Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

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Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby Bre » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:29 am

I have a old beach cruiser I bought on the cheap solely for playa use a few years ago. But it sounds like this year is going to be dusty and some gear options might be a good thing to have. The beach cruiser was positively unridable in many places at a particular dusty Burn a couple years ago.

So I'm toying with the idea of bringing my mountain bike. It's not a high-end bike by any means. An 20 year old but good condition frame, high-end in its day, with newer parts that are on the low-end of sport quality. In short, it is a functional mountain bike and I would like to keep that way.

I'm thinking I might take it and when I get back take it apart and give it a thorough cleaning. Has anyone had experience with this? I know the alkalinity is terrible for metal parts, but I figure maybe if I wash soon after I get back it might not be a big deal. Is it an OK idea? a terrible idea?

( I'd be a bit more careful about theft than I might with the old beach cruiser of course. )
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby misfit » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:32 am

thorough cleaning, repack bearings with good grease, oil chain. done.......
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby Bob » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:38 am

Bring either, tune them up before and after as best you can. Last year we put a Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal-gear hub wheel on an old Schwinn cruiser and it helped us lug a trailer around. With one speed you'll still be able to get around on the watered streets and to the Man. Whichever you bring, lock it even on a toilet run.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:54 am

Put a little larger sprocket on the rear of the beach cruiser and you'll be golden.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby trilobyte » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:59 am

What they said. Last year we invested in port-o-trikes (spendy!), and are glad we did (3 wheels means my clumsy ass doesn't fall over). For care, we hit the coin-op car wash after the playa and pressure wash. Then give the chain some love from whatever the stuff was the guy at the bike shop recommended. We use them from time to time in the city and they run fine with no visible signs of playafication.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:00 pm

Yes, you would want to strip it of all bearings for proper cleaning and repacking. Crank, steering head and both wheels. Bicycle mechanic skills would be required.

But here is another thing you can do: It is perfectly possible to change the gearing on your single-speed cruiser. The chain-ring on the crank can be replaced with a smaller one. And the sprocket on the rear wheel can be replaced with a slightly bigger one. A bicycle shop can fix you up, but you may be able to scavenge at least the smaller chain-ring from another bicycle.
Most cruisers have a one-piece crank, which is easier to disassemble than the three-piece crank on most mountain bikes. And with one-piece cranks, all chain-rings are interchangeable. You would need to change the length of the chain.

You could also buy a rear wheel -- or just the hub and have the wheel rebuilt on that hub -- with internal gears. These hubs are available with up to 15 gears (at extreme cost), but all you would need is the least expensive three-speed hub.

While I typed this, two other replies have appeared with similar information! :lol:
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby Bob » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:09 pm

The internal hub wheel we got was either an unclaimed or old-stock setup hanging in the back of the bike shop, so we got it at a good price. Frisco is lousy with bike shops. Ask the mechanics if there's anything floating around. I'm half-tempted to put aluminum cranks and a pair of chainwheels on the Schwinn, not that it's going to save weight on that dinosaur.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby Homiesinheaven » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:49 pm

misfit wrote:thorough cleaning, repack bearings with good grease, oil chain. done.......


yep! and i've taken a bike with gears out there before and it doesnt fare that much better than a cruiser. you hit those dunes and you're done.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby daft » Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:25 pm

I have a similar bike, and it cleans up fine. I put a large tire on the rear, 2.2, and will play with the tire pressure a bit. I find if you follow truck tracks on the playa it helps. Speed up a bit to get through the soft patches, downshift, and move weight back. Love the gears.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby vapor » Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:46 pm

I have a mountain bike I've been taking out for 12-14 years . . . when I get home I blast it with compressed air, then wash it well with vinegar and water, lube it and store until next year. Replaced the chain once, otherwise it has been maintenance free. I've found the playa dust isn't nearly as bad as what is reported long as you clean well once you get back. The trick for me is to use compressed air to get as much dust out as possible before applying any liquid. The chain I replaced was due to mud everywhere on the bike in 2000 and then rusting by the time I got to cleaning. Oh yeah, I despite needing no maintenance (so far) I bring a few extra tubes, a tire, spare chain, tools and grease . . . getting stuck w/o a bike would suck.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:06 pm

I wish everyone would bring a couple of inner-tubes for their bicycle. Gifting several tubes a day gets rather expensive for me.
Also inspect your pedals before coming to BRC. I see an awful lot of broken pedals. The modern cheap plastic ones are simply not up to the job.
When adjusting bearings, set them loose to leave room for dust. Not kidding.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby ranger magnum » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:07 pm

If your cruiser has a coaster brake, your gonna have a hard time easily finding a rear sprocket larger than an 18t. The largest ive found was a 21t which i put on my three wheel, but the difference was negligable.

Take your mountain bike. When you get home dont bother cleaning the chain. Just buy a new one.
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:32 pm

ranger magnum wrote:If your cruiser has a coaster brake, you're gonna have a hard time easily finding a rear sprocket larger than an 18t. The largest I've found was a 21t which i put on my three wheel, but the difference was negligible.

Agreed. Much more effective to install a smaller chain-ring on the crank. A change from 44 teeth to 36 teeth will make a worthwhile difference. And to 32 teeth a big difference. And you don't need a longer chain; just shorten the old one.:D
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Re: Bringing a decent (non-beater) bike to the Playa?

Postby gyre » Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:52 am

Better bikes really tolerate dust better than the cheapo chinese ones.
Some aren't really rebuildable.

Lots of people take good bikes.
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