Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Right after I built up that ti Potts, snapped the photos, and posted it, I packed the whole thing up in a box, careful not to leave out the pedals, quick releases, seat/seat post, as UPS was to pick it up in a couple of hours - bound for New Hampshire. After I got it packed up, I sat at my desk and answered a couple of e-mails. Hey, what's that sitting on the truing stand? Doh! Rotors. In my mental checklist, I left out rotors - rotor bolts were secure in the carton, but rotors...nope. Five minutes later and rotors were in place, not to be left out.

Rotors sitting on the truing stand and the carton where they need to be.

From Doh! to Whoa! That recumbent perched in the stand is in for a "get it back into ridable shape." It's been sitting outside for a year or so up in the clouds on Inverness Ridge. Weather has not been kind to it. The mechanical brake caliper pistons were pretty much frozen in place. I cracked open this one to find a spider of some sort had taken up residence inside the caliper. Can't imagine the eats were very good inside there. While I had a "whoa!" moment, he must have too because I imagine he thought, "damn, I got to find another crib."

(What's playing: KWMR community radio)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's in the stand...

It doesn't get any better than this. A fully custom Steve Potts titanium frame, 29" wheels, and Type II fork. Well, maybe if it had WTB rollercams, it might be better, but only marginally. Got this built up for a customer of Steve's who will be enjoying it in a few days on his vacation in the Northeast. When I first saw the fork color, it was one of those, um, ah, well...but it grew on me and it looks like the color was chosen to match the Kevlar strands woven into the brake lines and handlebar. Regardless, the color works on the bike. Without further adieu, a picture is worth a thousand words.

(What's playing: Kruder and Dorfmeister Definition on MPR's The Current, and VeloNews live updates from the tour - sure would be nice to see a Cancellara win to cap off the incredible tour CSC-Saxo has had - nope, a Quick-Step win. The boys in Morgan Hill will be happy.)

Friday, July 25, 2008


That's the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and they've just announced their inductees for 2008. There are a few names that make you go "huh?" and a name that should have been inducted long ago.

So, what's the process for being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame? Anyone can nominate someone involved in mountain bikes (for at least 10 years, the nomination information section says). All it takes is a 250 word essay on the person nominated. That means that my mom could nominate me (don't do it). Then, members of the MBHOF vote. Simple as that. There are several categories in which to nominate someone: Advocacy, Industry, Journalism, Pioneers, Promotion, Racing History.

This years inductees are: John Finley Scott (pioneer), Brian Lopes (racing history), Nat Ross (racing history), Steve Blick (promotion), Philip Keyes (advocacy), and Bob Girvin (industry). I'm sorry, but there are a few names there that I bet even they are scratching their heads wondering how in the heck they made it into the MBHOF.

There is one inclusion that was long overdue and almost seems too late considering the fact he should have been inducted long ago while he was still alive. John Finley Scott was originally nominated by Charlie Kelley (inducted in the first year of the MBHOF) in 1989. JFS didn't make it that year. Charlie Kelley's letter sat at the MBHOF until this year (19 years) when it was simply resubmitted by the current curator. Nineteen years seems like a lot of time to wait to be included in the hall of fame of the sport which your $2,500 investment, quite possibly, resulted in our having mountain bikes today. Good to see he, finally, made it, though.

(What's playing: VeloNews live coverage of the tour - speaking of which, why didn't Cadel use every aero trick available to him in yesterday's time trial? While everyone else wore shoe covers to cut wind resistance, Cadel didn't. I don't think it would have resulted in him playing Greg Lemond to Sastre's Fignon, but every little bit counts in these things as evidence by the CSC-Saxo's treatment of Cancellara's bike. And speaking of Cancellara - boy, he just looks "right" in the TT position where everyone else looks uncomfortable.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Needed a day like that...

I had a day recently when it seemed as if everyone through the door had money they wanted to spend in the shop. Made for a day that went by really fast. It also made me feel pretty darn good. Days like that are always short lived, however, as when you pay your quarterly sales tax the next day and pay the other bills that are due, it kinda wipes out part of that good feeling. One good thing that you learn from all that, as the amount of sales tax you pay increases, you know sales are up!

