Friday, December 19, 2014

Una Pizza Bike Show

A per the previous post, I was closed last Sunday to hang out, er, attend and display a bike at the somewhat annual Una Pizza Bike show organized by Sean Walling of Soulcraft Bikes and Anthony Mangieri of Una Pizza Napoletana.  Ten bucks got folks in to talk bikes and eat as much of Anthony's incredible pizza as you could rotating through the generous lines.  When not eating there were lots of friends and bikes to spend time with - John Caletti from Caletti Cycles, Bruce Gordon, Rock Lobster's Paul Sadoff, Sean from Soulcraft, Retrotec/Inglis Cycles' Curtis Inglis, Robert Ives from Blue Collar Bikes, Steve Rex, Paul Components' Paul Price, Cameron Falconer, Todd Ingermanson and his Black Cat Bikes, Jeremy Sycip, Rick Hunter, Josh of Frances Cycles, Alec White of White Industries, and a couple guys I didn't meet from Strawfoot

Before the party opened at noon, all the exhibitors took a casual cruise down to the Bayview area for coffee at Trouble Coffee - which, coincidentally, sits across the street from Cameron Falconer's shop.  It was a clear, cool morning and the mass of riders moseying through the back streets was most enjoyable.  

Between Bicycle Times's post and one from All Hail The Black Market, if you weren't able to attend, these will give you a good idea of what went down. 

Trouble Coffee - where you can get a damn good cuppa joe.

Like the sign says...

A tub full of Black Mountain Cycles forks

Everyone has an engine sitting under their table, right?

The Falconer workshop


Rock Lobster

Bruce Gordon getting ready


Falconer 29" wheel coaster brake bomber

(What's playing:  The Who Love Ain't For Keeping)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pizza and bikes and frame builders

The shop will be closed this Sunday, December 14, for the somewhat annual Una Pizza Napoletana bike show with the Bay Area's finest frame builders and parts makers.  If you're in the area stuff your pockets with some cash and come on over.  Noon to 5:00.  

(What's playing:  Elvis Costello What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grease is noble

Recently, I had occasion to pull bottom brackets out of two different bikes.  Both bottom brackets were Shimano's Hollowtech II external bearing models.  One bike was a custom titanium Seven with full Dura Ace.  The other was a Norco (or was it a Novara?) steel framed touring bike.  The Seven has low miles and is stored in a barn about 1/2 mile from Tomales Bay.  The steel touring bike has seen a lot of miles and a lot of rain, including one 3' deep forging a week ago.  What do you think I found when I pulled each bottom bracket?

Not enough info, right?  Okay, the reason I pulled the bottom bracket in the Seven was because the cranks would barely turn by hand.  Something was binding the bearings.  This is a bike that isn't ridden in the rain.  It's cleaned and wiped down after each ride.  In other words, it's babied a bit.  To remove the cups, a bit of, uh, persuasion was used.  When they finally disengaged, there was a pile of powdered flakes inside the shell - looked a bit like sawdust.

And the cups were slowly being eaten away from the inside out.  The anti-seize looks like it only coated up to the end of the threads, leaving exposed aluminum.

No photo of the seized bearings, but the non-drive side wouldn't turn at all by hand.  

The original bb install was done with the copper based anti-seize.  For every mechanic, there is a different opinion regarding grease vs. anti-seize when installing aluminum parts into titanium frames or titanium fittings into aluminum parts.  If you've been around the work stand since the titanium fastener company SRP was around, you probably reach for the copper anti-seize since a little pack of "Ti Prep" was included with SRP bolt kits.  And then there's simply using grease.  Which one is most appropriate?

To find out which barrier to use, I called both Moots and Seven.  Both simply said "grease."  The guy at Moots did say some of the guys there also like to use the silver colored anti-seize for extreme conditions.  But both had a caveat:  periodic maintenance meaning removal, cleaning, regreasing. 

Back to the Seven.  What the heck happened?  Galvanic corrosion happened.  Galvanic corrosion happens when two metals with numbers on opposite ends of the anodic index interact.  The more noble titanium started a reaction with the lesser noble aluminum.  Check out the chart below.  Oh look, titanium and aluminum are at opposite ends!  And how many aluminum seat posts and bottom brackets are installed in titanium frames?  Yeah, a lot.  So get your non-conductive grease layer between your titanium and aluminum.  I like grease and I use it judiciously on bottom brackets - coating the whole thing and a layer spread inside the bottom bracket shell.  Yeah, it's a bit messy, but it really does protect the internals.  And if dirt and crud get into the frame from the seatpost area, the grease will also capture it.  Doesn't really matter what kind of grease. 

Chart sourced here - a simple search for "galvanic corrosion" will yield plenty of reading material.

