Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Quickly" Getting Out in Front of This

By now you have heard that TREK is recalling nearly ONE MILLION front, quick release skewers that were being used on their disc brake equipped bicycles from 1999 until present day. 

This is MUCH different than the USA Today article that claims "FED's recall nearly One Million Bikes after rider left paralyzed" Not only is the title of this article intended to scare the shit out of you because of how it is worded... it so happens that it is completely FALSE. TREK is not recalling a single bicycle, rather the skewer that holds on the front wheel on bikes equipped with disc brakes ONLY.

Now, it is true that three people have been injured and at least one is now paralyzed and that totally sucks. TREK is getting out in front of this thing to keep people safe no matter the issue BUT, this is not a TREK issue. It is an issue with a part that nearly every manufacturer uses between certain price points. More importantly, it is an issue with being too stupid to operate a device as it was intended. Be it the customer, the "assembler" or the last bicycle repair man to touch it, it had better be done right. Or this type of crap can happen.

To be fair, it is not yet known whether or not the cause was user error or simply a case of being uninformed, but if you know bikes, then you know that this story reeks of horse shit.

In the literature that accompanies the official recall, a diagram can be found which spells out the nature of the issue. 

This is a fact. It cannot be disputed because it can (and did) happen. However, a few items should be addressed here before the world launches in to a panic and blames TREK for this (yeah, that's right... I am defending them this time).

First, this skewer is not made by or exclusive to the TREK brand. In fact, the majority of the bikes from the lower end of the price spectrum feature this skewer and SOME even say SHIMANO on them. So before they are called a Witch and burned at the steak, it should be pointed out that the CPSC should certainly be asking other brands to address the same issue. Meaning,it is not likely that this will be the last time you will hear about QR (quick release) skewers being recalled. 

At the heart of it though is how they are used. If you do not use them as intended, it will likely end badly for you at some point. Now, I am not saying that the people who were injured were at fault, but let's just say what we are all thinking here... 

If this happened, you are doing it wrong. Period. 

I blame this on a few factors which include failing to educate the customer. When I posed this point on the BRAIN article, it was met with some responses that required follow up and rather than repeating them verbatim, you can read them for yourself... verbatim;

This is the God's Honest Truth here. many of the customers we deal with daily are Rubes and if you didn't show them how to properly utilize a safety component on their bicycle, then you are a dick, and they will likely make this mistake at some point. Seriously, you have all seen the customer who brings in a bike and says 

 "hey man, the brakes don't work!"

The scope of you job includes making sure that the customer has all the info the need to make informed decisions and to use their bicycles safely. If this guy doesn't know that his brake is "open" then how the shit do you expect him to know about his skewer?!

Then you have this guy;

There are a number of things wrong with this assessment: 

This is only a "big issue" because people make it one. Sure, people's safety is at steak here so it is a big deal, but I have already talked with several "seasoned mountain biker(s)..." I have also consulted myself... and we arrived at this conclusion: Your skewer, positioned properly, cannot simply be "knocked loose." 

And honestly dude, I am glad none of your skewers open beyond 180 degrees. It doesn't need a fail safe, because used properly IT IS SAFE. 


And this is not a "both wheels" thing, NO. This applies to the front only. Considering that is the only wheel the average Don Knotts is going to remove and re install in his bike you start to see a theme. At some point you have got to point a finger and assign blame especially when  costly lawsuits may result.
If you take upon yourself the responsibility of owning and maintaining a bicycle then you had better damn well know how to keep the wheel on. 
Change the skewer to a higher quality one if you are really worried about it.
For the record, I have always argued that the QR lever should be placed on the [EDITED] drive side of the fork. Turns out there are some that would argue that this is incorrect. I argue that I like the skin on my knuckles just fine and would rather not have to put my hand anywhere near that brake rotor when operating a quick release lever. 

Either way. No one panic. It will be okay. If you have a bad skewer and you need to, you can go see a TREK dealer near you to get a new one. Ask the sales dude how to operate it if you are not sure.

Or go buy one on line. I hear that is all the rage these days.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Customer Service: You Are Doing it Wrong

In my line of work, I spend most of my days at the end of a wrench. The rest of the time, I end up on the phone with Warranty and Customer Service departments on behalf of my customers. Sometimes I make great progress, other times not so much.

