Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fortnight cyber special...

In response to a couple of questions posted on the Black Mountain Cycles Facebook page, yes, I will offer a "Cyber Monday" special to anyone who wants to pre-order (with payment in full) a new monster cross frameset.  It just took me until today to get the time and figure out what the Cyber Monday special would be.  And I'll extend the Cyber Monday special out for a fortnight, ending on Friday, Decembr 14.  

Here's the deal, pre-pay for the cross frame of your choice (including the couple of 62cm root beer frames I have) and I'll offer you one of the following options included in the cost of the frameset (the 65cm frame is $545 and all other sizes are $595).  

1.  Vee Rubber XCX or 12 tires (limited to stock on hand and I have quite a few) - $80 value.
2.  Tektro CR720 canti brakes to equip the bike (two brakesets), black in color only - $70 value.
3.  Installed Cane Creek 40 headset with a front, steerer tube mounted cable hanger - $78 value.
4.  FSA Vero cross crankset with bottom bracket.  This is a black, square taper crank, 172.5 arms, 46/36 alloy rings, with an FSA/TH cartridge bottom bracket - $100+ value.  There are two of these crank/bb sets available.  They are new but previously installed in a new bike.

Shipping is additional and based on your time zone:  Pacific - $25, Mountain - $30, Central - $35, East - $40.  Framesets shipping to anywhere in California also will have 8% sales tax added.  E-mail or call for more info.  Visa, Master-Card, AmEx, or Paypal accepted.

Pick a package.

(What's playing:  The Rolling Stones All Down The Line)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I don't know why.  I've never really had anyone ask for it.  But then I never really had any demand for the cross or road frames when I had the first run of frames produced.  I rolled the dice.  The dice are still coming up 7's.  

With no real demand, I rolled again on a new, larger cross frame size:  65cm.  Yeah, it's big.  Man-sized.  I'm 6'3" tall and have my seat with 175mm cranks set at 85.1cm from the center of the bb to the top of the seat.  My size and that seat height are about max for the current 62cm frame.  I made the 62cm size to fit me.  But, if you are my size or taller and like to ride with a position that gets the top of the drops up around the seat height and don't want to run a lot of spacers, the 65cm size would be a good choice for you. 

The other significant change I made was increasing the steerer tube length on the 59cm and 62cm to 350mm from 300mm.  The 65cm size also gets the 350mm length steerer.  Compared to the 62cm size, the 65 frame's top tube was stretched out by 15mm and the head tube length was lengthened to 215mm.  Below is the new geometry chart with the 65cm frame added.  

Oh, one more thing, because the dropout is longer on the new frame by about 10mm, the 432mm chainstay length is to the middle of the dropout instead of to the forward position as on the first production.  This means that you can get a shorter chainstay length if you want, but still have the same length if you pull the wheel all the way back.  There's also more adjustability for those who want to run single-speed gearing.

On, one more, one more thing that I have mentioned previously; this 65cm frame has thicker walled (0.9/0.6/0.9) top and down tubes and is not heat-treated.  This also resulted in a $50 lower price of $545 compared to $595 for the other heat-treated sizes.

BMC Frame Geometry

(What's playing:  KWMR Fish Tales)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Orange and gray...

Colors.  I've spent a lot of time in meetings trying to decide colors for an entire production year of frames.  Production runs of 10,000, 20,000 of an individual model.  It's the same process choosing colors for runs of 50 frames:  who's the customer, what colors are in style, what colors will be in style in one year, and then pick something you can live with for the next year. 

Or you throw the dice and hope it works out.  In the case of the first run of cross frames, I picked the brown/root beer and orange.  In the first production, orange kicked root beer's ass, but root beer came back strong.  Strong enough that now that I have more orange frames and new gray frames coming folks are saying they really like the root beer.  Maybe it'll be back with the third production run. 

Orange and gray.  Those are the colors of the frames that were shipped from Taiwan just four days ago.  I'm anticipating mid-December arrival.  Geometry is unchanged.  Ride quality and specifications are the same.  Price is unchanged at $595.  There are a couple of minor revisions:  seatstay braze-ons for rack mounting, dedicated 130mm rear hub spacing, reinforced machined headtube, and a 65cm frame size in addition to the 50cm, 53cm, 56cm, 59cm, and 62cm frames.  Because of the larger size on the 65, I increased the tubing wall thickness of the top and down tubes to 0.9/0.6/0.9 and because of that change, the frame isn't heat-treated which will mean that the 65 will be priced $50 less than the other heat-treated sizes at $545. 

