The Puffball Ride in West Cork

A cool, overcast day, just right for a ride in the green and beloved isle. Check out these giant puffballs between the road and the river. They’re fully twelve inches across. Edible.

One of the party came back for these puffballs in his car.

This is our destination, Kilmacsimon Quay, a village of a handful of houses, a pub and a boatyard on the estuary of the River Bandon.

The green tower is the proverbial widow’s house, from which she would look out fearfully for the return of her sea-captain.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who cycles around his home on the River Bandon in West Cork.

Cycling the lacework of lanes in West Cork, discovering Red Spider Mites

After more than a quarter century cycling the lacework of lanes around my house in West Cork, I still don’t know them all, or even the majority. Here’s a lane my pedalpal Philip remembers from the days when GPs still made house calls, on which we cycled for the first time today, looking for a shortcut from the pub at Newcestown to Baxter’s Bridge so we could come home via the Golf Club. Not all of this lane is this civilized; parts of it are decidedly rough and overgrown. You’re not lost if you can follow the telephone poles!

andre_jute_you_aren_t_lost_if_you_can_see_the_telegraph_poles_800pxh.jpg

You can also get a whole education in the flora and fauna in the lanes, simply by keeping your eyes open. These tiny Red Spider Mites are too small to see from a moving bike, less than a millimeter across. This photo is probably 60x or 70x life-size.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who cycles around his home on the River Bandon in West Cork.

Your lifespan: Would you pay $1268 for an extra year of life?

andre_jute_seven_headsA cost-benefit analysis of new bike lanes in New York concludes that “over the lifetime of all people in NYC, bike lane construction produces additional costs of $2.79 and gain of 0.0022 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) per person.” Let’s see what that means in actual lifespan.

That comes to 0.803 quality-adjusted days or about 20 hours of extra life.

Since life is the ultimate benefit, 2.79USD for an additional 20 hours of a high quality life like mine or yours seems a bargain, annualizing to 1268USD for a year of extra life.

My physician and cardiologist have long been on this case, saying that cycling so regularly for the last quarter-century saved my life, and that continuing to cycle continues to contribute to the quality of my life.

it_s_the_economy__stupid_v2_cover_800ph_123kbOf course, if you were a sourpuss econometrist, you might argue that the hours spent on the bike to receive the benefit must be subtracted, and so inflate the annual cost by perhaps as much 10 per cent (if you spent around 2 hours a day on the bike). I wearily wave off such accounting hairsplitting: who wouldn’t pay even double the simple calculated base cost, $2536, for an extra year of life?

andre_jute_blueAndre Jute is a motivational psychologist and economist who spent his early career in advertising and is now a prizewinning, best-selling novelist. He is also the author of IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID, a Rhodes Scholar Education in One Hour.

Downsides of the fascist compulsion urge shared by too many bicyclists

One Frank Krygowski wrote on the cycling newsgroup rec.bicycles.tech:
> …a bigger problem is that Stevenage did nothing to actively
> discourage car use. By contrast, Dutch cities tend to make car parking
> rare and super-expensive, and they close direct routes to cars so car
> trips take longer than bike trips, etc. etc.
>
> It seems that as long as it’s easier to get into a car and turn the key,
> almost everyone will prefer to drive.

This is my reply:

Let’s forget for the moment that from close acquaintance we are unfortunately burdened with the sure knowledge that Frank Krygowski is a fascist asshole in each and every way imaginable, and on all observed occasions. For once read what Krygowski says carefully, don’t just dismiss it as “Oh, more Kreepy Krygo Krap, same-old, same-old”, because here Franki-boy is at last what he always wanted to be, a “spokesman for bicycles”.

biking_stevenageCyclePath480x320

If you close your eyes and you try hard to ignore Krygowski’s bullying breath on the back of your neck, you can hear those words coming from the mouths of so many cyclists, albeit more insidiously stated, it is almost a generic mantra.

It shouts, “Compulsion, compulsion, compulsion.” It raises its voice insistently, “I know what is best for you, and if you don’t do as I say, you will be forced to do as I say.” It grates, “You will conform to my worldview, or suffer the consequences.” All three of these are fundamental fascist attitudes.

