Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Images from the Amgen T.O.C.

Here's a VIP car in the caravan in advance of the peloton. It was a big surprise when I saw a friend in the lead car, a super fancy Nissan. Paula Mara is a race official and must have been having a blast driving the electric blue convertable for the week of racing.
Here's Radio Shack controlling the pace at the front of the pack just before the Carmel Valley KOM. There was a break about three minutes up the road at this point....I didn't get a photo, though.
Here's the broom wagon doing its job, removing all traces of the race that had just passed. All of the signs and paraphanalia got loaded up to be used the next day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring scandium batch # 1.

This batch is made up of three new frames and three repaired frames. I can get them all heat treated and save a little money for the repair customers. Scandium bikes are light and they are something that I feel are worth repairing if they aren't too beat. I have another batch of all new frames I'll be starting Monday. It will be about 6-8 frames total. After that it is back to steel for a month.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Single speed for Atlanta

No, there's no water bottle mounts on this frame-it was ordered that way. I never argue with an omission ! Even with a few less braze ons, there's still plenty of work in the frame with the oversize seat tube, slotted disc mount and the usual stuff you find on one of my MTB frames.
I price these frames the same as steel road frames but there's more work involved and I find that I'll have a couple more hours invested. This one is a frame I would love to have at a show because it displays simplicity- my idea of a proper single speed.
Here's my proprietory adjustable dropout that has seen little use since the advent of sliding dropouts. For the customer , this version is simpler and about $ 120 less expensive.....a good thing. $ 120 will buy a lot of burritos , even in 2011.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Granny Smith hartail

I always have a hard time using the phrase " Hardtail" to describe a mountain bike. I don't build full suspension and rode in the dirt for many years before any suspension was available, front or rear. I don't have anything against full-suspension, I just don't have the background that would make me want to build it. This frame is a pretty standard setup for me, the disc brake, wishbone stay and not really huge diameter tubing is what I do. This one came out pretty nice.
The customer chose silver decals against the lime-green metallic/candy finish. i think it was a good choice.I probably have about seven decal colors available but I would have chosen this combination if it were my bike. I also built a bar/stem combo painted to match but it is in the box already so you'll just have to imagine what it would look like.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scandium cross country frame

It seems like a long time since I have welded any aluminum or scandium. I have been on the steel treadmill for a couple of months and it is always fun to switch materials for awhile. This frame is # 1 in a batch of 6-7 scandium frames, mostly for the 'cross team.
This is a smaller 26"wheel MTB frame that will see lots of trail use and some racing. I have not weighed it yet but it feels very light , definitely lighter than my new 29er.
The stays are all NOS Easton made in the USA. I wish I could always use this stuff but it is in short supply and will no doubt be gone soon.
Here's the side view. The frame is a 16" center to center and will take up to 2.2 tires along with a 100 MM fork.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another parking lot bike show

Hey, want to hang out with your nor-cal frame builder buddies ? How about tacos and beer ? How about a bike yard sale with all of our cool old stuff that you can paw through and make really insultingly low offers on.......and we'll most likely accept the offer ? How can you refuse that ? This will happen at Bruce Gordon cycles in Petaluma on the afternoon of June 26th. Details can be seen on brucegordoncycles.blogspot.com . Be there.....admission is free and there will be at least 10 of nor-cal's most notorious frame-fryers there , along with other industry folk. I will be offing my super trick smelly old jerseys and collection of various shiny bits that might fool the primitives but will probably not fool you.....darn.

Two tone 'cross frame

Panels are definitely in these days. Here's an example of two colors that I have not often put together on a frame. The two seem to work together well and give the frame a pretty deluxe look compared to the normal one color scheme on the majority of my frames.
The s-bend chain stays will have plenty of mud room for the fall racing season.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The largest thing I have ever built

This structure made from square 6061 aluminum tubing is 16 feet tall. I welded it up for Rope partners, a company that services wind turbines. This is to be a trade show display with a t.v. monitor and a covering of graphics. There's about $ 1,500 worth of tubing in this monster.
As you can see, It all breaks down and fits in the back of this not particularly large truck. There's a lot of un-bolting to do in the dis-assembly. It took three of us about 20 minutes to get it all apart. This project has been in my shop almost a week but it is gone now and I'm back to just bikes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rock Lobster # 046WB

Every once in awhile someone will come by with one of my older frames. This one is from 1988 when I first opened my doors as a fulltime builder. I built the frame as a trade for some photos that still adorn the walls of my shop. The owner is a professional photographer and has kept the bike for 23 years. Now he intends to sell it to buy....guess.....tools to build frames. He wants a torch and tanks to start brazing so don't be surprised to see this bike advertised for sale somewhere like MTBR classifieds or ebay.
The frame is fillet brazed , built before I had a tig welder . The model is "Team Issue" so the fillets are unfiled. I had done a few repairs and mods on the frame but it still rides and has some period correct parts here and there.
This frame was built right around the time I was building my first single speed frames and it shows the same type of construction-hand bent wishbone seat stay, internal gussetting and True Temper tubing. I went away from that tubeset for many years but have come back to the brand and use it a lot. This is an oldie, primitive but still rideable and a piece of my obscure history.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tom's ride 2011

Here's my race bike partially transformed into a quasi expedition bike for the ride. I made a bracket for the seatpost to hold a third bottle. There's no water available for the first five hours of riding.

