“One Got Fat.” The oddest bike safety film ever.

7, September, 2007

I got turned on to this unusual 1963 bicycle safety film years ago. Something had me thinking about it this morning, so I thought I’d pass it along. The only thing I object to is the implied message that monkeys cannot ride bicycles safely. Not all non-human primate cyclists are created equal! Perhaps the stereotype is rooted in philology: Don’t monkey around on bikes. Click on the thumbnail to watch the video on YouTube.



Gaining respect from motorists. Read at your own risk.

19, July, 2007

Critical-Mass does not work, it just makes motorists (even more) angry. “One less car” stickers do not work, because angry motorists would prefer you to drive a car than to have a cyclist slow them down (a whole 15 seconds). “Share the Road” signs do not work, for 1) people do not like to be told what to do (unless it is by corporate advertising [e.g. “just do it,” “think different,” etc.], 2) people think they are doing someone a favor when they share. The fact is that motorists often appear to hate cyclists, whether commuters, recreationalists, or racers. In my opinion, the only real way to gain respect, or at least some granule of courtesy from motorists is to do one, some, or all of the following:

  1. Get out & (try to) ride often, preferably in “civilian” clothes, on “civilian” bikes, regardless of the ride’s mileage (errand or sports ride)[or is it, “ride smileage?”]–you heard that pun here first, by the way. People on bicycles should look like just that–people on bicycles.
  2. Claim more road and do not fear the car (as long as you are seen): If the pavement is in rough shape, or if there is no bike lane, or if you are almost at a stop sign, or you are on a right hand turn (car front/rear wheel radii are asymmetrical, and you can get clipped on a right bend), or if you are on a blind hill, etc., etc.. The fact of the matter is that drivers do not want to hit anyone, they only seem to want to almost hit you. Killing a (wo)man on the way to work will ruin anyone’s day and a hit-and-run will most likely cost tens of thousands in therapy (and/or legal fines);
  3. Be communicative with cars (no, not with “the bird,” or a “What the F***?!”). Unlike motor vehicularists, it is possible for a bicyclist to hear cars coming in the both directions. If you can safely wave cars past (i.e., you are confident you will not cause a head-on collision), do so, and motorists will (somewhere deep down) appreciate it. Try giving them an “OK to pass” arm swing (with the back of the palm facing them), and as they pass, try to wave courteously. Hope, however, that they do not honk their horn to say “hello,” or “thanks,” or “I ride a bike, too,” or “I had a bike as a kid,” etc.. Horn use near a bicyclist is inconsiderate and LOUD (if you do get honked at a lot, carry a portable air horn, and blast it in the passenger window when you catch up to the car at a stop light). Also, on the same primary topic, feel free to communicate with cars when things are not cool, like when there is a car coming from the opposite direction, or if you have a really slow (or timid) cyclist ahead of you, or if it is simply not safe to pass due to any number of reasons. This is best done by claiming more road space, dropping your left arm down and out (left arm in the U.S.A., Mexico, Canada, etc.), opening your hand with the palm back, and sort of pushing or pressing back with your arms a few times in a firm, confident way. This is the closest a cyclist can get to saying, “don’t even try to pass right now.” The circumstances might not be wholly understood by one driving a car, but the motive of the message is to guarantee the motorist’s (and the cyclist’s) safety. Most people get the point.
  4. Be communicative with motorists, redux (for when they are simply too angry & aggressive). Feel free to flip them the bird, call them names, pull out a squirt gun, slap their potential “involuntary manslaughter” vehicle with a convenient object, etc. I think most of this can be avoided by claiming more space, so the driver has to fully commit to, say, crossing a double yellow with the threat of a head-on collision. These redux communication techniques might lead to some sort of altercation, and should it come to that, I recommend attempting to diffuse the situation by being friendly once everyone is out of the car and off the bike. You can explain the bird/word/slap thing on being “really scared” at how close everyone was to each other, like “I thought you were so mad you might accidentally hit me,” or some such victimized nonsense. Try to get an impatient driver to imagine how (s)he would feel if it were their child being put in jeopardy by a car veering inches close at a speed over four times as fast as they, etc.
  5. In the event of an altercation, appeal to the universal experience of cycling or being the parent of a child / loved one who rides a bike (see the end of #4), If you have a clear view of a license plate, make/model of the car, and description of the driver (try to get them to say their name), and they strike you (or spit on you, or throw food at you), do not do anything. Remember the information. call the police, and have them booked on felony assault. This will be far worse then you deciding to kick their ass on the spot, should you be so lucky to kick their ass. If you are in a life threatening situation, reach for the pepper spray you reserve for rabid dogs and give them a sample–but only in extreme self defense. If you assault them physically, they can try to sue you. That is bad.
  6. Try one of the two following novel techniques to give drivers pause (or invent your own).


