Monday, December 29, 2008

What's in the stand...

This one was many months in process. The owner wanted the old Manitou suspension fork replaced with a Steve Potts built Type II with roller-cam brakes to match how the bike was originally built up by Point Reyes Bikes many years ago. The frame is a first generation Klein Pinnacle that was originally delivered in the raw, unpainted finish. Not many folks knew that you could buy a Klein sans paint and to me, a polished Klein is still one of the better looking bikes ever available.

Type II on order, new seat on order, new pedals, on order, found an old Suntour XC roller-cam on ebay and it finally came together last week. In addition to the fork, Steve made a custom stem to replace the aluminum Kalloy that was on the bike. Because the rear brake is under the chainstay, I moved the WTB roller-cam to the fork where it is more visible and installed the Suntour brake on the chainstays. I cleaned and greased the brass rollers of the Suntour brake and got the spring tension "just so." It felt really good - and I mean, really good even in comparison to the WTB roller-cam in front. Even Steve asked me how I got it to feel so good. I have my secrets...

Here's a before shot.
From Repair Bikes

Only the top tube is polished in this shot.
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Watching a frame like this shine after polishing is really a pretty neat transformation.
From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

All done.
From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

I like the old WTB ti bars with the extra-long shims that distribute the stem clamp forces over a nice wide area.
From Repair Bikes

Very nice old Mavic crank.
From Repair Bikes

New Paradigm Grease Guard hub (I did clean up the grime on the hub).
From Repair Bikes

There's that great feeling Suntour brake with WTB Gripmaster brake pads.
From Repair Bikes

That is shiny!
From Repair Bikes

(What's playing: Richard Thompson Why Must I Plead)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

35 x 1...

This older mid-70's road bike comes in recently. It's got a Campy NR crankset with 52/47 gears (from a time when men were men and rode man-sized gears). Pretty nice old road bike - a Swiss Super Mondia. The first time it was in the shop, I steel-wooled the rust off the chrome stays and fork, got some fatter tires on it - basically made it road worthy after spending many years in a wood shed.

A few rides on it and the owner was back in the shop. "How can I get easier gears to pedal because I like to ride on the dirt paths and some of the hills are just too darn steep for me?" There aren't many options when dealing with old Nuovo Record parts. The smallest chainring possible is a 42t and with a NR derailleur, the largest freewheel cog is usually a 26. My suggestion was to replace the crank with a Sugino compact 50/34.

When he dropped the bike off, I'm thinking worst case, the bottom bracket threads will be Italian and I do have Italian bb's in stock - no problem. I pull off the left crank arm and see this:
From Repair Bikes

Oh, poo - French threads. Close. Swiss threads! Swiss threads are the same as French (35x1), but the right cup is left threaded as opposed to the French right hand threading. At this point, my options are to tap the bottom bracket to Italian threads, which is permanent, or sell a Phil Wood bottom bracket, which is a great bottom bracket but puts the project at about $100 over budget.

Hmmm, think, there's got to be a solution. Aha! Mavic used to make a bottom bracket that used two lock-rings to secure the bb in place. I've got a Mavic bb in my bin-o-parts, but it's spendy and the wrong length. As luck would have it, there is a distributor in Oregon who sells a similar bottom bracket and it fits the budget and it is available in the correct length. Bingo!
I get the bb, chamfer the frame bb shell with my trusty Mavic tool,
From Repair Bikes

...get everything buttoned up and it turns out really nice.

Next time I get a bike with Swiss bottom bracket threads that needs a new crank, my time invested will be like any other new crank install.

(What's playing: Beat Farmers Big Rock Candy Mountain - Country Dick Montana rules!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rawland ride report II...

If the first ride on the Rawland dSogn did not disappoint and the second ride put a stamp of authority on how well this bike rides. A small group of us headed out in the pre-dawn cold for a dirt ride. It had rained overnight so a set of SKS mud guards were in order. The one rider who didn't have something similar ended up with a face and backside full of mud splatter.

The first part of the ride consisted of some steady, steep at times, climbing. Not having near the fitness I used to have when I actually rode a bike nearly every day, I plugged away in the granny gear. I had consolation in my butt-dragging though as among the four other riders, one commuted 40+ miles every day on his fixed gear bike from West Marin to Larkspur (or sometimes all the way to the city), one was the overall women's A winner of the Bay Area Super Prestige cross series, another finished 4th in men's A in the same series, and the fourth was just fast.

