Thursday, December 4, 2008

Apollo Update

Here's a photo of the $6 fix updated with some new components

Nitto stem and Nitto Model 185 handlebars (thanks David!) wrapped in cloth tape and finished off with 3 coats of amber Bullseye shellac

Gran Compe front brake with Gipiemme (Modello) lever

New rear wheel: Formula hub, Mavic Open Pro rim, 14/15/14 spokes - thanks to the guys at Fairfield Bicycle in Victoria, BC!

Continental UltraGatorskin 700x23 foldable tires and Continental 76g tubes

Black Planet Bike fenders

She's like a new bicycle. I lost a pound of rotating weight by going to 700c wheels and lightweight tires and the difference is unbelievable. Also, switched out the 18 tooth cog for a 20 which makes hills just a tad easier. I'm going to leave her rusty for the winter but come spring, she'll get primed and painted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Burnaby Velodrome

One of three indoor velodromes in North America, located in Burnaby (Vancouver),BC Canada. Check it out here

Monday, October 20, 2008


VeloBase is a great database/resource for researching your restoration projects. They have photo libraries organized by subject matter. My Apollo didn't have a headbadge when I got it but now at least I know what one looks like. Anybody know where I might find one?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Classic Lugs

Dave Wages over at Ellis Cycles was doing some repair work on a 1972 Schwinn Paramount when he took this picture of it's gorgeous Nervex lugs. His original was in colour but I tweaked it and converted it to monochrome (thanks Dave!). You'll find a nice little article about the history of Nervex lugs here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fitness Firsts

A year ago I was 55 years old, had just quit smoking and had just left a 6-days-a-week job that afforded me very little time or energy for biking. I had just discovered the wonder of riding fixed but my saddle time was limited. All of which is to say I was in pretty lousy shape. The doctor said I was doing great, nothing wrong, blah blah blah but I knew I could and should be more fit than I was.

What a difference 13 months makes. I have ridden one of my two fixed conversions almost every day for the last year. The ratios are 73 and 78 gear inches respectively so I ain't pulling no granny gear. And it's hilly around here. I'm not training for anything and I don't have a computer on either bike to log the miles or the speeds. I'm just riding. For the fun of it and also for errands and occasionally to and from work. Often, I invent a reason to ride. The more I do it, the more I feel like a 12 year-old with a spanking new Schwinn and somewhere important to be. And the more I feel my body responding, which brings me to yesterday.

There are a couple of hills in my neck of the woods that have always forced a dismount, no way to conquer them in 52x18. But yesterday afternoon, I rode up not one but both of 'em. My legs and my lungs had what it took and I stayed on the bike all the way to the top. There was no one around to cheer me on, nobody snapping photos like they do at the big races in Europe, nobody to notice at all. But I didn't give a rat's rear end about the lack of attention. I knew what I'd done and what it meant and that was all that mattered.

Next spring I'll turn 57, just three years shy of 60. An age I once considered "old". But I believe I'll be in perhaps the best shape of my life when the big six-0 arrives. Of course I know there'll come a time when my knees will give out and I'll have to rehang a derailleur on one of these road bikes and go back to shifting but til then, I will test my mettle on a daily basis with a direct drive bicycle and a smile on my face.

A note about the picture: I don't remember where I found it but would like to acknowledge the photographer who is obviously very talented. So if you know who's responsible for this image, please drop me a line so I can give credit where credit is due. Cheers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seat Post Rainbow

Beautiful, handcrafted seat posts from Engin Cycles

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dave Moulton

I know Bike Snob NYC has a lot of fans but for my money, Dave Moulton's is the best bicycle blog on the web. Thanks Dave!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Guy's Atala

Artist: Taliah Lempert
Title: Guy's Atala, 2005
Medium: Oil on panel, 12" x 16"

The artist's website is here

Tall Bike

Do you think he really needs those fenders?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In The News

The Chicago Tribune ran an article recently on the no brakes urban hipster thing. You can read it and watch the video here. I'm neither urban nor hip but I ran my Apollo fixed gear conversion sans brakes for most of this year (just added a front brake recently) and did not feel that I was a menace to society in any way. But then I wasn't doing any trick riding nor was I cruising with a pack. To each his own I guess. I'm just happy to see young people on bicycles for whatever reason. Trends and fads come and go but once the bike bug bites, one tends to stay bit.

