Monday, July 02, 2007

What's on your bicycle...

Culled from the nether regions of the Internet for your viewing pleasure. Just when you think you've seen it all, or that bicycles are a mature/stagnant industry with no innovation, comes something that blows you away.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thumbshifter renovation....

So, way back in the day, when the Buffmeister was almost a young man, he worked as a mechanic. Riders would come in with bikes that they'd crashed, and often the casualty was a broken thumb-shifter. They usually broke at the weakest point, which is at the end of the plastic grip that one pushes with their thumb. Some people would have damage to the plastic cap that covers the internals, Shimano did sell replacement caps, but there were many varieties, two different "hands" of them, and few stores carried that part. Shimano only sold thumb-shifters in pairs, of course, and so customers would "donate" one perfectly good, and one broken thumb-shifter to me after replacing both. Pretty soon I had a small box of broken shifters, and I figured out a way of repairing them.
Here's the method I devised.
1...Where the shifter usually broke, flatten the aluminum square with a flat file.
2...Drill a blind hole into the remaining peg, not so far as you drill into the internals and totally bugger the shifter ;-(
3...Screw in a sheet metal screw of sufficient length that when fully in you have about one inch sticking out the thumb-shifter. Screw it in with permanent locktite or 5 minute epoxy on the threads.
4...Wait for it to set. Cut off the head of the screw. grind a point where the head was.
5...Drill a piece of dowel or exotic wood with a blind hole.
6...Fill the hole with epoxy and screw the dowel tightly on the screw. Fill all cracks, imperfections with epoxy.
7...Let it set, overnight.
8...Sand the dowel to shape, decorate/embellish to your liking. In the pic, mine are decorated with copper pipe, only problem is I spend more time buffing them than riding the bike.

Using the above method, I have never had a failure of a repaired thumb-shifter in two decades now.

Also, if the top cap is damaged, you can simply epoxy quarters onto the top, covering up the ugliness. Indian head coins look the coolest.

Lesser known thumb-shifter facts:
1...There's a hidden click at the end of the range. You can make 6 speed shifters work over 7 (six-speed-spaced) cogs, for example. Likewise a 7 speed thumbie will work over 8 cogs if they are spaced as a 7 speed. I often use the inner cog from a Ritchey 2x9 kit to give me a 33 tooth inner cog, with lower overall cassette width (less dish) than using a "standard" cog. Sometimes a small shim is needed for a clean shift.
2...You can adjust the firmness of the indexing: remove the shifter. From underneath unscrew the small #1 philips screw and pop off the top cap. The nut you see on top adjusts the tension(beware it's a left-hand thread: "unscrew" to increase tension). It indexes itself, so a couple of "clicks" is usually enough to change the setting.
3...You can disassemble and rebuild the thumb-shifters. Follow #2 as above, then back off that nut till the shifter internals come apart. Clean and re-lube, reassemble. I don't recommend this, all I have ever need to do in 20 years is flush with WD40, then dribble in some 30W oil, with no disassembly.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Altoids tin toolkit

Here's the packed and unpacked versions of my Altoids tin toolkit. I carry a tube, patchkit and pump/CO2 as well.
Allen wrenches, a full run from 2 to 8mm.
Wrench Force wrench with 8mm and 10mm and caplifter.
2 tire levers, one has Duct tape wrapped around it.
A shimano wrench that fits 9mm, crank dustcaps, and chainring bolt rears.
WTB chaintool with bailingwire wrapped around handle.
Small half-round file.
Short length of hacksaw blade.
SeberTech M4 tool, pliers and wire cutters will cut 2mm brake cable, also has blade, bottle opener, tweezers, small file, phillips and straight screwdrivers.
3 Topeak dog-bone spoke wrenches cover all common sizes.
Presta to Schraeder valve adapter.
Shimano chain pin.
Master link for chain.
Spare chainlink.
Spare chainring bolt.
Spare waterbottle bolt and nut.
Spare cleat bolt.
A wet-nap to clean up with afterwards.

It's a tight fit, very little else could be packed inside the tin.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Extended tour toolkit

This kit is used for longer trips, when I want to be able to fix almost anything short of headset or bottom bracket replacement. It's based on one of the modifiable small tackle boxes that fishermen use. Case costs about $1.50. Here's a pic of the closed case:

And here's a pic of it in its open state:

And this is what's in it:
From top right corner, clockwise...
2 tire levers, shortened, with duct tape.
Shortened ballpoint pen (marks puncture location on tube also).
Half-round file.
Craftsman ignition wrenches, 8, 9, 10mm.
3.5" adjustable wrench.
Piece of a hacksaw blade.
Allens: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.5, 2.
8mm to 6mm allen adapter.
Spare chain link.
Wrench Force 4-way spoke wrench.
Botle of chain lube (Eye drop containers are very useful for this purpose).
Lip Balm container filled with grease.
Matches sealed in plastic.
2 strips of double-sided tape.
Small Compass and Thermometer/Windchill gauge.
Emergency whistle.
2 tubes of patch glue.
Fiberfix emergency spoke.
Topeak chaintool.
SeberTech minipliers, wire cutters will cut 2mm brake cable, assorted blades, tweezers, file.
Assorted patches and sandpaper.

Not shown:
14mm socket, ground so the crescent wrench will fit it.
Assorted essential nuts, bolts and various spare parts....Chainring bolt, waterbottle bolt,cleat bolt, Rear derailleur pulley and bolt, chain masterlink.

I also have a small pack which contains:
1 full-length brake and derailleur cable.
A few zip ties.
Bailing wire.
Wetnap wipes.
A pair of latex gloves.
A small rag.
A few cable end caps.

