Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It doesn't taste like a peach...

Saying you don't like apples because they don't taste like a peach is pretty silly sounding. You hear that and you immediately know "well, duh because it's an apple."  Neither an apple or a peach is bad.  They're just different.  They both do the same thing by providing you with nutrition and are on the sweet side of the scale.  They both have a skin that can be eaten or peeled.  They both have centers that aren't usually eaten.  Pretty simple right?

Saying "I don't like cantilever brakes because I like disc brakes", however, doesn't sound so silly.   Or, how about this one, "I don't like carbon frames because I like steel frames."  Pretty easy to understand.  The problem I have with statements like those is that they start off with a negative statement.  I don't like X because I like Y.  There's no logic there.  It's okay to not like X.  It's okay to not like Y.  But not liking X because you like Y is not logical.  Philosophy 1A.  A better logical argument would be, "I don't like cantilevers brakes (or steel frames) because disc brakes (or carbon frames) are the new generation and I embrace new technology." 

The bike industry and media play to the consumers desire for "new."  They want to make you think that that apple you are eating is a peach that you like so well.  It's what they do.  It's what they need to do to survive.  They need to sell new bikes.  However, when you already have that cantilever equipped steel cross bike, you aren't likely to buy another steel framed, cantilever equipped cross bike.  Nope.  The bike industry needs to figure out something new to sell you.  So, the steel cross frame becomes an aluminum cross frame and then when aluminum is stagnant, ta da!, carbon comes on the scene to save the day.  And discs are coming on the scene and that old steel, canti equipped cross bike is now really old.  At least, according to some folks.

During the big bike boom of the early '70s, there was no new technology that lured customers to bikes.  Campagnolo Record parts remained virtually unchanged throughout the '70s and most of the '80s, yet folks were more than happy to hop on a new bike in 1984 that was essentially the same that could be bought in the late '60s.  What sold bikes (besides an oil shortage) was the fun of riding a bike.  Riding a bike is not about the latest and greatest and if that's what it is to you, come back to this in 10 years and I'll bet you're not riding any more.  Riding is about the joy of pedaling and feeling the pain in your legs climbing that mountain, the gasping for oxygen, the pain in your ass when you sit on that saddle for hours.  The fun is pushing yourself.  It's not easy.  It's not comfortable.  But when you get done with an exhausting ride and you're plotting your next ride while recovering from your current ride, you'll know what it's about.

When it comes down to it, I really don't care if you think cantilever brakes are dumb and that if it doesn't have disc brakes, then it's a deal breaker.  I'm okay with that.  Every bike out there is valid, even carbon frames.  Well, except for those tall bikes.  Those are stupid.

By the way, I don't care for peaches, but I do like apples. 

(What's playing:  R.E.M.  Until The Day Is Done)

Monday, October 22, 2012

What the hell was I thinking...

I've been meaning to write this post for quite some time.  Every so often, I check in to the Blogger stats for this site.  Sometimes, there will be a bunch of visits from various bike forums.  I gave up on bike forums several years ago.  Too much time involved and the whole anonymity of the thing is a big turn off.  However, I do appreciate it when folks post links to my site pointing folks to something I wrote or to my road or cross frames.  

I'm not sure where the term "deal-breaker" came from or how it came to be used as frequently as it does within modern lexicon, but I find its use in regards to my frames interesting.  Like the fact that the monster cross frames are designed around cantilever brakes and not disc brakes is a deal-breaker for some.  

The other popular deal-breaker is that there are no seatstay braze-ons for a rear rack.  To be honest, the lack of seatstay rack braze-ons was one of those "doh" moments.  Something that doesn't take away from the overall ride of the bike, but adds a level of versatility.  They didn't make it on the frame because I don't ride with a rack and never even thought about them.  It also seems a lot of folks really don't like p-clamps.  I don't know why.  I've seen plenty of touring contraptions come through my shop with a multitude of p-clamps securing racks and fenders and trailers to all manner of bikes from carbon race bikes to rickety old Free Spirit 10 speeds.  I also did a cross-country tour on a mountain bike with p-clamps securing the rack to the seatstay.  Some of that tour even included some pretty rough off-roading across the La Sal Mountains and across Pearl Pass.  The rack, bike, and p-camps are still all in my possession and completely usable today 23 years later.  

