Friday, August 14, 2009

Projects are coming along

I picked up the first batch of racks and decaleurs from the chrome plater on Wednesday. They turned out really well. I was originally going to have them nickel plated, but went with the chrome as the chrome is more resistant to wear. It also has a clearer shine to it. Nickel plating is a nice look as well, but the chrome has a silveriness (is that a word?) to it, while the nickel has an amber patina. Since the chrome is a layer on top of the copper and nickel layers, it will be more durable when the chrome plating is done well. It helps to get the racks polished up well before the plating process.

I'm really pleased with the racks and now they will be beautiful for a long long time. I prefer a plated finish on racks, over any painted or powdercoated finish, since they tend to get a lot of friction and rub marks from the bags that rest upon them. I'd hate to think the racks woud look poorly when there are no bags installed, since they are such a distinctive feature of a proper cyclotouring bicycle. My mantra remains, "everything in its proper place, in proportion to everything else." This is why I don't simply use a production rack on my complete builds. There are plenty of fine production racks out there, but nothing works or fits as well as a rack designed for its intended bicycle, nor is a production rack typically as lightweight as a one-off, custom design.

A slender tubed steel bicycle frame marries well with a delicate, shiny rack with graceful curves and small diameter tubes. A bicycle designed for more ambitious portaging pursuits (a full-on camping bicycle) would have racks of an appropriate diameter. Not only would this provide strength where necessary, but the proportions would match the appearance of the bike. You will see that with Robert's bike, I had some pre-existing design constraints to work around, which resulted in a creative decaleur solution.

Robert's frame and fork are also ready at the powder coaters. I'll get them early next week.
In the mean time, I'll snap a few photos of the racks when I get a minute away from the bench.

I'm working on the Oregon Manifest bike today. Some finish work and little braze-ons. I think I'm going to get it assembled for a test ride this weekend. The finish will be rough, but at least I'll get a feel for how it rides. I'm excited about this. No photos just yet. Top secret and all that shilly shally.

Stay tuned for pics.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Gotta hang up the rando wheel for a little bit

My life is very busy these days. Boxer Bicycles and my day job keep my mind and hands occupied with things bicycle-related. My fiancee and I are in the last stretch of preparing for our wedding later this month. The weather has conspired to make it unpleasant to go on extended and spirited bike rides, though it appears that our heat wave is breaking right... now.

It has been an amazing summer in Seattle. We have broken records for high temperatures, highest low temperatures, longest stretch of no rain (I think). The city is parched and needs a healthy dose of liquid sunshine. The forecasters are calling for a change over the next couple days. I'm actually happy to need a warm sweater or jersey on my commute rides along Lake Washington. The tomatoes in the garden are completely going off!

Boxer Bicycles is registered for the Oregon Manifest Design/Build Challenge on October 2nd and 3rd. It's an event to encourage handbuilt bicycle builders to come up with creative and innovative solutions for transportation bicycles. The bikes will be judged according to how they meet the requirements of the contest. The event also includes a 77 mile race over varied terrain, including fire roads, broken pavement, a traverse over a small boulder field, as well as a requirement to stop at a convenience store to pick up a 6 pack of bottled beverages and some snacks for the finish line party, at which the racer must arrive in proper party attire. The organizers will provide a changing tent near the finish where riders can change in to the clothes, carried on the bike throughout the race.

It sounds like a lot of fun in a totally Portland kind of way. I'm excited to give this race a wack, as well as have some folks see my handy-work in person. It will be great to also visit with other builders and peruse their designs. I'm looking forward to getting out of town for a little bit and what better place to have a break than Portland.

This project is keeping me busy. Busy, like I don't have time to do much other than go to my day job, work on the bike in the shop at night and on weekends, and have a weekly date break with Katie. All this is to say that I haven't been on a brevet with SIR for a while now. I miss it and wish I could get out there a little more, but I'll just have to suck it up and do my best to take a little time to ride the Windy Ridge 600k brevet in mid-September. I hope to have this project ready to ride on this brevet.

On the side, I'm trying to sell a couple vintage bikes to fund some new projects and clear out the storage space a bit. I'll be posting photos of them on my flickr site here.

The first is a beautiful mid-60's Bianchi Specialissima (probably '64?) in the rare celeste paint, which is now SOLD. I love the color of this bike, and I don't usually care for "celeste" colored bikes. This one is very classy and understated and really matches well the ice cream shake blender passed down from my recently deceased Grandmother. Celeste and chrome is a classic look.

This bike is heavily "patina-ed" meaning it is in rideable condition, but could use some loving care to the finish, probably a light cleaning and waxing to prevent any surface corrosion. It might also be a good candidate for a restoration/refurbishment. I kind of like it the way it is, but that's just my lazy side speaking.

It's not completely original, but much of it appears to be period correct if not actually original.
I rode this bike less than 100 miles since I got it early last year. The rain free summer has allowed me to ride it a few times to the day job (20 mile round trip). Fun, fun, fun. Comfortable, exciting, fast and great on the short sections of mixed surface trails in the area. It would be such a great bike for the L'Eroica ride through Tuscany, with the fat 32mm avocet tires on it now.

No matter how it is ridden, it is sure to create a few smiling faces.