ABSOLUTELY!  Now that’s a compliment.  Thanks Veganomicon!  Might be a little depressing if I served these two together, so I won’t.  One gray mushy element on a plate is enough.

Of course the last parts needed to make the Rivendell Road rideable arrive today (the first day of the year with a high temp lower than the lowest temp at which I voluntarily pedal).  Should be nicer my Thursday, though.  Anticipation!


Just OverDo It

I’ve been in love with bicycles all of my life.  I was born at a time when kids were allowed to pedal all over creation (without helmets) and I did just that on my Schwinn Bantam.  Always bugged me that it was a step through bike with a bolt on top tube.  Was I riding a “girl’s bike?”  I didn’t have to worry about it too long, though, as it was stolen from school one day.  

In elementary school I’d pedal to the homes of friends or to the woods to fly off of dirt ramps on my Redline Proline with Bullseye hubs, Redline Vee Bars and a Tuff Neck stem (which was supposed to be red but I begrudgingly accepted in blue and regretted it every time I caught a glimpse of it under the red pad).  I’m skipping over the Ashtabula BMXer.  No pictures of that reliable tank.  

In junior high I’d pedal in the country and once, over the summer between  junior high and high school, I pedaled with a friend to a local lake and spent the night on my Schwinn Super Le Tour II.  That’s me in front with the Bell Biker helmet.  My friend’s mom took that shot from her porch.  How many parents would let this happen today?  I was so lucky to be born when I was.

In high school I’d ride all over town and the local countryside.  Summer were so hot I’d wait until midnight to ride downtown and do laps around the one ways pretending I was a criterium racer.  I had a fixed gear wheel built for me and often rode brakeless on the green frame in the foreground.  Found that frame in the garbage.  Maker unknown.  The shed was my work shop.  I’d sometimes sleep in there during nice weather.  

In college I’d pedal to school through the winter, snow and ice be damned, on my still trusty Cannondale SM 600.  Road stem placed the bars a little lower than the saddle, but I was young and flexible and thought it looked so cool!

During law school I’d pedal to a park on my Faggin racer and do one, two or three six-mile laps for exercise.  How many kids shipped their Park repair stand to school?

During law school I saved a Rollfast from the garbage and brought it into my small dorm room bringing my collection to three.  It needed only tires, a stem and bars, but I needed frequent breaks from the tedium of reading cases.  I rode it over the Williamsburg Bridge once.  Passed it along by riding it in circles in Washington Square Park with a sign asking for $40.  An Italian couple bought it within 30 minutes.

Next came a decade of putting my Bridgestone XO-1 on my car to travel to rail to trail routes on the weekends.  Easily the worst haircut of my life, but I was doing my best to hide my true self from my colleagues in the law office.

Now I am in a decade of transportation bicycling.  Transportation in a broad sense–from grocery getting to getting out of the city.  I ride too many different bicycles to list but from time to time talk about them here.

All the while I have been staring at bicycles.  Just yesterday Lacey found me sitting on a bench staring at the Rivendell Road.  I was there for nearly 30 minutes before she shook me out of the trance.  I almost always find something that is out of adjustment or alignment.  When bicycles are mine or I am given permission, I pick up a tool and try to right what is wrong.  I started collecting proper bicycle tools and parts in high school and get a couple more each year.  A Park three way hex wrench was my first and I still use it more days than not.  When everything is just right, I can relax and enjoy their beauty.  I think about the hands that touched the frame and parts to bring them into being and into my care.

I read everything I can find about bicycling.  Transcontinental explorers, racers, trick riders, equipment designers and manufacturers, safety experts and anything else with the word bicycle in it draws me in.  My google page gives me all the news stories containing the word bicycle.  My Tivo records all programs with the word bicycle in the description.

I collect bicycles and parts.  Some days I feel like a preservationist.  Other days a hoarder.  North of 30 complete bicycles and boxes of parts fill a room of our home.  I want to have less but I rarely take steps to make that happen.  It isn’t really a problem.  The bicycles and parts are all well cared for and stored safely and in an orderly fashion, but I will never forget a bit from the documentary I Am–that certain native Americans called it mental illness to keep more than you need.  I agree and want to shake the sickness.

Against this background, and here finally is the point of this post, I am surprised at how little I pedal.  That is what bicycles are all about, and I am surrounded by wonderful well-tuned examples, but I can go for days without throwing a leg over one.  Might be work getting in the way.  It might be weather.  Whatever.

Even when I pedal every day, I don’t pedal far.  These days I pick routes and destinations that take me to my goals (shopping, banking, shipping or socializing) and back safely and more or less directly.  When I pedal in the country for fun or fitness, the rides rarely exceed 15 miles.  Just once since I have lived in our current home city I pedaled 75 miles in a day (to Saratoga Springs and back–to a Bright Eyes concert).  Before that my longest ride was in high school.  I recalled it was 75 miles as well, but I just mapped it and it was closer to 100 miles.  I am surprised.  I honestly thought 75 miles was the furthest I had ever gone in a go.

