No. 13. Late June. Last long one for a long time, totally.

No. 13. Late June. Last long one for a long time, totally.

This is NOT the finished badge, it's just a work in progress, with some of the style laid out. The colors will change, things may move around, new things will de-fo-nately pop up. The eggs will stay, but maybe not there. The royal blue banner will change to something dirtier, something sludgey that looks good with gold raised letters. The gold background behind the platypus will be colored and changed, so the platypus stands out and looks more like its in a billabong or something.


The RACING Section is way down below, almost at the bottom, between the pencils. 


If you don't want to read race stuff, read until you get to the next pencil you see, then skip over all that stuff to the next pencil, and read normal stuff below that. It starts way down there, so don't skip this first  part unless you hate Genghis Khan and maybe platypuses.

 Longtime readers will know I have an obsession with ancient Mongolia and Genghis Khan, so imagine my delight:


O, ye platypuses. This is a link. U need-2C-it.

And here are some decals on tubes that aren't the real colors;

 This isn't the final. You'll have to wait a couple of months to see that.

This is the final seat tube decal. The frame color is about half accurate.


We're still moving along on the rear derailer. (We're going to make one, a Rapid-rise style, aka "low-normal," the kind that relaxes under the big rear cog instead of the normal backwards way of all currently manufactured famous models.)

The point isn't to hurt Shimano's stock price, it's to make this style derailer available again, maybe even to inspire Shimano to bring them to market for a third time, after ye olde market rejected them in the early '90s and again in the early 2000s). If any of you knows Bob Shimano, tell him to try a third time, and Rivendell will buy a thousand of them, though not all at once.

We spent $485 on a spring-winder for this derailer project. It is the most outrageous expense here ever, but it was necessary to move the project along. To make a spring, you start with piano wire of the right gauge, then wind it up, then sort of nest it in steel wool, wrap that mess in aluminum foil and bake it at 480 degrees F. for, I forget, 40 minutes. Something along those lines.

  Have I already mentioned this? Sometimes I write and delete, and I don't re-read the BLAHGs. -----

These are the best and worst of times, here, out there, everywhere. Rivendell is like a chicken-baby pecking to hatch and fledge so it can fly like a genuine duck, but that's true of most small businesses. I find this to be extremely professionally frustrating.

OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM is shipping out bikes. We lost a bike packer, then another who worked here a week quit to go on the dole instead, and then we hired a new guy who's great and working out, but he's just p/t because he's retired. We're interviewing like crazy, but in the meantime please, for the love of god, be patient. It's the biggest stress, so it's the biggest project here. 

I believe so much in a particular vision of Rivendell in the next five to twenty years. I think I know where bikes are going, and I don't want to go there. Bikes should be mechanical and simple, and it's okay if they require some skill and effort. Effort is exercise.

In 1890 there was an American bicycle maker named Eagle. I had a copy of it catalogue, and there was a line in it that I think I re-quoted in a Bridgestone catalogue. I'll go find it. Here it is, on p.8 of the '92 catalogue, introducing an article called Friction Shifting In An Indexing World. It's a two-page spread, but I broke it up into four sections here so the type wouldn't be too small:

I think that's Caslon type. It looks really good. From now on it'll be my favorite.

George Retseck did the illustrations. He's still around, and we email now and then. He's still illustrating.

Overall, it's still fine, but I'd change the way I said a few things, especially the ending. I believe it, but it sounds too maudlin, or like I'm telling you to rise up and enjoy the struggle. There is no struggle. It's not as baby-monkey easy as indexing, but it's still easy. It all comes down to, like, is the goal of any device to eliminate any skill in using it? I am sick of myself.

