Sunday, May 28, 2006

Trip to the Velodrome

This is a little late, but hopefully no one will care.

Thursday was a trip to the Velodrome for the season opener. My neighbor has moved up to the Pro/1/2 category and was riding in the first race plus I wanted to park my carbon bike out front to see what interest it might pull.

Last first to get it out of the way. Lots of folks stopped and asked questions. A couple may yet come back to order one. And there were many compliments. This is a pretty bike savvy crowd, so this felt like a real accomplishment.

Its always fun to see all the pretty bikes, and some not so pretty. One young fellow, lean as a rail, probably about 14 (give or take a year) had an old red Olmo. It's paint was all chipped up - in some places there were large patches of finish coat missing. He was there with what I assume were his parents. The father was big and barrel coasted. He could have been a defensive lineman, or a one-man towtruck. Despite his bulk, he was graceful and clearly used to physical activity. He and the mother both spoken heavily accented English, but I could sort out the accent.

I spotted the father first, hustling out to the parking lot with this rusty old bike on his shoulder and a broken chain draping from it. Ten minutes later, he was back with everything squared away. I next saw them in the stands just before the racing began. Mom was sitting in her spot, Dad was moving around nervously finding tasks to fret about. They took turns giving the son coaching and encouragement. It was clear that the son loved racing and that supporting him was a big issue in their lives. I wished I could of stuck around to see him race, but the program began late due to weather and I had to get home to put one of the kids to bed.

But before leaving, my buddy (Aram) took 3rd in the first race. Talking to him later, he was particularly happy because the two (young) fellows who beat him had each won national championships. How's that for a start of the season?

Anyhow, getting back into the racing milieu amped my interest in getting Aram's frame built. So much so that I'm thinking of doing a trial horse to make sure that we've got the fit and handling nailed before doing the real race bike. Seeing Aram race, however, was the real kicker. He's good (which I knew) and it will be fun to build him a great frame on which to win some races.

The idea of a trial horse is cool too, because it lets me play with more colors. My current thought for the race bike is all gloss black except stainless steel faces on the fork tips, track forks (dropouts on a road bike), and maybe stainless plates at the top of the seat-stays. The idea is to have it look like a serious instrument.

With a second bike, its possible to have some more fun. Maybe do something really bright. Possibly a fluorescent color, or maybe two colors with strong contrast. I can think of lots of ideas, but haven't settled on anything yet.

So, there's lots to work on (including pictures of Sarah's frame). I better get to work, eh?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Wait let's talk Weight

So, the carbon bike is pretty well sorted out. The Campy front derailer works like a charm - and seems to be lighter than the Deda clamp/FSA derailer combo. The bike as shown in the pictures has a 56cm actual seat-tube and a 58cm virtual seat-tube. So its no small bike.

As shown in the pictures, including the 2 water bottle cages and the heavy old look pedals, it weighs in at 17.8 lbs. I've obtained a mounted a new set of Ksyrium SSC SL3s w/ Deda RS Corsa Open Tubulars and Michelin Airlite butyl tubes. Then a set of Look Carbon Keo pedals with CrMO axles. And, finally a lightweight (mfg claim is 142 grams) cassette (the Ti record was too expensive at $400+).

The net weight on a digital scale of the complete bike was 16.44 lbs. This compares favorably to my neighbors Colnago C50 which is similarly (not exactly) equipped. He was impressed.

I continue to be impressed by the ride and handling. In the pack, mid-corner corrections are great. It was possible to ride to the outside entering a corner, keep speed up and going straight longer, then dive around nearly squaring the corner without much braking. Easy way to pass people without much effort - but only with nimble and trustworthy handling. I'm definitely starting to respect carbon more - and the basic design of this frame is spot on.

More later.

Water Bottle Cages

Extremely light H2O cages have always worried me. To the point, that I couldn't see wanting to spend $50-100 per for carbon cages, and of being even more suspicious of cheaper carbon cages.

It seemed like prior generation light-weights might be better sorted out, and at up to twice the weight of carbon, more likely to last. And, of course their pricing makes an experiment more palatable.

