Still not much going on, its the end of the calender year and trying to spend time with the family.  New Year coming, and hopefully a change in fortunes.  Other than that, no big news, and no exciting stories.  Have a great holiday and stay safe.


happy holiday

To one and all, no matter what your religious affiliation is, Merry Christmas.  The meaning of this specific holiday is holy to a group of religions, but the idea of Peace, Love, Happiness, and Family is universal to all groups of people.  Some make it about the materialistic things, some make it about "joy" they feel from the holiday, only to forget about it days later.  I'm spending it with my family - my wife and two kids, my parents, mother-in-law, and my wife's great grandfather. The kids will be spoiled with gifts - grandparents do that sort of thing, but I'm trying to make it much more than that to them.  Its hard, but I'm trying to instill the ideas that by caring for your fellow man, no matter who they are or where they are from, everyday, is the greatest thing you can give another being.  And knowing that, and teaching others, is the greatest gift you can give your parents.


not much

Not much happening, not riding that much, and - while still waiting for my matt chester - not much else going on.  Holidays upon us, never really excited for them, although with younger kids, it is always a fun time.  Starting to plan some stuff for 2012, but without the aforementioned mc, some plans are still just thoughts - rather get the bike before I cement those plans.  Might also do something I haven't done in a great while, go on a backpacking trip!  Just a short couple of ones, but hiking is something I miss, being around bikes always makes me forget about traveling "long" distances on foot with everything on ones back.

More to come....


soma tradesman

Here it is, my brand new complete (mostly) Soma Tradesman Cylcle Truck.  If you have been following the complete bike build, it has taken a while, and although there are a few more minor things to be done, it is for all purposes, done. 

Wondering what parts are on it?  Here you go:

Tradesman frame and fork
Cane Creek 100 headset
Front wheel: Shimano Alfine 36 hole laced 3 cross to Sun Ringle Envy rim, w/Schwalbe Marathon tire
Rear wheel: Shimano XT 36 hole laced 3 cross to Sun Ringle EQ31, w/ Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus tire
Race Face Ride crank, 170mm length, 32x22 teeth rings with outer ring replaced with a BBG bashguard
Avid BB& front and rear disc brakes, 160mm rotors
Thomson Elite seatpost, with a Selle Anatomica saddle
Profile Design Boa stem with Easton EA30 handlebar
Suntour Power Ratchet thumbshifters, both set to friction to pull an Acera rear derailleur and LX front
Avid Speed Dial 7 brake levers
Sram 830 8 speed cassette, 11-32 teeth, 850 chain
Portland Design Works Speed Metal grips, Barista coffee mug holder, brass bell
Plescher double kickstand
Civia Halsted fenders
Planet Bike Blaze Dynamo front light (not shone PDW Radbot 100 rear light)

Total  weight 45 pounds.

Some things left to do, get some real pedals, a rear rack, and a front basket or one of these bags.  And figure out a way to carry my repair kit. Oh yeah,  and a way to tell my wife that I have this bike, and I haven't sold this one.



fenders and dynamo lighting

Fenders went on with basically no problems, standard set up.  Had to bend a stay around the front disc caliper:

The fenders are Civia Halsted Fenders, which is designed to go on their short wheel based baker style cargo truck bike.  The Halsted was one that was originally on my list last year for a new cargo bike, I ultimately bought something different, but the style of bike never got lost to me.

Not super excited with the fender line on the front wheel, I'll have to play around with it some more.  Civia says that the fender will ft up to a 2" wide tire, that could lead to some experiments later down the road.  I'll have full pictures of the fenders later in the week, when the bike as a whole is revealed.

The light I went with up front to be powered by the dynamo is the Blaze Dynamo from Planet Bike.  Light hook up with the Alfine was easy, put the

Two wires in the wiring harness, fold them over and snap everything together.  I'm going to have to either switch to another harness, or cover in some electrical tape I had to try twice, and the silicone inside the holes got used up.  The wire snaked up the fork leg,  around the front rack supports:

Wrapped to the other side to where I mounted the light head on the boom on the other side:

With zipties holding everything on and tight.  The mount for right now is an old reflector mount, with a Paul Components light mount called the Gino bolted on for the Blaze's bracket to mount to. 

