Thursday, May 31, 2012

#2B or not...

What a treat to work on Cunningham #1B recently and then #2B comes in for some work.  Initially, #2B was going to come in for new, while-you-wait, decal application.  The decals are a two layer application.  First layer is the decal with a second layer that is clear and protects the first layer.  They were reproduced in the exact style as the originals with great attention to detail including the rounding of the corners.  

One of the first things I do when a bike is brought in to me is to give the brake levers a squeeze.  The bike equivalent of kicking the tires in a car lot.  In this case, the brakes felt like ... well, they felt bad so the bike stayed for some attention.  In addition to some brake work, the bars got re-taped in the fashion of the early Marin drop bar bikes.  

With roller-cam brakes, one of the main culprits in poor brake "feel" is fouling of the sealed bearings in the rollers.  This was the case on this bike.  Both brakes were pulled, disassembled completely, and the seals popped off the rollers so they could be soaked to break up and clean the bearings.  A little soak, a little flush, a little compressed air drying and the rollers spun completely free.  The seals were reinstalled after a little grease was smeared into the bearing and the brakes were once again working like a Swiss watch.  New cables and housing helped too.  

The style of taping the bars back in the day was to cut a drop bar Grab-On grip in half, trim to length, lay it on the top half of the bar, and then tape over it all with cloth tape.  Cloth tape on a mountain bike is much more durable than the cork or gel tapes commonly available.  The cork tapes and similar are prone to cutting and tearing.  Cloth just gets scuffed a bit and even if it gets torn, it's not going to unravel.  On my personal bikes, I only use this half a Grab-On on the drop portion of the bars.  That's the only place my hands were when it's rough and I am in a technical situation.  When I'm riding on the tops, I'm either climbing something non-technical or in cruise mode.  I did the full top and bottom Grab-On tape job on this bike.  Some folks like it.  

I also found out that #3B has been through the shop having been purchased locally by a friend back east and dropped off here for shipment back east.  Cunningham trifecta.





Not a new decal.  I left this one untouched.

Tape and straight line to aid in decal application.



One half of the bars done.  The other half started showing the Grab-On base position.  The brake lever bodies were removed prior to taping and reinstalled over the tape.  Very clean.



(What's playing:  The Louvin Brothers Give This Message to Your Heart)

Monday, May 21, 2012


This old Cunningham came in a while back for a new fork and some attention.  The new Type II fork was made by Steve Potts and then sent off to Joe Bell for silver paint.  The same Imron silver paint that adorns pretty much every other Cunningham fork and stem. 

There's a lot that goes into the repair and modification of one of these old Cunninghams.  They really are years ahead of their time.  For example, the brakes are roller-cams.  However, these are Cunninham made roller-cams and don't fit on your run of the mill roller-cam boss.  They won't fit on that Klein Pinnacle you picked up on ebay.  They have a different sized boss that is optimized for use with these original roller-cam brakes.  The brakes are also fixed to the boss with a smaller diameter bolt due to the bosses thicker wall - very stout stuff here.  

In addition to the new fork, the bike also got new decals that were placed in the correct locations.  When all was said and done the bike was pretty much like a new bike - as it was when it rolled out of Point Reyes Bikes in the early 80s.

Cunningham #1B
What's in the stand

Cunningham #1B

Cunningham #1B
New seat tube decal

Cunningham #1B

Cunningham #1B

Cunningham #1B

Cunningham #1B

Cunningham #1B

Cunningham #1B
New top tube decal

(What's playing:  KWMR Round The Fire - a new great, locally produced, show)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two weeks goes by fast...

Two weeks since the last blog post.  Dang that goes by fast.  Plenty busy at the shop.  Some fun "what's in the stand" shots.  Some great upcoming WITS previews.  Some fun riding.  And since it's illegal to ride most of the trails in the national park here, I started trail running a few months ago.  Some really great running trails out here. 

So, here's to your Friday and your upcoming great weekend.  Enjoy!

This Jones was a conversion from single-speed to a 1x10 Shimano XT drivetrail. 

This 105 equipped cross bike is heading to Norway.

Really great Ibis Scorcher in size L got a refreshing rebuild and fresh bar tape.

Crab carapace head badge on this Vitus that was in for a tune-up.

Bolinas Ridge
Got out for a ride on Bolinas Ridge and over to San Geronimo Ridge.

At North Beach
Rode out to North Beach.

Ridgecrest in the fog

Ridgecrest in the redwood rain
Rode up to Mt. Tam and came across a socked in Ridgecrest Dr.

Kate's new cross bike.

And finally, got some sweet silver Imron painted forks that will be making appearances soon on future editions of "what's in the stand."

(What's playing:  The Paladins Going Nowhere Fast)

Friday, May 4, 2012

The bike that Tyme forgot...

Back in 1989, I was working at Pacific Coast Cycles.  Although during that summer, I left with a friend to ride our bikes to Boston.  And in a grass-is-always-greener moment, left to work for a spell for Mammoth Mountain Bikes.  It was sometime during 1989 that this Salsa custom came to be.  I don't specifically recall working on this bike then, but I definitely remember the bike and the original owner.  He was an interesting character who was quirky and a good customer of the shop.  

