Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays Baby..

Please let this be over! The Holidays, while enjoyed by many, is hated by some. The old Grinch here included. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against those who celebrate them. It's the build up that really annoys me. It seems to start after Halloween and drag on and on until the first of the New year. Seems so much pressure is put on us. There are plans to be made, family get together's, parties, presents, music, travel and so on.

I've long felt about Christmas, the way Eazy E from NWA proclaimed in a song on their only holiday album. "Merry Christmas Mutha Fucker". By the time Christmas actually arrives, I've been over it for weeks.

I've had Lot's of folks here in New Orleans, ask me to assist them with Christmas, (bicycle gifts). For the most part, I declined. It's just too much work, getting bikes shipped from Chicago. The desired bike here is the cruiser, especially vintage ones and shipping is pretty expensive, given the weight of most them.

One fellow who contacted me, Patrick is his name, was pretty persistent. He'd seen some of our work and just had to have a cruiser for his girlfriend. We went back and forth , a few times over the phone. Mostly with me just saying, yeah sure, I'll see what I can do. I suppose Patrick could smell that I'm a lazy shit. He did what many folks in Chicago do, (call me until I get my ass and my brain to make a connection.) He even called Carene and told her I was ignoring him.
Finally an impetus came over me. I got in touch with "The other Ron", over at A Nearly New Shop on Broadway. He had a bike in stock that I had shown Patrick photos of. It seemed like the ticket, from the pictures, so I had Carene pick it up, replace the chain and ship it to me.
I was a bit put off however, when I received it. The front axle was loose, which is no big deal but the axle bearings were also bone dry. This from a bike that was on their sales floor.
I figured if the wheel bearings were dry, the crank had to be as well. Sure enough, it was. The handle bars and grips were also not original. That's no big deal if this was a beater, but not something you give your girlfriend for Christmas. After all, it takes a year to make up for giving a lousy Christmas gift.
Check it out..

After going over it, I called Patrick and told him, I'd do my best to get the proper bars and grips. It test rode really well so I felt fine delivering it. Here's some pics of it after assembly.

Rear racks are the shit... Really

The fender mounted headlight has always been hot..

I have a new respect for the vintage cruiser. Probably because I've seen so many hot women riding around town on them. (yes I'm a pig)

Whatever the reason, this town is gonna get a lot more of them, courtesy of yours truly.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A View From 930 Miles South

July 7th was the last time I updated this page. It goes without saying, that I suck as a blogger . It was indeed a busy summer and fall, despite how it looked to those of you who know us well. As in previous years, we again refined what we do and how we build and although we finished a lot less, the projects we completed were of much higher quality than in years past. Unfortunately it cost more money to build this way. Sadly, that alienated some people. Below are a few of my favorites.

Hard to believe that bike was 35 years old. It's an old Schwinn LeTour, that is finally deserving of the name, "tour". The fellow who requested this bike owns a hair salon. He has impeccable taste, but likes things minimal and uncluttered. I had to make him take that rear rack. He loves it now. He completed the Apple Cider Century in Michigan, late this past summer.

This next bike was also a request. This fellow favored beach cruisers, but his girlfriend, a longtime friend of ours, favors road bikes. When they rode together, she spent a lot of time waiting for him to catch up. This was our compromise.

You can likely tell I have a fondness for the color off white. I did four bikes in this shade over the past year. It's called "Platinum Smooth". It's just so goddamn elegant. We special ordered the wheels for this one. They are coaster brake, Shimano hub with Sta-Tru alloy rims 700x25. I committed to 9 pairs. We still have 5 pairs remaining. The basket is from Wald, it's called the "Woody" (bet that took a lot of thought) The tires are Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. I'm sold on the Schwalbe brand. They may cost a bit more, but with the exception of theLugano's, they are very high quality. They have a new tire available this spring that looks very good as well. Never, ever buy the Lugano's however.

Emily Taylor is co-owner of Pocampo. A company she founded. They make cycling accessories for women. Everything is done locally with no out-sourcing. I'm always happy when I see her riding around town. She even took this bike to Interbike in Las Vegas. The shipper however was not very kind to it. We may have to do a repaint. This bike is also featured in the TYK calender, along with Emily.
She's Ms. September.

I like my photo better:

Sometimes when building a bike. You're asked to do things that pain your soul. This next picture was one such bike. I'll only show part of it. This was a Nervex frame, extremely light and elegant. It was from the late 1960s. Beautiful in every way. Jaime again wanted it minimal. Not even any lug highlights. That hurt...

