Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Tiny House for the DIY Challenged - A Visit to the Amazon

Okay, you know who you are (or you will figure it out some time soon.)

In case you haven't figured it out, here's a quick quiz to help you figure it out.

Check all that apply:
  • You have more than ten unfinished projects.
  • People ask, "What the !@#$ is that?" when they see your finished projects.
  • You work (at your day job) all the time.
  • Your photo is on Home Depot's We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone poster.
  • Your family staged an intervention and canceled your subscriptions to Mother Earth News, Make, Instructables, and Pinterest.
  • You only need one more punch on your card for a free visit to the local emergency room.
  • Your significant other and/or HOA has served you a Cease-and-Desist-Doing-it-Yourself letter.
If you even thought about clicking one of those, you probably don't need to build your own tiny house, but there's still hope for you living tiny:

Heating, A/C, and a toilet - what more could you need?

Maybe some torch lights, a dishwasher, and a fire extinguisher...

Home, Sweet Shipping Container
To be fair, I have to mention that there are lots of other prefab tiny house options out there. A little oogling will not only reveal those, but will probably net you a local builder that'd be happy to put one together for you. (A few years ago, one was built in my neighborhood by a local builder for a similar price.)
To get you started, here's an Inhabitat article from last year with some quirky, tasty, and downright inexpensive options for you.
Green Magic Homes (Check out the elephants on the website)
I like the hobbit house, but I really don't like the idea of mowing the roof or waking up next to a prairie dog.
Actually, I really, really like the Arched Cabins from way-south Texas. If we ordered up a 24' x 60', could we still call it a "tiny" home? My wife really likes shipping container architecture, so maybe a square house and a pointy/archy garage? Now if I could find a pointy/archy garage with free Prime shipping, then we'd be talking!
May whatever you live in suit your needs and tread very, very lightly upon our earth!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Procrastinating a Starter

This morning, I rode the old Huffy cruiser to a coffee house where I am writing this post to procrastinate what I dread - putting a new starter in my wife's car.

What fun!

I need to go spend $150 on a starter, jack the thing up in the air, lie on my back on the ground, and change the part. Then I need to put the thing back on the ground, make sure the problem is fixed, and take the old starter back for a refund on the core. It really shouldn't be that bad. 

But I have a bad attitude. I've come to hate working on things that run on gasoline. And I'm not a big fan of doing so while lying on the ground.

I'd so much rather be working on a bicycle or the electric Pigeon. Shoot, I'd much rather be riding a bike (or an electric Pigeon).

May we reach a day where we're not paying for gasoline things to make our world a dirtier, less healthy, less friendly place.

For now, it's time to pedal to the parts store, and get to work, snagit! (At least I'll get to ride the bike there.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

No-Weld, DIY Longtail Cargo Bike Frames

You know the Mesquite Hugger approach - always looking for a better way to haul stuff without burning any gas or much money. This one started like oh so many bad ideas around here at MH, with a very cheap Craigslist ad:

Novara is an REI house-brand.
First, the photo went to Photoshop.
Then, the frame pieces went into Powerpoint.

Various revisions came into play.

Then I went back to look at some of my favorite cargo bike designs - the EdgeRunner, the Mundo, and the RadWagon.
A slightly revised design rose up.

And here is where it ended up: (with RadWagon for comparison)

But the practical brain kicked in - I remembered all of the unfinished projects I still have lying about, and decided not to go buy the $10 frame.
For those of you who are intrigued:
If you have more time than money and see the beauty in a cargo bike, the No-Weld, DIY Cargo Bike Frame is a pretty legitimate way to go. It's an idea that's been floating around for a while, mostly inspired by the XtraCycle FreeRadical/Leap.
The Original - the Xtracycle FreeRadical
(Ignore the price - it's a VERY old ad.)
There're basically two schools of thought:
  1. Split-up a full suspension mountain bike frame and find a way to add some length to the middle (like my little almost-project above).
  2. Add the back swingarm portion of a full-suspension mountain bike to another complete bike frame. (See below.)
One of my favorite examples!
(Find it and many others in this MTBR Forum)
Lots more can be found in this Endless-Sphere thread
The Homemade Xtracycle (blog post with lots of good detail)
Feeling inspired? If so, start looking around for a bike that looks like this (and costs very little):
(That rear section is the main ingredient you need for the three bikes above.)
 May we be successful in finding super-low-carbon transport to fit our budgets in both time and money.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fossil Free Friday - (Shut up and) Pedal!

Something cool happened a few nights ago - I got to talk to another blogger who writes about life on a bike.

I posted recently about the loneliness of blogging or hugging mesquite or something like that, but here I was talking with a guy I know rather well even though we'd never met or spoken.

Talking to Bob, I realized a couple of things.

  • I don't know anyone (here in Lubbock) who commutes on a bike
  • I don't know anyone local who blogs about similar stuff
  • I need to shut up and ride.

So, today I am posting one of Bob's more recent posts to encourage you to ride. All you really need is a bike. (Thanks, Bob! Great talking to ya! Keep spreading the magic!)

May somebody, somewhere encourage you to do something clean and green and good for your soul! (And may no one actually encourage you to shut up!)

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Cargo Bike Bargain (or two) this Month

[Yes, I know, it's a sickness - this desire to use a cargo bike as a tool to burn less carbon. Oh, well.]

