Saturday, December 29, 2007

OS Bikes...

Recently, I visited with Mark Slate of WTB fame. His passion for bikes extends beyond tires and seats. As a side project, he created OS Bikes and a very clean, sweet single-speed 29" wheel mountain bike. As many 29er fans know, Mark is one of the few reasons why the 29" wheel bicycle exists today. Back in '98, he created The Tire that started the big wheel revolution. And today, the 2.1 WTB Nanoraptor is still one of my favorite all-around tires - 26 or 29 inch.

In addition to big wheel tire design, Mark was also instrumental in frame design of the early 29ers. WTB brought a 29" wheel bike to Interbike in October of 1999. Mark showed me that bike and Wes Williams also showed me his bike. I was instantly intrigued. After the show, Mark shared the frame drawings with me to help me create my first 29" wheel frame design - a 4" travel full suspension bike that never saw production. There were only two frames made - one I gave back to Haro (wish I still had it) and one I gave to Mark. A few years after that, I was able to get the green light on a couple of production bikes, the Mary SS and Mary XC, which I heavily borrowed design cues from WTB's Phoenix frame.

So, fast forward several years and with almost a decade of 29" wheel design under his belt, Mark has created a bike that draws on all of his experience - the OS Bikes Blackbuck. The frame is a clean, simple design. The curved seat stays harken back to the days of the klunker, take the edge off bumps and open the seat stay/chain stay junction so the disc caliper can be mounted within the triangle cleaning up the look of the bike.

Other frame design bits include:
Three downtube bottle bosses so you can run your cage low or high, or run one of the old WTB designed/Blackburn produced bottle cages for 1.5 liter bottles.



Large contact area where the seat stays joint the seat tube/top tube.





Head tube with extra thick wall at the bottom to resist ovalization and to add strength to counter the long lever of the 29er suspension fork.



Down tube gusset formed to add strength and provide clearance for the suspension fork's knobs.



Eccentric bottom bracket secured with a unique split shell design.



The boss on the down tube is for a bolt-on cable stop if you want to run a front derailleur. This coupled with the bolt on derailleur hanger that is included with the frame means that, with judicious use of zip-ties, you can run this one speed bike as a fully geared bike or as a 2 or 3 speed bike (a get to the trail gear, a trail gear, and an O-M-G, I need a bail-out gear).

The frame is available as a frame only that can be built up to your heart's desire or a complete bike. The complete bike specifications are:

Fork: RockShox Reba SL 80mm
Crankset: Truvativ Stylo 175mm
Wheelset: WTB LaserDisc rims, LaserDisc Single Duty hubs, WTB spokes, all shod with 2.1 Nanoraptors
Brakeset: Avid Juicy 7 hydraulic disc with 160 rotor in back and 185 rotor up front
Headset is an FSA Intellaset
Seat: WTB Deva.
Bar/Stem/Seat Post: Non-branded Kalloy. Good stuff, no frills. Seat post is 27.2 x 400mm.

Frame sizes: One frame size. If you are between about 5'10" and 6'3" tall, with a maximum 36" inseam, having only one size is no problem at all!
Geometry is (with 80mm Reba):
Head and seat angle: 71.3 degrees
Seat tube length: 19" with EBB at it's lowest position
Maximum seat height (center of BB at it's lowest position): about 32"
Effective top tube: 24 5/8"
Chainstay length: 17 3/8" (with ebb at about 11:30)
Head tube length: 4 1/4"
BB height: 12 5/8" (with EBB at about 11:30)

How does it ride/handle? Technically, my seat height is about 1 1/2" taller than the tallest with the stock seat post, so I can't really get out there and put it through its paces. However, the little time I did spend on it showed that the bike is a very capable handling bike. It is very neutral. The best thing you can say about a bike's handling when asked is "nothing." When the handling of a bike is such that you don't even think about it, that's when a bike is dialed. I also liked the chainstay length. For us tall guys, it keeps the wheel under our butts and the front end on the ground when climbing.

