Category Archives: Bikes and autos

Bicycle projects, car projects, motorcycles too

1974 Land Rover SIII Restoration Video

Fantastic documentation of a 1974 Land Rover Series III restoration. Anytime you’ve got a heavily used utility vehicle that’s pushing close to four decades in age, you’re likely going to have a fair amount of rehabilitation work on your hands to get it into a reliable and comfortable state. Firman Ni of Indonesia chronicles the complete teardown and rebuild, with some after-restoration mud fun. Makes me want to loosen some bolts.

Video Fun: V8 Engine Block Machined From Solid Aluminum on a 5-Axis CNC Mill

Just a little something to fall asleep to tonight.

Best comment on the video:

9:46 wish i could get the wife to move like that

You’ll get it when you’re older.

And if you still want more, here’s another good one — 5-axis CNC milled aluminum motocross helmet:

These machines are awesome — and the ones you’re watching here are as expensive as a house. I can’t even bring myself to write how much the lower-cost “big” models are.

Fortunately, as my Wired Tormach 770 review revealed, the prices for smaller, serviceable CNC mills is starting to drop to attainable prices. Attainable for those who already bought their Sunday Porsche, perhaps, but still…

Post-accident Triathlon Training — First part of my series in Triathlete magazine

Late one night about a year and a half ago, I had a frustrating highway encounter with a big rig truck. Although, sadly, many others have fared worse in similar situations, it was still a sucky setback: three days in the hospital, a couple surgeries, and a few months to regain my strength.

The morning after the accident I gave myself a goal: I’d use it as a catalyst to finally train for and complete a triathlon. I didn’t want to ever feel held down by having an accident, and therefore strived for the exact opposite. Once able to move comfortably and push forward on my plan, I started discussing it with a friend at Triathlete magazine — who expressed interest in having me chronicle the journey for the publication. I agreed to do a three-part series, looking at the events leading to my decision to be a triathlete, the training experience, and then the race itself.

Triathlete helped make the training process easier by setting me up with some great gear and an amazing coach, Ian Murray, for which I’m extremely thankful — I highly recommend any first time (or even 31st time) triathlete to use a coach, it’s made such a big difference. At the point of my writing this, I’m just over two weeks away from the race. I’ll be competing in the Superseal Triathlon on March 18, in San Diego. An Olympic distance race, I have to swim 0.9 miles, bike 26 miles, and run 6.2 miles. Each of those distances is further than I’ve ever raced before, so the combination of all three consecutively will be pretty incredible.

Meanwhile, my first Triathlete segment hit the newsstands a few weeks ago, and became available online this week; check it out on the Triathlete site. And also check the fun video segment the magazine produced in conjunction with the article — more to come from that, too. Hope you enjoy.


Skate Ramp Tips from the King of Built to Shred

Skate ramps are one of the most awesome expressions of DIY individuality, and I post regularly about them — check out my roundup of online ramp plans among others. Thanks to my pals at diy website Built By Kids, one of the masters of skate ramp building, Jeff King of the TV show Built to Shred, supplies a handful of ramp making tips to help make your next project better than ever.

A key line that destroys my favorite childhood ramp material:

Just for the record I don’t ever think masonite should be used for a ramp. Indoor or outdoor.

Check out the full Built By Kids series of skate posts:
– Ramp tips from Jeff King
– Visiting the Built to Shred set (some awesome pics of truly outrageous ramp builds there)
– And a VBS how-to on building a mini ramp


Badass Off-Roader: All About the UMM (União Metalo-Mecânica) 4×4 Personal Utility Vehicle

Add another truck to my list of favorite 4x4s.

Sure, there are Land Rovers, Landcruisers, Broncos, G-Wagens, Scouts. Even the original Hummer. But every now and then I stumble across something that I hadn’t seen before, something that makes my eyes widen and makes my feet want to step on some pedals. Case in point: my recent trip abroad, where I discovered the Portuguese 4×4 UMM. A French-designed truck that was manufactured from the late-70s until mid-90s (attempts to bring it back in the 2000s were unsucessful), it looks like an awesome mix between an early LR Defender and the VW Thing, with a French-70’s-retro-futurism slant. Leaf-sprung front and back, with a fully selectable transmission setup and body geometry that allows for steep approach and departure angles. Available in 100″ and 120″ wheelbases, and with petrol, diesel, or turbodiesel engines. There aren’t many of them, but it seems most have a utilitarian function, much like the Land Rovers in the UK.

My favorite UMM sighting occurred the morning after a stormy night in Baleal, a still-rural beach area north of Lisbon that is very popular with surfers (not far from Peniche and the world famous Supertubos beach). Watching the churning ocean while waiting for the bus to take me to my next destination, I jealously watched as a UMM pulled into the parking lot, scouted the surf conditions, then whizzed off. Something so romantic and ideal about that scene — rugged 4×4, relaxed Euro-surf lifestyle, energetic waves — I’m trying to figure out how to switch places with the guy driving that truck.