It’s one reason people who could cycle if they wished to don’t want to, and instead drive their cars. Some of us believe that this offensive, self-assumed, unwarranted, fascist “superiority” of the “cycling cause”, as it is perceived, does more damage to the future of cycling than anything else.

Yes, I know, most cyclists don’t even notice because, in general, they’re environmentalists and other classes of those “liberals” whose intolerance of dissent, reason, debate and liberty are a sickening byword among intelligent people, and a huge part of the cycling community isn’t very bright, nor sensitive enough to observe how offensive their attitudes are to those with better manners and more tolerance. Instead they think motorists are out to get them. Paranoia comes with fascism, chaps.

It goes without saying that threats of compulsion won’t achieve the cycling nirvana. Persuasion and education was never even tried, and it is now too late to try them while the memory cone of the nastiness of Frank Krygowski and his like persists. It’ll be ten or fifteen years down the line—if no single cyclist spouts this nastiness in public during that time—before we get another chance. It takes that long to clear the air,

Today is a good day to start. Why am I not holding my breath?

***

Yes, I know, I’m speaking about a minority of abrasive cyclists. I appreciate the majority of cyclists who’re nice people. But I have news for you: you influence the perception of cyling among non-cyclists much, much less than the nasty minority. That’s just the way of the world.

Andre Jute is a writer and painter.
Andre also keeps a cycling page for his rare and wonderful bicycles.

High noon in Bandon. At least no snow in Ireland.

andre_jute_high_noon_in_bandon

High noon in Bandon.
At least there is no snow.
Cycled around the town just to get out.
Andre Jute is a writer and painter.

The ghost of yesteryear’s bicycle

andre_jute_the_ghost_of_yesteryear_s_bicycle_800pxh

The ghost of yesteryear’s bicycle in Bandon, West Cork.

Andre Jute is a novelist, painter and cyclist.

Bombing down the hill at Kilbrogan

I love autumn in Ireland. It is generally the warmest season of the year here in West Cork, the sun might even shine, and often it doesn’t rain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The sun at dawn is low on the Eastern horizon behind me, as you can see from my elongated shadow near the middle left of the photo.

You can’t see the bottom of the valley, but on the far side is the steepest hill in West Cork. From the bottom of the valley, to leave in any direction you must face the first, second or third steepest hill in West Cork.

Of course there is a network of small roads, very pleasant riding. But if I were descending across the fields at speed, while a fall might not hurt too much on these hassocks, I would want my doctor in attendance. Reluctantly I turned away to…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Speeding downhill at 51kph. Oh, the thrill of it! This is more than halfway down already, with the steepest, fastest bit behind me, more’s the pity.

And here I just caught a thrill at 50+kph on a much safer surface, where the only danger is a tractor coming around the corner at the bottom of another steep hill, this one a couple or three kilometers away from the first photograph.

Andre Jute is a novelist, painter and cyclist. He has some other dangerous passions as well, including kilovolt thermionic tube hifi with horn loudspeakers.

Photos celebrating the life of cyclist, Porsche engineer and bicycling innovator Jobst Brandt 1935-2015

 


jobst_brandt_1935-2014Jobst Brand in the Alps.
See an inspiring celebration of his life in photos.

TUNING OUT CHAIN “STRETCH” ON INTERNAL HUB BICYCLES, FIXIES, SINGLE-SPEED AND DERAILLEUR BIKES by Andre Jute

The theory and practice of derailleur chain tensioners, vertical dropouts, horizontal dropouts, slotted frame ends and Rohloff OEM slider dropouts, with reference to power and braking torque resolution, and to suspended and unsuspended bicycles, with a critical path decision tree through the complications

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_chain_elongation_216pxhEvery drive chain wears over its service life. This wear is misnomered “stretch” because the visible effect is growth in the operating length of the chain. This increase must somehow be adjusted out in every bicycle transmission of whatever type. This article is about the technical ins and outs and aesthetics of “somehow”, to serious cyclists a matter of importance third only to sex and hydration.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_chain_tensioner_216pxh

ONLY TWO CHOICES, REALLY

On a derailleur-equipped bicycle, with more than one chainring and most likely many sprockets in the rear cluster, the chain tensioner, a spring-loaded arm, does what it says on the tin, adjusts the chain for wear (“stretch”), and it does it automatically. It is a well-understood, proven system, albeit crude in conception; it has the additional advantage of offering flex for the varying chainline between different sized front and rear cogs at different distances from the
centreline of the bike.

