Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

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Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby trilobyte » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:42 am

For those of you who do not already have plans made for a playa bike, I would like to recommend the Huffy Cranbrook. There are several reasons, let me share them with you.

  • It's affordable. So affordable, in fact, that one of these and the cost of buying a bike rack and a couple spare inner tubes usually winds up costing less than renting a bike. Plus, going to Burning Man costs a lot of money, you're probably already spending a lot more than you thought you would.
  • It's a good bike for the playa. Beach cruisers with knobby tires do really well at Burning Man.
  • It's readily available. I won't post shopping links because I certainly don't want to advertise or promote one store over the other. You probably know your way around the internet enough to be able to either shop online or find someplace where you can pick one up either locally or on the way to the event.
  • It can be donated to the Burning Man Yellow Bike (public bike share) program at the end of the event. It is the only make/model of bike that can be donated. The Yellow Bike program is standardized on that model (if all the bikes use the same set of replacement parts, the program is much easier to manage). This is especially awesome if you come from a long distance away or don't have a place to put the bike at the end of the event. This saves you the trouble of taking it back home (because abandoning bikes on the playa is not cool), and finding a place to donate your bike elsewhere. You get a new/reliable ride on the playa, and then the Yellow Bike program gets a new bike that they can put into service or turn into parts to support the program... it sounds like a win.

Here is the link to the girl's bike page and the boy's bike page on the manufacturer's web site.

Remember, when you get your bike, pick up a couple spare inner tubes. They're inexpensive, and if you end up not needing to use them yourself you can gift them to any of the bike repair camps.

In the spirit of full disclosure - neither I nor the Yellow Bike program get paid by Huffy for endorsing that bike. My understanding is that they chose the model because of affordability, availability, and ease of repair. I not only agree with that choice, I think the yellow bike program is of great service to the community and if you're undecided in the bike department, I think you should support the program too.

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:03 pm

And if you want to keep it, check out some of the ultra-cool things you can do with one:http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/index.php?threads/show-off-your-finished-huffy-cranbrook.32667/
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ratty » Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:20 am

Wow. Capt. What a nice little photo montage of cheap bikes made into beautiful works of art. (OK maybe that's a stretch but they are so pretty.)
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Jovankat » Sat Jun 27, 2015 8:11 am

Indeed! Thanks for posting that Capt. Very inspiring!

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ano » Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:08 pm

I want to throw out one warning - please check every single thing on it to make sure it is mechanically sound.

Last year, three out of the five cranbrooks in camp, all brand new, were unrideable by midweek. Had we had some serious bike mechanics, I'm sure we could have fixed the problems, but as casual riders who can change a tube and that's about it... it didn't work so well for any of us.

These bikes are cheap, and also amazingly unreliable in my personal experience. On the other hand, two of those cranbrooks we had last year, have actually been out there for years and years with zero problems, not even a popped tire.

As with everything at Burning Man, your mileage will vary to an absurd degree.

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Madgirl » Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:21 pm

Second what Ano said. I inherited my Cranbrook from a neighboring camp several years ago...this will be its fourth year on playa with no tune ups and no flats. Several of that camp's other bikes, however (which were gifted to other people in my camp), were barely rideable after just that one week.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ano » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:35 pm

I just want to clarify in my post, because I wrote It on mobile and realized I fucked up a bit - "Two of those cranbrooks" should be "two other cranbrooks in camp." We had a total of seven, five were new, three of the new ones busted, two of the new ones were okay, and both of our old ones are good.

Reading my post, it's a mobile-inspired mess. Sorry about that. If I could edit it I would!

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Canoe » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:38 pm

Women's Cranbrook, one day sale at Wally World. $82.04, free shipping.
(also one day sale on the Beast and (sale colours gone) Hitch fat bikes)
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby caffeineslinger » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:52 pm

Whatever bike you get I recommend the ladies version no matter what you identify with. Much easier to get on and off especially towards the end of the week.

