Family Bike Ride – Lautertal Radweg

A Covid Compliant Adventure

Restrictions are beginning to ease, but we are still largely home bound.  Time for a Covid compliant adventure, our traveling perimeter has widened and Germany is riddled with biking trails.  We have explored just about everything within the immediate vicinity, so we decided to pack up a lunch, load up the bike rack and do something a little further out.

Our boys are still young, so an easy family friendly path with little climbing is preferred.  Nearby is a well traveled mainly flat biking path that we could take anywhere from 2 kilometers to 30 if we felt up to it.

The youngest is excited to try his new (to him) mountain bike out on a real trail, and the older one is excited to “show him how it’s done”.  With my bike finally done being built, my wife has regained full control over her bike, and is ready to take it for a spin.

The Lautertal Radweg (Radweg = Bike Path or Bike way to be precise) runs from Kaiserslautern, Germany up to Lauterecken, some 35 or so kilometers away.  I knew we wouldn’t make it that far with an 8 and 6 year old, but who knows.

The trail is scenic as it wanders along between the train tracks and stream.  Just on the other side of the tracks we cruise on by small, quaint little towns.  Lots of bikers had the same idea that we had so we are forced to stay in a single file line or as the boys yell out when someone is spotted heading our way “Snake Formation!”.  Departing Kaiserslautern we pass by Erfenbach and decide to stop for the lunch that we brought with us.  After a quick meal it’s on to Otterbach and Sembach.  As we continue into Katzweiler our little one is showing signs of fatigue.  Not too bad considering we are about 9 kilometers in.

Turning around in Katzweiler, our youngest is not too enthused to find out that he now has to pedal back the entire way that he just came.  We mosey back the way we came, stopping plenty for photos and to check out the stream.  Each time that we remount the bikes, we egg him on with a reminder that there will be a surprise at the end of the ride.  Not knowing what the surprise is going to be just about drives the older one insane.

Pedaling back into K-Town we pass by the car and keep going, leading them just to the end of the parking lot fence.  An outdoor restaurant, just recently allowed to open up outdoor seating is situated in the middle of a plaza with a fountain.  Other bikes are parked all over the plaza, we add ours to the mix and sit outside the restaurant for…Beer and Ice Cream!  Beer for the wife not the kids, just in case you were wondering.  

PROST!!!!

Join 144 other followers

Bike Build Step #5

Wheels, Chain, Etc.

It has been a little while since I did a bike build update, and I have added quite a bit since the front forks were installed.  I wanted to wait until I had all of the remaining components but unfortunately, shipping delays have pushed my last two items out a little further.  So my beastly, single speed, hard tail commuter completion is close but no cigar, or no handlebar for that matter.

Up to 70% Off Clearance Items at Eastern Mountain Sports

When I left off, I had just finished installing the front forks, so picking up from there:

Wheels

My old frame is designed for 26” wheels as is my new front fork, so I am sticking with that.  I ordered and received a Mango 26” Cruiser Bike Wheel Set. I am trying to go as minimal and simple as possible, a dream set up.  Little to no maintenance required, next to no failure points. After all, I am a hygge-list, minimal yet functional design and aesthetically pleasing.  So I opted for the rear wheel to have a coaster brake hub, yes you heard me right, a coaster brake, instant flash back to making skid marks down my parents driveway on my first ever BMX.

Installed on those coaster brake cruiser wheels are 26” x 2.125” tires with tubes.  The tread is suitable for road and gravel riding, the most common terrain that I will be riding either during my daily commute or out on family rides.

Installing the wheels sets is pretty self-explanatory, there are no disc or rim brakes to worry about, no cables, no levers, no problem.  I attached the front wheel to the fork securely. I attach the rear wheel, but just finger tighten the nuts so that I can adjust the positioning accordingly for when I install the chain.

Headset Stem, Shim & Spacers

If you recall, my frame has a 1” steerer tube, and the front forks that I installed were 1” and threaded.

Cambriabike.com has top Bike parts at low prices!

