Archive for the ‘making things’ Category.

New Fat Bike: 2016 Salsa Blackborow

Four years ago my fried Erick dropped off a very large box at my house. My first fat bike, a brand new Salsa Mukluk 2, had arrived. This was one of the first large-scale production fatbikes, and one of the first to be light weight out of the box, and I’ve had some very good times with it in all seasons. This year, with huge thanks to QBP, Tree Fort Bikes, Jeff Buerman, and Mike Wirth, I’ve acquired and built a custom 2016 Salsa Blackborow; my next fat bike. This is an aluminum framed, carbon fiber forked fatbike, using Salsa’s great geometry, ready to accept 5″ class tires.

I had originally planned to set this bike up tubeless, but after some issues with the original tubeless setup I build it up with Superlight tubes. I hope to replace this with a tubeless setup sometime in the near future, but I’m still evaluating potential rim sealing options. These may be the FattyStripper latex rim strips or possibly some wide tensilized polypropylene strapping tape (similar to Stan’s Rim Tape).

With tubes the complete bike, including bottle cages, bell, rear light, and Garmin Edge 510, is 29.46 pounds. With the tubes coming in at ~240g/ea I expect to save just under a pound by switching to tubeless. I’m quite happy with this weight, which is quite decent for a burly bike with 4.7″ tires.

My first shakedown ride on the Blackborow at River Bends (my usual bike shakedown location) went really well. There were the usual stops to adjust the grips and brakes, but otherwise I was very happy with the ride. The GX 1×11 drivetrain worked wonderfully, the high engagement rear hub felt spot-on, and I’m convinced that Salsa has gotten the geometry perfect. The only downside was the heavier-feeling wheels, but the forthcoming tubeless conversion should alleviate much of this.

I can’t wait to ride it more.

More photos of the bike can be found here: 2016 Salsa Blackborow

Here’s the details initial build for this bike:

Frame / Fork: 2016 Salsa Blackborow Frame (Medium) / Bearpaw Carbon/Aluminum Fork
Wheelset: DT Swiss BR 2250 Classic
Freehub Ratchets: Bontrager HUB51312614R (54-point for DT Swiss)
Summer Tires: Bontrager Barbegazi (26″ x 4.7″)
Winter Tires: 45NRTH Flowbeist / Dunderbeist
Rim Strip: DT Swiss TRSXXXXS68559S (68×559)
Tubes: Q-Tubes Superlight 26″ x 2.4-2.75″
Brakes: TRP Spyke (180mm front, 160mm rear)
Front Brake Spacer: Shimano SM-MA90-F180P/P2
Brake Levers: Avid FR-5 (Black)
Brake Lever Insulation: 18mm 3:1 Heat Shrink (Generic)
Handlebar: Salsa Bend 2 (23 Degree)
Grips: Ergon GP1 (Large)
Headset: Cane Creek 40 Tapered ZS44|ZS56/40
Stem: Thomson X4 (SM-E133 BLACK, 0x100)
Spacers: Aluminum (Generic)
Stem Cap: Niner YAWYD
Seatpost: Thomson Elite (SP-E116 BLACK, 31.6 x 410)
Seatpost Clamp: Salsa Lip Lock
Saddle: Specialized Phenom Expert (143mm)
Crankset: Race Face Turbine Cinch (175mm x 190mm), ICT Spacer Kit, Alloy Crank Boots
Bottom Bracket: Race Face BB92 (124mm x 41mm)
Pedals: Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 (Black/Green)
Chainring: Race Face Direct Mount Narrow-Wide (30t)
Cassette: SRAM XG-1150 FULL PIN Cassette
Derailleur: SRAM GX 1×11 X-HORIZON Rear Derailleur
Shifter: SRAM GX 11-speed X-ACTUATION Trigger Shifter
Chain: SRAM PC-X1
Cables/Housing: Jagwire
Chainslap Protection: Scotch 2228 Rubber Mastic Tape
Bottle Cages: King Cage Stainless Steel Cage
Rear Light: Planet Bike Superflash Stealth
Bell: Mirrycle Original Incredibell
Sensors: Garmin Bike Speed Sensor (Hub Mount)

Cut Hockey Pucks as Pinch Weld Protectors

After lifting a car via pinch weld, hearing a pop, and seeing it bend slightly I became nervous about setting a jack stands using them without any additional support. Thanks to the magic of the internet I got this idea from a car forum: cheap hockey pucks ($1.99/ea at DICK’s) with slots cut in them. The pinch weld is placed in the slot and the jack stand supports the heavy rubber puck which braces the frame rail.