Mechanical bikes are already magical enough. Modern derailers, chains, and cassettes make changing gears easier than it has ever been. Rims are getting weird, shifting too much to disc-only braking, but there are still plenty of rim-brake-rims, and they're not going away. Tires are way better than they've ever been. Brooks still makes saddles the way they have since the early 1900s. I'm betting the leather was better before cows got growth hormones. In the pre-hormone days cows lived longer before,  uh, being put out to pasture, and their time in the sun made their back leather thick, just like it does to yours, sunbather. How thick was it? I don't know, but current Brooks leather is 5.0 to 5.5mm , and that seems pretty thick. I bet the old saddles were 6 to 6.5mm, but it's just a stupid BLAHG guess. They last long enough, and with saddle covers for we weather and stuffing with pool-noodle foam from underneather to prevent sag, a Brooks should last you 15,000 miles. Isn't that enough? It's about a dollar every 150 miles, or 600 miles for the price of a cup of fancy coffee. Am I doing that right? I'm within a decimal point for sure.



 We're working on a line of tools, which will be presented to the world under the prestigious marque of Hobson-Zingo. They'll be perfect for working on your Platypus bike, or any other. 

But first things first: We'll have T-shirts and/or hats before the tools. 

Many, not all bike shops, would rather sell you labor over and over again, than sell you tools. Some shops give classes in bike mechanics, or at least they used to. When I worked in the bike department at the Berkeley REI in the early '80s, all of us there agreed not to fix flats for anybody. Instead, we made a photo-board showing all 12 or whatever steps there were, and if that wasn't enough, we'd sit with you while you did it yourself. Those were the loosey-goosey days at REI. Management didn't love everything we did, but there was a lot of expertise in that store, and it was successful. 

Anyway, the HOBSON-ZINGO line of tools is aimed at the home bike mechanic who wants to be fairly self-sufficient, without spending $500 on tools.

No plastic and no official tool color. We're not going to get into the color wars, which exist,thanks to Park, who claims they own BLUE, even tho Hozan of Japan had it first. Pedros now "owns" yellow, but I don't know that they'd be willing to defend it in court.

Hozan, the historic fantastic bike tool maker of Japan, is not the Hozan of old. They're now Park's distributor in Japan, and Hozan's color is now black. Hozan still makes its own tools (and makes none for Park), but seems content to ride it out as Park's agent. That's kind of a downer, if you ask me, but whatever.

Unior tools from E stonia has red-and-orange when they're sold in the U.S.; and blue in Europe. Unior is an ancient tool maker, the tools are really good, but they're hard to get in the U.S. We'd stock 'em if I thought we'd have good supply, but I have good reason to believe that wouldn't happen. 

There are lots of bike tool makers in Taiwan, and one's going to make our HOBSON-ZINGO line. We've gotten samples, and have asked for modifications where we feel a modification would be useful. I think they'll be a nifty, fun, useful, super-good value line of tools, and we'll tell you where and how to use them.


Here's a document I'm working on, related to assembling your bike yourself. It is not ready for release yet, just a work in progress. I'm not sure of the toneage:

Want to assemble your bike at home? OK! It’s a good way if—

  • You’re comfortable (experienced) with bike assembly, and have the tools
  • You want to save $250, our assembly fee (fenders and racks are extra).

There are two DIY Options

 (1) FULL DIY: We ship the bike to you in the box it came in, but reinforced and padded. We don’t unwrap or touch it.

In this FULL DIY case, you’ll need to install the fork and align the derailer tab.

Frankly, if you plan to assemble the rest of the bike yourself anyway, you really ought to have the tools for this. It’s not our intent to explain the use of these tools because we assume you’re experienced and equipped…if you pick FULL DIY.

You will also need a derailer tab alignment tool, and the skills to use it. This is one of the things that can’t be learned by reading, only by doing.

 You can pay a local shop to do these for you or you can find out how on YouTube, but at that point, please ask yourself whether you’re up to the rest of the assembly. Your Rivendell deserves skilled hands, and your safety requires them.

