31 December 2009

Take It Off!

Last night I finally found some time to put on the 2.0" Schwalbe Big Apple on the rear of the Madsen.  I had trouble seating the tire, so I swapped the rubber rim strip for some cloth rim tape, which seemed to help.  Many spokes were very loose, so I tightened them.  Attention Madsen owners: I know the bike is awesome, but it should still be serviced periodically.

When I visited Madsen Cycles in SLC, Jared assured me that this tire would fit with the stock fender, but he added that one must clip out the crimped section of the rear fender with tin snips to accomodate all that rubber. Most plastic fenders are missing this section anyway.  I was able to hack it without removing the bucket.

However when I took the kids to the library today, I found that the chain now rubbed a bit on the hacked fender when I used the large cog.  And the taller tire caused the kickstand to float just a bit too high off the ground, which allowed  the bike to roll when parked - not cool.  The bucket needed to come off so I could finish what I had started doing half-assed.  Typical.

Removing the bucket is easier than I had thought it would be.  You must only remove three screws.  There are two small nutted screws at the bottom of the bucket that hold the bucket to a cross bracket.  Then under the rear seat, there is a screw-type hose clamp that holds the bucket to the round top-tube of the support rack.  That's it.  I pumped the tire to max pressure (70 psi), adjusted the kickstand down (the kickstand is held in place by what is essentially an upside-down seat post clamp), then reduced the tire pressure a bit to soften the ride.  I trimmed my fender hack job, then adjusted the v-brake pads while it was convenient.  Note the blue sticker that indicates that this is one of the discounted "scratched" models.

While I had the bucket off, I also took a few measurements.  Using the highly accurate "bathroom scale" method, I found that a 2-seat bucket weighs 24 lbs, and the bucketless kg271 (with aftermarket VO saddle and fat Schwalbe tires) weighs 46 lbs.  I rode the bucketless bike around the block and found it to be as zippy as my 50 lb Xtracycle.  Yes, zippy is relative in this case, but you'd be amazed how well these longtails can lurch out of the gate.

I would also say that the Avid BB5 front brake I put on the Madsen (upgrade from the stock Promax brake caliper) works about as well as the Avid BB7 on my Xtracycle when the bikes are unloaded (160 mm rotors on both.)  However, the BB7 allows far better control and stops the loaded Xtracycle much better.  Madsen owners, if you are contemplating an upgrade to the brakes, go with the BB7.

It's taken me 8 months, but I finally have the bike dialed in the way I wanted it.  I was really pleased with it on Day 1, but a few simple upgrades and comfort modifications have made it one of my favorite bikes to ride.  And for the second time this month, I talked to someone outside the library who already knew about Madsen Cycles, but stopped to chat because he was completely shocked to see one in Tacoma.  Most of the folks who ask me about the bucket bike think it's a home-made hack and are surprised to find that I bought it fully assembled (without ever seeing one in person!) and ready-to-ride straight out of the box.  Hopefully these recent encounters with other bike enthusiasts indicate that the cargo bike wave is finally headed for T-town.  Any of you shop owners want to hop on the Madsen dealer train?  C'mon!


sara said...

Your bike knowledge far proceeds mine & I bow down to your upgrading of your Mad yourself. You're a great rolling advertisement for the Madsen in Tacoma and elsewhere here on the web. I betcha someone local will catch on. Heck, we currently have TWO Madsens in New Haven & now that our local bike shop just became a Madsen dealer, who knows what other numbers of folks will join in the cargo bike fun?!

Blaine said...

Maybe you could put a madsen decal on the bucket and a web site address? You could spread the word - maybe they'll hook you up with some schwag?