March: Kung Fu Nuns, Discontinued products, new things, RICOH and NITTO, Danish archery, bilingual dumpster signs, smashed lugs...

March: Kung Fu Nuns, Discontinued products, new things, RICOH and NITTO, Danish archery, bilingual dumpster signs, smashed lugs...

 That's me/Grant and my youngest daughter, b. 1994, in...1995 working in my garage. Spencer worked here, too, and still does.




You might need the better part of an hour for this BLAHG, but see how it goes, no pressure to read ANY of it. I'm sorry about that. If I go back to once a week, they'll be shorter, but I can't do that. Maybe 2x a month. I don't even know who reads these.


This is why people who like Bob Dylan like Bob Dylan, and why people who like black-and-white photography like that, too,

And that's not even the best (most familiar to me, I should say) version of the song. But, it's still good.  The first song both of my daughters ever heard, on day one o two, was THIS.


Many of you know that David Lance Goines died a few weeks ago. His stature here on the left coast can't be overstimated, but by god, the NYT finally got around to his obituary:

 We still have some posters, featuring a Hunqapillar and Milo, former employee and always friend Keven's son. I wonder what it'll be like for Milo, when he's 40, to see the poster and think, that's me. ALL PROCEEDS, ALL $60 of your poster purchase, goes to charity. Until the end of March. At that point we'll keep what we have left, take them off the site, and release them again in a few years for $100 at least, which will be less than the going rate for a fresh Goines poster.


This is a free blog, you know. My first order of business with it is to harm nobody, because that was the FIRST, opening-day goal I had for Rivendell. It covers things like no carbon frames forks handlebars or cranks, and also no hurtful commentary. "Hurtful" needs qualifying. It doens't mean that I won't express an opinion that doesn't gibe with yours, or that I won't be critical of a bicycle industry trend to electronify shifting from top to bottom.

I wonder if I'm violating that when I denigrate carbon in general, or electronic shifting. When you aren't big and trendy, you have to sing a little louder when you're  introducing something that isn't mainstream. And, it's helpful to differentiate what you have against what they have, especially if what they have is outselling what you have 20,000-to-1 (we sell one in every 20,000 bicycles sold in a year in the US, for example).

But also, that's not even half of the reason I say some of the stuff. Mostly, it's just enthusiasm for it. I get super excited about deep details about this and that, and it's just venting. 


The BRF fund is large supported by $2 donations. Please consider. We're running low on funds. We'll match yours, dollar for dollar. 

I'm so excited about the OM-1 derailer that I can't stand to even think about it, and I expect the next three prototypes to show up this month, We're working on front derailer stuff, too, and learning more than most about how they work and why they're designed the way they are. We're driven to learn this stuff because we LIKE front derailers and want to keep them alive if only for our own bicycles.


The other day Will told me he was riding his Homer-I think downtown (S.F.), and a (formerly "homeless," now "unhoused") guy yelled out, "Nice bike!...." at which point Will thought probably the same thing I thought as soon as he told me that. Maybe something along the lines of, wow, is there something about the proportions and creamed head tube and overall gentleness of the look that penetrates all human hearts, regardless of their history and current situation? or is this guy a former cyclist?

That is truly a quick sum-up of what I thought as soon as Will told me, and I bet many of you have had a similar experience. The bikes look different, they look less aggressive, and maybe that gets through in the same way that any object, regardless of what it's for or your lack of knowledge of how it's made, can look good to randos, and I don't mean randonneurs.

The thing is, Will wasn't done. "Then he said: ' it carbon fiber?'"

Will said No, and no doubt the guy thought less of the bike then. This is what we're up against.





Those are trout flies. I'm going fishing soon. And later, I'll be with a friend and this guy, a friend since like 1970:

He is the guy who made me a reader. We were camping for three months on a river up north and he was always reading books and I wasn't, when he gave me a copy of the book he'd just finished,


Something of Value, by Robert Ruark, and made me read it, and that was a big deal for me then.



The best lip balm I've used and the only one we've sold, and the one we sell a few thousand of a year, and some people who don't even ride bikes come to us for it because they can't find it anywhere else, and they also know how groovy it is...and it was the first lip balm ever put into tube, back there the same year but several months before the Wright Brothers took their first Lip Ivo. A year or two ago a big Welsh cosmetics company, The Hut Group, bought Bently Labs, and crunched the numbers, and has now announced that they're killing it.

