Thursday, 30 October 2008

New "How to" and "DIY" Labels

In my ongoing attempts to make this blog useful, I've been at work adding some labels to old posts that will make it easier to find the information you're looking for. There are new labels for "How to" posts, which generally contain useful information about working on some aspect of old bikes, and "DIY" which are more often ruminations on DIY philosophy or links or something. These categories will undoubtedly grow, if slowly, so keep checking them. Along these lines, the "Tips" label also still provides smaller tidbits of info about painting, cleaning, etc.

By the way, if you fancy yourself particularly expert at some bit of bicycle repair or maintenance, or if you have a time-honored method for truing wheels handed down over the generations (or whatever) that you would like to share with a broader community, I would very much like to hear from you. You can even be a guest blogger!  Oh, the glamour!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

How to Dismantle a Suntour Bar End Shifter

An OBB reader and fellow Flickrer has posted a wonderful nine-photo sequence (link goes to first photo) on this very subject, complete with how-to and how-it-works notes. I'll have to take his word for it, but it sure sounds like he knows what he's talking about! Bar end shifters are quite popular these days, so it's definitely worth a look if you're thinking about a pair.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Old Bikes Around the World

In most parts of the world, old bicycles are more than just a novelty or a hobby--they're a way of life. Old bicycles, many of which have already seen decades of use, are still used and maintained by people everywhere who can't afford to buy new bicycles, scooters, or cars.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Like the fellow in Africa who made his own bicycle-mounted radio and earns money taxiing villagers over unpaved roads, there are thousands of others who use, reuse, and innovate old bicycles as everyday transportation.

 Kolkata, India

In many cases, their livelihoods depend on being mobile, and old bikes are the only way for them to get around. As more folks in the industrial world fall upon hard times, the same "keep it running" ethic that has kept old bikes rolling in so-called "developing" nations must be adopted here--not only for bicycles, but for everything we use every day.

Bicycle Repair Shop in La Antigua, Guatemala
Photo by Rudy Giron

It's time--past time, really--to unlearn the "newer is better" mentality so many of us have grown up with. If we're going to learn to do more with less (and we will most certainly have to), we're going to need to turn away from brand-new retail shops and toward our garages, local yard sales, and thrift shops. Just like most of the world already knows, there are a whole bunch of very serviceable old bicycles out there (and everything else) just waiting to be used again.

Some Funny Nonsense for Friday

I was skimming through my Flickr groups this morning and found an otherwise unremarkable photo of a bicycle with the most hilarious caption: "I'm faster than squirrels while riding on my Iron Duke." Since my wife has an ongoing feud with squirrels (she was viciously attacked by one that stole the bagel right out of her hands a few years ago), I found it absolutely hilarious. I used my lunch hour today to make this little cartoon for her. Add this to your list of reasons to ride a bicycle!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


Yehuda Moon, the best (and only?) webcomic devoted entirely to bicycling. There's also a link in the sidebar under Miscellany.

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Sublime & the Ridiculous

My wife and I rode down to San Diego's South Park neighborhood yesterday to test my new basket on the Runwell.  I found the basket at a thrift store and added some wire to make hooks to hang off the handlebars. It holds just enough for an afternoon jaunt. I was worried that it wouldn't hold up over our terrible streets around here, but it did just fine. We locked up at one of South Park's cool high-wheel racks, walked around a bit, and when we came back, saw that the herd had grown. It was interesting to compare our very practical and stylish old city bikes to the (I'm sorry, but) goofy-looking wacked-out new mountain bikes, which were obviously not designed with comfortable city riding in mind. I see the practicality for mountain biking, but I'm always amazed that people chose to ride these bikes around town.  'Course, I suppose the way the roads are, a little suspension might come in handy now and again. Thank goodness I have the Runwell's patented "rigid safety frame"!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Runwell Head Badge Revealed

I've been trying to determine exactly what my faded and worn head badge used to look like on the Runwell.  I knew there was an image of a boy or man running, but many of the details were lost. Without an example of the company logo to go on, I was pretty much out of luck. Fortunately, someone doing research on the company at the University of Warwick offered to look for an example of the logo for me. They were able to get me a scan, which was still a bit blurry, which I then cleaned up, traced, and colored to get close to what was originally on my bike. Given my utter lack of artistic ability, I think it turned out okay. So, here's what I ended up with:

The head badge on the bike:
The scan of the logo:
And my ham-fisted rendering (with full, pouty lips):
Upon closer inspection, it looks like the words have a slight shadow outline, so I'll have to go back and work on that. It feels good to resurrect a nearly-lost piece of bicycle history. 

Oh, and I added a basket.  More on that later.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Type Bike T-Shirt at Neatorama

In keeping with my absolutely random blog posts of late, here's a cool t-shirt for sale at Neatorama, one of my regular reads on the interwebs. It's a bicycle design completely composed of type (letters and whatnot). The price is pretty reasonable at $14.95, but only comes in three color options, all too light for Greasywrench McMessy (me).

Image: Neatorama

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Handlebars as Musical Instruments

File this under "other things you can do with your old bike besides ride it."

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Dinosaurs & Robots (& Bicycles)

I've been reading Dinosaurs & Robots off and on for a couple of months now, and wanted to pass it along to y'all. The honchos at D&R include Mister Jalopy of Coco's Variety Store and Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing fame. They're big into the "maker" and DIY ethic, which is very much in keeping with the mission of the OBB. Mister Jalopy is especially fond of bicycles, and periodically posts items of superlative interest to fellow cyclistas. A variety of guest bloggers and the principals' own catholic interests keep D&R constantly fresh and interesting. Go check it out!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

African DIY Ingenuity

From the terrific and inspirational AfriGadget blog, the story of a bike-mounted radio that's good for more than just entertainment. Check out the site for a couple of other bike-related posts, as well.

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