Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Meet Electric Ruby!

This bike has been a work in progress since early Aug, when I suddenly had a fierce longing for an Xtracycle, to turn into a bike commuter, and to haul my hoops around the city in a fun and highly visible way.

Base Frame: Giant Cypress - steel frame hybrid trail/road bike, bought from BSP on Pacific at Burrard waaay back when I lived two blocks away.... and she was still covered in playa decorations and dust from three summers ago!

Extension: Free Radical by Xtracycle, purchased at Aaron's Bicycle Repair in Seattle after a test ride of Aaron's own extended bike. Had a fair number of glitches in this, including mis-hearing information about the frame size (it was for a 26" wheel rather than the 700c wheel on the Cypress, so for a while I was riding with a rear wheel stolen off C's mountain bike), not reading any documentation that even the proper 700c frame adapters wouldn't fit my wheel until I got a lower profile tire, getting a new style of side loaders with old style attatchment instructions and parts, and bolts for the brake remounting that didn't fit...

...but through it all, the gang at Xtracycle were awesome about answering emails and shipping parts quickly (even to a hotel in Seattle when I was there for the PAX conference in early Sept).. and the attention that I get with it on the road (or especially when I pull into MEC to buy something new) is pretty darn awesome... much thanks to C for helping me with the install - it took about four hours the first night, and then several hours here and there as we tweaked the wheels and refitted the brakes!

Front electric hub motor: Nine Continent from the Renaissance Bicycle Company, which happens to be just up one block from my job at the yarn shop, and again crewed by people who were super-quick to answer emails and switch parts when I had issues (sticky throttle was the main one... has taken a couple visits to bike repair shops to get the spokes tight and happy to stay tight)... having this motor makes all the difference in hitting the giant hill out to UBC for work or waterpolo practice, and still having enough energy and leg strength to play and then make it back home! The battery pack doesn't last *quite* long enough, I tend to run out just before the final hill on the way home... so I'm debating buying a second pack and just hauling it in the rear bags to swap out when needed!

Hoop rack: 1/2" electrical conduit from Home Depot - actually one of the early loads hauled home post-extension (others included a giant reel of electrical house wire and a whack of lightbulbs). Bent the leg ends first, about 12" from each end, and then bent the middle by eye, until the legs were the distance of the side holes in the Free Radical frame. I still need to build a better attachment system, but I've got the webbing and clips on hand already. It will have beefy, adjustable clips on the top of the A frame, plus clips on either side of the Free Radical frame with straps to either keep the front edges of the hoops back out of the way of my legs (Riding Mode) or to keep the back edges of the hoops even with the back of the frame (Elevator Mode) for the times when I'm taking Skytrain home (due to dead battery and-or cold/soaked rider).

My riding gear is evolving: I've got decent warmth provided by wool riding tights I've had forever (from MEC, no longer stocked), and a hoodie I knit over two years (with glitches, since I forgot what I had planned with the hem years back and knit an extension in Oct that leaves weird bumps at my hips), plus neoprene booties and gloves that are reasonably water resistant, old Goretex-fronted pants that don't handle downpours but at least let my legs move (unlike two pairs of waterproof pants I've bought and returned recently), a polarfleece balaclava and a handknitted hat and scarf that all work together to keep everything except my eyes and the bridge of my nose warm. I'm still on the lookout for better pants and gloves that don't get damp and cold.

My loading system is also evolving: I have a 30L drybag from MEC that gets all my clothes, books, yarn, laptop, etc for the day, plus open totes (synthetic) to hold my cable locks, U lock, and raincover for the bike, and extension cords for the days I'm hauling Big Pink (my stereo that pumps out the tunes for Saturday Circus). These started to live in tote bags when I realized what a pain it was to unload everything from the side bags behind the hoop rack so I could load the hoops in and out... still a pain, but way easier now that I can just lift out the two totes instead of each item individually. On my make list: either straps to attach the drybag to the top of the SnapDeck, so the tote bags can live on the side opposite the hoop rack, OR sew a giant vinyl bag that will live on top of the SnapDeck and have easier-access-yet-waterproofish storage for my daily gear. Digging things out of the bottom of the dry bag can be a pain.

Anyway, she's a sweet ride, and I love her! Part bday present from C, part self-investment from me... she rocks!

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