We got in one last order, a big one. I didn't expect them to fulfill it, but they did. I'll have enough for the rest of my life, and the rest of you can order only maximally five per order. Because there's not room for more than one hoarder, and I got dibs on that. But I am also the guy who has known about Lip Ivo since the late 1960s, and who put it on our site in the late 1990s, and who has secured a halfway decent supply of it for any of you who know about it and want to get more. Only five per order. There are fine and ethical ways to get more than five. Keep the orders coming, have your partner order. Whatever, that's fine, but that's the deal.

There are other good lip balms. I know the landscape. It's not like Burt's Bees is cruddy. It's more like--so many of the aloe-based ones run right from your lips to your tongue.


By 2026, Rivendell WILL be the only bicycle company outside of RIchard Sachs's business that doesn't have an eBike. Lookit what's happening in Germany. It's a short story. Thanks, McGoo.



RICOH is to cameras kind of like maybe what NITTO would be to bike parts if you'd never or just barely heard of them and didn't have anything made by them. Above the fray, outside the mainstream, untrendy, superior in every way. If you own a RICOH digital camera, you're cool. If you own a RICOH film camera, good for you. If your office has some RICOH printers or whatever, you're less cool, kind of on the fringes, but it's still RICOH. In camera circles, people can sit around bs-in about Canon, Nikon, Hasselblad, Olympus, Fuji, Leica, and so on, but if you pull a Ricoh like this, everybody shuts up in shame and awe:


 But then, you still have to be able to use it or something. Apparently RICOH makes non-fancy things, too:

Anybody who knows RICOH would trust them with anything. There may be something quirky with a RICOH whatever---the kind of thing that'll make you say, "Yeah, but why didn't they just add THIS ?" But RICOH doesn't pay attention to low-hanging mainstream fruit. 

Spencer here has a RICOH GR digitical camera. It may be the only fullly cool digital camera out there. A 28mm lens, no zoom. RICOH has made some other camera, but it's now out of the camera game. I want a RICOH GR film camera, but I'm not obsessed or "on the hunt." I wonder about the pallets, though. I bet they're better in some way, but have a quirk. I'm not digging the plastic. Check out the crack. That can't happen, not like that, in wood. RICOH should've stuck with cameras, but oh well.


Along the lines of RICOH making plastic palettes that crack--I'm not saying EXACTLY like it--is this story about the Amish

It's not the feel-good story you were hoping for. They don't owe it to us to keep up the drudgery or whatever. I'm just throwing it out there.


NITTO just turned 100 years old. The boss is Akira Yoshikawa. 

Here's a BLUE LUG video about NITTO. You can see Blue Lug peeps and Mr. Yoshikawa, and you will get a sense of his place in the pack, all deserved. He doesn't compromise and doesn't care about growth, just quality. He never criticizes any of his competitors, he never raises his voice, he never complains. Unflappable! Something I aspire to be. I raise my voice and am super flappable.

In 1984 there were 25 handlebar and stem mfrs just in Tokyo. Then in May of 1985 "Yen Shock" re-valuated eight int'l currencies so there's be more balance of trade (importing-exporting) btw Japan, U.S., Germany, England, France, Italy, and some other country. Then everybody went to Taiwan, and the price-before-quality makers couldn't compete, so the only handlebar/stem maker left was quality-before-anything NITTO.  Modern bike manufacturing history trivia.


 The Extinctocene is Now, fellow denizens.

Zefal quit making the only good all-around bicycle accessory ever to come out of France. Sorry, but it's true. There have been good parts, some good frames and bicycles and luggage, but when I say "accessory" I mean things made of metal or a combo of metal and other stuff that you don't need to RIDE the bike, but can be helpful along the way if all hell breaks loose. That's what "accessory" means to me, and how I'm using it here. There may be exceptions.

Zefal is discontinuing the HPX pump. CO2 and Tubeles tires did it in. You could own an HPX and use it 40 times a year for 40 years. I've seen one worn-out one, ever. Easily serviced, all parts available, it should have been grandfathered in forever no matter what, but it's gone. Big companies run by new generations don't grandfather in diddly. That's a problem.

