If you're new to Cycling-Through, please take a second and read some of the "Posts of note" in the list to the right. Then, if you see others that you appreciate enough to recommend for that list, let me know.
Also, please feel free to comment - even anonymously if you must.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MYOG Successes

Make Your Own Gear is a rite of passage for some, and impossible to imagine for others.
I have had many failures in making my own gear. Pure embarrassment prevents me from listing many of them though the leg warmers that wouldn't stay up are worth note.

The first in my recollection, which was among my greatest failures, is actually the very same concept that has recently brought my greatest success. Many years ago - high school I think - I attempted a bike repair stand. Constructed of a sheet of plywood as a base and a branch from the tree in the back yard, I rigged up a rickety structure unknowingly giving a nod to Modern Art. If careful, I could actually clean my chain without the bike tumbling over on top of me. It took as much time to get the bike perched upon it, as it did to remove the front wheel (which was never really suspended above the ground) and grease the bearings. Interestingly, I realized several thousand miles and 10 years later that I had actually dropped a couple of those bearings.

I disliked my work of art and have always wanted a real stand of my own. I recently verbalized my longing to my wife as I was installing the computer on my new ride. Her comment nearly collided with my thought - "Why don't you build your own?" With a chuckle I reminisced of auld lang sine, leaned my bike back against the piano bench, and lost no time mentally laying out the project.

Here is where I differ from most DIY'ers. I can do it myself. I'm a general contractor by trade, and have at least dabbled in most every form of construction imaginable. I've even tried my hand at sewing. The downside to that is threefold: Unreasonable personal expectations abound, I'm only willing to DIY because I'm too poor to save myself the effort, and the end product is always heavier, uglier, less mobile, and often dangerous.

I googled "build your own bike repair stand" and found quite a few ideas. All of them were much less than what I was hoping for, and most met one or all of the heavy, ugly, and dangerous criteria. The PVC ones bothered me just out of principle, the wood ones looked like a gallows, and the metal pipe stands, along with each of the others, looked a little too -i bilt dis here thang wid my own tules-ish. So, I decided to put my years of construction work, and a shop full of spoils from a thousand jobs to good use. In all - I spent under $20 on this bike stand, and for once I'm rather proud of the result. I must say that I did glean some good ideas from the concepts that I found in my search, and implemented a few of them here.

Though most of the typical hazards are still present (heavy, ugly and a little dangerous), I have found some measure of satisfaction. I must say also, that as a DIY'er I don't play fair. I own a welder, 5 different cordless drills and every other cordless tool concievable, 2 angle grinders, and every other tool I could imagine needing to finish this project. And, I used nearly all of them. To the person who made the PVC pipe stand "If I couldn't use a welder, I would've used your design."

I'm not going to give you the play by play, but if you're at all perceptive, you'll get the idea.

The basic raw materials: Angle iron, 2 sizes of tube steel, a 3/4" bolt and nuts, and a bar clamp.

The Bar clamp got new jaws out of redwood, reinforced with a 1.5" ABS pipe. Later I will line the pipe with strips cut out of some scrap vinyl base as padding. All of this glued together with a half empty tube of Sikoflex Construction sealant.

I've left the top of the jaws open a little hoping this will make it easier to hang the bike.

After cutting all of the pieces in my back yard, I took them to my shop and welded them together. Then I took the bones back home for fine tuning.

This shows the locking nut, with a 3/8" anchor bolt welded to it as a handle.

This is my rough welding job. More than adequate though not textbook.

Two 3/4" nuts welded together and onto the end of the pipe clamp.

And, a "finished" product. The locking nut releases the jaws, and allows them to pivot for attaching at the seat post or down tube as needed.

Still needs a tool tray, and various other accessories, but the basics are in place and operable.

I've also had another recent success in MYOG, which was actually Alter My Own Gear. The Pearl Izumi gloves which I have worn and loved for over 10 years have finally begun to show wear. Not just wear, but the tips of all my fingers too. I couldn't throw them away, and when I saw REI selling fingerless gloves for $20 I rejoiced. Why as a cyclist wearing fingerless gloves for 15 years now, I didn't think of it sooner, I don't know. I cut the fingers off, and "cauterized" the wounds with a BIC lighter, and have worn them regularly to work ever since.