I am converting this to a more common 1 ⅛” headset stem.  In order to do this I needed to add a 1” to 1 ⅛” adapter shim.  The threaded steerer tube is already secured in place so all I am looking to do here is add a spacer (1” diameter, the tube is 1” and the shim will bump into the spacer) and the shim to elevate the stem to the end of the steerer tube.  Once I have the desired height worked out, I slide the stem over the shim and tighten down the Allen screws, alternating between the two to keep a constant even pressure to prevent stripping them out. I aligned the stem as straight as I can for now, but will likely have to readjust once I get the handlebar attached.  I have links to the same or similar items that I used at the bottom of this article.

Saddle, Seat post & Clamp

The next and quickest installation is a new seat post, seat and clamp.  I love the look of streamlined, brown leather saddles. I was able to find a great synthetic saddle by Charge Bikes that fit the bill.  I also received my new 27.2 mm diameter seat post that is 350 mm long to allow for plenty of height adjustment options. The seat post clamp adds a little white highlighting to go along with my forks and headset as well, aesthetic bonus.

I attach the saddle to the seat post, install the seat post clamp and slide the seat post into a rough estimate of the height that I will want it at and tighten the clamp down.

Chain

Installing the chain is a big step that I have been looking forward to.  I picked up a ½” x ⅛’ KHE chain with 112 links. It is highlighted with white face plates to match the design that I am going for.

I was a little stressed about being able to get it sized just right to avoid having to install a chain tensioner.  Like I mentioned before, clean and simple, less parts and less points of failure. The drop outs on my frame (the slots that the rear wheel slides into) are not horizontal, but they are not vertical either, so I was optimistic that I could make it work.

After wrapping the chain around the chainrings, I used a small metal hook to hold it in place, you can also shape a paperclip to do the same thing.  I pulled tight and moved the rear wheel around the dropouts to get a perfect size. Marking my target chain link, I used a chain breaker tool from my bike multi-tool to shorten the chain to the proper link, reinstalled a master link, made sure the tension was perfect and tightened the rear wheel in place.

After a couple test spins on the cranks, checking the tension all of the way around the oval chainring I was satisfied.  Perfect fit!

**NOTE**  If you have a narrow / wide crank ring, be sure to align your chain properly to match the narrow then wide teeth to the narrow then wide openings in your chain.  If this is off the chain will stick and bind while you spin the crank. **

Alas, this is where I had to stop.  Upon receipt of my handlebar and headset cap I will install and complete my build.  Which will then be IMMEDIATELY followed by my first test ride, I can hardly wait!

Tools Used For This Step:

Adjustable Wrench

Tire Pump

Allen Wrench

Chain Breaker

Pliers

Flat Head Screwdriver

Total Cost For This Step: $242.86 (222.77 Euro)

Mango 26” Coaster Wheelset with Tires and Tubes – $119.95 (110.03 Euro)

Truvativ 60mm, 1-⅛” Hussefelt Stem – $31.95 (29.31 Euro)

Jili Online Bicycle Stem Shim 1” to 1-⅛” Adapter – $3.99 (3.66 Euro)

1” Alloy Bike Headset Spacer Kit – $9.90 (9.08 Euro)

Charge Spoon Saddle – $29.48 (27.04 Euro)

CYSKY 27.2 mm Seat post – $17.88 (16.40 Euro)

Fouriers MTB Seat Post Clamp – $15.59 (14.30 Euro)

KHE Bicycle Chain – $14.12 (12.95 Euro)

**All parts are linked to the same or similar items on Amazon**

Bike Build Riding Total: $439.43 (403.07 Euro)

Join 144 other followers

Bamboo Bicycles

A Step Further in the Sustainability Direction

Bicycles are an incredible innovation, a health conscience, Eco friendly alternative to fossil fueled vehicles.  They are universally loved throughout the entire world, from children as young as two, to men and women of every age.

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

There are more than 100 million bicycles manufactured every year and there are well over 1 billion bicycles currently present in the world already.  The largest accumulation of bikes is estimated to reside in China with nearly 500 million plus found there alone.

Those able to forego fossil fueled vehicles for a bicycle to complete their daily commute have an incredible positive impact on the environment and their own health.  It’s hard to look at a bicycle with anything but positivity in correlation with the economic impacts. But what are bicycles?

