Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dangit, Missed it Again

I had completely forgotten that yesterday was Drive Your Bike to Work Day:


That's easy! Just hoist your bike onto the roof of your car, and drive it to work! Do it in honor of Bike Rack Awareness Week!

So the poor car sat waiting patiently all day in the driveway with its bike rack perched on top, and yours truly just spaced it out and rode. Inconsiderate lunk—I could kick myself!

(H/T to Maynard)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mama Bakfiets Race

Okay, now that I've stared blogging and I can't stop. Check this out:

Top that, Prius jockeys.

(Complete story over on Amsterdamize, with hat tip to

Pretty Much It

Judging by the amount of traffic on the bike path recently, I think this says it all.

Surly Big Dummy Review, Part 2

The Build

Well, there it is. I have to say that it went together really well. I did have to clean some powdercoat out some of the threads, but like I had mentioned in Part 1, I have the taps for those, so no big deal. Everything else fit without modification—the dropouts, the fork, the disk tabs, the seatpost—all of it. Surly's builder has excellent quality control as far as I can tell.

The disk brakes were a bit of a challenge. They're Hayes HFX Mag Hydraulics, which are great except stock lines come only in 900 and 1600 mm lengths. For the Big Dummy, the rear needed to be 2200 mm. After a couple of failed go-rounds with a couple of local shops, I e-mailed Hayes tech support. Four e-mail volleys with a very helpful young man and $40 on the ol' Visa card later, UPS dropped off a box containing a one-off line from the factory, complete with permanent crimp at the caliper end. Problem solved.

Then I had to juice them up. Quite unlike a car, but honestly, much more fun

I also added this little hinkeypunk to keep the contents of the Freeloaders (the Xtracycle's side bags) from messing up the rear caliper. This is more of a problem with mechanical disks, but I had the part, so why not? Anyways, the hydraulics are great. Much better feel than a long cable to the rear brake in on my other Xtracycles. Front and rear are very similar in feel and power.

The Ride

Yes, it is decidedly much more like a regular bike than my Xtracycle conversions were. Having a wheelbase about 15 inches longer than the average bike, it's still not nimble, but the folks at Surly really did get the finer points of the geometry right. The steering has a light, normal feel and the frame feels stiffer and more solid than a conversion. Things do get a little strange in low-speed, tight-radius turns, but hey, we're talking about an eight-foot long bicycle.

Pedaling out of the saddle also has a different feel than a regular bicycle, but it's fine. Quite stable, and better again than an Xtracycle conversion.

Oh, and for those of you concerned about weight, this thing is a moose. I think the frame weighs almost as much as my road bike. With the freeride wheels, Big Apple tires and big dorky handlebars, not to mention the Xtracycle bits, it's probably tipping the scales at close to 45 pounds. But the point, of course, is not to race this thing but to wring more utility out of it than a normal bicycle. I love it.

Part three will be a bit about hauling and a bit about buzz. See Commute By Bike and Dirt Rag for more ride reports, and Vik's Big Dummy Blog if you want to know just plain everything about Big Dummies.

What To Do With the Money?

Maybe I should get a pulse jet engine for the Big Dummy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ding Dong

The witch is dead. I finally sold the Green Albatross today. Hooray! Hooray! Went for a fair price to a good home. Imasohappy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Well, I'm Back.

April and May must just not be the best time of year for me to blog. The same thing happened last year too. I think it's the combination of doing our taxes, designing the print version of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin's Ride Guide booklet, starting plants and spring cleaning. Add to that a death in the family, and man, I just didn't feel like it.

But enough bellyaching. Coming soon: part two of my Big Dummy review (it's finally on the road), a brief review of the Electra Amsterdam, some thoughts about compost, gardening pictures and maybe a step-by-step of our new rain barrel setup. Exciting, huh?