Sunday, February 24, 2013

2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show

The show was in Denver this year and Heather and I went up to check it out yesterday. I didn't know what to expect. While there were a lot of really nice bikes there, it was strange at what really impressed me and what I just glanced at and walked right past. It was a bit of sensory overload when we first walked in but I quickly found my bearings. There were quite a few fancy road bikes and quite a few fat bikes. Neither of these are really all that interesting to me. The issue with most road bikes is that my neck just can't handle it any longer. While I think fat bikes are neat, I haven't ridden one yet and even though I would love to have one, I just don't spend hours looking at them. 

Lately, what's been catching my eye are more touring style road bikes, Monstercross bikes and SS 29ers. I saw this bike right after walking in the front door and immediately wanted to check it out. The bars are still way too low for me but if they were higher and used a Woodchipper bar I think this would be really fun. It's by Shamrock out of Indiana and I just dug the little details on it. I normally do not like lugged bikes either but I sure liked this one. 

This is the kind of bike build that I have been spending a lot of time staring at. This bike was built by Ground Up out of Colorado Springs. This particular bike belongs to Fixie Dave Nice and he used it for Tour Divide last year. It's fixed, front brake, funky bars (would love to know what bars they are), Middleburn cranks, and just no nonsense. Very nice.

This black beauty was made by English and the customer is the owner of Black Rainbow Project bags out of UK. The bags were burly but will serve him well on the Great Divide this year (which was the inspiration for the build). Lot's going on here. Alfine internal gear hub with a Gates belt drive. If that ever fails then the front 135 spaced hub that has a SS belt cog on it can be swapped to make it to the next town. There is a small rack on the front that is curved to support the roll bag. The arm rests for the aero bars are integrated into a kind of custom stem thing (really similar to the one I have from Moots but much cleaner). The frame bag uses braze on mounts instead of straps so the paint won't get rubbed off.

This townie SS from Guru would be a really fun bar bike. Loved the gumwall tires. The paint was nice too.

Blacksheep had some bikes there that I just didn't understand (like the dual suspension fat bike) but, like I said, I don't have much experience with them. I did kinda like this SS which is unusual because I don't like too many curved tubes in frames. I usually hate curved down tubes. I'd ride it though.

Independent had some nice stuff but a lot of road bikes and a lot of geared mountain bikes. Loved this purple color and the baby blue behind it (kinda looks like my Salsa).

This was another favorite and, ironically, not really one of the craziest at the show (and I don't say that to be disrespectful). This bike was built by Reeb out of Lyons, Colorado for Chad Melis. It's a belt drive SS, steel frame, Niner fork, On One Midge bar (which really caught my eye), Cane Creek levers, etc. Pretty simple rig but, again, between this and Dave's Ground Up, I actually thought about theft. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Like always, I generally do not discuss work here but I'll make an exception today. One of the students that I work with is in a welding class. This is a class that's hard to get in but I made it happen for him. The budget in my district has been utterly fawked for the last 7ish years and I still cannot believe that we have been able to keep both our metal and woods classes running. Most schools are not fortunate to have shops like these (more on the particulars in a second). student needs a bit more help than what his teacher can give him so I have been spending some time in there with him one on one. He needs to make a project to show what he's learned so we started it on Friday. This student loves to draw with paper and pencil but it's really hard for him to branch out beyond what he knows. I was hoping that welding would be a different way to do art for him and broaden his horizons a bit. We decided to do a spin on a really well known beginner welding project. A basic cube. My idea was to leave the top off the cube and make it into a pencil holder for him to use with his art pencils. We will also put on some attachments for other tools before we're done. 

We decided to use 14 gauge steel for the project. This is the computer operated plasma cutter. This thing is really nice. The shop has about 5 manual plasma cutters, half a dozen each of MIG, TIG, stick, oxy-acetylene welders, and every tool needed to fabricate some pretty impressive things. About 5 years ago I made a spare tire carrier bumper for my Jeep. Anyway...this is the 4x4 pieces being cut out. 

This beats cutting them out with a cutoff wheel or angle grinder any day. Next I prepped all the edges with a grinder. When I started the first one, I was amazed when the student jumped back about 5 feet from the sparks and said he didn't wanna get hurt. It's gonna be a process. 

I didn't get any pictures of the tac welds but I will this week. A cube is a great project because it incorporates so many aspects of welding (tacking, different types of welds, inside, outside welds, etc.). The student was really scared when the sparks were flying as I welded this area. The same guy was scared of the saws in his woods class before I went in for several classes and helped him out so I know we'll get him sorted in the weeks to come. A lot of teachers are overwhelmed with students like this but I love that this one is cool with me coming in and getting in the booth with him when he simply can't devote that kinda time to one student just for safety reasons.

Yesterday was glorious up here. It was almost 60 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The sun always feels so warm and intense up here. Bodhi was loving the deck.

We ran a few errands down the mountain and met this little guy. His name was Capone and I would have taken him home.

There's a store in Springs that always has the funniest books. This one contained photos of nothing but rear end shots.

On the way back up we decided to stop in and see the folks at Front Range BBQ for dinner. They have the best smoked artichoke hearts.

That's about all I got for now. Today is the end of week 5 for the Insanity workout. The next 4 weeks are supposed to be the hardest. I don't know how I've done it but I've lost 2.5 inches off my waist. Sorry for the random kinda posting. I just haven't been doing any crazy adventures lately with doing Insanity, working on the kitchen, weather, etc. After Insanity is done I will start riding again. I have been wanting to ride the Kokopelli Trail in one effort for years now and I think this might be the year for it. Soon I'll start prepping for that.

