Season of Artificial Light

11 11 2010

There’s no more sunlight for pictures on the way home from work, and every commuter on the High Level Bridge has fresh batteries in their headlights (point those things down a little, if you don’t mind). Winter, with its snow and cold, will brighten the darkness and dim the glaring hundred watt lumen uber lights. In the meantime, November is not entirely about dreariness.

A rare day that these lights are actually working and in sync. BTW, this is (accidentally) the best photo of the Art Gallery I've ever taken.

Portabiking through the "waterfall."

I’ve been putting lots of miles on the Porta Bike – it’s just too fun to stop riding, though if I had been riding a faster bike today I would’ve caught a twenty (bill, not bike) blowing in the wind (a faster cyclist got it).

Intergalactic pedal powered transport.

I’m particularly excited about the opportunities for getting into places that aren’t usually bikeable, even if the end result is only weird photos and minor mischief.

New shoes. I got them at a thrift store brand new, but the studs were already starting to fall out in the store. I figured I couldn't go wrong for a new pair of hightops for 8 bucks, but I didn't wear them for months because I was worried about one of those studs ending up in a tire. That would be the ultimate bike fashion fail. Now that I've finally started wearing them, I'm leaving a trail of studs everywhere (and I'm still worried about pulling one out of a tire - I've already pulled two out of the sole of the shoes!).

Porta Bike's now sporting a basket courtesy of the dumpster score the other week.

Did I mention I love this bike? I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s like the perfect balance between ease and eccentricity. I’m even contemplating winterizing it.

Concentrated Awesome in 20″ Wheels

9 11 2010

People dump bikes outside the gates of the local bicycle co-op all the time, so often that it’s a regular chore to haul them in every time we open the gates. Last week, I was greeted by an old folding bike in really rough shape, wheels tossed into the garbage bin. The slightly faded coral red frame caught my attention, and since it turned into a slow day at the shop, I decided to try to make it rideable.

Meet the Eaton Road King Porta Bike, made in Hungary.

The initial inspection revealed the frame’s fatal flaw – a home welding job is all that’s holding the front crossbar to the folding plate and the resulting angle of the tube is slightly, but noticeably off.

Porta-Bike's scarred heart.

The weld seemed to be holding, so I decided to take a chance on investing the work to fix it up. The first step was to rebuild the bottom bracket that had been left in a disgraceful state. The adjustable cup was missing, the threads of the shell were stripped out, and the spindle was attached to crank arms of 2 different sizes. Luckily, EBC is fully equipped with tools and old parts, and I’m equipped with the know-how to use them.

Yep, it's cottered, but it's too pretty to replace.

I straightened out and reattached the fenders, overhauled the coaster hub, added pedals, grips, tires, changed the seat, removed the remains of a built in generator system and, since I’ve taken these pictures, overhauled the headset and embarked on a campaign of rust removal and shine-up. I still need to find a suitable replacement for the quick release levers on the seat, stem, and fold, which are made of a plastic that is so degraded that it comes off in massive amounts of white powder every time they’re touched.

But why put so much work into a bike with a broken heart, who’s frame could fracture again tomorrow?

The answer is simple: this bike is an absolute joy to ride.


It’s peppy, responsive, and maneuverable, and the riding position is comfortably upright. It’s a bike that gets in and out of tight places with ease.

Twenty inch wheels don't feel small.

I now understand why Keith and some of the other EBC mechanics are so crazy for their twenty’s: while riding one of those bikes it’s impossible to not be happy. Sure it’s a little demanding of the mechanic who wants to race over the High Level Bridge on it, cranking 120rpm, but my other bikes have been easy on me lately and I need a change and a challenge, and perhaps some adventures on a bicycle with a tragic past.

What's more fun than a jeep with two steering wheels that only travels around in imaginationland? Porta-Bike, that's what!