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CARBON and SUGAR (some repeated messages and one repeated link)

Grant Petersen

THe first big section is ranting on carbon, as I often do--but I swear, it's not a snivelly thing, it's just because I truly honestly think it's dangerous and can't believe it's legal and figure they only reason it IS legal is that the cat's been out of the bag too long now. SO...if you to don' wanna read this, skip way down to the XXXXXXXXXXXX line, which is not a rating, just a thing that'll stand out.
I'm pulled different ways about posting the links below (sent to us by an Australian customer) about another tragic carbon bike accident, but this time it was the aluminum steerer (hidden inside the head tube). Aluminum can be a good bike material—not my aesthetic favorite, but there is the Charlie Cunningham exception. I think his bikes are/were spectacular and beautiful. But overall, an aluminum bike is objectively fine but has an aesthetic hole to dig its way out of, because for aluminum to be safe and structural in a bicycle, it has to be flexless,  and that means fat. It's hard to have a good-looking bike when the tubes are 40mm or fatter. It just is. Charlie's weren't quite that fat, and he ameliorated them with clever visible details in the form of cable guides and reinforcements. But this isn't about a Cunningham, it's about a 10-year old TREK that broke at the steer tube while the rider was climbing an Australian street-hill at around 22 mph.
Steer tubes, of any material, are the thickest tubes on a bike because they're the last tubes you want to break.
Aluminum has bad / low / practically non-existent fatigue strength in the sense that all flex degrades it, and it continues to degrade as it flexes, and then it breaks. When it gets to the failure point, it all happens suddenly. Steel has a great fatigue life, and unlike aluminum, there's a flex point below which it'll go on forever. If it is overly flexed and starts to fail, the failure happens slowly, so an aware rider without earbuds has weeks to months to discover the failure before the whole thing's separated.
The next link, at the bottom of this section, is the coroner's report, which -- is not that interesting, but come on now—how many coronor's reports have you read in your life? It's my first. I found it interesting that he or she recommended* courses of action in the future.
*it's better to say "recommended" than "made recommendations." At least so I learned from a green technical writing book I found new in a bookstore in Tokyo about 30 years ago, which drilled home that "make" and "do" are weak verbs, and it changed my life. It's called "Clear Technical Writing," and the author is John Brogan. It's a workbook, and if you write a lot, even if not technically, it's a good one to get. It is more useful than two other writing books I have—Gertrude Stein's How to Write, and Jack Kerouac's You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique For Modern Prose.  The Gertrude Stein book is an example of a kind of writing called "automatic writing," and it was probably some kind of influence on Jack Kerouac's style in On the Road. It was more tightened up than automatic writing, but still pretty far out there. The point is: Clear Technical Writing is good for anybody and more useful than the others.
And also from Australia is this, which is related to the others--but has an embedded video that makes me suspicious. The video calls the studies that suggest that helmets aren't your foolproof saviors "junk science," which is an interesting thing to say when you look only at facts (Just Ride  has a helmet section in it), and is particularly interesting when you consider that the cyclist killed in the wreck caused by the broken aluminum steer tube was wearing a helmet. In Australia it's the law even for adults, and the fine for not wearing one is something like $50 million.
I know this is dragging on forever. Sorry. Here's one about lifespan of carbon. Don't read it.
https://cyclingtips.com/2015/08/what-is-the-lifespan-of-a-carbon-frame/
If you read it anyway, harp on the last half of the last sentence.
All of this carbon-bashing and carbon-defending -- it all comes together by acknowledging that carbon is good until it isn't, and the one comment that "a carbon bike can last as long as your life" isn't comforting.
A well-made steel frame is much safer, much less surprising, much less likely to fail suddenly, is easier to inspect for flaws or signs of failure, and steel, as a material, simply can't snap and separate the way carbon can.
We -- as a business -- are not threatened by carbon. We acknowledge that our frames weigh more. The crown, only the crown and unpainted at that, on a Hunqapillar or CLEM weighs two ounce less than the lightest carbon road forks. Our lightest road forks weigh 1.6lbs, about half a pound more than the lightest carbon forks.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
now, SUGAR:
http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/02/books/review/case-against-sugar-gary-taubes.html?emc=edit_tnt_20170103&nlid=43013564&tntemail0=y&_r=0
Maybe we'll buy the book. Would you buy an autographed copy from us rather than a discounted copy from Zon? I wonder. Taubes has a Sam. He's near-ish by. I could get him to come by and autograph some, I bet.
That SUGAR IS BAD is not news anymore, but Taubes was the modern leader in the anti-sugar movement, and he's a great writer, and ... I'm gonna get the book. Books in general are good.
NOW, the HHH tandem:
It's  nearly official: The HHH tandem round 2 samples are in the air to us in all three sizes and in three of the four colors. We've already sold enough to make it worth it, and "worth it" also includes my personal wanting to put a nice tandem out there in the world, a CLEMish one that's chubby and fun and easy. We did get some spares, and we'll keep a few off to the side as crash replacements—that's a scary thought, isn't it? After a crash that wrecks the frame, the stoker's not going to want to get on again, I'd think. But what it all means is we probably have about 3 more of each size available, and they're $1,800 with seat posts, headset, stoker stem of some kind, and the world's best eccentric...until we receive the order, at which time they'll go up $100.
IF you want a HubbuHubbuH, contact will@rivbike.com and all will be well.
Now, assorted random photos from my phone, because all blaghs  need photos, or nobody'll read them:
I used to think these seat lugs were funky, but I likem now. THis is on a "foreign" bike with a swoopy downtube.
I've always liked carvings of balls inside balls, and this one has seven and they're all ivory--before we knew about elephants and all. Maybe it's walrus. Is that better? It's in Denmark, and is a hair bigger than a golfball.
This is like...14th century, Denmark, a nautilus shell, carved up. It'e about the size of a baseball. Did slaves do this? Rich artists? Did the person do anything else in his or her life? Was this the 5th attempt or the 150th, and how long did it take? The dragonfly and butterfly--oops, bad call there.
A meal last year. As I said, I was just going thru phone pic. Avocado, egg, canned salmon, parmesan, pepper. There's nothing wrong with this.
------
This is a custom we're working on. Waiting for the brakes and BB shell, should be here tomorrow. Choco bars, 650B.

