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.

Balance

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

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 for one of his frames, not measured in weeks or months or even years, but could be measured in decades.  I'm not sure how I feel about that when there are plenty of other frame builders who can build the same thing in a fraction of the time.  I don't think I could wait years for a frame.  According to the owner of this frame, he waited 14 years.  1.4 decades.  I know two other friends who have been waiting years for theirs.  

What one does get after waiting that long 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. 

After 14 years waiting, the owner was justifiably excited like a kid in a candy store.  Here's to enjoying the heck out of a great bike.  















(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)