On a fixie, single-speed or internal hub bicycle there is a fixed, hopefully straight chainline because there is only one cogged ring on the bottom bracket axle and one cogged ring on the wheel axle, but chain wear over the chain’s service life must still be allowed for, and in this case too a chain tensioner is simple to design and execute with widely available components in a wide range of qualities and prices.

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_a_popular_service_stand_overview_800pxwHowever, with a fixie, a single-speed or an internal hub gearbox, there are several advantages over the derailleur system — which are lost by the installation of a spring tensioner. The advantages lost in what we generically call “single-speed bicycles” include the “clean appearance” of a simple chain between two cogs without appendages, easy adjustment and service, cleanliness, longer service life of the chain and all other transmission parts, a very long list. Perhaps the greatest loss brought about by the thoughtless, reflex fitting of the chain tensioner is the important ability in all but the crudest bicycles of fitting a full chain case with its own advantages in attracting a wider class of rider and putting the bike to a wider class of service, or in intensifying the other advantages of doing away with the chain tensioner.

A SERIOUS COMPLICATION

When you replace the ugly, dirty, imprecise, wear-inducing derailleur system and its chain tensioner with a tidy, self-contained, longlasting hub gearbox, you don’t want the gearbox to turn around in the frame. So, whatever design you put in the place of the chain tensioner must not only provide adjustable drive length (the centre to centre distance between the bottom bracket axle and the rear wheel axle), but must react torque for the drive power.

Regardless of which transmission system you choose, disc brake torque too must be reacted and ditto the torque of the very effective roller brakes available as an integral fitting with Shimano hub gearboxes (Nexus, Alfine).

SOFT TAIL: CHAIN TENSION ON REAR SUSPENSION BIKES

Rear suspension on bicycles are perforce swing arm systems. There are only two possibilities:

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_rohloff_softtail_216pxhIn one type the swing arm contains only the rear wheel, with the swivel before the bottom bracket on the forward part of the frame, in which case a chain tensioner is inevitable whatever the transmission type preferred.

When the swing arm contains both the rear wheel and the bottom bracket, with the swivel to the main frame placed forward of the bottom bracket, the swing arm forms a rigid brace as on the tradional diamond frame, and all the other chain tension possibilities canvassed below open up.

ADAPTING A DERAILLEUR BICYCLE TO BE A FIXIE, SINGLE-SPEED OR INTERNAL HUB GEARBOX BICYCLE

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_various_dropouts_216pxhFirst we’ll look at the most difficult installations, in which a traditional derailleur-equipped bicycle is turned into a fixie, a single-speed or a hub gearbox bike. The thorough Germans have of course thought the matter through exhaustively, and Bernd Rohloff supplies kits of his hugely admired Rohloff Speedhub for every configuration of frame imaginable. This is the opening page of Rohloff’s Speedhub Finder, which purports to simplify a complicated decision tree:

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_decision_tree_800pxw

You can play with this decision tree but basically, unless you have horizontal dropouts 25mm or longer (illustration B), to fit a Rohloff, you will need either a chain tensioner (illustrations A, C D, E) or a custom frame or at least custom frame ends brazed/welded on (illustrations F and G).

“Frame ends” is the proper name for rear dropouts that don’t drop out… I don’t know what front dropouts with lawyers’ lips, which don’t drop out easily either, are called. Long horizontal slots that open rearwards are called “track ends”, if you want to be fancy. Stick to “dropouts” and you can’t go wrong.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_horizontal_slot_216pxhI have long horizontal slots on bikes fitted with Shimano hub gearboxes and, together with tug nuts, and in conjunction with serated axle locknuts which chew up the aluminium frame ends, they work a treat. My Rohloff hub gearbox is fitted to the full katootie OEM slider dropouts on a custom frame, so I cannot say from personal experience how well the adaptations of the Rohloff to standard derailleur frames work, but they appear to work for tens of thousands of riders and mud pluggers.

