Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blue Raleigh Space Rider 1-speed backpedal-braking small step-through cruiser

This gorgeous Raleigh Space Rider was rescued on its way to the dump by my good friend Stan the Man! It's a lovely 1-speed, backpedal-braked, tiny step-through cruiser that a long guy like me can even ride like a BMX... and it's light as a feather! I fixed it up and sold it at a garage sale for $75. If I were to sell the same bike now, being more patient about it, the price would be closer to $150. Maybe $130.

Get Good Gloves!

I hate getting my hands dirty. Hate it! And I also hate getting steel wool and bits of cabling stuck in my skin - what a pain! So I nabbed these babies from the hardware shop down the street - just over $3! They work nicely, but they do get dirty, so it's a good thing they're very washable. But I also recommend gardening gloves for heavier work.

The purple road bike and the white fold-up

That there in the back is a gorgeous CCM Concorde in great shape. No repainting needed! It doesn't even need any steel wool work done, which is a relief - I'm sick of stripping and painting for now! I found some great steel wheels for it, complete with perfect tires. They're just in the sweet spot between road tires (too dainty) and hybrid tires (too beefy), and they've got some tread to them for grass but they're perfectly smooth on the road. I could have found aluminum rims to match the ultralight frame, but I'm sticking with my steel-for-real mentality, and I think it's going to offer the perfect amount of suspension and momentum. I don't want to make bikes that are too skittish!

And in front, we have a lovely Universal folding bike. What a gem! This baby just needs the front brake re-attached and the 3-speed hub fixed. Right now it's stuck in low gear. I hear that you're allowed to ride on sidewalks with these babies because of their small tire size - a rumor I'll have to investigate. Seems like the only way to find out the truth about that would be to go to court over it - even the police don't know or don't want to tell the truth about the laws, depending on which one you talk to. Sometimes they'll admit to not knowing about the law, and sometimes they'll just lie to cover up their ignorance, but when it comes to cycling bylaws, they're not really concerned with accuracy, so it's anyone's best guess what we're supposed to be doing out there. This is the only one of these bikes where I may just leave the rack on. I'm not sure. We'll see how it wants to be ridden when the gears work again.

More bikes on the build!

Just behold all this cycling goodness in the making!

Here we have, from back to front in the pile:

An old crackmobile of a mountain bike, just needs a tune-up and some cleaning up, and I'm going to cut them big wide bars down to city-size. Maybe I'll put some faster tires on it too, might turn it into a single-speed if it's fast enough, but hey, this could be my one and only mountain bike for people who want to trek through high park and do some offroading by the tracks or something.

That camouflage craziness on the next frame is actually tape. Somebody wrapped this monster, then dumped it next to a park near my place. I found some awesome big balloon smooth tires for it, rehabilitated the heck out of the drive train, and now I'm doing the same thing with the brakes. This is going to be the ultimate macho hybrid. Underneath it's red. I can't decide whether to remove the tape, I kind of like it!

The weird blue cruiser thing got converted in a very strange way, and I'm planning on stripping it down and turning it into a proper cruiser. I'm not even sure what tires this frame was designed for!

And finally, the superstar of the bunch: This Brentwood Hustler is another rescued-from-the-trash item that came with some great (after the rust was removed) rims with white-walled tires. The frame has a lot of rust damage, so this is going to teach me how to deal with that. My strategy is to aggressively sand through all the rust spots, then use rust converter or just get down to the bare metal, and then prime and paint those spots so that it's kind of spotted, like a leopard! I have a buddy who I think will suit this bike perfectly, so we'll see how he feels about the colour. It's gonna be a classic worthless, fast, sturdy road bike when I'm done with it.

Update: About half these bikes got fixed up and sold, and the other half got donated to Bike Pirates. So you may see these cruising around the streets of Toronto!

My black beauty's busted!!!

So here you can see not only how rad my big black stallion of a racer really is, with them belts and stuff, but also: this is what happens when you don't properly remove all rust and apply new paint to seal an old frame! After about a year of riding, this baby just broke on a bump. I was already safeguarding my builds against this by stripping and sealing the frames, but now I'm doing much more thorough inspections and preventative paintwork. I also went out and checked all the Douma Cycles frames that were out in the wild and fortunately none of them had any paint or frame issues.

It's really important to check your frame for any rust spots and see how far they go by scraping them with some medium or light-grade steel wool. If the rust is only on the surface, that's great! Just remove it, and if you have to go down to the bare metal to do it, then start from the beginning with the painting: primer, steel wool, primer, steel wool, paint, steel wool, paint, steel wool, clear coat, steel wool, clear coat, and you're good!

Two paint jobs in progress

The white one is the green step-through 3-speed cruiser from a previous post! It's in "Recreational White" which is basically a white-ish cream. It's glossy but not glossy enough - so right now it's between clear coats. This baby's been put on-hold while I fast-track a couple of racing frames that already have buyers.

And the orange one is an experiment! I found it on garbage day just down the block, as-is. No wheels, no seat, just a frame, and I thought: Perfect. I shall use this to experiment with using fluorescent marker orange. I didn't bother to cover anything up on this baby. Even the chain is getting painted. Mechanical movement will rub off the excess paint and I'll find out whether that's a structurally-sound way to paint in the future. It's also between clear coats. The marker paint is not so stable, so I'm hoping that the clear coats will seal it down and keep it robust. This took two cans of marker paint (big cans) and there are a couple scratched-off spots (I can't handle this carefully enough!) so it might take a third!

