Monday, March 2, 2015

Score One for Homemade Tools and Brute Force!

Had a day to play in the garage and figured it was a good time to swap out the creaky cranks on the Cannondale tandem for some (hopefully) less-creaky cranks (for those who like minutiae, I'm going from the stock Octalink V2 setup -- which has always been a noisy nuisance for me -- back to ye olde fashioned square tapers).

I was able to get an impressive 75% of the old bottom bracket cups out of the frame (a solid C), but the stoker's drive side absolutely refused to budge. Poured some oil in from the non-drive side, let it seep in (and out the other side onto the garage floor, sorry dear), nothing. And yes, smarty-pants, I know that the drive side bottom bracket cup is left-hand threaded.

I was up against two problems: One, I needed to apply approximately 1.3 metric crap-tons more leverage, and two, I needed a way to make sure that the bottom bracket tool didn't pop off the cup during the application of said leverage. Being unable to plan ahead for my blog posts, I addressed the second problem first:

There's the offending bottom bracket (for ease of viewing, shown -- SPOILER ALERT!! -- after it had already succumbed to my greater intellect and been liberated from the bike), the bottom bracket tool, and a rear skewer. You could just as easily use a quick-release, but I went with what was handy. Put 'em all together, and you get this:

Ain't no way, no how that tool's popping off now. So all we need is approximately 1.3 metric crap-tons of leverage, which comes courtesy of the Cylindrical Leverage-Enhancing Tool Utilization System (CLETUS):

The CLETUS is available in a wide variety of lengths specifically calibrated to deliver the exact metric crap-tonnage of force needed for precise extraction. I selected the 609.6mm model, affixed it to my wrench, grasped it with the opposable thumb shown, applied force with the hairy Neanderthal forearm shown, and proceeded to remove that cup like nobody's business. Then this happened:

 So I got that going for me, too.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Iowa Bike Expo: Beaverdale, Baby!

Returning to the theme of "neat local shops at the Expo", here's a look at another unique-to-Des Moines purveyor of bikes (and in this never-humble blogger's opinion, owner of the best logo in town), Beaverdale Bicycles:

BB's been closely affiliated with a t-shirt shop from the get-go (they used to share a building), so they always have an array of unique and funny bike-themed Ts. I believe that's proprietor Ed Veak manning the booth and the Wall of Shirts.

They also carry a pretty eclectic family of bike brands and accessories, catering to the everyday cyclist/oddball. That's a Soma Wolverine in drool-inducing orange, fully fendered and lighted for commuting with a belt drive to boot.

Further proof that this is not your everyday yawn-inducing Trek megastore: That's a Tout Terrain Silkroad expedition touring rig from Germany. Check the integration in that insanely beefy welded-on rear rack. Das ist gut, nein?

Velo Orange calls their Carmague a touring frame for unpaved roads, but this one looks to be built up nuovo-retro-mountain-bike style akin to my mental project around a Long Haul Trucker. (Notice that all the bikes have uncut steerer tubes with massive spacer stacks, which looks kinda weird from a "show bike" perspective but is a lot more sensible than cutting them down and limiting the customer's choices later.)

Hard to tell from my always-lousy photos, but the telltale fat front hubs on all these bikes point out another of Beaverdale's specialties/niches: Dynamo hub-powered lighting. Not something your humble narrator is really into, but I'm glad we have a shop in town that is. In fact, Beaverdale Bikes (and Ichi Bikes, detailed in a previous Expo post) are two of my favorite places in all of Des Moines bikery for that very reason: Both are different. A Trek store? That's the Wal-Mart of cycling: There's one in every town, selling the same stuff. But Ichi and Beaverdale (and the Des Moines Bike Collective, which I need to detail in a post someday) are uniquely ours, actual local bike shops.

Huh, how did that soapbox get under there? Guess I should step off it...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Iowa Bike Expo: Two Seats Are Better Than One

While reading this blog might give one the impression that I am a lone curmudgeonly hermit living under a bridge, I do in fact have a (lovely and talented) spouse who shows even more poor judgment by trusting me to pilot us safely down the road on a tandem bicycle. As a result, many of the bicycles that caught my eye at the recent Iowa Bike Expo happened to have extra seats, handlebars, and pedals between their two wheels. 

