The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is hosting a ‘build your own’ bicycle frame building workshop from Jan. 6-10th, 2014 in the evenings. I was told I’m the first to sign up, which I find remarkable considering the low cost of entry here which includes materials and shop time for 5 evenings of hands on instruction.
Description:Ever frustrated by riding a bike just not shaped well for you? Ever tempted to try and build your own frame, but not sure where to start? This is the class for you!In this class, students will learn how to build their own bicycle frame from steel tubes, using lugged construction. They will learn about bicycle geometry and handling, and what configurations are typically applied to what kind of riding applications. They will learn the basics of fitting a bicycle frame to a rider, and how to set up a bicycle frame jig.You will come out of the class with an unpainted steel roadbike frame set up for fast city riding, commuting, or touring, It will accept caliper brakes and 28.6mm threadless headset. Extras (handlebars, seat, pedals, and wheels) are totally up to you!Class Goals:Students will leave the class having built their own bicycle frame, fitted specifically for them (or for the person of their choice) from steel tubing. Students will learn about fabricating structures made of thin wall tubing, and about brazing techniques.(Outside the scope of this class, but highly recommended: build up your bike. paint your name on the side. ride it around. impress your friends.)Prerequisites:
No previous experience required.
I don’t think I have such incredibly abnormal feet, 10.5 EE US (“high volume”, “high arch”, “wide”), but as it turns out sizing mountaineering boots is a giant pain. Period. Perhaps mostly because I don’t live in Colorado or Chamonix, but also because it’s difficult to find all the boots you want to try on in any one place, and except for out West, good custom boot fitters are hard to find.
I spent most of last year regretting not buying a pair of used Scarpa Invernos on sale from Whittaker Mountaineering. I figured size 10 UK boots with an Intuition “Thermofit” style liner would probably have fit fine. I’ll never know. I tried on pair of the Scarpa Omegas and they were far too narrow in the mid-foot. A local EMS had a single pair of 11 US Invernos with the non-thermo (“low altitude” cordura / open cell foam) liner, again they seemed a bit narrow but potentially with molded Intuition liners they would’ve been fine.
I borrowed a pair of older Koflach Degres (10 UK) all winter for ice climbing here in the Mid-Atlantic and for a Lee Vining trip, but the old liners were quite packed-in and they never seemed wide enough, plenty of toe room though. I “vacationed” to a mountaineering shop in Keene Valley, NY and tried on both the La Sportiva Baruntse and Spantiks. I think the size 45.5 EU Spantik was pretty close, but it’s hard to say, apparently thermo-molding the Spantik liner is a bit tricky, whereas the Baruntse’s Palau liner is apparently much easier to mold. Dane Burns on his Cold Thistle blog has many more in-depth reviews (of boots, tools, apparel, climbing lore, etc) and has many more thoughts and years experience than I could hope to ever have on the subject.
The Baruntes were too narrow. I wore the Spantiks for a couple of days around the house before ultimately finding a pair of barely used Koflach Arctis Expes (11 EU) for 1/5th of the price, that felt incredibly good; wide, wooly, and wonderful on my feet. In Alaska above 14k I paired them with the Forty Below K2 Neoprene Overboots and my feet were warm. The boots were definitely too big though, probably almost a whole size and a half. But again, my toes were warm, so it’s probably better to err on that side of things. It was a heavy combo, and didn’t leave a lot of feel for technical climbing.
Which brings me to the present.
What is a good 4 season’ish “all mountain” single boot here? I’ve been checking out the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX. It does indeed have a wide “high volume” fit. And it doesn’t come in UK (sometimes labeled EU on double plastic boots) sizing, which is nice, as I’ve already established a pretty solid baseline of size 45.5 in most truly European sized mountaineering boots. The tall lacing and narrow heel seems to lock down nicely, which is good. So far I’ve been using the green Superfeet and they don’t feel like they’re reducing volume too much.
