June's Blahg

June's Blahg





The verdict is in, and reminded me of Trump and this song:


 It's a true story, too.


Try the song that comes on after.


Bill Walton, the red-haired basketball player died on May 27 or 28, and this link has a pretty neat quote of is about bikes. I generally am not a fan of quotes about the bicycle that glorify it to high heaven in a cheesy way that seems like the speaker is trying to call attention to himself/herself...but this is not one of those, and I really do like it. Bill was a good friend of Joe Bell, the world's best bicycle painter; and of Bill Holland, a south southern CA framebuilder known mainly for his titanium frames. I know Bill Walton rode one, his main bicycle, but the bicycles in the photos of this link don't seem to be titanium. Bill Holland used to built with steel, so maybe it was one of those. Anyway, it's so true what he says about the bicycle being ready for you no matter how battered your body is.


My oldest daughter (b. 1988) and I were disagreeing about the shape of honeycombs. I said something like everybody knows the little cells or whatever are hexagonal, and she said no, they're round, and I couldn't believe she thought that. Where had I gone wrong? So I solved the argument the way we do that these days, and it revealed this.

So the holes are round, which makes sense for an animal with the cross-sectional shape of a bee.  We're all fascinated with bees, but the investigation turns overwhelming early. We don't have time to delve into it, and so it's always a back-pocket thing, where we know we CAN investigate, but there are more immediate and relevant things to deal with.

Well, it turns out that daughter and her husband got curious about a few bee things, and this morning she told me this, and then I thought I might not remember it all, so I asked her to write it. This, is all you need to know about bees FOR NOW:

The bees bring the nectar back to the hive, where they chew it for about 30 minutes before passing it, mouth to mouth, to the next bee. The saliva in their mouths mixes with the nectar and transforms it into a kind of honey-water. They pass it among themselves, 30 minutes each, until it’s ready, then they put it in a cell of the honeycomb. Then they flap their wings at the honey-water to reduce it until it turns the syrupy consistency of honey.

I know you can find this out yourself, but you might not have. Bees always take a back seat to everything. I wish honey wasn't so sugary. I am still fanatical about blood glucose and A1C. 


Projects: V-brake, front derailer, rear derailer

The V-brake is 98 percent there, but "98 percent" is a shameful D-minus when it comes to bicycle parts, and we're working on the final 2 percent. Roman is, mainly...with Jim Porter of Merry Sales, who is coordinating its making. I've been riding an early prototype  (an 80 percenter, on the same scale) for close to a year with tons upon tons of hours of severe braking on the super steep hills of Briones Regional Park and Shell Ridge, and it's been faultless and wonderful, but there are things I can tolerate or overlook because on my bike they're inconsequential, but it still means not ready for primte time. Will has the most recent samples, much-fixed, on his bike, and Mark and Roman notice the two percent and...it's being fixed.

Front deraiiler: Notes farther down in this. It'll be good, and the prototype works great, but...not good enough yet. It still in the "functional but could look way better" category.

Rear derailer: I don't know. We're close, but are really just hoping Microshift will take it on and give us peace of mind. Pax de cabesa, or something close to that. The trouble is, nobody cares about, because they don't see the market for, opposite-moving rear derailers. And they should be the default. Huret (French derailleur maker post-WWII) made them, but then when Campy came out with its own Gran Sport model in 1951 or so, it worked in the wrong direction, and that new wrong direction became the way to go, everybody copied it, and so here we are. Shimano tried to fix that in the late 1990s thru abouit 2004, but by then it was too late, and now we're th only ones in the universe who care about it, and it's hard for us, small as we are, to drum up enthusiasm for it. Microshift has said they'll consider it. We can't be too pushy, but we're hanging on that. Meanwhile,  there are plenty of perfectly good but mechanically backward-operating rear derailers. Shimano's best design, my opinion, is the Altus M310. The Acera and Alivio are good too. The new Deores--of course they work great, but they have lost a feature that we and anybody with a brain values (the cable adjuster)..and they can DO that because there are other adjusters, usually--on the brake lever or at the first cable stop--but if you're using it with road levers and have a cable-stop braze-on that accepts the cable directly, then you may miss the adjuster on the rear derailer. I should include a photo instead of blabbing and squawking:


 Cloisonne Pigeon



My wife bought it for her brother for his birthday, but I wish she'd gotten it for me. === 

New Yorker cartoon:



below: O my... coming to a bike shop near you?  We will never do this, by the way:





 REALLY? SILK (the company) is the original plant pioneer? When did "the plant-based movement" start? 


On the way to work last week:

Roberto washing windows. I asked if I could take his photo.