But the best thing about the bike is it's really cool looking. The silver paint in the rear with the red pinstriping is classy. The lack of a big billboard name on the down tube is refreshing and the simple Blackbuck on the seat tube and OS on the headtube accentuate the cleanliness of the bike's design.

All this does come at a price, though. Although, there is, for what you get, a lot of value in it at $1750 for the complete bike and $500 for the frame.

Some more photos













(What's playing: KWMR, West Marin Community Radio)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Retail rule #7...

In the book of retail, it is said that thou shalt have a sign announcing your shop or else... I've been open for four months without a sign. I've thought about getting it done, but something would always come up and delay the process. Initially, I had someone who was going to paint it for me, but something would always come up and it didn't happen. So I thought, heck, I'm a pretty good artist - I took commercial art in high school, painted signs for a Little League field, got pretty good at oil painting - so I thought I'd take a stab at painting my sign.

I knew what I wanted the sign to look like, so it was a matter of getting material to paint it on, sketch it out and fill in the lines with paint. Pretty easy. Actually, it was pretty easy. I got a piece of 8' x 30" plywood, primered it, painted it black (each with several coats), and then drew out a grid to transfer the design to the wood. The hardest part was deciding how to do the "mountain." I knew that designing it exactly as the original artwork would be near to impossible, so I created it as more of an "icon" type.

Now, I sit hear waiting for the sealer to dry amid the pleasant fumes with the goal to have it planted above my door by Sunday.

The inspiration.



The preliminary plotting.



The final product glistening under a couple of coats of sealer.



Actually, I was embarrassed into getting the sign done by Marty over to The Prairie Peddler. He got his sign done and he ain't even open yet. Thanks for the push (shove?), Marty.

(What's playing: Bob Dylan Podcast hosted by Patti Smith. This is realllllllly good. Helps explain how Dylan was just his own man.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What's in the stand today...

This old Ritchey came in for some work. It didn't really need anything at first glance, but the owner wanted to ditch the newish brake pads and I suggested replacing the straddle cables with something more vintage looking if he was going for maintaining the vintage look. I installed a set of original Shimano canti brake pads in the rear and, as I only had one pair of them, a set of NOS Aztec pads from the mid-80's up front.

As I was working on it, I also noticed that the shift cable casings were the new "compressionless" type and were making that scratchy/grindy sound inside the ferrules so I replaced them with shift casing found on bikes from the early '80s - what is called brake casing today.

When I tried to adjust the front derailleur, it pretty much fell apart. One of the link arms had been broken for quite some time judging by the break area. As chance would have it, I had an exact match for the old Shimano Stag's Head derailleur so the bike was able to maintain it's air of vintage authenticity.

What a cool old bike. And, it's 25" frame fits me perfectly...and it wheelies really good. Hey, I have to test ride repairs!



Very cool double plate fork crown.





New derailleur in place.



Unique grooved seat tube top indicative of very early Ritchey's.



New old brake pads in place. Looks much better.



Not what a front derailleur is supposed to look like.



(What's playing: Desmond Dekker and the Aces Israelites)

Colder'n a witches...

Let's just not project that image. I'm from Southern California. For the past many years, I wore shorts year-round. Rarely wore a jacket. The toughest decision about riding my bike during the winter months was if I wanted to wear a long sleeve jersey or short sleeve with arm warmers.

Now, I'm 500 miles north, still about 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, but have realized that a different winter exists in this neck of the woods. The sun is low on the horizon and once it falls behind the Inverness Ridge, the temperature plummets along with the sun. I got home yesterday at about 5:45 and it was already down to 38 degrees. The coldest it got was 29.5. I had a beer outside in the backyard after work last night while I kicked the ball for the dog to chase and I swear the beer got colder as I was drinking. But what really gets downright cold is the shop!

With no real insulation, it's colder inside than outside during the day. It was probably stupid to do, but I brought a thermometer to the shop today to see just how cold it is inside. In the middle of the shop, it's a meager 51.1 degrees. At my desk, it warms up to a tropical 52.3. I've got a space heater near the work bench which helps boost the temp to a toasty 55 degrees! But, hey, at least there's no wind chill to contend with!

