Saturday, May 31, 2008

Click, click, click...following links...

So, sitting here waiting for live updates from the Giro on (a quite exciting stage yesterday and everything is on the wire coming into today mountain stage followed by tomorrow's final stage - a time trial in Milan), I visited JimG's sfcyclotouring blog to see what he's got going on. He's got a post about a 26" wheel Kogswell P/R. Hmmm. Wonder what that's all about as I thought Kogswells were either 650B or 700C wheeled frames.

From JimG's Kogswell, page I click on the Hiawatha Cyclery link where the photo of the 26" wheel P/R came from and end up at their flickr page. Hmmm, again. Some interesting sounding photo albums. English bikes. (DiLuca gets dropped, Ricco is with Contador, Contador has a team mate ahead in a break...) Some neat utility bikes. A cool old bike they rescued and built for his mom. And some 650B conversions. And there it is, a really cool early Stumpjumper conversion to fixed gear, 650B, "camping bike" with front basket, rear rack, and Nitto Albatross (North Road?) bars.

I go back to the main photo page and see Stumpjumpers and other classic MTBs - gotta click on that one! And that's when I see that oh so familiar decal at the bottom of the seat tube. A Pacific Coast Cycles decal! Preserved just like it was applied yesterday. I've applied a lot of those decals back in the day. I still think it's one of the best looking shop decals - black on silver mylar with that oh-so-familiar Campy NR ring. Someone posted a comment about a "Sam" who used to work there. I don't remember anyone named Sam, but 1983 was quite a few years before I started working there. (Selle is off the front, Ricco is still with Contador and is trying to get Contador to chase Selle - ha, fat chance!, DiLuca has blown and is over a minute behind Contador)

So, with just a few clicks, I've come across this little gem that takes me back and makes me all warm and fuzzy. (Selle wins his third stage and Ricco was 4th with Contador 5th both sharing the same time, but are there time bonuses for 4th place? - Nope. It all comes down to tomorrow's time trial. DiLuca has lost his third place position on GC. Ricco will have to uncork the ride of his life if he wants to win. Boy, will that give him some verbal fodder. Selle just rode himself into 5th overall, just 35 seconds from a podium finish - if he can time trial - me thinks not.)

(What's playing: The Replacements Kiss Me on the Bus from MPR's The Current)

Monday, May 26, 2008

New in the shop...

A while back a rider stopped by the shop and we chatted up bikes and stuff. Turns out she's also a photographer and created a really cool collection of greeting cards with her photos. Some of the photos are of bikes shot on location in Italy. Some are of the Mt. Tam area (Mt. Tam in the background of the poppies shot). And some are nicely produced creative shots.

Sherreme dropped off 25 cards at the shop where you, yes you, can purchase them for only $4.50 each. That is an incredible bargain for such nice work compared to the sappy junk you get at the local drug store for the same price. Check out her website too (I need to create a link to your site on my site - I'll get it done, trust me Sherreme!).

(What's Bob Dylan Tangled up in Blue - Great song!)

What's in the stand...

A very nice old Rock Lobster with some nice touches came in for a rejuvenation treatment and a new set of On-One Mary bars. Turned out pretty sweet.

How can the B-52's song not be roaring through your head when you see a Rock Lobster? Bontrager fork too!

Hand signed by Paul Sadoff.

Another hand painted something which I'm not sure what it signifies.

And another hand painted touch just in case you missed the Rock Lobster emblazoned on the down tube.

Unfiled fillet brazed frame - very nice.

I like this cable routing better than the standard down the left side of the roller and up to the derailleur. The cable angle up to the derailleur is more natural and pulls the derailleur in the direction that the arm actuates.

Hand made brakes. The owner wasn't sure who made these, but thinks someone in the Santa Cruz area made them. They set up and work pretty good. Waaaay better than all that other CNC junk from SoCal.

The Mary bars work pretty well with the 6-speed XT thumb shifters.

(What's playing: Muddy Waters I'm Ready)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Slightly lower bottom bracket height...

Anonymous recently asked "What would you define as "slightly lower" BB height for mountain and road bikes?" I started to answer in the comments section, but think it deserves its own post because it became quite lengthy.

