Aug 15--Lots of stuff here. You may find it all a waste of time, and that is not a challenge or reverse psychology

Posted on August 15 2017

The last time I'll bore you with tips on how to make your leather saddle last five times as long.

Start with a chunk of compressible but not spongey foam. We may sell blocks of it by Halloween, but in the meantime you're on your own, and you can make do just fine with blue closed cell foam sold as sleeping mats by REI, only 3/8 of an inch thick, in which case you won't be following these directions exactly.

first, taper the part that'll go into the skinny part

The dotted line shape is fine, but exactness doesn't matter, since foam conforms.

Loosen the bolt so it lowers and gets out of the way of the foam when you go to push it in.

Now snug everything up. You should have been doing this with the saddle and post off the bike.


There was a reference, in a Trump/USA - Turnbull/Australia phone coversation in which Trump was trying to make the case that the refugees Australia's been keeping for us and that Obama agreed to take once the paperwork had been done and they'd all been vetted and certified as safe....Trump was --- oh look:

If the link doesn't work, cut and paste.

I had some bumperstickers made. It was wrong to do, but too easy and they were too cheap. My wife doesn't want one on the car (she thinks its weird and she'd have to live with the looks more than I would), so I put one here:

And so can you. We have them on the site for a dollar. It's not a moneymaker. It's not shoving politics down your throat. It's just a bumper sticker that works as well on a wide bicycle fender.

Want one, please?


This song was written by 22-year old Bob in early 1963 at the height (or maybe not) of Civil Rights movement. Is that movement over? I'm thinking No.


(aside from the murder of Medgar Evers, head of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP at the time, it's also about how the politicians win points with poor white people by making them hate black (and other non-white) people..which makes it relevant today)

A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
’Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ’neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game.

--------and here's another one, this one about . I know, I know--I do this "bob dylan thing" about twice a year, but seriously...these are topical songs in scary times:

(by bob dylan in 1962 at age 21 1/2, but I think i think  it's about Trump and Kim Jong-un). It's kinda harsh here and there, but no harsher than a nuclear war, so if you're a super mellow peacenik, cut it some slack.


Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

(the ending is a little harsh, but not THAT out of character with the song, and these are scary times, so...cut Bob some slack.)


 It has probably occurred to many of you that whatever your concerns are these days, weeks, months--whatever's going on—house remodel, marriage, injury, graduation, financial worries, twinge in your knee that won't go away--it really may not matter, if the Masters of War make it a contest and a face-off and a matter of personal pride. I'm neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but I am scared, and I can say anything in this Blahg, right?


We're  planning bikes for later this year and next. Some fun things! I hope they come to fruition. Planning requires ignoring these bigger issues. We can do that!

(Bob Dylan lyric: Nothing really matters much, it's doom alone that counts!) 

I think folksinger from the '50s Sam Hinton wrote a song that ended:

So listen, folks—here is my thesis:

Peace in the world, or the world   in    pieces.


Bravo! And sayonara for now!


No, wait:

 It came up today that our 25th Anniversary is in two years. Four years ago we batted around the idea of a special self-congratulatory frameset, and it came up again this year, but we don't want to create a collector's item to be bought as an investment and likely rarely if ever ridden, and if we pull it all out, that's what might happen.

There are different approaches to bicycles, and ours is smart good-looking special beautiful fantasticallistic bikes with prices that an employed enthusiast can save up for and afford. But, we pull out all the stops, still.

Listen to me, really--I don't know how a Sam (to name one) could be made any better if money were free and it had to cost twice as much. Would the lugs be any better structurally? No, that is impossible. Would they be more beautiful? That's subjective, but I'd say no. Would the geometry and clearances and fit/comfort and ride be improved?

That's really insulting to even suggest it. Serious shame!

The materials are as good as they can be. We use chrome-molybdenum (CrMo, or "chrome-moly") tubing of our own design (I'd say, a better design). It's not heat-treated, even though that would add only $40 to our cost of tubes. Let me tell you why a Sam (and our other Taiwanesey frames) are made with non-heat-treated tubing.

Heat treated bike frame tubing was introduced by Reynolds in 197--something, or so. They took their old standard "531" tubes, which were Reynolds's strength equivalent of CrMo. Tangent alert: Reynolds 531 had a higher percentage of Manganese than Chromium, so it was technically (or, casually), a "MnMo," or manganese-moly tubing. They're both 98+ percent iron, and the remaining 1.5 to 2 percent of each type was divided among five to six other elements--including chromium in each and manganese in each, but 531 has a slightly higher percentage of molybdenum than chromium. Flip a flippin' coin!


