Monday, 22 October 2012

Shrinky Dink kinderfat build

Remember Shrinky Dinks from the 70's and 80's? (I think they may have made a recent re-emergence) if not - let's refresh: they were these things you'd get mum to put in the hot oven, and they'd shrink to a quarter or less of their original size.

Great fun as a kid, but then you got confident with your new found knowledge of thermoplastic polymerisation and tried shrinking other things when mum wasn't looking, like your little brothers GI Joe action figures or dad's new digital watch. After that, mums choc-chip cookies never tasted the same and dad never needed his watch to know that it was time for a whippin...

The pet monkey is almost 7 now, can you believe it? She has a long and varied history of  riding adventures with us, from the early days of the Weeride on the Baby AC, to the tandem with a Weeride, then up to a LOCT on the Baby AC and the Moonlander, and just recently the mini half fat tagalong. In between she had her own 12" Malvern Star, as well as a 16" MissyGoose from my old mate X, and a recumbent tagalong called the iGo by Weehoo. Bombing down singletrack on the Weeride at speeds that wifey is better off not knowing about, all day riding trips into town, multiday tours on the tandem - the monkey was my little riding buddy. Plus the times I had to pick her up from daycare and she would sit on top of the loaded BOB trailer, I even had a donkey trailer that I'd tow out to the folks place, loaded with Xmas pressies, then tow the kids around the paddock on it as a human powered hayride... Ahh, the memories remain long after the scars have healed.

Times change, her widdle wegs are getting wonger and stwonger, sadly she barely fits on the bikes with me any more (well, until I get that kiddy stoker tandem kit) so time to extend her range with a new bike. In my profession, I specify and build a lot of custom high end products for clients, to suit their particular requirements and tastes. Why should a build for our daughter be any different?

Okay, so shes only 7 and doesn't need polished titanium or Di2, but she does need gears and a lightweight frame. All of her bikes have had coaster brakes, so no need to change this either. She's not ready for a full mtb, 20" is her next progression, but it must be a do anything bike to suit our active family lifestyle. So, fellow bicycle enthusiasts, come on a journey down the bikepath of shrinky dink custom builds with me...

We start with a couple of  fairly innocuous boxes.

Contained within is a Radius Neo 20" girls bike. Alloy frame, alloy fork, slick tyres. Pet monkey gets involved in the first stage of the build - the unpacking and removal of the birthday wrapping.

Daddy-daughter projects are great. She's quite clever at thinking out of the box too, she asked me the other day if the grease gun would work to stop the coins from clinking around in mummys' purse. As funny as that might sound initially, it would be me who ends up cleaning it up.

Don't send me emails or hate comments on this one. I KNOW YOU SHOULDN'T USE A CONE SPANNER AS A PEDAL SPANNER. But really, can a 7 year old safely wield the hefty PW-4?

'Daddy, how do I know when the stem clamp bolts get to 8Nm?'

Alright, I can hear the yawns, the tedium of building a kids bike is getting to some. So, lets change gears, metaphorically, in the build.

There are kids bikes out there with 18 gears. Seriously, can you imagine trying to explain the shift pattern of a gearchart, logic of gear inches, triples and cross-chaining trim to someone who has just learnt to tie their own shoelaces? There are adults that struggle to master shift patterns on their bikes.  Bike makers - get with the program - KISS principle for kiddies. 3 gears and a coaster.

Not shown here is a) the twisty (shifter) that I ordered later to make shifting easier, and b) the pet monkey, past her bedtime and as the old saying goes 'when you get drowsy, your work gets lousy'... and there was no way she could finish her 3rd Red Bull either.

The hub only came in silver. Why a Sturmey? The frame O.L.D. (Over Locknut Dimension - as in width between frame dropouts) was 120mm, most other internally geared hubs (IGH) are 135mm and the OLD of the Sturmey was 120mm. Also came in 36 hole, whereas other 3sp options (from Aussie distributors anyway) were only 32H. Why did that matter? Well, they needed to match these:

Ah, so now you're interested again. The rims are Kris Holm 19" municycle rims, double walled and eyeletted, 47mm wide - designed for unicycle trials. The tyres are Nimbus CyoLites, again from a trials background.

But as I said, the hub only came in silver, so it had to be painted to match my build spec. Mask, etch and colour:

Velocity Wheels are just up the road a bit, now I've gotta praise their awesome service. I ordered 80 custom cut/rolled 14g spokes, black nipples and a 36H sealed bearing high flange track hub at 2:30pm Thursday arvo - the lot was waiting for me at work first thing on Friday morning.

