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Cardio Trek is best known for teaching archery lessons.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Xmas from the Bicycle Mechanic

Merry Xmas from the Bicycle Mechanic! May all your gifts be bicycle oriented and perfect for you!




Monday, October 22, 2012

Line of Sight, 2012 film

DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. (Or on the Street.)

Line of Sight is the inside story of underground bicycle racing around the world.

Also known as Alleycat Racing, the races feature bicycles which are specially made for these illegal and highly reckless races: #1. The bikes have no brakes. So there are a lot of crashes and they can't stop at red lights (and don't want to stop anyway). #2. They're fixie bicycles (one gear only).

Through the lens of helmet cameras, the film transports viewers into the wild and dangerous world of Alleycat Racing, where high speeds, traffic and pedestrians combine with riders hell-bent on attaining victory at any cost.

The races include some of the best urban riders in the world in their natural element, including Shino, Ted Shred, Chas, Jumbo, Kevin Porter, Felipe "The King", Austin Horse, Crihs, and Alfred Bobe Jr.

More than just a musical montage of vehicle-dodging, fast paced action, Line of Sight also gives the viewers an insight into the community of bicycle messengers who run and participate in these underground races. Director Benny Zenga turns the cameras back on Lucas, his compatriots, and on the incredible cities where they run wild on the streets. The end result? A world tour of the urban jungles of New York to the actual jungles of Guatemala, from the narrow maze of London streets to the Great Wall of China, making the film as much a tourism documentary as a documentary on illegal bicycle racing.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Amusing Images for Cyclists

Here are a few images to tickle your funny bone. I admit they have nothing to do with bicycle mechanics or fixing bicycles, but sometimes you just have to let loose.











Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sport Trek hiring Head Bicycle Mechanic for Richmond Hill

Sport Chek is currently looking for a Head Technician (Bicycle Mechanic) for their store in the Hillcrest Mall in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto.

They are seeking an experienced bicycle mechanic who is able to work independently, has managerial skills, customer service experience, and able to support the sales team. Positive attitude and team spirit a must.

FGL Sports Ltd. requires all successful applicants to provide a criminal record check.

APPLY ONLINE - http://sportchekjobs.com/jobs/92893-full-time-head-technician-sport-chek-hillcrest-mall

POSTED SEPT 13TH 2012.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How Much Do You Love Your Bicycle?

How much do you love your bicycle?

Do you wash it regularly?

Do you sleep with it?

Does your bicycle have its own closet?

When was the last time you took it into your local bicycle mechanic for a tune up?






Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Job Posting in Vancouver - Tricycle Mechanic

VANCOUVER, CANADA

Shift urban cargo delivery is a worker co-operative that uses cargo tricycles to deliver goods in the downtown core of Vancouver. Their vision is to build community resilience by transforming the urban goods movement industry, and by shifting the way business is done.

And they are currently looking to hire a Lead Tricycle Mechanic for a permanent full-time position (30 – 40 hours / week).

Wage: $15/hr start (additional benefits & wage increase with time)
Start Date: As Soon As Possible

Applications are due by the end of Sunday July 15th. APPLY TODAY!

Send a cover letter and resume in your application and send it to shifthiring@gmail.com

Questions??? Contact shifthiring@gmail.com or phone 778-231-2866.

Full posting and details can be found at
www.shift.coop or www.facebook.com/ShiftDelivery

They are also hiring Tricycle Delivery People. Huzzah!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Best Craigslist Ad for a Bicycle EVER

Go visit http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/tor/bik/3120277331.html to see the actual ad for the bicycle. Here is the photos shown in the ad:



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The LDN Concept Bicycle you can actually Buy

The thing about concept bicycles is that they are interesting and often beautiful to look at, but they almost never get built or sold. They are a bit like avant garde fashion designers. Amusing but nobody would ever actually wear that in public.

Enter the LDN bicycle shown here on the right.

Its a concept bicycle, but its actually being produced and sold.

It is the creation of British designer Ross Lovegrove, and unlike other concept bicycles which were basically designed by 5-year-olds with access to Autocad and with ill-conceived notions of what a bicycle could look like (without any engineering background to make it actually work) this bicycle DOES work and look interesting at the same time.

FORM + FUNCTION = Huzzah!

So one of the first things you may notice about the LDN ("London") is that it has that big hole in the frame in the middle... A hole which in theory may make it more difficult to lock it up. The hole is meant for hanging the bicycle on the wall apparently like its a piece of engineering artwork.

And if you're a fan of locking your wheels to the bike to prevent wheel theft you will notice that the frame doesn't really allow that either. This therefore is not a good bicycle if you're intending to have it locked up outside regularly. The designer apparently wants you to carry it indoors, hang it above your mantlepiece (how many people have that?) and admire it while sipping Scotch and enjoying your faux fireplace.

