January 2017

No School Choppers Lens

Taste: These taste like absolutely nothing…but maybe the ghost pepper hot sauce from the tacos I ate while waiting for the mail man.

Smell: Like resin….A little fiberglass like but not overpowering like liquid resin.

Touch:  200 grit sand paperish. 

Look: Not clear as glass but my lit up Storm Trooper looks very cool with the lights shining through him.

We stumbled across No School Choppers a few years ago from a friend of a friend. He told me that this crazy dude was pouring resin and making some really cool sculpted tail light lenses for choppers. Granted, I no longer own a “chopper”. My motorcycle days are far behind me at this point in life. But I do build my own custom bikes from scratch (more than most motorcycle builders do) and like very cool taillights so I tracked them down to check out what they were doing. Luckily they are located in my city so I tracked them down, was very impressed with their lenses and since then have purchased at least four different ones for various builds.

First off, these lenses only fit 1933-1936 Ford Tail light assemblies. If these tail lights aren’t the look you are going for then move along now. Next issue; you can search the bone yards from here to Maine looking for an OEM Ford housing without ever finding one. Luckily, Speedway Motors in Nebraska has you covered so this is a non-issue. You can buy both polished and painted assemblies in either incandescent or LED for a pretty good price. I have used several LED version in the last few years without issue. Shown is part number 91137028.

Back to the lenses…They are hand poured so they aren’t glass smooth or clear. But they are a very thick resin hand poured into molds. The resin is more than translucent enough to really let those lights shine. Both LED and incandescent bulbs shine through the lenses perfectly. They were designed for motorcycle use so visibility and safety is a key. These lenses are more than adequate for use on your pedal powered machine. They fit tightly in the repopped 33-36 assemblies and with the cork gasket that comes with the assemblies could be called water resistant. I even had one infuriating night where my bike was hit hard enough to put a nice dent in the side of the tail light housing enough that I had to pry the lens mounting ring off with a screwdriver. I am positive that no glass lens would have survived whereas my No School Choppers Praying Hands lens came out unscathed.

To get a custom tail light lens in some cool molds (unicorns, sugar skulls, praying hands, storm troopers and even Easy-E) then the price per lens is very reasonable. Even the LED tail light assembly from Speedway Motors is priced to sell at $44.99.

So if this is a style that will fit your ride then contact No School Choppers at www.noschoolchoppers.com and place your order. Don’t forget to tell them that Kustomized Bicycle Magazine sent you their way.

Be sure to read next month’s Tech feature where we use the No School Choppers tail light lens, Speedway Motors LED tail light and do some creative wiring to install the whole assembly on the rear of a custom bicycle.   

 

 

 

December 2016

Taste: Rubbery.

Smell: Very rubbery, like when you walk into the tire store.

Touch: clean, stretchy.

Look: Nice black design, part number stamps and seams from days gone by.

We have reviewed a myriad of parts and pieces, all bike related, in the past year and a half. When I went to the Kustomized Bicycle Magazine Editor and asked to do his review he initially scoffed at the idea. He is a lot like John Jonah Jameson portrayed in the Spider-Man in the Marvel Comics Universe with the naysaying, yelling and sometimes cigar chomping…

My argument was:

 It makes your bike easier to work on….because your pants aren’t falling down.

It is bike related and Custom…You are taking bike parts and chopping them up to create something else.

Refusing to see fault in his very own definition of what this magazine is about he agreed to the feature with a lone grunt.

Alchemy Goods top-selling Ballard belt is made from reclaimed bike tubes and starts with one tube wrapped around another to create four layers of rubber. The highlight stitching allows the belt to stretch just enough for comfort, but the rubber construction ensures the belt won't stretch out permanently over time. The solid metal buckle is held in with a sturdy twin snap fold over.

Specs are:

Cost: $42.00

Sizes: 24”-28”, 28”-32”, 32”-36”, 36”-40”, 40”-44”, 44”-48”

Stitching Color: Yellow, Marine (Blue), Silver

Review: Having purchased a Ballard belt over three years ago and have worn it almost daily. The belt has held up amazingly well and only started to have some delamination around the holes and have had some breaking stitching in the last few months. Having been abused by telephone cases, tool pouches and camera bags for these years didn’t help either. Being made from reclaimed bicycle tubes is part of the coolness factor. Not only is the coolness factor important but since it is made from the tubes there is a certain amount of give so the belt doesn’t bind to your hips when pedaling.