Considering this is a road frame I'm mentioning, I'll stick with that, but the same would apply to a mountain bike frame. Short answer: "slightly lower" equates to a few millimeters. "A lot lower" is more than a few millimeters.

Seriously, it's all relative. Bottom bracket height is really a term that doesn't mean much because tire size/diameter is more of a determining factor in "bottom bracket height." For example, say you've got a mountain bike that has a bottom bracket height of 12" with 2.1 sized knobby tires and you want to run 1.5" road tires. As you're riding, you notice that the bike feels awfully low and you are scraping pedals going around corners. Well, by going from that 2.1" tire to a 1.5" tire, you've successfully lowered your bottom bracket height by about 10-12mm (based on my database of tire size diameters/radii). So bottom bracket "height" is really only constant if you use one size of tire. But, if you design a frame that is capable of running various sizes of tires, how do you call out bottom bracket height? One height for each tire size? Or do you use the more appropriate term of bottom bracket "drop?"

Bottom bracket drop allows you to clearly define where the bottom bracket is in relation to the center-line axis of the wheels. How far below (or above in the case of some mountain bikes) the wheel axis helps determine how stable a bike may ride. Road bikes usually have a BB drop of between 65-75mm. Most road bikes designed for racing and 23c tires fall between 70-68mm. Increasing BB drop just a few millimeters can substantially increase the stability of a bike by positioning the rider lower within the confines of the wheel's center axis. Bikes like Rivendell's Atlantis are known as very stable bikes with BB drops in the 77mm range.

But, that 77mm BB drop on an Atlantis doesn't mean that the pedals are now 7mm closer to the ground compared to a bike with a BB drop of 70mm. Because riders of an Atlantis will use tires in the 32-35c range, compared to a 23c on a road racing bike with 68mm drop, the relative bottom bracket height could actually be higher on an Atlantis than a road bike. But, the bottom bracket position relative to the wheels' centerline axis will still be lower creating that feeling of stability. I believe this is one of the main reasons why 29" wheel mountain bikes has won over so many fans. Twenty-nine inch wheel mountain bikes have a BB drop that is quite a bit more than 26" wheels putting the rider within the wheels much more so than 26" wheels where the rider sits on top of the wheels. Just a discussion on 29" wheel mountain bike geometry could take volumes and make the head spin.

So, instead of saying "Slightly lower BB height - check," I should have said "Slightly more bottom bracket drop - check." And by slightly more bottom bracket drop, I mean a few millimeters ;-) .

(What's playing: KWMR Morning Glory show and a very nice rendition of Amazing Grace by Hayley Westenra from New Zealand)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Required reading...

First, Dave Moulton's blog is one of my favorite reads. Second, this post, AJ, the cyclist and a large brown dog has got to be the best cycling related blog post of the year. Should be required reading for drivers and cyclists around the country. Spot on, Mr. Moulton. Thanks.

(What's playing: KWMR's morning music mix of blues, folk, rock...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's good to have confirmation...

Especially from someone like Andy Hamptsten, although in a very indirect manner. It was in 1988 on the Gavia pass in Italy, during the Giro d' Italia where Andy Hampsten showed all who was boss on the cold, snowy slopes by taking second on the stage and donning the maglia rosa to become the eventual winner of the Giro. There is a very good article on Andy and that day in the snow in a recent VeloNews issue that is well worth the read - and if you are in Point Reyes, you can hang out on a couch and read it.

But, today on, there is a profile of the bike that he currently rides. The description almost sounds like a check list for the frame I designed that will become the Black Mountain Cycles road frame.

Slightly lower bottom bracket height - check.
Clearance for up to 33c tires - check.
Clearance for 28c + mud guards - check.
Standard reach brakes - check. Standard reach, not long reach because all the brakes found today on roadie bikes are actually considered short reach brakes.
Clearance for up to 33c tires also encompasses longer chainstays which means more stability - especially when accompanied with the lower bb height.

I don't know why so many riders stick religiously to 23c tires and 120+ psi. The ride is horrible compared to something in the 25c-28c range at 90-95 psi. But it's difficult to argue (even when there are many supporting facts about the benefits of fatter tires) about "what's faster" when my parameter for a bike is usually centered around "what's more fun."