Back to that Norco touring bike.  The owner wanted to be proactive and asked me to pull the bottom bracket to make sure it was all okay because he had been riding in the rain and had recently submerged the bb riding through a stream.  If he was doing this kind of riding, my first thought was I would also drill a drain hole in the bb shell.  I pulled the bb and found plenty of grease on the threads, on the plastic center tube, and coating the spindle.  And there was already a drain hole in the bb shell.  Who ever installed the bb for him originally had done a great job.  I told him so and I wish I could remember the name of the shop who installed the bb for him to give them props.

One final thought on that Seven - if that bike had lived the same life in Phoenix, AZ, there would have likely been no problem.  However, since it lives in a barn that is not exactly sealed like your home interior and is near a salt water bay in a high humidity region and the riding it sees is along said bay, the salt in the air is what really acted the part of conductor between the titanium and aluminum and got the corrosion party started. 

"Hi Mrs. Titanium, can Ti come out and play?"
"I'm so sorry, Al, but you know you and Tye don't play well together when you aren't dressed properly.  Why don't you go home and have mum dress you properly, then little Al and little Ti can have a grand time."

(What's playing: New Order Shellshock)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday Sale

I'm personally not a fan of Black Friday.  I have no desire to grapple for $50 flat-screen TV sets (my old CRT TV works fine - as long as it gets a sharp slap to the side to coerce the screen to light up).  Pretty much, if I can't get it at a bike shop or a grocery store, I don't really need it.  Or want it.  And if that's your M.O. as well, then you are in luck.  I'll be having a Black Friday (and Saturday, and Sunday) Sale on select items.  

Items I'm tired of seeing day in and day out will be marked (or not - that's a lot of work to mark stuff down) down by a significant margin.  What's going to be on sale, you ask?  Well, let's see.  Here's a partial list without prices because I haven't figured that out yet, but they'll be killer prices.

Velocity Synergy rims - 650b and 700c
Velocity Blunt and Blunt SL 650b rims
Pacenti PL23 rims - 650b and 700c
(I'm thinking something like $40 max for the above rims)
No Tubes Alpha 340 and 400 rims
Velocity Razor 700c silver rims
DT Swiss 440 rims
Shimano 6700, XT, CX50, CX70 cranksets
Vee Rubber XCX and V12 tires
Kenda Nevegal 29" tires
Pacenti, Schwalbe, and WTB 650b mtn tires
Lobster type gloves
Dura Ace 7900 34.9 front derailleur
Clement 33mm cross tires
A whole bunch of black 3d forged threadless stems for 26.0 handlebars - these will be super cheap.
26" wheel SKS fenders

Basically, if you see something that catches your eye, make me an offer.  The more dust that's on it, the more I want to see it go away.  The vintage bikes, however, are not for sale.  Sorry.

I'll have coffee and Bovine pastries on hand Friday and Saturday.  If you want cream or sugar for your coffee, you might want to bring your own as there really is only one way to drink coffee in my book.  Some beer too for after noon.

See something you like?  Friday.

Addition:  A bunch of mechanical road disc brakes from Avid, Hayes, and Shimano will also be on sale for as much as half-off.  I've also got a Surly Steamroller frameset 53cm in Cream that I need to be gone as well as a used Bianchi Vigorelli 63cm frame/fork/headset/brakes.


(What's playing: Stevie Wonder Superstition)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Turning tubes into frames

The MUSA cross frames are coming along nicely.  I got an update from Cameron Falconer yesterday.  Frames and forks are welded.  The fiddly bits are next to be brazed on.  They should be going to the powder-coater by next Wednesday.  When they get back to me, several are already spoken for, but there will be a few available for purchase.  Here's what is going to be available:

56cm disc brake w/ segmented fork - 2 x orange, 1 x green
59cm disc brake w/ segmented fork - 2 x orange, 1 x green
Price is $1800 + applicable sales tax and shipping.

Before paint:

(What's playing:  BBC Radio 6 - Don Letts)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No two days the same

One thing is for sure here in West Marin - no two days are the same.  One day it's overcast and the next day it's clear as can be.  A side benefit of the variety of the weather is that even if you do the same ride day after day, it will feel different.  Sunday's ride was overcast and damp.  Cold at lower elevations and warmish/humid on the ridge tops.  Monday was met with a high pressure system and cold, dry air that warmed quickly.  I'm not sure what I dislike more - 50 degrees with a damp chill or a clear and dry 39 degrees.  Either way, my fingers and toes suffer.  It makes no sense to bundle them up because by the middle of the ride, you're shedding clothes.  So, you embrace rule #5 and pound through the temporary pain because the pain is temporary.  Especially with views/scenes like these.

San Geronimo Ridge

Tomales Bay from Bolinas Ridge

Sliver of early morning light as the fog lifts

and in b/w

South on 1 as the fog lifts

Long shadows

How long can this tree hang on?

Alpine Lake on the road bike

Looking south from Bolinas Ridge

Feeling small in the trees - San Geronimo Ridge

Clear and dry on Marshall Beach Rd.


And the perfect finish to a ride - espresso from an old Bialetti espresso maker in an even older Franciscan coffee cup.