I'd look like that if I could. Who wouldn't? He was happy to pose for this photo.
The name of the building is, actually, The Riv. But that's not why I took the pix.
Bicycle and more normal content:
Here's a prototype, an actuallly fully functional one, of a front derailer we're working on with Jim Porter of Merry Sales/Soma Fab:
We have plenty of front derailers now. The Microshift Skeleton Key (Will's name for it), and a bunch of Shimano CUES fronts we were forced to take, as part of a story not worth telling. But it works great. The thing is, we're planning for a future in which none of the biggies wants to make front derailers, so we must get out own. This 3D-printed metal one works great, but has an aesthetic challenge we can easily fix, and a tiny funtional glitch only Mark noticed, and you could have it for ten years and never notice, but we'll fix that, too.
Some of the pictures here are a lot alike (but not the same) as old front-derailer pictures. I'm obsessed with front derailers these days, so...skip over if you're bored.
It has the kind of parallelogram and lever arm (the one the pinch bolt is on) design that all front derailers had pre-indexing. It is slightly smarter: The lever arm is a millimeter LONGER than the parallelogram arms, so there's less slipping tendency and theoretically lighter action. Also, it's simple--the rigging of it--like the old derailers were.
But the super genius is all Jim Porter's doing, and it's not in the derailer itself. but the clamp. This is the only derailer clamp (separate from the derailrer) that allows lateral adjusting, so the same derailer will work on narrow or wide chainlines. All separated clamps should be that way. There's no drawback, only benefits.
I'm a sucker for bizarre advertisements, always have been, always will be. This one, based on it being on the back page of the Sunday NYT business section on June 9, probably cost $75,000. I say that because I know for a fact that in the 1980s the full-page Macy's add opposite Herb Caen's column, cost  $30,000. Inflation, the Times, Sunday, and in color (the Macy's ad was not in color). I'm not suggesting you read it. My wife, her head in a book, refused, and refuses to acknowledge that her husband wastes time on this stuff. Here goes:
The thing is, I still don't know what CANVA does. My sense is that they sell Indonesian-made furniture for upscale vacation homes, which is fine, but it's weird to assume that we know that. Maybe I'm just late to the Canva party.
Just one person's opinion, but I think this is the most underrated T-shirt we've ever done, although you have to know the song reference to appreciate it and that might have been its downfall:
The song is "Ode to Billy Joe."
The whole idea of electrifying your gravel experience sums up what is happening in the mainstream market. What does, "Experience a more connected gravel ride" mean? More connected to what? The Cloud? The electronic Bluetooth gizmo? How does that all work? Has Shimano's electronic shifting really reached "legendary" status?  OF COURSE "whatever makes you happy and doesn't harm others" should be fine. But that's kind of like thinking election results don't matter, because we can still go about OUR daily lives largely unaffected....that is, if we are already doing even just OK, and can't get preggers and don't give a fig about lots of other people and things. Sorry. I don't know how I went from electronic gravel bikes to that, but I did. I am a magician!
Francois Hardy died on the 11th. She was the anti-celebrity celebrity, seemingly genuinely unimpressed with fame and not full of herself, and...just sort of an odd duck in a good way in that way. Nobody is qualified to describe anybody, especially her, but people try. She wrote an interesting memoir in 2018, and I recently started it. Here's her obit. In the photo she's holding a Minox spy camera, and it's possible the book she's reading might be French. To use an expression I never took to even in its heyday and nobody says anymore: I wouldn't put it past her.
Bummer for Boeing II: Fake titanium?
(Boeing and Airbus bought some fishy titanium from China thru a Turkish middleman or something, and it MAY be fine, but the certification documents were forged or fake or something.)
What is happening, maybe, is that the U.S. is so ... I don't know how to say it, but it has something to do with we're so used to buying from eager-beaver and competent countries who want our business, and so tired of U.S. businesses who simply don't have the skills or experience to make certain things...and maybe they made them in the '50s and '60s, but no more...that it's really hard to find U.S. sources for so many things. The derailer we're working on. Investment castings. Steel. Aluminum forgings. Lugged frames. And, after decades of NOT making stuff, they lose the ability to, in many cases. It happens in Japan with cameras, too. Ricoh bought Pentax and wants to bring back a film camera, but none of the current staff know how to make it, so they're  rousting 88-year old retired technicians from their naps so they can help out. Rollei, the German company, has  similar story. You have to go to the people who care and either know how or will try. We have our MUSA brand of clothing (Made in the USA) because we have a maker, and I think there will always be USA-made clothing. But it's not (as I've mentioned before) Ruth and Harold sewing them up. Still, it's good for the economy in theory, at least; and it's easier for us. but more expensive.  I suspect you'd rather read another NY'er cartoon or see another photo of Francois Hardy than read this whining. OK
Antonio noticed some things about the ESSA. Kind of weird, from a friction-shifter's point of view, anyway. We'll have to experiment. Could be nothing, shouldn't have said anything. Stay tuned.
rider's view of the best handlebar bag out there. The EZPZ. It looks l ike hell like this, but it's full of stuff and overstuffed, and it works great. I use it every day.
Front view.

View showing how to rig the stem with tape and lock it down.
special bike, one of twelve.
There's a lot going on here. Thanks so much for support, patronage, friendship.
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