22 February 2013

Kidical Mass Tacoma - Coming Soon!

I've been talking to parents around town for at least a year, gauging interest in a monthly family-oriented bike ride. The interest is there. Parents want to find more opportunities to ride with their kids. 

Inspired by the folks in Eugene, Oregon, who started Kidical Mass, and then spurred on by groups in Portland and Seattle, TBR will be organizing Tacoma's first Kidical Mass ride to take place Saturday May 4th, 2013, as part of Bike Month. (Go mark your calendar right now!)

What is Kidical Mass? It's a casual bike ride for people of all ages and abilities that gives kids an opportunity to share the road. Kids are traffic, too! The goal is to introduce children to cycling in a fun, safe, and low-key atmosphere. We'll ride in a group and leave no one behind, use quiet side streets, have volunteers stationed at arterial crossings, have snacks at the end (and maybe before), and hopefully have some sort of theme that makes the whole thing more exciting. Rides will likely be out-and-back loops at first, starting and ending somewhere fun: a playground, a donut shop, or even a beach. The rides also give parents a chance to share ideas on what works when it comes to family biking setups (cargobikes, and trailers and trail-a-bikes, oh my!), share tips on teaching kids to ride, and create a support network or riders who are willing to nurture everyone's enjoyment of cycling.  Obviously there's a tongue-in-cheek reference to Critical Mass, but really this is all about having a good time.

I'm posting this announcement early because I will need some help. 
  • I'd like to determine a summer's worth of dates, locations and routes before the first event so that participants can plan ahead and spread the word. We're looking at hosting a monthly event May-September. Where would you like to ride? 
  • We will need volunteers to help at the start-finish location during the ride (clean-up/prep), and also a few folks to help stop traffic at any busy crossings. Most of these routes will be through neighborhoods, but we'll have to cross an arterial somewhere along the way no matter where we go. And someone must bring up the rear, a sweeper. Can you do one of these tasks? Could your spouse do it while you're on the ride?
  • I'm handling logistics with the City (liability insurance is required if they are promoting the event as part of Bike Month), and also doing some preliminary searching for potential sponsors as we move through the summer. Would you or your business like to be a sponsor? This could be snacks, beverages, bike decorating materials, helmets, money for event insurance, etc. 
If you answered YES to any of those questions, or have some ideas, send me an email at matt (dot) newport (at) gmail (dot) com. Comments are helpful, too. I'll continue to post updates here on TBR and the giant Kidical Mass button on the right will take you to the posts related to the rides. If the response is big enough, maybe we can even get a ride going in April. I don't know that I can wait until May.


21 February 2013

Accessorizing EdgeRunner

Just a quick follow-up to my previous EdgeRunner build post. I had a few issues accessorizing the bike and wanted to show-off my work-arounds for anyone also building up a frameset at home.

The main problem was that my previous Xtracycle frame used a 27.2mm seatpost, which was small enough that a standard 1-1/8" stem could be attached to mount the stoker bars for my passengers. Like this:

The EdgeRunner frame specs said to use a 30.9mm seatpost, which I did, though I didn't think about how I would mount the stoker bars to that larger diameter. By looking at their site, I can see that Xtracycle has avoided this issue with their complete EdgeRunner bikes by using the smaller diameter seatpost and a shim. They obviously thought further ahead than me.

I rummaged through my spare parts and found a short stem that is also for 1-1/8" headsets, but clamps on a handlebar that is 31.8mm. So I flipped it around, mounted the handlebar end of the stem to the seatpost, and shimmed the stoker handlebar with bits of aluminum cans to get a snug fit. Like this:

My other issue was with the KickBack centerstand. The stand has a hard plastic plate that mates nicely with the round tubing of the FreeRadical when not in use, but the EdgeRunner has an oval shaped bottom tube which doesn't mate nicely with that same plastic plate. I bought one of the first KickBacks available and don't recall it coming with extra bits, but now I can see that Xtracycle provides the stand with plates for both tube shapes. I now have a oval shaped plate on order, but in the meantime I just wrapped the stand with an old inner tube to protect the EdgeRunner frame. Like this:

Lastly, the frame has a handy piece welded on specifically for mounting a fender on the small 20" rear wheel. The braze-ons use a slightly larger bolt than I have on-hand, so I just used cable ties and coroplast. Make sure it's not too wide on the drive side as the chain will rub when using the largest inner cogs. Like this:

With all of my nagging accessory issues out of the way, I get to just enjoy riding the bike.

Are you building up an EdgeRunner? Share a note or a link in the comments.

