Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Am Pleased.

Billie, my Symba, has a four-speed transmission with an automatic clutch. The shift lever looks like a heel-toe shifter, but when I first got Billie I couldn't make it work as such. I'd read on a Symba forum that it helped to move the shifter a couple of notches to raise the heel. I tried that, but it was of only minimal help. I ended up thinking it was basically a toe-toe shifter, or in my case a heel-heel shifter -- push down of the front pedal with the heel to shift down and push down with the heel on the back pedal to shift up. This worked but was unacceptable to me. So, still  being a Norte-woods redneck at heart, I got out the duct tape and other assorted things I could find and started cobbling up a way to raise the front pedal.

Amazing what one can do with duct tape and a couple, three door stops.
My plan was once I had found the correct height for the shifter to actually work as a heel-toe shifter, I would find someone who could cut the lever and re-weld it in the proper position.

When Mike first looked over my bike I noticed his eyes hovering over "my mess" on the front-end of the shift lever. I explained to him what had been my plan. He said, "When I get my welder moved in, I can do that." Well, he has had his welder moved in for quite awhile, but there always something else that was a bigger priority or we were crunched for time or something. Finally, this Saturday was the day.

Here's the debris we removed from the front-end of the shift lever.
Mike said it really wouldn't take him very long to do this and I was surprised at how quick it went. This was even with having to drill out and re-tap the bolt that holds the lever on.

And here is the final product. He really did nice work.
I rode with it for a while yesterday and for a longer ride today and it works great!

Another thing I've wanted to get taken care of was the lights in the rear paniers. When I got the paniers put on, the rear turn signals needed to be moved, but the technicians that were working at Maplewood Scooter Company at the time, said they couldn't do that. I thought the lights in the paniers could work as turn signals, but they assured me they wouldn't. I picked up some LED turn signals at Cyclegear and suggested they run wires from the old turn signals to these and mount them low on the real fender. They said they could do that. And, they charged me a pretty penny to do so. Sadly, at the time I thought I was getting a deal. Oh well.

Notice the little LED Turn signal next to the license plate. Before these were added only folks directly behind me could see my turn signal. Not a good thing. But, with these little guys installed folks could see me from other lanes. This was a good thing.
Not long after Mike came to Maplewood Scooter Company, he asked me why I hadn't hooked up the lights in the paniers. I told him about my previous conversations. He just shrugged his shoulders and said he could do it and that it wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg. I told him I might just do that one day. Well, last Saturday was the day for that, too. Good thing, because since I last checked my turn signals one of the added lights no longer worked.

I'm really grateful that Mike is willing to let me watch him work so that I can know what he does and how he does it. I'm not a mechanical dummy, I just can't figure out how to begin anymore. That said, I'm still pretty good at knowing when someone is doing what needs doing. I can see the method in the way Mike works. It reminds me of watching my Grandpa Cole work on a project. I could see Mike checking and double checking everything. It was truly a beautiful thing to behold.

Originally the plan was to just hook up the panier lights as brake lights, but with the demise of my "high priced" turn signals we moved to plan "B". I think it turned out pretty well. Jeff the Sales Manager took this video with his iphone:

I am pleased.


  1. Very nice work on the shifter! Though it's a pity to lose the duct tape. It's such a classic look after all. ;)

    J/k of course, It's nice when those things that just aren't quite right can be modified to do a better job. Somehow on a bike, the little things make a big difference.

    lol - I never noticed your little sticker, 100 mpg. These days that's gotta hurt some of those drivers in SUVs, and big trucks!

  2. Its good you found a competent mechanic. They are so hard to find!

  3. The lights on the panniers are great. It sounds like Mike is very knowledgeable and not afraid to do some work. Don't let him get away...

  4. I finally got a look at the video. Interesting brake lights! They should really attract attention. The lights on the panniers are much more visible since they are farther from the brake light. Also, nice work on the shifter. Years ago, I tried a bike with a heel and toe shifter and I liked it a lot.

  5. Keith:

    Those new lights really make a difference. Now you can be seen. I've never used a toe-heel shifter before, must take some practice to get used to

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. Heel/toe are getting lazy!! :) Gotta keep the brain engaged and make you remember to move the foot! LOL.

    Absolutely love the new shifter. Looks spiffy!

    And those lights in the panniers are great! Very eye-catching with the motion. Gonna wind up hypnotizing people behind you. :)

    And very loud turn signals. :)

    All good and such a productive day!


  7. Kari,
    I was rather fond of my cobbling, but I think I'll get used to the new look :)

    Occasionally when I'm putting gas in the bike, I'll get asked if its true that it gets 100mpg. I have to be honest and say it doesn't, but I couldn't find a sticker that said 115mpg.

  8. Chris,
    Jack R. has done a post on what a rare commodity they are and how one had best take very good care of them. I feel really lucky that he showed up in my life.

  9. Art,
    That certainly is how it seems. He works hard, fast, but with mindfulness. He really is a joy to watch work. He is soooo locked into what he is doing.

  10. Richard,
    I'm really excited about the lights. I think they are a definite asset safety wise and look really cool to boot.

    I like the heel toe shifter. I have trouble lifting my toe on a traditional shifter. After a day of that and my left knee was always sore. Not so with this shifter.

    I'll admit I like the Symba's automatic clutch as well. In many ways it is the perfect set-up for my poor old too often surgically repaired knees and the stop and go traffic of urban commuting. I like being able to have the control of the gears, without the constant clutching. The twist and go of a scooter wasn't as much fun for me . . . and the hand clutch was not so much fun either.

    I'm really not sure what direction I'll go if/when I seek out a bike that will do things that the Symba just can't.


  11. bob,
    This one did, but I think the ones set up on cruisers work fine. I'm thinking it probably has more to do with what one gets used to.

  12. Lori,
    It was a very productive day! I even managed to get some riding in. The new header photo was taken on Saturday, too. It was up at Creve Coeur Lake Park, one of my favorite places.

  13. Dear Keith:

    I think your pannier lights look and work great. A good mechanic is worth his or her weight in gold. Mine once told me that as long as the bike has juice to spare, you can wire just about anything to it. Are your panniers made to "pop" off? Did you have to improvisefart -on, fast-off connections?

    I don't think I could ride a toe/heel shifter.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  14. Dear Jack,
    I couldn't agree more about a good mechanic! The paniers do not "pop" off. They have always been very proper and respectful, they haven't popped off at me once. But, they are young yet, perhaps when they reach adolescence . . .

    The paniers are bolted onto the the brackets. There is no easy off option. Even more permanent with the wiring.


  15. Trobairitz,
    I'm glad you like the new header picture. Actually, I thought you might like my new helmet. I think I saw one with similar colored graphics on your blog once upon a time :)