Note: Be sure not to wear your Ipod!




Or maybe make a sign like this:


The point is to trigger angry drivers’ sympathy, guilt, or whatever. No one really wants to kill a bicyclist; but even more so, no one, but no one wants to hurt a deaf person on a bike, or to hit a fellow “farmer” on a country road. These suggestions are courtesy of Velo Apocalypse, but I have actually seen another good one not of my own design: a recumbent rider in town with a “Senior Citizen” sign taped to the back of his seat. Very cool. He got lots of space, even in the morning rush hour.

A New French Revolution’s Creed: Let Them Ride Bikes

18, July, 2007


 Low cost rental bicycles in Paris. A great idea. Click the photo for the NY Times article.

Bad wrap.

10, July, 2007

A client had me do some work on her Trek 1450. I noticed that the handlebars were wrapped incorrectly, and that the tape itself had been cut into two pieces per side. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!.

Fortunately, I had some spare tape on hand, so I rewrapped the bars gratis.  I posted some photos with some captions. You can see them by clicking HERE.

The rest of the bike was in fine shape. Minor front hub regrease, b/b adjustment, headset adjustment, handlebar alignment, bike wash, etc., were necessary.

Homemade bicycle panniers.

26, June, 2007

One of our clients read about some homemade panniers on our articles page and decided to use one of the examples as inspiration for his own panniers (click here to see the inspiration) and (click here to see his 1974 Raleigh Super Course fully loaded with his homemade panniers and Carradice bags). The German alpine backpacks that are (optionally) modified are available unused from Cabella’s for about $20.00 each + circa $11.00 shipping for four (so it works out to about $90.91 with shipping for a bike’s worth of panniers). Granted, we can get awesome bicycle-specific bags from Delta (Delta Compact or Delta Expedition), but the military surplus bags are so cool and bad a**, we’d probably recommend Cabela’s bags even though we will never see a dime for it. Moreover, these bags are a rather acceptable match for the green Carradice seatbags. There are myriad ways of mounting these bags over a rack. We recommend as little modification from stock as possible, because these packs could fill a host of non-bicycle purposes. Those who are not comfortable with sling-over design and bungee cords can get Jandd or Ortlieb spares for mounting panniers. No,we have no interest in linking to those companies’ spare parts pages.


Vintage Raleigh Twenty parts on hand.

25, June, 2007

We have some extra parts left over from some Raleigh Twenty conversions over the years. Those into the Twenty scene know what tends to get replaced when these bikes are upgraded with modern parts. The leftover parts–from bottom brackets to handlebars, pedals, cranks, original red-wall tires–are often important pieces to those wishing to restore beat-up Twenty bikes back to their original state. We have some of these remnant parts. Email us if you are looking for a particular part, but only expect a “yes” or “no” email response (or no reply at all). We will not answer queries if you are looking for Raleigh Twenty frames, fenders, racks, chainguards, wheelsets, integral bits that usually stay with conversions, etc.. If, however, enough customers were interested in obtaining a basic Raleigh Twenty-inspired frame, we might be able to find a local framebuilder to take on a large-scale project, perhaps with C&C couplings in lieu of the original style hinge.



Two new 650b conversion projects in queue.

1, June, 2007

1) Mid-1980’s Bianchi Premio;

2) Mid-1980’s Trek