March 12. Platypus, BLUE LUG, armless rider, some great linx, some disorganization


I never thoroughly edit this before posting. It's a friday now. I'll try to fix goofs over the weekend. 

Many of you have heard of Blue Lug, the best bike shop/bike company in the world. Will and James and I have bitter battles over which one of us is Blue Lug's biggest fan, and I in my own mind always win. I've been there (with Will; and he's been there with and without me). It is jam-packed and tidy, with interesting paraphernalia everywhere you look. BL makes a lot of its own soft goods. They're making some hats for us right this second, and we'll have them within a few weeks MAYBE.

Their photography is super, their bike presentations are spectacular, the quality of writing is better than ours, and English, shockingly, isn't even their native language. They understand bikes the same way or on the same level we do. They do the Grant twisty-twine shellacked cotton bar wrap better than I do, and I invented it. I am in awe and humbled. I love Blue Lug. Here's a page they did on ye olde Tosco bar:

https://bluelug.com/blog/global/rivendell-tosco-bar/

 A few years ago I wanted to make hand covers. We had some patterns, we did them ourselves, they were horrible. But the idea was good. Blue Lug has done it and I'm going to get some.

https://global.bluelug.com/blue-lug-handle-cover-x-pac-olive-beige.html

These almost make me want to live in some place that requires them. I do get cold hands now and then, though. These seem perfect. I know there are similar products, but these are nice and beautiful, and they'll work fine.

Here's a 16-min vid of BL working on a Sam frame.

 

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We are trying to stockpile parts, because parts are so hard to come by. We're ordering months and sometimes years in advance. Even that doesn't always work. The Platypus shipment, we just found out, is going to be a month late.  Here's the   ------

We have ye olde something special planned for buyers of this first bunch of Platypus frames and bikes. You get :

Here is the stuff you get:

 

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8/10 (carlesness)

I wouldn't mind a few of these in this country.

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4/10 

Helmet laws in Seattle lead to a disproportionate number of Black cyclists getting fined or arrested or whatever. Homelsss, too.

Platypus news from the land o' barbecued shrimp. It's kind of hard to read, I can't get it any clearer, but there's a photo or Leah Peterson and her one-of-a-kind raspberry red Platypus:

 

 

 

(1) A super cool platypus dvd, about 45 minutes long, to assure that you'll know more about the platypus than anybody else in your town. It's great filmage, and you'll see them swimming smoothly underwater as they close their eyes and use their scientific bill to locate food. It's really, really, a terrific video. The best video ever of platypuses going about their lives.

(2) A booklet on how the platypus conservation people in Australia make sure the populations are healthy and protected. It's especially challenging these days. The platypus is closer to extinction than it has ever been...as you know if you watched the link above.

We're giving twenty dollars from each frame sold and thirty from each bike sold to the Australian Platypus Conservancy. The platypus is the most far-out land animal still living. There might be something at ye olde bottom of the ocean that's stranger. It's been around for about 120 million years. Homo sapiens have been around for 300,000 years, or 400 times as long.

This is the best book of any kind ever written. ("How can he say that? That's the stupidest thing I've ever read.") That's because you haven't read Caste. If I had a way to contact the author thru an intermediary, I'd ask her thru that intermediary if she rides a bike, and if so, is it a pedal bike, and if so, what's she riding and how does she ride and where and all...and I'd ask whether or not she's happy with her bike, and if she said something along the lines of "...ehhh...so-so...but it's not that comfortable and it's kind of ugly..." then I, through that intermediary would ask her what her PBH was, or how tall or something, and I'd buy her a bike, maybe a Platypus, but in any case, something that makes sense. 

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Mars seems to be a Hellhole

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Inchus americus...ye olde inch-worm. I disco'd it whilste walking Billie sans a Sharpie in my GrabSack, do I did what I'd hope you'd do in the same circumstance, to prove that it is, more or less, an inch long. This one's about 1.5-inches. What's happening to inch worms?

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In the past three. months I have been on the receiving end of two olde tymey patch kits--one never opened, one, only the container still left:

I like "World Approved Accessories." 

I've certainly used those cheese-grater style tube buffers, but the thing is, the need is to clean the rubber of foreing matter that will interfere with the tube sticking...not to "rough it up" to create nooks & crannies to hold the glue and make the patch stick better. <--No, that's not it. So simple sandpaper to GENTLY freshen the rubber is better.

 

John Bull is an olde, storied, reverent, venerated maker of bicycle tires and tube and maybe some accessories, from England. Over the decades I've seen the name here and there in British bike catalogs and stuff, but never appreciated it until a friend and customer gave me by this tube-repair tin.I love everything about it. The color, design, the fact that it's all metal.

 I found this LINK. There's lots about Sir John Bull on the web. I don't have time for it all, but the company's been around since 1906.  It may and/or may not be still existing and/or defunct.

