Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nashbar Bike Trailer

I have had a Nashbar cargo trailer for several years and have been very pleased with its performance.  Using this trailer to server a variety of cargo carrying needs for food delivery, touring and camping to stacking wood pallets on it.  The latter is not recommended, I had put a small dent on top of the fender from the weight of the pallets and definitely put more than the 40 lbs. capacity the trailer is rated at.

I have been having fun with this little trailer and several years ago made signs to advertise my bike repair business.  Worked well parked at the grocery store and served as a nice conversation piece with many complements from folks.  The first photo shows this trailer filled with organic produce and other items when I used it for making food deliveries for our local organic food co-op. 
Waterproof bag and cargo net
This trailer performs best for the original use I had intended it for, which is bike touring and camping.  I have a waterproof roll top velcro bag that fits snug when packed for overnight trips and with the cargo net stretched over the bag it rides very nice.  The trick is to pack the weight in the trailer for the lowest center of gravity and placing the heavier items in the center for wheel tracking.
 A common issue folks complain about when getting a single wheel trailer is while connecting and disconnecting the trailer to and from the bike.  It's a nuisance to hold the bike upright or laying the bike down while trying to connect a loaded trailer.  If your'e building a touring bike or for bike commuting I recommend the Pletscher two legged kickstand that folds up to one side and is made in Switzerland.  It is a very well made design and has served me well over the years.  Parts and accessories for these types of projects can be found at Jenson USA,( click on banner ad at left to shop their site).  Hope this review helps with your purchasing of a bicycle trailer.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bike Commuting Initiative for League City, TX

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Show your support for Hike and Bike Trails - Make your voice heard!
League City Council will vote on beginning the design of the 2012 Hike and Bike Trails - Phase I at the June 25, 2013 meeting at 6 p.m.  
Action:  1.  Attend the meeting or send an email to Council members before the meeting to voice your support.  
   2.  Pass this information on to others.  
Proponents in Council Chambers make an impression on Council.  Wear your walking shoes, bike helmet, a green shirt.  Demonstrate your desire for the trails!  

For June 25, 2013 agenda, Council will take action to enter into a Professional Service Agreement with AIA Engineers for the design of 2012 Hike and Bike Trials, Phase I.  This is an opportunity for Council to support a well planned and managed program for the City.  The citizens of League City placed hike and trails as their #2 priority for improving the quality of life for our community.  The groundwork for this was laid before 2006.  The plans were approved in 2010.  The first step to making this a reality is for Council to approve $157,747.69 for AIA Engineers to design the trails creating these new linkages expanding the connectivity of our existing trails and sidewalks. The funds are available to break ground.  It is time to move forward from a plan to reality.  

For more information, visit  For Hike & Bike Phase 1 Presentation and Trails Master Plan look under Department, Parks & Cultural Services, Park Planning, Current Plans. Feel free to contact me, as well.  

If you plan to speak to Council at the meeting plan to arrive before 6 p.m. to sign in for comment.  

