Monday, March 23, 2009

Screeeeeeeeeech....

What an awful screeching sound it must have made when these disc brake pads wore through the pad and half-way through the metal back plate. One can only imagine. The damage that these pads wrought to the rotor and the pistons was pretty incredible, though. But, one caliper overhaul, two new pistons and seals, a new rotor, a new set of pads, and a brake bleed and this brake was just like new.

The usual 45 minutes or so to do all this (including diagnosing) was eclipsed when the pistons wouldn't budge even with a burst of compressed air through the main hydraulic line. A careful mining operation was needed to chip and finally crack the pistons in half to extract them. I sure like Avid's BB-7 disc brakes.

The left pad in this photo has had it's "pad" completely worn through and the backing plate is now 1mm thick. A new brake's back plate is 2mm thick.


(What's playing: Texas Tornados Haleys Comet)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Now, this is pretty dang cool...

When it rains, it pours. Not long ago, bikeradar.com had pictures and an interview with me on-line. And now in the May 2009 issue of Mountain Bike Action, there is a page with some info and pictures of the shop! My buddy Jimmy Mac (thanks!) was visiting over New Year's and stopped by the shop. And it was way cool that Steve Potts stopped by while Jimmy Mac was there. How cool is it that he put a bit about the shop in the magazine! Here's a scan of the page (hope I'm not breaking any copyright rules - avert your eyes, Jimmy Mac).


(What's in the glass: Still that Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale - but not for long...)

Have a pint, or two...

In my quest to promote the shop a bit more, I've received a bunch of pint glasses emblazoned with the Black Mountain Cycles logo as well as frame stickers, the kind bike shops put on new bike builds, and decals for custom wheel builds.

Pint glasses! These fine, clear mixers have a 16 oz. capacity and allow you to view the beautiful deep amber color of your favorite fermented adult beverage. They hold the amber liquid nicely and don't leak, thereby ensuring that what you poured gets past your tongue and into your gut very efficiently. I christened my first pint in my new glasses yesterday with a nice Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale - one of my favorites. Get yours for $9.50 each or two for $15.00!
From Bikes & Things in the Shop

They look way better filled.
From Bikes & Things in the Shop


I also recently got frame stickers and rim stickers that I can personalize with the owner's name. I think they're pretty cool. This wheel is a 650b wheelset that will soon be on a custom titanium Potts frame. Check back often to check on the final bike.
From Bikes & Things in the Shop

From Bikes & Things in the Shop

From Bikes & Things in the Shop


(What's in the glass today: Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale - mmmm)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bakersfield and Beyond...

I've always had a somewhat eclectic taste in music. However, country was never really one of those tastes. Oh sure, there were the classics like Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Sr. But I never really got into it deeper that those. So it shocked me as much as anyone that I found myself listening to country music. Not just any country because "country" as a genre has far reaching tentacles. I found myself leaning to some of the newer alt-country artists such as Jay Farrar and his bands Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo. The Knitters were an obvious choice as well as they were born from the band X and Dave Alvin from The Blasters - all of which I listened to a lot during the 80's.

During January and February, my friend Amanda asked me if I would help her cover a bluegrass show on KWMR. The host of the show was out of town and needed someone to cover for him. We played some bluegrass, some alt-country and then we played Ruby Dee and The Snakehandlers from Seattle. While reading the back of this promo CD, it said something like "if you like Ruby Dee and The Snakehandlers, you'll like The Blasters, X, Dave Alvin....all part of the Bakersfield Sound." We looked at each other and said "The Bakersfield Sound?" That's when Bam-Bam called in and said, "Yeah, The Bakersfield Sound! Play some Dwight Yoakam!"

We had one last show to cover and decided to dedicate it to The Bakersfiled Sound. We did some research and found that, yes indeed, there really is a Bakersfield Sound that was a response to the slick offerings that Nashville had to offer in the late '50's. So some musicians plugged in their Fender Telecasters and started a rockin' country sound that was influenced by the rockabilly, rock & roll, and the border music. Buck Owens popularized the sound and it took off. Dwight Yoakam brought into more of the mainstream in the 80's and it's reach continued to be far reaching. The amount of artists that we recognized who are influenced by The Bakersfield Sound is far reaching.