Why so many bicyclists, even those new to the sport, pile on huge miles has always been a mystery to me.  How do they enjoy doing one thing for so many hours?  Don’t they have other things they also want or need to do?  Don’t they worry about wearing out their joints?  Don’t they worry about increasing their exposure to the dangers of the road?  Do they ever consider that most really long rides are voluntary and that the production, distribution and preparation of the food they need to make it happen has an impact on our planet?  Does media and peer pressure have anything to do with it?  Are Americans especially good at overdoing things?

Am I the only one who asks these questions?  Obviously we have different bodies, schedules, goals and concerns, and of course we are all free to do what we will, but sometimes I feel like the only bicycle fanatic that values and practices moderation when it comes to time in the saddle.  Am I alone?

I love rolling in the country and sometimes pushing hard on the pedals.  Balancing on two wheels makes me laugh each time I notice it happening.   Taking in lungfuls of clean air feels terrific.  Endorphin highs are as good as any other (and better than most).  Experiencing new things from atop a bicycle is a joy without equal.  Still, I love my family and they don’t often want to pedal as much as I might.  They let me pedal without them, and I do, but I always want to get back.

I have a job that affords me food, shelter and recreation and I need and want to be available to my clients.  As such, I think about the dangers of the road.  I accept the risks of some time on the road, but why push my luck?

Then I worry about my parts.  As much as I marvel at and care for well made bicycle parts, I marvel at and care for my parts.  I think about my knees, hips and nerves in my hands and between my legs.  I’d like to finish this life long journey on my bike with my original parts in good working order.  Unlike bicycle parts, our parts can sometimes repair themselves if given time.  Overuse makes this less likely.  Some folks can hammer hard their entire lives without ill-effects.  Good genes.  I am not one of these people.  I feel aches and pains when I use my parts too much or push them to hard.  Lighten the load and the pains go away (for now, anyway).

Then there is veganism.  I have no idea what a decade of veganism has done for or to my life as a bicyclist.  I can’t compare how I feel today to how I felt a decade ago.  Not only do I not remember, I am aging.  All I know is I feel good.  My weight is reasonable.  I have muscles and energy enough for pedaling to get groceries and mowing my lawn.  I read blog posts about pedaling and diet and feel more alone than ever.  Seems to be either meat, meat and more meat or vegetarians pushing themselves past epic and back.  In the end, it sounds like a whole lot of  eating animals and/or plants to fuel rides to nowhere.  I wonder if running that much fuel through a body is tough on it.  Do cells get tired of processing energy?  Where does all the food come from?  Where does all the extra poop go?  All I can do is drop a comment that maybe one could consider pedaling less.  The comment is ignored.  Isolating, I tell you.

I am not preaching.  I might want to, some, if my hands were clean, but they are not.  I drive cars.  I fly on planes.  I overeat.  I digitally beckon bicycles and parts and other things from all over the world to show up at my door  and show up they do.  Way in excess of what I need or even want.

I have only a vague and ever changing idea of how I might properly live life and I sometimes do the other thing.  I won’t pretend to know what is right for you.  I watched a documentary last night about Epicurus and his recipe for a good life.  His ingredients included friends, self-sufficiency and introspection.  Sounds pretty good.

Bicycling has given me friends, something close to self-sufficiency (moreso than my cars and past motorbikes, anyway) and time to introspect, but I still go off-course.  Would more miles on my bicycles give me more happiness?  Maybe I should give it a try, but I probably won’t.  Just now I am fixed on my idea that pealing in moderation is the right thing for me, for now.  Again, am I alone on this one?

Time for breakfast.

Making Do

The hoods on the Superbe Pro brake levers on the Rivendell Road are badly dried and ripping.  A nasty tear is visible in the first picture here.  The rips on the sides of each hood come together some when they are removed (surprised they came off without tearing all the way through), but clearly their best days are behind them.

I wish I could use them until they disintegrated, but they look out of place on the shiny new to me bicycle.  They gotta go!

Replacement hoods are not easy to find.  SunTour doesn’t make them (SunTour isn’t really SunTour these days–it is just a name bought and used by a conglomerate and slapped on strange mountain bike parts).  No aftermarket makers produce a hood for this lever.  If I were patient, a NOS pair would show up on eBay, but they’d be pricey (around $100), they’d be as dry as the ones I am replacing and they might not survive installation intact.

What to do?  I ordered a pair of Dia Compe 287 hoods.  