(What's playing:  X Beyond and Back)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

MUSA frame update

While the window to order your choice of frame size, canti brake, or disc brake is closed now, there are still some frames available and you can have your choice of color.  Here's what is available:  56cm or 59cm frames for disc brake only.  Forks will be segmented style and there will be hourglass shaped rack/fender mounts on the fork legs and seat stays.  Brakes will be mounted to the seat stay.  However, you will have your choice of either International Orange or a bright green powder coat.  

So, if you're after a 56cm or 59cm disc brake monster cross frameset, price is $1800 and you can choose either one of these two colors.  Production on the frames will be happening within days - there was a bit of a delay getting all the parts ordered and received.  Big thanks to Curtis Inglis at Retrotec Cycles for helping with some dropouts that were out of stock at Paragon Machine Works.

These tubes will be turned into sweet monster cross frames soon.

International Orange

RAL 6018

(What's playing:  Bob Dylan Tombstone Blues)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Finally feeling fall-like

Fall's been well under way for the past month.  Two more months until winter.  However, it was only in the past couple of days - today especially so - that it really felt like fall.   We don't get the big color change in the tree leaves here.  Some trees change, but most just lose their leaves.  For me, the signal that summer's over is the change in the shadows due to the sun being lower in the sky.  And even though the sun is out, the skies clear of clouds, there still a chill that hangs in the air well into the noon hour.  

It's those mornings where you set out with arm and knee warmers and by 10 or 11, you still have them on because it's just not warm enough to shed them that make you realize the Indian Summer days are over.  And West Marin has some spectacular Indian Summer days.  High pressure builds over the deserts of Nevada/Utah and pushes dry air out over California.  This results in warm days - warmer on the coast here than during the traditional hot summer months.  The riding during these days is spectacular.  They are the days I look forward to all year.  

But fall has set in.  The sky might have been clear and the sun shining bright, but it wasn't hot.  Not bad, but not summer any longer.  The arm warmers and knee warmers stayed on all day where last week they came off mid-way through the ride.  

That doesn't mean spectacular riding is not still to be had.  On the contrary, Sunday and Monday were great days on the bike.  I was able to get out on two three hour rides back-to-back.  And West Marin did not disappoint.  Sunday's ride brought me through Sam Taylor State Park, up and over into Nicasio,  over to the Marshall-Petaluma Rd. and the Marshall Wall, and back down Hwy. 1 into Pt. Reyes Station.  I've been riding the Marshall Wall quite a bit recently and after dropping a 20 lbs. it's really become not a big deal at all.  I find myself seeking out climbs or riding known climbs at least a cog or two smaller.  Feels pretty damn good.  

Monday's ride was one of my favorites.  And with my new found lighter weigh self, I tacked on what I would usually consider a separate ride - two rides in one.  How can it get any better.  The ride out to Pierce Point is one of the best out here.  Good climbing, good descending, and, most of the time, you have the road to yourself.  From Pierce Point, I come back via a dirt road, well a ranch road/cow track, to the L Ranch Rd./Marshall Beach Rd., which is some sweet Strada Biancha-like gravel road.  From there back to Pt. Reyes Station is usually a pretty good ride by itself, but Monday, I took the climb up Mt. Vision Rd. and came back to Pt. Reyes Station via the Inverness Ridge Trail.  This trail is pretty much a hiking/mountain bike trail, but I like to ride my road bike or cross bike on it.  It's perfect for either one.  Challenging, but not crazy.  

And how to end such a great ride?  Lunch at Perry's Deli in Inverness Park, of course.  Their West Marin Reuben sandwich is spectacular.  Not something you want to eat daily - or even weekly, but every so often, I need one.  

Sunday's ride in the shadow of Black Mountain as the fog lifts.

Restoration project on the side of the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

Turkeys - it is getting close to Thanksgiving.

Climbing the Marshall Wall.

Hog Island on Tomales Bay.

Monday's ride heading out Pierce Point Rd.

Vague dirt track and some cow herding out on Tomales Point.

We don't have a lot of gravel roads, but this one is really damn sweet - L Ranch Rd.

Inverness Ridge Trail

The West Marin Reuben

(What's playing:  Chuck Prophet Ford Econoline)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sachs - What's In The Stand

(Post edited 11/24/14.  Every month or so, I check the stats of the blog for curiosity's sake.  Today, I noticed a spike in views from the Velocipede Salon website.   Seems a lot of the comments decried the amount of time the owner waited.  Richard Sachs weighed in claiming the time the owner waited is incorrect.  It would have been easy for him to e-mail me and correct the wait time.  I'm simply going by what the owner told me on several occasions.  Whether or not the wait time was 4 years or 14 years, it's still a great looking bike.  And so, I am editing the post to remove text regarding the wait time for the frame - MV)

Earlier this week, I posted about a set of wheels that turned out so nice, I wanted to keep them for myself and hinted that the frame they were destined for was special.  One of the most sought after frame makers in the states these days is Richard Sachs Cycles.  The bike industry is typically made up of companies who over supply bikes to the market and then have to discount them deeply to make room for the next model year and the next big thing.  That's pretty much the complete opposite to Richard Sachs' model of business.  His demand is to high and output so low that he has a wait time or several years for one of his frames. 

