No. 4/2020. Mid Feb, derailers, carbon, brooks, dog leashes, and SIGNAGE

No. 4/2020. Mid Feb, derailers, carbon, brooks, dog leashes, and SIGNAGE





Local rider John Harris flew himself and stuff to Florida, then rode home, and stopped by here even before going to his place.

I looked at his saddle, aghast. He said it  had been caved in for 500 miles, and was here to get a new one. I said let me fix it with foam. He said he foamed it. I looked and saw the most insufficient foam job of all time.


I did this to it. John tried to help by doing something to the front of the saddle, and did this...

He's a big strong boy and he snapped the bolt. No problem--we shoved foam in the nose of the saddle  (thanks for the access, John!). Also used the Swiss Army Pioneer knife, the one we used to sell, to ream three holes in each side, for lacing. That perks up the saddle some, too.


 This saddle is rideable again, mucho mejor, and should stay this way for at least 5,000 more miles. It might need some fine-tuning along the way, but still...


Here's a JannD rear rack with some powder coating worn off.


When John reached Arizona, this happened to his hub:

For reasons only physicians understand, the spoked pulled out a section of the flange of this Shimano LX hub. It happens, it's rare, it happens. We don't know why, but some secret forces combined with some unknown accident along the way, who knows, and this happened. John used tie-wire to hold the wheel together while he rode it to his next stop. He called us an hour before closing and we had a new wheel to him the next day. Thanks, Pony Express!

The "CLEM pedals" are exceptional deals, at something like $22/pair.


JP Partland is a bike industry vet and has  some good things to say, frequently. This is worth your time. I'm told (a day after posting this) that the first link doesn't work. Try the second. I'm trying to "sort this out."

The second link includes more wonderful stuff from JP...find your topic. I like his disc brake thing.



Custom frames

We've got a handful of orders now, designed and sent to Mark Nobilette for building. Current price is $4,000 (some of the ones in the queue got in cheaper than that, so if you're one of them, don't call up and squawk, please). But $4,000 is still a bargain for what you get, for what they cost us, for what other bikes cost that take one-third as long to make and don't, on top of that, have an eight-hour paint job on top of their carbon feebray.

We're also doing--as in designing, and Mark is building--a series of custom-quality non-custom frames. They'll take different forms, but some of the ones on deck now are more traddy road frames, with brazed-on Paul centerpulls, clearance for 38mm tires with fenders...somewhat more traditional geometries, maybe between where we are now and where we used to be. Still low bb, longISH chainstays, some top tube upslope. Some will have 28.6 downtubes, so if you're a defensive lineman, please buy a Cannondale.

These "Rivnobi" frames will be decaled like customs and painted by Joe Bell, and they'll cost a bit less than customs because there's no back-and-forth on them. We're picking everything, even the color, and we're going to build them up as complete bikes. Expect complete bike prices to be about $4,000, but that'll vary with the parts.


This bike got hit by a car, but frames shouldn't break like this. 


That's a lot of landfill, lot of garbage, lots of practically unrecyclable broken bike. I assume the rider is OK, but that may be a huge assumption. Bodies can heal, bikes like this can't. There's  nothing good about this, and yet this, in some form, is the fate of every carbon bike out there. Fresh ones bought this year will be retired in ten years, maybe sooner. Carbon bikes aren't green, they're brown.

Carbon forks video 

The "voluntary recall" is kind of a hoax. There's no such thing. The Consumer Products Safety Commission, back then and probably still, said that if the maker knows of the possibility of a problem that could result in an injury, they'd have to recall the thing. Nobody plays it that strict, and if they did, they wouldn't sell carbon forks or bikes anymore. But a "voluntary recall" is what the CPSC calls it when they let you save face and come off holy by seemingly being preemptive and above-and-beyond-the-call-of- duty concerned for your customers. If you don't do this "voluntary" recall, then the CPSC will make your life hell--as, in some cases, it ought to. But carbon fiber frames and forks are more risky than other things the CPSC doesn't give a pass to. 

Raoul Luescher (in the above link) also addresses the issue of manufacturers inspecting forks more closely. They could x-ray them for voids or whatever other kind of manufacturing flaws might kill-a-rider, but the idea of bringing you fork to a bike shop for "inspection" is nutty, because they aren't equipped or trained. 

Surface inspection doesn't count. It's like surface inspection a cake for a knive or cockroach cooked in the middle of it all.

Here's Raoul Luescher's youtube stuff:

 I GET to keep squawking about this, because there aren't tons of other squawkers, and it's a big deal.  This isn't me sweating and scrambling to find a way to sell more of our steel frames. They trickle out at the same rate all year long no matter what. I'm convinced there's nothing we can do to increase our sales by fifteen percent. Ten, maybe, but it's not even a goal. We NEVER talk about how we can sell more bikes. We don't have the people for it, or the space, or the cash flow. Our line of credit is way too small. So, that's that. But if you ride a carbon bike, good luck; and if you ride a carbon fork, don't.

In the past we've made and sold about 150 "CarboNoMas" steel replacement forks for people who didn't trust their carbon forks. But that was when all carbon forks had round 1-1/8th inch steer tubes and normal dropouts. It was easy then. We made black, decent looking forks with nice crowns.

But now, carbon forks are made for disc brakes, and the forks have thru axles, and there are gravel bikes to deal with also. I think the manufacturers should offer a steel fork option. It's too much for us.


