Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Well, I Was Wrong...

I was wrong when I ended the September 9th post by saying I figured I had broken everything I could on a single-speed drivetrain. Look closely at the sidewall of the rim, in the picture above, and you'll see that it is bulged out and about to fail. (Click the picture for the BIG version, and it's pretty obvious.)

I don't run rear brakes on the yellow bike, so I never felt this wide spot going by as I rode. I just happened to see it as I was looking at something on the front wheel. Glad I saw it before it let go, completely.

So, I swapped the wheels from the orange Peugeot over onto this bike. I'll get some replacement rims and rebuild the bad wheels, sometime or another.

What next?


Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Art - The Evil Twenty

Last March, I pulled this 1972 Raleigh Folding Twenty out of the junkyard. I didn't really have any plans for it, but I always thought they were cool. So, I brought it home and stuck it in the storage building.

(Click all of the pictures for BIG.)

I emailed Phatatude, because I knew he was building up a project Twenty, to see if he or anyone he knew might want this bike. He told me that it probably would serve me better as a project, due to its condition, so I started formulating plans for the custom version.

I like the wordplay of Evil Twenty (Evil TWINty). I just wish I had another one, to do the Good Twenty. I messed around with the lettering, a bit, and this is the look I came up with.

The first step was to figure out what to do about the headset and bottom bracket situation. The Twenty has a really long steer tube, with a plastic bushing at the top, rather than a ball-bearing headset. And, the bottom bracket shell, while standard English thread, is a proprietary width.

The head tube problem was easily fixed. I simply cut it to a length that would work with the fork I wanted to use, and used my Campy head tube reamer/facing tool to finish it off. Then, I installed a mid-90s Dura Ace headset I had sitting around, and the fork was installed.

The bottom bracket took some thought. I know a lot of the Twenty guys use Phil Wood bottom bracket cups and whatnot, but I wanted to build it with what I had on hand (that's sort of my forte'). So, I started messing around with a Shimano bottom bracket, and found that I could knock the outer lip off of the non-driveside cup and just screw it in until it bottomed. It was about 5mm inside the frame, but I didn't really care. It worked, so I pulled everything apart and painted the frame flat black, then lettered it.

Next, I printed out a small copy of my Devil Girl I had worked up for a skateboard design. I printed it on glossy paper, trimmed it out, then saturated it from both sides with Krylon Crystal Clear. This effectively turned it into a waterproof sticker. She became my headtube badge.

Then, I worked up a Devilish portrait on paper, trimmed it and used it as a template to carve the top layer of leather off of the saddle. This got me into the raw leather, which will hold the paint a lot better than the slick, finished surface. I filled in the carved out section with white enamel, then painted the Devil head over that. More Crystal Clear sealed it in, and gave it a shiny surface to match the rest of the saddle. (The color in this photo is weird. Look at the photos below, and you'll see that he is actually bright red.)

A second Devil Girl was applied to the seat tube. But, I actually hand-painted this one. The size of the tube gave me more room to do it by hand. Again, I used a printout of the initial study to outline where she would go, then filled the area with white. The colors pop a lot better with a white base. The flat black base really mutes them, if you skip this step.

Next, I painted the outline of flames. Yellow enamel applied with a sable brush, for those who care.

Then, I filled in the red, and used a Pitt art pen, with waterproof archival ink, to do the black areas and the fine details.

I built it up with a 24-inch front wheel to emulate the "48 Harley Panhead" motorcycle look. The bars are some Soma Noah's Arc bars I had lying about, and the bmx pedals are Primos.

V-brakes on the front give way more stopping power than the long-arm side-pulls it came with. The rear is still the original brake, squeezing a 20" alloy bmx wheel.

So, there it is, The Evil Twenty, ready for its art-show debut.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday, October Third

First Friday Artwalk. Six PM until 9:00.

I'll be showing some stuff, along with Brad and a few others, at Anthony Camera's studio:

900 Santa Fe

Denver 80204

I'll have a couple of bikes on display (and for sale, by the way), along with a few paintings, like this:

I'll post a reminder, later, when the time is near. If you are in town, please come by and see us.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.


