no.22, December 12, and not a Holiday Gift Guide. It's a long one.
Posted on December 11 2020
That's a young mountain lion from northeastern California about 310 miles from here as ye olde crowe flies. A high-school buddy, Dave Garcelon—a, uh, "wildlife professional" for many decades trapped it so he could put a beeper on it and track it to find out why the mountain lions come down out of the mountains and kill all the flatlandish pronghorns. This is a new, disturbing trend.
The link below is his site, and if you donate $20 to his business and send me the proof, we'll credit you that much here. If you're going to spend $20 here in the next few years, you can donate there and get it in credit, so it won't cost you anything except a little clicking-hassle. Now thru the end of the year.
When you go to the page, there's a "SUPPORT IWS" link in the upper right. Send me the receipt: email@example.com, and we'll update credits every week or so.
I have to get this off my chest. In the last BLAHG I wrote this, about the song, "Norman," from 1962 or so. No need to hear it again, but if you haven't.
Behind the scenes stuff we won't talk about yet, except for these teasers:
1. RoadUno, a onespeed derailerless country-kind of bike (not modeled after a track bike). For pavement, town, commutes. It's not a trail bike. You can ride it on dirt and gravel roads, but it's kind of rude to ride it on hilly and rough trails. More on it way below.
2. Charlie H. Gallop, kind of like a Clem road bike. For people who don't ride in packs.
3. Some kind of V-brake. The rest of the bike industry dumbly hates them, we happen to be in deep love with them, and ours is going to fix or improve things that WOULD have been fixed improved long ago, if Shimano and SRAM and TEKTRO gave ye olde flying fig about V-brakes. And if the engineers actually used them.
4. Maybe a cantilever, too. It's hard to say. It's far enough along now to make it hardly worth the effort to stop it, and it WILL be the best one yet, I think...but does it matter?
5. New Rims from Alex. Alex is Taiwan's biggest rim maker, and they make super rims. We don't need any new rims, but the rims in question fill an empty width-slot btw the 25.4mm Velocity (mfr) Atlas (model) rim, and the 30mm and 32mm Velocity Cliffhanger and Alex DM-24 respectively...and I thought Alex was reading my mind and isn't that kind of creepy, until I saw that they're being made for ye olde eBike market...and yet, the dimensions are fully dreamy. We're going to stock up (so we can meet Alex's minimum order quantity/MOQ, and because when they see how smart these rims are, they'll probably quit making them.)
6. We are hoping Brooks will bring back the B.68. A couple of BLAHGs ago I tried to get every single one of you to write to them (and included a link to do that). I don't know how that worked out, whether or not they WILL, but if they do, we'll have that. In case you missed the opportunity to plead with Brooks to bring back this saddle (wider than B.17, kind of like a B.67 without the unnecessary springs), here's your chance again. Don't tell them Rivendell put you up to it. Just tell them this would make you happy.
7. Ultra-LTD run of maybe 40 ROSCO BUBBE bikes based not too roughly on ye olde Platypus. There was a minor cosmetic—not geometrical not structural not even actually too much aesthetique—bugaboo in about half of the Platypus forks. So rather tossing them into the dust bin or sticking it to the maker (who called our attention to it), we're building frames around them, frames that match the geometry of the 'pus. Sometime in the next six months we'll have a low-r-cost faux-Platypus frame that'll be decaled and badged a ROSCO BUBBE. That's all we'll say about it for the next few months.
We got some new stickers, tiny ones but good ones:
The bike doesn't need a saddle-post-handlebar. The neuroplasmotic brain fills them in, and I wanted everything there to be about the same height. Put it on bikes, binders, laptops, car bumpers, anything.
We have some variants of this coming soon, and if we run out of these you might get one of those. If you like one you'll like the other, etc. For those not familiar with Sharpies, the sticker is 25.4mm x 3-inches, and we sell them for a buck, with each buck going to our
BRF, our entirely customer-supported account that cuts Black people a reparations-type break on bikes and the goods we sell. We also sell BRF units for $2 each, and have, at this time, more than $7,000. in ye olde BRF. That's after having tapped into it to give three or four customers deals on bikes. It'd be great to get $150 a day into that fun. Then, every week or so we could sell a bike to a Black rider at 45 percent off. If the idea of reparations is new to you, this may seem unfair. To give it a booster shot--the FUND--we also now have these
There's a pin on the back, so it's a button. These are $5, which is more than our standard button price, but $4.50 of that goes to the BRF. Link to it here.