What one does get after waiting is a beautiful frame.  The lugs are nicely shaped and crisp.  The overall aesthetics are very, very pleasing.  The paint job by Joe Bell is flawless with its deep red coat.  It's a right proper looking bike that I'm sure will be great fun to ride.  If this was mine, I think the first ride would definitely be one with a bunch of dirt thrown in.  It just looks like it wants to go anywhere. 

I was pretty excited when the owner came to me to have me build his bike that he waited years to get.  There were a few parameters for parts that we knew we wanted to stick to.  Campagnolo.  We both agreed that new 2015 Campagnolo Super Record cranks with their Shimano-esque 4-arm design wouldn't look proper on this bike.  And we thought the RS version of the 2014 Super Record would be appropriate.  Super Record RS on a Richard Sachs, get it?  You already was the wheelset - HED Belgium, Chris King, Challenge Strada.  There were a couple other items that needed to be individually chosen that were out of production - Campagnolo Record seat post and Campagnolo quick releases.  Both of these were sourced from the great folks at Euro-Asia Imports and really make the spec of the bike dialed. 

(What's playing:  David Bowie Kooks)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monster Cross V4 frames arrived

One phone call last Friday to the tucking company who will be delivering frames, "Yes, the frames will be delivered on Monday.  Please call back on Monday before 10:00 a.m. to get a delivery window."  Monday morning arrives.  I think I can get out on the bike at 8:00 a.m. and get a 90 minute ride.  What's that?  Rain?  Really?  On the day frames are going to be here.  Dang.  Not feeling like I want to start a ride now in the rain, I get a couple of things done, go to the shop, call the trucking company, "Yes, we said delivery on Monday when we spoke on Friday, but now the delivery is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday."  

Okay, I can deal with that.  Finish up a few things at the shop not wanting to stay too long since I am closed on Monday.  Head home.  Get an email from the company who handles the shipments through customs, "Mike, we have pushed the delivery company to deliver the frames today.  Is that okay?"  Yes, of course!  Call again to the trucking company to find out the delivery will be made before 4:00.  It's only noon.  So back to the shop to wait.  I do have the good fortune to get an order for a new complete bike build while I'm at the shop - it's going to be a sweet 62cm gray cross bike with White Industries cranks.  

Truck arrives about 3:00, rain is long gone and it's a pretty nice day and I'm unloading the truck and then loading them into my storage.  I do like days when I have a better handle on the schedule, but this one was okay.  Maroon (or as was commented on the Facebook page - Black Cherry) and Dazzling Blue.  I was a bit nervous about an entire shipment of colors I had no history with, but they look great.  Really.  Much better in person than in the photos.  All sizes in stock in both colors.  $595 each (65cm is $545 because of the lack of heat-treatment due to the thicker walled main tubes).

(What's playing:  KWMR's The Barbarian Beach Party)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sometimes you want to keep them

I love building wheels.  Feeling the tension slowly increase.  Seeing the wheel become round and true.  Checking the tension to confirm it's ready.  Installing tires and cassette.  Fitting into the frame.  The wheel goes from a collection of loose parts, (roughly 66 individual parts, sometimes more, sometimes less) that are useless by themselves, into a structure that can support you and your bike across terrain that ranges from dead smooth to chunky pavement or rocks without flinching.  The right wheel for the application it's destined is a thing of beauty.

Sometimes, I'll build a wheelset that gives me such a good feeling about it that I want to keep it for myself.  It just feels so improbably right that I want it.  However, that means that the customer the wheelset is destined for will simply get this great wheelset.  They are going to get to feel what I can only imagine as they pedal their bike and know that wonderful smooth, singing feeling/sound of a superb wheel on the tarmac.

This is one of those wheels.  After I finished building it and installed the Challenge Strada 25 tires, I spun it in my hands a bit and realized that this wheelset was about as nice and sexy as I can imagine.  I wanted to fit these to my bike and spin out to the Point on one of my favorite rides, maybe ride some dirt too.  

The frame these are intended for is not going to be disappointed in having these babies clamped in its dropouts.  That will be for a future post.  Stay tuned...

(What's playing:  The Scorpions The Zoo)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Get on board with a US made cross frame

There's still a bit of time to get in the queue for a US made cross frame.  Cameron Falconer will, once again, be making these frames for Black Mountain Cycles.  Cameron's been getting some well deserved recognition recently, including this post on The Radivist.  Well done, Cameron.

Here's the skinny on the frame particulars.  We're doing both a disc and a rim brake frame.  Each one will be unique to its purpose and brake requirements.  In order to make this project work for both Cameron and me, we need to make at least 3 frames per size per brake type.  Right now, I have deposits for 56cm frames for rim brake and 59cm frames with disc brake.  If you want a 56cm disc frame, then I'll have three of those made.  If you want a 62cm canti brake frame, then I'll have three of those made. 