I settled on Tacx Tao based on looks - comparable cages seemed to cost and weigh the same without clear (to me) engineering advantages. Certainly user ratings of the Tao and similar cages indicated that some folks had problems within a year.

Regardless of weight or material, it seems to me that the interface between the loop(s) around the bottle and the base is a potential hinge. With out bulk, even the strongest material would be at some disadvantage to the G forces that a full bottle could sustain - side to side. It also seems difficult to overcome this by creating a wider base against the tubes. Tubes come in a variety of diameters and cross-sections - a broader base would not contact some of these, and would have interference against others.

Net, I've been a little suspicious of all the lightweights. The world may prove me wrong, and I'm not suggesting that they can't/don't work. But I'm leery.

Anyhow, I rode the circuit with my buddies last Saturday, and a bolt came loose on the cage with a bottle. I caught it in time, stopped and tightened it down. Back in the shop, all the bolts got re-torqued. On the circuit this morning, reaching for my bottle and the cage shifted. The top bolt was missing - causing me to swing it around 180 degrees after shifting the bottle to the other cage. By the time we got home, the second cage was coming loose.

Today's fix was simple, some blue thread locker. Hopefully this will do the job. But, I can't help but wonder if there is something in the design of the base of these cages that causing this problem, or if the bolts just aren't getting good engagement on the bottle bosses.

The Tao looks really cool, isn't too expensive, and appears well made. Hopefully this will be the limit of problems with them. If so, then they'll become the standard Carbon Noir cage.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Clean Up

I'm trying to get Sarah's bike cleaned up for shipping to the painter.

As a starting point, I tried Freddy's new product Altife. Altife is a cleaner and rust converter/preventitive. Altife Prep is applied sparingly to remove surface oxidation. It can be used as a brazing prep, but its also nice for cleaning up afterwards. Altife Pro goes on after the Prep which will prevent oxidation before and after brazing.

Anyhow, after multiple brazes and soaks, there was lots of rust and some spots had a build up of crud that just wasn't responding to efforts to clean it up. An example was on the dropouts. The edge/corner between the face and the body of the dropout had something black built up. I couldn't get this out with a file, sandpaper, or a burr.

I used a flux brush to apply the Altife Prep, although Freddy recommends a cotton ball and I may try this next time. Working a little area at a time, the Altife went on and then was attacked by a combination of a stainless steel brush and a stainless brush wheel in a drill. I'm going to order a small (little bigger than a toothbrush) stainless brush for hard to reach areas.

How does it work? Well, in cleaner sections of the tubing, it just cleaned things up by itself. Sort of an apply and wipe off drill. Dirtier spots required the brush, but not for long. It took about an hour to get a clean silvery frame and fork, including working around the bottom bracket, cantilever mounts and other complicated areas.

Now that its clean, there are a few areas that need touchup with a file. Then its on to sanding, and for the stainless bits, polishing.

Altife has my recommendation.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Here's the Carbon Project

Here are the promised pictures.

Pictures of Carbon Project

Here are some side views. Someone asked me why the brake cable is mounted on top. I had to reply "Just Because" The next one will be on the bottom. Likewise the shifter cables will move under the down-tube.

Carbon Pix

Rear End and Drive Train. I've since swapped out the FSA derailer - it doesn't seem to be Campy Compatible.

Pictures of The Carbon Project

Here's the front end. Campy shifters, Cane Creek Brakes, and the special CN logo. On top of the top-tube, you can see the transition from black paint to clear over carbon.


Today is all about sunshine! The skys are blue. It was 41 degrees when we went out to ride and 61 when we finished. Can you say perfect cycling weather?

This was the public unveiling of my carbon frame. It got rave reviews. The paint (thanks Gordon!) the decals, the FRAME, the build kit.