These were cut by laying a 1cm strip of masking tape on the top of each puck, making a vertical cut with a hacksaw, then an angled cut to meet the vertical. The wedge of rubber was then encouraged out of the slot with a flat blade screwdriver and cleaned up as needed. Fairly simple and only about 20 minutes of work after acquiring the pucks.

Tyvek Tape for Fat Bike Tubeless

On recommendation from my friend Roger, who is also building up a new fat bike, I decided to try some using some seam sealing tape designed for Tyvek installations as rim tape (MSDS). This is commonly known as “Tyvek Tape”, even though it isn’t actually made of Tyvek. It is actually a somewhat stretchy polypropylene tape with acrylic adhesive. At $11.98/roll it’s not exactly cheap, but with 50m of tape in a single roll there’s enough to do numerous wheelsets.

I’d intended to use Scotch 8898 tape for tubeless, but after looking at the Tyvek Tape I decided to give it a try and thus far I’m glad I did. On the DT Swiss BR 2250 wheels I first installed the DT Swiss Rim Strip, centering it between the locking bead seats (photo). I then laid one strip of tape with the edge in the bead seat, butted up against the vertical side of the rim. This was smoothed against the Rim Strip and a second piece was applied to the other side. After most of the wrinkles were smoothed I laid a third strip of tape down the center to cover any center wrinkles, pulling it taught as one normally does when installing any rim tape. This was smoothed into place with a rag and taping was considered complete (photo).

To ensure the tape was well bonded I then fitted a tire and tube, inflated to 20 PSI, and set the whole assembly in the sun to warm up and soften the adhesive. After 30 minutes or so I took the wheel out of the sun and set it in the basement to cool back down. Once cool I deflated the tube, unseated the tire from one side of the rim, and removed the tube. A Stan’s valve was then fitted into the rim, a plastic washer placed on the outside below the locknut, and everything tightened up. The valve core was removed and an air compressor and custom chuck was used to seat the tire. Four ounces of Stan’s Sealant was injected into the wheel via a syringe, the wheel closed up and reinflated, and the sealant shaken around the wheel.

The tape provided a nice, smooth surface for the tire bead to slide across, and after a few days the wheels (fitted with Panaracer Fat B Nimble 26 x 4.0 tires) are nicely holding air. This tape seems like a great, light-weight product for using on fat bike wheels. I’m glad I gave it a go, as the thinner, stretchy tape seems much easier to apply than the Scotch 8898. It seems to make a great seal and hold well, and was pretty easy to install.

I inadvertently ended up with a couple small puckers along the rim tape on the rear wheel, but I think this was due to either sticking the Tyvek tape to the rim tape with too much force, or possibly deflating the tubed wheel while still warm. I don’t believe I can correct it without completely removing the rim tape, so I’ll have to live with it.

UPDATE on 2015-Sep-22: Over the past few days the rear wheel — the one with the small puckers — lost all pressure. The root of the problem turned out to be adhesive used on the Tyvek tape. The acrylic adhesive is a bit gummy and softens with a bit of heat. My process of installing a tube, deflating the tube, then unseating half of the tire dislodges the tape leading to the puckering — which was a symptom of dislodged tape — and thus leaking. Using some tweezers I can unfold and put the tape back in the bead seat which allows a tubeless setup to hold, but this setup feels fragile. I think the combination of thin tape, soft adhesive, and very wide rim strip (resulting in not much adhesive being on the rim) allow this to happen.

While the wheels are currently holding 20 PSI reliably, I’m concerned about what may happen to the tape in hot weather or as regular tire maintenance needs to occur. I suspect that I may have to switch to a different tape some time down the line, maybe the rubber adhesive Scotch 8898. Doing this will be a pain, because of how solidly the acrylic adhesive sticks to the rim and rim strip… At this point I may have to get some new rim strips.

UPDATE on 2015-Sep-29: I’ve decided to move away from the Tyvek tape. The rear wheel deflated over the next few days in the same failure mode, and both of my friend Rodger’s wheels went flat when taken out in the sun. When disassembling and cleaning the wheel set I found the front beginning to suffer from the same issue, so it was only a matter of time before the tape became dislodged there and failed.

Because of the tenacity of the Tyvek adhesive I purchased another set of rim strips from eBay and cut the current ones. The rims were cleaned up with mineral spirits and set to dry. In a few days I’ll be trying them again with new strips and Scotch 8898. If that fails I’ll be trying FattyStripper Tubeless Solutions trim-to-fit latex rim strips.

Fat Bike Capacity: 1 + 1

Lately I’ve had a need to carry two fat bikes on my well-loved 1Up USA Quick Rack, so I ordered a second Fat Tire Spacer Kit. Price has gone up from $29 to $34 and the style has changed, but it still seems like the best external rack available for carrying a fat bike. The original, which adds Delrin spacers can be seen on the left, and the new style which uses wider angled bits for the tire is on the right.

