A non-music post, mostly for Sean, but…

Somewhat of a response to Sean’s recent post on the Plow United blog, i’ve also wanted to document and share some of this stuff for a while. These are some additions or changes to my bike that i’ve made that hopefully enhance the safety, security, comfort, or style.

There was a time when I rode to and from work (24 miles round trip) 4 or 5 days a week. The addition of a child made it more difficult, as that meant two hours a day of transit time. It became even more of a luxury with the addition of the second one.

Now that i’m taking care of the kids full time, my commute in the morning is about 23 feet from my bed to theirs. While i don’t log as many miles as i once did, the Chariot allows me to take the kids pretty much wherever we need to go. We recently rode 20 miles round trip to a thrift store, on a uncharacteristically warm, non-windy day, which was AWESOME. Wish i had pictures of that ride.

Without further ado, here’s some bike hack porn:

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I got tired of scratching my hands, arms, and legs on my open bar ends, so i plugged them with some 12 gauge shotgun shells. I got these from a gun store in town for free. Asked one of the employees, and he said they do reloads, and had a box i could have. There are a number of gauges, so it took 3 or 4 tries before i found some that had the right OD for my bars’ ID. When they first went in, i could slip a fingernail between the bar and the flange on the shell, but the bike has fallen over and scraped things enough that now they’re securely in place.
I prefer not having bar tape, because i’ve never seen any on a bike that gets ridden that looks decent and stays in place.

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See if you can guess what this one’s for before i tell you. Here’s another picture of it, unrolled, and off the bike:

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Any guesses? It’s just a piece of webbing about 12″ long, with hook and loop stuff stitched to it. The hooks are on one side, and the loops are on the opposite side and the opposite end.

Ready for the answer? Here you go:

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While it can serve as a leg strap when i need one on the off chance i’m riding my bike while wearing long pants, (this mostly only happens when it’s raining, snowing, or very cold out) it normally lives right there on the top tube, and its main use is as a front wheel “parking lock” to keep it from turning left or right when the bike is parked and leaning against something. This prevents MUCH frustration while i’m loading or unloading panniers, or putting the kids in/out of the bike seat or trailer.

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I used to have an old dead inner tube tied to my rear rack, in a specific configuration that i figured out over several years, that was tied to the rack at both ends, but still allowed me to unhook and strap something down quickly and easily if i needed to. The rear-rack-based kid seat that we have doesn’t allow the tube to live there anymore. So, i moved it to my seat tube.
One end is tied to the right seat stay. The inner tube is then wrapped around the seat tube, and tied off to itself. If/when i find i’ve got cargo that’s big or weird and won’t fit into a pannier/messenger bag/trunk of the trailer, i can unwrap this and tie the cargo to the rack. The seat stay is both out of the way enough and close to the rack enough that i can leave that end tied all the time.
You can also see in this picture where the rear rack attaches to the seat stays. the clips that came with the rack were meant for larger stays, so i padded them with some old inner tubes, taped into place. this inner tube also protects the paint. You can see where the previous rack was without the inner tubes, slightly below the clips, where the paint is all but gone.

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This one isn’t so much a hack, but it lives on my bike, and i love seeing how different bicycle trailer attach to bike frames, so i’m including it for the other fans of the same. The hitch arm on the trailer has a hard plastic ball that slides into place on this hitch, and then a cotter pin goes into the holes, keeping it in place. The hard plastic is flexible, and with the ball joint, the bike/trailer is hinged on three axes:
I did modify our Burley brand trailer to fit with this hitch. (Burley and Chariot each make their own hitch design, neither of which is compatible with the other.) Before i modded the Burley trailer, if i needed to switch trailers, i had to also change hitches. No more. This hitch just lives on my bike all the time, and when it’s trailer time, i can slot it in and go.

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Sorry this one’s not very sexy. I took the picture after it was downloaded. It’s a length of bike chain, threaded through a section of innertube, and then looped around the seat stay and the seat rail on my Brooks saddle. It won’t stop a pair of bolt cutters, but  it will stop someone with an allen wrench from making off with my saddle. The inner tube serves to protect the paint and saddle rails, keep the chain from rattling and driving me crazy while i’m riding, and it obscures the chain from would-be saddle rustlers. Unless they happen to be 1000 Yesterdays readers, they don’t know what’s in there, although this is a fairly common hack in some circles.

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A while back, i went looking for this stuff, but didn’t know what it was called or even where to look. I mentioned my quest to someone at a paint store, and he said to find the sign shop for the county. I did, and it turns out they make road signs. Not the common ones like Stop and Yield and the ones marking Pedestrian crossings, but they do make locally specific ones like “No right turn on Arapahoe during construction” or detour signs with specific streets outlined.
The material they use to make the signs reflective comes on a huge roll (have you ever seen a road sign up close? they’re ginormous!) and they make the signs to fit. It’s HIGHLY reflective, and adhesive on the back. The best part is it’s also UV resistant/proof, and weather proof. It’s what road signs are made of, dontcha know?
When they’re making up signs, and they come to the end of a rolls, there is usually a piece left over that isn’t big enough to make a new sign, and those bits get thrown away. I asked for some scraps, and was given a big stack of pieces cut into 4×5 rectangles, as well as some long strips about 12″ x 36″. At the time, i was teaching a kids’ bicycle class, and the kids loved the stuff. We cut them out into little pieces and stuck them all over the kids’ bikes.
Somewhere where you live, there’s a place that’s making signs. It could be a city, county or state shop. Or even a private highway construction company. They’ve got cutoffs of this stuff. And it comes in all the colors you see road signs. Red, white, safety orange, yellow, blue, green, brown, purple…

Which brings us to the above photo. I made a spoke card out of two of the pieces, with the corners folder over some spokes and stuck to itself, so it won’t move. This stuff is so much more reflective than a normal bike reflector:

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It’s so reflective, in fact, that when i’m riding in the dark, and a car is approaching from behind me, i can see the front wheel light up before the car even gets close.
I have plans to put some more of the stuff in select spots that would be conspicuous in the dark, but not glaringly tacky when it’s light out. Places like the front and back surfaces of both cranks and small pieces spaced apart on the inner wall of the wheels. These are moving parts, obviously, and the moving reflection will hopefully be eyecatching as a result. I’m especially curious how the crank will look from ahead/behind, since the reflective strip on the crank would (i assume) appear to get longer and shorter as the cranks rotate.
Anything out of the ordinary to catch a driver’s eye…

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One Response to A non-music post, mostly for Sean, but…

  1. Ooooooooooo1 This is fantastic! You’re channeling some Charlie Cunningham here, Josh!

    Love your creativity, brother. Your reflective tape idea is particularly wonderful. I just read a post about using reflective paint for the same purpose as your tape, but yours is cooler.

    The shotgun shells are terrific! Living in Bend, I should have no shortage; I’ll just pick them up near Horse Butte.

    Cool, man! Nice work!

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