Bad picture, the bike is at an angle in the workstand so that the handlebars don't swing around and knock the crap out of me, but a side view of the light and the mount.

I still need to figure out a rear rack for the bike, and I have a kickstand on its way.  Next up, those little things and a full picture of the Soma Tradesman!


gear changers

You saw the shifters, now the derailleurs.  The 8 speeds in the rear are a Sram 830 cassette, 11-32 being switched through the cogs with a Shimano Acera derailleur.  Not exciting, but when dealing with a friction shifter, the quality is not of great concern.

 The crank is a Race Face Ride, and the front derailleur is an old LX I've had laying around unused for about 6 years or so now, not much shifting going on with my bikes, especially front derailleurs. 

The crank came with a 44-32-22 gear range, I took off the big chainring and put on the BBG bashguard.  I very rarely use the big chainring at all, and this helps protect from "rookie ring".
You can see how big the chainring bashguard is from this picture, I had this one laying around the workbench.  In the smallest cog on the cassette in the back, and in the 32 tooth chainring, there is a little bit of rubbing, I'll switch it out when I have some extra money.

Fenders and light next.....



Originally, I was going to use my ol' favorite upright bar, the Rivendell Albatross, but:

I came up with an issue that I wasn't expecting. the housing had to be super long not to put any sharp kinks in the cables.  This lead to big loops hanging out in front of the handlebar/headtube, which would interfere with any sort of load being strapped on to it.  So I rummaged through the employee parts bin at the shop and found an old Easton EA30 bar with a mid-sort of rise.  Not much sweep, but will get the grips up high.  Bar bolted on, along with the shifters, brake levers, and grips and I got this:

Old school Suntour friction thumb shifters (rear 8 speed in friction mode), my well used and bent up Avid Speed Dial 7 brake levers, and some Speed Metal grips in red from Portland Design Works (although they will probably get switched out for the winter).  Everything nice and durable, and highly reliable for the long run, and for a bike that is going to be used, alot.

Pretty clean routing, the less "looped" cables are for the shifters, and the two bigger loops are for the brakes, and those get zip tied:

to the headtube.  The cables are routed through the space between the headtube, downtube, and the booms that extend to the front rack.

Drive train next, with fenders and front light after that....


cargo tires

Wheels are of course built, and tires received, some Schwalbes.

For the front:

Marathon Plus in a 20"x1.75 (47x406) comes with a reflective stripe for viability.  I was worried that the tire would be too thin for the rim but everything ended up working great.

Damn nice looking wheel with that tire on it.  Not that it matters, but front dynamo hub with 160mm rotor, tube and tire weighs 4.98 pounds.

The rear tire is a Marathon Plus Tour with Smartguard in a 26"x1.75" (47x559), also with the reflective strip.  The tire mounted up a little easier on than the one on the front, and it turns out it is a little knobbier than I thought it was going to be.  Would make an amazing tire for a gravel rider or a long distance touring bike on mixed terrain - like a Long Haul Trucker or Co-Motion Pangea.

Wheel weight for tube, tire, rotor, and wheel - 5.6 pounds, will be more of course with the cassette.  Not light but again, overkill is better on a cargo bike.

Next up, the handlebar situation.  I had to change it up a bit because of cable routing issues, pictures tomorrow!


discs for cargo

Decided to go with the Avid BB7 discs for the bike.  I actually think that the BB5s were going to be plenty, but might as well go with the nicer ones on some sweet wheels.  Overkill is sometimes best. 

Front Alfine Dynamo hub is equipped with a Centerlock disc interface.  The BB7s come with a 6 bolt pattern.  So I had to get one of these:

To use the disc rotor.  On the hub, the rubber shield comes off

And that exposes the splines for the Centerlock or adapter

And the rotor and adapter get forced on with the help of a rubber mallet and tighten down with a cassette lockring tool.

