Archive for December, 2011

Some more light cycling entertainment for the holiday season :

lake fishing - at swansea

my apollo - swansea channel

I have fitted another rear derailleur shifter while I repair the original – I’m getting to like this bike a lot, at least for short to medium distances.

girlz gang - blacksmiths

queue at the fish co-op Christmas eve - swansea

having a chat while the bridge is up - swansea channel

mystery BMXer - swansea

MTB & shadow - swansea channel

Christmas eve - swansea bridge

Yes, I know there’s no bike in the above photo, I just liked this image – at least i was on my bike anyway …

beach cruiser girl - swansea channel

family fun - swansea channel

too much fun ? - at blacksmiths

distant roadies - blacksmiths straight

It’s not that I don’t want to photograph any road bike riders – they’re just so hard to snap because of their speed. I’ll keep trying ….

Happy New Year and Happy Cycling !


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Tunnel Vision :


a mossy blur glides by –

and the old brick walls are flying –

at this still point – here am i –

as morning’s light is dying



cadence breaks on a falling grade –

the empty breeze peels away long years

to forgotten days when a child played –

in an observer’s dream – of engineers



there are murmurs from the other side –

airflow whispers in the spokes –

“speak to me – you will confide –

in whom this atmosphere invokes”



curving shadows replicate

all stretched between the blue –

’til portals bleed into a flare –

without – a shining view



a drifting vision subterranean –

through artless art of decades gone –

as i felt the sun and rain again –

i was lost in thought, still riding on …


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The Mongoose Menace is a sturdy little entry level BMX. Unlike some cheapie BMXs it has closely spoked wheels with heavy duty oversized axles and a decent – if weighty – component quality. The steering head is an Aheadset type where the stem clamps on to the fork tube “steerer” There is a threaded top cap with a hole in the centre to allow the front brake cable to run through the centre of the fork steerer. The elaborate rear brake arrangement uses split balanced cables and a rotating cable joiner/bearing assembly that allows the bars to be spun round and round without snagging the cables on the steering head. It’s made this way to allow for stunts when riding. Although the rotating brake arrangement isn’t relevant to non-BMX bikes the typical so-called “threadless” headstem is in principle similar to those used on most modern bikes.

dennis the menace

Here are some more views of this sad case of a bike as it was, to show the assembled steering head and brake arrangement :

brake cable layout

front view of bar clamp

Once the brake components, bar stem and bars are removed the steerer needed a good whack directly on the top with the hammer shown, with a rubber protector fitted. I also left the steerer cap on to avoid thread damage to the steerer while hitting it .

tools of trade & steerer released

the bits 'n' pieces

Now dismantled, top row L —> R are brake spinner bearing & spacer, bracket for split cable, spacer, bar stem, spring washer and top cap with hole for front cable

Bottom row L —-> R lower bearing race cover/seal, 2 caged bearings, head race, top race cover/seal and a plastic sealing wedge.

The lower fork crown race will be cleaned and left on the fork for reassembly and the bearing cups left in the frame and cleaned.

I’ve left out the cables to avoid confusion.

Started to de-grease the bearings with kerosene and de-rust the other parts with rust converter — The latter is a magic liquid based on Phosphoric Acid that converts red iron oxide rust to a stable black iron phosphate. There are many different brands of this available from hardware and auto stores.  It’s a must have …..

it's magic ! rustbuster & kero ...

This last component is the bearing for the rear brake cable transfer – it contains many small ball bearings and doesn’t appear to easily dismantle. I’ll flush it as best I can with kero and re-oil it . It’s not a highly stressed bearing, it just has to run freely, so that should be OK.

ball bearing race for rear cable "spinner"

I hope this isn’t too boring for non-mechanically inclined cyclists, I will try to split these posts up a bit …

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Every day is a holiday when you are a new recyclist!

Here are some peoplespotting photos from the first week of the Christmas school holidays …. the weather so far has been mercifully cool for cyclists, though it might not have pleased the beach goers.

but there's plenty of room ... swansea bridge


Hmmm, I'd like a closer look at his bike !

swansea channel skaters


happy holidays - at swansea


marks point - holiday cruising

getting fit - blacksmiths

postie break - swansea

Getting on that bike is just the thing for burning off those Christmas calories – Merry Christmas and Happy Cycling!

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Now it’s time to look at the brakes… these are the very common “V-brakes” or “linear pull brakes”.

they're not as complicated as they look ...

