Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Greatest Lug Story Ever Told

Scene: Sach’s Garden

Enter Petersen

PETERSEN: He jests at scars, that never felt a wound. –

[e-Richie® appears above, at a window]

But, soft, what light through lug window breaks?
It is the east, and e-Richie® is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou, her maid, build frames more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green like Kelly Bikes,
And none but Tarik do wear it; cast it off.-
It is my hero; O, it is my love!
O, that he knew he were! –
He brazes, yet he brazes nothing: what of that?
His fork crown discourses, I will answer it. –
I am too bold, ‘tis not to me he speaks:
Two of the fairest lugs in all the Newvex catalog,
Having some business, do entreat his eyes
To twinkle in their box till they return.
What if Richie-issimo lugs were there, they in their box?
The brightness of his handiwork would shame any fillets,
As daylight doth a lamp; his lugs on a frame
Would through the French countryside stream so bright,
That randonneurs would sing, and think it were not night. –
See, how he leans his torch upon his file!
O, that I were a filing upon that file,
That I might touch that torch!

E-RICHIE®: Ah, me!

PETERSEN: He speaks: --
O, speak again bright angel! For thou art
As glorious to this night, being o’er my head,
As is a bicycle messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wond’ring eyes
Of Cat Fives, that fall back to gaze on him,
When he bestrides a Rene Herse Porteur,
And rides upon the bosom of air.

E-RICHIE®: O Petersen, Petersen! Wherefore art thou Petersen?
Deny thy quill stems, and refuse thy long wheelbase;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer build crit frames.

PETERSEN: [Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

E-RICHIE®: ‘Tis but thy fredliness, that is my enemy; --
Thou art thyself though, not a Fred.
What’s Fred? It is not crank nor pedal,
Nor saddle, nor brake, nor any other part
Belonging to a bike. O’ be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a Fred,
By any other name would be as dorky;
So Petersen would were he not Fred call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes,
Without that title: --Fred, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

PETERSEN: I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptiz’d;
Henceforth, I never will be Fred.

E-RICHIE®: What man art thou, that thus bescreened by wool beanie,
So stumblest on my counsel?

PETERSEN: By a name
I know not how to tell thee who I am:
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee;
Had I it written, I would put it in the Reader.

E-RICHIE®: My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words
Of that tongue’s catalogs, yet I know the routine:
Art thou not Petersen, and a Fred?

PETERSEN: Neither, fair saint, if either thee dislike.

E-RICHIE®: How cam’st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The local rail-trail is rough and hard to ride;
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my sponsored racers find thee here.

PETERSEN: With love’s fixed gear did I o’er ride the trail;
For stony limits cannot hold love out:
And what love can do, that dares love attempt;
Therefore, thy sponsored racers are no let to me.

E-RICHIE®: If they do see thee, they will hook thee into the gutter.

PETERSEN: Alack, there lies more peril in thine dropouts,
Than twenty of their carbon forks: look thou but sweet,
And I am proof against their enmity.

E-RICHIE®: I would not for the world ‘cross championship they saw thee here.

PETERSEN: I have a WoolyWarm jersey to hide me from their sight;
And but thou love me, let them find me here;
My life were better ended by their hate,
Than death prorogued, wanting of thy flux.

E-RICHIE®: By whose direction found’st thou out this place?

PETERSEN: By Google, who first did prompt me to enquire;
He lent me URL, and I lent him eyes.
I am no computer geek; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast internet, wash’d with the greatest spam,
I would adventure for such merchandise.

E-RICHIE®: Thou know’st the growth of stubble is on my face;
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek,
For that which thou hast heard me speak on online forums.
Fain would I dwell on the marketing, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke: but farewell compliment!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say –Ay;
And I will take thy word: yet, if thou swear’st,
Thou may’st prove false; at lovers’ perjuries.,
They say, Joe Starck laughs. O gentle Petersen,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully:
Or if thou think’st I am too quickly won,
I’ll frown, and ride slowly, and say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for an early, mint Masi.
In truth, fair Fred, I am too fond;
And therefore thou may’st think my frames light:
But trust me, gentleman, I’ll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.
I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou over-heard’st, ere I was online,
My true love’s passion: therefore, pardon me;
And not impute this posting to light love,
Which the Google search ‘bots hath so discovered.