So, yeah, made me feel pretty good about my choice for frame geometry after reading the bit on Andy's personal preference in bikes.

An update
The high school NorCal mountain bike race league concluded it's season on Sunday. And in a dominating fashion, Daniel Boyes won his race by beating the overall series winner. Way to peak for the season. You can see by his lap times that he must have really wanted the win on the day because he uncorked a super-fast final lap to win the race. Daniel finished 2nd overall for the season moving up from his 3rd overall after the penultimate race.

(What's playing: My "Blue" playlist - any song that has blue in the title. Pretty fun group of music.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

What's in the stand...

This sweet old Klein came in to get brought back to its original form. It came in with a suspension fork which probably adversely affected the handling considering the frame was made years before the first suspension fork hit the market. Luckily its owner retained the original Steve Potts made Type II fork. The fork just needed a fresh coat of Sycip applied black powder coat and it was like new.

When the bike came in it was a little worse for the wear but only in a cosmetic sense. Raw Klein Pinnacle Elites are really beautiful when polished and this one cleaned up super nice. The Elite version of the Klein Pinnacle is differentiated by the filed welds around the dropout and a higher level of frame finishing. Paint does a disservice to these frames and a little Simichrome and elbow grease and this baby was all shiny!



No name King headset, rollercams, Type II - doesn't get better.

Still retains the sticker from where it was purchased - nice touch! And notice the mirror like finish of the polished frame. Can also be used as a signal mirror if lost in the wilderness.

Custom bent WTB ti bar.

Hugi hub - boy does this thing make a racket!

Chainstays transition from round to square.

(What's playing: KWMR)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bike To Work Day...

This probably should have been posted earlier this week, but... Every day is bike to work day for me, but today is the official Bike to Work Day for the Bay Area. The shop is an official MCBC Energizer Station, but didn't apparently commit before their website went up. However, West Marin has kind of created our own Bike to Point Reyes on Saturday May 17. Bicycle commuters can go to's website and register as a cycle commuter to win fabulous prizes - really! They will be raffling off a New Belgium cruiser.

On Saturday May 17, West Marin concludes its Bike to Work Week with a bike ride to Point Reyes Station ending here at the shop at 10:00 a.m. where a raffle will be held for folks who have registered their bike trips. Registering is easy. Every day you ride your bike to work or to school, e-mail your trip to and that is your registration. Easy! For more info on the West Marin Bike to Work Week and the ride to Point Reyes, go to the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin's site.

(Follow up: Had 15 folks come through riding their bikes to work or school. Three groups were families riding from Inverness - mom, dad, kids all riding together. Very cool!)

(What's playing: Johnny Cash Bird on a Wire)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Got a nice e-mail from Sean Walling, head honcho over to Soulcraft yesterday thanking me for building Daniel Boyes' bike up in time for his crushing of the Junior Expert class at Sea Otter a few weeks ago. Sean even made a post on his blog about it as well. Thanks, Sean. It was my pleasure to build it up for Daniel - and I agree on your comment regarding preparing race bikes.

I was also enlisted to write an article about Daniel for the local West Marin Citizen. It should be out in tomorrow's issue. Here's a preview of the raw article prior to professional editing. Whenever I write something, I'm never sure the format with which to refer to a person. I see the surname used most frequently, but that always seems so impersonal. I prefer to use a form of the person's name that is how folks would refer to that person. So...

West Marin is well known for its artists and writers. We hear about their accolades frequently – poet laureate, Pulitzer, New York Times best seller’s list. However, West Marin isn’t known as a breeding ground for athletes. Quietly living out his teen years between his home in Inverness and Marin Academy, where he attends high school, is Daniel Boyes. Daniel is one of those kids who doesn’t stand out in a crowd so you might not even be aware of him. He’s polite, quiet, got no piercings or tattoos. He just looks like a, well, a teenager. That is if he stops long enough to catch a glimpse of him.

