Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Best We Can Do Is to Not Die an Ironic Death

The jam for this blog is "Laugh\Love\Fuck" by the Coup, so keep that shit on loop while you're reading.

I was standing in front of my house, opening the garage door when the double decker cable car tourist bus drove by, the PA system echoing the tour guide's pithy commentaries onto 10th Ave. I wonder what he said about me? "Look at this middle-aged dirtbag on a kid's bike, going through the garage to get to his shitty, overpriced hovel on the way back from a Sunday appointment at his ambiguously gay psychiatrist's office, pockets stuffed full of Lexapro samples." He probably didn't say that, actually--but it would've been a fun way to fuck with the tourists. And surprisingly spot on.

I'm mentally all over the place right now. These fuckin' blog things are only manageable if you post every three seconds, not every three months. For instance, I've had a post I wanted to do on SF's Bicycle Fabrications since, I don't know, June. If you're into downhill mountain biking and you live in the Bay, chances are you've seen the bad ass, chromoly downhill bikes made by SWD, which stands for Steven Wesley DeLay:
Frickin' awesome. Always loved the super simple look of the chromo tubing--especially the square downtube and swingarm. Unfortunately, Steven passed away a few years back, leaving Hank Matheson to take up the mantle of SWD, moving the production from Modesto to SF. Hank learned how to weld in Steven's shop and is keeping the name alive, while making other production models and one-off customs under the Bicycle Fabrications moniker. Here's a 24-inch dirt jumper he developed for the Gearhead shop in Pacifica (this particular set-up an homage to that dirty beer we love so much):
I met Hank at the Buckshot awhile back. He was wearing an FBM hat, so I took that as an opportunity to strike up a bike conversation, which quickly led into a steel vs. aluminum metallurgy discussion. He told me to come check out the shop sometime, and that's just what I did.

Hank and Brian, makin' stuff:
The shop:
Brian Hapgood, one of the few employees, working some kind of lathe, I think: (This is why I need to post things quicker--so I don't forget what they are.)
This is a hard tail 4X bike Hank is building. He glued a carbon fiber tube from a seatpost to serve as the conspicuously absent seat tube. Fancy powder by Maas Brothers in Livermore (with some enamel on the inside of the dropouts by Hank):
Rad Pacman dropouts:Head tube junction is some wildness Scot Breithaupt or Jeff Utterback would be proud of. Clean:
Brian, checking the soon-to-be seat tube:
Organized chaos?
Hank and the CNC machine:
Hank's personal SWD:
In memory of the man occasionally--and affectionately--called the "Short White Dude":
So, a week or so after Hank so graciously showed me his shop--or, as Iggy puts it in "Funtime": "Last night I was down at the lab, talkin' to Dracula and his crew"--I went up to the Rose City to hang with this scumbag, among other people:
Portland is weird, man. Every bar, no matter how fancy, has at least 3 or 4 shitty beers in a can--PBR, Hamms, Oly, and, if you're especially tasteless and broke like my boy Gabe, some heinous brake fluid called Old German that goes for a buck a can. Gabe, being a bike-head, a rider of long and short distances on geared, ungeared, fixed, and unfixed bikes, hooked me up with a orange 1979 Raleigh Super Course frame and fork, which I immediately set to building up in my mind as a touring machine par excellence. The idea is to do a whole bunch of small bike camping trips before riding with him from Portland to SF along the coast.

