Carlos is Awesome

30 de Mayo

Country/Day: Guatemala/16

Bikes Fixed: 22

Bicimaquinas Built: 0.5

Bikes/Day Average: 1.375


And cute to boot.

Prabhat, I hope you’ll forgive me if I write this after not writing one called “Prabhat is Awesome.” You are, indeed, awesome. But… you don’t weld. And (spoiler alert) at the end of the day, that’s really what this post is about.

I’ll just get to it then.

So say you’re Carlos. A customer comes in and they need to replace their bottom bracket. As it ends up, part of the reason is rust, and there’s so much rust that the shell of the bottom bracket is actually rusted in place. Now, the BB is one of the only parts on a bicycle that you can’t just hack or hammer off. You could argue it’s the heart of the bicycle (whereas if, say, you can’t get the brake levers off, you can replace the handlebars – crude, but possible).

So how do you get enough leverage on the thing to break through all the rust?

You weld a pole to it.


And then get your son to do the heavy lifting.

And then when you’re done, you can just cut off the excess solder you used to weld the pole on.



But wait! There’s more, you say? Say there’s some tool you need. This tool is pretty important to bicycle maintenance… in fact, it’s arguable one of the more important tools when it comes to repairing old bicycles. But you don’t have it. What do you do? You make it.

Step one: Get someone who knows what the tool looks like.


Who… me?

Step two: Have them draw it for you.


As crudely as possible of course.

(okay, I did a bit more than just sketch it out)

Step three: Do some welding.


I know, I know. I could have been more artistic about this.

Step four: Tool.


Yup… it’s a tool.

Yes. He made that. Here we are testing it out.


Did it work?

(it’s a tool for aligning a part of the bike called the derailleur hanger, where the tool is screwed in. You align it using the wheel of the bike)

Other things you can make when you’re someone like Carlos:


Yup. It worked.

A bicibombia – bicycle water pump. More on the bicimaquinas later. The point is… we should all be more like Carlos. Maybe we could start a fanclub. It could be called “I <3 Carlos.” There could be t-shirts.

Here’s a prelude to another post I need to get to: Carlos has tools. Working at BiciTec is, in many ways, the opposite of working at Fauji Cycles. It is still obviously volunteer work – there’s an endless pile of stuff to do, for instance – and it’s obviously necessary work, as the bicycles are used almost exclusively for commuting (and the bicimaquinas, obviously, are used only for what they are designed). But in order to build the bicicmaquinas, he needs… stuff (like a welder). He had slews of volunteers over the 19 years he worked with Maya Pedal, and many of them brought tools. Fortunately, when he separated from Maya Pedal, he was able to keep many of these tools.

Aside from making awesome bicimaquinas, they allow him to do some things that not even a normal bike shop (even one stateside) can do. For instance, he has a belt sander. I’ve already discovered a number of uses for this tool. For starters, I chipped my screwdriver in India and was able to sand away the rest of the chip to make it practically brand new again. But that was a one-time thing.

Here’s something you can use it for that wouldn’t even happen in the US. Depending on how you use them and materials involved, over time, brake pads can ingest large amounts of metal off the rims of a bicycle’s wheels. The US solution, of course, is to replace them. I wondered if, rather than replacing them, the metal could be sanded off. I asked and, as it ends up, it can.


A whole new world…

A new set of brake pads will run you $10 in the states. In Guatemala, “new pads” don’t exist… so this method is pretty much priceless. Either way, it’s just one of the many new things I’ve already learned here.


Like how to build one of these.

You heard me.

4 thoughts on “Carlos is Awesome

  1. Jenna says:

    I was just logging on to leave a message about how it is about time that you update your blog… but then this was here! Made my day 🙂

    I had no idea you could do that to brake pads. I’m totally gunna sand mine 😛

    What’s the half of a bicimaquina you’ve been working on?

    • Kyle says:

      Thought so :oP

      I know! Me too! Replacing them is so expensive, too…

      It’s a bike blender I started before the BNB shipment. Will finish… eventually.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Carlos is awesome – a bicycle water pump! And, it sounds like you are learning a lot, and teaching new things to Carlos too. How did the derailleur hanger work?

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