My Bikes

This is my first time writing a blog on the site. My name is Adam and I’m the Acting Executive Director and Shop Manager here at the Bike Project. I’ve been meaning to get on board this blog train, but I just haven’t felt inspired yet. I told Jacob and Zane that they should do blog entries on each one of their bikes, and I figured I might as well join in. I’m going to write a blog entry on each one of my bikes (I think there’s nine now….maybe…).

This first bike is pretty special because it is the first bike I ever bought from the Bike Project.  I picked this up way back in 2014 when i was just a volunteer while I was in grad school. Its a 2001 Jamis Dragon.

So this is my first “real” mountain bike. Let me go ahead and be up front here, I suck at mountain biking so this is probably the only mountain bike I will ever need, but I’ve got a couple more (we’ll see them later). It has a full XT groupset and the MT760 dual control shift levers. If you’ve never used those, they are weird, but cool. Some of the things about this bike have changed over the years, it no long has the amazing Manitou fork that came stock with it, but maybe one day I’ll upgrade the shock on it. This bike is also made out of Reynolds 853 steel which is very high quality steel, I’ve got a bit of a thing about steel bikes so even if I didn’t have sentimental value with this bike I’d probably keep it due to the type of steel its made out of.  So that’s my Dragon.

Don’t forget we’ve got Beers and Gears upcoming!  Jan 24th. This event is really fun and a great way to meet some kick ass people. Get your tickets here!

Biking the new year

Well bike peeps it’s  new year.

Did any of you get any cool bike toys for Xmas, Hanukkah, or another holiday associated with gift giving I didn’t mention? I got my brother-in-law the best cycling accessory of all time. Of course I’m speaking of an air horn. Don’t think you need one? I regret to inform you that you’re VERY wrong. There’s nothing more satisfying than tooting at motorists who wrong you or announcing you’ve arrived at your destination to anyone in a several block radius.

Relaxing, isn’t it?

Any of you reading this have any cycling New Year’s resolutions? I’d say I’m going to resolve not to get hit by another car but that’s probably an evergreen resolution so it really doesn’t count. If I had to pick a resolution that wasn’t a cop out it would have to be learning to ride a unicycle. Laugh if you want but it’s all part of my plan for long term success in life. Think about it…should I get fired or give up my office job in the middle of an inevitable midlife crisis I could transition effortlessly into a career performing at birthday parties. People are constantly being born and having birthdays folks. It is a recession proof industry!

Anyways, I’m excited about 2019. It’s another year to hang out at the shop and work on bikes (and unicycles!) In the immortal words of famed lyricist Fred Durst keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’.

Indexing is for Librarians

Jacob here. That quote isn’t mine, by the way. I don’t have the wit to come up with that genius gatekeeping tagline. I absolutely approve, though. I’m something of a friction shifting superfan in training myself, and while I know there a plenty of people that are immensely more capable of describing the phenomenon, I definitely have enough clout to speak confidently on the topic. With that in mind, let’s get started on this blog with an essential focus on friction shifting. 

So what is it? Where do I find it? How does it work? And what’s up with that funky alternative widely known as indexed shifting? Well, ladies and gentlemen and the gender non-conforming, friction shifting is something I’d describe as classic. Beautiful and flashy but tastefully so. Reliable, yet touchy. I see friction shifting as not only a concept, but also a simple (and somehow also nuanced) learned skill. If you’ve used friction shifting you may know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t I hope my carefully chosen words have your mouth watering for more. The best way to introduce this shin-dig is to start with what everyone knows: indexed shifting. 

You readers have ridden a bike, right? If you haven’t, you should try it. For those of you that have, you’re familiar with gears, and the way they shift. The clicks! The different gears! Push a lever and it clicks, and suddenly you’re in 2nd gear, cruising up a hill much easier than before. That click of the shifter? That’s an index! That’s the resounding effect of technological innovation that just threw you into 2nd gear with ease. The rest of the gears have their respective clicks, too. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Indexing is great. Love it. It’s a piece of cake. But imagine a world where those clicks don’t exist. A world where shifting gears is a little peskier. That’s the art of friction shifting. 

