Friday, March 22, 2019

CX frame for team member

 The guy who will race on this frame turned 14 not long ago. He , along with one of his team mates might be one of the fastest 14 year olds in the country. He has won an open B CX race where most of the riders in the field were in their '20's . He's that good.
 The frame is one of the few new aluminum CX frames that has a flattened top tube, internal down tube hydraulic routing, flat mount brake and no seat stay bridge. This bike is designed specifically for the next nationals course in Washington state. There might be mud, there will definitely be a long run. Those course features , along with a lot of experience with building race bikes combined to shape what you see here. The changes on my race bikes have been coming fast and furious as of late but I'm confident that this style of frame will be what I build for the next couple of seasons at least.
The frame is paired to a newer Enve CX/Gravel fork with 50 MM rake. It should compliment the front end of this frame well.

First ride on the 40th anniversary MTB

This was the bike I built to replace my 29er that was toast after 8 years of hard riding. This bike should last a lot longer as it is steel and not built as a light cross-country racer. If only the trails were dry enough to really check it out. I'll have to wait another week or two to get over the post NAHBS cold and to let the trails drain a bit. What I can say is that the Whiskey carbon wheels are very quick feeling in spite of the big 2.6 Terravail tires. Both of these components along with the bar and stem were provided for the show- thanks to Whiskey and Fox racing ( who provided the F-34 120 MM fork) for helping me make this bike possible. Now I have to take the next how many years and figure out what I can do on it- from what I can tell, the rocky trails I have avoided in the recent past will now see me happily riding on them- these tires pretty much roll over everything.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Two aluminum track frames for Illinois

 These two guys are team mates. The aluminum frames and  steel forks are my 'mass start' style of track frame - my most popular style as it is the most versatile .
 One rider went for a simple decal scheme while the other went for just a decal on the back of the seat tube with a sterling Jen Green headbadge. Going with steel forks allowed me to get the proper rake for these bikes
 One frame got my last set of Ahrens dropouts while both got Ahrens chainstay yokes. If I want more of these rare pieces I'll have to get a run made. I can only do this if there is the demand. This makes both of these frames very unique.

Monday, March 18, 2019

NAHBS 2019

 This could be my last bike show so if you didn't make it, well......sorry ! You won't see a bunch of photos of pretty bikes here- you can see plenty of those on the internet. What you'll see here are the reasons I go to these shows- getting to hang with the people I don't get to see often.
 I did post this bike though because it is Anna Schwinn's new track bike painted to match one of her really does match well.
 also, this Dear Susan bike from the UK has much symbolism in its construction. One or two looks won't begin to tell you what this bike-or its builder- are all about. I was lucky enough to meet the man in person.
 This Coast bike was one of my favorites- really understated and tasteful. Probably rides nicely, too - but that is something you'll never find out at this show as there's no riding allowed. Yeah......go figure.
 A dinner with Bruce and Joe- twins separated at birth. Meetings like this have been getting less frequent and that makes me sad.
 The seldom seen hardest working man in show business- Eric Richter. Got to see him for a split second- glad enough for that.
 The SOPWAMTOS awards- arrived at the club with only a few minutes before the awards were handed out. This was a priceless moment in time- glad I was there.
 Oh, and two entries into the awards at the show did get ribbons. I don't know where I was in the top 3 but my gravel tandem and Andrew Juiliano's world cup CX bike both made it. I got to stand on the stage and look out at a bunch of handmade bike fans- I really wanted to tell them that riding the bikes would tell them 1,000,000 times more than looking at the bikes but hey- what the heck do I know ?
Next year the show moves to Dallas, TX. I have a bunch of friends and customers there but I probably will not make the trip. This show, great as it was drained my wallet and my energy in such a big way that the thought of doing another one makes me shudder. Maybe in a few more years......
That said, this show seemed pretty good- lots of people turned out. Hope that you didn't miss it.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Show bike

 With luck this completed project will be at the upcoming NAHBS in Sacramento. I built this bike to commemorate 40+ years since I built my first frame. That first frame will also be at the show, along with a gravel tandem, a 40th anniversary 650 boost MTB, a real world-cup CX team bike and the newest disc/road bike.
 The idea of this bike might be lost on some of the people at the show- a mix of building techniques both old and new- features that are generally not on bikes that I usually build- an in-between type of touring bike that might not suit most people's notion of what a touring bike should be. That's OK, it is a bike that will fill a particular need for a particular type of touring that I have enjoyed in recent years.
I hope to hit the open road with this bike in the coming months. While it was fun building this bike , it will be infinitely more fun using it for what it was built for, casual coastal bike touring of the most savage and unrelenting leisure.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Michael Knepp

 This is a name not many people know in the world of custom bikes. Michael probably made about 20 frames over a period of a couple of decades. I met Michael when he was living in Santa Cruz back in the '90's. Most of the time he was working construction to make a living but he was definitely a bike person the rest of the time. I lent him the odd frame building tool now and then- he was building the occasional frame as a hobby, some for himself and some for friends. He did try to make it a real job but never got enough business to consider it reliable enough. This frame pictured in this post is one that he built for himself a number of years ago and was his favorite ride.
 Michael was not just a guy who could build a frame, he really had several crafts that he practiced at a very high level. Michael also was an avid painter who sold his work through galleries in Tahoe and Sausalito. He was making flamenco guitars patterned after a very early Torres design-his work was stunning. It seemed like anything Mike would do, he would try to prefect- he didn't do anything half way.
 Now Mike is gone- a battle with cancer did not go his way. He was 63 years old - he left me his old leftover frame building materials about a year before he died. He also instructed me to sell two of his bikes, one that I had built for him a few years ago and this one pictured above.
One of the pieces of frame building leftovers was a crown and steerer that he had brazed together for a project he did not complete. I am using this crown and steerer in my 40th anniversary bike for the upcoming NAHBS. I figured that having a little piece of Mike's work on by bike would be a fitting tribute to someone who was a great craftsman, a good friend and always a person with a funny anecdote to tell about his past experiences as a bike mechanic.Mike seemed to know more about mid-century Simplex derailleurs than anyone else on the planet. The subjects that Mike got into he did so with astonishing depth, almost obsessing on every detail.
I went to visit Mike about a week before he died. He was spending nearly all his time in bed-not having energy for much else. What he did have energy for was to hold court for nearly three hours on the distant past of combing through the attics of old L.A. bicycle shops looking for the choice old parts to complete some of the many restorations he dedicated much of his spare time to. Mike frequented some of the same shops I went to in my teens growing up in Santa Monica. We knew a lot of the same people-we had crossed paths without knowing it many years before actually meeting. I am very sad to lose this friend and feel lucky to have known him. At times he was an over opinionated pain in the ass. Other times he was definitely the smartest person in the room. He could completely aggravate some while being a valued friend to others. He did not live that long or make a big name for himself but whatever he did, he made sure to do it well.
Rest in peace, Michael.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


Yes- I will be there. Look for me in booth 934. I'll have a special 40th anniversary display, something old, something new. This might be my last bike show as I have gotten busy enough ( and old enough...) to have to prioritize my time and expenditures. This year I really could not afford the time out of the shop to do this show but heck- its so close and since it has been 40 years since I built my first frame I might as well make a showing. I'll have some small goods for sale , hats and tee shirts- stickers and maybe a bit of select team gear as well. I have not done a bike show as Rock Lobster in maybe 7-8 years so a lot has happened in that time. I would like to show what I have learned in that period as well as in the last 40 .