Friday, September 19, 2008

End Of (For Me) an Era

I checked the Fixed Gear Gallery, a couple of minutes ago and the GrinderBikes banner is gone. I had to tell Dennis, this year, that I just couldn't afford it, any more.

When I first started advertising on FGG, there were not many other companies with banners, and the banner cost $250 for a year. Now, there are quite a few of what I consider "larger", actual Industry Companies, advertising. And, the cost has gone up to $400 per year.

I don't think I've made $400, this year, selling Fixed Gears. So, obviously, the ad isn't paying for itself.

I know that the FGG site must eat up tons of bandwidth, and bandwidth costs money. And, I don't begrudge Dennis the chance to make a living off of his site. Yet, I can't help but feel a little sad to be, once again, priced out of something I was in on at the fairly early stages.

The advent of major brand fixies in the $500 range and bikes such as the $299 Schwinn fixedgears (along with all of the Motobecane/Windsor eBay specials) has cut into my fixie business in a big way. I get the occasional fan of vintage frames looking for a fixed bike built around the old steel, but I've built more commuters and cruisers than anything else, this year.

So, I'll wait and see if I notice any difference in business due to dropping the FGG ad. I don't suspect I'll see it, honestly. But, I do feel like a chapter has ended for me.


New Front Tire On the Trident

I pulled the front wheel, and took it (along with a new tire to match the rear) and had Woody's install the tire for me. They do installation, complete with balancing, for a flat fee of $20.00 if you bring the wheel to them, off of the bike.

My Yoshimura exhaust makes it difficult to find a jack-point under the bike. Hence, the S&M bondage scene, above. I should have put a ball gag in the intake...


Monday, September 15, 2008

5002.8 Miles

Since I made the decision to ride to work every day, starting May 1st of last year, I have ridden 5002.8 miles on 289 workdays. Of course, this doesn't count errands and such, it's just the commute miles.

I'm happy to have made it this far with no missed days. I wasn't sure what would happen, last winter, but it went pretty smoothly once I bought some studded tires and set the pink bike up for icy riding. This winter doesn't seem so daunting, since I've already been through one.

Meanwhile, the mornings are staying in the mid and upper 40s, with afternoon temps in the upper 70s/low 80s. Perfect for the commute. I hope the weather holds for a while.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tour de Fat

I missed the morning "tour", but I rode over to City Park in the afternoon and checked out the festivities. The bike up on stage is a 3-speed New Belgium commuter which was raffled off.

One of the rideable "art bikes" in the corral. All of the wheels rotate as you ride.

Random bikes parked around the perimeter.

One of the Denver Cruisers guys.

I'd like to build one of these.
Drank a couple of $5.00 beers, wandered around a bit, and bought a couple of lcoally-published indy bike books, then rode home to go to the Vischers' cookout. I had a pretty nice day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Maintenance by Attrition

Some bikes get used so much that they tend to get neglected by the mechanic of the house. The yellow commuter bike is one of those. I ride it 5 or 6 days a week, and leave it sitting in the house on the days when I ride another bike.

Occasionally, it will give me a subtle hint that it need some loving. Recently, that hint came in the form of a broken crankarm on the way to work. (In all fairness to me, though, broken crankarms are usually not a maintenance issue, although a developing crack might have come to light in the workstand if I had been paying more attention.)

Yesterday, on the way home from work, I received another little hint that I need to pay a bit more attention to the bike.

At the 6 mile mark of my 9 mile ride home, I was accelerating away from a stop sign when I heard an odd crunching sound. "Crap", I thought (or words to that effect), as I stopped pedaling and coasted for a few feet.

Keep in mind that I was coasting on a fixed gear bicycle. That is not a sign of a healthy drivetrain, by the way.

I stopped and looked behind me, only to see my chain lying like a dead snake in the middle of the road. "Stinking to high heaven," as Loudon Wainwright said.

Oddly, two links had blown apart, rather than the typical one link. Unfortunately, I had used the spare links I carry with me to repair another rider's chain, a while back, and never replaced them in my toolkit.

