Friday, May 30, 2008

Construction Contiunes

Any minute now they will start jack hammering the sidewalk right in front of the shop. With how loud it was when they were working down and across the street, I may close early. It was seriously shaking loud. There is a small coal shoot in front of the shop that needs to be properly closed off. Should be interesting at least. The hole will be dug out to block the vault, then filled with sand to cover until the rest of the project catches up with it. It will be nice to know everything is well with the foundation, but will be a mess with sand right in front of the door. Oh well.

I got a chance to ride the CX bike a bit. It's fast, 'nuff said.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This one's for you Mark!


New bikes in the shed.

It's been a busy time lately, between repairs at the shop, occasionally riding my bike, and spending time with Meg, I haven't had much time to update this. Here's the recap.

The big project at the shop for a customer has been Eric's custom powder coated Surly Big Dummy. Built for everything from Japanese Garden maintenance, wood hauling, grocery getting, and kayak pulling, Eric wanted a bike that would serve as his main means of transportation. Fitting this, the bike is spec'd with sound solid parts that will have many years of service before wearing out. The bike build is expensive compared to some, but should serve as a reliable means of alternate transportation for 20 plus years. The bike is built around Rohloff's famous 14 speed internal hub. I've lusted after one of these for years, and this seems the perfect application for one. Surly designed the BD with the Rohloff in mind, and it uses a dropout designed for ease of use. This eliminates all external torque arms required on many frames, and makes the installation of the rear wheel much easier. The cranks are a set of Dimension tandem cranks, to set the bike up for the eventual Stoke Monkey electric motor. These are not available yet due to a design redo, but the bike is set up for it when they are around. Braking is taken care of via a pair of 185 Shimano XT brakes. Plenty of braking power, and really nice modulation and set up. With the new levers, adjustment of the brakes is very simple. This makes it easy to dial in lever feel to be identical, solving one of my biggest gripes with many hydro brakes. Wheels on the bike are built for use, but not over built. The rims are WTB's Dual Duty FR, laced with DT straight gauge spokes. Fat Frank tires from Schwalbe add comfort while balancing out the load nicely. Without further ado, here she is! Enjoy.




I've been really turned off to normal road riding lately. two of my customers have been hit on roads very close to the shop already this year. Many of the roads around Faribault have been turned into construction zones, making traffic very heavy on thefree roads that I usually can commute by. As a result, we've been turning to gravel both as a means to get in shape with less miles, and as a safer route for getting to the shop. This all leads to the fact that my poor Madone has been getting very little riding lately. Frankly, it's too nice, (and expensive,) of a bike to have laying around going unused, so it's going away. I'm sure it will make a good bike for the right person. I have been craving something other than my MTB for gravel road burning. A cyclocross bike naturally falls into position there. As well as being appealing for it's off road tire selection, it will also let me run smooth road tires in the 32-35m range. I've been riding Bontrager Select K 700c X 35 tires on my single speed lately, and I've just fallen in love with them. The comfort provided by them far outweighs the small increase in weight. My searching brought up a very short list of candidates. I wanted a steel frame, big clearance, and disc brakes. The Lemond Poprad and Salsa La Cruz are the off the shelf bikes that would work best. As I had most of the parts, I was just looking for a frameset. While I love Salsa bikes, and have ridden many before, the red metallic paint and carbon fork of the Lemond won me over in the end. I've liked this bike since it was introduced last year, it just really seemed like a good fit. I wanted to build the bike pretty conservatively, as I'd like to have the Madone pay for this bike with a bit left over. The goal was serviceable, classic, and simple. I had some carbon bars and a seat post laying around, but other than those, the parts spec is pretty plain. Wheels, post, stem, bars, and saddle are from Bontrager. The tires are some quick Maxxis CX numbers. The brakes are Avid BB7 roads, with Cane Creek Aero levers. The cranks are little 165mm FSA compacts, 50/34t rings. Shifters are Dura Ace down tube, with Ultegra ders handing shifting. All in all, a great little bike without too much pomp and circumstance. I hope to have a lot of fun with this one.


Work has also started on the huge street redo in front of the shop. Full street, water infrastructure, curb and gutter, and all new sidewalks. Yay for having the street closed for 8 weeks! Oh well, it'll be really nice when it's done.


I'm going to Pofahl's house after work tonight. Phase one of the 36er redo is complete. I'll have a sneak peak tomorrow. Cheers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tree Hauling

Monday was pretty productive. Eric and I cut down a bunch of small trees and brush in the morning. It was my day off, so after about a half hour of work we proceeded to have a really nice 2 hour coffee break. We were clearing small section of brush from along a family member's garage. There were several small maple trees growing there. Only one of them was of a suitable shape for transplanting. After coffee, I came back and dug it out. The root ball was pretty normal sized, and it only took about an hour to get around it all. The tree is relatively straight with a slight curve to one side. It's about 3"s around, and about 16' tall. Using some of the cut boughs as padding, I loaded the tree up on the BAW trailer and brought it across town. That makes 22 trees that I've planted at my mother in law's this year. The whole day really confirmed the fact that the Xtracycle and trailer may have been two of the best purchases I've ever made. Thanks to Eric for the fine photos.





