MAY, mid-may

MAY, mid-may

This is about all the tech patents the bike parts makers are filing.

It's not a numbered list with details, it's a general overview and makes clear the direction they're headed, which is also the direction we're headed if we don't fumble our projects and (instead) actually run them over the goal line.

This is not the end of the world. It will be closer to that when the patents are granted and the goods are made and Joe Blow's Bikes won't have access to normal bikes anymore. For us, we'll have a little protection. We're ordering a lot of Shimano derailers while we can get them, and we are working on getting more mechanical derailers. "A source close to us" says Taiwan makes will continue to supply mechanical rear derailers, especially if/when Shimano quits them.

Here are some previews, if you don't want to read the whole column:


What I wonder is...if SRAM develops IT'S "universal dropout" and gets a patent on it, will SHIMANO develop its own, different from SRAM and not in violation of SRAM's patent? If that happens, bikes could be compatible with one of those brands's derailers, but not both. The issue there is dedication, which in bike industry language, means designing something that requires a specific linking part, as opposed to being compatible across platforms. Indexed shifting is a kind of dedication--or was, originally. It still is mostly, but there are cassette makers who build to Shimano specs, so all those riders with Shimano derailers can use their cassettes. Big bike makers are going to have to choose, Shimano or SRAM? And when you buy a bike, it'll be made for one or the other.

Our bikes will continue to use traditional derailer hangers, the kind that are investment cast into our dropss, and have been standard on bicycles since the late 1940s. The only "problem" with them is that they won't work with derailers intended for bikes with through axles. THAT IS NOT A PROBLEM.

We're going to stay stocked with compatible derailers forever. It is really unlikely that normal derailers will go away. 

-----Here's another trade story of it. Let me say, as if I have to, that I'm not a fan. We will not do this. Our bikes will work and last thru all of this.



SRAM and MANO and whoever else--Campy and Tektro?--are clearly jostling and playing big business games at, what I'd say, is the expense of Joe Blow bicycle rider, and certainly us. It's like Apple and Microsoft trying to out-patent and out-license the other. I hate that stuff, but I'm in a position to be able to hate it. It's expected of me, and it's natural for me.



this is fun. the lion sleeps tonite


Eben Weiss is the writer I wish I were, and this is something I wish I'd written.

 I hope it links to his April 5 column.


SNAKES are creepy, no pun intended. There are snake-and-reptile people, and then there's the rest of us. I've held snakes, but it's been like ticking a box that I'm glad don't have to tick again. I like snakes best when they're five inches long, clearly not poisonous, and slithering away as fast as they can in fear. I've seen dozens of huge rattlesnakes on trail rides--as many as five on one ride. One blocked the trail, coiled and rattling and flicking its tongue, cocked and ready for action like nature's crossbow. 

So it was with a combo of admiration and incredulity that I read this story.

If that link doesn't work try THIS ONE.

For all I know, this is a viral story and everybody knows about it by now already. Sorry. There are no slithery photos of snakes in this story. None that I remember, anyway.



 In a pinch, escape to the sidewalk 

 In the 1970s, a small group of California grown-ups, engineers and academic-types—all skilled, confident bicycle riders —got fed up with car drivers yelling at them to “Get off the road!”

They knew the laws treated bicycles as vehicles too—you have to stop at red lights, signal for turns, go the speed limit, and so on. So they thought, OK, let’s ride like we’re car drivers, then maybe we’ll get the respect we deserve. They called this vehicular cycling, and it became a movement—it spread—and still exists, kind of like the Esperanto of cycling. Some cycling advocates say it discourages building more bike lanes, and makes motorists mad. Others are just afraid to try it. I rode vehicularly in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but gave it up because I was tired of being scared.

 Bike lanes might seem like the solution for cyclists, but they’ve never lived up to their potential. There aren’t enough of them, they aren’t wide enough, and they don’t go everywhere. And drivers tend to use bike lane signs and white lines and green paint as barriers to respect when it’s convenient, and as turning lanes and loading zones when it’s not. If paint was effective in stopping cars, they wouldn’t use it to separate lanes on a freeway.

 In downtown traffic, the only place cars don’t (usually) go is the sidewalk, which are protected minimally by a raised curb, and often by a layer of parallel-parked cars. How can that not be attractive to cyclists? The practical arguments you hear against riding on sidewalks, besides it being against the law and bothers pedestrians, is that sidewalks intersect roads, and every intersection is an opportunity to get hit by a car whose driver doesn’t expect you to be on the sidewalk. This, obviously is an argument cyclists who don’t ride sidewalks use to discourage cyclists who do. Double-agents, if you ask me.

But roads have more intersections with other roads, with more and faster cars and distracted drivers. And on the road, there’s no game-changing raised curb.

 Riding sidewalks is controversial, it isn’t for everybody, and I don’t encourage doing it willy-nilly. But it is the safest pavement you’ll ever ride, so there is that. If you’d like to try it when it’s the only safe alternative, here are some suggestions based on decades of experience:

 Courtesy: Get off and walk around pedestrians whenever it’s crowded. When the sidewalk is wide and not at all crowded, you can just slow down for a few passersby, but dismount for old people, young children, and couples. If you hit an old person or a child -- on top of experiencing appropriate shame and charges, you ruin sidewalk riding for the rest of us. When there’s a couple, it’s nice to be passive. It makes the weaker of the two feel more protected by the strong one.

