Sunday, August 18, 2019

Bicycle Collision Repair

bicycle collision repair before and after
Oh no! My bike got smashed in a car crash.  I've never had this happen in 10 years of biking, and I didn't really know how to handle the whole situation.  What happened?  Well, check the poorly drawn diagram below. (not so poorly drawn, because one of those helped me win back $360 from the police in a court case once!)
bicycle basket and wheel after car crash
I was cruising down the street at night, and somebody stopped at a stop sign ahead of me "didn't see me" (a pretty reasonable claim considering the ENTIRE ROW OF STREET LIGHTS that stretch of street happened to be off, though I still had my Niterider light on, so not a good enough excuse) and started turning left as I was within feet of passing in front of him.  As a result, I smashed into his left mirror completely destroying it, and was sent spiraling leftward into the street and- fortunately there was no traffic behind me- landing on my side with minor injuries to my ribs and foot. 
How did it feel?  It felt like I just got off a really good roller coaster.  Literally.  I walked away laughing.  I know things could've been worse, had I not been wearing a helmet, or if I was hit directly by the front of the car, or if there were traffic behind me to run me over, but I am thankful it wasn't that serious.
I wasn't really in the mood to call the police, I was in a bit of a hurry to get home to eat some cashews and figs after partying at the 80's bar (no I wasn't drinking), and didn't want to make things complicated.  The guy gave me $100 of hush money to "buy a new bike" and gave me a ride home.  Fortunately, I only needed $4 of those dollars to buy a new wheel from The Bicycle Tree (the tire and tube were completely unharmed).  At first I was panicking about needing a new fork, but it turned out to be undamaged as well.  Thank goodness for the shock absorbing power of steel rims!
bike hitting car diagram

I was able to get the new wheel back on within a week, but something's missing...
bike with new wheel installed
Oh that's right, the basket was completely mangled too.  Well, the double good news was that the front rim that got destroyed was in need of truing, and the basket was falling apart anyways, so it saved me a bit of work on that part!  Not to mention, the way I originally had the basket secured by a single bolt to the reflector mount was a poor excuse for a basket mount regardless. (Check out the old basket post here)
old basket in trash
A few weeks later, I conveniently found this fairly large basket at a garage sale- for free too!  The Law of Scrap Alchemy strikes again!
I went to work devising a plan to attach this onto the bike. Seeing how this basket is even larger than the one on my main bike, this is going to call for some serious capacity!
new bike basket from garage sale
Here's an illustration of the design.  Notice the stem angle is not perpendicular to the basket.  This would require one of two things,  mill an angled hole in the block attaching onto the stem, or drill the holes in the other brackets at an angle.  I chose the first option because it meant doing some cool off-axis machining.
new bike basket mount diagram

The metal pieces that attached the old basket to the fork were still in usable condition, so all I needed was to make the mount to the stem.  I started with a block of aluminum and plunge cut the angular hole to match the angle of my upgraded stem (see stem post here).
plunge cutting angled hole in aluminum block
I then opened up the hole to 7/8" to match the stem tube diameter.  This 7/8 chamfer mill worked like a drill opening up the hole.
opening 7/8" angled hole in aluminum block
Then drilling some holes for 1/4" bolts through the side.
drilling bolt holes in aluminum block
Slicing it in half with a hacksaw.
sawing mounting block in half
For the parts that attach to the basket, I conveniently found this piece of steel in the street that looked like a good contender.  I traced the basket outline on it, and started drilling some holes.
drilling holes in basket mount
Knocking off the sharp edges of the holes here.  This handy deburring tool I found at a garage sale has been of tremendous help.
using nice deburring tool to debur holes
Then after bending the plates, the mounting assembly is ready to be installed.
bike basket mount assembly
First, attaching the block and plates onto the stem.  I had to put some scrap rubber between the stem and the block since the stem tubing was slightly smaller than 7/8"
mounting basket onto stem
A view from the front.  Don't ask me why one bracket has four holes and the other one has five.  I was certain I measured twice and cut once! (or in this case, measured zero times and cut nine)
basket mount front view
I didn't have any other conveniently shaped pieces of metal on hand, so I screwed the brackets into a piece of wood.  I figure with 9 screws, that won't be falling off any time soon.
basket mount with wood
View from the front.  This basket is so massive, that the space the wood takes up is relatively unimportant.
basket wood front view
And we're back in service!  It recently occurred to me that a large percentage of the male population exists that wouldn't be caught dead riding a bike with a front basket.  Too bad for them.  Front baskets are super useful!  And honestly, if your masculinity is compromised by a front basket, that's some pretty fragile masculinity!
bicycle basket and wheel repaired
Now both bikes can haul large amounts of delicious groceries, among other things like scrap metal, music equipment, garage sale finds, jugs of water, firewood, and so forth.  The parts that mount to the fork still aren't as rigid as the rack on my other bike, so I may look into upgrading them in the future so it can hold 50+ lbs instead of just ~25.
new bicycle basket with groceries

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