So, you've read the 400 or so Mesquite Hugger Cargo Bike (Dreaming) posts, and you, too, want a cargo bike, but you haven't yet found a suitable bargain to reel you into your practical dream. Well, this one might do it - especially if you've already got a nice 26" donor bike that just won't haul enough of your precious stuff.

Yep, it's $300 off of one of the most-respected longtail frames out there - that puts it down in the Xtracycle Leap (kit) price range. (And, personally, I love the green color too.)
Speaking of Xtracycle, they have some nice sales going on, too:
Look at all those Xtracycle savings out there!
I'd love to have the $1749 EdgeRunner 24D, but not when there's a Mundo LUX frameset out there for $699.
Weird Cargo Bike sidebar:
If you find yourself looking for a movie where you get to see multiple cargo bikes riding around San Francisco, a tiny house built by a former-football-hero-hobbit, and one of the best cat-turned-human actor portrayals ever, check out the IndieGoGo-ed film Unleashed.
No, it's not Citizen Kane, but if you are the same particular brand of eco-dork-pet-adopting-nerd-household as we are at Casa de Mesquite Hugger, you might just enjoy it!
A still from the YouTube Trailer. (Look for an EdgeRunner and a Boda Boda too.
Well, there's your cargo bike fix.
May choices better than burning gas be appealingly available. (And may you choose them!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

For Green Simpletons (like me) - A Short List for Simple Sustainability

Just give me a bike, a clothesline, and maybe a mason jar. Don't worry, though, I won't try to electrify them. Not this time.
Okay, well, that's close enough.

Simple stuff. I keep being drawn to simple stuff. And frugality. And minimalism. And figuring out what's really important.

I read a novel in college - Love Among the Cannibals. I didn't get it. I was a just a dumb kid. I may need to go back and read it again. Now I'm a dumb middle-aged guy with at least 5% more wisdom.

I remember a (subplot) new car that broke down on the side of the road in the book. The local vandals immediately started stealing all the parts off of it. They left it a shell. Then the local vandals brought a few of the parts back and got it running again, but it no longer had things like windows and doors.

The professor explained to us the symbolism of getting something (or someone) back to a simpler place, a more stripped down version that has only what it needs - and none of the distractions.

Some days I feel like my pursuit of the green good life is that car, but the local vandals haven't taken all the parts yet.

I really should read that novel again.

Speaking of books, I just ordered a used copy of this book:

I learned about it a few months back while following a link trail from a Katherine Martinko article. (I really like KM articles!) The concept has haunted me since. Even this post has gone through multiple drafts that never seemed quite ready to publish. It still doesn't quite.

So, what simples appeal to you? Outside of the seven on the book's cover, what simple things do you depend on to make your life greener and simpler? (No, I won't foolishly try the survey thing again, but feel free to shoot me an email.)

I plan to spend some time over the next few months exploring the idea of what an individual needs (or doesn't need) to live simply (and greenly).

[Blogger note: Part of my quest for the simple will mean less blogging - maybe some miniposts and pics, but there will be fewer posts for a while. Thank you for the time you've spent reading this particular brand of drivel.]

May you figure out what you (and we) need, and may you eschew the distractions that bog you down.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fossil Free Friday: $500 Simple DIY Electric Bike Formula (The non-sequitur apocrypha)

You're probably wondering why this post? This is the mop up of all the loose ends, or maybe just the proof that the Mesquite Hugger mind is indeed a messy desk.

Answering a few questions:

Why 36 volt/500 watt when we could've easily gone for 48V/1000 watt?
  • Well, first, we were shooting for low money, and 48 volt batteries are not cheap.
  • Second is the efficiency versus speed issue. 500 watts should let us travel around 20 mph for a much longer distance than 1000 watts at 25 mph (and I've met very few e-bikers who have tremendous restraint when it comes to a throttle or pedal assist.)
  • Also, the intended audience is beginning e-bikers who are focused on inexpensive transportation. Fast e-bikes create a lot of new problems - one of the biggest is the problem of speed perception. Car drivers do not expect to see a bike traveling at 30 mph, so they misjudge and cut you off. If you ride a bike at 30 on the street you will have close calls on a regular basis. (You better have great brakes and even better judgment.)

Why choose a cruiser?
Mostly because they are cheap, readily available, and often have just the layout needed for an entry-level e-bike. Also, you want a fat, heavy, laid-back bike for an old guy who is fat and laid back.

Why not a fat bike like the Sondors Original?
Quite simply, the the components are much more expensive and flats tend to be a bigger issue on them than on the more readily available sizes. (And they ride like a tractor.)

Just a bunch of random stuff I did not include in the other posts:

How to build a pretty killer mid-drive bike for less than $1000

Order this kit (while it's still on sale) and add it to a used mountain bike with really good brakes:

The Schwinn Blackwell dropped in price on Ebay

Can you build a decent-ish $350 e-bike?
Sure, but be prepared to sacrifice the LCD screen, pedal assist, and the advantages of a geared hub motor.

If I'm a glutton for punishment, which bike should I choose for my build?


It's all about the jacksons! (Need fixing = run away!)

If I'm a Parrothead, what bike would you recommend?
It has a squawking parrot in place of a horn or bell!

What is the Mesquite Dream Build (this week)?
The cargo bike equivalent of the Karmic Koben S

What's your most fervent Mesquite Hugger wish?
That we'd stop fighting each other and fight climate change together.

May your messy desk inspire something better for others!