Monday, May 11, 2015

Kit Ordering Window Closing Soon

The window to order Black Mountain Cycles kit closes soon - Wednesday at midnight.  Or is that Thursday at 12:00 a.m. - which is one second after Wednesday night at 11:59 and 59 seconds.  Time is confusing at the midnight hours.  

Anyway, there are a lot of options for jerseys and shorts on the ordering page on the Voler website that are available now until the order window closes in both men's and women's styles.  I'll have some items available in the shop for sale later, but I won't have all of these options.  In fact, I have no idea what I'll have right now.  My advice - get it now so you can get exactly what you want.  

Here's the link to get started ordering.  The production of the clothing is slated for around July 10 with shipping directly after.  Don't delay!

bmc jersey

(What's playing:  Tom Russell Oil Field Girls)

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Bicycle Wheel

You know how after you hear so many stories of someone that, at some point, you start to begin to believe you know that person too?  Even if you've never met them?  That was kind of like how it was with Jobst Brandt.  I never met him.  Never corresponded with him.  But there's a connection.  I bought his book The Bicycle Wheel long ago in the mid '80s.  Read it cover to cover, inside out, many times.  It's not how I learned to build wheels - that was a result of Chuck Hoefer's mentorship at Pacific Coast Cycles in the late '80s.  The two were very complementary in my understanding of the wheel and my love of building wheels.  

Then there all of his many postings on threads.  I never participated in those - not enough time to keep up on that.  But I did read a lot of his posts when I was researching some aspect of the bicycle.  His posts always intrigued me.  Brash, knowing, opinionated, never quavering.  I like to feel that some form of flexibility is good in most aspects of bike mechanics and life in general.  

And then there were the infamous "Jobst Rides."  Rides of 100 miles of more on 70s/80s era road bikes with a lot of off-road riding and a lot of off the road bushwhacking.  Character shaping.  Those souls who braved those rides with him learned a lot about themselves and their abilities over the course of many hours on the bike.  Lessons held tight for these past 30+ years.  

Nope, I never knew Jobst.  But, I've got friends who have some great stories about him.  My co-host on KWMR's Bakersfield & Beyond radio show, Amanda Eichstaedt, used to manage Palo Alto Bicycles back in the 90s and Jobst would cruise into the shop on his big yellow bike and tell her what for.  Amanda writes:

"Jobst was great. It was the Palo Alto Bicycles mail order catalog that hooked me in many ways to bicycling when I was growing up in Tacoma and riding my bike. Many years later I became the manager of Palo Alto Bicycles and Jobst was a frequent visitor to the shop. He was very close friends with the owners, Bud and Neil Hoffacker. Jobst liked to tell me what I should do. It was maddening, but I learned some great nuggets from him. He was the one to explain to me in detail why a person is more likely to get a flat tire when conditions are wet by bringing in some surgical tubing and a razor blade and having me try to cut the tubing both dry and wet - try it. 

He also had the most amazing sweater. He told me the story of his sweater once. His ex-wife had knitted him the sweater out of the most gorgeous green wool. He did not like how the sweater fit so he took it to someone else and had it unraveled and re-knitted. At least that is how I recall the story. I also figured out how to get him off my back when he would come into the shop and fuss at me. I kept suggesting that I come over to his house and help him sort his many slides and photos that were used in the old PAB catalog. All I had to do was try to set a date for the meeting to sort the photos and he was gone like lightning! What a character, with his big yellow bike and long legs riding all over the place. I'm glad I knew you Jobst!"

A poem for Jobst from Amanda:
Big yellow bike
Conundrum, not a word you would use in your book
True rolling resistance
Brown corduroy trousers
Green sweater
Alps pedaling summit shooter
In my shop, the display cases I have came from Palo Alto Bicycles by way of Jock Boyer's shop.  According to Amanda, it's likely that Jobst gave her the flat tire in the wet story over one of these cases.  This link to a Bicycle Retailer obituary on Jobst is a good read - and the comments after the article from people who actually knew him are a great insight. 

I'm glad I knew about you, Jobst.  Jobst died May 6, 2015 at 80 years of age.

The Palo Alto Bicycles display case.

(What's playing:  The Specials Too Much Too Young)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sample Frames For Sale

(Edit:  As of May 10, 2015, all of these sample frames are sold.  Thanks to everyone who picked one up.)

Back in 2000 something, when I was working on getting this shop opened and creating a line of frames, I had a bunch of sample frames made.  Besides the 62cm orange road bike and root beer cross bike I had made and still ride to this day, I had some other 56cm frames made in various colors.  This was kind of a hold over of my Haro/Masi days when I would have samples made in different colors to use in determining what the production colors would be.  

