Friday, January 30, 2015

What's In The Stand: Potts Silver Salmon

The Silver Salmon moniker was applied to 40 titanium road frames Steve Potts made in 2000 to raise money for local water conservation.  There were also 40 steel mountain bike frames made tastefully named Steelhead.  This Silver Salmon is owned by a local guy who continues to ride, a lot, into his 70s - tandem, road bike, mountain bike, he rides it all.  Live.  Life.

The bike came in for a tune, fresh bar tape, and new wheels.  It's easy to kind of rely on the easy choice of HED Belgium rims, King hubs..., but I had a different thought for this build.  One company that isn't heard about often enough with regards to their rims is DT Swiss.  Hubs, yes, but sometimes their rims are forgotten about.  Every time I've used DT Swiss rims, I am always impressed by the high level of quality of the rims.  They build up very true and round with just the right level of feeling "right" in my hands.  

There is definitely a trend in rims to go wide.  A few years ago, 23mm was wide.  Road rims are now bumping up into the 25mm wide range.  These RR440 rims are on the narrow side at about 22mm wide (outside).  However, they are available in an asymmetric design which greatly helps equalize spoke tension when using 11 speed compatible hubs that increase dish.  The offset design, coupled with the eyelets, and generous brake track build into a great wheel.  With a 25mm Conti tire installed, overall width of the tire was at least 26mm.  White Industries T11 hubs were the natural go to to keep a lot of the build more local.

You can really see the decrease in the dish in this shot with the right side spokes being more triangulated.

(What's playing:  Dwight Yoakam Little Sister)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's in the stand

Here's a quick "what's in the stand" post.  More on each of these later.  The tandem is worthy of an entire book based on everything that went into its rebuild.  Soon.  I promise.  For now, these.

Cunningham/Potts DIA

Potts Silver Salmon road bike

WTB Phoenix resto-mod

Gary Helfrich/Actos tandem rebuild.

(What's playing:  KWMR Barbarian Beach Party)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Disc cross frames - MUSA

For the longest time, I had no idea what MUSA meant.  I'd only seen it associated with some Rivendell items.  I thought it was simply a brand name.  When I had the first run of USA made frames made, I got an email from someone who asked about the MUSA frames.  (lightbulb moment).  MUSA - ah, Made in United States of America.  Duh.  To this day, I'll seen acronyms used in casual written conversation and have to do a quick google search.  And anything that's posted on Twitter is pretty much nonsensical giberish to me - @iamtoooldtofigureoutthisshit.  

What just happened there?  Tangent?  Back on track.  The latest run of MUSA cross frames by Cameron Falconer are all disc frame/fork.  One was made for rim brakes, but that's sold.  There are a few disc frames that are sold, but a few that are available for sale.  I think these turned out really great.  Unfortunately, I did not have one made for myself because I am diligently working on a Taiwanese made disc frame and I expect I'll be riding that one.  That one's a ways off, but as more info becomes available, I'll pass it on.

Okay, MUSA disc frames.  The details are:
Seat stay mounted disc caliper with a super clean disc tab and rack eyelet.  Might have to be a spacer involved to fit a rack, but...  I like the seat stay disc tab because if you're running cable disc brakes, there's no kick up at the end of the housing for water to get into the housing and sit there degrading your brake's performance like there is on a chainstay mounted disc.   Yeah, I know, hydraulics don't have that issue, but not everyone is going to run hydraulics.

Full housing run for the rear brake.  No splits, no stops.  We used Pacenti stainless cable guides.

Full housing for the rear derailleur from the t/t cable stop to the rear derailleur.  No split housing along the seat stay.

The fork is a segmented design and uses True Temper blades.  The left leg is thicker walled than the right leg because there's a lot of force going into the disc tab under braking.  The disc tab is also a Willits design Paragon Machine Works made tab.

Tubing specs are the same as the first gen canti frames - True Temper Verus tubing, Paragon Wright style hooded dropouts, s-bend chainstays.  Clearance for 43mm Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tires and 50/34 road cranks.  Rear spacing is 135mm.

Price:  $1700
Sizes:  56cm and 59cm
Colors:  Green (one 56cm and one 59cm) and International Orange (two 56cm and two 59cm).

Here's some shots of the green frame.  The orange frame is the same color as the first run of MUSA frames.

(What's playing:  Joe Dukie and DJ Fitchie Midnight Marauders)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I've Got A Confession

I feel it's necessary to get this off my chest.  I know some folks find this unforgivable, but I like running.  In fact, these days, I run more days than ride.  Well, I guess that's not exactly true because I do commute by bike virtually every day.  But that's different.  I go for a run more than I go for a ride.  What I'm specifically talking about is trail running.  

