Archive for the ‘Everything Else’ Category

Rohloff Rising

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Allow me to introduce Bryan’s 14 speed Rohloff-equipped tourer. He just completed an 8 day tour of the Great Divide on his Tout Terrain Silkroad (also a Rohloff rig), and we’ve spent the last several months coming up with a custom bike that will be similarly suited for adventure touring, but more nimble and lightweight – as well as providing toe/fender clearance, which bedeviled Bryan on the TT.





Here are some frame details. It’s a TIG welded frame of True Temper and Dedacciai tubing, with clearance for 40c tires and fenders. The Rohloff-specific dropouts are from Paragon; one of the advantages of the Rohloff compared to other internal-gearing systems is that’s very easy to disconnect in order to remove the wheel to fix a flat – you simply pop off the black box that holds the shifting mechanism, and you can drop the wheel out (with the sliding dropouts, you don’t even have to worry about re-adjusting the chain tension).

Bryan is running a Schmidt SON 28 Dynohub, with Busch & Müller lights. Because the twin Rohloff gear cables were running to the back of the bike anyway, I ran the wire to the rear light bundled with them; but it does run inside the fork and the rear rack. There are disconnects so that Bryan can remove the racks, fenders or fork easily for service or shipping.




I also did a disc tab installation on Mike’s IF, and am finishing a superlight cross bike for Cindy, just in time for the D2R2! Here are some pics, but more on that next week! Then, Dan’s mountain bike, Bert’s Rando, and Charlie’s cross bike!


A 15 lb bike. And an 8 lb one. For an 18 month old.

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Consider this my entry for most sickly sweet blog post ever: for your consideration, my new bike, and my son Oscar’s first:

And to up the ante:

So, me first. For the 250th Circle A (!) I wanted to do something special, and when Bobby came to me a few months back asking about an S3 club racer (see last post), I thought to myself, “Self,” I thought, “what’s the lightest steel bike I could reasonably come up with? Why, a belt drive fixed gear made from True Temper S3 tubing, is what.” This is that, without the belt drive, yet (watch this space). In the mean time, I moved the parts over from my fixie commuter – Circle A #1. But here are more pix. To note: monostay, for no other reason than I love how it looks; Paul dropouts with integrated tensioners (ready for the belt drive); Enve carbon fork; and a custom frame break for the belt. I was aiming for subtle in a sort of Liberace vein – silver logos, white panels on pearl white.


As for Oscar’s: granted it’s a bit early, but he’s bike-obsessed (likely due to lots of time in the trailer), and we had all this old tubing lying around… we tend to joke that it’s no big deal to screw up the miter on a tube, because there will always be a smaller bike. Well, this would be the smallest, and I raided our rejects pile for a Dedacciai Zero tapered down tube and a pair of OX Platinum seat stays. I cut the dropouts off an old project bike, and decorated the fork blades with a little actual bling, so Oz doesn’t have to wait til he loses a tooth to get some coin – and of course 2001 was when I founded the shop.


I also rebuilt the rear end on a Rhygin; and not just rebuilt, but redesigned to accommodate disc brakes, single speed or derailleur setup, and 2.5″ tires:


Here are some shots of that project:


And last but not least, I repainted Beth’s Circle A, one of the first bikes I built in Providence – circa early 2002. We’ve come a long way!


Next: it’s a vintage Raleigh repaint rally! and Russell’s rando!


Sunday, January 29th, 2012

This may seem like deja vu all over again, but belt drive fever continues with this single speed MTB for Dawson. It all started with a lovely Phil hub with belt-drive single speed cog – the challenge was to build a bike around it. And here it is:

He’s running a SID fork, Avid Elixir brakes, and a 39/24 ratio.



The tricky thing about single speed belt drives, as discussed before, is that you have to be pretty certain about what gear ratio you want. I have to calculate the precise chainstay length based on the front sprocket, rear cog, and belt length – unlike a chain, you can’t just add or subtract a link; there are a finite number of belt lengths available. Fortunately Dawson is an experienced single-speeder so he knew what he was looking for. As with Matt’s Alfine belt drive, we used the Paragon sliding dropouts with the frame-break option. This makes assembly very straightforward, and provides an integrated tensioner which makes setup a snap. Here are some pictures of the frame in progress. The tubing is True Temper OX Platinum, with Columbus Zona seat stays.


Next up: Bobby’s S3 club racer, Mike’s rando ride, and another Bobby’s re-imagined Rhygin!

