Thursday, May 12, 2016

Another Dumb Bike

Actually, there's nothing dumb about the bike, only its owner. Who aside from being dumb is smart enough to be very pleased with this biek. Here she is after a shakedown ride in the woods.

When my Redline showed a crack on it's head tube under the headset cup my awesome LBS produced this frame from a back room. It had been built up and then things happened and then torn down to sit in a back room until rescued by a needy soul.

The frame is Tange Infinity tubes TIG'ed together into a very satisfactory Cross/All-Roads/Bike-Bike geometry. This isn't a cyclocross race bike, though it would serve, The bottom bracket is a bit low for that and the sloping top tube leaves it a bit narrow to shoulder. Besides there are fender brackets and bottle bungs and all that happy civilized stuff you don't need for racing.

Many of the parts from my Redline went right on. The only fancy bits are that wheelset that was something special back in the last century. Oh, and the tires. These are Schwalbe Racing Ralph tubulars and I very much like them. Excellent all-around tire that rolls spectacularly well on grass and soft stuff.

Here's the drivetrain:

Campagnolo Mirage, Shifters and Ders. The rear has been replaced by a Veloce since this photo was taken. Cranks are Dura-Ace from back in the day with a 48t big ring. Because, even though I'm not all that slow, but not that fast either.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

More About My Stupid Cheap Mountain BIke

Yeah, I'm going to go on a bit about this one because it's been so much fun for me lately. There are very few things that I don't like about this bike. One is the graphics. Way too much stuff going on with arrows and chevrons and big bright colored letters everywhere. The other is that it's heavy.

Heavy isn't the worst thing in the world. The law of bike parts is "Light, strong, cheap - pick two." The worst thing is when you don't get two. Stuff that's expensive and breaks or is heavy and feeble. The guys who shopped the stuff for this bike did a good job: It's all cheap and it all works. I'm suspecting the frame is the lightest thing on here, relatively speaking.

Having the opportunity I've upgraded a few things for both weight and function. First the big one: The fork.

The Suntour XCM is a better fork than you usually find at entry-level. But not that good. Off it came and on went a Rockshox 30 Gold TK Solo Air. Which is way too long a name for any single component. This did three things. It cut just over two pounds off the weight of the bike. More importantly it took it right off the front greatly improving the balance. Even more significant, this is a much better fork. Better traction, smoother ride. On my first ride it took me ten miles to realize that this thing was completely hooked up and wasn't going to break loose unless I worked hard at it. There are lighter forks and some are a bit smoother but this thing is dialed right into the top of the price/goodness ratio. You'd have to spend a lot more to get even a little better.  Eventually I'll be re-doing the bars and getting a lock out button on there.

I installed this with a Cane Creek Ten Headset. One of the best pages on the internet is The Cane Creek Headset Finder. I looked up my bike and the spec of the the steerer tube and it told me what to get. Install went smooth and perfect and the headset itself is smooth and perfect. An extremely gruntling product. The Ten Series headset isn't as fancy or light as the 40 or 110, but it is inexpensive and this is an inexpensive bike.

The other big upgrade was the crankset. The old one wasn't broke, but it was indeed heavy and not pretty and I found someone selling a Shimano SLX set for a very good price. On it went.

Looks good on there, don't it. Saves just about a pound. There is a slight issue, the front derailleur doesn't quite have enough adjustment range to completely clear the small ring so there's a little rub I can hear on the stand. My last bike didn't even have a small ring. So this is completely a non-issue. Whenever something breaks I'll upgrade on the der.

So here she is. The front brake hose has been edited since this pic.  Don't you wish my prose has.

Keep riding and having fun out there. Back with more later.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Here's the Current Mountain Bike

There she is. On a nearly barely ride-able but photogenic gravel path, propped on a bag full of CDs. Hey, quality bike bloggers still listen to those. Or so I'm told. The biggest improvement to the bike at this point is the removal of 7 grams of stickers from the rims. Much better. Faster too, I'm sure.