The particular particulars of the frames are:

Canti frame - This will be the same as the previous frame.  True Temper Verus tubing, Paragon Machine Works hooded type dropouts, s-bend chainstays, top tube cable routing, Pacenti Paris-Brest-Paris fork crown w/curved fork blades.  Geometry is the same as the Taiwan production frames.  

Disc frame - My first thought was to use a low-mount dropout to fix the disc caliper to the chainstay.  However, this is easier said than done if we want to make the frame have clearance for 45mm tires, 50/34 chainrings, and narrow q-factor road cranks without dimpling the heck out of the stay.  A low-mount makes it easy to mount racks and fenders, but does little to help with the actual fitting of the components that are likely to be used.  If we wanted to reduce tire clearance to a 35mm tire, that would be easy, but that's not what this frame is about.   

So, the disc frame will get the same s-bend chainstay as the canti frame and the same Paragon dropouts.  The brake will be mounted to the seat stay with some super clean disc mounts Cameron sources from another area builder.  There will be an hour glass shape braze on to facilitate rack mounting a rack and we'll have something for fender mounting as well.  

The fork on the disc frame will also be made with a disc brake in mind.  The slender, curved fork legs aren't, in my mind, a sufficient anchor for a disc brake.  Cameron and I talked about forks and we think a segmented type fork with straight legs and the Willits/Paragon disc tab will be the best design to work with a disc brake.  We will also make the wall thickness of the left fork blade thicker.  There will be eyelets added for fender mounting or the dropouts will have eyelets.  No provisions for mid-blade low-rider bosses.

Colors - two options there; either the same International Orange or a bright green RAL6018.  

Options - there are only two options available for either the canti or disc frame.  The first is a third water bottle boss on the bottom side of the down tube.  The second is eyelets on the front of the fork legs for mounting a small rack like the Nitto M18.

There you have it. Production will be happening at the end of October.

(What's playing:  Brasil '66 & Sergio Mendes Mais Que Nada)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More cross frames on the way

The boat carrying the newest run of monster cross frames was docked in Oakland on Monday.  The customs bond, import duty, and dock fee have been paid.  I'm assuming they are clearing customs now and should be on their way here soon.  Based on what I learned with the last shipment, the trucking company who will deliver the frames here only makes deliveries to Pt. Reyes Station once per week.  I can't recall if it's Tuesday or Thursday, but I'm anticipating the frames will be here next week - unless customs drags their feet and the once-per-week delivery is missed, then it's another week wait.  Ugh.  Hopefully, that's not the case.  

What's different with these V4 frames?  Somehow, each production has been referred to as V2, V3...  Version 2, Version 3...  I'm not sure if I started referring to them with that term or if someone else did.  Anyway, each version has had minor changes that improved on the previous version:

Version 2 got a machined type headtube reinforcement, 130mm rear spacing, some fine-tuning of the rear brake cable stop location on the smaller frames, longer steerer tubes on the 56cm and up frame sizes, and a 65cm size.

Version 3 received a chainstay make-over with a slight s-bend shape for better crankarm clearance.  With this version, any 2-piece design crankset's arms clear the stays that are widened for big tire clearance.   It's not so simple to have clearance for a 50mm tire and road cranks.  This version also saw the bottom bracket dropped a few millimeters for improved stability.  I've become a bigger fan of lower bottom bracket heights.  Makes sense for a lot of riding.  

This new Version 4 is the same as Version 3, but is getting mid-fork braze-ons for folks who want to run a low-rider rack or, with longer struts, a small rack fit above the wheel.  While these frames are not touring frames, there have been plenty of owners who have taken them on tours and they report back that they've worked very well.  But, I will reiterate, these are not touring bikes.  I was hesitant to put eyelets on the forks because these frames are really extensions of myself and that's not how I would build out a bike for myself, but I'll get over it.  

Colors.  Version 4 will be available in a metallic maroon or Dazzling Blue (which is a Pantone® fashion color pick for 2014).  As soon as the frames are here, I'll take some pics and post them.  In the mean time, here are some photos of recent rides in the area.

(What's playing:  Boston More Than A Feeling)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kenda Slant Six 29x1.8

I don't have much time to keep up-to-date on new product via cruising the web these days.  And I don't have reps visit me to keep me informed on new products.  So, I take it upon myself to try to seek out new goodies.  I get most of my parts from Quality Bicycle Products - a really great distributor out of Minnesota.  Because of their super easy to use website and the fact they have just about everything, I end up ordering more things than I actually need.  Recently it was Oberto's beef jerky that fell into that category. 

Every so often, I'll cruise the tire category.  The ability to narrow down a product search like tires is really great.  I'll start with 622 bead diameter tires, narrow that down to folding and/or tubeless compatible.  Then I'll narrow it down to widths.  Oh, what's this?  A 1.8" size?  Hmmm.  Narrow down and it tells me that Kenda now has a 29x1.8" tubeless compatible Slant Six tire available.  I've got to check that out.  