Boo Bicycles brought this part-panda-bear-food, part-crabon-fribre creation. They don't show any tandems on their website, so maybe it's a one-off/custom. (Late-breaking news: Intrepid reporter Steve F. reports in the comments that yes, this Boo for Two was commissioned by a local couple, and it even made an appearance at last year's NAHBS show. Thanks, Steve!)

A smooth, Campy-equipped, S&S-coupled custom from Christopher. Christopher who? Dunno. And I can't find a web presence. I suck at this journalism thing. (Later-breaking news: Intrepid reporter Steve K. tells me in the comments that Christopher is the marque of framebuilder Dave Huff, whose family tree of torchwork traces back to Iowa framebuilder Gordon Borthwick. Thanks, Steve!)

Nothing terribly exciting to see here if you know tandems, just an off-the-shelf Co-Motion Periscope. But dang, those Co-Mo folks know how to bring together a nice-looking twofer. When my ship comes in and this whole blogging thing goes huge (it'll happen! just you wait!), I fully intend to drop some coin on their lustworthy Java 29er/adventure tandem before I do anything silly like pay off the mortgage.

I couldn't figure out who was responsible for this Softride-equipped beauty as it was logo-free and sitting in an aisle, not clearly associated with any particular booth. (I told you I suck at journalism.) Sure, the carbon fiber diving board is a little incongruous on an otherwise classic-looking machine, but as any good tandem captain will tell you, do NOT argue with the stoker over matters of comfort... or anything else for that matter.

This one made me so happy, I think I actually laughed out loud. It's the product of student designers (like the fresh-faced youth in the yellow t-shirt) from my alma mater, the University of Iowa. If the proportions look odd to you, it's because those are 36-inch wheels. 29ers are SO over, man. (I'm bracing myself for the day that someone comes up with 36-inch fatbikes. You know it will happen.)

So, some good diversity in the two-seater world at the Expo... bamboo, steel, swoopy frames, wagon wheels, you name it. (I vaguely remember seeing a Cannondale too, but I didn't photograph it because I'm a snob/purist who thinks if it ain't welded in Bedford, Pennsylvania, it ain't a Cannondale.) There was certainly enough tandem content at the show to get me excited about the upcoming riding season with the aforementioned spouse, which bodes well for both our physical and marital fitness in 2015.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Iowa Bike Expo: The Ichi And Scratchy Show

Shifting gears (ha! see, I made a bike pun!), here's a look at the Expo booth of perhaps the coolest and weirdest bike shop you'll ever see, found right here in dear old Des Moines: Ichi Bike.

This ain't your grandpa's Trek Factory Store, folks. Owner Dan Koenig (the blur in green above) is part Sheldon Brown, part Pablo Picasso, and part Dr. Frankenstein. Proof?

Why yes, that is a hot-pink kids' penny-farthing with apehanger bars and a custom fringed-leather banana seat made from a recycled skateboard! Oh, not weird enough for you?

A kids' electric-assist fatbike with (again) custom recycled-skateboard banana seat. Yeah, that happened. More practical, you say?

That's the Ichi "mobile shop on an electric-assist trike". Note the Park workstand arm on the back, holding the green fatbike in the air. My bad cropping means you can't see the giant patio umbrella (on the wooden pole) shading the works... because (obviously) wrenching in the hot sun is no fun.

Finally, my personal favorite, since (as you're well aware by now) I'm obsessed with retro mountain bikes:

Looks kinda like a late-70s Joe Breeze, no? Actually, it started life as an old Schwinn tandem before the twisted minds at Ichi got their hands on it, chopped it in half, gave it some drum-braked, internally-geared wheels, laid down some classic points and pinstripes, and bam. Instant klunker lust. (I wish it had silver rims for the full-on classic look, but man, that's just quibbling.)

You can see a few snippets of other fun stuff in the background of my photos... more electrics, fatties, cruisers, far-out customs, you name it. Best to just go to the shop and see for yourself, though. Time your visit right and you might run into David Byrne. Yeah, that David Byrne. Did I mention this is kind of an unusual shop?