Anyway, racers back then—as racers always have—wanted lighter frames for time trials and certain other low-stress uses, so Reynolds took the 531 tubes and made them thinner to weigh less, then heat treated them to make up for the strength lost in the thinning. even tho the heat-treating process did, actually, increase the TENSILE STRENGTH (force required to pull the material apart, in two) of the tubes, it also made them less rubbery...or "more brittle," which maybe you can relate to more.  

This next scenario is extreme, but tells the story of strength and brittleness and tensile strength.

Glass has a five times the tensile strength of CrMo steel, but you don't see glass nails or hammers or bicycle forks, because it's too brittle. When  conscientious tube makers heat-treats otherwise fine, excellent, garden-variety CrMo bicycle frame steel they do it purely, a thousand percent, a million percent, to boost sales. To make a sale to a customer (frame maker) who says, "we need to compete with X, and X has heat-treated steel." That's legitimate, but it has nothing to do with ... reality, or what the bicycle frame itself needs. 

When a frame fails at a tube, it usually isn't the tube's fault. There may be a stress riser, a bad design, rarely but sometimes some other flub-up, but the fact is that steel frames, even non-heat treated ones, and even "cheap" steel frames made of lower grade steels, have a tremendous track record.

We use heat-treated steels on our US-built frames because they cost more, and above a certain price, everybody uses HT steel--so if we don't, I'd have to go into this technical-educational defense, and I don't want to do that. So, on the Taiwan frames, I say the heck with it, that's just dumb, I'm not going to do it. But I didn't always think so fantastically. I was a dummy about HT vs NORMAL CrMo until about 10 years ago.

Then I was talking to a tubing manufacturer about this, and I figured hey, Taiwan prices will let me  pull out all the stops and spec HT tubes. The engineer lady who didn't know I was Grant Petersen asked, "Why do you want that?"

"It's stronger."

"How much strength do you need? And did you know that the HT process warps the tube? We do a good job of straightening them, but they're not as straight as NORM tubes. And their elongation (stretchiness) is less." (She was pointing out what I already knew, that they're more brittle.)


"Why don't you make a frame with both, and have them tested UNTIL they break? You'll see that tubes don't break. Dropouts might, lugs or shells might, welds fail...but tubes don't break, or at least they don't break because they're not strong enough."

So that's what we did, and she was right, and our Taiwan frames made with normal fantastic CrMo tubes (of our design!!!) pass the most rigorous test, and the tubes don't break.

Back to the Sam and prices in general.I seriously don't know how to make it better, even if money were no object. I'm not saying it (or any other of our frames) is the best frame in the world. That title means nothing. Show-winner frames aren't the best. $10,000 frames aren't any better than a Sam. Marketing and presentation, scarcity, reputation, scuttlebutt, and price have a lot to do with a frame's reputation, but they don't make a frame better.

Also, finally, a frame isn't like a camera or a car, where the mechanism will work equally well for anybody. Buying a good frame (even one of ours) because it seems like a good deal, or a steal, is like buying a pair of well-made shoes of perfect material, but they don't fit your purpose or your feet, so what are you even doing?

NOW...peace in the world or the world in pieces. That one again. I think it's Sam Hinton. But I think Tom Paxton sang it once. I'll see if I can find it.

Here it is:

The live at Newport Folk Festival 1963 version is better, but whatever.











  • Tim Kirh: August 27, 2017

    Thanks Grant. I definitely want a bumper sticker. Maybe Dear Leader should join the Milk of Magnesia people since he’s so full of…well, it’s a family blahg. 25th Anniversary is traditionally celebrated with silver so you’re pre-covered when it comes to tubes and cranks. Both Dylan selections are great. My favorite, first performed in 1963, released on The Times They Are A-Changin’, in ‘64:
    With God on Our Side
    Bob Dylan
    My name it is nothing, my age it means less
    The country I come from is a part of the Free West
    I was taught and brought up there, its laws to abide
    And that the land that I live in has God on its side
    Oh the history books tell it, they tell it so well
    The cavalries charged, the Indians fell
    The cavalries charged, the Indians died
    For the country was young with God on its side
    Oh, the first World War, it came and it went
    The reason for fighting, I never could get
    But I learned to accept it, accept it with pride
    For you don’t count the dead when God’s on your side
    And then the second World War, it came to an end
    We forgave the Germans and now we are friends
    Though they murdered six million, in the ovens they fried
    The Germans now, too, have God on their side
    But now we have weapons of chemical dust
    And if fire them we’re forced to, why then fire them we must
    One push of the button and a shot the worldwide
    And you never ask questions when God’s on your side
    Though many a long hour I’ve thought on this
    That Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss
    But I can’t think for you, you will have to decide
    Whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side
    And now as I leave you, I’m weary as hell
    The confusion I’m feelin’, there ain’t no tongue can tell
    The words fill my head and drop to the floor
    That if God’s on our side, he’ll stop the next war
    Songwriters: BOB DYLAN
    For non-commercial use only.
    For a compelling cover of this song, Somalian poet/rapper, K’naan:

  • Sal: August 27, 2017

    Found a good piece of foam from my Sam Hillborne frame packing material – zingo !

