Rewinding and Doing Things Over

4/28/2017 Update: I am temporarily making this post “sticky” as it contains a large to-do list.  As I work through my to do list below, I’ll cross items off and update with pictures.

Even though I had a partially functioning bike, it wasn’t right.  I mean, I could get from here to there on it, but it was a jalopy with no brakes, ready to fall apart at any moment.  I’ve made several mistakes along the way that now I’ve set about going back to fix. Even if that requires me to strip it all down to its bare bones.

Mistakes or issues that need to be remedied:

  • DONE Fork is wrong size:  I ordered a new 1 1/8″ fork with disc brake mounts that will hold a 700c wheel.
  • DONE Head tube is mounted centered vertically, which doesn’t give room for fork cables if it has caliper brakes. Once the new fork comes in, I’m going to reassess whether I need to cut, grind, and reweld this part.
  • DONE – Used original 1″ tube Seat support (back support) tube was welded on crooked, making it hard to properly mount the seat. I cut it off and grinded down the main boom. I’ll be using 1.5″ tube (instead of 1″) for the replacement.  Old seat tube picture below:

  • DONE Seat frame’s “stretchers” (the 3/4″ conduit) weren’t trimmed before I welded them, causing the seat to mount too high above the frame.  I’ve cut the entire thing apart and will reweld.
  • DONE Seat frame sides (1/2″ conduit) are too weak near the top.  While pulling my new temporary rope seat tight, one started to bend inward. There are only two 3/4″ stretchers: under your butt and in the middle of your back. I will cut and weld on an additional one or two stretchers.
  • DONE – Ordered parts from Bacchetta. Future post will detail. Gooseneck and gooseneck bracket are weak and crooked. I need to replace both with a better long term solution.

To Do

  1. DONE Weld on new back support tube
  2. DONE Weld on support beam for idler
  3. DONE Attach idler
  4. DONE Install proper rear derailleur
  5. DONE Route chain
  6. DONE Install proper fork
  7. DONE Install front disc brakes
  8. DONE rear disc brakes
  9. DONE Mount Seat
  10. Stretch fabric onto mounted seat
  11. DONE Determine and install shifting system
  12. DONE Mark everything and then dismantle!
  13. DONE Paint and reassemble
  14. Take it apart and fix whatever I missed along the way, haha.

Wish me luck!!  Look at that to do list and fix it list!  Here’s a great place for a donate button! 😀

Wrapped Handlebars and Cable Runs

I finally wrapped my handlebars!  Now that I have a front derailleur installed (news hardly worth an entire post about), it was finally time to make the cable runs look halfway decent.

As you can see in the picture above, the bike doesn’t fit too nicely onto the back of my car.  It’s top-heavy, and it doesn’t have a place to sit nicely onto the rack horizontally.  A little too far to the right or left, and you’re catching the chain, putting weight on the idler, or something.  It’s actually pretty annoying, but it DOES work.

Also, since I haven’t bothered to upholster the seat yet, the layers of foam are starting to separate.  The orange bungee cord is so they don’t blow off for good while the car is speeding down the road!

Pannier Rack!

I mounted a pannier rack onto the back to help with commuting.  It’s pretty heavy when it is full (about 10 lbs I think), and it throws the balance off a bit.  Even so, it’s still the best option for now.

Euromesh Clone Attempt

I bought some 3/4″ conduit and tried to make a clone of Bacchetta’s Euromesh seat.

This ended up being too wide, and all my attempts to shorten it made it harder and harder to mate the ends up correctly.  Eventually I found someone selling a used Euromesh seat online, so I bought that.  At this point in the project, where I already have a bike that works, I didn’t want to spend hours and hours building a part that might be funky.  I’m trying to imagine being on whatever I build for an entire day, like on a Century ride.

The Euromesh seat came in the mail, and as soon as I handled it, I knew I’d made the right choice.

Paint Job!

The pictures do a great job of hiding how bad of a spray painter I am.  Of course I can see all my mistakes.  But when I step back, I have to admit that it looks pretty slick all dressed up in glossy red!  I’m having some trouble with a stuck fork, so I didn’t take it off.  But that actually worked out in my favor, allowing me to balance the bike while it dried.

Seat Update

Some of the background information overlaps another post, but I wanted to have everything in one place so this update would make sense.  

The yellow rope seat was meant to only be temporary.  I bought another length of rope to use as a better temporary seat.  It was way more comfortable but obviously still not a long-term solution.

In the end, the seat was just too messed up.  The mounts are a great idea if you’re using stronger material, but this stuff just warped and bent, so I tossed the whole thing.

The pictures above show it at its best, and at its best it wasn’t great.  When I sat down and applied some weight to it, it just got all loose and funky.  The experience caused me a lot of heartache because the loose seat, loose headset, and bent-up handlebar assembly just made the entire bike feel like a piece of junk.  I began to lose hope in the project.

