Monday, April 14th, 2014
This is Sabine’s lugged commuter/tourer. It’s one of my favorite bikes. Lovely long point lugs, exquisite candy, 11 speed Ultegra on King wheels… delicious.
And here are some shots of just the frame set:
I also modified a Rivendell Atlantis for a Rohloff hub. David had been running the hub for years, but awkwardly; I cleaned up the install a bit, with long Campy dropouts to allow for chain tensioning, a tab on the chainstay for the Rohloff cable stop, new dropouts for the SON SL generator hub, and internal wiring. On a custom install we’d be able to avoid the torque arm with sliding dropouts, but we wanted to keep the Rivendell look so we compromised and moved the cable routing from the top tube/canti post to down tube/chainstay:
I was also reminded why we love steel. You’d think it would be self evident – we spend lots of time restoring old bikes, from a 1895 Rudge to a 1950’s Thanet to any number of 70’s and 80’s Italian steeds – but riding at Battenkill last weekend, I got a stick in the derailleur:
Note the screen shots from my Gopro below; after wrestling the derailleur out of the wheel, you can see how the cage is nearly vertical, ABOVE the axle. Then, I muscled it considerably to make it more or less in plane with the cassette. The cage was so crushed that the idler pulleys were fouled, but it shifted a little in back and the front der shifted fine. I was most lucky in that the chain wasn’t compromised, and was able to make it the 4 miles back to our car. Even with a replaceable der hanger, on an AL or carbon bike I’d be walking.
But once back to the shop, a dummy axle and hanger alignment tool made it all better.
A new derailleur and all is right with the world.
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
It’s been an exciting few weeks – just out the door are two bikes that, apart from both being 700c road bikes, could not be more different. Take a look:
On your left, Bobby’s welded S3 Club Racer in mind-bending black and white; on your right, Mike’s fully loaded randonneur, lugged, with integrated generator lighting. Folks, if you’re riding on pavement it doesn’t get much different than this. First, Bobby. Yes, it’s one bike! I know! My head hurts too.
Bobby wanted a light but durable racer and training bike; he’s had some bad experiences with carbon forks so wanted to stick with steel. To keep the weight down we used True Temper S3 tubing, one of the lightest steel tube sets available. The 54cm frame comes in just under 3 lbs, and the complete bike with the custom steel fork is under 18. I also made him a custom steel stem whose angle matches the 5 degree slope of the top tube.
As for the paint: Bobby is a fan of French new wave cinema; “L’OBSCURITE” & “LUMIERE” (dark and light) are painted in the font that Jean Luc Godard used for his credits. The scheme was his inspiration, I just made it happen.
Ok, now Mike:
Mike’s frame is a mix of True Temper OX Platinum and Verus HT tubing; the lugs are from Richard Sachs, and the crown is a Pacenti PBP. He’s running a SON generator hub with Supernova E3 lights. As with Tom Walker’s bike I called on Benno to do the wiring; he installed disconnects under the fork crown and behind the BB, so that fork and fender removal are easy. Mike also has a Kimura battery light mounted under his chainstay just in case. The eagle-eyed may have notices that he’s running Campy 10 speed ergo shifters with an Ultegra 9 speed drivetrain. I know! This is made possible by a Jtek Shiftmate. These are available in all sorts of combinations to allow all manner of mismatching of shifters and drivetrains.
Coming up next: a Rhygin gets a new rear end, a Nishiki gets a new lease on life, and it’s a Raleigh restoration marathon!
