Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Michigan Vintage Velo Festival - Bike Swap and Show

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

International Velodrome at Bloomer Park (IVBP) Rochester Hills, MI
6th Annual Michigan Vintage Swap Meet and Show

8:00 am - Swap setup
8:30 am - Swap Meet begins - Bloomer's Main Parking Lot
10am - Noon Track 101 Class - on the NEW! IVBP track
12:00 - Vintage bike show setup
1 - 3 pm - Vintage Bike Show - Velodrome Infield
3 pm Americane' Awards Presentation - Velodrome Infield
4 pm Vintage track riding events

Vintage Bike Show categories:

* Best Original Track
* Best Original Road
* Best Pre-War
* Best Refinished
* Best Keeper of the Flame
* People’s Choice

Experience 100 years of bicycling history - meet bike racers - share your passion at this one-of-a-kind event. Free to attend and family friendly.
Check out the event on Facebook!

Swap meet and show are FREE for display, vendors and viewers. Donations (via jars on the main registration table) help make the event possible and shared with the IVBP for their nonprofit Velodrome Fund (responsible for track maintenance & operational expenses)

Track riding is FREE (special for this annual event)
Bike rental is $5 (½ the normal price)
Entry fee to Bloomer Park is $5 per car

Want to be a sponsor (table included)? Questions?
Contact Mark Agree: americaneshow@gmail.com
Velodrome website for directions and other details: http://www.ivbp.org

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Budget Pugsley Fat Bike upgrade to 9zero7 with Origin8 rims and Vee Rubber TIres

I first saw a Pugsley at New Moon Bike and Ski shop of Hayward, WI in 2009  when I stopped by on a vacation. When I got home to Alaska, I decided to look into getting a Fat Bike. I choose the Surly Pugsley frame because it was the only production Fat Bike available in those days.

I liked the idea of using an internal geared rear hub for the build because it would eliminate the problems of a rear dérailleur clogging and freezing up with snow. I checked with a rider in Whitehorse, Yukon who used one and confirmed it worked fine at below zero temperatures. Plus, it is sealed so there is much more protection from gunk. Lastly, it allows greater width to your tires because the chain never moves in and out like on a derailleur-equipped bike. I used a Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub and had Universal Cycles in Portland, Oregon build up a set of wheels.
Shimano 8 speed Alfine; they also make an 11-speed version now.
No derailleur, thank you very much.
When the Surly Pugsley was designed, the classic 100mm width of most all road and mountain bike front hubs was just not wide enough to accommodate the huge tires the fat bike used. So they cleverly used a standard rear 135mm single-speed hub, and did not put any cogs on it for the front. If you were really going on an expedition you could indeed use the front as a spare for your rear hub in case of trouble. But this makes the wheels a little tough to build because the rear hubs are offset to allow for the extra space the cogset requires. So, a front wheel using a 135mm rear hub needs to have some adjustments in calculating the spoke lengths with normal spoke calculator tools. The newest generation of Fat Bikes offer normal symmetrical wheels using newly-offered wider hubs for front and rear.

The largest Pugsley frame available had only a 15cm head tube. The head tube measurement is about the only way to compare the size of modern frames with sloping or very curved top tubes. I am 6'2" and have always had a hard time finding mountain bikes that fit and the Pugsley was no exception. The largest they offered was too small for me.

My mountain bikes have always been very uncomfortable to ride on the road because they are so small.  The position works OK on single track and I never ride on cross-country courses - only single track. I have been inspired by RLove2Bike's blog because he rides all winter anyway he can. I would like to use the Fat Bike to get out on the roads in winter when the trails have too much snow. Also, I really need more flotation on the trails, hence wider tires are in order.

So I decided to do some research on upgrading the Pugsley. First, I needed a taller frame. I looked at the websites of all the major Fat Bike players and, just like before, even the so-called "Extra Large" frames were too small.
Here is a list of a few sample head-tube sizes:

Surly PugsleyXL            = 15cm
Salsa Mukluk  XL           =14cm
Salsa Beargrease XL    = 15cm
Borealis Yampa XL        =16.5cm
Specialized Fatboy 21"= 15cm
Trek Farley 21.5"          = 12cm
9zero7  135mm              = 17.5cm

For comparison, my road bikes have 22cm head tubes. Now, I would never expect  my mountain or fat bike to have as tall a head tube as my road bikes but 15cm or less is too small. So the 9zero7 was the largest and a significant increase over my Pugsley. I needed compatibility with my asymmetrical Pugsley so I choose the 9:zero:7, which is asymmetrical like my Pugsley, and I could move over all the parts, except for the seatpost and headset.