This is the challenge, the fight, the inspiration or whatever. There's no ongoing co-existence between new and old. New always wins. New hates old. New managers hate things that remind them that a business was around before them. Shimano is quitting mechanical components. SRAM hates them too, and if you think Campy will grandfather them in and protect them, no chance. Tektro is getting into complete groups, not just brakes, and everything is electronic.

You can say or think oh shut up, what's the big deal, it's just progress and it'll be fine, but there's more to it than that. What if you couldn't buy a plain hammer--only an electronic nail gun? You couldn't buy a kitchen knife, only a Cuisinart? No pencils and pens, only computers?

It IS the same, and it's worth squawking about. There's only so much squawking one can do, but in my place in all of this, it hits hard, and not just because it threatens our business. We could, just hypothetically, pivot here, turn there, readjust a few things, have a meeting and adjorn, all remade in a way that was a better fit for the times....but that is not going to happen.


 We're clearing out stuff and found these bad boys:

Here's another view:

Eight or so years ago when I was but a lad of 60, I wanted to check how brittle the lugs were, a real kind of acid test, so I got them super hot with a gas flame, then drenched them in ice water, then smashed them with a 70lb kettlebell, expecting them to crack. The superheat followed by supercold is supposed to be bad for this kind of steel. Anyway, no crack. This doesn't simulate riding forces, but it suggests something, doesn't it?


The Amish can do whatever they want. They don't live for us.

Still, interesting story here.


 I know what you're thinking: Something along the lines of "Hey, man--how about a feel-good story once in a while? OK, here you go...


For pure fun, it's hard to beat a Kung Fu nun.  The best use ever of the least-used of the five main vowels. All nuns should be Kung Fu nuns. This was a really great and fun and inspiring..and kind of stressful story to read.


I seriously don't think many of you will have gotten down this far in the Blahg, and I know you can allocate only so much time to it, but here's an interesting report on bicycle sustainability. It specifically addresses issues like materials, how bikes are used, eBikes, country of origin, the life of bikes, rental bikes, rental eBikes, and probably some I'm forgetting. It's not boring. HERE.

When I look at our bikes, or any modernly made steel bike, and then turn the corner and look at the bazillions of carbon bikes made by the ginormous makers, I know which ones will be around in 10, 25, and 50 years.  From that point of view, any steel bike that anybody buys now is an investment in somebody else's future, decades and decades away. 


Look at the modern bow, below. I know there are simple alternatives, but left to their own devices, this is the direction the big companies want to take archery, bicycles, you name it. 


Without the sign at the left you'd be justified, given where you're seeing this, in thinking this is some big parts maker's futuristic fantasy of some part of the bike that'll make riding more pleasurable, but alas and alak, it's just a bow...which I came upon a few weeks ago at a "sportsman's show" in Vancouver, Washington. I was up there visiting a friend and fishing buddy, and we had an hour to kill and it was in town. The technocrats see simple things like bows and bicycles as ye olde blank slates for their contributions. Supporters would say this makes bows with a 70-pound pull accessible to more people.

It's a fact and not just legend, that Crazy Horse , at full gallop, in the midst of a buffalo stamped, once shot an arrow with a normal circa mid-1800s bow, thru one buffalo, and then it passed clean thru and poked into another buffalo, killing them both, and feeding a lot of people (before you condemn him :)  ).

I know I've put this up here before, but I can't think of archery without thinking of ol' Lars Andersen. If you "care" about archery in the sense that you know what it is...well, you'll especially know what it is after seeing this, probably the most amazing thing ever to be seen on YouTube:

 I like to imagine Lars Andersen strolling down the aisles of that sportsmans' show, pausing at this booth, and having the salesguy pitch him on this bow.


This is from a recent fishing trip, Yakima River up  in Washington.

If you think I'm posting the 50 millionth digital image of a sunset, you're wrong.d Look more closely. This is the star of the scene:

Some of you speak Spanish as your first language. Others are bilingual, Eng and Span. I would like to know how you read the third line of this on first reading. I'll ask Sergio here.

