Fat Tyre Hassles

BinBike can (largely by accident) take very fat tyres - the limit is chainline rather than frame tubes and the front fork (which is easy enough to build anew). Given my current silly ideas about riding around Cape York next year, fat tyres might be just the ticket. Plus I've managed to get both a 42T and 36T chainring into the bike and the adjustment reach on the rear dropouts is just enough to let that work. But I cannot for the life of me actually find fat 406 tyres. Talk about grumpy, Trev.

The basic problem seems to be that the BMX stuff is built around 20" OD wheels, so the fat tyres used in trials riding are mostly 20"x4" but on a smaller than 406 ISO rim. I'm not really into swapping rims mid-ride to change tyres. It's bad enough just changing tyres.

There's the Schwalbe Big Apple which comes in a 60mm or 64mm size depending on whose website you look at. But that's a slick. In kinda vaguely knobbly tyres I've found the Snafu Rimjobs (my fave tyres when they were rated at 130psi, but now only 100psi) which are 50mm (2.1"). Which is not at all like 4".

I've been talking to a trials dude and actually got some 20x2.7" tyres off him, but unfortunately this is where the imperial sizing thing bites you in the bum. See, the outside of the tyre is 20", so the inside is 18" or 19" depending on who you ask (one tyre is actually a 19x2.7", but both are 369 ISO which according to our man Sheldon is actually a 17" rim Actually, they're 396 which is even worse - they're only a tiny fraction smaller than my rims. Still, Steve at MontyBikes has offered me a refund). Now, I kind of vaguely knew there was something fishy about this stuff, so I mentioned that I'd be running a 64-406 tyre on the same wheel but unfortunately the trials guy missed that, and so did I. D'oh!

So if anyone knows where to get fatter 406 tyres I'd love to hear from you.


Cheecky Monkey is moving

While I remember, my favourite bike shop is moving to Newtown. Cheeky Monkey has been a fixture next to Central for a long time now, and it's a big part of my cycling life. They don't just sell stuff, they foster the cycling community and that means helping Critical Mass as well as more formal groups like BNSW and directly talking to councils and stuff. Which is very cool.

Now they'll be closer to my place but not so much in the CBD any more, so that'll be different. Big thing is lots more space! More toys. I mean, "valuable and useful equipment for cyclists". Yeah, that.

West Coast, NZ

The Wet Coast, I mean "west coast" of New Zealand is famed for being in the roaring 40's, the band of sea around the southern hemisphere occupied only by South America and New Zealand. The wind just blows round and round and round. So the windward side gets lots of rain. 10m or more every year in the south, as little as 3m up towards Westport.

I rode through Arthur's Pass and down into Greymouth, then up through Punakaiki to Westport. One of the better days I've had touring, lots of stuff to look at and a few interesting things to do. Downhills! Keas! Bare, windswept beaches. Wet, wet subtropical rainforest. No leeches! (I've been in Oz too long). Nice camp site. Not much rain.

Read more


Not lazy - Touring NZ

I am not lazy, just busy.

I've finally started putting up the photos and stuff from my cycle touring round New Zealand in the summer 2004/2005. I came back with lots of photos and immediately went to Tasmania for a couple of weeks (more photos) then came back and started a new job. After a month of that I finally found a place to live and could set up my computer. Somehow the urgency of the photos had gone by then.

But now that I'm playing with photos again and have a bit of time to spend on it, I've started going through the NZ trip. So, start here

I went over for solstice, my gran's 90th and for a holiday. I spent two months there, and biked from Christchurch up to Nelson via the west coast, then up onto the Takaka Hill for a night, then after solstice biked from Christchurch down through Tekapo and did a bit of the Otago Rail Trail before heading back to Christchurch.

With any luck I'll be putting up a few days travelogue every few days.



Not a good weekend for binbike really, Megan is working (work working) and so I haven't been able to go round and play.

During the week I picked up a headset extension to get the handlebars up another 100mm, the 400mm stem was just too short. I've also got slacker grips on it, the ones with big palm rests on them and mini-barends (bull bars). Did I mention that Dave at The Monkey found us seat posts fat enough to fit in without shims or anything. 34mm. Impressive!

Also got my MR16 3W LED light from the ATA. And some other stuff. The light is really good - because it fits inside a regular mount it's easy to use, and the integrated optics and electronics are reasonable. So until I get the optics fitted to my 5W LED that should do. I got the optics from the ATA too, but no mount or enclosure. More work to do.

Yesterday was more moving Phuong trips, towing megatrailer with binbike (Mikie Quick has photos... eventually I might get them). The over to my old flat (2 years ago) to rescue my shelving unit, then we ended up taking it to Phuong's place so she can use it (3.5m long, 2m high, comes apart into 3 pieces) but that meant a 5km trip on busy roads and me riding along with the back wheel lifting off the ground on every decent bump because a 3.5m long load on a 2m long trailer... you work it out.

Today I finally serviced the Rohloff, and discovered that I've lost the service kit bits that make it easy - there's a bit of tube with an adaptor that screws into the bung hole. So I got oil all over everything while draining out the old stuff. bah! But the hub is much quieter now it has (more?) oil it in, so that's probably a good thing. While doing that I also switched to the old, trashed 42T chainring and discovered that I can go faster now :)

This was while looking for Meccano so I can play with stand ideas. The monkey sells quite nice two legged stands, but the shortest one is still very long, and hangs very low when up and lifts the bike very high when down. So I'm trying to work out whether I can make a stand where the legs are linked but not rigidly, so they fold up into a nice compact thing under the BB when not in use but still spread out enough to hold the bike. I expect not, but I want to have a go. And an excuse to buy toys is always good. Too bad the local toy shops mostly specialise in cheap plastic crap (warning: just looking at this stuff makes your kid dumber), and the one decent place (Kidstuff in Parramatta Rd Camperdown (no website though!)) had Lego and Meccano but not metal Meccano. I'm grumpy. So I'm scouring eBay for affordable second hand stuff.

