Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Bike Friday in New York on Saturday

75th Ave. Forest Hills

Our Saturday morning adventure started with a ride on the 75th Avenue F train in Forest Hills to the Lexington Ave/53rd Street in Manhattan. After carrying our bikes down the stairs we headed for the service entrance to swipe our Metro cards and then pass through the emergency exit door to the platform.  When the train arrived we rolled on board for an uncrowded ride to Lex/53rd.  Getting on a crowded train might make things a more difficult, so make sure you are not traveling during peak hours.

53 and Lexington, Manhattan

nice tiles at the 53/Lex station

Off the train and onto the platform we headed for a very long stair climb to street level. We rode a few blocks west on 53rd Street, turned right on 8th Avenue headed for Columbus Circle and then on to Central Park.  After a short ride through the park we made an exit on W107th Street and made our way for Riverside Park and the Hudson River Greenway.

nice long stairs at 53/Lex station
On our way to the Greenway we diverted to Amsterdam Avenue for refreshments and then proceeded along 125th Avenue to the West Harlem Piers Park Greenway entrance. A cool and partly cloudy day made for a comfortable ride along the busy Greenway which had no shortage of interesting sights and places to stop at along the way.

Chokolat Patisserie on Broadway
Grants Tomb
Riverside Park
under Henry Hudson Parkway
in front of Pier 40 at Clarkson

We departed the Greenway at Murray Street and then headed for the World Trade Center E train station on Church Street.  With the WTC station at the end of the line the car was empty which gave us  plenty of room for two bikes.  We selected the first car and set up at the very front where there was a spacious area by driver's door.

entering WTC station

on the E train

We stood with our bikes for the 35 minute ride  back to 75th Avenue in Forest Hills.  After a short hike up the stairs we were back at street level and a 5 minute walk to the apartment.

up the stairs at 75th Ave. Forest Hills

Overall I think we had a fantastic ride and a very positive experience transporting our bicycles on the MTA.  The best time to embark on such an outing would be an early morning with an early afternoon return. Starting any later on the weekend or during the work week might result in a conflict with bulky bicycles and tightly packed subway car. As an out of town visitor this trip made for a rather fun filled day and I am sure I will be back to do it again soon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bike Friday Unpacked in New York

Yes, Bike friday is packable and checkable for air travel and yes I have done that on a previous trip to Boston, where I had a rental car awaiting me, however this time I decided to transport the Friday a little differently.

 For my trip to Forest Hills, New York City I decided to bypass airport luggage check and ship my Friday by FedEx.   It cost me about $100 to ship the 55 lb. case directly to my son's apartment, eliminating the need to hire a cab or to negotiate subway station stairs along with my other baggage.  In the places I was passing through I wanted my hands as free as possible.  It was very convenient and well worth the price, to have the case waiting for me at my destination.  I am sure it would have worked out just fine wheeling the case about, I just thought I would give this way a try.

Un packing and reassembly was a snap as I had the Friday ready to roll with saddle bag and fenders in under 40 minutes.

For my test flight I decided on riding over to Forest Park which is only a mile or two from the  apartment (  Other than crossing a couple of busy intersections it was a rather relaxing ride to and from the park.  Most of the riding was on car free roadways that meandered through an old nicely forested city park.

An old orchestra shell made for a nice portrait of the Friday

The rider posing in the seating area of the orchestra shell
The next trip will be to Central Park and the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway via the MTA E train.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Herse Cranks 1500 Miles Later

Shimano FD CX-70

After a few hundred miles of having to trim the front derailleur every time I put any torque on the drive train, it was time make a change.  Whenever the frame flexed, the Shimano CX-70 front derailleur required trimming to keep the chain from rubbing the sides of the cage.  The cage on the    CX-70 seemed a bit narrow with the inside at 12 mm for the 8 speed chain, leaving very little clearance when using anything other than the middle cog of the 8 speed cassette.  Rather than changing the chain, I went to the parts bin to see if I had an older double which would have been designed for a wider chain. I found a 1982 NOS Shimano 600 Abaresque with a cage that was 14.5 mm on the inside.  The curvature of the 600 cage was very close to the CX-70 so I made the swap.

Shimano FD-6200, 600EX Arabesque

The 600 shifted as well as the CX-70 with no issues of the chain rubbing the cage.  Problem solved....and the new old derailleur looks very nice with the Herse cranks.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

First Thoughts: Rene Herse Cranks

I have been ogling Jan Heine's (Compass Bicycles) Rene Herse cranks since they made their entrance in early 2012. I thought the new Herse cranks in a double would make a good replacement for my Sugino 46-36-26 triple. I rarely use the very low 26 ring and the 36 often seems a bit high in some of the steep dirt roads I often ride. The Sugino double would work as well......but alas, the beauty of the highly polished Herse had me hooked.

Before making my final decision to purchase the Herse cranks, I contacted Jan and asked if the cranks would be compatible with the 113mm JIS spindle on my Phil BB. After Jan's affirmative response I ordered the cranks a few days later and within a week there was a delivery on a Friday afternoon. The package was eagerly opened to reveal a piece of beautiful bicycle jewelry awaiting a bicycle to adorn.

Sugino cranks pulled, spindle and threads cleaned and greased.... The Herse cranks placed on tapers and torqued to 25 ft lbs... A New Shimano cx-70 front derailleur and SRAM pc850 chain installed and adjusted. The only thing left to do is to hang the bike from the rafters to await a 6 am departure Saturday morning.

Pedaled off as usual on the usual weekend ride with all systems go and the new additions to the drive train running as smooth as one could wish for. Then it happened..... About five miles into the ride I felt my left shoe coming loose from the pedal... Loose cleat perhaps? Well needless to say that was not the problem. I stopped immediately to check on the problem and soon discovered that the left crank bolt had managed to back out leaving me with a loose crank arm. Without a 15mm socket there was no chance for me to tighten things up on the road so I limped back to the house to re-torque both bolts. At that point I realized I should have gone around the block a few times and re-torqued before embarking on a journey that would leave me coasting home because I did not have the proper tools in my kit. Once things were tightened up I headed off for a 25 mile ride and returned without experiencing any more “loosening up” problems.

For the next few rides I checked the torque before leaving and carried a 15mm socket and wrench as insurance. As of now the bolts and crank arms have settled in with the proper torque and with that I am confident I no longer need to carry “insurance” tools.

The Sugino cranks and the Shimano 105 triple derailleur performed well and made for a very solid and reliable drive train. However, the Herse cranks paired with the cx-70 derailleur not only provide very smooth shifting.. the drivetrain has gone from quiet to almost silent. When the cranks are turning the rings are very concentric and display a negligible amount of runout. I do not have other cranks that spin as true as these.  My first thoughts, the Herse cranks definitely have enhanced the form and function of my Heron Wayfarer.