First timer looking for advice about bicycles and corrosion

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First timer looking for advice about bicycles and corrosion

Postby cynpeas » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:48 pm

Hello everyone, this is going to be my first time attending BM and I was wondering if any of you could help me out with some advice about bicycles and corrosion. I currently have a nice beach cruiser that was given to me a gift a couple of years ago, and was wondering if it would be wise to bring it to such an event? I don't care about the paint coming off, but I'm concerned about what kinds of damages the playa could pose to the functionality of it. Would it just be wiser to get a cheap bike to ride around there instead? I'm so confused. :/
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Postby oneeyeddick » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:51 pm

Worry more about losing it or having it ripped off, bring a junker instead.
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Postby gyre » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:17 pm

I bring a good bike when I can.

Theft is a definite concern.
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Postby Leo » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:20 pm

I have two nice mountain bikes that I would never consider bringing to the playa. Before my first burn, I found a one-speed cruiser with fat tires at the local St. Vincent De Paul thrift shop for $43.00. I had it tuned up at my neighborhood bike shop, and gave it a cool "flame" paint job with $14.00 worth of orange, white, and yellow spray paint. Purchased a bike lock, headlight, and tail light and I was good to go. This year, I'm thinking about adding a giant sheet metal tail fin and going with a new paint job, something I would never consider with my mountain bikes.

Cruise the thrift shops, garage sales, and Craigslist for a used cruiser ( on the cheap) and have fun transforming it into a one-of-kind bike. By doing this, it will also be easier to find your bike when you park it at center camp.
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Postby dragonpilot » Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:28 pm

Don't bring anything to the playa, including a bike, which the loss or ruination of same would spoil your trip.
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Postby gyre » Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:57 pm

Good advice, but not practical for many of us.
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Postby geospyder » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:08 pm

"...a bike lock, headlight, and tail light..." The key, no pun intended, is a good lock. Even after a couple times at Burningman my bike looks almost new. The day after I get home I power wash it and lube it up.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:23 pm

Don't take it to the beach. Your bike will get corroded there for sure.
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Postby gyre » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:06 pm

The most costly bikes for me are the cheap ones that I had to waste time working on, or just died outright.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:40 pm

I got one at Target for about $70, served me fine and I gave them to a kid when I came back.
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Postby C187 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:59 pm

The key to not having a messed up bike post playa is aftercare. Once you get home give it a bath, and re-lube the chain/gears/other moving parts. This will prevent gunking and corrosion.

IMHO the best on playa ant-theft system is a ridiculously large gauge chain and a normal big padlock. If the chain weighs less then 10lbs, and doesn't make you look like a biker from a 80s film when carried on your shoulder while riding then it's not ridiculously large enough.
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Postby gyre » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:21 pm

The Abus chain I've mentioned, or any real security chain, just doesn't have to be that heavy.
We don't think even the 6mm can be cut by two foot cutters.
Hardness is around 65, equal to a good lock shackle.
It really doesn't cut, but enough force breaks it.
We haven't been willing to wreck a bunch of cutters, but I feel confident that anything non-hydraulic isn't cutting the 12mm at all.
You're looking at cutting wheels and torches as the threat.

I like to use 14mm at home and carry something lighter, depending on circumstances.
The 6mm is strong enough for a cheap bike, but looks decorative.
Fitting a lock to the smaller stuff may be an issue.

To be fair, the 12mm looks intimidating enough to effect gbh on a bike thief.
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Postby Isotopia » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:08 pm

Fuck! Ya know... it really sucks when advice - good advice BTW - has to be offered to people on how not to get ripped off while at the event.

Can anyone else see why some of us have decided not to return?

Just another small, painful cut.
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Postby gyre » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:47 pm

Was it ever as safe as people thought, after, say, 1995?

I've heard some stories that don't fit the ideal most remember.
Lots of yahoos, etc.

I think most people think of where they live as either safer or more dangerous than it really is.
Some still say they don't lock their bikes on the playa.
And I have relatives that still don't lock their doors.
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Re: First timer looking for advice about bicycles and corros

Postby Super Evil Brian » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:56 am

cynpeas wrote:Hello everyone, this is going to be my first time attending BM and I was wondering if any of you could help me out with some advice about bicycles and corrosion. I currently have a nice beach cruiser that was given to me a gift a couple of years ago, and was wondering if it would be wise to bring it to such an event? I don't care about the paint coming off, but I'm concerned about what kinds of damages the playa could pose to the functionality of it. Would it just be wiser to get a cheap bike to ride around there instead? I'm so confused. :/


I started a similar thread about my bike. I don't really have the room or resources to get another bike and I know how to fix what I have. When I was a bike messenger in NYC, the bike was covered in salty ice and grit and subjected to rain, snow and a few "impacts." It survived ... as well as growing up in the northeast and riding all through winter.

