Late June's BLAHG, bird, fish, snake, otherwise, same ol', same ol' stuff

Late June's BLAHG, bird, fish, snake, otherwise, same ol', same ol' stuff



 This absolutely is the current immediate future rage for everybody. A short, snappy, superlight, auto-electronic bicycle with aesthetics only a robot mother could love. I know that sounds harsh; I know, why don't I just get over this stuff, live and let live and all, different strokes. I am trying, but I can't do it, not yet, and I may be losing whatever micro-audience I have. 

The whole bloody thing about it, as my English-type comrades would say, is that it's going to happen, it's HAPPENING no matter what micro-me sez or feels, no matter what Rivendell does, but when you feel a certain way about a thing you like so much and you see it going this way, it is therapeutic to say SOMETHING. Look at how the seat tube is arched to allow even shorter chainstays. And another "benefit" of the disc brakes is that they allow the tires to hug the frame and fork even closer than they could if the brakes were there. The solid single chainring has psychological aerodynamic benefits. 

My personal bummer in this is having to say this, and I feel like I do, and I know it sounds bad to, it sounds like I'm a whining rat about this, having missed the boat and now pathetically squawking and ignoring that my time has passed. But what the he*l, check out the Rivendell antiChrist:



THere's only one front dropout in the world that allows this, and it's not cast in, it's ground then filed in. It's really hard and weird to find this on a production bike.


There's gonna be a new li'l sherrif in town, and he's going to ride one of these. Note the 1x drivetrain.

This is how it's going. Every adult eBike sold validates them for kids, too. If you start off on one of these, when mom and. pop ride them, why would you want to pedal? Ever...


Carbon fiber's popularity doesn't mean it's safe for highly stressed applications, but it has so much sheen and gloss and tech cache that it keeps selling...and we all know about the submarine by now.

I really, really can't accept criticism for including this NYT paragraph about it. I am not using this tragedy to further the cause of Rivendell or any other metal-framed bicycle.  It's just good, sometimes, to be reminded that the whole frigging world is nuts for carbon fiber. Some of my good friends ride it. Some of my normal friends own or work for companies that sell carbon fiber bicycles and parts. I don't harangue them. They know everything I know about carbon.


I was up a ways fishing and there's a tree with a bald eagle's nest at the top of it. I've see the eagle every time I go there, so I know it's there and has a baby in the nest. I saw it take off and figured it would come back soon, so I got my phone ready, and here are six sequential photos of it flying back to the nest. Shot on iPhone, cropped, not reproduction quality, but here it goes:





Here's the water I was fishing as I was looking up there at the bird:



and earlier that day my buddy and I came upon this serpentine scene:

 snake-o-phobe alert (scroll down until you come to the patriotic barn). Immediately below is a closeup of a king snake biting a gopher snake. 


Gopher snakes like to sniff around in others' holes, maybe looking for gophers, maybe looking for other snakes to beat up, I don't know. But the king snake was in his own hole, probably felt threatened, and lashed out. Ultimately, the king snake let go and the gopher snake said to itself, "well, that didn't work," and slithered away.

This is NorCal. Several "State of Jefferson" signs, too--one on another barn. It is "interesting" how certain groups or political factions can use God, flags and bald eagles as statements. A gay relative, a couple of years older than I am, once said, and he probably wasn't the first to say it, that, "For gays, Blacks, and women, there were no 'good old days.'" So that's what I think about when I see MAGA this and that, and the flag and eagle associated with it, used like a shield. Pick a decade from the past, any decade, and run it up the flag pole and see who was beaten up back then. Generally all three, and more others than you can shake a stick at. Asians, Jewish people, Italians, Polish, and the elephant in the room, Native Americans. But I know, you don't come here to get my political views. It's only a BLAHG. A downer Blahg, but a Blahg.


 Bike stuff, Riv stuff, news and updates:

Rear Derailer project: Continues to be frustratingly slow. I just don't know. The fancy one, the SILVER OM-1 that we've had prototypes of, is 95 percent there, but is in a holding pattern due to technical issues and final drawings needing to be submitted. We are not in perfect control of that. We can't make it happen by dangling money or pounding fists. The maker is getting frustrated with our slowness, we're getting frustrated with him because the last sample he sent was not working properly, the pivot holes were slightly off so the pulleys got all cockeyed when they moved inward, and the spring was installed normally, like a non-RapidRiser. Our freelance engineer is smart and good but slow, and has promised us a final drawing or fix or something in two weeks. 

