Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Motorbike Day

 I had a pretty unusual, for me, day, today.  I never even got on a bicycle, but I still went everywhere I went via two wheels.

I got up and jumped on the Trident, first thing this morning, and met Randy at his house.  He jumped on his Moto Guzzi Griso, and we putt-putted over to Common Grounds for coffee and bagels.  Then, we jumped on the cycles and made our way to the Stock Show Complex for The Denver Modernism Show.

The butterfly skull was cool...lots of nice art for sale.

The graphics on this Phillips Manhattan 3-Speed were pretty awesome.  Good thing I was on a motorbike, or I might have brought this home.  It would be handy to ride it down to Poppies whenever I might feel like drinking a Manhattan...

I really wanted these two slot cars, but seventy five bucks for the pair was just a bit more than I wanted to spend.  Like... about $70.00 more than i wanted to spend.

I did pick up a vintage R. Crumb comic (Home Grown Funnies Vol. 1 No. 1, Fifth Printing 1972), a dvd about hot rod clubs and surf music in Denver through the past 60 years (Gears Grease and Guitars), and a couple of other small things.  There was a lot of cool stuff there, and we looked at all of it.

After the show, Randy headed to his house, and I to mine.  Once home, I ate some lunch and worked on some guitars.  I have a lot of projects going, as usual.  Nothing got completed, but progress was made.

Later, I took a ride on the 450, just to charge the battery and keep the gas flowing through the carbs.

Two very different bikes, both fun in their own way.

Ten minutes after I got home on the 450, and took the picture just above, this happened:

Ten minutes after that picture, the sky was clear again and the temperature on the front porch had dropped from 87 to 79 F.

I did finish the day off working on a push-bike (new bell on the commuter, to replace the one which broke), so I at least touched a bicycle, today!


Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Been a While Since I built a Fixed-Gear For Anyone...

Before Richard left for the Peace Corps, he decided that he just had to have this frame, built as a fixed gear, when he got back.  I took his mountain bike in trade, and set the frame aside, adding parts to the pile as I found them.

The wheels came off of one of my bikes, when I sold the frame.  The tires were on my bike when I rode the Copper Triangle, a few weeks ago.  The seat came from Carol's road bike, when she got a Brooks.  The On-One Fleagle Bar came from Velo-Swap, last year.  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

The frame is a Campania, with a very decidedly Italian flair.   It even has an Italian-thread bottom-bracket shell.  Of course, it was made in Japan, back in the late 70s or early 80s.

So very (faux) Italian.

Richard came over, a couple of Saturdays ago, and we did the basic assembly.  However, I couldn't find the brakes I was planning on using, so he left it here to be finished later.  We were going to get together, tomorrow, but I realized I had plans.  So, I worked on it, last night, and finished it up.

I'm just going to drop it by his house, tonight, and let him ride it for a while to see if the bars suit, and whatnot.  If not, he will come back over for tweaking.  If it suits, then it's done.

I haven't been doing much bike building, lately.  There's no money in it, any more (or so it seems), and I have been a little off stride, this summer anyway.  So, it's nice to do the "friends and family" stuff like this, and Mark's wine crate rack, just for fun.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Busy Weekend Day

Well, once again I worked hard, all day, and only got about half of the stuff I wanted to do completed.  I've tried, all weekend, to get some guitars ready for sale, and list them on Craigslist.  But I am done with working, for today, and that hasn't gotten done.

But, I did get some stuff done and out of the way.  For one, I got the wine crate (which I varnished, yesterday) mounted onto Mark Overly's bike.  Mark owns Kaladi Brothers, and I've had his bike for most of this year, trying to build a custom rack for it.  I could never get the right tubing to braze it up, so we decided to go the crate route, instead.

 I built this sub-frame out of aluminum u-stock and angle stock...

then I test-fitted the crate to make sure that it wouldn't interfere with the mustache bars I had just fitted.

I sent these pictures to Marko, last Sunday, to see what he thought.  He gave me thumb's up to go ahead and bolt it all together.

So, today, I did just that.

I braced the top of the crate to the stem, to avoid the swaying that I notice on my cruiser when I'm carrying a load.

It works really well.  But, if Marko wants to raise or lower the bars, I'll have to undo the bolts connecting the brace to the crate, then drill new holes and reattach it.  Hopefully, the bars will be suitable as they are.

The view from the cockpit.

I also replaced the knobby tires on Tyler's bike (you may remember this as my former snow bike, from a while back).  One of the tires had a hole in it, and Tyler wanted slicker tires for knocking around town, anyway.

So, I threw these 26x1.75 commuter tires on it.  They were on sale, at Performance, for cheap.  Plus, I like the deep tread, for sand on the road, etc.  Hopefully, Tyler will also like them.

