Tricking out omafiets with essentials. Or keeping the romance alive

My life partner Heather has a one-speed omafiets (Dutch for grandma bike). When she rides it reminds me of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on her bicycle. Being upright she looks practically regal.

Statue of Queen Beatrix, not Heather

The only problem with this particular omafiets—at least for Canadian weather—is that it only has a coaster brake with which to stop, which can make cycling on icy downhills sometimes tricky. While a coaster brake is the height of simplicity—just pedal backwards to stop—it can lock up the back wheel if someone really steps on it.

So for Christmas I put together a front wheel with a rollerbrake (yes, I know, I'm such a romantic). So now she's got two brakes with which to stop. A rollerbrake's mechanisms are all internal (like coaster brakes) so it requires less maintenance and isn't affected by the weather like regular rim brakes. Even with wet rims the bike stops just fine.

Just perfect for city cycling.

I actually didn't set out to lace together a wheel. I couldn't find anyone locally who was selling a complete wheel with rollerbrake for this oma fiets. So I had to put it together myself with help from Hoopdriver and Urbane to get the steel rim, spokes and hub. I had also looked at Dutch Bike Bits. Curbside might also have had what I needed since they sell Dutch bikes.

Here's the result. Just in time for icy roads.

Turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

Bike wheel sizing is esoteric to say the least. Older Dutch bikes use the ETRTO 635 wheel size and I could only find the 622 built up with Sturmey Archer drum brakes on Dutch Bike Bits. The 622 standard is the same as what is commonly (at least with bike geeks) referred to as 700cc.

Once Hoopdriver and Urbane got me all the parts (rim, hub, rollerbrake, spokes, brake lever), I used Sheldon Brown's handy tips for wheelbuilding. I've built wheels a couple times before, so it may take some practice if you haven't done it before. It can be a nice, relaxing experience if you've got all the right parts.

There are actually people at machines in Asia that can quickly lace up and true millions of wheels a year. But what's the fun in that?

Sheldon Brown's wheel.

The bike in its full glory. Note the magnificent basket. It can carry so much stuff that I feel guilty for not putting one on my bike. The basket and rack came from Curbside.

Established non-profit DIY bike shop CBN looking for a new home

Community Bicycle Network (CBN), the non-profit organization dedicated to improving communities through cycling and recycling is need of a new place to spin its wheels. The church on Queen Street West where Community Bicycle Network has been tucked away for the last number of years has been purchased by a developer and all tenants are required to leave as of December 31, 2012.

So far, the group has a few potential locations on the table but, with the clock ticking, CBN is now calling on the people it has served for almost 20 years, and its supporters, to help it find just the right place to set up shop. CBN needs about 1000 sq ft with a store front, preferably in an underserved community / priority neighbourhood in Toronto, accessible by walking, cycling, public transit and driving.

Board member Eric Tchao noted that a free, subsidized or below market rent would be a valuable asset to the organization.

Since 1993, both CBN staff mechanics and DIYers have repaired thousands of bicycles and diverted salvageable frames and parts from the landfill for reuse or recycling. As a social enterprise CBN has played an important role over two decades in making cycling accessible to Torontonians and a new location will enable us to continue serving the community.

The organization is asking anyone who knows of an available space that could suit CBN’s needs to contact Board Chair Adrian Currie by phone on 416-504-2918 or email via

You can drop by the shop currently located at 761 Queen Street West, lower level.

Annual members meeting for CBN do-it-yourself bike shop Feb 13

For those out there who are interested in learning and working on their bike in a community environment, you might consider attending CBN's annual membership meeting coming up next week Monday. It's not too late!

The Community Bicycle Network would like to announce our Annual General Meeting. It will
be held on Monday February 13th, 2012 at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held in the CBN shop at 761 Queen St. W. All CBN members are invited to attend and vote on the next board of directors. CBN will be open from 4:30-6:30 pm on February 13th for anyone interested in joining to purchase a membership. The suggested donation is $5.

CBN has a lot of important planning to do in 2012. Our lease is up in December and we'll be
looking for a new space. We continue to expand our workshop programs (teaching bike mechanic skills as well as safe cycling) and divert hundreds of bikes and bike parts from landfill. There will be spaces on the board opening up, and lots of other volunteer opportunities such as outreach at community events, updating the website and other media, designing a t-shirt, stripping bike donations and much, much more.

We are requesting that you share this press release with your community contacts including
posting it on your website, calendar, list serve, bulletin board etc. Please consider attending yourself or recommending it to someone you know. If there are any questions please contact

Thank you,

Happy Coroplast Day!

Coroplast FenderCoroplast Fender

Now that the provincial election is over, you can expect to get immediate PST tax breaks on bicycles, huge investments in public transit, and cleaner air for all! Wowee!

Well, all of that might take a little while. So in the meantime, one actual result of this election is that there are tons of coroplast signs strewn about all over the province. Someone needs to clean them up, and that someone can be you!

But what can you do with all of this corrugated plastic? Chuck it in the landfills? No! Re-use it for something better than another failed election campaign.

How to replace brake pads (Part Two in a series)

VideoJug: How To Replace Brake Blocks Video by Bikefix in London (UK). Click on the Bikefix link for more videos.

How to fix a flat tire

Part One of a series on bicycle maintenance videos. Like this one a lot. From Australia.

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