In-Depth post #4: Buying a hub, Boxxer forks, and defying the laws of time

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For this update, I’ll start by explaining how to defy the laws of time itself, with next to no effort. It works quite simply: All of my updates are actually in the past-tense, since a lot of the work I did started before the project was assigned since that’s when bike parts are cheapest (September-December). I knew that the project was going to be assigned since my sister went through the same program, so I decided to start early and take notes as to what I did and when, meaning that nearly everything I’m talking about is in the past-tense. In the current day (when this is posted) I already have all the parts, the only thing left to do is to build it up. However, in this update, the bike is just a frame and a rear shock, with some wheels that I had from my old bike which I can’t put on yet. However, my work with the mentor is present tense. I didn’t need a mentor to buy parts, since that would make my project into a bartering topic. Instead I bought the parts already, and the mentor is teaching how to build them in the present tense. So without further ado, I present to you two different timelines.

Timeline 1, buying parts:

Without much luck finding parts at local stores and Pinkbike, I had earlier turned to ChainReactionCycles (see last post) to acquire some of the more specific and harder to find parts. However, there was still one odd shop that I did not look at yet. In the summer, my dad had spotted a little shop called North Shore Sports Swap, and decided to look in quickly. In a display case, they surprisingly had a large selection of Shimano Saint parts, which are some of the best parts you can come by. Searching through the case, he found a set of cranks normally priced at $250. At this hidden shop, they were a meager $120 for last year’s model. Without even hesitating to see if I actually wanted them, he went ahead and bought the set, then got me to pay him back. I didn’t argue, since it was a great deal. Now, back in the present (past tense present), I decided to go back and see if they had gotten anything interesting. Upon my return, I realized that hardly any of the Saint parts had been sold, and it had been nearly 2 months. This was highly confusing, but I had no reason to complain since it just meant that I could get all the good deals. What I was after was the Saint rear hub, which was normally priced at $220. Here, it was only $90. Why? I don’t actually know. My assumption is that the store got a large shipment of parts from someone else who couldn’t sell them before the newest model came in, and since nobody looking for expensive bike parts really came through their shop, all the parts were priced insanely low. After hunting through I find the right size of hub for my frame, and got it without hesitation. I knew right away that I wanted to get it, since I need all the good deals that I can get. So far, my parents paid for the frame since I needed a new one anyways, and I have been paying for the rest using saved up money from a paper route and dog sitting jobs, and birthday and Christmas money. In the present (present as in now in real life) the bike ended up being $2150, and I still have around $600 left in my open account, with another $1000 left in a locked account. I guess saving all of my money really ‘PAID OFF’ (get it?).

After having success in the local shops, I went back on Pinkbike to continue looking for a fork. I spent a couple of weeks monitoring the prices so that I could guarantee I was getting a good deal. After searching through a variety of prices ($400-$600 for the exact same quality), I was able to find a 2009 Boxxer Team dual crown fork for a low price of $300, much cheaper than anything else that I could find. Although it’s a bit of an older fork, it’s in great condition, and the guy that had it before me ended up replacing the interiors as well as getting a new set of stanchions which are TI Nitrite, a material that makes them slide much smoother. The downside is that they wear out faster, but based on their condition I don’t have any concerns about it at the moment. The lowers of the fork are pretty scratched up, and they’re a relatively boring silver colour with torn up decals. There’s dirt caked on them, and one of the crowns was painted, but it’s wearing off now. Although it’s a pretty nasty looking fork right now, I have a plan to make it look a whole lot better. I’m going to be ordering a new set of decals, then I’m going to fill in some of the scratches and marks before repainting the whole thing. I’ll also end up cleaning the worn out paint on the crown.