Also had an old familiar bike show up that needed brake work. Even though many thousands of these were made, they all look the same. I think this was the last year I did the development of all the bikes including BMX before passing off the BMX stuff. Looking at that bike, brings back a lot of memories of product design and development. In addition to specifying all the parts on the bike, I designed the tires, seat post, seat clamp, bars, stem, fork, pegs, and the frame was a collaborative effort. One thing this bike reminded me of - I still hate working on bikes with rotors.

What's in the cup: Trader Joe's Bay Blend)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Augustyn! Augustyn!...

Like Pete Rose sliding head first into third, John-Lee Augustyn exited the road off the descent of the Cime de la Bonette and slid head first down its slopes, the highest paved road in Europe at 9,193 feet. He had spectacularly crested the summit first and was flying down the long descent to the finish when he failed to negotiate a right hander sending him and his bike hurtling down the slope. He scrambled back up to the road with the help of a spectator, but I don't think his bike stopped cartwheeling until it hit bottom. I hope he was able to get a spare and finish to remain in the race (I see he did now, finishing 35th 5:27 back with a teammate). There is a video here. If Oscar Pereiro thought he "was going to die" when he went off the road a couple of days ago, I wonder what went though Augustyn's mind when he left the road - "did I turn the iron off?" Don't think so. Freaks me out thinking about crashing like that.

(What's playing: Ben Harper Suzie Blue on KPIG)

Monday, July 21, 2008

When 29" isn't 29"...

It was reported yesterday on that Katie Compton was the first elite racer to win a national mountain bike title on a bike with 29" wheels. The next photo then described her wheels as 1.8" cyclocross tires. Even in the accompanying story, they couldn't be consistent in their description saying her bike "had brand-new 29-inch Edge aero wheels with 1.8 inch Dugast 'cross tires."

Okay, so what is it - a 29er or a 'cross bike? In my book, she might have ridden a frame designed to accept 29-inch wheels, but she wasn't riding 29-inch wheels. This may be splitting hairs, but a 1.8" tire is 45c (as noted in the photo of her wheels). An inflated 45c tire measures 710mm (according to my chart of wheel/tire diameters). The last time I checked, 710mm is the equivalent of 27.9-inches. Not even 28-inches and definitely not 29-inches. One of my main rides is a bike with 45c tires and no way I would consider it a 29er. It's a 'cross bike - or a monster cross bike as I like to call a 'cross bike that accepts 45c tires. What she rode to victory is a custom mountain bike designed for 700C x 45C tires. The article even states this bike mimics her cyclocross bike.

The article would have read much better if there was no mention of 29-inch and instead called it what it is - 700C. Katie Compton was the first elite racer to win a national mountain bike title on a bike with 700C wheels. But you read the article and decide for yourself.

(What's playing: Dolly Parton Jolene)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fixed, finally...

I posted a photo quite a few months ago of a new wheel build that was for a new project. I've been riding that bike a lot. It's quite fun riding a fixed gear road bike. And that's what it is, a fixed gear road bike, not a fixie. It's a prototype frame that I powder coated matte black and set it up with a Sugino crank, Phil hubs, Velocity rims, Ritchey bar/stem, 1980's era Dia-Compe brake levers, Campy Delta brakes and the item that started it all, a fi'zi:k Pave seat. It rides beautifully. The gearing is 42/17 and it gets me (or I get it) up and over most of the hills within a 10-15 mile radius.

I've started many a bike project with just one part. That one part sparks an idea, a concpet, for bike. In this bike's case, it was the black and white seat. Originally, I was going to build a mountain bike around it, but I've been spending so little time on a mountain bike, I though a road going rig would be a better choice. That black and white seat gave rise to a black and white bike.

The cause of it all.

The first things finished were the wheels. Phil hubs and white powder coated Velocity rims.

The bike.

These Dia-Compe AGC 251 levers are, perhaps, my all-time favorite.

Delta brakes. Since they don't work very well, anyway, they are the perfect brake for a bike with a fixed gear.

I'm not a sprinter by any means and, therefore, am perfectly content to use a 3/32" chain.

If you got a black and white bike, it's only natural to go black and white with the photos too - and boost the contrast a bit.

(What's playing: Hank Williams Sr. Long Gone Lonesome Blues)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cables and wires, wires and cables...

