General Notes, 17 sec Video of Cameron on CLEM commuting, and another RIVEPARTY

 Cameron's friend was riding a train home and saw Cameron and shot him unbeknowngst. It's short, but it looks zippy and fun, doesn't it? A variety of surfaces speedily disappearing under the CLEM.

I haven't looked up Cameron's address, so I don't know for sure what state this is, but I think my guess would be pretty good. Send an email with your name and guess in the subject field. Send it by Sunday Feb 13, and something small may happen if you're correct. Small...and may. This is how I create busy work & excitement around here. to

Roman drilled out a brassy, and it rings like a regular old bell:


Roman's new BUBBE. I might get one exactly like it, with Albastache bars..


It’s probably happening in other industries, too, but I’m not familiar with them. It’s definitely happening here and in the bike industry---the cumulative effects of The Way People Shop and How Much is hurting almost everybody. You might think, after 2.2 decades and an established, fine reputation (I hope) that we’d be on solid ground. With the plans we talk about—the Roadini, the new lug, shifters, the Frank Jones Sr…it seems even more sure, since as a general rule, flounderers don’t plan.

We made it through 2008, the year that killed so many businesses. This year and next are iffier. We’re not on the brink yet, but I don’t want to be OTB when I write this. Order something you want but don’t need right now. At this point that’s nothing more than an unsolicited shopping tip. A month from now at this rate it’ll be more than that.

In the bike world, we’re far from the only fretters. Wall Bike is gone—remember them? I’m not going to name the ones I know and you know who won’t make it through the year, but they’re out there and dying.

High-inventory businesses like RIV that are not run by financial wizards have tough work cut out for them in 2017. We’re at the max of our cash-flow enhancement capabilities, but it still, always, comes down to a desperation act involving finding things to “web-special,” and offering incentives to pre-pay for incoming models. Those actually help a lot, but it’d be nice not to have to rely on them. There’s not an endless supply. END OF THAT DREARY NOTE.


Mark has started to assemble Pano’s bike—the quite-fancy custom that we showed in the BLUG (this is the Blahg). It is beautifully detailed, but so much more than that. It will fit Pano and it will ride like nuts for 50 years, which means, beyond Pano. He should get a Clem L for later on. Pano? We can arrange it.



Brian’s building up a black-‘qapillar with Albatross bars.


Rich is building one of the HHH (tandem) wheels. I want his shirt.


Ben Franklin is probably buried in Philadelphia, but this is his parents’ grave in Boston. It’s near but not in Copley Square. Ben's grave must be huge.


Also in Boston—this is the former Pope factory, Albert Augustus Pope being the Chief Kingpin of the American bike industry from 1878 for 20 years at least. I forget what street it's on.


Answers to Dave's Semi-Genuine RIVEOPARDY are here.


Bigger at this link.

Grant's new worse-than-Dave's but easier new RIVEOPARDY is here.


Bigger for printing here.

 It's best to print it out and fiill in the blanks on the form. You may or may not get something for it. We don't want to chum for riff-raff, so there's no guarantee.


Decals for old a testy-messy topic now and then around here. It's always make it up as we go, try to do the best we can, never smooth and satisfying for anybody. There have been five or six variants of the Rivendell downtube (used on the early Road Standard, All-Rounder, and Mountain, and subsequent customs), and two Saluki styles, a couple of Betty Foys, and our seat tube decals have evolved, too. Plus, we have had four different decal makers—one in America, two in Taiwan, one in Japan. Each maker has its minimums and prices.

The American ones cost $11.00 per set and we have to order 25+. We sell them for more than that when we sell them. We don't have a set price and don't want to make them a part number on the site. We have had both clear-coat-required style and top-of-the-paint style.

------ I wrote this thing several months ago and it was covered up in files and ranked way down there. The Blahg is a good place for it, so here:

You’ve heard the expression, “Form follows function” (FFF) a million times, and if we’re talking about Galapagos Island turtles and birds, it no doubt does. The longer an animal has been living in an environment that selects for certain features, the more likely those features will be pretty damn good on animals and plants that have been around for tens of millions of years in a relatively stable environment. But Nature’s lazy in a lot of ways, as any guy who’s ever been kicked in the testicles or any woman who has a cycle (not a bi-), or any infant who has to wait five years for relatively decent mobility and 20+ years for a fully developed brain will attest. Perfection isn’t the inevitable result of evolution in nature; “good enough to reproduce” is. Once you’re past the age of reproduction, nature doesn’t give a hoot, so good luck as you age. But nature is still way more likely to come up with the right tool for the job than is a designer of commercial products.

In commercial products the claim of FFF is harder to trust because form is so obviously influenced by trends, fashion, marketing, endorsements, and money in general. So form often take the path of most momentum and least resistance. Let’s shape the car like this, because it has elements of the ‘30s and yet looks futuristic. Or superstar hero sex symbol wears shoes like this, so others will want them, too.

How much science should drive design depends on what’s at stake if it fails. If a fork fails, somebody gets hurt. If a wardrobe fails, millions get to be offended by Janet Jackson’s breast. If science designed all commercial products, all buildings in all cities with the same weather would look the same, all shoes for a given purpose would look the same, so athletes wouldn’t get $20 million shoe contracts. Every woman at the Oscars would wear pretty much the same dress. Form follows commerce more often than it follows function

You can’t look at what sells the most and assume that form has evolved with the same objective selection criteria as a salmon or turtle or giraffe.