There are possibilities for another way that depends on Chinese derailer makers to minimally modify existing model(s) to convert them to low-normal (RapidRise style)--which is the goal anyway. If you're new to this project, don't even THINK, "why not have it made in the USA or Japan or ...?  There is nobody in America who can do it and have it sell for less than a thousand dollars. Nobody in Japan still makes derailers and is interested. The big Taiwan makers...there is a remote possibility, but basically, they don't recognize our existence or have any passion for adventure; they just want to copy Shimano and follow the electronic trends. This we KNOW.  It is one thing to get the pieces made. By machining, die-casting, forging...but the bigger hump is drilling and assembly.


Front derailer project: Let me be clear about something. The MicroShift-made front derailer that Will named the "Skeleton Key" because it works on every double or triple we've tried, and the widest range of a favorite among all of us, in the same way that a bowl of bland but non-dangerous gruel might be the favorite foot of a starving person in a dungeon. We are so grateful to have it. It has opened our eyes and hearts to the potential of ugly derailers. Several of us here have come to embrace its ugliness, because we associate it with shifting perfection. We thrill to the irony of putting in on our beautiful bicycles.

But the good looking front derailers from the past work 99 percent as well, maybe 100, and that what we're we're working on. It's  a collaboration with Jim Porter of SomaFabrications, with him doing the ol' lion's share of the work.  "Jim projects," as we call them internally, tend to drag on forever, but more importantly, always seem to work. Some more JimProjects in the works:

Front racks: One is a full-sizer we designed. The other is a basket-rack style we had heavy input on. Tigged stainless both. The full-sizer will be ready, maybe, in September. The basketracker, maybe in January. These are guesses. Both till be soooo easy to mount. James and Vince have worked hardest on them, but all of us here have contributed ideas.

 V-Brakes: Still waiting for the next sample, but I've been using the most recent sample for 5-6 months, it's all good.

Centerpulls: A Jim project. We have one prototype. We started this process when Paul quit making his, and now he's doing them again. Well, that's how it goes. But our needs might exceed Paul's capacity anyway. There IS a kind of historical/universal centerpull shape, there's no getting around that, but I point it out because WHEN ours go live, they'll look somewhat like Paul's, which look a lot like all the other centerpulls, so don't see them and scream "Paul!" 

We still sell, and will keep selling Paul's. I imagine we're one of his bigger accounts.

Anyway, each brand/model centerpull has its own semi-signature (original or copied from ancient models) details, treatments of dimensions and shapes, but overall, a centerpull is a centerpull, and they all have that arm symmetry going on. In real-world practical use, there are no big advantages to either sidepulls or centerpulls. There are theoretical advantages to both styles, but in use, they disappear and they both work great.


Non-Jim projects:

Inexpensive CLEM saddle with super duper saddlebag loops: The final prototypes are here and wonderful. I've ridden them a ton, others have ridden them some, we all likem. We'll have them MAYBE by August.

Brooks B.68: We can now sell them with framesets, not just complete bikes. We still cannot sell them individually. I believe we're the only source in the world right now, but that'll change next year. We're super-tight with Selle Royal, Brooks's parent company in Italy, and we may do a video with them. It's likely.

NEW: Stubby brake shoes:  A few weeks ago we met with a guy from Japan who'd tight with several mfrs, and coordinates business for them and people like us, for instance...and Spencer suggested he work with somebody over there--a brake pad maker, logically--to get us 40mm long (stubby) brake shoes that work with existing V-brakes, and would allow the pads to clear the fork blades and seat stays when you release the brakes. This feature is essential if you have a 2.1"+ tire you want to install or remove without deflating it...but no existing V-brakes allow it. The earliest ones, in the '80s, did, but designs got dumber. Anyway, these are several months out, and in the meantime we have stubby pads from Odyssey, a BMX company, and we'll sell those. Highly recommended if you have a tire that requires deflation to remove or install. Our new shoes will be slicker and cost more, but the Oddyssey ones: Muy Bueno!

eZpZ hand-L-bar sack: After four or five prototypes we have a good one with only one minor change left, and it's easy, and we'll have, then, a simple, easy to use, easy to mount bar sack, a rare new member of the Sackville team, made in Connecticut to the same high standards as the others. I've been using it for a month or so--not counting my time away fishing--and it's good. As I've said a few times before,  no matter how much thought and trial you put into a bag, no matter how perfect we think it is, nine people in ten will wish we'd done a few more things to it. Another pocket here and there, a zipper or gusset, a place for a map, a hair bigger, a shoulder strap option, a roll top with side-release buckles. Cowboys want an all-leather version, vegans want the straps to be nylon. This is how it is with bags. I think the same when I see a bag; and so it'll be with the e-z-p-z barsack. But the thing is, all a bar bag needs to do hold enough, be easy to mount, easy to get into while riding, close securely, and not flop around too much in action. There's a point where "thoughtful features" become (to me) annoying. Our bags always have a short list, but they work great. The ezps is good enough, and we expect it in late August.