The playa dust, from what I gather from elsewhere here (including extremely detailed chemical analysis of the dust) suggests if you clean the thing off when you return you should be OK, keeping an eye on bare steel parts like wheel nuts and your chain. Go to any decent bike shop before Burning Man and get chain lube for dusty conditions and apply a little to your chain following label directions.

If the bike is cherished in a Pee Wee's Big Adventure sort of way and you have the time and money, bring it to said decent bike shop and have them overhaul the bike to get the corrosive dust out of the bike's naughty bits.

If time and money aren't on your side but you know which way to turn a wrench and how to find stuff on the Internet, repacking bearings and other things like that is pretty easy.

The NYC side of me can't walk away from my bike unlocked, unless it's in my living room. I had the idea of attaching a cable or big chain to the tow hook/loop of my car and locking my bike to that to, attaching a lock to the big chain. It seems easier and safer than not locking or "free locking" when I walk away from the bike.

I imagine just about all of the burners are honest, but in 45,000 people, all it takes is one asshole to steal a bike.
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Postby geospyder » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:04 am

Like most theft, it is a crime of opportunity. Bike left unlocked is opportunity. However I did notice last year that my combo had been turned from where I left it indicating someone was trying. Some people with a four number combo preset the first three so they only have to turn the last. Not wise. If you are going to do that, which I don't recommend, at least don't leave the last number to be turned - choose one of the middle numbers.
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Re: First timer looking for advice about bicycles and corros

Postby gyre » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:13 am

Super Evil Brian wrote:The NYC side of me can't walk away from my bike unlocked, unless it's in my living room. I had the idea of attaching a cable or big chain to the tow hook/loop of my car and locking my bike to that to, attaching a lock to the big chain. It seems easier and safer than not locking or "free locking" when I walk away from the bike.

I imagine just about all of the burners are honest, but in 45,000 people, all it takes is one asshole to steal a bike.

Free locking is usually adequate if you aren't leaving it forever.
Someone instantly tried to steal my bike when I arrived, but seeing the honking big hoop lock on it, left it.
You can always arrange a fixed lock point in camp, though it probably isn't needed if your lock is good.

If you use a cable, it needs to be very heavy to be cut resistant.
There is now armored cable, but costly compared to chain.

Consider a long piece of the 6 to 10mm chain for locking to objects away from camp, to keep weight down.

Cutting locks is rare, but not unknown.

Edited because I can't fucking spell anymore. Mind your own fucking business, What do you care why I edit?
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Re: First timer looking for advice about bicycles and corros

Postby Super Evil Brian » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:30 am

gyre wrote:
Super Evil Brian wrote:The NYC side of me can't walk away from my bike unlocked, unless it's in my living room. I had the idea of attaching a cable or big chain to the tow hook/loop of my car and locking my bike to that to, attaching a lock to the big chain. It seems easier and safer than not locking or "free locking" when I walk away from the bike.

I imagine just about all of the burners are honest, but in 45,000 people, all it takes is one asshole to steal a bike.

Free locking is usually adequate if you aren't leaving it forever.
Someone instantly tried to steal my bike when I arrived, but seeing the honking big hoop lock on it, left it.
You can always arrange a fixed lock point in camp, though it probably isn't needed if your lock is good.

If you use a cable, it needs to be very heavy to be cut resistant.
There is now armored cable, but costly compared to chain.

Consider a long piece of the 6 to 10mm chain for locking to objects away from camp, to keep weight down.

Cutting locks is rare, but not unknown.

Edited because I can't fucking spell anymore. Mind your own fucking business, What do you care why I edit?


It's common practice for bike thieves to carry bolt cutters and two steel tubes to extend the cutters' handles. There bike theft is business as they steal parts or cut frames in half, leaving the lock, to get the parts easily. A coworker had the disk calipers stolen from his bike, someone stole my front wheel (good, the bearings were about to explode anyway).