With that one last show we did, we got several calls in the studio from folks saying they were digging what we were playing. We jokingly said to each other that the host of the show we were covering for was going to have to wrestle us to get his show back. We didn't need to go that far because the next week, we got an e-mail saying that if we wanted it, the time slot was ours. This wasn't just any time slot, this was a prime time slot, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. every other Thursday.

We jumped at the opportunity and beginning two days from now, March 19, at 6:30, the debut of Bakersfield and Beyond airs during KWMR's pledge drive. So, if anyone wants to listen here locally 90.5 or 89.9 in Bolinas or stream on the web at kwmr.org, tune us in. We'll play some great music and we will have a special guest calling in who live in Bakersfield and works hard to keep the music alive in Bakersfield. If you like what you hear, call in with a pledge (415-663-8273) as KWMR is a non-commercial, community owned radio station and needs listeners to pledge money to keep great commercial-free radio playing.

(What's playing: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles Tears of a Clown)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Salsa Fargo...

Talk about a bike that was created pretty much out of thin air that has captured the hearts of bike riders everywhere. The Salsa Fargo is a niche-of-a-niche bike. But it has proven to be very capable of doing a lot of different things pretty darn good. This is the epitome of an adventure bike. Capable of loaded touring both on and off-road. It's also a pretty good all-rounder, especially out here in West Marin where the ability to link up roads, dirt roads, trails, heck, anything that you want to throw at it. Couple all that with the ability to easily run comfortable drop bars and the Fargo package is pretty sweet. And I doubt I'm the only one who has vivid flashbacks of the movie Fargo and police chief Marge Gunderson's Minnesotan accents. "I'm not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou." You betcha.

Alrighty then. What's this Fargo thing about? The complete bike is a pretty sweet deal. For $1960, you get a complete Shimano XT parts package right down to the hubs - which is a refreshing spec in this day of using other Taiwanese hubs or wheels (not that there's anything wrong with those). The Shimano bar-end shifters move a Shadow XT rear derailleur and a pair of nice (baring one modification) Tektro brake levers activate Avid BB7 disc brakes. The large size tipped the scale at about 29 pounds with a set of test ride flat pedals.

Framesets are also available for $655. There are many ways to build up a Fargo to suit your tastes. Jason at Salsa has built several Fargos for himself, each one built to do something different. He's got his full-on touring set-up and a "go-fast" Fargo built with an emphasis on lighter weight - kind of like a monster cross on 'roids.

On to some pictures...
This one was test ridden with the Selle An-Atomica seat (a great upgrade for a Fargo - or any bike where you'll be in the saddle for a long time - or short, it doesn't care how long you're in the saddle, but you might). The black stripe on the top tube is a couple wraps of cloth handlebar tape to protect the top tube from the shifters should the bars swing around wildly.
From Bikes for sale

From Bikes for sale

Very nice contrasting decal panel.
From Bikes for sale

What are all those bosses on the fork legs for? Give up? Okay, from the bottom: low-rider rack mount, water bottle, water bottle, and finally, that top one that causes folks to scratch heads, it's where a toe strap can be secured and used to hold a bottle firmly in place - especially handy if that bottle is an aluminum fuel bottle.
From Bikes for sale

Great looking details on the dropouts.
From Bikes for sale

Post mount disc brake on the chain stay frees up the seat stay and makes rack installation a breeze.
From Bikes for sale

Post mount disc brake on the fork too.
From Bikes for sale

Framesets too.
From Bikes for sale

Finally, there was only some minor modification that I had to do to get the Fargo to work perfectly and up to my standards. This is one of the reasons why, when you get a bike from me, you get a bike dialed and working to its absolute best potential. The combination of the shape of the brake lever body, how the cable casing exits the brake lever, and the shape of the bar where the brake cable housing exits made for a very tight bend in the casing that caused the cable to bind inside slightly. I filed the corner off and made the casing flow much more gradual - better braking!
From Bikes for sale


(What's playing: KWMR Sunday Celebration of Sacred Music)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New employee...

Welp, I hired someone to clean bikes. Only problem is she only cleans aluminum bikes made in Farifax. The work's kind of hit and miss, but they do show up on occasion. Seriously, Jacquie Phelan and her Dutch friend Erik (with a 'k') stopped by before and after a ride a couple of days ago. I caught Jacquie mid-wash of one of her Cunninghams.

(What's playing: Bob Dylan Peggy Day)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jumbo shrimp...

