Safety first - Mods to make your bike safer.

Discussion in 'Bicycle Repair' started by Molotov256, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. Molotov256

    Molotov256 Member

    I'm healing up very nicely from my broken front axle incident, and ever since flying over the handlebars, I've been thinking about how to make my next ride safer. I plan to continue using recycled bikes and yard sale bikes, but I'm curious what the community recommends as 'must have' safety related improvements.

    Possibilities which are mulling around the old noggin include:

    • Front suspension fork
    • Chromoly axles
    • Improved brakes

    I've had good results retrofitting v-brakes on frames of all shapes and sizes with adapter plates such as the one linked below, and although it's a little expensive, the v brakes make for great stopping power and are very versatile. I know disc brakes are better, but this is a good option for the money and I haven't met a frame I couldn't use it on.

    Any other suggestions and technical advice about how to go about doing it would be most appreciated. I'm especially interested in guidance regarding axle swapping...

  2. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Let's see........

    I definitely think a suspension fork is a good idea. Even if it doesn't improve actual safety. But then, I think it does; no suspension beats the tar out of the bike frame. Clearly a safety issue.

    Changing to a stronger axle shouldn't be hard for anyone who's ever removed and replace and axle and bearings.

    The only other thing that I can think of is "Go pretty slow". I know I'm a kill-joy. But thinking of a bicycle at 30 mph and up sends a chill down my spine.
  3. Molotov256

    Molotov256 Member

    I have never removed or replaced an axle or bearings... can you offer any guidance for a n00b such as I?
  4. Bikewer

    Bikewer New Member

    I've done more than I can count... Easiest to surf on over to either BikeForums or the excellent Park Tool (bike tools) website which has instructionals for almost all routine bike maintenance chores.

    You need special tools; specifically a set of "cone wrenches" to hold the bearing cone while you loosen (and tighten) the locking nut.
    You need to remember to only work on one side of the axle, leaving the other in place to keep the position of the axle in the right place.
    You'll be dealing with loose ball bearings and grease; expect to get a bit dirty.

    I can give specific instructions, but the sites mentioned have great tutorials.
  5. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    even if we are just using two of Bikewer ideas

    cone wrenches -- more than -- very handy

    yes many of us who didn't know better
    first time
    took everyTHING apart
    only to realize later
    that just made it harder

    we get so much faster each time

    faster ??
    this is a good THING when working on repairing THINGS
    but -- note -- not to be used at home -- homelife !!!

    Happy Queen makes for a Happy King if you know what we mean.......

    as we ride those THINGS !!!!
  6. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    Red rear blinking led light
    Rear view mirror
    Front light
    Tool bag with tools in it (cresent wrench, chain removal tool, multi tool)... It seems minor roadside repairs prevent major roadside disasters.

    cant tell you how much of a difference these things have made since I first started to ride.
  7. Molotov256

    Molotov256 Member

    I'll have to check out that park tools site. I'm trying to get something up and running before the STL meet and ride deal this weekend, so time is a factor...

    Lights sound like a really good idea to improve visibility. I'd like to run something off the 6v wire, but 6v headlamps are hard to come by.
  8. give me vtec

    give me vtec Active Member

    I use a battery powered schwin light from wal-mart. Works great and it came as a package with the rear red blinking led. Front light is really good for allowing oncoming traffic to see you coming in the dark.
  9. EsQueue

    EsQueue Member

    Broken AXLE!!! Talk about a really dangerous occurance that I've never even thought about.

    There is nearly no way a frame would snap but an axle is an obvious weak point now that you say and experienced it.

    I'll search your name and look up the incident. Good that you are healing as you most likely could have taken some unhealable (hmmm. don't know about that word) damage.
  10. Molotov256

    Molotov256 Member

    I appreciate the sypmathy, EsQueue - breaking a front axle at full throttle didn't feel too great. Honestly, though, I got by relatively unscathed. I also happen to have a mutant gene that makes me heal really fast (and no real evidence to support that statement). I have become a firm supporter of helmets since the incident; I recognize the fiberglass shell on my head as the only reason I still have a full set of teeth. Other than some missing skin and bruised ribs, I've been a pretty happy camper, and I'm ready to get back on the homemade moped contraption and turn some more heads.

