Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow daze

Madison got bombed Wednesday night and Thursday. We got 20 inches of heavy wet snow, then wind to blow it around. Trees sagged and broke under the weight of it. The city came to a standstill, nobody going anywhere.

I spent much of the morning driving the snow blower, first getting my car out of our driveway, then getting the car unstuck on the street and back into the driveway.

Then I built a set of wheels and watched movies.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Getting down to business

OK, I have been pretty lax about posting so far, but coming in the new year, I will be working a lot harder to build my business, Earle Wheels. There will be three components of the business: New wheels, primarily using rims from Velo Orange; custom builds with parts supplied by customers; and wheelbuilding classes.

The new wheels will be built on hubs specified or ordered by the customer, using rims and spokes that I will provide. For the rollout of the business through 2013, I will be offering Velo Orange rims in 700c and 650b, 32- and 36- hole drilling. Check out their products here:

The rims are well thought out, well made, and most of all, shiny! For classic bicycles and modern bicycles with a classic ethos, these are the rims of choice, with a variety of widths to be everything from fast and light to touring on rough stuff.

My custom work started five years ago with recommendation from one of the good guys in the business, John Barron, Collectors who have located classic rims and hubs send them to me for careful building of their wheels. My long experience, much of it the era of these classic parts, allows my customers to have wheels for their collectible bicycles that they can actually ride.

New for 2012 was my wheelbuilding class. I offered a one-day class at Cirque du Cyclisme, and learned that the classes need to have two or three sessions with some time for homework in between. I will be teaching that class on the weekend of the Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap on January 19, 2013, and at other weekend events throughout the year.

I also have a new Website coming, and it will have more details about all of this. Thank you for reading

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

OK, forget bicycles, lemme talk about music

A little over thirty years ago, I was going out for live music almost every night. A couple of the best bands at the time were the Skip Castro Band and the Nighthawks.

Fast forward to next month, and both bands will be playing at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, and my lovely bride and I will be there.

Boogie at Midnight!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More on the Lance Armstrong affair

OK, I was wrong when I did not include Lance himself in the list of guilty parties at the end of my rant about doping in pro cycle racing. And I was wrong about the USADA. In the face of a conspiracy worthy of a Robert Ludlum novel, the USADA finally cracked cycling's culture of "omerta."

As long as the secret held, Lance was good for the sport. His was a heart-wrenching story of personal triumph. The Lance Tour era was great for the bicycle business, and a US-labeled team was great for the growth of the sport.

Only the United States could support a market for hobbyists buying $10,000 disposable plastic race bikes, "like Lance rides." What other country would have such a huge market for US Postal, Discovery Channel and Radio Shack kit in size XXL?

On reflection, none of us should have had any more confidence that the UCI would be stricter on doping than the NFL or Major League Baseball. The Lance Armstrong was a fairy tale we could all buy into, so the ruling powers of cycling decided to let Lance dictate the agenda.

Maybe now we will see some real effort to clean up pro sports-- all of them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Wheel Deal

OK. Let's see if anybody is reading. Here's the deal of the week: Bolt-on mountain bike wheels -- FREE! Yes, no charge for the wheels. Free local pickup, free delivery to somewhere I will already be traveling to, otherwise, $50 for boxing and shipping. Not great wheels, but the price is right. Bolt-on hubs, alloy rims, straight gauge spokes, no tires, no freewheel. 26 x 1.75 wide rims. earle(dot)young(at)tds(dot)net.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keep on truckin'

Given the minuscule number of views so far on my blog, it would be easy to quit, but I am going to keep posting, and maybe something will click and people will read it.

Because of a funny accident I have been off my bike for almost two weeks now, and I miss riding. For close to 40 years, I have been a regular bicycle rider, sometimes just for transportation, a lot for recreation and mental escape, and for a short while, I even rode for money.

I was not a bicycle racer, but rather a bicycle messenger, at the very tail end of the time when a bike messenger who was fast and had a good dispatcher could make decent money.

I was steeped in the bike boom culture at the time when steel bicycles had reached their peak as race vehicles, working in shops pretty much full-time from 1973 to 1986, and seeing the quality of steel frames go from good to "Oh My God." One of the last bicycles I worked on as a full-time mechanic was a Bruce Gordon frame built for show. It was a stunning piece of art, with sculpted lugs that had been polished to a high shine, and just the few miles I managed to sneak in as the final test ride of the build were bliss on the road.

I am back in the business, building wheels and teaching wheelbuilding. I also just look at a lot of bikes. When I compare the best of the vintage era bikes to today's hand-built steel bikes, I realize that the best steel bikes ever built are being built in the United States right now.

If you are at all interested in bicycles, please make it a point to visit one of the frame-builders' shows popping up around the country.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stop right there, Buddy!

I just put a new set of Tektro R559 dual pivot, long reach brakes on my Raleigh Sports, along with a pair of vintage mountain bike levers. Now the bike actually stops. The stock steel brakes and the weird self-adjusting brake levers made for brakes that were hard to squeeze, tentative to stop and whose reach changed at random depending on how hard I had to squeeze the lever to stop last time.

I have not built the new wheels nor mounted the stainless fenders, but the 650B conversion is slowly coming together. I am waiting to assemble my next spoke order to build the wheels, and when they are done, I will mount the new fenders.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday Wheel Deal (a day late)

Here is a new set of light touring or rough roading wheels, built with some nice Velo Orange stuff: Grand Cru large flange hubs and PBP rims. I used 2.0-1.7-2.0 mm double butted stainless steel Wheelsmith spokes. $300 + actual cost of shipping. Continental US only. earle dot young at tee dee ess dot net. Please post any questions as comments. Thank you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

First long ride with the aluminum fenders

I expected my Litespeed would ride the same, and it did. But with fenders on the bike, my attitude changed a little. I was no longer on a racing bike, but just a sweet road bike. I found my self charging fewer hills, riding just a little slower and looking around me more, enjoying the ride.

