Electra’s First Ride to Long Beach

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May 3rd is the day I took Electra on her maiden voyage. The main strip was the path along the shore of Huntington Beach, and for the following month I rode along that shore daily (for physical and mental exercise: I find the beach very relaxing for my body and soothing for my mind). 16 kilometers north is Long Beach/Los Angeles County, and I’d ride there regularly after I moved back to Orange County, but this was the first time I rode Electra there; hence, it was an extension of the maiden voyage.

A noteworthy discovery was on a steep hill in Belmont heights. That was the first time I intentionally used the granny gear, and it was too much. What I mean is the gear ratio is too low (1.38:1). I usually use the top 3 gears, 5th, 6th & 7th. Fifth gear has a 2:1 ratio, but 7th only has 3.14:1 (81 gear inches factoring in Electra’s 26” wheel). That is just too low (considered mid gear). I don’t have budget to build a new wheel with spacing for a free hub and cassette, so I’ll keep the stock freewheel and change the crank set. Switching the chain wheel from 44t to 60t will increase the granny gear from 1.38:1 to 1.875:1. It’ll be nice for steep hills and/or strong head winds; there is a fine line between spinning faster with a lower gear ratio to achieve the same speed as spinning with more power at a slower pace in a higher gear ratio. I prefer the latter. With the larger chain wheel, I’ll achieve a ratio of 4.29:1 in 7th gear (111 gear inches). On longer rides, rides with the wind on your back, downhill… that gets you moving several kilometers an hour faster. Roxanne has 6 of 7 gears the same as Electra. The different gear is a standard 1st on Roxanne verses Electra’s extreme low granny gear.

A few weeks ago I noticed the bottom bracket on Roxanne has become loose. I’ll need to clean, repair if required and tighten. I originally purchased and installed the 60t crank set on Olivia, and then passed it onto Roxanne. Now I’ll pass it on to Electra and use her 44t crank set on Roxanne. Because I need to pull the crank set to access the bottom bracket shell, I’ll make the switch at the same time. I’ll leave the extenders on the 44t crank arms, so I’ll need to order another pair in advance of this project because the extra 0.77” clearance on each side is excellent for performance (on the drive side it prevents me from hitting both the u-lock and chain guard). Electra’s chain guard will be removed to make room for the larger chain wheel, and Roxanne’s is already removed because she has the 60t chain wheel and the 44t chain wheel is too large as well. For the last few years, I always had grime from the chain on my leg, but the extenders will prevent that, so both Roxanne and Electra will require a set (I’ll need another set).