11 February 2013

Upgrading to EdgeRunner

My new EdgeRunner is finished! For those of you, like me, who can't wait to see it:

It shares much of the same fit/geometry/styling as my old Karate Monkey Xtracycle. Here's how the build went down. 

When the frameset arrived at Defiance Bicycles, I immediately pedaled down to check it out. 

I hauled it home on my Xtracycle (of course.)

My friend Brian followed me home on his bike and took this photo. Note the 29er wheels and all of that ground clearance!

Brian then loaned me a copy of Gerd Schraner's book The Art of Wheelbuilding, which I read cover to cover. The next day, with the help of a few friends and a case of beer, I built the rear  wheel using the Schraner Method. If you are thinking about building a wheel for the first time, I recommend using those three things: the method, the friends, and the beer.

My first wheel: an XT disc hub (salvaged from my broken wheel) laced to a 20" Rhyno Lite rim with 36 spokes. 

This may be a good time to point out that the EdgeRunner has 138mm O.L.D. spacing in the rear to accommodate electric-assist hubs. (My frame actually measured 138.9mm.) There is just enough axle on this 135mm quick-release hub to catch in the dropouts, but we did add a 1.5mm spacer to each side to help center it and take up the gap (per Xtracycle's build spec). The EdgeRunner frame doesn't have the same amount of flex that you might expect from a regular steel rear triangle. This build option seems to be working fine.

Starting on a weekend morning, with no where to haul the kids and while the LBS was still open, I started building the EdgeRunner. This was a bittersweet event because many of the parts were coming directly off of my Xtracycle. There would be no turning back.

[There's a crazy story here in the middle of the build here that involves me needing a tool, realizing one of my bikes had been stolen, finding the thief riding my bike, and me recovering it. While that wholly unbelievable part of the build took only four minutes, it will require it's own lengthy post. More on that later.]

My FreeLoader bags and V-racks are still in good shape. Five years of use and they are showing their age, but it's nothing a few iron-on patches can't fix. I may even toss them in the washing machine someday.

At the end of Build Day One, the EdgeRunner looked pretty good and the old Xtracycle looked like this:

I took a break to go on The Dead Winter Mob Ride around town. We stopped on the Murray Morgan bridge to take in the scenery and marvel at the fresh pavement. It was glorious.

The next morning I meant to finish the EdgeRunner, but became rather distracted by the fact that my Karate Monkey frame was finally available for mountain bike duty after these many years of cargo and kid hauling. It's going to be RAD.

Mountain bike day-dreams aside, Build Day Two was frustrating. I struggled to remove the adjustable legs from the KickBack centerstand. They were rather stuck with lots of rusty muck. Also, the taco plate in the middle was shaped for the round FreeRadical tubing and not the wide oval-shaped tubing of the EdgeRunner. At first I tried to widen the taco plate with a bench grinder, then a friend stopped by and pointed out that the plate should just be replaced with something flat.

In the end, I removed the taco plate and wrapped it with a strip of old innertube. The legs finally came out with some T9 Boeshield and a bench vise. I had to chop about 2" off of the legs (cut at the "0" mark) to get the kickstand properly setup for the small 20" rear wheel.

Overall, the build wasn't too bad. I still need to figure out how to mount my passenger handlebars. The EdgeRunner seatpost is a bigger diameter than the stoker stem I was using. I also wasn't sure I wanted a front derrailer, but the one I intended to try won't fit on the frame due to the position of the shift cable stop. Oh well. Gearing is 38x12-32 if you're wondering.

There is certainly more to follow about the EdgeRunner as we incorporate it into the daily routine. And more on that mountain bike, too!

05 February 2013

The Dead Winter Ride

Another MOB Ride coming up. Don't get all creeped out. This will be a hoot.

01 February 2013

Tacoma's Murray Morgan Bridge Reopens

A pair of riders on electric-assist folding bikes were the first to cross the reopened Murray Morgan Bridge today. My pre-schooler and I were right behind them on our cargobike along with 30-40 pedestrians. I used to bike commute over this bridge on my way to Federal Way, especially after it was closed to automobile traffic but left open to bikes and pedestrians. It's a striking and functional landmark of Tacoma that deserved to be restored and preserved.

I know more than a handful of bike commuters who work on the Tide Flats who are very excited for this bridge to reopen. The improved road surface would have been worthy enough of praise from cyclists, but the bike lane is very much appreciated.

As we turned around at the bottom and headed back up to downtown, we followed another Port worker on his bike. He was excited for the bridge to be open, too, as he needed to get to the bank downtown to cash his paycheck.