Maillot Juane - The Review

If you know anything about bikes, you will soon know just how long I have waited to purchase a new bike.
Even those who know nothing of cycling will recognize that when a guy is excited about 5-10 year old technology on his "new" bike, he must have been waiting too long. But hey, when it's not the right time to buy - it's not the right time to buy.

I finally rode the bike for the first time after nearly 2 weeks of anxiously nursing my wounds.

It was just a quick spin out toward the old brick yard on the Carquinez Scenic Highway. I was still wearing my wrist brace, and trying to get used to STI shifting. (Yeah, this is where - if you know anything about road bikes - you will know I had an old bike.) The down tube shifters of 2 decades ago worked great, but forced you to take your hands off the handlebars to shift. The Lemond's Shimano Ultegra system - though a few years old - is incomparably superior. Unfortunately the modern technology shifts gears with a twist that my wrist still begrudges.

I was nervous as a cat on the wet roads, my wrist hurt and thus I could hardly shift gears, and I got mud on the new bike. I actually had buyer's remorse when I got home.

"Fickle as a feather in the wind" was the way Giuseppe Verdi's Duke described the Lady of Rigoletto. I maintain my own rights to fickleness.

I recovered psychologically by Saturday and rode with a group of 7 on a foggy 35 mile ride. I relegated the wrist brace to my jersey pocket and rode free for the whole ride. The descents were pretty tough with all the jarring, and riding in the drops or on top of the bar took a little bit of grit. I spent the majority of the time up on the hoods, and even then relying heavily on my left arm. It didn't matter though, as I was falling in love. Having doffed the brace, I could now grasp the hoods correctly and shifting fell in line as if it had been there all along. Buyer's remorse has given way to a joyous honeymoon. We will really begin to build the relationship this spring as I begin training for the summer rides. No real training till this wrist gets better though. I'm paying for those 35 miles today.

If you don't care about cycling in general, then you are done reading.
Following is my wandering comparison and comments regarding graduation from a nearly 20 year old bike to a nearly 10 year old bike.

First the raw facts.
(Note: I'm not sure of the vintage of most of these items, but have been researching as best I can.)

55cm Lemond Maillot Juane (Yellow Jersey) frame.
Spinergy wheels
Shimano Ultegra drive train - Triple chain ring, 9 speed cassette.
Shimano clipless pedals - With a Discovery Channel Team logo on the side. Hmm? Probably not as special as I could imagine them to be.
Truvative carbon cranks - I checked the reviews on these and they are unfortunately not news makers.
Look carbon fiber stem - The seller let me swap this one for the old (Performance) Forte stem that was on there. I gained in style but lost in weight (The Look is heavier). Not sure what the difference will be in performance though, as carbon fiber is far superior at dampening vibration. Of course - I may never know since I never compared.
And then a myriad of other components far superior to those on the Bridgestone RB2 I was riding.

The basic differences are as follows...
New - STI shifting
Old - Down tube index shifting
Yeah, like I said, my old bike was a relic. (I can say that, you can't. You must treat it with respect and show it the dignity it deserves.)

New - Triple Chainring
Old - Double Chainring
This is neither good nor bad. No one races with a triple - so style suffers if I'm emulating Lance or Levi. But, then again I'm gonna love the low gear ratio provided by that third ring on the hills around here. I'm used to the triple on my mountain bike, so no learning curve to speak of.

Old - Steel frame with Chro-moly forks.
New - Reynolds 853 Steel frame with Carbon forks.
Though not seemingly that much of a change - all said and done the Lemond weighs 4 pounds less than the RB-2. The frame is a big part of that.

Basic Similarities...

The frame geometry might as well be identical. It was a cinch getting the new bike set up to fit me.
They are both Purple.
Both brands have managed to attract a small clickish following, and were discontinued just before I purchased them. Both will be worth more in 10 years than they are today - assuming I keep the shiny side up.
Both are a pleasure to ride.