I reckon I've done about 150km on the bike now, and it's going well. Still no paint job, pannier rails or stand, but I'm close.


I got a friend to build me 12 trailers recently, and now I'm trying to sell them. Because I think more people should have bike trailers. Proceeds will go to fund bike activism in Sydney. More details on the Mozbike Mass trailers page. They're the latest incarnation of my shopping trailer, first seen in 2001 and refined over the 10 or so that I've built. These ones have laser cut hitches and dropouts, and are MIG welded then powder coated.

They're a two wheel trailer with a simple string hitch that fits over almost any bike axle - quick release or not. You need 5mm of spare axle length. Two wheels makes it stable, the low hitch means it doesn't throw you around as much when it's loaded, and the spring reduced the effect of bumps and means you don't have to worry about breaking it - you can hang the empty trailer on the handlebars while it's still attached. Load capacity is about 50kg (the wheels will fail at some point if you put too much in it, which is quite comfortably more than 50kg).

The major lesson for me is that cheap powder coat is not very good, but sand blasting would have pushed me way over budget. My "market research" (ie, asking random people how much they'd be willing to pay) plus experience selling previous models suggested that about $200 a mental block kicks in and the trailer goes from "cool idea" to "must budget and do research". Once people start looking at the market they usually end up buying a $500 trailer instead, because it's lighter and stronger... not as strong and cheap more expensive and, and ... something.

So anyway, I have 3 of these left in Sydney and four more in Melbourne. If you want one email me.


Riding BinBike

Now the bike actually rides. So I put a bin on it and went round to an old flat to get 40kg or so of books that have been in the shed for 18 months. Not a bad test given the nice steep hills between here and there. With a load on the front the steering tends to oscillate, I suspect because there's no weight attached to the steering. The solution will probably involve reducing trail or adding panniers to the front wheel. Or just living with it, because it's quite bearable (it just stops be riding no hands with a load).
The other main observation is that the 36T chainring is just too small. And my old 42T chainring is very worn... all that time on the tandem has taken its toll. But with the wheel right at the back of the dropouts as shown, I can use the 42T ring without changing the amount of chain (or using an idler) - I just slide it right forward. The problem is that I only have about 2mm of further adjustment when the chain wears. Which is not good, since I'm probably going to switch to a 38T or perhaps even 40T for main use and want an even smaller chainring for the ugly bits. But then, 36T does seem to be good for the hills (I test rode up a steep hill too), so perhaps for off road or gravel road touring it would be good - much smaller and I can't balance, but 36T does get me to about 30kph in top gear. Much faster and I should be coasting anyway.
There's rumors of a wild plan to tour Cape York (but that's just an idea), and because of that (and really, because I could) BinBike can accept quite fat rear tyres - hopefully 4" but definitely 3". 4" will cause chainline problems I think, unless I get a really, really long bottom bracket. I'm not convinced by recumbents in the dirt, I think I'd rather ride an upright. And not just because of my Barrington Tops adventure, or CANC fun. Really.
The thing is that it's hard to get off the seat for bumps and it's similarly hard to swing your weight around to navigate the bike in tricky terrain, so you miss chances to avoid the bumps. The sort of single-track touring that's possible on an upright is more difficult on a recumbent. In my opinion, anyway.

Binbike in progress

Ok, after a long break (my collarbone) I'm back building. Many photos are up and life is a riot in general.

The bike is together and rideable, undergoing testing while I make a list of all the things I still have to do.
  • Rohloff reaction arm mount
  • fix the joint at the top of my down tube
  • cable holding loops (5mm long bits of ~22mm hammered into a low oval maybe)
  • pannier rails
  • rear light mount
  • seat tube and head tube bracing struts
  • trailer hitch weld a 10mm nut onto the dropout so it clears the rohloff and brake
  • front mudguard mounts
  • front brake rotor clearance from the fork. I've filed this down, but it needs more work. Possibly even grind it right back and braze a small plate in.

I've washed it a lot, scrubbed it a bit and it still has scale and cruft on it from brazing. Hopefully the worst of the flux is gone from inside the frame. lesson from that is that unless you can submerse the whole frame for a few hours it's probably not worth the hassle.
I let it dry a bit in the sun then added oil to the accessible tubes - many have holes in them either for bolting things to or just because (the main tube, for instance). The oil revealed a couple of leaks, so I am going to have another go at the top of the down tube since that's kind of important.
Then I rubbed oil all over it to discourage rust. Now it's dirty and stinky but not rusty, which is good - I was getting instant surface rust as the bike dried after its shower.
Then in to the Monkey to get the bearing race hammered onto the fork I could assemble it. Including making up a new Rohloff shifter (shifters are cheap, compared to the hub, but swapping them between bikes is a pain. So, one per bike and one hub total). And i discovered that the front fork with added disk mounts is not actually built for a disk wheel! Shocking!
What that meant was that once the wheel was in and the quick release done up the wheel wouldn't go round. So I filed away a mm or two of metal, and now there's a paper thin section on that fork. I'll tidy it up with the grinder when I'm back in the workshop, and decide whether I need to add a plate to bulk it up then. It's a beefy fork so probably not.