Monday, March 30, 2009

The Misunderstood Mixte

It's been a while since our last post. Mostly due to brain death. I've been glancing around the shop at some of the frames hanging from above. There are a number of real beauties there. The ones that get the least respect and for the life of me I don't know why, are the Mixte frames. Many folks look at them and see the typical step through. Lot's of folks, even ladies, don't seem to get turned on by Mixte's. People will pick up a ladies hybrid or some Internet bike, like a Windsor or Mercier.

Mercier Kilo TT, what a terrible little beast. I spotted the one above on Milwaukee Ave. Look at how many spacers are in the headset. What's with the one size fits all forks? I don't have photos but the ball bearing wheel hubs were reminiscent of, dare I say, Magna? I'm pretty sure the owner did their research and looked around at various shops, before they settled on the Kilo. How in the world does this happen? Is it the belief that new is better? Gleaming chrome spacers are at least not rusty? Is it possible someone told them, bearings don't really matter that much as long as they are new?

So it is now, that I'm dreaming of celebrating the "fabulous Mixte".

The Mixte is most easily identified for it's 3 rear stays. If you're looking for stability, what more could you ask for? A heavier person would benefit greatly from such a strong setup. As would anyone looking to pull a trailer. They make fabulous commuters for both men and women. They can be mounted easily, for those wearing suits or skirts. They can easily accommodate most racks, bags, baskets, and so forth.
They also look pretty damn classy

Keep your eyes peeled, I think you're going to look at these in a whole new light.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

As seen in Chicago

The warmer weather gives us a chance to see all kinds of bikes and all sorts of riders. I must say, there are some real pieces of shit in our city. It's also worth noting that there are a great deal of truly nice rides here.

Something that bears notice, is the types of folks that ride certain types of bikes. It can be a lot of fun, bike watching. I'm a big fan of people watching. There's a comfy feeling I always derive from sitting in a cafe, especially one with windows that allow you view a continuous parade of passersby. So too with sitting and watching people on bikes. Actually, for someone who's easily turned on at the sight of a bike, it's kind of a doubling of your pleasure. While sitting in a park recently a friend (Lady Pillow Talk)schooled me on the differences in some of America's youth.

There was a threesome of guy's playing soccer in the park. From what I could gather from our conversation is that they were, excuse me if I get it wrong, "Dude Bro's". I was curious about these fellows, so I took photos.

Now, I'm not exactly sure what makes these guys Dude Bros, but one one thing I found worth noting is,

They sure do ride some shitty bikes!

She also pointed out to me, what I could best describe as a bit different. The "Alt Bro". I think it has something to do with hairy faces and Peabody glasses. Come to think of it, he looks a lot like that guy who ran off with my Richard Sachs video.

Now the "Alt bro" seems to have a different taste in bicycles. Although shades of red and blue are still prominent in the following pic as in the Dude Bro photo. The bike seems to be quite a bit more expensive. Doesn't seem to come with brakes. Serotta? Looks Italian, kinda like the Alt Bro's glasses.

The Lady Pillow talk is really abreast of society's types. Did you know there are still hippies in America? I thought they vanished after Volkswagon first discontinued the Bus.

But alas as the lady quickly pointed out. Hippies are alive and well and living right here in Chicago. Site of the 68' convention protests.

Even the peace sign is still visable on his shirt. Looks really good for a forty year old shirt.
One thing I noticed was he didn't have a bicycle. Probably too hard to ride, since he also had no shoes.

For sure there is something the lady and I agree on wholeheartedly. Bicycling sure does contribute to a tightening of ones ass.

Not sure if it was the glow of the sun, or the glow of a nice ass that made that photo so bright. I'm thinking life's about to get real interesting around here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finished the Dunelt! Check it out

So, no one sent me any Ideas on this bike. Now after sleeping on it, I came up with this. What a lovely beast.

I must admit, it's a real stunner. The rear wheel is a fixed formula hub. The 700 wheels fit nicely under the fenders. I spent a long time rebuilding the cottered crank set. The seat is worn but for a forty plus year old bike, it works just fine.
I'm bored now and in search of new projects. I think, I'm gonna dig out this old Royal Scot. Keep checking back.

Monday, March 9, 2009

In Search of Ideas Who's got em?

So I recently purchased this bike from my buddy over at Nearly New Shop.
I'm in love with old English Bikes and try to grab them whenever I can. Names like Royal Scot, Raleigh, Dunelt, Triumph, Hercules, to name a few. Most of these bikes are pretty solidly built. They can often be had for a song. The downside is, many are quite heavy. I've found however that given a lighter wheelset and changing the crank to an alloy 3 piece design, can greatly reduce their weight. I always struggle with what to do with these bikes because they are just so damn beautiful as is. The full fenders, the classy chainguard and classic British paint, really suck me in. Just look at this beauty.

So I sat and thought and pondered. What the hell to do with the little beast? Sure it needs a good cleaning, some steel wool to take care of the rust. Change the bars to alloy add a Brooks saddle. But that would only make it prettier. Not really any better. I decided to air the tires up, tighten the crank arm a bit,and take it out for a spin.