Brands like SRAM (Avid, Rock Shox, Zipp...), Scott, and QBP have excellent customer service. I have had nothing but the best experiences with each of them. Always quick to make it right, whatever it is.

Some CS departments however, are total bullshit.

It is always disappointing to have a bad experience. It usually means a customer is not getting what they need which can lead to frustration and leave a bad taste in their mouth. Then, they take it out on me. That usually leads to me having a bad day. ...and if I have a bad day, YOU have a bad day.
Even worse is when you call a company you really like and it goes poorly. Be it your expectations or their attitude toward customer service, for whatever reason it goes terribly and you hang up the phone feeling dejected. 

As anyone who has broken anything made by Thomson can attest to, getting your needs met can be a pain in the ass especially when it means they have to honor their lifetime warranty:

...when "Lifetime" refers to the life of the product.

Recently, I had one of these experiences with Simple Green and I must say, I was pretty stunned by the whole thing. 

In full disclosure:
It is worth mentioning that I have used and often recommend Simple Green's Foaming Aerosol Degreaser. It is a great product for getting in to hard to reach places on a bike without taking off parts. Hell, I still use it!

Claiming it is "safe for all surfaces" it really would seem like the best choice for cleaning your bicycle. ...That is, if it were actually safe for all surfaces.

This whole mess began as any other does; which is to say that the customer came in claiming he was "just riding along" or in this case was "just cleaning it." He was using a product that I highly recommended, a product that he specifically inquired as to whether or not it was safe on use on carbon. My answer was based two-fold on my personal use of the product for the last 5 years, and the company's claims of "safe for all surfaces" written clearly on the can.
This, in the end was the only reason I got involved in this mess to begin with as I gave the man my word, and it backfired. Big time.

For the uninitiated, Zipp wheels are supposed to be black in appearance, like the one pictured in the background, and not white like the ones pictured in the foreground.

Now, on the face of it, this seemed absurd. I mean, there are times in this line of work that you want to look a customer dead in the eye and call them a liar. This was one of those times. To me, there was no f'ing way that Simple Green did this and the majority of those that I have spoken with agree with that assertion. However, the science (which for the record, I do not claim to even begin to understand) would suggest that in this particular case, it could be argued that there was at least a possibility that it could be at fault. On the other hand, there was an equal possibility that it might not

Let me explain...

Before I called Sunshine Makers Inc and made an ass of myself, I emailed some buddies over at Zipp. I figured if there were a problem with this stuff Zipp would have seen it before. The fact is, they had seen it before,
they also saw the same MSDS sheet that I did.

To save re-telling this story, I will let an email that was written to a third party (who is an authority on carbon wheels in general) do it for me.

(click it to go to full-screen)

So that is where the fun started. I randomly called the research and development department by mistake where I talked to a very nice young lady who was not really in a position to do anything about it. So it was the point at which I was passed off to Customer Service that I lost all contact with them. I repeatedly, and politely emailed them with no response. This went on for about 2 months.. roughly. (since I changed work places, I now do not have access to the dates of those emails to verify this claim) Until one day, I don't know, maybe they'd "had enough" or whatever; the fricken Vice President of (something or other department) over at Simple Green calls me himself.

"Listen here clown...!!!"

Here's how that went down; The man was trying to be cordial but was super defensive instead. It was almost like you could tell that he had made this call before. Anyway, he dropped some serious science stuff on me (again: way over my head) but it basically amounted to the fact that Simple Green is not "Citrus Based." Now, I could pretend I knew what the FUCK he was talking about but after this was all over, he sent me a document that they created for just such an occasion:

Conspicuously dated the same week this conversation took place, it would appear that they had this problem on a consistent basis and decided to address it, taking an "official stance" on it.

 Of course I was like "... Well, duh!"