PETERSEN: Richard, by yonder blessed Brooks saddle, I swear,
That tips with silver all these vintage components, --

E-RICHIE®: O, swear not by the moon, th’ inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy gearing prove likewise variable.

PETERSEN: What shall I swear by?

E-RICHIE®: Do not swear at all;
Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy Cambio Corsa gear changer,
Which is the god of my idolatry,
And I’ll believe thee.

PETERSEN: If my heart’s dear love –

E-RICHIE®: Well, do not swear: although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract to-night:
It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden;
Too like aluminum frames, which doth cease to be,
Ere one can say, It lightens. Sweet, good night!
This bud of love, by Sheldon’s ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
Good night, good night! As sweet repose and SAG,
Come to thy heart, as that within my saddlebag!

PETERSEN: O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?

E-RICHIE®: What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?

PETERSEN: Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.

E-RICHIE®: I gave thee mine before thou didst request it;
And yet I would it were to give again.

PETERSEN: Would’st thou withdraw it? For what purpose, dude?

E-RICHIE®: But to be frank, and give it thee again.
And yet I wish but for the thing I have:
My brazing is as boundless as the sea,
My filing as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

[Dog barks within]

I hear some noise within; dear love, adieu! –
Anon, good dog! –Sweet Fred, be true.
Stay but a little, I will come again.

[exit above]

PETERSEN: O blessed blessed night! I am afeard,
Being in night, all this is but a dream,
Too wicked-sweet to be substantial.

[re-enter e-Richie® above]

E-RICHIE®: Three words, dear Petersen, and good night indeed.
If that thy bent of love be honourable,
Thy purpose merger, send me e-mail tomorrow,
By address that I’ll procure to send to thee,
Where, and what time, thou wilt perform the rite;
And all my framebuilding tools at thy foot I’ll lay.
And follow thee my lord to Walnut Creek.

DOG: Bark!

E-RICHIE®: I come, anon: --but if thou mean’st not well,
I do beseech thee, --

DOG: Bark!

E-RICHIE®: By and by; I come: --To cease thy ride and leave me to my grief:
To-morrow I will send.

PETERSEN: So thrive my business, --

E-RICHIE®: A thousand times good night!

[exit above]

PETERSEN: A thousand times the worse, to want thy frames. –
Love goes toward lugs, as school-boys from their books;
But love from lugs, toward school with heavy looks.


[re-enter e-Richie® above]

E-RICHIE®: Hist! Petersen, hist! –O, for Phil Ligget’s voice,
To lure this dude back again!
Bondage is hoarse, and may not speak aloud;
Else would I tear the cave where Paul Sherwen lies,
And make his airy tongue more hoarse than mine,
With repetition of my Petersen’s name.

PETERSEN: It is my soul, that calls upon my name:
How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night,
Like Da Yoopers music to GRABAAWR riders’ ears!

E-RICHIE®: Petersen!

PETERSEN: My dear?

E-RICHIE®: At what o’clock to-morrow shall I e-mail to thee?

PETERSEN: At the hour of nine, I should be back from my morning ride.

E-RICHIE®: I will not fail: ‘tis twenty years till then.
I have forgot why I did call thee back.

PETERSEN: Let me stand here till thou remember it.

E-RICHIE®: I shall forget, to have thee still stand there,
Remembering how I love thy catalog company.

PETERSEN: And I’ll still stay, to have thee still forget,
Forgetting any other homey but this.

E-RICHIE®: ‘Tis almost morning: I would have thee gone:
And yet no farther than a shop ride;
Where folks pedal a little from the parking lot,
Like a poor prisoner with a twisted chain,
And after a few short miles return to the lot again,
So loving-jealous of their liberty.

PETERSEN: I would I were on that ride.

E-RICHIE®: Sweet, so would I:
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Coasting is such sweet sorrow.
That I say keep on spinning, till it be morrow.

[exit above]

PETERSEN: Sleep dwell upon thine pedals, peace on thy rack! –
Would I were to wrap my bars, so sweet to shellac!
Hence will I to my ghostly framebuilding cell,
E-Richie’s love to crave for my dear Rivendell.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Flat Prevention Tips

Several years ago I was enjoying a beautiful ride on a quiet country road. At the end of a long straight, I leaned the bike to turn right. Before I knew what had happened, I was on the ground. A quick scan revealed no broken bones, some road rash, and a flat front tire hanging off of the rim. The tire had a puncture and had slowly gone flat. I hadn’t noticed it. When I leaned for my turn, the tire rolled off sending me to the ground.

