No. 30. Early December

 Tech notes on photo: 

Camera: Olympus OM-1. Lens: 100mm  Filter: Orange  Film: Delta 100

Wheel holder:  Sofia

Will and I were out trial-shooting photos for the Hillibike brochure. Will's Bronica jammed, and he was going to shoot most, but I had my OM-1 and got a few rolls. This one won't be in the brochure. It was just practice. 


Here's an interesting column:

What does "efficiency" mean in a vehicle? Is an electric motorbike more efficient than a regular bicycle when you consider the motor and recharges? Is a human body more efficient when it's getting a machine-assist? I think you need to count the energy of the battery as part of the whole thing. 

Are electric carving knives and can-openers more efficient than good manual ones? The electric appliances use more energy so you can use less, and that's one kind of efficiency. A private airplane can take a single sleeping passenger from Florida to Europe or from San Francisco to Eurasia, which makes it ultra-efficient for the rider, but not for the whole package. If you're going to talk about efficient two-wheelers, talk about that aspect of them.

Are escalators and elevators more efficient than walking up stairs? You know those airport flat-track escalators for eWalking? They're addicting, aren't they? Imagine walking the Pacific Crest Trail, or from Tahoe to Yosemite, or a trek in Nepal on one of those bad boys. It would be hard to resist. If it were commercially viable, they'd be working on it, you KNOW they would. There can be no doubt.

Bikewise, don't let anybody tell you that efficiency is the goal no matter what. You don't want to be fighting unnecessary inefficiencies like weight or rolling resistance, wind resistance, or drivetrain friction, but at some point, the more efficient a bike is, the less good you get out of pedaling it. There's no magical sweet efficiency-to-health benefits ration. You can figure that out for yourself.

My bicycle is most efficient, and when I'm carrying 22 pounds of stuff and coasting down a hill faster than Usain Bolt could run it carrying nothing. 

I like the idea of electric-motor cargo bike hauling babies, toddlers, and food more than I like the idea of tech-dad riding one because now there's a Tesla version. I like electric-motor scooters clogging the streets, because they're all one less car. On bicycles, I like the source of energy and transfer to be exposed and obvious, like derailers and conventional drive trains. I don't see these as being functionally obsolete EVER, but commercially obsolete could happen. Would that mean the last holdouts were the most blind or stupid? 

Derailers are just so neat, so genius and fantastic in how they operate. The rear derailer cage and pulleys are the most fantastic things on a bike. There's nothing like them in any other machine. Naturally there are forces—dark ones at that, comrades—that want complexify their functions in rechargeable device and keep them hidden from you, so you become a stranger to your bike. O, my.




This is either a Gus or Susie fork being MTN-ISO tested (the toughest test). The passing grade is 100,000 cycles at some stress level the international fork testing community agrees upon. It passed, but don't use its passing grade as an excuse to ride dumb--your body will crumple and eject before the fork will fail. The only point is that we're careful.

Even carbon forks pass tests (are there rigid carbon mtn forks?)--but the thing is, they pass tests when they're new and perfect and undegraded by age, exposure to sunlight and moisture, and l'il scratches. Steel weathers all those thing well, which means you can trust your steel whatchamacallit, frame or fork, for a long time.

Plus, if steel fails, it fails slowly. A steel fork won't snap on you during any kind of riding. If you know this and are tired of me repeating it, sorry--but some people may be reading it for the first time, and it could prevent death, so there.


Here's one of the larger car-discs you see on car wheels:. This car was in the RIVELO (Portland, OR) parking lot. John shot it on his iPhone. There's your photo-credit, John!

The bigger the disc, the more leverage against a moving wheel. Rims ARE discs, and they're far bigger than hub-discs, and so have more stopping leverage...and are less likely to go out of true than a thin disc. And they're not motor-technology. Somebody sent me a SAVE THE RIM BRAKE sticker, and I've seen it on other bikes. I'm all for that.


We're working on a V-brake, but meanwhile the Deore and Paul V's that we use and advocate do an excellent job.


electric motor mountain bikes


Our SILVER2-X/Y shifters are in, but no mounts yet. As is, they work on existing Silver bar-end pods or as down tube shifters. Mounts are due in early Feb, but here's the deal: We sell the left and right shifter separately, and we'll sell the mounts separately, too, and there's no price penalty for piecing them out like that. A+B+C+D = (A+B+C+D). Each shifter costs $30.

Read more about them here.


The Hillibikes are selling well, so well that we don't really need a brochure to sell them, and this is just when we're getting ready to shoot the photos. We'll do another run of Gus and Susie/Wolbis frames in the Fall of 2020, and the brochure will come out maybe in the spring or early summer now.  My problem, I don 't know why I even bother to mention it.


We're running out fast of Hillibikes (the Gus and Susie) before they've even arrived (Feb). By the end of the month we'll have none.

Here's what we have as of Pam Karlan Day, 3 PM California time"






We're out of the biggies in both, but you can easily ride a LARGE with a PBH up to 93. 


We sold out of most of the wool beanies and neckies, but more's coming in this week. We're getting some pretty good Australian woolies this week, too.


The Atlantis is due mid-Jan. We have a few still left. The Joe Appaloosa's also coming, small numbers, a little after.  


The MUSA long pants are due later this month. I love the pants, I hate the cost and hassle. We're NOT a clothing company, but we get this stuff in because nobody else makes it  just this way. The new MUSA pants are slightly stretchy, shed water, dry fast, weigh nothing, look normal, and from the knee up they're pattern-copies of the Dickie 874, that Will likes so much. There's more taper below.


There's a small chance of a wild bike coming up, about a year away. It won't overlap anything in the line now. The new shifters are in. We've been calling them SILVER2 so far, but SC here things they should be XO, because one is marked X and the other, O, and that might make things less confusing. Then W suggested maybe another name altogether. I don't feel strongly either way, I'm just glad we have them. We'll get the clamps to make them thumb-shifters in February.


As the mainstream industry is going more and more away from what I'd consider NORMAL bicycles, we're digging in. I don't see our bikes as retro statements or "keeping the flames alive," or anything warm like that. I think, really and truly, that most  bikes not for racing should be designed and built this way.  I don't get road bikes that look like track bikes, hidden headsets, carbon anything.


If you're in Portland, Ore, visit and patronize Rivelo. 


Two of our customers are fairiers.


For 5+ years I've been working on a book, evenings, mornings, weekends. It's an illustrated history of something that makes sense for me to write about, but I can't draw pictures, so I have an illustrator, and the book is 90 percent finished, no publisher. My current one has said No twice, but I'm going to give 'em another shot. There's another one, a maybe. I can't worry about publishers or no publishers, but I should.


We're working on a V-brake. If you hate V-brakes like I used to before I'd used them much, I understand your ignorance. The thing is, discs are taking over, Shimano and Tektro and anybody else who matters in the brake world just go whichever way the wind blows, and it's blowing away from V-brakes, so we're going to do one ourselves. The Paul Moto-Lite V-brake is super. There's one detail on it that's not ideal for us, but it's still great, and I have them on one bike and know 'em and like 'em. Paul wasn't, as the English say, too keen to make us a personal dream version, but he super generously, wonderfully, amazingly said, "But you can copy my quick release to your heart's content." So we'll do that, and when the brakes come out we'll point that out, and maybe we'll send him a something sometime. Anyway, Paul is super cool to do that. Asking nothing in return makes me want to give him something. Paul, what's your PBH? You don't read this, do you? Oh, well.