Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ham on dirt...

It's no secret that I'm fascinated by Charlie Cunningham's work. His bikes might not be pretty if your idea of a pretty bike is a lugged steel bike with a stunning paint job. However, his bikes were designed to be ridden. Beauty is in the ride of the beholder. In that sense, his bikes are not necessarily designed to be "art." But in his quest to perfect the riding experience, he has, in a manner of speaking, created high art in the experience one gets while pushing one of his bikes to the limits.

Cunninghams are rare. Forget the fact that at least six of them have made their way through my doors. My shop is an anomaly in the bicycle retail world. A 'Ham in my size is even rarer, although I know where two reside and have seen a third many years ago for sale at Rim Cyclery in Moab.

Now I can make that four bikes I've seen or know about in my size and the fourth one is now mine. Yep, I picked myself up a big ole man-sized Cunningham Indian over the weekend. A few weeks ago, a guy out on a road bike stopped in the shop and took a gander at my old mountain bikes. He spied a customer's Cunningham that is mid-restoration and casually mentioned, "I have one of those, but don't ride it much." That was enough to bring my eyes up and see that he was pretty much my exact body-double. We got to talking and lo and behold, he came by the shop a week or so later with his bike. We agreed on a price and I now own this beauty.

It had been converted to single-speed with a White Industries Eno fixed/free hub and was set up as a fixed gear bike. I'll leave it single-speed for a while until I figure out what I want to do to restore it back to a geared bike like it originally was. I've actually got just about every part required to bring it back to its glory, but there something about it that I like as a single-speed. Simple and clean.

One of the interesting items on the bike are the brakes. They aren't Cunningham or WTB made brakes, but are the first generation Suntour roller-cam brakes that were modified by Charlie and feature custom cam plates and Cunningham roller-cam springs. Pretty cool.

I did make a couple of changes before riding it. I swapped the seat (which was an old Salsa seat) for a Unicaitor and I swapped the Specialized BB-1 RockCombo bars for a set of On-One Midge bars (the stem is an old Salsa for 25.4 flat bars, but I slipped a set of the 25.4 Midge bars through - it's a nice feel on the bike). The position is long and low, but it feels darn good. I'm okay with low. Too high and I feel like I'm riding a couch.

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham

From Cunningham


(What's playing: Jay Farrar Clear Day Thunder)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ham on road...

I like ham. I like ham on a wall. I like ham in the dirt. I like ham on the road. I like ham, yessir and ma'am.

I recently sent one of the Cunninghams I had on display back to it's owner and he sent out a new 'ham to replace it. The 'ham that recently arrived is of the rare road variety. It was built for Todd DeAngelis, a sponsored racer of Charlie's. For a bike this old, it weighs an incredibly respectable 18 pounds.

A story about the bike goes like this: on Todd's first ride with the US National Team at the Olympic Training Center, someone asked "Did your dad make that? Is he a plumber?" Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Todd says that the bike was lighter and stiffer than anything else at the time. It was made for riding - pure and simple.

Check out the bottom bracket. It's interesting that an over-sized bearing placed directly in the bottom bracket shell is the new technology on today's bikes. This bike was made in 1984 or 85 - BB35. Guess what's 25 years old is new again. I just hope that hair bands don't follow suit.










(What's playing: The Knitters Someone Like You)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Barn find...

If you read car magazines, there is the occasional story about the guy who hears about a certain classic, old car for sale that has been stored in a barn for the past 20+ years and has a couple thousand miles on it and after charging the battery, it fires right up and he drives it home.

Recently, the bicycle version of the barn find rolled through the shop. This very early Ritchey Mountain Bike was brought in by the original owner for a couple of new tubes. The bike was in absolutely incredible condition considering it's on the order of 27 years old.






(What's playing: John Doe The Golden State)

Monday, April 27, 2009

File this under WTH?...

So I need some more P-clamps. You know, those clamps that fit on bike frames with no rack braze-ons that allow a rack to be attached to the stay. They are common at auto part stores because they are also used to secure wiring harnesses to fender wells and firewalls. However, that means a 1/2 drive over the hill, so I usually order them from a bicycle distributor. Well, not any more.

Thanks to California Prop 65 legislation that limits the amount of toxic chemicals found in drinking water, it also seemingly applies to any products that may contain lead, I can now not purchase these P-clamps from my distributor. I was placing an on-line order this morning and entered the part number for the clamps, among other parts, hit the "submit" button and got a message that the clamps were "restricted." WTH? A simple clamp restricted? I sent an e-mail asking why they were restricted and got a message back that it was due to the California Prop 65 settlement.

Wow, that is absolutely absurd! It's clearly obvious that lawmakers have absolutely no common sense. Do I think that there should be a definite limit or elimination of toxic chemicals in anything that humans consume? Yes. Do I think that a simple P-clamp that may contain trace elements of a toxic chemical like lead should be restricted for sale? No. What do these lawmakers think folks are going to do with a handful of P-clamps - chew them up like they were tortilla chips? Fer cryin' out loud people, have some common sense.