CUSTOM FRAMES FOR FIXIES, SINGLE-SPEEDERS AND HUB GEARBOX BICYCLES: BACK TO TWO CHOICES

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_phil_ebb2_216pxhSo, if you’re resigned to having a derailleur frame altered, or to buying a dedicated frame for your fixie, single-speed or hub-gearbox bicycle, what choices do you have for adjusting chain tension?

Gazelle Flowline KettingkastAs an aside, a temporary tributary in the flow of bicycle design, a chain tensioner is possible inside an enclosed chaincase if the bicycle is designed from scratch with the correct fittings to move the chain tensioner to a suitable position, as in the Gazelle Flowline concept illustrated to the right. (Thanks to Simon McKenzie for finding the illustration.) It solves the difficulties of the consumable eccentric bottom bracket, or alternatively the irritating rolling consequential adjustments (mudguard, brake, rack) that may accompany chain length compensation in slotted frame ends. Many, including me, would however consider this design a retrograde step because it cannot but result in faster chain wear. In 2012 Gazelle commercialized the Flowline design on an innovative bike called the Friiik (not a spelling mistake), illustrated in a video and photos available via links in the comments below; this clever model is now gone from Gazelle’s catalogue, according to insiders for reasons of sales channel resistance and low demand.

So it’s probably safe to assume that you’re taking a more expensive route because you’ve already ruled out the crude, ugly, dirty chain tensioner.

Thus, again, there are two main choices, an adjustable bottom bracket, and some kind of movable dropout.

THE ECCENTRIC BOTTOM BRACKET

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_basic_ebb_216pxhAn EBB is a bottom bracket set off-centre (ex-centrically — English is not always intuitive!) in an aluminium plug sized to fit inside the bottom bracket shell. The bottom bracket shell may be larger than standard, so the plug is bigger than a standard bottom bracket and will then take a standard bottom bracket. Or the bottom bracket shell may be a standard bottom bracket diameter, in which case a smaller than standard bottom bracket is required to fit the plug; this is a uncommon option.

Chain length adjustment is achieved by rotating the plug in the bottom bracket shell so that the bottom bracket axle comes to rest nearer to or further from the rear axle as required. A special peg tool (a pin wrench) is required but it is usually combined with another tool useful in a touring kit so that excessive weight is not added.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_ebb_dimple_fixing_216pxhThe plug is fixed in the bottom bracket in a variety of ways, the most common being by pointed- or rounded-end bolts entering the soft aluminium some short way, which have the disadvantage that eventually they ruin the EBB by wearing grooves in the aluminium plug and then will no longer hold it in position.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_ebb_lipped_shell_216pxhAn alternative is splitting the bottom bracket shell at a pair of lips that bolt together and clamp the EBB in place, a method hated by many frame designers as compromising the strength of the frame at a critical concentration of loads. You take your pick and pay the consequences.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_bushnell_retro_ebb_216pxhThe Bushnell EBB does not require a split shell; it is fixed in position by turning a screw which expands the eccentric within the bicycle’s bottom bracket shell. There are also external bearing EBB, such as the Trickstuff Excentriker or the Phil, which screw into standard bottom brackets but whose adjustment is external; they use modern cranks with integrated axles. Most of these “special” EBB have the disadvantage that they’re priced for plutocrats.andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_exzentriker_216pxhandre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_phil_ebb_216pxh

Note that the aficionados of the EBB who use hub gearboxes (and that’s almost all of them) must still design and construct a special dropout for torque reactions, or make do with a kludgy arm, so the EBB choice isn’t necessarily the cheaper construction option (though it is often presented as such). Furthermore, replacements of inevitably ruined EBB (for those who choose the cheap option of fixing the EBB by dimpling bolts) could over time make it a more expensive option than sliders. But for most designers cost appears to be an afterthought in this choice, an extra justification, as many have a visceral dislike of the only alternative to an EBB, some kind of slotted frame end in which the axle can slide.

COMMUTER AND UTILITY BIKE SLIDER DROPOUTS

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_trackend_216pxhSlotted horizontal dropouts, long familiar from hub gearbox practice on Dutch-style city, commuter and continental holiday bikes, are slider dropouts, open at one end.

The axle is retained by friction between the axle nut, often with a serrated mating face, and the frame material, usually but not invariably assisted by an adjustable tugnut. For torque control, flanged washers fit over flats on the axle.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_tugnut_216pxhAdjustment is by loosening the axle nuts and the tugnut screws (often wing nuts or other finger-operable fasteners), sliding the axle until the chain reaches the required tension, and then locking all four fasteners.