My next attempt at a seat was a wood toilet seat.  Heck, it’s already the right size for a butt, and with a little padding, it should work, right?  Wrong!  So wrong!  See the pictures for all the details you’ll need.

Back to the drawing board!  This might be “wood” in the legal sense, but it’s more like MDF.  I was so angry after spending several hours building this, only to have it fail within seconds.

Disheartened after this failure on my rattle trap of a bike, I decided that I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel anymore.  I built a decent bike frame (it has its problems, but it’s solid), and I’m not going to decorate it with junky components to try to save money.  You’ll see that come to fruition in future posts.  The seat is likely the last DIY component for this project.

I figured I could spend a significant amount of time and money buying plywood and cutting it into shape, or I could buy something pre-fab.  Lucky for me, Home Depot has some solid wood rounds for stools and small tabled.  I bought one for my butt and one for my back.  If you do this yourself, don’t forget to grind down the screws!  😛

I also reinforced them by using large sheetmetal screws driven through the wood and directly into the frame metal.   You can see these on the backrest piece.

Also, following more closely to Atomic Zombie’s plan now, I bought some camping foam and a yoga mat.

The seat and back each have 1 layer of camping foam and 2 layers of yoga mat.

The cutouts aren’t even, obviously.  The next step will be trimming them to shape and stretching some lycra over them.

After riding it awhile, I realized the seat is way too large.  It’s not possible to put my legs over the sides – I can only move forward to plant them onto the ground.  I drew some lines on the padding where my legs fit, and started to cut.  A sawzall (handheld reciprocating saw) works this an easy task.

I also decided to add some reinforcements.  After a trip to work, I realized that the back seat would be the first thing to fail because it’s only attached along a single plane.  Also, it was crooked.  The supports have fixed both issues.  They’re made with 1/2″ conduit which has been hammered flat at the ends and then drilled with a press.

Nuts and bolts for now.  Welding later once I’m sure it’s right.  But it’s good enough for the time being.

I still have to stretch something over the seat to make it look prettier.  That will show up in a future post.  Looks are one thing, but this picture shows that I made the right decision.

Here’s both feet squarely on the ground.  Safety first!


Crank Strike – A CRITICAL Problem

The plans warn against this, and I can’t over emphasize this.  Ensure that the crank can never contact your tire!

I wasn’t worried about this until I turned sharply and it caught.  Nope Nope Nope.  This is super bad.  Why am I writing a separate post just for this?  Because the position of your cranks relative to your wheel affects everything!  In order to fix this single problem, I had to move my bottom bracket forward.  This made the bike too long for me to pedal, meaning I had to move my seat forward or the headset back.  The problem is that the headset and seat are permanently mounted to the frame, requiring lots of re-work to fix!  Do not make this mistake!

Here is the (fixed) strike zone now:

Note that heel strike is different than crank strike.  If your heel hits the wheel, well, that just happens sometimes.  Your foot can maneuver out of the way, but the crank is part of your bike.  It’s inflexible.

Fixing this required grinding off the welds for the seat and also removing the rear seat post (and, obviously, re-welding it all).

Now… NOW I can finally put the seat where it needs to be!

Headset, Steering, Idler and Front Fork Fix

I ordered proper headset and handlebar from Bacchetta and a front fork from Amazon.

These new parts, plus a gazillion spacers – let me tell you, it feels like a whole different bike.  No more wobbly front end!  No more crooked, loose gooseneck!  Now I just need a wheel built for disc brakes!

I also installed an idler assembly from Bacchetta.  Another great purchase.  The chain is nice and tight, and doesn’t rub against the frame anymore.

The only loose, funky part now is the seat.  More on that in my next post!

Chain and Rear Derailleur

The plans say that you need two chains’ worth of length for this project. That’s wrong. There are nearly three chains in this picture!

That chain seems way too long, but the frame is still missing a rear derailleur and main idler pulley.  It was simply too much temptation to drive it around like this, but there’s no way I could leave the chain dangling.  So I rigged up this redneck rear derailleur:

This worked – on the stand.  In real life, it was a disaster.  The cable tie broke, and as I turned a corner, the chain wedged itself between the wheel and cassette.  HARD.  It took all of my strength to unstick it, and it messed up the wheel just enough to cause problems with any loose chain.

To fix that problem, I borrowed a rear derailleur from a junk bike.  It’s a 9 speed, but it works fine as a temporary holder.  The proper 11 speed is on the way.

It was this the temporary derailleur that I took the bike around the neighborhood recently.  Still no brakes, except for the soles of my cheap leather shoes!

Temporary Rope Seat #2

Remember the temporary rope seat?  Well, it was enough to hold me while I pedaled approximately 9 miles around my neighborhood.  But boy is it a literal pain in the butt!

I’m still waiting for seat fabric to come in, so I made a better, more comfortable version.

The seat frame mounts are very simple.  I mentioned it in a previous post, and here they are in action.