Reader Dustin wanted his bike to be secure, yet was intimidated by the prices of locks. He sent us the following . . .
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I needed a new bike lock, priced them out and realized there was absolutely no way I was going to drop that kind of coin on a lock. Hell, I only paid 50 bucks for the bike on craigslist! I remembered that I had a set of leg irons from when I worked EMS at a prison, and that they are highly resistant to lock picking, simple bolt cutters don't do the trick, and they look freakin' sweet.
There hasn't been a single day that someone hasn't asked about the lock, and gave a chuckle of surprise and envy.
Wires and electricity freak me out. Maybe it's that one time I grabbed an electric fence when I was young. Reader Miguel obviously does not share my fear because he sent along a hack that makes the hairs on my arms stand up. If pictures like the following get you excited, a "Lumi Lock" type hack might be up your alley.
Miguel came up with a rather sophisticated way to try to increase visibility on the road. He wrote the following:
I recently made a Messenger bag that promotes bike safety through lights, and added feature of a bike lock. Perfect for commuters getting around the city, the messenger bag uses Arduino, 1w LED, and a cleverly designed switch that activates the lights.
Reader Andy wanted a way to help his son transport his saxophone to school and submitted the following text and picture.
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My high-school aged son rides to school daily, and was having to transport his sax back and forth for band practice. I had bought him a rack (the Delta Post Porter Rack) for a bikepacking trip we did in fall, but the saxophone case was just too long and heavy to attach safely.
I cut a piece of 1 x 10 pine to length, to attach to the rack at the front with two screws, and also drilled twelve holes through to attach with zip ties to six other locations on the side tubes of the rack. I relieved the top of the board with a chisel between each pair of holes so that the zip ties are below flush. Then I added a second piece of wood to make a lip at the back that prevents the case from sliding off. The case is therefore wedged between the saddle and the lip.
A short piece of flat metal bar with holes attached to the bottom is for the rear strap. I put two tie-down straps on, then cut to length and melted the ends, so that there is no way they can get into the spokes.
The rack is very secure and convenient for him. He just takes the whole rack off the seat post when not needed, instead of cutting the zip ties. We had a very dry summer, but if we saw rain I'd put a few coats of paint or polyurethane on.
This is the general type of strap that I had laying around. Ratchet straps would work, but be overkill and more fiddly for him. I'm not sure I'd trust Bungees for this.
Not all bikes come set up for fender installation, and reader Michael came up with a hack to fight of mud, grime, and snow. He is from Michigan, and commutes 10-miles each way to work, but his main winter riding fun is the renowned Winter Ride Challenge Series (WRCS) . He sent along the following . . .
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I mounted a set of Planet Bike Cascadia (full-coverage) fenders to my 29'er with a suspension-corrected rigid fork. Never before had I noticed that there was no hole through the crown nor threaded holes in the dropouts. Using some 3/4" x 1/8" thick aluminum angle stock, a hand drill and a file, I fabricated a nifty little mounting point for the fender tab. It all attaches to the fork with zip ties. I used some bits of rubber to pad the interface between the fork and cross-bar. After the photos below, I decided to add a second zip tie to each mounting point for insurance against losing one.
Here’s the fender in the high position, zip-tied directly to the fork crown – totally unacceptable:
Here’s my solution to the problem – perfect alignment:
Reader Mark sent us an elegant and simple solution to using your mobile hitch mounted bike rack as a bike repair stand. Take it away Mark . . .
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Purchased a $25 trailer hitch from Northern Tool and mounted sideways on an end cabinet.
Used my auto bike rack that was taking up room in the garage. Hang my bike from the rack for easy maintenance.
Most car racks have straps to limit movement. This also utilizes something that most of us have laying around. When complete, simply remove the car rack and retun it to the spot where it was collecting dust.
The Bike Hacks Dictionary of Bike Commuter Slang originated in the spring time and with the repeated snow storms we have experienced in the Northeast this winter, I realized there are few entries focused on winter slang. This winter I have snapped a few shots of situations/circumstances I think merit entries. Readers are welcome suggest descriptive words for the photos below, and other winter additions from readers are welcome.
Descriptive word(s) needed: a bike covered in salt.
Descriptive word(s) needed: A bike just poking out of a mound of snow.
Descriptive word(s) needed: A bike parked on top of a mound of snow.
Some of my best hacks have been aided by beer. Okay, all of my hacks have been aided by beer. Not only has beer aided reader Brad, he sent along this hack incorporating his tall boys.
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As with all of my ideas (shoddy or entertain-able), I was sitting around after drinking a few brews and getting ready to bike to the bar (which in the winter in Toronto usually leaves you with a back full of slush). Staring at all the beer cans in front of me, I had a light bulb moment and me and a buddy got to work. Finished construction on it the next day and in total only took a few hours.
I basically just took the tall boys and cut the ends off, hammered them flat, and then riveted them together in a line. I then took steel strapping to reinforce it where the cans were joined, strung a coat hanger through the end for stability and zip tied the other end near my seat post.
Attached it to my 70's Peugeot dumpster dive and voila!
There are some road repairs you are not prepared to handle, no matter how much you plan. You can stuff as many tools as you want into your bag or pocket, but that is just when circumstance will laugh at you and throw a wrinkle your way. Reader Cory sent along the following story and picture . . .
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When your bike breaks in the Kuwaiti desert, it's often difficult to find spare parts to help you continue on your ride. On a recent group ride, one of our riders had this very situation. Luckily for us, we have a creative engineer! After a minute of wandering around, he came back with a long metal scaffolding pole. At the end of it were some notches. To bend the the frame and derailleur hanger back to normal, we slid it into the notch of the scaffolding pole and used the leverage to bend it back. Good as new!
When it comes to tire health and repair, there are varied opinions on how far one should go. We have featured a number of hacks mostly focused on short-term solutions - namely getting you home if trouble is encountered in the middle of a ride and you don't have the tools or equipment you need (see recent "So Money" post). Others want to do anything they are able to do to milk all of the life out of a tire possible.
Reader Nick, who blogs over at bicyclosis, submitted a hack meant to extend the life of a tire with a sidewall/bead issue. He posted the following picture to his site:
On his site he details a hack that employes some leather and thread to patch the inside of the tire. This is the result:
While I can appreciate this hack, I also had my own experience with a sidewall/bead which I had no intention of trying to hack. I wrote about a thumping feeling I encountered a few years back in a post and here is the picture I used showing the reason for the thump.
The tire started to tear and with the placement and pressure involved, the only wise option was to ditch the tire. Once a tire starts to tear, I'm out of the hacking game unless it's a short term hack just to get me home.
Opinions/experiences of others are welcome in comments.
More and more people are filming their rides these days, with a camera pointed forward. But a band wanted to use a bike for video, with the camera turned around. Reader Nicholas sent along the following.
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Out of necessity, indie band "And the Giraffe" used spare rigging equipment and a few pieces of duct tape to stabilize a film camera on the front of a bicycle for their newest music video. The setup was deceptively simple, but the resulting shots were extremely stable as the band rode around downtown Los Angeles and into the desert outside the city. The rigging was fastened to the frame of the bike and the handlebars and small pieces of duct tape were fastened into straps to help give the camera more stability on the unforgiving LA pavement.