I’ve tried on the Scarpa Jorasses Pro GTX (45 EU), which ostensibly is a slightly stiffer lighter “more technical” synthetic boot similar to the Mont Blanc GTX (lineage is the ice climbing Scarpa Freney XT GTX). All I can say is that in size 45 the Jorasses Pro GTX were quite a bit shorter (not narrower) and I could not really tell the difference in stiffness without climbing in them outside, but it is immediately apparent that the Mont Blanc GTX is a warmer boot meant for snowier climes. And I trust in the durability of leather over synthetics in the long term usage of a mountain boot. I realize this isn’t a pure ice climbing Winter boot here, but that wasn’t really what I was in the market for.
So that’s where I’m at right now. Waiting for the ice & snow to come in.
Jan Heiene of Bicycle Quarterly and Compass Bicycles in conjunction with René Herse are re-releasing a very nice looking set of cranks using a three bolt spider, adaptable to either double or triple chainrings (70mm BCD).
My Gitane could actually use a set of these right now as I’m hoping to further upgrade it from 6 speeds to either 12 or, gasp, 18. In the mean time I’ll see what I can find at Via. I really do like the SunTour Retrofriction “bar-con” shifter’s action though.
But yes, the world is in need of some more elegant looking cranks as style has gone out the window, what with all the oversized spindles and external cartridge bearing bottom brackets on bikes these days, so good’on these guys.
Evan’s made it to Nebraska, which is pretty exciting because that’s just about halfway. Also, he’s considering a second career as a 70’s Tennis Pro re-enactor. Which I hear can be pretty lucrative once you have your own clothing & underwear line ala Björn Borg. Anyhow, keep up the good pedaling Evan, think circles.
Also, my good friend Evan is riding back across the country. You can follow him on our new/old Team Bikeasaurus blog: http://bikeasaurus.marybicycles.com
Currently he’s in northern California and said today that he’s sick of the rain but is excited to to start heading northeast to the the dry mountains of Oregon.
As Kent Peterson sagely points out, bicycles are neither floor wax nor dessert topping, but they really do get you places quicker than walking. Also, fenders and racks keep you dry and comfortable while carrying heavy things. And gears are nice to help get you up hills or when dragging something like a BOB Yak trailer long distances (as in 10 years ago when I “portaged” 50 pounds up PCH-1 from the Bay Area to Olympia). So yeah, bicycles are pretty amazing.
And I agree with Kent. I don’t personally care if you wear a helmet or not, or if you’re a Dane obsessed with proving a causal relationship between cyclists wearing helmets and traffic accidents. Do what you feel man, but please do get out and ride.
Bought some VO 48mm fluted al-oo-min-ee-um fenders when they were on sale for like 40% off and I finally installed them yesterday. Mind you, this is all part of a larger effort to scale the Gitane into the best city bike it can be, namely a 6 speed with fenders. I think that’s about as far as I can take it. In its current fixed gear configuration it has lasted an astounding 6 years or so and has traveled with me to several large East Coast cities (is it Germanic in nature that we capitalize this?). And now I think it’s finally time to put gears back.
I believe the ~1972 white “Tour de France” Professional model came with 5 speeds, probably of the Maillard or Normandy freewheel variety (I know this wasn’t the higher end model with Campagnolo equipment or dropouts, Simplex all the way). I’ve already re-tapped the rear derailleur hanger for a modern threaded derailleur and used a rotary cutting tool (yes, VO fenders, it was for you) and notched it for the “B-Screw” that non-Simplex derailleurs of a modern sort now have. I even installed a rear rack that I’ll likely have to give back to a friend who is moving back East this summer (see, I capitalized East there because it’s in reference to ‘East Coast”, which may or may not be consistently capitalized).
So yeah, a single Suntour ‘retro-friction’ bar-end shifter will faithfully deploy the Shimano 600 rear derailleur across an equally old but unused 6 speed Shimano freewheel. Hopefully, I can stretch the rear dropouts enough (and dish the wheel) to get the whole system to work miteinander. I’m looking forward to shifting those Suntours.