 

Timeline 2, mentorship:

Back in the present, where I already have nearly all of the parts needed to make my bike, I have started working with Dave McInnes at the BicycleHub, and for my first day of work we were going to rebuild my back wheel with some new spokes and nipples. Yes, nipples are a part, they’re the little screws that hold the spokes and rim together. Recently, I had gotten some anodized red nipples that I wanted to put on with black spokes to replace my silver and silver combination. To start off, we took the wheel off the bike and removed the tire and tube from the rim. With my beefy Nevegal tires, taking them off the rim is an absolute pain, but it’s not as bad as some other types of tires. Once the tire was off, the next step was to release the tension from the nipples. This had to be done evenly, since if you released all the tension in one area, but another area was still tight, it would warp the rim. To release tension, a spoke wrench is used to turn each nipple one full turn looser, going around the rim twice. At this point, a large majority of the tension is released, so a screwdriver can be used to loosen them off the rest of the way. An important thing to note is that on the rear wheel, the spokes on each side are different length. This is because the hub is offset on the rear so that it can hold the cassette, and to make the wheel centered one side of the spokes needs to be longer. Because of this, the spokes on each side need to be put in separate piles so that they don’t get mixed together. Once all the spokes have been removed, the next step is to use a spoke calculator to find the length of the new spokes. Doing this involves using a caliper to measure a bunch of sizes on the hub, then inputting them into the calculator. The calculator will then tell you what length of spokes you need. For my hub, I needed 16 spokes that were 258mm long, and 16 spokes that were 260mm long. I had a set of 258 spokes, but neither Dave nor I had a set of 260mm spokes. Dave did have a set of 259mm, so we used those instead. A 1mm allowance will still work, but a 2mm allowance starts to get a bit too high. My old spokes on that rim were significantly too long, 260mm and 262mm, and although they still worked they just barely did.

After finding the correct length of spoke, they then get laced into the hub and rim. Laced meaning put into all the correct holes and loosely screwed on. Because the lacing process would take an entire page to explain to someone who knows nothing about the parts, I’m not going to bother trying. Dave’s lacing technique was a bit different than the one I had seen before. Spokes are usually laced in 3 cross, meaning each spoke crosses over 3 other spokes before it enters its hole. Most people lace their rims so that there is no cross on top of the valve hole, giving you easy access to pump up the tire. However, Dave prefers to lace his rims so that the valve hole does have a cross on top of it, making it harder to pump but giving the rim much more stability, so following along with his technique I got the rim laced. The next step is to tighten all the spokes to what is called “working tension”. To find the tension, a tool is used to grab on to the spoke and flex it, the tool then shows you the tension. I don’t actually know what the measurement is, but working tension reads 15 on the tool’s scale. 15 is the working tension since before that tension, tightening or loosening the spokes won’t actually change anything. Once it is at 15, tightening a spoke will pull the rim to that side. Once all the spokes are tightened, you spin the rim in the trueing stand (a stand the holds the rim so you can spin it) and see where the rim has wobbles side to side. To find and fix these wobbles, you push in the feelers on the stand (metal arms that are put next to the rim), and when the rim brushes against the feeler, you know that there is a wobble to that side. To fix these impurities in the rim, you tighten spokes on the opposite side of the wobble, pulling the rim to that side, and causing it to straighten out again. After you are done checking the side to side straightness, you check if there are any high or low dips in the rim. If there was a low dip, you would tighten the spokes on the dip to pull the rim back up. There are two important steps in this: 1. You can only tighten spokes in even numbers, if you tighten an odd number of spokes the rim will get a side to side wobble, and 2. the spokes on the outside of the dip get tightened less than the spokes on the inside of the dip, ensuring that you tighten it with the curve. For high spots, you loosen instead of tighten but follow the same process. After fixing dips in the rim, you stress the rim by pushing it against the wall on each side of the hub, making quarter turns as you go around the entire rim. This ensures that all the spokes have been settled properly. Next you check dish, which means how centered the rim is on the hub. If the dish is further to the right than the left, you tighten the left side spokes only to pull it back to the center. After you have finished all these steps, check the tension and then repeat until all the spokes are close to the recommended tension (mine were a tension of 23) and make sure the rim has no impurities. All of this took me around three and a half hours from start to finish. Doing this at Dave’s shop ended up being a lot better than doing it at home, since he has a few specific tools at his shop that I don’t have which made the process a lot easier. His trueing stand is also a much more expensive, reliable, and accurate stand than the one that I have at home. If I had not had Dave to help me along the way, I’m guessing the entire process would have taken around 4-5 hours instead.