Photo by Brett Reed, bike by Nagasawa

Monday, October 13, 2008


Click here to see some interesting art bikes

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Bikes, Fewer Cars

It's all about infrastructure. Here's an interesting article from TerraPass

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wire Wheels

I found this little sculpture hanging from the rearview mirror of a beautifully restored late forties Chevrolet pickup truck.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Morning Commute

Here is a beautiful image by a Turkish photographer who goes by the handle monoblog, taken while on business in Shanghai

Monday, August 18, 2008

Down By The River

Here's a nice watercolour sketch by artist and Rivendell Quickbeam owner Mike Thomas

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Overton Gallery & Tea Room

A working bike from across the pond. I do believe that's a Brooks saddle. Photo by Mike

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I've been working, traveling and riding my bike but not hanging out online too much. So...I'm involved with a Green Bikes project in my community and someone donated a lugged steel mixte bike with this headbadge. Haven't been able to find out much about the marque though I did turn up a full custom one at the BMX Museum. Anybody out there know anything about this brand?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Photo From The Future?

Nope. It was taken recently in Erlangen, Germany but this is what the whole world will look like when the oil runs out. Actually, much of Europe already looks like this, North America is just way behind.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The First Seven Days

Today, I've asked my wife to guest blog. Well, actually, she told me she was going to guest blog, and I said, "yes dear!"

My preferred ride until...I saw the light!

For years my husband talked about building himself a fixie. When he finally did, I thought he was nuts. I mean, who wants to pedal all the time? I wasn’t the only one who thought he was crazy either. In the town we used to live in, the old man running a repair shop just shook his head in wonder, and in our new town, the owner of the LBS pretty much kicked him out when he asked questions about streamlining his fixie.

All summer I have been without a bike. My old 1970s Schwinn, which is too small for my long legs, was fine in the flatlands, but here in hilly country I only rode it once before I said, “Let’s sell it.” Now summer is not the time to be without a bike, but without funds, I was stuck. After much debating and measuring, my husband decided to fix up one of his many, many bikes for me. By fixing it up, I mean changing out the handlebars to upright ones, with God forbid, a brake (which apparently, based on his reaction, is some sort of sacrilege).

Imagine his horror when I declined the use of his spare bruise-inducing Brooks saddle that feels like it’s made of cold hard steel. I know, I know…plenty of y’all use them and they form to your butt and all that, but I still chose the softer, lower-end Brooks that he picked up for fifty cents at the recycle centre, much to his chagrin. Just wait until I make him add the basket, light, fenders, and rack so I can carry groceries! He won’t want to be seen with me. And don’t even get him started on the helmet issue.

But I digress. This guest blog is supposed to be about my first week as a fixie rider, and yes, might I add convert. It’s true. I now see the beauty of the fixie. It was remarkably easy to catch on to the no brakes thing and every time we come home after a ride, I say, “I didn’t use the brakes at all” or “I only had to use them on that one hill.” I find that I’ve ridden around 2-5 miles per day, every day, and that I, like my husband, seem to be fabricating reasons to ride to the Village, just to get one more ride in before dark.

I have only sustained one injury this week, a pretty nasty whack to the back of my right calf, but considering I’ve suffered the same injury on a regular bike (pedal bashing into me as I dismounted in a sort of dicey situation due to road repair and pavement bumps), I am not blaming this on the fact that my cool new bike is a fixie.

The only downside that I can see to riding this bike is that when we go out for an evening ride, it’s hard to stay together because my bike is in a much lower (thank God!) gear than my husband’s. Also, he has no brakes, which is why this was his injury. Oh, wait, it didn’t have anything to do with brakes. He was trying to take a picture while riding. I can honestly say that while he has made me a fixie lover, I highly doubt you will see any photos that I’ve taken while riding because I am way too much into the zen of pedaling (all the time!) to be bothered with photos.

