No. 7 March 17 Inside out, Keven's EX, Martin's Mercian, and COVID-19's effect so far.

No. 7 March 17 Inside out, Keven's EX, Martin's Mercian, and COVID-19's effect so far.

Nobody knows what life is going to be like in a month or three or a year, or five. There's a Bob Dylan lyric for any set of circumstances, and the one that's my earworm these days is, Nothing really matters much, it's doom alone that counts. 

Every call we get comes with a nice concern question. We've been stung by refunds, and if everybody with a down payment or full payment on a bike demanded a refund, that'd be it for us. Bikes seem frivolous now, but not that frivolous. Actually, to me they're never frivolous. THey are the best things ever made with wheels.

Our daily sales are still OK, and thank you so much. Your order is packed with gloved or sanitized hands. We'll ship at most three days a week, MWF. We'll be understaffed for a while, things may take longer. Those who can work from home are doing it, but some jobs don't allow that. Packing, shipping, stocking, mechanical things...

Here, we can easily spread out. We have gloves and masks. We're keeping our distance, and not allowing pickups. A local fellow has a new Sam, and we'll put it outside and let him get it 25 feet from us. 

We've talked optimistically and doomily. You-all have your problems, too. I know it's not all about us. 

(The light & flippant tone of this BLAHG could come off as not appropriate for these COVID-19 times. I don't mean it that way; there's just no other way to cover these topics. They are that way by nature, and I wrote most of it before the latest bad news and restrictions. It is not now or ever essential reading, but it may serve as a distraction at best.) —Grant

Here's the rules we here in the Bay Area are going by. Note the f. xvi exemption on page two:


Ever heard of a pangolin?


Local rider Martin came by with this bike he ordered custom from Mercian of England in 2005-6. It's worth a look, like a 13th century knight would be worth a look in 2020.

This bike looks outrageous in many ways, in luggy ways at least, but it is the look and style Mercian has had for fifty  years. Some are less fancy, some are more, but it is the Mercian style, they own it, and when I started Rivendell, it was a positive influence. I knew not to go "full-Mercian." This is theirs, and it's nice to know they're still out there, oven-brazing (I think) these hand-made lugs in the outrageous style that is acceptable, in my  head, only in a Mercian.

I had a Mercian tandem several years back. I didn't ask to design it (that would  have felt rude), but they somehow knew I had Rivendell and offered it up, which was so nice, and I did. It was a nice bike, but the HHH feels and rides better. That's  not a Mercian knock, it's a me-back-then knock. But it influenced the HHH, which is good.




 Betsy Streeter, friend and illustrator of a book we've been working on for six years and keeps getting more involved did this coronavirus thing. In case you weren't sure:


Here's a 5:58 clip of Paris in the late 1890s; with bicycles and some no-handers:



Two pages from a cycling book for women only, from the 1890s.

I didn't get the "...wonder at being weary" part, and some of the advice is out of step with the times and current knowledge, but there you go.


Cycling in Palestine: (link from reader Keith Swanson)


Friend and former RIVguy Keven ordered a custom frame, a smart, wackadoodle cargo bike that, if it were anybody else but Keven, I'd have said No to, not interested, not up our alley, there are tons of good cargo bikes out there, and CYCLETRUCKS makes a killer. But the link to the site presents me with the most bizarre list of cycling topics of all time. See for yourself:

We have a cycletruck, Keven's ridden it a lot, knows it, we use it at least once a week for lunch pickups, have used it to move inventory when we had a downtown store. It is the bike, along with the Surly Big Dummy, that jostled my foundation about chainstay length, and on and on like that. 

But Keven is Keven, and I love that guy and can't say no to him, never will. 

The frame took forever. I designed it, I thought, Nobilette built it, there was so much confusion in the process, and signals got crossed and it came out differently than I though I designed it but still really good. A few minor details weren't as Keven specified, and so I didn't want him to have it or feel obligated to buy it, and it wasn't EXACTLY what he'd wanted. So two years later we sent it to Taiwan for painting, we're getting it back soon, and here it is, and yup, we're selling it:

Three more pictures, details will follow, and holy by god I'll buy it myself before lowering the price.

The main joints are fillet-brazed. The things on the head tube are bosses for the rack. The rack attaches to the head tube, so stays put when you turn. In theory, this is the only way to go and everything else is dumb. In reality, it is noticeably better only with loads more than about 20lbs. Which this bike was made for.

