Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exiting July on the Flatland Commuter Project Bike

A part of July went into this project

Whatever else I might say about July, 2011, some good, some not, I'll give it this much: I'm riding out of the month on a fixed gear bicycle very suitable for my commuting needs, that I converted from an old ten speed with a lugged steel frame. July, you month of ups and downs, highs and lows and all went by too fast, see ya!

First ride

Some observations from my first attempt to do something like this. I obsessed about the chain line and noticed that it is not straightforward to measure accurately down to the mm to the center of an angled seat tube. At this point, though, it looks like the chain line is somewhere around 2-3mm off. I am using a 3/32" road chain, OK actually a 9-speed 11/128" chain, which seems like it may tolerate that 3mm deviation from the ideal. I'm not sure that the chainring will clear the chain stay if I pull it in another 3mm with a new bottom bracket anyway, but this is both a therapeutic and educational project for me, and a bottom bracket to give it a try is not expensive, so I would put it high on the "try next" list. After removing everything not needed for a fixed gear commuter, and putting on some new, lighter wheels with aluminum rims rather than the old steel ones, the bike currently weighs about 23.5 pounds. My goal wasn't to try to end up with an extremely light bike anyway, I was just curious to see what the difference would be. I went with an 18T cog with the 52T chainring from the ten speed, based on the experiences with the 42x16 on my other bike. So far it feels about right. 

Mechanically everything seems good, although I'm a little doubtful about the headset which feels not quite right no matter what I do to it, and there was also this slight TING sound that I couldn't identify sometimes during heavier pedaling, kind of like my shoelace was tapping against the frame except it wasn't. Got to figure that out. Under steady spinning at a good cadence it was quiet and smooth, though, which is what I was hoping for. The different geometry of this frame compared to my other bikes will take some getting used to--I could tell it was a different bike, certainly, one that will eventually feel familiar. Oh, and the saddle was just one I had on the shelf, not one of my favorites, and will need to pick up a replacement next time there's a sale. The old front center-pull brake works great, and was easy to set up. 

Sightseeing at Horseshoe Falls

The SR crank and chainring is interesting to me. The crank and chainring are actually bonded together, so I didn't have recourse to the chain line adjustment approach of mounting the big ring inside the spider, which would probably give me the 2 - 3mm I need. I mentioned it in the earlier post on this project, but I'll just say it again to give context, I did flip the asymmetric bottom bracket spindle around which helped some with the alignment, but I could really use that extra little bit more, I think. But it seems like it may work OK so I'm willing to try it for a while. Oh, the other doubt about moving it closer, other than the chainstay clearance, is that the inside part of the crank that the spindle goes into (what do you call that part exactly?) is already pretty close to the bottom bracket shell, I'm not sure that there's much more that 3mm of room there, either. These are the kinds of things you end up looking at when you repurpose an old ten speed for a new use, I guess.

52T SR "two piece" crankset on the Rebel

So a sensible future change might be to swap a track crank with a 48T chainring, I know. I didn't do that as part of this initial conversion mainly because I wanted to re-use some of the original parts. Also I like the look of this.

Interesting cable end treatment on the old brake cable

I noted that the old brake cable ended in a neat, sharp point. I'm not entirely sure how that was done. Grinding wheel and solder? It's kind of cool and evil looking at the same time. Anyone still do that?

More work left to do on the FLC project: pick out a rear rack, decide if I'm going to paint the rack, decide if I'm going to touch up all the dings on the frame or not, find and alleviate the TING sound, hope for a saddle sale soon, obsess about the chain line some more (the 2 to 3mm seems OK, but is it really? Should I measure again?), and ride the thing some more. Much more. I did not figure out where the hell July went on the ride today. I tried, but I still don't know, except that it's gone now. My instincts tell me I need more rest and also more time in the saddle. Ha, don't we all, you could probably say, don't we all.



  1. John Forester, in one of his practical moments, talks about soldering the end of brake cables. I have not done it myself, but there is a definite potential advantage compared to a crimped end thing.

  2. Looking good!
    In a banana sort of way.
    Nevermind the soldering.
    Just get some aero anodized cable end crimps.
    You know you want some.

  3. Steve, one advantage I can think of is that there's nothing to fall off that way.

    limom I do have some black ones. I bought a jar of 500, which should last a while.


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