If you were one of the 500 or so who read Rivendell Reader No. 44, you’ll know that the early bicycles were modified carriages, and then they went wacky when they became high-wheelers. After 15 years of that, function reeled the design in, and bikes were much improved. Then cars and motorcycles influenced the design, and for about 80 years all American bikes mocked motorcycles...kind of like modern mountain bikes, an phat eBikes.

Bicycle racing went too far the other way. Handlebars got too narrow and low and hard to reach. Wheels got too fragile, and why should a two-wheeler NOT have a kickstand to hold it up? A kickstand was the first bike accessory. THey had them in 1869.

Special-purpose bikes are usually good at what they do, but bad at everything else. When you design a bike for a land speed record, that’s all you get out of it. Bike riders sometimes say a track bike is the purest bicycle because it's so elemental. But all it's good for is track racing. A useful bike has gears, chubbier tires, a comfortable handlebar, and a way to carry stuff.

A bike designed to be light gives up too much to be safe or useful or durable, but that’s how almost all modern road bikes are designed.

In 2016 it is not possible to make my idea of a near perfect useful all-around bicycle and keep the weight below 25lbs. Be careful to not misread that. I’m not saying it’s not possible to make “a nice bike” that weighs less, or a useful one that weighs less. I’m ultra-personalizing it and saying “my idea…” with emphasis on the my. I’m not even saying my idea is the best idea. And yet to the average Jo-Joe, 25lbs seems like a ton. The 16lb. carbon road bikes that get so much attention because they’re so light are not useful bicycles. Are they useful for “getting fit”? That’s an interesting question. If personal fitness is your goal, you probably understand that strength and speed come from effort, and if the lighter bike is easier to pedal, what are you doing riding it for fitness reasons?

The sane opposite corollary isn’t: Ride a 100-pound bike. A too heavy bike isn’t fun enough to ride enough to achieve those fitness goals. Let’s say the “happy weight range” is between 16 and 60lbs. Make that 20 and 50. Improve it to 32 and 44, and stop there.

This topic reminds me of the lightweight folding plastic snow shovels that were popular among weekend mountaineers in the early ‘80s. They folded down to in-your-pack size and were too small unfolded to actually use when you needed a snow shovel to build a cave, for instance. The blades were in line with the handles, so snow would slide off as you tried to lift it. The early plastic ones broke in cold weather, but even when they figured that out, the tougher ones were still technically shovels, but poorly designed for the task. They’re were really well designed to sell to people who liked the idea and security and the “ready for anything” look a shovel gave them, but they seriously sucked as snow shovels.

If you actually used a shovel to move snow, you got an aluminum grain scoop from a hardware or feed store. It had a wooden handle because wooden handles warn you when they’ve had enough and are easily rejuvenated with tape, splits, glue, screws…and if the handle totally dies you can figure out a new one with a tree branch. The head was offset for convenient lifting of snow (you don’t drive in a grain shovel with your feet, so there’s no need to have the blade and handle in line). You could cut the handle to any length you wanted and bolt on a T- or D-handle, so your hand wouldn’t slide along the shaft or get poked when you dug. With a snow shovel, the bigger it is, the more useful it is, because lots of snow is light, and you want a big scoop to move a lot of it fast. But you have to consider the likelihood that you’ll use it, too. Sometimes the tiny folding plastic shovel might provide some psychological comfort, but it still sucked in use. The modern road bike is the equivalent of that.

So back to bike weight. An all-around safe and useful bike (in my opinion) must:

  • have a steel frame and fork, because steel is strong and has the best/safest failure mode. You get warning. A steel bike that seems to fail suddenly is one whose warnings were not listened to. It’ll weigh between 7 and 8 lb.
  • have a pair of wheels—rideable, so with tires and quick-releases and a wide-range steel-cog cassette—that weighs 9 to 11 lb. That sounds heavy, doesn’t it? Add up the component parts: 2 650g rims is 1300g. 68spokes minimum @7.5g each = 510g. Two 40mm tires @ 700g each, 1,400g. Cassette is about 500g. Hubs are 500g/pair. That’s 4,210g, or 9.3lbs. It would be hard to cut off a pound and make a stout wheelset. Where do you cut 453.5g? On the other hand, it would be tempting to spike the tires to 50mm with a thornguard, or make it a 36H front wheel, or use an Alex DM24 rim (even wider, heavier) and come in over 11lb. Don’t blindly say it’s ridiculous—substitute out and see what you lose in strength and weight. Weigh the wheels you own and don’t trust on bumps.
  • have at least one rack, and at least one basket (with net) or bag. Ways to carry gear or groceries front and rear. Two bags, two baskets, whatever you like. A Wald Medium basket weights more than a pound. The rack it goes on weigh more than a pound, and a bag big enough to let you load it quickly and sloppily and shop or camp without fear will weigh at least a pound and a half.   That’s 3.5lb minimum.

 This is how a bike shapes up when the criteria are safety and all-around usefulness.

---------------- Here are a few quotes about stuff that I've liked for a while. One one them was in an old Bstone catalogue:

I can't help but think of bikes when I read those, but...I know, it's getting old. careful--------

Here's a clue to the new Riveopardy.

It is not (in this context) a political statement. Anybody who was a teenager or young adult in the late '60s is familiar with this song.










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