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby trilobyte » Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:41 pm

Ano - it's probably important to remember to check any pre-assembled bike you buy. Manufacturers ship them in boxes to distributors and retailers, it's the local retailer that does the assembly. If you're buying it at super-discount minimal training box store... that's who's building it. It might be done by somebody who knows bikes or has mechanical skills, it might be done by somebody with no clue. Any bike you get, give it a quick check while you're still in the bike aisle, brakes and pedals and chain, and when you roll it forwards/backwards the wheels aren't wonky or anything.

Caffeineslinger's got a good point too, ladies version (step-through frame) is much easier... not just the end of the week, but the end of the night or day, too!

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Elliot » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:42 pm

:D
What Trilobyte said, about inspecting the bike before accepting it!

Now.... (Trilo, this is nothing personal, but....)

…Last year, a great many Huffy Cranbrooks and their siblings came to my bicycle repair camp with serious problems in the rear wheel hub. On several, the sprocket had come loose. The sprocket is held on with a snap ring – technology that has proven itself thru a century of bicycle-making worldwide. But inaccurate machining at the factory can foul anything up.

On other bikes, the hub was essentially disassembling itself, apparently caused by sloppy assembly.

The chains are routinely far too tight, as delivered from the store. This would contribute to these problems.

Many customers complained of a nasty grinding noise from the wheel when coasting. The noise would stop when they pedaled backward a bit, but then they had to be careful not to engage the coaster brake.

I came home with a number of these Cranbrooks (gifted to our camp), and I just took one of these hubs apart. I have not found the source of the noise, but I did find a number of curly steel shavings – apparently left over from manufacturing.

The quality is simply horrid.
I am all for buying inexpensive bicycles for Playa use, but there comes a point where “too much of a bad thing” is really a bad thing.

The spokes on such bikes are commonly too loose, and many of these wheels “taco” during the Event. (The wheel bends to where it almost resembles a taco shell.)

For brand new bikes, being ridden where there are positively no thorns, they suffer an alarming rate of flats. Yes, inside of eight days.

Part of this problem is that the inner-tubes are so cheap that they fail to hold decent pressure for eight days. Then you ride around on under-inflated tires, which quickly kills the tubes completely.

At the end of the event, I received a batch of 14 week-old Cranbrooks from a camp of 14 Europeans. (And 14 folding chairs. [And 14 toothbrushes. Kidding.] ) I forget the exact number, but something like 1 in 3 of these bikes had a flat.

I’m not telling you not to buy one of these bikes on your way from the Reno airport to the Playa. But you ought to know what you can expect.

Best of luck!
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby trilobyte » Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:57 pm

I don't doubt that at best it is made to minimum standards. When it comes to mass market stuff most people want cheap... so the mfr's use lower quality components and make 'em in whatever country can do it for less. Understand..that I'm not recommending it as the best bike you'll ever own, or the most luxurious... just that in the 'cheap bike' department it does alright, plus it's reasonably easy to get serviced, and for what seems like a fairly decent number of people who would have to spend a fortune to ship home only to have to figure out what to do with it then (apartment dwellers don't always have yards/garages to keep 'em in)... it's a standardized model that can be donated to the public bike folks.

And this recommendation is all about bullet point number 4 in the first post. if you're struggling with what to do with your ride after the event or considering just ditching it or going with a questionable rental... *definitely* go the route of the Cranbrook.

Elliot, you may care to reach out to someone from the public bike program... not only to share your experience and wisdom, but they may have some tips and advice for Cranbrook wrangling too. After all, they have a whole fleet of the suckers - they've seen every possible failure many times over.

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ano » Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:48 pm

Elliot wrote::D
What Trilobyte said, about inspecting the bike before accepting it!

Now.... (Trilo, this is nothing personal, but....)


On other bikes, the hub was essentially disassembling itself, apparently caused by sloppy assembly.

The chains are routinely far too tight, as delivered from the store. This would contribute to these problems.

Many customers complained of a nasty grinding noise from the wheel when coasting. The noise would stop when they pedaled backward a bit, but then they had to be careful not to engage the coaster brake.