Thus as a "London" bicycle its not really practical because as you can see below most people in London support locking their bicycles outside.


Ross Lovegrove designed the LDN for a company called Biomega and they're marketing it for use in the city and keep using the word "urban tool" in their marketing, which seems silly because its not practical for urban use... It does have some nice features like hub gears and a covered shaft draft which keeps everything clean in contrast to the standard exposed chain links design.

The LDN is also not female friendly if you like riding in a skirt or dress, but hey, that is a common enough problem for female cyclists when it comes to finding a bicycle that matches their skirts.

OUR REVIEW???

2 stars out of 5. It may be pretty and it may be sold, but it just isn't practical for city use. Not very practical for trail riding either. So really only practical for small towns with zero crime.

What happens when your lock key breaks?

If you've ever had a lock key break you instantly realize that if you're ever going to get your bicycle back that you will have to cut the lock off.

Such was the case when an ex-girlfriend of mine in Spring 2011 who had an El-Cheapo lock from a dollar store. The key snapped off in the lock and tried as we could to budge the remaining bit of key using vice grips to try and turn the key, it just wouldn't move. (We think its inability to move was why the key snapped off in the first place.)

Anywho, what were we to do? She needed that bicycle and it was locked to the fence over top of my bicycle (which meant I couldn't get my bicycle out of there until we removed hers).

So I went to Canadian Tire, purchased a bolt cutter and we cut the lock off in less than 5 seconds. It was ridiculously easy to cut off a dollar store cable lock.

However since then I've learned that other cable locks aren't much better when another friend lost their key. They had a more expensive cable lock, but the end result was a $10 to $15 cable lock takes about 20 seconds to cut through with a bolt cutter. The cable wires basically squish out sideways, slowing down the cutting process. Still at 20 seconds that is basically very little effort.

For myself I place all my trust in my U-lock. But even U-locks aren't perfect as they can be cut through using a grinder as you can see in the video below.



In the video it takes him about 35 seconds. He says 25 seconds in the video but if you actually count the seconds from 1:20 in the video when he starts the grinder to 1:55 when he stops it then it takes approx. 35 seconds to cut off a U-lock of that type.

Some U-locks, depending on the company, can take between 5 minutes to 20 minutes to grind off. Certain chain locks can also be grinded off in roughly the same time or less.

El-Cheapo chain locks can be removed with just a bolt cutter.

What it makes you realize is just how easily bicycle locks can be removed if you have the right tools (even faster if you had a lightsabre, teehee).

HOW TO PREVENT YOUR BICYCLE FROM BEING STOLEN

Speaking as someone who has NEVER had their bicycle stolen I will however say that there are other ways beyond the lock which will deter bicycle thieves.

#1. Always get a high quality U-lock. The longer it takes to grind off the better. Research videos online which show how long it takes to remove the lock.

eg. It is apparently super easy to remove a Masterlock U-lock with nothing more than a broken pen if you watch the following video. So hot tip, don't buy a Masterlock.



#2. Always ride a bicycle that doesn't look that good. Thieves usually go after the good looking bicycles that can be easily sold. If your bike looks like a crappy beater they are less likely to steal it.

#3. NEVER lock your bicycle out by the street in a place where it is easily noticed by thieves and leave it there for days and days. Especially in a bad neighbourhood. Even if it isn't stolen by thieves it can still be removed by city officials who look for bicycles to be removed. ALWAYS lock your bike near your building to a more secure location.

#4. Paint your name and phone number on the bicycle frame using bicycle paint or some other kind of paint that is difficult to remove. Bicycle thieves are lazy. They don't want to waste time removing your name and phone number in an effort to sell the bicycle.

#5. ALWAYS remove the seat and take the seat with you. Thieves don't want to steal a bicycle without the seat because it will take them extra effort to sell it or steal a seat from someone else.

Basically in combination, a u-lock, a crappy looking bike, your name/phone number on it, a secure location, the lack of a seat will deter bicycle thieves from stealing your bike. Thieves are lazy that is why they are thieves in the first place. They aren't going to go through all the extra trouble required with that combination of things to steal and sell your bike when they could just steal an easier target with an el-cheapo lock instead.

GPS TRACKING DEVICES FOR YOUR BICYCLE

Thanks to technology you can also now get tracking devices for tracking down your bicycle after its been stolen. Its not really a deterrent to people stealing your bicycle because if they have the right tools they can just cut off or remove the tracking device (if they notice it), but in the event it is stolen you may be able to recover your bicycle.

Here is some GPS tracking devices available via Amazon. Some of them are designed more for cars or tracking people, but they can also be used for bicycles.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cycling Gloves and other Cycling Gear

I find it very difficult to find gloves I can use while cycling that look "manly". No offense to those people who prefer spandex gloves (and spandex outfits) for cycling, but it just isn't me.