The frame and fork is alloy, but what I found was that it had a steel steerer. Well at least I didn't need to rustproof the frame, just the steerer. Same rustproofing cavity wax as I put in my Moonlander build and wifeys Pugsley build.

Added some electrical tape over the drilled bolt holes, and a rubber bung to keep out most debris, these are available at many auto stores - or grab a  handful out of the floorpans next time you're spending quality time at your local 4x4 wreckers. C'mon, admit it, I'm not the only bloke who enjoys wrenching on bikes and my 4x4...

Now lets talk bearings. You don't exactly get Phil Wood or Chris King quality as OEM on a bike this level, however you can alter a few things to help get a bit more longevity out of what's there. Run what you brung. The BB/crank is a basic one piece with a very open bearing setup, not much you can do except pump in grease as a barrier, overpack it baby. In time I'll replace it with some nice lightweight 3-piece cranks.

Headset - sure, overpack as well, but customise the sealing.

Shown here on the lower bearing cup and fork crown, a large zip tie to provide a seal shoulder, then 2 o-rings to cover the void between cup and fork crown race. Add a similar o-ring to the top bearing race and you've got a very well sealed headset.

Back to the wheels. It's a very relaxing time building wheels in the workshop, the family has gone to bed and all is silent in suburbia, apart from the possums fighting over the leftover bananas in the tree next to the shed.

By now you're probably starting to get the picture about this bike. Yeah, I could put in an Alfine 11 with Di2 but no, I wanted it to be a bit of a sleeper, not like that image that circulated a few years ago of the small child on the start line of a local triathlon, on a Cervelo with Lightweights. Nothing fancy to see here, move along. Seriously though, we wanted her to have a bike that performed well and she could take pride in, be reliable in harsh conditions and survive our adventures.

Has the penny dropped yet? She needed a fatbike. A shrinky dink fatbike to match wifeys white Pugsley.

To make this happen I needed several things:
  1. Frame that could accept fat profile tyre/rim combos.
  2. Fat tyres relative to scale of aforementioned shrunken bicycle.
  3. Fat drilled rims to look phat and mount fat tyres.
  4. Riser handlebars to mount cute wicker basket, to carry flowers and french breadsticks in.
This last option was a priority - a pet monkey that has just learned how to tie shoelaces doesn't know much about the 67-387 ETRTO sizing for her tyres - but if that bike didn't have a pretty basket on it there was no way it would ever be ridden.

The rims are drilled for weight reduction, DIY rimtape once again. I have all sorts of vinyl and polyester signwriting material left over from previous projects, I had a roll of 50mm white and 50mm clear. Cut oversize to suit the rim OD.

Then laminate together, leaving a segment to overlap and create the join:

Trim the laminate to suit the required width, install on rim, pull tight and join at overlap:

Cut a valve hole, install tyre & tube.Before installing the wheels there were a few things to do, rustproof the steel axle locknuts with some cavity wax, and grease all threads. With coin grease (shhh, don't tell wifey)

The front brake had to come off, the brake pads didn't line up with the rim braking track, also the monkey doesn't use the front hand brake on her other bikes. Removed the V-brake posts and plugged the holes with some rubber bungs, probably from an '89 Hilux.

Fatter than stockos:

The shift cable and chain is covered by this neat guard:

The control panel is basic and uncomplicated, I stripped the shifter down and greased it up, to make the shifting light for a little hand. I had some twisty width grips in my spares bin as well as some old lock on rings to keep it all in place.

On her first test ride, she found the gears a boon to tackle climbs she'd previously walk up. The tyres give a reasonable amount of suspension and plenty of traction.

Only bit of beach we could find in the city was the strip underneath the Story Bridge, it would have to do as a test until we get over to Moreton again...

This is basically stage 1 of the build, with a rack and bag system to go on to extend her carrying abilities. Seat is initially low so she can get the feel of the bike and both feet flat on the ground.

 She calls it her 'anything bike', to match her 'anything boots' (Keens). To my mind though, she is the one who can do anything she sets her mind to. 

Next weekend we'll take it out to a real beach.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Moreton Island fatbike weekend - VIDEO!

I had a weekend of filming planned over on Moreton Island, to make a short clip similar to what I used to make many years ago when working in video production. This clip reminded me of the reason I followed that profession in the first place - the feeling you get when you blend great shots,  tasteful editing, a matching soundtrack and a lot of heart.

