Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More on the frame pump...

One of the blogs/web sites I read regularly is Red Kite Prayer and the pieces by the site owner/manager, Padraig. I followed his writing before RKP began when he contributed to Belgium Knee Warmers (sure would like to see Radio Freddy crank it up again). I was caught off-guard one day, a while back, when Radio Freddy sent me an e-mail telling me that he appreciated what I was posting on my blog and that he dug what I was doing with the shop. I thought that was pretty damn nice of his to take the time to send me that e-mail.

RKP is chock full of good writing and opinions on the sport and the equipment. I'm more of an equipment guy so I most appreciate their "machine" bits. The most recent piece filed under machine was on the piece of cycling equipment that is fast becoming extinct - the frame pump.

I've always carried a full-sized frame pump on my bike. And that's one of the reasons why I also included pump pegs on both my road and cross frames. I may not use it much on the road (one time in the past 4 years), but when I do need it, it's there and it's reliable. While the classic Silca pump with Campy pump head painted to match your frame is just about the coolest, I carry a decades old Zefal HP-X pump. I use a Jandd frame pump strap to add a little extra security to avoid pump ejection while riding dirt roads. The Jandd strap is a little wider than most and has a piece of neoprene that fits between the pump and the frame to keep the pump from wearing the paint off the frame. And it keeps it all nice and quiet.

I closed last Sunday to attend Bruce Gordon's "Another Big Stinkin' Handbuilt Whoop-de-doo" and to also ride in the morning with guys I never get to ride with. I spent a good part of the first half of the ride in the back riding and talking with a friend I've never ridden with and part of the conversation was about frame pumps. There was a lot of steel bikes on this ride and plenty of frame pumps. Guys who've ridden a lot and know what it takes to make it back from a ride on the desolate West Marin/West Sonoma roads.

While reading RKP's "The Frame Pump," I happened to also notice one of the comments was from someone who was happy to discover that his Masi Gran Criterium had a pump peg. I'm pretty sure he's referencing a new aluminum Masi and not an older steel one because I have a 1980 Gran Criterium and there's no pump peg and I've had a 1973 Gran Criterium and there was no pump peg. And I do know for a fact that the new generation of aluminum Masis have pump pegs because I put them there. When I was creating the frame designs for the Masi line, the pump peg is one of the little touches I included on all frames that had space behind the head tube for a pump peg. So I was pretty stoked that cwcushman digs that fact that his bike has a pump peg.

Not all my frames have pump pegs. My old Bridgestone RB-1 doesn't, but with the seat stay attachment, it allows me to fit the pump up with side of the left seat stay using the quick release as the peg. It's clean and out of the way.
pump 001

pump 002

And speaking of frame pumps that are painted to match, it doesn't get any cooler than this 1983 Salsa custom with Silca Impero frame pump painted in the same pouf-de-flage paint as the frame.
Salsa 021

(What's playing: KWMR Ridin' The Rails)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday update...

I was out of large, XL, and XXL t-shirts for a while, but they are being printed today or tomorrow. Hopefully, by the weekend I'll have t-shirts here and ready. For the folks who have ordered on-line, I'll have them mailed out to you on Monday. Sorry for the delay.

What I am not out of are frames. Well, I am out of certain colors in certain sizes, but I do still have road and cross frames in every size available. Don't let your summer get too far gone without getting your Black Mountain Cycles frame on. Here's a quick list of available frames:

Cross brown - all sizes available.
Cross orange - one 50cm and I did discover I have one more 53cm orange available.
Road orange - all sizes available.
Road champagne - 50cm, 59cm, and only one 62cm frame available.

As some inspiration, here are some photos of Derek's cross bike in it's natural element in Kamloops, B.C. Yeah, he also flies that whirlybird thing. Pretty dang cool.

And in other news, if you are in the area this Sunday, June 26, make it a point to head to Petaluma for "Another Big Stinkin' Handbuilt Whoop-de-doo" in Bruce Gordon's parking lot. Some great folks will be there with their wares. There's also a ride leaving Petaluma of two distances at 8:00 a.m. More info at Bruce Gordon Cycles. I do believe I'll be at both the whoop-de-doo with some stuff to sell (miscellaneous bike parts) and the ride.
(What's playing: KWMR)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Preconceived notions...

A reply from Alex to my "Labels" post prompted the recollection of an event over 20 years ago. Years ago, working at Pacific Coast Cycles, we got a call from someone from Rolling Stone magazine saying that their staff was having a west coast retreat/meeting and wanted to go on a mountain bike ride, could we help them get bikes and take them on a ride?

We didn't rent bikes, but we did have a lot of friends who had bikes and some who had multiple bikes. So we rounded up a bunch of bikes and told the Rolling Stone folks to meet us at the end of Sorrento Valley Blvd. for a ride through Penasquitos Canyon. This was at a time when Sorrento Valley Blvd. dead ended at the head of the canyon and there were no houses gracing the mesa tops. A pretty great time.

Because we were Pacific Coast Cycles and several of us had our mountain bikes set up with drop bars and many of our customers and friends did the same, what we brought to the ride was an assortment of mountain bikes with drop bars and flat bars. We didn't dwell on the fact that some bikes had strange motorcycle-like bars when explaining how the brakes and shifting worked.

We matched up bikes to riders and off we went. A bunch of grown-ups hootin' and hollerin' and having a great time riding bikes on a dirt road through a canyon in the middle of San Diego County, but a million miles away. Like Alex's non-mountain bike riding friend, there was no talk of tire size, gearing... Nope, we just rode bikes and had a great time. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Labels, we like labels...

