Sunday, December 15, 2013

5 speed again

Re-fivespeeding a bud's bike. The bike had been a single speed towie for years, but he got his hands on an old 5 speed rear wheel, we added a cable stop for the shifter, a rear der, and a homemade chain watcher up front.
 The brushed on Testor's paint touch up came out pretty well, I mean for a bike that is pretty thrashed that is.
 This is the second one of these that I've made, but they've both been janky. No finish on it, just a little Boeshield T9.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tam overnighter

I got out with some buds and camped on Mt Tam this weekend. The next morning we rode some new dirt into Fairfax. It was the first camping trip for the new bike and it worked out pretty well.  I changed the crankset to a 165mm to try and ameliorate my pedal strike problem, and it mostly worked out. In fact, the toughest climb which has some integrated stairs (Miwok from Tenn Valley) was not an issue on the pedal strike front and the bike felt better than others I've tried up the same hill. I suppose it could have just been that awesome burrito tho...

Gear set up was a little funky. I tried tying a stuff sack to the bars which cluttered up the top bar grip positions a bit. Still I dig seeing how others are figuring this stuff out and my set up is ever evolving. I'd need more storage if I was going for any longer; for this trip I carried no cooking gear.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rack Hack

 In preparation for an uncoming camping trip I was trying to figure out a front rack for the Dirt Owl. On other bikes I have used the Nitto Mini Front rack with P clamps and it's always worked out fine. I was about to switch one over from another bike when, just for shiggles, I measured the reach of the legs and realized that they would land right on top of the canti studs on the new bike. If I had the time I could have ordered a Nitto Mark's rack from Riv, but with the holiday coming up I wouldn't get it in time. Then I remembered this crappy old VO Pass Hunter front rack that I had that wouldn't fit any of my bikes that had any decent tire clearance. (It did fit my wife's Bridgestone RB-T, but she never used it) Anyway, it still wouldn't work on the new bike unless I just hacked it up, and so that's just what I did.
 I cut of the legs, added another section of stainless tube with a piece of solid stock as an innner sleeve and brazed it up. You can see in this pic just how far forward the legs had to go to make up for the new lower position. For the moment, or forever, I'm just leaving the huge hole where the old legs were.

I didn't do a super clean job, but VO racks are pretty sloppy anyway. We'll see how it does this weekend.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


 At long last Dirt Owl #1 is built and ready for testing. I took it out for a few hours this past weekend and, all in all, I was pretty stoked. I'm holding off for paint until I make some racks and I'm sure I won't want more braze-ons or little changes. I've also left the fork steerer tube long for moment but I'll cut of half an inch or so for the final build (notice the crazy tall stack of spacers). So far I also really like the 650b tire size. It still feels fast and manouverable, it accelerates well too. None of that stuff is a make or break thing, but it feels good, and I'm happy to get to try it out.
Build specs:
Panaracer driver 650b 2.2", velocity synergy rims, LX hub rear, old DT Swiss Hugi front
11-34 9 speed sram casette, xt rear der, campy triple front der,  Sugino xd2 crank 46/36/24
old xt  and avid v-brakes with tektro v-brake levers
9cm Nitto technomic stem, 46cm nitto Mark's bar, DA bar ends, FSA Duron headset, yokozuna cables/housing, Newbaum's tape
Cheapie seat post, brooks, old crummy pedals
Most of the build was chosen just beacuse it's what I had laying around. I chose the v-brakes just because I happened to have a pair and randomly had the correct levers. The campy front der and xt rear were scored at a rivendell garage sale a year ago, and while both work, I would have chosen others if buying them new. The newer xt rear ders dont have barrel adjusters on them and when used with bar end shifters there is no way to set them up to index properly. Adding a barrel adjuster to this derailleur is tricky as it has a strange location for the cable housing to enter. The Campy front has to be canted to the side to allow for the 24t chainring up front; the chain jambs up underneath it otherwise.  I'm also currently just using some janky old plastic pedals until I figure out something better. The goal here was to figure out a decent build without sweating the ideal build too much.

Plenty of room here for a larger tire in the fork, though I might have to switch to cantilevers to get clearence on the stradle cable.
The front drop out after a little clean up
Tire clearance out back. The frame came out good for huge tire clearance. Also here you can see the tread pattern on the Panaracer Drivers. So far I really like them, and they feel fast and grippy.

The only big mess up on the frame is the bottom bracket. I had a hell of a time finding bottom bracket drop numbers for other ridgid 650b mountain bikes.  I ended up just basing mine on the Rivendell Bombadil but going a few mm higher. Turns out that's still not enough to get good bb height and lessen the pedal strike. I'm going to end up running shorter cranks to see if I can get better results. Currently I've got 175s on there and I'm gonna try 165s. Seems short but I prefer to spin anyway and use low gears, this bike's lowest combo is 36 rear 24 front, pretty freaking low.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

More Tam

 Headed up Mt Tam again today. Since we live in Oakland, we don't make it over there as much as we should and Tam still holds a bunch of new territory for us. Luckily the rides on Tam make the tedium of riding throught the city worth it. We just headed up Old Railroad Grade and took a peek at the summit and headed down Eldridge Grade/Blithedale. I had never seen some of these trails and, as always, new trails are the best trails. I also managed to wipe out right in front of a huge group of hikers which is always fun

Heading up. Some weird fog thing brewing in the background.

Heading down Eldrigde. A little bumpy for my narrower virtually treadless tires. I rode with a bunch of folks in Santa Cruz last weekend who were killing it on 28s and 32s but I guess I'm just spoiled after riding big knobby 2.3 inchers. I was envious of Mark's wide supple 2.35" small block 8's.

