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Posts Tagged ‘Bronson Silva Cycles’

Updates, El Nino, This and That

Right, then…

So, since Christmas there have been some new developments:

As stated earlier, I bought a rigid Jamis Diablo frame with designs to build it up as an adventure bike/commuter/whatever.  That’s about 80% done.  I dropped the frame off at Bronson Silva and had a bunch of braze-on’s added (rear dropouts for racks, front drop outs and mid-fork for racks, bottle bracket underneath down tube and a couple of others that I don’t rightly remember).  I fairly gutted the FSR of all of it’s rotating equipment and bought some random parts (stem, handlebars, thumb shifters, etc…) from a place called Changing Gears Bicycles on Alameda.  Changing Gears is a charity place – they take in donated bikes and parts and have a community work shop area to train underprivileged kids skills about repair and such…so not only do they have stuff for cheap, but it’s for a good cause.  Anyway, it’s mostly built and I was out riding up and down the street last night….I have some things to dial in (shorten the chain and tweak the derailleurs) but I think it’s coming along.  Once I get it sorted, I’ll head back down to Tahn to talk about racks…then we’ll work on the powder coating.  I always thought of keeping it rattle can black, but my mind wants a metallic burnt orange…which, of course, will be too nice to fuck up, so I’ll be afraid to ride it.

Got the front wheel back on the Dawes and lemme tell you:  That new hub is the shit!  Something called and SP-8 – fairly new to the market, I think.  Fairly cheap – I think I paid $130 or so for it – and, most importantly, I can’t really detect any rolling resistance.  So, now not only do I have a full-time headlight, but it also now works great in the rain!

Speaking of rain…  So, I’m cycle commuting more (I’ll get to my reason, next).  Last Wednesday, I roll out in 60 degree weather, take the train to Palo Alto and then proceed my ride in to work.  I knew that there was a storm coming in that night, but the forecast showed some rain later so it didn’t seem that threatening.  As it was warm, I forgot my rain jacket.  The ride in was somewhat glorious – great weather, and Google Maps was routing me through these great neighborhoods in Palo Alto (not like there are bad neighborhoods in PA, but still).  So, work all day, and start to head out.  As I’m wheeling the bike out of the building, I get hit with a few drops and it’s windy.  No problem – a few drops is not a thing, so I head back to Mt View station.  About 2 blocks away, the rain gets heavier.  I remembered that I had stashed a backpacking poncho in my handlebar bag to try out, so no better time, right?  No.  I learned that a poncho in 15 to 20 mph wind works like a goddamn airbrake…so that came back off.  Now it’s windier and rainier and I’m just battering into it.  Normally, I like to ride to Mt View station so I can get a few more miles in, but on this particular occasion, temptation got the best of me and I gave up and went to the closer station in Sunnyvale.  Once I get to my home station, I was going to ride the final 2.5 miles home.  And it’s a pissing rainstorm with stronger winds.  Also, I live on the side of a hill.  Survey says:  Fuck that.  On the taxi line, there’s a minivan.  “Will you take me and the bike?”  “Can you fit it in?”  “I will”.  Best $18 I ever spent.

So, why am I riding so much, again?  Well, a friend is having a milestone birthday and to celebrate, we’re doing a Backroads Tour through Glacier National Park.  Each day is roughly 30 to 50 miles.  Day 2 is Going to the Sun Road, which is something like an average of 10% grade.  So, I gots to get in shape.  In addition to training rides on the weekends with others, I’m getting my legs back in shape by cycle commuting.  So there’s that.

To help with this, I’m building up a fixed gear bike.  This will be the Bob Jackson that I recently spent money on to get cabled up.  When I lived in Santa Clara, I had a fixed gear bike, but when I moved to hillier terrain, I tore it down.  Now, I’ve learned that fixed gear + hills = good fitness.  Having more money that I did when I built up the original FG, I’ve ordered a set of Sun CR18 rims with Formula hubs (which I’m told are just fine, despite not having snob appeal), the rear being flip flop.  So now, I’ll have the bailout option of a lower gear and freewheel, if needed.  Not sure what I’m going to be doing with the cranks as I’ve half a mind to do a 2×1 or 2×2 setup to give me more bail out options…time will tell on that one.