Oxymorons are pretty fun(ny). Jumbo Shrimp, freezer burn, tragic comedy, found missing... So it is ironic that another can be added to the list - Fixie Inc. Chip Race. Let me explain. Fixie Inc. is a German company who's name also tells you what they do. They make fixies or fixed gear road bikes. Or at least that's what they started out making. I remember seeing these bikes about 4 years ago at Eurobike in Germany. They were one of the standouts at the show for me personally. They just had that clean classic look.

Now Fixie Inc. is making geared bikes (actually they've been making them for a while, but I just noticed). Personally, I think the company name should be different if they are diversifying their product line with geared bikes. Geared bikes now outnumber their fixed or single-speed models by 3:2. Don't get me wrong, I think their bikes are beautiful. The colors, graphic treatment, frame design...are all drop-dead gorgeous. But a geared Fixie Inc. bike is like a 26" wheeled Niner.

(What's playing: KWMR)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Painting pt. 2 bikes back on the rack...

I'm beat. Putting 18 bikes back on the rack is much more difficult than taking them down. Even more so after I inflated 36 tires that had aired down over the past many months. Inflated them with a hand pump. But, they're up and I mounted three bikes on the wall behind the bikes making some room down-stairs, so to speak. The green walls absorb more of the light and really show that a couple of my fluorescent lamps are out. I'll have to figure out what's wrong with them soon since the lamps are new. Probably the ballast.

The new color on the wall sure makes the shop feel a lot nicer.
From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos


Got everything buttoned up when the skies opened up and dumped on us. After the mini-flood a couple of weeks ago, I'm glad I improved the drainage in front of the shop. Worked like a charm to divert the water.

It was dumping during this shot. Notice the parking lot. Water, but not a crazy amount. Wait.
From Shop Photos


Yep, it's raining.
From Shop Photos

Now, there's water and guess where it's headed.
From Shop Photos

Well, not all of it, but a good amount of it. It all got diverted down past the shop. Bullet dodged.
From Shop Photos


(What's playing: The Knitters Long Chain On)

Time to step it up, or getting ready for the coming economic recovery...

I've read some posts from other dealers stating now is the time to re-energize your bike shop, update your marketing plan, refocus your efforts, invest in yourself... I think, if you have the resources, this is a great time for a makeover. I mean, what can go wrong, the economy already sucks (but don't tell that to people who are still buying bikes).

With that in mind, I want to go into spring with a new focus on the touring and adventure bike segments. I also want to take this time to step up my marketing efforts and spruce up the shop a bit. When I opened the shop, I pretty much did just the bare minimum. Got bike racks up to display bikes. Found some display fixtures and slatwall through craigslist. Just enough. Well, now it's time to put the frosting on the cake, so to speak.

Step one is painting the walls of the shop. Okay, not all the walls, but the ones that can make the biggest impact by not being white. So, that's how I spent my day off yesterday, painting. It was raining and I didn't feel like ridig (actually, I did ride my commuter to all my errands - bank, post office, tax person, coffee shop, hardware store), so it was off to the hardware store to pick up paint. I selected a shade of green - it had some cute name, but I forgot.

First, move all the bikes out of the way. Not as easy as I thought. There was a lot of bikes to move. Before.
From Shop Photos

Bikes moved.
From Shop Photos

Where did I get all this stuff!?!
From Shop Photos

The shade of green ended up pretty close to the Fun Guy Green on the Salsa Fargo.
From Shop Photos

I probably should have removed the wheel trays as it would have been faster in the long-run. However, I thought I could just use the wheel trays to stand on to paint the wall. As it was, standing on the trays put my head in the ceiling so I had to crouch to paint - nothing a beer and handful of Advil won't fix.
From Shop Photos

How I left it yesterday. Time to get the bikes back this morning and get the other wall ready to paint.
From Shop Photos


I'm pretty stoked how it turned out. It sure makes the shop have a much warmer feel and maybe, just maybe, the color or green brings out the buyers in folks!

The second part of the makeover is rewriting some of my website to emphasize the touring, cross, and adventure bikes. The site needs an update anyway and I need to finish the text for the vintage bike photo album page too.

(and yes, the economic recovery will happen sooner than later if we all let it happen)

(What's playing: Dean Elliot & His Big Band Lonesome Road)