Vaness Hamilton
Ditch Walker

Parks Board member

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fold-able Dahon Mariner

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'98 Dahon Mariner 5 speed with Sunlite basket
I am so pleased with this bike I just wanted give it a "blog about".  
The folding bicycle market has gained so much popularity creating a niche market for enterprising folks such as Citizen folding bikes, Giant and Bike Friday, just to name a few. Then there's the tried and true Brompton and Dahon who have been the forefathers of folding bicycles.
Good ol' Darren Alff of Bicycle Touring Pro has recently decided to tour on his Bike Friday. And why not?  "Folders" are an excellent travel bike for bicycle touring and commuting.
While visiting Portland, Oregon a friend was riding his "Halfway" made by Giant.  The locking mechanism on the frame seemed to be an issue and the company gave him a new bike and had re engineered the quick release style mechanism.  Despite this observation I still thought it would be fun to have a folding bike for myself so I finally found a neglected gem, while I wasn't looking for one, of course.
A couple years ago my fiance and I were headed home from the local farmer's market when I needed to make a pit stop.  While searching for the restroom I discovered this little beauty rusted out and sitting on the porch of the marine supply shop we had stopped at.
I inquired about the price to an employee, he went and asked the owner, manager and returned with "forty bucks" and added "we know it's in pretty rough shape".  Thing about older Dahon bikes is that any of the proprietary parts are not available to replace, most of the parts such as wheels, chain, etc. are standard.  The clamp for the handlebars could not be adjusted any tighter, something a simple shim piece could fix.  I cut a piece of thick leather to shape while trying different thicknesses taking into consideration it would compress to shape after awhile and oala!  Good enough.
At the time, my step daughters hadn't ridden a bike yet, really? They were ten and eleven years old at the time and I felt they might be interested in riding if they were comfortable and confident enough with the bike they were on.  So, after half a day of cleaning it up, repacking bearings, etc., even got the shifter to work, new tires, painted the fenders, and added the funky basket (which works very well by the way) those girls were pedaling about the parking lot behind our house having a fabulous time with it.  Thanks Dahon, thanks Bay Area Marine.  Well, it's my bike again and I sure do enjoy that, think I'll fold it up and take it to see the "in laws" just may need the beer getter basket, it's always nice to be prepared anyway. Have some upgrades in mind for it, that will be another "blog about" Visit Bike Tourings for more info.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Restored '81 Motobecane Prestige Commuter Tourer with generator lights

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1981 Motobecane Prestige Restored original generator and lights.
 This is a rare '81 Motobecane Prestige 58cm steel lugged frame with Sachs Huret rear derailleurs, shifters and adjustable rear droppouts.  Original working generator with frame specific mounting bracket and spoke lock.  Chrome fenders and chrome rear rack complement the commuter friendly 700c ride.  The practicality of this bike for commuting combined with the retro vintage style had made this a fun and worthwhile project to complete.  The roller generator is not at all like the after market versions we see today.  An integrated mounting plate is actually a part of the seat stay next to the keyed spoke lock, the lights work at a very low speed and is very quiet.  Schwalbe Marathon 700x32 tires work very will with the generator as the tires side walls are very durable.
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Replaced the original cottered crankset and bottom bracket with a chrome steel double chainring crankset with integrated chain guard and sealed cartridge bottom bracket.   Built with convenience of commuter riding without necessity of stuffing a pant leg into a sock.  Modern upgrades provide a more service friendly component group for other shops who may service this bike in the future.

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Under Frame braze ons for the generator wire routing to front and rear lights is such a unique, practical and thoughtful touch on the part of building a commuter bicycle.  This was another one of those projects that was tough to complete as a previous owner of the bike had over tightened the original quill stem bolt so much that the round wedge nut had expanded and cracked the outside of inner quill stem tube.  Necessity of delicate torching so as not to bubble the paint at the head tube and once the fork was free heating the steer tube and using vice grips to remove the broken stem.
Proved to be worthwhile effort as the UNO stem used to replace the original stem provides a much more comfortable riding position for commuting or touring.  Visit Bike Tourings for more info.

1960's Puch Bergmeister Brushed and Polished Steel Lugged Frame

 This is a '60's Puch Bergmeister I found on its' way to the scrap metal yard.  Covered in rust, rust rigid
chain, bent fork steer tube, bent dropouts, broken stem shifters and corroded copper stem.  "Before"
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1960's Puch Bergmeister with upgrades to 14 speed, chrome fenders and free style block pedals.
pictures have been suggested to me, that's alright, here's how it turned out. One of the reasons for completing  this project is a simple appreciation of the nicely shaped lugs, pump carrier brazing and the inner top tube cable routing for the rear brake.  The fork steer tube needed to be straightened and a couple of stripped threads were carefully removed for the bearing cup nut to thread on properly.  During this project I discovered just how difficult it is to find any threaded steerer cable hangers as the original one was very rusted, pitted and I used it on another bike which also needed a cable hanger.  Using a dremel tool with a cutting wheel I was able to shape a cable hanger from another frame to fit. This model of Puch Bergmeister had the copper frame but it was way too rusted and corroded to be salvaged.  Which led to the brushed and polished steel frame pictured here.  As I a clear coat I used the Ever Brite product Protecta Clear and have had fairly good results.  Anyone who has ever attempted a brushed and polished finish knows how difficult it can be to get good results without a lot of rust.  Here on the Texas Gulf Coast the humidity and salt air contributed a bit more of a challenge in keeping this frame rusting.  I had noticed some mild rust showing after a couple weeks and went over it with a quality car wax and that has worked very well.

