The 2011 Rickshaw Season has started

Hello and welcome to the 2011 Rickshaw Season! This season has been a bit odd because it had a soft start. The pedicab was still seeing action in the “offseason”, though not at the levels of a rickshaw season. Still, I used to take months off during the cold part of the year, but that didn’t happen over winter 2010/2011.

This year’s kick-off ride was a few days ago with Bryce on the back. We went on a long ride from the 25th and State area to the Greenbelt, through Boise State, to the Park Center bridge, and back home. I took the pedicab through some shallow water under a couple bridges along the way. The south side of the Boise River had claimed the shallow section around the Park Center bridge so we rode around that.

I did get an upgrade for the pedicab in the off-season. There’s a new, larger top gear in the front of the pedicab. Bikes2Boards dropped it in there for me. I believe the old one was a 38 tooth, and this one I think is a 44 tooth. The moral is simple: The pedicab is now faster, but the lowest gearing has been left intact.

Welcome to the 2011 Rickshaw Season.

New saddle for Father’s Day

Father’s Day comes and Kelly is so thoughtful and makes sure I get a new Schwinn “Dual-density saddle” (item#: SW75961-2) for the Pedicab. What a nice surprise. It’s made by Velo. We have other Velo saddles around here. The Torker saddle on my Schwinn, Kelly’s Nirve saddle, and the Bell saddle on Kelly’s Giant are all made by Velo. Here’s a picture of the Schwinn Velo:

Schwinn SW75961-2 saddle

It’s a cruiser saddle, but has a hole in the middle like some of the performance saddles these days. I didn’t care at all for the non-original mountain bike saddle that came with the Pedicab, and now it’s gone. The new one is much more comfortable.

The kids and I went for a ride to Veterans Memorial Park, and then took the Greenbelt back home. Bryce especially enjoys the “bike road”. Me too.

Pedicab upgraded

The new parts have been installed. The Maxxis Hookworm tires fit in the front forks (that was a concern), but there was a different, and unexpected issue.

Brad calls me and informs me that the new handlebars aren’t going to work because there isn’t enough straight bar in the grip area. It is too short. He says he’ll just use the old bars that were on there. Well, I greatly dislike those crappy mountain bike bars, so this is not a good outcome. Brad’s taking up his wife’s garage with the Pedicab, and so waiting until tomorrow is also not a reasonable option. So, I pack up the kids and we go to Bob’s Bicycles just before they close. They have bars that look like the ones I bought, but are longer in the grip area. These worked.

Brad got everything put on the new bars, including the new trigger shifter on the right and the Ergon grips. He mounted up the tires, which are slimed and have Kenda downhill tubes (26″ x 2.4″-2.75″) inside. The tubes are a crazy 2.25mm thick. These came in a Giant brand box, but are available in a Kenda box, a Pyramid box, and who knows who else’s box.

Here’s a video showing the current state of the Pedicab:

I still need a different saddle on there, and the back is making noise which I’m sure I’ll address later. The grips are great. The new handlebar is a massive improvement, and trigger shifters are nicer than the stock setup of grip shifters in my opinion.

Brad has the Shimano 21 speed system dialed in nicely, which is much appreciated. The poor shifts were annoying, and the chain drops were not fun. Those days are over.

Mom is letting me borrow a 10 year old Garmin GPS, and it had a new handlebar mount, which I took out and installed on the handlebars. I’m still not sold on GPS for pedicab use, but I’ll give it more time.

Rickshaw and Pedicab Sunday

Four rides today, three on the Rickshaw and one on the Pedicab:

  • I rode the Rickshaw to pick up Faye Faye from Winco, and we both headed back. Fun. Managed to circle the fountain at the Grove along the way.
  • Faye and I went to Bikes2Boards on the Rickshaw to look for some thick tubes for my Pedicab, but they didn’t have the size I wanted, unfortunately. They had a size up, though.
  • Bryce and I went to Albertsons for hamburger buns on the Rickshaw.
  • Bryce, Faye, and myself were on the Pedicab while Kelly rode along on her new (to her) Nirve three speed cruiser.