At 122mm (4.8″) the new spacer kit is slightly wider than the previous’ 114.5mm (4.5″). I’m planning to build a new fat bike with 5″-class tires, but with the knobs of the 45NRTH Flowbeist and Dunderbeist — the winter tires intended for the new bike — measuring 110mm on an 82mm rim I should be good. Hopefully the 4.8″ Schwalbe Jumbo Jim also fits, as I’m likely using those for summer… If the 122mm-width arms are needed for the new bike I’ll likely move the spacer kit or trays around, but hopefully that won’t be needed.

When installing these I also took my friend Rodney’s recommendation and fitted some cut-down bicycle grips to the spacers on both trays. The original design leaves narrow silicone bands in place, but these don’t span the full width of the Fat Tire spacers and the rack can end up making a slight rattling sound. The original foam grips from the Mukluk 2 were a perfect fit for this.

Butter in Coffee‽

Initially upon hearing about the bulletproof coffee idea, where butter (or another medium-chain triglycerides oil) is used in coffee as a sort-of healthy breakfast I found the idea revolting. I’d pictured a cup of coffee with globs of oil floating on the top, sticking to one’s upper lip while drinking. Still, it had me curious… Since I’ll regularly have coffee with half & half (half cream) or heavy cream, and butter isn’t much different from heavy cream (just less water and whey), I figured I’d give it a try.

This morning I brewed coffee like normal, added a tablespoon of unsalted butter, then processed it with a stick blender. The result? Decent. It’s very much like coffee with half and half, but with a less sweet taste to it. It’s still rich and soft tasting, but not as dessert-like. A very fine, almost-creamy foam was left on the top, but tilting the glass to drink agitated it, caused the bubbles to burst, resulting in a soda-like fizzing feeling on my upper lip. Nothing bad, but I could tell little droplets were coming off the top of the beverage.

I strongly suspect that, besides the whey and a bit of lactose (I’m not sure how much of this goes with the buttermilk vs. stays with the fat) the only difference between this and simply using heavy cream is who does the homogenization. Combined with a banana eaten a bit later while walking into work I feel plenty satisfied breakfast-wise, but no different than after having regular coffee + cream.

Next I think I’ll try this along with one of the other popular coffee blend-ins: coconut oil. I’m not particularly fond of the smell of coconut oil itself (it reminds me of sunscreen), but coffee and coconut can work well together, so I’ll give it a go. I can’t see myself doing this very often, though, as it makes for more dishes and takes more time than simply adding liquid dairy from a container.  It was nice to try, and the taste / texture is much better than I thought I would be.

2015 Subaru Outback GPS Mount Prototype

I recently acquired a new car, a 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Premium, but it didn’t have a GPS/moving map in it. Since this is something that I’m very fond of, I picked up a Garmin nüvi 68LM and have been working on a nice way to mount it in the vehicle.

This evening I set to work with some Delrin scraps and a band saw and made these small adapters for the center console. They allow the GPS to set in a small closable glove compartment, but pivot forward so the space behind it can be accessed. With the addition of two more rubber bumpers on the back side of the GPS unit it sits fairly well inside of the compartment, and a power outlet directly behind the unit makes for a very clean look.

I’m not completely happy with the fit of these, but they are better than the balancing act I was using before and are a good prototype. After using this for a couple of weeks I’ll probably refine the idea, but I’m pretty happy with the result after a few hours of work this evening.

Road Tubeless Sealing Issue: Narrow Tape

I had to throw out six ounces of fresh Stan’s, but at least I identified the most-likely cause of my road tubeless issues: the rim tape. For some new wheels that I’m building for the Vaya, 1/2″ tensilized polypropylene strapping tape (McMaster-Carr part number 7637a31), which seems to be the same as Stan’s NoTubes 12mm tape, was chosen for sealing the rim. This width covers the spoke holes, but after being pumped up to 70 PSI it seems to have leaked as the tape stretched.

The photo above shows where the tape slightly puckered and allowed air (and sealant) out when under high pressure.

The proposed solution for this issue is a double-layer of tape, partially off set side to side, to both make the area over the spoke holes thicker and have more tape stuck to the inner wall of the rim (photo). I would have used a wider tape, but the next size up is 21mm, and this doesn’t sit nicely in the U channel in the center of the rim (cross section).