On a basic level, shifting gears has to do with the basic action of pulling a cable attached to the derailleur. I can’t dive into derailleurs right now because that’s gonna be a whole different post at some point, but the derailleur changes the path of the chain so it’s lined up with certain gears. Generally pulling the shift cable tighter makes it easier to pedal, and cutting some slack makes it harder. Them’s the rules. I don’t make ’em. The shifter itself usually involves some sort of pulley that, when adjusted, wraps the cable tighter or looser around it which in turn “shifts” the gears. In an indexed shifter, there’s little stops inside a mechanism that are spring loaded to catch on each gear as the pulley is turned by the action of the lever. On a friction shifter, that ain’t a thing. That’s a luxury unafforded by the gods of love and everything exquisite. Fricton holds the shifter in position, and it’s up to the user to properly adjust that shifter so the derailleur is lined up with the right gear. If it’s out of line, you bike is gonna sound broke as heck. That’s no good. That’s why its a skill. If you have 9 speeds in the back, shifting to each of those 9 speeds is gonna be a task in and of itself that brings you and your mind closer to understanding the bike. 

Friction shifters are most commonly found in three forms. There’s the downtube shifter, the bar-end shifter, and the thumb shifter. They’re all essentially the same basic mechanism except some smarty-pants figured out how to put it somewhere else. The first photo is a Suntour XCD Thum b shifter, the second is a set of Shimano 600 Tri-Color downtube shifters, and the third is a set of Shimano bar end shifters on one of my personal bikes. 

Over my short yet dense 3 years of riding and working on bikes religiously, I’ve come to love, cherish, and revere friction shifting as my preferred method of doing things. I’ve got favorite drivetrain configurations and things I dream about. I’ve got friction shifting systems stored away, waiting for the perfect bike. Something I can tell you is that friction shifting is fantastic for 5-9 speed drivetrains. 10 speed is a little too finicky for me to thoroughly enjoy, but I’ve got my winter commuter set up friction 10 to try and get it under my belt. I’ve made a few fun modifications to that whole system that I won’t dive into too much detail on. If you’d like to see that and a goofy explanation, head to my Instagram @h8gate8 and check out one of my more recent posts (as of 12/13/18 for archive purposes). Friction 11 is something I’ve only used once or twice but I can say for sure that it’s much easier to use than friction 10. My theory on this is because there are really small gaps between gears in the back, which lends itself to ease of shifting because it takes so little input from the shifter to throw the chain around, and the incredibly stiff nature of shifts along all 11 speed systems is fantastic for getting your shift fine tuned. 10 speed drivetrains have what I speculate to be just enough space between gears (A.K.A. pitch) that it’s hard to find that sweet spot. This is also likely exacerbated by the “power” mechanism found in most Suntour shifters that I enjoy oh-so much. The power shifters made my Suntour have a quasi-index feature that is basically a ratchet that ensures minimum slippage while making the lever throw feel nice and smooth. 

If you’d like to try friction shifting out for yourself, you can stop by the bike project and convert your existing bike, or try one of our bikes, or if you’re looking for something new and shiny head to your local bike shop and talk to those guys about Gevenalle shifters, Microshift thumbies, Shimano Bar-ends, or something from the lovely folks over at Rivendell. Until then, you can find some light reading on pages 8 & 9 of the 1992 Bridgestone Bicycles catalog here.

The rundown

PART 1:
Hey everybody Zane here. I’ve got a couple of cycling stories that I hope teach you some valuable lessons.
A few weeks back your hero (that’s me) was headed to the YMCA to chase gains. I was huffing and puffing pedaling down Harney when I felt something smack me in the back.
“What in tarnation?!?” I thought to myself. It took me a second to realize I had been hit by a car.
Now I got off lucky. The mirror on this car was collapsible and folded the moment it made impact. Had that not happened or I had been clipped by the bumper I probably would have been splattered like George Costanza’s Frogger cabinet.
I try to be a conscientious cyclist and ride as close to the curb as possible but this guy was way too close. However I was in the wrong and you know why? Because I wasn’t wearing a helmet and that is dumb. DUMB DUMB DUMB!
The lesson I want to impart is that safety is key. I don’t care if you’re Baron Karl Von Draise and you invented the bicycle you gotta be safe when you hit the street. At a minimum you should be wearing a helmet and have lights on your bike. Also, be aware of your surroundings because motorists in general have nothing but contempt for cyclists.
PART 2:
Now for a nice story about cycling. One day I was headed home after work and ahead of me there was a car backing out of a parking space. This made me pretty upset because this motorist wasn’t paying attention to their surroundings. However, as I got closer they stopped and I was able to maneuver around them.
About half a block later I was approaching a red light. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the same car approaching from behind with the driver’s side was down. This may be a tad dramatic but the scene was reminiscent of how the Notorious BIG went out. Regardless my hackles were raised as I have had unpleasant encounters with motorists in the past (re: my previous story).
Well wouldn’t you know it but when this guy caught up to me he apologized. What a pleasant surprise!