I don’t like flats. I don’t like getting them, and I don’t like fixing them. Fortunately, there are several options available to help prevent them.

The Nut That Holds The Handlebar. The most useful piece of preventative equipment is the rider. Scanning the road ahead for items that could cut or puncture a tire can make other preventative measures moot. On most roads, you will find a clean area that is swept free of debris by passing cars and trucks. Outside of this area, you will often see pebbles, bits of rubber, and other junk. While this area often appears to be free of things that could cause a flat, there are often bits of wire, glass, and other nasties hiding there. It’s often tempting (and sometimes necessary) to ride here because it is further from passing traffic, but a higher incidence of flats is likely.

Thorn-Resistant Tubes. Thorn-resistant tubes are just like regular inner tubes except that the rubber on the outer portion is thicker than normal. This makes it a bit harder for an object to penetrate and cause a loss of air. In wet weather, however, water will act as a lubricant making it much easier for a sharp object to penetrate the rubber.

Tube Sealant. The best thing for thorns is a self-sealing tube. I use Specialized Airlocks, but others have used Slime with similar success. The sealant inside the tube will seal most punctures but will do nothing for cuts. When the tube is cut, the hole is too large to be filled with sealant. Sealant can be added to Schrader valve tubes relatively easily. Presta valve tubes generally must be purchased with the sealant already installed.

Tires With Aramid Belts and Casing. Aramid (Kevlar is the trademarked name) belts and casings are good at stopping cuts, but not punctures. Aramid is a fabric, and a pointy object like a thorn can slip between the threads. Aramid plus sealant is a good combination. Don’t confuse a tire with an aramid belt or casing and a tire with an aramid bead. An aramid bead is used to decrease tire weight and to make the tire foldable. It offers no flat protection.

Specialized Armadillo Tires. Specialized’s Armadillo casing is unique. It is an aramid casing, but Specialized worked with Dupont to develop a method to seal the holes in the fabric weave. This means that Armadillo tires are very good protection against both flats and cuts. The only other product I am aware of that claimed to seal the holes in aramid fabric was the Spin Skins tire liner. Unfortunately, the friction between tube and tire caused these liners to break down very quickly. Riders would get a flat, remove the tire, and discover many tiny pieces of tire liner inside.

Tire Liners. Most tire liners, like Mr. Tuffy, are not made with aramid. They are made of a variety of different materials, and they act much like a thorn-resistant tube. The more material needed to be penetrated by a sharp object, the greater the flat protection will be. One word of caution, however. I have seen a number of flats caused by the liner itself. The edge of the liner, if not properly tapered will eventually cut into a tube. I have also seen other liners that have broken down through use like the Spin Skins.

For the best flat protection, I typically recommend either Armadillo tires or an aramid-belted tire combined with a tube filled with sealant.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fresh Heron Touch-Up Paint in Stock

I just received some bottles of Heron touch-up paint from Waterford. Fresh stuff! $15 per bottle. Rockwell Red, Gooding Green, Bailey Falls Blue, or Shippingsport Silver. Ordering info in on the Tullio's site.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Burley In Trouble?

It looks like Burley is not doing very well. They might have to close down, and that's bumming me out.

Here is the article in the Eugene Register-Guard.

Fuzzy Believes Floyd

Check out the Get Fuzzy comic from August 7.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Frames, Frames, and More Frames

I'm often asked when I'll offer a new Heron model. I'm working on that, but there are a lot of choices on the market already. This is a golden era for niche market bicycle frames. There are always new frames coming from folks like Rivendell, Kogswell, and now Velo-Orange. They are all excellent, but is this market getting too crowded? What differentiates one from the other? Often, we hear that one frame is like another except that it uses 650B tires. This one is like that one except that it uses centerpull brakes.

As fun as it is, this business is pretty darned hard. It's not enough just to build good, versatile frames. You need to keep differentiating yourself from the other guy. What was good enough yesterday isn't good enough today.