As a non-sequitur: HMS refers to both a style of locking carabiner and the Münter hitch belay. HMS literally means Halbmastwurf-Sicherung or ‘half clove hitch belay‘, where ‘mastwurf’ is German for ‘clove hitch’ and you securely belay your partner using half a clove hitch & rope friction. The terms ‘Münter hitch’ and ‘Italian hitch’ can be used interchangeably. Or you may find yourself using a friction belay device of some modern variety.
Ask and you shall receive, the “perfect pour”:
On a side note, the track Tim uses is from a follow up to one of the few CD’s I felt immediately compelled to go out and purchase, that is Konono N°1’s “Congotronics” which is amazing. Anyhow, the track he used is from one of the follow up albums, “Tradi-Mods vs Rockers – Alternative Takes on Congotronics”.
And, on the brightest note of all, I found double plastic high altitude mountaineering boots that fit EE to EEEE wide feet. The Koflach Arctis Expe model (eg. the Arctic Expedition), they stopped making these for a couple of years while the company was restructuring but now Scarpa appears to be selling them. I tried on just about every boot I could get a hold of and these fit the best & I paid well below retail for a nearly unused pair:
Put a deposit down on a “semi custom designed” / “semi crowd-sourced” metalic white Snekka model (700c rough-stuff randonneur style). The frames are from Rawland Cycles based out of Northfield, Minnesota and are being TIG welded in Taiwan. Having visited both Taiwan and the State of Minnesota, I’m excited to support each in their own respective rights. I was looking for a new “rough stuff” type frame and was seriously considering the Surly Cross Check, however, I really wanted a taller stem height and I think the Snekka will be a good compromise between off-road ability and touring, plus it’ll have a nice back story.
Feels pretty good. Initially a little firm but seems to have broken in a bit already (less than 100 miles riding). I had ridden a B.17 Standard in Portland for a while but never really loved it, so far the Narrow seems to fit better. I purchased an Aardvark waterproof saddle cover from VO and some leather proofing. The rails on the saddle do not run parallel the entire length (for most Brooks, it seems) which means if you require a good deal of saddle setback then there is a chance you may not be able to achieve it without switching to a different seatpost with more offset.
The sad fact is that my Gitane “Le Tour de France” is an older frame with plain straight gauge tubing and as such has a 26.4mm ID for seatposts, which means selection with 30mm offset are very limited. Kalloy makes an “Uno” model with 30mm, the one pictured above is the “mid-range” Kalloy model that is welded as opposed to bonded, single bolt alloy clamps with 25m offset. The 30mm offset model appears be a bonded head model. I’m not a fan of bonded clamp heads. I had one fail during a cyclo-cross race years ago up in Sea-Tac.
Single piece seatposts, ideally with two bolts, are desirable though few 26.4 posts have what I need. Most Brooks (in the last 100+ years) were used with non “micro-adjust” clamps, whereby the post and clamp head assembly are separate pieces. On sportier models like the Swallow, I think the rails run more parallel. If I had 5mm more of adjustment I’d happy. Custom made seatposts are not cheap. Or you could cast or CNC machine a custom clamp that deals with the angle of the rails. I’m just going to keep riding it and see how it goes.
It is a truth universally acknowledged in Siem Reap that a foreigner on the street must be in need of a tuk tuk (technically, these are not tuk tuks, they are moto-remorques, a trailer hitched to a scooter, but that’s a rather big French mouthful). It could be 9 o’clock at night, you could even be on a bicycle, but you will invariably be asked if you need a ride by every driver you pass.
We did take a moto one day to visit a few of the more remote sites, otherwise we mostly biked. Pretty much all of the bicycles are single speed steel women’s bikes. Kids will ride them to school, two to a bike, even children so small that their heads are the level of the seat and they have to stand the whole time, peering out under the handlebars. Rear racks support hanging bundles of coconuts or large woven baskets carrying who knows what.