Jacob’s Blog 2: Electric Blogaloo

The bike project is full of weird parts and doo-dads that leave us scratching our collective head, but we always seem to find out what the heck we’re looking at. Whether it’s wonderful places like sheldonbrown dot com, velobase dot com, or us tinkering around and finally figuring out what’s up, or possibly even the existing knowledge of our help. That’s why I decided to round up some old parts (hopefully) every week. This week turned out to be a bunch of 90’s MTB treasures. The pictures and accompanying wordage represent just a fraction of what we’ve got, and what’s out there.

In looking back at the 90’s MTB industry, I see a move away from the conventional beauty of bicycles to an overall jagged, erector-set aesthetic. That’s not to say that I don’t find 90’s mountain bikes to be “beautiful”. I enjoy a good CODA crankset or Paul derailleur just as much as I love a set of Mafac Centerpulls or a Superbe Pro derailleur.  90’s MTB tech is accentuated by proprietary suspension systems, and while elastomers aren’t the greatest at suspending the rear end of a bike, they’re good for other things (see: Cane Creek Thudbuster). This is where this, a Girvin Flex-Stem, comes in.

 

 

 

As far as I know, Girvin stems were one of the first mass produced suspension systems and the brand was sort of related to Pro-Flex who made wicked full suspension mountain bikes through the decade. I’d imagine the stem itself rides like a regular old stem with a little added plush. Who knows. Maybe I’ll throw it on a bike and find out someday. If somebody wants it, it’s here for ya.

Next on our list is a chain-suck protector from an unknown manufacturer in a lovely anodized purple. These were made by a few different brands in a few different configurations. Some frames even came with braze-ons for one. This one will attach to most any frame. They’d essentially make sure the chain didn’t suck down in between the chainrings and the chainstay which would happen frequently in the age of mountain triples and weakly tensioned rear derailleurs on rough terrain.

 

 

Third-ly(?) is the Rock-Ring. We’ve got quite a few of these, to be honest and I’m sure we haven’t even begun to see the majority of them. Remember the days when even pro-level mountain bikes came with 40-something tooth chainrings? I don’t. But that’s because I’m 19. Well, when you’re chunking around on your slingshot with the all new XTR M900 group, you don’t wanna hit that nice, new big ring on a rock, do ya? Enter: ROCK-RING.

 

Signing off,

Jacob Stacy

Resident Nerd

Introduction to the bike project

My name is Zane and I volunteer at Community Bike Project Omaha. I recently moved to Omaha from the East Coast because I got a cool job that brought me back to my Midwestern roots. I didn’t really know anyone when I got here but I started coming by the bike project and I just want to tell any of the uninitiated who might happen to be reading this about how rad the place is.
If I were to say it’s the coolest place in town some might scoff. They might say “Zane, you’ve only been here for about 10 minutes how can you possibly say that?” I’d probably reply that’s a fair point but one thing I do know is that it’s definitely cooler than the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian bridge and that’s saying something!
I’m getting off topic so allow me to regroup. Aside from crippling loneliness and overwhelming boredom a big reason I sought out the bike shop was to learn more about bicycles and their mysterious workings. I’ve been riding for a long time but am a big dumb-dumb when it comes to repair and maintenance. Admitting you don’t know something can be a bit embarrassing and/or intimidating. When I got to the shop I wholly expected to be laughed out of the place because of some of the questions I asked (What do the wheels do again?) but it didn’t happen. Everyone working there was really cool and to call them knowledgeable would be a criminal understatement. Adam the shop manager is a quasi-mystical bike guru, and Jacob, another volunteer has more bikes than chin whiskers. These guys know their stuff.
Still reading? I hope so because I want to talk about the best thing about the shop. The best part about the shop is right in the name. Community. The shop is for anyone and there are some really cool programs for kids. That’s right, much like Wu-Tang the bike project is for the children. Ankle biters and adolescents alike can be enrolled in classes that teach them about bicycle safety and maintenance. Kids can even earn their own bike.
In conclusion a visit to the bike project is definitely worth the…Trek. They offer a lot of…Specialized…service and…Raleigh…want to get you riding. Not paying a visit would be a…Giant…mistake.

Vacation?!?

BIG HEADS UP!

 

The shop will be closed from Wednesday June 13th until Saturday June 23rd. Shop Manager is taking a much needed vacation. Sorry for any inconvenience.

ExhiBIKEtion!

The Community Bike Project Omaha is holding a one-night only bike-themed art show! We’re looking for artists and makers and crafters who are inspired by bikes and want to support the bike shop’s community building efforts by participating in the art show. Bring your awesome bike-centric artwork to display and sell at the shop, all submissions will be accepted! ExhiBIKEtion is an all-ages art show, and youth are encouraged to submit art!

Artwork can be dropped off during open shop hours until March 21st.