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Beater Bike Re-Review

A little while back I went to Resistor Gallery to check out the Beater Bikes with a friend of mine. I liked the bike’s ruggedness and simplicity which would be ideal for city commuting. A few months ago, my dad stumbled upon my review and decided to buy a Beater Bike which he has yet to actually use, during that time I took it upon myself to use it as my commuter bike and get some mileage into it.

Ditching my track bike with its aerodynamic positioning and the need for speed for an upright bike that favours comfort and style was definitely a weird shift that took me some time to get used to. Once I did get used to the bike I really began to appreciate the upright position during my 14km commute and the 6-gears were a relief during my climb up the Bathurst St. hill between Dupont Ave and St. Clair Ave W.

The Beater Bike on a grocery run

On the second day of commuting with the Beater Bike I dropped it on the drive side (right side) bending the derailleur hanger out of place. Fortunately, the steel was soft and durable enough to be bent back into place and was able to bend it and go on with my day. I have so far put nearly 400km on it and have commuted in both fair and rainy weather, though it has kept up all this time there have been a number of things about the bike that bugged me.

The Beater Bike fork has a 1 1/4” threaded steerer which is a really odd size considering the industry standard is either 1” or 1 1/8”. That means finding a replacement fork or stem would be close to impossible since you won’t find any 1 1/4” components. The seatpost is also a weird size at 25.4mm compared to modern steel bikes which used 27.2mm. All of this odd sizing makes customizing the bike (such as a longer or taller stem) to fit the rider much harder.

Another big issue for me was the actual assembly of the bike. During the first few rides I noticed several small noises coming from the bike and I would often have to pull over to tighten different nuts and bolts that were obviously not tightened enough. Everything from the handlebar clamp bolt on the stem to the rack and fender bolts came loose in the first few days of riding. I even had to repack the bottom bracket as it came loose on one ride. Though these were quick fixes for me I know that commuters who don’t have the special tools or the know how to do it would be stuck with having to take the bike into a shop to do it which would cost money and time.

The cup-and-cone bottom bracket

The Beater Bike is still a nice bike for the money in comparison to what department stores have to offer in the same price range. I know they are in the process of designing a new model of Beater Bikes and I hope that in the future they look at standardizing the specs on their parts and take the time to properly assemble everything.

Posted: June 28th, 2010
Filed under: Review
Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

LGRAB Summer Games (2-1)

The second leg of the LGRAB Summer Games contest has begun! For this challenge I have merged two tasks into one by reading some classic bike literature on bike maintenance while overhauling a vintage ride I had in my garage.

There’s something about vintage bikes that we can all appreciate whether it’s the simplicity in their construction, their ruggedness, or even their timeless look and I certainly love older bikes for all three reasons. My first real bike was a 25+ year old Peugeot UO8 which I rode all over, even on a trip to Niagara Falls, I loved using it because I didn’t have to worry about things like pre-load on a fork or cycling through a gazillion different gearing combinations.

Though these bikes were rugged they were still required maintenance which is hard considering bike technology has really changed over the years. Luckily, I managed to nab the Compelte Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair, a hefty book dating back to the days when bikes weighing 25lb was considered light and neon coloured frames were all the rage.

The book covered a whole slew of things from removing a cottered crankset to changing out the cogs in a freewheel, tips and tricks which have long since forgotten by many since we’ve moved onto cotter-less cranks and cassettes. I had to read up on a lot of stuff in order to tackle the task at hand which was a complete overhaul of an 80s road bike I managed to get my hands on.

This right here is a no-name Canadian made road bike from the mid 80s. When I got it it was barely in ride able condition; the hubs were creaking and needed to be repacked with grease, the headset was on too tight, the gears would not shift properly, the brakes were really loose, cables were rusting and the handlebar tape was just ick. After scrounging around nearby dumpsters as well as Craigslist I managed to secure most of the parts I needed. I got a sweet fluted seat post, leather saddle, crankset, and handlebar off dumped bikes and I bought a New Old Stock (NOS) set of Campagnolo (Italian…mmmmm….) wheels.

After many hours here and there I managed to get her in beautiful condition; the swept back handlebars gave a relaxed, yet low position, the new crankset and rear derailleurs shift responsively and the reflectors keep me safe ‘n visible. Not bad for a weekend of wrenching, I’d say.

Posted: June 10th, 2010
Filed under: LGRAB Contest
Tags: , , | 2 Comments »