Build a hypothetical post-apocalypse bicycle

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  • Over here:
    futurepundit.com/archives/008­895.html

    The question was raised... why are bicycles not featured more in post-apocalyptic stories. Why does the average speed that a human can travel fall to 3mph, when you might average 10mph or more with a bicycle, and obviously this would dramatically change the plots of the stories.

    Then over here:
    news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5204­011

    It was pointed out that bicycles suffer entropy as much as anything else does. Chains break, tyres get punctures, bearings crack over time.

    So I got to thinking, is it possible to build a bicycle to use in a post-apocalyptic world, utilising parts available today, that would be maintenance free (or at least require no special tools at all), and survive where other bicycles wouldn't (punctures should not be an issue at all).

    And then I thought, perhaps this is possible. We have airless tyres already ( road.cc/content/news/70192-airles­s-tyres-promise-banish-punctures-forever­-video ) and belt drives. Fixed gear removes the need for complicated hubs.

    So aside from just suggesting an airless tyre version of a penny farthing (direct drive), what does the best version of a post-apocalyptic bicycle look like?

  • Well it has to be a 29er of course.

  • 29er?? You'd struggle to get spares for that.

    Got to be more common 700c or 26''.

  • I'd imagine something like this would be a good starting point: blog.brooksengland.com/wps/world-­bicycle-relief-in-zambia/

    Not that I'm likening Zambia to a post-apocalyptic wasteland, its wonderful country which I love. But their roads are shite and you can be serious distances away from shops selling spares.

  • 29er?? You'd struggle to get spares for that.

    Got to be more common 700c or 26''.

    Spare what?
    29 and 700 use the same wheels and with airless tyres nothing more would be oddly sized.

  • African bikes are good examples, but you're still going to need some specialist tools to deal with bottom bracket maintenance and hub maintenance. And access to ball bearings with tight tolerances to perform such servicing.

  • Eccentric press fit BB that you only need Allen keys for?

  • And the key comment on HN was this one:

    Here in post-collapse Argentina, I semi-regularly attend a free bike repair workshop run by a bunch of anarchists who occupied a pizzeria abandoned in the collapse, twelve years ago. They turned it into a library, a community garden, a clothing workshop, and a bike kitchen. So I have some insights to offer:

    1. It's remarkable how quickly bicycles can break down, especially when they're not made to be ridden (US department-store bikes, all Argentine bikes) and when you repair them with improvised tools and improvised or substandard components.

    2. There are a fair number of specialized tools that you need for bike repair that are pretty hard to do without. You can maybe cut a cone wrench from a flattened spoon, and you can "press" out chavetas (cotters) with a hammer and chunk of steel instead of a cotter press, and you can true your rims on the bike if you have to, but how are you going to unscrew your freewheel without the right shape of freewheel extractor? Or break your chain without a chain breaker?

    3. A bit further afield, you have to patch or replace your inner tubes when they spring leaks. But it's increasingly difficult to get working vulcanizing fluid for patching after the economy collapses; that shit doesn't have an indefinite shelf life. Ultimately you need to put together some kind of chemistry lab, using chemicals of unknown quality, in order to renew your supply of bike patch kits.

    4. More generally, bicycles, like other industrial machinery, are allergic to entropy. The crucial resource needed to repack your wheel bearing balls isn't the steel to make the balls or the dead cow to grease them with; it's the knowledge about which balls are the right size, and which ones are already subtly cracked. Buy them in bulk and they cost a fraction of a cent. Install a ball of the wrong size and you could wreck your cones or your hub or even your body.

    So I think bicycles are an important part of post-apocalyptic transportation, but keeping bicycles running without an economy populated with specialized equipment, materials brought from far away, and people with specialized knowledge could be quite challenging indeed.

  • Is something like BB30 actually press fit? I remember reading somewhere that you still needed to be pretty careful installing them

  • Aerospokes, no need to true them and they're bombproof :P
    HHSPostapocalypseBike

  • Is something like BB30 actually press fit? I remember reading somewhere that you still needed to be pretty careful installing them

    I think Eccentric 46 is but then you'd still need crank tools.

  • One question, is it possible to get 5mm and 6mm bolts that can be toolless? As in, adjusted by hand.

    Really old hub axles had those, but what about replacing standard bolts with such things. And as you'd have lower torque, what other parts might need to be changed to dal with this.

  • ^^ all you'd need then is an allen key, which would be an improvement.
    Although again, as the comments above point out, being able to access the broken part doesn't help if you can't get the spares to replace/fix it

  • One question, is it possible to get 5mm and 6mm bolts that can be toolless? As in, adjusted by hand.

    Really old hub axles had those, but what about replacing standard bolts with such things. And as you'd have lower torque, what other parts might need to be changed to dal with this.

    I think it's possible, if not it shouldn't be too hard to make some lo profile ones.

    ^^ all you'd need then is an allen key, which would be an improvement.
    Although again, as the comments above point out, being able to access the broken part doesn't help if you can't get the spares to replace/fix it

    Yes it would be.

  • Bolt on (disc) hub on the rear to eliminate the need for a lockring and lockring tool.

  • I reckon it's pretty realistic to assume you have a multi tool in you pocket, I know i always do.
    You can remove Aerospokes with A multi tool too.

  • Spare what?
    29 and 700 use the same wheels and with airless tyres nothing more would be oddly sized.

    I thought 29er and 700c stuff wasn't quite compatible?

  • A nice fat tyre to cope with post apocolypse terrain, and as few parts as possible.

  • I thought 29er and 700c stuff wasn't quite compatible?

    They are both 622mm just 29er rims tend to be wider.

  • So I got to thinking, is it possible to build a bicycle to use in a post-apocalyptic world, utilising parts available today, that would be maintenance free (or at least require no special tools at all), and survive where other bicycles wouldn't (punctures should not be an issue at all).
    What's fair game? A set of allen keys and some spanners?

  • Bolt on (disc) hub on the rear to eliminate the need for a lockring and lockring tool.

    Why put brakes on there? And why disc?

    If it's fixed you could just go brakeless. It is post-apocalyptic, roads will be largely empty or there would be debris and you're going slow anyway.

    Disk brakes require too much precision, and you really wouldn't want hydraulic as we've already disposed of the need for a pump.

    Toolless would be ideal, but the fewest tools that you could reasonably find in any abandoned house should be the next goal. It shouldn't be assumed that you would have access to your multi-tool.

  • That's what I mean, a rear disc hub with a cog on it.
    Lemme find a link.

  • What's fair game? A set of allen keys and some spanners?

    Anything you can reasonably expect to loot from most houses.

    A couple of spanners (sizes not guaranteed), a few allen keys (in the 5mm to 10mm range), a few screwdrivers (flat and phillips only), and a hammer.

  • the apocolypse won't rid the world of hills ? will it ?

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Build a hypothetical post-apocalypse bicycle

Posted by Avatar for Velocio @Velocio

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