An old friend of mine who was a real legend of cycling here used to get folks together once a year to do an epic ride in some desolate country south of here . The friend was Tom Cuthberson , author of many books and probably one of the first people to bring the notion of cyclocross to Santa Cruz. Tom was a real adventurer and he was always looking for new places to ride, both paved and in the dirt. For years on his birthday he would get a few folks together to do this mammoth loop ride of 73 miles, 6,700 ft. climbing that was about 30-40% dirt. I used to get a call from Tom urging me to join on the ride but I always had something in my schedule that got in the way.
In 2004 Tom was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. He fought it valiantly for nearly two years but it took him at age 60. A couple of years after that, one of Tom's friends and someone I knew from Cyclocross told me that Tom's ride would be happening again around the time of Tom's birthday. This year I actually made the time and went on the ride , really wanting to see this special place that was Tom's favorite place to spend a whole day on the bike.
Six of us, half on 'cross bikes and the other half on mountain bikes left King City at 8:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning. All the folks on the ride had done it numerous times, I being the only new addition.
The first climb was all dirt and I found out that my gears were too high for the steeper pitches. I suffered along until I stopped to take a photo of a meadow about 2/3 of the way up.
Here's the group at the top of the first climb getting ready for the downhill.
This is a view from just beond the top of the first climb.
Riding down the long valley road there were some dramatic rock formations on either side. The photos fail to capture the impressive sight.
Here's another view of the paved valley road that followed the dirt road with the climb. This road had a climb as well but not as steep or as long.
At the end of the pavement there was a campground and the start of another long dirt section.
Not far into the second dirt track was a good spot for lunch, a small river with a nice swimming hole.
Since the next place to get water was about two hours up the road my riding compatriots brought and used a filter to purify the water from the river.
This is a view from the final dirt section , mostly a side-hill road with a pretty long climb up to 2,800 ft. The views were dramatic and the downhill to the next campground seemed to go on for a half an hour. It might be the longest dirt downhill I have ridden in California that wasn't in the Sierras. As I rode I thought of Tom and said to myself on a few occasions " Thanks for showing me this ride, Tom. " This was one more way to remember the man and his many contributions to the cycling community in Northern California and elsewhere.

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's rare....

A customer requested a bar/stem set. I have only built maybe four in my life and not one like this. It is all German 4130-it isn't that I specifically ordered tubing from Germany but it was stamped 'Germany' on the side. It seems straighter in the lathe than the cro-mo that I normally get. It welded up nicer as well. I'm not opposed to making a few more of these if folks want. I call it " Javier Barstem".

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Almost old school but not quite....

Sometime about 7-8 years ago I came up with an idea for a disc mount for single speeds. They were pretty popular until the advent of the sliding dropouts and now the swiveling dropouts. Everybody has a different way to deal with the same problem.....on a single speed, the wheel can be in different places in the dropout depending on the gear being used at the time. The disc brake needs to have the ability to adjust to the changing wheel positions. i came up with what I still contend is the simplest solution to the issue-and, it might be the cheapest.
So yes, this idea is not from the previous century but it pre-dates most of the other stuff. Yeah, it is a bit caveman style but i'll bet that you won't ever have an issue with the setup. It is as simple as it gets.
Just think......a no charge disc option on a custom frame ? -blasphemy ? I'll be torched at the stake by my contemporaries-that is , unless they are welders. In that case I'll be electrocuted at the stake. Hmm, maybe my blogs are starting to cross-pollinate.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here's how I use my rear triangle jig

For all you folks interested in the process, here are two photos of how I line up my rear triangle jig. A lot of frame jigs hold all of the tubes in place. Here at Rock Lobster, we work a little differently. I build the front triangle on one fixture, then I use the device in these photos. The lower one shows how I use my fill scale drawing to line up the jig and clamp it to the frame. This step gets the axle at the right height relative to the rest of the frame.There's a hole in the jig that accepts several types of axles. When the hole is empty, it can be used to sight the axle center from the drawing. The upper photo show how I use a frame alignment stick to center the the jig so that the center line of the rear wheel is the same as the center line of the front triangle. It works really well and I designed the contraption myself. I have not seen another one like it .

Monday, May 2, 2011

The gift of steel

This frame is a gift though not from me. I am pretty generous most of the time but I do have to put food on the table. This road frame will be used for centuries and other long road rides. It seems that the rider who will be the owner of this frame has really been captivated by spending all day on the bike. I just rode for nearly seven hours yesterday so you won't hear a dissenting voice from me. The frame is designed to eat up the road shock with a generous wheelbase and a slacker head angle. It should rool the flats and rip the downhills. It is pretty light so I imagine it will be o.k. on the climbs as well. Maybe this rider will get the randonneur sickness that I got about 1992-2003. The only cure is to ride it out of your system , 100's of k.m's at a time. I still have my medals and P.B.P. parephanalia from 1995. I don't regret any of it at all.