Y'know... maybe there was a bad year for them or something, because these are the EXACT problems we had with ours!

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Elliot » Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:10 pm

:D
That's a good idea, Trilo! If anybody has identified the cause of that noise, it just might be the Yellow Bike folks.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ratty » Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:30 pm

Wouldn't that be a strange and boring job. Repairing the same cheap bike over and over and over again. Rather hellish.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby misfit » Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:10 am

>>>> I would like to recommend the Huffy Cranbrook<<<<

does the moderator have stock in huffy.?. your pushing this brand pretty hard. consider a good used bike, or maybe a rental in gerlach. :mrgreen:
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ratty » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:06 am

Misfit, the only reason to promote the Huffy Cran is if it's going to be donated after the burn to The Yellow bike program. That is the reason a lot of people mention it. I think the yellow bikes are a worthwhile endeavor. People use them, (and abuse them), so they need replacements every year. Rentals are great till you lose them and used bikes can be great if you know what to buy. Cranbrooks are rolling crap but if you get a bike guy on the playa to spend 10 minutes on it, you're good to go. Hell, keep it 2 years and then donate it.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby misfit » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:03 am

wouldn't it be nicer if we could show our support for the people of gerlach who run a decent bike rent and sell program, rather than throw our cash at big box and walmart. personally I would like to see the yellow bike program shrink rather than grow. the yellow bikes are great for those coming in on bus transpo or those whos bikes just died without a breath left. we preach self reliance, its one of our core values. and what happened to supporting the small business.?...
>>>> if you get a bike guy on the playa to spend 10 minutes on it, you're good to go<<<<
do you think a playa bike mechanic really wants to spend his burn wrenching on huffy's all day and night.?
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ratty » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:19 am

Sorry, I didn't mean to overburden the bike guys. Yes it's great to rent from the locals but they do sell out. The 10 minutes on your maintenance can be done by anyone with a couple of borrowed tools. Adjust, chain, seat, handlebars and tire pressure. Tons of locations on playa for do-it-yourself wrenching. As far as poo-pooing the yellow bike program it's not my place to dis someone else's art. I can ignore it or praise it. They are hardworking and a value to the masses so I'll praise it.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Ano » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:29 am

I mean, let's be real though - a huge chunk of the burn is powered by big box and Wal-Mart. We can't really stop it, especially for those coming from a huge distance and needing to purchase everything in a pinch for their first trip to the playa. I wouldn't dream of telling someone flying in to Reno to go hunting for local mom 'n pop shops and to depend on small businesses because it would add a huge amount of time to their trip and they might not even find everything they need in a relatively timely manner.

The Cranbrooks are pieces of crap, that's an honest assessment, and Wal-Mart/big boxes are generally crap too, but for John Q. Virginburner, who has the best intentions, sometimes the path of least resistance is best. If they can wrangle a rental bike, or find someone to gift them one or gift them easy transport at the Burn, awesome! But what about the guy who doesn't have a lot of time to throw around, is travelling a few thousand miles, and isn't from this country? Going with a Cranbrook is probably best.

On top of that, the fact that the yellow bike program can absorb Cranbrooks for usage in their program mitigates some of the post-event MOOP issues. Now those bikes that would get left behind can instead be absorbed into making the Burn an easier time for everyone next year! I had to depend on yellow bikes last year, and they saved my day a number of times...

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby misfit » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:01 am

not poo pooing,,,( :lol: ),,, the yellow bike program... it should exist. keep it for those who just cannot get a bike to the playa, or those that have lost the use of the bike they brought. lets not completely rely on it though. have a nice burn ratty, and maybe we'll see you while out riding... cheers..
ano,,, nice post, its always nice to hear another side' instead of the little voices I hear all day in my head.
its up to the community to show birgins that burning man does not come from big box, and walmart is not part of the experience...
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:13 pm

misfit wrote:do you think a playa bike mechanic really wants to spend his burn wrenching on huffy's ?