Initially, I didn't want to sell these samples because, well, they were samples.  I sold one early on to a friend who rode it for a while and later, I bought it back.  But after putting thousands of miles on the road frame I still ride and the cross frame that is seeing commuter duty now, I think it's time to sell off the other samples and make room in my limited space shop.  Personally, I couldn't have been happier with how these sample frames ride and how they continue to ride.

So, here's the deal - I've got a few sample frames available.  First come, first served.  A few of these have been sold recently as I pulled them out and was deciding what to do with them.  All the frames are pretty much what the production frames ended up being for the first production, with a couple of exceptions.  None of the frames are heat-treated or have the ED rust resistant coating like the production frames have.  Here's the scoop.  All frames are 56cm.  All frames are powder coated with no clear coat.  All frames can be with our without decals - your choice.  And all frames probably have some sort of scuff of scratch after being moved around here and there these past 6 years.  Nothing horrible, but if you want perfection, these won't fit that bill. 

Road Frame
Road frames are sold out
One lightly used frame and fork in orange $150.   SOLD!
Orange, Silver, or Black (one each) - $250.  Orange frame is sold.  Black frame is sold.  Silver is sold.
How are these different from the production frame besides the lack of heat-treatment and ED coating?
  1. Seat tube is 31.8mm (production is 28.6).
  2. Seat post size is 29.4, but I'll include a shim that will allow you to run a 27.2 post (I've been using one for 6 years with no issues).
  3. Max tire size is roughly 32mm.  Production frames have a slightly longer chainstay and a bit of a crimp to allow larger tires.  A 32 measured tire fits, but not with a lot of side-to-side clearance.  I've run 28 for most of the 6 years I've ridden this frame.
  4. The chainstay and seat stay bridges have no threaded bosses for fender installs.  
  5. I think that's about it.  As I mentioned, I've been riding a 62cm version of this sample for 6 years and it's still my primary road bike.  Gets ridden all over - on road and off.  

Cross frame
Cross frame is sold!
One frame in 56cm in what I called midnight blue.  It's a dark, dark blue with a bit of metallic in it.  $250 for frame and fork.
What's different about this frame than the production frames?
  1. The dropouts are not drilled and tapped for adjusters.  Adjusters are convenient on horizontal dropouts because they let you fit the rear wheel to the same spot every time you remove and install the rear wheel.  But, if you don't have them, you can figure it out.  I've figured it out for the past 6 years on my bike.  
  2. The seat stay bridge is larger diameter than the production frames.
  3. The rear brake cable stop on the seat stay is not set up for a barrel adjuster to compensate for pad wear or cable stretch.  It's a simple cable stop.

Fixed gear road frame 
Black frame is sold.  And now the white frame is sold.
56cm with a 55.5cm top tube.  It's more road fixed gear than track fixed gear geometry, but has a high-ish bb with a 63mm bb drop.  One in white powder coat, one in a semi-gloss black that I think is wet paint.  $250.  Here's some details:
  1. Seat post - 27.2
  2. 1" threadless headset required (not included)
  3. One set of bottle bossed on the d/t
Back when I was doing all the product development for Masi, we needed to create a track frame.  In my mind there was really only one track end that was acceptable - the Campagnolo 1053 track end which were no longer in production.  I wanted that same look on the Masi frames I was designing.  I bought a set of 1053 track ends from someone on ebay years ago and recreated the shape for the Masi frames.  This frame uses the same track end I created for Masi.  One of the things I did at Masi that I'm most proud of - incorporating the nostalgia.  And they still use that dropout today.

 That's it.  If you want one of these, shoot me an email blackmtncycles(at)gmail(dot)com and secure one.  Once they're gone, they're gone. (As of 5/10/15, they are all gone.  Thanks to everyone who picked one up.  Enjoy!)

(What's playing:  Pink Floyd The Great Gig In The Sky)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kit Ordering Window Is Open

So, that teaser I posted a while back with the image of the new shop jersey and shorts?  Yeah, that one.  Turns out that it's actually happening.  From now until midnight May 13, folks have the ability to order direct from Voler and have it conveniently shipped directly to you.  There are plenty of options for jerseys, shorts, vests.  All sizes.  Men's and women's.  I've ordered some things with this same system from Voler in the past and it's pretty darn easy.  The scheduled ship date is July 10.   

Here's the details from Voler.  