Now, this is not a well-thought-out sign. There are lots of nitpicky things wrong with it, but maybe signage has a lower bar to clear, so OK. Still, if you read 

NO DUMPING   and  HOUSEHOLD GARBAGE, then you'll probably also read NO TIRE, and you might take that to mean, "also, btw, don't  put tires in here, even tho there's plenty of room for the S there. 

But the sign maker is just setting you up for a fall, with

BASURA DE HOGAR, which is Spanish for household trash. Then it turns out that NO TIRE is Spanish for DON'T THROW AWAY or DON"T TOSS or DON'T DISCARD.

I'd have thought NO DISCARDO would be close to correct, but in Spanish it means "I don't dial."  All things considered, I prefer Spanish to English, but I don't know it as well.  One of my several regrets is not being fluent in another language, especially Spanish, but I'd take French, too. 


This is the first all metal OM-1 derailer. It's being lab-tested now, and we'll get a few in for ride-testing, and if all goes well, something will happen with it. We don't know when, but the idea is that we don't make it available until we're confident, so it may be a while.

I think we'll keep this off of Instagram. The last time we put it up (not in this metal form), we got all kinds of advice on what we should be doing instead. It won't be for everybody. If Shimano still made RapidRise derailers, we wouldn't have to do this, but they don't, so we do.


We got and still have kind of a scare regarding lugs. Long Shen, our lug maker, has suffered from the economy in general (they made castings for a big non-bicycle company as well) and more specifically, a much bigger customer than us, leaving them for China, where its tubing and many of its bikes are made. That meant measly us are LS's biggest customer, and when Rivendell is your biggest customer, my friend, it's time to push the bloody virtual panic button, which is what we're doing as I type this. There is a chance of something coming through, but there's also a chance of us having one of those "What should we DO?" meetings. There is a 50-50 chance of us having to TIG Homers and more. Tigged steel is good, don't misunderstand...but we own more than 50 lug molds, at an average cost of $3,000 each, they're no good if there's nobody around to use them to make lugs. It's a combo problem of hard to get workers (the Gen Xers and younger want to work in tech) and not enough customers, because who's making lugged steel bikes in the Carboniferous Era?

If you're still reading and are interested in how lugs are made, click HERE for a nifty video. It's not as nifty as the Lars Andersen video you perhaps didn't click on, but it's still nifty.

It's almost 6 minutes long, which these days is a no-no.It'll make you feel like you can't do anything.

On the other hand, it should make you feel like friction shifting isn't a challenge. Which, it's not. 


We sent a bunch of wool clothing to the Oglala Lakota living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Pine Ridge, SD. It's possible that one of the garments we sent made the NYT today. Some of the guys here ganged up on me and said it was a pom-pon hat, but I see a gap btw the brown ball of whatever it is and what seems to me to be the edge of the neckie, so I remain steadfast that it's ours. Plus, I SENSE that many of them are in the long underwear and long-sleeved crewneck tops we sent:

If you want to read the story, YOU CAN HERE. Spoiler alert:

• museums have been reluctant to repatriate the goods partly because the tribes typically (and rituistically) either burn them or bury them. If burnt, bye-bye, and if buried, they could be dug up and stolen by people more nefarious than the museum curators who have them now.

• some of the Oglala want them for educating their kids.


Posterfund update:

If you're out of the loop: A Nepali family was really down in the dumps due to debt and thing were sad and hopes were being dashed and kids were dropping out of school, so we sold and are still selling the Rivendell Goines posters to raise money. The goal is $20K, we sent $6K, and for $60 you get a poster your kids will be able to sell for $150 in 30 years if you don't wreck it.


Sorry about another Bob Dylan thing, but here's a song I've heard only a few times and had forgotten. There's no chorus or refrain or anything, it's just a story with every line different. Not into Bob, don't bother. Into him, you're welcome. Here.



Years ago we received lots of early issues of Bicycling! The magazine title used to have the exclamation mark.  Here's the cover of January 1971 this was eight to nine months after the April, 1970 Earth Day bike boom that resurrected bicycles and riding in the U.S.


The address label:


I looked him up:

If you're his relative and you'd like to have this magazine, get in touch and prove it. It might be fun to have this. We have others to your dad or grandfather, too. He may be the guy who send them to us...or maybe it was you. If it was you who sent them to us...thanks! We like them, they're good reading.







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