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Tool-less Bicycle Repairs?

The other day, Moe and were talking about an article idea: presenting ways to repair common bicycle breakdowns without tools. If you were stranded out in the middle of nowhere without tools, could you fix a broken derailleur, repair a flat tire, reconnect a broken chain? It sounded like a great idea for an article — tips that could be QUITE useful in an emergency.

After some research, though, we found very little to go on…

Take a broken or damaged derailleur — while it might be possible to “massage” a bent cage or hanger back into place without tools, what about if the derailleur is completely trashed, or you snap a cable out in the wilds? If you had a screwdriver, you could turn the high/low adjustment screws enough to force the derailleur to stay in one place, resulting in a rideable (if not exactly comfortable) singlespeed configuration that could get you back to civilization. Without a screwdriver or knife blade to turn those screws, though, you’re dead in the water…

Same with a broken chain — without SOME kind of tool, connecting a broken chain is virtually impossible. You must have a way to punch out the pins in the chain to remove a mangled section or to get the chain ready to lash together with a piece of wire. Back in the old days, before I had amassed a large collection of bicycle tools, my friends and I would use a finishing nail and a hammer to drive the pins in and out. In a pinch, I suppose you could use a nail or similar sharp piece of metal and a fist-sized rock to pound in a pin and bind the two broken ends of the chain with a piece of wire looped through the links’ pin holes. But, this qualifies as still needing tools. Strike two for our great idea!

I did manage to find a couple tool-less wheel and tire repair tricks, though. Master tinkerer, expert ratrod builder and funny guy Gerry Lauzon of Montreal has a nice tutorial on fixing a taco-ed rim on his blog.

Another trick (one which I hope to never have to try) is one I saw in Barbara Savage’s excellent Miles From Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure…at least that’s where I think I remember seeing it! Anyway, she got a flat tire out in the wilds somewhere, and she wound up stuffing clothing into the tire to replace the tube. That made the bike rideable enough that she could keep going until she reached a place where she could properly fix her tube.

Finally, a lot of people know that gashes in a tire’s sidewall can be repaired temporarily (or even permanently) by a piece or two of duct tape. Did you know that a folded dollar bill or an empty Powerbar wrapper also work excellently as emergency tire boots?

I guess the moral of this story is don’t travel without tools. At minimum, carry a patch kit and tire levers, a pump, a small screwdriver and a set of hex keys. There are plenty of multitools on the market that have all the tools you might need (including chain tools on several models) to facilitate an emergency roadside repair. If you insist on traveling light and don’t want to carry any tools, at least bring a cellphone with you so you can call for help when (not if) you get stranded.

And, if any of you have had to “MacGyver” any emergency repairs, we’d love to hear about ’em. Leave those stories and tips in the comment section below.

Benotto Rehab Update…It’s done

That’s right my vintage Benotto is done. I ended up getting most of this stuff free from the LBS. I did have to pay for the pink bar tape, bottle cage, cable and housing. But the Mavic MA40 wheelset, tires, drop bars and Tektro brake levers were free.

So scheck it out mang…

oooh lugs…

Unfortunately its too small for Priscilla and its too big for my oldest. So guess what, I’m selling it. I just don’t have room in my garage for it. It does make me sad to see it go, but I’m sure someone else can enjoy it.

Only problem is, I’m not so sure how much to sell it for. Any suggestions…and don’t give me those responses where you say….”you’d have to give me money to take it!”

Carry Your Bike On A Bike

The BikeCommuters.com Secret Lab, West Coast Division were at it again in building a new project that is not only practical, but pretty cool.

I’ve seen photos of people carrying their bikes on their Xtracycles. In fact you can even by a kit from them called the Tray Bien for about $99. But I wanted to make my own for super cheap.

Since I had and old Thule fork mounted tray that I wasn’t using, I decided to put it into service by recruiting it for this project.

First step was to get some pipes. I had some extra 20mm copper and steel pipes laying around in the lab. I inserted those pipes into the holes where I could usually fit my footsies in the front and the other hole in the back.