Between his scholastic duties at Marin Academy (where he maintains a 3.5 G.P.A.) and living in Inverness, Daniel excels at racing his mountain bike in the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League. Every year the NorCal race league has been in existence, the competition level has risen. In the 2008 season, there are 40 teams and 450 racers. The Marin schools account for 10 of the teams. With just one race left this season, Daniel’s overall performance matches the 3rd overall of his 2007 season.

To prepare for his racing season, Daniel and the Marin Academy team is coached by Inverness resident, Abbie Durkee, a former professional mountain bike racer. Coach Durkee develops a training regimen for the team members that includes not only on the bike time, but nutritional aspects and other components that enable the team members to become better riders and racers both mentally and physically.

Daniel’s training schedule involves 1 ½ to 2 hours on the bike 5 or 6 days each week. He uses his training time as a release and break from his school work and to reconnect with nature. “Training is definitely on the fun side but the intervals can be a bit burdensome. But riding is fun no matter what. It’s never a chore. We’re out there because it’s fun,” Daniel says. And a welcome break from school it must be after a full day of school and with 3 hours of homework waiting for him.

Daniel’s 2008 season has shown steady improvements with his finish position improving at each race. The highlight of the season was the recent cross-country race at Monterey’s Sea Otter Classic. Daniel showed up to the start line of the Junior Expert race with his game face aboard his new, Petaluma made, Soulcraft bike along side some of his NorCal league competitors and the current U.S. and Canadian Junior National Champions. As the 36 mile race started, four of his NorCal league competitors and the two junior national champions quickly put themselves well in front of the other racers. The two champions knew little of the local NorCal boys and were a little over confident. As the race wound through the hills of the Laguna Seca race track, the NorCal boys made their presence known and one point Daniel tested the waters and gapped the other racers leaving them 20 seconds in arrears. As his gap held, he poured on the gas a little more and the others were soon racing for second place. At the finish, Daniel had a two minute advantage and according to Coach Durkee, was barely out of breath.

There is one more race left in the NorCal High School League taking place on May 18, north of Calistoga at Boggs Mountain. Daniel is sitting 63 points behind the first place overall rider. With 600 points on the line for first place, Daniel’s chances to finish first overall are pretty good. Regardless of what happens, Daniel doesn’t plan for that to be the last race of his career. At Lewis and Clark College, in Portland, Oregon, where he will attend college this fall, he plans to continue racing mountain bikes and is considering taking up cyclocross racing since Portland is home to a large ‘cross racing scene.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Good news and good views...

Well, good news if you are in the bicycle industry. "Gas prices knock bicycle sales, repairs into higher gear," proclaims the headline in yesterday's Marin IJ. The interesting aspect of this article is that the highlighted bike shop is in Bismark, ND - not exactly a locale that you'd imagine being big on using the bicycle as an alternative to fossil fuel burning vehicles.

This week is National Bike to Work and May is National Bike Month. I've been invited to be on KWMR's West Marin Matters radio show with Fred Smith of the EAC and Amanda Eichstaedt, who sits on the League of American Bicyclists board of directors as President, Region 6, to talk about Bike to Work Week. Tune in or log on today at 1:00.

In the "good views" category is the art show at Gallery Route One featuring Steve Brock and his Bicycles of Florence show. If you are into bikes, photography, book binding, books, travelling...his exhibit is well worth the trip to Point Reyes. Steve was living in Florence, Italy to learn book binding and starting taking photos of bike he saw on the street. The end result is an incredible hand bound book featuring the photos of the bikes of Florence.

Friday, May 9, 2008

VeloNews reader gallery...

I submitted a photo to VeloNews' reader's gallery last week. And they used it! Well, they probably used every photo submitted so I ain't that special. Although looking at my photo as other viewers will, I can't help but critique it. It would have been better if the camera position was a little more to the left so the road ahead was totally visible and framed by the handlebar. But what can you do when you are riding one-handed and trying to hold a tiny camera steady? I like the shot. The tape job is good and consistent. It was an super clear morning and I had a great ride.
(What's playing: some blues song on the radio)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A-Team takes to the road...

