Friday, February 28, 2014

It's good to live close to the factory...

This newest run of cross frames were ready to ship in January, which meant that owners had to wait about 4 weeks for the frames to arrive.  However, a couple of new owners live in Taiwan and they got their frames before I even had a chance to see them.  Lucky.  Here's one from Jack who lives in Daliao in the southern part of Taiwan.  I'm sure the opportunities for dirt road riding in Taiwan are abundant as the eastern half of the island is dominated by an impressive mountain range with peaks in the 3,000+ meter range (286 mountain peaks over 3,000 meters with the highest being 3,952 meters).  And out of the cities, there is plenty of lowland country with criss-crossed roads - dirt and paved.  Perfect terrain for a cross bike.  

Jack built his bike with Sachs drivetrain, TRP brakes, and Kinlin/105 wheels.  Thanks Jack.  I hope you have many miles of fun riding on your new bike.

(What's playing:  Chris Hillman & Steve Earle High Fashion Queen)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jam packed with a ride too...

Some good news on the tire front.  WTB announced over the weekend that they're doing a "gravel" tire.  I'd talked with them going back on 5 years in an attempt to put out their timeless Nanoraptor in a 45mm version.  At that time, there wasn't demand in such a size.  I guess there still isn't demand, but don't tell that to all the happy riders on Bruce Gordon's Rock 'n Road tires (yeah, they're 43s, but it's close enough).  The gravel tire WTB will put out will be a 40mm version of the Nanoraptor.  Should be a good all-rounder based on the tread pattern that is still one of my favorites. 

The last 59cm US made cross frame finally got it's build on last week.  A mix of new King R45/HED Belgian wheels with Bruce Gordon tires built with Campagnolo 10 speed parts donated from the customers older road bike that was rebuilt with 11 speed.  Paul Component Mini-Motos in Amigo Orange rounded out the build.

It's been a long wait, but more cross frames showed up yesterday.  It was a spectacular, clear, sunny day with a high of 73.  It was also my one day off and yeah, it would have been a great day to be on the bike, but I did get a little spin in the morning and a longer ride the day before.  Sixty three frames are here.  Fifteen are going out as framesets and 4 are getting the full build.  It's going to rain on Wednesday, so I've got my chores set for some rainy days prepping frames and building bikes.  

There still are available frames in both gray and green in all sizes (except 59cm green - those are sold out).  

Waiting to be prepped - two at a time.

And speaking of that ride on Sunday, the recent rains we've had, after zero rain in January, have started turning the hills green again.  One of my favorite rides is the road out to Pierce Point.  On Sunday, it was socked in with fog, but in one of the clear areas I came across this Red Tailed Hawk perched on a fence post.  It didn't seem too concerned with me as I stopped on the other side of the road and snapped a couple photos.  When I got clipped back into the pedals, it finally flew off.  It was a big bird!

(What's playing:   John Lennon Whatever Gets You Through The Night)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sonoma County ride...

It's rare that I throw the bike in the car and drive somewhere to ride.  But, with Monday being a holiday, the shop's closed on Monday, and the calm before the storm of new cross frames arrive, I thought it would be a good call to do just that.  I had planned on a loop out of Freestone (natural, since there is a good bakery there) that would encompass riding up through Occidental and Cazadero before heading to the coast via Fort Ross Road and Meyers Grade Road before heading back up and over into Freestone via dirt on Willow Creek Road.  

The weather cooperated nicely with temps in the high 50s/low 60s and a slight headwind early, followed by a nice tailwind when I needed it most at the end of the ride.  With a later start than I usually have, it seemed like a long day out on the roads.  I must say that there are some great rides in Marin County, but there's just not a lot of them.  Up in Sonoma, however, there are a lot of narrow, twisting roads that traverse the hills in the west part of the county.  Plenty of steeps and plenty of views.  World class road riding.  

Paralleled Austin Creek for a while on Austin Creek Road.

Came around a corner on Fort Ross Road and saw this.  It ended up being a clever wooden cutout of a mountain lion silhouetted up on the ridge.

Fort Ross Road was washed out, but without workers on the scene, I could traverse the edge on foot.

Plenty of greenery out on the ride.

And one huge moss covered boulder.

Fort Ross Road is 10 miles of this.

Finally at the top overlooking the Pacific.

A welcome sign after spending a long time climbing.

It's a fun descent back down to sea level.

Old barn on Willow Creek Road.

