Monday, November 30, 2009

Giro di Portlandia

There was an alleycat last weekend, ironically named (I think) the Giro di Portlandia. There were only 4 stops, and less than 20 participants. You had to answer a trivia question about each stop. The first one was a song reference at NW 13th and NW Everett. It was a STOP sign that had been creatively vandalized to say "Don't STOP 'til you get enough". The next one I already knew about. It's a sign at the Portland Coliseum, funny that it's a track bike and not a BMX.

From there I went out to the Paul Bunyan statue on Interstate, but rather than slog up Interstate I went up to N. Williams from Broadway and rode that out and crossed over at Alberta. I could have humped it up that hill in my low 48x19 gear but I maintained a steadier faster speed by making that detour.

From there I went back to SW to the Ross Tower by the Tram Station. I got there by bombing Interstate to the Steel Bridge, which was UP when I got to it, and then dodged pedestrians on the Waterfront, and then went past the Cirque du Soleil site on Moody St. I should have done this one first or second. From there I went back down the waterfront to the Hawthorne bridge where a few kids caught up to me and passed me and headed up SE12th. Now I take this route all the time from the bridge to Col. Summers Park and the best way to do this is not to go up SE12th and then up Belmont, but zig-zag style thru that neighborhood, alternating climbs with flat sections and dumping you into the back side of the Park where the finish was. As I was getting there I saw the 2 dudes that passed me on the bridge coming across the park from the Belmont side, so I dug in and made it to the circle about one bike length before they did. For my efforts and correct answers I got 5th place! (more like 8th, but some got the wrong answers)
The prizes were some Hipster Cysts aka Knog Frog Lights.

Front and Rear

And a Knog hat

And a bunch of Knog stickers, that I guess I'm supposed to stick all over the place. I'm not sure I feel like doing their viral marketing for them. The were like little hipster cartoons with goofy hipster topical stuff written on them. The whole thing struck me as being insidiously cool, like one of their own had defected over to the dark side of advertising. Maybe I am projecting GenXs dislike of advertising onto the younger crowd, but I think if I was one of them I would find these stickers condescending, or at least an insult to my intelligence. Like they are going to suck me into their cool trip and buy their stuff cuz they are cool like me. Planet Bike doesn't resort to this sort of crap, but they have that "green" marketing angle. They are good lights, nice and unobtrusive, they don't really need this slick hipster marketing campaign to sell lights.

OK that was a bit of a tangent...Thanks to Miguelaron for putting this on, it was a fun challenge. And thanks for the Hipster Cysts!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


My friend NeRf apparently got his picture taken by Tokyo Messenger, chopper guy, and No Future Krew member, Motoyan.

Motoyan's blog is a big inspiration for this blog. I try to get the same sort of mix of interests on here: bicyles, choppers, cool cars, good food, etc. Of course his is much more interesting, but Tokyo is like Bladerunner compared to Portland. He gets out a little more than I do, and is a much better photographer, but I try.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Winter Projects-Wheelbuilding and a BMX Project.

Once again I will be doing a bunch of wheelbuilding over the Winter. The guy who does all my welding, Dan, needs a wheel built for his girlfriend's Schwinn Hollywood. I had a chance to get original Schwinn spokes but the cad plating had oxidized and I think they would start rusting immediately. I will use 14ga custom cut stainless ones instead, from Veloshop. They have a Phil Wood spoke cutter. I might re-use the original long nipples instead of the short ones available today. He also wants me to build a set of wheels for his mom's Schwinn Town&Country, just waiting on rims from the powder-coater. The labor will be tradesies for all the welding he's done, but he is a cool guy, so he's already flowed me a set of Mafac "Racer" brakes, and he might have a front drum brake for me as well. Good news for my 1952 Schwinn which relies on a Bendix coasterbrake of the same vintage, with a screw-on cog and left-threaded lockring for stopping. I was going to build up a B-43 for my Aerotrack, but I couldn't even get a red (or black, or white) 36 hole B-43 from Velocity, so I said "fuck it" and I will live with my Veep-D with a braking surface. When I built the wheelset I thought that I might buid a 29-er someday so I went with a braking surface instead of plain. Now I know that isn't going to happen. I rode a 29er, and I was non-plussed. I like my "26-er" better, probably because I rode nothing but a BMX until I was 19 or 20.

And speaking of BMX, if I can actually get my hands on a retro looptail "P.K.Ripper" I am going to move forward on a Buff replica. That will mean building some wheels with red or black rims and white spokes. Buff ran a coasterbrake in the back, and I have one, but I think that's just a little too goofy in this day and age, so I am going to go with a KHE freecoaster and 48 spoke because of my increased weight, and re-learning curve.

If I can't source one my plan is to get my hands on any 21" top tube BMX frame and just build that up and ride it. Right now I have a 20" top tube Hoffman, and it still feels cramped even though it is the same length as my last BMX, a Boss Dave Van Der Spek freestyle frame. Yeah that was a while ago. I missed mid-school completely while I while scootering around and getting fat drinking beer and eating Mexican food.

I think the reason that the Hoffman feels cramped is because these days you run your bars in line with your fork instead of perpendicular to the ground. This makes the bike handle better anyways. The modern steeper headtube angles used only work with your bars in line with the fork anyways, if you push the bars forward the bike gets all-twitchy and endo prone. I really prefer the modern BMX to Old-School, they work so much better than they ever did.