To me how I look on a bicycle is equally important as the bicycle itself. If I have to look like a spandex-wearing superhero (basically Spiderman with a cheesy helmet!) while cycling then, well, sorry, I will stick with my jeans and t-shirt.

But there are some bits of cycling gear I do endorse...

#1. Leg straps for protecting your clothes from being snagged on gears and ripped. I personally favour the small velcro ones, the larger "leg shields" to me are just unnecessary weight.



#2. A helmet you actually LIKE and are comfortable wearing, not just physically but also fashion wise. Again I prefer to go with a helmet that looks "manly" and not ridiculous. The pink helmet below is obviously not on my wish list and an example of what I would NOT buy.



#3. And last but not least... cycling gloves!

The gloves I am currently using (and have been for years) are my Atlas Weightlifting Gloves. They're not even meant for cycling. I got them for using at the gym because the weights were hurting my hands.

However I can't find that exact brand in stores any more, but I have found other brands which basically the exact same gloves. One company is Copper Canyon Cycling (sadly I can't find an example online) and other company is Saranac (shown below).

What I like about these gloves are they are black, totally badass fashion wise, knitted for comfort and let your skin breathe, and the leather is faux leather so it isn't going to offend any vegans or the veggie-curious.



In somewhat related commentary I think cyclists wearing too much spandex take themselves a little too seriously... and I also think it is hilarious when I cycle PAST them and show them that wearing all that spandex doesn't make you faster.

EXERCISE MAKES YOU FASTER.

:)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Converting a Boys Bicycle into a Girls Bicycle

Hello Charles,

Wondering if you can help - I want to outfit my son's old bike for may daughter by painting it and maybe changing the saddle & handlebar grips but I can't see, to find anywhere that sells these accessories in little girl colours like pink or purple or light blue. Would you know of any bike shops in the GTA Toronto that does?

Appreciate the help, hoping to make my little girl smile when she sees the bike.
Thanks for your time

Dian


RESPONSE

Hmm...

I recall seeing some pink things in Cycle Solutions on Parliament when I was in there last week browsing wraps for handlebars, but I don't think they would have everything you are looking for. Best to call and make certain. My recommendation would be to phone various bike shops and ask if they do have a variety of pink, purple, etc bits you are looking for.

I have a simpler solution for you however!

#1. Sell your son's bicycle on Craigslist.

#2. Take the proceeds, plus whatever you were planning to spend on the saddle, grips, pedals and pink spray paint (I estimate that would be at least $35) and then buy either a new bicycle or one that is slightly used that is in the desired colour and size.

This way you save yourself time and effort, you don't run the risk of having a botched paint job (kids can be picky and embarrassed to ride something that looks bad), and you get your daughter something you know will look good.

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
The Bicycle Mechanic

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ergonomic Grips for your Bicycle

By Smokey Dymny from the Quadra Bike School

For a long time handlebar grips were just tape on a tube, then there
were sleeves of rubber compound on a tube.

This all seemed good because we all figure we can grip a rubber covered
bar in comfort. At least for a while.

The longer you ride though the more the lack of variety for your hands will cause your hands to start to hurt.

Roadies can shift positions from the tops of their bar to the hoods and to
the drops. But flat bar riders, that is mostly mountain bike bikers, have only
one way to hold their handlebar.

Riding a long time in that solitary position causes the weight to stress
the wrist. Your hand starts to bend at the wrist more and more as you
ride longer or bounce harder.

Then along came some inventive Germans with an ergonomic grip which has an extra pad of rubber sticking out toward the rider near the end of the grip. It fits exactly under the heel of your hand and supports the weight normally stressing your wrist. You set this pad at a 45 degree angle downward and it gives the heel of your hand something to rest on.

The original German patent must have been copied or broken because now, instead of $90 a pair, you can find these in many different brand names for $20 or less. And they work. Whether you use the plain one with just the support pad or the trickier one with a bar-end grip built in they work. They work so well that a friend of mine had a pair stolen off her bike in Victoria B.C. when the bike was locked to her car rack.

Try them BEFORE your wrists develop sore spots. You’ll like 'em!




How to Find a Bicycle that Fits You

By Smokey Dymny from the Quadra Bike School

Too many beginners jump on a bike without knowing exactly how to set it up for
comfort. The worst examples are the riders who are on a bike that is way too small
or large. Too small shows up as a rider who has their legs very bent. Not being able to extend their legs straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke means they never get to develop optimum power. At the other extreme is the rider whose saddle is pushed all the way down to the frame so they can reach the pedals but they are bent too far forward in order to reach the handlebars. In between are many lesser fitting mistakes.

