Friday, March 25, 2011

One for Friday...

Been pretty busy at the shop and then helping out with the radio station's pledge drive in the evening. Here's some recent builds and repairs to peruse.

This cross bike was built for a guy I've known sporadically for the past 20 years or so. Well, sporadically in that he was a customer and friend of Pacific Coast Cycles when I worked there 20+ years ago and then he reconnected with me when he found out I had a shop up in Marin. He stopped by to get his cross bike built. He went with some new Kenda Karma 29x1.9 tires and some new brakes. I'm really liking this brake combination. Lots of braking power in a good looking package.

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Avid Shorty Ultimate set up in the low profile configuration in back.
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TRP CX-9 mini v-brake up front. This brake solves the potential of fork chatter if it exists. It's also very powerful and can turn a cross bike that has marginal brake power into a stop-on-a-dime bike.
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Interesting (and rare) camo-anodized King hub.
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LB's new bike. Simple cross bike.
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This Ridley came to me with completely ineffective brakes. The euro-style cantilevers that were on the bike looked all neat, but they have no adjustability and they lack any kind of power to control the speed of the bike. The brakes performed so poorly that the owner of the bike grew to dislike the bike. The brakes howled and they barely scrubbed speed. And then the front fork chatter was so bad that it made riding the bike almost scary.

To solve the fork chatter, the TRP CX9 mini v-brake went on up front. It also provides great power to control speed and actually stop the bike if needed.
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Avid's Shorty Ultimate went on in back. Again, howling eliminated and confident braking was restored.
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(What's playing: Simon & Garfunkel The Boxer)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Want to get paid for your photos...

Here's a chance to win $300 if your submitted photo is selected for the soon to be published "Where to Bike San Francisco." Go to the link and find the locations where they would like photos taken. My buddy Gary B. is authoring the book and needs help with photos. Good luck!

Where to Bike San Francisco photo competition.

(What's playing: Red Hot Chili Peppers Save The Population)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do you like radio?...

I mean really good, commercial-free, kick-ass, community-based radio? Well, I do. I can remember working at Pacific Coast Cycles in Carlsbad, CA and we'd play music we all liked and all of our friends liked it and we wondered why, if we all liked this eclectic range of music, did a radio station not exist that played all kinds of great music?

Well, I moved to a community that had such a radio station. I remember, shortly after moving, listening to the station and hearing a Robert Johnson song followed by a Bob Dylan song. My ears perked up and I was hooked. The station is KWMR and I've been involved with it for a little over two years. I am lucky to co-host a program called Bakersfield & Beyond and I'm a rotating host on another called Ridin' The Rails: The Americana Express. Super fun. There are other programs that play a great mix of music. We've got a great blues program, a super fun funk show, and an awesome lounge/jazz/pop show.

With congress threatening to cut funding to public broadcasting, we need the support of fans and listeners more than ever. Today is the start of the bi-annual pledge drive. The goal of $30,000 is enough to support the station for about a month.

Tonight, I'll be on the air from 6:30 to 9:30 co-hosting Bakersfield & Beyond with my friend Amanda. We'd love to get folks calling in at 415-663-8273 with a monetary pledge of support. I know there's a lot of you with "discretionary" Paypal accounts and it's easy to donate to KWMR through your Paypal account. All you need to do is go to the KWMR home page and there's a link right there. I would really appreciate it. Everyone who donates after reading this, I will send you a water bottle. Just send me an e-mail with your address and I'll send one out.

Thank you!



(What's playing: The Who Won't Get Fooled Again)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


There's nothing quite like using a good tool. Conversely, there's nothing worse than using a poorly designed or crafted tool. On the good tool side, I recently picked up two that are a joy to use. The first one is like an old friend. The second one is my new best friend.

I remember when we added the Hozan 14/15 ratcheting crank bolt wrench when I worked at Pacific Coast Cycles in Carlsbad, CA. This was at a time when all cranks were installed with either a 14mm or 15mm crank bolt, not the current 8mm hex key bolt. The Hozan was an easy to use wrench. The shape of the grip area and the length were perfect. The length was just long enough to move your knuckles away from chainring teeth waiting to take a bit out of your knuckles.

When I opened the shop, I initially was going to purchase one of these because I just liked the tool so much from my wrenching days 20 years ago. However, I didn't 'need' the tool. I already had a Park ratcheting 14/15 wrench. Well, about a year ago, the 15mm socket on that tool cracked but I kept on using only the 14mm side. About a month ago, the ratcheting mechanism of the 14mm side failed. Now, I had a good reason to step up to the plate and purchase the Hozan tool I always wanted. After over 20 years, the tool is exactly like I remembered. The handle. The smooth ratchet mechanism, the ease at removing bolts and the effortless feel of installing bolts. Some shops might not have a use for a 14/15 crank bolt wrench if all they work on is new bikes. However, I work on bikes with this size crank bolt that I use the tool on an almost daily basis.