I'm planning on replacing the grips with old belts wrapped around the bars! I've been wanting to try this for awhile. I wrapped belts around my own bike's top tube so that I could carry it more easily and it's so comfortable to hold that I can't wait to try it for grips! This bike will be suitable for a very small person.

Charlie's new racer, from me and Xenia

I used parts from both these abandoned beauties to fix up the one on the left - it was my first Douma Cycles bike! My friend Xenia did a big move and it was locked up to another bike in her garage after they cleared out. I cleaned it up but didn't rebuild the bearings or anything, as it was very smooth when I got it. This bike got stolen from Ossington and Dundas St. W. about a month after it was purchased, so now I'm including appropriate locks with the bikes I sell.

The Raleigh Supreme Step-through 3-speed cruiser

This is the last anyone will see of this bike in its previous form. In retrospect, I wonder whether I should have just clearcoated over this green. When I was taking off the surface to prepare it for painting, it turned a nicer green before I hit the primer, but I couldn't manage to get a consistency over the whole surface so I decided to just take it down to the primer and go from there. Now it's in the process of becoming cream and lime green. Very 2005.

I removed the rear rack and side basket, found a seat, and what I have to do after I finish painting it is fix one of the speeds in the 3-speed rear hub. Fixing 3-speed hubs is my next learning experience! Now I have two of them to deal with. I want to build racing bikes with them, so you get a classic road bike with the three gears that you need for commuting but without the derailers!

If I were to put it back together and sell it without doing anything else to it, it'd be just under $200. It's got about another $50 - $100 worth of work pending.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First status update!

Here's what I got done during my first spring of operation:
  • Sold my roommate a lovely green step-through 1-speed cruiser for $80. To prepare it, I removed rust from the frame and rims. It was looking pretty ghetto when I first found it, but after some steel wool TLC, it's looking great. It took about two or three hours to get all that rust off. I definitely gave her a huge deal, if I had to sell the same bike again it'd be for $160!
  • Assembled a gorgeous and classic black '70s 10-speed racing bike out of a frame that I hauled out of my friend's garage after she moved out, and some other found parts. I gave that one to my buddy as a birthday present, so it doesn't count as a sale, but it still needs a lot of work so I didn't want to make it into one, also I owed the dude!
  • And wait 'till you see this gorgeous bike I put together and sold to my buddy for $90. Just gorgeous. This was the first bike I put together 100% from scratch using scavenged parts, and it's the first proper painting job I've done as well. He says it practically rides itself, it's totally him, and I'm glad to hear that because that's what I had in mind when I built it.
Here's the bikes I'm working on at the moment and how ready they are:
  • I'm most of the way through repairing an old '60s step-through 3-speed cruiser. I got it to the point that it was ride-able and then took it apart and painted it. It's almost finished its cream-and-lime-green paint job, and then reassembling it is going to be kind of a monster. When it's ready, it'll be perfect for a smallish guy or medium sized girl. In addition to the lovely 3-speed rear hub (which needs repair to restore one of the speeds), it features an elegant generator in the front hub, so I'll have to put some pretty lights on it too. What a gorgeous person-mover. It'll probably be $300 - $400 when I'm ready to sell it.
  • I found a small, beautiful cruiser frame in the garbage along Dundas West, and right away set to painting it in very loud orange marker paint, the kind you see spraying onto the road. I'm topping it off with clear coats to give it a brilliant shine, and it'll be perfect for a small person who wants to go fast while staying upright! Depending on how much work I put into building it, it should eventually be something like $180 - $300.
  • I've been finding all this mountain bike stuff. Frames and wheels and stuff. So I'm going to build two bikes out of the mess. One of them is almost finished being built and just needs some brake and drivetrain work. It's got wonderful fast smooth balloon tires and is perfect for a medium-to-tall person who wants to move quickly but likes to ride mountain bikes instead of racers or cruisers. This thing is bad-ass and should fetch something like $90 - $150. But it'll be hard to part with! Still not sure what the other one is going to look like, but it'll be similar except with larger wheels and skinnier tires, also very smooth and fast. And it'll be made from this gorgeous black frame I found in the alley down the block. And it'll be pricier, something like $140 - $200.
  • Then there's the crackmobile I found in an alley off Queen West in some garbage. I think a restaurant was throwing it out. It's got a couple of the kind of problems over which people throw out cheap bikes instead of fixing them. I think this is going to be my own mountain bike, because I need something for rough terrain. But we'll see! I plan to narrow the handlebars a bit and keep the knobby tires on this one.
Here's where I'm going with all this:
  • I want to do more 10-speed racers and keep it up with the single speed and 3-speed cruisers, they're just wonderful and I think they're the most practical thing for people.
  • I'm not going to be putting any baskets, racks or anything like that on these bikes. Even water bottle holders are a bit sketchy, as are plastic water bottles. This is just because it's a safety thing: Your bike should only be carrying one thing: you. And you should be carrying all your stuff. It's the only safe way to do it. I know it's tempting but no more loading our bikes up with stuff, it's not good.
  • I want to help drivers who live outside the downtown and commute into work and to run errands by hooking them up with good commuter bikes so that they can add a cycling segment to their commute, to cover the higher-density parts where cycling is faster than driving. I want to help them get more stuff done downtown and worry less about parking. Instead of attaching their bikes to their cars, I want to recommend to them that they choose one or two cheap parking spots that are along their typical commuting routes in and out of town, and then park bikes at those locations. And I want to be able to offer them a selection of bikes that includes expensive, gorgeous status symbols as well as worthless ones.