Sunday, August 14th, 2011
A long time coming, last week saw Laura’s custom road bike roll out the door. She (and partner James and son Baxter) had been welcome distractions around the shop for the last few months as we planned and plotted. When it comes to the process of designing frames, we often say the easiest job is someone who loves their current bike, and essentially wants a replica of it (but in steel, lighter, with rack mounts, for example); and the second easiest is someone who comes in riding a bike they hate, and says, “anything but this!” Well, with Laura we have the greatest challenge. She had been riding an ancient Raleigh called Tillie (tall, upright, super slack angles), and also occasionally borrowing James’ Lynskey (aggressive, compact frame, modern geometry); tends to tow Baxter about in a Burley trailer (note the axle mount); and plans to ride some centuries coming up. Neither bike really fit her, but both could serve. Also Laura is extraordinarily tall. I mean you have no idea. Just look at the head tube on this thing, and keep in mind those are 700c wheels:
Those are VO fenders, and the orange was a custom mix to compliment both Brooks saddle and Cinelli bar tape. Medium reach brakes to accommodate 28 or 30c tires and fenders, and a mostly Rival group rounded things out. Those are the Mini-6 lugs, much beloved by us, with stainless dropouts. In the end we settled on a nominal 58cm seat tube and 55 top tube, and we’ll be adjusting saddle and bar positions as she puts the miles on. Go!
I also did a rare welded dropout replacement for someone who til recently I knew only as The Dude. Sometimes there’s a man… anyway he had Seven Sola and wanted to rock it single speed, so we were happy to oblige. The vast majority of dropout replacements we do involve road bikes with some sort of forged dropout, brass-brazed in place, and then swapping that with some of our own laser-cut plate steel track dropouts. Lots of torch work. Well, as you may know, Sevens don’t have forged dropouts, and brass is not a metal they tend to associate with. These would be CNC’d dropouts, tig welded directly to the stay caps. Fortunately our friends at Paragon have a lovely track dropout (with der hanger and bottle opener, just, you know, in case) that were adapted without too much trouble.
To jump ahead, here are some pics of the finished product:
Because most of the frame was in good shape, we just painted black “socks” up the stays to cover our work, and I matched them on the fork. Here are some pictures of the job itself; after making sure the existing dropouts where perfectly aligned, I cut off the drive-side dropout, and after carefully grinding the new dropout to fit, tacked and then welded it in place, using a threaded rod as a dummy axle. With the new dropout located, I could then cut off the other old dropout and match it.
Next: Michael, and belt drive fever heats up!
Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
What’s been happening? Repairs, repaints, and an exciting new coupled rando bike for Conor in Texas. Once again we’re using S&S couplers; and some Richard Sachs lugs, True Temper OX Platinum tubing, and full rack & fender mounts in the bargain. I’m painting it this week, but here are some pics of the progress so far. The first shots show me brazing the coupler into the tube, and then fitting it up in the jig. The black nut is an assembly nut, I’ll put the pretty polished nut on before paint:
Here I am test-fitting it in the case; the goal is to be able to leave the fork and cranks on. It’s a 58cm seat tube, so it’s going to be close. And some more shots before paint (and waiting on closed-end bosses for the low rider mounts).
I also did a dropout replacement on Travis’ Colnago; it had some funky proprietary socket dropouts, so I had to use some big track dropouts (shaved down considerably) to make it work. Fortunately the customer didn’t ask me to match that unique paint:
And we’ve got some paint: an Igleheart for NAHBS, a vintage Brennan for Blaine (check out those wild head lugs), a Raleigh for Andy, and here’s a couple of the seven (!) Gaulzetti’s I painted:
Next: Conor, painted! Aaron! Mike! Laura! Tom! Two belt drives, one family!
Friday, June 11th, 2010
First, for your riding pleasure, is Rachel’s 26″ touring bike. The main concern here was toe/tire clearance; on a strict touring bike that can be less of an issue, but this bike will also do duty pulling young Virginia in her trailer around western Massachusetts, so we wanted to make sure she could negotiate crosswalks and sidewalks with ease, as well as style. Also, personally I like the proportions of smaller wheels on smaller bikes.
It’s a lugged frame, Dedacciai Zerouno tubing and Mini 6 lugs that give her a 6 degree sloping top tube. The fork features a Pacenti PBP crown, and it’s built up with a 105 Triple drivetrain on Deore MTB hubs.
Matt was looking for a bike that could serve primarily as a fixed gear, but have the option of running a rear derailleur. To this end I used Paragon track dropouts with a derailleur hanger (and bottle opener!), and put a water bottle boss under the down tube that he can screw a cable stop into when he wants to be multi-speed. I also did internal cable routing for the rear brake so it will look nice and clean when he’s running it as a fixie. In a bizarre coincidence, he chose the same green as Rachel.
