Hatchet Vs Riverbank

Sunday Morning


What the hell good is your equipment if you dont use it? Thats the question I asked myself this morning. So after my 5 mile road trip on the Schwinn Empire, I loaded up the Mongoose Hatchet and decided to tackle an obstacle that I have been pondering for a few years now. The Skunk Creek man made river bank. This thing is all rock and concrete and I wanted to climb it. With the MegaRange gear I was ready. I picked a diagonal path and gave it a go. 2/3 up and I lost it. That really hurt, I need some pads.One more try, and I took a more aggressive speed and TADAHH ! barely made it so I know now that that thing is made to keep water in and not for bikes. The river bed is suprisingly lush right now thanks to the monsoons the last couple weeks.Heres the actual spot I tackled the slope.

I had a gas out there.Lots of bikes on the paved trail , but the Hatchet begs to ride in the rocks and scrub. I banged around pretty good and the only alarming squeaks and creaks came from my 57 year old knees and not the bike. Here are a bunch more pics from the trip.



Bridge I cross twice a week on commute to work with a Schwinn Solitaire.

New Bike and New Mods

AHA  !! Just back a while ago from the shakedown voyage of a new Schwinn “Empire XL”. Dang that thing is fast. Nice bike for the $ too. I measured the frame  at 23″. 700 x 25 tires at 85 psi, ( rated for 100 psi but I like to let the tubes get used to air first time out). 26 lbs (by my bathroom scale), aluminum frame, unicrown road fork, alloy double wall wheels w/black spokes, dual pivot canti brakes, 52/42t alloy chainring, Shimmy TZ-40 rear, nondescript front derailiers, drop bars, Schwinn seat. The seat is actually very nice, I will most likely keep it. It is quite firm, narrow and has the requisite anatomic cutout in the foam under the synthetic leather cover. On the Schwinn Solitaire I tried 3 different other seats and kept returning to the stock seat, sooo, Kudos to Schwinn for making quality saddles.The Empire rolls forever , the wheels were almost too perfectly trued with good spoke tension. The only drawback for me is the the muscles that run up the back of my arms are not used to that riding position with drop bars, but with time I am sure they will strengthen up. Also the bike is equipped with sealed bearings in the Bottom Bracket, yeah.

Empire XL

I really like the included toe clips, had not used them for years but I’m a believer again. All in all the bike is a nice addition to have for pure fast street riding.Another thing I did yesterday was put a Shimmy “MegaRange” freewheel on the Hatchet.

Mongoose with MegaRange

OhMyLanta !! What a gear ratio.you could pedal up Mt. Everest with that.


Every time that wheel turns round,

Your bound to cover just a little more ground.   -Jerry Garcia

Bikes Are Cool Machines

It is deceptive how simple  modern bicycles are. Piece by piece the average Joe’s bike (especially mine) is just metal ,bearings, and pulleis and cables. But if 1 or 2 thing are not working in harmony the results can be very discouraging. So I have given my bikes a once over today and made an improvement to the MTB. The Hatchet got a new freewheel, a Shimano ” MegaRange” Yahoo!. I also added a road / racer bike to round out the stable. A Schwinn “Empire XL”. This bike is a great bang for the buck! I bought it off the rack @ Walmart, it was the last one in stock. The bar tape was ripped (just a small nick) that I might have done driving it home in my trunk. Other than that it just needed some adjustments and I put a higher rising adjustable stem on it that I had from the Mongoose.If it wasn’t 112º F outside I’d be out riding the Mongoose right now, gotta find a steep hill to try out that 34 tooth cog on the new freewheel. But I will be on the trail with it tomorrow morning. So I have finally gotten all the bikes I want right now. I have a couple of parts on order for the Empire, I am gonna throw some “Cross Brake ” levers on the top rail of the drop bars, which means new cable housing and ferrules and bar tape. Then I believe I will just ride those bikes till the cows come home. The Solitaire continues to be a commuter workhorse and a pleasure to ride as well. I may post some more pics later and critique the Empire once I have ridden it more.