Get out and do something today.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kitchen Update

The kitchen project is coming along nicely. So far I have completed 3 areas of cabinets and I only have one left. The more I get done, the more I hate the rest of the kitchen like the paint, counters, etc. 

This is the last section and it is going to be the worst because of the stupid Lazy Susans. This area will probably take me 2 weeks because I'm busy lately. 

I think I've posted this view before but it's nice.

When I open up a bottle of beer, I have a bad habit of opening the drawer that holds the bottle opener, opening said bottle, and tossing the opener and cap back in the drawer. I don't know why I always do it but I do. Heather hates it. A couple years ago I cleaned out this drawer and have a bag of caps in the garage. I hate to throw them away but I don't know what to do with them. I've seen people do some pretty dumbass stuff with caps like make belts or earrings or other crap but that seems silly. This is a lot of caps but it doesn't even put a dent in the bag. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Well I talked to the folks at Hope yesterday about my little dilemma with the front hub. Surprisingly, they had never heard of what happened either. At least the sales guy hadn't. He put me in touch with the tech guy and, according to him, this is a common problem on all hubs. He says the thread lock that comes on the rotor bolts can make it quite difficult to remove them. I have removed plenty of rotors and have never had this problem. Part of me was hoping that I might get a hub out of the deal but I'm not mad with Hope at all. I like these hubs. I do NOT think this is normal. I'm not sure what caused the issue but I have an idea. I did not use the stock SRAM Torx bolts on the rotor because I don't like Torx bolts. I replaced them with allen head bolts. In this picture you can see some discoloration and rust. My guess is that the grade or material of the bolt was not what it should have been. I'm over it now. I love these hubs. Unlike my WTB hubs, these have not left me stranded. I have never replaced the bearings or freehub and they are obnoxiously loud which lets the mountain lions, bears and hikers know I'm coming long before I get there. I will be using the Torx bolts from now on. 

Yesterday I also spoke with Mr. Curiak who originally built these wheels for me back in 2009 (he was also alarmed after I told him what happened). Then I realized I had better try to replace the rear rotor before I told him to only build me a front. I had the bolts soaking for 24 hours in penetrant oil. The heads on these stripped as well. Then I used the Dremel again and cut a slot for a straight blade screw driver.  

I also decided to use a bit of heat to persuade things. Even with all of this, it took an amazing amount of force to break the bolts loose. After they were out I chased the threads with a tap and cleaned everything up and then installed the new rotors and re-adjusted the brakes. The back one is fine (although the pads are still being bedded in) but the fronts are useless because the rotor just doesn't sit right with only 5 bolts in it.

My wife is so cool. She knows I have been giving serious thought to an ITT on the Kokopelli Trail in several months so she is buying me a wheel. I'm kinda bummed because I was hoping the next wheels I bought would be from Industry 9 but it will have to wait a bit. Thanks for supporting my riding H.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


It is extremely rare for me to get frustrated to the point where I simply walk away from a project in dismay and agitation. I did it today. I've been trying to figure out what to do with my Alma frame and the other day I slowly started putting it together with old XT stuff I had in boxes. I did not have any extra brake pads so I bought new ones for the blue bike yesterday and was going to use the existing ones on ole blue for the Alma. Seemed like a great idea. This morning I went down made the swap. The Alma is in excellent shape despite all the mileage the drivetrain has seen. Threw the pads on and no squeal. Good power. 

I decided to hop on the SS and go for a longer ride. Immediately I was irritated with the brake squeal. If you don't know me...this kind of shit drives me insane. I stopped several times to adjust them but they kept squealing. I eventually came home and started from scratch and then I thought while I was at it I might as well install 2 of the brand new rotors I have laying around. This is where things took a turn. Now...I'm already having trouble getting the brakes dialed in. Mind you...they worked flawlessly with the older pads. I washed the new rotors in Dawn and then went down to remove the old rotors. 

The first bolt came out just fine. The second one twisted the 3 mm Allen wrench on my multi-tool. I was shocked. I grabbed a socket Allen, a driver and a ratchet. The head of the bolt rounded right out. Then I grabbed the Dremel to cut a slit in the bolt for a big straight blade screwdriver. The head of the bolt just broke in half. I was in disbelief. I got the rest of the bolts out and removed the rotor to find about 1.5mm of thread hanging out. With all the pressure off it there shouldn't be any issues??!! Wrong. Nothing. I ground it flat and then used the worlds smallest drill bit and nervously started. I have drilled out 100's of bolts but none of them have been in a really expensive hub before. The pilot hole was straight and eventually popped out the back. I had 2 really small EZ Outs in the toolbox but for some reason I was scared to use them. Eventually I grabbed the smaller of the 2 and put it in the pilot hole and gently tapped it. Then I grabbed a Vice Grips and slowly turned it. It turned a little but had not bitten into the bolt yet so I went a little further.

I could not friggin' believe when I saw this happen. My father was a tool thrower. I try to be better. I set the wheel down, got up and walked outside. I eventually went back in the garage and the hub was still cracked. I installed the new rotor with 5 bolts instead of 6 but it's not gonna work. Mike Curiak built these wheels for me in 2009. They've seen a lot of trail but this should not have happened. I can't imagine Hope is going to be willing to help out but I'll call them in the morning and see.

I think if I did it all over again, I'd probably play it the same way. Maybe I should have removed the bearings and seals and torched what was left of the bolt? I think it was bound to be a problem. These bolts are only held on with a little torque. I'm still baffled. And pissed off. Mike...I'll probably be calling you tomorrow too. Here's to "hoping" you have time to build me a front wheel.