I also did a couple of frame repairs and modifications: a new chainstay and track dropouts on Sean’s Bianchi mountain bike, and new Paragon sliding dropouts and new down tube on Patrick’s Soma. Just goes to show, steel bikes never die, they just get fixed! And finally, Josie doing some lug lining on a Royal H – check it out in the sun!
Next: Charlie’s cross bike!
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
First off, if you’re in the area, or even if you’re not, please stop by on Saturday May 1 from 1-4pm for our annual Open Haus Extrordinaire. You will there meet a fine selection of our friends and bikes, and there will be food and drink and general carousing. Don’t miss it! Afterwards a bike contingent will be rolling down to the May Day rally at the Statehouse.
Among the bikes you hopefully will see is Benno’s fabulous randonneur sportif. This has been one of most labor intensive and rewarding bikes I’ve ever built. Sometimes we have customers who give use their measurements, maybe a general direction, and let us have at it. Benno is not that customer. He essentially designed the bike himself, providing me with a BikeCad drawing, and was involved in all the details, including the design of a new fork-blade bending fixture!
Well the frame is done and mostly built up, and Brian will be making a custom front rack… here it is before parts:
Details to note: box lining by Josie Morway, a rear brake cable stop design stolen shamelessly from Peter Weigle, grommets for the coming internally-routed lighting, posts for the Mafac brakes, spoke ends for the electrical routing… and of course the gorgeous and super-light G.P. Wilson dropouts. More on those in a sec.
And here are some more pictures of the bike in process. Note the custom plugs I machined that allow me to silver braze the G.P. Wilson stainless dropouts.
I used an internal plug for the chainstays, as I did on the fork tips, but a stepped internal/external for the very skinny biconical seat stays, similar to what I did for Eric’s belt drive bike. Those are Dedacciai seatstays, as are the chainstays; the main frame is Reynolds 853.
Old spokes are super handy. Here I’m using one to hold in place the front fender boss. Also to note: matching the Mafac posts to the width on the original.
I also did a restoration on John’s Nishiki. Here’s a picture of it as it came in (with an old downtube shifter boss repair we did a while back still in primer gray), followed by pics of the finished product. I also removed the old cable guides for the rear brake and added slotted stops:
Next: Dawson! Rachel! And Mike’s single speed/multi speed lugged beauty!
Thursday, July 16th, 2009
So Jen’s 26″ world-tourer just went out; she’s building it up in Milwaukee and striking out to the west. It was an interesting and novel paint job, so that means – you guessed it – it’s time for another ANATOMY OF A PAINT JOB!
This is the original mockup she sent me:
And here’s how I got started; first I sprayed the entire bike white, and then I started masking off where I would be shooting red, using a combination of Fine-Line tape for the points and circles cut by the vinyl cutter for curves:
Once the shapes were outlined, I have to cover everything that was going to stay white:
Then I shot red, did some more masking for the black headtube and stay ends, shot black, and pull off the bandages:
But I wasn’t done yet. Oh no. Jen had designed an elaborate dot pattern that she wanted on the seat tube, to be in gray, along with the logos. So we put Snips McGinty to work:
And here’s the final product, clearcoated, frame-saved, and ready for components:
I also just finished painting a disc-brake single speed frame for Jascha. He’ll be using a Civia disc brake fork; this has a 1 1/8″ steerer so we had to use lugs that would allow for the super-oversized headtube.
We also used the Paragon sliding disc dropouts; these allow you to tension the chain without changing the orientation of the caliper to the wheel, and presented some engineering challenges:
He chose a lovely deep burgundy red, with gunmetal gray and silver accents:
Next: Parts for Jascha, and Mo’s road bike!
Sunday, April 19th, 2009
We’re still waiting on the belt drive parts for Eric’s Taxi bike, stay tuned!
I finished AJ’s touring frame and just got the Nitto racks he’ll be using; I’m working out a fork low-rider attachment, and he’s working on paint selection! Here are some pix of the frame in progress; note the crown carving & custom hanger for the rear canti brake adjuster.