Part of the impetus for trail running is adapting to my immediate area.  When I worked near mountain bike trails, I rode a mountain bike almost every day.  Even though Marin County was ground zero for the creation of the mountain bike, there's really not great mountain biking in Point Reyes Station.  Legal mountain bike riding.  Even though I see plenty of tire tracks on my runs, I don't feel entitled enough to feel like I deserve to poach the trails.  Riding a mountain bike on the legal trails here is a bit overkill which is why I prefer to ride my cross bike.  Or my road bike.

The trails that are closed to bikes, however, are perfect for trail running.  Even while running them, I do occasionally think how awesome they would be for riding.  They rival anything Crested Butte has to offer.  

I was a runner before I was a cyclist.  In fact, it is running that got me into cycling.  By the time I graduated college in 1984, my knees were shot from running and beating them up on basektball and volleyball courts with crappy shoes.  Cycling saved my knees and now that they are good, I'm rediscovering running.  For the past 3 or 4 years, I've been able to run almost all of the 150 miles of trails in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore.  And I really like going out for an hour or two and experiencing the amazing trails the park has to offer.  The flora and fauna are incredible.  To me flowing across a single-track on my feet is just as fun as it would be on a bike.  

This went around the internet a while back.  Pretty funny as a cyclist.  I'd have to name it - "Running - When Riding Your Bike On The Trails Is Illegal."  

Just be worried if you hear that I've taken up swimming.

(What's playing:  Simple Minds Waterfront)

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm a mechanic, not a blogger

Every once in a while I'm reminded that folks actually read this blog when someone comes in the shop and says they follow my blog - and, by the way, it's been a while since I posted something.  Too many times, I have an idea for a blog post when I'm out on a ride or run, but by the time I'm back with access to write down some notes to remember, I've already forgotten.  There's not a lot of time during the day when I have to be working on bikes and have no time to write about bikes.  Working on bikes comes first.  

I get phone calls at the shop to which I simply answer "Black Mountain Cycles."  Sometimes the caller will ask to speak with Mike.  To which I might reply, let me check if he's here.  Joke.  He's always there.  He's the only one there.  Black Mountain Cycles is me and only me, Mike.  He's going to answer the phone, clean the bathroom, vacuum the floor (um, Mike, you need to get on that one soon), build the bikes, build the wheels, unload the truck when frames arrive, and blog.  

Blogging, unfortunately, has taken somewhat of a back seat to all the other tasks this past year or so.  The shop's been plenty busy and that has taken precedent over the blogging.   There are other web based things I've started that somewhat take the place of blogging that are quick and easy to post up.  There's a couple of shop-based tumblr pages, the facebook page.  I don't own a mobile phone so there's no Instagram account - although that one appeals to me since it's simply photo based, but alas, no cell phone.  I will get to posting things to the blog this year on a more timely basis.  That is, at least, until something else comes up that takes more of my time.  Because after all, I'm a mechanic.

What's In The Stand tumblr - regularly updated
Seen On The Ride tumblr - photos from rides
Black Mountain Cycles on facebook - updated frequently

These social media time sap all the spare time of a guy, but I'm trying to get back on track.

(What's playing:  Devo Clockout)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lava, Hot Lava

Recently a friend commented that my hands are always clean.  That was a surprise because I work with my hands on greasy bikes.  Mechanic's hands.  Black.  Stained.  Grease under the nails.  Just because I work with grime doesn't mean I want it on my hands.  There are a couple of tricks to avoid the stigma of mechanic's hands (which isn't a bad thing).

1.  Don't work on grimy, over-oiled bikes.
2.  If you do work on super grimy bikes, wear gloves like the Park MG-2 Nitrile Gloves - which I do use in cases like this and especially when bleeding brakes with DOT fluid.
3.  Use Lava Soap to wash your hands.  This was the soap of choice at Pacific Coast Cycles when I started working on bikes.  It's my guess that it still is. 

What's so special about Lava Soap?   Besides the fact that it's been going strong since 1893, it just plain works.  It's green.  And it doesn't have any fancy scent.  I can't stand heavily scented soaps, perfume over doses, or patchouli.  I'm sure there are other good hand cleaners, but Lava Soap is my go-to to keep my hands looking like I didn't just change out the chain and cassette on an over-Triflowed touring bike that was just ridden in the rain.  You know what I'm talking about with that scenario.  

