Sunday, November 25, 2012

I do like to build for ladies in particular. They appreciate the subtleties that I like to take the time on. A lot of men love good shape and color, sure, but I suppose if I had my choice to pleasure a man or a woman, well, I’d just rather make a woman happy. And frankly the ergonomics are more intriguing to study. Pleasing a woman is no easy task, but it is one I am more than willing to take on, and when all goes well, absolutely worth it.

This bike was for Christy, a gal from the Nightingale, an art space down the way. She came to get it yesterday. A few folks from the neighborhood were hanging around listening to music in the shop, as they are prone to do. Pandora cut out for a second when a text came in. Normally that annoys the shit out of me, but I knew it was her and was looking forward to seeing her face when she got a glimpse of the new ride. She wanted it to be a surprise so she let me pick the color, style, gave me full creative power. I like freedom as much as anyone, but it comes with responsibility. It’s one thing if a woman tells you what she wants. It’s another if she wants you to tell her. But that’s a matter for another time. 

Christy came in the first thing she said was, “Is this my girl? Shoot she is pretty!” Made me happy to hear. A positive response is really all I could ask for.

It started out as a rusty blue road bike with a milk crate on the back. So, you know, we took it all apart. She lives on a corner where her bikes have a habit of living outside on those tall long gates. Everything was oxidized. I showed her how the fork on her old bike had to be cut out because the stem was completely seized. Most of the old parts I put in the scrap truck when it came around. Pretty much useless. We made it clear that the bike is to be kept inside. No more of that. A lot went into it. The new fork is from an old 80’s model Schwinn. The bike is lighter now, it’s quicker. It’s more comfortable for her, the seating position is more of a thing a girl can ride in, more commuter friendly, more upright, better for her body all around. Her saddle was fucked, for example. It was cracking and she would just slide over the rough edges. No good. I stuck with the saddle because her ass already knows the shape, but the skin needed to be sturdy and soft. Softness goes a long way. We are talking about a delicate region after all. So we had Mr. Poncho cover it in a soft brown leather. No cold vinyl here. 

We sent the parts out to be powder coated that old British racing green. The color was a minor controversy in the shop. Everybody had to put in their two cents. And some a little more than that. Folks were pushing for bright orange, fushia, or darker green. I made the final call because it felt right. It’s fresh and unique, the right fit for Christy. When she came she said she was hoping for green, which gave me mixed feelings because on the one hand I was glad to have come through for her and on the other I wished it would have been more of a surprise. My ego talking there I guess. Anyway in the end the smile on her face was all I needed. She took the bike out in the alley for a test run, where we all heard her discover her little bell. As she wound around the block, you could hear her ring the bell and just laugh, ringing and squealing, ringing and squealing. Doesn’t get much better than that. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lights, motherfucker.

Lights themselves are wonderful. What I hate are morons who've never fucking heard of daylight savings time and get on the street in rush hour without them. Because it's not “cool” to have reflectors or because they're too fucking cheap. It'd be $20 for a light that would save their asses. It's fucked up. Most cyclists run through lights, even at 5:30, the dumbfucks, but it's dark now. Put a goddamned flashlight on the fucking bike. And not so the road will be beautifully illuminated for your riding pleasure. It's so drivers can see your dumb ass in time to keep from killing you!

I talked to a driver who almost hit a cyclist doing exactly what I'm talking about. She stopped and checked to see if the girl was alright, but the driver suggested she get a light and the girl got pissed. What the fuck.

Not that drivers aren't morons too. There are these guys that smoke in their cars, windows rolled up if they have something to hide, never clean the damn windshield, can't see shit outside. Then you've got some skinny jeans motherfucker going down the street with no lights on. The height of idiocy.

I've noticed New Orleans cyclists don't really have this problem. Mainly because they ride so goddamned slow. The law says get lights, sure, but it's not the same. Plenty don't have them, but it isn't like they're going through at breakneck speeds, partly because life is different there, time is different, but the roads being total shit has something to do with it, too. The only way you can ride is slow, lots of folks on cruisers down there.

There's a young lady that's going to look real good on this bike. It'll be beautiful by the end of the week. We're going to build it per a conversation I had with her boyfriend, who is surprising her with a new ride. He's tired of seeing her hailing cabs since her bike got jacked this summer. If you ride a bike you don't always get along with cab drivers. So this bike will be a cab negator. Stylish and good for bad weather, but a small dent for Checker. Nothing against them in general, but when a taxi driver looks at the road, he sees twenty dollar bills, and twenty dollar bills are on two feet. Two wheels don't mean shit to him. His eyes aren't on the bike lane, so please people, watch the fuck out. Oh yeah, the Follis all finished..

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

People talk to me about accidents. I talked to a girl, a pedestrian, last night who said she won't ride in Chicago because she doesn't want to get hit. I have to say, about cyclist safety, 80% of the time, it's their own fault. Cyclists like to make a lot of noise about respect but they don't respect the road, many of them. I've spent many afternoons sitting at the Matchbox at Milwaukee and Odgen, watching these idiots. It'll be 4:30, rush hour for every fucking body and they're blowing the red light. Regularly I get an ear full from some dumb ass whose injuries and damage don't match the story. 

