Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category

Here is a great old bike book that I recently picked up – The Fantastic Bicycles Book by Steven Lindblom, an American book, published in 1979-80. It’s all about scavenging and recycling “junked” or dumped bicycles and features many unusual projects that can be built from them. The book has simple but charming hand drawn illustrations that say all they need to, and it’s written in a really helpful, clever and enthusiastic style. Although it was written when the English-style 3-speed was being replaced by the 10-speed racer as the U.S. bicycle of choice, and BMX bikes were just coming into popularity, most of the book is still relevant today. It is aimed mostly at younger people, or the young at heart :

I particularly like the author’s views on recycling bikes as being good for the environment. He points out how, in his country, bikes were thrown away by the millions, wasting raw materials, labour and energy while in most parts of the world they are repaired or the parts recycled if beyond repair. That still stands today for this new recyclist – so many useful things are dumped before they need to be, and yet this can be taken advantage of :

As he says, if you are patient and keep your eyes open, something (useful) will turn up. Just to validate this, here is a “trail-a-bike” kids trailer I spotted today in a pile on the footpath marked “free things”. I have been thinking about making a bike trailer for a while, to carry such things as big plant pots and larger bike bits that are not that heavy but often too bulky to carry home on a bike itself. This little trailer should be ideal if I can fit a flat bed to it. I will be will be able to use the handlebars and other unnecessary parts for different projects – and I scored a rusted shiny chrome bell too !

Potential light cargo trailer

Here is a neat 3-wheeler – an ice cream cart.   Other projects are a tandem, super-tandem (multi seater), sidecar rig, water-bike and ski-bike. Some projects have been made and tested by the author and others are in the “you’re on your own” section. I particularly like the imaginative names that he gives to the bikes in his drawings “dawn patrol”, “rosebud”, “cheapo”, “junco”, “dreadnaught” – you get the idea !

As well as both sensible and crazy project ideas there are practical sections covering tools and maintenance.  Newer component styles such as “Aheadsets”, disc brakes, cartridge bottom brackets or suspension systems are not covered, but there are not too many of these being discarded yet anyway, at least in my experience.

A Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub :

Here is the Klunker, which was a converted old single speed beach cruiser upgraded to a 5-speed, with English style handlebars : his classic line goes : ” Somewhere in the future there will probably be ultra-light titanium Klunkers at 800 bucks a copy, but for now the only way to get one is to dig out your collection of old parts and build it yourself.”  Of course these days it could be the unmodified old “clunker” (i.e. vintage beach cruisers) that are worth the big bucks – I’ve seen a few on ebay at rather steep asking prices !


I paid the princely sum of $3-50 for this copy at my favourite second hand bookstore yesterday and have been reading it diligently ever since …. perhaps some online second hand sites might have copies of it – good luck, and Highly Recommended !

One-piece crank assembly


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