The horizontal open slot has worked well for decades on tens of millions of installations. However, with anything more complicated than a simple rim-braked bike, it soon becomes complicated, though Shimano managed to integrate their rear roller brake with only a single extra bolt on the torque reaction arm braced to the chainstay to be undone-retightened for chain adjustment. Disc brakes are also possible but more complicated.

Long horizontal slots also allow beautifully clean installations without any unsightly dangly bits like chain tensioners when a standard hub-gearbox frame is converted into a fixie or a single-speeder.

THE ROHLOFF OEM DROPOUT FOR FAST, POWERFUL, COMPLICATED AND SPORTING BIKES WITH HUB GEARBOXES

Though the open-ended horizontal slot beloved of Continental commuters works well within its limits, which is basically for bikes with 300% or so range in their hub gearboxes, and for fixie and singlespeed conversions, the Rohloff, with 526% range, that is torque multiplication, is altogether a different kettle of fish. A serrated nut, especially on the sort of steel frame often used for Rohloff installations (rather than the aluminium common on Dutch city bikes), and a pressed steel tugnut in an open slot is a recipe for high maintenance and frequent breakages, and very likely painful incidents (which is what we sensitively prefer to “accidents”). The Rohloff concept is anyway high quality and low maintenance, so tugnuts and open slots, such obvious choices for an internal gear hub, were also obviously out.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_rohloff_hangers_for_welding_in_216pxhBernd Rohloff solved the conundrum by designing his own frame end and dropout to suit the particular strengths and needs of his gearbox, adapted his designs for every possible application, and then put the designs in the public domain so that today you can buy a frame with frame ends to his design, suitable for socalled “Rohloff OEM dropouts” made by a variety of manufacturers in a variety of decorative patterns. The ones on the left are for brazing or welding to frames with eccentric bottom brackets or, horrors, chain tensioners.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_standard_oem1_rohloff_slider_216pxhThe Rohloff slider frame ends consist on each side of two closed slots in a line at a shallow angle to true horizontal, in the same way that traditional open “horizontal” slots are at a slight angle to horizontal.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_rohloff_slider_dropouts_216pxhThe dropouts are two entirely separate machined aluminium plates. The plates are tapped to accept two M6 bolts, one through each slider slot. Dropout plate and frame are further located to each other by a precisely machined tongue and groove system.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_white_bike_216pxhThe dropout has a long vertical slot that does double duty as a torque reactor by holding both the axle and a rectangular stud the width of the slot, protruding from the gearbox. The non-driveside dropout can be shaped with or without ears for a disc brake caliper, which then moves in correct relation with the axle.

Custom frames often have additional strengthening triangulation between the chain- and seat-stays if a disc brake is intended, or even just in case a disc brake is added later, because that is so easy.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_complete_slider_setup_216pxhTo adjust chain length with the Rohloff slider frame ends, both slider bolts on each side are undone, the wheel is slid to the desired chain tension, and all four bolts are tightened. This takes less than a minute, much, much faster than resetting an EBB or the somewhat fiddly open horizontal slot system with tugnuts. However, large movements may require rim brakes to be adjusted to suit, and if the bike is assembled to fine tolerances, other adjustments may need to be made. It’s never happened to me, and my bike is constructed to 1mm clearances between moving parts, but it is theoretically possible.

There no reason that less puissant gearboxes cannot be hung on Rohloff sliders, or a fixie or a single speeder rear axle.

WHICH IS BEST?

Many bicycle designers really hate one or another aspect of every one of these systems.

The chain tensioner is an aesthetic bicycle killer, the devil’s work.

Nor do I much like the idea of the expensive eccentric bottom bracket being a consumable part, but then I’m proud of having developed a virtually zero-service, near-zero-replacement bike, which is not everybody’s ideal.

Of course I dislike the possibility of cascading adjustments flowing from a chain tension adjustment in the horizontal slot or the Rohloff slider systems, but it has never happened to me on my several bikes with these systems.

So, recognizing that all these systems are compromises, I’m happy with the Rohloff-designed slotted frame ends and “OEM” dropouts as the least evil, and in any event vastly superior to derailleurs and an accompanying chain tensioner.

