08 April 2012

On A Borrowed Cruiser, Again

Another holiday with parents in Florida means...another ride on the borrowed cruiser.

A neighbor of my parents bought the bike years ago.  Now, at age 85, arthritis and other health problems keep her from riding it.  Now the bike's riders consist of me and a couple of her kids and grandkids.  However, I think it hasn't been ridden since I rode it at Christmastime.  That's the reason why she was surprised when I told her I'd done some repairs, including the installation of a new rear wheel.

Last time I was here, I rode a few miles on a flat because I was nowhere near an air pump.  I'd been riding a stretch of A-1A along the ocean, past Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area and a bunch of foreclosed-upon or otherwise-abandoned houses.  I once had a wheel from which spokes flew off at high speeds; I didn't have to ride at such high speed for them to fly off the wheel on that bike.

Plus, the old rear wheel had one of Shimano's old coaster brake/3-speed hubs.  It's one of the worst Shimano parts I've ever used or worked on:  the gears never adjusted quite right.  If you've ever had an out-of-adjustment 3-speed (Sturmey-Archers made after about 1970 never stayed in adjustment), you know that's not just an inconvenience:  You're pedalling hard or spinning fast, and all of a sudden, you find yourself in "neutral."  You push a pedal forward and your face hurtles toward a very close encounter with your handlebars. Or, worse things can happen.

Plus, as a long-ago shop mechanic, I learned that hubs have to make up their minds as to whether they're going to be coaster brake or internally geared.  From what I've seen, a hub can't do both well.  Usually, it's the gears that suffer.  At least, that was the case on the Shimano, Sturmey Archer and Sachs coaster brake/3speed hubs.

To my knowledge, Shimano doesn't make such a hub anymore--or, at least, not the model that was on that bike.  SA stopped making them, but have started making them again since the takeover by SunRace and the move to Taiwan.  Sachs, after taking over Huret, Maillard, Sedis and other French component manufacturers, was in turn swallowed up by SRAM.  I don't think they're making internally geared hubs with coaster brakes.

Anyway, the bike now has a coaster brake rear hub, an Alex rim (not as good as Mavic or Velocity, but better than what was on there) and DT spokes.  Plus, it has a Michelin mountain bike tire, albeit one of the cheaper ones.

So far, so good.  But now I'm going to reveal that I've spent too much time around messngers, hipsters and wannabes.

Actually, I installed that pink chain as a bit of a joke. I don't know whether the nice (She really is!) old lady from whom I borrowed the bike, or her kids or grandkids, will notice.  If they do, I hope they share my twisted sense of humor.


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