Needless to say, I've abandoned my shorts this winter and now employ the use of long-johns and long pants...and wool socks, insulated boots, wool base layer, wool sweater, beanie. I'm now excited when the Land's End catalog arrives and I get to check out all their lined insulated pants!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Sometimes bigger is not better...

Especially when it comes to trying to truing up a 29" wheel with tire in a Park TS-2. It just don't work. With the tire, the wheel is too big for the truing caliper arms to get even remotely close to the rim. Oh sure, I could buy the handy extension arms Park conveniently now makes (and I probably will, eventually). But for a quick "I just want to touch up this wheel without having to remove the tire," I set up this little jig that involved a magnet and a 3mm hex wrench. Worked pretty darn good.



(What's playing: Elvis Costello and the Attractions Waiting for the End of the World)

Time flies...

It's amazing how fast time goes by as you get older. I remember being a kid and thinking Christmas will never get here. I'm reminded that this feeling is still in existence today as my son is expressing the same sentiment. As you get older, you wonder, how the heck did it get to be Christmas already?

Well, it's almost here and I've been lax in posting updates to the shop. On Labor Day last month, my laptop sustained some physical damage and in my feeble attempts to get it started again, initiated it's reformatting - or something like that. What I should have done was immediately recognize I had no idea what I was doing and let an expert fix it. It would have been easy - a new keyboard and a new memory chip. Instead, there was a painful data recovery step. Luckily, the place I brought it to (Marin Computers in San Rafael) was top notch and went through hoops to salvage my data.

As luck would have it, I backed up my QuickBooks accounting file for the shop the evening prior to the collapse of my laptop otherwise, I would have been in a world of hurt. As it stands, though, I had almost 6 weeks of catching up to do. I still have about an hour or two worth of accounting to catch up, though.

This experience also reminded me that we now really live "away from it all." During my laptop's stay at Marin Computer, I was asked to bring in my power cord because it seems my laptop has a rare connection, any back up/recovery discs I may have made (I did make a recovery disc when the computer was new which was also fortuitous), and other software files.

If this had happened where we previously live, I would have simply hopped in the car and driven the requested items to the shop. However, now, this means at least a 45 minute drive each way. Instead of driving the requested items, I mailed them. It made the whole process take longer, but with time flying at my age, it seems like it was just yesterday.

During this time, I spent very little time facing a computer and I really liked that. But now it's back I'll catch up on posting some fun stuff that's come through the shop. And I think I'll get one of them external hard drives to have a better back up system.

(What's playing: The Blasters Testament)

Monday, December 3, 2007

650B Conversion...

I've got a 650B mountain bike (geared or single-speed) on the drawing board. After building a set of wheels with Kirk Pacenti's Neo-Moto tires and Velocity Blunt rims (laced with DT 14/15 spokes to an old rebuilt King hub), I had a thought "Hmmm, wonder if these will fit in that old ti frame with the Fox F100X fork?" Sure enough, they fit like they were made for it. The crimp in the chainstay is exactly in the right spot for a 650B tire and the fork has plenty of clearance. The bottom bracket was increased by a small amount - 3/4" to about 12 5/8", if you calculate the difference in radius between the 27.5" of the 650B tire and the previous 26" tire.

For now, it was an exercise to see if it would fit, but will be a regular rider as soon as I get a chance to hit the dirt. I was planning to ride tomorrow morning, but it's supposed to rain. Maybe Thursday... For now, here's some photos. I don't know if it's correct to look at a bike as a complete package, but I look at this and think, it looks very nicely balanced and has that "just right" look.







A little comparison of a 26" wheel bike, the 650B conversion, and a 29" wheel bike.





1/1/08: Edit, recently Fox came out with a disclaimer against using any tires larger than 26" in Fox Forx as they were not designed for larger tires. There are the usual nit-pickers saying that a large volume 26" tire is almost the same size as the 27.5" 650B tires. Yes, that is true, but the key word is "almost." Almost doesn't cut it here because even the biggest 26" tire is still smaller than the 2.35 650B Neo-Moto. And yes, the 650B Neo-Moto tire does just buzz the fork crown at full compression. Converter beware.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pedaling a bike doesn't have to be difficult...