  • Jake: August 23, 2017

    I found a good foam by searching “polyethylene foam” on google. Ebay has good options for quantity, size, etc… My trusty Brooks Colt is in need of some support.

  • Dave Henri: August 23, 2017

    You don’t have to cut Bob any slack. He meant every word of “Masters of War” and it rings true to this very day.

  • Crazy Uncle Joe: August 20, 2017

    “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

    Jimi Hendrix

  • Ryan Fleming: August 18, 2017

    Your posts are never a waste of time to read and I appreciate that you take the time to explain your design decisions.

    Trump transcript totally lost me… . Scary dude , scary times ,for sure.

  • Peter: August 18, 2017

    Hi Grant, thanks for busting myths about heat treating. Is it all hype though? I understand that steel tubes won’t wear out with normal good use, but for that matter neither will carbon. For some people it all comes down to how materials perform under poor conditions, like locked to poles, thrown in truck beds, etc.

    Some people say that HT steel tubes are harder to dent. Are they?

    One other common thing to say is that HT tubes can be made thinner / lighter for the same dent resistance as normal CroMo. Is that right?

    Thanks for the insights, as always,

  • Mark in Beacon: August 17, 2017

    Rather than an anniversary frameset, what about a discreet decal, maybe at the bottom of the seat tube on all Rivendell bicycles produced in 2019? “25 years of steel, ever since 1994.” Or “Rivendell, on the road since 1994.” Or, “Rivendell, celebrating 300 months of lugs, leather & steel, 2019”


  • grant petersen: August 16, 2017

    To John: YES! Dang—I should have mentioned the pool noodle foam. Readily available in cheery colors, too. Yes…everybody go back to the foam thing and sub pool noodle foam. Target…

    Michael on Buffy: She wrote Universal Soldier, one of my favorite non-Bob Dylan songs. I like Donovan’s version. When I first heard it 30+ years ago I had to look up what a Jane was. They’re the ones who make sure they don’t walk on bugs. But yes, good songwriter. I mean, she doesn’t need my endorsement. She’s better at that than I’ve ever been at anything.

    J.P. Sloane - listen, this is monumentally magic, seriously-he wrote Eve of Destruction in an hour and a half btw about 1:30 am and 4am. The classic version is by Barry McGuire. Also a good one.

    Aubrey: So do I! Her name is Rita Chen. In that one session, with that one question and explanation, she changed how I think about any problem.

    Wayne: When the other guy is Trump, it does’t take much courage! But thanks.

    Joe: Glad you could hear it again, and yes, too bad it’s so relevant. Sigh.

  • John Hawrylak: August 16, 2017

    Thanks for the saddle tips. My B17 is nearing the end of the bolt, so I really needed this. This is even simpler than the article you had a few years ago, no tying the sides.

    Can the pool noddle foam be used or is the stuff you show better. I finally saw the stuff in a Walmart or Target. Too bad foam can’t be heat treated.

    All the best
    John Hawrylak
    Woodstown NJ

  • Michael: August 16, 2017

    While I don’t get into politics, and I do think that Buffy Sainte-Marie is the greatest secular folk singer in the last 70 years, I have to say that I love riding my Rivendells. My favorite bikes ever and the only bikes I ride. I enjoyed looking at the saddle/seatpost pics. Yummy!

  • Joe Bernard: August 15, 2017

    It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I’d never heard Masters Of War until that doc they played on PBS 10-or-so years ago (I was always a mid-‘70s forward Dylan guy..I know that’s odd). The live performance in the film is so searing, and has the strange effect of seeming very LOUD. I don’t think it really is a loud performance, but it crashed through me like a metal thrash band at full tilt. In a way I’m glad I heard it so late in life. I had the rare experience of being there for it for the first time at an age when I could really appreciate what was happening to me. I just wish it wasn’t so damn relevant in 2017.

  • Aubrey: August 15, 2017

    I LOVE that engineer!

  • Wayne Nahabedian: August 15, 2017

    Thank you for this post. It takes courage to put forth a position advocating for peace, even though the alternative is unthinkable. Though I could have guessed that you, Grant, would espouse these values, it is gratifying to read them here. Just a further confirmation that I have gotten a wonderful bicycle from a company guided by values I can support. Doubtless you are not alone among your peers and competitors in holding these values, but few take the step to make themselves known. Your discussion of the pros and cons of heat treating tubing was most enlightening. I had wondered why Riv’s Silver tubing is not heat treated. Now I know. And one last post reminding us leather saddle users to shove some foam up their seat reminds me that I really should get busy doing just that. Not a waste at all. A thoroughly good read.

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Recent Posts