Aug 21   No. 26   Lugs, new bikes, used bikes, Dustin Harbin's teeth and face

Aug 21 No. 26 Lugs, new bikes, used bikes, Dustin Harbin's teeth and face

This scoldish op-ed in the NYT is probably not a bad thing to read.

---- and here's another one more relevant to bikes. Same day, same page: This is a must read---

Let's help this guy, just for fun and the better reasons than that. Donate, sign yourself with RBW and some other identifier if your name is common...and we'll keep track and offer you half your donation in credit. Make all of the donations either $52 or $104. It'll cost you $26 to do that. Let's do it in the next couple of weeks. I'll start it off with a $208. 

Here's his gofundme:

 This "promo" will run thru September 3. You can expect your credits shortly after that. Can we do dis?


There are three, soon to be two lug makers in Taiwan. There may be some in China, but I doubt it, and if there are they aren't making supa-fine investment cast lugs. Italy and Japan used to, but I think no more. When I was starting Rivendell I sent lug drawings to thirty-seven North American investment casting companies. I sent all the info they needed to quote on the lugs. 

Thirty-three didn't respond. Three responded with the same phrasing: "We choose not to quote." It struck me that "choosing not to quote" must be common enough that, for communication purposes with all potential customers, it must be the agreed-upon wording.

One responded and said, "This product cannot be investment-cast." It was a lug we've used on more than a thousand frames by now.

Some of you, at this point, might be champing at the bit with the revelation that there IS an American lug maker, a well-known one, and how odd that I don't know about him. Of course I know him, but it's been a while since we've talked. Over the years, according to him, he's used more than five investment casters.

You'd change vendors only for good reasons. Only for bad reasons. You're too small for them. Their delivery or quality is not good enough for you. Prices, too. Plus respect. Some of that's always good, because it means they try hard and 

It may be hard to understand or believe this, but a business with "bicycle" in the name doesn't get much respect in the world of business and industry. Investment casters would rather make ten thousand $125 parts for ABC than a hundred and fifty $15 parts for RBW. And they want the customer to, like, tap the threads in a bottom bracket shell. A bicycle customer is hardly worth the time. ISN'T worth the time.

We started in Taiwan with one company, then I forget why, but we switched. There was some little thing I couldn't let go of, so I finally said screw it, please ship our molds to your competitor. They graciously did, and we've been thrilled for more than twenty years now. The lugs are so good, the service is super, and they make almost only bicycle frame lugs, so there's automatic respect. We're one of their biggest customers. In pure lugs, we're by far No. 1, but they do some dropouts and suspension frame parts for Giant companies, too, and it's hard to say how we stack up against them, but it doesn't matter. The point is, we rely on them.

Seven years ago the owners, a couple, were going to retire, but something changed and they didn't. Last year they said this year for sure, and it's heading that way. We've been accustomed to buying lugs just in time for production, and that works well for everybody. Orders take a month to fill, and it's all smooth as silk and has been for those twenty years.

It's possible they'll sell the business, and it's possible they'll just close it down. Either way is nervous for us. We can't afford to order $80,000 in lugs at one time, and even then, it would be a guess as to which ones we WON'T NEED. We need the ol' T678 top head lug, RIV-59, 63, 65, and 67 bottom head lugs, DFLS seat lug, the E14, 16 caps, the RDP-01 seat stay plug, the RIV-33, the 625x2 bb shell, the RC-04, 05, and 06 fork crowns, the FD-2 and FD-3 frontdropouts, the RD-4 rear dropout....and that represents about 40 percent of the molds we still use. There are some lugs we've never used and now won't get to, and I've been planning on.

Do I take out a home loan or fill up out line of credit? Am I going to die in 25 years with five hundred pound of unused lugs that my future grandchildren will sell on eBay? I hope one of you has a good idea. I'll take it.



This bike here below was the first prototype of a GLORIUS. It's a 50cm frame with 26-inch wheels, and fits tires to at least 45mm. It's perfect for a smallish adult with a pbh of 77cm max, but even better, mid-70s. My two daughters rode it, then we lent it to another family for two of theirs. Low mileage and it's the only one like it ever made. It's for sale.

Don't buy it for your 5-6 girlfriend. Is it bad to say "girlfriend" these days? Is that making assumptions I shouldn't make? I'l restate: If you HAVE a 5-6 girlfriend, don't buy it for her, because it'll be too small...and maybe she wants to pick out her own bike? There. I don't want it to be a kids bike that the parents will yell at them for not locking even if nobody steals it but if they do, dad or mom gets real mad. It should go to an adult. It has friction bar-enders on it, and that may not be ideal for whoever ends up with it.

We'll sell it for $2,000 and buy lugs with that, or for $2,200 plus the cost of the parts if we have to monkey with shifter or bar switches, or anything. Change the grips or cable housing, automatically an extra $200 plus the cost of those thing. I figure this bike should be worth $2,900, so I don't feel bad about that.  