I'm noticeably faster on this bike. It's probably a result of me being in a more aero position, but that's a testament to the fit. Normally, I get a numb wrist and hand after riding a while. When its bad, I can't work my shift levers. It seems to be related to slightly aggravated disk. The solution is to be sure and hold my head up w/ my chin down. When the fit is right, this is second nature to me. This is the first bike where I could get aero while having my posture work naturally. So no bothersome wrist or hands while moving faster. That's a good deal in my book.

As this is a demonstrator, its fitted with 23mm tires. Normally I don't like their ride, but they've done fine by me. It seems likely that I'm carrying more weight on the pedals so, keeping my hands and seat from suffering. Again, good fit wins out big time.

The rear shifting is now spot on, and working the Campy should. I do seem to be having some unusual noises coming from the freehub. I suspect a sticky paw as occasionally, when starting to pedal, there's a sort of clunk as the hub engages. I'll probably take this in to the shop for review as I don't have the right tools for the job - and freehubs are difficult with those tools. I've done it before, and swore never to do it again.

Meanwhile, I'm still playing with the FSA front derailer. Its really frustrating me. Personally, I don't think its engineered to work with Campy. I'm going to have one more go at it today, but if that doesn't work, it'll go on the scrap pile while a return to good old Campy.

The SLR saddle continues to surprise me as a comfortable seat. It probably wouldn't rate so well for a rider in a more upright posture, but in this application it seems as good as anything I've ever tried.

Today, the bike will get a god cleaning, then it will be time for photos while the sun is shining! They'll get posted tonight.

That's all for now, gotta shower and wash the ride rags.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Protect Your Internet Freedoms!

We, as a nation, are facing another serious problem which is in the hands of our Congress. This is the potential demise of Net Neutrality. In today's world, every user pays his/her share of the cost of the internet in the form of their access fees. The fees charged are based on how much content (data) one's connection can pass to or from the net.The major Telco's have decided that they can increase their take by changing the rules of the game. In particular, they want to charge additional fees to web sites that provide content to the rest of us, whether these are blogs, news sites, topical interest sites, or entertainment. The Telco's argument is that the traffic is crossing their networks. There are two problems with this argument: 1) They are already being compensated via access fees from both the provider and user of content; 2) In many cases, they don't own the networks that provide their services. Much of the Internet cloud is run through service providers that you've never even heard of, so the idea that ATT owns the network is bogus.More critically, if these providers can charge fees, they will be able to run independent content providers out of business. This includes everything from this blog, to charity web-sites, to wiki-pedia, to news sites and political blogs. In one fell swoop, these telco giants could reduce the Internet to the worst aspects of cable TV. Kind of an ugly picture, isn't it?

The following is copied from an announcement by Please read it then call or fax your Representative and Senators and let them know how you feel.

Adam Green, Noah T. Winer, and the Civic Action team Thursday, May 18th, 2006

P.S. Can you support this member-driven campaign today? As companies like AT&T spend millions lobbying Congress to gut Internet freedom, we will win this fight because of the power of regular people. A donation of $10, $20, or more would go a long way. You can donate here: https-colon:-slash-slash-civic-dot-moreon-dot-org-slash-donatec4-slash-creditcard.html?id-77054813410-PkE15PjD3UZWSJTI4duhvw&t=3

P.P.S. Here is our press release about today's event.Rep. Markey, Moby Speak Out for Internet Freedom, Against Corporate Web Takeover Musicians band together to demand Net Neutrality with congressional showdown over the future of the Internet imminent Washington, D.C.

Grammy-nominated musician Moby joined today with Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, to demand that Congress reject upcoming legislation that would allow AT&T, Verizon, and other telecommunications giants to take over the Internet.The growing list of major artists and musicians who have joined the Coalition's Artists and Musicians for Internet Freedom includes Moby, R.E.M., Q-Tip, the Indigo Girls, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, the Roots, the Dixie Chicks, Jill Sobule, and Wilco.

These artists join Internet advocates, Civic Action, Gun Owners of America, the Christian Coalition, consumer groups, and more than 600 diverse organizations in the fighting back against a congressional proposal to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment. "If Congress guts Net Neutrality, independent music and news sites would be choked off, consumer choice would be limited, and the Internet will be become a private toll road auctioned off by companies like AT&T," Moby warned. "We need to stand up for Internet freedom now. Congress must uphold Network Neutrality."