Marriage is about compromise (yes, I actually do like the upright handlebars and I don't think they look geeky!), but it’s also about making your spouse happy when you can. My husband has made me happy with this bike, and the day we rode into the Village on our his-and-her fixies, the pride shone in his eyes. Not to mention when a tourist checked me out and he was looking not in the usual place, but at my very cool fixed gear bike, I thought my husband’s smile would split his face.

I'm converted!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Even before I gave the RB-2 to my wife, the Apollo ($6 Fix) had become my favourite ride despite it's homely appearance. I've got the cockpit dialed in just so and the fit and feel are perfect. But I'm running 52/18 and no brake so I've mostly used it for errands and short pleasure rides. Yesterday I decided to see what it would be like to make the 22 mile trip around the island so I filled a water bottle and off I went. It was a perfect BC summer day, warm but not sweltering and blue sky overhead. About 3/4 of the way round I stopped for a photo op and while I was relaxing a bit, it occurred to me that riding a brakeless fixed gear bicycle with a tall gear in rolling terrain is a lot like marriage: It's all about compromise. A wise man chooses his battles carefully and doesn't sweat the small stuff. The correlation is that there are some hills too steep to climb with a 78 gear-inch drivetrain and others too steep to descend safely without a brake. So I just get off and walk when need be. I only had to do that twice yesterday, once down and once up. You might notice in the photo that I wasn't carrying a tool kit. I did have a multitool in my pocket but since I've never flatted where we live, I don't bother with a spare tube/tire/pump. Believe it or not, there is virtually no road debris. I have seen broken glass on the pavement only once since moving here 10 months ago. Hope I'm not jinxing myself...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Masi Pista

Scan from an old Masi catalogue

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Retro Fix

Here's a beautiful 1970's Austro-Daimler conversion that belongs to a fellow in the Retrogrouch group on Flickr. Who says you have to have derailleurs to go randonneuring?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

City Fix

We don't live in the city but this is the style of ride my wife Joelle wanted. Since a Batavus Old Dutch wasn't going to happen for us anytime soon, I decided to make some changes to the Bridgestone fixie conversion and give it to her. She's almost as tall as me so I just had to lower the seatpost a couple of inches and install the components of her choosing (padded saddle and upright handlebars). She loves it and I'm tickled pink that my baby has my old bike.

Here's the parts breakdown:

Frame: 62cm Bridgestone RB-2
Bottom Bracket: Shimano (OEM)
Crank: Sugino (OEM)
Chainring: Sugino 46t
Cog: Surly 17t
Chain: 1/8 inch generic
Pedals: MKS Touring
Rims: Ritchey Vantage Comp (OEM)
Tires: Specialized Armadillo
Rear Hub: White Industries ENO
Front Hub: Shimano Exage (OEM)
Seatpost: American Classic
Saddle: Avocet (OEM)
Stem: Nitto Technomic
Handlebars: Nitto North Road
Grips: generic
Brake Lever: Tektro
Brake: Shimano Exage (OEM)
Bottle Cage: King stainless steel

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

City Bike

I would love to find something like this for my wife. The Electra Amsterdam is OK but just a little too slick. A Batavus Old Dutch would do nicely...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Nice scan of a mid-century poster from England

Monday, June 16, 2008


One of these days I would like to own and ride a true track bike. All three of my fixies are conversions and while I enjoy each of them, I really appreciate the ultra-clean aesthetics of pista machines like this Nagasawa. Notice the front fork is not drilled for a brake. And the subtle but gorgeous lugwork. It's the little details that all add up to velo eyecandy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Six Dollar Fix

I decided I wanted a beater bike, one so homely that no thief would even look twice let alone take it. So I found this rusty blue 10-speed in my size at the recycling center for $6. The decals had already been stripped off so I have no idea about the brand but based on the parts mix and its age, I suspect the country of origin is Japan. I had a fixed wheelset laying around from an upgraded project and added the saddle, bars, pedals, chain and bottle cage from my parts bin. It was an easy build, just took a couple hours and I was sold after the first spin down to the post office. She may be butt ugly but she rides great! Total investment: $6 Canadian