I also did some more paint work for Marty at Geekhouse; first another belt drive bike, this time using an S&S coupler to get the belt thru the frame, and then a road bike with a carbon fork:
Our friend Bob brought in a single speed Sillgey frame on which he wanted a derailleur hanger installed, here are some shots of that:
And last but not least, the good folks at Harris Cyclery brought us a well-worn Rivendell Quickbeam. It had been in an accident and needed a replacement fork, and they asked us to switch over the low-rider rack mounts from the (bent) orange fork to the new green one, and repaint the new fork and original frame. I had to fashion a makeshift jig to get the mounts parallel to each other, and in the right spot, here are some pictures of that:
And here’s the finished product, with new decals courtesy of Harris:
Next: hopefully, finally, belt drive in action; finishing AJ’s; and Viva la Reba!
Sunday, March 29th, 2009
So Eric’s belt-drive commuter is done (still waiting on the drivetrain, watch this space!) and it’s a knockout:
And here are some closeups of the detachable seat stay:
And now it’s time for another ANATOMY OF A PAINT JOB! Are you excited?
It all started with this mockup that Eric sent me. We later decided to do the writing in white, and I adjusted the size of the seat tube panel to reflect his frame dimensions:
So the first thing you need to know about all our paint jobs is, it’s all paint. We have decals for our logos, and we cut a ton of vinyl, but it’s only as a stencil – we don’t use any vinyl on the finished bike. When you see plaids or lace or any other graphics, it’s all paint. So a checker pattern? That means designing the band in illustrator and sizing it precisely so it will wrap all the way around. The frame has been primed (using white primer which will help the yellow pop) and I’ve sprayed white generally where the bands will be:
You can see I’m using a piece of tape as a guide to lay the checks down. Next I spray yellow on any areas that will be yellow, and then I apply Spray Mask around the lugs and dropouts. That dries overnight and then I use an x-acto to cut a nice line and mask off everything that’s going to stay yellow:
And then I shoot black:
Now comes the “fun” part, fun in the sense of terrifying and painstaking – pulling off the bandages! I’m using a wood paint stirrer that I filed into a ramp to get all the checks off, and of course they get everywhere. But when I’m done, it’s ready for decals and clearcoat!
Then I polish up the head badge and dropout faces, apply Frame Saver, and it’s ready for components!
Next: finishing AJ’s tourer, more Geekhouse, and hopefully, belt drive in action!
Saturday, March 21st, 2009
For our friend Eric we’re building the first belt-drive Circle A. When we get all the components sorted out, I’ll be talking about how (& how well) it works, but first there are some oddities that we have to address when building the frame.
The first is that, because unlike a chain you can’t add or remove links and thus easily change the length of the belt, you have to determine a precise length for the chainstays that takes into account cog size, “chain” ring size, and belt length. Eric wants a single speed, so we had to be sure that the he was going to be happy with the gear ratio – there are some other combinations that will work (we used dropouts with extra-long slots), but it’s much more limited than with chain drives. Fortunately Gates, who makes the drive system, provides a spreadsheet that helps you determine the chainstay length.
But the real challenge, and related to the above issue, is that because the belt doesn’t come apart, the frame has to. WHAT?! I know. It looks a little something like this:
Now you can get around this issue with an elevated chainstay, like on all those old Haro and Nishiki mountain bikes from the early 90’s. But Eric wanted a classic looking lugged frame, so I wanted to make the disconnection as svelte as possible. Using our own dropouts, laser cut next door in Pawtucket, I modified an old seat stay end to become a detachable dropout/stay interface:
Eric and I are working out the Yellow Cab themed paint; I’ll post pictures of that and the components as they arrive.
Speaking of Nishikis, I repainted one for Miguel in Austin. We saved the chrome on the dropouts and painted it a deep pearl blue:
And finally I just started a touring bike for my friend AJ, I’ll start brazing next week. He’s using Richard Sachs lugs and all True Temper tubing. Note the dimpled chainstays to give him some more tire clearance:
Next: more belt drive action!