To which he responded:

To his credit, he was kind of like an Onion and once you started to peel away layers, you got down to the real dude. It's the same effect as getting hammered with a friend, as the layers come off, he opens up like book. He says: "we see this all of the time in very hot places like Arizona, some guy sprays it on and then he gets a phone call, or goes in the house to grab a beer, etc... and the sun bakes it in."* 

Wait... what? That means it can potentiality harm surfaces then, right?
It was about here in the conversation that I remembered a time when I was working in a bike shop in Texas, and a situation occurred that I didn't even think about until this point.
A co-worker had left his Dura Ace 7800 derailleurs in our Simple Green cleaning solution.
When another co worker need to use the same cleaner, he removed the parts and left them out to dry. It turned them pink. Not like PINK, but a light pink hue covered the normally very shiny, high-polish finish. So I asked him about that and he explained it away thusly:

"It's like when a machine shop calls and says 'we cleaned up all of our machines and now this morning they are all rusty!' " or "the guy at the bike shop calls and says he cleaned his chain; 'It's the cleanest it has ever been,' then lays it on his bench... when he gets to work in the morning, it's rustier then a campus bike chain."*

"What those things have in common" he says, "is that they are using a DE-GREASE-ER, they are washing away the oils and lubricants that normaly protect the metals and then failing to re-lubricate things" *

So... it can be caustic then? Right? You just said...

"What I said is that this stuff happens when you do not use the product correctly, that is to say that if you let it dry."*

Now I'm no Rocket Surgeon but that sounds like an admission to me.

*Being a conversation held over the phone, this is the closest to the actual transcript as I can recall here.

Essentially, it's like the food industry using Red #40 which knowingly makes some people sick yet continues to use it but basically says "... well yeah, if you eat it" 

At this point, I was certain that I had enough information to go on as far as getting my customer squared away and after almost three months of bullshit, I was ready to put this thing to bed.
Yet, I still needed to take my findings to Zipp because I still had a pair of white wheels that needed to be fixed. During my talk with them, I remembered an additional incident that had happened during the time I was being given the "silent treatment" and brought that up as a topic for discussion. 

You see, I was not the only one who was using this foaming degreaser in the shop. In fact, it was commonplace for my lovely assistant, Greg to use the product on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, Greg missed the part where all of this was going down and continued with business as usual. Needless to say, I had walked in to work one day and almost from across the room, I saw white streaks on a SRAM wheel. A brand-new, ridden one time, and now clearly discolored, SRAM wheel. When he came back the next day, I asked him what he used to clean the wheel and, well...
I think you know where this is going.

When I started to describe the wheel to the guys at Zipp, they immediately named the exact model of wheel without ever having laid eyes upon it; not because they had seen this before, but because they knew exactly how that wheel was finished and given the recent chain of events, could have picked it out of a line up because, as it happens, it is one of the only wheels in their line up with an anodized finish and no clear coat. 

Needless to say, Zipp was more than happy to take care of this situation to keep the customer happy, whereas Simple Green basically said, "Your customer can piss up a rope.*"

That, my friends is the difference between good service and bad service. It is one thing to defend your position but how you defend it can be the difference between keeping a return customer, and being the subject if some asshole's internet blog.
To be fair, Simple Green can be used safely if you follow the directions

(This is very important.)

Again, I have been using it for years and, aside from these two situations which were beyond my control, have never seen any problems with the stuff. Plus, it is at this point that it should be noted that this is not an attempt to get you to stop using the product as I myself plan to continue on as normal. That said, you should be made aware of what they have not yet been willing to say out loud and given this new information, the following steps should be taken to avoid the possibility of damage;

Use mild soap and water when cleaning wheels. ANY wheels. This will accomplish two things; it will effectively clean build up from the wheel and will not leave a residue on the braking surface.
Should you choose to continue to use Simple Green foaming degreaser you should avoid using it on Zipp or SRAM products as some of their products do not use a clear coat. While their literature does not officially state this, that may soon change. Regardless, that is their recommendation.
It goes without saying; If you are going to use degreaser (of ANY type) on a wheel, it should ALWAYS be cleaned from the braking surface using water or rubbing alcohol to avoid contaminating the brake pads. 

Most of this information is not new yet it still seems like this must be said:

Whether it was the use of the product or the misuse...
In the end, it is worth remembering that if they blame you for using a product incorrectly because you were, then they would be right to do so because you are too stupid to follow directions. That does not mean however, that they can treat you like shit for three months and then be on the defensive and act as though you are trying to extort them when they do finally get off their asses and contact you.

