monday 19th assorted color and black & white.

Posted on February 19 2018

monday 19th assorted color and black & white.



 We still need rain, but people are out there  hiking and riding. I took a different way up, a more direct way, and for 30 minutes pushed the bike up a trail not even Mark could ride up. It was great, tho.


Last weekend, 9 days ago after work, customer-friend Nate and I went riding in Shell Ridge, and it was kind of a shame to have black-and-white film, but that's my norm these days, and I screwed up some shots, did lots of things wrong (well, mostly back lit the ride and didn't compensate for it, and too-slow shutter speed), but check out these groovy results: For those of you who care, it was with an Olympus XA with Across 100 b/w film pushed 1.5 stops. (To those who don't care...extremely sorry for the lingo!)

He was on a CLEM with a Bullmoose Bosco, which you can see if you look. No you can't. I can see it on this side of the technology. I'll try another view of the rider (Nate).

The Bullmoose bars are clear now.

If I'd taken the color hills picture with a film camera, I'd be happy with it, but it could easily be duplicated digitally--and instantly, as this one was...gotten. Everything is perfect and there was no darkroom or mail-in-and-wait for the results and hope rigmarole (there is only one "a" in the word, surprisingly).

It would be harder to shoot the lower scene digitally and then make it look like this, though. With film, just one click.


 The other day Roman here was polishing up this guy:

I think Shimano ought to remake some old things. The front derailers are getting bizarre. We're using 10s models on 9s cranks and with 9s chains, and it all works--not just barely, but really finely. But it bugs me that it's not to Shimano spec. I feel like it's a conspiracy, but then I realize we're too small for them to care about. Anyway, a big Japanese company like Shimano (or Bstone, any of them that I've had enough dealings with to get a sense of), first wants to know big-picture CONCEPTS...then details come later. So here is a plan that  involves a concept that might be sellable.

Plan: persuade Shimano to remake 1992 XTR (or '89--91 XT) front and rear derailers and crank. THose were the peak years for simple perfect shapes, finish, and humility. No scoops and fins just for the sake of them. Nothing to conjure up an image of a smoke-filled room with blue jackets and MBAs figuring ways to bamboozle the market, drive trends, capitalize on trends with cars and tech and use it on bikes. Just pure fantasticness.

Shimano wouldn't do any single part in isolation. They sell most when they sell to large manufacturers, and the trouble is, those guys aren't asking for anything groovy. Those guys think 9sp is archaic. Those guys want hidden electro motors shifting and pedaling the bike for you. That is progress in the modern bike industry's eyes, and they shield it with the idea that whatever's easiest will get the most people on bike and save the world.

It doesn't work like that. More likely, the manually operated not easy-to-shift but not entirely impossible to miss-a-shift bike that you have to pedal and that uses visible cables and simple machines (levers, pulleys..) to operate will be scuffed aside and come to be seen as quaint.

UNLESS we can get enough people behind it, to -- is Shimano gonna care? Maybe. They can't be shamed into it. There's no shame here, it's just a matter of how to best persuade Shimano to make .. no, it has to come from Trek, Specialized, and Giant. Two of those three.

Would YOU buy an XTR eightspeed but frictionable to 9 rear derailer for $160? The XTR crank for $250, and a front derailer for $120? IT's not going to work any better. Would you?

Would you be willing to write a postcard with $2 worth of stamps and send it to Shimano in Japan, if the address were provided for you, or would you just like the idea, but not get around to it? Would you say and not do, or say and do?


In Sunday's NYT there was an interesting story titled The Tyranny of Convenience. If cutting and pasting the non-link below doesn't call it up for you, it's worth digging for.


 We're building up some new demo bikes and catalog photo-shoot bikes. This one is shaping up so well. They all DO--they're not experiments or anything. I think I just like how zippy it looks. It may get diff handlebars, and maybe we'd put these on a fat-tire version. Anyway. the Appaloosa is a remarkable bike. My favorite.


Here's a bike we're building up as a photo model and ultimately a demo, not sure the final specs.

IT's a 55. We just got in a couple of samples of the un-named bar that's basically like an Albatross, just a few differences, and it looks like this:


It looks like a Chrysler, or art deco something. I comes back a hair more, flares a hair more, rises a hair less, and is slight straighter closer to the stem. The Albatross (nitto 352) was originally just for us, but we didn't insist on an exclusive, so now tons of place sell it. The driving force behind this NuBar (unnamed, still) was an Albatross-like bar that COULD be our exclusive, and, if possible, had some positive micro-tweaks, which it does. Available before I die, maybe a few months.

All the models now have the RBW seat tube decal. Sad to say sayonara to the others, but we needed to get some RIvendell ID on the bikes. A little more...


