Scott, our next door neighbor and brake and muffler man, makes art out of car parts between repairs:

 It's a 1920s S.F. cop with period-correct details, it took 55+ hours, weight 106lbs. stands about 6' 3", and was a commission. I think it ought to be in public, not a pvt collection, but..argh, whatever.


 Many people would consider this new Bianchi "art." Noimoi.


 Anybody out there in TV land care about their teeth? Here's an interesting story, bound to put dentists on ye olde defensive, and rightfully so, it seems. My dentist isn't one of these guys. I've had several different dentists o'er the years, but all in the same office in the same building. The first one once slapped me in the face for gagging. I was about five. Dr. Lippincott. I got over it, but never forgot it.

I know what you're thinking: Those were different times. Yes, they were.






Today May 31 I read a story in the Times about a musical based on book-poem about a basketball shot in 1980, by Julius Erving (who you may know as Dr. J). The poem was written by Ross Gay, a poetry professor at Indiana University, and was published by University of Pittsburg Press—because, of course, mainstream publishers aren't bold enough to publish this kind of thing.  It is this. I'm reading it.


I ordered a copy of the book-poem, called Holding On, and then I wanted to see the shot-of-hooplah, so I went to youtube to see it.

Now, related but not toooo, a few years ago on a local outside court, my friend and riding buddy, Dan, and I were goofing off with a basketball when I made the most amazing shot of all time ever on any basketball court under any circumstances.  Less likely to be replicated than Dr. J's. 

 I think Dr. J's shot is still in the top two of all time, and HERE IT IS.


-----Bike stuff below this line--------

We're working on a front derailer. That entails looking at existing ones and figuring out what to copy and what to do better. Here's what James and Mark are doing:

It's all about parallelogram length, and lever lengths and angle, and cage-bridge height. The radius of the lower edge of the outer cage falls into the "highly visible but not too consequential" department. We're working with Jim Porter on this. It will be one of the rare, and maybe only modern front derailers for 44t and smaller big chainrings. It will be designed for sensibly slack seat tube angles. It will have clearance for the chain on a 34 x 42 combo on a frame with an 8cm drop. Should be good, should be a year or two out. There will be another, sooner, but not quite as radical. We really just don't know. All we do is hope for stuff and try to push it along.


 We are gonna get a new, let's-just-say-VEGAN saddle, to replace the old CLEM saddle, which is quite good, but a hassle to get. The new VEGAN saddle has gone through five samples, and there will be a sixth in a couple of months, and then we'll order a thousand and have them two months later...is the plan. The current one looks like this:


It would require insanity to expect everybody to love it, but 90 percent of you might. Even my wife says, "It's fine, it's OK, but it doesn't look as good as the leather ones." Well yes, but it's better in the rain and less likely to get stolen. It's 182.55mm wide, about 6mm wider PER SIDE than a B.17.





Singshot guy





I am WELL AWARE that I've posted the following vidlink before, a couple of times, and I'm doing it now again only because Mark sent me a link to the other one, and it seemed like a good fit...for those of you who haven't seen it.


Rufus shooting


Mpix is a good company, they make prints from digital files, it's cheap and easy and excellent quality, but they don't need to do this kind of promo.



My nose-breathing is humming along nicely, thanks. To help it along, I got (and we now sell) Olbas inhalers for the nostril. We are not significantly financially helped when you buy Olbas, but I like the idea of making it easy to buy it, and it's not like it's an impulse item at Costco these days, so you can get it HERE.

I want to make it clear that my recent obsession with nose-breathing is not an overreaction to a lifetime of mouth-breathing. I have not been a mouth-breather, except when riding my bike, like--I am assuming--every other huffer-and-puffer is. But now I nose-breath even while sprinting up hills, which is how I try to stay reasonably fit these years.


A guy, Sam Waller, a writer and photographer in England, wrote and asked for an interivew, and I generally these days avoid interviews because I always get the feeling that I'm going to be presented like a freak or extremist, and part of the problem with that is that by default, the freaky and extremist mainstream stuff is presented as normal, and to me it is NOT normal. I think our stuff is normal. Not crack-prone carbon, not racing for non-racers, not riding in shoes you can't walk in, not trying to beat the hillclimbing times of strangers, or shifting electronically, not making bicycles that are just appendages for every bit of gross technology you can bolt onto or build into them. Is that extreme? It shouldn't be. I read several of Sam's interviews and said yes. I'm nervous that I'll come off worse than his other interviewees, but let's see how it goes.