I imagine a theft of convenience is different. Someone wants a bike and sees one "just laying there," and takes it. Free locking is more than enough to stop that.

My car idea was to provide something more immoveable to which I can lock my bike for long periods whether I'm there sleeping or elsewhere, and make it a bit easier on myself. Big cable or chain attached to the car, U-lock in a bag.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianmcgloin/sets/72057594062032962/

I may just throw the bike back in the car when I'm not riding it and skip the worry all together.
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Postby gyre » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:03 am

Throwing a dusty bike in your car isn't much fun.
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Postby Super Evil Brian » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:26 am

gyre wrote:Throwing a dusty bike in your car isn't much fun.


I do it all the time.

I think the dirt here has some similar properties to the playa dust, as it sort of makes potting clay when it's wet and becomes very heavy and sticky. I had my bike covered with what seemed like 20 lbs of mud (the wheels no longer rolled and the chain began to rust almost immediately) and I had to throw it in the car.

One thing I do have to consider and I never knew was a problem until I moved to the lesser state of Texas is the valve stems tearing in the heat. I get flat tires if I leave the bike locked in the direct sun or in the car for extended periods. I have to deflate the tires a little to prevent that.
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Postby fountainpen6 » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:15 pm

My advice? Don't bring anything to the playa that you have any sentimental value for (unless it's playa sentiment and you don't mind the dust coating). My bike did okay, and I used it for two years without a problem. But, once you take it to burning man, it remains a BM item. There's no going back.
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Postby cynpeas » Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:50 am

Lol. So much information! Unfortunately quite a bit about stealing. :/ So after reading all of this, I think I'm gonna get a cheap bike, a big ass chain and combination lock, and wash/lube it when I get home. Thanks guys. :)
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Postby socks » Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:18 pm

My playa flyer i picked up 7 years ago for 20 dollars.In the 7 years of use i have put on a new rim,tire and a yoke.As for a lock its the best insurance that your bike will be in the same place you left it.One year a new friend and i went to see the rocket ship blast off.We locked both of our bike together thinking this was a good idea.Well my friend Stan went MIA along with the key to the lock.After 2 hours of looking for him I just put one bike on one shoulder and one on the other and started off for camp.Not many people even gave me a second look with 2 locked bikes on my back.The trip to camp took 2 hours.A lesson was learned
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Postby Super Evil Brian » Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:32 pm

socks wrote:My playa flyer i picked up 7 years ago for 20 dollars.In the 7 years of use i have put on a new rim,tire and a yoke.As for a lock its the best insurance that your bike will be in the same place you left it.One year a new friend and i went to see the rocket ship blast off.We locked both of our bike together thinking this was a good idea.Well my friend Stan went MIA along with the key to the lock.After 2 hours of looking for him I just put one bike on one shoulder and one on the other and started off for camp.Not many people even gave me a second look with 2 locked bikes on my back.The trip to camp took 2 hours.A lesson was learned


1. Have two keys.
2. Be responsible.
3. What's a yoke?
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Postby gyre » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:26 am

Super Evil Brian wrote:3. What's a yoke?

A really funny story?
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Postby Bob » Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:47 am

Isotopia wrote:Fuck! Ya know... it really sucks when advice - good advice BTW - has to be offered to people on how not to get ripped off while at the event. Can anyone else see why some of us have decided not to return? Just another small, painful cut.


Haven't had anything major stolen since 1997, but I don't bring anything "nice" to the playa.

Cameras, komputermaschines, stoves, cars, tents, dicks, twats, everything gets severe service, it just goes with the territory.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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Postby MyDearFriend » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:49 am

Bob wrote:Cameras, komputermaschines, stoves, cars, tents, dicks, twats, everything gets severe service, it just goes with the territory.


:shock: :shock: :shock:

I'm not into that "severe" stuff sir, do you think I can get by with extra-thorough loving attention and some, um, special body products?
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Postby socks » Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:22 pm

Super evil Brian to you it might be called the crank.
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Tire guide

Postby Smenkare » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:14 pm

So I have an old beater bike that I was going to turn into a playa monster, and I'd like some advice on tires. Knobbies or flats? I'm working with 26 inch wheels.

Also, Pans or a Pack?
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Postby gyre » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:17 pm

Smooth and wide tires are best..

I prefer a basket on the bike, but I've used packs.
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