Here they are.  I don't know how long these have been available, but dang, this is a pretty nice off-road tire that fits very nicely in the Black Mountain Cycles monster cross frames.  I got some in today and mounted one up on a Velocity A23 rim with out sealant, just to check fit.  Sure enough, with just a floor pump, it inflated easily and looks great in my frame.  Actual width on an A23 is 43mm casing and 45.5mm tread width.  The claimed weight is 601g +/- 30g.  I weighed one at 590g.  

Will I immediately change out the Nano 40 tires I'm currently running?  No, but I would definitely consider mounting a set up if I found myself wanting to take my cross bike on an all off-road ride that was more technical than the fire roads and trails I currently ride or if I needed a bit more cush because I was getting soft in my old age.  Regardless, this is a great option for tires in this mid-40 size range.  Good stuff.

The offset nature of the A23 OC rim means that securing a tubeless valve may be tricky because the nut doesn't pull the valve's seal straight into the rim.  Okay, not ideal.

9mm of clearance, Clarence.

Probably a bit buzzy on the road, but good on hardpack.

(What's playing:  The Specials Ghost Town)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cross frame updates...

Two updates on cross frames today.  First, the Taiwanese made cross frames are ready and will be in a container on the way here next week.  Container shipments leaving the factory are typically done on Tuesdays, if I recall.  What that means is that 57 cross frames in Maroon and Dazzling Blue in all sizes, 50cm - 65cm, will be making their way across the Pacific with an estimated arrival 3-4 weeks or so later.  Once I know the vessel the frames are on, I can track the shipment a bit closer.  

Has anything changed on the frames?  This 4th production run of frames is the same as the 3rd run with one exception:  the addition of a mid-leg, low-rider braze-on on the fork.  That was a lot of hyphens.  I opted for the mid-blade eyelet because that one is most versatile, allowing low-rider racks to be mounted and with a long option strut, the Nitto M18 rack fits as well. 

As of this writing, the availability of frames is wide open.  There is one 59cm blue frame spoken for and that's it.  It's been a very hectic, busy summer so I haven't had much time to do much flag waving on the sale of these new colors.  And yes, two brand new colors for me - that makes me a bit trepidatious, since, except for the first run, all frame runs have used a popular previous color.  Gotta throw things at the wall to see what sticks. 

Just as a reminder, here is the Dazzline Blue and Maroon (ignore the red) colors for the frames.  I'm hoping to get a photo from Taiwan today of the frames before they get boxed to post.  I'm curious to see them too!  

Fork boss location configuration.  The forks are only getting the low-rider boss added.

The second update is on the MUSA cross frames.  Still taking deposits for a run of the MUSA frames that is scheduled for October (that's next month).  I'm looking at offering two colors - the same International Orange as the first run, and a green that was chosen as a color by a customer who has one of the frames on order.  RAL 6018 will be a second color option for this run of MUSA frames.  Price will be $1700 for frame and fork - same specifications as the first frames.  These are a yearly (if that) offering, so don't hesitate if the idea of a really great US made cross frame for $1700 appeals to you.  

I've been enjoying the heck out of mine.

(What's playing:  Tom Waits (Intro) to Nighthawks At The Diner)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road...

I was pretty stoked to be asked to build this bike for Bruce Gordon.  It's funny, though.  Bruce is always cited for being a traditionalist when it comes to his bikes.  Steel tubing, 1" threaded steerer tubes...  The reality is that couldn't be further from the truth.  One look at some of the showstopper bikes he's produced for NAHBS, including this amazing lugged carbon fiber bike.  Yes, a carbon fiber frame.  It's a fallacy that frame builders who focus on steel shun carbon fiber.  A good frame builder works with the materials they know and the right material for the right application.  And Bruce works with steel, titanium, and, yes, carbon fiber.  He is a constructor, or constructeur, if you prefer, making frames and components.  

For this customer, steel was the material of choice and the parts of choice were the newest electric/hydraulic system from Shimano.  The "rust" powder coat finish is nicely set off with the Rock 'n Road gold/blue decals.  It turned out really great.

First prototype tubeless compatible 650b Rock 'n Road tires.

Wires and junction box neatly tucked into the down tube.

Shifting done and adjusted.  

(What's playing:  KWMR Release Me)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Build, build, build...

Is the saying that August arrives like a lamb and leaves like a lion?  If not, then I changed that.  And you can trademark that.  August started off like any other month, but by the time it was almost over, I had a stack of complete bike orders lined up in the queue.  First the Black Mountain Cycles builds + a Seven.  Then I'll save a really fun build for a separate post.

Build boxes and wheels on tap and ready.

The first build was Dan's cross bike.  If you check out the parts closely, you may be scratching your head and saying "what the..."  Campy 10s shifters, RaceFace mountain bike crankset, Shimano 9-speed cassette and derailleurs...  It works.  I'll go into more detail in another post.