DETERMINING YOUR IDEAL FRAME SIZE

Bicycles come in different frame sizes to accommodate different sizes of riders. We simply need to know how to pick the right one. One method is not very difficult and works for most folks unless you want extreme precision because you are going to ride competitively. In that case go to a pro fitting bike shop or measure your self with the free fitting service at wrenchscience.com and click on the Fit System tab. The rest is explained there.

For the simple method try this:

First measure your inseam, that is your leg length, with your riding shoes on. You might need a friend’s help. Pull the measuring tape up tight under your crotch while your friend tells you the measurement at the floor with your feet about a pedal width apart.

Next you need to decide which type of bike you are trying to fit.

For a road bike subtract 10 ½ inches.
For a cruiser or hybrid subtract 12 ½ inches.
For a mountain bike subtract 14 ½.


For a 32 inch inseam this would mean we would fit a 21 ½ inch road bike; a 19 ½ inch hybrid or an 17 ½ inch mountain bike.

In actual practice we would look for a 22inch road bike (or 56cm as road bikes
are often listed in metric sizes) because bicycle frames are generally sold in 2 inch increments. Most companies use even numbers but some companies use odd number
frame sizes.

MEASURING FRAME SIZE

Now what is the frame size of your current bicycle you may ask?

Since it’s not always marked on the bike here’s how to tell. Measure from the middle of the crank to the top of the frame under the seat. That’s called the seat tube. Don’t measure the seat post itself. That’s the most common way to tell the frame size.

The difference between your frame size and your leg extension is made up by
adjusting the seat post upwards until your leg is fully extended at the bottom of your pedal stroke but with just the slightest bend in your knee. You NEVER want to be so high as to let you knees lock on each pedal stroke – this will cause knee damage. But you want it to be high enough to get the full power of your leg muscles.

SADDLE FITTING

Once your seat height is set, check the seat position itself. Set the saddle angle so it’s more or less level. Then sit on the bike while holding onto something. Place your cranks horizontally with the widest part of your shoe directly over the pedal axle.

Make a plumb bob with a nut or a bolt on a string or thread. Have your friend drop
the string from the back of your knee bone (patella) on your forward leg and down to the side of your foot. If the string bisects the pedal axle you are well positioned. If not, the saddle has rails which can slide (after loosening the bolt) forward or backward until this is achieved.

If you can’t get this position properly go back and check the frame size again. Also check the saddle mounting clamp. On the old ones, which are NOT integrated into the seat post, this could be mounted backwards which makes this adjustment difficult to achieve. There is some leeway according to preference here. You can ride a while and decide your preference is to shift a bit fore or aft. But DO NOT adjust the saddle to change your reach to the handlebar. This is done next.

HANDLE BAR FITTING

On a road bike the handlebar needs to be purchased in the right width. Your hands
need to reach out to meet the bar in parallel. You can get your friend to measure the distance between your shoulder bones across your back . This will be your optimal handlebar width. Some people seem to pick narrower bars in the city but this tends to hamper good breathing. In rough mountain bike territory bars are extra wide for better control over the bumps, potholes, etc.

If your hands are too widely spaced on a mountain bike you can cut the bars
down. These bars all come very wide from the manufacturer. Your bike shop was
supposed to tell you they could be shortened. Many people are too lazy to do this. Just place your hands on the bar where you think you would like them (never closer together than parallel, remember your breathing) and then measure how much you’ll cut off.

It’s generally not more that 1 ½ inches at each end. Remove the grips, they come off easily if you squirt water under the rubber while holding it up with a screwdriver. Then wiggle them off.

Don’t cut the bars with a hacksaw, it makes a ragged mess. Get a pipe cutter used for cutting 1 inch copper pipe. Place it on your mark and rotate until it cuts through. Use the cut off piece to measure the same length to be cut off the other end of the bar. Before you slide the grips back on you may have to move the brakes and shifters inboard by the length of bar you cut before the grips fit back on. For smaller folks the space left may now be limited. This is normal. Cut some length off the grips to make them fit.

I often cut my grips shorter just to get the brakes into a more ergonomic position vis à vis my hands.

BRAKES AND SHIFTERS

Now adjust your brakes' angle on a flat bar so they are at approximately 45 degrees below level. A more precise setting would be to adjust them so that the back of your hand is in line with your forearm when squeezing the brakes. If the shifters are separate align them close to the brakes but check for easy thumb reach too. On a road bike the handlebar is tilted so that the slope of the top part (just above the brake) is equal to the slope of the drops (the part below the brake). Then the brakes are adjusted up or down this curve until the bottom tip of the brake is just about even ( + or – ½”) with a straight edge extending forward from the flat part of the drops.

On cruiser bikes adjust the brakes so they are in line with the back of the hand and forearm rule.

STEMS

The stem is the gooseneck piece between the steerer tube and handlebar.