Monday, May 12, 2008

Rider Down

Our illustrious Carlton envoy Sean crashed over the weekend at Nationals. He apparently hit a guard rail hard enough to break 7 ribs, his sternum and tear his liver. He's alright, but will be down for the count in a CO hospital for at least 2 weeks. Send him love at noonans@carleton.edu, or here. Get well soon.

Friday, May 09, 2008

36er v1.0, back from paint.

Here are some shots of the geared 36er back from the powder coaters. The color is really nice, it's a red clear over bass boat silver, and it really glows in different lights. The shade of red changes depending on the angle you look at it. The drive train is going to be the final version. I finally figured out how to get a full 34t low gear in the back, and this will be the ticket. Just a 22t up front, but that's still a lot lower than with the 27t the bike had in the rear originally. Brakes on this one are just some 180mm BB7's, with the big 8"s being transfered to the SS bike. With thoughts starting to take shape for the new bike, I thought it prudent to revisit the bike that started it all. Cheers, and have a great weekend!




Thursday, May 08, 2008

Late night ride

I took the Bianchi out for a little spin last night. First was a quick ride downtown to enjoy a small card game with friends. Afterward, I rode the normal loop around the colleges, and hit up the windmill loop. What a great night for a ride. The weather was perfect for with a light jacket, the wind was light, and the sky was clear. It's these kind of spring nights that make the winters here in MN a bit more bearable. The bike rode very well. Its quick, but not twitchy, and the 30 year old Brooks seat is getting better. The ride is super plush, between the Columbus tubing, the comfy Mustache bars and gel tape, and the huge 35c tires at 90 psi, this thing is a cruiser. Despite what would seem to be innocuous hybrid type tires, it still remains true to the original form of the bike. It is fast! I can foresee a lot of night rides on this bike in the future.

Totally unrelated, we've had this cat roaming around the neighborhood lately. It's a sweet little thing, with swirling markings on its sides. It effectively pulls off a Cinnabun impression perfectly. We've been letting it in the house from time to time, and it's actions are decidedly un-catlike. In fact, we've decided that it's a dog. It likes to cuddle, hops up in your lap to sleep, nuzzles your face, etc, etc. No cat in my experience is that friendly, ergo, it must be a dog. Meg and I had been talking about whether or not to officially take the cat as our own. I'll be honest, I'm not a cat person, I'm not really a pet person, but I'm not a mean person either. This morning, I rode home from coffee to find the cat trapped by two large tabbies in a bush. It was pretty clear what was going down, and so I chased them off with a few rocks and swift kicks, (I never hit either of them.) So, despite my feelings on the subject, I may be the owner of the cat by the end of the day. It's sleeping on my couch as we speak. Ah well, Meg will be happy. I think we'll name it Shithead, it seems appropriate.

Cheers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

36er project

Mike Pofahl came by the shop today. He's been working on a revised front end for the 36er for me. This should solve two problems that I've found with the bike, excessive bar height, and fork flex fore and aft. True to form, he has found and fabricated a more elegant solution for my original design, and he brought the beginnings of it in. It's gorgeous, simple, and should just kick ass! Projected time frame is a month or so, with it being ready in ample time before the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in June. We will have both of our 36ers there for test rides, hopefully making people smile as much as last year.

Cheers,
Ben

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sunny weather, new bikes, and a pedal straight out of Mad Max!


It's been a busy spring her already, and with that have come some new bikes. Here are a few new additions to the stable.

The first is the OS Black Buck. This has been my main ride lately. It's super plush, and with the Bontrager Dry X's at 28 psi, it's just a comfy ride. It's currently using Surly wheels with Bontrager's Duster Tubeless rims. Since I received the cog from Tomi last week, it's been rocking the trails fixed. Definitely a new twist on the single track and gravel.

The next bike is a vintage '82 Bianchi road bike. This was a customer's old bike, and it's seen a lot of miles. It'll be the coffee shop cruiser, and light trail riding bike. Built with a mix of Campy Ofmega parts, it's a simple classic. The brakes on the bike are definitely the stand out and components. I've always loved Campy Deltas, it's nice to have a set in this great of condition. The bike has enough clearance to fit some huge Bontrager 35c road tires. These are my favorite tires, 100 psi, great rolling, puncture resistant, and just comfy. I like the way it rides with the Nitto Mustache bars as well. It's a blast.

We have been going through the mounds of parts in the shop since I purchased it 4 years ago. The previous owner stored boxes upon boxes of used parts, most of them junk. While going through all of the mess, we occasionally turn up some parts that just boggle the mind. This former Odyssey pedal is straight from the Mad Max movie set. Look at th time that was spent on this plastic to metal conversion. First the outer plastic was removed. A piece of 1/8th inch steel was then cut and welded from three sections to form a new outer cage. Pins where then drilled through the body and plates to form the structure. These were then welded to the cage and the welds were ground flush. The last step was to weld bone crushing teeth on the cage for superior gripping. Epic, just epic.

Here's a sneak peak of Eric's custom Big Dummy. Bass boat silver, and Schwalbe gummies, this bike's going to be special. More to come on this one next week.

That's all, happy Saturday.