I know of at least one that seems to!!! :lol:
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:17 pm

:evil:
Well, I have found the source of the noise in the Huffy rear wheel hubs. I consulted far and wide, but the solution was as simple as disassembling a hub that did not make the noise, and comparing the two.
And it cannot be repaired without replacing the hub, which for most folks means the wheel.
The damage is in the hub shell itself.

This photo...

Image

...shows the drive clutch, or drive cone, that lives inside the shell. You can see the little "teeth" on the left end -- but they are shallow and rounded teeth, not sharp ones. These teeth are supposed to be there. When you pedal forward, this cone is forced against a matching tapered surface in the hub shell -- but a smooth surface. The teeth wipe aside most of the grease from the smooth surface and bite well enough against this surface to drive the bike forward. When you stop pedaling, the teeth retract a tiny bit, so they just drag or slip against the smooth surface and the hub coasts freely.

In the damaged hubs, the smooth surface also has "teeth". So when you coast, you don't have stationary teeth against a rotating smooth surface, but stationary teeth against rotating teeth. That makes the rasping sound.

The unintended teeth were necessarily inflicted by the intentional teeth -- by brute force, probably combined with faulty tempering -- hardening -- of the smooth surface.
The brute force was likely supplied by the wheel rocking on the axle, caused by the axle bearings being loose. I saw a great number of these loose bearings in BRC last year. "I think the dang wheel is plum falling apart!" was a common refrain.

So I must conclude... faulty assembly, likely combined with poor manufacturing of the hub shell.
The faulty assembly would be in the adjustment of the bearings and in the tightening of the lock nuts that secure the adjustment.
A possible contributing factor could be the over-tight chain that practically all these bikes came from the store with.

I was unable to photograph the damaged and the intact surfaces to show you the difference. Perhaps when my brother returns from Canada with my real camera.

Best I can tell... the noise is fairly harmless, at least in the short run.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby gaminwench » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:29 pm

Elliot: I have a Canon power shot digital Elph camera that I've never used. I'd be happy to gift it to you, if it would serve your purpose.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Elliot » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:14 pm

That's a marvelous offer!
What's needed is the ability to focus very closely, and my throw-away camera has "no moving parts". In contrast, it looks like all flavors of ELPH can focus down to one single centimeter. That is spectacularly close, so I wonder if I misunderstand it. But I am certainly willing to give it a whirl!
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby gaminwench » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:34 am

I will bring it to you with the box of piano music. I also have the info booklet, a charger and an extra battery. :D

I'm certain it will have a long, productive life with you! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:50 am

:D
Wondermuss!

By the way... I'm bringing the two hubs -- good and bad -- to BRC for show-n-tell.
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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Meat Hunter » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:05 am

Elliot,

If one were to purchase a new Huffy Cranbrook that has never been ridden, do you think that loosening the chain a bit would prevent the problem?

Or, what preventative measures would you recommend?

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Sham » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:27 am

Elliot wrote::D
Wondermuss!

By the way... I'm bringing the two hubs -- good and bad -- to BRC for show-n-tell.

Looking forward to seeing the parts and pieces. :D

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Re: Bike Recommendation: Huffy Cranbrook

Postby Elliot » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:04 am

On any cheap bike, and any bike bought at a department store, I suggest having the whole bike looked over by a qualified person. (But NOT a bike repair camp in B.R.C.!) These bikes often have loose handlebars and other serious assembly problems.

Bikes arrive at stores partly disassembled (actually, never assembled), and the store assembles it. It is important to understand this.

Specifically, wheel bearing adjustment and chain tension should be checked. This requires skill. If it were easy, the kid who assembled it in the back room at Walmart would have done it correctly. The chain may be too loose or too tight, depending on the skill of the assembler.

A problem with chain adjustment is that the sprockets are not quite round. Anything manufactured by man is somewhat less that perfect, but with these dirt-cheap Chinese bikes the manufacturing tolerances are extraordinarily sloppy. So the chain-tension changes as the sprockets go around. So the chain must be adjusted so it does not bind at the tightest spot. The loosest spot must be left to luck.
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