Kelly said we rode about five miles on the Pedicab evening ride, and the Rickshaw odometer is reading 235.55 miles, or roughly 12.5 miles over the last five days.

Tonight’s Pedicab ride was interesting for a variety of reasons. It was the first time we had two child seats on either one of the rides. The Main Street has seat belts. The child car seats are designed to lock in from seat belts, and the Pedicab is wide enough to hold two seats. Problem solved.

Brock standing while Bryce and Faye are in child car seats strapped to the Pedicab in June, 2010

Very near where the picture above was taken, a grazing deer was just on the other side of the fence from the path.

Deer near the rail bridge, Boise, Idaho
Oh, deer!

And yes, we climbed the rail bridge path off the Greenbelt all the way up to Orchard, The first bench climb for the Pedicab, at least with this Rickshawala at the helm. I was geared down and going slow. Three straight days of riding and my legs are getting soft.

The chain came off twice, always while shifting. I can’t wait for Brad to start in on the Pedicab tomorrow. Each time I mentioned to Bryce that Brad was going to fix it correctly (as opposed to me just getting the chain back on). After we came home tonight, Bryce was quick to point out that Brad has tools, and he’s going to fix the Pedicab.

Craigslist Boise bikes section strikes again, and again…

The bikes section of Boise craigslist has no mercy. First, there was the Coker Monster Cruiser late last year. Then, the Main Street Pedicab. This week brought more from two different sellers. My wife picked up a Nirve Lahaina 3 Speed, and then last night I bought the Wald rear rack/baskets assembly. Here it is on the Schwinn:

1995 Schwinn Classic Cruiser with a big Wald basket rack on the back
Ready to haul!

There’s barely enough room in the side basket for a gallon of milk, but it works. My MBA bag fits in one side, which is nice. I may not go back to ever having a box on there, I don’t know yet. What I do know is this thing weighs in at over 7 lbs. and has some hauling capacity. The real test is use over time, and it’ll be getting that over the summer. So far, a neat rack. They’re around $40 – $50 new I believe. This one is used, with a few bent basket bars which I’ve straightened, but nothing severe. Cost: $10.

I did lose my LED tail light that I modded and mounted to the old Swiss clamp rack, but we had a Bell tail light sitting around that no longer had a mounting bracket, so I took it. Two zip ties later and it appears to be reasonably mounted to the new rack. The Bell LED tail light is much brighter than the one that is on the old rack.

With the Wald rack on there, the Schwinn (my lightest bike) should be weighing in at over 50 lbs now. The Roadmaster is still heavier, and closer to 60 lbs. Who knows what the Coker weights in at, but it has to be more than the Roadmaster is.

Component weight

Tires and BryceThe new parts are in. As you can see, Bryce has inspected the new Maxxis Hookworm tires. I asked him if they were Bryce approved, and he nodded yes.

Something that shows up a lot in cycling-related blogs is concerns about weight. Road bike guys go crazy about weight. It makes me giggle when I see a road bike person that has clearly spent some money on their light ride but could drop 20 lbs. from themselves, but I digress.

The 2003 Main Street Pedicab Classic is my sport rickshaw. It’s notably lighter than the Rickshaw I’ve had for half a decade now. It’s also more capable (stability, high speed handling, brakes, gearing). So, when I went to order parts, was I thinking “How much is that going to weigh?” No. I’m more concerned about function and look, in that order.

Still, this a cycling blog, so I should weigh parts at least once, right?! Why not. Here’s a few:

Component Weight each Qty. Total
Maxxis Hookworm Tire 2lbs 6oz 3 7lbs 2oz
Wald 5 inch rise handlebar 1lbs 8oz 1 1lbs 8oz
Ergon grip 2.9oz 2 6oz (rounded)

I’m not taking the shifter out of the packaging to weigh it, so there you go. Three tires, handlebar, and grips weigh in at nine pounds.