Emerson's cross bike was destined for Michigan.  Pretty much a straight forward build kit #1 with Clement MSO 40 tires.  A sharp looking bike and the last 56cm green frame to leave the building.  56cm and 59cm green frames are sold out.

Tylers's 62cm gray cross bike was also based on the build kit #1 with SRAM bar end shifters, but had the brakes upgraded to Paul Components Minimoto. 

Ken's cross bike.  This is one of the 62cm MUSA frames build by Cameron Falconer last year.  It got a special treatment with the Enve carbon fork and parts from his other cross bike transferred.

Aaron's single-speed cross bike destined for New York City.  I dug how this bike turned out.  It's a 65cm frame with some back-swept bars.  It feels really good.  Paul Components Hi-Flange 36h hubs with Velocity Dyad rims, Phil Wood bottom bracket, Chris King headset - a really sweet, together bike.

Nathan's cross bike.  We wanted to get the weight down on this one.  The basis for the build was the Shimano build kit #3, but we upgraded the cranks to the CX70, seat to the Rocket V Pro, seat post to a Ritchey WCS, and tires to the 120tpi Clement MSO 40.  As it sits there it weighs 21lbs. 13oz.  Watch out South Dakota!

And finally, this new Seven was built with existing Zipp wheels and new Red 22 parts for a great customer.  We created a 52/36 Red crankset out of a 46/36 crank with a 52 ring replacing the 46.  He'll add in his front wheel and seat / seat post when it arrives.

Watch this space for something off the charts cool from Bruce Gordon.

(What's playing:  The Raconteurs Many Shade of Black)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cliff's cross bike...

This is Cliff's cross bike.  Usually, I get complete bikes built and shipped withing at least 2 weeks.  This one took a mite longer.  Between the time I announced the green frames last summer and the time they actually arrived, quite a few months passed.  Then Cliff did some traveling and we exchanged e-mails to get the specification of the bike dialed in.  A few changes, a lot of silver, and Cliff's sure to have fun with this ramblin' bike as he explores the back roads of Virginia on day rides with his fishing pole, note pad, and time to explore.

Wheels are Phil Wood Touring hubs, H Plus Son Archetype rims, Paul Components quick releases, and Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tires.

Had this LX all silver derailleur that fit the bill very nice on this build.

White Industries 42/28 VBC crankset with a Shimano CX70 derailleur.

Paul Components Minimoto brake in high-polish.

That says Black Mountain Cycles in Chinese.  Cliff spent some time in China this year.

(What's playing:  Aretha Franklin I Say A Little Prayer)

Friday, August 15, 2014


Every so often you see something on a ride and are lucky enough to capture it.  Each of these photos was taken out in the Point Reyes National Seashore a week or so apart.  The long buck is a White tailed deer with an impressive set of antlers.  I saw him silhouetted on the ridge out near the lighthouse at Point Reyes and got one shot off before my camera battery died.

The second shot is of a group of Tule elk crossing the road at Pierce Point on the northern end.  This small herd crossed the road in front of me in one direction and then turned heel and crossed it in the other direction.  Both times it was pretty neat as their hooves clattered across the road.

File this under things you see riding.

(What's playing:  Curtis Mayfield Superfly)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Still here...

Sometimes, most times, it's too easy to ignore the blog due to posting images on the shop Facebook page or on the What's In The Stand tumblr.  And then the next thing I know a month passes just like that.  So, I'll try to rectify that situation with more quick and simple posts.  Here's a start.  

In the category of what's in the stand, here's some work that has passed through the doors at Black Mountain Cycles.  

Saratoga Frameworks cross bike came for a tune up and new tires.  Found out that, somehow, the original builder (not me) had fit a 10 speed cassette to the 11 speed Ultegra built bike.  It worked.  Sort of.  Works better now.

This 59cm cross bike was built.  The owner secured the frame several months ago and we got to building it around existing wheels.  SRAM build with White Industries crankset.  I can attest to the fact this will be a fun Marin Headlands ripper for the owner. 

Rebuilt front wheel with new SP dynamo hub that will see duty on the Tour Divide solo ITT soon.  Proud to build this for Leo Pershall. 

The owner of this 87/88 Ibis Custom brought the frame and parts to me for a build up.  The stem and bottle cages were recently painted to match the blue in the frame.  Sweet classic mountain bike.

White Industries freewheel overhaul.  Flushed and regreased the bearing.  Cleaned and lubed the pawls.  Just like new.  White Industries makes great bike parts.

New wheels for this Soulcraft.  White Industries hubs (have I mentioned I love White Industries parts?) and Enve M60 rims.  

Potts mountain bike came in for new cables, chain, brake pads, and overhaul of the King rear hub while the owner was out riding his Potts cross bike in the area.

Dialed in this Potts road bike with new cables and bar tape.

