Statistics surrounding the production, usage, and disposal of plastic bottles are alarming. In 2009 it was estimated that 1,500 plastic water bottles were consumed every second in the U.S. All those plastic bottles provide raw materials for creative minds, and reader Nikos, who blogs over at Bicycleobsession, sent along the following . . .
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I'm sending a beautiful hack I've done with two plastic bottles I
found on the side of the road and a hanger. It's a virtually
indestractible fender, light as feather and free as air.
The most sophisticated, durable, efficient, simple, discreet, reliable, unique, soundless (not more clanking), light, eco-friendly, good looking bicycle fenders in the world. And they are free.
I have not truly mountain biked since the early 90s. I do remember mud being an issue (I grew up in Oregon after all) and Lewis sent along the following hack to help fight crud.
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Instead of throwing away a badly worn tyre, fashion a "crud catcher" from it.
Fancy neoprene ones cost upwards of $20++
A discarded old tire cut to size (using cable cutters to gnaw through beads) and normal scissors. Zip tie it to the suspension arch and upper stanchion mounts. I made this.
All thats needed.
1. Old tyre
3. Cable cutter
4. Zip ties.
Its not pretty, but it works VERY WELL! It lasts much longer than inner tubes. A larger version of the same picture above is available here, and an alternative view here.
One unexpected surprise of starting BikeHacks is the number of countries we receive hacks from. I think we have hit every continent, including Antartica - someone who rode on the contintent emailed us in the past. Perhaps our first ever 100% organic hack comes from Angus in Indonesia.
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Fenders are among the easiest and most diverse bike hacks. Water bottles (elegant and not so elegant) are probably the most common, but cooking pans, coroplast, and plastic containers are just a few of the options out there.
While strolling around NYC recently I spotted a first - a gutter fender.
It looks like it is doing its job.
Two hacks for the price of one is always a good deal and reader Karl hacked up a dual purpose mudguard and reflector. He took a retroreflective sleeve fitted for traffic cone, cut it up . . .
. . . and attached to his rear fender.
For a full write up visit Karl's blog.
So I had the chance to test out my DIY attempt at an extended mudguard and learned that the material I ended up using was not quite rigid enough. It worked fine when there was no wind, however on a day with a decent headwind, the guard bent backward due to the wind stress. Rather than start completely over, I had an idea to add rigidity -
Yup, I just cut a standard clothing hanger, added some glue, and put some packaging tape over the top. So far so good.
If you plan on making your own mudguard do keep in mind the rigidity factor. Other guards we have featured have featured floor mats, shoes, and beer cans. I like my mudguard because it ranks high on the ghetto scale, but I am going to keep my eye out for over-sized beer cans for another possible attempt.
Reader Jorge contacted us and stated that he likes to write and has a bike. He built his bike from scratch and writes about his rationale in choosing his build and shares some of his hacks. Enjoy!
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Hi. This is my bicycle. It rocks. I'll tell you some of the reasons why... and share a handful of my very own bike-hacks.
First. Well, it's a bicycle, right? If you are reading this you already know... I hardly need mention that a bike can be an object of respect and lust; both sexy and utilitarian, sleek and rugged, and above all, it can be a tool that bestows on its user many great powers… powers that are just a few watts shy of super-powers. We may not fly. But we can bunny-hop. We may not be able to dead-lift one car to save a baby. But we can pass a dozen as they slog toward a traffic light. And while we are at it, we can make funny faces at the occasional back-facing baby.
I built my bike from scratch and christened her Golondrina. It’s Spanish for swallow (the bird, not the verb)… It comes from this famous old Mexican song in which the author considers the little black migratory bird and wonders longingly “where could she be heading, so fast and exhausted?” That seemed like a good motto for my new bike… and I upon it. They know not where, but go fast and exhausted!
When I moved to California last year, I found myself temporarily in urgent need of a means to commute 6 miles to work until my truck and motorcycle arrived from Rhode Island. A bicycle might do the trick. Since I already owned two bicycles (also, for the time being, on the wrong coast) I wanted to keep my investment cheap bordering on disposable while hoping to avoid the Walmart look. For $150 I got my hands on a used fixie.... It came with cyclo-crossish tires, which urged me to venture out on the dirt, and soon I was loving all the new found trails, and my new found lungs... and the cheaply made crank-set was falling apart, and the wheels were showing signs of irreparable damage. So I decided that I would build myself a new bike.
This would be the first time I built a bicycle, and I decided it should be the last. What I mean is that when you get to select every bit of bike... from stem to rear hub, from spokes to handlebar tape, you have time to think… what is it that matters to you?
My own answer was easy: durability… toughness, resilience, permanence, if at all possible (without going into Titanic territory) indestructibility. My new bike – I decided before I tightened the first nut – should be built to be my last bike.
I’m not that original. I got the idea for my project from reading the book “It’s all about the Bike” (http://www.robpenn.net) in which the author lovingly describes the process of building his dream bike. By the way, I am in no way affiliated with him. But as a fellow lover of the bicycle, I wish him well. May he sell lots of books! At any rate, I suspect other self-described bike-hackers will probably enjoy the read as much as I did.
Anyway, as I was saying: durability. This to me meant two things.
Number one. Stainless steel. Wherever possible. Frame. Crank-set. Chain-ring. Cog. Spokes. Hubs. Even my water bottle is stainless. But it’s not a perfect world so, if something must be aluminum (rims and handlebar), then double walled, reinforced, and extra thick, if you please.