I had originally planned a post similar to this one. Thought about it last week and was going to write it on Monday, the same day that other post came out. But after reading that post and the comments and receiving the latest "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" that had a cover story titled "Surge in 29er sales points to continued market shift," I thought about the concept of a 29" wheeled bike being simply a mountain bike differently.

We like labels. We like to name things. It's how we communicate and describe things. I'm typing this into my Mac, not my computer. I rode my road bike this morning and then rode my cargo bike to work. I enjoy an IPA or a stout. Interesting about beer labels. If you're into micro-brews, it's okay to refer to the beer as the type of beer it is: IPA, stout, trippel, pilsner, porter... Just like with wines. However, if you're drinking a Bud or PBR, you're drinking a Bud or PBR, not an "American style lager."

There are a lot of labels in the bike industry. I've been in meetings wholly devoted to labeling categories. You think it should be easy. But no. It takes some serious time to come up with "XC Sport" and then decide which models fit that category. It gets even more dicey when bike models with the same model name series fit into different categories.

Where last week, I was in the camp of a 29"er being simply a mountain bike, this week it can be whatever you want it to be in order for you to enjoy riding it. I'm okay with a 29"er being a 29"er and not just a mountain bike. I'm not a big fan of "monster cross," but I use it to describe my cross frame in print. Verbally, it's just a "cross" bike. Like a monster truck is a truck with bigger tires, a monster cross bike is a cross bike with bigger tires. The mental picture works.

I'm not a fan of labels in general, but they serve a purpose. A segment of the industry that does need more labels is in the import reporting of bike companies. There, a 29"er is classified as "road" because the rim size is 700c. Time to break down all those categories and add more useful categories so that a better picture of what's being imported and sold is understood. Right now "road" is up 30%. But really that's because the 29" mountain bike category is kicking some ass.

And because I like pictures, we finally have had warm summer weather here. I even left the house this morning without a vest and it got so warm Sunday morning that I removed knee and arm warmers mid-ride!

(What's playing: KWMR Faultline Radio: Random Music Played Randomly)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rabbit - Hat ...

Sometimes, you just have to pull a rabbit out of the hat and write a post. Sometimes. But not all the time. I had planned to write something about 29"ers and then just today saw a post that pretty much summed up what I was going to write. Also today, my copy of "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" showed up with a lead story on the same subject. I'll regroup and come up with something different but the same.

Instead, today, I'll pull a rabbit out of the hat. Basically, create something out of nothing. Heck Seinfeld did it for years and I'm not proud...or tired. I'm not usually one for posting something that isn't something I would want to read. Maybe this falls into that category, but it is interesting and it is helpful to the right person.

Here in Marin there are a lot of folks who have been riding their mountain bikes for many years. When they started riding, they may have been young. Now they're old. That position on the bike that felt good 20 years ago sometimes doesn't feel so good today. I feel lucky I'm still comfortable in my same position. But many people don't ride continuously for that many years so they bring their bikes to me and ask about a more comfortable (upright) position.

My number one, go-to, position refiner for these older mountain bikes is a new handlebar. The new bar is a riser bar with 40 degree of back sweep. It's not strong enough for serious off-road riding, but works just fine for light trail use and cruising to town. The shape puts the rider both up and back. Perfect. And every rider has dug the new position.

(What's playing: Texas Tornados Velma From Selma)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This is one BIG bike...

So many 29" wheeled bikes look a bit awkward because trying to fit big wheels in smaller frames give the bike an unbalanced look. The wheel size overpowers the frame size and trying to keep the bars low enough is challenging. Well, this bike had no problems with that. It's a huge frame that perfectly fits its 6'6" rider. The frame size is so big and with the large wheels, well, it just looks like a perfectly proportioned bike. The build is simple: XT 9-speed group, Fox fork w/ 15mm thru axle, White Industries hubs, Salsa Semi rims, WTB ExiWolf tires, WTB Pure V seat, Cane Creek Thudbuster LT post, Thomson stem and Ritchey bars. Simple and built to last a long damn time. The head tube is so tall that with two 10mm spacers and the Thomson stem, I only had to cut 5mm off the fork steerer tube.

SP29 001

SP29 002

SP29 003

This is the first frame Steve built with 1" diameter chainstays (7/8" is the norm). You can see how the stay is formed at the end to fit up to the dropout.
SP29 004

SP29 005

SP29 006

SP29 007

SP29 008

SP29 009

(What's playing: Neil Diamond Solitary Man)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It hasn't rained every day...

I was just treated to a June 1 burst of rain for the past couple hours. The rain pattern has been disturbingly random the past week. Then there's also the matter of the wind when it's not raining. It's hard enough to get out on the bike in the rain (so I haven't), but when it's not raining, the wind, last week, has been in the 15-25mph range with gusts on my favorite road loops up into the 30's. Luckily, there is a great cross loop that is out of the wind most of the ride and when you do pop out in to the wind you either get a tail wind on a climb or a head wind on a descent. Either way, not bad.

Here's some photos of that cross loop taken between squalls.

The ceanothus has been going off.
img 093

The rain has kept the hillside grasses nice and green through May.
img 096

img 097

This pond on the top of Mt. Vision is like one of those pools fancy rich people have that overlook the coast with the vanishing edge. This view over Drake's Bay is free to anyone willing to climb to the top.
img 100

From the top of Mt. Vision overlooking Black Mountain and the south end of Tomales Bay.
img 109

Looking south to Mt. Wittenberg and there's the Inverness Ridge Trail which is a rip-roarin' fun trail for the cross bike.
img 113

Not sure what this is at the top of Mt. Vision, but I think it's some sort of aviation transmitter/receiver site.
img 112

(What's playing: The Replacements Achin' To Be)