I then secured those pipes with some screws to prevent them from sliding out or rotating.

Once all that stuff is done, I just tighten the tray mounts and placed my Redline 925 and used the straps from the Freeloaders to secure it.

You’re probably wondering why anyone would carry their bike on a bike. Basically its an alternative way to transport your bike from one place to another. It’s better to do it this way than it is to drive your car around with your bike on the rack.

What the ‘Experts’ Say

I try to keep tabs with what goes on in the world, and more specifically, what bike commuters are doing around the world. There are days when I get really depressed – such as when a U.S. Congressman claims the bike as a “19th century solution to a 21st century problem…”- a story I am sure most of you have heard by now. But there are also lots of good news stories to be shared from legit, valuable sources.

Yesterday, the Freakonomics blog (a worthy read) posted a piece called “Will Bicycling to Work Get You Killed?” which acknowledges the growing popularity of bike commuting, and my favorite part, states “…the risks associated with cycling decrease dramatically when more cyclists are on the road, and especially when those cyclists obey traffic laws.” A message I feel is very important.

The crux of the piece on Freakonomics: based on a legit research project, per kilometer, cyclists are 12x more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than automobile drivers. BUT, pedestrians are 23x more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than automobile drivers. So the next time someone asks why you bike to work, you can say, “it’s much safer than walking.” There are other numbers that point to the benefits of cycling – but at this point I know I am preaching to the choir.

Another recent post on Grist.org, used the same study and drew many of the same conclusions:

  • biking is safer than it used to be
  • biking is safer than you might think
  • biking’s health benefits massively outweigh it’s risks
  • biking is not as safe as it should be
  • making biking safer is a chance for healthy, lasting prosperity.

So hopefully these good stories – complete with statistics – will aid you in feeling more at ease in the saddle. Stats don’t mean a thing when you personally experience unsafe riding conditions – so be safe, be alert, but more importantly, be proud and be happy that you get to ride your bike to work!

BikeStation.Org

The other day I went to the headquarters of BikeStation.org in Long Beach, Ca. I met up with Andrea White, Executive Director of the organization. We chatted a bit about what Bike Station is all about and what they do. So to give you a better idea, I pulled this from their website.

Bikestation is a not-for-profit organization that offers secure bicycle parking and related services to make cyclists’ lives easier. Park your bike at Bikestation and you can be assured that your vehicle is secure and covered.

Whether you ride your bike to public transportation, to work, or you simply need a safe place to store your bike for the day, Bikestation is available to serve you. It’s simple, convenient and affordable.

Many Bikestations offer free parking during their hours of operation, and paid memberships for 24-hour access to secure parking. To find more information on what method of parking is more convenient for you, check the page of your local Bikestation for their daily hours of operation.

In addition, each Bikestation location provides unique services and amenities; but most Bikestations provide:

* Shared-use bicycle rentals;

* Access to public transportation;

* Convenient operating hours;

* Friendly and helpful staff;

* Information to plan your commute trips.

Some Bikestation locations offer bicycle repairs, bicycle and commute sales & accessories, rental bikes for local and tourist needs, restroom/changing rooms and access to environmentally-clean vehicle-sharing. Select your local Bikestation from the menu bar for specific services and programs.

After our meeting, I managed to walk down to an actual Bike Station in downtown Long Beach. It was only 2 blocks from their office so I grabbed my camera and got some pictures of the facility.

The Bike Station has a full-on bike shop that caters to commuters. Plus, the place is manned by mechanics who can work on your bike while you’re at work.

The facility sells commuter-specific gear such as reflective bands, fenders, wheels, tires, tubes, patch kits, fixed gear parts and much more.

Check out the bike racks.

Long Beach is pretty lucky to have Bike Station. Man I know so many people in various parts of the country who would do anything for a place like this. If you think about it, it’s like going into a bike shop, leaving your bike there while someone watches it…covered and secured…and when you get off work, you go grab it and ride back home! It’s such a great idea and Bike Station mentioned that they are in the process in adding more bike stations throughout the country.

If you’d like more information about Bike Station, just check out their website.