Stems are where you can change your reach to the handlebar and the tilt of your
torso. Stems come in very many lengths. They also come in so many different heights
and upward angles that you can accommodate just about any riding preference. I
can’t describe all the permutations here. Just go to a shop. Show them where you
want your hands to be when you’re riding and they should be able to get you the
right stem.

Be prepared. If you are changing the riding position on a bike to be radically more
upright than it was you may also have to change the brake and shifter cables because they will have to be longer.

Now GO have a comfortable ride!

Monday, June 18, 2012

When NOT to Repair a Bicycle

By Smokey Dymny from the Quadra Bike School

Some home-based bicycle mechanics like to “repair” an used bicycle for resale. Before you start down this path make sure you are able to assess an used bicycle’s potential.

1.) WHEEL TRUING

The wheels must be able to be trued and YOU have to be able to do it. It costs too much to pay for this repair. Check if the spoke nipples will turn with the proper size of spoke wrench (you need to have the red and black spoke wrenches at least). A spoke gauge would be handy too.

It’s best to UNWIND the nipples rather than tighten them, so you don’t get blamed for wrecking the wheel if a spoke should break from tightening. If most of the spokes will turn, then you can oil all the spoke nipples and maybe true up the wheel at home. I say MAYBE because you also need to check the wheel rims for dents, which may prevent you from making the wheels workable.

Also spin the axles with your fingers to assess how badly worn or pitted the hubs are – you need to have the hubs turn smoothly for proper truing and for riding. Finally, if the rims are alloy, place a small straight edge across the sidewall (braking surface) to see if the brakes have worn the sidewalls down. If there is a 1mm gap between your straight edge and the rim there is too little metal left in the rims for the wheels to last. Braking will soon wear right through the rim and the tube will burst through the weak sidewall.

If all these things check out then you need access to a community bike shop to use their truing stand to straighten and tighten the wheels properly.

(It also possible to purchase a truing stand, but its a tad out of reach unless you have the funds to do so and plan to be truing wheels regularly.)

2.) BRAKES AND SHIFTERS

If the wheels pass inspection check the brakes and shifters to see if they will operate from the controls. If they do – good. If they don’t, disconnect the brake and shifter cables and see if the brakes and shifters move well on their own. The problem could just be rusted cables and housings, which you can replace.

3.) CHAIN STATUS

You need a chain checker to assess if the chain is worn. Most mechanics call this chain “stretch”. Of course if the chain’s rusted, you should just toss it anyway - a rusty drivetrain is a major loss of efficiency on a bicycle.

4.) TIRE WEAR

Check the tires for cracks and wear. If they look like they have tread, let out the air and pinch them till you see into any cracks. If the tire casing (white cloth) is visible at the bottom of a crack, the tire is crap. Also check for wear and cracks on sidewalls. Maladjusted brakes may have destroyed those too.

5.) HANDLE BARS

Finally check the headset (steering) and crank rotation for looseness or rust and corrosion, these symptoms will indicate you have to replace the ball bearings inside it.

6.) FORK STRAIGHTNESS

Check if the front fork has been crashed. A straight-edge held along the steerer tube should continue in a straight line down the fork till it begins to bend forward. You can eyeball the frame for straightness front–to-back or, better yet, tie a string to one rear drop-out, run it around front steerer tube and back to the other rear drop-out. Then check that the distance from this string to the seat tube is the same on each side. This only sounds tricky till you try it in practice.

7.) FINAL ANALYSIS

If you can fix all the problems you have analyzed, then buy the used bike but point out all its problems to the owner to bring down the price. If the bike has ALL the above problems, even getting it for free may not be worth it, unless the frame is really, really good.

Don't waste your time on a bicycle with a crappy frame if it has lots of problems with its parts that need repairing or replacing.

8.) PRICING

Estimate how much you can sell the bicycle for after its been fixed. Your selling price should cover your new parts and a reasonable charge for your labour.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to Teach your Child to Ride

By Smokey Dymny from the Quadra Bike School

It’s often funny to see how parents repeat the same mistakes when teaching a
child to ride a bike. Here’s what happens: a mom or dad bent far over holding the
saddle of the child’s bike to help them balance while trying to pedal forward.
If the parents give up on this tactic, they then bolt on a set of training wheels and sit back while their little one wobbles left and right between the training wheels and everyone wonders why they can’t find the sweet spot of balance in the
middle.

Neither of these techniques works very well, although I think the training wheels
method is the worst of the two.

Look at history and you find the way out of this dilemma.
Before bikes there were swiftwalkers.

Dudes rode on a two-wheeled contraption while their feet ran along the ground.
No one had invented the pedals and chain and freewheel yet.

When the speed got high enough, they lifted their legs a bit and coasted.

Well now these little bikes have made a comeback in a children’s version. Two wheels, a wooden frame and a handlebar.