The cabling is still a mess in this pic with the cables dragging on the top of the fork and otherwise all over the place. Then there was that unfortunate NDS crank arm loosing that messed up an otherwise fine ride But after having had some quality miles I gotta say, I approve heartily. It still weighs more than I'd like, but there are parts arriving to help that. And, so do I so there's that.

The seatpost that is on there, a somewhat used and tatty looking Forza took off 100 grams all by itself and it went on just to get a little more setback. The saddle got a notch of downward tilt after this photo and is now where it belongs. Oh, and that stupid warning sticker is gone. The poor bike was lousy with warning stickers all over the place. Just infested.

The fork works. The spring is a little light for my just (finally) under 200 pounds, the lockout works, the rebound damping definitely works and it tracks just fine.

The brakes needed to be switched; I've been riding with the rear brake on the left since I was a kid and am not going to change now. When I made the swap I shortened the rear brake hose a bit and used the $10 Tektro bleed kit. One thing that wasn't perfectly clear or that I skipped over in haste, is that the compression ring ("Olive" in the slang of bike savvy people) has a tapered side that goes toward the nut - not toward the cylinder as I'd suspected. The failure mode was one that I was happy to see on the stand and not on the trail. Got that sorted, got them bled and they work perfectly. No drag, noise or any other unfortunate tendencies. I did wipe the rotors with acetone before going anywhere.

At this point she's due to go back on the stand for her 100 mile check-up and maybe some upgrade.

I'll tell you about it in painful detail then.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Public Service Anouncement

To help promote the safety and awareness of the Dumb Bike Blog reading public (both of you) we are posting this informative post in the form of an informative post.

If you are riding along through the woods after a stupid low speed fall and feel that your rear derailleur is not working quite right, stop and check it out.

Don't be like the dumbass writing this post and keep just riding along thinking "Hmm, this isn't shifting right at all. I should probably check that out soon."

That was a really nice wheel. And, it will be again.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Anything Interesting Happen?

Yes, I'm back to blogging bikes.

There was awhile there when life, health, marriage and stuff happened. Stuff. It Happens. I was actually not riding for a couple of years. Got back on the bike last summer and then bike theft. A couple were recovered, one of them fatally wounded. Missing, was my mountain bike, the Beast.

Yeah, I know, old technology, but this was my most ridden bike. It was rugged and fast and fun. I love riding in the woods. Also, the Florida sun will kill me. I can acclimate to the heat, but not the sun.

I Finally have a replacement, of sorts. Being of meager bike budget I shopped hard for a good used bike locally but without result. The search widened. It became apparent that newer things like disk brakes and bigger wheels were not only good things, but the way to go. I looked for something respectable and modern and resorted to eBay and PinkBike. Finally found something new, in a box from a regular retailer (all those things are unusual for me) that was a solid step above entry level at a very entry-level price and went with it. Review and upgrade stories to follow.

The fatally wounded bike was my Redline Conquest. I had bought the frameset used from John Verheul who had flogged the thing as a professional racer for years. Then I raced it (as a clumsy amateur) and rode it and beat it up for years. Then it was rode like you stole it by someone who actually stole it.  It died of a cracked head tube. Being the way I am, I was tempted to just put a hose clamp on it so it wouldn't collapse suddenly and keep riding. But, saving my life and already dubious dentition, was Jordan, the proprietor ofVĂ©lo Champ Cycle Sport, who pulled a somewhat used and shop-worn Charge Filter frameset out of a back room and made me one heck of a deal. More about that bike and its build-up in a future post.

So, yeah. I'm riding again and playing with and working on bikes and actually have stuff to write about these days so I'm reviving this dumb bike blog.

Thank you for coming by.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back with Old School Framebuilding

It's been awhile. I've been lacking time and cyclistic activity lately so we've had a bit of a lapse. My apologies to anyone who was more bored in the meanwhile than they would've been reading my crap.