For some reason the bike below, took forever to assemble. I replaced everything from the bottom bracket up. The only thing original to the bike are the frame and crank. Using cross tires made for some really tight clearances. The thought process in building this was, handling Chicago's winter. I added bar end shifters, which I'm a big fan of. I also have a fondness for vintage randonneur bars. It test rode like a dream. Even though we kept its original finish, it cost as much to assemble, as some of our powdercoated bikes. The Vittoria Cross tires are among the best that I've tested. The sidewalls are really stiff enabling them to corner like no other cross tire. Quite a superb little machine.

I've had more free time on my hands than I could have ever in my life imagined. It's allowed me time to look around and to rethink bike building. Living in Chicago, I've spent much of my time focusing on bicycles that Chicago commuters want. Which for the most part, means light, quick and efficient. I personally am not a big fan of someone tearing ass down the avenues. Not only is it risky, as getting doored could make you a human catapult, but the rider seems to be rolling in a tunnel. With views to the left and right mostly obscured. There could be the sweet aroma or the sight of something grand nearby, but the tunnel often keeps the rider from ever acknowledging it.

Riding around New Orleans is nothing like commuting up and down Chicago's busy streets. I must say, I will never complain about the shitty pavement in Chicago. The streets of New Orleans, are on par with, dirt roads. I'm sure much of it is it's elevation (51 percent of the city is at or below sea level) and the fact that it's still a very poor town. Priorities first, I suppose.
The cruiser, seems to dominate the streets of New Orleans. Much of it, is cheap Walmart shit. Carene, Ryan and I serviced some vintage cruisers before we headed down here. They sold as soon as we posted them on craigslist. Wish we could have bought more. I have requests here from folks who want them for Christmas.

Yes we are in WHO DAT nation, with a Bears themed RV.
Give me the "C", over the crescent any day.

Sitting in the park in December. That's one thing this town has on Chicago.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Recent Work

We often build bikes for people that never reach this blog. They usually go out the door as soon as they are finished. Here are some photos of some that got away.

This was a bike I had never seen before. "The Londoner" made in Japan in what appeared to be the 70s. Beautiful headbadge, nice color and what I liked most English threading which made for a pretty simple rebuild. Notice the long wheelbase. It rode like a dream. I.m a big fan of this kind of frame design. If you compare it to say, one of todays typical hybrids, it puts them to shame.

I'm a big fan of the old Raleigh Gran Prix frames. Very light, strong, nice lugs and pretty rear seat stays. This one went to Andy, who works at a nice bar on Division st. We used 700x 32 tires, as he is a city commuter and was looking for a quick bike, still with a soft ride. Set up as a roadster.

This bike also did not stay around long. I loved the color. Cyclepro road
bikes are pretty rare. The Wald woody rack has been a nice addition for us. They are a bit heavy, come with the cheapest screws available but look and work really well, if you mount them properly. I'm a big fan of big bells and believe all bikes should have them. This bike also was done ,using Green Grips bar wrap, which I really like. You'll need to do some heavy shellacking, however. But you can't beat how nice it looks.

This bike never made it out in the pictured setup, as the owner thought he could do a better job. enough said...

This bike, I rode this 66' Triumph for about a week before it sold. I carried a case of bottled beer to a party on this bike on a cold winter night. It was quite heavy but the basket didn't mind at all. It was purchased as a gift, by a nice girl to give to her boyfriend for Christmas. Lucky, boy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Something we are currently working on

Along with leather re-upholstered saddles, we are attempting to design and produce leather saddle bags. Since these will be cut from remnants, colors will vary. Here is one that we installed on that pretty Suteki Mixte. These would be good for storing a light jacket, plastic bag to cover your saddle, a sammich, your keys, wallet, or whatever you don't want in your pocket. I will post other colors as they are produced. Figure a leather bag in the 45.00-50.00 dollar range, handmade.

A few bags in different colors should be available this upcoming week.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sneek Peek at the Art About Display

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My love affair with the Mixte continues...

