Minuteman Bikeway and the Bike Stop

With today a wash because of Irene, I figured I’d write up a fun bike ride I took last weekend on the Minuteman Bikeway. It’s a fun ride but on a Sunday it’s pretty crowded. There’s a good mix of little kids and Lance Armstrong wannabes, perfect for keeping things interesting.

I covered the whole trail in both directions, even had a chance to stop at a shop called the Bike Stop that’s right on the trail. Be careful going past this place. There were lots of people out there either chatting or getting air and people have this nasty tendency of stopping their bikes on the trail or wandering out without looking.

The shop was nice though and the guys working there where fun to chat up. Always a good time talking to people that work at a bike shop when you pull up on an unusual bike. They always have cool stories and know about some random hardware. These guys had a really nice shop and the snacks were just what I needed. Here’s the evidence:

handlebar hacking

The crash course I’ve been getting in bicycle handle bar diameters is a real drag. There’s 1/7th of an inch difference between most roadbike bars and BMX so, as I describe in my last post, the stem on my new cutter won’t work with my new bull horn bars. The old FBM bars I had kicking around are super wonky but since I haven’t used them in a few years I figured I’d try cutting them to fit. Any reason to throwing a cutting wheel on my die grinder is a good reason 🙂

First off I cut down the forks and pressed a star nut so that’s been progress since my last post. These bars have the right shape but they’re way too tall:

First thing was to throw them into a vice and cut off the bottom part which makes the bars about 1/3 of the original height:

At this point they’re still too wide so I trimmed off two inches at the end of each handle. Notice the angle at the end of the bar. This is from a previous cut I made with a hack saw and never cleaned up:

That’s pretty much it. Here’s the final product:

So two points: First, if I have to remind you to wear safety gear when you’re cutting metal it’s already too late for you. Second, I’ve probably weakened the bars significantly by making these cuts. By cutting out the bottom of the bend I’ve effectively made these three piece bars and any weight that’s put on them is going directly onto the welds. Since this is a road bike I’m not worried but I’ll be keeping an eye on them just in case.

Now all I’ve gotta do is sand ’em down and get some white paint. Then some brown bar tape to match my seat.

Volume Cutter Assembled

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to get my wheel set from Mello Velo (the local bike shop). I’ve had pretty much all of the other parts together for a week now, but a bike isn’t a bike without two wheels. Yesterday they finally came in.

You’d think that would be all good news but not everything is right with the world. Lets start with the good news though: I’ve got most of the parts that I need to build this thing now.

The cranks are Sugino and they were recommended by the bike shop. The tools required to install the bottom bracket and cranks on this thing are completely different from a BMX so the bike shop did the install. The accessories include a pair of Shadow Conspiracy BMX platform pedals (cheap plastic ones), origin 8 seat, chain and bull horn bars.

Now the bad news: the rear wheel (that big beautiful B43) got scratched up when an unnamed person at the bike shop was building them. And it isn’t just a scratch or two, they’re marked up in a huge way. I’ve got no experience building wheels but it must have taken some serious effort to do this type of damage:

I’m getting a replacement and I’m tempted to try building it myself but without a truing stand there isn’t much I can do. Either way this may work out to my benefit and here’s why. I purchased the front rim with a breaking surface. The intent was to mirror the other fixie setups I’ve seen with a break on the front wheel. The Volume Fu-Manchu forks aren’t drilled for a break but putting a hole in them isn’t a big deal. The problem is this:

The distance between the breaking surface on the rim and the location where the break mount belongs is huge on this fork. Comparing it to the fork on my Raleigh it’s nearly an inch and a half taller. I’ve heard of “long reach” breaks but that’s a really long way. The frame does have a hole to mount a break in the rear however but since I’ve had the B43 laced to the rear wheel I can’t (no breaking surface).

So when my replacement B43 comes in I’m going to have it laced to the front rim and for now I’ll keep the damaged B43 on my rear wheel. After riding around for a bit on it today without any breaks I really want to try going breakless for a while. If I decide it’s just too hairy to ride around without any breaks I’ll lace the deep v to the rear wheel and put a break back there. Here’s how it looks now:

The handle bars in the picture aren’t the bull horns from the picture above. I have a Fly BMX stem on there now and the size difference between road bike handlebars and BMX bars is about 1/8″. The bull horn bars won’t fit in this stem so I grabbed some FBM handlebars from my box of old parts.

The bars are way too high, the riding position is straight up beach cruiser with these bars. It’s kinda funny but not something that’s gonna last. I’ve got my eye on an Origin 8 Classic Pro Stem that’ll solve this problem. When I get the bars sorted and the toe-straps I ordered come in I’ll put up some final pictures. Oh yeah and the top of the fork still needs to be trimmed and I need to set a star nut in the fork too. Always more work to be done.

Volume Cutter

It’s been a busy month and I’ve neglected putting up a few things I’d deem “blog worthy”. First up is the new bike I’m building. Restoring the Raleigh was so much fun I had to start in on another one.

So far I’m just spec’ing out parts. I settled on the Cutter frame by Volume [1]. They’re a BMX company that’s started to dabble in fixie frames. This is their 2009 model the paint is sick. It’s sort of a toothpaste green and it glows in the dark.

I picked up the matching “fu manchu” fork in white. I couldn’t get the fork in the same glow-in-the-dark paint since it’s last years model. I like keeping the fork and frame different colors and I’ll be sticking to a white contrast color for the wheels and bars too.

I’m not sure I like the stem and bars. They’re mountain bike parts and they’re pretty beefy. I like the rise on the stem but I don’t like how thick the bars are and they’ve got a bit of a sweep to them too. Details.

The best thing about this frame is how much like a BMX it is. It’s got an integrated headset that works with campy spec bearings. I got a set of Odyssey bearings off ebay on the cheap and they slip right on. Odyssey started putting a cut in the crown race that makes fitting it on the forks super easy. This makes it so you don’t have to pound it on.

The Volume logo on the head tube isn’t a sticker or paint. It’s actually cut out of the head tube. Cool idea, but I’m taking bets on what the first piece of debris that falls down in there will be.

So far the only down side to this frame is the weight. It’s built like a BMX frame so it’s heavier than other road frames. Other than that I love it. That’s pretty much all I’ve had the time to put together. Hopefully this weekend I’ll order the wheels, then start looking into parts for the drivetrain.

[1] – http://www.volumebikes.com/