Your mileage may vary!

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_complete_slider_setup_600pxw

Copyright text and images © Andre Jute  2015. This text may be freely reproduced on not-for-profit sites as long as it is complete and unaltered, including all the links, illustrations, and this copyright notice. Commercial, print, broadcast, other use, contact the author.

Great bicycling memories: Dusk over a valley in West Cork

andre_jute_dusk_over_a_valley_in_west_cork_800pxwandre_jute_dusk_over_a_valley_in_west_cork_800pxw

Now let us praise famous men: Tom Ritchey’s rides in the mountains with Jobst Brandt

silverfallsj1988800Tom Ritchey, for the innocent and the new bicyclists, is a famous and exceedingly influential designer of bicycles and components who played a major part in the development of the mountain bike. But in his fond and illuminating obituary of Jobst Brandt, a major influence on him as on so many designers and components and riding styles, Ritchey lifts the curtain on the days before mountain bikes when these hard men rode the Northern Californian mountains on narrow-tyred road bikes, setting a meme that still survives today in America, for instance in the insistence of many Americans on commuting on road (racing) bikes. For more click here or on the photo.

The illustration is from Richey’s obituary of Jobst Brand, where all the photos are © Jobst Brandt and Ray Hosler.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.

Photo Essay by Andre Jute: Coca-Cola Zero Bikes share scheme in Cork, Galway and Limerick

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_a_popular_service_stand_overview_800pxwThe Coca-Cola Zero Bikes share scheme in Cork, Galway and Limerick is interesting. These photos are from one bike point in Cork between the central bus station and Merchant’s Quay, a convenient central position.

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_hub_dynamo_roller_brake_800pxwThe scheme works by subscribing to an annual €10 membership for your city, which gets you a card that releases the bike of your choice from its locking post.There is also a €3 three-day membership. The first half hour is free, then there are reasonable rates, but after several hours the rates rise steeply. If you keep the bike longer than 24 hours they charge your card the lost bike deposit of €150, which is only to be expected.

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_instructions_800pxwThe bikes are super. Here are the simple instructions for operating them, in English and Gaelic.

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_bell_800pxw

For the technically competent, there’s a lot of interest: Nexus dynamo hub, Nuvinci continuously variable  stepless hub gearbox, completely enclosed roller brakes, excellent lamps, coat/skirt guards as usually seen only on good Dutch city bikes, a rotary bell, coiled coded cable lock for when you have to leave the bike temporarily. The only thing these simply but completely furnished bikes don’t have is a mirror, which I find indispensible in traffic.

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_nuvinci_rear_lamp__coat_guard_800pxwFor the technophobic, it is an equally appealing bike: one you can get on and ride without having to fight derailleurs or get your clothes dirty. It is a bike for the millions of people who haven’t cycled since they were children, or perhaps ever.  And it is cheap enough, and the bike points are near enough in the centre of the city, to use the bikes all the time.

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_nuvinci_rotary_control_lock_basket_800pxwA helmet is not required. Special bicycling clothes arenot necessary. You can ride this bike in a suit or an evening dress. Riding along the quays, looking at the architechture so typical of a northern mercantile seaport, you could mistake Cork for Rotterdam…

corkA couple of nearby bus drivers tell me the bicycles are very popular, and the riders are no bother to the buses because there are bike lanes everywhere. We have a giggle about the incompetent placing of some of the bike lanes. Situation normal…

I think I’ll make up a party of pedal pals to try out those bikes.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out.

Many artists have stalkers, now that the internet has enabled the spite of those vicious enough to take out their own lack of talent and enterprise on strangers. But one of the advantages of being an artist is that all experience is grist to the mill, and the mill grinds income, so here is a particularly worthless stalker turned into a painting in my Rorschach series.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated. From left to right: Complete painting; detail of The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Out; two superimposed positioning details, the upper one of the child screaming, the lower of the mother and child; Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer; and a highlight of the three-quarters portrait hiding in the fullface portrait.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated. From left to right: Complete painting; detail of The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Out; two superimposed positioning details, the upper one of the child screaming, the lower of the mother and child; Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer; and a highlight of the three-quarters portrait hiding in the fullface portrait.

