giglet: (Default)
[personal profile] giglet posting in [community profile] bicycles
Hi! I've had a bike since I was a teen (which was a few decades ago), but didn't use it much and eventually gave it to a friend gathering bikes for "Bikes Not Bombs". But one day this summer, I couldn't face getting on the bus to go to work, and pulled out a bike abandoned by a former housemate, walked to the corner gas station to pump up the tires, and set off.

It felt wonderful. It felt even more wonderful once I got a helmet and a wider seat. And then lights and a safety vest and a bungee cord to hold stuff on the rack. I've been biking to work about twice a week since then, and I'm hoping to keep going into the winter (here in Boston), although I expect to stop once snow covers the bike lanes. My philosophy is to get to work (and home) alive. Neither speed nor style is particularly important to me.

Money is kinda tight, however, so while I'd love to get a lot of things for the bike, I'm either living without or making it myself. The list changes every couple days, but the things I'd like include:

a chain guard (the chain ate my last pair of jeans yesterday)
fenders
a rear bike lever that doesn't require me to stretch really awkwardly to grab it.
a better front light mount. Mine broke the day I bought it. I've wired it on, but it's ugly.
panniers
one of those bags that hangs off the back of the seat
pump
spare tube and the knowledge to use it

Some of those things seem like I should be able to make them myself. Any words of wisdom?

Date: 2011-10-17 01:33 am (UTC)
dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (Default)
From: [personal profile] dragonfly
Re: Knowledge.

YouTube has an amazing selection of demonstrations of how to do bike-y things like change an innertube or whatnot. Just do a search.

::waves:: hi!

Date: 2011-10-17 07:44 am (UTC)
juliet: (bike fixed)
From: [personal profile] juliet
The rear brake lever - depending on exactly what the problem is, you may be able to fix the existing one. Is it a flat-barred bike? If so, then you can twist the brake lever around by loosening the clamp that holds it to the handlebars, moving the lever, and tightening the clamp back up. You want it so it falls naturally under your fingers when you're sitting on your bike with your hands on the bars. If the 'reach' on the lever is too big (ie the lever itself is a long way away from your fingers - often a problem if you have small hands) then a lot of levers have a small screw sticking out from the hinge between lever and handlebar that you can adjust to increase or decrease the reach. Check YouTube for helpful videos!

(Sometimes the lever is in the wrong place because of a bell or the gear changer or something. You should be able to move those around too in much the same way, if it helps.)

Oh, also, re chain guard & trousers - a cheaper way to solve this problem is either just to roll the legs of your trousers up (which is what I do; neither of my bikes have a chain guard), to tuck them into your socks to keep them out of the way, or to use a thick elastic band for the same job. You can also buy trouser-clips (or at least you can in the UK!) to keep your trousers out of the way of the chain, but I find it easier to take the lower-tech options, myself. If you get oil on your trousers, a good option is to rub a bit of a hand degreaser like Swarfega (is that UK-only? Something similar must exist elsewhere! You use it to get oil off your hands.) onto the stain before putting it in the washing machine. Magic. Obviously this will not help actual damaged fabric :)
Edited (Edited to add about chain guard stuff.) Date: 2011-10-17 07:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-10-19 12:50 am (UTC)
darkemeralds: Old French poster of bicycle with naked flame-haired woman. (Bike)
From: [personal profile] darkemeralds
Wonderful "Return to Biking" story! Thank you for sharing it and joining in here.

Panniers: before I got a Dutch bike and baskets...
Eleanor O and the flower run.JPG
...I did some experimenting with making pannier-type arrangements out of found stuff.

If I were repeating the experiments (and you never know--I might), I think I'd go looking for falling-apart used panniers, and raid them for their hardware.

On the light mount: any reason not to use those little elastic-band LED lights? They're cheap, they're bright, and they don't run down the batteries very fast. I have one on my top tube near the handlebars and it makes a terrific visibility addition to the Dutch bike's built-in headlamp.

Date: 2011-10-20 03:30 am (UTC)
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
From: [personal profile] darkemeralds
That briefcase pannier was less than perfect. It stayed on okay, but not stably enough that I wanted to trust my computer to it. The hooks just weren't hooky enough. That's why I say that if I were to re-do the experiment, I think the easiest way would be to get existing hooks specifically designed to clip to a rear rack and stay.

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