I almost skipped over this bit in, but read on because of an interesting looking thumbnail photo. As I clicked through the photos in the gallery, I came across this shot of the head tube area on a CSC Cervelo bike. Okay, let me understand, the gist of this story is about the aero bikes and parts of the tour. These teams and frame and component sponsors spend buckets of money to get the best for their riders. Yet they continually use stock, out of the box, computers and still wrap the sensor wire up the front brake cable housing in what looks like a complete and total amateur job. I mean, the guy with the flappy Old Guys Guys Who Get Fat in Winter jersey, riding the beat up 5 year old Trek carbon with 105, whose rear wheel is out of true, brake calipers aren't centered, cable ends are frayed like Medusa's hair, has enough lube on his drivetrain to quiet the entire peleton, has holidays in his bar tape big enough to qualify for national holiday status (or get him a job assembling certain bikes for catalog photo shoots) - yeah, that guy. His sensor wire routing is as good as that of the CSC rider's bike in the photo.

For years, I've seen shots like that - a mass of wires spiraling out of control up the brake cable housing looking like Edward Scissorhands had a hand in the installation - and wondered why don't the computer companies, who are supplying these units, provide the teams with custom length wires to eliminate all that excess, wind grabbing, wire? It would be super easy. It would also be super easy for the teams themselves to shorten the wires themselves. All it takes is a pair of wire cutters, soldering iron, and some heat shrink tubing. Heck, you can get the heat shrink tubing in all sorts of colors to match your kit. It's not rocket science.

Check it out. This was done many years ago. Computer wire nicely routed down the brake cable with a piece of heat shrink tubing.
It's then routed through the fork crown and down the inside of the fork leg. Probably not recommended on a carbon roadie fork, though, but hopefully you get the idea.
And then out to the sensor. Very clean.
No mass of wires wrapped around a brake cable or fork leg. No mass of zip ties holding the wire in place. Just clean, simple, elegant.

That's it for wires, now on to cables. While it is clean and, I'm sure, aero, I would hate to have to route all that internal cabling on those new Felt roadie bikes. Felt must have had this frame waiting in the wings for the new Dura Ace under-the-bar tape-shift cable routing as I don't think this frame would work very well with the old Dura Ace cable routing - that would not be very aero. Check out how the cables exit the bar tape and enter the frame, exit the frame for the front derailer, and exit the frame for the rear derailer. As someone who's routed cables and casings through frame tubes, it's not fun.

And while I'm on a roll, this has got to be one of the ugliest stems.

(What's playing: Nothing. The sound of silence - or birds in the backyard and my laptop fan that seems to be consistently on high - probably a sign of bad things to come)

Friday, July 18, 2008

That was easy...

I sold a trunk mounted car rack today. Right after opening, a couple of ladies came into the shop and asked if I sold "bike racks." After a few qualifying questions, I quickly ascertained that they were after an apparatus for their car with which to transport two bicycles. I sold them the one I carry. It could have been a Saris or a Thule or a Hollywood. I buy two at a time. Both are always the same brand and model - two bike. They're all pretty nice. If I can buy them on sale, that's a bonus. When I sell the two, I order two more.

As I was ringing up the sale, they commented "well, that was easy." "How so," I asked. "Well, you just had the one and it was exactly what we needed. No decisions over which model, what price. You made the decision for us by only having the one choice." This really brings home what a wise sage wearing a visor, sandals, and riding a bike with a couple inches of seat post showing told me: "eliminate choices, stock one model, take away the decision factor on which brand/color the customer should buy." I'm in the process of whittling down the choices in some things I have. You want arm warmers? These DeFeet arm warmers are very nice and don't fall down. You want lube for your chain? I use only ProLink, myself. Handlebar tape, you say? Cinelli is all you need to know.

I believe in the concept. I've thought I needed a new shirt on occasion so I'll go to the mall and end up leaving with nothing because I can't decide. There's just too many choices and I can't make up my mind. I don't like menus that are page after page of impossible choices. Cafe Reyes, here in Point Reyes, has done a great job of consolidating their menu into one page - and that's one page for everything - drinks, appetizers, main course - everything. I like eating there. It's something I can manage.