Welcome to the Voler Online Ordering System
Your team has decided to use the Voler Custom Online Order System for collecting and processing your cycling apparel order. Please follow the steps below to place your individual order for inclusion in the overall team order.
1. Click on this link to access your team order site:
2. Click on “LOGIN” to enter your Login/Billing Info. Click on “Create Account” to save the information and to create your new User ID and Password. You will automatically be directed to the home page for your team order. If you are a returning customer, please use your original Login and Password.
3. Click on “Begin Shopping" to gain access to the orderable products page. To place items in your shopping cart, click on the item you want to order, then the options you want to select, then the “Add to cart” button. You can choose to “View Your Bag” or “Continue Shopping” after adding each item. Repeat these steps for each item you want to order.
4. After placing the last item you want to order in your shopping cart, click on “View Your Bag” to display the items. Carefully review the items and make any necessary modifications or deletions. Because each item is custom built, refunds and exchanges will not be accepted. After you have confirmed your order is correct, click on “Proceed to Checkout” to complete the secure checkout process by entering your credit card payment information.
5. After you have completed the secure checkout process, an Order Confirmation will automatically be displayed and e-mailed to you for your records.
6. After the order deadline date has passed, you will no longer be able to access the order site. If you have not completed the checkout process for your order by this date, any items in your cart will be removed. The Order Deadline and the Order Ship Date are displayed on the order homepage. The Ship Date is the date that your order will be shipped from Voler.

(What's playing:  Muddy Waters Walkin' Blues)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's In The Stand Wednesday

Oh look, another Cunningham.  I really do enjoy each of the Cunninghams I get to work on.  This one arrived with its owner on vacation from Southern California for a frame restoration, new paint on the fork and stem, and some overall get-it-back-in-shape.  

First things first, the frame and stem (a later sourced Ibis made LD) went over to Charlie Cunningham to have a few of the cable stops replaced since they had cracked.  The original stem was a flat bar stem with a taper interface.  There is a tapered quill silver-brazed into the steerer tube.  A flat bar stem uses one bolt from the top to secure the stem.  An LD stem, however, needs to fit onto a non-tapered stub.  Charlie made a taper adapter allowing the LD stem to be secured.  

Once the cable stops and taper adapter were made, off went the fork and stem to Joe Bell for some fresh original silver paint.  While the fork and stem were off for repaint, the frame got stripped of its parts and old decals and restored using a method Charlie recommends to protect the bare aluminum frames.  New decals were applied after the frame was refinished, a sourced WTB/King headset installed, and brakes disassembled and cleaned before reinstalling.  And then the almost like new frameset, sans wheels, bars, seatpost was sent back to its owner to finish assembling (yeah, I wish I could have finished building it and dialing it in).  #007 back in action.

The parts after cleaning, before reassembling

Swiss cheese roller-cam

I left the original NORBA sticker on the frame - probably can't find one of those these days.

I dremeled out the lip on the headset lock nut so it would thread fully over the fork's threads and allow the taper adapter to seat fully engaged on the taper.

The grime on the frame before cleaning and refinishing

Another before


The after luster

Feathering the edge of the neoprene chainstay protector so it conforms better to the tight radius of the chainstay and stays adhered better.

A couple tools to help ensure the decals and overlays are aligned properly.

One of the brake pad holders was broken, so a replacement was sourced.

Ready to go home.

(What's playing:  Led Zeppelin Black Dog)

Monday, April 20, 2015

MUSA Disc Cross Build

The first order for this current run of MUSA disc frames asked if he could get his powder coated green - specifically RAL 6018, a very bright green.  I thought, "well, okay, I guess a few green frames will sell, eventually."  I don't know what it is, but dang, this green bikes looks HOT.  I'm really digging the look of the frame once it has decals applied and is built up.  The new owner also thinks it looks HOT and that's what's important.  

The new Shimano RS685 mechanical/hydraulic system is really sweet.  It feels great.  Brakes are there when you need them and Shimano shifting is flawless.  The rest of the build is a really great complement to the bike as a whole:
White Industries CLD hubs with Pacenti SL25 rims and WTB Nano 40 TCS tires
White Industries VBC road cranks 44/30 with a Phil Wood bottom bracket
Thomson X4 stem, Masterpiece seat post with a WTB Devo seat
Salsa Cowbell 2 bar
XTR pedals
Ultegra derailleurs with an 11-32 cassette
King Cage Iris cages and a Chris King headset round it out

How much does it weigh?  I don't know.  Didn't weight it.  But it rides and feels great.  And that's what matters.  It weighs what it weighs.  No more, no less.

This bike will remain local and could be spotted out on the vast array Marin's trails and roads.  Enjoy Chris!