Not enough tooltalk for you? Check out the Altoids tin toolkit.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Before and after.....

This used to be a classic Guild 12 string guitar in almost immaculate condition.
Then I sold it on Ebay, and mailed it to its new owner in Florida. Seems someone in the USPS handled it rather carelessly, despite it being packing in its padded wooden case, and being covered in stickers proclaiming its fragility, and that it was plain to see I had it insured.
Still, ouch!!

It's not my job....

Surely this wins some sort of reward? No, wait, it did: Winner of the 2006 "It's not my job contest".
A friend sent it to me via email.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

People NOT to do business with.

I won an auction for a new front hub on Ebay from When it came one could easily see that it wasn't new, had been laced into a wheel, and that the telltale marks of spoke pull were there for all to see.
No biggie, I wrote them an email. All I got was an automated reply stating that they never answered their email sent to them through Ebay, but to resend it through their actual site email. This I promptly did, but never heard from them.
Sooo, a month later I am attending to my general Ebay stuff and noticed I had never left feedback for that item, and that they had never left feedback for me either. So, I left them negative feedback for 2 reasons: not replying to my email, and for misrepresenting what they sold me. Closed case, or so I thought.
Until a couple of days later I got an email from Ebay saying icycles had left me negative feedback (claiming I had used defaming and negative language no less!!), and what did I want to do about it.
Simple I thought, I will just ask for it to be removed, as ebay suggested I could, as it was plainly retaliatory feedback, and unwarranted, and against the spirit of ebay's rules.
Wrong, ebay wouldn't let that happen, form email followed form email, but no satisfaction. Just left me scratching my head wondering what the point of the whole feedback system was if you couldn't really use it to express lousy service without getting slammed back.
The moral of the story: don't use ebay's feedback system. Take your frustrations out via a forum like this one instead!!! Oh, one last thing.....and don't buy anything from

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dylsexia made me do it......

Absolutely no prizes for guessing who said all of these in 2005. I personally like #8 (though it also makes me cringe). Thanks to for the quotes.

10) "It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." --turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005

9) "I'm occasionally reading, I want you to know, in the second term." --Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005

8) "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table." --Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 22, 2005

7) "I'm going to spend a lot of time on Social Security. I enjoy it. I enjoy taking on the issue. I guess, it's the mother in me." --Washington D.C., April 14, 2005

6) "Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers.
For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled." --explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005

5) "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" --in a note to to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a U.N. Security Council meeting, September 14, 2005 (View photo)

4) "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) --touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

3) "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005 (Listen to audio)

2) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005 (Listen to audio)

1) "You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005 (Listen to audio)

Pick a letter at random.....

Todays letter is J. Seems like a high proportion of all slang terms in England have something to do with sex.

And now for something completely different.

I know you'll appreciate this diversion.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Relaxing the gentleman's way....

With between one and two feet of snow on the ground, and with winter just over half finished, this is how I wish my summer to be.
By the way, this gentleman is relaxing in a Hennessy Hammock/Tent. If you'd like to get me one for my birthday, I would love the Explorer Deluxe, Asymetrical.

Monday, February 26, 2007


It's a new word, and it basically means publicity. So, with that shameless plug, here's the required Blog entry to make everyone happy.
We all want our 15 minutes of fame, right?
Technorati Profile

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Can you pronounce Singer ?

I just got back from 8 days of general debauchery and
a certain merriment in Paris, where, I stopped at the
Alex Singer store. I was sort of prepared for the
store and what to expect, but nevertheless was quite
impressed. For those of you that haven't been there, I
have to say, that as a confirmed bike junkie and shop
connoisseur, the Alex Singer experience is like no
other. I remember walking through the west end of
London a couple of years ago, and bumped into the
window of a store that sold bespoke shotguns. Sold in
pairs, made to measure, engraved and buffed to a
certain sheen that only way too much time and skill
can achieve. Heirloom quality. Alex Singer's
storefront has that same essence.
I got there at their lunchtime. Those French know how
to structure working hours in my opinion: 9am to noon,
then 2 to 7pm. Never too many consecutive hours to
tire one out. I was reduced to pressing my nose
against the glass for a few minutes, gaping at the
subtly buffed chrome, paint and alloy adorning the
mostly 531 and 753 bicycles within. A sometimes
strange mixture of seemingly old-world frame set,
complete with box-lining and full chrome, but with a
spanking new Dura-Ace 10 speed kit on it. Lots of
shellacked bar tape, all honey brown, all with lots of
texture, made you want to reach out and feel it. Hand
made stems, heavily chromed and flawlessly polished,
with hidden binder. Time-warp displays of 60's style
panniers, clothing and accessories.

Time for a coffee before they opened, then I came back
to an empty store (it was Saturday even) and an
invitation to tour the back of the shop, sniff the
glue, pluck a few spokes, look like I sort of knew
what I was doing. Hanging from the beams were loads of
partially completed frames, lots of wheels, and a few
repair jobs. Seems like if you own a Singer, even if
it gets flattened by a truck, you still send it back
to see if it just might be salvageable. From stateside
Back at the front of the showroom my eye was very
taken by a 61cm blue AS with exquisitely matching
paneled aluminum fenders. Drat, it's just my size,
just a little too difficult to rationalize YET another
bike, so I resisted manfully. Seems like no-one could
have ever really ridden it, since all the housings
were about 2" too short, quite a remediation when it's
Campy ergo, and shellacked in place.
So, I dawdled some more, eyes darting from bike to
bike, then wrenched myself back to reality. There's
always a next year, always a next bike, always...