20130830

Cogface

I'm really glad Facebook recognized my good friend XG-1090, as it'll make tagging all of these photos so much easier.

It's his good side though, so there's that.

Sorry it's been slow this week - it's been nuts here and I've been swamped and bumped off the train, when all I've really wanted to do all week is stay home and ride!

20130820

The Pits

There's really not much to hate about riding in the bay area.  With it's cycling infrastructure, idyllic California weather, and terrain from track to mountain, it's just about perfect for anyone and any type of bike.  Almost.

San Francisco suffers from some of the worst bike theft in the country, and it's only gotten worse.  City dwellers know not to lock up their bikes for more than a few hours if they ever want to see them again (and certainly not overnight), but even with maximum security too many of my friends have had parts, saddles, wheels - and even entire bikes stolen.  Rarely do they get recovered.

SF is certainly != to all of the bay area, but with theft high in a nearby area it's always good to be prepared.  It's a well known fact that the best thing to do to deter theft is to make your bike the hardest target, usually by using multiple locks and being smart about how you lock up.  

But what about your headset?  Your brakes?  Even if your wheels aren't quick release, they can still be taken by anyone with a 15mm wrench - what then?  Often thieves will take a small part so that the bike is unusable, making the owner more likely to leave it for a while longer, then they'll come back to finish the job.  Even with the best locks, how do you combat this?  

Enter Pitlocks.  While certainly not 100% foolproof, with over a hundred different pits and an anti theft seizing mechanism, it most definitely makes your bike less of a target.  Pitlocks can be used for axles, brakes, saddles - you name it, and Pitlock probably has it.  

Tough, but shiny.
Looking like typical unassuming skewers, it isn't until you go to install these that you realize how genius they are.  Tapered ends don't allow for a tool to grip these easily, and the nut is protected on the locking side.  A special washer will also seize up if someone attempts to forcefully remove the skewer - the only way to effectively remove it is by having the pit or using destructive machinery.

The specially coded nut is surrounded by a protective end.
Each pit is coded so that you can order more parts or replacement pits if needed, and each pit is also designed so that not just any wrench could be used to pry it off.  For kicks I tried to get a few other bits and my Leatherman in there to see if I could get the nut off, but no luck whatsoever.  

Just prior to tightening.
After installing, the excess skewer can be marked and removed, leaving your bike with an extra layer of protection and a little less to worry about if you have to park in a sketchy area for a while.  

While having Pitlocks doesn't give you immunity from locking your bike up in a dark alley all night, it certainly does add a bit of deterrent and makes your bike less of an easy target.  They are a bit pricey, but worth the peace of mind, and will let you love the bay area again.

Except for wind.  You suck, wind.  

20130815

I Can't Have Nice Things

I managed to kill a crank arm yesterday.

Not necessarily in one fell swoop, but a slow, miserable death of sadness, brought on by me neglecting to thoroughly tighten the arm when I replaced the bottom bracket a few days back because I was too busy getting my fingernail to stop being a blood cannon.  Don't check your belt tension while you're spinning your cranks, kids.

Anyway, I undertightened and noticed it on a ride a few days later, to which I tightened it properly and moved on, but by then it was too late.  The arm was damaged enough to no longer fit on the spindle, and after slowly being gnawed away yesterday was most definitely its last ride.  

This is why I'd make a terrible doctor.

The silver lining is that I got to ride the District Carbon to work, even though I still age about ten years every time I have to take it on the train.

Salt.
I'm always a bit mentally handicapped whenever I switch from fixed to not, so my ride this morning certainly wasn't the most graceful, as it took me about thirty minutes to remember that holy crap this things coasts and using my legs to stop does nothing.  

Meanwhile, a new crankarm is on the way (left side, easy enough - and the right is all good, I checked) so the commuter will be back in commission by Monday.  I also took the opportunity to change my cleats, because this is what happens when you have to run to the next bike car on Caltrain.

To be fair they still worked pretty okay.
Finally, some exciting things are happening in regards to the Takhion headset caps and this restoration!  

20130813

Women's (And Men's) Cycling Jeans Now At REI!

Looks like they won't be in store until September, but they're online!  If they're the same as the capris from earlier this year then I assume sizes will transfer pretty well.  It's still too summery here to move to long pants just yet, but I've been wearing the Novara commuter shorts all summer long and really dig them.

The rest of the fall line is available too, with a plethora of jackets, long sleeved shirts, and what looks like some rain and snow resistant gear as well.  There's plenty more where that came from, and everything is available for both men and women - so go online or check your local REI if you're looking to snag some new gear this winter.

I feel like a hybrid commuter with my full kit and all out speed demonry in the mornings and my relaxed clothing and leisurely jaunts in the evenings.  I'm sure that breaks some rule somewhere.  Kind of like how I enjoy both the bay area and Los Angeles.  

Going back to the theme of seasons, summer brings out some awesome people.  


It's ultra absorbent.
Seeing a bit of wackiness brought to the peninsula is always refreshing.  Like the slew of yarn bombings that have hit San Mateo recently.


I'm all for this - it protects my frame!
And now I give you Chris Froome Looking At Stems.

20130810

Be Nice To Your Mechanic

I found this on /r/bikewrench a while back, and it was too good to not share.  I've heard some horror stories from mechanics, and can easily see each of these (and many more) happening.