Net Neutrality is the long-held principle that ensures small music blogs and independent news sites open just as easily on people's computers as large corporate sites. Companies like AT&T are spending millions lobbying Congress to pass legislation that critics charge would set up a discriminatory tollbooth system on the information superhighway. The proposed legislation would allow Internet providers to decide which Web sites work best on people's computers based on who pays them the most, favoring large corporations with deep coffers while marginalizing everyday people, community groups and small businesses. "The legislation in the House of Representatives threatens the Internet as we know it," said Rep. Markey, author of H.R 5273 "Save the Internet Act of 2006" which would preserve the open architecture of the Internet and prevent companies from downgrading and discriminating regarding Internet access and services. "Right now we are heading down a dangerous road that will stifle the openness of the Internet, endanger our global competitiveness, and warp the web into a tiered Internet of bandwidth haves and have-nots.

This coalition is the beginning of a nationwide effort to stop creeping Internet protectionism into the free and open World Wide Web. This is the time for Internet users to express themselves to rise up and save the Internet," said Markey, Congressional leader of the movement to prevent the COPE Act (HR 5252) from passing without a strong net neutrality provision.Thousands watched the Moby event online at www-dot-SavetheInternet-dot-com-slash-moby, which posted a Congressional call-in number on the screen encouraging viewers to call their representatives to demand they protect Net Neutrality."We are seeing a massive public outcry, the people are joining together to save the Internet. Artists and musicians are part of this vast movement, as are the nearly 700,000 people who signed a petition, and the thousands calling Congress every day," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, which is coordinating the Coalition. "The American public won't allow the Internet to be turned into just another cash cow for greedy corporations. Americans will be watching how their representatives vote on Internet freedom."The Save the Coalition an alliance of organizations from across the political spectrum, consumer groups, educators, small businesses and bloggers that have come together to protect Internet freedom has galvanized support for Network Neutrality from artists, musicians and hundreds of thousands of average citizens.

In less than a month, almost 700,000 people have signed an Internet Freedom petition to Congress, more than 7,000 friends have joined SavetheInternet-dot-com's MySpace, and thousands of blogs have linked to the coalition Web site. Also supporting Network Neutrality are companies such as Google and eBay and groups such as AARP, the ACLU and the Christian Coalition.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Since last week, we've had an unusual amount of rain. Most of it has come down slowly, and after the last few seasons, we all need it. So whining isn't fair. That said, the few openings in the weather have occurred when I've been absolutely tied down by work.

This morning, it looked like more of the same. Wipers on all the way to work. I told my wife, "If there's a break in the weather, I'm taking the afternoon off." Guess what? It happened. After finishing up work at a clients home around 1:00, the sun started to come out. I headed home where I ate my lunch and the clouds came back. I ignored them and suited up. Then I torqued down the remaining bolts per manufacturer specs. Just then, the sun came out again and I was off [probably should have used the time for photos instead :)]

After an hour on the bike, I have to say it was a blast. It feels much different from my usual ride, but it should for many reasons. Moving from MA3 rims spoked 36 and 700c28 wheels to high tension Campy Zonda (16 spokes up front, 21 in the back) with 700c23 tires could account of much of the difference.

On the other hand, I'm sure this bike weighs at least 6 pounds less. My usual ride has a 2 pound saddle (Brooks Conquest), fenders, front rack, beautiful but not particularly light Nitto stem and bar, wheels that must be a pound heavier than the Zondas, and so on. We don't have large hills here to test brakes and handling on high speed descents. But, we do have some steep little hills, and its clear that this bike ascends like an angle. I'm not a weight fetishist - otherwise I'd make sure my figure was different. But 6 or more pounds is enough to feel the difference more than I care to admit.

There's plenty of stiffness in the frame. I didn't notice any frame deflection. A couple of people whose opinion I highly value would argue that this is a bad thing. That is, a great frame flexes in a way to enhance the riders output. However, while flex is hidden, this is still a lively frame, so perhaps it works with the rider more than is obvious. In any case, I enjoyed the ride and only noticed the stiffness when I consciously thought about it.