Colin's bmx bike had a worn-out freewheel on it, which was freewheeling in both directions.  When Carol left it over here, last week, for me to look at I had to give her the bad news that the wheel was broken, also.  The rim was coming apart at the seam.  So, I replaced the wheel and freewheel with items from the spare-parts pile.  I think that is the fifth rear wheel this bike has had on it since Tyler got it new, in 1998, or so.

Then, I fixed the band brake on Colin's little monkey bike.

And now, I am pretty much worn out from working in 95 degree heat, all day (well, since 11:00 AM, anyway), and I am planning on grabbing a shower and doing little else for the rest of the day.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Motorbike Aggravation

Old bikes are interesting for a number of different reasons.  For one, the cutting-edge technology of bikes even 20 years old is very dated.  For another, the years and miles that other owners have put on them are usually, for the most part, a mystery to you when you take possession of an older machine.

This is why I said I would pass the 1970 CL 450 along to my nephew Kyle, next fall, "assuming it's still in good shape". 

Yesterday, I got up and did my laundry, then came home and got on the Trident to go get the insurance card and then the tags and title for the 450.  After I got home, and installed the license plate, I jumped onto the 450 and rode down to Performance Cycles (not to be confused with Performance Bicycles) to look for turn signals and couple of other small items.

After picking up the blinkers, I was heading home when, at the second Stop Sign intersection away from the parts store, the engine died.  So, I thumbed the starter button to restart the engine, and things went all pear-shaped from there.  The starter started cranking, and then wouldn't stop.  The engine hadn't started, and I was no longer pushing the starter button, but it continued cranking over, no matter what I did.

Eventually, the battery died, and the starter motor stopped cranking.  As I was looking the bike over, trying to figure out what was going on, a guy driving by stopped and asked if everything was okay.  I told him that I was just having some electrical problems, and he drove on.

A couple of minutes later, he came walking out of the alley, and introduced himself as Jim.  Jim lived a few doors up, and had a garage which faced the alleyway.  So, at his invitation, I pushed the bike to his garage and borrowed some tools to see if I could figure out what was going on.

Eventually, I disconnected the hot wire from the starter solenoid, and used his automotive battery charger to give the bike enough spark that I could kick-start it.  Then, after thanking Jim profusely, I rode the bike home. 

Once home, I killed the engine, then re-started it with the kick-starter, to make sure the battery was charging.  (So much for being so proud that the electric starter still worked after 40 years...).  Once i was satisfied that I would be able to re-start the bike and get home, I rode over to Ace Hardware to pick up some nuts and bolts for a bicycle project I have going.

Then, I came home and started installing the turn signals.

The front signals mounted up, fine.  It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to ground them, since these blinkers are two-wire "universal" units, and the Hondas used a single-wire signal.  But, I think they look very appropriate on the bike.

The stock rear signals were mounted on small tabs which then bolted to the frame of the bike.  So, I fabricated some mounts, from aluminum bar stock, for these.  Bicycle axle spacers on the turn signal shaft allowed clearance for the fender.

Once the mounting was complete, the second aggravation of the day reared its ugly head.    But, that story can wait for another post.  This one has run on long enough.

I'll close with a nice shot of the bike with the newly-installed turn signals:


Brad's Birthday Dinner

I went to dinner with Brad, Siddra, Noella, Siddra's brother, sister-in-law and nephew, and another couple, tonight, to celebrate Brad's birthday.  We went to Japon, a sushi joint over on Gaylord.  Of course, the rice allergy prevents me from eating sushi, but I can put away some sashimi and tempura when I have to.

I wrapped Brad's gifts together in one box, complete with "treasure map" wrapping paper.

 Afterwards, we went to Starbuck's for a coffee nightcap.   I was in a doodling mood...

I rode the 450, tonight, because I really needed to ride it a bit to make up for the aggravations of the past couple of days.  As I've said before, you have to maintain a different set of expectations with a vintage bike.  It's been a while since I've actually ridden an old bike, regularly, so it's taking me a while to adjust.


Yardsale Treasure 08-21-2010

Pure wool, in perfect condition.  Two dollars.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scofflaw Coffee

Even though I haven't had a chance to register it, I just had to ride the 450 down to Kaladi Brothers, this morning.  The bike is like a time machine for me.  I started riding a motorbike in 1974, back when bikes like this were current, and it really feels oddly familiar to ride the old technology.

The drum brakes are actually really good, but the suspension is typically springy.  The rear shocks have no damping left (and had precious little, when they were brand-new), so I think I will end up replacing them (luckily, they are pretty inexpensive to replace), and I'll put a bit heavier-weight oil in the fork to firm it up a bit.  Even as-is, the bike is a hoot to buzz around on.