 (2) PART DIY: We install and adjust the headset and align the derailer tab. We charge $100 for this, because it takes time to unpack the frame, do the work, and repack it in a bigger box, because now it has a fork on it.


  1. Chain lines and front derailer compatibilities, so you don’t end up with a fully-assembled bike that won’t let you access all of the chainrings. We can tell you which parts that we sell work on your frame-bike, but we don’t want to guess about vintage parts mixed with modern parts.
  1. Bikes aren’t yet entirely plug and play. If you buy a full Shimano or SRAM group, they get pretty close to that, but when you use (as we like to) a harmonious and better mix of parts from different manufacturers, then you’d better know what you’re doing. On our site we include a list parts combinations we’ve proven work perfectly. (GET IT TOGETHER< DO A BETTER JOB OF THIS.) These include only new, fresh parts. Blend in old parts with a spirit of experimentation, not optimism.
  1. There’s nothing off-standard about the dimensions of our frames. They’re compatible with ninety percent of all modern drivetrains and parts, but if you don’t have the experience and skill and tools and patience, it’s going to be frustrating…is all we’re saying.


We have been experimenting with tools. One goal is no plastic, including handles and tire levers, fyi. Here's genius at work, in that regard. I know it's nuts, but the two immediately below are fantastic:

 You get small stumps and drill holes close to the size of your tools. Measure a drill bit with a metric caliper, which EVERYBODY should own and you can get the for less than $15 from the Bezzosphere, or somewhere else for somewhat more. Then you measure the tool. You'll find a 5mm hex measures roughly 5mm, and so on. If your tool is a smooth-shafted somethingorother, measure it. If you don't have a caliper, to it by eyeball or finger feel. You're just looking for a snug fit. Pound the took in by slamming it on stump or a wooden stool (both work).

Maybe not.

Going south.

OK, nuts. It comes from liking wood and tools.


Gone super bad. But the original wooden hand style on a low-torque tool like a ball-head hex, there's nothing wrong with that.


Here's a new kickstand for us, for Racers. It's been available for a long time, but I just found out about it. A good solution for bikes without kickstand plates. We are, kind of, working on our own kickstand. Back-burner project.


The racing kickstand weighs 8.4 ounces, within a handful of grams what the Pletscher weighs if you bolt it to plate, and less than that Pletscher if you need the upper sandwich plate and long-ass bolt. And this one, from Taiwan, fits slickly on bikes without kickstand plates, and without the chainstays. It's a secure place for it, it holds the bike up really well, and we like it. 



I was shooting Sofia for a brochure and had to reload. I'm holding the back of the Hasselblad, she had the front. It had a yellow filter on it. She aimed her phone thru the viewfinder and shot this. You can see the alignment lines in the camera. She's really into and good at this stuff. I LOVE this picture.

Here's one of the  photos I shot within five minutes of this picture. It's not great, but I like the scene. Olympus OM-1, 50mm lens, orange filter (I brought two cameras), HP-5 film. A tight crop, which is why it's so grainy:

 You have to admit the charm of that striped shirt. She's wearing MUSA shorts which I'd just sewed those suspenders onto.


Here's a little-known Bob Dylan song, buried on an unpopular album. It couldn't have been written by anybody else, and it's timely.

What Good Am I?

What good am I if I’m like all the rest
If I just turn away, when I see how you’re dressed
If I shut myself off so I can’t hear you cry
What good am I?

What good am I if I know and don’t do
If I see and don’t say, if I look right through you
If I turn a deaf ear to the thunderin’ sky
What good am I?

What good am I while you softly weep
And I hear in my head what you say in your sleep
And I freeze in the moment like the rest who don’t try
What good am I?

What good am I then to others and me
If I’ve had every chance and yet still fail to see
If my hands are tied must I not wonder within
Who tied them and why and where must I have been?

What good am I if I say foolish things
And I laugh in the face of what sorrow brings
And I just turn my back while you silently die
What good am I?

