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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49353569@N00/ ) 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 http://cirqueducyclisme.com/ . 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 http://store.velo-orange.com/ :

* 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 http://www.classicrendezvous.com/ and Cycles de Oro http://cyclesdeoro.com/ .
* 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.