Bike of the week,  some miscellaneous notes, and pictures of the new Sam

Bike of the week, some miscellaneous notes, and pictures of the new Sam

Ultra Personal Dreamy Bike #1: January 20, 2018

We've done this before, where somebody here specs out a bike and then we offer it up on the site. We're doing it again, this time differently. No speculation about "what somebody might want." It  has to be the bike YOU (the person putting it together) wants. It can be identical to an existing bike, but more likely it'll be just close to that, with a little more fun thrown in. I'm doing the first one, and I call it The Best Three-Speed in the World. a name I'm sure all Sturmey-Archer fans will hate, but they're wrong!

Big Picture: Three chainrings, one rear cog.

Details: It has a 9sp cassette, so you can pick your one cog from among any of those, using the clever (but we didn't invent it) cogselector.

It has a rear derailer and a shifter for it (located in what looks like an awkward spot, but it's really convenient. But there's no hookup yet. We put it on there, so if you try the 3speed and then want to make it a 27-speed later on, you can do that without undoing my gorgeous grip-job.

Frame: 59 CLEM-L green. For saddle heights 73 and up to…about 93. So, PBH 84 to 95 or so. Don’t fine tune it—that’s the range.

Handlebar: Bosco Bullmoose 58.

Wheels: Velocity-built (perfect!) on Cliff Hanger, Deore Hubs, DT butted spokes—all the normal good stuff you'd expect and that we aren't ashamed of. We didn’t have spare CLEM wheels, but these are just as good, slightly lighter and slighter narrower rims, but still good and strong and wide, 30mm.


Rear derailer. For some reason it has a Deore XT, which I’d never put on my bike, but we were out of Deore's and XT's. You can’t hate a Shimano Deore XT rear derailer, for sure. It's kind of like the best derailer maker ever not at its aesthetic high point, but it's still not ugly, and it certainly does its job as well as any human has any right to ask of any mechanism. Will derailers be around in 10 years? Probably. Twenty? Possibly. Thirty? No. Get 'em while you can #don'tletrobotsholdthekleenexwhileublowyournose.

Shifters: Front is Micro-shifter power ratchet, as good as any. Rear is a Microshift power-ratchet thumby mounted “Keven style” in a place that looks out of the way but is actually fantastic. That’s where I put mine. And this bar-end/thumby arrangement is my personal favorite. You won’t not like it unless you’re wigged out by the asymmetry,

The rear shifter is just there in case you want to hook it up. We haven’t done that, because this bike is a 3-speed, with a SILVER 44x34x24 crank, a 9-speed cassette (11 x 32), but there’s no cable hookup. The derailer is cleverly rigged to sit under a middle cog, and if you want to move it, there’s a barrel adjuster; or you can cinch up the brake cable that’s held by the derailer pinch bolt.

Crank: SILVER 173mm, 44x34x24.

Pedals: Grip-Kings with spikeroos

Racks: Not included, but if you're going to make it ultra useful and not just ride it as a fitness bike, put a CLEM rack on the front, then get the new CLEM shopsack (not in yet).

Banana Sack: Included. we're down to only three blues, and they look so good. I have one on the back of my CLEM 2-speeder. On my multispeed CLEM I have a SaddleSack Medium

Brakes: Deore V.

Brake Levers: Same as on CLEMs: SunRace and we took out the reach adjuster, which nobody needs and only stabs you.

 Kickstand: Pletscher (not shown in photo b/c we're out of them now, but they're incoming). And I’ll wrap it to with a side of wool and in a more subdued style than the bars---because enough is enough, and you don't want to be too weird about this wrapping stuff.

 Don’t buy this if you’re not comfortable with cabling the minor workings of a bike.

It’s not a bike for a new rider, but if you are comfortable with mechanics and know how barrel adjusters and pinch bolts and derailer pivots work, then it should be, yes, the best 3-speed in the world. Sturmey and Archer, wherever they are right now, can roll over in their graves all they want, but I'm sticking to that. Black-boxing planetary gears has its place, but inside a hub that you ride on every day isn't everybody's cuppa...

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the concept of a “Continuously Variable Transmission” (CVT) on a bicycle, something that works like a stepless automatic transmission in a car. It has been some kind of Holy Grail for bicycles for 50 years. Bridgestone put a few years of research into one and displayed it at a trade show in 1985. We were told not to wreck it, because it was worth more than $100,000. (It was one of the things tossed on the last day of work there, Sept 30, 1994.)