The long wheel base on this bike due in large part to the fork rake certainly doesn't make this the most nimble handling ride, certainly don't see a bike messenger zipping through traffic on this one but it rides straight and true and would make for a nice light touring bike.  I had considered a Brooks saddle and bar and maybe even leather bar tape. I liked the original San Marco Toureur saddle and seat post for its' unique proprietary mounting.  I would have had to replace the seat post with clamp, glad I didn't.
<img src="filename.gif" alt="Puch Bergmeister rear brake cable routing"><img src="filename.gif" alt="Puch Bergmeister rear brake cable routing"><img src="filename.gif" alt="Puch Bergmeister lugged steel frame">

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Upgraded to 14 speed with 7 speed freewheel as I kept the 27 x 11/4 wheels to preserve authenticity and because I already had a front wheel of that size.  Original wing style nuts are a nice touch and they polished up very nicely.  Frame cable stops were used with 2 x 7 downtube shifters. Left friction and right indexed, which is the reason for the inexpensive SIS shimano derailleur but hey, it indexes nicely for smooth shifting.
<img src="filename.gif" alt="1960's Puch Bergmeister with upgrades">Sunlite alloy double crankset, new kmc chain and freestyle block pedals make this a fun commuter bike with fenders for style and functionality. The fenders are off of an old Schwinn Collegiate I found headed to the scrap metal yard along with this bike.  The fenders cleaned up very well and painted the fender stays with Rustoleum primer and paint.

This is the copper alloy stem I was able to salvage as it was not bent just corroded with mild pitting and in no way effects ride performance or function.  An attractive part of the bike's style and era and added vintage stem bell as a commuter friendly touch.
All in all I'm very pleased with how my hard work toward this project came to completion and have enjoyed riding it some.  However, this bike is for sale so I don't ride it too often. Go to Bike Tourings site for more info.  Cheers!
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Origin 8 Classique Cargo Unit Review

Review of Origin8 Classique Cargo Carrier

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Origin 8 Classique Cargo available in black, white or silver

Visit Bike Tourings for more information and to purchase
Porteur bikes have been gaining in popularity over the past years.  As folks look to alternative transportation with rising fuel costs and looking to healthier lifestyles.  Bicycle commuting is now common place in most major cities.
Meeting the demand to provide safe, practical load carrying capacity is something being sought for by active bike commuters.
Recently a bike tech. friend in Colorado sent me some photos of a Porteur build he had completed with a picnic basket strapped to the front.  So I began researching my own simple Porteur Bike build.  I chose the '87 Steel Lugged Fuji Sundance with stem shifters as a good choice for a build theme. As we own and operate an Organic Food Co-op this bike would make a nice display for some of our vendors and suppliers who sell their juices.
While looking over some of the choices for a sturdy rack style handlebar basket I considered the Velo Orange Porteur front rack as well as the Portland Design Works Do Anything Take Out Basket.  What little information that was available at the time on the Origin 8 Classique Cargo Unit with integrated handlebar and basket priced at less than $60 for the silver aluminum model was something that would work nicely with the Fuji.