As difficult as the climbing was, the bike did everything well. Even with all these fast/hard folks, there was one short climb up a slick root/rock encrusted section of the Olema Valley Trail that I cleaned where at least two of the other riders had to dismount. Felt good about that one. I've always prided myself in my ability to clean steep technical climbs.

But again, where the bike really stood out was on the descent. I can't say enough about how well this bike handles a fast descent - wide open or semi-technical. There were some slippery corners where going into them at speed put the bike in a super-fun two-wheel drift. Two-wheel drifting on a bike is a pretty cool experience when it's somewhat in control. It's similar to getting the back-end of a rear wheel drive to start coming around (not that I've ever had fun doing this in my old 64 V8 equipped Nova...). The bike always seemed to find traction just when it seemed like it was drifting a bit too far.

After 3 1/2 hours, and a nice stop for a shot of scotch whisky, I had to cut my ride short and head back to town to open the shop. Even with some fat 2.2 tires at about 28psi, the bike rode great on the road. I fear that if I had continued, facing a 1,000 ft climb, my legs would have totally blown. As it was, I was totally fried the rest of the day. But it was a good hurt.

I find the Sogn to be one of those new bikes that calls you out to ride even when your mind is waffling. It's a good motivator and looks pretty good made up with a bit of a cleansing mud bath.

(What's playing: KWMR's All Day Music program - well at least until 10:00 a.m. - and Grand Master Flash's The Message)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rawland ride report...

Boy howdy, it was cold this morning. Not as cold as yesterday (the thermometer outside said 27.5 yesterday). But compared to yesterday, that extra 5 degrees made all the difference. It had warmed to 39 when the dog, the Rawland (shod with the 650b Wolverine tires), and I packed into the car and headed over to Inverness for our ride up to Mt. Vision.

While there doesn't seem a lot that can be gleaned from a ride that goes straight up and then straight down, you can actually learn a lot from a ride like this. First, the bike immediately felt like my dog when he gets to run - all frisky and rarin' ta go. The Rawland felt snappy and was a'wantin ta climb. Being tall, I find a lot of bikes (especially 26" wheeled bikes) tend to have a vague, wandering feeling in the front end where it makes it challenging to stay on the straight and narrow during a steep climb. The Rawland exhibited none of this. It was a pleasure to climb and with the drop bars, the multiple hand positions made this a great climbing bike.

Up at the top of the fire road, we turned tail and headed back to the bottom. This is where this bike shone. The larger diameter wheels floated over the decomposed granite trail surface. I was actually quite surprised at just how fast the bike wanted to go. Have I mentioned how much I like drop bars on mountain bikes? If not, I love these bars on this bike. Perfect position, comfortable. The bike just feels "right." Natural is how a friend described it when he rode it for a bit.

I don't know how much it weighs (the frame weighed 5 pounds even), but it's a great riding bike. I think this is my new favorite bike and with only this one ride, I know it will rank as one of my all-time favorite riding bikes. With its versatility, it's sure is hard to beat for someone who can have only one do-all bike. I've got a 3 hour ride scheduled for early tomorrow (if the rain holds off). I'll report on that ride too.

One more bit on the build of this bike. I've seen a few photos of built up Rawlands and their theme seems to always be a build of classic nature: silver parts, square taper cranks, almost Rivendell-esque if you will. This is how I initially was going to build this one up too, starting with a set of old Ritchey Logic cranks. Then I saw the M95X series derailleurs and cranks I have stashed and thought, hmmm, maybe silver isn't the way to go. In the end, I did go for a black theme. I like it and think it makes the bike look "tough."

And because I like pictures, here's some from yesterday morning.

(What's playing: The Carpenters Close To You)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's brewing at Black Mountain Cycles...

Why, Black Mountain Cycles coffee, of course! Kinetic Koffee up in Arcata, CA roasts the coffee for me and applies the label. Pretty darn cool! All their coffee is certified organic and fair trade. I've got it in a "Smooth Medium Roast" (left) and "Rich Dark Roast" (right). Yours for $12.50/12 oz.
From Black Mountain Cycles

(What's in the cup: Rich Dark Roast, of course!)

New in the shop: Rawland...