As I get more details on arrival, I'll post it here.  For now, here are a couple of teaser shots for the gray and orange.  Thanks for reading.

(What's playing:  Louis Prima Pennies From Heaven)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Now that the winter rains have started, I decided it was time to winterize my road bike.  Winterize - what does that mean?  On my car, I like to make sure the tires have plenty of tread and that my windshield wipers actually wipe instead of smear.  On my bike, I like to re-install my fenders and make sure my tires are in good shape.  

In installed these Honjo aluminum fenders a few years ago and once they are set up, they go on and come off very quick.  I could theoretically leave them on year round, but the truth is that I like the look of a stripped down bike.  In the summer, I don't need the fenders.  Sure, they might keep the bike cleaner, but I'm okay if my bike gets dirty.  It's easy to clean.  And as secure as a set of fenders is installed (and these are bomber), the bike does make more noise when they are on and I like a quiet bike.  However, in the winter, the fenders keep me dry and that's why they go on during the rainy season.  

The other task I did to my bike to winterize it was replace the rear tire.  It's been on for quite some time and it's pretty squared off from the center being worn flat.  A squared off tire poses other problem besides being thin down the middle.  A squared off tire makes descending a twisty road a bit squirrelly.  With a new rounded tire, as you transition from straight to right to left to right turns, the tire transitions like it's supposed to - effortless.  If the tire is squared off, it's more difficult to transition off the flat center into a corner and once you're cornering, the amount of tread in contact with the ground is lessened.  It might be a negligible amount, but it's real.  I like the tread of my knobby tires to be round as well.  

In the wet, it is much easier to get a tire puncture.  In the dry, you can run over all kinds of sharp objects and the tire can deform (conform) over the object without cutting (especially if you aren't running crazy stupid high pressures).  When it's wet, all that water acts like a lubricant for those sharp objects to cut your tires.  There are way more flats when it's wet and I want a fresher tire that doesn't have a thinned out tread that's more prone to punctures.

Today, on went the fenders and new rear tire.  I also check the chain for wear.  It's okay, but when it does need replacing, I'll also replace the rear shift cable.  Just a good thing to keep maintained.  


The squared off tire.  The threads of the casing were also showing themselves under the thinned out rubber.


(What's playing:  Cat Power Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rock 'n Road Ride Beats the Rain...

When you read a weather forecast and it says "90% chance of precipitation" on any given day, it doesn't mean that it's going to rain (there are other types of precipitation, but I'll use rain for this case) 90% of that day.  It just means that there is a 90% chance it will rain at some point during the forecast period of time.  In the case of last Saturday's "Short Notice Rock 'n Road Tire Shameless Self-Promotion Ride," there was a 90% chance of rain.  And rain it did.  Overnight, it rained about 2 inches, letting up between dawn and about 5:30 p.m. giving us excellent conditions for a bike ride. 

Eight of us left the shop a bit after 9:30 a.m. and headed on the road through Inverness for a climb up the Perth fire road.  The climb out of Inverness is about 1/3 road, 2/3 dirt and ascends about 1100' in about 2.5 miles.  Pretty hearty climb.  From the top, it's a short spin on pavement across the Inverness Ridge to Mt. Vision where the pavement turns to a sweet (short) single-track that descends to the "saddle."  From the saddle, it's a double track roller-coaster that dumps you out at the top of Sunnyside Dr., a paved/dirt residential road.  The final dirt section is a ripping fast fire road that ends at the Bayview Trailhead parking lot on Limantour Rd.  From there, it's a descent on Limantour Rd. back to Pt. Reyes Station.  Pretty fun on/off-road loop and one that I do quite frequently.

Even after so much rain, the entire section of dirt was free of mud.  It all drains very well thanks to the topography and the fact that the dirt is virtually all decomposed granite.  With 8 of us, there was some variance in riding ability.  It was a group ride, not a race so we all waited and made sure everyone made the important turns.  At the top of Perth, up in the clouds, Ken was there opening his flask for a wee dram of MacCallan's.

The weather was perfect.  Yes, perfect.  Bruce Gordon was there aboard his brand new monster cross bike for its maiden voyage in the dirt.  We got back to the shop at noon and commenced to dig into the ice chest for beers and called in an order of carnitas and chicken burritos from Whale of A Deli and proceeded to start telling lies.  Thanks to everyone who came out.

BG Rock 'n Road Ride
Bruce's new machine.

BG Rock 'n Road Ride
Ready to head out.

BG Rock 'n Road Ride
Rolling through Inverness.

