Friday, October 31, 2014

You Lose Some, You Gain Some: '79 Ross Gran Tour

I last posted about my beater road bike fairly recently when the brake cable snapped.  Well, a couple days ago, I picked up a pair of junk fenders for free and used the chance to see if I could start working on the brakes.  I found out that the front brake lever assembly had corroded together so there was no hope of getting it to work for cheap - quickly, at least.

1979 Ross Professional Gran Tour, shortly after I got it running almost two months ago. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Road Users

When I'm using roads and sidewalks, whether walking, biking, or driving, I'm pretty passive and defensive. I prefer to follow the rules and give others the benefit of the doubt; however, I've been becoming increasingly frustrated by the incompetence shown by many road users ever since I started driving or cycling for transportation.  This is only natural, of course.  I guess I could say that the last straw before I said something about it was last night when I nearly ran into three cyclists with
no lights while I was biking home from work. Anyway, here goes.

I have zero tolerance for the following:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Continuing Journey Through Bikeland

It seems like bikes are my only break from school, which isn't actually a bad thing.  I can not only enjoy my bikes during school without setting aside extra time, but cycling is actually always faster in Ann Arbor than taking the bus.  Lately, the Ross Gran Tour has been doing a whole lot of sitting around while my old Raleigh Sports has been doing most of the "waking me up and carrying me to class every day" business.  This also isn't a bad thing.

I decided to ride the Ross to class a few days ago and I had to slam on the brakes for a pedestrian.  The front brake cable snapped inside the lever, but luckily I was barely doing 3 mph to begin with. Man, the cables on my Raleigh are far older and still put up with my hard squeezing every day just fine.  Shows the quality, I guess.  Making my way home with next to zero braking power, I contemplated converting the ailing bike to a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed coaster brake hub, or even fixed-gear, for maximum durability and minimum maintenance.  It probably won't happen.  Either way, the Ross will be sitting once again until I get around to dealing with the brake cable.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Game Changer: My Raleigh Sports has an SW Hub

Late last night, I was going through photos of my 1958 Raleigh Sports when I zoomed in close to a photo of its rusted 3-speed hub.  I'd always thought I had the ubiquitous, rock-solid reliable AW hub that tens of millions of bikes have.  I never did read the stamping clearly enough somehow, even after closely inspecting my hub so many times.  For whatever reason, the letters "SW" now stand out crystal clear and everything makes perfect sense.

Photo taken shortly after flushing out the hub last summer

The classic 3-speed AW hub was made from 1936 until the 1990s and an updated "no-neutral" version is still in production.  It is by far the most common Sturmey-Archer hub and is renowned for its durability.  Tons of information on it can be found on Sheldon Brown's site and all over the rest of the internet.  Anyway, the SW "Super Wide ratio" hub was put into production in 1956 to be a replacement for the AW.  It's a good design on paper (click the link and read up! I put it there for a reason) but due to the crude manufacturing processes back in the day, it ended up being so unreliable that the AW was once again the standard by mid-year 1958.

My hub has the date November '58 stamped on it, so I didn't really question my initial identification of it being an AW.  I did notice, however, that my hub didn't click while coasting like all of the other AW's I've experienced.  The silence was very nice, but the hub also skipped under acceleration every once in a while.  I'd always thought that those two things were attributed to the previous owner's abuse, allowing gunk to build up in the freewheel, pawls, and whatnot.  However, once I started reading, I laughed at how every single detail of what I'd experienced with my own hub was clearly articulated by Brian Hayes on Sheldon Brown's website in the link above.  Every question I'd ever had about my hub was answered in one night.

I won't go into detail about the differences between the AW and SW because they're already stated here.  Instead, I'll just talk about my personal experiences.  One of the things that made me laugh was when Hayes said the following:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Take On Commuter Bikes

I've been cycling for transportation for most of my life, but it's only been about eleven months since I started paying real attention to bikes.  Back at home, I rode a couple different cheap mountain bikes that got me from point A to B without a care.  Cycling really only became a hobby when I acquired my 1958 Raleigh Sports after college began last fall and my knowledge and awareness of bicycles has skyrocketed since then.

Photo from January 2013 after a cross-campus ride, long before restoration