(What's playing:  Devo Clockout)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's In The Stand Wednesday

Rather than dedicate on post to each bike this will be one big ole WITS photo dump because I've got the time and I need to get it off my to do list.  So, here goes - first up is one of the new MUSA Falconer Cycles made disc cross bike.  For some reason, I didn't get a full bike shot in the stand (yeah, I suck).  But here are some cool details.

Segmented fork

Front end

Rear end

Seat cluster

De Rosa at dawn

The De Rosa was a rebuild after a repaint by Rick at D&D over in the east bay.  It was built with some of its original parts and some newer, less worked over, parts the owner brought in.  It turned out really nice.  Just felt right.  The actual color of the bike is more like the shot of it above taken just after dawn with sunlight coming in through the front door. 

I heart De Rosa


Details and chromed lugs


This Serotta Ottrott got rebuilt with new Super Record 

Super Record

Such a cool r/d design

Ti and carbon Ottrott

Not a lot of clearance.  25mm Michelins that measure out to 28.

This CS1 inherited the 10 speed Campy from the Ottrott complete with rear shifter overhaul.

Just like new with new g-springs

Rear wheel also got an overhaul

And this older wheel with Campagnolo Record hub got a rebuild.  The old "Z" bend aero spokes got ditched in favor of new DT Swiss Competition spokes. 

(What's playing:  Percy Sledge It Tears Me Up)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

West Marin Eroica

Over the past weekend, the California Eroica happened.  I had hopes of getting away to ride it with some Dino friends.  But alas, business first.  Next year.  Yeah, next year.  Instead, I thought, "hey, pull out the old Bridgestone and get out for a morning on/off road ride!"  I hadn't ridden the old girl since I converted it back to gears from the fixed gear bike I had it set up with for many years.  Air in the tires and it was good to go.  

This '94 Bridgestone RB-1 was the last 62cm frame to leave their San Leandro warehouse in 1995.  I was working at Haro and heard that Bridgestone was shuttering their doors.  I always hand a big hankering for their bikes having sold them in the shop I worked at in Carlsbad, CA.  However, their largest mountain bike was still a touch too small and I had a custom road bike.  I figured this was my last chance to pick up an RB-1, so a call to someone I knew who worked at Bridgestone and I was informed that they had one 62cm RB-1 left and soon than bike was in my hands.  I built it up with odds and ends I had at the time.  Today, those odds and ends are fairly coveted parts, but back then they were just parts.

Salsa quill stem
Mavic bars
Specialized alloy headset
Cloth bar tape and Velox bar end plugs
Simplex retrofriction shifters
Mavic 851 rear derailleur
Shimano Dura Ace front derailleur
Ritchey Logic cranks - 110 bcd, 53/38, 177.5mm
Sedisport chain
Campagnolo Lambda Strada rims
Campagnolo Record 32h high flange hubs
Dura Ace 13-22 freewheel
Suntour XC seatpost
Selle Italia Turbo seat
Shimano 600EX brake levers
Dia-Compe Gran Compe brake levers
Schwalbe Durano 28 tires

For the longest time, I had this bike set up with a fixed gear.  I don't know why, but as soon as I got on it and started riding that morning, I rode it like I would ride a fixed gear.  Always pedaling, not coasting...there's a certain way you ride a fixed gear bike compared to a bike that freewheels.  Hard to explain.  Maybe it was because I had been commuting on my fixed gear Ibis Scorcher, but when I got on the RB-1, I felt like it was my old fixed gear bike.  It didn't take long to get more into the groove and get 'er going.  Until the climb out of the Tomales Bay watershed and over into the Point Reyes National Seashor.  Then I remembered that a 22t large freewheel cog was the climbing gear of a young man.  But, I got up and over the hills and it wasn't bad at all.  Just a bit of grit.  And maybe half a lung.  And a lot of out of the saddle.

Out onto the seashore's roads, I headed out to the dirt L Ranch Rd. which is very much like what the dirt roads of l'eroica look like.  

As I got to the end of the road, the cows scattered at my approach.

But as I leaned my bike against the fence and took a photo or two, they drifted back.  Probably thinking I had food for them.

Pretty soon, they were all about crowding up to the fence.

Looking out at Marshall across Tomales Bay from the Marshall Beach trail.

After not having ridden a bike with down tube shifters for a number of years, I found it to be completely natural shifting.  Like I never forgot or like it was yesterday when I last road a bike with down tube shifters.  Simple.  The one thing I did discover was the drop position of the old Mavic bars was pretty damn low and far away.  The tops and hoods were fine.  The drops were a fairly uncomfortable position.  Did I used to be that flexible?  And if I'm going to continue to ride it where I need brakes, I'll have to fit new brake blocks because 20 year old brake blocks are pretty much like bricks against the wheels.  Not optimal when approaching an increasing radius turn at speed.

