Thursday, 18 August 2011

How to make a quick single speed (Part 3)

If you have all of your bits and pieces and plenty of time, putting a bike back together again should be the easy bit. If you've followed the single speed project ( Part 1, Part 2 ) you'll have a stripped down frame, a pair of wheels and a pile of bits leftover from when the bike was originally taken apart. At this stage its up to you to decide whether you're going to reuse some of these bits or whether your going to find some nicer, shinier bits for your new steed. I ended up using the same handlebars, but replaced the brake levers for some nice old school Leechi levers.

After stripping down the red frame I decided that the frame wasn't quite big enough for me, so I swapped it for this one which I had been using and had partially stripped down for repair.

The only difficulty using this frame presented was that the brake calipers I had didn't quite fit alongside the bosses for the V brakes that i'd removed- I therefore had to make a little adjustment by trimming the bosses down

For the next part you'll need for following tools which you'll have probably already used in the other parts. You'll need a chain splitter, a adjustable spanner, a socket ratchet and a 14mm socket.

You'll also need to source a single speed 3 piece crank and a 1/8" sized chain, which typically you'll find on an old 3 speed bike (you can pick both of these up used on ebay for a few pounds). Remember that if you intend to use the same axle that you'll need to get a cotterless crank.

Bmx's use a 1/8" chain, but although of a similar size for the purpose of making a bodged single speed the older chain seems to work better.

Now you'll need to loosely assemble your bike, I tend to put the wheels into the frame so that the bike is at standing height for me to work on- if you have a bike work stand you can stick the wheels on later. I also put on things like handlebars so that i can get the brake levers roughly in place and can begin to get a sense of what the bike is going to look like.

With this done you can stick the crank back on, make sure the nut is done up nice and tight.

Next, thread the chain onto the rear sprocket and over the new chainwheel and fix it back together again with your chaintool.

Finally, with your chain connected and your wheels loosely attached adjust the tension in the chain bike moving the wheel, when you are satisfied with the tension tighten the wheel nuts. Too tight and the chain will wear and snap, too loose and it'll just fall off.

All thats left to do now, is to fit the cables, properly attach and adjust the handlebars, brake levers, seat and post- you should now have a very basic but beautiful homemade single speed

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Elswick Hopper- the Lincoln Imp

Every now and then a fantastic bike arrives. Being fantastic doesn't often carry with it an equivilent pricetag, rather the real value is in the life of the bike and the story it has to tell.

Today I took ownership of Lilly's Lincoln Imp, a battered and dusty racer which had been worked hard and now was feeling a little tired. Older bikes tend to have grown with their owners, they show the repairs and changes in a way that more modern bikes don't tend to. I'm pretty certain this is because they come from a time not so long ago when things were reused and repaired rather than simply replaced.

Although some parts of the frame look to be hand painted, when I brushed away the oily wood dust and looked a little closer i discovered a bike which had campagnolo gears, a beautiful reynolds 531 frame (with lovely lugs) and a Coventry made Middlemores saddle.

It also has the most fantastic Flip- Flop rear wheel, with single and five speed blocks.

The Lincoln Imp showcased Elswick Cycles at their best, sadly Elswick went the same way as most British cycle companies after the 1960's decline. Somewhere in the 1980's after a stream of relaunches and new owners it finally ceased trading as a cycle brand.

You can find out alot more information about Elswicks Lincoln Imp through the Hopper project and on Sheldon Brown's Elswick page.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Homemade bungee- strong enough to hold a.....

Its amazing how many things you can use bits of a bike for. One of the best and most versatile bits has to be the inner tubes, I have a million and five uses for them. I reckon the simplist and most useful though is as a luggage bungee. I use these all the time when moving bikes on the trailer- mainly because they are so strong.

.....which got me to strong are they? In a not very scientific experiment conducted over a very short period of time (and not by a scientist) I discovered that they were in fact very very strong.

They were strong enough to hold most of the pans from my cupboard....

...strong enough to hold up 5 litres of lovely magnolia paint

...and strong enough to hold up my daughters bike, the bungee was so strong in fact that I lost my nerve before it broke!

If you'd like to make your own bungee's you'll need one inner tube, an old spoke (or two), and some scissors- the spoke is used to make the hook for the end, you can just use the tube by itself as a tie down but it does make life easier and quicker if you have the hooks on the end.

Simply cut the tube to the length you want and the width of your thumb. Shape the spokes to the shape you want ensuring that on one end you make an eye for the tube to thread through and on the other end you make the hook. Now thread the tube through the hooks and voila!.... A free bungee.

NB- I accept no responsibility for any replication of my bungee test, there is a very real possibility that suspending weighty items with a homemade bungee will result in real injury.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Looting, recycling and karma

With all thats going on its so easy to become lost in the chaotic images flashed across the television and newspapers. The idea of anarchic 'youth' (*) roaming unchecked around our town centres might make us draw the curtains a little tighter, check the locks a few more times and pass a few more uncertain looks at local children with their hoodies zipped up against the cool breeze, but as widespread as this might seem it doesn't represent my experience of young people or people in general. I believe that if we all think carefully we'll realise that this is only a snapshot of a very small (if worrying) part of society.

Through the recycling project I am allowed to experience the kindness of others. Every single day I meet someone who (for no other reason than wanting to help another person) helps me to gift another bicycle, be that through the gift of a cycle, cycle parts, advice or time. Today I spent some time talking with Tony from Leamington who brought with him a selection of wheels, tyres, chainsets and other useful bits and bobs (you can see some of the bits above)- all gifted in the hope that they might help another person. We've seen evidence of this kindness more widely today with the arrival of the impromptu clean-up squads, organising themselves through facebook and turning up to help those who've suffered at the hands of the looters.

Its a shame that it takes something significantly awful to make visible the every day good deeds that take place all around us... I think most people eventually realise that society amounts to what we invest in it, I know that I try to ' pay it forward' as much as I can and think more often about Karma and the list its making (thankyou Earl)

(* There's more evidence than not to suggest that the 'looters' were made up of criminals of all ages, not just the young. Additionally the teachers, youth workers, mentors and parents that were eventually apprehended were motivated more by greed rather than poverty, by opportunity rather than necessity)