Second, he came up with a great double headlight system using PVC pipe because he was running out of room on his handlebars. Pretty dope setup for sure! Turns out Jack does know jack. Check out both hacks via the bikecommuters.com site.
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.
Although I have fenders on my commuter bike, my feet still get wet when riding through some large puddles. The over-spray is just at shoe height as it comes off the fender and mudflap. We have seen beer cans repurposed for this cause and I have been thinking about what other materials might work for me. I witnessed one possibility on a recent trip to NYC. As always, food delivery riders never disappoint when it comes to hacks.
I certainly would not want anything from the streets of NYC on me, and this entrepreneurial rider seems to have taken an old door mat rug and repurposed it into a mudflap.
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Back in my beauty is in the eye of the beholder post I noted that I went to town with a can of Krylon Orange Pumpkin Gloss and coated the new Planet Bike fenders that came on my Globe. I was torn because I think I did too good of a job. It all came out pretty even and I did not attempt to smear or paint erratically like I had done with a former bike.
I had contemplated using some more paint, perhaps purple to make the fenders look even more hideous, however the nice, even paint job also provided a canvas of sorts. During a bit of down time recently I was staring at my bike and an idea came to me. I grabbed a Sharpie and my front fender now is a billboard of sorts. At first I thought the back fender would be better so people could see it while I ride, however I decided the back fender might be better saved for reflective sticky things (f0reshadowing).
Having a brand new bike in an urban area does pose somewhat of a conundrum. If a bike is killer looking, it's also likely to be a killer target for bike thieves. So if you plan to ride a decent bike, you best try to camouflage it. I lock my bike outside at times while I run errands and such and I definitely want the bike to be there upon my return so both security and subterfuge come into play.
A longstanding Make article on 8 Ways to Ugly Your Bike provided me with inspiration, although in a weird way. In listing spray paint as one way to ugly a bike, the article states:
“A can of spray paint is a good start but choose wisely. Black is out. We’re talking ugly here, not cool. Think orange.”
I take great offense because my favorite color is orange. I guess it's a bonus for me though because if the majority of the population thinks orange is ugly, I can incorporate orange into my bike and think it looks fabulous while thieves will hopefully turn away in horror. I used this inspiration as the basis of my own case study on making one of my former bikes ugly.
I purchased a can of Krylon 2411 Pumpkin Orange Gloss and went to town on the fenders of my old Peugeot along with incorporating duct tape, stickers, and inner tubes on the frame. Personally I still think it looked quite cool, but not everyone shared my opinion.
Well, I still had a lot of paint left in the Krylon can and it was crying out to be used on my brand new bike. The only problem is, I think it actually looks pretty freaking good with Pumpkin Orange fenders. Readers can chime in to tell me if I am off base.
At first I was going to do a really uneven paint job but I figured I would give them a nice even coat and I can ugly them up over time if necessary. I think some random purple over the orange might accomplish that objective. Rust colored paint might also be an option - kind of an oxymoron on plastic Planet Bike fenders though. I'll see how I feel as time goes on, and I am open to suggestions. Feel free to comment on how I should continue to uglify.
I got a flat tire recently, and ended up being pretty happy about it.
I guess this requires some explanation because getting a flat is most typically a negative experience. Back in March of 2011 I purchased a new tire, the Pilot City model by MICHELIN. I lived in a city at the time and still do so it seemed like an appropriate model. When I lived in New York City I would say I averaged about one flat every couple of months. The Pilot has been an exceptional tire - no flats in 19 months of daily city riding (NYC and now Boston). I am happy to say that streak is still alive, even though I got a flat.
Wait? What? How can the streak still be alive? Well, that brings me to the "happy" part about getting this flat. I pulled my tire off and looked for damage - none to be found. I then proceeded to pump up the tube and discovered something interesting - the hole was facing straight down at the rim. The flat had nothing to do with the tire being punctured, instead it had to do with the tube protruding through a spoke nipple hole.
A few months ago I had a new rear wheel built. The wheels that came with my Globe were not the strongest and I ended up busting a spoke about every three months. Finally I got tired of it and decided to have a new Mavic built. As it turns out the rim tape was a little messy around one of the nipple holes and when I pumped up my tire with some extra PSI the tube punctured. Thus the flat had nothing to do with the performance or the tire - streak still in tact!
Sometimes performing one maintenance task will assist with another, and if your whip has fenders, taking off the wheel provides the perfect opportunity to clean the inside of your fenders.
Back in 2009 I entered a contest to get a free bike and I ended up getting selected. The premise was mostly for recipients to blog about their experience with the bike over the course of several months. Since this is Bike Hacks, I focused on hacking, or customizing my bike. When Bike Hacks moved over to a new platform (WordPress to TypePad) we were not able to transfer entries on a mass scale like we had hoped, so I am faced with the task of digging through old code if I want to publish older entries.
Pictures of my bike appear on the site from time-to-time and readers will occasionally ask me questions about things they see. I thus thought I would go back and detail how and why my bike got to look like it does. For many this will be a painful series to endure since my idea of a beautiful bike does not match the majority opinion, but hopefully some will get practical hacks or ideas from the series.
A full write up of how I came to be in possession of the bike can be found in this post which is a compilation of the first three posts I ran describing the contest details and the logic I used to pick the bike I did. I visited the Globe site again for the first time in a long, long time and many things have changed - including the fact that the bike I was given is no longer in their product line. At the time the contest ran, Specialized was just rolling out their Globe line and like any new line, some bikes endured and others did not.
Even though my model, what they called the Vienna, is no longer in production, I like the bike and it has been my primary commuter whip since I got it. I did have to get a new rear wheel which I will detail later but other than that and some minor maintenance, the bike has been great.
Getting a brand new bike is pretty exciting because I think 24 years had passed between my last new bike and the Globe that was given to me. Thanks to a trip home I was able to rummage through old shoe boxes full of pictures (ah, remember back in the day when physical pictures exists?) and obtained a photo of my last new bike before this one.
I'm the burly guy at the end of the arrow rocking the Centurion Accordo and styrofoam skid lid. For those of you that have followed this blog for a while, you now have visual evidence of why at a young age I determined that physical fighting was not an option for me.
The local dealer my bike was sent to back in 2009 when I lived in NYC was Bicycle Renaissance on 81st and Columbus in Manhattan.
Upon picking it up, the bike was bright and shiny, and boring if you ask me.
Most people will likely cringe as they see the transformation I put the bike through. To me the bike was like one of those blank white canvases you get at an art store. The folks at Globe were kind enough to spring for fenders and a rack which I was stoked about. I am a fan of fenders because city streets get filled with a disgusting stew when it rains and I hate to think about what substances would coat me if I did not have fenders.
To start off with, I kept the promise I made in the blog post I used to apply for a free bike - upon picking it up I gave it a nice healthy scratch. To me, there's no reason to stress out over nicking the paint, it's best to get that out of the way first thing.
DIY plastic fenders are no stranger to Bike Hacks, but reader R0otux submitted a variation I have not seen before. R0otux wrote the following via our Submit Your Hack link:
This simple hack will have your whip looking fresh and its machine safe so you know the hack will work for you.
Simply take a empty laundry detergent container and cut the desired pattern of a fender. From there its simply a matter of heating each end of the fenders precut lip into a 90 degree angle and allowing to cool, the drill holes in each lip. This will provide a mounting point onto the forks predrilled holes.
Not only is this hack fresh, it'll keep your bike and wallet uber light.
Here is the full picture of the hack, and the following pictures are close ups of the instructions, starting at the left and then moving clockwise.
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And the final result.