 That is how you end up on some dipshit's blog for all the world to see. 

That is how you do customer service wrong.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Topic of Debate

If you want to have a discussion about me (and other cyclists) being a wanton scofflaw, or you feel the need to accuse me of not giving a damn about "sharing" the road, then please direct your comments here:

This comes from a place of love... Honestly! However, I am very much in favor of having an intellectual debate so if that too is your desire, then please contribute what you feel is worth saying.

I tire of the constant bickering however, especially when it is perpetuated by those who do not ride bicycles, i.e., motorists. Which was the case as of a few nights ago after I published the last post.

Now, since no one is (for whatever reason) willing to have a conversation in the comment section at the bottom of each of these posts, it is hard to take stock in who is reading this, and how they perceive it. When they take to my (or other) Facebook walls that shared the post well, that is where the debate really begins because as we all know, Facebook is where the keyboard Cowboys come out of the woodwork.

In response to my blog, shared by a friend, a person called out several cyclist behaviors at the same time identifying himself as a "motorist in one of the busiest bike towns in the US."* Essentially calling me a Heretic that would be "burned at the steak by my fellow commuters if they saw me behave that way."* Those comments have since been deleted by their owner as have several other minutes of conversation by both parties. *Which is why they are paraphrased. 
This logic is flawed in some very specific ways but chief among them is his frame of reference; here you have this person who does not cycle at all... who's experiences come from being a motorist who has to make concessions for cyclists. What I have noticed in my travels is that, nothing angers a driver more than being required to make room for bicycles. Listening to someone in his position tell me what is best for me is like listening to someone lecture me on the "Dangers of Marijuana" without ever having experienced it.

This conversation ended cordially but with a "agree to disagree" attitude towards it.

Yet during part of the discussion, I asked one of my friends (who was the commenter's friend) that rides in this city too, how many cyclists on average, he sees on his daily commutes. His answer was "ZERO, Unless it's a bum over by [Local Business]" which is pretty sad. Personally, I do see a guy ride by my house everyday in day-glo and lycra and at least ONE of my co-workers commutes as well, so I know FOR A FACT that there are at least three, possibly even four commuters in this town at any given time!

In all seriousness, I don't know that anyone has an accurate number of how many commuters there are here, but over by Campus or our sweet river walk trail, there are perhaps as many as a couple hundred bicycles on it when the weather is nice. As much as I don't want to ride a bike on a shared use path, in the interest of being safe, I would probably use it if it were even possible. There is a problem with that though as my commute takes me north, away from all of that infrastructure.

(the bike paths are shown in green)

So I have no choice but to "mix it up" with the chuckleheads and the cars they drive. Since there are no real laws to protect cyclists (like in the commenter's "biggest bike town in the US") and only "traffic laws" that I am forced to uphold, it means that I often must make choices that keep me safe whether they are against the law or not. 

Ironically, I made a statement in the last post which was something along the lines of "... If it were a local cop, or one who bikes, it wouldn't have been an issue at all." The very next day, two local boys walked in the bike shop, one, a fresh faced rookie right out of the Academy, the other, a seasoned veteran.

(Dead ringers... No joke)

Long story short, we had a very frank discussion about the situation and a couple of things came to light. The Veteran had no idea that the law existed and Rookie did. This makes sense because the law is fairly new and having just graduated, it was fresh on his mind. 
Confirming my suspicions, the Veteran said bluntly, "hell, I had no idea, and if it had been me, I would have been like "WHY ARE YOU JUST SITTING THERE?! THE LIGHT'S NOT GOING TO CHANGE, JUST GO!" We shared a good laugh but I told him to "remember that when when you are sitting behind me at a red light." 

