Thursday, August 8, 2013

Folding Bike Week 2013: Microbike Rides Again




So after buying a rare Microbike that probably hadn't seen a road since Perot's presidential bid of 1992, I committed myself to getting it working again. It was on flat tires and it appeared the bottom bracket was bent as the chainring (beltring) wobbled when the pedals turned. The first problem was solved with new tubes and 12.5" tires from Danny's Cycles. Now I thought I could solve the second problem by finding the proper bottom bracket tool that fit this particular bottom bracket. I haven't counted them, but I am fairly sure there are approximately 750,000 varieties of bottom bracket at at least that many tools to remove them. 

It's entirely possible bike and bike tool companies do this so we can all have that moment from 'The Goonies' when the hero fits the key over triple stones. "It fits, Mikey! It fits!"


The new, $13 Park Tool removed the bottom bracket easily, and as luck would have it I happened to have one that was about the right length that fit just fine in its place. 


I then set to replace the spider onto the bottom bracket and then mount the ring to the spider. Because I had fitted my little Ryobi TEK4 with the right sized hex tip, this went by quickly. 


Moments later, I learned I had efficiently and effectively done something that was completely unnecessary. 

The chainring still wobbled. Just as bad as it did before.

I then realized that even though I originally gave the spider a clean bill of health, it was actually bent. Badly. The bottom bracket was never the problem. 

So I needed a new spider that was the exact same size as the old one. Not any old crankset would do since the bike was belt drive. 

As it happened, since I had just said farewell to my hipster/single speed lifestyle very recently, I had a crankset that happened to be the perfect size.


I have long ago accepted that some of my bikes are nothing more than piles of parts working together as one until a part is needed by another bike. 

I used crank removal tool No. 452,098 to take the 'new' crank off (which had enjoyed a good ten minutes in the Microbike) and replace it with the one I had just removed and the 'new' bottom bracket tool that I didn't actually need. I didn't mind. I knew I'd use the tool again someday.

Reassembling the bike, I was relieved to discover I didn't always have to use special tools. To paraphrase a classic skit from Bob Newhart, when he wondered what would happen if one coward tried to talk another through defusing a bomb over the phone: the cap must be placed onto the crank arm with an "LT-507 screwdriver with a plastic handle and a demagnetized head. You don't have one of those? Just use a coin then."


Before long, I had a complete bike on the workstand. I spun the wheels and it turned. No ugly wobble and no ugly noise. Once again, I took a long and erratic route of constant misdiagnosis to figure out the problem, but I still had a good time doing it - and this time I ended up with a bike that has the kind of utilitarian geekiness  that any city dweller - or any male member of the cast of The Big Bang Theory - would appreciate. 


Then I folded it, and all six joints worked in concert as one. Not since the A-Bike have I seen a folding bike become so small. I could easily see how it could be brought onto a bus or train.


Tragically, bad weather today kept me from riding the bike to work as I planned. However, I got to take it for a spin in the parking garage and liked it a lot. It's not a high performance machine, but it seems like a pretty good way to connect the dots between home and and mass transit station. I thank Sven and his partner for designing such an interesting ride and hope to see Microbike 2.0 sometime soon. 

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hi, im Azam from Malaysia.. its nice to know about the Microbike, yep..its a rare kind of bike.
    Ive bought one a couple of weeks ago at a flea market like 70 dollars..
    Love it.
    Thanks for the article, hope you still have the microB with u

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, im Azam from Malaysia.. its nice to know about the Microbike, yep..its a rare kind of bike.
    Ive bought one a couple of weeks ago at a flea market like 70 dollars..
    Love it.
    Thanks for the article, hope you still have the microB with u

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, im Azam from Malaysia.. its nice to know about the Microbike, yep..its a rare kind of bike.
    Ive bought one a couple of weeks ago at a flea market like 70 dollars..
    Love it.
    Thanks for the article, hope you still have the microB with u

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice to see this kind of bike.. ive bought one at the flea market couple of week ago.
    Yep..it was rare and still was
    Thanks for the artickle

    Norazam, malaysia

    ReplyDelete
  6. Noel here from Manila, Philippines. I have one, too. Bought for a Japan used bikes store. Dirty but runs fine. The bottom joint used to fold but for some reason ow it won't. I plan to cut the black zip ties that hole the rubber joint covers so I can investigate the problem. May just need some WD40. Also thinking to repaint the whole frame black from its present dull gray. Even maybe repaint the dirty white "mag wheels" that look like they're made of hard plastic.

    ReplyDelete