We're "working with" -- quote marks justified -- an Australian animal illustrator named Peter Marsack. This is a rough draft of something. It's OK that we show it.
we got the new pocketless T's in:
But here's the main view:
Every seven-to-fifteen months, it seems, I find something out of the blue that strikes ye olde deep chord in me in some way, and on my refrigerator I found this that does that. (I didn't put it there and it is shown not on my refrigerator):
What I wonder about are: Butterflied or grass-tufts? I love the frame-outline. Headstone or mouse-hole? Letterpress or some other ancient printing process? Does anybody recognize this?
This is late, I know, but Happy Thanksgiving. This the the Thanxgiving card I got from Betsy Streeter, who is illustrating a book we're working on. She did some stickers and radical T-shirt art for us, too.
No marks off if you don't read it. It's the kind of thing where...if you're against Reps you won't read it (and probably aren't reading this sentence). If you're for them, you still probably won't, because it's a long read and you "don't need it." But the thing is, it gives you more history, personal details, and a clearer big picture than u have now. It also makes what we're trying to do seem small but OBVIOUSLY OK. We're paying lawyers to make sure it's OK with ye olde John Law.
It's a story about a carbon-fiber racing boat snapping in half when a big wave hit it...is really nice story about the rescue.
It's about a new Specialized kid's first Paddle-style bike.
FLASH: BSNYC/Eben Weiss beat me to this, but I started this before I read his. His take is better AND more entertaining than mine, but here goes mine, anyway.
Thirty or more years ago I was talking to a a friend who owned a bike company famous for its titanium bikes. He was a parent of at least one young child, and I asked him whether he had plans to make his child a super Ti bike.
He said, "No. Why would I do that to a kid?"
There are things to consider.
What's so different about today's three-year old, compared to the three-year old from the days of yore? I've already seen FOUR-YEAR-OLDS on electric bikes. I am not making it up. I am guessing at the age. They might have been undernourished six-year olds.
We INVESTIGATED kids bikes and had a few prototypes made, and built them up, We have one left, It's been lent and used by three kids for a total of six years, then returned. They all gave it five stars:
Coaster brake, but compatible with rim brakes.
I still like the IDEA, but the one up there would have sold for $700, and that's too much for a five-year-old's bike. I like the IDEA of a tig-welded unlugged kids bike that'll last a century of kids. The main tubes should be 1.2mm thick (in the wall) CrMo steel, or 1.5mm thick high-tensile steel. There's not enough material in there to worry about frame weight. Made in Taiwan, the frame would cost too much. What's wrong with a world that can't make—not in China— a $150 children's one-speed?
We are working on the artwork for the ROADUNO. Here are some downtube decals in development. What you see is kind of round 2. They're close enough to warrant no more than one more round.
I kind of think the grayback numeral 1, shown sideways, which will go purely on the underside of the downtube---I think it should be repeated top and bottom (here, left and right), too. Like this, and we're trying it without the extra lineage:
It'll be some variation of this. There might be some changes. Each letter has a fat section, which could be hollowed out just a hair to show the paint color. That has a slimming effect and looks kind of good, but it looks good without it, too.
Olivier is doing this art, and he's really good.
Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm going to die within a month, and I find myself not doing anything differently. I am healthy, by the way. If you write a book called Eat Bacon, Don't Jog and you aren't healthy, you have some explaining to do, unless, maybe, it's not a diet-related disease, but there aren't tons of those. There are many, just not tons. My point here isn't my health, anyway. It's more my job. If I were going to die in two months I'd still try to get the Yellow Triangle people to make one modification that I've started to do myself, but I don't have time for. I'd still be all over the rear derailer project, and I'd probably be pushier on it.
When I was growing up in the '60s every kid knew about Jim Thorpe. It wasn't exactly "Jim Thorpe this, Jim Thorpe that," but there wasn't a kid in the 4th grade in 1964 who didn't know something about him. Here's a modern link, about a four minute read.