Here’s the beauty of the swiftwalker: the child learns how to balance and coast
along WITHOUT having to master pedaling at the same time. Trying to pedal
while still not having learned how to balance is a big challenge. As you push
down on each pedal in turn you have to counterbalance slightly to make up for
the downward push first on one side and then the other.

But if we duplicate the swiftwalker and the kid learns the balance first.
Learning to pedal next is much easier.

My problem here is that I see the bicycle industry has responded by making
themselves a niche market for these bikes without pedals. They are made like a
bike in all other respects except there’s no hole down below for the crank. Your
problem as a parent is that as soon as your junior cyclist masters the balancing
act, you get stuck buying a bike with pedals next because the original unit had no
bottom bracket or freewheel you could connect up with a chain.

Solution? Don’t buy one of these bikes without pedals.

Get your child the right size of small bike and remove the cranks and chain at
home, till they get the balancing part figured out. Then reassemble everything
and they’ll have a normal bike for part two of the lessons.

Voila!



Or you could get them a tricycle and do it more gradually... but maybe not an antique tricycle like the one below.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cycle Paths and Time





And the other is a psychopath. :)

195 Years of the Bicycle

The bicycle was invented in 1817 and later patented in 1818 by Karl von Drais. Known as the Draisine it had two wheels and no pedals, chain or gears... It was instead propelled by your feet pushing off the ground (a bit like a skateboard).

Of course in 195 years the bicycle has gone through numerous changes... from wooden frames, to steel frames, to aluminum, to alloys, to carbon-fibre bicycles that are currently used by racers.

And then there was the steering and the drive train.

Henry Lawson invented a rear-chain-drive bicycle in 1879 with a huge front wheel and a small rear wheel but it failed to be a seller. It wasn't until John Kemp Starley created his "safety bicycle" aka "The Rover" in 1885 that sales took off and it became widely copied. The Rover featured a steerable front wheel, two wheels of the same and a chain drive to the rear wheel.

In 1888 John Dunlop reinvented and popularized the pneumatic bicycle tire, which is still used today.

Braking systems have varied wildly, but typically most bikes now come with two sets of brakes (front and back). I recall a few years ago fixing a bicycle which had 3 (front, back and coaster/pedal brakes).

What doesn't seem to have changed with time is the inability of some motorists to share the road with cyclists, especially in metropolitan cities where cycling is a common practice for getting to and from work.

You would think that after 195 years of the bicycle people would get used to cyclists, but apparently impatient motorists stuck in traffic will complain about anything.

NOTE: We would have a lot less complainers if city councils put bicycle lanes on ALL the major streets instead of just lip service.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Do It Yourself Bicycle Generator

According to pedalpowergenerator.com it can be pretty expensive to make your own bicycle generator. Take a look at the list of components you would need to buy below.

1 $149 - 600 Watt Duracell Battery Powerpack
2 $199 - 300 Watt DC Generator
3 $79 - Adjustable V-belt
4 $159 - 12V Charge Controller
5 $129 - Aluminum Adapter Plate
6 $79 - Bike Trainer Exercise Stand
7 $89 - Blocking Diode
8 $49 - Terminal Blocks + Wiring Kit for charge controller

TOTAL $932

+ $223 - OPTIONAL - WattsVIEW Power Monitor for windows (TOTAL $1155)

Price does not include taxes. May cost you extra to buy specific tools and replacement parts.

HOWEVER once you have your bicycle generator, what can you do with it? Well the average person can produce 40 watts per second on a bicycle. Enough to light an energy efficient 40 watt lightbulb.

A small laptop uses 45 watts per second.
The average fridge uses 110 watts per second.
A desktop computer uses between 150 to 340 watts per second depending on the size of the monitor.
A 50" LCD television uses between 210 to 320 watts per second.
A tiny air conditioner in the window uses 500 watts per second.
An electric oven set at 350 F uses 2000 watts per second.

Even a measly clock radio uses 4 watts per second.

So lets pretend you get on your bicycle generator and cycle for 1 hour, averaging 40 watts per second. That is enough to power your clock radio for 10 hours.

NOTE: For $599 you could get yourself a Blue Planet 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel, which would produce a lot more electricity between sunrise and sundown. Or you could get a Blue Planet 600 Watt Wind Generator for $799 and generate electricity 24/7. You will also need to buy batteries and a battery control system, but basically it works out to more bang for your buck than a bicycle generator.

So I am sorry for debunking any hopes and dreams you had of running your home on bicycle power. Its just not feasible. An hour on a bicycle producing 40 watts per second is only enough to power a coffee maker (900 watts per second) for 160 seconds. You could cycle 10 hours per day and would still not be producing enough power for the electricity needs of a normal household.

