Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Junior team CX race frames

I think there's probably 3-4 Nor-Cal district champions on our junior CX team. Both of these guys are real talents and hopefully 2021 will see a CX race season. Both of these frames are 7005 aluminum and weigh about 3 lbs.
I'm starting off 2021 with a small batch of aluminum but will go right back to steel soon, maybe next week. The steel side of the list is over twice as long as the aluminum side now so I really need to get rolling . I have made plans to shrink my work schedule a bit but those plans have not been implemented quite yet. With the upcoming shop move I really have to keep things going for awhile- maybe by the time I get into my new shop I can breathe a bit easier. Being a senior citizen has made me think that my capacity for doing so much is decreasing and I really don't want to hit the wall- I would like to keep the quality level as high as possible ........that does not happen when one is stressed to meet unrealistic deadlines. I hope that everyone can be patient !


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Special orders don't upset us....

At least in this case it was not upsetting. A local rider requested a rim-brake steel CX frame and fork with a few non-standard features. For one, the fork is a crowned design- one which I do build regularly but not that much for this type of frame. Next feature that is seldom part of a CX frame are the wishbone seat stays.
While these things might not appear on most of my steel CX bikes they are well within my comfort zone to do and they don't take away from the functionality of this frame. The fork looks like it has chrome accents but it is actually a powdercoat color called 'Superchrome' . It really has the look of nickel plating. I'm not sure how durable it is but it looks pretty nice in this case. It might be fun to build a lugged track frame and fork and have the whole thing with this finish. Maybe that might happen later this year, provided it does not get in the way of fulfilling orders for people on the list.
The frame also has three sets of bottle bosses and there are eyelets for front and rear racks. Perhaps there's a bike tour in this frames future.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Probably the last frame of 2020

For the last few years I have been using the time between X-Mas and new years day to build a lugged frame or two. Most of the time these are just long delayed projects for amusement purposes but in this case, there's a customer waiting for this frame and fork. I don't get many orders like this- maybe one every couple of years but going back to my roots and using materials that were popular 40 years ago is always challenging and enlightening. I don't care how long you do this stuff, there's always something to learn and/or improve.
The big advantage of doing a frame like this in my current shop is having not only the years of experience at my disposal but also the tools that I did not have back when I started. When I encountered sockets in a lug or BB shell that were too tight in 1980, I would have to take out files and spend hours getting the fit proper. Now, all I have to do is take out my adjustable reamers and within about 10 minutes I'll have the job done. 

After many years of brazing, that too takes considerably less time and the work requires much less cleanup. The mitering is done on a milling machine instead of by hand with hacksaw and files.This not only saves time but it also is a lot easier on the hands- no chance of slipping and slicing your hand open when filing out a miter. While I do clearly remember the days when all I had for tools were a hacksaw, some files, a hand drill and a torch set I do not miss building frames that way at all. I think that with my advancing years, all the extra time it would take to do this stuff by hand would really subtract from time to do other things-ride my bike, for one. 

I really have no idea how long I'll be building frames -that depends on the demand and my physical health. I do know that frames like this , while they are a great thing to craft- are something that require much more time than what I normally build. This makes it difficult for me to set aside time for a project like this unless I have reached the end of the year and have hopefully had a productive 12 months. In the case of 2020, it all lined up for me to build this Reynolds 531 frame and fork and I hope that the customer likes the result of my labors.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

One of a kind bike for sale - money to go to local charities

I have had a good year as a bike builder and feel very lucky. All around me, though I see tent cities of people who have nothing and are struggling just to survive. I built this bike back in Feb. and have been thinking long and hard about what the best purpose for this bike would be and I have a plan. I want to sell this as a whole bike and give half the money to Second Harvest food bank and the other half to Food, not Bombs. These are two local groups that do more on the ground to feed people in desperate shape than anyone else. I feel that they have the highest integrity and are really stepping up to do what the government and our president are failing to do right now.
I'm asking $ 2,000 for this one of a kind urban fixed gear. It is about a 56 cm and has Gran Compe sealed hubs laced to some Foer rims. It also has a Sugino messenger crank with sealed BB and an integrated headset. I built both the frame and fork out of steel. The curved top tube and seat stays are unusual for something coming out of my shop. The bike is fitted with a front brake for city riding.
If you are interested in the bike and the cause, give me and email at paul@rocklobstercycles.com  If you have issues with the bike, the mission or the statement that the bike represents , just think about what the sale of this bike will do in terms of feeding hundreds of people in dire need. Take a look at all the tent cities around your town and think about if that was you in one of those tents because you lost your job or got evicted or just fell through the cracks. All I ask is that you try to imagine what it would be like to trade places with someone on the street- maybe that will give you a better picture of what I'm attempting to do here.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Last frame and fork of the year- maybe.