Let’s compare to some road bike component weights I grabbed from Weight Weenies:

Component Weight each
Maxxis Hookworm Tire 2lbs 6oz
Maxxis Xenith Equipe Legere 148g (5.2oz)
Difference in Weight 2lbs 0.8oz


Component Weight each
Wald 5 inch rise handlebar 1lbs 8oz
Kestrel EMS Pro/SL (42 cm (c-c)) 175.7g (6.2oz)
Difference in Weight 1lbs 1.8oz

So, notably less weight for both. Sure the road bike parts are also far smaller, but the priorities are different. Still, my handlebars weigh over three an a half times what the road bike ones do, and each Hookworm tire weighs about seven and a half times what a road bike tire from the same company weighs.

Road bikes don’t have the added weight of a third wheel, let alone passengers. The priorities are different.

Parts on order

As noted before, the (new to me) 2003 Main Street Pedicab (MSP) Classic has seen some battles. I decided to throw some more money at it, which I suppose makes it officially a hobby.

Here’s the parts I ordered, and the plan:

From Bike Stop:

Details Name Unit Price Quantity Total
LD8752 Shimano STX Right Rear Shifter (Pod) $11.95 1 $11.95
33036 Wald MTB High-Rise Handlebar #803, Black, 25.4 $12.95 1 $12.95
HT1700 Ergon Performance Grips Small $29.95 1 $29.95
Special:  – Price Match $-6.96   $-6.96
  Sub Total: $47.89
  Shipping: $11.99
  Grand Total: $59.88

The price match was on the Ergon grips.

From Main Street Pedicabs:

Qty Name SKU Each Subtotal
3 26 Maxxis Hookworm Tire MAX_HT $26.99 $80.97
Subtotal $80.97
Shipping: UPS Ground $15.30
Tax Total $0.00
Grand Total $96.27

MSP has very competitive prices and they were quite helpful on the phone when I called. I probably paid a little extra in shipping since I didn’t get everything from Bike Stop, but MSP earned my business. Company founder Steve Meyer is who I spoke with. Here’s a video with him I found on YouTube:

…and here’s an article about MSP:

So, my ride just got way more expensive, but it’ll be nice. I think I’ll be glad I went with trigger shifters on both sides (there’s already one on the left) rather than returning to a stock twist shifter setup, and the Ergon grips look like they’ll be nice. The handlebars are almost the same size as the new stock MSP ones, but I wanted black. I still haven’t figured out a saddle yet, but I’ll get there.

Rearview mirror added

Kelly was sweet and got me a Bell 109433 Flex View bicycle rearview mirror for the holidays. It was nice outside today and I decided it was time to mount it the mirror.

I had lost the little threaded metal insert, so I found a bulk nut with the proper thread in the basement and pounded it in with the hammer. Better than new.

The next challenge was the mirror mount to the stem. For most practical purposes, the Rickshaw canopy is perpendicular to bike handlebars. The adjustable arm doesn’t like to twist, which was a problem. Well, only temporarily. I drilled a new hole 90 degrees from the original hold and moved the retaining screw. You can see the result in this closeup:

Bike Mirror Closeup

Here’s a picture from the captain’s seat, and a reasonable representation of what I see:

Bike Mirror Closeup

I haven’t given it a real ride yet, but from a quick trip it looks like the mirror will serve me well and will be an appreciated addition this upcoming season.

Up and down the bench?

Boise has an interesting set of elevations in town called ‘benches’. Here’s a Wikipedia description:

The bench is named such because the sudden rise in elevation gives the prominent appearance of a step, or bench. The Bench (or Benches, there are 3 actual benches throughout the Boise Valley) was created as an ancient shoreline to the old river channel.