Jan Heine, publisher of the excellent Vintage Bicycle Quarterly, is giving us all a fresh view of the classic French cyclotouring bicycles of the past. He revisits concepts like trail and gives us insight into why those bikes rode so well. This presents an opportunity for more new models and more ways to differentiate the brand. Personally, I'm reading Jan's stuff with great interest and will likely refer to his work when designing any new Heron models.

How many folks read VBQ? How many are on the iBob e-mail list? Just how large is the market for these frames? Is it large enough to accommodate all of these companies? If not, trying to sell frames beyond this niche poses additional problems.

I've tried to downplay the "lugged steel" aspect of Heron frames. The first message I try to convey is that these frames are well-designed for the type of riding that most people do. Secondly, I emphasize quality and craftsmanship. Only after those two do I discuss aesthetics. Sure, I love steel and I love lugs, but the market for lugged steel frames is much smaller than it is for well-designed frames. Promoting the aesthetic qualities gives more mainstream consumers the chance to dismiss a frame as a "retro fashion statement."

Selling beyond our comfortable niche also requires facing the marketing machines of the big manufacturers. You need to compete against flashy paint jobs, questionable technical claims, and big advertising budgets. Eddy Merckx actually sold a frame with faux-carbon stickers on the chainstays and marketed it as "carbon-wrapped stays." I'm sure that there were some carbon atoms in those stickers somewhere.

I just read a thread on a road bike forum about frame stiffness. The original poster wanted a recommendation for a "stiff" frame. Lots of suggestions came forth, but none were based upon any empirical data. Instead, comments were based upon "perceptions" of stiffness. Perceptions can be created from a wide variety of things, the least of which is objective observation. People will mostly perceive whatever will confirm their prior expectations. In a taste test, most people will report that unlfavored gelatin that is colored red actually tastes like cherry or strawberry. Riders commonly complained of the harsh ride of carbon aerowheels when objective testing showed them to lack stiffness both radially and laterally.

How does a small company compete against this? You just want to sell good, versatile frames, but how do you do that without some "hook" like "carbon-wrapped stays" or 650B tires and centerpull brakes? Isn't offering a decent frame enough?

So, as you can see, designing a new Heron frame can be a complex thing. Do I concern myself with what others are doing? Do I follow the trends, whether inside or outside our little market niche? If not, how do I differentiate my product from the rest? Sure, it's fun designing frames. There's lots of freedom to build something that excites and interests you, but you still need to sell the darned things. It's too easy for someone to look at something you've created and say something like, "Oh, that's like an Atlantis with caliper brakes" or some other compartmentalization.

I'm not really looking for ideas or suggestions. I'm not into designing frames by committee. I'll have something new to announce soon, but whether it flops or flies, I have no idea.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Say It Ain't So, Floyd!

Oh, wait. I guess he is saying it isn't so. It's just getting harder to believe. So, if Floyd doped, I guess there was no true champion at the Tour. I might have been right about that from the beginning. If Floyd didn't dope, then it sucks to be him. However, to keep things in perspective, it doesn't suck as much as being the guy in Lebanon or Israel that has a rocket land on his house. It's all relative.

The world will go on. People will turn to the next item that catches their attention. Bicycle racing is entertainment. It's not that important in the big scheme of things. Whether or not Floyd Landis doped will have no effect on whether the local municipalities in my area are going to keep throwing my tax money at developers who are going to build here anyway. I got bigger fish to fry. It would have been nice to have a new sports hero, but, hey, it's just a sports hero. Let's all go ride our own bikes (drug use is up to you - I won't test) and be our own heroes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Yo, Castro!

Do you think Bush has a pet nickname for Fidel Castro like he does for all of the other world leaders? I'll bet he calls him "Fido." Anyway, I'm not sure I understand all of the celebrating being done by Cuban-Americans at the news of Castro's illness. Are they expecting major changes should Castro die? I'm assuming that there are a number of people in the Cuban government that have a vested interest in keeping things just the way they are. I don't believe that the whole government is hanging on the health of one man.

Still, if democracy were to break out in Cuba, that would be great. The Cuban people would finally taste liberty. Plus, we would get the chance to see if any significant percentage of the Cuban-American community decides to move back home. It's been an awful long time since most of them have lived in Cuba. After becoming accustomed to living in the US, moving back would probably be difficult. However, if some do decide to go, I hope that they take Gloria Estefan and Andy Garcia along. Maybe they could go visit Elian Gonzalez.