Locking bikes:


ABUS recently got into internet trouble when its CEO said women shouldn't --- I'm sure I'm not getting this super exact-- shouldn't be in top management positions because they should be at home being moms, or homemaking or something. There's not much to say about that, but its why we quit selling my favorite locks. I'm using the OTTO lock all the time now. For my around-town needs here in Walnut Creek, it's fine. 

I don't think people should make uTube videos of how bad locks are by showing how to break through them. I'm sure every bike thief loves those, and non-bike thieves don't need to see the ugly details.

Nobody can "swear by a lock." If your bike is still there, it's because nobody tried to take it. When my oldest daughter was going to Macalester in St. Paul, she locked her Glorius (fancy mixte) to a wrought-iron fence for a couple of hours at night, and the thieves took three feet of fence and her bike, and that was that. They must've driven a pickup. She now commutes to her job in S.F. on the rattiest-looking Betty Foy of all time. She had, for four years from 2003 to 2007, the hardest high-school commute in the country. Now she still has a toughy, but not as tough. A ride-Bart-ride commute of 90 minutes, with 30 of it an uphill ride.

It's unlikely she'll be a recreational rider until she gets older, but she's using her bike the best possible way, and it's all working out.


 SRAM's $700 rear derailer:

For more on it, the link here:


SunRace's $8 rear derailer:

 This $8 derailer is mostly steel, but has an open design, so even with all that steel, it still weighs only 255g. A Shimano Deore weighs 290g. I'm not nutty about weight, but when you're talking about a steel derailer that costs $8, weight is noteworthy. You can't hate it for being heavy. I also can't hate the way it looks. There is minimalism on parade here. It has to be, with steel. Nobody wants to add extra, because steel derailers have the potential to be heavy unecessarily, no benefit.

It isn't a slant parallelogram derailer, which means the upper (guide) pulley moves in and out parallel to the ground when the ground is flat. Old Campy and Simplex derailers moved the same way, so this SunRace should work about as well.

I don't have a bike to put it on. I like the idea of being cool enough to put it on one of t he bikes I ride all the time, but it can't replace my Shimano Acera or Altus or RapidRise XT, and I'm putting a NOS SunTour on the Atlantis I'm building up. I'll figure out something, and I'll report on how it works.


I am buying up low-and-midbrow Shimano derailers for I don't know what reason, because in some ways, from my point of view, they're the best derailers Shimano makes, and they cost less than $30 each. 

The seven-and-eight speed Shimano derailers will friction shift nine. Sometimes you need to modify them, but it's easy. It's easy if you have a dremel.


We are getting the Hillibike brochure together. It's too late for the first bunch, but at some point it'll be good to have, and Will and I are shooting photos for it. We're shooting locally and on Mt. Tamalpais, which is an hour away by car.

Here's an outtake from what would have been a lunch stop, had we food to eat:

It's Sofia, and Will took the photo with a Nikon F100, which is as fancy a camera as he ever shoots with, and he also brought with him a Fuji 6x9 and got some good ones with that. I shot my OM-1 and a Mamiya 7II, and got at least four shots with the lenscap on.

Here's Sofia's picture of my camera all ready for a group shot, self-timed:

And here's her neat shot with her digital camera or phone or something, of the view thru my viewfinder. Orange lens.



 DIRT RAG, one of the early mountain bike mags, has closed. Friend Maurice Tierney had it for 25+ years, but there's too much online stuff, and people don't buy or read paper anymore, and it wasn't working. We advertised in it only barely, so we're part of the problem, and I feel bad. We kind of don't even advertise, though. It's so small.


Here's a feel-good thing for you. It's a three-minute Danish television commercial. How can you, who've come this far already, resist this?


Here's a part of our puppy-walk. Note the blue sign on the dirt-and-bark mound there.

My dog and that sign.


This sign, even as it was, was far from excellent. Drop PLEASE and it makes more sense and comes down to two lines. Drop PLEASE and ALLOWED and it's better because it's shorter. I will get some blue  paint, or a blue Sharpie.

The sign didn't make sense to me, so I added these letters, which I didn't just happen to have with me. This sign has been bothering me for years, and it took a while to find the time to get the letters. My batch-o-letters included only three T's, so I made do with a seven as the needed fourth.


The dog leash is one of those normal retractable ones, and Billie often runs ahead and comes to a jerking halt, and that's not fair, so I added a length of 3/4-inch military spec elastic, the same stuff in the new MUSA pants. It could be done with knots and no sewing, but either way, it'll stop the jerk. 

Billie's on a harness because she's an 8.5 pound puppy, but if you have a collar, the elastic is even more...helpful.


AND IT could be elastic shock cord. All readily available. There are probably elastic leashes out there. I hadn't thought of that.


I've been in minor funk about the prospects of rear derailers that meet even my ever-plunging visual standards, but look at this one we just put on a Wolbis Slugstone:

It's a 9 speeder, frictions great, shifts to 34t, but Corey added dropout tab x-tend-r, which will let 'er go up to 45, I think. 

This looks better to me than any current Shimano derailer, and the pulleys have sealed bearings and spin twice as long, and it weighs less (not that it matters!) than a Deore. So--what's the problem? "SunRace"? In the old days, I shuddered and winced at the name. I'm coming around now. There's nothing wrong with this. Still a Shimano der fan (certain models), but this one, I'd put on anything.

All for now, sorry it was so long and I know many of you despise links, but they're all good ones.






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