(What's playing: Robert Plant & Allison Kraus Fortune Teller)
(What's on tap: A 22 of Dead Guy Ale from Rogue Brewery - yummy!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Am I all hat and no cattle?"

Sometimes it takes the words of a 13-year old to put what it is about a bicycle that I love. Henri Boulanger, son of Gary and Jean wrote this. Ride on, Henri!

Holy cow was today busy! Had what was supposed to be a simple Dura Ace triple install finalize on a Somec cross frame. Evidently a Dura Ace triple front changer with STI doesn't like pulley rollers for top-pull cable routing. After trying what would be a standard down the left and up the right cable routing and finding that I could not get the derailer to work to my expectation, I crossed the routing (down the right side of the roller and up and around the left to the derailer. That small change in cable pull angle was all it took for the derailer to hit all three rings perfectly. In addition to that, while the customer was in the shop, I showed him that the already installed bottom bracket cups were showing light between the cup and the bottom bracket face. A facing was in order. He did say he did have a tough time getting the axle through the bearings. A quick facing and the axle went right through slick as you please. All buttoned up.

Next was a sweet Soulcraft that was in for an oil change in the fork with new wiper seals and a brake bleed. Black tainted oil came out of both the fork and brakes. Much needed oil replenishment. I can't say enough about Shimano hydraulic brakes and just how easy they are to bleed and once bled just feel "right."

In addition to all that, I wrote up repairs for five more bikes. It's going to be busy tomorrow too.

(What's playing: Green Day Welcome to Paradise)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's new in the shop...

I've know Chris Watson for over a decade. Chris knows bikes. And he also knows bottle cages and seat bags. The company he co-founded, Arundel, made one of the first (the first?) carbon fiber water bottle cage. I've had one on my bike for many years and a bottle has never been ejected - even when bouncing over railroad crossings or cattle guards. I still talk with Chris every now and then. Recently he sent me some info on his new stainless bottle cage and Dual seat bag. They looked nice and knowing that whatever Chris does will be top-notch, I bought some.

The bottle cage is very nicely done in the style of their carbon cage. The Arundel name in the mounting bracket is a nice touch. Good attention to detail. Holds the bottle securely. Just works.
The Dual seat back is just right - two spare tubes, a tire lever, patch kit, folding Crankbrothers Multi-17 tool, and a five dollar bill (fuel or tire boot). Arundel says it holds two tubes and two CO2 cartridges. I use a frame pump so substituted the tool for the air cartridges. There's a piece of leather where it buts up against the seat post so holes don't wear in it. It's got no strap that goes around the seat post (doesn't need it). It straps securely to the seat rails with a nice long hook-and-loop strap.

Bottle cage: $24.50. Seat bag: $19.50. Smart purchases.

(What's playing: The Travelling Wilburys Congratulations)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Attention to detail...

I am a stickler for detail on a bike. Bikes have to look "right." And for a road bike, that means that looking right starts with the bar tape. I finally got around to reading the newest issue of VeloNews this morning and within the first bunch of pages saw two ads where the poor bar tape job just jumps out at me. These companies spend a lot of money for ads. Why don't they spend an equal amount of time making sure the bikes look "right?"

This Giant ad literally is a giant ad, covering two pages. The bar tape job is just okay but the circled area is a spot I would have gone back and made the wrap more consistent. The front brake cable housing is also too long. Looks like Giant was in too much of a hurry to be the first to photograph their bike for an ad with the new Dura Ace 7900 group. Probably can't walk into a Giant dealer and pick one up, though.

While the Giant ad had a poor tape job, at least they didn't leave a holiday in the bar tape. A holiday is what we called a gap in the tape which exposes the bar. Holidays are like the eternal sin of bar taping. You love your bike. Take pride in it and make sure your bike leaves the house with a proper tape job. Not only is there a small holiday on the left side, but the tape doesn't overlap on the right side as well. This photo was taken digitally. You'd think somone would/could have spotted that moments after the photo was taken and correct it - either by retaping the bars or by covering the gap in photoshop. Oh well, that's just me being picky I guess.

Not all was lost in this issue of VeloNews though. There is a great shot of a pack of riders flying through some twisties at the Criterium du Dauphine Libere. You can just feel how much fun that section of road would be to ride through the photo.