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Platypus news. The animal kind. 7/10, because of the topic.

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This is either good news or bad news, depending on many things. It's an animal story, five minutes max. 5/10

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Another carbon story.  8/10 because of the topic.

This isn't beating a dead horse. The horse  has never been more alive or more in need of a — No, let's leave poor horses out of it. Carbon continues to justify any criticism thrown at it, that's all. What is the point? To save grams while you're consideing keto to lose multiple kilograms? Carbon degrades over time and even when fresh, it's iffy. There is no good reason. The big brands that sell hundreds of thousands of carbon bikes and parts are in too deep to stop. 

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Dang, it should be third son, not third sons. Holy cow. Look what he named his third son. I'm not judging, but I don't see a pattern, and usually there's a pattern. Also, I forgot to capitalize Black, and it's not worth the ten furious minutes it would take to fix that. And to turn the comma at the end into a period.

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One of the two biggest bummers to happen here ever since 1994 is/was the semi-shutdown of the original BRP / BRF program. The only way it might have worked was to get some outsiders to form a 501c3, follow all the legal rules for that, and basically make it an unpaid part-time job, and our role would be limited to send it money. There are some down-home great cycling charities out there, but if they're receiving fifty to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars already from big corporations, I don't think they'd jump for joy with $10K from us, or $14K, whatever it's up to now.

I tried but couldn’t find anybody. It’s not the kind of thing one can push onto somebody else, so maybe my try was just too weak. I cast a small net with big holes in it, and caught zero fish.

We actually did direct about $11K to its original purpose for six people, and there’s about that much money still in the account. We’ll use it “for good purposes” but if nobody comes biting, we’ll find a similar charity and send it there.

All proceeds,which means every cent and not just theoretical profits from the sale of BRF stuff gets funneled to the charity of our choice. Not far off from what we'd've done if the bad stuff hadn't happened. Overall, it feels like losing a national election and then going incognito and running for mayor. Could be worse.

We have our trolls.

 

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We got in some Hobson-Zingo, plastic-free, sample tools: 

 More samples coming. The idea is to provide incredibly decent tools that'll last a home mechanic essentially forever. In some cases they'd last a bike shop twenty five years or more as well...but shops don't need to buy tools from us.

We didn't want any plastic. Do you need plastic-coated handles on ANYTHING? No. If you want to wrap your cable cutter handles with bar tape, go for it. But by the time you've done that, you could have, for example, cut ten cables. The whole idea of covering metal with plastic--it's time to ditch that. Wrap them not at all or with cotton bar tape, or something you just have around and would otherwise go into ye olde landfill.

When we have a fuller selection in, we'll offer them up. Good tools, priced as painlessly low as we can.

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From the "You'd figure this out on your own eventually" Department:

How to use the "Wrist loop" on your Finnish pine tar soap:

Here's the right way:

Looping it around a finger or two of your choice is all you need, and you will need it. A non-rectangular orb of wet soap is a slippery sob and you can hang it from the rope on one of your shower knobs. All showers have knobs. Show me a shower without any way to hang a rope inside it, and I'll show you a lousy shower or an uncreative showerer.

We sold out of the last batch in four hours. More is coming, already ordered, just need to do the wire transfer. With luck we'll have it by March 20.

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If you take pictures with a camera, even if it's your phone, but especially if it's with film, meet your new hero. Travis Mortz is better at these blogs than I have ever been at anything I do, including blowing my nose. He's got tons of them, he is a dedicated film photographer--so either get ready for that or don't even click on the link. They're a good way to spend almost 30 minutes.

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I know, I know, but here's a helmet link worth reading, at least. 

It doesn't mean don't wear one. It's a complicated issue. Some of my best friends wear helmets. Some Riv-emps wear them. It's all up to you. And there are always ye olde bumpe-cappes for in-betweeners. It's all so complicated, huh? Don't come here for simple stuff that you don't have to think about for more than a tenth of a second. 

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 When picking parts for your Platypus, here's a guide that might help:

But first: If you want us to pick it all for you, we can do that. We’ll ask three or four questions about basic preference and how you’ll use the bike, and then we’ll take care of you.
Everything you pick, or we help you pick for your bike is changeable. With that in mind, here’s a fantastic guide. 
  1. Shifters
      Get indexed (“trigger”) shifters if: You’re new to bikes and are nervous about shifting and just want the easiest way, get indexed shifters. Or if you’re a grizzled veteran, grumpy as all get-out, are tired of us pushing friction…then settle down and just get the triggers.
      
      Get friction shifters if: You’re new or relatively new to bikes OR you have never used friction shifters but are willing to learn a skill or two (easily learned, by the way). Or you like the versatility, control, and satisfaction of shifting, and don’t mind messing up now and then.
      