I'm not a fan of repairing bikes that shouldn't have been broken in the first fucking place. In truth, most repairs aren't from accidents. People that have been riding for a long time know how to deal for the most part. The repairs I can't stand are these kids that don't take care of their shit, leave their bikes sitting around and then want me to undo months of neglect.

They way I'd like to be spending my time is building custom set ups for people who have specific needs. I like to sit down with someone and talk about what their ride is, what roads, how long, what they like to ride in versus what they have to wear for work, etc. Basically I want to build bikes for their fashion needs, their lifestyle, their commute.

The light blue Mercier was constructed for a taller woman, who does not ride everyday. Hand stitched leather women's specific saddle, lower gearing, upright riding position and pedals that came handle heels. Although I don't endorse riding in heels. The olive colored bike was built for Marta, she's the owner of, " A Vision Chicago" a floral and wine boutique on Damen ave. Obviously a woman with style. I had it painted in this sage color and gave it an antique touch with a vintage leather saddle. Soft riding touring tires. Shortened the wheelbase by adding a straighter rake fork.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sunday April, 15th If you're free at all on this day, please stop by the Rebuilding Exchange. We will be displaying some of our work and can assist you, if you have a project you'd like to get going. Hope to see you all there. Let's have a beer.

Monday, March 19, 2012

So there was this bike swap a few Saturday's back...

As a guy who's always tinkering with something, I find swap meets of all kinds, quite a blast. I've left the warm winter of New Orleans and traveled the nearly 1000 miles back to the mid-west, just to attend the Brazen Dropouts swap meet in Madison, Wis. in January. There are not many things I love more than a swap, flea market, bike/car show, antique fair, or similar events. There's the Ann Arbor Michigan swap, April 29th, that has had me salivating since last year. Rarely do any of these events, disappoint. Except for... well one. The one that's actually walking distance from my shop. The one that's intended to serve the same folks that we do on a daily basis. The Active Transportation, Chicago Bike Swap. I'm sure there will be those who blast me for writing this, but so be it. It's a shit show in so many ways. I find it hard to believe that a large committee of people can arrange such a god awful event. I don't even see how they could get off calling this a swap. Webster defines swap meet. noun. An informal gathering for the barter or sale of used articles or handicrafts. Okay, so perhaps they could get away with calling it a swap. Here's the problem though: It's $10 dollars to get in! Highest price anywhere! Sponsorship by a non- profit or not, that's not cool. Lot's of swaps are sponsored by non profits. You would think non-profits, of all groups, would understand, value. I'm sure they'll say, they have added value, with their lectures and performances and tons of volunteers. They should note, most attendees are cyclists. They don't really need a, "how to keep your bike running during winter". They rode them to the swap.. Being as most attendees are avid cyclists, what's with all the dealers bringing new off the shelf accessories that are marked down 5%? Cyclists have that crap already! If no one purchased your cycling shoes at $190 bucks what makes them think someone will pay $180 at a swap? The amount of cheap, takeoff merchandise at that swap is depressing. Hello local bike shops, the reason you had to pack up so much stuff and take it back to your shop, is because no one wants it or it's not a bargain. If you're looking to get rid of something, price it accordingly. The event takes place in multiple rooms and when you go from one room to the next, the door Nazi's are checking for your wristband everytime time you enter. It seems the $10 dollar fee is what's of utmost concern. Even though you're carrying a bag of purchased merchandise and wearing a wristband, you're still treated like a stowaway as you move about the place. That sucks to high hell. Get it together, Active Trans.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I swear to start blogging again

It's been really tough getting back to this page. I'm not sure what it is exactly, that prevents me from posting. I'm always reading other peoples thoughts and enjoy sexy bike photos, still. Regularly I look at the cycling community in Chicago and get upset. For so many riders, the bicycle seems like just another way to get around, a tool, a prop for some. Often it seems they don't really assign any value to the machine. Some even expect a well built bike to be cheap.(Total bullshit I say) As a person who has put countless hours in some of these machines, I get pissed off with those who have this view. So many new riders and mechanics as well, fall into what I like to call a latest and greatest mentality. They fall for whatever a bike manufacturer or accessory company might put on the market each spring. It amazes me how few can see through sale strategy corporate, bullshit. I used to argue with them, now I just smile say nothing. Inside, I'm saying what a stupid fuck.. That's better than trying to explain to them that 10 speeds is no better than 9. I'm in New Orleans currently, where their are few riders who care about weight and how many speeds a bike have. Nothing about aluminum or carbon. You hear shit like, "how are the tires" or after a test ride, they'll say "it's comfy, that's just what I was looking for". While here I met up with an old buddy, Peter Stanley. Peter builds bike trailers. Big ass bike trailers actually..
He had this hooked to a tall bike that evening. It's 7 ft wide to the outside rails. I forget the length, but it's at least 10 ft. It's weight capacity he say's is around 1000 lbs. pretty damn sweet. He will build one for you. I have his info. Oh, and it's steel, by the way.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hope you all can make it

There will be a bike swap inside the market. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

This Sunday 8/7/11

We will be bike swapping with other vendors at:

You don't want to miss it!

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.