 Our future trail
 Madrone color
 That fog was blowing in with a fury. Sun breaks like this made for a heavy bliss vibe, whatever that means.
 Lastly today I've got this weird thing. I recently took a headset out of this old Trek 890 to use it on another bike. I didn't end up using it because it was all plastic- the top and bottom cups and the fork crown race, what a terrible idea! Anyway that wasn't the strangest thing I found. Looking down the head tube I noticed that the vent holes were really big and in fact weren't vent holes at all. On some old treks the entire head tube is a LUG!? The "lugs" you see are fake (well kinda anyway) because the whole head tube/lugs is one cast lug. I guess the idea was that it made a cheaper faster production, but I've certainly never see it before. I lightly looked into it and there is a pic of one in the 1989 catalog over at vintagetrek. Weird.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Old friend

It's been a while since I posted something up here on the old blog and I think I finally have some postworthy things to put up. For whatever reason  I haven't been taking my camera on rides or have just forgotten to use it when I should, but thanks for hanging in there and checking back occasionally. 
At the start of the year I decided that this was the year I wanted to try and make a frame. I spent the first part of the year getting some tools, reading manuals, and scouring the web for info on framebuilding. It was slow going and at some point I realized that I wasn't getting very far. For my birthday my wife surprised me and signed me up for the frambuilding class at UBI. I was initally opposed to taking a class because I figured that I could just buy a bunch of tools and fixtures for the cost of the class, but after floundering for months the class started seeming like a good idea. So now here I am at the end of two weeks in beautiful Ashland Oregon with a new frame that I made. The class was great and I feel like I essentially shaved off a few years of screw ups by having experienced frambuilders walk me through the entire process. 

 UBI, this is where the magic happens...
 Here's the frame. It still needs hours of clean up but it's all there and mostly ready for parts. The idea here is 650b camper. It's got a 6 degree sloping top tube, a lotta room for big tires, medium high bb for clearance, longish 450mm chainstays, and 3 water bottle mounts. I won't really know how it rides until I get some wheels built and parts on it, but I'm pumped anyway.
 Newbie silver brazing job. Pacenti crown, paragon canti studs, Llewellyn lugs.
 Yup more blobs of silver here.
 stars and ovalized chainstays
More Llewelyn goodies here with socket style dropouts.
 The seat tube is still untrimmed here to protect the lug point until I've finished clean up. I was happy how the wrap around stays came out.
 The backend here with prebent s-bend stays. I was just guessing on the braze-on rack mounts here. I'm probably going to try and make a little custom rack.
 Then there are some old pics that I should have posted a while back. An old friend and og Dirt Owl Jonny was in town in July and tricked out this Stumpy for a month in Mendocino and a tour back to the bay. He set up VO-Jitensha-3ttt knock off bars, big oury grips, nitto big back rack and a set of Uff da tires.
 A little back heavy. He's also got one of Mark's Heavy seat bags.
 And back to framebuilding for a sec. I scored this tiny old craftsman lathe this summer that came with a milling head attachment. I've been using it to cut tubing to practice brazing. I got lucky and a Paragon frame block perfectly fits the small milling head vise. I learned in the UBI class that this set up will probably give me problems in the long run because it's so small that it is lacking the mass needed to keep it rigid enough to cut thinwall bike tubing. For now it's working great if I make light cuts.
 I had to file off the corner of the block to fit perfectly.
 Also saw this thing last month. It's an old Solex moped. These things are pretty funny, the motor spins and just rolls directly on the front tire driving the bike. Otherwise it's just a really heavy bike.
 The same barn had this aawesome old vise.
 More frame stuff coming and a build soon.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Willow creek

 Just a couple of shots from a recent birthday trip.  Mostly a country road ride, but we rode into camp on this great fire road that was mostly a smooth downhill gravelly gem.

Below, airing down for the dirt stuff.  Three of the four bikes here are pre '89

Tent city on the Russian river

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Little trippin

 We got out this weekend for my wife's birthday, just a casual mostly dirt ride to Slide Ranch. Always awesome to end a ride at a warm hippie house on a bluff above the ocean. That said, after dinner and a hang, we spent the night in our tent serenaded by the sound of crashing waves and racoons feasting on the food we forgot in our panniers.

 I changed up my wife's bike for the ride, nobbies, a 24t ring up front, new old xt rear der, and some sweepy back bars. Looks like a fake Hunqapillar (Funkapillar?)
 Brian looking on from his speedy Legolas, all three MTBs in the pack are from 83/4.
 An excellent pee spot

 Winter all day on the coast.
 Fancy beverages at the Pelican Inn.
 This is part of my most recent project. I've been hitting a lot of dead ends trying to teach myself how to build a frame, but some of the pieces are starting to come together.  A part of me wants to throw in the towel and just take a class, but most of the classes cost about as much as a good portion of the tools you need to make a frame. I'm sticking with the hard slow way for the moment.
 My attempt at a frame drawing for a big 9er camper. Turns out, it's hard to make a lugged 9er with the lug angles available (Correct me if I'm wrong here!).  Plan 650B is stewing...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Thanks to Tamar I now have a copy of another out of print book about old timey mountain biking. As you can see the styles were pretty radical in '89. The book, like many of its time, has a chapter on mtb touring which stokes me out, because we are essentially still doing the same thing. I really delight in reading and seeing images from this pre-suspention kinda wonder years era of mtbs; the gear was still funky, guys dragged their feet through corners, and there was a sense of excitement that you could explore and find adventure by bike. Sounds good to me. You can flip through some pages here.