And there is a good interview with Sean Kelly, one of my heroes of the sport. Here's a highlight.
VeloNews: Have race radios helped or hurt the sport?
Sean Kelly: I don't think race radios are a good thing. It takes some of the sport out of the race. We had to race on instinct and, to a degree, that is gone today. I see a lot of guys in the races that just don't know how to ride a race if they haven't got an earpiece in.

(What's playing: The Pretenders Stop Your Sobbing)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I don't get it...

Pt. Reyes used to have some public porta-potties set up next to the shop. Cyclists knew about them and used them all the time. It was a pretty good deal for me as far as exposure goes. No not that kind of exposure. Groups of cyclists would stop for the one rider with TBS (tiny bladder syndrome) to get some relief. Whilst waiting, the others would come in and check out the shop.

The porta-potties are gone in lieu (pun intended) of a more permanent structure a block away. Now I get cyclists coming through the parking lot, stopping, scratching their heads, wondering aloud to their buddies where the bathrooms went. They are literally right outside the door. I can hear them. The thing that I don't get is they don't come into the shop and ask where the public restrooms are or if they can use my water closet. That's what I'd do if I was out on a ride and there was a bike shop 20 feet away. C'est la vie.

(2:44 p.m. - and it just happened again. Guy rides into the parking lot, stops 15 feet from the shop door, looks to where the bathrooms used to be, looks at the shop, turns around and rides out of the parking lot. I don't get it. But then he's probably also the guy who doesn't wave either.)

(What's playing: Thin Lizzy Jailbreak)

What's in the stand...

This homemade looking bike came in to get some 90mm comfort riser bars, slick tires, Gripshift MRX shifters, wicker basket... Okay, not really. It did get dropped off so I can send it to its new home with my friend Noah, Cunningham afficianado. It's pretty freakin' cool.

The model is the Wombat and was pretty much a women's specific bike. It's made light (22.09 lbs with the heavy tires currently in place) and is not designed to be abused. The stealth WTB/Chris King Grease Guard headset is nice with the black o-ring instead of the standard orange one. The cranks are also a super nice touch. Little known Specialized micro-drive cranks with Suntour 20/32/42 rings. They just barely fit around the bb-shell and Charlie also went so far as to mill the back side of the arms to lighten them up further. The internally wired cycle computer is a nice touch. Check out the shrink tubing on the front brake cable enclosing the computer wire.

But what's a good bike without photos!

(What's playing: Wilco I Must Be High)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Things I want to like...

I've wanted to start this for quite some time. "Things I Like" - self-explanatory. "Things I Don't Like" again, very self-explanatory. And "Things I Want To Like" - this category contains things that I want to like but due to various circumstances fail in my expectation or in their ability to work/please/last.

Because this thing's in my face every day, I'm starting with the Park Tools PFP-4 floor pump. I want to like this pump because it's tall (trust me, that's a big deal), the gauge is up at the top (another big deal with my failing eyesight), and it's the only pump that is guaranteed for shop use.

I've had it for about 6 months or so and have had to replace the presta valve grommet, the gauge needle is stuck at 20psi, and the thing just plain feels like crap when attempting to inflate tires. The pump's central plunger pushes air through the center chamber, like a standard pump, but then the air comes up the sides around the center chamber and then through the gauge and out the hose. Think of a cylinder within a cylinder. The net effect of this is that it feels like air is going into the tires in a delayed sequence. Pushing on the main handle causes air to fill the outer chamber which finally comes out the hose. Kind of like watching ill-timed voices in an old Godzilla movie.

I guess I'm the only one I can blame in this purchase since I bought a Park mechanic's floor pump when I was at Haro and that thing worked like poo too. As the bearded lady can testify, that thing saw more air time in the air than air time on a valve stem. But I was lured by the "only pump guaranteed for shop use" line. Well, I guess I'll be taking Park up on that guarantee. I wonder if I can get credit on some kind of tool - which they are actually quite good at producing.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that Park should focus on hand tools and leave pumps to the pump people, like Silca. My Silca track pump is over 20 years old and works as good today as it did when I bought it. After all, there's something to be said for maintaining your company's focus on what you do well.

(What's playing: Cavendish won the sprint, so it's on to MPR's The Current and Yeasayer Sunrise)