26 October 2012

DIY Madsen Bucket Cover Frames

Folks have been asking, so here's more details.

Our Madsen rain cover frames are made from electrical conduit, specifically 1/2" EMT. It's light, cheap, durable, and very easy to work with. You'll want to use a pipe bender like this. You may be able to rent one from a home store or borrow one from a neighbor. It's a basic lever hand tool that is very easy to use. Measure twice, bend once. And make sure you are bending the conduit in the corrected direction!

The frame has only four pieces: two 10' lengths of 1/2" EMT (conduit) and two 1/2" couplers. Total cost is maybe $5. Ideally, the left and right sides of the frame are mirrors of one another and the couplers line up in the middle of the bucket. The structure sits on the edges of the bench seats; both benches must be used for the cover to stand on its own.

The frame can be covered with anything. I recently discovered that a burlap coffee sack from my local roaster is the perfect size and shape when you rip the side seams open. I added a piece of coroplast to the roof of this one to help dome the roof and take out the slack in the fabric.

To keep the whole thing from tipping out of the bucket, you need some sort of tensioner under the outer lip of the bucket to attach to the cover fabric. For our sewn covers, we used Sunbrella fabric and hemmed in a slot at the front and back to loop through a 1" web belt with some buckles.

In a pinch, the burlap coffee cover was attached with a length of rope and some zip-ties. Total cost of the burlap cover and frame: less than $10 and 2 hours of playing in the garage. This makes for a decent sun shade or windbreak, but wouldn't last long in heavy rain.

Related posts:

DIY Flag Pole Holder

A reader just commented in our Show Your Colors post:

"I have been contemplating whether a big American flag on the back of our bicycles would help with one of the hazards of biking my children to work in downtown Seattle: folks in big trucks, who are not used to bicycles. One fellow yelled at my husband and 2 yr old for 4 blocks once as they all rolled slowly along 5th Ave. How did you attach yours?" - Molly

I have only had positive feedback from drivers when flying Old Glory on the back of the bike. Instead of honking in frustration, they honk and wave as they pass with plenty of room and give a thumbs-up.  I met a local couple that toured the entire United States by tandem with a small American flag on their rear rack; they testified that it may have saved them from being run off the road on more than one occasion.  Bottom line: It can't hurt.

Here's a behind-the-freeloader look at our DIY flag pole holder on an Xtracycle.

Drilled a row of holes to make a slot for the U-clamp. 

Zip-tied top of PVC to V-rack

Insert flagpole of smaller diameter and ride.

16 October 2012

Reaper Ride 2012

The upcoming MOB Ride is starting at Broken Spoke in Hilltop. Bring some take-out from your favorite restaurant and join a bunch of costumed bike riders for a bicycle booze cruz around Tacoma. Should be a blast. Get directions here.

12 October 2012

DIY Kid Bike Fenders

After an 81-day stretch of dry weather, it finally rained this morning. For people who enjoy walking and biking, it has been a long and blissful summer. With the inevitable dampness of fall on the horizon, I took some time last night to fender my second-grader's bike.

The fenders are made from coroplast, a corrugated plastic used for making campaign signs. I picked up the idea from Kent's Blog and a local elected official was happy to give me a stash of signs after his election. 

[Note: Around here campaigns are required to collect their signs from public spaces post-election. It is very illegal for private individuals to take them during election season. However, if you find a forgotten sign in a ditch post-election, it's your civic duty to pick up litter, right?] 

At her request, I had already customized the bike by covering the entire frame with fancy duct tape. We continued the look on the fenders; she digs the skulls. You can buy fenders for 16" and 20" wheels, but most shops will have to special order them. Inexpensive kid bikes like this one also don't have the usual eyelets for mounting manufactured fenders with screws, so zip ties and coroplast are an excellent alternative.

The best part: she thinks it looks cool and wants to ride, even on the rainy days.


Here are some more detailed photos of the 20" kid fenders.

Pre-assembly: Using a razor knife on a concrete floor, cut two strips from a 2' long campaign sign. Make your cuts in parallel with the channels in the coroplast. The wider piece to cover the tire is 2 3/8" wide and the strut piece is 1 1/2" wide. (If you need a front and rear fender, repeat this step.)

Most campaign signs don't look that cool when chopped up, so wipe them clean and cover them with duct tape. It looks cool and helps keep the coroplast from buckling. 