A big caveat to the above, the difference in tires and wheels probably account for much of the perceived stiffness.

I was riding the SLR saddle for the first time. It was very comfortable. I don't know what a longer ride would be like, but after 90 minutes, it fits me well and seems to have a hidden suppleness that a normal thumb press on the top doesn't reveal. I was impressed.

Shifting is a little off. I'm using an FSA compact front derailer and it seems sensitive to positioning. It appears that it needs to be lowered some and the tail end twisted in toward the center line of the frame (this to get the inner cage parallel with inner chainwheel). As it stands, its not possible to position the limit stops so that the chain can't be shifted off the chainrings on either the high or low. I may yet try going back to a normal (not compact) front derailer. From what I've seen, the compact cranks work fine with these.

The Deda crank works. What else can you say about a crank? Well, I should measure its Q factor. What ever it is, my feet ride more naturally on the cranks and my knees don't hurt. I shim my cleats to raise the out portion of the sole, while riding with my knees in close to the center line. Depending on the crank, I have to think about this more, or less. In this case, there is no thinking and no problem. So, these are a very good crank for me. Their weight is competitive with Record carbon, and they feel stiff. Finally, I typically get a bit of ankle rubbing on the crank arm. These seem to taper in towards the crank bolt and don't rub.

I just stopped over at the neighbor's house. On his digital scale, the bike with old heavy (340 grams/pair) Look pedals weighs in at 17.8 pounds. So let's see where we could get without going crazy.

A Keo carbon pedal at less than $200/pair weighs about 230 grams for a saving of 110 grams. My (last year's model) Zonda wheels weigh about 1780 grams. A new pair of Ksyrium SL's ($825) are about 1580 grams for a saving of about 200 grams. My Centaur cluster weighs about is rated at 242 grams by Campy (probably low because it's a 13-26). The regular Record Steel/Ti cluster ($210) is rated at 192 grams saving us 50 grams.

These three changes total 360 grams of savings, using all reliable equipment and parts typically used on top end bikes. This 0.8 pound savings gets us right at the border of a 16 pound bike. Shift to tubulars, or lighter wheel and we're well into the 16 pound territory. And this is with a fully assembled bike with a full paint finish (paint and layers of clear coat are surprising heavy) etc. My future cable routing is going to save further weight around the bottom bracket. There's room to trim the seat post (no sense retaining the unneeded portion), a lighter latex tube makes sense and cuts grams, and so forth. Then, if we shorten the chain stay to a more normal 400mm length (currently 420) we can cut heft out of the bottom bracket joint without weakening anything.

This is for a size large (55cm seat tube in a sloping tube configuration. Most stated weights are for a size medium or its equivalent. Do I think we can be competitive on weight? You betcha!

That's all for tonight. I promise pictures soon.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Here are a couple of teaser shots of the new bike. Its been wet and rainy, but late this after noon we got a little sun and got a few pictures in. Most of them aren't good, so I'll retake them - perhaps tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's whats available of the completed bike.

The closer chain stay has a protector on the top - which obscures the quality of the finish. The rear stay gives a better sense of the job that Gordon did.

As always, click on the picture to enlarge.

The second shot shows the top of the seat stays, the rear Cane Creek brake, and the Tacx Tao bottle cages. I've never used the Taos before, but the bottle fit seems a bit loose. I'm considering putting a dot of clear silicone caulk on the inside to better hold the bottles. Anyhow, this shot better shows the surface smoothness and shine that Gordon achieved with the paint.

Probably have more pix tomorrow.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Carbon One is built

Carbon One, my prototype and demo-mule is built up. The derailers need to be dialed in a little bit, but otherwise its the real deal. While its to be expected, I am amazed at how light it feels to pick up. Likewise, to flick it from side to side when on the bike. I can't wait to weigh it in - even with the old Zonda wheels.