I spotted this nice little Panasonic mixte, next door.  I believe those are 650b wheels and tires.  The bike was ultra clean, and looked as it had just rolled off the showroom floor.


Andy's Ducati Monster contemplates it's distant ancestral relative...


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sometimes, Plans Change

As I mentioned in my last post, I put the big Suzuki on Craigslist thinking that I might buy a Triumph Scrambler to knock around on.  I love the Scramblers, because they remind me of the old Honda CL series, which I was much more aware of, back in the day, than the original Triumphs.  Triumphs were pretty exotic, where I was living in the early '70s, but there was Honda shop in every second town you passed through.

So, when I saw this, on Craigslist, I went to take a look at it.

It's a 1970 CL-450, in pretty decent shape.  And, the price was low enough that I could actually afford it.  So, I had to go check it out...

I love the high pipes, the dirtbike bars, the fork boots, and the chrome fenders.  The rear fender has been bobbed, slightly, as was the fashion back in the day.  I think the seat cover is a reproduction, because it is in such good shape, but it matches the original version really well.

One of my favorite angles for photographing a bike.

The seat opens up like the seat on my 1970 SL-350 did, rather than to the side like the CB-series bikes.  It is held up with a little prop rod, like the hood of a car.  The mirrors, obviously, are not original.  I might get a pair of the big round units, like it came with, but I kinda like these...

The turn signals have been removed, but the wiring is intact.  So, I will probably replace them.  I don't know that I want the stock style, however.  They stick way out from the bike, right in harm's way if anything happens.  But, I don't much like riding in city traffic with nothing.

The view from the cockpit.  The jewel-like high-beam indicator on the headlamp is a nice touch, on these bikes.  But, I don't think I've ever owned a bike with factory gauges that didn't include a trip meter.  No, wait, my 1974 Suzuki TS-100 didn't have one, now that I think about it.

The paint is an older re-spray.  You can see a little crazing in the surface, in this shot.  Apparently, the factory paint was blue (you can see it in a couple of little chips), so I am glad it's been repainted.  The hand-painted pin-striping makes it even cooler.

The guy I bought it from was very apologetic about how bad the paint looked.  Of course, he has three BSA dual-purpose bikes in his garage, which he has restored immaculately.  I think his standards are a bit higher than mine.  To me, for a 40 year-old bike, this looks pretty darn good.

A bit of the paint is rubbed off of the tail light mount.  I might actually take that off and rattlecan it.

One of the good things about the CL, as opposed to the SL and XL models, is they retain the centerstand.  (Check out the Suzuki looming over the Honda!)

Forty years old, with 20,000 miles on it and there are no head gasket leaks, or oil drips.  Plus, the electric starter still works! 

I think I might get some "trials-universal" tires for it, just because I like the looks of the smallish knobbies.  And, as I said, I will probably get some turn signals on it, as well.  Those two things, plus tracking down a tool kit, are all I plan on doing to it.  It is more of a "rider" than a "project", but it's just enough of a project to make it interesting to me.

One really big plus:  The motorcycle came with not only a Clymer repair manual, but I also got the  factory Owner's manual with it.

The long-term plan is to teach my nephew, Kyle, how to ride it (he is coming to visit, for Christmas) and then give it to him for his 16th birthday (assuming it's still in good shape, fifteen months from now).  I've already cleared that with his mom.  As she said,  "I'd have taught him to ride mine by now if it was in riding condition."


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Copper Triangle 2010

 I was up at 3:00 A.M. making breakfast burritos for the drive up to Copper Mountain, as Carol was getting ready to come pick me up at 4:00  By 6:30, we were up at Copper, had our packets in hand and the ride numbers mounted on our bikes, ready to go.

At the first rest stop, just over Fremont Pass.

From the official Copper Triangle website:

The Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle course is a spectacular 78-mile loop cresting three Colorado Mountain passes - Fremont Pass (elevation 11,318’), Tennessee Pass (elevation 10,424’) and Vail Pass (elevation 10,666’). The course passes three ski areas and is littered with historic mining outposts and Camp Hale, the training ground for the famous 10th Mountain Division. The total elevation gain for the course is 5,981 ft.

The temperature was about 45 degrees as we left the parking lot, at Copper Mountain, and headed immediately up Fremont Pass.  The climb up Fremont is not terribly steep, but it is steep enough (and long enough) to warm you up pretty quickly and keep you warm.  Carol and I (and 2000 of our closest friends) cranked our ways skyward for over an hour before we got to the first rest stop.

There, I noticed this old TREK 510:

It looked so much like something I would build, down to the skull and crossbones sticker on the stem, that I had to chase down the owner and ask her about it.