We'll post it by the end of the week, or you can email


-------Hats In---- and shoot, Hats gone----- I was going to post this three days ago, but we did something on instagam and an email update. Well...

Normal ball cap style. Will's pick of everything. Should be best seller. Leather adjuster.


Roman likes bucket hats. Super light, and you can fold the brim lots of ways for several kinds of looks, non sophisticated. S/M fits to 7 1/2. L/XL fits to 7 15/16. There's no adjuster.

My/Grant's pick. Stubby bill, an actual old baseball cap pattern. There was a piping option, so I ticked that box. I added an extra vent hole where there usually isn't one, to be used to tie a neckstrap-tether to. Leather adjuster. There won't be another hat like this, ever. There was one source, and it's gone now.

These are costly caps. all organic cotton made in Connecticutt by the soon-closing New England Cap and Embroidery Co. We have about 23 available for a seemingly ripoff price of $50 for mine, $45 for Will's (the normal), and $40 for Roman's bucket hat. 


On the left (izquierda) side of the downtube. The non-drive side.


On the right (derecho) side.

Anagrams of Gus Boots-Willsen. Samples, came in yesterday. Here's one built up, and yes, it rides stupendously:

I'll move the shifters forward and add grips, and then..woohoo, as they say.


I got an email from a super nice guy who'd heard a thing that's NOT TRUE, that I was retiring. It's the kind of rumor that can get strong with denial, but it's hard to not deny it, because it's not true. Here's the whole deal here:

We're losing Roman, major bummer, but he knows he can return if new job doesn't work out. Not me, Roman.

Mark is now p/t. His wife retired, so he's working MTW only. Has no plans to quit.

Robert's our shipper. F/T, super work ethick, we need him, maybe he'll retire one of these months, but no sign of that.

Spencer is our buyer and main stocker. He's either F/T or P/T, I'm not sure. I am sure he's sticking around. He started here when he was 22. Went away for a while, came back. He's essential, and I think he knows that.

Rich is P/T, our wheelbuilder. He could retire in a second and not miss a beat, but he likes it here and we need him.

Will says he's not going anywhere. I sure hope not. He's become key here. F/T

Vince says he's staying, too. I also hope that. He's F/T.

Corey is F/T. He  packs bikes. I want to hire a p/t bike packer so Corey can split his time btw mechanics and cust service. Anybody know of somebody who can work 20-24 hours a week? Not a career job. Good p/t. Find somebody for us, OK?

Harry is saturday only. He's sticking around.

I'm 65. It sounds older than it feels. I'm healthy, I LOVE work. I think we're doing good work, and that is driving me. I could retire now without being destitute, but we have two children in school, and still a need of money. Not tons, but I really do HAVE to work, and since i really do LOVE work and there are still some things we haven't done that we can do, but they take time, I'm still here.

I think that if you shrink the world to transportation only, we're important. There are bikes I want to do and other things I want to accomplish before I retire, and I am physically and emotionally ready to work here another five to ten years. I make $82K a year. I can't afford to do without that. I'll start collecting SS at 70. My longterm plan is to live to 91. I have no plans to retire. I make $82K a year. I need that money. Daughters owe for college, and I want to help them.

My wife would like to retire, and that means we'd need another finance person. Pay the bills, do the boring ungly invisible stuff. 

We could use a general manager, but can't pay a lot for one. Maybe a person who could GM and CFO. That person would make more than I do. 

I'd sell the company if I had the right buyer. But I'm not actively looking, and I'd be really picky. A new owner could help us with things we lack and don't do well now. We do bikes really well. The Charlie Gallop will be a pretty neat bike. The Gus and Susie, wow. The Silver2 shifters. 

We need an angel donor. Or, I wonder what would happen if I went to 25 hours a week and gave the company away. It's not immediate, anyway.

I don't LOVE what's going on in the real bike world. I can't talk about it without coming off as petty or cocky or overly critical. I DO like what we're doing. I wish we could reach more people, but we don't seem to be able to.

I wish we could hire another woman, or an African-American, or somebody not so white and male, but it's hard to find anybody any gender any color who'd fit in here. And can afford to live here. I'm not against hiring another white male. I think that's probably likely, given, especially, how hard it is to find, for instance, local African American non-males who are familiar with our bikes and like riding trails, and it's kind of necessary to like riding trails. P/T, F/T... and whoever we hire has to be a good personality fit. Super friendly, not a BS-er, not an impresser, not a yesser. Prompt, honest, reliable, looks for stuff to do when it's not plopped in their lap, gets along with the others, clean, able to talk to strangers who aren't exactly like them. That's all hard.


 Don't forget Dustin's teeth-face-gofundme thing:



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