So for me, this is how it boils down... When there is no infrastructure to keep cyclists safe, then they are to abide by traffic laws. When they are expected to ride in traffic everywhere, they feel less safe and therefore won't ride which leads to less demand for the infrastructure. If there is no demand, then they won't build it and that leaves cyclists like me without safe passage as we are forced to act like cars. The introduction of Indiana House Bill 1080 was a big win for cyclists here but it is far from enough. In my honest opinion, it needs to be re-worded to include language that says 
"... If the operator of a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, motor scooter, or bicycle approaches an intersection that is controlled by a traffic control signal, the operator may proceed through the intersection on a steady red signal only if the operator:
(1) comes to a complete stop at the intersection for at least one cycle of the traffic control signals; and 
(2) exercises due caution as provided by law, otherwise treats the traffic signal as a stop sign, and determines that it is safe to proceed.

Until then, I will continue to feel unwelcome on my own roadways and will continue to ride like I have been no matter how many butt hurt motorists I leave in my wake. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Okay, Here's What Happened...

In my many, MANY miles traveled around this and surrounding towns, I have never once seen a police officer when I actually needed one. 


As the saying goes; "there's never a cop around when you need one." There is another saying that goes something like: "There is always a cop around to screw with you when your day needs a good Fisting."

So here I was, riding home from work on a beautiful evening and it finally happened: I got pulled over on my bicycle! 
Let me break this down for you...
First, I wish to God that I had a Fly 6 tail light to capture the action and since I did not, I am presenting this to you as honestly as I can. Sure, there is some sarcasm jammed in here, but this is as accurate as my short term memory will allow. So with that in mind, let us begin...

I pull up to a red light at what is normally a very busy intersection. This is one that I have sat through many times (in heavy rush hour traffic I might add). I have been yelled at, honked at, and just the other day had an awesome interaction with a lovely motorist who is lucky to have any teeth left in his head after honking and yelling "Get out of my way! I need to go around you!!" whilst on his mobular telephoning device. 


Anywhore, I have made my position pretty clear when it comes to which traffic laws and how they put cyclists in danger, but if for some reason it is still a mystery to you, let me sum it up thusly...

I have not and will NOT "roll" a stop light. EVER. (stop signs? maybe... 'nother story ;)

BUT I DO have a theory that I put in to practice which has kept me alive thus far and I have always said "If I fuck this up," by which I mean, if I get myself killed because I went through a light "then it was my fault." PERIOD. 
As I refuse to blame a motorist if a cyclist rolls the dice and loses. 

See, traffic laws are designed to keep multiple-ton vehicles from ramming into one another and therefore for the most part do not apply to bicycles. That said; The laws recognize me as something I am NOT (a vehicle) so I try to follow as many of them as I can to avoid the inevitable, which is to say; if I act like a car, then hopefully I can avoid being hit by one. However, as cyclists, we all know that the point is moot and the effort is absolutely futile. No matter how many times we try to be "responsible, law abiding citizens" there will always be that one asshole that tries to call us on our bullshit. In this case, it was a State Trooper and he was having none of it. 

So there I was, rolling up to that same intersection, the one I like to call the "Punishment Light" which never signals itself the same way twice, and the Green, "Left Turn" arrow was displayed. 
Naturally, I assumed that the next light would be the full green, right? Well, it wasn't. But you know what? As it It turned red, I hit the brakes, stood there, drank some water, scratched my ass... etc, just waiting. Like a good boy.

Now, I knew there was a car behind me* because I saw it as I glanced over my right shoulder (which I always do when I am in the turn lane to see if I am about to get yelled at by some schmuck in a BMW who has on his blinker).
*Interesting side note: this car appeared out of nowhere. Meaning, not one single car was behind me the whole way down this road until I stopped, which likely means he came out of the adjacent parking lot. This fact will prove important later in the story.)

Spend a day with me and you will notice one thing; When I sit at an intersection like this it is common for me to go on the left arrow. That means that when the left arrow is displayed on my side of the street, it is also on the other side of the street. If that side empties before the "full green" is displayed on my side, I GO. Careful to keep looking for cars in that lane and also ones trying to turn right on red in the lanes to my right, I proceed.

I adopted this technique in order to avoid the onslaught of traffic from behind. You see, if I get a head start, it is likely that the ten cars behind me will have a chance to jockey for position to get around me rather than having the same ten cars try to squeeze in next to me as I try to get up to speed and claim what little road is left for me once the cars are done with it.

The Awesome Sauce is: I am actually allowed to do that!

...Unless an Indiana State Trooper is behind me, that is. 

