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Friday, January 18, 2013

Hub City Cycles is Hiring

Hub City Cycles Community Co-op in Nanaimo is currently looking to hire someone as a Bicycle Mechanic in the spring of 2013. Possibly more than 1 person.

Preferably someone who has some experience working in a bike shop as a mechanic and even more preferably someone who has graduated from a bike mechanic training institute such as the Quadra Bike School. If you had some experience teaching (people how to fix their own bikes) that would also be great. All of this is on their wish list and would be great to have, but not essential.
 
If interested visit http://www.hubcitycycles.ca/?p=1387 to learn more.

Bicycles as Art

Making art out of bicycles is nothing new for bicycle mechanics - but it can be very interesting. Here are some images of bicycle art I've collected.










Monday, January 14, 2013

Bicycle Sidecars

Need some extra carrying capacity on your bicycle? Maybe enough to take a whole extra person with you?

Basically what happened was I was watching a Japanese Anime called "Bamboo Blade" and one of the characters had a bicycle with a sidecar and I thought "Hmm... sidecar eh..." so I tried looking for that online.

Not many people have made a proper sidecar for a bicycle. Oh sure, there are children's sidecars and there are some custom made jobs like the one on the right here...

There is the Smike company in Switzerland which does mass produce, but to my knowledge they don't ship to North America. There are probably also some companies in China / Vietnam which also make sidecars for the local market. (Below you can see an example of a Smike bike with built in detachable sidecar.)

But nobody in North America mass produces them for adults. Its all children's sidecars / custom jobs. Even found one made for carrying pets.

I even asked a friend if he knew of any companies in North America that made bicycle sidecars. The closest thing he could find that was somewhat mass produced was Xtracycle's SideCar... and it is really more for carrying large boxes / groceries, etc.

Still, its worth noting. Check out the video below.


And further below here are some more photos of bicycle sidecars, custom or for kids, plus one motorcycle sidecar at the bottom which I have included just because it was so amazingly decorative.












Winter Bike Parking

If you store your bicycle outside in the winter, preferably in your backyard where it is marginally safer from thieves, you may want to consider some protection for your bicycle.

By Smokey Dymny of the Quadra Bicycle Mechanic School

 Yes, it’s winter in Canada and many cyclists don’t seem to have places to park their steed (bike) in a warm, sheltered spot. Instead they are locked to those ugly post-and-ring affairs, which we told the Toronto City Council long ago, weren’t very good for bikes. The edges of those cast aluminum rings are sharp enough to scratch the bike’s paint, AND more importantly, aluminum is a brittle metal, so these rings can be cracked with a two by four piece of wood – so your bike is not exactly safe if left overnight.

Which is why you see some of these rings have now been doubled in thickness to prevent such easy breakage.

Some smart civic employee decided that expensive, brittle aluminum should be made twice as expensive to solve the theft problem. So now, if you have a short U-lock, you know, the one that’s not too heavy to carry around on your belt loops, you can’t get it to fit the extra fat post and ring parking device.

I’ve always admired the City of Vancouver for it’s enlightened approach to bike parking. Their parking racks are diverse, that is they have different designs in different places. They are made of steel tubing which is: round (doesn’t scratch your bike), strong, can’t be broken, and powder coated in different colours to make them attractive. They must have actually asked cyclists how to design those racks.

But, I digress. Let’s get back to winter in Toronto.

You’ve left your bicycle locked to a post-and-ring device and then it snows. The City gets the road ploughed. Store owners shovel their sidewalk. And all that white stuff has ended up piled right where? You guessed it. Right where all the bikes are locked. So now you may not be riding because the bike lanes are also NOT cleared, so you leave your poor bike there, half buried in snow, for weeks or months. The part that is buried, is the most vulnerable. Your drive train. Chain, cogs, chainrings, and derailleurs, if you have them. And if you didn’t oil these VERY well before the snow fell they are all now rusting under a layer of snow and ice. By spring you will be replacing your drivetrain.

Flash! Why not protect your ride with a bicycle cover.

There come for cheap ($12) or a little more if you want better protection. And they keep the elements off your bike. The best ones also have wire threads imbedded in the polypropylene material so that it can’t be easily torn off your bike when you’ve put your lock through it. You may have to lock your bike to a fence when you park at home, and to something else when you ride to school or work. But now you can take your protection with you.

And I assure you that the cover is cheaper than a new drivetrain will be come next spring. So try it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bicimáquinas from Guatemala

What are Bicimáquinas?

Bicimáquinas are a series of pedal-powered machines commonly found in Guatemala where they have a shortage of electricity in many isolated areas. Their solution has been to attach their machines to bicycles in order to assist them with a variety of jobs in the home, on the farm, on the road and in small businesses.

Each bicimáquina is handmade in workshops using a combination of old bikes, concrete, wood, and metal. You can see many examples of such original designs that have proven to be both functional and economical on the website http://mayapedal.org/machines.en which lists a variety of fact sheets and instructions for their more popular designs.

They're certainly one way to have fun with your mechanical skills if you have spare bicycle parts laying around.

Example: Bicycle Mill/Corn Thesher

This bicycle machine has been adapted to fit a hand powered grinding mill or a corn thresher. The Mill function has the capacity to mill 3 lbs. per minute of any type of grain. The most common uses are for milling yellow maize, soya beans, and coffee. Huzzah!

The Thresher is used post-harvest and easily degrains 12 to 15 quintales (1 quintal = 100 lbs.) per day and requires only one person to operate the machine.

Below: A Washing Machine and a Food Blender.

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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.