The front and rear brake calipers go on pretty much as any other bike, the front needs the standard 160mm front adapter:

And the rear goes on the chainstay with the newer 20mm IS adapter, which is different from the 160 mm adapter I used for the front brake.  The brake that went on the rear must be the "newer" model.

Like I mentioned, on the chainstay, to make mounting a rear rack and fenders easier.

Next up, tires mounted up and an exciting shot of the handlebar and brake and shift levers, maybe even some cables and housing run.



I've been using the rear lights from Portland Design Works since they came out 3 years ago or so.  Past employees of Planet Bikes, they know how to make great product that last and work really well.  A few weeks ago, I received their premier front light - the Cosmic Dreadnought 110.

Here it is on the front of the cruiser, sets up nice with different thickness of handlebars.  All you have to do is:

Here is the bracket, it has a thumbscrew to fine tune the snugness on the bar, to change the mount to one of three diameters of the bars you:

Find the screw on the top of the mount, and unscrew it all the way out,

remove the top plate of the mount,

and choose what notch the bottom section (the part with the thumbscrew) of the mount goes into.  The one in the front (to the left in the picture) of the mount is for 22.2mm, the middle for 26.0mm and the farthest one (to the right) back is for 31.8mm.   Then reverse the steps until it is all back together.  Simple.

Now for brightness.  I have a commute that is pretty mellow.  From work, I start off on a busy street, dive into a little development, back onto a busy street, and then into the Metropark System, out of the park onto a busy street and finish on some little neighborhood streets.  Ambient lighting goes from tons of light, to none, back to streetlights.  On the busy streets, I use the strobe feature, so the damn cars are more likely to see me.  On high, the light looks like this on the back of a white door. 

In real life,I set my light so that the brightest ball hits about 15 feet or so in front of me.  This gives me a sheath of brightness that I don't "outrun" on the path.  With the light on "High", the light also allows me to see the distance all the way back to my front tire.  Light really bright in the middle of the beam.

On low beam:

The light isn't as intense, but for riding on side streets, or on a bike path that doesn't need a super intense beam, it works perfectly.  The light isn't as bright as it was on "High" in the middle, but more diffused throughout the ball of brightness.  I use this light for the majority of my commute, but I also don't like a super bright light while riding in the park or on streets.  I find that it works the best for me.

Burn times are pretty close to what is listed on Portland Design's website, I've had to change out my batteries once (getting close to the second time), and I switch up between the modes pretty often.  I guess that I got about 20 hours or so during multi-modes.  Next is to try rechargeable batteries to see how well the brightness and burn times shell out.

So, in a nutshell, this light is really nice, and I've been really happy with it.  Short of a rechargeable system or a dynamo hub, this light is the nicest I have used.


wheels, built up

Wheels are all built up, Steve did an awesome job.  Front wheel:

And now the rear wheel:



Headtube length: 13 inches

 NOT going to work with standard headset press, thought about just hammering the freakin' thing in, but a Cane Creek 100 is not the thing to go at with a piece of wood and a hammer.  Hardware store to get some All-Thread and some bolts.

The top in

And both top and bottom in:

All set to go, fork on and ready for wheels!  Which are done and talked about tomorrow.


cargo wheels

So, as I alluded to before, my new cargo bike, the Soma Tradesman is here, and it needs some wheels.  The  front and rear are two different sizes, 20" front/26" rear, and both are disc specific - that front wheel is NOT a stock wheel, so some have to be built.  Originally, I was going to have some Deore get laced up to Sun CR-18, 32 hole, and then I found a shop in Minnesota, Calhoun Cycles, that had some 36 hole wheels in stock, for about the same price I could get a set built up for.  Now, remember that I like sweet wheels.  So, where those going to be good enough?