 The Band made a song called The Weight. Everybody likes it, nobody has ever figured out what it meant, not any verse, almost no lines, and yet all the words are familiar. Here's a fun video of it, but not The Band singing.

The video


This is a lightweight song, sorry about the R-rated video, but the lyrics are there, and she is the original singer, I think.


I think we have to do a better job of explaining to bike buyers that although the bikes are easy to re-complete (they've already been built up and test-ridden) after taking their new bikes out of the's easy only if you have a moderate amount of bike-mechanic or even other mechanical history and a few tools + aren't the least bit intimidated.


From Sunday June 20 ride" This is a typical, not custom-plucked photo looking west from one of the midsized mounds on the north side of Mt. Tamalpais, and it shows the clouds coming over the hills and cooling things down. There's a trail on top of the horizontal hay-colored ridge there, and the next time I go there, maybe in a week or two, I'm going to ride that trail. I'm not sure how to get to it, but I've got a map.


Radical Tire Move To Maintain Our Sanity and Make Your Life Better Too, Perhaps

For too long we've offered too much selection, and we don't have the room to do all that and stock any depth in anything, tirewise. Forget it all, we're starting from scratch and going pretty much all Japanese, which these days means all Panaracer. I said "pretty much," which means there will be exceptions.

Here are sane thoughts bout tires, and at least my opinions. Shared by others here, maybe not entirely, but nobody here is a crackpot, we all ride and experience the same stuff, and we expect you'll have the same experiences, too.

1. "Fast" tires--meaning, skinny or light, high-pressure tires--make no sense unless you race. They're bad unless you race, because they don't absorb shock as much, they get more flats, and they're more likely to get rock-cut or sun-damaged sidewalls.

2. Volume and tire pressure matter a lot. Higher volume tires that you ride softer are faster and more cushy on rough surfaces than hard skinnier tires. A 48mm tire can be faster than a 28mm one, even though it looks slower. 

3. What's with the speed obsession, anyway? Comfort, reliablilty, peace of mind, safety...those things matter, and they don't make tires slow. The engine makes tires slow.

4. It's good, or at least not dumb, to ride the fattest tires your bike can take. Push it a little, at least. Bigger cushions of softer air make life good.

5. Slick-ish tires are fine on roads, and not horrible on trails. 

6. Looser trails benefit from tread-knobs or some kind, but once you've got some knobs there, just accept the tire, ride it soft, and don't think about whether or not you have the best possible tread for your purpose.

7. On loose trails, the tire will slide around, anyway. How can it not?

-OK, so:

For 700x mostly pavement riding, we're going with the Jack Brown and its cousin, the Panaracer Shikoro. In 33, 35, 38, 42, 48, and in a few months, 54mm widths. We have all but the 54mm now. They are lovely tires, with brownish, semi-armored sidewalls. They mount straight and are hard to flat. We're going with kevlar bead only, to minimize storage space and maximize shipping ease. Kevlar beads are about 60g lighter per tire than wire beads, which is just a matter of fact, but we're stocking them for the aforementioned practical reasons.

They look like this:


For 650B mostly pavement: Panaracer Gran Rando 42mm with the same casing and kevlar bead as above, slight different treat, all fine. And our own Fatty Rumpkin, same size or close to it, with the same brown tuffiness and a bit more  tread. 

They're here:


For treaded tires, we're going with Will's top choice, or at least one of them: The Panaracer Cazadero, kind of a smooth-on-pavement, grippy-on-dirt combo special, in 43mm (like Roman rides on his Sam) and 50mm, and later, a 55mm--but the mold for it hasn't been made yet. It's in the works, a sure thing.

They look like this:

 Isn't that a great photo of tread?


Then for the fattest tires for our Hillibikes and all that, well, Panaracer doesn't have anything that fat, so we're going with a tire as yet to be determined.


 Let's Go To the Races!