I hear and read about plenty of Taiwan bashing when it comes to consumers commenting on where bikes are made. They throw out comments that are unresearched and biased. They know little of the incredible abilities of the bicycle industry in Taiwan. The Taiwanese are eager to work with foreign customers and their abilities are second to none.

In the past, however, there has been little cycling culture present in the Taiwanese bicycle industry. That is about to change. And the change is coming from the top down. On May 4, Taiwan's new president sent off 32 members of the A-Team on a 950km circumnavigation of the island of Taiwan. Among these members are the presidents, general managers, and owners of some of the best Taiwanese bicycle businesses - many of whom, I've been lucky enough to sit at a dinner table with or call friends. They are, in essence, setting the example for the rest of the industry to follow. Giant's chairman, Tony Lo said "It’s not enough to engineer good products. If Taiwan’s industry is to be a world leader then its executives need to better understand bicycles and their relationship to cyclists," according to a Bicycle Retailer story. What a better way to use your own company's products.

A lot of folks use cycling as a means to also indulge in food and drink. The theory being that as a cyclist your body consumes a huge amount of calories so you must replenish. It looks like that theory also applies to the A-Team riders as they tour around Taiwan stopping for bufffets featuring the incredible local food and beer. I've sat many a time around a dining table in a small local Taiwanese restaurant as large quantities of food get laid out on lazy susans and beer flows freely. Combine that with riding and that has got to be an incredible tour. I kinda wish I was there riding with them.

And to show that they are also not just fair weather cyclists, the second day of their tour dawned with rain and wind. The conditions just showed just how tough these executives are as they simply geared up for the rain, got on their bikes and started pedaling.

Read about the A-Teams tour at

(What's playing: She and Him - Why Don't You Let Me Stay Here?)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Attention to detail...

I'm a sucker for ads in magazines. Not because I'm looking for the newest, bestest product, but because I'm curious what went through the minds of the folks who thought up the ads for their clients. I've always thought it odd, as well, that companies spend huge dollars retaining the services of an ad agency to create, not only advertisements, but the image of the company they represent. I mean, c'mon, do you, as a company, need to hire an outside source to tell the world who you are? Who better to do this that the actual company. Hopefully you know who you are and don't need to pay someone to tell your story for you. I can understand that an outside perspective is sometimes warranted, but on the whole it seems excessive to not only have your own marketing department, but an outside agency as well to handle marketing. Lots of money being dropped there.

Okay, so back to "attention to detail." When I look at these ads, I pay particular close attention to the ads featuring bicycles. In the recent VeloNews, there is an ad by Gore that seems to be about their Xenon collection. First, I couldn't find anything about "Xenon" on Gore-Tex' website. Second, "Victory is simply a matter of the correct position." Wow, I've gotten it wrong all these years. I thought it was a matter of training and eating properly and then being the fastest. All I need is the correct position and all those others on the start line are simply there to find out who's second best.

As a bike detail kind of guy, I'm also a little confused by the ad and who it's directed towards. Racer types or the recreational cyclist? Victory implies racing. The triple and long cage derailleur implies recreational cyclist. But the most glaring omission is that the rider is not wearing what seems to be the highlighted product - the Xenon bib tight. That's tight as in covering your legs down to the ankles. I guess, then, we wouldn't be able to see the rider's chiseled legs if he was wearing tights. Oh well.

(What's playing: Islands Creeper)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What's in the stand today...

You were expecting a Cunningham? Not today. Sometimes, it's just plain old ordinary bikes. One of which was uncovered from it's embrace with the weeds and vines. Both are plenty usable as everyday coffee/bar bikes.

If the guy who found the Royce Union doesn't end up wanting it (I replaced a frozen rear brake cable), I have a vision of new Sun 26x1 3/8" aluminum rims built onto a SRAM 3-speed hub I have with new tires, seat, and a Wald rear rack/basket for my wife. The more I think about it, the more I hope he doesn't want it. Could clean up nicely.

The red Giant was in as a result of bike vs. car and a totally tacoed front wheel. That was, luckily, the only damage. As out of whack as the wheel was, the tire was still on and holding air.

(What's playing: Devo Whip It - whip it, into shape, shape it up, get straight, go forward, move ahead...perfect theme song for these bikes)