Velo Orange Porteur Front Rack

At Left is the Velo Orange Porteur front rack which mounts to the front brake with stays connecting to fork.  At the time I was researching my project the best price I found on this model was $145.95 plus shipping and required more hardware to install.  One of the reviews I read of the Portland Design Works Do Anything Take Out Basket described the handlebar clamp attachment as a bit finicky and had a tendency to "swivel down" under pressure from a load.  Though it does come with a couple choices in a bag for carrying things, the size was a bit smallish compared to the Origin 8 Cargo Unit.
A couple months ago there were no reviews on the Origin 8 Classique Cargo Carrier.  I learned that it was rated for 55 Lb. capacity and only required the use of an open plate stem for installation due to the unique integrated handlebar and basket design.

Portland Design Works Take Out Basket for bicycle commuting
Portland Design Works Take Out Basket.
Origin 8 Classique Cargo Carrier
Origin 8 Classique Cargo Unit with 23 lb. watermelon.

Origin 8 Classique Cargo Unit tested with 23 pound watermelon is very solid and sturdy.  Used Ergo Grips for good grip and solid feel of handling.  All in all I like the design of the integrated handlebar and basket for ease of installation with open plate stem, large capacity for carrying heavier loads and sturdy solid handling.  Good value for less than $60.  

'98 Dahon Mariner folding bicycle
Trusty ol' Dahon Mariner 5 speed

I'm sure all of the products discussed here work wonderfully for different commuting needs or cyclist's style. I'm using my funky Sunlite Basket with my '98 Dahon Mariner.  Worked real well one night while riding with my dog, holding his leash and he decided to go left while I was going straight off a curb.  Laid it down pretty hard and the basket stayed on the bike.
Visit Bike Tourings for more information and to purchase

Nashbar Ragster II Bike Sandals Review

Here's a link to an updated review of these sandals.  Yes, I like them.
Nashbar Ragster II Sandals One Year Review

I had been shopping for a pair of bike touring sandals for about a year. Riding along the Texas Gulf Coast last summer was when I began pondering the idea due to the heat and humidity of a long ride. Yes, wouldn't it be nice to have some air flow around the tootsies on rides like this, ugh!  

A year later and much research reading reviews I settled on trying out the Nashbar Sandals  With well over a hundred good reviews and a price at half of what other similar products were wanting it was definitely worth giving the Nashabar Sandals a try for under fifty bucks.

Some reviewers mentioned the need to cut out the rubber in order to access the mounting holes for the cleats and that it was a pain in the proverbial asspragrass.  I haven't found any other information regarding this procedure so thought it a fun idea to give it a "blog about."
Firstly a solid utility type of razor blade works well for this like the one shown here and be sure to follow the line around the cleat area.  Secondly, keep the other hand out of the cutting path of the blade so not to hurt oneself as the rubber is fairly tough to cut through. 

There is some adhesive holding the piece in place so it doesn't "pop out" after the cutting is completed.  Pliers work really well for this next part as the adhesive can be pretty resilient.  I was able to peel a portion of the cut out piece just enough to get a bite on it with the pliers and easily peeled the piece off revealing the cleat mounts.  Oala, not bad at all and so far very pleased with the fit and feel though haven't been for a ride with them yet.  I feel confident I will like Nashbar's sandals for riding in hot, humid climates and look forward to sharing more about that later this summer.

Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals
Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals. When you don't need a cycling shoe, why wear one? The Nashbar Ragster 2 cycling sandals are the perfect choice when full cycling shoes are just too much.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Bike Tourings Website

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Visit Bike Tourings for information and resources related to bike travel, bicycle touring, bicycle commuting and other stuff.

As a former bike shop owner, manager and certified tech. I enjoy sharing information and resources with other bike enthusiasts.  At the blog on my website I offer tips, share experience and informational resources for cyclists wanting to learn about bike repair, bicycle touring, commuting, camping and most stuff related to bike travel.
Currently own and operate Natural Living Country Store with Lisa Piper where we offer organic garden fresh produce and several other healthy food items at
Have a nice summer and looking forward to a prosperous year.