Steve, one of the mechanics at the shop I work at, said he would build me up a pair of wheels, so parts were ordered:

The little one is a Sun Ringle Envy - 36 hole, single eyeleted, welded joint BMX rim, and the large is a Sun
Ringle Equalizer EQ31 also 36 hole, eyeleted, welded 26" rim.  Both super strong and probably burlier than need be.   These will be laced 3 cross to:

Alfine Dynamo front hub, for the ability to always have me some lights up front, and for the back:

XT rear 6 bolt hub.  The front will need a stupid little adapter for the disc rotor, the rear of coarse won't.  Brakes haven't been decided yet, either Avid BB5s or BB7s.  Tires will be some Schwalbe Marathons.

Steve should have these lace up for me some time this weekend, so I'll get some of those pictures up as well as pictures of the awesome jury rigging that has to be done to get the headset pressed into the frame.



Always thought the person on the back of a tandem was weird, wanting to look at someone's ass all ride long.  Now I know why.


giving thanks

Today I stop to give thanks for what my lot in life has brought me:

A wonderful wife and two awesome kids! I love you guys!

A house with enough room to be (constantly) messy, with things that we are able to have and afford, when many have nothing.

For both my wife and myself, jobs that is very trying at times, but jobs no less.

The ability to have a pantry and a refrigerator filled with food.

Friends and family for the entire household who we are able to help and that they are able to aid us when neeeded.

The health that me and my family shares.

Remember these things that are important to you, and give thanks for them, and celebrate this holiday - each and everyday.  And also remember that this holiday is for giving thanks, not to plan what stores you are planning to assault tomorrow.



Still not much to report, things haven't gone into the realm of exciting here for a while.  Kids are doing well, and there is soccer for the oldest, activities for the youngest have stopped until after the year change.  Work pretty much in winter mode at this time, not a lot of people interested in bikes during the winter in Cleveland.

The mc isn't here yet, hopefully the issues can be sorted out, and it can get through the border.  And get well, Matt. 

I need to get this sold:

and I need to sell it pretty darn quick, a new cargo bike frame is here and I need the finances to build it.  I'm pretty excited about this one, lets just say that it is similar to one from this post.  And it's head tube looks like:

Other things in the works, reviews on: a new Bontrager helmet, PDW front light, The North Face windbreaker, some gloves and hat from Ibex, and a front and seat bag from Revelate Designs.  And of course, the mc ti bike and those parts as well as the new cargo bike, and hopefully my new manager's bike!



mc bike history part 2


Reading Matt's blog changed the way I looked at a lot of things, but for the sake of this story, bikes.  His bikes were simple, with very little/none in decoration, didn't have extravagant paint, wasn't flashy - just simple, clean lines and welds - all what you needed, nothing one didn't.  Something that really spoke to me, like a quote read from an essay by Yvon Chouinard in an old Patagonia catalog:

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
— Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry

And  so I started saving up money for one of his frames, but I realized it wasn't something that was going to happen any time soon.  I soon joined my wife in the Alliance, Ohio area and got a job in a backpacking store, not exactly the way to financial wealth.  When I had save some money up, it was reality time, either buy a frame from Matt, and not afford any parts, or get a complete Rivendell Quickbeam and ride that.  The Quickbeam was purchased and I rode that bike everywhere - road, gravel, trails, touring and long day trips - it was my first allrounder bike, and my first dedicated singlespeed.  My Cannondale was soon converted to a singlespeed, and that was great for more technical trails.  A year or so after I got the Quickbeam, my wife lost her job and found a new one in the Cleveland area where we both grew up, and we moved into her mom's house while we tried to sell our house, a big change for her as well as us, a married couple, their 2 year old son, and dog and 3 cats all living in a widow's house.  When we moved back home, I got a job at a bike shop, and was enjoying it, but bills were catching up, so I sold the Quickbeam (super sad) and when I was able to, got a cheap fixed gear to use for commuting.  I really missed having that one bike that could do just about everything, so I still wanted a Chester.