BG Rock 'n Road Ride
The top of Mt. Vision was socked in, but descending, we dropped below the clouds and were treated to this great view of Tomales Bay.

BG Rock 'n Road Ride

BG Rock 'n Road Ride

BG Rock 'n Road Ride

(What's playing:  The Black Keys Howlin' For You)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rain or shine...

Actually, it's very likely not going to shine according to the forecast.  So, Bruce and I will not cancel the "Short Notice Rock 'n Road Tire Shameless Self-Promotion Ride."  If folks show up and want to ride, we'll ride.  If folks show up and don't want to ride, we'll sit around and drink beer and talk about low trail, road disc brakes, and 650b wheels.  I can say that the dirt section of the planned route is mostly decomposed granite that drains very well.  No mud, just wet dirt.  It's a great place to ride when other trails are muddy.  Fenders of the clip-on variety work well and I'll have mine on.  

C'mon out and we'll do something.  Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Black Mountain Cycles for a 9:30 ride departure or pre-noon beer drinking.  Feel free to stop at the Bovine Bakery and spread some money loving on their gut spreading morning buns.  

There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. 

What it looks like now.  Don't worry, it'll change at least a half-dozen times between now and tomorrow.
(What's playing:  Tennessee Ernie Ford Sixteen Tons)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday WITS...

Catching up on "what's in the stand" on a hump day.  Well, by now, Wednesday is almost over.  After finishing the Potts below, another Ritchey Timber Comp that came in for a tune up and a front wheel rebuild, a Blur pivot bearing replacement, and a radio show, I can now finish this post that I started over 12 hours ago.  

First up, a nifty modern bike.  I've always had a soft spot for Ibis having owned an early 90s SS model and a couple of their tandems.  This carbon Mojo HD is a pretty sweet bike with some nice features and clean cable routing.  Throw and XT parts kit on it and it's a super reliable trail bike.


This Fat Chance titanium came in for a build up from the ground up.  Sweet little bike.  The only part that wasn't going to work was the tweaked old XTR front derailleur.  Bit of a mix of parts, but it all works well.  

Fat Chance

The late model WTB ti Phoenix had its fork sent off for a fresh coat of paint at Joe Bell's paint shop.  The goal was paint that matched the raw titanium tubes.  JB pretty much nailed it. 


While waiting for the fork, the brake springs were taper ground.  The original round spring was ground flat on one side.  The grinding is tapered back to round about 1/2 down.  This gives the brake feel a much more linear feel as opposed to feeling like the spring tension in the brake ramps up.  

Taper ground spring

This Steve Potts from about '83 or '84 had some frame damage.  It was repaired by Steve and then repainted in the original white color.  Turned out great.  It's built out with the original hand-made "swiss cheese" roller-cams, early WTB hub in front and a modern Phil Wood in back.  

Steve Potts

New bearings in the Grease Guard system.
Grease Guard bottom bracket

Potts front end

SP head badge

Suntour Mighty shifters grafted on to Magura brake levers.
Integrated lever

And finally, this old Vita-Sprint was fixed up with a new old triple crankset to replace the cottered steel crank with rings that must be 52/48 combo.  The plastic Simplex derailleurs were cracked and replaced with simple Shimano Tourney derailleurs.  But the big improvement was the drop bar replacement to the more upright bar/brake lever set.  Fun bike to commute on.  


(What's playing:  Merle Haggard The Bottle Let Me Down)

Monday, November 12, 2012


Grease, grease, grease, grease, grease, grease, grease, grease, grease.  Grease is one of those words that when you say it enough becomes unfamiliar, like it just became a new word that you now need to look up.  Semantic satiation - look it up.  Semantic satiation is actually a pretty nifty phrase.

Grease is also something that seems to be used sparingly where it is needed most.  Cartridge bearings are everywhere on a bike these days.  Pretty much every part that rotates has a cartridge bearing, even parts that really don't spin get cartridge bearings (headset and Avid Ultimate v-brakes).  But the parts that do spin get judicious use of cartridge bearings - hubs, bottom brackets, pedals.  

Cartridge bearings, because of their double seals feel like they have a lot of drag when you spin them in your fingers.  To combat this, bearing manufacturers only fill the bearing with a small amount of grease, enough so the bearing still turns easy in your fingers, but has a modicum of lubrication for the bearings.  The problem with this small amount of grease is that, under those seals, there is a large volume of empty space.  Even though the cartridge bearing has those two heavy seals, that is not enough to keep water and dirt out.  Water and dirt have amazing tenacity to get into any empty cavity.  

