Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cross bike details and delivery update...

First, an update on frame delivery. Seems customs wants to take a closer look at the shipment so they pulled the frames for a "manifest hold" to do a more intensive exam. Grrrrrrr. They're just bike frames! So, my estimate of receiving them this week will likely be delayed to next week. As I get more info from the broker, I'll post it. A delay of a few days is okay, but it will also likely incur additional charges that I'll have to pony up. That seems wrong to me.

Anyway, not your problem. But hey, check this out! There were a few questions on Guitar Ted's post about tire size so I got to the shop today and checked clearance with a Kenda Karma 1.9 tire. It fits! In addition, here are some other detail shots showing the front derailleur cable stop that plays well with Shimano/SRAM/Campy integrated brake/shift levers (aka brifters). There is also a barrel adjuster/cable stop for the rear brake.

With the 1.9 tires, the bike just looks so tough - especially the orange.
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Brake cable stop/adjuster
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Front derailleur cable stop/adjuster
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Front deralleur roller for bottom pull derailleurs - included with the frameset
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Tire clearance with Panaracer FireCross 700x45c tires (which actually measure 49-50mm knob-to-knob).
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Clearance with 1.9 Kenda Karma with the wheel all the way forward in the dropout.
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Karma 1.9 with wheel deep in the dropout
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Looks pretty tough in this configuration. I may never ride a mountain bike again.
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(What's playing: Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men Haley's Comet)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making room...

I've been clearing out space and organizing the past week to make room for the incoming frames. I've been lucky to have been able to display a few Steve Potts bikes that are owned by a friend, but they are now on their way back to him. Now the top shelf consists of my bikes only (except for the three hanging on the wall). The empty space against the south wall is where the frames will be "warehoused." I've got access to a storage space next to the shop, but I'd prefer not to have to use it. Also moved one of the couches to the space behind my desk. Not sure if that's a good idea since it's a really comfy couch.

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(What's playing: John Doe Meanest Man In The World)

Just get here already!...

Finally tracked down someone yesterday to talk to about the incoming ocean shipment of my frames. Because I haven't exactly imported anything, I think what happens next is I arrange for a broker to get my frames through customs and to a truck and to me (simplified version). Yesterday, I arranged for the broker to do just that. This waiting is killing me.

While I was arranging all that (phone calls, e-mails, faxes), I converted that old white Cannondale bike to flat bars and index 6-speed shifting. All while the new owner of the bike sat on the couch and watched me. Now if you work in a bike shop, you know what it's like to have the customer watch you work on their bike. Multiply that feeling many-fold due to my communicating with the broker and because the bike was previously set up with an ultra-6 freewheel, I needed to rearrange the spacers in the hub to fit a standard 6 and then redish the wheel, and... Well, if you are a mechanic, you know the challenge of converting something old.

It turned out to not take a long time because I knew all I would need to do ahead of time and instead of dinking around and trying to make the existing parts work, I just dove in and got it all converted. Done. Works great. The guy is super happy with the way the bike looks and rides. And I'm happy to have the work in January and that my frames are one step closer to getting here. And because I was so busy, forgot to take pictures...

And a big shout out "THANK YOU" to Guitar Ted for including my cross frame as one of his finalists for his "Ultimate Gravel Grinder Bike." Thanks a bunch G-T! I first "met" Guitar-Ted through the 29"er scene. When I designed the Haro Mary, I enlisted G-T's talents as copy-writer for Mary's catalog copy. Turned out aces. Thanks again, G-T!

(What's playing: KWMR's new Wednesday morning show, Hump Day)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The waiting game...

Following the track of the Ever Elite, I know it made port in Oakland last Friday. Crossed under the Golden Gate Bridge just before noon. Now I'm waiting for a call from the freight forwarder who will deliver the frames on their final leg of the journey. I've got the south end of the shop cleared out in anticipation of storing 98 frames. Well, more like 90 because about 8 will be either shipped out or immediately built up. Stay tuned!

In the mean time, here is a video that has been making the rounds recently. It's a really cool video starring all-around good guy, frame builder Sean Walling from Soulcraft. If I didn't already have my own brand of frames, I would definitely have multiple Soulcraft bikes - road, cross, mountain... He's that good and his frames are pure, clean, simple...meant to be ridden. Beautiful tools.

While checking out the Soulcraft film, I also noticed the film maker, Michael Evans, had also produced a film about pizzaiola, Anthony Mangeiri. I met Anthony at Steve Potts' workshop several years ago and then not too long ago, got to work on his bike (it's the single speed with the light blue fork in that link) after he moved to the Bay Area from NYC. I haven't been to his pizzaria in the city, but hear it's fantastic with a long wait.

(What's playing: Johnny Cash Sixteen Tons)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Potts part II...

So, the red Potts was finished on Thursday (well, actually Friday morning because I overhauled the Campy BMX pedals on Friday) and then this white Potts CCR (Cross Country Racer) came in to be built up yesterday. Can't get much better than this. Especially when pizza from Cafe Reyes and coffee from Toby's is involved - thanks!