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Vintage Centurion Fixed Gear Roadster

Look for us at 5 Star Bar on Chicago Ave.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The South

I hate to admit it. In the last 24 hours, I've spent 93.00 dollars on gasoline. A tough one to swallow for someone that doesn't own a car. I could have taken a train all the way from Chicago to New Orleans for that amount. Instead, I rode with my father from northern Mississippi to the gulf coast and then with my brother to New Orleans. Funny thing about the south. People always ask us northerners, how the hell do we put up with the chilly weather. However, touring the south in 80 plus degree weather, what I've found is mostly, folks sitting in air-conditioned homes and cars. Nice porches that are mostly house dressing. Entering into New Orleans via highway 10 is quite beautiful. There are many miles of swamps and marshlands. Being in a car you can't actually see it, at least in it's real glory. There's a retaining wall the whole 25 mile stretch leading into the city. Cars traveling at 70 miles per hour, also keep the view for the most part, uninteresting. I took these pics from the web. Since the ones I tried to shoot at 70mph, suck.

It's a shame that the car prevents people from taking advantage of this beauty. While driving along with this beauty at our side, my brother remarked, "man I really like that Buick Enclave". The car that was on a truck being hauled into the city. Go figure. As a kid and through much of my life, I too loved the car. My brother as a kid and teen, could care less about cars. My how things have changed. After arriving in the city and navigating traffic we neared our destination. Then came the hunt for a place to park. Something else i don't miss about driving. We finally found a space We finally found a space and backed in. Of course, because of the car we were immediately limited with how long we could stay in the city. Parking meters only last 2 hours and we only had enough quarters for 1hr 45 measly minutes.
People buy cars, looking for transportation. I constantly hear the term "in control" or "allows you freedom". From what I observe of most motorists, that's complete bullshit. Freedom? Hardly, restrictions? Absolutely. Control? I could hardly call sitting in traffic with thousands of other control freaks, control.
We finally, got our chance to tour and of course within 10 minutes were at the touristy, but oh so good:

Cheesy yes, but god do I wish there was a Cafe DuMonde in Chicago. Probably best it be 800 miles from since, I'd be walking around Chicago with grease stain on my fingers and powdered sugar all over me. What a pig..

There are loads of really cool things in New Orleans. I never watch live music in Chicago, as I don't care for amplifiers indoors. Or lame bands with long names, for that matter. But these guys got my attention on the street.

Opps.. video won't load

Of course being as this blog is generally about bicycles, I have to say. New Orleans truly is the land of shitty cruisers.

I love how they cover their saddles with plastic bags. Not, I'm sure because they want to protect expensive leather. More likely because those foamy bun busters can hold a shit ton of water. Perhaps they should offer them to BP?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nothing to do Friday Evening?

I'll be one of 6 Re (cyclists) displaying current work at the 2nd Friday art walk. There is a reception at 1900 Halsted. I'll be there after 6pm. come on down and browse the neighborhood as there will be much to see and do. Be sure to stop by and say hello and have a drink perhaps. I'll be there all night

Friday, May 7, 2010

Crap ass Fiber

Most people who know me, already know, how I feel about how certain materials that are used on bicycles. I'm not the biggest fan of aluminum. I do think it's relatively safe however. Carbon fiber? well..that's another story. I honestly question the sanity of anyone who rides it. I'm sure some of it's out of ignorance. Many feel, If it's the latest in light materials what could be the harm? Some say, if it were dangerous, companies wouldn't use it. Boy are they misguided. Big bike companies mostly care about selling shit. In the quest to have the next new thing to trumpet, they quite often introduce unnecessary crap. For instance, carbon fiber brake levers or calipers. These are completely unnecessary and certainly no better than alloy. Perhaps worse actually, and in many cases much more expensive. Another example would be, who's faster? A guy with a 9-speed campy group or a guy with a 10 speed group? (answer) The guy with the strongest legs and largest lung capacity. A Lugs regular, Kate, forwarded me this sweet photo of a carbon fiber failure:

Ouch! I hate too see what that guys face looked liked after a few feet of pavement scraping. He's lucky he wasn't impaled.
I also have a favorite photo of a Giant TCR-1 that came into the shop recently. The kid wanted this fixed. In my mind this was, so he could go about the business of plotting his own timely demise. I told him I wouldn't be involved in that.

Photo #2
Searching around for more lovely photos, I came across the blog:
"Busted Carbon" which has tons of photos of broken carbon fiber components.
Here are a few for your viewing pleasure. I named the first one: "Balls in the Hospital"

This one is titled, " You Really Need to Get Your Facials Some Other Way "

I always cringe when people come in looking for carbon forks. My first question is, why? I've never gotten a straight answer. A common one is, I just like it better. Someone should cane these poor bastards before they hurt themselves.