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The other tool I recently picked up is the Efficient Velo Tools Right Arm Clamp. This replaces the Park wide range clamp that seemed to develop all kinds of play in it and made working on a bike frustrating because the bike would rock back and forth, moving with the play in the clamp mechanism. The EVT clamp isn't cheap, but after using it only once, it's totally worth the price of admission. In fact, I'm planning to purchase a second arm for the other side of my Park double sided work stand.

When the bike is clamped in the EVT clamp, it immediately has an incredible secure feeling. There's no play in the arm. It's incredibly solid. It fits into the Park receptacle much like a seat post fits into a perfectly reamed seat tube. The height of the clamp where it holds the seat post is much shorter so raising the seat post an adequate amount for the Park clamp is no longer needed. The leather covered jaws secure the bike very securely. The mechanism used to secure the clamp to the seat post is a smoothly threaded screw. There's a thrust bearing and the handle rotates effortlessly on the handle. Such a damn nice tool.

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Time to go put both tools through their paces some more.

(What's playing: KWMR)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Handmade by guys....

Recently, Guitar Ted recently posted his take on the North American Handbuilt Bike Show. I can't say I disagree with it. It seems the more out-of-the-box a design is, the more attention is paid to it. "Did you see the Xxxxx?" "Yeah, that was way cool, dude." Out-of-the-box is neat and cool, but when it's so far out that the design is obviously intended only for a show bike and not for real world riding, that's when I cease to get interested. There were a few examples that I'll not go into, but let's just say cantilevered, welded racks aren't really confidence inspiring.

Alas, I digress. What is neat about the show is that the builders are building bikes with a lot of details that can also be found on my Taiwan hand made frames. For example, road bikes with standard reach brakes giving the bike clearance for bigger tires and fenders. This Signal Cycles model is a good example - and is pretty nice looking to boot.

Photo: © James Huang/Future Publishing

Photo: © James Huang/Future Publishing

Pretty much just like my road frame.

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Joe's bike 9

Another feature that can be found on my cross frames is the threaded cable stop for front derailleur and rear brake like those found on this Shamrock Cycles cross bike.

Photo: © James Huang/Future Publishing

Now, this feature isn't something that the handbuilt guys came up with. I first saw it on a Bianchi Reparto Corse cross frame and incorporated into a Masi frame design 5 or 6 years ago. I like it a lot and carried it over to my frames.

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Ken's Bike 012

So, if you want a bike that was hand made by guys, don't want to wait for a couple of years and don't want to shell out a couple grand, minimum, for a frame, I've got some sweet riding road and cross frames with all the great features of frames shown recently in Austin ready to be in your hands within days - $595 plus shipping. Time to go to the shop and build up another bike. Don't wait too long.

(What's playing: KWMR Daybreak)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pizza and bikes...

I'm sure the folks who went to the North American Handbuilt Bike Show (NAHBS and pronounced NABS), got exactly what they were looking for. For the most part, that's "over-the-topedness." It's actually easy to go over the top and make things overly complicated so intricately detailed, the concept of what the item's intended use is lost. The real task is making something simple, clean, and infinitely useful. Hmmm, sounds familiar. I wrote this post just over a year ago and still really like the quote by Albert Einstein I used to begin the post, "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage, to move in the opposite direction."

If you like the simplicity of the bike because its lines and purpose are clean and pure, if you like pizza that is made with simple ingredients, if you like hanging out with people who like those things, you want to be at Una Pizza Napoletana on Sunday March 20 at 1 p.m. Sean from Soulcraft Bikes and Anthony from Una Pizza are putting on a gathering of NorCal's frame builders and parts makers that is sure to be a great event.

And if you appreciate some good natured sarcasm and humor like I do, you'll appreciate this post: Can't we all just get along.



(What's playing: KWMR's Hump Day)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Frame availability...

Quick and simple frame availability. If you're on the fence, probably want to act soon. No pressure.

Cross frames
50 - one available
53 - one available
56 - sold out
59 - sold out
62 - sold out

50 - good availability
53 - good availability
56 - good availability
59 - good availability
62 - good availability

Road frames
50 - 3 available
53 - sold out
56 - 2 available
59 - 3 available
62 - 2 available

50 - good availability
53 - good availability
56 - good availability
59 - good availability
62 - good availability

(What's playing: The Clash Death Or Glory)