The edge of each bench is like climbing a plateau, but instead of coming down the other side, you are greeted with another climb to another bench after the one you’re on. The area on top of each bench is fairly flat, so once you’re there it is all good. The battle is getting there.

The Rickshaw had never been up the bench for obvious reasons, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I called my friend Joe (who is the all time leader in Rickshaw miles as a passenger) and said I’d try to get him and his girlfriend down the bench and we’d hang out for some Karaoke. They were going to have to take a cab back though, because I was not going back up. Sounded like fun, so it was a go, or at least a try.

Water is power, so I took in a lot of water and Gatorade before I left the house. I decided the easiest way up was going to be the old rail bridge route that goes from the Boise Greenbelt, across the river, and ends up in the Orchard/Emerald area on the near bench. This route is smooth and about as gradual as it gets. Could I do it? Could the Rickshaw make it without snapping the chain or something else?

I took it easy on the way there. I wanted to be fresh for the climb. I hit the climb for the rail bridge and it wasn’t easy but I made it. I crossed the river and then kept going. I tried to keep my speed up so I had the crank turning at an optimal speed. There’s only one speed on the Rickshaw so I don’t have an easier gear to kick down to. A quick glance down revealed that I was going 7.9 MPH, which is a hair slower than normal cruising speed. I dig in a smidgen more and get it in the 8 MPH range. That’s cruising speed while climbing the bench.

There’s a point where the path up the bench actually starts to go down a bit before going back up more. I stop at the top of that point, not because I had to, but I wanted to assess myself and the Rickshaw. Both were doing well. I consumed 16oz of water, and then rode on to the top. Victory!

From there, I rode over to Joe’s place. I lost a bolt on the way (thankfully not a problem), which Joe replaced with some cool looking carriage bolts which looked much nicer than the regular bolts they replaced:
Carriage bolt
Once the bolts were replaced, it was time to load up and head out.

Because of my concerns about downhill braking, which had never received a real test, I wanted the safest route down which I guessed was Ustick Road:

  • It has a bike lane.
  • It has a lot of road texture, so it is a slower roll than the path I took up the bench.
  • Though it is steeper than the route taken up, it also goes back up hill part way before the next intersection so even if the brakes went bad, gravity would stop the Rickshaw long before reaching the next intersection.

I went slow and the brakes took it. No noticeable brake fade. No noticeable smells coming from the brake. All was good.

We made it down the bench, on to karaoke, and then I hauled myself on home to finish the night. All in all, I’m thinking about 18 miles of traveling that day. The odometer is now sitting at 80.75 miles. That was the most demanding trip to date, but I took it much better than many other trips in the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

I’ve wanted to clear the 100 mile point in a season and it appears that will happen this season. I’m still fat but my cardiovascular and leg strength have improved significantly this year, and I have lost some fat. These days, hopping on a bike almost seems like taking a car, which is odd. More odd, the Rickshaw is increasingly starting to seem like riding a bike. If you’d have told me last year that I’d get the Rickshaw up the bench with a single speed I would have been surprised.

Old seat fixed

(This entry backdated to July 18th since that’s when the repair was done. Actual date: July 31, 2008)

A lame spot of the Rickshaw is the seat. It was made worse last year when a “hole” on the seat appeared (after a cracking sound). Well, Kelly took the seat apart, removing the cover on the back side of the seat, and we learned that:

  • There was a broken board in there
  • The seat was made of pallet wood (or similar)!

Well, having a wedding that night, the “hole” was not cool. Seat replacement with new upholstery is in the plans, but not that day. So, it was time to rebuild. I went out to the garage, found a scrap piece of plywood, cut it, took it over to Bob’s for another cut (his power saw is way better than me with a hand saw) and then Kelly and I put it back together. She added some padding towards the front, though while not perfect, is a notable improvement over stock. The fabric has seen better days, and we’ll replace the whole bottom assembly next year hopefully. For now, it works, and hauled people that night and beyond successfully.

Old seat: Busted

The old seat, fixed