Brad, who is in this photo, sent me this just now June 28, 4:05 pm:

 I know it was Japan, because of the tie. I'm guessing on the date.


 This is about friction shifting and is related to Shimano. 

I don't think, just my personal thing, that you can measure the "quality" of a friction "system" by how well it forgives cloddish pedaling and badly timed shifts. That approach seems tailored to riders who want the cachet of friction without having to refine some skills. But I may be over-sensitive to that. Whatever--the good news is that it at least works, and the best news is that friction shifting is leaching out into the mainstream. There needs to be options that allow creativity and personalizing your bike, as opposed to buying scientifically perfect packages that shover you out of the way while they take over these simple bicycle operations.

For the record and for the thousandth time: Even current friction shifting is so simple. It won't allow you to shift in the middle of the swing of your sledge hammer, but the learning curve is short, and this will make it shorter:

I know the cranks are on the wrong side of the rings, but we did it like that to emphasize the cranks as arms on a clock. 

 This is "semi-required" reading here at Riv.


PENCIL (for new readers, this warns of Black-related content, which in the past I've been castigated for. I'll take castigated over castrated any day, but since then, anyway, I've warned readers about that, in case they want to skip.)

I was aware of Tina Turner, but wasn't into that kind of loud and fancy music when she was around, and I'm still NOT, but I am obsessed with one song, the story behind it, and the unlikelihood that a tiny town in Tennessee would inspire the song that became Australia's unofficial national anthem.

TT, who was born in 1939 (end of the Depression, year both Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz was released, and fifteen years before I was born) and grew up in Nutbush, pop 52 or something. She didn't particularly like the town. It was probably hard for a Black woman to LIKE a small southern farming town back then. But she did put it on the map with a song about it--the song that became a standard and everybody in Australia knows it and loves it and mob-dances to it whenever it's played in public, which is a lot.


Lyrics (by Tina Turner):

Official video

Live video

I want to get a NUTBUSH hats or T-shirt, but I can't order just one. If you'd get a hat, PM me. It'll be a green (like a city limit sign). Ballcap. It'll cost $20—cheap for a ballcap, cheaper than we can ever sell a hat for again, but this is a Tina Turner moment, and we shall not capitalize on her passing. Etsy has. probably beaten us to it, but let's see how this goes, anyway.

T-shirt will be LS green, cotton, 

It's a long shot. This isn't a challenge. Don't be impulsive, don't order one to help me get mine, just if you want a hat, here's a chance. But--etsy probably has them, too and already.



This BLAHG isn't all, aways, copy-and-paste, but here's a thing from The Atlantic that you can't read without a subscription, so I took screenshots. It's a pro-bike thing, in a way:






A lot, with a capital l, like a Lot is happening here, some of which we're not ready to talk about, because we don't have a timeline, and I'm already guilty of talking about projects that keep dragging on. But...keep in mind that a GOAL here is to become less dependent on Shimano and SRAM, because they're clearly heading toward a future we're not interested in. Our bicycles will stay bicycles, which means they'll stay mechanical, which is NOT a statement against eBikes, because we like the potential of eBikes, but I don't think anybody here wants to see them on dirt trails. Bike paths, great...but watch the speed and be careful, OK. And road, fine too. It would be good if they weren't herded into crowded bike lanes, but not all bike lanes are crowded, and if they are, I'll be up on the sidewalk before you can say Jackie Robinson, Number 42.


I can say this: By the middle of August we'll have either promising or discouraging news about the OM-1 rear derailer. Before then we'll have news of the new hand-L-bar sack. Those are the tip of the iceberg.


These are Will selfies from a year ago, the best bike photos I've ever seen. He shot them the hardest way, with a 4x5 camera rigged to a bulb he ran over with his tire to trigger the shutter release. 

Will's the best. Nobody does this.

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