A while back I mentioned that Rawland was one of my favs from this past Interbike. Well, I put my money where my mouth is and brought in three dSogn frames (sizes M, ML, and L). I like drop bars. I like drop bars on mountain bikes. I like the fact that the Rawland frame was designed with drop bars in mind. Some may say the extended head tube looks goofy, but it just conjurs up images of Miguel Indurain riding his Pegoretti (er, Pinarello, I meant to write). Big Mig wasn't afraid of riding a bike that didn't look just like everyone else's.

I also like the fact that the Rawland is so versatile. Is it a mountain bike? Yes. Is it a cross bike? Yes. Wait, how can it be both? Easy with 650b mountain bike wheels and with 700c cross wheels and disc brakes. Swapping wheels shod with 650b x 2.2 tires or 700c x 45 tires is as easy as changing a wheel. The outer diameter of these two wheels is virtually the same. Heck, running the fat wheel in front and the skinnier in back is also a very real possibility if one was so inclined to do. I'm inclined. Might not be inclined to run skinny front/fat rear, but who knows.

I built up the large with parts that I had laying around, XTR cranks and derailleur, Dura Ace triple front derailleur (road derailleur is necessary when using STI shifters as they match the cable pull), Ultegra 9-speed STI shifters, Avid BB7 road calipers, Salsa Bell Lap 46cm bars, and an old WTB SST saddle to top it off. Hubs and rims are: King/Blunt 650b, XTR/WTB SpeedDisc 700c. I had been running Pacenti Neo-Moto 650b tires (which I like a lot) on a previous bike but put on a set of WTB prototype Wolverine 650b x 2.2 tires initially. Tires on the 700c wheels are Panaracer's Fire Cross 45's.

Visuals or those who still like picture books.

Fat tires
From Bikes for sale

Fat and skinny tires
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Skinny tires
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Skinny tire clearance
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Fat tire clearance - and there's also a lot of room down at the chainstays.
From Bikes for sale

Nice touch with the Ritchey dropouts.
From Bikes for sale

Kirk Pacenti designed fork crown.
From Bikes for sale

From Bikes for sale

In case you've never seen a Wolverine up close...
From Bikes for sale

From Bikes for sale

Unlike mountain bike brake levers, road levers don't have a barrel adjuster to compensate for cable stretch. Instead of installing an in-line adjuster like I did for the derailleurs, I used a small aluminum threaded barrel adjuster that you might find in a headset cable hanger. It fit perfectly in the cable stop in the Avid road caliper. Should have taken a better shot - and maybe I will as soon as my camera battery finishes charging.
From Bikes for sale
Well, that didn't take too long.
From Bikes for sale

Mmmm, beer.
From Bikes for sale

Double wrapped bar tape.
From Bikes for sale

Frame design was also in conjunction with Kirk Pacenti.
From Bikes for sale

Now I just got to get out and ride, which I plan to do both tomorrow morning and Friday morning. Although it's been downright frosty (it was 27 this morning at the house).

Boy, there are some bikes that just look "right." This is one of them.

(What's playing: Ella Fitzgerald Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When it rains, it pours...

Boy howdy, when it rains, it pours Cunninghams. I've had #008 here for a while and just went over to Offhand Manor yesterday to pick up 'W' from Charlie. It was great visiting with both Jacquie and Charlie.

If anyone from the Bay Area want to check these bikes out in person, do it soon as they will soon be on their way to their actual owners. I'm compiling all the photos and will post them separately soon. Maybe put up a fancy slide show or something!

The "newest" one is in the background.
From Cunningham
Heck that was too easy. Here's a slideshow of three different 'hams. Enjoy!

(What's playing: KWMR Faultline Radio show - this is a really great radio program with a great mix of music. In the past 1/2 hour or so, I've heard The Who, Richard Thompson, The Jam, Blue Oyster Cult, Squeeze, Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, Hank Williams Sr. ...great mix of music. Folks out of the area can listen on-line by clicking on the cow in the link above.)

Monday, December 15, 2008


The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy writes:

"Within days of the president-elect taking office, Congress will likely pass a new large-scale economic recovery package, aiming to create millions of jobs.

A significant percentage of this package may be allocated specifically to transportation infrastructure. This presents both a threat and an opportunity.

The threat: Unless we speak up, these transportation funds will go overwhelmingly to road projects—the same unbalanced strategy that has created our existing transportation problems.