Riding a bicycle around Siem Reap means being one with the traffic. You never stop before making a turn, you just kind of flow. The roads are shared use, and as a result of the constant passing vehicles seem much more aware of their surroundings. Slower vehicles stay right, so we’d pass food vendors pushing their carts, just about any Cambodian on a bike, and occasionally a slow moto. Passing us, in the middle of the road which is basically two way, are tuk tuks, faster motos, cars, minivans and tour buses, all of which constantly honk to let you know they’re coming, which is somewhat considerate, if loud.
The main temples are between 6 and 15k north of Siem Reap but our nicest ride was to a village about 10k to the south of the city, where a hilltop temple (both an Angkor ruin and a modern working one) affords a panoramic view of giant Tonle Sap lake in the distance and bright green rice paddies all around. The road there is raised, with the rice paddies below and simple houses rising up on rickety wooden stilts to the level of the road. Little children play in the dirt on the edge of the road as women tended shop in traditional skirts and checked cotton headwraps, and through the open doors of the immaculately swept houses we got a glimpse of rural Cambodian life.
I found this awesome quote in rec.bicycles.tech while looking for setup tips on the old Dura-Ace 7700 Bottom Bracket:
The Octalink crank attachment, its feet of clay, has no preload
between the facets of the square spline and therefore frets (tiny
motion] elastically, even if it has no actual backlash in torque.
Aluminum parts against steel are a classic of this syndrome because
the softer aluminum frets on the steel, and instead of developing
rouge as steel-on-steel does, it makes (hard) aluminum oxide whose
repeated fracture often makes a sharp click.
I haven’t heard your BB, but I have heard such clicks. This may be
your problem and the reason why Shimano gave up on Octalink. Elastic
backlash (absence of press fit) is a phenomenon that escapes
recognition in various mechanical devices and gets passed over in
time, even when the reason is not recognized.
So there you have it from JB himself – Octalinks may develop clicking due to their design. We’ll see. I’m not sure if the weight savings and extra $30 are worth it for the DA BB-7700 vs the BB-5500 but I’m partial to designs that allow rebuild and proper setup/adjustment, so I think I just might go for it paired with a Sugino Cospea compact crankset. In my heart of hearts I want a triple with that 12-21 cassette I’m running, something like a 28-38-48 perhaps. The current 34/44 setup is fine considering I don’t often find myself needing much bigger of a gear than 28+ mph but on downhills it is lacking. The other issue being crossover gears where I often find myself running 34 x 12-13-14 and realize I need something slightly bigger.
Ryan and I went to the East Trapps yesterday to Boxcar and Andrew’s Boulder problem. I mananged to send the normal Andrew’s V4 problem by late in the afternoon. No luck on the Black Rock V5, and the V3 Baby Hole almost went, but we wanted to save a little skin and tendon strength for Andrew. The heel hook to toe catch seems to be crucial, there are some more challenging variations on it, including the roof, so I look forward to going back to it.
Went for a bike ride in Central Park at 06:30 with some co-workers. Seems crazy, but I feel good. Zoe informed me that Bing! is not finding my page yet, and I know there are quite a few optimizations I can make to get more hits of out of this thing. WordPress has gone to 2.8.1 so I probably should upgrade which might help. That’s about all I got. Lots of Gimme! fresh roasted Platinum Blonde blend these days, should’ve brought a samovar with me to the Gunks yesterday, I think it would’ve helped assist more sends.
So Zoe and I were having a lazy Saturday after having some Astoria coal fired thin crust pizza at a nice Italian place on Broadway and 29th called “Sac’s Pizza Place” (it was quite good) anyhow, we were biking back home down Broadway to Vernon Blvd. and there was a line of traffic probably heading to Cost Co. and just before making it to the light at the intersection WHAM! I was sprawled out on the ground, me and my ’72 Gitane. A nice older couple pulled over to offer assistance and add themselves as witnesses. It was cold out and I was a bit worried about going into shock if I had broken anything.