Indexed or friction, the left and the right shifter don’t have to be the same kind. For one of many examples, a left bar-end shifter and a right thumb shifter is a nice combo.
      
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      2. Crank/chainrings
      It’s harder now to get front derailers for triples, which is too bad, because triples, like it or not, are still the most versatile cranks. Who canNOT see the logic in a 44 x 34 x 24 combo?
      But it is 2021, and double are easier to source for. A 38 x 24 is good for the road; a 34 x 24 has a slight edge on steep trails.
Single rings are special options when you know your routes and gearing needs and just want to try one-ring for fun. Single rings make total sense for flat riding. On trail, a modern-popular way is “mullet-gearing,” with a single ring in front and an 11-46 or 50 cassette in back—usually 11 cogs. If you go more than 9 cogs in back, you’re limited to “mullet-gearing” derailers too. That’s another story, and we know how to do it.
    
      3. Pedals
      For any fun recreational, UNracing rides, double-sided platform pedals are the best. Wear rubbery-soled shoes, not hard plastic or leather. Get a feel for the grippiness, then just go. Among our pedals, the longest-lasting are the MKS models, and the grippiest and most supportive of those is the Monarch. There are so many good pedals these days.
      
      4. Handlebars
Too many damn fantastic options: Albatross, Bosco, Tosco, Losco, Choco, and Billie. If you’re getting a 50cm frame,  get any of these: 49 Losco, 53 Choco, 54 Losco, 55 Albatross , Tosco, or Bosco. On a 55, get any of those except the 49 Losco. On a 60: Any of the 55cm picks, plus maybe a 58 Bosco. If you’re narrow btw ye olde shoulders, probably avoid the 58. If you’re torn, let us pick for you. We always pick good, and handlebars are switchable later on, anyway.
  1. Grips
We have the classiest cork grips in the universe, they look great, work great, but they aren’t AS grippy as synthetics, and they need to be glued on…and if you switch bars later and want to use the same pricey cork grips, you can’t do it. They are excellent, but there is that.
We have tons of other grips, gripper and cheaper and easier to remove without wrecking them. We got some neat grips from Holland, and some USA-made grips by Hunt-Wilde, which made grips about an honest century ago.  
We sell the Dutch and USA/Hunte-Wilde grips singly, so buy two. There is no frigging functional reason in the universe to get two that match, either in color or style. Indeed, getting one of these and one of those keeps life fun and you’ll learn which one you prefer. They are all excellent. If you mount thumb shifters immediately ahead of your brake levers (or if you want us to do that), we recommend a 103mm length. We list by length, but it’s up to you to pick.
  1. Wheels (followed by tires)
Bicycles, even untuned jalopy bikes, are so efficient that, for uses other than racing, it doesn’t make sense to fret about ounces or rolling resistance. Our wheels are traditional spoked wheels for our rim-braked bikes. They’re conservative and reliable and what you want unless you race. Our best-VALUE hubs are Shimano Deore. If you want fancy, we do plenty of those, too, but the performance difference is imperceptible. 
  1. Tires
We like to fairly fill-up the tire space. Higher volume tires allow lower tire pressures, which ride softer over bumps and protect the wheels better. Our tire selection is small and unconfusing. The tires we stock are the ones we ride and trust, and you can, too. 
  1. Fenders?
If you ride in the rain a lot, yes. If you don’t, no. You can always add them later. We sell only the German-made SKS recycled plastic fenders with stainless steel stays. They look nice, work great, and if you want to spiff them up, add a Sackville mudflap (we can install it). Some people like metal fenders, but we don’t sell them because the front ones don’t have a quick-release, and a quick-release is the safe way to go. There are some beautiful metal fenders out there, but we don’t feel comfortable selling or installing them.
  1. Saddles
We don’t guarantee comfort with any of our saddles, and unlike some bike dealers, we don’t have the insane kind of return/refund policy that allows you to buy and try and return saddles indefinitely. And since we don’t do it like that, we’re careful about what we offer and recommend. Brooks leather saddles, made in England since 1903 or something, always look good but don’t always feel good. Each model, even the ones we don’t like or stock, has its fans. But the ones we stock are the ones that work the best for the most people. Around 2012 or so, Brooks discontinued the B.68, which is our second favorite saddle in the line. Nobody knows why, but that was a bummer. The B.17, in all of its variations, works well for nine in ten riders. If you’re a vegan, go for a C19. It’s not as comfortable, but many people find it not bad, and it’s also rainproof. If you already have a really ugly but comfortable saddle, ride it! There’s no shame in that, even on a beautiful Rivendell.
  1. Kickstand?
They make as much sense as ever, and about seventy percent of the bikes we ship have them. It’s up to you. We have three styles, from Switzerland and Taiwan. All are fine.