Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ice Bike!


The Incredibly True Ballad of JC Studds

OK, First things first. I'm not JC Studds. I just wanted to make that clear. I'll get to the real JC Studds later.

It's been a snowy early winter here in New England so far. Not quite as snowy as last winter by this time, but still snowy none-the-less (and don't give me any of that ignorant conservative crap about how global warming isn't real, local environmental incidents are not usable as predictive factors in non-entropic systems). Last year I never got around to riding Ice Bike. This year will be different.

Ice Bike started life as an '95 cannondale MTB. The frame was given to me (yes, given) by a friend who left it in an unfortunate position where it got run over by a car, so the top tube was creased. It was bad enough so that the head tube was visibly misaligned with the seat tube.

I decided to experiment on the bike. I popped out the crease with a muffler clamp of about the right size. Now, I know, once aluminum has been stressed beyond the elastic point, the metal crystallizes, and subsequent working breaks the metal. The crack in the tube was obvious after I had pinched it out, but I didn't intend to leave it on.

step 1 - pop out crease
step 2 - strip paint down to bare metal a few inches on either side of crease
step 3 - trim down a piece of steel exhaust pipe so that the i.d. of the exhaust pipe is slightly smaller than the o.d. of the top tube. This is accomplished by running the length of the pipe with a cutting tool to remove material so that, when clamped, the new pipe will contact the top tube all the way around.
step 4 - liberally coat the top tube with JB weld, fully filling any voids in the aluminum
step 5 - clamp the pipe in place using several exhaust clamps, being careful not to deform the steel pipe.
step 6 - let sit for a week, remove the clamps, paint as desired.

It's hard to see in the photo, but I filleted the JB Weld with a rotary tool then painted it grey primer.

When I was done the head tube mis-alignment was negligible, using the fishing line method: tie off a piece of fishing line around the rear dropouts, run it around the top of the head tube, measure the distance from the line to the seat tube. Repeat, running the line around the bottom of the head tube. I don't remember the numbers and I'm not interested enough to remeasure it. suffice it to say it was close enough using a micrometer to consider it ridable according to the LBS I was hang around at the time.

The real test was the durability, so I put the bike together and started riding it around some of the local easy trails. I'll make the story short - that was 15 years ago, and the patch has held up through some reasonable abuse.

So I decided to make this just a GP bike - A mishmash of parts, old SR Duotrack 1" elastomer shock fork (elastomers hard as stone by now) and cheap cheezy wheels and tires, You know, something to hop on and ride to the local store and not worry about if it wasn't there when I came out.

Well, in '96 I tookice a trip to the UCI MTB race at Mt. Snow with the dude that gave me the bike. No, I didn't bring Ice Bike, I brought my ride from the time, a Pro-Flex 753. We happened to find a little bike shop that was going out of business, and he had this set of tires - IRC Piranha 2.2s, with - get this - 241 #6x1/2" stainless steel pan-head sheet metal screws installed in the knobs of each tire, points out.

The piranha was designed as a mud tire - big wide-spaced lugs - and JC Studds had put a #6x1/2" stainless steel pan-head sheet metal screw in each and every one of those fucking knobs, pointed end out, pan head _inside_ the tire. Seriously, these things look like something out of Mad Max.

I can ride on hard smooth ice, accelerate, brake and turn, and keep control. I can ride _up_ ice flows. I only run into problems when abrupt changes are made in direction or speed.

Now, JC Studds had made a little business card, but he's no longer in business. He has no web presence. He hand wrote some bits of advice on the back of the card, that suggested a tire liner and cautioning against riding on pavement or ice, even though he named the tires, with an indelible marker, the 'ice 241'. He wrote "if you ride on ice you will fall and get hurt!"

In the over ten years I've had these tires, I've slipped out, maybe twice, and never been hurt. There have been times when the snow was too deep and thick to ride through. They really do suck on pavement, and they have an annoying habit of picking up and holding onto leaves.

But, the bike is a blast in the snow, and the conditions this weekend have been almost perfect (a bit cold).

I got almost 4 hours of riding over the past two days at the winnikenni park in haverhill, riding pretty much every where except the really steep stuff and the single track.

It _really_ beats the rollers.

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