Here's a photo he took. He has a series of photos taken a minute apart on the same day. It's a new way to shoot photos, I like the idea. It helps to be in a hustle-bustle city. Check out this:



I'd like to know the fork story. The blades look sawed. They could be either aluminum or steel, probably steel, but they have the bulk of aluminum, so it's hard to say. This photo is an example of "Imperfection is Perfection," the thing Richard Sachs heard somewhere and popularized and printed on T-shirts. I am a huge Richard Sachs fan. I know many of you are, too. But I am on, sorry, another level, for a wider range of reasons that go deeper than his admirable bikes, his admirable (and in his words) "Never F*cking Relent" approach.

This photo is such a good example of Imperfection is Perfection  It's cockeyed, maybe taken quickly, and the angularity is a good fit for the subject, because you KNOW this guy is counterbalancing and catching himself with every slow and erratic pedal-stroke. It's grainy, like the city and street are gritty. He's doing something fairly outrageous on a humdrum street where, you can imagine, nobody gives a hoot, and maybe he's just an irritant to get past on the sidewalk. He's slightly smiling for the photographer, presumably Sam Waller, but I'm guessing they're strangers. Sam is a superstar in his world, this rider is a superstar in his smaller and less-professional world, and here they are together at that moment, only one of them visible, but he's being immortalized by the invisible one. I absolutely love this photograph. I'll ask Sam the circumstance, the camera and film, maybe even the settings. Stuff that photographers might  be curious about. 

I got Sam's answer:

I really don't know what was going on here. That's a stretch of Manchester called 'the Curry Mile' which was once home to a high packed rate of curry houses, but has now shifted more towards kebab shops and places selling really lavish milkshakes. Anyway, a lot of stuff happens down here, so whilst riding home from my old job I'd usually get off and walk this bit with my camera in my hand as something was always bound to go down which would be worth taking a picture of. This guy is proof of that. He just rode past in full-on wheelie-mode, gave me a smile and kept on cruising. I'm not 100% sure but I think this would have been taken on either a Yashica T4 or a Konica Big Mini, with Tri-X film. I never saw him again, but not long ago by complete chance whilst lost in the mind-sapping matrix of Instagram I happened upon a video of him still locked in a wheelie. I'd like to think that he's still wheelieing right now.



 On the other end of the spectrum, more new-derailer hanger designs and patents, this time to accommodate future battery powering stations on the bike:

It's a lot to take in. It's not exciting, it's hard to be thrilled about or enthralled with. It's just a new direction for Shimano, and where Shimano goes, everybody goes. SRAM is right up there, too. Squawk, squawk.



I am really good at shifting, but I still overshift (and then correct the flub) a few times on every ride. It’s habitual and hard to notice, it happens so fast. I always know what I did wrong. This is part of the fun of “low-stakes, optional rides.” LSOR, for short.

That's the thing. If your shifting technology guarantees perfect shifts, you don't learn how to shift, you just learn which buttons to push. In life-or-death situations, I'd trust technology more than a human, sorry to say, but for LSOR, I'll take the shifters that are mechanically incredible but don't cross the line, that still leave it up to me. I like DOING stuff with my bike, the mechanics of it, feeling its feedback, even if the feedback takes the form of clickety-clackety clunks from the chain and cogs. On a typical ride of any length, I'll still create less shifting noise than anybody with a perfectly tuned modern system, which clicks or hums with every shift. And most of the time I can shift faster over a wider range, and under more demanding circumstances.

It's hard to SELL that to normal people, though. Normal people want to ride bikes and appear to be smooth-shifting experts right out of the parking lot, and I can understand that. But they don't realize how EASY it is to shift in friction.

Anybody can buy their way to perfect shifts. This is so common it’s pretty much unavoidable. The manufacturers design harmonious drivetrains that monkeys, children, and nervous first-time adult riders can’t mis-shift. On one hand, that’s the definition of “good shifting.” On the other hand, it’s skill-less shifting that takes you out of the equation. There’s no point to intentionally seek challenges that make shifting frustrating, but there’s some satisfaction in using tools that don’t do everything for you. That’s why people use frying pans and woks.

