Friday, January 06, 2006

Wheels and Spirals

Still down, but not so out as to conjure the bad metaphor's of the last post.

One of the things that helped: I finished assembling my fixed gear bike! Yippee. The observant reader will note that the frame for the final product isn't the same as the one I started with. The original was just too messed up to fix.

Musically the band's on a holiday hiatus. But now that the bike's done I'm starting to feel the old itch to create some original tunes. Gotta have something to obsess over, don't yah know?

I did use my musical ability to build part of the bike. I can't afford a spoke tension gauge. A tool that's used to build wheels. It's important that the spokes have reasonably equal tension for the wheel to stay true.

I laced these wheels with alternating black and silver spokes. Unfortunately, the bike store gave me two different gauges ( thickness) of spokes. The hub I was putting them on has a disc brake so one set of spokes is shorter than the other to accommodate the brake rotor. This means that I had four different tensions to deal with. Thick spokes, thin spokes and left and right side of the wheel. I screwed it up on the first try.

By plucking the spokes and comparing the pitches I managed to tune each spoke of each group to the same tension. I'm not sure I would have managed it otherwise. Hooray for a musical education! Who knew it would be so practical?

Bike geek details:

It's an old "Made in Canada" Raleigh, Grand Prix, road bike frame with Tange 5 chromoly straight gauge tubing. Not a great frame, but in good shape and a spunky red colour. The handle bars are Bike Nasbar steel moustache bars. The stem is a no name downhill stem, the shortest one I could afford. 30mm reach and 10 degrees rise. I added a steerer tube extension to raise the bars up to about saddle height. The front brake is an Avid Mechanical disc brake. The front fork is a chromoly disc specific cyclocross fork. Front hub is a Real disc specific with sealed bearings. The cranks are Sugino 165mm track cranks running 1/8" inch chain. Rear hub is a Surley fixed/fixed flip flop. Gearing is 42 teeth on the front and 16 on the rear. Not an especially hard gearing but I live half way up a pretty steep hill. Planning on buying a 19 or 20 tooth cog to put on the other side for really snowy days. Saddle is Specialized Dolce with titanium rails. I found out yesterday that this is a woman's saddle. I got it out of the bottom of a sale bin. It had no packaging, but the price tag, $35 for a $100 saddle, was too hard to resist. Not too fussed bout the gender issue, it is in fact the most comfortable saddle I've ridden. Mind you my time on it has been pretty limited so far. Perhaps I have a large ass for a guy? Don't answer that.

I love riding this bike. I'm not sure I feel "one with the bike" and all the other mystical things people say about riding a fixed gear, but it sure is fun. The power transfer from legs to forward motion is incredible, there's no wasted energy and it's noticeable. It's also the most comfortable bike I own. Due mostly to obsessive calculation of handlebar distances and heights. This bike fits me perfectly. Well, almost, I had to make a few compromises because I couldn't afford the perfect stem.

The only thing left to do is grind off the cable and shifter mounts and have it powder coated. Also I'm going to fill in the bolt heads of the disc brake and stem with hot-melt glue to make it harder to steal those parts. Oh, the joys of the bike commuter life!

So much for the music blog. Sigh. I really am going to get more done musically now that the bike's finished. Honest.