11 Speed Belt Drive Snow Machine

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Some commuters are unstoppable, and our friend Matt was going through two chains a year commuting in snowy, slushy, salty and gross western Connecticut winters. He had the weather-proof solution: an 11 speed Alfine internally geared, belt driven, disc-braked super commuter, and I’m psyched he asked us to build it for him.

I’d done one belt drive before, a single speed, but the Alfine hub, coupled with the desire for fat tires, creates some new technical challenges. Belts are wider than chains, but more importantly they need to run perfectly straight – if not the belt will literally walk off the cog or sprocket. [This is one reason for the new Center Track system, which allows for more flexibility]

Even with chain drive, providing clearance for chainrings and wide chainstays can be a problem. Here, it’s worse – the belt is wider, the “belt line” has to be perfect, and to top it all off, the rear cog on an Alfine hub is set in away from the dropout, to accommodate the shifting cable. I did some fancy crimping of the chainstay, so here it is, built up with 26×2.3 tires, ready for action:



Here are some shots of the build in process:


When Matt and I began discussing this bike last year, we weren’t sure how best to break the frame (the belt doesn’t come apart, unlike a chain, so you have to be able to get it inside the rear triangle). Fortunately, Paragon came out with a belt option for their sliding dropouts. These are great for disc brakes, because the caliper stays aligned to the dropout, and for belt drive systems, as they have integrated tensioners. Belt tension is super important for proper performance. Here are some shots of the dropouts during construction, and of the frame before components. You can see how I weld on a section of tube, similar to how we do capped stays:


And here are some shots of me mocking everything up before the wheels were built:


And some of the completed frame. The Paragon dropouts are stainless, so I was able to polish the interface where the frame breaks:


And some more shots before components. Note, the bottom bracket below is just one I had lying around that I used to determine the alignment; in the complete bike pictured above, it’s a narrower Phil that fits properly.


Next up: Belt drive again, this time a single speed! And super-lightweight S3 tubing fever! Weld-o-Rama 2011 continues!

Michael’s Super Commuter, TiG time!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

So I recently built up Michael B’s super commuter. I had just repainted his Lemond, and he had wanted a more upright city bike that he could really thrash. So we did a welded frame with Sram Force components, including double tap flat bar shifters.



He went with a very subdued paint job, a deep blue pearl with no logos, just the head badge, and full rack and fender mounts.



I also repainted an old Raleigh International (including pounding out some stubborn dents), and painted 4 Mostowys, a couple of which you see below. And and in family style, I repainted Mark’s IF (with matching fork accents – a good way to go if you want to tie the room together without rebuilding the fork) and started his brother Matt’s belt drive, 11 speed Alfine commuter – ready for the snow!



Here’s the beginning of Matt’s. He’ll be running disc brakes, so we opted for the Paragon sliding dropouts with new detachable stay for the belt. Although we’ll be starting with a rigid fork, it’s suspension corrected for future full off-road use.


Next: Finishing Matt’s! Bobby’s S3 club racer! And Dawson’s belt drive single speed mtb! It’s all tungsten and argon for me!

Mike’s Road Machine

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Last week Mike picked up his lightweight road bike. It’s constructed from Columbus Spirit for Lugs tubing, with bikini lugs and stainless dropouts, fork crown and such for some bling. He used a mix of old and new components (no shame in that!), for a classic, durable race and recreation bike.



I also did a dropout replacement on our friend Eric’s Slingshot, and modified the cable routing for easier removal of that very complicated 8 speed/roller brake rear wheel. With some added cable stops, he can detach the brake and shifter cables without getting his fingers caught in that infernal Nexus cable stop. We used classic Campy road dropouts so that the wheel slides forward, easier for getting out from under his fender. Eric will be using this bike to ride around Maine plotting the next routes for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, so we want to keep him happy. I just painted the effected area, a good strategy when doing a dropout replacement if you don’t want a full repaint.


Next: Laura’s commuter/tourer/trailer hauler!

The Integrated Bicycle

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Often, when we finish a frame & fork, that’s it – maybe we install a headset or bottom bracket, but it goes into a box and flies off to distant lands. There it will be assembled into a complete bike by unseen hands, and hopefully the customer will send us pictures…

Sometimes, we assemble the bike ourselves. And rarely, we have a project like this – custom wheel builds, full fenders and racks, generator hub, internally wired lighting. We often say that installing Honjo fenders requires all the tools in our shop – and usually it’s true. Lathe required. But more on that in a sec.

Here is Tom and his completed 650B Randonneur.




