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)