My stainless steel frame is a Surly 1x1. So, you never heard of a Surly? Well, a year ago, neither had I. But once I heard about them, I started hearing more… like, check this one out, a Surly on its way to the South Pole.
Number two. Simplicity. Simplicity is awesome. Simplicity means there are few things that can break. Simplicity means that, should you somehow contrive to break one of them things anyway (because, like, you were careless, and dropped your bike from the third floor window) you can probably fix it with a crescent wrench and a hammer.
And what – dear reader – is simpler than a fixed gear bike? (except perhaps a unicycle) No gears. No derailleurs. No brakes (optional). And thus, no cables. Not even a freewheeling rear hub!
So, you say a fixie is not your cup of tea? Fine. But I'll tell you something, I have ridden bikes for 30 years. I rode my first fixie only this year... and I’m never going back to gears. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis thing… trying to hipsterify myself at 40. But whatever the cause, it got me to fall in love with pedaling, all over again. I can't quite explain it, but if you are fixie-curious, just give it a shot... you'll see what I mean.
Fine, you say, a fixie may be good enough if you intend out of it nothing more consequential than strolling harmlessly about the neighborhood. Or even (if you dare), doing crazy brake-less street tricks. But a single gear is not for serious long-distance bicycling. Ah. Yes. Well. They forgot to tell this guy riding to Everest on a single speed.
It took me a few months to build Golondrina: the bike that is good for everything, if you intend everything to be hard. On any kind of a long descent, my legs turn to blenders. On any respectable climb, I find myself standing, cursing, vein-a-popping, grunting, snarling, and inexorably, walking.
And yet somehow... I've never once missed my old gears! Especially when I'm pedaling alongside my wife... her steed clinking and clanking and chain-skipping, while Golondrina hums along in perfect stealth silence.
Ah. But is seems I've gone astray and written way long, and I haven't mentioned a single hack. So let me... um, change gears, and share with you my humble contributions to the universe of bike-hacking.
Browsing through the bike isle at REI I came upon my answer. A little (stainless steel) “incredibell”. It fit perfectly (well, kind off) in the hollow space where the rear-brake lever used to be. And there was even (arguably), a certain logic to the unusual arrangement: should I find myself about to rear-end some unfortunate pedestrian, I have two options: a) slam the front brake and probably flip rear-hub-over-head, or b) give them a courtesy “ding-ding!”
2. I don’t know why, but the mounts that came with my fenders, did not hold the fender close enough to the tire. This looks goofy, and probably defeats the point. So, I provided a solid but flexible mounting point for my rear fender using a wine-cork, 2 zip-ties, and an appropriately sized doohikie (I used a plastic dry-wall anchor, I’m sure a pen-cap would work fine). See Figure A for a better explanation.
3 & 4. I provided additional solid but flexible mounting points for my front and rear fender using pieces of braid-reinforced hydraulic hose like the one shown in Figure B. I simply bolts (stainless steel) with nuts and washers to attach the fender to a cut-to-fit length of hose.
5. I mounted my trailer hitch (for towing two hooting monkeys… aka my offspring) onto the rear disc-brake mount (where, as previously discussed, no brakes will ever live). My axle bolt was not long enough to engage all the threads of the trailer hitch nut… and I’d be damned if I was going to mess with that rear wheel after I spent several hours lovingly threading each spoke myself!
6. After a brief and terrifying experience wherein my right shoelaces were chewed in one side of the chain ring and spat out the other (while my ankle bent in an unusual direction)… I came up with this one. Both ends of my shoe-laces now come out on the “outboard” side of my shoes. When thus tied, my shoelaces are less inclined to ever want to kill me again.
7. A few yards of camouflage gorilla tape, wrapped around my top-tube… Why? Because you never know when the zombie apocalypse is going to hit… and if you don’t have some duct tape handy, your chances of survival are significantly reduced!
8. Presta or Schrader? Yes. Figure C shows a Presta valve with a Schrader adaptor. This way I get all the pros (Presta is easier to hand-pump and the small diameter penetration through the rim means… you got it, durability. But of course, Schrader is in every gas station, ready to do my bidding) none of the cons (All my life, I kept breaking the stupid lock-nut doohikies on Presta valves… maybe I’m a slow learner).
My bike rocks.
And so (I’m sure) does yours.
I do not mind riding in the rain, but one downside is wet shoes. Wet shoes take a long time to dry and as a result can start to smell musty. Newspaper and powder can be used to help with drying and "de-stinking," but it is also a good idea to take measures to keep water away from your shoes as much as possible.
Even though I ride with fenders, I have found that my shoes get really wet because when I ride through big puddles, the water kicks up right at shoe height. My fenders have a small mudguard, but it is not big enough to avoid the splash impact.
In an effort to fend off the spray, I decided to create my own additional mudguard. I started off by cutting a magazine page in the shape of what I thought would do the trick.
My first thought was to use a milk carton, but the milk carton did not seem to have the surface area shape I needed to conform to my cutout.
I started looking around a had and spotted a surge protector I had purchased but not opened. The packaging looked about the right size so I opened . . .
I added some velcro to my fender and to the mudflap so I could attach and remove as I liked . . .
. . . and now I just need for it to rain to test it out. I report back when tested.