Did I mention how cheap I am? Being retired on a fixed income I need to always look for the best solution at the lowest price. I used Surly Endomorph 3.7" on my Pugsley and wanted to try a wider tire on the upgrade to get some more flotation. When I looked at the price of Surly Bud's (26x4.8") I almost choked. I paid less for my car tires than a new Surly Bud. So I looked for an alternative. I found the new Vee Rubber Snowshoe which is the first bike tire to use silica compound to aid traction in snow. It is nearly half the cost of the other wide tires available. I picked up a pair from Chuck's Bike in Vermont. They look like nice tires but on 80mm rims they only measure out to about 4.1". So, I will watch for the new Vee Rubber Snowshoe XL, previewed at www.fat-bike.com, which is supposed to be wider and available soon, because I really need a wider tire.

The new Snowshoe XL

To gain the full capabilities of wider tires, I need wider rims. I could run the new wider tires on my original Large Marge Surly rims but at only 65mm wide I would not get much, if any, increase in width over the Endomorphs. So, I looked for new rims to widen my outlook. Once again I was taken aback by the cost of 80mm and 100mm wide rims. After searching around I found the new Origin8 Pro 80.

Origin8 AT-PRO80
This rim can be used for asymmetrical or symmetrical wheels. I have built many sets of wheels but never a set with asymmetrical offsets. So I used this guide from the Golden Bike Shop to get the spoke length calculations correct.

Here is my score, a two-year-old XL 9:zero:7 in very good shape. I almost always buy used because the technoweenies always want the latest and greatest which makes their hand-me-downs a great bargain.

Next the build....

Got the front wheel built. The spoke length calculations from the Golden Bike Shop above were right on. It is a little strange building it because the spokes are all in a line. The wheel doesn't really take shape until all the spokes are in place. Seems like it is not going to work until that point.

100mm BB is moved over from the PUG.
Brakes moved over...

Replaced the outer ring with a chain guard since it is not used...

Rear Wheel laced up and ready to true:

Part Two of the Pugsley upgrade:Pugsley to 9zero7 upgrade part 2

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bob Jackson

My first upgrade to a handmade frame was a Bob Jackson. My wife and I had bought Raleigh Competitions, circa 1973, which were the best bikes we had owned up to that point in time. They had sew-up tires and French equipment. They bootstrapped us up to wanting even better bikes. In a small shop that carried frames, we both picked out a new Bob Jackson frame. Mine was cream and red and hers was dark silver-grey. We moved all the parts over from the Raleigh's.

When, years later, both bikes were stolen from a bike shop during a break-in we looked to Bob Jackson for replacements. We were living in Alaska and there were no dealers that handled handmade frames. So we contacted Bob Jackson directly in Leeds, England. We have since been doing business with Bob Jackson for over 30 years.

Bob Jackson (John Robert Jackson) started out as JRJ Cycles in 1935. They have probably been making frames longer than any other builder still making frames today. Bob served in the Royal Airforce during WWII and afterward restarted his business.

In 1955 he acquired the "Merlin" label (not to be confused with the US titanium builder of much later) after they ended the business. From about 1978, the "Hetchins" brand cycles were made by Bob Jackson.

Bob Jackson sold the company in 1986, feeling it was a good time to retire, but the new owners drove the company into the ground. Donald Thomas convinced Bob to come rescue this grand old company and he bought it back in 1993. As General Manager, Donald turned the company completely around and by 1997 needed larger, more permanent facilities. The company was moved to its current location at Bramley, Leeds.

Bob Jackson passed on in 1999 but the company he built still thrives.

They can make any type of bike, from trike to tandem from race to tour.

Bob Jackson is known for their oven baked fancy paint jobs. They can do any color combination with panels, barber pole and pin striping by hand.

In 1990, we decided to do a bike tour of the English Lake District. We would order new frames from Bob Jackson and pick them up at the old Harrogate store front in Leeds.

Bike building is a long-standing tradition in this area with names like Woodrup, Ellis Briggs and MKM being a few calling Yorkshire home along with Bob Jackson. Here is a picture of my bike with Jackson head builder Danny Foster.

We packed up our bags and started a wonderful ride through the English countryside.

We were going to ride to the coast and catch a ferry to Ireland but the wind was blowing so strongly that it blew a Boeing 747 off the runway at Heathrow so instead we crossed the Channel to France. Stashing our bikes at a train station, we went to Paris for the start of the  Paris-Nice race where I got this photo of "some guy" giving interviews.

Greg Lemond at the start of the 1990 Paris-Nice stage race.

When I decided I wanted a fancy-lugged British bike, like a Hetchins, I thought it would be a better idea to support living craftsman rather than a long gone company. So I talked to Donald about building a Legend with a modern steel, like Reynolds 853. It turned out better than my expectations.

For more information www.bobjacksoncycles.co.uk