Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scraper Bikes

The scraper bike movement was born in Oakland, California a couple of years ago under the iniative of Tyrone Stevenson Jr. The idea is to customize your bike with simple materials such as foil, tape, recycled boxes and cans, and spray paint, and in making it look like it has rims. It's had a positive effect on the community in Oakland, keeping kids out of troubles, and encouraging their creativity. I don't know about you, but I'm working on rims tonight!
The original video: Scraper Bike
The Blog: Original Scraper Bikes
On National Public Radio: Scraper Bike Fever

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Onondaga Park is a velodrome

I've often thought that it would be cool to have a velodrome in Syracuse: a place where we could race with friends, and organize events, a place where bicycling would be celebrated every day.

Yet bicycling must remain a democratic activity, and stay within the reach of all. It can't be contained in one exclusive space. It belongs on the street.

So I realized I had been bicycling on a velodrome all along: Onondaga Park.

The upper part, around Hiawatha lake is always beautiful. You can go up on the little circle, above the basketball courts, and have the best view of the city. There is a nice uphill near the fire station that will get your heart pumping. You can go on the foot path toward the gazebo and kick some dirt. The long stretch along Roberts Avenue is ideal for sprints.
If you need more space, you can easily expand your route toward the lower part of the park, which is pretty cool too, or go through the south side, along 9 mile creek, and snake around all the way to downtown or the university.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Coaster Brakes Rule

I love equipping my bicycles with coaster brakes. They do away with cables, and simplify the look of a bike. They make for a completely silent ride, without the constant clicking of a freewheel when you coast, and therefore help you tune in your surroundings. They keep your hands free: everything's in the leg work, and along with the single gear, they render the ride more intuitive, and free your mind to be focused not on the machine, but on the landscape, just like when walking. It's a good thing because, since the braking is somewhat smoother, and lengthened, you need to learn to anticipate the terrain, and therefore acutely pay attention to it. Also, they seem to last forever, which lowers the need for maintenance. The only downside would be the risk of a chain break, which never happened to me, but has led me to consider installing an emergency brake on the front wheel of my path racer. I ride it hard downhill at times, and a chain break is a scary possibility, however unlikely.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dumpster Diving

This was a trashed 12 speed Mossberg that my friend Matt found in a dumpster behind a local bicycle shop and dared me to repair. The thing really looked like crap, beside I suspect it wasn't much of a bicycle to start with. I had to remove every single moving part on it, because it was not only rusty, but also of poor quality. I chucked the wires, the derailleurs, and the brakes. I replaced the ball bearings, the bearing cups and the chain wheel with Schwinn parts and others to convert it to a single speed. The original wheels were 27", but they were too far gone to do anything with, so I replaced them by 26" wheels I had, with a coaster brake in the back. I removed the ugly decals, and cleaned up the frame. Now it's cool, simple and low maintenance.