As for the lathe? The Nitto front rack needed a custom spacer between it and the front fender; the Velo Orange light mount needed a similar spacer; and the Paul brakes needed special washers to allow the rack to be bolted to the canti posts. Here I am machining one of those washers, followed by some shots of Benno doing the super elegant wiring. Note the wire for the rear light which is hot-glued into the fender:


And here are some pics before assembly so you can see the details of the frame. Because of the 42c Grand Bois Hetre tires, I used s-bend chainstays for clearance, dimpled for the 34/48 chainrings. With his 12-36 9 speed cassette, Tom has some crazy climbing potential. Also note the grommets where the wiring enters and exits the frame; there are two on the fork, one on the underside of the down tube, and one at the rear of the bottom bracket.



We also did a seat tube and seat tube binder replacement on an old Harry Quinn. First a shot of the old clamp, then the repair:


Last but not least, Ron has embarked on an incredible cross-country adventure:

I’ll link to his blog tomorrow. Next: Mike, Laura, another Mike!

¡No pasarán! Rando explosion!

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

It was a real pleasure to make a randonneur frame for Aaron, as it’s not every day I get to build a bike directly inspired by the Spanish anarchists. This is the poster Aaron sent me:

The frame is prepped for a full generator lighting system, and is designed to run medium reach brakes and fenders for tires up to 700x28c. Our friend Dave W at Broadway Bicycle School will be building it up, so watch this space for pictures of the full build.




I’ve also began building a 650B rando bike for Tom; he’s running the big 42c Grand Bois Hetre tires, so we’re running s-bend chainstays to give him room for his 55mm Honjo fenders, as well as giving a reasonable Q factor for his Sugino cranks.



Next: Finishing Tom, Mike’s Spirit for Lugs road bike, Laura, and another MIke! Then – belt drive mania!


Sunday, April 10th, 2011

So Conor’s coupled rando shipped off a few weeks ago in an alarmingly small box. Here are some pictures of the finished frame, and it being packed. He’s providing the rest of the components, but it should all fit in there! My main concerns as the builder were making sure that the cranks & fork could stay on; toward that end we shortened the seat tube to 58cm from an ideal 60, and used a 1 degree slope in the top tube to get the front end up. I also took care to mount the couplers as close to the seat tube as possible to maximize room for the crank.





I also worked on a dropout replacement on a De Rosa, but most exciting was a repaint of a Jean-Pierre Danguillaume from the 70’s. This bike belongs to our friend Matt, whose father bought it new a year before Matt was born! They were made by Mercien, this is from Matt’s account of the bike:

“Jean Pierre Danguillaume was featured (barely) in A Sunday in Hell, the Paris Roubaix movie. It appears he was one of a long line of Danguillaume cyclists, he won a fair amount of races and some tour stages. Somewhere I found that he got busted for amphetamines in the 70’s. My dad said that Cycles Jean-Pierre Danguillaume closed down a couple years after. He mainly used the bike to ride to the Bois du Bologne to play softball on Sundays…”

I love this, maybe because I like saying “Bois du Bologne.” Matt’s going to try to find a picture of him, age 3, sidesaddle on the top tube. Anyway, we blasted off the rust, modernized the cable routing, and Matt came up with these graphics:


Next: Parts are shipping for frames for Laura, Mike, Aaron and Tom! We’ll see whose stuff gets here first!


Thursday, January 13th, 2011

At long last Holly’s 26″ tourer is ready to send out to Austin, TX. She wanted something for loaded touring, as well as between-tour commuting, and wanted it sturdy and retro-compatible. To that end, we used a mix of True Temper OX Platinum and Verus HT tubing; she’ll generally be running slicks but the frame is built to accommodate 26×2.1 tires; Henry James dropouts with enough of a slot to allow the bike to function as a single speed in a pinch; and the down tube shifter bosses will work with, you guessed it, down tube shifters in case her integrated shifters blow up on the road. She’ll be running full Nitto Campee racks, and also sports 3 (count ’em) sets of water bottle bosses, as well as spare spoke holders on the chainstays.

The color is a variation on Brian’s commuter, a slightly sparkly ochre, with some tasteful white and blue highlights. It’s mostly debadged, but Holly promises to talk it up, so if you see it please ask her about it and report back to us! Apologies for the sun-bleached photos!



I also painted a raft of bikes for other people. Perhaps most unusual was this vintage Raleigh Chopper for local hero Sean:


But that’s not all a – a Cuevas restoration, a Geekhouse, a lovely lemon Icarus, and an old Fat City!


Finally, Dawson sent these pics from his epic cross-country adventure. You can read more about his bike here.

Next: dropout replacements! also, more bikes!

Circle A Cycles   |   523 Charles Street   |   Providence, RI   |   401.831.5221
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