In this case, there were no cars in either turn lane. Naturally, one assumes that rather than arrows being displayed, there will be a full green... Right? 
You all answered yes, right? (except for my readers from afar that is, because as we all know, the roads over there run in a differenty direction).

Sweet! Now we are all on the same page. Good!

So I stand up on the pedals, track stand for a second (longest track stand I have done in my life) and start to roll...
the Arrow shows and my brain says "Ah shit... Well... It's safe.... Keep rolling."

(minus the ticket, this is EXACTLY what happened)
Him: (jumping out of the car and hustling over to me) Hey man, you know why you are being pulled over? 


Him: Why did you do that then? 

Me: I got "started" and at that point, I didn't want to break my momentum.

Him: You are aware, Son, that you are considered a vehicle and must obey the laws, minus of course, the speed limits, etc... 

Me: Yeah, but...

Him: Stop right there. I don't want to hear it.

Annoyed and desperately wanting to fire back, my survival instinct to remain upright and free of handcuffs took over so I tried a different tactic:
You know there is a sate law that affords me this opportunity, no?

Granted, my words were not as eloquent but either way I mentioned that I was allowed by law to move through the intersection after two minutes and then
 a puzzled look came across his face that made it look as though he was clearly unfamiliar with this law...

 Him: "2 minutes?!" he barked inquisitively, "Yeah... More like 30 SECONDS!"
 Keep it up man, you are about to talk yourself into a ticket. I stopped to warn you of the dangers of cycling. 

"Are you fucking serious right now?" I thought. "You stopped me just to lecture me about cycling safely? Why? Out of the goodness of your heart?"

Man, of all the people in this city he picked me? Really?  

Me: Look, can I level with you here? I asked. I am an avid cyclist and...

Him: What the hell does that have to do with anything?!

Me: I am simply trying to say that it means I am always paying more attention to cars than they are to me and...

At this point he was yelling pretty loudly and I decided it was best if I just shut the fuck up. That, or call my lawyer from jail. So as much as it pains me to say it, I submitted.

 Me: Yes Sir. You are right.

Him: You know what you did wrong?!

Me: Yes Sir. 

Him: (still yelling) You gonna do it again?!

Me: No Sir.

Him: Good. Now get out of here!

To which I replied: Have a great evening officer and please be safe out there.

(At which point it is worth stating that I really meant that. That is to say, those dudes have hard jobs and a lot of them are family men like myself. With that in mind, I hope that they all make it home safe. Every time.)

Him: (his back already turned to me he raises a caddy back hand) 
... Yeah, yeah. 

As I was getting back on my bike, left to ponder what just happened, 
 I turn to watch him as he whips a shitty, blows a stop sign and races off in to the sunset.

I was pissed! I know it doesn't read that way, but let me assure you... 
that clown made me feel like a criminal.

Firstly, I am allowed BY LAW to go through that intersection. 
House Bill 1080 (the 120 second rule) is designed with those who choose alternative transportation in mind. That said, I will make one concession here; 
It may or may not have been less that 120 seconds that I was there BUT,

A). It may have been closer to 120 seconds than he made it sound when he said "...More like 30 seconds!" as I sat through an entire cycle of lights waiting until it was safe to proceed.

B). He had no way of proving the length of time I was there (and honestly, I have no idea either). But as the burden of proof rests on those enforcing the laws, I win. 

Regardless, he was not counting, nor was I but I maintain that the amount of time matters very little here.

The reason the light did not change for me was the exact reason that the law was created to begin with. I have always wondered what would happen if I ever had to quote the law. In this case, it taught me a valuable lesson:
Don't tell a cop "Well the law states..." and expect it to go well.  

Also... as a motorist, you are not allowed to lecture me on the "...dangers of cycling." Ever. Police officer or not. I know how dangerous it is. You cannot begin to comprehend what we (cyclists everywhere) deal with everyday. If you could, then that would likely mean you actually do ride bicycles in which case you would probably have left me alone.