Here are some videos of how classic steel frames were and are still made by a master of the craft.

Years ago there was a DIY handyman article called "How to Lay Brick Like an Amateur." The premise being that a beginner cannot simply watch a journeyman bricklayer, do what he can see the pro doing, and then get the same results. Anyone who has attempted the seemingly simple and obvious craft of bricklaying will know this from the wavy wall or the lopsided barbecue pit. Here we have an even more subtle craft made to look very simple.

There are indeed some steps left out or abbreviated, but I'm sure that was in consideration of the normal, non-bike-geek people who might watch. Me, I could watch every step all day. This is brilliant. Many thanks to Marten on the Framebuilders List for the link. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Cool Bikes for Your Gazing

Now this is sexy.

Some very nice pic's of some very cool cyclage. Go enjoy.

New Project - Raleigh Sports

Picked up a Raleigh Sports in Lawn Ornament condition. I might have (maybe should have) held out for one in better shape. But I rarely see these at all and I've got no compunctions about making a project of it, so I jumped. I had one of these back when they were new. At the time I would've much prefered a race bike and I sorta punished it for it. I nonetheless rode it fast and far and had a tremendous amount of fun on it. So I guess it balances out - I rode one of these into the ground, and now I'll resurrect one.

The good news is it looks like the paint stays - on the frame, certainly, that will polish up nicely. The fenders and chain guard are a bit rough. Even those responded to a quick preliminary scrub in a way that makes me think they'll achieve the condition known as "patina." So probably won't get repainted. We'll see. Nothing is frozen and all bolts turn.

I've already started pulling parts and cleaning and de-rusting them as they come off. The handlebars and brake levers came out nicely. There's a crack in the bezel of the three speed shifter that someone had glued and the glue has yellowed (browned) and it ain't perfect but it'll work. Even that horribly rusted lamp mount looks okay with the rust removed. The headset isn't notchy and the drivetrain all turns and shifts.

The worst part is the rims - these are nasty, still relatively true but badly rusted.. I don't know how they'll turn out. The good news there is that Sun makes aluminum rims in this size in their CR-18 model. That's a damn fine rim and not expensive. It wouldn't bother me a bit to upgrade the wheels. Or anything else for that matter.

This is not going to be a restoration more of a repair and refurbishment. And like any bike I'll own it'll be for riding not looking at. So pulling a few pounds off and getting it to ride and work even better than new are all good things. Parts most in danger of replacement are the rims, seat post, stem, handlebar and brakes.

The seatpost in part because it's made to go with the springer saddle that's on it and the leather is simply gone. Damn shame because the frame is still in surprisingly good condition. Those guys at Brooks knew how to lay on the chrome. If I find someone who puts new hide on old saddle frames we've got a deal to make.

The rest of those possible changes would be for downweighting, style, fit and function. The brakes move smoothly enough and will probably work fine. But they are stamped steel and a bit ugly. The crank is safe, it's heavy and clunky, but it's got Herons on it and Herons are good. Besides the accumulated grease and oil protected it from rusting. I don't recall ever removing a cottered crank and I've got some trepidation about that. It will have to happen to service the bottom bracket.

Of course you all can look forward to voluminous updates as this project proceeds.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Peter Weigle is one of the finest frame builders of all time. There have been so many great builders of every era and style that to declare any the best would be impossible. But if someone wanted to argue that Peter has built the prettiest bikes of all time, I would not argue. I love his sensibilities and how they are manifested through his craft. The perfectly shaped, masked and painted lugs are lovely in ways no lug lining can match. They are intrinsic to the work rather than a nice addition.

So there I am, looking at the Gallery at Kirk Pacenti's gazing at the beautiful work that has been done by so many builders with his lugs. The pictures are unbig, but the work is gorgeous. And of course there are Weigle frames. And of course, I am looking at them.

Beautiful, huh. Bike porn at it's best.