I decided to go to Bicycle Fabrications and have canti mounts welded onto the frame and fork for improved braking/clearance, after which the frame was to be powdered British racing green. Hank took the following pictures so he could remember where the decals went for applying the new decal set after powder, so they're not exactly of the whole set-up, but you get the idea. Looking kind of raggedy:
Here's the frame after the mounts were welded on:
If I were a more organzied type of motherfucker, I'd have taken shots of every damned part I acquired, and videotaped/photographed every step of the build. I am not that guy, however. I did take a photo of the legendary Phil Wood factory/machine shop in San Jose where I took a vintage, stainless steel/aluminum set of hubs to have the rear re-spaced for a 126mm 7 speed axle and the bearings replaced on the front:
Here she is. Hard to see the green of the paint here, since I took the photos at the exact wrong time of day, but it'll come out later:Let's see--steel-braided Odyssey Brake Line cables for brakes and shifters, Campagnolo Record headset, new old stock Suntour XC Pro cantilevers, Velo Orange fenders:
Sugino XD-600 triple crankset, 26-36-48 with an IRD Alpina front derailleur and cheapie bear trap pedals with anodized green cages:
Sweetness. The clearance on these fenders is way tight. They're supposed to take a tire up to 27mm--I've got 28mm tires on the bike, as the Mavic A319/A719 rims I used are meant for 28-47mm tires. I wanted to run something a little beefier to hold up to loaded touring. Unfortunately, if I get a little bend in the rim, it's going to rub on the fender, so the fenders might ultimately have to go.
Shimano XT long cage rear derailleur, SRAM chain, IRD Defiant 7 speed freewheel:
Phil, baby, Phil! Atom Maillard skewers. I built the wheels myself. (You can finally see the green accurately in this photo):
You can see "champagne" annodizing on the brake arms in this shot:
The front hub had some rust on it, so I had the guys at Phil polish the living shit out of it:
Bullmoose bars/stem were part of the build concept from the get go. Super wide, comfy, and distinctive. Wanted to get the clearcoated brazed Nitto bars, but they cost a gajillion bucks and are hard to find. Found these at Re-Cyclery bike shop in Marin and had them powdercoated to match the frame and fork. Re-Cyclery is a cool spot with a veritable shit ton of parts to dig through, and is part of the worthy Trips for Kids program.
Suntour quick release, Thomson post:
Brooks saddle, of course:
Shimano Dura Ace shifters on Paul Thumbies:
Portland Design Works Dapper Dan leather grips, cork-wrapped Profile Design bar ends:
Reynolds 531. The powder turned out great. The decals are clear-coated, however, and the clear-coat has quite a bit of orange peel. Oh well--she's meant to ride, not be a carpet queen. It's not so bad:
My favorite brake lever of all time, the original Dia Compe mountain lever with some new covers. As far as I know this is the first ever MTB-specific brake lever. Super comfy, and pull for fuckin' days:
Next up: Tubus Cosmo stainless steel rack, some lights, and a cyclocomputer:
I'm sure some people are going to bum out on the cockpit set-up, as the bullmoose bars aren't exactly cut from the same stylistic cloth as the old road racing frame, but you know what? Fuck those people. I like to build bikes that are original and distinctively mine, and this fits the bill. She's super fun to ride, too. For some reason I thought the older frame would have a more relaxed steering angle, but she cuts like a knife. The front wheel will definitely rub your feet if you're not careful at low speeds.

Speaking of awesome road bikes, I've been really into the Velo Cult site lately. They're a shop in San Diego that restores old road and track bikes and sells them, and they have some beauties.

56cm Colnago:
58cm Pogliaghi:
54.5cm Casati:
57cm Univega Gran Tourismo:
If you're into fine, old steel, you need to browse their site.

Speaking of lost--or almost lost--classics, check this early Hanebrink shocker on eBay:
Hanebrink has always had some innovative/bordering on weird designs, but check their new electric off roader:
40mph on the open road. If I had $5500 to throw away on it, I'd have one for sure. Camping would never be the same. To be honest, I'd probably just use it to run moped kids off the road.

While on the subject of weird bicycle-like stuff, this time not so cool, check out what I stepped in--pun intended--on YouTube:

Another "better mousetrap," these things are like a bastard child of a Razor scooter and an actual bike. Like fat girls and mopeds, I'm sure they're fun to ride as long as you're friends don't see you. Then again, with hipsters desperately trying to make the lowly moped cool, it's only a matter of time before the bike lanes on Valencia are clogged with stepper bikes.

Which leads me to the "I can't believe it's not the Onion" moment of the week:
Yes indeed, folks, the owner of Segway bought the farm by falling off a cliff: on a Segway. Is it too soon to give him a Darwin Award?

Someone who's done a lot of crazy, death-defying shit and never fallen off a cliff is the original King of the Skateparks, Eddie Fiola, seen here destroying the Pipe Bowl at Pipeline on fuckin' 1 and 3/8" rims:

Eddie recently had a birthday and had this to say on his Facebook page:

"Wow..I'm 46 now... I got up this morning and checked the FB. and there was over 100 posts from all my friends wishing me a happy birthday.... I just want to say THANKS to everyone!!!!!! Funny thing is Last night I got a phone call to work on a TV show (don't know the name) to play the part of a 25ish BMXer ... I drive in today (an hour and a half both ways) for them to tell me yes or no. This is what I get to do on my birthday. It's only a one day job but it's work. I used to get paid to ride my bike now i get payed to fall off it... I have always promoted someone else like GT or Bell or Redline never myself... Today is that day..."

The King put out this T-shirt through Bicycle Source to celebrate:
There's no website yet, but you can get one by sending a check or money order for $25 to The Bicycle Source, Attn: Eddie Fiola, 118 South Loara Street, Anaheim, Ca. 92802 They're available in M through the Andre the Giant-sized XXXL. Make checks/money orders payable to Eddie himself.

Back to the future with Tom "Look at my Dick" Dugan's latest web vid, blasting hug gaps through So Cal skateparks:


Last clip is pure nutballs. Dang dang.

Well, it's time to jump in the shower and go to work, so I'd better wrap this motherfucker up already. Let's close it out with a couple classic Stingray shots jacked from OM Breithaupt's Facebook page. I think the first one is the OM himself:

No comments: