Friday, February 27, 2009

Would You Rock it? Accessory Woes

I've been giving a lot of thought to accessory design. With the warmer weather approaching we'll see Lot's of new things. New cycling caps, shorts, spoke cards, lights and so forth. One thing that's been troubling me is, top tube pads. I'm just not so sure about them. I've taken a small poll around the shop and the consensus seems to be favorable. I've heard new ideas like, maybe they should be shorter, or some are too thick. For me it's a style issue. Do they look dorky? I think they do. Some will argue that, they keep your bike from getting scratched when you lock up. Others say they keep your jeans from rubbing the paint off your top tube. Huh? Seems silly to me.

The only way I might possibly consider using one, is if it were easily removable. Clip-on clip of. Riding with the thing wrapped all around the tube? No way, not gonna do it. I know I'm gonna hear, folks say, you gonna get your bike all scratched up. Look, if it's an everyday commuter mule of a bike, let it get a little mucked up. Who cares? Maybe some thief might have mercy on the beast and leave it be. On the other hand, if it's my favorite whip, my baby, the one that gives me street cred? No way It's getting a pad. Furthermore, I'm not the kind of guy that would dare lock my favorite bike to a parking meter. Makes no difference what kind of KrytoBulldogFuhgetaboutitnewyork lock you can buy. I'm not locking my baby to a pole.

They only way I'd leave her is with two serious looking guys, in Brooks Brothers suits, rockin Aviators, with bulges in their jackets. Yeah, some presidential type security. But since it's too late to get the financing put into the stimulus bill, I guess I'll have to get people to understand. The mule can sit outside, but my baby's coming in with me. Top tube pad my ass.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Surreal Bicycles or How to Use Your Imagination

Cycling is not just a form of transportation; it is a passion, an obsession and need that bicycle lovers are always trying to fulfill. For some, it is a way to use their imaginations to design gorgeous, sexy bicycles. These are the bikes that maybe you only ride in sunny weather and make sure rain never touches them. The bikes that you secretly love to show because they are masterpieces. Then there are those who really like to use their imaginations and take bicycles to new heights of creativity or craziness.

This is going to be more a visual post showing what people have done with bicycles using their imaginations.

Look how happy these guys look.

Damn this is a good idea.

It speaks for itself.

Who needs steel?

So I am calling all you bike lovers out there to go out and use your imagination with your bike(s). You don't have to make a seven person bike or figure out how to transport beer around. Just adding a bit of decoration to your lugs or spicing up your bike in any form, is using your creative mind. SO GO HAVE SOME!

A bike builders dream (The Handmade Show)

We are attending the NAHBS in Indianapolis this weekend. Updates, photos and video to follow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Funny how things Change

Back in the early 90s, I owned a Porsche 944. It was a really sweet and fun to drive little booger. The nineties were nothing like today, and driving around in a slick sports car didn't make me look like a dork. I was always out on the town and rarely seen without a lovely young lady along side. The vehicle, coupled with my ownership in a north side Chicago bar, seemed to score endless dates for me.

Looking back, I can hardly believe the person that I've become. I still own a car. (I guess you could call it that.)These days I'd much rather ride a bike than be caught dead in a Range Rover. My bar days are far behind me. (I still love booze, I just don't think bars are the most economical/practical places to get it.) I'm happy living a greener life. What's really ironic is, how much things have changed and just how many people still wish to live in the past.

Whenever I look at guy in a big ass SUV, I kind of get embarrassed for him. I'm riding along and some guy pulls up on a Harley and all I see is...dork. Who knew that the symbol of American Iron would someday be looked upon as quite revolting.

I read a really interesting post in the best of CL that made me look back on my past and smile:

Originally Posted: Mon, 20 Oct 15:38 PDT
Guys without Bikes - m4w

Date: 2008-10-20, 3:38PM PDT

I peruse the CL MCs on the man end over here and I have to say, is there any love for a guy NOT on a bike? It's often the only identifying factor left to describe the man with whom you ladies are so smitten.

"You: Red road bike with clipless pedals. Me: Cute brunette....etc."

"To the guy on the yellow fixie with...."

There's more. Hundreds and hundreds more. Seriously, it's not even effective anymore. There's like 500 hipster dudes out there with a yellow fixie, probably half of them on bart at any given time. If I threw a "Dudes with Yellow Fixie" party I'd probably have to rent out the Cow Palace to house them all. Your ad could turn up any one of them, although actually that probably doesn't bother you much. It seems you hardly even saw the dude, so transfixed as you were by his tats, skinny jeans, and that yellow fixie. Honestly, is this the new chick magnet? Has the red sports car of the 80's been replaced with the fixed wheel bike (not that the environment doesn't thank you)? Has the small, cute dog gone the way of the dodo for conversation starters? What will tiny, crappy dogs do if they're not getting dudes laid? Live in spoiled girls' purses only? How sad.

I'm just waiting for the ad that says "You slammed into me from behind, knocking my coffee onto my boss and my laptop onto the ground which now has a cracked screen - I don't know if I'll be able to get my work off of it yet - and then you rode off kicking up gravel into my face as I sank prostrate on my knees behind you trying to recover myself. You had the most amazing red fixed-wheel bike that zipped in and out of traffic, causing a minor accident in which a woman rear-ended an elderly man who still had the reflexes to stop before hitting you. If you want to get coffee, I'd love to meet you!"

I suppose I'm just hating. It's the Bay Area and that seems to be what you ladies are into. Just tell me, do I need to actually ride the bike or can I just carry it around so I can get noticed? Because I'm willing. Don't doubt it.

Funny how things change...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Gives?

This past Thursday night, was a cold, miserable, typical winter night in Chicago. I was meeting a friend for drinks. I rode my winter bike. She took a cab, so naturally I arrived first. I decided to wait outside as opposed to going in, just in case there might be a change in plan. While standing at the corner of North Damen and Milwaukee Ave, I couldn't help but notice how many others were out in the shitty weather riding like me. I get a warm feeling whenever I see anyone riding during winter in the Windy City. I regularly check out other cyclists, just to see what they're riding or how the bike might be set up.

One thing I couldn't help but notice was how many ragged rides there are in town. Trust me, I get it, in Chicago bike theft is rampant. The winters are downright cruel. So, if someone is riding a POS, I understand. What I don't get is a rider who's chain is so rusty that it barely turns. I saw a kid whose bottom bracket was creaking so loud, you could hear it easily, even though we were at one of the louder intersections in the city. I guy rolled by on one of those Wal-mart bikes (i guess you could say he rolled)Both wheels were so grossly out of true that he had to loosen his brakes to the point where they were in-operable.

I don't know maybe it's me. I've always enjoyed riding a bike that is easy to pedal, that fucking fly's when you want it to and that won't get you killed when an emergency stop is required.

The midnight Marauders Porn ride, takes off from that same intersection tonight. I'm thinking, I should maybe return to my spot and just park and yell like a raving lunatic, Hey mama you'd look really hot if your tires were inflated! Yo chief let me oil that chain for you, one dollar! Maybe just, Hey..Hey you..Fix your goddamn bike!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Movie Review: American Flyers

I recently watched the bicycle film American Flyers. I was hesitant at first because KateBall had purchased the movie from Amazon for a penny and generally movies that are that cheap are pretty terrible. Plus, it stars Kevin Costner, who I usually dislike. I don't hate him, I just don't like him. Waterworld anybody?
However, American Flyers turned out to be a semi-awesome movie about bike racing. While I would have loved the movie to just be about the bike racing, there had to be the usual tough-love brother relationship, a rare genetic brain disease and some romance with a hot hitchhiker involved in the plot, but it was still a good movie. It focuses on the "Hell of the West" race that takes place in the Colorado Rockies. There is awesome footage of bicycles and cyclists striving in the race. Some good depictions of how strategies are used during races and how racing can become a person's passion, but also their downfall(Kevin Costner's character mainly experiences this). This film has everything: illness, bizarre brother love, romance, comedy, drive and bicycles (And a really nice shot of a hot chick in a cycling jersey), BUT it lacks the oomph that is usually present in Steve Teisch's films (see Breaking Away. If you don't want to think while watching a movie and you need bicycles involved, American Flyers is worth the penny spent.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Looking to Do Something Different

Wherever I go, I'm always looking at what people ride. I look at websites like, and others. There's tons of really cool bikes around the world. But as spring aproaches I seem to have developed a taste for something really hot. Not just, gold trim or colored Velocity's or purple bar tape. Something that set's a bike apart from every other one on the street.
I've always seen bikes as art. I'm sure there are others that share this same view. What I'd really like to see and create are art bikes. When you google art bike images, you get some really wacked out results. Such as:   

I can accept it as art, but really...a bike? Not so much. It must be tough to pedal from atop the throne. Especially if your pants are around your knees.