Appaloosa's unique fork crown, shared by no other models.

I asked my oldest daughter to write "joe" to use here, so she did it once and that's it.

Here's the unnamed bar. Not the Albatross. How about Wing-ed Sea-Faring Ornithate? The name isn't the priority right now, but it'll be fine when it comes. We'll continue to sell Albatross, mainly because if we didn't there would be a mad Amazon rush for them.




  • Ray Fontaine: March 06, 2018

    I just stumbled on this conversation by chance (curiosity about the “twin forks” photo) and find that you guys are where I was in the early 90’s. Being a half-stepper I found it harder and harder to put together a decent half-step drive-train with what was currently being manufactured, particularly mourning the loss those wonderfully interchangeable Shimano Uniglide cogs to the supposed shifting enhancement of the unalterable Hyperglide cassettes. Hyperglide makes little difference for friction shifting, but does improve index shifting – especially as they keep on increasing the number of cogs that they cram onto a cassette. It wouldn’t have cost Shimano much for them to cater to half-steppers by continuing the manufacture of individual Uniglide cogs (which fit on Hyperglide cassette bodies), but half-steppers didn’t need more than seven cogs, or even index shifting, so I’m sure that Shimano felt that it was a threat to their corporate program of planned obsolescence to cater to Luddites like me. Good luck!

  • Colin Powers: March 02, 2018

    I vote for the mid 90’s DuraAce front derailers among most beautiful.
    like this one:

    Its for sale for 25 bucks on ebay, but I’ve found them for under 15 at bike swaps and in used gear bins. What a gem… and that one isn’t even clean!

  • Juan Cruz: March 02, 2018

    Long time no see! Yes we’ve met, a while back You were passing out boxes of coconut juice at ghe shop. I was buying a long Nitto Stem, not the beautiful one, too mush $. you guys are in a hard place $-wise? know how you feel, been there. that’s not good. You should be rewarded for all the great bikes you’ve built and the great literature you’ve produced!You let me ride a hunka around Walnut Crk! That was the best thing you could have done to cement a relationship with s customer.I’M TOTALLY SOLD ON RIVENDELL BIKES. WHEN MY CANOE COMES IN, YOU GUYS WILL BE BUILDING ME A BIKE. WHEN MY PIROGUE GETS RIGHT I’M GONNA BUY THE $10. CREDIT TOWARDS MY NEW BIKE, DOWN PAYMENT.
    the Joe is beautiful! Good luck and happy trails!
    con todo respeto, Juan

  • Andy Cheatham: February 27, 2018

    So true about front derailleurs, and why I started trolling sources for the “second tier” models for 110 MTB cranksets. I have three Suntour X-1s in use, nary $8 in any of them!

    I just had a boggling experience in three LBS trying to buy a set of brake levers. No integrated shifters, no linear pull ratio, not for disc brakes. “On drop bars? Really?” See accompanying order and thanks for the atmosphere of sanity.

    I’ll take that address for Shimano too. I will advise them to fire their crank designer so he can go back to penning hubcaps for base model Corollas where he is appreciated.

  • Brian Thompson: February 26, 2018

    Grant as you know yesterday’s tech is today’s sales special. 10 speed hubs and cassettes are now declining rapidly in price due to the 11 speed cassette. I friction shift so any derailleur is a 10 speed derailleur. Front derailleurs are getting hard to buy because of all the nomenclature developed for varying mounting schemes. I have to agree that most of these specializations are wasted time and energy. I notice no actual improvement in derailleur shifting performance when using friction shifters. New derailleurs shift no better than an early Shimano Eagle derailleur from the 1970’s. My opinion is that the $200.00 derailleur people want is manufactured for less than $20.00, a lot less in some cases. I’m a steel frame and fork person and recommend the Steel on Wheels forum for those so inclined.

  • Michael Doleman: February 26, 2018

    I’ve always thought that it would take very little effort for Shimano to tap into a sizable market niche by producing a smaller line of “classic” components. Something like the old Deore deer-head stuff, but with a few modern updates.

    But, happily, it seems like a few other makers are out there picking-up the slack, so-to-speak. Microshift is making some relatively sensible, quality shifting components, at incredibly affordable prices.

    The only thing which seems to be utterly extinct, from what I can tell, is a normal front derailleur with 28.6 clamp. Especially in a double chainring configuration. There are sufficient work-arounds for this, but none of them are optimal.

  • Ian: February 26, 2018

    Tell you what Mate.most riders here in Japan are riding steel upright bars and loving the retro style.My advice is go backwards Dyson style and target the Japanese crowd ala blue lug.PayPal commission to cheers

  • David Graves: February 25, 2018

    Handlebar name—Tubenose. Albatrosses are related to storm petrels and diving petrels in the order Procellariiformes—the tubenoses. It refers to the gland that gets rods of excess salt in their blood, that drains out of a tube on their beaks.