It is not uncommon for a new part made with cartridge bearings to start feeling rough after a short period of time, or after one rain ride.  I've replaced plenty of external bottom brackets and hub bearings that failed too soon.  What can you do to increase bearing life?

First, make sure there the bearings are adjusted with no excess pre-load.  Too often Shimano external bottom brackets are overloaded with too much pre-load.  That little pre-load bolt on the left crankarm is only to remove the left-to-right movement of the crankarms, not to hold the crankarm on like some believe.

Second, pry off those seals and fill that bearing with grease.  Sure it's not going to spin as freely in your fingers, but then your fingers aren't going to be pedaling your bike, your legs are.  And your legs aren't going to feel a few grams of added grease.  

If you have a new bike, it's not easy, or sometimes convenient, to go through all the bearings and fill your bearings with grease.  It is easy when bearings are being replaced to add grease.  Fill that cavity.  I do it with every bearing I replace.  I don't think the type of grease is important.  Personally, I use red grease, but sometimes I use green grease and other times, I might use a creme colored grease.  When you pry the seal off, it's important to use a sharp tool, but not so sharp you cut the seal.  You also don't want to bend the seal since the seal is typically a synthetic rubber covered metal ring.  I use a box cutter (usually always somewhat dull) because the blade is broad and tougher than an X-Acto knife (which have easily broken tips).  I usually pry off from the inner side and from there, fill each side with as much grease as it can possibly hold, spin the bearing a few times to get the grease in all the nooks and cranies.  Then I loosely set both seals on top of the grease and press the both seals in to place at the same time, further filling the bearing.  Any grease that doesn't fit, will purge out as the seal snaps in place. 

There, now you have a bearing full of grease.  As anyone knows, 100% full is 100% full, no room for anything else.  New bearings that are only about 50% full of grease leave 50% for contaminates to fill the rest of the space.  The other thing I do is smear a bit of grease on the outside of the bearing before installing any extra shields or caps.  This acts as an additional barrier for water and other contaminants to not get in to the bearing.

Cartridge bearing
This is a new bearing for a WTB Laser Disc hub. 

Cartridge bearing
This is the other side of that same bearing.  See how this side has a bit of grease where the other side has even less grease?  That's a bearing just begging to fail from contamination.

Cartridge bearing
This is that same bearing now full of grease before the seals are reinstalled.

Back in the '80s, WTB introduced a concept they called Grease Guard™.  With this system, the inner shield is removed and replaced by a barrier that allows grease to fill only the bearing and from the inside out, purge the old grease out through the seal (if grease, with his higher viscosity can escape, imaging what water with almost no viscosity can do) after being pumped through a port with a Dualco grease gun.  You can read more about Grease Guard™ on the Cunningham Bikes website.

Grease Guard
New bearings in a 27 year old Steve Potts frame with new grease that has been purged to fill the bearing.

(What's playing:  The Black Keys Set You Free)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Short Notice Rock 'n Road Tire Ride...

Bruce Gordon came out today for a pedal and to soak up this amazing weather we've been having out here.  He rode this bike which is about 10 steps beyond the coolest bike you could imagine.  As I was pedaling back into town, he was heading out.  Later, while we were both recovering from our rides with coffee, we hatched a plan.  Well, he hatched a plan, I just happened to like it and agreed to host the event.

An event?  Yes, an event at Black Mountain Cycles.  Saturday November 17 will be the "Short Notice Rock 'n Road Tire Shameless Self-Promotion Ride."  The gist of the event is we want folks to show up with their Rock 'n Road shod bikes and we'll take you on a ride perfectly suited for these tires - pavement, fire road, single-track, ascending, descending.  Pretty much my favorite on/off road loop out of Pt. Reyes Station.  Should take a couple hours.  Shoot to arrive at 9:00 in the a.m. because the ride departs at 9:30.

Ideally, we want this to be an all Rock 'n Road ride.  However, Bruce and I will have Rock 'n Road tires for you fence sitters.  Remember, Rock 'n Roads also fit on 29"ers very nicely to turn your 29"er into a comfortable on/off road machine. 

Bruce has invites out to area frame builders and parts makers.  It will be a super fun day.  I'll have some supplied beverages for post-ride enjoyment.  I also highly recommend the carnitas burritos and tacos al pastor from the nearby Whale Of A Deli as the perfect post-ride food. 

Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road
Get your Rock 'n Road on.

Bruce and I hope to see you on November 17.

(What's playing:  Blake Edwards' A Shot In The Dark with Peter Sellers)