Monday, February 11, 2008

Eye of the Beholder

Even though I have two projects going, I still fantasize about building a new bike from the frame up. These days, new frames with threaded forks are getting harder to find. Most everything is threadless unless you get into the handmade realm which is more than my wallet can stand. I have no problem with the threadless technology. Seems great. Lighter and easier to work on. Having just wrestled with my 70's Motobecane's headset, simple maintenance is really attractive. Problem is that the threadless stems I have seen are all really unattractive appearance-wise. I was lurking in a bike forum the other day and some riders were talking about threadless stems so I Googled a couple they said were "beautiful". Whoa! They were both clunky, logo'd and hairy butt ugly. They looked like bones in a caveman cartoon. I couldn't believe those guys thought they were nice. To each his own I guess. Anyway, I'm thinking I'll never build a new bike with the threadless system just because I'll never find a good-looking stem. Enter Aaron Hayes and Courage Bicycle Mfg. Co. of Portland, OR. The stem in the photo above is his design and man-o-man is that elegant or what? Beautiful! So there's hope. Leave it to the indie builders to solve a problem the industry didn't even seem to know existed.

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