Running out of 2020......won't really miss this year with all the horrific happenings in the world. To finish off what might have been the busiest year in the bike business in a decade or so I decided to fulfill one customer's wish for an authentic Reynolds 531 road frame. While many of the tubes and fittings to build this are quite old, the bike will be fitted with some relatively modern Campagnolo parts.
The lugset is the stamped Cinelli long point style that was the choice of many of my favorite builders of the 1970's- Bruce Gordon, to name one. The bottom bracket is much newer, hailing from the '90's - a better choice in terms of threading and tube fit, although I must admit to having spent extra time reaming out the undersized sockets. I'm still working on the chainstay fit as of today.
The rider is pretty tall but has a short torso- this will make the frame even more retro as many of the frames from the '70's had shorter top-tubes than frames that came later.
I brazed on a more substantial binder, just like I was told to do back when I built my first frame in 1978. After seeing the flimsy crushed stamped-steel binders on many frames , I fully understood why this part of the frame needed to be re-enforced.
I think that these seatstays and plugs were made when I was in grade school. These might be the oldest tubes on the frame.
I chose these lugs as they really are user-friendly.....they heat up easily and evenly when compared to other lugs I have used over the years. Most people don't know that all I built for the first 6 years in my frame building life were lugged road and track frames with a few cyclocross frames in the mix. I didn't know how to fillet braze or weld back then. I think I must have made maybe 200-odd lugged frames over the last few decades, not a big number compared to over 2,000 welded frames and maybe 300 fillet brazed frames .
This crown is probably the oldest piece in the frame. I have been told it is a Bocama, although the person who sold it to me said that he thought it was a Nervex. That person was Art Stump and I bought this and other crowns and lugs from him in 1992. The crown was very old when I got it and I think that it was pretty old when Art got it back in the mid '70's. He was a bit of a scrounger for frame building parts and he had quite a collection of old stuff that he wound up never using. My goal is to use up all the old bits I have before I get too old and feeble or too dead to build. I am running pretty low on this stuff so maybe by the time I'm 70 I'll be finished with all the old inventory. Of course , what will probably happen is I'll find another stash to buy........once a scrounger, always a scrounger.
When Bruce Gordon shut his shop it was amazing to see all the lugs and tubes that he had in stock- stuff that he had been hoarding for half a lifetime, only to be passed on to another builder, who most likely will pass it on to another builder. There's so much of this old material in stashes hiding in garages and attics all over the world. With the continual evolution of frame building , it is unlikely that much of this stuff will ever find its way into finished frames. I'm doing my part to a degree but there's only so much one person can do. The other big factor is the fan club of this era of bike building is aging out of existence. Who knows if the next generation's imagination will be captured by the lugged classic frame style.......

Monday, December 21, 2020

Steel gravel bike for sale

Every once in awhile I get an extra frame and build it up for sale. This one is a steel gravel bike with 700x38 Terravail tires, although it will fit up to 700x42. The drive train and brakes are Sram Force-22 with a Shimano GRX crank. The cassette is an XT 11-42 so you will have gears for years. The wheels are Shimano RS-770 tubeless. The bike also has the new flared Easton EAX dirt drops so it's a pretty hip build

by today's standards. Here are the frame numbers: 

Top tube virtual..........545

Seat tube c/t/c..............520

Head tube ...................152

Stem.............90 x -6 deg.

zero offset post

172.5 cranks

42 cm bars but they are much wider at the bottom.

Price ............$3,750. You can text me at 831-334-5874 if you are interested. Ideally , this bike will fit someone about 5'10" with long legs and a short torso.


Friday, December 18, 2020

650 gravel frame for So-Cal

This one is nearly all Columbus Zona. This rider will be checking out the Santa Monica mountain roads and trails on this frame. It will be paired with an Enve G-series fork and most likely will have Shimano GRX components.
This frame is a bit of a milestone for me- frame # 100 and the 37th steel CX or gravel frame of the year. I think that might be the largest annual total for frames like this for me, over 1/3 of all the frames I built during the year.
This one has ample tire room, enough for a 2.2" tire so this one is almost a "Drop bar mountain bike " .