Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ham on dirt...

It's no secret that I'm fascinated by Charlie Cunningham's work. His bikes might not be pretty if your idea of a pretty bike is a lugged steel bike with a stunning paint job. However, his bikes were designed to be ridden. Beauty is in the ride of the beholder. In that sense, his bikes are not necessarily designed to be "art." But in his quest to perfect the riding experience, he has, in a manner of speaking, created high art in the experience one gets while pushing one of his bikes to the limits.

Cunninghams are rare. Forget the fact that at least six of them have made their way through my doors. My shop is an anomaly in the bicycle retail world. A 'Ham in my size is even rarer, although I know where two reside and have seen a third many years ago for sale at Rim Cyclery in Moab.

Now I can make that four bikes I've seen or know about in my size and the fourth one is now mine. Yep, I picked myself up a big ole man-sized Cunningham Indian over the weekend. A few weeks ago, a guy out on a road bike stopped in the shop and took a gander at my old mountain bikes. He spied a customer's Cunningham that is mid-restoration and casually mentioned, "I have one of those, but don't ride it much." That was enough to bring my eyes up and see that he was pretty much my exact body-double. We got to talking and lo and behold, he came by the shop a week or so later with his bike. We agreed on a price and I now own this beauty.

It had been converted to single-speed with a White Industries Eno fixed/free hub and was set up as a fixed gear bike. I'll leave it single-speed for a while until I figure out what I want to do to restore it back to a geared bike like it originally was. I've actually got just about every part required to bring it back to its glory, but there something about it that I like as a single-speed. Simple and clean.

One of the interesting items on the bike are the brakes. They aren't Cunningham or WTB made brakes, but are the first generation Suntour roller-cam brakes that were modified by Charlie and feature custom cam plates and Cunningham roller-cam springs. Pretty cool.

I did make a couple of changes before riding it. I swapped the seat (which was an old Salsa seat) for a Unicaitor and I swapped the Specialized BB-1 RockCombo bars for a set of On-One Midge bars (the stem is an old Salsa for 25.4 flat bars, but I slipped a set of the 25.4 Midge bars through - it's a nice feel on the bike). The position is long and low, but it feels darn good. I'm okay with low. Too high and I feel like I'm riding a couch.

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham


(What's playing: Jay Farrar Clear Day Thunder)

6 comments:

Ben said...

As you say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is absolutely gorgeous!

Jim G said...

DUDE! I'm at a loss for words at the moment. GASP!

Jim G said...

Mike, those Midge bars look thick -- do you double-wrap the tape, or use some sort of padding underneath it?

blackmountaincycles said...

Jim, I wrapped the drop portion of the bar with some road tape before the cloth tape went on.

Head Honcho said...

hollleeee crap.

Mike, it is now official. I hate you. You and your blessed little ideally place bike shop.

We look enough alike that I may just come out there and 'take your place'. srsly.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who calls his single speed Cunningham a oneingham