Built Bar: 12% Off* w/ Code: SAVE12

Bicycles are hunks of metal, rubber, plastic, carbon fiber and grease.  Now, many of them are also equipped with batteries, but that’s another story for another post.  Bicycles don’t seem so enchanting when you think of them like that, but I’m not here to bash on bikes.  They are still a thousand times better than the alternative…automobiles. There is another, even more eco-friendly and sustainable option out there though – Bamboo Bicycles.

Photo by Andre Moura on Pexels.com

Multiple companies have sprouted up with high quality, well made bamboo bicycles.  These companies are taking an already incredibly eco-friendly product and making it even more sustainable.  Bamboo is arguably the most sustainable material in the world. It’s regenerative qualities are unrivaled, when harvested it can regrow up to four feet in a single day.  It can absorb five times more carbon dioxide and create a third more oxygen than a similar sized grove of trees.

While most bamboo bikes still do typically contain some metal or carbon fiber at the joining joints, the longer stretches of material are replaced by bamboo stalks.  Not only does this decrease the carbon footprint of bicycle manufacturing, it also serves as a highly capable material. Bamboo is very lightweight and has a high tensile strength, it also has a higher shock absorbency than carbon fiber.  On top of that, it’s a cheaper building material than steel, aluminum and carbon fiber. A good company will pass that savings on to you!

If you are interested in a bamboo bicycle, there are quite a few established companies out there already, here is a handful:

BooomersYes, the three O’s is the correct spelling.  Booomers also uses there bike sales for additional socio-economic impact as well which you can read about by clicking on their company name. Additionally, the joints of a Booomers bicycle is created with a plant based fiber and epoxy which is somewhat unique in this industry.

My Boo – Is an impressive company based out of Ghana and Kiel, Germany, My Boo bamboo bikes offers handmade city, sport and electric bicycles.  The joints on these bikes are formed with glued and polished hemp rope adding to the sustainability of their product.

Ewabi – Established in 2016, Ewabi uses locally sourced bamboo from Bali, aluminum joints wrapped with natural fibers, resin and hardeners. Unique in its addition of bamboo mud guards.

Pedal Forward – These sustainable bikes are built with steel joints and Pedal Forward uses a portion of every sale to reinvest back into developing the transportation needs of developing communities.  They only have a few models at the moment, but offer them at a cheaper price point than most.

Bamboocycles – This company, based in Mexico manufactures bamboo bicycles with carbon fiber joints and offers a plethora of frame styles and designs.

In-Bo – A French company, specializing in bamboo products such as bicycles, skateboards and eyeglasses.

Join 144 other followers

Shimano Component Blowouts XT,XTR, Saint, SLX, & Zee. Static Jpeg

Bike Build Step #4

Front Fork Paint and Installation

My single speed monster is ready for some new front forks.  Being an older model frame, it was outfitted for a 1” steering tube and originally had internal cup bearings.  I plan on reusing the internal cup bearings and am sticking to a threaded tube for installation purposes.

Shimano Component Blowouts XT,XTR, Saint, SLX, & Zee. Static Jpeg

Finding a new front fork with these spec’s cut down on my options quite a bit, but I managed to find a decent pair with good enough reviews for a commuter ride.  They were only available in silver, so I planned on changing the color. They arrived decal free which was a pleasant surprise and made sanding them down for paint really easy.

After a good scrub down, I used tin foil and masking tape to protect the uppers and steering tube.  I decided on white for the forks, and will match that to the headset and seat post clamp. I hung the forks outside and painted them the same way that I did the frame.

With the forks freshly painted, I set to cleaning up and repacking my original bearings with grease.  Generously greased, I also greased up the internal cups and set everything in place.  

Installing the lower bearing raceway, I used a flat screwdriver and a small hammer to ensure that no gap remained between the steering tube and the top of the fork bracket as you can see in the photo.

Sliding the forks into place I threaded down to the upper bearing raceway into place, making sure to check and recheck the tension for the smoothest rotation. Front fork installation complete.