3 years old and still holding it up

In all this is one of the most impressive bicycle related products I have purchased. It has outlived several other belts that last only a quarter of the time. For the price and lifespan, it is without a doubt the strongest and best purchase someone can make. Do yourself a favor and pick one up for yourself and those on your Christmas list.

November 2016

Minoura Pro-2 Truing Stand

Taste: Aluminum and Molded Nylon

Smell: Like plastic packaging

Touch: weighty base and very light legs

Look: Looks pretty high tech and the color combo is very nice.

 

Normal bike people don’t build a lot of wheels. If you are fairly careful with your bike and the wheel set was built pretty well they should outlast most other parts without a need for adjustment. If you only have to do it once every few years, there really is no harm in taking them to the LBS (local bike shop) for adjustment.

But then there are the readers of Kustomized Bicycle Magazine…hardcore people that live to ride and spend their sleeping hours dreaming of frame designs and custom paint jobs. We will be damned if any hipster bike shop monkey will touch out bike in between sips of the quadruple latte. God forbid they get their moustache wax or beard balm covered fingers on our three layer powder coat job with custom laced polished aluminum 29” x 80mm hoops with anodized nipples and stainless spokes.

But, with the cost of those custom parks makes our bill folds a little skinny…like fitting a 700cc V-rim skinny.

We started looking for a truing stand a few months ago and checked prices and availability. Unfortunately, our wallets were dead set on us not ever owning a Park TS-2 like we dreamed of. The cheapest and most available unit that is from a well know company was the Minoura Pro-2 Truing Stand. So we called one of our distributors and two days later there was a box on the bench in the shop. These stands run around $89.99 but you can get them cheaper if you watch for sales and coupons.

The manufactures propaganda says this stand has:

Stand is self centering, no dishing tool necessary

Accurate to 0.2mm for trueness and roundness

Accommodates all wheel sizes

Foldable for easy storage

We pulled the truing stand from its packaging and put it on the workbench. Initial impressions were that it looked like a quality unit. Everything seemed to be tight and clean and with the black steel base, red Nylon components and brushed aluminum legs it definitely wasn’t ugly to look at. The overall size of the stand is pretty thin when folded up and will be easy to store out of the way when not being used.

Let’s Get a Wheel True:

We had a perfect guinea pig of a wheel that needed to be trued. It was the wheel from the October 2016 issue where we laced a 26” wheel after changing a single speed hub to a 3-Speed Nexus hub. The wheel was assembled and tight and probably pretty close to being ready to go so we put the axle in the truing stand and put the nuts back on hand tight. The mounts are nylon so we didn’t want to overtighten the nuts. The stand is pretty solid once of the weight of the wheel is installed and with the 5” steel strap slid pointing forward and tightened down.

The wheel arms are “self centering”. They do not move independently. Once the axle nuts are tightened down the wheel should be centered. There is no way to manually center the wheel in the stand. We did some measurements and the “Accommodates All Wheel Sizes” isn’t really true. Depending on how your wheel is dished you may or may not be able to fir an 80mm hoop inside the calipers. 100mm is defiantly a no go.

There are two caliper gauges…one for each side and one for radial truing. The two caliper gauges really didn’t help in this situation since we dished the wheel to the non-drive side a bit to offer more chain clearance to keep it from rubbing the wider than normal tire. We loosened the arm radius knob and rotated the arms into place then retightened the knob. It held firm so we used the caliper knob to tighten the calipers until the left side lightly rubbed the left side of the hoop.

 

One cool feature we noticed is that you can remove the metal pieces at the end of the calipers to keep from scratching the wheel. So if you have painted, powdered, anodized, or carbon wheels these can be easily removed.

We trued the rim to within a millimeter which is exactly what we wanted to do. We noticed that there is some movement in the wheel legs when spinning the wheel with any amount of side load. We tightened the arm bolts with acorn nuts a little but it made no change. Is it annoying? A little but it definitely didn’t let us true the wheel.

We radially trued the wheel next. We used the caliper knob to open the calipers all the way then rotated the radial gauge up until it almost touched the wheel. The radial gauge wasn’t tight enough to hold its own weight so we had to grab a tri-wrench and tighten it. This could be a pain in the future so if you do a lot of wheels I would either put a longer bolt in with a wing nut or fab up a knob to loosen and tighten the radial arm when needed.

We used the knob on the radial arm to slowly move it towards the hoop while the hoop was slowly spinning. We trued the wheel radially within a millimeter then rechecked the lateral trueness. With everything within the one millimeter spec we officially called the wheel true and took it out of the stand and installed the rim strip, tube and tire. Back on the bike it went.