I found the proper nut for the front fork. It had been safely put away (along with a few odd other bits) in the can in which the headset came. After four months, an old mind like mine can forget things.

The Cane Creek brakes mounted and adjusted (pads and centering) easily. They provide good stopping power and reasonable modulation, at least as best I can tell on short 10:30PM ride around the neighborhood. Overall, they felt very good. Where else can you save 50 grams over Record or Dura Ace, and save $50-$100 over same? Normally, I'd expect 50 grams to cost $100-$150 - so these are a bargain.

In mounting brakes, it became evident that Deda designed the fork and rear triangle with more tire clearance than one might expect on a high-end carbon frame. It certainly doesn't look like its overly generous - but it appears that a pair of 700cX28mm tires would fit fine. The brake shoes are virtually at the bottom of their slots. I like this approach.

Also noted mounting the brakes; the Vittoria tires (came with the Zondas) are from Thailand. nothing wrong with that. But, apart from the Cane Creek brakes and the FSA derailer and Bottom Bracket, this is a truly Italian bike. As noted, the derailer will probably get swapped out for Campy. The BB will get replaced as soon as Joe can get me a Deda. The CC brakes will stay, but I'm inclined to complete my Deda showcase by mounting a set of Deda Tre tires. But, its probably better check that they're actually made in Italy before going that far.

The SLR saddle felt much more comfortable than I expected. In fact, I think it may be easy to get used to. One thing, the front is firm so its important that its not tipped up or pain will be experienced.

Being used to handlebars as seat height, its going to take a little work getting used to having the 2 inches below. But the reach is good, so this doesn't seem concerning, just an adjustment.

This was built with long chainstays (420mm) - I like a steady bike on a long ride, and find that this doesn't really limit manuverability. The headset and fork must be spot on also, because no-hands feels easy, even at lower speeds on an old concrete street. Going around the circle of the cul de sac felt good, but I'll have to wait for a longer day-light ride to find out how hi-speed handling is. A bike should fall naturally into its line on a corner, but it should be easily be steered off that line went necessary. Not all that many bikes can do both well, so we'll have to see about this one.

I know what I'd do differently next time with the paint, but that doesn't take anything away from the job that Gordon did. The shine is so deep, you can feel how smooth the surface of the paint is. I'm looking forward to working with him again in the future. Highly recommended.

The current front derailer is an FSA compact. Its a braze-on that works with the Deda band-clamp that comes with the front triangle. The FSA doesn't like the angle of the cable line. The derailer, in its small chainwheel position, gets over center so that pulling the cable doesn't lever the cage up. Mind you, the cable comes up (in typical carbon frame fashion) through the middle of the yoke of the chainstays. I've fiddled with it a bit and got it to work - but I'll probably replace it.

I have a decent used Chorus compact derailer with a 35mm clamp. Its interesting, both this clamp, and the one being used with the FSA aren't round. Rather, as they tighten up, they assume the shape of the tube.

Of note, Deda recommends against the use of Shimano clamp-on front derailers. The feel that the band is too narrow and can stress the frame. Deda's own band, or the one on Campy derailers are considered safe. So, for Shimano builds, its important to spec a braze on derailer.

I finished the handlebars with Yellow Deda tape. Its the only color that I have in stock that works with any of the colors on the bike. Unfortunately, yellow wasn't what I wanted to accentuate - so I'll probably order either deep blue or black.

Today, at a nearby "high-end" bike shop, I picked up a couple of new Campy shifter cables. For some reason, they were the same as the rest of my cables - too short, and not by a little. Generally, every cable tried has been at least a foot short. I can't explain this - the chainstays aren't that long. The front cable housings could be shortened up some, but no where near enough make these cables work. ERGH???!!!! Until I have that Ah Ha moment of understanding my own stupidity - I've found a solution. Deep in a drawer I found an old Schwinn '100" Gear Cable'. I suppose this is for a tandem or something. It's pretty big diameter so there's a little drag in the housings, but not bad. Anyway, this sucker was not too short.