I've been getting quite a few compact and triple conversions - four in the last couple weeks. Seems folks aren't as keen on turning pedals on old 52/42 cranksets or even 53/39. Out here in West Marin, we've got our fare share of hills that, except for the exceptionally fit, are nicely tamed with compact or triple road cranks.

The difficult thing about most of these recent conversions is that the bikes are all older 6 or 7-speed drivetrains and the only new parts that are available are for 10-speed. I'd love to find a nice cold-forged, square taper triple with 110/74 bolt circle with 52/38/30 chainrings. For now, I've got to find a Shimano Sora triple for a customer's bike, but it seems they are out of stock (and not scheduled to be available until January - ouch!).

Here's a really nice fillet-brazed Otis Guy that I converted to Shimano Ultegra SL triple cranks. This bike came in with a nice Campy 53/39 (that went onto his other bike replaceing a 52/42), Sachs 7-speed freewheel, and Dura-Ace 8 speed down tube shifters. On went a new Ultegra SL triple, Ultegra derailleurs for triple. Stayed on the bike were the Dura Ace 8-speed down tube shifters and Sachs 7-speed freewheel. Connecting the cranks to the freewheel is a new SRAM 8-speed chain.

I had some issues getting the 8-speed shifters to move the derailleur. It worked well between the first 5 cogs, but between the final 2, it required too much fiddling for me (but was something the owner worked around for the past many years). It had the original Dura Ace braided cable and spiral wound brake type casing. I swapped this out for a new SIS cable and compressionless casing and, bam!, worked like a champ. I have an old Sachs 8-speed freewheel and measured the cog spacing and found it was the same as the 7-speed spacing, so figured, the indexing of the 8-speed shifter should be compatible no the 7-speed freewheel. Bingo!

The bike turned out really nice. I really like taking older bikes like this and updating them with new parts. It's like giving the bike a new breath of life - and a nice bike like this deserves to keep on rolling.

Before

After





Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Klunkerz...

The Klunkerz DVD is out and in stock at the shop. I've already had to reorder - popular item. It's a great lesson in the birth of the mountain bike. Lots of super cool footage of the early days. Highly recommended for anyone into bikes - period. I was lucky enough to view the movie at its premiere and I also caught it at the San Francisco Film Festival, and it's just as good the 3rd or 4th...time around. I might have to organize a Klunkerz viewing at the shop sometime...

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm somebody now...

Like Navan R. Johnson says in The Jerk, "I'm somebody now!" I finally got around to getting business cards designed and printed. Janette did a great job on the design and Point Reyes Printing did a bang up job on the printing. And the Phil Wood card holder Gary B. gave me is perfect.


"Things are going to start happening to me now!" I gotta go find that movie to rent now. All I need is...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's official...

The Tour of California will again pass through Point Reyes Station right in front of the shop. C'mon over for a front row seat on February 18, 2008 to watch the race blow through town faster 'n one usually drives through.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This was a fun project...

My friend Amanda brought her Kronan Swedish Army bike in to put on consignment. She bought it in Europe and rode it around over there before bring it back home to West Marin. It was in the shop for a few weeks before someone bought it. The buyer also wanted to replace the single speed coaster brake with a 3-speed unit. Boy, it's hard finding 3-speed hubs from distributors these days. Every distributor I called was out of the Shimano 3-speed internal hub and only one had a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub. Maybe the lack of 3-speed hubs is a sign that a lot of bikes are being converted to commuter bikes??? Maybe. I hope so. Would be a good thing.

So, Sturmey it was. Because the rims are somewhat unique to the bike being black, steel, and compatible with rod brakes, I waited until I had the hub before taking the wheel apart to rebuild it with the 3-speed. Got the rim measurement, got the spokes, and was all set to rebuild it. Dang. The previous spokes were 12g which meant that the spoke holes in the rims were just a little too large for the 14g DT nipples I was using.