Low-Cost 29+ Stand

Building on the Low-Cost Fat Bike Stand idea and needing a way to support the forthcoming Jones Plus build I’ve built a 29+ bike stand from PVC pipe. By taking the previous plans, narrowing the main section, and adding length and height I got something which securely holds a 29+ (700c x 3.0″) wheel.

Modifications to the original plan involve narrowing the center pieces by 1″, adding 0.5″ to each support leg, adding 1″ to the pieces between the upright and the back side, lengthening the horizontal pieces for an 11.75″ opening, and increasing the height of the upright for a 25.5″ opening. This results in a stand which allows the wheel to set in, touch the ground, and slightly lean sideways against one of the uprights. The stand can also be placed directly against a wall and approximately 1″ will be left between the tire and the wall.

Parts for Jones Plus Build

I’ve had my eye on the Jeff Jones / Jones Bikes venerable Spaceframe for years, but wasn’t interested enough to pick one up. Still, Jeff’s bike designs have intrigued me. This winter everything fell into place for me to build up the newest Jones Bikes design, the Jones Plus. Being built as a single speed it’ll replace my well loved steel Salsa El Mariachi, but it is should easily be convertable to a geared bike, should the desire arise.

After months of thought, collecting parts via group buys, weird corners of the internet, local bike shops, and the Jones Bikes store itself, the parts are now all here and the build has begun. Here’s the collected list of parts going into the bike. Not all have arrived yet (and the list will be updated if needed), but if all goes as planned it’ll be built by the beginning of March:

Frame / Fork: Jones Plus (24″)

Headset: Jones Headset for Truss Fork

Front Hub: Jones 135/142-F Hub

Rear Hub: DT Swiss 350 135mm Disc Brake (Int.Standard) w/ Bontrager 54t Star Ratchet Set (436413)

Front Axle: Jones (Comes w/ Fork)

Rear Skewer: Shimano M770 (Deore XT, 173mm, Y3TG98020)

Rims: Nextie Jungle Fox Carbon Fat MTB 29+ Rim 50mm Width Double Wall Hookless Tubeless Compatible [NXT50JF] w/ 3mm Offset (measured 576.5mm ERD)

Spokes: DT Swiss Supercomp (Black, 276mm, Spoke Calculator Screenshot)

Nipples: DT Swiss standard, aluminum (Silver, 1.8mm, 16mm long)

Tires: Bontrager Chupacabra

Tubeless Valves: Stan’s NoTubes 44mm

Tubeless Sealant: Stan’s NoTubes Tire Sealant

Rim Tape: Stan’s NoTubes Rim Tape 21mm

Brakes: Shimano XT, Levers: BL-M785, Calipers: BR-M785

Brake Rotors: Front Rotor: SM-RT76-M (180mm), Rear Rotor: SM-RT76-S (160mm)

Crankset: SRAM XO1 (GXP, 175mm, Black)

Crank Protectors: Race Face Carbon Crank Boots, (Black)

Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP (Silver)

Chainring: North Shore Billet 1 x 10 Direct Mount Chainring (32t, GXP)

Rear Cog: Surly Cassette Cog (18t)

Chain: SRAM PC 991

Single Speed Spacer Kit: Surly Spacer Kit

Pedals: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3 (Black)

Handlebar: Salsa Bend 2 (23 Degree)

Stem: Thomson Elite X4 : 31.8 Mountain (1-1/8″ x 10° x 90 mm x 31.8 mm, SM-E138 BLACK)

Headset Spacers: Wheels Manufacturing Black Aluminum

Stem Cap: Niner YAWYD

Grips: Ergon GP1 (L)

Saddle: Specialized Phenom (143mm)

Seatpost: Thomson Elite (27.2 dia. x 410 mm, SP-E113 BLACK, Straight)

Collected photos of the parts can be found here.

Ground Bees and Bench Cutting

 

Today I was reminded that bench cutting trail is incompatible with ground bees. After an excellent meeting with the Bald Mountain Recreation Area staff and start/finish planning for the Addison Oaks Fall Classic I headed out to River Bends to do some trail work. We’ve been building Lazy River, a new-ish section of trail designed to repair / replace what was lost when ITC cut a corridor to replace an eroding high tension power line tower.

One portion of this trail segment is a flowing, switchbacky downhill followed by a short, but slightly punchy climb. To make this roll nicely it needs to be bench cut, and with last night’s rain I figured it would be a great time. Despite being hot and mosquito-y, everything was going great… until I hit the bee nest. Suddenly the bees began flowing out of the ground and I got stung while running away. A few run-by passes to collect my tools and I decided the day’s work was done.

This unfortunately means that about 12′ in the middle of the trail has been left unbenched with some nicely churned soil right in the middle of the nice line. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to it another day soon, armed with something to handle the bees.