Immediately I notice the crank arms loosening. I'm heading to the bar, which isn't very far, so hopefully it will make it. I can tell as I pedal on that,both hubs are likely dry as a bone. The tires though new, are not seated properly and the rear end kinda bounces up and down. Very common with cheap 26 in tires. The wheels appear stressed and won't really hold up on city streets. I arrive at the bar, the little shit made it. But it still has to bring me back. Stay tuned.

Ok, as life goes in Chicago, it rains on the return trip. It's fenders are really keeping my ass dry, although the rest of me is soaked to the skin. One things for sure, the fenders will be included in the rebuild, as is the chain guard. The wheels however must go. I'll be posting the aftermath of the rebuild real soon.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Notes from A drunk Fuck

So it's 12:30am on Sat.and I've had a few. A few too many that is. So I figured I'd blog about stuff in general. Stuff like what pisses me off, or what I've grown tired of. Kind of a rant from a drunk. Young kids these days use a few words that fucking really make me cringe. One is the word, random. I hear that fucking word way too much. People will tell you a story or give you a rundown on their day and say the word random even when what occurred wasn't random. could have been just planned. Something can happen that was just so, and a kid will say it was kinda random. I grit my teeth and say to myself. what the fuck was random? The fact that you ran into a Chevy instead of an Audi? No, that ain't random it's just an Audi. Another word that frosts my shorts is, awkward. Jesus! Yeah, like I SAW MY EX GIRLFRIEND AND IT WAS REALLY AWKWARD! Please, come up with something else. Hey I saw my ex girlfriend and she's still as fucking annoying as she was when I was dating her. What's awkward about that? Hey my professor hit on me and it was really awkward. Yeah and way fucking unprofessional!

This just in,
Ryan's mate that was riding from Portland to Portland (Maine to Oregon0 just texted to say he can't do it.Gonna take a job instead! Shit, in this economy, who would have thought that a new job would be the game changer? With that, I gotta go take a whizz. Be back soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's around the corner?

I grapple everyday about our industry. I'm constantly watching riders. I'm forever trying to determine if there seems to be more commuters, fixie riders, joy riders, piece of shit riders and so forth. I'm interested in hearing from others. What do you think will happen in the near future, to the bicycle industry? It's nearing that time of year in Chicago where temps will be consistently above freezing. This will no doubt bring riders out of the woodwork. We can get really busy around the shop when that happens. While many bike shops and bike builders are chomping at the bit, I for one don't look forward to it. I'm not a big fan of fair weather only riders. What I am just a bit curious about is, What's the future of the cycling industry? What's to come of the cycling community as a whole? Will it increase in numbers? Will more people abandon their cars and join the ranks of two wheelers? Will the fixed gear guys that you never see after October get back out there? Will they want and be able to afford even more colorful wheels? What fashion will they adopt? Real cycle clothing for a change, or more flat brim baseball caps? We around the shop here have attended many cycling related events this winter. The turnout at all of them was overwhelming. There appears to be a great deal of really serious folks in the community. I want to create some crazy art projects this year. Hopefully, we don't get bogged down tuning up a ton of bikes that have been sitting around for years, while their owners waited for the perfect day to get out and go for a ride.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What I've learned. Attending N*A*H*B*S

I must say. I didn't quite know what I was going to get out of our attendance to the handmade show. People kept asking me, what's it about? Are you just looking at bikes? Some said, I don't believe in looking at things I can't afford. I can say this, handmade builders are as much into practical affordable bikes as are major manufacturers. What you don't get is, a bike built cheaply, just to meet a cheap price point. Handmade builders don't seem to believe in inferior parts. Along with building high quality frames, (mostly out of steel) the thing that was most apparent was, the attention given to hubs, brakes, cranks, and ergonomics. Whats also really sweet was seeing people who really understand the rider. There's more to it than just building the fastest and lightest. It's not about coming up with a design and then letting a robot do it over and over again in different sizes, then splashing paint and enormous decals all over it. I've read from some bloggers, sarcastic comments about NAHBS. They are obviously misinformed, and choose to make negative comments to lift themselves. Shameful indeed and most irresponsible. I see the industry giving root to more handmade builders as the nations economy moves into a greener direction. I'll be posting some of the photos I took (poor angles, sorry) it was just too crowded to set up most shots.

Note NYCBS just posted a blog of repentance for mocking NAHBS. Thanks much.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Notes from the Handmade Bike Show

It's Sunday morning and we're still in Indianapolis. After a full tour of the show yesterday, I have some thoughts that I wanted to put down today. We'll be posting a full report later this week. One of the things I immediately noticed was the huge attendance. Even though as a nation we are experiencing tough economic times. The people in attendance seem to come from many and varied walks of life. I'm sure that there are some builders who couldn't make it. For those who did, the energy from those in attendance was uplifting. I've not seen so many smiles since election night 2008. What was so uplifting for me, as a guy into design, is how these builders go out of their way to be different from the mass produced stuff we see on the road today. Even the Schwinn family was manning the Waterford booth. There was none of the stuff that unfortunatly bears their name today, anywhere near the show. How sweet! We are about to head out for another tour shortly. Gonna try and speak with as many builders as possible. We have tons of photos and will be posting them real soon. Stay tuned.

Got pic