Designated driver

Aaron came down from Seattle to pick up his bakfiets. He brought down his own wheels because as a SRAM/Sturmey Archer man the Shimano stock hubs didn’t suit him. Took it back on the train. Cajoled me into providing him with an experimental/don’t ask/not available Stokemonkey mount. Stokemonkey promptly broke the anti-rotation washers on the SRAM hub, but I think he’s got that fixed now.

Aaron regularly organizes cargo bike rides, which has mostly meant Xtracycle rides. It still means that, but now bakfietsen are part of the mix. Check out this great shot from his most recent promotional flyer:

15 thoughts on “Designated driver”

  • Henry

    Super photo indeed, but I cannot imagine why anybody would replace the fine Shimano 8-speed hub with a SRAM. That's like putting a Pinto engine into a BMW, or a Wald crank into a DeRosa if you prefer. I'd love to support US/German SRAM but their gear hubs are light years behind Shimano's: Crude, maintenance-intensive, weather-sensitive and fragile. The only exception is the T3, which is crude but tough. That will be discontinued shortly. Flame away, but consider that I've a little experience here.

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  • Val

    No flames, Henry, but I've had some experience, too - six to eight thousand miles per year on a SRAM 7 speed in Seattle (where we have a bit of weather). The only problems I have had have resulted from my using it to climb 10% grades on a 100lb bike with up to 110lb payloads, which is well beyond SRAM's stated parameters. I haven't tried the Shimano 8, about which I have heard only glowing reviews, but I can state categorically that the SRAM 7 is much more durable than the Shimano 7. I think that the main reason for the switch in this instance was a preference for drum brakes over roller brakes, which gives better longevity and more consistent performance with heavy loads. If the Shimano 8 was disc brake compatible, I think it might be a betterchoice, but that is a rather roundabout option, and this frame has no disc tabs.

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  • Ian Hopper

    Val & Todd: is it true of all Bakfeitsen that they don't have disc tabs? Is the servicing on a bicycle drum brake difficult? I'm asking b/c I've never worked on a hub brake before.

    Duh.. I just figured out why it's called Designated Driver... but can't you get ticketed for open container on a bicycle? :*)

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  • Todd

    Ian, the Center for Appropriate Transport in Eugene makes a bike in this general format with disc brakes as an option. You have to remember that the most advanced bicycle societies tend to be flat as a chessboard, so braking systems get the hindmost teat. After some experimentation I think the problem encompasses more than brakes. I think the contact patch of both tires together needs to grow to be up to speed, hills, and cargo together. Being able to lock the wheels isn't enough; in fact it isn't helpful at all.

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  • Val

    Ian: Servicing drum brake hubs is simplicity itself; for the first three or four yearts you will need to tighten the barrel adjuster on the cable once every six months (if you brake a lot). Once you do finally wear out the brake pads (which took me 4 1/2 years on a very heavy XtraCycle in the hills of Seattle), the only problem will be finding replacement pads. I can help with that, if it ever comes up. Installing them is simpler than overhauling a front hub. Drum brakes are very different from other types of brake. Most people who are used to rim brakes will immediately think that the drums have very little power, because of their progressive performance. When first applied, they will Not lock up the wheels. What they will do is to begin decelerating the bike. As the speed drops, the rate of deceleration increases, so that very rapid, controlled stops are possible, even though the rider does not feel the immediate head snapping jerk that they may be used to from rim or disc brakes. My experience is that they require some retraining of the rider's reflexes, but that the lack of lockup enhances control, and helps to avoid some types of crashes.

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  • AllanF

    I've been highly impressed with the power of drum brakes. As Val said they start out all soft and easy. Deceptively so. When called upon to stop a loaded Bak, they get the job done and then some... make sure the kiddies are tied-off. :-)
    Also, I've Zoo Bombed our Bak with ~40 toddler. Performed like a charm. I'd be ready to do it again anytime.
    And yes a Bak fits on MAX light-rail: roll straight onto the train car until the front tire hits the door on the opposite side then lift the rear and swing it sideways until it hits the door jam. That will give enough room for the door to close. And not an inch more.

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  • AllanF

    That should ~40lb toddler.

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  • Aaron Goss

    Here is my take on internally geared hubs: Shimano makes a fine hub, as does Rohloff, SRAM, Strumey Archer and NuVinci. In theory, any of these hubs are completly serviceable. In practice most companies only want you to replace the entire internal mechanism (guts). Shimano is the worst offender, even though their hubs get positive reviews. You can bet money that in 3 to 5 years they will change the design of their hubs or come out with a 9 or 11 speed the makes the 7 and 8 speeds obsolete. "Sorry, parts are no longer available." Rohloff and SRAM hubs have both basically been the same for years (at least 10 years). The SRAM Spectro 7 I put on my bike 8 years ago is identical to the current production. SRAM, however does not offer small parts like they do in Europe. We are working on that!