Was it really just the fenders, or am I just generally relaxing more on the bike? Who knows. I can't really tell after just one ride.

At the turning-home point on this ride, I had a young man catch up to me and ask me for directions. I had just turned off Sun Valley Parkway near Paoli, and he wanted to figure out how to get to Lake Farm Park and the bike path there. This turned out to be a great excuse to make my ride go longer. That's what I love about riding in the Madison area. Whenever I get on my bike and head out of town, I almost always end up riding with somebody else.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Short sweet vacation

I flew to Washington D.C. last week to see my father and some old friends. For the first time this season, I was excited about baseball. The Washington Nationals are in first place with deep pitching and power. My father and his longtime companion Sylvia are fans, and a group of us went to a pivotal game against the Cardinals on Sept. 2. We had a great time, watched an exciting game and got to hang out with old friends. This is the best kind of vacation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wednesday Wheel Deal

Here's a pair of wheels with a story:

If you walked into Velo-Sport in Berkeley in 1984, and wanted to put a nice set of clinchers on your tubular-tired race bike, the wheelbuilder would have advised you to build what he was riding: Campagnolo Record Hubs, Mavic MA2 rims and the fresh product from Palo Alto, Wheelsmith double butted stainless steel spokes.

Here is a pair of those wheels, built in May 2012, but not yet ridden. The rims are new old stock (NOS), 32-hole, Mavic MA2, the rear hub is NOS, the front new looking, the skewers new, with curved levers. The spokes are Wheelsmith double butted stainless, factory cut to the correct length, and built by the same builder that would have built your wheels at Velo-Sport back then.

Building wheels and teaching wheelbuilding is my hobby business, and these wheels were built for my class last June to show just how good a pair of wheels a master can build.

Pictures by Thursday, 8/30/12. Wednesday Wheel Deal price $399 delivered to any address in the continental United States, payment by PayPal. Comment here, leaving email address.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Late to the 650B party, but at least one conversion on the way.

For the last few years, one of the exciting developments in real-world bicycles has been the resurgence of the 650B tire size and bikes. Framebuilder Peter Weigle (here's his Flickr photostream: ) builds and rides gorgeous 650B bikes. When he pedals one, he is the embodiment of classy riding.

I have just started two project bikes, and at least one and maybe both will become 650B.

The definite: In July, I found a clean 1969 Raleigh Sports that was just too cheap to pass up.

As I rode it, I noticed that it was pretty clean, but besides neglect, the bike had suffered some abuse over the years. It was going to be a lot tougher than I thought to have a mount for Peter Jourdain's London to Cambridge Fall Ramble. It looked like I would probably want to disassemble the bike down to the frame and build it up again, rather than just tune it.

So I changed course, and I'm going to turn this into a 650B.

I met a couple of people from Velo Orange Imports at Cirque du Cyclisme 2010 . They are genial people with a lot of the same ideas about bicycle that I have, and they were beginning to import new parts for classic and classic-looking bikes. When I started to shop for parts for the Raleigh, I found everything I needed in their store :

* Stainless steel fenders
* 650B rims, tires, tubes and rim strips
* Modern dual pivot brake calipers with the required long reach and wide clearance
* JIS cartridge bottom bracket that requires no bottom bracket threads and will fit my Raleigh frame

I also have in stock a few other toys to trick out the Raleigh and be able to put all of the original parts into storage:

* Front hub donated by Dale Brown of Classic Rendezvous and Cycles de Oro .
* A spare 36-hole Sturmey Archer AW 3-speed hub.
* A pair of alloy crank arms with the ubiquitous 130 mm bolt circle

I still will be adding pictures to this blog within the next day or two, and will post progress reports regularly.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lance, USADA and Le Tour

OK, in the absence of a positive drug test and the absence of a conviction at trial, the US Anti-Doping Agency case against Lance Armstrong seems to boil down to this: It is impossible to win the Tour de France without doping, therefore a seven-time winner has to be guilty of doping.

It is a sad commentary on a sport I once loved. Bicycle racing is incredibly hard work. I tried hard and failed miserably, but still loved watching bicycle racing, especially the Tour. Yeah, there was some doping going on, probably. It is still a cleaner sport than Major League Baseball, where the slugging records are ALL owned by players who visibly used steroids. If all professional sports were governed by UCI doping and testing protocols, bike racing would show itself to be a lot cleaner.

But the hypocrites currently running the sport want it both ways: The want a commercial spectacle of super human effort, but want the competitors to stay human.

The guilty parties in L'Affair de LA are Le Tour, UCI and USADA.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm back, with some new and I hope useful stuff.

OK, I'm back after a long absence. And now that I am back, I plan to post regularly, at least twice a week. Some of the postings will be clearly commercial. Watch for the Wednesday Wheel Deal, a posting of a pair of wheels that I have priced to spin out the door.

But I am also going to write about bicycles, both riding and working on. I hope I can also open up a dialog with my readers. What do you ride, where do you ride and why do you like it so much?

For a little over 30 years now, I have had a bicycle I call my No. 1 Bike. This is an insider's bike, a custom-built frame equipped with a parts kit chosen for maximum functionality and durability without deeply cutting costs. As easy rule for me since its advent in bike parts is No Carbon Fiber. The closest I come is Kevlar beads in my clincher tires.

Current No. 1 Bike is a Litespeed Siena. At least that is how it is badged. It was built in the Litespeed custom shop, and was built to ride like my last No. 1 bike, only better. Once I figure out Flickr or Picasa, I'll be posting pix.

And that's enough for tonite.