While typing this on my desktop computer, with the AC on full blast, a 60 watt lightbulb, a freezer and a fridge running I conservatively estimate I was using about 980 watts per second. If I turned the AC, computer, the lightbulb all off I would still be using maybe 220 watts per second just to keep my food cold. And this doesn't include any electricity I use if I use water from the tap.

It really makes you realize just how dependent we are on solar, wind, hydro and nuclear energy now that Canada is phasing out coal energy.

NOTE: Canada has no geothermal power plants, even though geothermal produces as much electricity as a coal plant and is significantly cheaper than nuclear power.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Toronto Bike Corrals Approved

Toronto City Council has approved parking by-law changes to make three bike corrals a seasonally permanent feature between April 1 and November 30 each year.

A bike corral is essentially a parking lot for bicycles and takes up a location usually used for parking cars on the street. They are placed in areas with high bicycle traffic and bicycle parking congestion wherein the demand for more bicycle parking has become severe.

The Augusta Street bike corral was re-installed in its pilot location on May 1st this year, just north of Nassau Street. This on-street bike corral provides space to park 24 bicycles where only three cars were able to park previously.

Another bike corral will also be re-installed in the parking lay-by at 205 Spadina Avenue.

A third corral is planned for 86 Nassau, just east of Bellevue. This Nassau bike parking corral will replace two car parking spaces with 16 bike parking spaces.

Bike Corrals are increasingly popular in cities across North America, including Vancouver, New York. Washington D.C, Portland Oregon and Long Beach. It is seen as a seasonal solution to the problem of limited sidewalk capacity for parked bicycles.

In related news...

A new bicycle station is coming to the Victoria Park Subway Station. The opening event is this Thursday, 10 AM on May 31st, 2012.

The secure, indoor bicycle parking facility has 52 secure bicycle parking spaces available on two-tier racks. It is the second bike station in Canada – the first is located at Toronto's Union Station. More bicycle stations are also planned for Pape station and Finch West station.

To use the Victoria Park parking facility register at the Union Station Bicycle Station, Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 12 noon, or by appointment at East York Civic Centre. There is a one-time lifetime registration fee of $26.91, which gives you a permanent membership to all Toronto Bicycle Stations plus monthly fees. The one-day fee to pay and park is $2.15. All prices include the HST.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bike Shops in Scarborough

If you live in Scarborough it can be trickier to find a skilled bicycle mechanic. There are places (lowly auto mechanics) which offer repairs, but while they may have some of the tools and know how to change a tire, they're not really suited to fine tuning derailleurs or bicycle brakes or any of your more complex repair needs.

The following is a list of Bike Shops in Scarborough which does have mechanics who are able to fix your bicycle properly. Sadly the list is short. Many people in Scarborough prefer to drive.

D'Ornellas Bike Shop Ltd
1894 Lawrence Avenue East, Scarborough, ON M1R 2Y5, Canada
416-752-3838
dornellas.com

Cycle World Superstore
4545 Sheppard Avenue East, Scarborough, ON M1S 1V3, Canada
416-291-8858
cycleworldsuperstore.com

See? Very short list. Therefore I am including this 1 from Thornhill too.

Big John's Bike Shop
10 Harlech Crt, Thornhill, ON L3T 6L5, Canada
905-707-7766

In theory you could also trade in your broken bicycle at Play It Again Sports and trade it for store credit towards a fixed bicycle.

Play It Again Sports
5863 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2M 3T9, Canada
416-222-5713
playitagainsportsnorthyork.com

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bicycle Mechanic Schools in Ontario

QUESTION
I'm writing to solicit your opinion of Mechanic School/Course options in Southern Ontario. I understand the Winterborne course in Guelph is very comprehensive, but do you suggest anything available in Toronto proper? The TDSB offers one but I'm not sure of it's quality.

Any advice and opinions are greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Jean-Pierre


ANSWER

Yes, the Toronto District School Board does offer some basic training, but that is exactly what it is: Basic.

[Right: Smokey Dymny teaching a student in the BAM program in 2009.]

The BAM program at the Learning Enrichment Foundation in Toronto is offering classes again (but their teacher is different now and I don't know if the new teacher is any good). Call 416-760-2551 for BAM's starting dates and fees.

The old teacher of the BAM program is Smokey Dymny and he now teaches at the Quadra Bike School in British Columbia. He is arguably one of the best teachers in North America and the folks at LEF were morons to let him go. Email smokeydymny@rogers.com to learn more about his program.

Upcoming Quadra Bike School start dates are:
September 17th to October 26th, 2012
November 5 to December 14th, 2012

Winterbourne in Guelph is your best bet if you are looking to stay inside Ontario. Their programs are good and almost as good as the Quadra Bike School program or the Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

If you want to stay inside Toronto then I recommend you seek out the new teacher of the BAM program at LEF and poke him with questions.