    Sun Race, the Taiwaneese owners of Sturmey Archer are doing a great job at keeping the brand alive. Their front dyno hubs are quite nice! I am very glad they still make the AW. Non-turn washers are somewhat hard to get, but we have 50 on order and they should fit the old English made AW hubs too.

    I have all the external replacement parts for all of these hubs including, shifter mechanisms/rods, non-turn washers, and axle nuts.

    My main beef with any of these companies is small parts availability. They all make great products and small parts SHOULD become more available, the more folks ride internal gears.

    As for me changing my Bakfiets to SRAM, yes it was the brakes. I do not like the hub interface of the Shimano brake. The constand greasing of the roller brake contradicts the low maintenance aspect of the rest of the bike. Also the rear frame seat stay blocks access to the grease port on the roller brake. I did successfully overhaul a roller brake, but you can bet no parts will be available. They only retail for $30, however. FYI, on my website, I have pictures of many of the hubs we have serviced and have taken "exploded view" of them. Scroll down on this page: http://www.rideyourbike.com/specialtyservices.html

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  • Aaron Goss

    dang, forgot to spell check, forgive my typos.

    I should be more clear on the Shimano brake interface. I do not like the "loose headset" feel. Mechanically, it just seems wrong to me. Their brakes do stop just fine but are more "grabby" than SRAM/Sturmey Archer drum brakes. Drum brakes will probably last longer, but only time will tell. Shimano roller brakes are steel on steel like a coaster brake and therefore require high temperature grease. The surface area of the brake is about the same as a coaster brake but the diameter is much larger. The pad thickness is about a centimeter. Drum brakes feel smoother. The holy grail of drum brakes would be a double leading brake shoe design, where both ends of the shoe expand. Motorcycles did that long ago.

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  • Aaron Goss

    Finally, Ian, yes you can get a ticket for drinking a beer on a bike. In Washington it is actually LEGAL to ride drink, but you cannot drink and ride. Also, at the time of the pic, I believe that Darci's beer was unopened. There is a helmet law but it is unclear if it applies to passengers. The law talks about riding on a bike. She was in the bak, no? So Colin seems to be the evil on here!

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  • Frank

    I noticed mention of putting the stokemonkey onto various bikes with a little persistence but I have not noticed
    any concerning placing it on a recumbent trike. I have seen electric assist on them using the BIONx system but that
    is designed to be placed on the wheel with the gearing and therefore will not work if you want the Rohloff Speedhub
    500/14. Have there been many of these put on recumbent trikes, if so, is it that much trouble? What have you
    seen for results since it could be used to assist in hill climbing since standing up in a recumbent is a little difficult?

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  • Todd

    Like this, Frank? http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleverchimp/432020949/

    I conceived of Stokemonkey as a cargo/freight enabler, to close the functional gap of bikes and cars. On a bike not designed for significant cargo, the extreme torque potential of low gearing is superfluous, while gearing it high will only result in an illegal, possibly dangerous vehicle. For these reasons adaptation to bikes that are more recreational or merely personal transport is not high on my priority list.

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  • Harvey Mushmann

    Todd, I noticed that you stated, ".. an experimental/don’t ask/not available Stokemonkey mount." in this 'blog, and I am painfully aware that Stokemonkey sales are on hold until further notice.

    Is there ANY chance that a standard Stokemonkey mount might be available?

    I only ask because the folks at NuVinci recently introduced a Vertical Drop Out kit for my CVP hub (which accepts a 203mm disc brake). That, and the fact that the Stokemonkey article in the latest Make: magazine gets me all itchy to finish my SM/X build.

    Please please please?

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  • Frank

    Yes, that is indeed what I am looking at. Here in Arizona, it would take very little to make almost any vehicle a street legal item. I would like to obtain a couple of Stoke Monkey Motors for such a project. I can easily ad turn signals and a type of headlight with little trouble. Oh, and by the way, imagine if this was a leaning Trike within a full shell. The leaning trikes are coming of age and they are beginning to make some very impressive electric or I think they say "pedal assist" bicycle wheeled vehicles. Please let me know if anyone knows of the potential availablity of the old standard or if someone has some intelligent input to Stoke Monkey distributor (this website) to make different versions. Not everyone has to be limited on the speed.

    Frank

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