In addition, if you want to go around sighting examples to support your argument and therefore fuel your oppressive, anti bike rampage, perhaps you should pick a better example than "...THAT GUY WHO GOT KILLED ON STATE ROAD 23..."
A guy who, for the record, has a name. Steven Carey was literally "just riding along" when a 20 something chick hit him from behind. He had lights, mirrors, reflective vestiges, and the whole lot, yet ended up under a car because, as she put it, "he came out of nowhere!" 

Bullshit. He was right in fucking front of you! 

"Well, I didn't see him!" she says.


"I only looked down for 20-30 seconds!!"

...Turns out (they later found) she was on Facebook when it happened.

So a man died just blocks from where I commute every day and you have the audacity to lecture me?

Hey, Officer Ass Hat, here's a tip... 

You want to help cyclists? Then start ticketing all those bastards I see looking at their phones while driving and leave me the fuck alone. 

I am serious here. One day it will likely be me under that car and I fear that it will be from the same maddening set of circumstances. 

Until then, let me enjoy the rest of the time I have on this Earth by riding my bicycle in peace.

Hide From the Kids! It's bike porn!

I haven't had much to bitch about lately and havent posted in a while, so enjoy the following. 

After recently rebuilding a Bendix 2 speed kick-back coaster brake hub, I had some time to reflect. Much like the kids nowadays do not know what "dial tone" is, Some people in our industry will never know what it's like or what it takes to do such a thing. Not because they don't know how, it is because the industry has rendered them obsolete. We can talk about why, but that time has passsed.

Picture this: 
Dude has a passion for bikes. He likes rare and beautiful, yet functional bicycles. 
I get to build them.

He has an idea.
-Start with one of the rarest (and that word gets thrown around a lot) hubs in cycling history; 
A Sturmey-Archer ASC 3 speed fixed-gear hub. 
-Build around that hub with a 1942 Bates BAR, frame with Reynolds 531 "cantiflex" tubing. 

Sprinkle in the coolset parts spec a bike has ever seen, then...
This happens...

The front hub is an NJS Dura Ace track hub. Both wheels are built on Velocity Dyad rims

Soma Lauterwasser bars 
Brooks leather grips

Polished Paul brake levers and custom mounted 3 speed trigger 

NJS NITTO seat post, Brooks Swift. 
NJS Dura Ace track crank and chain. 

Campagnolo Record brakes. 
(The rear one had to be flipped around to allow the brake to reach) 

Its rare in life to build with such unique parts, to hold them in your hands, to bring them back from obsolecence. 
Its rare enough to see one of these hubs, 

...but two?!

You dont have to know what any of all this means in order to appreciate this bicycle. But if you do know, then you can understand why it feels like this...


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring Has Sprung

Like the melting snow, the campus bikes are trickling in; in to a giant pool of wet, rusty, crap.  

Which is sweet I guess, I mean, it keeps me busy. Plus I get to yell at smart kids about maintaining their shit. Sometimes it awesome though because some kids don't simply abuse their bikes, they beat the shit out of them. If you think those things are one in the same, then clearly you have not seen the difference between them.

These kinds of people can be broken into two basic catagories:

A) Dude (or female dude for that matter) who leaves his (or her) bike out all winter. Like ALL winter... Snow plows burying them along with the bike racks they (and others) are are locked to. No lube, etc... and it was already a total shit show when they locked it up before the snow!

B) Other Dude. He actually rides his bike. Hell, he sometimes lubes the chain like you told him to. Problem is... he's a "Masher;" he likes to ride it in the hardest gear. He wears his shit out!

And yes, he literally wore a hole in his front derailleur!


Well anyway, Spring is here and I suppose I should start blogging again. I took a little break for a minute there and wanted to make sure ya'll knew I was still alive. I switched jobs as of the last post and am spending much of my time assimilating to the sudden shift in the employment paradigm. I also began writing a book. 

(it's a working title)

 We'll see how that goes, but for now, it does take a large part of my creative brain to do, which leaves me very little with which to blog before the "Thinky Pain" starts.

 Anyway, I hope to keep doing this. I have had several reservations along the way, but none of them have been enough to stop me, so I reckon I will keep on going. Plus, I have been checking in occasionally and people are still reading his every day. That makes me feel pretty good about it too.

Besides... There are a shit load more bikes out there

...and someone has to bitch about them.