The fork crown, seat lug, and head tube rings all identify it as a Rivendell. Ordinarily, lugs would do that too, but this time, no frame lugs.

Here's the orange rack. The blue is our recent ultra perfect blue, the orange is the darker orange we use also for the Joe Appaloosa and the Susie/Wolbis hillibikes. It is a great combination, and if you want to buy it but want it repainted, No Soup 4 U.

Other things about it:

It takes 650B wheels to about 2.2. Has a 135mm rear end--same as most of our bikes. All CrMo steel. Seat tube is 60cm. I don't want to talk about the geometry, sorry. The bike rides great, fits most riders between 5-9 and 6-4. If you want a disc brake mount brazed on, entonces No Soup Para Tu. Fits a normal-for-us headset and stem. 


This is Lon Haldeman scooping a fish out of a Chilean body of water. If you've never heard his name before, google him. 

 Lon Haldeman is the bicycle rider I admire most, maybe the only one I admire for his bicycliness, his riding style and knowledge and world-attitude and fantastic humility despite a life that warrants no humility, despite having made his name doing things I have come to consider insane. He broke records in RAAM (race across america). Jumpstarted the crazy craze of coast-to-coast racing. 

Lon has owned and maybe still does two Rivendells, which has zero to do with why I like him. I like his South American philanthropy. I like that he is so down to earth that he used to teach a class called The Organic Mechanic, the idea being that no matter where you are when your bike breaks down, you're within fifty yards of the tools you  need to fix it, but you need some skills and creativity, which he'd teach you. How to make rocks into a wrench, things like that. It's not like there's an old rusty but functional metric tool kit nearby.

Years ago I attended one of his winter training camps in Arizona. We rode about 60 to 75 miles a day for a week or so, and by the end of it I was more rarin' to go than I'd been in ten years. I'm not much of a rarin' to go rider, but for whatever it's worth, I got there, and the camp and people and all were wonderful, and I'm so glad I did it because I got to hang out and ride with my hero.

Unlike so many other riders/journalist/bike pros from that era who've either given up riding or changed their bikeview with the times, soaking in whatever's happening, Lon sticks with what works. His camps include experienced riders and fit executives who aren't all that experienced, but want to pay to play in a controlled, supportive environment, and come away with more knowledge and fitness and camaraderie than they had going in. They show up with expensive bikes that aren't always up to Lon's standards, and here is a note he recently sent to the names on his list, and I'm still one of them:

Lon's business is this:

If you are reasonably fit and want to get superfit fast in a super welcoming, unsnobby environment--for yourself or to prepare you mentally or physically for a ride you've got coming up sometime that it's too dreadful to train for all by yourself, this is the way to go. They ride, for the most part, drop bars and 28 to 32mm tires. Don't show up on your CLEM, but you can certainly show up without click-in shoes.


Inside out

It's a Chinese LXIANG derailer, a copy of Shimano's best design, the 8sp Altus. We got four of these, enough to experiment with. 

Will it work like I hope it does? Stay tuned.

This derailer remind me of this Traveling Wilburys song. We had a bike called the Wilbury once, and yes, it was named after this. George Harrison's widow, Olivia, was considering buying one for their son Dhani. For a couple of days back then there seemed to be a 50-50 chance, but oh well. I really like the Traveling Wilburys. Here's the song the derailer reminded me of:


 One more coronavirus thing, kind of interesting. You're at a severe disadvantage and are bound to respond to this unfortunately if you just watch the dots and don't read the whole damn thing ("damned thing"?) There is hope and optimism at the end of it:


Last thing: We got in some cheapo SunRace rear derailers. They shift well up to 28t, they don't index, they're almost an ounce lighter and $100 less than the current Shimano Deore XT hotshot clutch-factor derailer....but none of that matters. We're selling them because this particular shows everything about rear derailers, all of it's exposed, and holding one and fiddling with it is a really good way to understand the functions of any rear derailer. We're selling them for $10. As a desktop toy, or a time-killer if you're waiting in line and don't want to be ON line, they're all you need. Here's the link, and that's all for now.


OK. Remember: Not every sneeze is a coronavirus sneeze, but do them into your elbow, anyway.



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