Now and then we mention something about race, and every time we do we get emails saying "cancel my subscription, because I don't want to support your politics" to the BLAHG or email update, or something else that comes free. It may more practically mean they'll no longer buy from us, because the way they see it, their purchases are supporting causes they don't believe in. 

But the taxes they pay contribute far more to causes they don't believe in...presumably social services and pro-enviro causes. Some of my taxes, and Rivendell's taxes, support things I don't believe in, and DON'T go to causes I wish they would go to. I'm not going to not pay taxes and wind up in the pokey. "Vote with your dollars," I know, but it sounds better than it works. But I get it for sure, and if the only place I could buy a desired widget was at the KKK store, I'd do without it.

Even more people write and say something on the order of, "I come here (to our site or BLAHG) to escape political news." 

Well, sorry that we're not your enablers, but a lot is going on out there, and it's more important, even, than our re-introduction of low-normal rear derailers--and that's a pretty high bar.

A lot of people confuse politics with racism. There is some intersection, and they affect one another, but it seems odd to call human rights a "political issue." You can't BE for politics that keep black people down, for example, and also claim to not be racist. It's just not possible. 

You also can't be passive about it and not be racist. It's really hard to not be racist, but the latest thinking, which I go along with, is that you're either racist or anti-racist, and to be anti-racist means you have to do something that fights racism, as opposed to just not being mean to black people.

This is a hard one to accept, but if you think of it in terms of watching a black person getting beaten by cops and not just wishing it weren't happening, it's easier to see the importance of actual intervention, which is anti-racist. You yell "stop it!" or you physically intervene, or video it so the beater-uppers can get prosecuted. 

The "black person being beaten" is a low-bar scenario. A little bit higher is seeing black people treated differently, suspected, feared, and jailed more often than white people, due to policies that treat them or treated their ancestors differently.  I know YOU white people probably didn't do any of that, but you have benefitted from policies and laws that did, so there's some kind of awkward obligation to speak out against it.

As a business, the same thing, we're either racist or anti-racist, and we've been racist (by inaction) for most of the time we've been in business. I wonder what the best way is to be antiracist. I mean, what would have the most impact? 

One way would be to hire some african-americans. We have, twice, but right now, none, and there aren't any on the horizon. One woman is kind of interested, but she'd have to give up more than she's ready to, and that won't work. It's really hard to find a person of any color who has the knowledge and the historical knowledge to be effective here. It's not like we're a normal bike company. Every job here requires a history with bikes that can't be taught, that comes only from years of immersion. It's not a matter of "Tell me what bikes were like in the '80s, I'll soak it up like a sponge!"

The bike industry's racism has largely kept black people out of it, but it hasn't been intentional racism, it's been the stand-there-and-do-nothing kind, which is more dangerous, because there are more people practicing it. We're trying to not be that way, but I don't know how to do it. I'm afraid of offending black people by a sincere gesture that strikes the wrong note. I've done that with, I think I mentioned this before, some kind of substantial reparations-like discount. I don't care that it'll piss off some white people, but I do care that it'll make some black people hate me or Rivendell.

"I have some black friends," says the white guy here, but none of them individually and not even the whole group of them can speak for all black people. I wish I could speak for all white  people on certain issues, but I can't, so it must work the same way with black people.

Black people have their own histories, and they can be racist against white people or black people. (Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson come to mind. Bill Cosby--forgetting about his other issues for a minute--is an assimilated African American who put too much faith in the pulling up of onesself by one's bootstraps). 

I feel like this is part of my own therapy and training. There's so much to think about. topic big in the current anti-racist literature is the triple-topic of segregation vs integration vs assimilation.

Segregation, we all know what that is. For now, picture it as a checkerboard, but all blacks on one side, all reds (pretend they're whites) on the other, so you have half a board black, half white. (Apologies to brown people and native americans and asians, pacific islanders, inuits,  who might not identify as white or black.)