 There have been many attempts at a lighter, niftier CVT since, but the whole idea is wrong and wacky, I think. You already have a CVT. It’s your body. When you mix a 3 speed with a body, you have smooth, continuous gearing between the small and middle ring, and the middle and large ring, and therefore the small and large ring. You might run out of range on the small or the big, but a wider range (20teeth in the case of this bike) makes that fairly unlikely in a normal ride. Your low gear is 24front x ? rear, and if you pick a 16, you’ll grunt some before walking up a hill, but all that’s fine, too. On my 2speed, I like a high gear that I can use for moderated to steep climbs, and a low that's good for even steeper climbs. My experience with 2 has me convinced that, for a QuirkBike, three is plenty, and there's no shame in walking.

Still, this is a bike you should probably get for known roads and trails that aren’t horrendously steep. For commuting and shopping, too. Shifting is so easy, but with only 3 gears, it’s not a shifting-priority bike—it’s a pedaling-priority bike.

Here are pictures:

CLEM-L 59 Three-speed, with an infinitely continuously variable transmission within its range. The bike comes with the blue Brand New  BananaSack.

Here's the 'not on the fly" rear shifting rig. The barrel adjuster allows a 3-cog range. The Deore XT rear derailer here-I'd prefer an Altus--is being used as the world's most expensive chain tensioner, unless you hook it up.  We were out of the Altus at the time, and I think still are.

I'm sure you haven't notice, but there's another copper plug there.

On my own bikes and now and then a customers, I've started squeezing on chunks of thick short copper tubing. I just like how it looks, and it does work, but you can't remove and replace. It's hard to do that with aluminum cheapies, anyway--so no worse in that way

Yeah, whatever. I like to do this to grips. Wool felt base, cotton tape, sailmaker's twine or something...and the famous ballcock washers, which you will love. I tell you, my chummy chum-chums, it doesn't get any better. The forward part is for off-the-saddle climbing or sprints. The mounted but unhooked rear shifter is located EXACTLY in a good place, even tho it looks like you have to dig deep for it. The middle patch is for a headlight or stopwatch--wrap foam over it and .. it all works out. I leave the danglers there, but you may cut them off, no shame in that. You can undo the bars and start fresh, even, but that'd be like using Michelangelo's David as a starting point for a small Melting Baby Snowman that's lurking inside.

No fenders or racks, but you can order those like you can with any bike, and we'll put them on at the usual labor rates ($55 for a bikesworth of fenders, $25 per rack).

Pletscher kickstand will come with it, and I'll doll it up with twine, too--which prevents the kickstand metal from whacking the crankarm. (I haven't done it to my own bikes, tho--so it's not as necessary as it might seem, either.)

Starting price before the usual tax that may apply, and ship. Starting off lower than the sum of its parts, and dropping $50 a day until it sells or until we say the heck with this experiment. We have to make some money on it, right? And it's only a cable away from conversion to normal (and OK, we'll include that cable). The thing is, I seriously think this is a killer way to go, a bike that's a blast partly because it IS a 3-sp, and forces you to extract the most out of every gear before shifting. That may not be your style, but it's something that's not a bad thing to do, anyway, and it is not likely to happen via sheer will power alone on a multispeeder.  I still like multi-speeders, but this makes a daily ride--or any ride--different and adds a new kind of fun.

Tues price: $1,800

Wed price: $1,750

Thur: $1,700

Fri: $1,650

Sat: $1,625

Sun: If it still hasn't sold before Sunday the 28th, we'll ride it around here, beat it up a little, maybe I'll buy it as punishment and prize, or maybe we'll relist it as a used bike in the spring. But it'll never be a Garage Sale Special.


We showed this brake a few months ago, right?

It's a new, old-style Dia-Compe cantilever. New because D/C started making it a year ago or so, and "old-style" because the finish and return sprint and overall vibe of it are right out of 1980. When used with good pads, it's a killer brake. It takes threaded shoes, easy to adjust, and the ones you see here work as well as a brake ever needs to. I mean, you put on the brake and -- there can be no improvement.

The exciting part is that they're fresh and will exist for decades, likely, b/c that's how Dia-Compe does things. We'll get these in within a month.



The new cantilver-ready Sam Hillbornes are here. Quick picures of one we built up:

 This is a 55 with Albatross bars. Also works with Drops and Albastache..


Easily fits 42mm tires with fenders. Best tires: 33 to 42. Max tire: 48.

This is the head tube,,, and

T...this is the seat tube decal. We now put the RBW on it. The old decal was cool, too, but we were hearing that the bikes didn't say Rivendell enough..and that may be true.

Cantilever brakes. Makes it slightly easier to fender, and to remover a fattish tire. Not an upgrade, just a sidegrade, and this way it's not 99percent exactly like a Homer.


Inside right thumb shifter. Also good with bar-end shifters.

OK, gotta run...! Everybody else is gone and my mother-in-law's birthday party is tonite, and I can't be late.




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