Here’s some UMM info from a fan site about these trucks (click the British flag in the top left corner for English translation). The downloadable manuals have some great diagrams for you guys who get excited about schematics (like me). Also, another fan page full of UMM pics (including the UMM Popemobile).

And below are the pics and video I took of a few of the trucks I encountered.


Awesome $5 Subscription Deals – Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines (and others too!) – UPDATE: Popular Mechanics for FREE

UPDATE: Here’s an offer to get a year of Popular Mechanics for nothing more than just a few pieces of personal information.

Once again (but only until December 3), Amazon is offering a $5 magazine subscription deal on some great titles. Perfect timing for your holiday gift buying needs — magazines are one of those gifts that are always appreciated, and they last a whole year.

Two great choices: Popular Science or Popular Mechanics — I don’t know anyone who would mind this as a present.

And there are many others to choose from at this price too. American Photo, Bicycling, Details, Backpacker — even Cosmo —  all jump out at me as fun reads.

Again, their offer is only until December 3rd, so best to get them now while the deal is still active.

Get Gnarly On Your Own Homemade Gravity Bike

Take a bike with no pedals and a super low center of gravity, head to the top of the tallest hill you can find, and let gravity do the rest. Gravity biking, kissing cousins with downhill skateboarding, is a niche sport that attracts extreme racers who are happiest when they average 50mph and peak out as high as 80mph.

Instructables user  Harlan Whitman posted a thorough writeup on how to build your own mean gravity machine from scratch. I dig the kneeling pad assembly and his use of hole saws to mate the tubes.

The details from his writeup:

The basic standards are:
Wheel size – 51cm / 20” max
Bike weight – 34kg / 75lbs max
Axle to axle length – 127cm / 50” max
Many more rules can be found in the rule book. But where we race, none apply 🙂

Tools needed or have access to:
Metal cutting tools of some kind – Angle grinder and cut off wheels, metal band saw, hacksaw, hole saw.
Assortment of wrenches
Drill press
The more the merrier!

We dig through metal scrap bins for most of our metal material and then let the material inspire.
We did buy 8ft of  .75″ x 1.5″ x .125″ mild steel for this project.
Rim Brakes
Brake Levers
Brake cable/housing
L200 foam
Wheel cover
x2 20 inch wheels
Old bmx bike to pluck any tid bits from
Shaft collars

More resources can be found here:
Gravitybike HQ

Indo Gravitybike


Cut-and-Fold Paper VW Touareg and Other Papercraft Rally Cars

Rally racing, awesome as it is, tends to be a European phenomenon. Hilly, public tracks, often off-road. Rallies have been around since the advent of the automobile (mimicking horse-and-buggy races), and nowadays are high-speed, handbrake-turning, hump-jumping affairs. Outside of the European races, a few prominent rallies exist, with the Baja 1000 and the Paris-Dakar being two of the largest.

With that history behind us, here’s a fun way to show of how cultured and European you are: papercraft rally cars you can print and make to adorn your work desk. I’m fond of Volkswagen Touaregs, but the Mitsubishi Lacer with those all-terrain tires looks pretty aggressive too.

I found these and many more on the Czech site, via one of my fave sites, You’ll need .rar software to unzip the files. If you make any of them, send me pics and I’ll post with your info for all the world to see.


VW Race Touareg 2
VW Race Touareg 2 Central Europe Rally 2008 Driver : Sousa Co-driver : Schulz VW_Touareg_08_PDF.rar (1,3 MB) vw lagos08_LOCK.rar (2,1 MB)


Škoda Fabia S2000
Škoda Fabia S2000 Rally Monte Carlo 2009 Driver: J. Kopecký Codriver: P. Starý fabiaS2000_09.pdo (5,3 MB) Fabia S2000.pdf (1,4 MB)


VW Race Touareg 2
VW Race Touareg 2 Rally Lisboa Dakar 2006 Driver : Kleinschmidt Co-driver : Pons VW Touareg 06_PDF.rar (1,4 MB) VWTouareg06_LOCK.rar (1,6 MB)


Mitsubishi Pajero MPR12
Mitsubishi Pajero MPR12  Rally Lisboa – Dakar 2006  Driver : Peterhansel  Co-driver : Cottret MITSUBISHI MPR12_PDF.rar (1,4 MB) PajeroMPR12_LOCK.rar (1,3 MB)


Mitsubishi Racing Lancer MRX09
Mitsubishi Racing Lancer MRX09 Rally Argentina – Chile Dakar 2009 Driver : Roma Co-driver : Cruz Mitsu_Lancer_lock.rar (1,8 MB) Mitsu_Lancer_MRX09.rar (1,6 MB)

How to Change the Tail Light on your Nissan Versa

Once removed, the bulbs are accessible for changing. Replace by following the steps in opposite order.

A few days ago a friend asked me to help change a burnt out tail light on her Versa hatchback. Sure, piece of cake, right? Well, Nissan had other plans, and made it a little tricky. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting into your rear lamp console.

Continue reading How to Change the Tail Light on your Nissan Versa