 Don’t use your bell on the sidewalk. Nobody wants to be honked out of your way, and it’s especially obnoxious when you’re the one who’s not supposed to be there in the first place. Get off and walk, silently.

 If the sidewalk is basically a multi-use path between a busy road and vacant lot, treat it like a bike path, and still defer to pedestrians and anybody on a vehicle smaller than your bicycle. 


Project updates:

Rear derailer: 

We're messing with the parallelogram to get it to move perfectly. It's neither easy nor hard, but it is challenging. We'll nail it before releasing it.

Finish: There are different approaches/options. Shiny or dull. Dull isn't drab, it's just kind of like how old Campy Nuovo derailers were. Shiny is like an early '90s Dura-Ace, or SunTour Superbe Pro.  But ours has texture, like a Campy, so it' not easy or practical to get the nooks shiny, too. Shiny isn't something you order up and apply with buttons. It's handwork, at that level, at least. 

I just want it to function perfectly, and to keep working as well for many years. This has been an extraordinarily (for us) detailed, time-consuming, expensive project, and if I didn't believe so much in opposite-moving rear derailers, we'd just order up 10,000 Shimano Altus and Acera derailers and be done with it.


We're on the fourth generation of shapes. I get WHY saddlemakers/brands have 60+. I've liked them all, but we're shooting for more universal acceptance, and I don't think that's possible and dunno how to do it, anyway. The rear width is now 182.55, which is 7.2 inches (OR SO!!!!), and the shape seems good, and we're working on the nose/neck and the padding and color.


We NOW have THE OK to sell WITH A FRAME the Brooks B.68. It's still not retroactive. Only going forward. The Selle Royal team came here while I was away, and this is an upshot.

7sp:  Another couple of months. 

New SILVER 9sp hubs: Two to five months.

These hubs are not world's better than current hubs, but the guts are really, really spectacular, and they should be, for all practical purposes, as good a hubs as anybody ever needs for any ride forever. Is that good enough?

BUT THE THING IS, we're getting them made special because most of the techbikeworld is going to thru axles (a near requirement with disc brakes), and since we don't have the latter, we don't need the former. Our way isn't "our way," since it's been standard on good bikes from the early 1930s until sometime in the early 2020s. But it has more respectable origins than a workaround for a problem created by disc brakes.

 EZPZ Hand-L-Bar sack, by summer.

It has to fit drops and uprights. It must not be too pocketty or big. It must not fit on a decaleur. It should have minimal features and cannot be designed out of fear of disappointing riders who want IT ALL. It can be thoughtful but shouldn't be "clever." It can't be steered by existing handlebar bags. In this bag, "good enough" is, actually, good enough, but this kind of good enough will come after a lot of thought and many prototypes.  It should look good and last a long time and be made mostly of cotton, wood, and leather.


We have two (2) models in the works. We started one early, then the derailer got in the way, so we got another one going thru a different channel, and that's not the front-burner model. We've changed it radically from the early versions, but all of the V-brakes have one key world-beating feature that no other modern V-brakes have: When you release them to put in or take out a wheel, the pads clear the tires and frame parts, so they open up to infinity. This only really matters when you're riding 2.1 and bigger tires, but it never hurts even if you top out at 1.5.

We all here, all, not just me, but ALL think V-brakes are the best all-around bicycle brakes of all time, and are bummed that cartech brakes are threatening their existence. I know I always say this, but it's true: A major part of our deal here is to become independent of the major parts suppliers who, in their attempts to compete with their fellow big shots, are discontinuing not just groovy models of this or that, but sweeping into the dustbin essentially perfect technologies that have served cyclists flawlessly for decades and even big portions of centuries.    MEANWHILE, we have good stock of the stuff we like, and are going to great lengths to get more. The Rivbike u-buy today will be easy to maintain for .... decades? forever? Worries will worry, but I'm confident...mainly because we're taking measures to make it so.



The online dictionary says"


Here's a questionnaire. There are no wrong answers, because it is an opinion questionnaire. I guess most questionnaires are:

1. In your own opinion, what are the defining, inviolable features of a bicycle? No essays, please. Bullet-point them and limit each point to seven words.

2. Same question, but substitute "bike" for "bicycle." 

It's no fair to say this is a divisive question. It's no fair, also, to rise above it all like a mellow hippie and say it's just semantics and doens't matter. I know it doesn't matter in the BIG picture; I know many things matter more. But this BLAHG takes place under the slide of a microscope, so for now, pretend to care and gimme your answers;


subject: Your name + BICYCLE/BIKE

Thanks. The answers, obviously, won't speak for anybody but you. But I am curious, anyway. 


 Olivier Chetelet has designed many of our head badges and graphic. He's French (if that matters) and went to design school in Switzerland (I know you were wondering) and had worked for companies and governmental organizations way fancier than us, but he's local and likes us and works for credit, so we can kind of afford him. Here are some pix of his bike.


Olivier has some of the best and most creative and baffling images and videos on the web, under, I think. Try these:




 All for now, kind of sloppy here. I should say that RIvendell is doing well enough, thanks entirely to our customers and crew, and despite my frustration with certain industry directions, I have never been happier here. I want that damn rear derailer to work out. It's taking a long time. It makes me nervous, but we're being careful. Thank you for...encouraging it. I'd do it anyway, but it is SO helpful and joy-making knowing so many of you kind of want one.








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