Those Darn Squeaking Brakes, We have a Remedy

The Mongoose Hatchet 29er MTB had one of the worst rear brake squeaks of any bike I had run across. It’s really a simple fix.. TOE IN ,  have the pads angled so the pad edge toward the front of the bike makes first contact. This is in actuality the trailing edge as the wheel rotates across the pads from back to front. Ignore that statement if it is confusing. First  clean your rim, then allign the pads where you want  them , parrallel across the flat part of the rim. Now grasp the pad by the rear part of the pad, insert hex key or screwdriver on pad tightening nut and loosen. Holding wrench and pulling outwards on the pad , jiggle a bit and you will feel the  pad toe in. Tighten nut keeping firm hold on pad position.Repeat on the other side. Voila! No more nerve wracking squeal.

Brake toe in

Saturday and Livin’ is Easy

Great day so far, 3:00 PM and only 99º . Fixed a  flat on the Schwinn last night and took a 5 mile cruise this morning. Nice workout and bike  rides so smooth. Mowed the lawn, had been slacking on that. Gassed up the  car, one added benefit of riding bike to work: used to fill gas every 2 weeks, now its every 3 weeks!  Slapped some kevlar tires on the Mongoose, should help with thorns and stuff  off  road. Hoping to take that bike out tonight for a ride. Good chance of a Monsoon rain shower this evening so it’ll be perfect weather.

A Nice Pair, Mongoose & Solitaire

MTB Enhancments and Bottom Bracket replacement Tips

OK I bought this Mongoose from Walmart with the full intention of sprucing it up and giving myself some hands on bike repair techniques. Here is a picture of stock bike after assembly and tuneup, it rides sweet.

Stock + Seat

I decided to install a new stem and a new crankset with external sealed bearing bottom bracket. Thanks to “superbug” at ” BigBoxBikes.com” forum for pointing me to the Shimano Deore LX  crankset from ” Jensonusa.com ” . A fairly inexpensive set but high above the stock parts. The stem was easy, I knew what i wanted so I got 1 off “amazon.com” .

Adjustable stem

Adjustable stem

Much better for me and comfotable for riding. This might not be best for aggressive off roading, but I like it, and its nice and solid and lighter.

Next up were the cranks. Old ones:

Removing these and installing new ones is not for the faint of heart. I got the pedals, crank arms, and left side set ring and bearings off just fine. Then came the “Fixed cup” side of the Bottom Bracket. OK, These things must be torqued on by an army of of dedicated factory workers. I tried a few methods, the 36 mm bracket wrench, backed up with a series of bolts and washers to hold the wrench tight to the nut. No joy. I tried a series of lock washers and and bolts, again no joy. Here is what worked , and easily too. A dremel with a cut off wheel. One Caveat though, be very careful not to cut into the aluminum case of the BB. Go slow and check your work often. Cut a vee in the fixed cup  in the middle of the curve on top and below the flat sides of the cup.Cut all the way through the metal of the cup and into the recess of the spindle hole.  Now get yourself a good 1/2″ cold chisel and knock out the vees you just cut. Spray with a loosening agent like “Liquid Wrench”. Tap Tap Tap the cup. Now position chisel and smack that dang thing with a hammer(Put on your damn Safety Glasses) till it breaks free. Do not in any way, shape, or form, hit your hand or aluminum part of the frame. BINGO now you are home free. See picture So the rest was a piece of cake .

Cup removal

Lots of info on line if you need more pointers.



Here is the new crankset, I used 1 spacer on each side of the external bearings and had to raise the front deraileur about 2 to 3 mm. This turned out to be a real learning experience for me.

Shimano Deore LX




A New Bike

Got my new bike yesterday. A 29″ MTB by Mongoose, model name “Hatchet”.  So far its a nice  unit. Couple of things bugged me, it was pictured as red when I ordered it, but its ORANGE! I’ll live i guess. nother thing is the paint leaves a lot to be desired, so I might have it painted red anyway. The front deraileur is crap for getting a screwdriver in for adjusting, and the mounting scew is a pain too. Good things are its a 29er (woooo), smooth shifting, front and rear suspension, and front disc brakes (YEAH). Put an adjustible stem on to raise bars and a nice seat. Going for a spin this evening and I will take it for a real test drive tomorrow morning.

Stock Mongoose Hatchet