 

English Civil War Reflection

For my contribution to our class’s learning about the English Civil War, I studied and presented information about Oliver and Richard Cromwell, the two primary leaders in the Parliament. The main idea of this being how they affected the course of the war, and how they came into the position they were in and maintained that status. With my group, we presented using an interactive timeline, and a modified version of the song Royals. Our group contributed to the class since we gave them the Parliaments side of view, and showing them what went on during the war on their side. This later affected other groups, such as the mock trial of King Charles, since people now knew who they were really discussing, and the back story of each side. To improve our project, I believe that we could have arranged a better date for our timeline presentation, since due to my rugby game I was very pressed for time and had to rush through my part. If we could have been more proactive, and arranged a better time, we could have gone more in depth into our topic, and allowing the class to be more engaged with the interactive timeline. To improve future class assignments, I believe that a schedule should be laid out before hand, so that if anyone has any issues with the amount of time they are given, or when they are scheduled to present, they will have ample warning and time to change it.

Besides my own group’s project, one project that really caught my interest was the court case. I found it very engaging, and their methods of having everyone participate as a witness made everyone be able to be engaged. It helped me get a new insight on to why King Charles was really executed, and changed my feelings greatly towards the politics or the English Civil War and how they impacted the people. For me, this unit only raised a few questions, since most of them have already been answered. Some I still have include why King Charles overlooked how his choice of wife would affect the country, since he should have known that it would cause issues. Another question is why the court case of King Charles had such untrustworthy witnesses, an example of which being a common farmer who took his information from a relative, not even having seen it first hand. While listening to the presentations of other groups, I would take notes each day on what topics in their discussions related to my topic, so that I could get an easy source of information. If I were to do a unit like this again, I would start by getting an overview of the whole situation, and not just my part. Studying only Cromwell ended up being rather confusing, and I think that the whole unit would have been easier if I first put more effort into learning about the entire Civil War. Some things I would like to improve upon is for every group to give a very brief summary of their topic all on one day, within a few days of starting. if the summary was brief, just words and no fancy pictures, people would only need a day or two to do it, and the entire class could have some form of background on the event before diving into it.

I believe that in the English Civil War, we should be cheering for the side of the monarchs. Although this may surprise some, I chose this side since King Charles was attacked without much provocation. The main reason he was attacked is because he married a woman who had a different religion than others, and from there everyone went crazy against the King. If he had stayed in power, taxes would have been raised, but a relative peace would have been kept. There would not have been all the destruction from the parliament, and although he did dissolve them perhaps they should have just gone away peacefully, allowing him to maintain a blasphemous rule for the short years he had left. He was going to die eventually, so a lot of death could have been avoided if the parliament just left him to make ill advised decisions and eventually die, allowing someone else who is perhaps a bit smarter and more fair to take the throne. If we had just left King Charles alone, the entire English Civil War could have been avoided.

In-depth post #3: finding a new mentor, buying bars and a derailleur (in my pajamas)

A quick recap of what I have: I’ve bought a frame with a rear shock and headset, and I’ve failed to buy multiple forks and a set of bars. After these miserable attempts at buying used parts, I have given up and turned to the internet to get me some new parts. My weapon of choice: Chain Reaction Cycles, the proclaimed largest bike store in the world. It’s an online shop with no physical location, but because of this they can offer way more parts. They don’t actually have much of anything in stock, instead they have tons of pieces that either have to be ordered in or have only a few in stock. Because they’re such a popular site, and they make buckets of cash, they also offer a new sale almost every two days. I’m signed up for email notifications about sales, and I literally get a new one every two-three days. For my purpose, this is great. If the part you want isn’t on sale, you can just wait a month and it will go on sale at some point. All it takes is patience, and you can get pretty much whatever you want.