At this time, Matt had moved from Colorado, to Idaho, and finally he decided to stop making frames, just as I had saved up just enough money!  I had some correspondence with Matt, and was pretty bummed that he had stopped welding frames, but things change.  I talked to a few other frame builders, and ended up ordering a Rick Hunter frameset.  And 5 hours after I sent the deposit it, Matt announced that he was taking deposits again for frames - damn.  I mean damn, but the bike that Rick made for me was/is awesome, and I still have that bike (for now).

I was still reading Matt's blogs on a weekly basis, his essays on design, parts selection, and of course his music was tugging at me to still get one of his frames.  I knew that it would be exactly what I wanted in a bike, and his experience in building allarounder drop bar fixed gears was what I needed to get that bike.  So money saved up, I placed my order in December of 2009 for my frame.  I have written on this blog about my parts selection, and how I thought that my frame was shipping, but if it did happen the way it was told to me, my frame should be here tomorrow or Saturday....We'll see, with pictures and stories coming

There are lots of parts missing from this story, but they really aren't that important (or I forgot), so until I write again.....


my history with mc bikes....

Part one of ?

Back in the fall of 2000, my life took another turn.  Five years before, I had started to date my wife to be, 2 years before, I moved to Harrisonburg, VA to be with her during her years as a graduate student at James Madison University, and finally in 2000,  we were married and moved to Michigan for her first job out of college.  I had started mountain biking in the Shenendoah Valley, riding a fully rigid Cannondale M400, all over the trails that made men and women of Chris Scott, Jeremiah Bishop, Sue George, and others, as well as hearing and meeting some of the people of Team Hugh Jass, single speeders/fixed riders that were absolute monsters on the bikes.  I was never a great mountain biker down there, a lot of hills for a flatlander from Cleveland, and I found hiking, fly fishing and beer drinking much easier, but mountain biking was something a did a few times a month, and I really enjoyed it.

Why the back story?  When we moved to Michigan, there were tens of miles of trails right outside my door to ride and hike, ones I didn't have to drive for 30 minutes or more to get to, so I rode my bike much more often, and when I got my job at REI, I worked in the bike department, and learned how to fix my bike, as well as build that old C-dale up into a nicer bike - only to ride it in only one gear most of the time.  Single speeding called out to me, and as time went on, I started to really want a dedicated one-geared machine.  And the internet was the place to find information on it.  I really couldn't afford it at the moment, my wife got a job back in Ohio, and she was living with friends, eating her own food and helping with utilities and I was living the married bachelor life in Michigan, so no shifting was the singlespeed of choice.

In Michigan, the head bike mechanic's name was Roger, and he had worked in a bike shop outside of D.C. during high school (went to East Coast Bike Academy in Harrisonburg), went to college on a ROTC program, served in the Army, and when he got out, moved into a friends house.  We are about the same age, so we hit it off pretty well.  One of the things he did was build an old Stumpjumper into a singlespeed, and it was awesome.  Having a lot of time on my hands, I read about the "World of Singlespeeding", and by riding my  bike without shifting, I was having a blast, and one of the websites I found a bunch of information on was the old Cars-R-Coffins website, with its link page to a ton of singlespeed sites.  (I also learned about Rivendell Bicycle Works at this time from Roger - which would lead to other and some related bike bits.)  One of the sites of course was mattchester.com, and reading about his experiences, seeing his bikes, and just his general demeanor about life, really influenced me with what I wanted in a bike, and more.  

More to come


today's ride

Pretty bleak day, woke up to cold and rain, helped the wife get the kids up and running.  Took a vacation day to relax, get some stuff done, and hopefully get some alone time outside.  Went with Julie to get her car back (finally) from the body shop and she dropped me off so that she could take Josie to the library.  I got ready for a short road ride, the trails are way to destroyed to even  think about putting knobbies to them.  Grabbed the Hunter FixieMonsterCross for what could possibly be its last non-dirt ride ever (meaning that the mc might be shipping soon).