This small but important addition really changes the look of the bike and is starting to give this beast a little personality.  Just a few more steps and it will be able to be moved from the maintenance stand to the streets at last.

Tools used for this step:

Standard Screw Driver

Hammer

Grease

Tin Foil

Masking Tape

Spray Paint

Twine

Total cost for this step: $92.57 (85.26 Euro)

Muc-off Grease – Already paid for and calculated in Step #3

Spray Paint – $7.58 (6.98 Euro)

Lowrider 26″ Suspension Fork $84.99 (78.28 Euro)

*Each component description is linked to the same or a similar component to the one I used. Prices may vary.

Bike Build Rolling Total: $196.57 (181.05 Euro)

728x90 EMS Lifestyle Image

Join 144 other followers

Nomatic

The Truth Behind Oval Chainrings

An oval chainring is a necessity for any single speed bike, hands down.  Let me explain.

  • Maximize your leverage.
  • Ease your transition.

Maximize – Between the 1 and 2 o’clock position through the 5 o’clock position for either foot is the location where the most leverage is found when riding a bike.  Having the widest part of the chainring vertically for this area is the equivalent of adding 2 teeth to the chainring, essentially giving you an increased gear.  Ex. a 34 tooth oval chainring will put out a power equivalent of a 36 tooth round chainring throughout this position.

Ease – Conversely, the muscle transition zone in your pedal motion occurs between the 5 and 7 to 8 o’clock position for either foot.  As a result this is where your leverage is at its weakest. With an oval chainring the narrowest part of the chainring falls throughout this area, reducing the chainring to the equivalency of a 32 tooth round chainring.  Essentially given you an additional decreased gear, making this area easier to pedal, and easing the strain on your knee and ankle joints and muscles as this transition takes place.

In order to recreate this effect with round chainrings, you would have to have 2 gears and a front derailleur that is ready to do some serious work.  For every full revolution of your pedals you would have to shift between a 32 and 36 tooth chainring 4 times. 36 tooth at the 1 o’clock position; 32 tooth at 5 o’clock; back to 36 tooth at 8 o’clock; back to 32 tooth at 11 o’clock.  Then repeat for every revolution…

Often the main argument against oval chainrings is in reference to the failed Biopace oval chainrings of the 80’s and early 90’s which lead to multiple knee and ankle issues with riders.

There was one fatal flaw with the design of Biopace chainrings that resulted in these injuries.  They were designed to be installed 90 degrees off from the current ones, and that makes an incredible difference.  Installed in that manner places the hardest part of the chainring (36 tooth area) directly in the muscle transition zone.  So you were struggling to power through the most difficult part of your pedal rotation while your knees and ankles are at their most vulnerable.

The rationale from Biopace was that the increased momentum gained from the easier section being in the high leverage zone would virtually pull itself through the transition area.  A flywheel concept of sorts. Unfortunately, mountain biking is rarely a smooth, flat, open road and generating enough momentum to achieve a flywheel effect is virtually impossible, even with road biking this would be nearly impossible.  Hindsight also proves that this theory was implausible, evident in the resulting knee trauma. 

Join 144 other followers

Nomatic

Bike Build Step #3

Bottom Bracket and Crank Set

The next step for my single speed mountain bike beast build is to get the bottom bracket and crank set installed.  I have received all the components necessary and will begin with the bottom bracket.

Bottom Bracket

I am converting the bottom bracket from the 1 piece crank set that it came with, to a 3 piece square tapered bottom bracket.  This will improve the ability to customize and update these components in the future if/when I decide to do so. Using the bracket adapter pictured, I am able to reuse the previously existing cups, that I left in the bottom bracket.  The old cups cleaned up nicely and did not have any dings or scratches that would inhibit smooth rotation of well greased bearings.

I begin by greasing the inside of the cups, and packing the bearings.  Do not be stingy here, you will want to roll grease between each of the ball bearings and make sure that there is plenty of grease.  The last thing you want is to have to pull everything back apart and re-grease it again.

Installing the shaft of the bottom bracket, you will notice that there is a rib on the interior of the threads on only one side (pictured).  This is the non-gear side, and the nut on this side will be installed completely to that rib. **Note** When installing the nuts be sure to check and recheck the smooth rotation of the bracket, do not over tighten or leave the nuts too loose, you need to find that sweet spot right in the middle.