This CCR was built up from a 1993 frame/fork that had sat unbuilt for all these years. Putting together an 18 year old new frame, so to speak. The white/black combo is really clean looking and will make a great little rider for the owner.

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And yes, these Suntour Ergotec shifters really do work pretty nice. Especially after completely rebuilding them so they index.
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(What's playing: KWMR's Daybreak)

They come in pairs...

Two days in a row, two old Steve Potts bike builds/restos. One from 1983, the other from around '93. One red, one white. This one here is the 1983 red one and it has some interesting details that were really fun to figure out and dial in. So, sit back and get ready for a bunch of photos to load.

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Cunningham modified Hi-E hubs. Just like he and Ibis used to do in the old days. Complete with Campagnolo quick release.
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Rear hub done in the same fashion as the front. The stock of left flanges are gone, so a right small flange was used. That's not threading for any kind of a drum brake, it's just a right flange used on the left side.
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One of the neat features is this pump peg mounted to the "picnic table" chainstay bridge.
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How does it work? Remove the wing from a Zefal HP/HPX pump.
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And the pump keys right onto the "peg" on the frame.
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Another nifty feature of the components are the grafting of the Suntour Mity shifter to the Magura brake lever. This puts the shifter in a much more ergonomic position out where your thumb and finger can reach easily. This is a concept that was originally developed by the guys at WTB way back in the early 80's.
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The clamp on the Mity shifter needs to be removed and, typically, the rubber cover was removed too.
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A piece of round aluminum was used to stand the shifter off from the brake lever. It has a couple key holes for the shifter to fit into so it doesn't spin around the center bolt.
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The base of the spacer has a pin that keys into the brake lever so the whole assembly doesn't spin when shifting.
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The bottom side of the Magura lever before drilling.
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After drilling out one hole.
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After drilling out the bolt hole and drilling a shallow hole for the pin to key into.
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And viola!
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(What's playing: KWMR's Daybreak)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My boat's coming in...

Apparently, the ship tracking doesn't really work over open water. However, the Ever Elite has made port in Los Angeles and will be in the port of Oakland tomorrow. At least, that's the schedule. Frames should be here SOON!

So, if you still find yourself wanting an orange cross frame or a champagne road frame, you should pre-order ASAP as those colors are limited and the most popular, it seems. Lay down a deposit and you will be guaranteed your choice.

I need to clear some space...

(What's playing: British Sea Power Thin Black Sail)

New Potts 29"er custom build...

Recently finished this little beauty. By little, I mean it's smaller than what I ride. But then just about everything is little by comparison. Sweet custom Steve Potts titanium 29"er with a Type II fork. All told, this rocket ship weighed in at 21 pounds, 3 ounces without pedals. Pretty dang respectable. The build is for a rider - Shimano XT 10 speed, White Industries hubs with titanium freehub body built into Stan's No Tubes ZTR Crest rims, and shod with Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires. The wheels help contribute to the low weight. The white bar/stem is a nice look to the white painted Type II fork. All-in-all, a really sweet bike that will soon be tackling the trails of the British Columbia area.

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(What's playing: The Bridge Dirt On My Hands)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Handbuilt wheels...

There's just something so personal about handbuilt wheels compared to factory built, off-the-shelf wheelsets. Yet, in today's bike market, the factory wheel seems to rule. I'm sure there are fine examples out there. However, they are the easy way out. Walk into a bike shop, buy a set of wheels, walk out, slap 'em on your bike, ride away. Are they the right wheel for you? Are they appropriate for your riding style? Are they appropriate for your weight? What's to say that that pre-built, stock wheel is perfect for you? Are you a 200 pound rider who is light on equipment? Are you a 125 pound rider who can tear the guts out of a component after only a few rides? Why would wheelset 'X' be the same wheelset that is sold to Miss 125 pound rider in the morning and then sold to Mr. 210 pound rider later that afternoon? Is the 125 pound rider getting something heavier than she could ride or is the 210 pound rider getting something too light for him?

The only way to answer that is with custom wheels. Pick the appropriate hub, rim, spoke gauge, spoke crossing pattern, nipple material for the situation. Build something serviceable. Build something special for each rider. There are a lot of great rims and hubs out there that can build up better than any factory wheel and each wheel I build is built specifically for each rider. And best of all, a custom wheelset doesn't cost a bloody fortune.

I got inspired to write up something about handbuilt wheels after reading Ric Hjertberg's Wheel Fanatyk blog this morning and lacing so many wheels yesterday. I've known Ric for a while and really enjoyed getting a chance to meet him after knowing about him and his Wheelsmith wheelworks for so long.

Today, I've got a line-up of 12 wheels to build. Laced and ready to go, each wheel is built specifically for each rider.

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What's playing: (The Beatles You Like Me Too Much)