I'm not going to beat the p-clamp to death and am happy to say that the second production run of monster cross frames (ready to ship from Taiwan very, very soon) has seatstay braze-ons for rear racks.  Disc brakes, however, will have to wait.  This run of frames is rim brake only.  Why?  Because there are still a lot of folks who like rim brakes.  They are simple and work great.  Yes, I get that disc brakes have scads of power, but most people, myself included, don't need all that power.  And yes, I know all the pluses of disc brakes.  I also know that the frame and fork have be beefed up and then the frame that got the nice review in Bicycle Times won't be the same.  As the reviewer, Karen Brooks wrote: "Some steel frames feel like lumps of lead to me, but this one has a light and lively personality."  Light and lively is my goal. 

These frames are a reflection of me and the type of bikes I like to ride.  I'm also a bit of a Luddite, curmudgeon, throw-back... and so I like canti brakes.  In fact, the more technology and "new" is forced down on me, the more I retreat.  Don't fear, disc brake folks, I am working on a disc version.  It's just going to take a bit of time because I am reluctant to give up my deal-breaking canti brakes. 

3-Speed Cross

(What's playing:  The Beastie Boys Railroad Blues)

Friday, October 19, 2012

A frame for the working folks...

The Tradesman is the new "production" frame from Sean over at Soulcraft.  Production only in that it is made in three stock frame sizes, but with all the touches that make a Soulcraft a Soulcraft.  Things like no nonsense design, no nonsense marketing, no nonsense features - simply a bike frame designed for getting out there and getting your fun on.  

This medium is ready to go.  $1500 for the frame, $2475 with a Fox Float 29 100 CTD 15mm thru axle and a King Inset headset.  Small and large when available.  

Soulcraft Tradesman

Soulcraft Tradesman
Clearance for big tires and a PF30 bb shell.

Soulcraft Tradesman
Simple disc mount.

Soulcraft Tradesman
Paragon hooded dropout with 7075 hanger.

Soulcraft Tradesman
44mm head tube.

Soulcraft Tradesman

Soulcraft Tradesman
It's the water and a whole lot more.

(What's playing:  Leonard Cohen Always)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

NorCal bred bike...

(Update:  about a week after this post, this particular bike was sold.  However, within a few weeks, I'll have all sizes so you can get a duplicate built in your size.)

I built this bike up for the recent Ruota Libera show at Una Pizza Napoletana.  My goal was to represent the parts makers from the area.  Not only friends, but makers of great parts that I'm proud to sell in my shop.  I think the bike turned out great.  It's exactly how I might set up a cross bike for myself if I was putting one together today.  However, I can't seem to justify building a new one when the current one is working just fine.  So, maybe someone out there can justify this beauty.  As it sits, $3,345.  But, I could probably whittle that down to an even $3k if you said "please."  This one is size 62cm.

Seat tube mounted front derailleur adjuster.

XT Shadow derailleur with custom barrel adjuster placement.

Chris King headset with Paul Mini-Moto brakes and Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road tires.

Paul Mini-Moto brakes.  Important to note the location of the cable anchor point. 

TRP brake levers, Shimano 9-speed bar-end shifters, Newbaum's cloth tape, and Salsa Cowbell bars in 46cm.

White Industries VBC cranks in 42/30 mounted to a Phil Wood bottom bracket.

White Industries H2/H3 hubs w/ Shimano quick releases.

H+Son TB14 black rims with DT Competition black spokes.


Review of the cross bike in Bicycle Times.

(What's playing:  Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

More tension...

After writing that last piece on the various ways to tension cables after they stretch, I noticed something peculiar.  Everyone knows that disc brakes are coming to road, right?  And when I say road, I mean drop bar bikes with integrated shift/brake levers.  And lumped in "road" are cyclocross bikes which will be, by far, the bulk of road looking bikes with disc brakes.  Okay, to summarize, a lot of bikes will be on the market that combine road shift/brake levers and disc brakes.  Road levers do not have any method to tension cables.  That's the duty of the brake caliper on road bikes.  "So what," you say.  So, if there are new disc brake calipers coming from SRAM/Avid and Shimano that are designed to be used with road levers and SRAM and Shimano know that their levers have no means of tensioning cables, why did SRAM/Avid and Shimano forgo barrel adjusters on their disc brake calipers?  Good question and one that would have seemed easy to address by adding a barrel adjuster to the caliper.  I think this point is a fail on both SRAM/Avid and Shimano's parts.  Heck, Hayes was able to get a barrel adjuster on their CX5 caliper.  

Avid's BB7 Road SL caliper.  Nope, no barrel adjuster.

Shimano's CX-75 road caliper.  Like Avid, no barrel adjuster.

Hayes' CX-5 road caliper.  They got it right with that barrel adjuster there.  Nice touch, Hayes!

(What's playing:  Elvis Costello Chemistry Class)