    BTW, a catastrophic mechanical failure on a motorized bike on a busy street is a remarkably embarrassing incident. :rolleyes7:
  11. srdavo

    srdavo Active Member

    I've seen 2 broken MB frames.... ask around, it's more common than you might think.
  12. Hawaii_Ed

    Hawaii_Ed Member

    I have personally broken two qood bikes, off road, without an engine.
  13. Happy Valley

    Happy Valley Active Member

    A good idea this thread. It might be instructive to discuss what the bike was that had the broken axle.
  14. Molotov256

    Molotov256 Member

    The bike with the broken axle is/was a Huffy Santa Fe II beach cruiser style bike. The wheel/axle was a steel wheel I stole from a parted roadmaster mountain bike. Obviously not particularly high end equipment. No suspension in the front fork, and probably a low quality axle and bearing set.

    In hindsight, I'm surprised it didn't snap sooner!
  15. Happy Valley

    Happy Valley Active Member

    Yeah, that's a tough lesson to learn, hope you're healed up fine.
    Roadmaster actually went out of business in 1998, however the badge was picked up by Pacific Bicycle. Older Roadmasters weren't actually that bad but the newer versions, and actually just about anything that comes from Pacific and sold at Walmart has suffered terrible quality fade.

    Chromoly axles from reputable makers are not that expensive but the Chinese makers will cut corners wherever and whenever they can. For that reason I would not ride a new bike made in China, with or without an engine.
  16. Bernie

    Bernie Member

    I'm likely to be the oldest chap on this forum. As a kid living in a mountainous region in Southern Australia I rode bikes everywhere. We had to be 18 to drive a car, I cheated and at age 16 bought a 500CC Matchless, but I digress.

    A few months ago I became hooked on bikes once more after restoring a Ladies 70c bike and also a 3/4 size Mountain bike. Getting back on the bike again after so many years I got the same thrill as I did when I was a four year old. It never leaves you, trust me.

    One night I am up until midnight oiling and adjusting the mountain bike and marveling at the clever front and rear suspension of the modern alloy unit. My last bike was a 1957 English made Gentleman's made of steel, which will have been molten down and turned into at least one small Toyota sedan.

    I woke early next morning keen to take the little thing for a spin before the missus woke, so I quietly crept into the garage and skulked out the back onto a VERY steep part of our suburban lawn.

    Forgetting I had sprayed the bikes wheels with a lubricant called WD40 (also CRC) I commence an unsteady descent down the grassy slope gathering speed very rapidly and hit the brakes, gently at first, then HARD!

    No answer, thanks to the lubricant all over both wheels, so not wishing to hit the street at 30Mph, I put it down sideways on the grass with about 3 or 4 yards of damp grass left before I hit the Bitumen. The bike stopped and I went over the handlebar skidding on my left knee until it hit the concrete kerb and stopped me but not before momentum made me go over the knee and I kissed the road tarmac, head down, lips on road, backside in the air, like a Muslim at prayer.

    A lady neighbor two doors up is reversing her Toyota Yaris out of her driveway sees this
    and I feebly attempt to make a dignified show of standing up.

    Very painful!

    That was nearly 20 weeks ago. I had my last visit to my physiotherapist on Friday and I am able (just) to walk without a limp to port. I post this as a cautionary tale.

    Safety First!
  17. EsQueue

    EsQueue Member

    Thanks for the Safety First message but I have to say that this was well writen. I usually skip long posts but took interest from the first post. Hope to see more of them (not of you getting hurt though :().LOL

    It's great that you are recovering. It is also easy to forget how something that seems as simple as a bike can get very dangerous very quickly.
  18. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    ...I've heard of far fewer broken axles.

    Attached Files:

  19. fetor56

    fetor56 Guest

    Always the front engine mount.
    With the rear engine mount u can always put a section of seat post down the seat tube to strengthen it in that area.
  20. EsQueue

    EsQueue Member

    WOW, seems that the resonance caused by the engine vibration are quite destructive.