Integration is like a checkerboard. It's not always one-for-one, but basically, it's a mix. The idea is that we can learn to live together, and certain things that tend to be better in rich white areas, like schools, will now benefit black people and everybody will benefit and be raised, and over time we'll be color-blind. This was one of MLK's dreams, but super-progressive black people don't buy it anymore. They say it sends the message to little black kids (when they're bused across town to a mostly white school) that whiteness is genetically better, and that can wreck their whole lives. You'd think Trump would disprove that, but...

Mostly white schools usually have advantages, but it's not because of the whiteness, it's the resources allocated to them, from property taxes or parent fund raising or whatever. 

Assimilation is like the checker board turning grayish, usually meaning black people sacrificing their cultures and adopting white people ways, sometimes in order to progress professionally or be accepted socially. It can be dressing or eating or culture things, it can be any thing. That must send a bad message to all black people.

White people might cut rough-dressed other white people more slack than they'd cut rough-dressed black people. Is overdressing for the circumstances a kind of assimilation? Not sure, I have no idea. 

Assimilation can be black people dressing better than the circumstance calls for so as not to scare white people. We all dress for some kind of image we want to project, but maybe black people living among whites feel they have to make up for the color of their skin, because white people will already judge them ON the color of their skin. I can't imagine having to deal with that. 

When the subtopic is riding bikes or doing other sports that a evolved as mostly "white"--like golf and tennis and polo, to name three easies--then black people probably can't look at them the same way white people can. Even when the stars are aligned for them to take up these sports, the money-time-opportunity, there's a hump to get over that while people don't have.

It's a personal and emotional hump that triggers all kinds of battling thoughts that make it clear to the person affected, but not obvious to those of us not affected, that certain sports and activities aren't exactly neutral ground. It's almost like diving into another culture that rejected your parents and grandparents and was just off limits.

Is bicycling so historically white that at this point some black people who ride are assimilating? I think it's for everybody, I hope it is, because I don't want to make my living supporting a racist thing-to-do. I don't want to think that's what I've done, but if it is, I've been tricked.

I'm a white person trying to understand how it must be. I'm in in the weird zone now of knowing I don't know anything, but am paying attention and trying to sort out things I'll never be able to sort out, and I'm sure this topic makes everybody who reads this slightly uncomfortable. It's that way for me, too. Discomfort is a zero price to pay. It's a luxury for us (most of us) to be able to squirm a bit here, then escape to anything else just be averting out eyes from the computer. Black people haven't been able to escape their discomfort so easily and conveniently. Not then or now. 

Let's just get thru this and be more active and at least supportive. As long as I'm here (no plans to leave), Rivendell will keep trying. We'll flub up some, I'm sure we (or I) will get yelled at by some black people, and I won't like that, but it comes from trying, not unthoughtfully, but maybe not perfectly. When white people get mad, that's a good sign.

If you are NOT sick of this, get this book:

We have nine of them that we'll sell for less than our cost, if only to beat Amazon. The tenth is a "store copy." If you think we  wouldn't sell it for less than our cost, well, here's the packing slip showing that they cost us $14.61.

Selling them for $14 isn't a huge sacrifice. We can't make a practice of it, but this time, sure. If we're out when you order, find it at your local bookstore or you-kno-where, but we're not going to make a habit of it. They cost money to process, stock, etc.



 We have hats in now and more on the way. And, John up at Rivelo, which is now a different kind of business and not a bike-and-bob dylan retail store, is working on T-shirts. We work with him, but he sells them, and they're good ones. This note technically belongs "between the pencils," if you know what I mean. When you see the shirts, you will. 


My brother-in-law (one of two) recently bought a $4,700 mtn bike. Just goes to show you, diff strokes, diff folks, and all that. But sheesh, anyway. Really? Minor bummer. We still have a handful of Susies.



Will wants me finished with this now, so he can link to it in the email update. OK! I was just getting started, but see yu---







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