Got dressed, Bontrager knickers, Smartwool boxers (I haven't worn cycling shorts in over a year), Teko socks, Specialized Comp mountain shoes, Surly wool jersey, old WoolyWarm arm warmers, some beat up Gore shoe covers, wool beanie and gloves, and o2rainwear Calhoun jacket to keep the torso warm and dry.

Jumped on the road, lights on for traffic and headed down to the parkway.  The 33x18 fixed gear is NOT a road gear, the legs were pumping a little to fast (can't wait for the mc with its 39x17), but it was only bad on the steep downhill stuff.  The park had a misty quality to it, the over ripening leaves seemed to pop against the greyness of the clouds.  My legs got into the rhythm, still quickly turning over the large volume tires on the potholed infused blacktop.  Ten miles in, I popped onto the bike path, meaning to get in some hill work for my lungs and legs to feel some pain, and being Northeast Ohio, it was over in 15 minutes.  An hour later, I turned around at the top of a hill, looking down into the valley I just left only to have to resist my legs and use my front brake not to rush into oncoming traffic at the bottom of the hill.  On the road, back on the bike path for the hills the way home, I wove the streets to the shop, where a little warmth, a bit of food, and some good natured verbal abuse sent me home to my warm shower to get some color back into my skin.

Not long ride, but a much needed break from the monotony of my commute



Starting to get rid of this blah feeling.  Body feeling better - except for my allergies - and my mind is starting to come back around.  I always get this way in the head this time of the year, the rush of the Summer bike selling season beats the crap out of me mentally and this year was especially hard - makes me rethink not joining that monastery all those years ago could have been a mistake.

Things also coming together on the cycling front.  I haven't been doing much activity other than basic riding back and forth to work and errands around town - no running or extra bike rides.  But the Autumn is my favorite time of the year, and  I'm looking forward to get some extra riding and hiking in, and I can take some vacation days to do it. 

I'll have some other news soon, as well as some new product reviews of things that I have been trying out - and some of them aren't bike specific either.

More soon.......



Still not feeling up to it, writing that is.  Can't seem to shake this feeling of jukiness either.  Hoping for some good news to get me out of this funk. 

More soon.....


my "vacation"

Well, my trip to the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O never happened, so I stayed at home this week to help my wife and take care of the kids.  My wife still isn't 100%, still with the concussion and x-rays determined a slight AC joint sprain.  She's getting better, but its slow.  Here's how the week went down:

Monday - Drove wife to work, went to The North Face store, bought the wrong shirt.  Came home, took a nap while Josies was sleeping, took Owen to karate, found out didn't have to pick wife up from work, and made kids dinner.  Ate some Chipotle and went to bed.  No bike riding.

Tuesday - Wife drove to work (shouldn't have, but couldn't take off work), rode bike to  Josie's music class, ate some lunch, took a nap, went to Owen's very muddy soccer game, dinner, bed.

Wednesday - Took Julie's car to get estimate at the body shop, $4900 for the door, had to wait to get a rental car, so decided to go for a bike ride.  See this:

This the 6mm wrench I need to take off my rear KISS OFF Phil Woods hub.  It is NOT in my bag, I have lost it somewhere, and didn't know it was gone until I got a flat.  Rear tire feeling weird, pulled over to see if I could nurse it back with a little air until I find someone with a tool, and it is totally gone.  Oh well, had to call for a ride, and went home and ate some lunch.  No nap, went and got my rental car, picked the kids up, got some pizza and had dinner.  Julie fell asleep at 7:30, did the trash and read for a few hours.  Pretty damn exciting, right?  Still haven't found the 6mm, have to get one at work.
Thursday - Owen to school, Josie and I to run some errands.  Jumped on the Transport with Burley and rode through the park to the supermarket. 

After the market, stopped off at the playground before some lunch.

This little place is the Prehistoric Pit on the Lake to Lake trail through the Cleveland Metroparks.   The biggest part is a full size reconstruction of a mammoth skeleton the kids can "dig" up and climb on.  Day isn't done, but it been the most constructive so far....

Back to work tomorrow, kind of dreading it, kind of welcoming it.  More soon.....