An excellent day on the bike.

(What's playing:  KWMR Silver Dollar Jukebox)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nice Wheels

Wheels may be one of my favorite things on a bike.  Wheels are the main connection to how a bike feels and rides.  Wheels and tires are the point of contact between the bike and the road.  So, why would you want to ride on anything but a set of wheels that makes the riding experience more enjoyable.  

I recall years ago when parts makers would court me to get their components spec'd on to the Masi road bikes I was designing and developing.  There are some parts from that era that I still use and are my favorites today.  One being the fi'zi:k Arione saddle.  Still use them today and still ride one that has a "prototype" sticker on it.  One of the parts I ceased using after spending considerable time on is the Mavic Ksyrium wheelset.

The day that I decided I didn't much care for the Ksyrium wheels because I found something better is a day I remember well and I don't have many moments like that I recall easily.  Setting the stage, the Mavic Ksyrium wheel is stiff.  It's built with a tallish aluminum rim and some fat, bladed aluminum spokes.  It's a road racing wheelset.  Not built for all-day comfort.  The wide bladed spokes are supposedly aero - until the wind comes at your from the side, then they move you side-to-side on the road with the wind gusts.  But, if that's all you know and all you've been riding because they represent "the best" wheelset on the market at the time, then that's all you know and you just get used to them.  

Then the day Ric Hjertberg of FSA shows up with a new set of RD-400 wheels.  Ric is the second half of a brother (Jon) team behind Wheelsmith and knows a thing or two about wheels.  Ric's an engineer/designer at FSA and arrives for an OEM meeting with a set of unusual wheels.  The rims of the wheels have an unusual shape.  The shape, Ric explains, is toroidal* and is aerodynamic and is an ideal shape for a rim that gives it great strength when spokes are tensioned in it.  There were probably a bunch of other technical features about the wheels that I forgot.

Ric leaves me with the set of wheels and soon I fit them to my bike and head out for a lunch ride.  "Whoa, these wheels feel friggin' great on the road.  They're so smooth feeling and I'm not getting blown all over the place in the wind."  What I discovered was a nice set of wheels that made the bike feel more alive and smooth and comfortable than those Ksyrium wheels felt.  The spokes were much thinner stainless aero spokes that do what stainless spokes do - flex with the road imperfections.  Just enough to smooth out the ride.  The thick aluminum blades of the Ksyrium wheels didn't flex.  They didn't budge.  They just transmitted all the road shock through the frame into me.  

Now, what was the point of this post as I got side-tracked about the past.  Oh yeah, nice wheels.  I love building nice wheels.  Here's some recent wheel builds.

No Tubes Flow EX with White Industries MI6 and an XD driver

HED Belgium rims, Chris King R45 hubs, Sapim CX-Ray spokes, Continental GP 4000s II tires

Pacenti SL25 rims, Industry Nine hubs, DT Swiss spokes

Not wheels yet.  I really like the Pacenti SL23 rims and really like what they did with the minimal branding on the silver version.

Velocity A23 offset rim + old Shimano XT 135 spaced hub = dishless wheel.

Velocity Blunt 35 rims, White Industries CLD hubs, DT Swiss spokes - and 36h for extra durability.  Big thanks to rim and hub makers who continue to offer 36h wheels.  

*You may have heard about toroidal shaped rims the past several years from the folks at Zipp who "pioneered" the shape.  However, Ric and FSA showed off this shape in a rim years before Zipp.  I don't think the design lasted very long with FSA.  Designs that are too far ahead of their time generally don't gain quick industry recognition initially. 

(What's playing:  The Jimi Hendrix Experience Hey Joe)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jersey Design!

It's been almost 8 years so I figured it was time to put together some artwork for a Black Mountain Cycles jersey/shorts.  A big shot of thanks to Ken Prosser of Kenji Designs for taking my chicken scratch sketches and putting them to something that looks damn fine, if I do say so myself.  I'm working out details of the how, when, and how much with Voler and as soon as I have info, I'll post it.  Suffice it to say their production schedule is such that end of June is the initial time when they would be available.  More details soon!

I'm particular proud of myself for the last minute concept I had of using a classic herringbone road tread pattern and the Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tread pattern on the jersey pockets.  The blue and orange represents the two most popular frame colors I've done (and, coincidentally, it's the classic livery of the Gulf Racing Team).

(What's playing:  The Blasters Justine)