When I was first recommended to the site, they were having a massive sale. I saw some really good prices, and the sale ended in a matter of hours, so I went full-on mad shopper and ended up narrowing down my results to a few things that I wanted. This included the bars I was failing to get, as well as a derailleur and shifter that would be a pain to find used. The bars I eventually narrowed down the the Answers Protaper, and the Shimano Zee or Saint.

The Answer Protaper came in two different models, and two different year models as well. Comparing the two, the pro and the not-pro, it took me a while to find the difference. I eventually discovered that the difference comes from the grade of aluminum, specifically the 7050 category. Initially I thought the difference in aluminum wouldn’t be too great, however I discovered that the grade could change the weight and strength significantly. However, the price difference was a bit too high for me. I eventually found a compromise, buying the more expensive version of the older model. the older model was pretty much the exact same, but because it was older I could buy it for much cheaper. This was my final choice.

For the derailleur, I should probably start off by explaining what it is. A derailleur is a spring loaded mechanism in the back of the bike that guides the chain over the gears. To change gears, you pull on the shifting lever to either release the tension of the cable attached to the derailleur, or to add more tension. The change in tension makes the derailleur move, and thus it pulls the chain with  it causing it to change gears. The derailleur needs to be a good fit for the bike, and often requires a lot of adjusting to  make it shift smoothly up and down. When I bought it, I could either decide between the Zee or the Saint. The Zee only came in a short cage, which means it’s smaller, but the Saint came in the medium and long cage. I ended up finding out that for my bike, a short cage would be ideal. So my final choice was the Zee. This ended up being a better option anyways, since it was also the cheaper of the two. The Zee is often considered the little brother of the Saint. However, it still retains a key similarity with the Saint. That would be what is called a clutch system. The clutch system makes the derailleur much stiffer, and as it shifts into lower and higher gear it will add and release tension to the chain, which will help ensure that the chain stays on.

I’ve now ordered both these parts, and I have to wait for a few weeks to get them in. In the meantime though, I’m hoping to get a chance to work with my mentor. However, it’s been rather difficult to arrange a time to meet with him. As I said in my last blog post, I am looking for a new mentor, and luckily I have found one. His name is Dave Mcinnis, and he runs a bike repair shop called BicycleHub. It’s a small shop in what feels like the middle of nowhere, but it’s one of the most interesting ones that I’ve been in. The back wall is quite long, somewhere around 8’X50’, but he’s painted the entire thing (by hand) to look like a brick wall. The ceiling is just open rafters, and the floor is chipwood with some mate here and there for grip. The entire place would usually seem rather “ghetto”, yet it feels welcoming more than anything. Even though the shop is so hard to find, he actually does bike repairs for some of the best riders in BC, and he has a storage space upstairs filled with those riders’ bikes. Even though the shop is small, he has some ridiculously expensive tools, including a bottom bracket cutter that runs for over $1000.

When I met with Dave for the first (and so far only) time, it was as if I was no stranger to him. He treats everyone as if they’re a close friend. He’s seems to always be happy, and is one of the nicest people I’ve met. After talking for only 15 minutes, he was already offering 30% discounts if I needed to buy any tools from him. His shop is also closer than Maple Ridge Cycle was, and even though it’s still some ways away I’m in that area pretty frequently. To start working with him, I sent a list of what I would have to do, and now I just have to arrange a date that works with him, come in and he’s offered to give me whatever help I need.

So far the hardest mentoring challenge has been to find a mentor that I cant work with, who I can also easily meet with. Meeting with Troy was nearly impossible, and although meeting with Dave is much easier it will still be difficult. Hopefully it will work to have Dave as my mentor, since I can’t keep trying to find a new one. Right now it is working well is my ability to find good prices on good parts, since I have so far not bought anything at even close to retail value, and all of my parts are in good working order. I could still do better at getting together with my mentor more often, however this has been difficult since schedules do not always line up. To make sure this happens, I will plan out dates to meet ahead of time so that I know if they will work, and if not I can arrange a different date.