I caught the early express flyer over, many thanks to Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort. I had to deliver a Moonlander to Trevor (resort manager) that he'd bought from our shop, he was pumped when he saw it and even moreso on his first ride. We rode up to the QPWS rangers' station and I met some of the the team, great bunch and chatted about the bikes - was great to hear their feedback on the bikes and the potential of exploration on the island by bike.
The accessibility, the size of the island and the terrain does lend itself very well to fatbikes. Given that there is very little infrastructure (paved roads, heavy development) it is an ideal getaway for a riding loop over a day, a weekend or a week. Then it was off to Bulwer general store, where they make an awesome steak sandwich with chips, but you gotta ring ahead to check the times they run the coffee machine...
Some clips didn't make it into the video, and some areas were better with just a photo.

Phat. Fat. Same same in my mind.

Up near Heath Island is the outlet for the lagoon, at low tide it was still too deep to ride through, plus huge sections of quicksand where I sunk knee deep in the sand during the crossing. Plenty of birdlife to spot with the binos.

Interesting wind/wave action on the coffee rock, forming all sorts of shapes.

North Point/Smith Rock overlooking Honeymoon Bay, with Cape Moreton Lighthouse in the distance.

Shadows grow longer, near North Point with Yellow Patch visible in the background.

Brand new day.

Illustrates the impact from the fatbike tyre compared to a shoed footprint. Hmmm, could there be an improvement to the old saying of take only photographs, leave only footprints...
West coast beauty, with the debris and a moderate tide you can see the difficulties for vehicles with access, but no limitations for human powered transport. 

Vast interior of coastal heathland, dormant wildflowers and white sandy singletrack. On my way back from filling up water at Blue Lagoon.

Telegraph track still has remnants of the cable for communications between wartime outposts. Fires have damaged various areas on the island, taking many years to recover due to the poor quality soils with little organic material.

We have a saying whenever leaving for an adventure - 'I'll be back at half past'. Half past what exactly? It's a rhetorical statement, that places no limits on the length of your adventure. I was booked on the 2pm boat home on Sunday, well at 2pm I was still slogging it out along Telegraph track with no phone reception.

By the time I summitted Mt Tempest, the 4:30pm boat was looking out of reach also, so re-arranged for the last boat after the dolphin feeding which started at 6pm.

Was perfect timing, in time to wash down a huge bowl of potato wedges and a coke, watch the last of the sunset and relax.
On the boat ride home, the first mate commented there were plenty of seats available inside the launch...I was quite happy to sit outside and feel the fresh air, gaze upon the stars and watch the lights of the resort slowly fade - daydreaming of the next adventure on this island gem.
Amazing where riding a bike will take you...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Moreton Island fatbike trip - Day 5

Ahh, you know that feeling on a holiday, when you crash early to bed, dream many times, wake up early and refreshed?

'Goooooood morning Moreton Island!' as I stood in front of the window, I felt like yelling this out to share how good life is.

'Honey, put some clothes on' wifey stated from the bed.

Hmm, yeah, whatever.

Now, today I had some reconnaisance work to do south of Tangalooma - towards The Desert and Rous Battery track. I was planning another ride for Friday, needed intel and also scope it for an afternoon trip with the family.

We had a bit of rain overnight, some of the poorer draining sections of the track to The Desert were gluggy and hard going, the centre ridge was a pretty good place to ride.

Rous Battery track is a moderate graded doubletrack, 9km long, bollards are in place to prevent 4wd access, so walking or bike access only. I rode down for 15 mins to guage the quality, my curiosity satisfied I turned around and headed to the next stop.

The Desert is a remarkable place. I took the bike to the top of a good sand toboggan slope, mindful not to damage the smooth runs there, and rode down the slope - hehe dune is bigger than you think...

Mad skillz.

I met the girls on the beach, Sally wasn't there selling her seashells, but the pet monkey was doing her duty saving sea star society...

We rode back to the walking track to The Desert, stowed the bikes in the scrub, halfway up the stairs we found this big guy on the trail. We encourage the monkey to interact with all manner of flora and fauna, to learn correct handling techniques as well as a healthy respect for bitey things.

 Wifey and I parked up on the slope, just enjoying the sunshine while the monkey burnt up calories climbing the dunes and jumping down them. 2 buses from the resort showed up, with tourists to do the sand toboganning. This provided our afternoon entertainment, sit back with a drink and chips.

Invisible bike.

Saw quite a few of these about the place, was planning to do the guided bush tucker walk the next day so hoping to identify.

Back to basecamp to pore over the topos and plan the next days ride over an afternoon cuppa.

At 6pm every night, it was down to the jetty to watch the nightly dolphin feeding, the monkey was fascinated with the newborn calf, Luna.

Saving the world, one sea star at a time.