For me, screwing up shifts makes my rides more interesting. I start a ride with a blank sheet, and try my best, but trying for perfection and caring a lot about it are different. I try hard, but it’s nice to be able to slough off an inconsequential flub.

The bicycle manufacturing and marketing machinery doesn’t agree. Bicycle and parts designers won’t be satisfied until their technology replaces your efforts, and this is certainly the way to sell more. I think you ought have the option of bicycle tools that allow perfect results but don't guarantee them.

If you’re debating with yourself about where to draw the line, it might be helpful to weigh the value of the technology against the consequences of failure. If failure means death or dismemberment—like it might be in surgery or a ride on a rocketship—absolutely sync the computers to the laser beams and give the controls to the genius nerds. But on a bicycle ride, the worst that happens is a slow or noisy shift, and fiddling with the shifter to make things right is at worst no big deal, and at best is part of the fun.

Deaf or hard-of-hearing people benefit more than others with indexing. There are circumstances when it's totally justified, called-for, better. But if you're a bike rider with two or more bikes, one should be friction, just because it's a unique experience and is more fun, once you get the hang of it. Which is fast and easy, and will be faster and easier if you study THIS:

 It's not a matter of encouraging you to do the hard thing. Friction is SO EASY.

To beat a dead whatever, here's another thing on it, sorry in advance:

Put your bike’s front wheel against the wall with the left pedal forward and horizontal. Actually do this, don't just read about it. You'll forget to do it, and you'll think, OK, I got it, but DOING it drives it in better than intellectualizing it.

Stand on the left side of your bike, lean over, and with your finger, tap the lower chain inward. Then tap the upper chain. It’s just as wiggly, because it’s not tensioned by pedaling. 

Now, with the wheel still against the wall, put your left foot on that pedal and push down hard. Reach over to the lower chain and push it inward again; it’s still wiggly, like a slack line. Then try it on the upper chain. It’s stiff like a tightrope, so it can’t move inward to complete a shift. It’s never that stiff when it’s moving, but hard pedaling makes it stiff enough to screw up a shift. To shift, the upper chain needs to be wiggly.

 (1) Drill it in:

Start from a stop, in high gear, on a flat road. Pedal at about 4-5 mph. When your right foot (for now your shifting foot) reaches 4:30, SHIFT. Then float both pedals around (keep them moving but with no pressure) until your right foot is at 12:00, and the shift completes. Repeat a few times, then try it again pedaling just a little faster—still shifting at 4:30 and floating to 12:00. The faster you pedal, the smoother the shift. That’s because the chain is more wiggly. Now…


(2) Make it harder.

Find a slight uphill, pedal really slowly with higher pedal pressure, again shift at 4:30, and float the 4:30 pedal to 12:00. If you’re going too slowly, the shift won’t take. You need enough momentum to sacrifice power to the pedals for half a revolution; to coast about six feet.

Try again, going only slightly faster. The faster you pedal, the easier it is. Now…


  1. Make it way harder.

On a real ride when you’re struggling in too high of a gear and you need to shift, cut across the road a bit to make pedaling easier, and give the pedals a good push to build up brief speed and give yourself enough coasting momentum to sacrifice pedal power for a half-pedal revolution.


Shifting is easy when you’re pedaling fast, because there’s so little chain tension. That, and foolproof shifting packages, are why pros and fast-pedaling amateurs always nail the shift. But during all-around, non-racing riding, you’re not going to want to pedal that fast all the time. Shifting at normal human pedaling speeds can be more relaxing, and on steep climbs it’s inevitable, so it’s worth learning. You’ll still goof up now and then with pedal pressure at the wrong time, but it doesn’t wreck a ride. A flubbed shift is your bike telling you—“Hey, fix your footwork. Get up a little speed, shift at 4:30, then float the pedals half a revolution to make the chain slack so it can move…OK?” 





CompAny. I can't edit that typebox up there.

In Will's email update of June 9 he showed a photo of Matthew's CLEM with a new fork in it, after a crash. Here are photos of the crashed one:



Our rear derailer is coming along slowly but nicely, we THINK. We might have bitten off more than we can chew. We'll see.






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