It was a real treat when the current owner of this Salsa contacted me to have some work done to it 23 years after it had been built at the shop I worked at.  The bike was built with a mostly WTB mix which we were (and still are) big fans of at PCC.  The crowning touch on this frame is the Grease Guard bottom bracket.  It takes a lot of faith and guts to trust someone to take a reamer and machine the perfectly good threads out of a bottom bracket shell to fit a 6003 bearing.  Heck, I did this in my old Ibis SS.  It's a great system.  Large diameter bearings.  Set as far to the outside of the bb shell as possible.  This is starting to sound like some of the new bottom brackets found in modern bikes, but it was also common in the 80s.  Klein was the largest proponent of the system, but others were doing it in Marin County and San Diego County as well.  

Salsa Custom
The Salsa that Tyme fogot

80s Paint


Koski Fork
Koski fork

Seat Stays


Built by Chuck


Lock Nut Mod
This is an XT 7-speed rear hub.  Note the modified lock-nut.  We used to grind the flange off the nut so a full sized 17mm wrench could be used to adjust the hub instead of a skinny cone wrench.  It worked well as a bearing adjustment aid.

Chainstay details

The work performed was the installation of a new, shorter, Phil Wood titanium axle.  The previous axle gave perfect chainline, but the new owner wanted to bias the chainline towards the larger cogs.  A 7mm shorter axle still gave a good chainline, narrowed the q-factor, and still left the bike with adequate chainring/crank arm clearances.  Those two holes toward the edges of the shell are where grease is injected.  The bearing is grooved around its outer diameter which provides a channel for the grease which fills the inside of the bearing through two holes into the inner bearing.  There is a backing piece which prevents grease from filling the inside of the bb shell and is then purged out the outer seal near the axle.  These are original bearings and still in great shape.  I was able to salvage them perfectly.

And there it is, all together.

(What's playing:  John Stewart Little Road and A Stone To Roll)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Riding Into Thin Air...

Here's a shot of a Black Mountain Cycles road frame at the top of Tioga Pass, gateway to Yosemite National Park.   Elevation here is about 10,000 feet.  The shot was taken a few days ago.  At the time, the road was still closed to automobile traffic, but not bikes.  The rider had the road all to himself.  What a great ride.
Black Mountain Cycles at Tioga Pass

(What's playing:  Bruce Springsteen Highway Patrolman)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First ride Vee 12...

I finally wore out my last set of old WTB Interwolf 38 tires.  These are among my all-time favorite cross tires for a lot of my rides on my cross bike.  However, they probably would have been a bit overwhelmed by the ride I did at Annadel State Park last Sunday.  There's quite a bit of nice, buff single-track, but there is also plenty of baby head sized rocks littering many of the trails.  It really should be considered a trail system for mountain bikes and that's exactly why I brought my cross bike.  

I outfitted my bike with the Vee Rubber 12 tires the day prior and gave them the ultimate dirt test last Sunday.  How did they fare?  Two big, enthusiastic thumbs up, that's how they fared.  The 1.95" size designation is a bit generous.  The actual measurement is a bit under that.  However, I'm not too picky on the printed size on the sidewall.  They are what they are.  And they fit in my cross frame perfectly.  They really turn my cross bike into a sweet riding, drop-bar mountain bike.  Rigid, of course.  I mounted them up on the cross wheels I've been running since the mid-90s:  Mavic Open CD rims, first generation XTR hubs respaced to 130mm in '95 to fit my cross bike at the time.  Mounting them up, I realized that my rear rim is not long for remaining laced to the hub that has been its mate for 15 years.  The effects of braking have worn some serious concavity into the sidewall and it's due for a replacement.

So, they fit the frame fine, how'd they ride?  Brilliantly.  I ran a bit over 40 psi in the tires - 42, I think.  It seemed like I could have let a bit out, but I did not pinch flat and they had great traction climbing, so I think 42 is a good number for me.  I'm not a big fan of running pressure as low as possible.  I don't like the squirmy feel of super low pressure and if I'm descending a paved section, I don't want the tire peeling off the rim pushing the limits through a corner.  The one area where these tires will probably be a bit sketchy is fast cornering on loose gravel.  That thumb-sized gravel where nothing really seems to work well.  But as long as you are aware of that limitation, you can plan for your cornering speed and keep yourself upright.

Another area where they worked well is on the asphalt road.  They rolled fast and cornered predictably.  There are no tall knobs to squirm on pavement, so they corner almost like a road tire.  The don't have much buzzing or hum and feel very fast on the road.  Pretty darn great all-rounder tire.

Bottom line:  I dig these tires.  They are definitely staying on my bike and I will be rebuilding my wheels with some new rims, maybe some Velocity Dyads or Synergy rims.  

Vee 12
Post ride with no real wear showing.  But then it was only one ride.

Good chainstay clearance with the axle in the forward section of the dropout.

Vee 12
Again, close with the wheel forward, but plenty of clearance.

Open CD
Mid 90s Mavic rims

V Frong
Great clearance up front

It was interesting that out of 5 of us on last Sunday's ride, only one rider used a hydration pack.  Everyone else was on the water bottle.

I also love these Bell Lap handlebars on my cross bike.  The anatomic section just fits my hand perfectly.

Specialized cranks.  On a bike unencumbered with a bunch of monkey motion hardware, you don't need the ultra-low gears found on many bikes today - 24 x 30 low gets it done here.

XTR + Rollamajig
The Avid Rollamajig + XTR derailleur is an outstanding combo.  

The heart of a great wheel

(What's playing:  KWMR The Latin Alternative - great program, check it out)