Amy told me that her boyfriend had built it for her, and was sure that it would be getting a lot of attention from guys like me.  I told her to tell him that he was right, on that score.  Amy was super nice, and was a real good sport about a crazy old bike builder accosting her in the middle of the ride.

We left the rest stop and bombed down the south side of Fremont Pass at close to 40 mph for a few miles.  Eventually, the road flattened out, a bit, and we cruised toward Leadville.  There, just on the outskirts of town, we turned onto US 24, and headed toward Tennessee Pass.  After another couple of miles of downhill, we leveled out for a while before eventually starting to climb Tennessee Pass.  On the climb, we pulled over to peel off a layer, or two, of clothes.

 As we removed our outer layers of clothes, we stuffed them into the Bag O' Doom.

Soon, we arrived at the second rest stop.

Well, we "sort of arrived" at the second rest stop...

The actual rest stop was up this hill from the highway.  Neither Carol nor I really felt like climbing more, just to get a piece of a banana, or something. 

So, we hung around at the Continental Divide marker, checked out the 10th Mountain Division Memorial, then continued on.

Going down Tennessee pass, on the west side of the divide, is a hoot:  Ten miles of curvy downhill, with beautiful views to your left, and forest to the right.

Eventually, though, the road turns upward again and you head up Battle Mountain.  While the climb is gradual, it's fairly long.  But, it's nothing like climbing it from the other side,  We did that climb, one year, on this ride and I will never do it again.

But, the good thing about going in  the clockwise direction (like we did this year) is that you get to blast down Battle Mountain for 5 miles, or so, into Minturn.  From there, it's only a couple of miles to the bike path which parallels I 70 and takes you into the west side of Vail, and to the third rest stop.

After a good rest stop, where we drank lots of water and ate peanut butter and banana bagels, we got back on the bikes and headed east through Vail.  The next rest stop is only about eight miles away, on the east side of Vail, but they have it there because that is where you hit the bike path which turns sharply up and takes you over Vail Pass.

These two pictures are the view uphill and downhill from where we stopped for a short rest, a couple of miles uphill from the third rest stop.  Carol's knee was bothering her, and we stopped a couple of times on the 8 or 9-mile climb up the pass.  She was a real trooper, though, and made the climb despite the knee problem.

At the next place we stopped, just before heading under I 70 and up "The Wall", I spotted this little fly sitting in this flower...

...and this little one sitting in the grass picking flowers.

Soon after taking off from the flower show, we hit the steepest part of the Vail Pass Trail, the infamous "Wall".  The grade increases to around 20%, briefly, and then gets a bit less steep as the trail follows alongside I 70.
"Less steep", but still quite steep enough to suit me.

Eventually, we made our way into the fourth rest stop, located at the Interstate rest area at the top of Vail Pass.  There, we had a brownie, drank some water and then bundled up for the 5 or 6 mile descent back to the ski area at Copper Mountain.

Once down, we parked our bikes and went to eat the dinner provided by the event.  As we walked out to the patio tables to eat our lasagna and Ceasar Salad, I heard someone calling my name.

It was my friend Sandy, whom I met through the Webbs, years ago.  We sat at the table with her and ate dinner, then hung out and had a few beers, and talked about the ride (amongst other things).  Eventually, the festivities wound to an end, and Carol and I headed down the hill, back to Denver after a stop in Dillon for lattes.

We got back to the house at about 8:00 PM, 16 hours after we left.  It was a long, fun day.

Look here for the ride map and elevation profile of the Copper Triangle.


I Love Motorbikes Like This!

I spotted this sitting in front of a restaurant down the street from my house, last night.  Today, as I went out on the Suzuki to buy a new motorcycle cover to replace the one that Oswald shredded, I saw that the bike was still sitting there.

 It's a late-70s Honda CB 750, with the rat-bike cafe racer treatment.

I like how the front fender has been remounted.  I'm not sure why it looks good to me, this way, but it seems just a bit more "vintage", or something, with the slight up-tilt.

Looks like the headlight/speedo combo from a 1960s Honda Dream.

Pretty clean lines, except for whatever that is hanging where the original sideplate was.

Losing the original exhaust and seat took a lot of the bulk out of the bike.  I generally prefer twins for this style bike, but there is the occasional inline 4 like this that really comes out good.

All business.

Looks like it flamed out, though.  That's probably why it's still sitting in front of the middle-eastern joint, today.

I put the Suzuki on craigslist, today.  I don't think I'll be making the yearly trip to Tennessee, in the future, and it's a bit too much bike for local use (to me, anyway).  So, I hope to sell it and maybe get a Triumph Scrambler like Brad's, or a BMW 650, or something similar to knock around on.