Center the strut at one end of the fender and punch small holes for the cable ties. Join the two pieces so the sharp fastener of the cable tie is on the outside. 
This way there are no sharp edges near the tire. Pre-fold the struts around the edge of the fender piece, creasing the coroplast. This will help with mounting.
Rear fender: Notch the fender as needed to mount the front end near the kickstand plate. This bike had a screw hole, so I rummaged an old screw that fit. Otherwise, use cable ties.
One cable tie was all I needed to attach the struts near the axle.
You may need to make your fenders wider. This bike required the struts go around the outside of the huge fork blades.

And get creative with the cable ties! It may take more than one!

01 October 2012

Thirty Days Of Biking

From time to time I've seen folks using the #30daysofbiking hash tag. And since "thirty days hath September," I figured I'd try to keep track of what I did with my bicycle for the whole month. I don't ride every day, but maybe it would work out?*

It's important to recognize that on most days bicycles are used as transportation in our household to avoid at least some trips in the car. But on those car days, we often still do something with bikes recreationally.  Here's the recap.

Day 1. Snapdeck surfing lessons at the park.

Day 2. Biked the kids to a friend's backyard BBQ. 

Day 3. My first cyclocross race. Our kids raced, too, of course.

Day 4. To the park for one last playdate before school starts.
Then to the elementary school to drop off supplies and meet the teacher.
Spotted this supercool three passenger setup.

Day 5. Biked with our oldest to the first day of school, 
then found this awesome sidewalk philosophy art while biking to the shops.

Day 6. Borrowed a neighbor's bucket bike (and their preschooler) for a day at the zoo.

Day 7. Our typical Friday ride downtown to Frost Park for some chalk drawing.

Day 8. After a long day of home improvement, I needed a ride 
to a local brewery for refreshments.

Day 9. Up early for a 15 mile ride around Point Defiance Park.

Day 10. First day of pre-K. The whole family biked to school! 

Day 11. Biked to school. Evening cyclocross practice for me and the girls at a local park. 
It was just far enough that riding there and back would have been too much for the kids 
(or too much for me to haul on the Xtracycle,) so we loaded up the bikes and drove.
It happens.

Day 12. We need more coffee! And new tools from the lumber yard. 
This marks the first fall day where a passenger blanket was needed. Brrrr!

Day 13. This may have been the day I rode to Veggies and Pint Defiance. Or maybe it was the day I biked the kids to a playdate. I know I rode everyday, but it's all sort of a blur when you're just trying to get from A to B.

Day 14. Decided to return my cross bike to dropbar mode. This required a trip to 2nd Cycle to borrow tools and get supplies. I love this place.

Day 15. Ran errands on my revised cross bike to test it out. 
Caught up with a bicycle tour of community gardens on my way home.

Day 16. More cyclocross racing and shenanigans with 
Tacoma Cyclocross at Fort Steilacoom Park.

Day 17. After biking the kids to school, Mrs. TBR and I biked to lunch at Peterson Brothers, where we ran into our pal Ben Davis. He's opening a new hangout at 11th and MLK called Broken Spoke (canned beers, wine, espresso, custom bikes and racks, made in Tacoma everything). Potentially the most RAD spot in town. Stay tuned.

Day 18. Biked to school. Then an enjoyable evening ride along Ruston on my SS with a friend before cross practice. Highlight: tackling a few of Tacoma's steepest cobbled hills.

 Day 19. Biked to school. In the evening, we adjusted the kid bikes for growth and had to upgrade Super T to her big sister's 16er. They grow up fast!

Day 20. More biking to school. More practicing afterwards on big-kid bikes. Though it may appear repetitive, this simply does not get boring.

Day 21. Toured the Park(ing) Day spots downtown with Super T.

Day 22. Errands. 4 bags of ice and bbq supplies? Xtracycled.

Day 23. Carpooled north for the race at Lake Sammammish. There was nearly as much running with the bike as there was riding on the bike. Phew.

Day 24. Coming down with a cold. Did the school run and a few short errands.

Day 25. Sick. Rode with the kids to school and was glad I didn't have to 
carry them on the Xtracycle. Exhausted. 

Day 26. Feeling better. Biked Kid #1 and her bike to a playdate in the morning.
Then biked both kids to a playdate after school. 

Day 27. Just the school run.

Day 28. Picked up the girls from school and biked to a birthday party playdate.

Day 29. Cargo Trike deliveries by day, 
Harvest Moon ride on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge by night.

Day 30. Just a quick ride to the grocery store before the dinner guests arrive.

*Hey, it happened! #30DaysOfBiking