Project on hold again until I get nipple washers. When they arrived, I had to laugh at myself. Instead of nipple washers, I had ordered spoke head washers - DOH! Finally, got nipple washers in and they were just what the doctor ordered. The wheel built up perfectly. Got all the shifter components installed and it's just like it was meant to be on this bike. Turned out really sweet. Should be a great riding bike.

I'll get a picture of the complete bike tomorrow.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thank Merckx for places like Pacific Coast Cycles...

I wouldn’t be who/what I am today if it weren’t for Pacific Coast Cycles and Chuck Hoefer. Chuck hired me and paid me the princely sum of $7.50/hour at a time when I was making a very unhappy $40,000/year (and a company car). I knew that bikes were where my life was. I’d only been riding for a few years, but in that short time, I knew that I had found “it.”

I remember one customer who sent a letter to the owner complaining about (I forget the exact words, but this is the gist of it) “a surly, unkempt man who did not do a good job in helping her.” Chuck was probably just telling her like he saw it. A lot of people describe Chuck as grumpy, but most mistake “grumpy” for being brutally honest. He won’t lie to you. He won’t sugar coat the answer to a question that is designed to make you feel good. He’ll give you the straight scoop. And it will be the correct answer.

You don’t walk into a sushi restaurant and ask for a hamburger. And you don’t walk into Pacific Coast Cycles looking for a $10,000 gee-whizz one-year graphic encrusted carbon rig. Walking into his shop and seeing the 29ers on the floor and the plethora of sweet older road bikes for sale will (or should if you are observant) tell you immediately what kind of shop you are in.

While you won’t find the latest and (questionably) greatest at Pacific Coast Cycles, you will find someone who can build a great wheel that is appropriate for you and your riding style. You’ll find someone who can get you a replacement part for your Campy NR front derailleur. You’ll find someone who can retap your bunged up bottom bracket threads to Italian so you can get your bike back on the road. You’ll find someone who can braze a broken canti post back to your bike. You’ll find a genuine bike shop.

Additionally, he has cultivated some people who have went on to do great things in the bike industry. When I started there, I was filling a spot left vacant by Leo Castellon, a great bike mechanic and a very talented frame builder. Leo left Chuck’s shop to become the frame builder for David Tesch and later Leo hung his name on his own frames. I bought a custom, beautiful, fillet-brazed Tange Ultralight Prestige frame from Leo that I had painted Eddy Orange. Leo also went on to build frames for VooDoo, Merlin, Quintana Roo, and Mako. He also built some of the frames Joe Murray raced on in Joe’s Fisher days (probably a reason he was contacted to build VooDoo frames).

I worked with another great bike mechanic, Brian Lucas. Brian is of Korean heritage and does a horrible John Wayne accent. Brian would call me and in his mild accent try to imitate the Duke and say something witty. I would reply with a simple, “Hi, Brian.” “Aw, how’d you know it was me?” he’d ask. Um, lucky? Brian moved up to Specialized after his time with Chuck and was the guy who bonded all those sweet carbon lugged Specialized Stumpjumper Ultimate frames. The ones with the titanium lugs and carbon tubes. Brian spent quite a number of years at Specialized as a jack-of-all-trades before settling down in Hollister, CA and opening his own bike shop Off-The-Chain.

They guy who took my spot after I left Chuck’s shop is Rob Moorman. Like me, Rob was a customer of Pacific Coast Cycles first. I remember him as a marine stationed at Camp Pendleton coming into the shop to lust after the coolest parts and bikes from Marin’s best. Rob’s stint with the marines ended about the same time I left Pacific Coast Cycles to work at Haro and my position was his to fill. Rob was at the shop for quite a while with a bit of time spent at SE Racing before taking a position at Felt and then moving to Idaho to become a rep and is now the company rep for (as I learned recently when Rob called me) Raleigh.