Back to wheelbuilding : if YOU need some wheels built I am your man. I've been doing it since I was 15 years old. I will do different lacing patterns like 3 leading/3 trailing, and 1x, 2x, and 4x. The most interesting the build the more likely I will want to do it, unlike most shops who shy away from "extra work/effort", so bring your hubs with different size flanges and rims with obscure ERDs. I can get spokes cut, so anything goes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mike Buff

Back in the day (BITD) this dude was the shit. Blasting mad endos with hang time, doing 1-hand, 1-foot kick turns twisted till he was facing backwards, the HIGH bunnyhops, and the roof drops. He rode a Looptail "P.K. Ripper" and so did I. My frame was polished aluminum with light blue and brown decals and I had a chrome fork. I had to drill the hole for the front brake. My brakes were blue anodized MX-900s. As buff changed parts I changed parts. He had a Redline Brute stem and GT pro bars cut down 1" and so did I, he went to CW bars and a Zeronine plate, and so did I. He had checkered pads and then SE camouflage ones and I made the switch too. He had Z-rims, I had Z-rims, and then he went to Tuff II's. Not just any Tuff II's but Graphite with the Campagnolo front hub and a coasterbrake. A lot of Freestylers ran coasterbrake (Bob Haro, Mike Buff, R.L. Osborn, John "Dizz" Hicks) and whaddahya know so did I. Modified in the same way it was layed out in BMX Action: Using Bendix 76 internals with the brake arm flipped and bent to line up with the top of the chainstay, and clamped with a hinged Dia-Compe seatpost clamp. But back to the Tuffs, Graphite with a coasterbrake was an inside deal and you had to "know somebody". Not a problem as I was on a trick team called Freestyle Force with Bill Curtin, who had set up some co-sponsorship (flow) with a few companies, including Skyway. Bill hooked it up and I payed about the same as retail for regular Zytel Tuff II's. In true Buff/Haro/Osborn fashion my tire of choice was Comp Stadium's in blue or red. Later I went the Haro style of a black skinwall Stadium in the front and a Cheng Shit diamond tread tire in back. Freestylin' with a coasterbrake burns thru back tires.

The reason I am posting this bike is because I plan to do a modern interpretation of it with a new retro looptail " P.K. Ripper". I am going with white w/red, cuz that is how I am getting it. My plan is to get rid of the v-brake posts and do under-the-seatstay removable u-brake mounts and cable guide like a street/park/trail bike has. I also want to do removable u-brake mounts on the fork. I want to set it up with some red anodized brakes and Dia-Compe Goldfinger levers, and of course a Gyro. I am going use a KHE Reverse freecoaster in red with white spokes and black rims, 48 out back and 36 in the front. For now all the parts that are chrome will be black. I don't think anyone makes Chrome handlebars anymore, but I could find some NOS GT pros and chop an inch off again. And believe it or not this build will piss off the purists (yes there are vintage BMX purists) because I am making it into a modern street/park bike instead of a retro tribute bike. I like modern BMXs because they are not all cramped and tiny. The "P.K." was 18-1/2" I think, and the retro looptail is 21.25", which is about the same as street/park bikes are. The rear triangle was/is a little long, but I am still getting used to short rear triangles so 14.5" sounds short to me compared to BITD but I know there are BMXs out there an inch shorter than that. I want to be able to ride this bike, and do the same lame tricks I used to. I'm not sure about kick-turn variations without a coasterbrake, but I do have a Bendix 76, and they still make Tuff IIs.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Only Cool Shit At The Oregon Handmade Bike Show

Vulture Cycles

Tallbike loosely based on that one that was just auctioned at Sotheby's.

Vulture, AKA Wade Beauchamp said that his inspiration for building a tallbike was meeting members of DropOut Bicycle Club at the first Oregon Handmade Bike Show. Thanks Wade. As it happens you are one of my main inspirations for building "real" bike frames. Vulture is once again making frames after a short hiatus.

Wade has a sense of humor, only one in the building that day. Someone said his helmet looked Steampunk, to which Wade said "What's Steampunk?" Truly inspired.

This is Eugene. The unicycle has 2 gear ratios, uses a front disc hub, and is _____? OK Eugene, you've got me. "It's left-side-drive!" Well, it sure is. He used tandem cranks to pull it off right. In fact it uses all regular bicycle parts, no special unicycle parts other than the seat. He will make one for you if you want one.

This was the only other builder that impressed me. Keith Anderson. What a kickass little 24" cruiser. The fenders are wood and laminated following the curve of the tire. Keith had to create some special tooling to pull this off, by modifying a router to give him access as he guided his fender by hand to cut the inner recess. Then he shaped the outer fender by hand. No CNC, just mad hand skills, a true craftsman.

What drew me over to his booth was this rad old-school Pursuit Bike. The oversized tubing came pre-ovalized vertically at the head tube, and horizontally at the seat tube and bottom bracket. Carbon fiber bikes wish they had tube junctures that flowed as smoothly at these fillet-brazed joints do, and the seat tube/bottom bracket/chainstay gussets are the finishing touch. This is my favorite kind of bike, eye-catching but understated, and then the construction of it just sucks you in.

All the usual suspects were there with their entries in the Oregon Manifest Constructor's Design Challenge, which I had already seen. The design challenge was to build a (snore) commuter bike. Welcome to Portland. The results were some bicycles that were like Cadillac Escalades: utility in name only. Well, except for Tony Pereira's winning bike, and Vertigo's urban assualt bike, which didn't have fenders. Hey, we're talking about commuting in Portland, it's fenders or the dreaded skunk stripe.