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crunching Some Numbers

I've been known to rant about the price of gasoline and using a bicycle for everyday transportation (see Zero Emissions and End Of An Era) as well as recreation. Of course I'm not alone. This has been coming for quite a while and many have been waving red flags around the world. But here is some recent data to fuel the end of fossil fuel flames: Gasoline is now at $126 a barrel with some analysts predicting $200 in the not too distant future. Concurrently, bicycle sales are up 14% in Europe and 9% in the US (no numbers available for Canada). So I guess my wife and I aren't the only ones parking our vehicles and biking or walking where we need to go. And if you're as put off by the price of a new bicycle as you are by the numbers at the pump, stay tuned. The next post will be about a set of wheels guaranteed to be within your budget.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What's Old Is New

I haven't posted much in the way of artwork lately's a poster for The Steelwool Bicycle Company by Ottawa artist Aaron Bihari done in the style of the classic turn-of-the-century cycling posters.

Friday, May 2, 2008


I had a birthday this week. I was born in 1952 (you do the math) and it was certainly a very different world back then. In architecture, Mid-century Modern ruled and people like Richard Neutra and Mies van der Rohe were defining the style. On 26 July of that year, Eva Peron passed away in her native Argentina. Who knew that a girl named Madonna would bring her back to life half a century later? Hank Williams' Jambalaya was Number One on the country charts. The Trans-Canada highway was under construction as was CBS Television City in Hollywood and suburbia all over the planet. Doctors in New York created the first usable artificial kidney. But really, who cares about a plastic kidney? By far the most exciting thing going on in 1952 was Il Campionissimo. That was the year Fausto Coppi won both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Vintage 531 Motobecane

I rarely get excited about bicycles with derailleurs but I ran across this gorgeous 1975 Motobecane Grand Record in a Flickr group and thought maybe some of you might enjoy it too. It's a nice mix of period components and modern touches that look just right on an older bike. This is how it should be done imho. The owner has put up a website with more photos and all the build details here.

Innovate or ?

I don't know who created this image or for what purpose. But when I saw it, my thoughts went straight to the price of gasoline, global warming and the general ill health of the planet due to poor stewardship on the part of humans. Though there's certainly nothing particularly innovative about using a bicycle for everyday transportation, we could all stand to do just that on a regular basis. Not enough of us do. And I'm not preaching here. Lord knows I'm guilty too. For instance, I have to be somewhere in a couple of hours. It's an easy 10 minute ride but it's chilly and rainy today. Am I going to don the Goretex and ride the Motobecane (with fenders) or am I going to wimp out and just jump in the truck and scoot on over there? Maybe it will stop raining...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wonderful Wool

Looking for a nice wool jersey? You can start your quest here. Good luck finding one without logos though!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bar Tape Canadian Style

After a couple of too close calls on the Bridgestone fixie, I decided to put the front brake back on which also meant a re-tape job for the handlebars. In an earlier post, I mentioned that the nearest well-stocked roadie-friendly LBS was a long ways away which meant I didn't have any cloth bar tape. But I didn't want to wait for mail order so, what to do? Hockey stick tape. It feels great under the hand, looks right, it's much less expensive than traditional imported cloth tape and most importantly, it's readily available here in BC. Problem solved!

Friday, April 18, 2008

43 Bikes

I was surfing around this morning and ran across this very cool site run by a bike mechanic from Tuscon named Mookie. Happy clicking.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nagasawa at Work

Here's a video of master framebuilder Yoshiaki Nagasawa brazing a headtube lug. Thanks to the original poster!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

And I Quote

"There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey." John Ruskin

I found this quote on a list serve and it reminded me of my dad's philosophy when it comes to being a consumer of goods. He always bought the very best stuff he could afford and then took good care of it because a quality item deserves it. He's been gone nearly twenty years and I'm still using his tools, almost every day. Nuff said.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Message In A Bottle