Crap. Or, again, words to that effect.

The chain was too short, once reassembled, to run with my gearing. So, I started walking/scootering/coasting down the hills. Unfortunately (there's that word, again), the 3 miles to my house consisted of 2,6 miles of uphill and level ground, and only 0.4 miles of coastable downhill.

I walked along, pushing the bike. I passed by 8 or 10 people as I walked, none of whom asked me if I need a hand. One guy asked if I was tired.

"What?" I said, and I'm sure my aggravation was apparent in my voice.

I then explained to him why I was walking. Then, rather than offer me a lift, or ask if he could help in any way, he just went back to loading something into his trunk.

I was only about a mile and a half from home, so I wouldn't have accepted a ride, anyway. But, still...

As I walked, I noticed my left heel was sore. Blister. Blood in my shoe, when I got home.

Crap. Or...well, you know.

Oh, well, at least I have a new chain, now. Not much else to go wrong, with a singlespeed fixie drive train, I suppose.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

This Bike Is an Archeological Site

Earlier this week, I had a customer bring me this PanWorld bike to be converted to a fixed gear. I had never heard of PanWorld, and I can't find much about them on the interweb. Basically, all I have found is an inquiry on a bike forum asking if anyone has any info on the brand.

Made in Germany, with early-1970s French components, it appears to be just another "bike-boom" ten-speed.

The customer wants the frame powder-coated white. I would have left the gold and silver foil wraparound decals on, and retained the blue paint, if it was mine. But, the customer is the boss, so I started peeling the decals in preparation to taking the frame down to Prestige (Lee always appreciates it if he doesn't have to deal with decals).

As I peeled the big, gold, decal from the seat tube, I realized that it was bringing some other decals with it. I could see that there were white-outlined black die-cut letters on the tube under the large decal. It was hard to make out what they said, though. I thought I could make it out, but I figured I'd check under the downtube decal and see if I could get a better idea.

Sure enough, there it was: VAINQUEUR. So, now I have a mystery bike.
It has obviously been rebranded...but why? Did PanWorld buy surplus Vainqueurs and rebadge them, or did a second-party supplier sell them to PanWorld without PanWorld's knowledge that they were old-stock?
The French name on the bike and the plastic Simplex derailleurs suggest that the bike was built in France, rather than Germany. However, the frame has an English-thread bottom bracket shell which suggests it was built in neither of those countries but, rather, possibly Japan.
Maybe the Japanese frame factory had these built and decalled, when an order for PanWorlds came in, with cash attached. The big foil decals sure look early-70s Japanese, being very similar to the American Flyer and Takara decals of the same period.
This is one of the things I love about dealing with old bikes! You never know when something like this will come along.

Monday, September 01, 2008

On Wings Of Angels Do They Fly To The Promised Land

In the predawn coolnness, two figures fly through the desert. Legs pumping, they thread their bikes through the cactus and desert scrub. Hearts pounding, they fly toward their goal; the Promised Land, where wages are fair and the work is rewarding.

A few miles over the border, they abandon their bikes and jump into a pickup truck. Their new life in the United States begins now!

The bikes, however, have hit the end of the road.

Unless, of course, someone picks them up out of the desert and sends them to Grinder Bikes World HQ for a second chance at life...

Click all of the pics for BIG..

This frame, of the the type commonly seen in Mexico, has lain in the desert for a while, unprotected from the elements. Wind, sun and rain have worked their magic on the finish, leaving a patina of "desert varnish".

The chrome pieces are still sharp and shiny. This is the difference between Desert Varnish and Southern Rust.

Dig the bolted on seat stays. I'm not sure what the logic is, here. But, I suppose it allows for easy repalcement in the case of damage.

This frame is a little less weathered, yet still retains a lot of character. It is covered in religious stickers, both Christian and Bikeian.

Our Lady...

And our Father (Tullio)...
Brad has put a claim on this frame, which is appropriate.
Here is the Desert Varnish frame, outfitted with a fixed gear wheel and matching handlebars from a 100 year-old Iver Johnson.

It ain't pretty, but it sure is beautiful.