Pluses–they are readily available, affordable and the rubber is soft and new.  Minuses–they are longer than the Superbe Pro hoods.  When a hood is longer than the body of the lever, the hood rides forward and up a bit leaving a space between the front of the lever and the inside of the hood.  They look and feel sloppy.  I am happy to report that the minuses are easily erased by trimming the back opening of the longer hoods to match the length and shape of the original hoods. 

I used a small pair of scissors from a first aid kit.  The short blades made turns easy to negotiate.  I had little faith this project would come out well, so I worked more quickly than I should have.  Start to finish in about an hour.  If I had known this could work, I would have taken more time.  As it is, the modified new hoods look pretty good.   They certainly feel nicer in my hands.

The cap over the peak of the lever is a little loose.  If I removed a bit more material I could pull them back some and snug that up, but I am satisfied for now.

The side view is solid.  These straight cuts were easy as the hoods have very little material on the sides.  I achieved nice arced cuts on the bottoms of the hoods, too.  Again, this was easy as the hoods are thin there as well.

Unfortunately, the least attractive cut (shown above) is the one I see as I pedal.  There is a bunch of rubber inside the hood on top (to help form a transition ramp and provide cushion) so it was pretty tough to make the arced cuts necessary to follow the circumference of the bar.

If you want replacement hoods for SunTour Superbe Pro aero levers, I’d heartily recommend using modified Dia Compe 287 hoods.  The Dia Compe hoods might work on other aero levers, too.  There seems to be an abundance of vintage aero levers on eBay, but very few have nice hoods.  Even more are offered naked (without hoods).  The levers with rough hoods sell cheaply and the naked levers sell for less.  Add modified Dia Compe 287 hoods to a set of naked vintage levers and you end up with well made and attractive levers for very little money.

I undertook another project yesterday necessitated by receiving a bill for a credit card account I didn’t open.  $450 big ones.  I spent three hours speaking with the billing company, every other financial institution I do business with, the credit bureaus, the local police (they sent an officer to my home!) and the FTC.  Things are locked down tightly now, but I suspect I haven’t seen the last of this little game.  Crazy world we live in.

Not crazy?  How happy I am about 2011.  Lacey and Frida are doing great.  I love them with all my heart and they give me buckets-full of love in return.  Our families are doing well, too.  They support us in so many meaningful ways.  We also have a group of wonderful friends, each of whom makes huge contributions to our happiness and growth.  My work is back after a couple of very slow years.  It didn’t come back so quickly as to crush me, but it wasn’t easy to fire up long-dormant engines.   I couldn’t have done it without my colleagues, clients, developers and financing team members.  Then this blog.  I’ve enjoyed writing 315 posts over three years and have received so much wonderful feedback from readers.  Altogether hundreds of people deserving thanks.  Luckily, gratitude is a limitless  resource.  I give it all to all of you.  You make my life worth living!  Have a great new year.  Have fun, do good and be happy.  Bye!

The Best

The best thing in the world happened today.  I was walking with Frida along a four lane main drag and I see a corgi booking at us.  

No two legged companion in sight.  Corgi stops to say hey to Frida and I scoop her up, took her home and called the City of Albany license bureau (the number was on her tag).  

Office worker called the owner, the owner called me and I gave him my address.  He was here in a flash, all happy and thankful.  I was so pleased to be able to help.    I know how crazy I’d be if Frida wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

Apparently this corgi thinks sit means lay down, because lay down is what she did every time I asked her to sit for a picture.  Wait.  I guess she is sitting in the picture above.  Kinda hard to tell (her rear end only lowers an inch or so when she bends her shorty rear legs–cute)!  I guess getting her picture taken wasn’t sufficient reward for sitting, so every time thereafter she laid down.  Oh, her name is Jenny.  I love dogs with people names.

Very glad Lacey didn’t get to meet Jenny.  Lacey loves her some corgis.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she pulled out a pocket knife and dug out the chip so she could keep little Jenny.  Obviously joking, but she would have made the owner hang around for an hour or so while she pretended Jenny was hers and could stay forever.  I have to admit I enjoyed her company.  Kinda wish the owner had been at work so I could have enjoyed an afternoon with her and Frida.  Oh well.  The sooner the better when returning lost dogs.

Got my new frame and fork.  So beautiful!  I’ll take pictures when it is together.  It is mostly together now, but for the brakes and the front derailleur.  I can’t use the Superbe Pro brakes (too short), but I have vintage Shimano 600s that will work.  I need a couple of these to install the nutted Shimano brakes in the fork and brake bridge, both of which were designed for brakes secured with recessed allen nuts.  I also need an adaptor clamp so I can use my Superbe Pro front derailleur which was made to be used on a frame with a braze-on.   This frame lacks the braze-on.  I’ve ordered both parts.  Should be here in early 2012.  Anticipation!

Hope you are well.  Bye.