There are still things I do to this day that originated from my days under Chuck’s tutelage. Things like cutting zip ties near the lock part so they can be reused. Saving rubber bands in a coffee can. Making my own signs and hang tags for bikes and other parts out of pieces of cardboard boxes. Making sure it’s a tough task to remove pedals after I installed them. Dialing in a bike with just the right length of cable casing so the bars can spin in a crash, yet don’t look like a can of silly string got loose. Tightening the brake levers just so, so in that crash, they rotate around the bar instead of breaking. When a bike left our shop, it looked “right.” That’s important to me – how the bike looks.

Thanks, Chuck.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Coffee bike...

Tom Ritchey dropped off one of his Project Rwanda Coffee Bikes recently. It's drawn quite a bit of attention at the shop - good thing I'm familiar with Project Rwanda and the reason why the bike was created. A lot of folks ask me questions about the bike. After explaining how the bike helps coffee growers transport coffee cherries from their farms to the washing quicker (2-4 hours instead of 6-12 hours), folks look again at the bike and think "what a cool idea."

Not only are the farmers able to transport their crop to the washing stations quicker, but, by token of a quicker journey, the cherries are fresher (better quality of coffee bean) and a higher price is paid for the cherries - double bonus!

Check out more about Project Rwanda at the link. Donate or buy some Wooden Bike Coffee.




Sunday, November 4, 2007

Redline Mono 9...

Part of the chore of opening a bike shop is deciding on lines to carry. This is doubly important as a small shop when some bike lines require you to carry the whole darn shootin' match. Luckily, I got hooked up with Seattle Bike Supply and their lines of Redline and Batavus. They make it super easy to buy only what I need and don't force the whole line on me. A very important aspect of vendor relationship for a small bike shop.

With the few Batavus bikes I also received some Redline Monocog 9 bikes. For $1050, this is one sweet bike! It was my life for more than a decade to create bikes by designing the frame and choosing the components. I think I was pretty good at it. Whoever did the Mono 9 also was pretty darn good at it as well. As I was building the Mono 9, I kept thinking that it felt like something I would have created. It's a super sweet bike. The steel frame is nicely made. The whole package is spot on, down to the sparkles in the dark charcoal paint. Nice selection of Ritchey Pro level components, Maxxis Ignitor tires, Avid disc brakes, SRAM X9 shifter and rear derailleur, and a nice mid-level WTB seat. Yep, just about spec'd out like I'd ride my own bike.











Friday, November 2, 2007

Limiting factor...

What happens when your low limit screw isn't adjusted properly? If it's not backed out enough, you can't get to your low gear. If it's backed out too much, you risk shifting the chain into the spokes. What if you have a broken spoke protector, an improperly set limit screw, and a will to get to the top of the hill at all costs.


This is what happens. A broken derailleur hanger. I've been in the bike industry long enough to know that it seems as if virtually every frame design has its own unique hanger. When this guy came into the shop and asked if I could fix his bike because his derailleur mount was broken, I told him that there was probably a 99% chance I couldn't after asking what kind of bike he was riding. But I told him to bring it it and I'd see what I could do. At the very least, I could turn it into a single speed.

He was riding to New Jersey from San Francisco via Seattle. Seemed a bit late in the season to be undertaking such a trip. But, heck, it wasn't me. He brought his bike in and I could see that the whole derailleur had spun and also broken the derailleur bolt pivot stops as well. His Specialized Transition also didn't seem to be the ideal touring bike, but again, it wasn't me.

So I set about checking some of the various hangers I've collected over the years and found one that might work with a little bit of (okay, a lot) filing. I got it to fit both the hanger bolt and the wheel axle. So what if it hung off the back side a bit.

Had to grab hold of the B-tension plate and spin it so it was properly tensioned and tighten the pivot bolt at the same time. I got lucky and got the threads started on only the second attempt. Got the derailleur installed, wheel back in place, adjusted the limit screw (requiring almost 3 full turns!), and removed the two halves of the spoke protector.