Then we get to this.


Of course that's a Chris King headset, and obviously everything possible was done to minimize the awfulness with the knurling and all. But... But... Damn. That's like flipping through the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and running into a photo spread of the 1972 East German Women's Shotput team.

I know, me ragging on bicycle aesthetics is sorta like a fat chav in a track suit ripping on fashion models. But... But... Damn. Big globular headset cups and spacers you could adjust a tractor power take off with under a stem that could be used as a blunt instrument. I'm sure the detail isn't fair. And yes, yes, before the types pile on, the threadless headset does a lot of things right and doesn't always look abominable. But... but... Damn.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Now for Something Completely Different

And by "Something Completely Different" I mean to instill the sort of borderline dread and anticipation of madness that Monty Python induced. These are not the sort of bikes we usually enjoy and celebrate around here. They are the sort that we look at and say "I really wouldn't want to ride it, but damn that looks fun." Kustom Kulture meets bicycles.

Rat Rod Bicycles in all their glory. Go visit the site, there are lots of guys playing with these things and God bless 'em. I'm sure there are some collectors of old balloon tire bikes who hate to see this stuff. But like the guys hacking old lightweights a lot of these bikes have been abused and corroded to the point of not being good for anything else. Most were never any damn good in the first place.

Looking around the Rat Rod Bikes I notice a lack of pinstriping. They need to get on that.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Things I am Learning

So the Proteus / Mystery Bike proceeds. I've begun painting it and these are a few things I have learned.

"Painting" is the wrong word. "Sanding" is the correct name for this activity as it comprises 87% of the activity and 95% of the results. You could use a mop and with enough work and sanding you can get a decent finish.

Bicycle frames are a nightmare shape to spray. There is not one tube that does not have either another obstructing it or another down-range to catch the overspray. Because they are tubes at least four passes are required on each. This multiplies the opportunities for something to go wrong.

About that sanding, 3M makes sandpaper. There may be a few other companies. I don't care. Discount sandpaper is a sick fraud perpetrated on decent, honest people. Do not ever buy any form of wet & dry sandpaper that does not say 3M on it. Okay, maybe if you are already aware of some other brand sure. But the only way to test these things is with a lot of labor, labor that costs a lot more than sandpaper.

Painting bicycles is for the birds. I may do others in the future but it will be according to a far different plan. More on that later.

Also upcoming photo's and exciting descriptions of me, sanding and then sanding again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This is Simply Beautiful

And, it's an amazingly cool bike. This is not at all the sort of bike that usually interests me, aside from the accessories on this one, but the ultimate of anything is interesting and this is the ultimate cruiser bike. It inspires me. Oh, and it would be fun to break out the pinstriping sword and go at that bicycle frame too.

Edit: A coworker tells me the perfect name for the style of this bike "Ray-gun Deco." Love it. Perfect name. Now I'm back to staring at that photo again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Vintagey Goodness

One of my favorite sites is Classic Lightweights UK. They cover some beautiful bikes and a culture of cycling that is different from what we find now and in the US. There is a sort of blue collar brilliance at work, regular working guys, both the racers and the constructors taking the time and expending the effort to do something brilliant for part of each day or for a few hours each week.

This is particularly brilliant

Go check out the lug lining and seatstay caps.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vintage Cycling Posters

Courtesy of Clockwork Bikes I found this great collection of vintage cycling posters all collected up in a zip file ready for download and total cyclogasmic enjoyment.

Take a look around I hadn't heard of them before but the photo's of their work are very impressive. I didn't give a direct link to the posters, because I think anybody cool enough to provide something like this deserves a good look.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not Beautiful but Badass

Allow me to introduce you to the Beast. This is the wilderness escape vehicle. I love riding in the woods, It's out of the sun and moving along quickly I have a cooling breeze all the way Throughout the summer there ain't enough SPF for my German-Irish ancestry to stay out in the Florida sun. Singletrack is the answer. To the extent that I ever do stop and smell the flowers that is where they are. This is the bike for that Florida woodland singletrack.