Joe Bell is the best bike painter in the world, the Jim Thorpe of bicycle painters. He cares so much and works so hard to not be that. He has a helper most of the time, but he's in the thick of it five days a week. He paints our custom frames, and has honestly, truly, not trying to be nice or eloquent or stretch facts or be publicly humble or gracious--none of that trickery crap, seriously--he has inspired me, personally, and made me try to be better at what I do. He rides a lot and has two nice bikes--one of them a whatchacallyer super bike. I wish he had one of ours, and in this case fulfilling that wish was just a few emails and phone calls away...to Mark Nobilette.
I didn't want JB to know, but I had to get some specs, and I got two specs--his current riding saddle height (from which I could infer his PBH) and his height height, which, since I know him, I didn't really need.
JB has been around ultra bikes for around 45 years, has seen everything, he paints all of Richard Sachs's bikes (Richard pointed me to Joe around 1998 or so), and basically, he doesn't drool over anything. JB is unimpressible, in other words, but the point in getting him a bike wasn't to impress him, but to get him a Rivendell-version of a modern road bike for people who might still wear logos (I assume he does, I just get that feeling) but who don't race and are comfortable with their place in or out of the weekend pack.
I designed a bike for him and asked Nobilette to go nuts with it. He's a JB buddy, too, and he really did go nuts. Here are some pics:
It's a 60.4cm frame, I think. He won't ride 48mm tires, as shown here. He could...
This is a sloppy-hasty shot. Ordinarily we try to "split the bike" lengthwise, meaning, among other things, that the near side fork blade and handlebar should entirely block their far side brethens (sistrens?). I DID shoot this fast, and I wasn't careful. I know, no big deal, but even for sloppy quick shots we try to maintain standards. Will would've done better.
Our Version 2 seat lug. Beautiful as cast, but carved up, too. The seat stay attachment is more classic, yet theoretically structurally inferior to the new ball-socket style. Either or.
Same style as we have on most bikes now, but this one is sized for a 31.8 top tube. I forgot to mention in the overall frame photo that the top tube is 28.6mm at the seat lug, and flares to 31.8mm at the head lug. No biggie.
Bottom head lug with lots of extra work into it. The grooves in the reinforcing rims on this and the top lug generally get painted cream.
Sometimes when the tubes don't come together here at angles compatible with our existing bottom bracket shells, Mark'll fillet (rhymes with "skillet") braze the tubes. I think on this frame the junctions would have worked with the geometry, but just for fun he fillet-brazed it, anyway. This adds $200 to a custom. It is not structurally more or less desirable.
Front dropout showing what I used to call, perhaps insensitively, the "Mohawk-style," with the ridge sticking up like that. When I was a kid lots of kids had Mohawk haircuts. Craig, Boots, me, the Waldrons...we all had Mohawks one time or another. You never knew when when of your friends would show up with a Mohawk. My first Mohawk, self-administered with a clipper we had, was an accidental reverse one. I mowed the strip instead of everything but the strip. I was seven or so, and I plugged in the clippers when nobody was around.
On most bikes, steel or anything, the goal seems to be to blend everything in so you're clueless as to how the joint was made. I saw this M-style on Richard Sachs bikes and always liked it. It's been on others, too, and we do it sometimes, on single-eyelet front dropouts. It helps to use a skinny-ended fork blade (ours are custom made 12.5mm diameter down there; normal is 14.5mm) and then use it with a wide-tab (17mm) front dropout. Normal forged steel front dropouts have tabs about 14.5mm. You can't get a high Mohawk that way. Is this a bad use of "Mohawk"? Sorry.
The question many of us have, and Mark Nobilette is with us on this, is: What color will JB paint it? And will he downplay the lug windows by painting them the same color as the frame, or will he fill them, presumably with cream?
It's a private matter. I could see it going either way. He should be able to paint it how he wants without having to show the results to ME. On the other hand, when he rides it, people who don't give a flying fig will get to see it, and I won't, and YOU won't, and I think it's OK if you don't, but I really would like to.
Every now and then, correct me if I'm wrong, you run across an obituary that you want to share with the world. It happened to me this morning, and there were two, and took up the whole page. Here are links you might not have time for. If the people don't mean anything, save your linking for some other ones coming up:
Rafer Johnson, who you knew about or had at least heard about in the '60s if you're over 63 now. The Bobby Kennedy assassination part is fairly wild;
and Hammish MacInnis, a Scottish climber maybe five of you have heard of. He was a big name in the '70s. I was climbing a lot, then. Anyway, I had no idea that he wrote so many books. If you don't recognize the name, don't bother with the obituary, it won't mean anything to you.
