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.