I can't say for sure just what GT frame this is. I believe it's a late 90s Backwoods, but that's only a guess. The fork of course is a late 90s Girvin Crosslink, relatively little travel but well damped and more stable under my 200+ pounds than some rigid forks. Oh, and probably as light as any Clydesdale rated suspension fork ever built, then or now.

Contrary to expectations we do have some very serious trails here in Florida, no long climbs or descents but what there are run straight down, around and out of things like mining quarries. I don't have that where I ride regularly and this bike is a bit long and has limited travel for that sort of thing. But it does get me through when I do meet the stuff. Mostly, it is a winding, rooted, loose surface world I ride in. Oh, and occasional patches of soft, white, sugar sand ranging from 10 to 200 yards long. I can plow through some sand.

The drivetrain is mostly Shimano 8s LX; shifters, ders, rear hub, brakes, with Truvativ FireX cranks and rings. Someone really needs to talk to them about their branding. "Truvativ" sounds like some erstwhile Eastern Bloc knock-off manufacturer from the Cold War days. Yeah, that's a rollamajig or thingie or whatever the technical term is. It really does improve shifting and helps keep the rear cable housing out of the way. That's how old this bike is, downtube cabling with all the hassles that has off road. With the Rollagadget I can keep the housing real short and tied out of the way.

The aftermarket derailleur hanger is the result of trying to re-use a Shimano chain pin. Apparently there's a reason they insist on that replacement pin. This foolishness destroyed the hanger and the Deore der.

Yes, there's no small chainring. Soon there may be no large one either. The poise angle of sand being what it is, there is nothing so steep that I need the small ring that has enough traction for any human to ride in that low a gear. None of our hills here are long enough to need it either.

Here's the back end view, with a good look at the tractor like tire on back. It's the WTB Velociraptor set. Which aside from the fierce sounding name is a now traditional paddle wheel back, arrow pattern front. Most of my riding is on a loose mix of sand and leaf litter and this works well. The other pattern that works is the wide rounded tire with lots of smaller nubs, the Continental Vertical is the premier example. I'll probably go with those or something much like for the next set.

Front wheel is American Classic hub with a Velocity Aeroheat rim. Great rim, okay hub. Oh, the paint. There isn't any. No anodize either, just raw aluminum. The previous owner had defaced the clear coat in the process of removing the decals that told everyone that it wasn't the Zaskar that he was trying to represent it as. No I didn't pay Zaskar money. In fact it was barely "old GT with defaced decals" money. Actually the price paid was "this is what you get for telling lies and damaging a cool old bike frame" money, $15.

Here's another view of the rear quarter being inspected by geese. They did not attack.

This bike has been attacked on two occasions by armadillos. Apparently they are extraordinarily stupid creatures who when startled are as likely to bolt in the direction of the thing that alarmed them as away. Both times they were browsing about six feet away from the trail and then shot straight across the trail into me. Both times they bounced off the back of the front tire, under the bottom bracket and out the other side before being run over by the back tire. I am not entirely sure this was not the same armadillo both times - they sorta all look the same. Both immediately went back to digging for grubs or whatever they're scraping after. Two important lessons; the sound of an aluminum chainring scraping over the back of an armadillo will ring in your ears and make your teeth hurt for days. You will beg to hear nails on a blackboard and sand in a bottle cap. The other is that armadillos are tough enough to survive being so incomprehensibly stupid. A veterinarian who does a lot of wildlife work assures me that I was in more danger than these stupid animals.

So now we've reached the point where I wonder if this bike is "vintage" yet or just old. I am curious to see what new technology has to offer. As light as that fork is, the overall bike is still 28 pounds total and that isn't exactly a featherweight. Not too bad for something that can haul me over logs and rocks, but some time in the next year I'll have to see if I shouldn't be riding a bike from the current century.