V-brakes ( and also cantilever brakes ) all use the same sized bosses brazed onto the frame seat stays and the forks. They have a thread in the end to take the brake arm securing bolt and a little flange with 3 holes for return spring location.

brake boss on fork

Normally V-brakes use the middle hole and the tension is then adjusted via the little bolts or screws on the side – screwing them in increases the spring force. Many cheap bikes use badly plated chromed or painted brake arms that rust quickly (yuk), some use alloy (which I like), and these ones are steel, partly encased in plastic (so-so). The spring-and-adjusting-bolt holders on cheapie brakes are often made of plastic and that can be a problem – if they get a lot of sun over a period of time the UV can weaken them and cause them to break. The same can happen with the common plastic “C-star” brand brake lever brackets if they are really old and neglected and left outside too long. These were all OK though, so I cleaned and “armour-alled” the plastic bits before re-fitting.

front brake fitted

The curved metal “noodle” tube between the cable and brake arm needed de-rusting as usual – it has a separate plastic inner core for the cable to slide on. I will touch up the last rusty bits by hand later and fit a cover ferrule to the sharp cable end.

To adjust V-brakes, I first screw in the cable adjuster at the levers, align the pads to the rims (can be tricky) and squeeze the pads onto the wheels then release slightly, make sure the cable slack is just  taken up and then tighten the domed nut onto the cable before balancing the return springs via the little screws on the side so that the brakes release cleanly and evenly.

some progress

With the wheels fitted, the ratty Roadmaster is starting to look a bit like a bike again. I used the least knobby tyre from my used collection for the back wheel … and the bars from my purple Giant. It’s no Bella Ciao, but hey, neither is the price!

no it's not a Bella Ciao --- lol

As this is a minimal cost project I used the original chain – this took at least an hour to free all the seized links, loosening them by hand and wire brushing away all the surface rust.  At least I didn’t get greasy fingers as it was bone dry! Saved at least $20 on a new one. Of course I checked it wasn’t too worn first…

It was soaked in hot linklyfe chain grease and hung up to cool. The chain was then refitted around the drive and jockey wheels and the link pin pushed back in from its “almost out” position with the rivet extractor. Now I need to fit the rear brake and gear cables. Oh, and find a seat…

the recycled chain

colour matched recycled bell - made from two broken ones !

low budget saddle

Found a seat –  it’s a $20 Repco from  Big W, it seems OK, comfort wise at least for shorter journeys. $8 each for gear cable inners and a rear brake cable from the LBS and we’re almost there.

woo hoo !

Now I’d better stop before I start twining things … there are a few details to go yet !

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Some images of passing cyclists, mainly from around the Swansea and Blacksmiths areas of Lake Macquarie with the emphasis on local people cycling for transport and / or exercise.

swansea bridge

They are shot from the saddle with my Sony Bloggie – and although it’s supposed to be a video camera I prefer to use it for stills because the moving video artefacts on most cycling footage make me motion sick! —- Truly.

swansea bike = rusty bike !

a beautiful smile

The reason I like this camera for bikespotting is not so much for its lens resolution which is fairly ordinary, but simply the ease of holding it in the palm of a hand or of storing it flat in a leg pocket and then having it turn on automatically upon opening out the swivelling lens.

the old model bloggie

The 270 degree lens rotation on this model is great, as it allows candids from waist or handlebar level by looking down on the screen from above. It’s a versatile “snapshot” camera

As well as normal “mobile phone” type shots it swivels back 180 degrees for easy self-portraits “on the go”, or even over-the-shoulder rearward shots for the adventurous!

The downside is trying to anticipate when the shutter will fire as it sometimes takes a few seconds depending on available light and camera motion. This can lead to interesting framing – or, at worst, no subject in the frame!  Also the still and video buttons are so close together that it’s easy to press the wrong one when on the move. There is also a tendency toward overexposed highlights on stills, and it’s no good for close-ups either, with a minimum focus somewhere near the metre mark…


blacksmiths-swansea- the electric tricycle rider was flying...

You can easily lay this camera flat on the ground or on a flat topped post, swing the lens as needed, and use the 10 second self timer. There is now a new model that has two fixed lenses (for front and back) – but for my use this would be a big step backwards.

I never ride without it!


swansea flats

workmanlike - marks point

the monday club social cyclists at blacksmiths lights

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Though I’m not a fan of the petrol assisted bicycle I have to admire the engineering of some, like this one that I often see around Belmont. It has had a lot of time and expense put in by the owner. The rear hub is a Nexus 8, and the engine and pedals share the same final drive. Also there are some neat accessories, as you can see.

almost a motor bike

the drive side - fascinating !

My biggest worry about these bikes is their noise, and hence the unwanted attention that they may draw from anti-cyclists and legislators. Nevertheless, this bike looks amazing.

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