And finally, this Shimano Ultegra 6603 triple shifter needed to be replaced because the spring at the lower right corner was broken and it would no longer hold the pawl that works with cable pull in place.  Even if that one spring was replaceable, it would have been nigh on impossible to replace it with the level of disassembly required to get to the spring. 

(What's playing:  Johnny Cash Folsom Prison Blues)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why I ride...

I don't race, so I don't ride to train.  I don't participate in timed events, so I don't care about how fast I ride.  Well, maybe a little since I do have to be back in time to open the shop according to my posted hours.  I usually ride solo, so I'm not necessarily riding to compete against others in a group.  However, I do tend to turn it up a little if I see a rider up ahead.  

I ride because I like to push myself physically.  Same reason I also trail run.  There's nothing better than the feeling of turning the pedals over and hearing the tires sing on the road.  In West Marin, just about every ride has upwards of 1,000' of climbing for each 10 miles.  Every ride that I like doing.  I like climbing because I love descending. 

I love riding here because I can go for a 4 hour ride and come across only a handful of stop signs.  In fact, last week, I came across only 3 stop signs on a 60 mile ride I started from my house.  Stop lights?  Not here.  

I also ride because I get to see some amazing scenery.  Flora and fauna.  I bring a small Olympus camera in my jersey pocket on almost every ride.  Most of shots I take are on the bike while rolling.  There's always something unique that presents itself for a photo.  I took up photography in middle school where we had a darkroom.  I don't think I've ever not taken photos.  Not a lot, though.  Too many is noise.  Just enough to give me the sense of reliving the ride or capturing something unique.  Whether it's a cloud pattern, the lighting, the emptiness, some critter or varmint, that's a big reason why I ride - to see things.  Real things.

This is the top of Inverness Ridge.  To the right is the west and the fog that was coming up the ridge from the west.  To the left, it was clear and sunny down on Tomales Bay.  This spot where the fog rolls up and dissipates was amazing.

I saw this coyote on the trail.  I heard something off to my left and looked over at this coyote not more than 10' away from me.  We both stopped.  It was not interested in me, but was sniffing the air and looking past me.  Something was out there.  By the time I got my camera out and took this shot, it had gone up the hillside a bit.  It was a good looking coyote.

The view of Inverness Ridge from the top of the Marshall Wall.

Edge of the fog in Nicasio.

Lots of empty roads to myself in the mornings.

And one of Arch Rock - the result of a ride and a hike.

(What's playing:  Silver Dollar Jukebox on KWMR)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New cross colors finalized...

One of the hardest things about bicycle design is not coming up with the design.  It's coming up with colors for the frames.  Once upon a time, I, along with co-workers, would have to come up with colors for about 75 different models with 2 or 3 different color options.  Not easy.  Working with a small group, it wasn't too difficult.  It can almost be more difficult trying to figure it all out solo.  

I generally don't want to design by committee because my frames are a reflection of me.  Same goes for color choices.  However, as the demand increases, it is important to gauge your customer's interest in your products and throwing out a few color choices is a great way to keep interested parties, well, interested.  

So, because of feedback and because these are also the two colors I was drawn to, the new colors for the cross frames coming from Taiwan this fall will be the Dazzling Blue (left) and Maroon (right).  

(What's playing:  R.E.M. What's The Frequency, Kenneth)

Monday, June 30, 2014

New and used for sale...

(Edit:  As of August 1, 2014, both the frame and complete bike have been sold and are no longer available.  Couple of happy folks out there!)

The current green cross frames have been very popular.  In fact, the 59cm green frames were sold out before they even arrived.  However, there is one available.  A customer bought one, however, a few months later, he decided that he already has too many bikes and his plans for using this green frame have changed so it is for sale.  If you are looking for a 59cm green cross frame, send me an e-mail and I'll put you in touch with the frame's owner so you can work out the details to get it under your butt and on the road (paved or dirt).  As a reminder, here is what the green looks like.  This is a recent 56cm build for Bill.  The frame for sale is still in its original carton with all the packing materials.

The second bike is a pre-owned local bike.  A root beer cross bike from the first run of frames.  The owner's knees ain't what they used to be and being a multi-bike owner, he's decided to offer this one for sale.  It's a 62cm frame built with SRAM bar end shifters and White Industries crank.  Here's a partial breakdown of parts:

White Ind VBC 46/30 crank 175mm paired to 11-36 cassette
Velocity A23 rims with Shimano 105 32h hubs
Salsa Cowbell 2 46cm bars
Cane Creek brake levers with Avid Shorty 6 canti brakes
WTB Rocket V Pro on a Ritchey Pro seat post
Tires are Vee Rubber V12 1.95, but a set of Conti Cyclocross 42 comes with the bike - both tires have a lot of miles left
Also included is a set of Planet Bike clip on fender/splash guards.

New this bike is $2400.  It can be yours for $1600 + shipping (if required).  There are a few scuffs on the paint, but nothing that goes through the paint.

(What's playing:  KWMR Release Me)