There are more subliminals, what I call “juju details”, for those who want to search them out, so here are some larger versions.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated.Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated.

Still, no-one is unadulterated evil, through and through. Everyone was a child, more or less innocent, once. And most mothers try to inculcate decency in their offspring, though not all succeed.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated 2013. From left to right: Complete painting; detail of The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Ou

Note in the black and white version, at the left, that it is a full face portrait. On the right  is The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Out.

Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer

Above, Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer.

the_netstalker_peter_howard_5__corruption_breaking_out_of_his_skin__the_inner_child_screaming_to_be_let_out_800pxhOil is a marvellously plastic medium both figuratively and metaphorically in what the practised painter can layer with it. But, looking for my M. Graham oils, the first wooden paintcase I picked up held my Winsor & Newton oil bars, which are thick columns of pigment stiffened with wax for direct application, beloved of graffitologists only next to spray cans. (Oil bars were first invented by Sennelier for Pablo Picasso, a noted iconoclast…) It struck me that what stalkers do is slash graffiti across the face of the beloved object, so this would be an appropriate medium. Of course, oil bar on a canvas only six by eight inches isn’t an ideal medium, unless one makes a lateral mental hop. I found the “soft” narrow-blade palette knives Franco Pastrello invented in conjunction with the artisans of RGM at Maniago the ideal tool for getting tiny detail with a stiff medium on a small canvas, and aided their good work with the misnomered “colour shapers”, silicon-tipped tools clay sculptors use. Here you can see that the full face portrait as  well incorporates a three quarters portrait of a toothless old man, which is how I imagine this particular stalker.

André Jute is a novelist and painter described by the NY Times as “wild but exciting”.

Text and images copyright © Andre Jute 2015

Final report on factory lube/chaincase experiment (X8 chain, Chainglider, Surly SS & Rohloff)

The test was aborted at 3562km on 26 April 2015 when the Bafang QSWXK front motor on my bike gave up the ghost and was replaced by a Bafang BBS01 mid-motor (on which the 38T Surly chainring couldn’t be made to fit), the new motor in a new test receiving its own brand new KMCX8 chain.

Just a reminder. The purpose of the test was to run a KMC X8 chain 4506km on the factory lube, inside a Hebie Chainglider, with a Surly stainless steel chainring and the normal Rohloff sprocket at the rear. The 4506km was set as a target by the previous chain, also KMC X8, running in a Utopia Country chaincase (similar to the Chainglider), but with Oil of Rohloff added every 500 or 1000km, reaching 4506km before visible “stretch” was found (less than 0.5mm). The ulterior, overall motive of the test was not to save a few Euro on chains but as a step towards a near-zero maintenance bike.

Kranich_kmcx8_factory_lube_3500km_0-5mm_worn_800pxhA gilmpse inside the famous Jute Laboratories. That’s the 0.75mm side of the gauge, so the chain wear, eyeballed, could be around 0.5mm

The KMC X8 chain ran on the factory lube inside the Hebie Chainglider together with a Surly 38T stainless steel chainring and a 16T Rohloff OEM sprocket, without any other lube being added at any time, or any cleaning being performed, for 3562km before the test was aborted, as described above. During this time the wear on the chain, measured as “stretch”, was less than 0.75mm, eyeballed on the rough gauge as around 0.5mm. There is no doubt in my mind that the KMC X8 would have made 4506km by the time it required replacement at 0.75mm “stretch”.

However, I’m happy to replace chains, the cheapest component in my transmission, at the first sign of measureable wear, which is around 0.5mm, so in that sense the factory lube fell short of the same chain under roughly the same circumstances serviced with Oil of Rohloff, 3562km to 4506km.

No excessive wear of the Surly stainless steel chainring or the Rohloff sprocket was observed. In fact, there is no wear observable. (This is very unlike my previous installations of Shimano Nexus transmissions, in which in around a 1000m/1600km I would use up a chain, a sprocket and a crankset because the chainring was in unit with the crank.)

The late, great Sheldon Brown once said that the factory lube was good for 700 miles. In my two experiments the factory lube plus Oil of Rohloff chain went 944km further than the factory-lube only chain. That, if scaled up to the full 0.75mm wear, is pretty close to Sheldon’s 700 miles!

