Friday, November 11, 2022

Been A Long Time, but It's good to be here

Hello from sunny New Orleans! I finally gave up working for that sould sucking, shitty paying job, I had here. It's givien me a lot more time to work with bicycles. Which as many of you mechanics know, can be dangerous. I've probably purchased 100 or so bicycles in the last 6 months. I wholesaled most of them, but I've set aside about 40 for New Orleans. I'm slowly working my way through them. The response has been pretty good so far. I'll post pics of some of them soon. What really bought me back to the blog however, are the experiences I've had at local shops here. I have a friend in town,as I often do in the fall/winter months. We decided to attend the local blues fest the other day. It's held in Lafayette Square, a pretty ok venue, if I might add. Knowing ther'd be very little parking and it was a nice warm day. We bicycled down there. We stop for roadie beers on the way. Things were going swell when suddenly my buddy sad, "something a'int right. Sure enough he'd gotten a pinch flat. It's crazy of me, but sure enough, I left the house with no extra tube, no small adjustable wrench. (single speed wheel)no tire lever even. It was a sunday and we were passing through the quarter, (french). There was only 1 shop opened that actually stocked tubes. This is were it gets shitty. Walked his bike over to this shop who's name ryhmes with "Tide this Bike". The person on the phone was flipant, So unneccesary. I need a 700x23/32 presta 48 mm. Pretty standard tube at this point. They said we have an 80 mm. Thats way long but of course in a pinch i'll take it. Here's the kicker, $25.00 installed... What the actual fuck? I'm sure there are soje shop owners who are ready to argue this with me, but that's some bullshit. I can have a flat on my fairly large old 4x4 truck fixed for 20.00. That includes jacking it up, taking the lugs off with an impact drill, using a tire changer machine to remove the tire, repairing it, using the machine to re-mount the tire, checking it for leaks and the mounting it back on the truck and lowering the jack. $25 bucks for installing a $2.49 cent tube (wholesale) is criminal. Add to it the ineptitude of the (mechanic) I use the term loosly. Just watching him use a wrench was like nails on a chalk board. I've seen this before in inexperienced mechanics. Here's a tip.Learn how to use your body for maximum leverage when turning bolts or anything that requires torque! That any mechanic doesn't understand this, says to me that their training is flawed. One of the first thing you learn as a mechanic is never to push on a wrench. You always pull, bringing it toward your body. Not only will it prevent busted knuckes, if it slips while pulling it slips toward your body. You also get much better leverage when placing your bodybehind the wrench. Long story short. Please when in New Orleanschoose your shop wisely. We got us some hacks here.

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 build for a male bodied or a femme, well, I’d just rather work withbthe femme. And frankly the ergonomics are more intriguing to work with. 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/theatre 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 looked 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 license. I love freedom as much as anyone, but with comes 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. She later sold that bike and went back to riding a drop bar bike. Said riding upright made her too slow. That was a big deal in Chicago at the time. Not sure what style she's riding now. Funny most shops I know of have tons of drop bars they're looking to scrap. Especially those narrow 80's fuckers. 

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.