For hi res, click here.


My Yamaguchi School Frame was dropped off at Velotech yesterday, so now I get to sit and anxiously wait for it to be finished.  In the meantime though, i'm off to enjoy the weekend! 

20130807

Being A Jerk While Riding to Work

I had an encounter on my ride in this morning that's stuck with me all day.

It was a beautiful morning, and there were hardly any people on this particular part of the trail, so I slowed down and pulled over to the right to take a photo.  I was fumbling with my camera a bit and a guy passed me in the usual way - I wished him good morning, and he went on his merry way.  

Yeah the photo doesn't really do it justice.
After putting my camera away and getting back to my normal speed, a few minutes go by and I notice I'm about to overtake the guy that passed me before.  And yeah, I get competitive, but I wasn't racing anyone at the moment - he just happened to be going slower than my cruising speed.  

At this point, there are more people on the trail, and he looks over his shoulder before passing a pedestrian and sees me right behind him.  I wasn't drafting him, but I was certainly close.  Immediately he goes into full sprinting mode, which still wasn't faster than my current pace, so when there's a clear area to pass I give him a friendly "passing on your left" and start to pass.

Well, this guy would have none of it.  He goes into all out beast mode to keep me from overtaking him, and remember how I said there were more people on this part of the trail?  I lost my window and had to get back behind him to not hit any joggers or other pedestrians.  As soon as I was behind him, his pace slowed, and then the second time I had the chance to pass, he wouldn't let me by again.

Finally the trail was clear of people and I was able to sprint out.  That was the last I saw of him.

The reason it stuck with me, per se, is that even though he was being a bit rude, I realize that I might have been coming off as not the nicest person either.  Here he had passed me before while I was taking photos, and maybe he just thought I was trying to one-up him...really, I'm sure that with his bike he could have kicked me to the curb, but the speed he was cruising at would have made me late for work.  If he had maintained his speed that he was keeping when I was trying to pass, I would have gladly stayed back! 

So if you're reading this dude-who-probably-hates-the-girl-in-the-orange-jersey, I'm sorry if I ruined your day :/.  

As far as the photos go, I'm getting a little better at the whole panda thing.

The rule of thirds isn't exactly my priority here.

Well, okay, maybe not.

20130806

Ingredients

After a box full of some Red goodies showed up at my house the other day, it's a bit strange to think that the bike I started working on nearly four months ago is almost complete.

I really wanted to do one of those cool pre-build photos with all the components lined up looking spiffy, but with my current schedule this is the best I could do.  

Everything but the wheels and frame!
In just a few days, this is getting taken to be assembled by the pros - yup, that's right, I'm not building this one myself.  I feel like I haven't had enough exposure with modern components to do an adequate job, so I'm getting a professional building and fitting done at a nearby shop.  

I didn't want to jinx anything by taking it out of the box. 
The Thompson seatpost was a gift for another frame that ended up being too big for me, and the bottle cages were gifts from family.  

I used to tell Mohammad of The Old Bike Shop that someday, I would take Mr. Yamaguchi's class - and when I did, I'd call him up and order SRAM Red from him.  He would always laugh and say he'd wait for my call, and I think he was a bit shocked when I stayed true to my word!  

Even though I had to know the components before I made the frame, it took time to collect everything and finally get to this point.  

It's definitely surreal.  And I can't wait to see how it turns out.  

20130801

"Before"

First I have to share this amazing resource for Takhion information - lots of fascinating documents, info, and photos there to oogle over.

With a lot of help, I found out more about the red beauty that I carried home on Monday.  Though I was certain it was a Takhion, I had no idea what model or year it was, nor what it used to look like before someone rattlecanned it.

It's not a particularly pretty paint job.
This is a Takhion Aero from either 1984 or 1985, and either an Experimental Road Racing model (ЭШ-001), or a Bicycle Road Racing Aerodynamic model (ВША-001).  In it's past life, it probably looked a lot like this:

Image from here!!
Now it's a slightly different story.  Sometime during its life it was stripped of parts and paint and sprayed red, with the painter even spraying paint in the headset bearings.

The bearings held up to the abuse surprisingly well.
Most people feel bad and adopt pets.  I feel bad and adopt frames.  So now that I know what this frame looked like in its heyday, I believe it deserves a truly proper restoration.

At least the bars were kept with the frame.
This frame is headed out for stripping and repainting back to its original state - it will be fully restored to the best of my abilities (and what parts I can get for it).  

With any luck, I'll soon have a cap for this guy as well.
I have one other frame I need to wait for before I trek out to the powder coater, so in the meantime here a few "before" photos.

Paint filled headset internals.
Takhions had proprietary shifting levers, and a proprietary mount.
Clean, classy lugs.
Columbus dropouts.  This is what threw me off - I've never seen a Takhion that didn't have the serial stamped on the dropouts.  Apparently this is rare.
Classic bottom bracket with the signature and the serial number.
Paint in the BB shell. Really? 
The handlebar mounts are in good shape!  No paint on those, at least.
Different fork lugwork than I've seen.
Smaller frame, but not tiny.  56cm center to top.
I can't wait to get this frame back to its original glory!