Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Bike Tinkering

Bike Tinkering

No, the top photo isn't of my bike's gear train. But both of them were certainly in need of some service. Fortunately, most of the work required of bikes can be done by their owners, depending on how many specialty tools you're willing to acquire.

I've never been an athletic bike rider, but did spend many years as a kid riding on two wheels around town. I first had an "English Racer" Rayleigh 3-speed with hub shifter and a black lacquered paint finish with gold trim. At the time it looked old and stodgy, but today would exude much positive hipster vibes. My older brother got a yellow Schwinn Varsity 10-speed from our Dad, which we thought was as cool as a Chevy Corvette, and together we'd do a lot of urban riding.

I had a 10-speed bike while in the Navy, but got rid of it because it was difficult to store on the ship, and I didn't like riding the steep hills of San Diego; also, the bus system wasn't conducive to bikes back then. I don't remember the brand, but I think it was fairly nice. Later, in the 1980s, I thought about getting a bike once again and got an urban commuter bike, kind of like a mountain bike in layout but not as aggressive, more suited to city riding, and did some commuting on that. Later I got another Schwinn road bike, a 12-speed, which I had up until the late 1990s and had it converted to flat handlebars.

Then I got interested in recumbents, and got a Bike E, upon which I did more riding than any other bike in my adult life. I remember making a 50-mile ride through the White Sands Missile Range on a cloudy April Saturday morning, during their twice-per-year public opening, where they make available the Trinity Site and McDonald ranch house (where the core of The Gadget was assembled prior to being loaded into the device and hoisted atop the 100-foot tower). The ride started at the Stallion Gate on the north end of the Missile Range, and takes a 50-mile circuit, including the Trinity Site itself. I was totally unprepared for that ride in the sense that I didn't do any special training, but did fine.

I think it was me getting into motor scooters, then motorcycles, in the early 2000s that tore me away from bikes. The recumbent sat dormant, then I had my brother store it in his garage. A few years later we got these Townie cruiser bikes. They're 21-speed, not a true single-speed cruiser. My wife's has wider tires, fenders and a front shock, so it's heavy; while mine has no suspension, thinner 700cc tires and is lighter and faster. They're both comfortable to ride, but not as comfortable as the recumbent.

Several years ago a pile of clutter in my brother's garage fell over onto the Bike E and broke the seat bracket. The bike is no longer being manufactured, but I need to see if I can find a replacement after-market (or used on eBay) seat bracket and see if I can fix it up. I'd love to go recumbent riding again.

I've been enjoying writing on this French-made Hermes 3000.

Hermes 3000 at Sandia Foothills

Here's what a black Bike E AT looks like (below). It's not a true recumbent, the riding position is more semi-recumbent (the pedals being lower than the seat), but I found it ideal for city riding, as it was easy to set a foot down at a traffic stop, even with clip-on pedals; and it's not as low to the ground as a recumbent trike; although I'd love to have one of those. At that time in the late 1990s the Bike E was the best-selling recumbent brand.

The valid criticism of recumbents is they're harder to climb hills than conventional diamond-frame bikes. You can't stand up on the pedals. The trick with the recumbent riding position is to gear down and spin faster. Hill climbing on a recumbent is more of a cardio workout than a leg muscle thing. But they do have an advantage when going downhill in terms of aerodynamics. I've ridden the Bike E at frightfully fast downhill speeds, even with its tires being wider than those of an ultra-thin wedgie racing bike. The thing about recumbents is that they make the journey as important as the destination, especially important if you have degenerative arthritis and don't want to put a lot of force and vibration on your hands and wrists.

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Blogger Bill M said...

This is a nice time of year to ride a bike.

Nice recumbent. I've never ridden one though.

5:30 PM  
Blogger RobertG said...

Cycling is a great way to get around - hope you get them all fixed up again
With current circumstances, am discovering I miss my daily commute - just got a new bike too... Triggers me; must make some journeys without destination :-)

1:47 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

On that brake cable, try and dribble oil on the coiled outer housing. You'll be surprised how quickly it will seep through to the inner wire. That's assuming yours doesn't have a vinyl outer covering.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Linus said...

I have the same bike e with an after market electric motor. They made great bikes.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Linus said...

There are replacement brackets available that are made out of metal. I had my bicycle going pretty fast in one of the plastic brackets snapped. I do not recall the name of the company because it was 12 years ago but if you search for that part look for metal ones.

9:08 PM  

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