The opportunity: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, in partnership with Thunderhead Alliance and America Bikes, has collected a list of hundreds of ready-to-go active transportation projects from communities across the country. These projects would create new jobs and revitalize communities by funding trails, bike lanes, sidewalks and other infrastructure.

This would meet the ultimate goal of the recovery package: creating immediate jobs. Additionally, such an investment strategy would provide both immediate economic benefits and lasting positive change.

The long-term benefits are many: promoting local businesses along active transportation corridors; reducing health care costs; and curbing climate change emissions and oil dependency. These projects would also establish the principle that active transportation infrastructure is a wise, efficient and desirable public investment.

Please sign the petition now. Thank you."

Go here to sign the petition: Economic Recovery Petition.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's in the stand...

Boy, I sure do try to put up some bikes to show Guitar Ted that it's not like this every day, but somehow, it just is like this every day. Well, maybe not every day.

So, what is in the stand? Steve Potts dropped off this ti Phoenix frame that I will be reassembling. It was sent to Steve to have the roller-cam brake bosses welded back on. For some strange reason, I've seen several Phoenix frames that have had their roller-cam bosses hacked off and replaced with canti brake bosses. And I do mean hacked. In this case they were simply hackedsawed off and the stubs left in place. Steve removed all trace of the canti brakes and then welded new roller-cam pivots on top of the hacked stubs. Pretty clean job and imperceptible to the all but the most scrutinous view.

From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

Steve also dropped off a new Type II fork for the Phoenix as well as a new Type II for an upcoming "What's in the stand" post. I also had him make a custom stem to go with the new Type II as well. Those two parts will look very smart on their new home.
From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

And as if the ti Phoenix wasn't enough, yep, that's a Cunningham in the stand too - #008 to be exact. It is here passing through to it's new home in Zurich at Cycle Shark. I installed a set of original Ground Control S tires (the original spec on this bike when it was new in 1986) and a set of very clean Magura brake levers.
From Repair Bikes

Found this buggered roller after trying to figure out why the front brake felt like poo. Fixed it and the brake feel awesome. Now if the 22 year old brake pads weren't dried out, the bike would stop like it is supposed to - on a dime.
From Repair Bikes

(What's playing: Uncle Tupelo Factory Belt)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Guiness will be flowing...

I remember reading about this race in VeloNews and getting chills imagining Sean Kelly screaming down the descent off the Poggio to catch Argentin and finally win the race. Now you can relive it in amazing YouTube vision. Thanks again to Belgium Knee Warmers for putting this up. I don't have time to search through these race videos so it's nice when someone does the finding for me.

(What's playing: 1992 Milan-San Remo, again)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Serviceable shifters...

In yesterday's post about the White Industries shifter/derailleur, I tried to link it up to a post I thought I made about an Otis Guy tandem that was in a while back to get the derailleurs working. I must not have posted that as I couldn't find it. It may be here somewhere, but I can't find it. So, I'll just put it up (again).

This Otis Guy tandem with JP Morgen suspension stem, White Industries shifters, rear derailleur, modified XTR front derailleur, and Allsop Softride beam came in for some work. If I recall, it needed shifter/derailleur tuning.

Shifter cover removed.
Shifter disassembled. The indexing comes from a series of holes in a plate set into the shifter barrel. In the fixed part of the shifter, there is a ball bearing that indexes into the holes. Behind the ball bearing is a small spring (don't drop it) and a small grub screw that, when removed, allow the ball bearing and spring to be installed. The grub screw can also be tightened to increase (or loosened to decrease) the indexing "clicks."
The front derailleur is modfied by removing the spring and cable clamping apparatus. When removed, there is no spring tension so it will just flop around. The single push/pull cable wraps around the pulley push the derailleur out or pull it back.
Here you can see one part of the cable as it exits (or enters) the cable casing. Imagine trying to thread a cable through those tiny holes if the end is damage. Keep that cable perfect. I tried to solder the end of the cable in this case to keep the end from fraying, but too many years of it in a lube/grease encrusted environment made it impossible.

That's all the pictures I had but needless to say, it's not a fun job, but it is pleasing. In light of some recent posts regarding the serviceability of parts on The Bike Lab and Gnat Likes Bikes, it is nice to see the White Industries derailleur/shifter system that is definitely serviceable.

(What's playing: Etta James Gotta Serve Somebody)