Dirt road climb on Willow Creek Road.

(What's playing:  KWMR "Silver Dollar Jukebox" and Patsy Cline Walking After Midnight)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Updates on important stuff...

A few pretty cool updates happening listed in no particular order of importance because they're all special.  

#1  Pink Floyd t-shirts!  Floyd, the shop frog, was first immortalized on a nice, olive colored t-shirt.  He's now got his own limited edition pink t-shirt.  Limited edition because once they're gone, they're gone.  $20 each.  Mens's sizes medium thru XXL.  Women's sizes small thru XL.

#2  Steel pints!  Made by Klean Kanteen, these stainless steel pint glasses prominently feature the Black Mountain Cycles logo.  The best thing they do is transport the beverage of your choice safely from source to vessel to your mouth.  They are guaranteed to not leak as long as they are upright and not being shaken violently.  $12 each.

#3  New Monster Cross frames are imminent.  The container ship with the frames was docked in Oakland yesterday.  I anticipate their arrival in Point Reyes Station by the end of next week.  Colors coming are gray and green and some custom colors that were pre-ordered months ago.  Sizes 50cm, 53cm, 56cm, 59cm, 62cm, and 65cm.  Green and gray are available in all sizes except 59cm.  Green 59cm frames are sold out.  Price is still $595 (65cm frames are $545).  

Here's Blair's frame that was shipped direct from the factory in Taiwan to him in Japan.  Can't wait to see these in person.  

(What's playing:  Dave Gleason's Wasted Days How Am I Supposed To Live (Without You))

Monday, February 10, 2014

Care for your bare aluminum frame...

Aluminum doesn't rust.  But it can corrode to the point it becomes irreparably damaged.  Usually anodizing helps protect aluminum - to some extent.  Bare aluminum is most readily corroded.  The culprit in aluminum corrosion is usually salt.  Salt air if you live near the ocean.  Salt from roads that are salted in the winter.  Salt from sweat that is secreted out of your body.  

What can you do to reduce corrosion and protect your frame and aluminum parts?  Number one, clean your bike periodically before corrosion sets in.  Number two, clean your bike periodically before corrosion sets in.  Once corrosion sets in, more drastic measures are required.  Here's a process recommended by Charlie Cunningham to protect your bare aluminum frame.

It's much easier to work on a frame once all the parts have been stripped off it.  Trying to work around parts takes longer and in the case of leaving your crank installed, you are guaranteed to get cut by a chainring at least once.  With the frame stripped down, wipe off any excess dirt or grime before starting.  Then with a 3M #7447 Scotch-Brite™ pad apply Fluid Film.  I use the brush can because it doesn't take a lot and the brush top makes it easy to apply a bit to the pad.  I also use nitrile work gloves, because your hands will get black from working with aluminum and even through the info on it says it's non-toxic, it's probably wise.  There are also several other applications for a bicycle, but I'm not sure I'd use it for headsets.  Could be a good option for seat posts if yours tend to become frozen.

I cleaned up three Cunningham frames recently.  One frame took only one application of Fluid Film to clean it up.  The other two took two and three applications respectively.  I've also used it on hub shells that got a new wheel build.  Sometimes corrosion builds up under the spoke elbow as it passes over the flange.  A little Fluid Film and it will resist further corrosion.  

Once the frame is cleaned up, the fluid film leaves behind a treatment that will help prevent further corrosion and with the #7447 Scotch-Brite™ pad, leaves the bare aluminum an nice buffed out appearance - not too polished looking.  The next step is an application of Nu-Finish car polish (liquid in this case).  This is applied with a finer Scotch-Brite™#7445 pad.  This seals and gives a great bare aluminum look.  This finish will last longer than if it's been polished to a mirror finish.  

Here's some before and after shots of the worst of the three Cunninghams.

It will get new decals

There's still some deep damage, but the Fluid Film and polish are protecting the surface from further damage.

Some riders sweat profusely and some of them have what I call caustic sweat.  It's just gnarly, damaging sweat.  I've seen carbon headset spacers fused to steerer tubes.  Top tubes on steel bikes that get eaten up resulting in rusted out cable stops.  And in this case, aluminum handlebars with tiny holes that are eaten away by sweat.  In this case, it's time for a new bar and instructions to remove bar tape, clean, and retape every 6 months or so.  Easy to picture the end of a bar folding over because your sweat ate away at the bar.  

(What's playing:   Bob Dylan Freight Train Blues)