IT's a good way to do the dropout, if you don't need a second eyelet, and in this case she didn't. 

 

Side of the CLEM seat tube decal shows ol' Clem coming outside to ... be a hobo outside for the day.

 

And doffing his cap to the ladies.

 

--G



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  • Björn Sundström" on

    Re. the carbon fibre life-span story: I’ve spent a lot of time with good people in the sailboat business, where carbon fibre is really put to the test. I think the key statement in the story is “if done properly, a frame could last you forever”. That’s important, because it is really, really hard to do it properly. The trusted carbon fibre parts for racing yachts are crazy expensive, since they have to made just right by just the right people and machines. So when friends and neighbors fail to get the message sent by my 10+ all-steel bikes and ask which carbon-fibre bike to buy, I tell them that if they can afford it, it is not good enough. I think the real danger is in relatively cheap carbon fibre bikes. There is just no way they can be well-made enough.

    And helmets, yeah, well, if you do use them (I do when in traffic – cars keep hitting me), please use MIPS-equipped ones.

  • John on

    I’m not a fan of helmet laws, but if you don’t wear a helmet anytime you’re on a bicycle you’re rolling the dice. Most of the time nothing bad will happen, but if and when it does (and it eventually will), you are going to be seriously hurt, maybe killed.

    Modern helmets are designed to work primarily at lower speeds, because a helmet that would work reliably at above 15 mph is just too heavy. Through testing, it has been found that even with a helmet a crash at 15 mph where the head strikes the ground results in a severe concussion. Without a concussion a crash at 15 mph where the head strikes the ground results in a fractured skull.

    Today’s helmets are light and fairly inexpensive. Why would you not wear one?

  • David Bell on

    Nelson, carbon dioxide helps grow plants, which produce oxygen. And good steel incorporates carbon, which gives it strength.

    Also, carbon dioxide gives beer its bubbles. All good things that make life better. Maybe you should put down the Kool-Aide. Global warming hoax, methinks.

  • nelson hollins on

    Happy to see Grant’s new blog where we can read interesting helpful ideas , instead of trying to talk on the phone !
    This carbon demon is a no brainer for bike riders. It’s no good. Carbon dioxide is no good to breath / carbon buildup on spark plugs is no good either. So why make no good frames of the stuff ? When I bought a new Jamis bike that had a carbon fork , I cut the fork in 2 & threw in in the bin ; put in a real steel safe 1.

    Aluminum is the next lousy frame material. Even hubshells of 6061 are prone to splitting open at the bearing seat. I recently had to replace a White Industries Front Track 32 hub shell that cracked , making 1 bearing fall out. So, its time for real steel hubs ; 953 Stainless would work well.

    I don’t think it is too exaggerated to brag on Grant’s terrific frames of steel & their great designs.
    No wonder I bought 2 Appaloosa’s , 4 Clem Smith H , Atlantis , Hunkapillar , 3 Sam Hillborne’s , 2 Prototype.
    Surly , Trek , Jamis, & Gary Fisher bikes that I had , are old boring history around here now .
    Way to go Grant ! Let’s have those new Shifters you designed. All my bikes with the big ugly XT & SLX SL’s , look out of place on Rivendell’s. I learned to ride in the 60’s with friction levers & this is proper shifting since you have to learn the technique. Then riding is better , than this recent ‘automatic’ SL’s modern stuff.
    Take care , Nelson

  • mark figueroa on

    Clem looks like a real ladies man! Is he based on a real person! I wish ur photo of your lunch had a wooden spoon! Like the one you gave me!! Still eat my yogurt with it! Thanks Grant!
    Love your posts!!



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