Rear shifting is fine, but temporarily I'm using a long-cage Record. It seems a bit overly sensitive to chain length - probably because the derailer tab on the frame isn't very long. It looks like the chain will have to be shortened some more until the new derailer arrives. This may preclude using the big chainwheel with the big sprocket, but who does this anyway?

If the weather is any good tomorrow, there will be pictures of the finished product for all to see.


Carbon frame is home

The carbon frame arrived back at the office today! Yea!!!!

I was to give blood today, so I dropped the box off at home, unopened, and headed off to the blood center. They have me use some complex machine that only takes part of my blood, but a lot of it, so I only go every 16 weeks. The nurse today apparently put a leak in my vein. I don't usually have problems, my veins seem to be easy to find. But, part way through the process she started to get concerned and sure enough, blood was leaking under the skin. So, the process got shut down and I was sent home for another 16 weeks. But....this means time to work on the bike.

Tonight the bottom bracket cable guides went on. The rear brake (Cane Creek 200SL in black) was mounted. The cluster from another wheel set got mounted on the Campy Zonda's. The fork was installed with a Cane Creek IS-8 integrated headset, with the long carbon spacer, and a Deda Newton 26 (11CM) pointed up.

Then an FSA Isis platinum bottom bracket went, and a Deda D-Power compact carbon crank. The Deda crank bolts didn't seem to be working with the FSA BB - I'll try again tomorrow. This is too bad because the crank comes with a set of steel bolts to pull in the arms and a set of fancy Titanium bolts to replace the steel and hold the crank on. Maybe I'll have to get a Deda BB?

An anatomical Deda 215 bar mated up to the stem, and then some Record Carbon Ergo levers went on top of this. The rear brake cable is hooked up and the rear brake seems to be centering fine. The brakes are used and I think I'll pick up some new shoes as they look a bit more worn than I remember. Anyhow, this is when I discovered that I have an acute shortage of derailer cable - so it's off to the store tomorrow.

The Black Drive fork matches up nicely with the paint. The headtube is painted black, as is the top of the fork which then fades to carbon. In the back, the seatcluster and bottom bracket are black, and fade to carbon on the stays - so it all ties together. Because the fork is designed for an integrated headset, it is very deep from front to back (I'd say about twice as deep as the typical steel fork crown). It does have a fairly deep countersink to accommodate the brake nut, but unfortunately the brake bolt is still too short to reach. OH NO!

The ideal of just drilling a deeper countersink is unappealing to me. It seems like it might be easy to damage the integrity of the fork crown. So I have an inquiry into Deda. Hopefully they can respond fairly quickly.

I won't hazard a guess at weight, but without pedals, chain, bar-wrap, or all the cables and housing, it does feel very light. I'm hopeful of ending up in the 16lb range - but we'll have to wait and see.

The fit of this bike, naturally, is a bit different from my usual. The blue bike has the handlebars at an even height with the saddle. Here the bars are somewhere about 2-3 inches below. It's going to be interesting to see how/if I adapt to this. But, for the bike's purpose, a racier position seems a requirement. I wonder I I should mount TT bar? Rest my weight on my elbows, eh? :)

That's it for tonight. Photo's soon of this bike and of Sarah's frame.


Monday, May 08, 2006

A quick update

Got a little work done tonight. The first stainless seatstay cap is on. It's just about ground down to the dimensions of the stay, so it'll be hand filing and sanding from here on in. I think this accent will nicely balance the stainless headtube.

Also installed the rear derailer cable-guide on top of the bottom bracket. Freddy's Filet Pro filler works great to make a smooth connection between the tube (stainless but will be painted) and the BB.

Cleaned up around the seatstay bridge. This went fast because it had been neatly installed. I'm trying to feather the side points of the reinforcers because they stand up a bit from the stay - perhaps they were made to work with a larger diameter stay.

The chainstays look really beefy because they've been shortened from the rear. As a consequence, the narrow part of the stay is gone, and the contrast against the seatstays is pretty stark. On the other hand, Sarah won't have to worry about a flexible rear triangle.