Now, I know, some of you think that 3500km and 4500km on a chain isn’t much chop, the mileage of a wrecker. But I’m over the moon with these mileages. Considering that previously I rarely got over a thousand miles (1600km) out of a chain, two and three times that distance per chain is exceptional.

I’m very happy to declare these two experiments, 8068km altogether, a success.

They have confirmed my belief that the only enclosed chaincase that I can in good conscience recommend is the Hebie Chainglider, that KMC makes high commendable chains, and that Oil of Rohloff is the light chain oil of choice. I suspect that another thing they indicate is that a precision chainline is worth setting up with repayment for the effort in extra chain mileage.

With thanks to all who helped with advice, and to everyone for their patience in waiting for these results.

This is Andre Jute signing off with only slightly oily hands.

Today’s ride to Kilmacsimon Quay along the River Bandon

Today’s ride: 21km across the hills nestling in a loop of the river between where I live on the River Bandon and Kilmacsimon Quay at the tip of the upper estuary.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The photo is of a restful lane providing a shortcut home via Ballylangley, from nearer Innishannon, also on the river.

You can’t ride home along the river because right by Innishannon there is a short section of narrow road without hard shoulders and very fast, impatient commuter traffic.

More about my bicycles and adventures on them.

Factory lube/chaincase experiment (X8 chain, Chainglider, Surly SS & Rohloff)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The second transmission on my Utopia Kranich at 3500km, with the  KMC X8-93 chain inside still on the factory lube. There has been no extra lube of any kind. There has been no service or cleaning of any kind. Notice how clean everything is inside the Chainglider. It looks like this setup will make the target of 4605km set by the previous KMC chain, which operated inside a different sort of enclosed chaincase, and which was oiled every 500km with a few drops of Oil of Rohloff.

Full description of this experiment.

More about my bicycles and adventures on them.

May you reach as safe a harbour as this one

Andre Jute: Sampan Harbor, South China Sea, oil on canvas, 2014, 16x12in
Andre Jute: Sampan Harbor, South China Sea, oil on canvas, 2014, 16x12in

Happy holidays, all!

The 10 most beautiful bicycles, according to the editors of the hoon’s automobile magazine, Top Gear

p0254mbf

The 10 most beautiful bicycles, according to the editors of the hoon’s* automobile magazine, Top Gear, starts with the bike above… That abomination is indicative of most of the rest of their choices.

One has to wonder whether any of them cycle.

They aren’t too hot on auto styling either.

Andre Jute

*a hoon is an Australian road hooligan

Cycling history personified! On his 90th birthday, my bike builder is honored by Volkswagen.

Henk Kluver, the master craftsman who built my everyday bike, a Utopia Kranich, and made the coachlines on it, is 90, and in recognition of his lifelong dedication to quality transport, has been given a brand-new VW Transporter for being a “real craftsman” — that’s the “egte vakman” they’re searching for near the beginning of the touching video.

Among other things the video shows Meester Kluver assembling a near relative of my Kranich crossframe by hand, and, most interesting of all, coachlining it with a special tool.

90 and still working!

See my bicycle page  for my other bikes. This photo essay on my Utopia Kranich includes more images of Meester Kluver at work, and also of the 1930s version of my bike.

Andre Jute
Riding history

CORDON BLEU FOR CAMPERS: “Skippy makes good BBQ”

Kanga against the sunset, photo credit  Lizzie Borden

Campers don’t have to eat rubbish at McDonald’s.

Croc eggs make a good omelette, you just have to keep the fellow who always expects you to fix his flats nearer the edge of the water than you to distract Mama Croc while you dig the eggs out of the sandbank. Better to dig up the eggs after you’ve crossed the river.

If you want ostrich egg, which makes a rich scramble, watch out for the six-inch forenail of Mama Ostrich. The tool of choice to separate that toenail from you is a thorn branch about six feet long, which you hold over her head to mesmerize her. She won’t kick if she can’t look down at her feet, for fear of kicking herself fatally instead of you.

If you’re Down Under, Skippy makes good BBQ. I’d explain how to get a joey to volunteer by jumping into the roasting bag and rolling himself up oven-ready but I suspect there are some bleeding hearts here.

© 2014 Andre Jute

Photo credit Lizzie Borden