On the non-gear side, only the one bracket nut is used.  On the gear side, a washer with a guide notch (pictured) is installed, followed by another nut (pictured).  Once you install the additional washer and nut, recheck the smooth rotation again. Bottom bracket installation complete.

Crank set

The next step is the crank set/chain ring.  As I mentioned this beast is going to be a single speed.  So there is only 1 chain ring being installed, no derailleur, no shifting gears…simple, minimal and just right.  In order to take full advantage I went with a 34 tooth oval chain ring.

There are a multitude of reasons on why I chose this style of chain ring and I will be writing a separate post explaining the science behind oval chain rings soon, so be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss it.

First, I installed the chain ring onto the crank, if you notice in the picture of this particular chain ring you will see a triangle/arrow printed on one side of the ring, this is the direction that the crank is installed.  If you get a brand that does not have this guide, you just need to know that the widest part of the ring should be vertical when the crank is horizontal. The reason for this will be explained in my oval chain ring post, so you will just have to take my word for it for now.

Attached the cranks onto the square tapered bottom bracket and secure them with the nut that was provided with the bottom bracket.  Rinse and repeat with the non-crank side. Crank set installation complete.

Pedals

What good is a crank set and bottom bracket without some way to power them…The last step for this assembly is to install the pedals.  Most pedals are labeled as to which side they belong on, but in the case that they are not you just need to make sure that they thread in by spinning them towards the front of the bike.  Right side threads in clockwise, and the left threads in counter-clockwise. The pedals can be tightened by either using an open ended wrench on the pedal side, or an allen wrench on the inside of the crank arm.  Make sure these are nice and tight. Pedal installation complete.

Tools used for this step:

Allen wrench set

Adjustable wrench

Grease

Total cost for this step: $94.03 (84.76 Euro)

Muc-Off Bio Grease – $13.30 (11.99 Euro)

3 piece bottom bracket adaptor kit – $17.75 (16.00 Euro)

34 Tooth oval chainring crankset – $42.99 (38.75 Euro)

RockBros pedals – $19.99 (18.02 Euro)

*Each component description is linked to the same or a similar component to the one I used, prices may vary.

Bike Build Rolling Total – $104 (93.75 Euro)

Join 144 other followers

Nomatic

Bike Build Step #2

Refinishing

My Frankenstein bike is stripped down to the frame and its original chrome frame is mocking me every time I walk past it.  I can hardly stand it anymore, after a quick check on this afternoon’s weather I decide, today’s the day.  

We have some sandpaper left from my wife’s last furniture refinishing project.  I deface my mountain bike frame with vigor, sparing no nook or cranny. A thorough sanding and wipe down and this monster is almost ready for some paint.  I mask off the internal cups in the headset and bottom bracket and set out to get the paint.

A moment of deep thought and contemplation in the spray paint aisle at the hardware store and a decision is made.  I go with a darker shade matte green, not unlike the shade you would see on the old military style Jeeps.

I hang my frame up from the swing set in the backyard with some twine, and go at it with the spray paint.  

Happy Accident – The slight breeze causes the frame to rotate slightly allowing me to look over the frame from all angles while I paint.

Multiple coats later I am satisfied that I have covered all areas with a smooth even finish.  I leave the frame hanging for a couple hours to ensure it is dry, then lock it back into the maintenance stand to await the next step.  

Coming soon – Reassembly.

Tools used for this step:

Sandpaper

Masking Tape

Twine

Spray Paint

Total cost so far: 8.99 Euro.

Let the Games Begin

I present to you my winter project.  All decals have been removed in order to preserve the victims anonymity.  Extra doughnuts to anyone that can accurately name the make of this beast by frame geometry alone.  

I will now begin to transform this out of date, run down, dry rotted, squeaky, creaky, mass of rubber and aluminum into a single speed, trail ready, stylish, beast of a mountain bike.

My goal is to have this trail ready by the Spring and I will be documenting each step along the way.  Step 1, break it down. Here. We. Go…