So, its down to:
  • Installing a cable housing stop on the lower headlug
  • Installing the brake cable pulley mount
  • Installing the second seatstay cap.
  • Cleanup and polishing.

The weekend still looks possible for completion, but I can't commit to it yet.

Almost done with Sarah's bike

After dinner, it was time to get back to work on Sarah's bike. It's almost 1AM so I guess I've been at it for a while.

I got the cantilever posts mounted. On the fork, clearance seemed tight even though the crown is fairly wide and the tire is only an inch and a quarter, so I mounted the posts backwards (on the ouside of the fork leg). There's a little more filing and sanding to do, but the post fairs into the fork leg nicely. There's still a small matter of fabricating a new stop for the brake spring on the inside of the post - but that shouldn't take long.

To mount the posts, I used a section of angle steel (normally used to scribe a line down a tube). After fitting the posts for distance from the axle, I measured how far apart they were and drilled corresponding holes in one side of the angle steel. It was necessary to chamfer the outer edge as the post has a radius at its base. Its then possible to slide the posts into the holes, and using the tab with the brake spring holes, clamp the post to the angle steel. The fiddly bit is getting both posts at the right angle to be parallel with the axis of the fork legs or the steatstays (while at the same distance from the wheel axle no less). Unfortunately this jig needs some refinement because it won't stay in place by itself, even though the stays/legs are held horizontally during this operation. Fidgeting with a clamp for a while finally produced enough stability to get a good tack on each post. Once this is done, the clamps can come off and the remaining braze completed for each post. When everthing cools, the jig itself comes right off.

I'm going attach a weight below this jig next time to help hold it in place. Also, I'm going to get some appropriate sized tubing and cut it to length so that I can screw the posts to the jig. The idea is to stick the post through the steel, then slide a sleeve (tube) over the post, then stick a mounting bolt (with a washer) through the tube and screw it into the post. By so doing, the post should be held snug and square in the jig - yet be easier to adjust for its angle. And by eliminating the clamps, the jig won't be top-heavy and inclined to falling off. Well, that's the idea anyway, time will tell if it works. Meanwhile Sarahs posts are in place and look good.

I also mounted the seatstay bridge. Its a plain 3/8 inch tube with decorative reinforcers on each end. After all the difficulty holding the cantilever posts while tacking, this went is very easily - no clamps or nuttin'. It should require minimal cleanup. With the bridge in place, its easier to see that the rear wheel still needs dishing.

So what's left, well the stainless caps have to go onto the seatstays. The pulley mount for the rear brake cable has to be mounted. The brake spring stops have to be installed on the front fork. And theres still a lot of clean up and then polishing the stainless steel. It'll be interesting to see if this gets done before next weekend.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Here's picture of the finished product from the rear, showing the Cycles Noir Bantam. He symbolizes strength, toughness, and speed. This frame is now being prep'd for shipping back to me.

Speaking of speed, I don't have much lately. I sold a home over the weekend - and I've been busy with details related to that. A good problem, but hard to explain to Sarah now that her new bike has enough substance to seem tangible.

One thing that becomes clear with building experience is that there's no such thing as perfection, only the chase to achieve it. Out on the list, Richard Sachs and Darrell McCulloch have made this point numerous times. But intellectual knowledge is one thing, working the process provides a visceral knowledge that feels much more powerful.

This could sound like some sort of carping about the difficulties of the work, if so it's not capturing my thoughts. Rather, at each point in the process, one does ones best. Over time and with experience, one thinks of ways to improve the process or aesthetics. Sometimes its a matter of developing more accurate means to measure or cut. Sometimes its a matter of living with a style for a while - and deciding it needs improvement.

The later is the case with the current Cycles Noir decals. They're fine as is. But, living with them makes clear that something else would be more pleasing to my eye. Over the last two months, I've been working on a new design - retaining the current typeface. Slowly this evolved and the other day and idea evolved for what might be called the capstone. With it, the new design is complete. It will eventually be available in several color schemes - but for now there will be only one. A JPEG of the new decal is included in this post.

That's all for now - see ya next time.