We weren’t riding very fast, and the guy in his BMW 528xi didn’t bother to check his mirror. He clipped my right hand and handlebar and I managed to roll my left shoulder into the ground. After the nice elderly couple gave me a piece of paper and pen, they gave me their name and number, I wrote down the BMW’s plate, went up to talk to him, asked him if he had insurance, he did. Turns out he owned a Limo/Car Service place across the street. He was just going to work. I said, “Look it’s cold and I don’t think my hand is broken. I don’t want to file a police accident report here, I just want your name and number in case anything else is up. ” So that was it. Zoe and I walked halfway home, then rode a short section on 21st St. We went to Lennox Hill Hospital to have the hand and wrist X-rayed. Thankfully nothing appears to be broken. I’ve iced it for the last few hours, kept it elevated and have a bandage on it. Good times.
Scotty, a guy who used to be messenger in the 80s and who I’ve worked on films with mentioned “getting doored” one day when he looked at my bike’s handlebars (which are chopped “preacher bars” like Soma Fab’s “Noah’s Arc Bar“) as they offer no hand protection. He said that he always preferred drop bars on a track bike, as they offer some protection. I thought about this, and figured that its better to have narrower bars than protection. Well, after hitting the edge of a car door today with my right hand – I amend my position – I’d rather have handlebars that offer protection.
Sadly, there just aren’t many that offer this. European style Trekking bars are good, but quite wide (usually 57cm end-to-end) and they require a longer higher stem. Also the fact is Trekking bars raise the dork quotient of your bike by about %1,000. Scott Components used to make a mountain bike handlebar that fits the bill called the Scott AT-4 Pro, it was a continuously curved mountain bar. Similarly, the shape I want is a curved flatbar (like my arc’ed preacher) that then curves back around the front in a U shape for each side, about 40 cm wide. The Scott AT-3’s did this to some extent but I think it’s important for the curves to come pretty far in so that they don’t get caught objects while riding. Anyhow, Rivendell and Velo-Orange don’t really sell bars for “aggressive urban” hand protection. I’m taking a metal shop class at Pratt these next 8 weeks, so hopefully I’ll be able to make something to rectify this situation, otherwise I should probably throw on some drop handlebars.
Bless you kind souls at CTC UK who creating the rear shifting cable pull ratio page. It seems, despite all the other irrational things that happen in this world, by a stroke of luck Campagnolo 10 Speed Ergo levers such as the ones I own will shift 8 speeds using a normal Shimano rear derailleur (I do have a pretty sweet all metal RSX 8v) and a SRAM/Shimano 8 speed spaced cassette, no fancy cable routing is required. According to the table the normal 8 speed ratio is 4.8mm per shift, using Campy 10 it’s 4.79. I’ve read a forum with readers in the UK who said it works fine. The God’s must be crazy. And that means I’m leaning towards an 11-28 SRAM ocho estrellas. Okay. Now, is it 44/32 or 46/34 up front? Decisions, decisions. I realized for the sake of chainline on a 130mm rear triangle I shouldn’t run a mountain triple, as I was briefly considering a set of vintage XTR 952 cranks that looked pretty sweet in a triple configuration. Also with the triple I could just keep the 12-21 cassette that’s on there. I don’t know what this would’ve done to my chainline, but I imagine it wouldn’t have been good.
So I got the 2009 Trek XO2 working with my old gear from the Salsa. I am still uncertain about keeping the Campy Chorus Carbon 10 levers, I mean I like them well enough, but as it stands I don’t see myself converting to a Campy drivetrain and if I upgrade to 10 speed I’d rather go SRAM or Shimano. And currently the 2009 SRAM Rival group looks like the best deal going. The only question that remains is one of gearing. I’m not hoping to make this bike a full time ‘cross racer, more of a light off road touring & dirt buddy if you will, so even in that context carbon shifters seem like a bad idea. I know, I know, bar-end shifters and aero brake levers are always an option. But so are flatbars and a set of cheap SRAM gripshifts.
