All decked out.

24 07 2008

As a framebuilder you often do not see the final product or you don’t get an opportunity to see how it is used.

Here is recent Bohemian Tourer in the White Mountains of Arizona.   Not only is it a beautiful shot and background but shows a bike how a bike should be used.  Paint be damned!


Show n’ tell friday 7-18-08

18 07 2008

On the framebuilders list there is a bit of a tradition now that we show what we are working on.  This is usually done on Friday.   Here is what I brought to class today.

I am working on the new Engin Bicycles seat post.   For you that do not know this is the first and only lugged seat post.   I am very excited about it.   I always felt weird about making an artisan frame and then plunking chunky CNC aluminum bits all over it.   Never seems to fit well.   This post is made of Reynolds 953 stainless steel, it is clean, pretty and light and the perfect addition to a custom bicycle.

For this one I am trying to match a theme I am carrying on in the stem.   Not to give away too much but I actually from time to time forge the lug to make it bend to my will!  That is why you see some of the discolorations and the like.

Stem that I have already prepped

Seat lug just lightly cleaned up

Seat lug, with major areas cut out and initial heating and bending

Same thing different angle

Further refinement.

Completed design,  just needs light cleaning

Well, that is show and tell for Friday the 18th.   Any questions?  Melvin is up next with a toad, I hope you all like that…..

One small reason I live in Tucson

10 07 2008

So it’s hot, really hot.   Tucson has it’s fair share of congestion, urban sprawl, malls and Starbucks.

But more often then not in the summer months, this is what you can see from your front porch.

True innovators/innovations in cycling? Alex Moulton

9 07 2008

Being a closet historian of bicycles there is true in the adage that what is old is new again.    I am wary of many new innovations.  Not that I am a certified techno geek, I am!   But I want to see quantum leaps, not the rehashing of old ideas or regretfully new ideas that don’t work as well as old ones.    One of these is the basic double diamond bicycle frame.   So good is it that real improvements in it’s form and function have not really occurred for 75 years or so.   Certainly composites have lightened the structure to some degree but short of the pound difference everything wouldn’t be unfamiliar to a framebuilder of the 1970’s.

This brings me to one of my favorite innovators in this industry.   Alex Moulton.   A British engineer and designer  who had part in such notable vehicles as the Spitfire aircraft and Mini Cooper.   Mr. Moulton definitely designs out of the box and brings concepts and ideas to the table that I believe one day will become incorporated into the standard “racing” bicycle.  Ideas such as small, light, strong, aerodynamic wheels.   Small compact frames and most notably suspension.   Suspension is the big one.   Think of any sport with wheels short of skating that does not utilize suspension?  Cars, motorcycles, heck even MTB is full suspension.  But our lowly road bike is still suspensionless less it’s pneumatic tires.   Moulton began changing this as far back as mid 50’s.  Think if as much effort that has gone into some modern road bikes went into really changing the bicycle as we know it.  Amazing things could happen.

Here is a wonderful video, about 20 minutes long with a true gentleman scholar.   You won’t hear “watts” or high modulus mentioned in it but it is enlightening none the less.

Kitty has taste

9 07 2008

New addition to the family!  We had a neighbor who had to move.  Long story short was that Kitty (meows) wasn’t down with it.   So now there is new shop cat who has a new favorite sleeping place.  Her bed is 50oz of silver solder.

Ceramic Bearings are not better than steel ones.

6 07 2008

This is where, in a perfect world everyone would take a simple engineering course so they would know what they are actually buying into.

All bearings have their place.   Ceramic bearings are now all the rage and although I don’t mind if you get them you really should know that they do not have any less rotational drag than traditional steel ball bearings.

Ball bearings have an  ABEC rating and have all sorts of specs like sealed, what types of seals, what types of lubrication, what types of casings and what types of bearings.   The possibilities are enormous.

Here is the down low.   Ceramic and steel ball bearings of equal specification will act exactly in the same manner.   There would absolutely be no difference in performance of these two theoretical bearings.   Often what some may perceive as a difference is only that they are replacing a low quality steel bearing with a high quality ceramic bearing, nothing more.

Ceramic bearings are made for high temperature applications where steel bearings my fail (think turbo chargers)  Steel bearings are available for extremely precise application all the way up to ABEC 9.   For instance, I had to replace my lathe bearings.  Very traditional 2” diameter bearings except that because of their specification cost $800.00 dollars.

Ceramic bearings may weigh a touch less than their steel counterparts but claims of better concentricity, durability, strength and lower friction is just not true.


Here is a tidbit from Boca Bearings.  A producer of Ceramic bearings:

Ceramic is the ideal material for any application operating in harsh environments where extreme temperatures and corrosive substances are present. Ceramic has 35 percent less thermal expansion, 50 percent less thermal conductivity, are lighter weight and are non-corrosive.

Cryopumps, medical devices, semiconductors, machine tools, turbine flow meters, food processing equipment, robotics and optics.

About Boca Bearing:
With over 3000 different bearing sizes and well over three million bearings in stock, Boca Bearings offers the largest stock of replacement bearings for all industrial, medical and specialty applications.


What they say is absolutely accurate.   Notice, they did not say they have less resistance or are tougher.  I would consider bicycles not to be an environment of extreme temperatures or involved with corrosive substances.  Machine tools, Cryopumps, turbopumps etc all go through conditions that are more severe than any bicycle part.   As you may have ascertained.  They are certainly not going to hinder you.  They just are not going to do anything for you either.

I will also add that even if one theoretical bearing  had 10% less frictional losses than another example  that frictional losses from bearings in a bicycle are so low as to make this measurement inconsequential.   Those that can “feel” it are experiencing the placebo effect in all it’s glory.

List of Bicycle frame painters

4 07 2008

This is a list I made up with the help of the framebuilders list.phred.  Thanks everyone!

Certainly by no means all the bicycle specific frame painters in the U.S.  but probably a good chunk of them.   I had to do some editing for those I could not verify were in business any longer or did not have a certain level of professionalism.  (i.e. they are on a free web account and paint in their upstairs bedroom)

Certainly the best in the U.S. reside on this list.   I do not know the work personally of half of these folks so please do your research accordingly.


Painter information