Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Wheel building

Perfect job for a cold winters day, I'm building a custom set of 26 inch wheels for a Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike using Velocity Aeroheat rims made in the USA , Mac spokes and Shimano Deore LX hubs

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Monday, 26 January 2015

Fatbike demo weekend

Last Sat my new part time staff member Genki , a customer & I drove to Snowpeak HQ which is located in the mountains of Tsubame Sanjo for their annual fatbike demo weekend. This event is put on by the Japanese importer of Surly & Salsa bicycles Motocross International and each year they bring about 20 or so fatbikes of various new models for people to test ride in the snow. We arrived at 11.30am and to my surprise the entire day was warm and sunny which is very unusual at this time of the year even the roads leading to Snowpeak HQ were dry !. I test rode at least 15 different fatbikes from Surly & Salsa, and because the day was so nice the lightly packed snow soon turned to thick slush, if they had groomed the course it would have been ok , but that was not the case. Bikes like the Surly Pugsley , Salsa Mukluk are great bikes but limited in very soft slushy condition's where as the Surly Moonlander and the new model called Ice cream truck with 4.8 inch tyres  can get through deep slushy snow in low gear. One new offering from Salsa is their Bucksaw which features the new Rockshox Bluto  up front and a split pivot suspension system in the back , the full suspension really gives you fantastic traction when pedaling through deep snow and the extra weight surely helps with that as well. At 3.30pm there was to be a fatbike race but in reality it was just a team running / pushing relay as the snow by that time was just too soft for any riding at all. My team came 3rd and Genki's team won the race due to many long legged riders in his team that were fast runners . Before swap over point you had to throw snowballs at the Surly dealer from Motocross who was ducking around so it was difficult to hit him so I ran into the snowdrift and gave him a rugby tackle and a snowball to the face much to the delight of the waiting racers .

Overall it was a good event but what Japan really needs is a decent long course fatbike winter race , such as the type of races that are already popular in the USA over the winter. Until then most fatbike riders in Japan will have to be satisfied with their own adventures off road and short course events. I did hear from one rider that there is a winter fatbike race held in Fukushima but can not find any info on that event. For many fatbike riders in Japan owning a fatbike is a fashion statement to customize and ride around the city on rather than a bike to explore the back county all year long.

Below are a few photos and a link to my flickr page as well


Friday, 16 January 2015

Winter restoration

As winter is here upon us on the sea of Japan, the bike shop where I work is not so busy with most people staying indoors rather than out cycling. Although on the 24th of this month , Genki my new part time staff member & I will travel to Snowpeak HQ for their yearly fat bike demo weekend where we can test all the models the currently offer on the snow plus we'll get a chance to take part in Japan's 1st ever fat bike winter race late Sat afternoon. Japan is well behind the USA in organizing such races but maybe this small race might be the start of something bigger, let's hope so !.  So what have I been up to at work , well apart from the odd hardy cyclist who rides through winter and needs running repairs I have been working on an older 650 A classic touring bike for a local rider who has decided over the winter to get it fully restored . Sorry I do not have a before photo of what it looked like , but it's a classic French style randonneur with a mix of parts which includes Pelissier 2000 sealed hubs on Mavic module 3 rims , TA cyclo tourist double chain ring cranks , Campagnolo Gran Turismo rear derailler with a 6 speed Suntour freewheel. The entire bike will get repainted and once rebuilt should look fantastic. Pictured below are some of the classic parts that I have cleaned ready for refitting.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Dingle Dangle ?

Most likely you are wondering what is a Dingle , well there is a Dingle peninsular in Ireland which is famous for it's pies which contain lamb, onion, carrots & celery  , pictured below are the two items in question

The other type of dingle that is more relevant to this blog is a double single speed bicycle , how does that work ?. Here is the recipe for making a  dingle . 

Take one single speed bicycle and count the number of teeth on the front chain wheel in my case that was 33 T and then count the number of teeth of the rear cog which is 16 T and add them together to give you the total which equals 49  , then chose another gear combination that equals the same number . I chose 36 T  and 13 T just because I happened to have those spare cogs in my workshop. Hopefully your crank set will allow the use of another front chain ring, in my case I just removed the chain ring guard and replaced it with the 36 T chain ring and my rear cassette style hub allowed me to stack my Chris King 16 T cog and a Surly 13 T next to each other without any spacers due to the fact that the Surly cog has a wide base and was designed for stacking next to other cogs without using spacers . Of course when you need to change the gear ratio's you need to remove your rear wheel and manually move the chain to the other set of chain rings . 

One thing you have to take care of when using this recipe is that all 4 of the chain rings / cogs are in the same condition ideally they should all be brand new , I had slight chain tension problems due to the fact that the Surly 13 T cog is worn out and the front Shimano Zee 36 T was brand  new ,which meant swapping the chain over did not keep the same chain tension. But for me it was just an experiment to see if it was possible.  Pity it's a bit late as I quite fancy a dingle pie right now !  

Monday, 20 October 2014

Oct 5 day tour - part 5

After a great sleep at Alps backpackers in Hakuba I hit the road at 6am , rode to the nearest 7/11 for breakfast and food for the days ride which was to be Tokamachi. The scenery from Hakuba to Nagano city was fantastic with trad small villages and beautiful lakes. One road I ended up on had a warning sign that said it was a 9% downhill for 4 km which was awesome riding along at 60km per hour without pedaling. It took forever to get through Nagano city as it is very spread out, I did stop at Dennys for a 2nd breakfast , but by the time I was on the outskirts of Nagano it had started raining and never let up.

Finally at 2.30pm after having ridden 100km I pulled into a roadside rest area in Ieyama  and saw that there was a train station nearby , so rode down to check it out and saw that a train left at 4pm heading out of Nagano which would allow me to take connecting trains all the way back to Niigata city. But I had one big problem as I had not bought my bicycle rinko bag with me that I needed to put my bike in , you need your bike fully wrapped to be able to board any trains in Japan.  With 1 hour to spare I rode to the nearest home center bought a huge blue plastic sheet for 400 yen plus a 25mtr roll of tape for 100 yen and made an improvised rinko bag in a hurry before boarding the train at 4pm  and arriving back in Niigata city at 7pm . It was a shame to finish one day early , but it was not pleasant cycling in heavy rain and sitting here typing this blog it's still raining heavy so I am sure I made the best decision to retire early. Even though some days were pretty tough it was a great tour and glad I went and experienced my 1st ever single speed MTB champs