Thursday, November 30, 2017


Every once in a great while, the Mechanical Gods cut a big slice out of the humble pie, glop some hubris on top, and force-feed it to me. Here's a prime example:

Ugh. Just looking at that photo again makes me throw up in my mouth a little. What you are seeing is one end of a no-longer-produced-and-increasingly-rare/somewhat-coveted Salsa Bell Lap handlebar. I picked it up as part of a long-forgotten Craigslist bike purchase (seeing a trend from my last post?), but at the time of purchase, it didn't look like it had lost a battle with a rechargeable drill. In fact, it was nigh on pristine, a real survivor.

So what happened? Near as I can figure, when I installed brake levers on the bar, the mounting bolts were too long and protruded out the back side of the clamp, drilling into the bar before they could sufficiently tighten the levers. How was I so stupid and ham-fisted that I couldn't feel that happening? I have no idea. The multiple puncture wounds tell me that I was that stupid and ham-fisted not once, not twice, but thrice (and the not-pictured other end of the bar provided evidence of yet another thrice).

Thankfully, I was struck by the urge to swap these bars to another bike and discovered my stupidity before putting too many miles on them in this condition. Talk about the mother of all stress risers... it wouldn't have taken too many cycles of my girthy torso flexing them to snap the ends right off and send a mouthful of expensive dental work to the pavement. I took a hacksaw to them multiple times before throwing them in the trash just to ensure that they will never grace a bicycle and risk someone's life and limb again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Project Update: Klunker v2.0

Just popping in to show off the progress of my recently acquired cruiser/klunker/olde school MTB project. It's looking pretty darn good, if I do say so myself (and I do):

Kickstands make garage posing so easy.

Changes since this steed last graced these pages:
  • Disintegrating cruiser whitewalls replaced with Tioga PowerBlocks.
  • Similarly disintegrating foam grips replaced with some from my stash.
  • Rubber block pedals replaced with big BMX flats.
  • Several tons of steel seatpost and couch saddle changed out for an aluminum post and slightly more svelte saddle.
  • Original chromed steel bars swapped for aluminum ones with slightly less sweep.
  • Added a full front/rear BMX caliper brakeset (with cable zip-tied on, because I've made peace with the zip-tie -- and it is a klunker, after all).
  • Accessorized with a bottle cage, lights, and a bell.

I also dropped the stem a bit to give a more balanced riding position -- still far from what I'd consider aggressive, but at least I don't look like I'm doing the shopping cart when I ride it. In a completely vain and superficial bonus, I think it makes the front end look more retro-MTB cool (those chubby blackwall PowerBlocks help too):

Since it still has the original 3-speed coaster brake wheel, I have a bit of brake redundancy in the back with the BMX rim brake. It's been so long since I rode a coaster brake regularly that it just isn't as natural to me as reaching for a matched pair of brake levers. Plus, since this will likely be my snow bike, an extra means of slowing down in sloppy conditions isn't such a terrible thing.

If it's truly going to be a utilitarian city brute, it probably still needs some means of carrying stuff, but for now, I'm happy with keeping it (relatively) stripped down and wearing a backpack if necessary. The nice thing is, most of this stuff came from my stash, so I was able to customize it to my somewhat eclectic whims without driving up the total cost too far. Bless you, Craigslist and deep parts boxes.