Message In A Bottle is the name of a song written by one of my all-time musical heroes, the late Walter Hyatt. That phrase also sums up my experience trying to get parts for my bike projects. I don't live on a faraway atoll but I do live on an island in the Strait of Georgia off the coast of British Columbia. While I firmly believe in supporting one's LBS, unfortunately I don't have one. Most everyone around here rides a mountain bike which means that the nearest full-service roadie-friendly shop is over 100km away (plus a ferry ride). So I mostly rely on the internet. And since Canada Post is slow, inefficient (parcels get "lost in transit") and ludicrously expensive, I mostly do business with American companies. Which brings us to the question du jour: Why do so many web businesses refuse to answer emails? I mean why even put contact info on your site if you are going to ignore customers who try to contact you? I understand about spam and spam filters. So while it's tempting and somewhat amusing to compose bike-related spam (What is the length and diameter of your Viagra model seatpost?) I always word the subject header very carefully to avoid sounding like a bot. But I am constantly amazed at how few companies actually reply to a legitimate email asking a legitimate question about a product. Recent offenders include Rivendell, Paul's Components, Velo-Orange, Soma Fabrications and Camelback. Four out of five of these are relatively small companies so you'd think that to them, every potential customer would matter. But no. Now, not wanting to end this post on a grumpy note, here are a couple of web-based outfits that have returned my emails consistently and in a timely manner: Harris Cyclery and IRO Cycles. Guess who gets most of my business?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Love That Brooks

The other day, just as an experiment, I swapped out my Brooks B17 for an old Selle San Marco Titanio saddle that I used to ride. It weighs half what the B17 does not that I really care too much about weight. The Italian saddle had been my seat of choice for years prior to discovering the Joy of Brooks and I just wanted to revisit it after having "gone English" a while back. Well, I rode about three miles, maybe four and it was all over. Got back home, put the Brooks back on the seatpost, tossed the San Marco back into the parts bin and that was that. My wife didn't get it. It's difficult to explain to the uninitiated how a stiff hard leather saddle can be so much more comfortable than something with gel padding but it is. Not just more comfortable but way more comfortable. Mind you I have no affiliation with Brooks nor any dealer that sells Brooks. But if you haven't tried one, you owe it to yourself to experience the best bicycle saddle known to man. The classic good looks are just icing on the cake.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I know how Yehuda feels, living in a small community and seeing the same drivers all the time. And they see me. I have to admit that I enjoy my "weirdo" role.

Monday, March 31, 2008

End of an Era?

I read an interview with a framebuilder the other day who said he believes the era of the automobile is over. I'm not sure I totally agree with that but I do believe that the era of the gasoline-powered automobile is rapidly coming to an end. There simply is not enough fossil fuel left to meet the demands of a thirsty global population. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of "peak oil" and the changes that a diminished supply of petroleum will surely bring, you can start by reading this article by James Kuntsler. Fact: The price of oil (by the barrel) has doubled in the last five years. And if you think it's coming back down, think again. Any way you slice it, the bicycle will make a big comeback, not as a recreational vehicle but as a means of everyday transportation. And the sooner the better.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Messenger Service

The concept of urban delivery by bicycle has been around for at least 100 years. And it looks like a fixed gear machine has always been the way to go. Saluting bike messengers everywhere!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RB-2 Up and Running

Just back from the first test ride of the Bridgestone as a fixed gear. Sweet! Obviously, there will be some tweaking but it's a keeper. The White Industries ENO hub made it possible and while it is a finely made component, it's not without it's eccentricities. I have not quite got the chain as tight as I'd like and the learning curve was steeper than you'd expect of such a simple drivetrain but all in all, I am pleased. Big thanks to Ryan at Veloce Bicycles in Portland, OR for building the wheel and tech support. Future additions? Cloth bar tape, black Brooks saddle and a nicer chain are at the top of the list. More soon...

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Can't remember where I found this photo but it sure is a nice shot of a beautiful bike. Makes a nice desktop picture.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cockpit In Motion

I guess everybody has a folder full of "Look ma, no hands!" photos. Here's one of mine in black and white, taken with a Nikon Coolpix L4 and tweaked in Microsoft PictuteIt.