OK now, some back and forth tonite and here are the finals. The frame colors might change, but the decals won't. Showing and OrangeDuno and GreenDuno. NaranjaDuno y VerdeDuno.
These are downtube decals. One duno on each side. The sidepoint black 1 ends up on the underside of the bottom bracket. Oh, those fortunate ants!
The ants would still be fortunate with this. I was thinking purple for a one-speed. One speeders ought to be loose with their colors, and...I like purple, anyway.
Olivier thinks gray, and maybe OK if it's a pearl gray of just the right shade. I'd probably like more of a medium-dark silver than gray-gray. Lighter than this one, but that shade of purple is good:
The long Numeral 1 in the purple, maybe a little darker gray here?
If silver/gray, the fill in the Numeral 1 should be purple.
By the time you see this, the colors and decals and all that will be locked in, and any suggestions will fall on ye olde deaf ears.
Here are more purple variants, from Sat morn Dec 5:
I don't care how much you hate purple, there's one of these you're going to like, right? The gray "1" in the middle, the strip that runs between the Roaduno on one side and the Roaduno on the other, would look good in a certain shade of green or even blue. The thing is, sometimes the color or combo that appeal the most (to me and maybe to other people, not saying you, but maybe) is the combo that seems so close to perfect that the looker looks at it and thinks dang, so close, why didn't we/they just change this little tiny thing? That way, you're more involved in it. I don't know if there's a name for this phenomenon. Sometimes, actually ALL the time, I think that if nobody doesn't like something, there's something wrong with it. We like to like things that aren't exactly the way we'da done them. But...we still try hard to get them perfect, knowing that our perfect might not be yours.
If they're 1-2-3-4-5 left to right, my personal dream green would be 1.75, with purple fill for the numeral.
I know what you're thinking: What about the head badge? Let me talk about head badges in general. This is only my truth/opinion. I'm not declaring any of this as right or wrong.
Headbadges are an opportunity for the people who don't make or paint the frame to communicate to you that we still care. Badges should be small and exciting or interesting in the same way finding a gold pocketwatch deep in a farmfield under a foot of dirt is. They shouldn't shout stuff, but they should be worth a closer look if you're looking at them at all, and then they should make you glad you looked. They don't have to be on the same cosmetic page as the frame. Independent head badges are great. This is not a good head badge, kind of apologies to TREK, but the bike it was on--a 1988 or so steel mixte mountainish job, is a really nice bike, and that matters more:
In the early '90s Bstone's badge was the equivalent—flat, shiny, compliant with corporate identity guidelines, void of texture, depth, detail. The B was italic, to convey a forward-thinking company, moving, active. I am confident with no basis to be that TREK had an equally nonsensical reason for this *&^%ed-up T.
Technically it's a badge, like Bstone's, but it looks like a decal, as did Bstone's.
TREK has put a lot of good bikes into the world.. In 2020 TREK sells more in one day (about 2,465) than we do in three gooood years. So don't accuse me of bullying TREK just because this 1989 or so head badge leaves something to be desired.
In less than 20 hours, including sleep time and multitasking, we, with Olivier's help of course, came up with some badges for the RoadUno. Here are the four finalists. We know the winner but won't reveal it here now.
In this one up there, there's an open window above ROADUNO, that shows the frames's head tube paint. Cream below ROADUNO.
The one up here has two open windows.
One open window, single cream below.
No windows, just double-cream.
These aren't photographs, they're the artwork. We'll show the badges when we get the winner in, and we won't reveal it here. If it shows gray in the badge area, the badge has a window there that'll show the color of the head tube...which won't be cream. It's not important to follow this.
As I said a few BLAHGS ago, my favorite song is Bob Dylan's Chimes of Freedom. It's kind of the only song you need. But I saw this site called Chimesfreedom (no "of"), with this George Harrison video and the story behind it. About 14 years ago George's widow, Olivia, came close to buying one of our Wilbury bicycles for her son Dhani. She didn't, should have.
This is an anti-covid video, not about covid, but uplifting in a down-spiraling time. Read the story before you click on the movie part. This is a fantastic way to end a BLAHG.