OR alternatively you could try getting your foot in through the door via a bike shop and see if they're willing to train you. ie. The Gears Bike Shop is always hiring mechanics and you might consider contacting kevin@gearsbikeshop.com to see if they would be willing to take untrained newbs as apprentices.

NOTE: Unless you are planning to open your own bike shop expect to get paid peanuts. Bicycle mechanics don't really get paid much.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Skateboarders in the Bicycle Lane

With the recent death of skateboarder Ralph Bissonnette, 28, I would like to briefly touch on the topic of skateboarders on the roads and in bicycle lanes.

Bissonnette was deliberately struck by a cab driver, Adib Ibrahim, 43, who appeared in court yesterday.

Video footage shows Bissonnette traveling in the curb lane, close to the passing lane, gesturing at the cab driver to go, but according to witnesses the taxi suddenly veered into Bissonnette’s lane and even mounted the curb of the sidewalk. Witnesses say the taxi struck Bissonnette then drive over his lower body.

Bissonnette died shortly after around 6 PM. The incident happened near King and George Streets, just east of Jarvis St.

According to police Ibrahim "lost his cool" and decided to punish the skateboarder by hitting him. Second-degree murder charges are laid where homicides are intentional but spur-of-the-moment and unplanned. A conviction carries a life sentence with possible parole after 10 years.

Police are looking for additional witnesses. Witnesses should call Detective Sergeant Terry Browne at 416-808-7403.



I personally don't have a problem with skateboarders using bicycle lanes and the right side of lanes the same way cyclists do. Same goes with rollerblading. The police however say it is strictly illegal and punishable.

The problem is that legally skateboards and rollerblades belong on the sidewalk, but if you've ever used either on a busy sidewalk you know its safer to use the road instead. Pedestrians can change directions at any moment without warning, people can come out of doors in a hurry and accidents can and will happen. Its the same reason why bicycling on the sidewalk is illegal (unless you're riding a children's bicycle or coasting) because there is a danger of hitting pedestrians.

Evidently the laws need to be updated and more bicycle lanes added. Bicycle lanes really should redubbed "alternative transportation lanes" or alt lanes.

What I do have a serious concern about is old people on mobility scooters who seem to have lost their marbles and are riding their mobility scooters in busy traffic. That to me is a public menace and an accident waiting to happen. (Its as if they are senile and don't know they're not in a car...)

In the footage below you will see an elderly Toronto man cross multiple lanes of traffic in his mobility scooter and then go the opposite way into oncoming traffic on the far side of the street. That is a public menace! (No cyclist or skateboarder would ever do anything that stupid.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mending a Punctured Tire Tube

Tube punctures are the most common form of a breakdown and it is really easy to learn how to mend them.

#1. Release brake calipers and remove the wheel.

#2. Use tire levers (available from bike shops) to remove the tire treads.

#3. Carefully run your fingers around the inside of the tire tread to check for sharp objects, such as nails, splinters of glass or thorns. Remove the cause of the puncture and check that there are no more spikes in the tire.

#4. Find the hole in the tube, either by pumping it up and holding it under water to look for bubbles, or by feeling for escaping air. There may be more than one hole so check carefully.

#5. Mark the hold with pen or chalk. Use sandpaper or the scratcher from the puncture repair kit to scuff the area around the hole to help secure the glue to the tube. DO NOT USE A WIRE BRUSH!

#6. Spread glue thinly and evenly over and around the hole or holes in the tube and wait for the glue to dry until it feels tacky to touch. Place a patch over the marked hole and apply pressure. (A faster alternative is to use the new glueless patches.)

#7. Lightly pump up the tube. Place one edge of the tube around the wheel rim and push the tube’s valve into the rim’s hole. Starting from the valve, push the rest of the tube into the tire treads. Ensure the valve stem is perpendicular to the rim and that the tube isn’t twisted. Once the tube is inside the tire, begin to place the second edge of the tire onto the rim. About 75% of the tire will go on easily, the rest will need strong fingers or the tire levers to coax it onto the rim. DO NOT PINCH OR DAMAGE THE TUBE! When done, pump a little more air into the tube and check that the tube isn’t caught between the rim and the tire.

#8. Slide the wheel back into place on the bike and tighten the bolts gradually, ensuring that the wheel remains aligned straight to the frame. Reconnect the brakes.

#9. If you are happy with it, fully pump up the tire. Take the bike on a short ride, and test that the brakes are still working correctly.

On long journeys carry a spare inner tube and the necessary tools with you. Its faster to just replace the tire and mend any punctures later when you get home.

NOTE

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Looking for a bicycle mechanic school in Canada? The Quadra Island Bike School in British Columbia is a Canadian bicycle mechanic school that trains professional bicycle mechanics against the backdrop of the beautiful Quadra Island.