Or get a load of this heap. A twisted mister.:
Interesting? Not as a bike. Maybe as non-functional sculpture. What's up with the rear brake cable?

What I'd like to see more of, and please feel free to email Ideas folks, is something that is both cool and functional. A one of a kind bike. A masterpeice like this:

Colnago just might be on to something. Although I'm not sure if this is one of a kind.

I'm gonna work at this all summer and will be looking for artists and ideas. I'm thinking it's time to have some fun with this.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Second Life for an Old Friend

Here's an old friend of ours, owned by the Miss Kate Ball, the Hyda Bike. This Hyda Bike had an identical twin owned by Bean. It was very cute to see these two ladies wheeling down the street on matching bikes. For some reason the rack was never used to pick up any thirty packs? Odd. Anyways...the Hyda Bike is pretty cool because it is vintage Italian. Made by Cinza, it has a three speed derailleur setup, has generator lights, and of course can fold into a nice compact size. Kate updated it a bit with new tires, re-tensioned spokes, and new cables.

Here is the happy new owner of the Hyda Bike, Remy. Remy purchased this beauty yesterday and you can tell by the smile on his face that he can't wait to take it out for a ride. Its always nice to see a rider excited about their new bike. The excitement and thrill you feel when you first take a new bike out for a ride cannot be described in words, you have to experience it to understand.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Before ...and After!

This is what started the project, a simple but heavy Raleigh Sports 3-speed cruiser:
The fenders and chain guard are still around if anyone needs them.

Ron saw the beauty in this bike and through art and sculpture created this:

A sweet mix of the old and the new. Classic vintage frame that turned out to be very light, fixed gear with new track wheels (Alexrims R450), 700x20 tanwall tires, great Raleigh cottered crank, vintage Elina saddle...

Taking notice of what starts many builds really makes me appreciate building as an art, as functional sculpture. Just like Michelangelo said, when he sees a block of stone he sees the sculpture trying to get through. And then he sculpts the block to reveal it.

Just missed out

Just missed out on this one. Marin picked it up on 2/13/09.
Powdercoated Raleigh Technium, Sugino crank geared 42/14, Tan/gold Alexrims DA-22 wheelset, vintage Spirit leather saddle with many more new parts.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A friend told me this would pass

Back in '07 a friend in the bike recycle/rebuilding business, told me he thought this whole single/fixie thing had about another year before it would be out of fashion. I remember thinking then, what the fuck did he mean? What fashion? He said to me, you know all these hipsters will be on to something else. He thought they might adopt cars or motorcycles or make train riding vogue. I said, dude... you don't get it. This ain't no fad.  Some people live for this. A bike isn't just an accessory, like a fancy purse. To many of us it's freedom. Freedom from oil, from city parking Nazi's, freedom from traffic jams, freedom from car mechanics, cab drivers and some smelly bastard, who will always pick you out as the person to sit next to on the bus.  I guess a guy that builds bikes but spends most of his time in a car and on expressways, can't actually understand.

One thing I know for sure. I've met more people who have freed themselves of the slavery of car ownership, than I could have ever imagined 5 years ago. I've also been contacted by countless numbers of folks who either want a fixie or want their current bike built into one. Many of those folks, like myself, don't really fit the hipster mystique. They seem to come from all walks of life actually. Small town kids, business types, moms, young and not so young.

I've got a new name for my old friend... 
Mr. Wrong

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thought it was just a fad

I bought my first fixed gear bike in 2001. I'd been a bike collector for many years, but never had the desire to jump on fixie until a friend who worked in a local shop, urged me to try one out.  I jumped on the little fucker and road for about a mile. It was my first time. No brakes, no helmet, no common sense and no way was I coming back. I called my friend from the road and told him I was keeping the bike. Bill my card.

I didn't think much of it then. After all, It was one of maybe, fifteen bikes in my living room. I remember having this need to go faster. I experimented with a range of tires. Finally settling on a set of Vittoria's at about $70.00 each, retail. I started doing things, like putting the bike on my bathroom scale, checking it against all the other bikes in the house. I got lighter bars, then a lighter seat. I was pissed off when the scale didn't return the desired results. Fixed fever had set in. A disease that had claimed many, was now full blown in me.     

More tomorrow...

Fresh Powdercoats!

Just got back a few great looking powdercoated frames. Today we sent out 6 more. When they come back we'll have five for sale.