Bike mechanics redefine income. Plus, documenting bicycle dimensions

IMG_0408Looks like someone at Specialized has been thinking about the income of bicycle mechanics. How bad is the situation? Let’s just say that if you want to give mechanics more money, you need to replace their wrenches with brooms. Want to talk kids out of the profession? Show them this presentation. (Slideshare)

I’m comfortable with the idea of treating some bicycle parts as “consumables.” Frayed brake cable? Replace it for safety’s sake. Chain with a few thousand miles on it? Throw on a new one and you might save your chainrings from unnecessary wear. But every once in a while I’m reminded that bicycle parts endure, too. My latest reminder came from Jim Langley, who tweeted about a New Hampshire company dedicated to the restoration of Regina, Sachs, Shimano and Suntour freewheels. Nobody has to do this, but it’s nice to know that somebody is. (Freewheel Spa)

If winter finds you mostly off the bike, good news: spring isn’t far away. And if you think you may be replacing major components or an entire bike in 2014, now’s a great time to capture your current bicycle’s dimensions–then, when you’re swapping bars and saddle, you’ll have baseline data to match or maybe even improve upon. Park Tool walks you through the process and provides PDFs you can use to capture your information. Good stuff. (Park Tool)

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Last fall, Graeme Obree traveled to Battle Mountain to show what he could do with the human-powered machine he built for speed. He ended up with the new record for a prone streamliner, 56.62 mph, and probably a new respect for the abilities of the designers and riders who return to Nevada year after year in hopes of improving personal and absolute speed records. (Rider Sebastiaan Bowier moved the absolute record to 83.13 mph.)

The fastest bikes these days have a lot in common: recumbent positions, front-wheel drive, and turning circles you need a surveyor’s wheel to measure. So Obree’s bike ends up being interesting simply because it was so different from the rest of the pack. I know it’s ancient history now, but I was pleased to find this excellent picture of Obree’s bike in flight without its aerodynamic shell. (Discovery)

I’m going to guess that too many people are comfortable with the hollowed-out towns of the Midwest. They love their parking lot deserts, dead-end addresses and big-box stores. They embrace lengthy commutes. Some of them are big fans of dumping money into downtown Big Idea projects, and the ones that are elected have been dumping for years.

But if you meet somebody who sincerely wonders what happened to the old town and its small businesses–any old town, any small business–point them toward the Strong Towns blog. Every post comes with great explanatory power and respect for the lessons of history. I imagine that if more towns were Strong Towns, we’d all have more places to ride bicycles and walk in comfort–and more small businesses to visit. (Strong Towns)

Think about a bicycle ride you really enjoyed. Did it include a high-speed descent? Time with a friend you haven’t ridden with in years? Racing ahead of a thunderstorm? Maybe. Or maybe it felt a lot like this video. Go ahead and click. It’ll take 10 seconds to watch. Then tell me whether you’ve ever had a ride like that. (Vimeo)

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About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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