The real crux of the build, besides which shifters to go with, is just how compact of a chainset I want. Alex Wetmore has a great page talking about the pros and cons of 110 vs 94 BCD cranksets and how compact doubles, especially when you go with something like 46/32 or a 44/31, can actually give you more reasonable chain crossover. When I was looking at gearing tables for 2 x 9 mountain bikes, I pretty much came to the same conclusion. It seems most 2 x 9 mountain drive trains run something like 44 x 29 up front and an 11-34 in the back. Some racers will bump that front chainring to a 46 I guess (or down to a 42) depending on the speed of the course. A 44 x 11 gear gives 104 inches development and a 29 x 34 gives 22 inches (on 26 x 2.1″ tires w/ 175mm cranks). I mean that’s a pretty good spread for off road I’d think.
SO, I’m leaning towards using the more common 110 BCD crankset with a 46/34 up front, unless I happen to win a set of sweet 8 year old Race Face square taper Turbine cranks in a 94 BCD double configuration (or vintage Ritchey Logics) I would say that the advantage of something like a 44/31 setup using an 11-28 cogset gives almost the same range. On my Jake the Snake when we rode across the US I ran a 50/40/30 triple with a 12-32 8 speed cassette in the back and Rivendell “Silver” friction barend shifters. That worked fine. I didn’t find myself fully loaded in 1st gear very often. I’d say I spent most of my time on that trip in the middle 40 tooth ring switching between 24 to 12 on the back (45-90″ development). And as I recall, the real problem was when I shifted up to the 50 tooth ring I really only got two more gears using 50×14 and 50×12 (96″ and 112″ respectively). We generally didn’t go over 18 mph, and as I recall there were only a couple of days when I remember us using having a tailwind and actually using those big rings.
And when Hanka and Katie battled it out for 1st at Pijnacker this past weekend? Well sadly the Rainbow Colors didn’t win it on SRAM Double Tap technology, but it was a good battle nonetheless.
I’ve spent what feels like the last two months working either splits or overnights. Last night was under the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan side, one of Olafur Eliasson’s waterfalls is fully visible, but at night the LEDs seem somewhat dim.
Riding up East Broadway to Clinton on my way to the W’burg Bridge I nearly ran over a hooker who had positioned herself in the bike lane presumably for callers in motorized transport. Granted, I am only speculating she was a woman of the night, but there was a man nearby who I believe was her pimp and he did holler some indecipherable at me as I passed.
As I climbed the bridge’s bikepath I had various thoughts, namely how many Johns actually solicit while riding their bicycles? Which led me to think about bearded potbellied men on recumbents, tandem recumbents more prcisely, trolling the LES and Chinatown late at night with an empty seat hoping to score. It’s a funny image I think. And surely a boon to the image of large bearded men on recumbents everywhere.
A final thought: riding my bicycle is faster than taking the subway. I supposed I knew this, and most nights my excuse has been that I was so tired, why would I want to ride home? But the best reply to this is twofold: 1) after a long night riding home is a good way to unwind 2) there is literally no traffic in NY city at 5am. Seriously, I had some beautiful rides home coming up through the damp verdant jungle that is the east side of Prospect Park Brooklyn, riding home from Church Ave. Also at 5am, if you are lucky, there will be passed out tight jeans fix’sters on the Williamsburg Bridge who just couldn’t quite make it home from a debaucherous night out in the LES.
So yes, commuting on bicycle has somehow renewed my faith in humanity, even if NY is still far too automobile-centric. My hope, and perhaps it’s closer than we realize is 1000$ per barrel oil and every road a bike lane.