I'll use a bar of Lava Soap until it simply disappears.  Or if it gets too thin, simply stick it on a new bar and keep on keeping those hands clean.  In fact, it's time to break out a new bar now as this one is getting ready to mate with a new bar.

(What's playing:  The B-52's Lava)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cross bikes out the door

A few cross bikes went out the door.  Each one different.  Each one unique and built specifically for their new owner.  Dan's bike was the most recent to leave and head to its new home in the East Bay.  I built this one with 36h Mavic A719 rims and Shimano 105 5700 hubs because as Dan said, "I weight 220 and want wheels that aren't going to start disintegrating after a year."  Okay, that was semi-paraphrased, but the sentiment is that while there are a lot of off-the-shelf wheels that claim they have no weight limit, there's only so much abuse a low-spoke count wheel can take under a big, powerful guy.  Spokes don't weigh much, but they can either make or break a wheel.  

If you're a big guy, a set of 36h wheels built with the proper combination of rim and spoke can make a big difference in the longevity of the wheel.  Sure a 24/28 spoked wheel might work - for a while.  And if it's on one of many bikes that see semi-regular rotation, it could last for years.  However, if it's your one bike and you ride it all the time, you will want something that is built to last.  Black Mountain Cycles tough.  I think many wheel builders are afraid to bring up the concept of 36 - or even 40 and 48 - hole wheels to a customer.  The fashion is low spoke count.  Dan's wheels are bomber and they'll serve him well for years.  

The next two bikes are both 59cm Black Cherry cross bikes with IRD Defiant 46/30 cranks and 11-36 cassettes.  John's bike got built with 32h H Plus Sun rims, SRAM Rival/X.9 drivetrain, and Clement MSO 40 tires.

And Peter's 59cm bike got built with Shimano 105/SLX drivetrain, Panaracer Pasela 35 tires, and 36h Velocity Dyad rims with 105 hubs.

Oh yeah, this is Peter doing what he does.  Now when he answers how he stays in tip-top shape, he can say he does so by riding his Black Mountain Cycles bike.

(What's playing:  Peter Rowan You Were There For Me)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Last rides of 2014

The last days of 2014 were spectacular for riding.  I started off Christmas day with a great 75 mile ride with 6700' of climbing by pedaling to Mill Valley and then climbing Railroad Grade up to the summit of Mt. Tam.  There were quite a few people up at the peak celebrating their Christmas day.  From the east peak of Mt. Tam, I continued across Ridgecrest and down to Alpine Lake.  By the time I got to Alpine Lake, I had that feeling that I was pretty much ready to be done, but I still had just under 30 more miles to go including some more climbing.  By the time I got to White's Hill, I was feeling pretty good again knowing that there was still more to go, but it was slightly down hill.  It's amazing what a very gradual descent will do to the psyche.  By the end of the day, I was ready for my Christmas recovery dinner.  Well earned.

Rolling around the Nicasio Reservior

The reservoir was spilling over the spillway thanks to a very wet December.  This day, however, was clear and dry.

Up Railroad Grade to that high point up yonder.

The Marin Headlands and San Francisco from Railroad Grade.

Bolinas from Ridgerest Dr.

Pedaling on the Cross Marin Trail

Black Mountain - 3 more miles

Here's the route info:

A few days later, I decided, it was another blue sky day.  Seemed like a good day to pedal out to the lighthouse.

Had the road to myself

Looking south over one of the ranches and Drake's Estero

Ten miles of beach - Pt. Reyes Beach

Pt. Reyes Beach from the park housing at the lighthouse

Here's to great rides in 2015.

(What's playing:  Talking Heads Gangster of Love)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year's parts sale

It's a challenge to maintain the proper levels of inventory in a bike shop.  It's even more challenging when your shop is remotely located yet frequented by folks who may need something while out riding or visiting on vacation.  However, it's impractical to carry everything to fill that once in a couple year need.  And that is precisely why I'm feeling the need to reduce my expense of carrying all the inventory I do.  I've been wanting to do this for quite a while, yet the method to advertise sale parts is somewhat limited and I don't have tons of foot traffic to move stuff out.  

So, thanks to Kirk Pacenti, I noticed he posted a list of stuff he was in need of moving out via a photo album on flickr.  Hey, I can do that too.  Here it is - my flickr album of parts on special sale with a bit of info and prices.  As I sell off items, the photos will be deleted and as I find more stuff, I'll add photos.  

Dig in, you know you need some of this stuff!  Here's the link to the photo album.  There's cranks, tires, hubs, clothes, fenders, cranks, brakes, tires, and cranks listed. 

(What's playing:  Sturgill Simpson Long White Line)