We can't keep kids in high school past 9th grade, but we'll do everything we can so they can't be poisoned by toxic P-clamps. Priorities are hard to figure out.

(What's playing: Buddy Holly Peggy Sue)

Friday, April 24, 2009

If you read nothing else today...

Just like the post I made a couple months ago, there is another great Andy Hampsten interview at nyvelocity.com. It's long and the only advice I can offer is don't get stuck reading the comments at the end - some good, some not. The real read is the interview.

(What's playing: kwmr.org)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gordon - I have your Raleigh Sojourn info...

Gordon from Santa Rosa, if, by chance you search this out, I have the information you requested for that Raleigh Sojourn. The e-mail I sent did not go through, so I must have some of it transposed and I don't have your phone number. Give me a ring or send me an e-mail (the link is over to the right) and I'll get the info to you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bakersfield and Beyond: Thurs 4/16...

Bakersfield and Beyond: Music for Mavericks, Outlaws and Romantics. Our show airing Thursday April 16 is sure to rock the house. In honor of the induction of Wanda Jackson into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's ladies night. We'll emphasize songs by the ladies of the Bakersfield Sound and will be airing an interview Amanda and I conducted today with Wanda Jackson. It was a really great 15 minutes where Wanda talked about her days in Bakersfield and Los Angeles as well as Elvis Costello's push to get her recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Listen live at 6:30 p.m. P.D.T at 90.5 in Point Reyes Station, 89.5 Bolinas or stream it live at www.kwmr.org.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What are the chances...

What are the chances that any bike shop would have a Cunningham in for any type of service? What are the chances that there would be three Cunninghams? Pretty good if the shop is in Point Reyes Station. Last week was 'ham week at Black Mountain Cycles. The first 'ham was a late model Racer - and my size too! It's a beautiful bike that needed a basic tune and rear wheel rebuild.

The owner of the Racer also brought in an '87 Indian that is going to be restored back to its original glory. The third Cunningham is also an Indian that was boxed up and shipped to its owner. Here's some pictures because this post is worthless without them.

From Repair Bikes

Aren't there supposed to be three Cunninghams?
From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

The Indian that is going home has some ultra-trick parts that can only come out of Charlie's shop like this very early toggle-cam brake.
From Repair Bikes

Or how about this modified derailleur cable anchor that changes the leverage ratio and, hence, reduces the amount of throw in the shifter. Very precise!
From Repair Bikes

Heavily customized MKS pedals and toe-clips.
From Repair Bikes

Check out the filed-down chainring teeth that aid in quicker shifts. This was well before any of the modern profiled, ramped, and pinned chainrings.
From Repair Bikes

The Racer that was tuned.
From Repair Bikes

Brake springs profiled so it sits in the center of the stopper.
From Repair Bikes

Aluminum stopper that limits how far the bars will turn eliminating the potential for brake levers to bang into the top tube. The stopper bumps into the thickened gusset behind the head tube.
From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

Extra wide 118mm front hub. Makes for a strong wheel and one that is somewhat vertically compliant.
From Repair Bikes

Custom mud guard for the rear roller-cam.
From Repair Bikes

Sculpted dropouts.
From Repair Bikes

This Indian will be restored. I dropped off the fork and stem to Charlie yesterday to be repainted.
From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes


(What's playing: John Doe Heartless)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where to start...

Boy, guess I've been a little busy. A friend pointed out that it's been a while since I updated the ole blog. It's not like there hasn't been anything going on, quite the contrary, actually. It's that I've really tried to limit how much time I sit in front of this dang computer. So, where to start?

Instead of one really long post, I'll make smaller more concise to the subject posts. A few weeks ago, my good friends John and Lo visited for the day. We started off with a super fun ride, leaving town, climbing a dirt road out of Inverness up to Inverness Ridge and then south along the ridge before descending back down towards town. The weather didn't disappoint either. Nice and clear, no wind, okay, maybe a little chilly when we started out, but that soon changed and it warmed up nicely.

On top of the ridge overlooking Tomales Bay.
From Ride Photos

Lorene rode her very trusty Ibis SS...
From Ride Photos

...and was railing the single-track.
From Ride Photos



From Ride Photos


On the climb up to Inverness Ridge, I rode John's Trek suspension bike and he rode my Rawland. That was the first time I'd been on a full suspension bike in almost 3 years. Can't say I dug it much, especially how it was set up. I told John the first thing we were going to do after the ride was take his bike to the shop and dial it in. Dialing in a bike is key to enjoying the bike. Dialing in a bike can be as simple as making the cable casings just the right length or in John's case, getting the suspension sag/damping correct and positioning the controls on the bars in an ergonomic location (their position was horrible - sorry, John, but you know it was awful ;-) ).

So, we got set to dialing in John's bike and Lorene set about taking over my camera.
From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos

From Shop Photos


(What's playing: Daybreak on KWMR)