  • Peter Chesworth: February 24, 2018

    I am still on 9 speed and bike shop can’t understand why. That XTR, and parts goi g back to about 500EX, were simple and sweet. Yes I would send a note to Shimano asking for a revival. Well, not a revival so much, as I have run the modern versions of these groups – Sugino cranks, Tektro cantis, etc.

  • Ben: February 24, 2018

    Nope. When I showed my rivbike to our new CEO, the hard-nosed triathlete looked straight down at the rear derailer to make his judgment, which I probably would have done 15 yrs ago. Seeing the LX from above, he mumbled, “X7 – nice” and walked away. Hah! Give me a cheap one like a Crane, LX or Altus, thank you.

  • JB: February 24, 2018

    Maybe it’s time for Paul to bring back the powerglide

  • Bill in Virginia: February 23, 2018

    Great idea on the Shimano XTR. It would be a long stretch, but worth the effort. Mr. Ramsey’s social media idea is a good concept.

    However, I for one, would be supremely happy just to see Shimano (and others) just offer a SILVER (not black, not dark gray, not gray, but silver) option on their Ultegra, Tiagra, and 105 road cranks and derailleurs. That would eliminate a limited production run and higher cost issues of retooling.

    In late 2014/2015 while looking for a new bike after I got back into riding after retirement. I also had to finally retire the 1972 vintage Fuji which had used, but had grown too large. I had a hard time finding a traditional looking steel frame bike without all black components at local shops.

    C&V bikes are popular and I believe a natural for bicycle and component makers would be a Classic and Vintage inspired line of silver components based upon their curent offerings.

    Thanks, Bill C.

  • Gil Cajala: February 22, 2018

    This very same thought crossed my mind when it comes to the 600 tricolor groupset. Shimano should consider like an “heirloom” collection for bike enthusiast building older bikes. It wouldn’t be the first time a company did a throwback promotion on an older product. It would kinda be cool to see someone recreate some of Suntour’s older groupsets!

  • Carl Baker: February 22, 2018

    Shimano’s low end rear derailleurs seem to work fine even if they don’t qualify as art or jewelry. A refined remake of the reverse pull Suntour XC front derailleur would add something functionally different to the market. Shifters that go in the same direction is such a basic and great idea, but it never seems to stick.

    My dad never had any cars other than Chrysler products. We had five Barracudas in the family when I was a teen. He was the same with Olympus cameras. He had the OM-1 and -2 and got my mom the XA. Very cool little camera, but she complained about how hard it was to line up the images to focus. I have them all now (cameras, not Barracudas) and am working on making them work again.

  • Michael: February 21, 2018

    Eagle bar?

    Looks like a bird diving down, at terminal velocity, for a fish.

  • Scott Clarke: February 21, 2018

    Your new bar reminds me of a Peregrine Falcon in a dive.

  • doug moore: February 21, 2018

    I believe that Shimano can be shamed into bringing back more simple design.

    They will do it if they see that someone else is doing it, and is becoming popular.

    So, perhaps Grant (RBW) and Paul (Paul Compenent Engineering) can put your combined know-how, loyal and sort-of affluent customer base together to come up with something really awesome.

    Expensive? Of course. But Riv bikes cost. And Paul components cost. Yet you guys are cranking out product that is exceptional, customers are paying for it – and remain ecstatic in the process :)

  • Tim Kirch: February 21, 2018

    I definitely would have wagered real, hard-earned USofA dollars, that there were 2 As in rigmarole. I’ve always pronounced it “rig-a-ma-role.” I’m from Kansas if that makes a difference in pronunciation. (Oh, my spell check says “rigmarole” and Apple is, in fact, all-knowing.)

    Yes, I will send a postcard to Shimano.

    Grant, I hope your new handlebar comments are not a cryptic warning of your imminent demise. You said the bars would be available before you die, maybe a few months?!?!?! I’m sure you meant the bars and not you…

    The Shell Ridge and surroundings are an amazing treasure. The ride there that you took me on last summer was simply sublime.

  • Jen Levy: February 21, 2018

    I think the first-gen XTR lives on in the Claris front and rear.

  • Doug Peterson: February 20, 2018


    Supply the address & I’ll be glad to drop Shimano a request card. Maybe the next big thing for Trekializediant to launch would be retro 80s/90s MTBs, and they’d demand period correct looking components. (yeh, right; dream on).

    Doug Peterson,
    Irvine, CA

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Recent Posts