We then chucked a 29” x 48mm, a 700cc and a 20” x 2.125 wheel into the stand without any issue.

Pros:

·         Wallet friendly price

·         Small footprint for easy storage

·         Good looks

·         Did the job with no problems

Cons:

·         Not the sturdiest on the bench. We will end up drilling two holes in the base and bolting it to the bench permanently.

·         Replace the Radial Arm adjustment bolt with something that doesn’t require a tool to tighten.

·         About a millimeter of movement in the fork legs with any side pressure like when you are spinning the wheel. No real way to fix it but it doesn’t hurt

         the overall function.

We rate the Minoura Pro-2 Truing Stand a with 3 out of 4 stars. There are things they could have designed better to make a better truing stand but for the price it works very well. It will defeintly do the job you need it to do and is worth the purchase even for us custom bike people that will use it several times a year. If we were building wheel every day or at least once a week we would have called Park for their $300.00 pro stand.

 

 


 

October 2016

Kickstand for your Square Tube Frame

TASTE: Aluminum doesn’t taste like much so we tried the stainless steel fasteners…still nothing.

SMELL: A little cutting fluid waived through the office air.

TOUCH: Lighter than it looks and a little warm. But the package sat in the mailbox which is out in the sun for most of the day.

LOOK: Very nice looking freshly machined part.

 

Michigan Built has done it again and really knocked it out of the park. You may recall last month’s new part review of the Shimano Grip Shift aluminum cover from Michigan Built that really add some much needed style to those no so pleasant looking grip shifts. Tim Sanders of Michigan Built sent us another package that was stamped “SUPER TOP SECRET”. 

Several months ago Michigan Built released their weld-on kickstand. So far there have been rave reviews from the top builders….seriously, we have talked to them.  

But what is a guy to do that needs a kickstand for a square tube frame that already has it painted or powder coated? Tim Sanders came up with the solution. A clamping styled connection gives a large area for a firm partnership between the frame and the kick stand (a lot of square tubed frames are a bit weighty and need a very solid mount). The kickstand itself is all machined in house by Michigan Built. It is spring loaded so when closed it stays tightly locked in that position. The extra-long arm gives you plenty of meat to cut on so the kickstand fits your bike anywhere you put it on your frame.

After some testing by Kustomized Bicycle Magazine we can honestly say this is a kick ass piece of work.  We received the prototype in a raw machined finish. Tim Sanders also went out of his way and milled some custom grooves into the kickstand arm to match last year’s Kustomized Bicycle Magazine’s build’s shifter. We snapped some pictures of it then went to the shop for a quick polishing. The first thing we really noticed is how light the assembly is. That is always a plus when adding things to an already pretty weighty ride. Once polished we went back into the office for some more pictures then headed back to the shop to install it on the bike. It took all of three minutes to find a good location and we used the stainless hardware Michigan Built sent in the “SUPER TOP SECRET” package. The package came with stainless bolts and lock washers. The front side cap holes are threaded so there are no unsightly nuts to stick out. This gives the assembly a very clean and appealing look to the piece.

The kickstand leg was way to long for our mounting position so we loosened the hidden grub screw on the back of the arm and slid the leg out. Tim does this on purpose so the leg can be cut to adjust to the position on any bike. Through a little trial an error we ended up adjusting the leg until the kickstand took the full weight of the bike and the bike was standing at the proper angle to make the bike stand while solidly leaning on the kickstand. Kicking the kickstand up was simple and very easy. Almost too easy we thought. Does it hold tightly enough to stay closed while riding some rough terrain?

The next morning, we loaded up the bikes and headed to the Denver Tour De Fat. The kickstand worked flawlessly on both pavement and grass. It held in place throughout the ride where we purposely popped off a few curbs and ran over the roughest road surfaces we could find on the route. The design and fabrication was flawless. Several people checking out the bike noticed the kickstand and all thought it was a beautiful piece of work.

We give this new part a 5 out of 5 for looks and use.  You can’t go wrong with this kickstand.

Michigan Built is constantly releasing the best looking and most advanced parts for custom bikes. If you want a weld on or bolt on kickstand they have you covered. The kickstands come in a machined finish and if you want any custom milling they are more than able to accommodate your needs.  If you need something off the wall and completely custom fabricated for your ride you should probably talk to Tim and have him build the one-off items your bike can’t live without.

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