And as evidence that looks can be deceiving (becuase his bike was just one huge grimey, filthy mess with STI shifters that looked like they had been crashed multiple times, massive gaps in the bar tape, no bar end plugs...), I ran it through the gears and with a little lube on the chain, it worked perfectly. I told him he should get a proper hanger the next time he's in a town that has a Specialized dealer. He's got a way to go since he wants to stay on Highway 1 with no deviations for something so trivial as making sure his bike is up to the task of transporting his butt cross country.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coming soon...

Sometimes, one can get a little too comfortable with the status quo. In doing so, certain necessary things are neglected. One item that I've been neglect in arranging is my website. But that's about to change. I registered the domain name long ago and only a few days ago signed up to have my website hosted.

So, www.blackmtncycles.com is now officially under construction and I've got a bunch of copy to prepare. Luckily, there are a lot of really nice sites out there to draw inspiration from. The one style of site, I really don't care much for are the fancy flash sites. The Black Mountain Cycles site will be simple, easy to navigate, and informative.

Now if I can just get my above door sign painted...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

First ride...

I love building myself a new bike. I love it even more when the bike I'm building will soon be a bike that I can sell with my own name on it. This was the case recently when I built my new "cross" bike. It's not exactly a cyclocross bike because it has two sets of water bottle bosses, clearance for 45c tires, and it's not light like a 'cross bike. I kind of like to think of it as my do-all bike. It's perfect for the area where I do a bit of road riding to get to the trails. The 45c knobbies are a bit buzzy on the road, but boy are they comfortable. However, they absolutely shine on smoothish rolling dirt!

Like I mentioned, this is a frame/bike that I'll be selling as a Black Mountain Cycles brand. I'm working with a factory in Taiwan to develop the frame (along with some other frames). First rides are always fun and this was no exception. However, there was one minor glitch.

My plan was to ride Highway 1 about 10 miles south, jump on the Randall Trail up to Bolinas Ridge, and then ride Bolinas back to Sir Francis Drake and then back home on the road. All was going along splendidly until I paused at the bottom of Randall to raise my slowly sinking seat. Should have followed my first instinct and use some carbon paste.

So I loosen the clamp, raise the seat, tighten clamp. Maybe I should give the clamp that little extra twist to make sure the post doesn't sink while I'm on the dirt. POW! That's the unmistakable feeling of aluminum threads being completely stripped out of the clamp. Well, that didn't work out so well.



Looking up the trail at what's in store.



I'm now left about 10 miles by road or 12 miles by dirt to get back home. Figuring it's much easier (hah!) to climb/descend out of the saddle on the dirt, I continue on with the seat flipping around like a weather vane.

This seems to be a good spot to rest the back.





After about an hour of this, I'm over the heroic effort of carrying on sans seat on my ride and I really want to sit and pedal. Where Bolinas Ridge Trail empties out of the trees into cattle grazing pastures, I see a piece of hay after stopping to get through a gate. As I see the hay, my mind thinks , "Hmmm, hay, tubular, fibrous, pretty tough stuff. What would happen if I took a piece and as I slide my seat post into the frame also fit the piece of hay in as well, kind of like a wedge."

Well, after pounding on the seat to get it down to my seat height marked by a piece of electrical tape, I can finally rest my weight on the seat and pedal. The seat still spins, but doesn't sink. A fine, fair trade-off, me thinks. And it gets me home without any more stress on my back from standing.

Shim firmly wedged in place.



Looking towards home.



Back in the shop, I go to remove the post and put on a proper seat clamp and it takes me 15 minutes to get the hay out. I designed the frame with an oversized 31.8 seat tube (I like the feel at the bb with the oversized seat tube and with the oversized top and down tubes, it fits right in) and a custom aluminum shim so I can run a standard sized 27.2 seat post. The hay has made the shim one with the seat post and when I try to pull out the seat post, the shim comes out too. Bummer. Fifteen minutes of hammering, pulling, and yanking (trust me, I'm a bike mechanic) and everything is separated and back together in the frame with a layer of FSA carbon paste. No more slipping.



But most important, I dig this bike. I do believe I've nailed it! And I really dig the British Racing Green color. I've never had a green bike. Can't believe I've waiting this long.

Monster cross with a little photoshoped decal work.