One final thing:  Sometimes the gods speak to us and we ignore them at our peril.  On Feb 15, I roll out to go in to work.  About 3/4 mile from home, I flatted.  Having the skills and materials, but not the time, I head back home to swap bikes.  Now, I make it all the way down to the train station.  While I’ve missed the earlier train, one should be expected in 15 minutes, or so.  I check to see when it will arrive and the website mentions a “Saturday Schedule in light of the holiday.”  Holiday?  Aw, shit – it’s President’s day.  The next train won’t be there for another hour.  Can’t hang out that long.  So back up the hill I go, shower change and drive in to work.  The gods were speaking to me when I flatted; I need to get better an listening to the gods.

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Please Do Not Tow; This Has Not Been Abandoned

Right, then…

Everything I do in live seems to ebb and flow.  I’ll be completely focused on something for several weeks or months, then I’ll forget about it completely, in favor of some new hobby or interest.  What’s interesting is that I eventually circle back to pick up where I left off.  Years ago, I was into motorcycles, now I hardly ride.  Bicycling is the reason I started this blog, but that dried up after my job was no longer commutable.  Earlier this year, I got into photography, specifically film.  After spending a small fortune on cameras and developing supplies, I’m back to bikes.

The last post had me working full time.  As that job was in the East Bay and I’m on the Peninsula, it had me crossing the Bay Bridge every day, which was not conducive to cycle commuting, so that dropped to zero.  This summer, I switched to a new job in Sunnyvale.  Still a long commute, but now I can take CalTrain and – depending on time and desire – can work in a ride from the CalTrain station to work.  Yes, this is much better.

With that, I have dusted off the Dawes, which has languished for some years in the garage.  Even when I was cycle commuting, I was riding on my old converted Biscayne mountain bike.  I’d still be riding that now, but some fucker stole it out of the back of my truck at my girlfriends house.  As I’m not about to commute on the FSR (no racks, no panniers and FS is really not great for commuting), the Dawes was up.

When I first had it built up, I was afraid to really…do anything with it.  It was too nice.  So while I’d take it out for rides, I’d never want to lock it up to a rack, or bring it on CalTrain, as it would get scratched.  Now, due to lack of other bikeage, I’ve gotten over that.  Also, I’ve come to grips with the fact that it’s silly to not use something out of fear of scratching it.  Bikes aren’t meant to be maintained in pristine condition, forever a showpiece.  They’re meant to be ridden, which means they’ll be crashed, leaned against a tree, locked to a railing, rained on, etc…  Keep the rust at bay, and you’re golden.

So, I’ve been using the Dawes for commuting.  I’ve taken it in a handful of times now, most recently last Monday, when there was a pissing rainstorm.  Overall, the bike did great, but the bottle generator was not able to maintain much grip against the tire sidewall, in the rain, so I did not get much headlight.  Because of this, I’ve decided to break down and get a dynamo hub installed.

With the vacancy created by the Biscayne, I finally – after 3 years – built up the Bob Jackson.  I’d used all the parts that I’d accumulated over the years and finally got to the point where I needed to hook up the cables.  But, I just couldn’t make it work…the routing was never quite right and I couldn’t get the housing length just right.  In the end, I ran out of time and patience and dropped it off at  Walt’s Cycles in Sunnyvale to get completed.

Walt’s has become my go to LBS since Willow Glen Bikes shut down (the original owner sold it; the new owners didn’t quite gybe with the old clientele, in my opinion, and at the same time, a Mike’s Bikes opened up down the street).  Walt’s did a good job of finishing it up.   I’ve taken it in a couple of times now and while it’s good, it gets a little light in the front when I have loaded panniers on the back, so I need to investigate some rackage for the front, I think.  Also, the old Trek seat sucks, so I’ve installed a Selle Anatomica X seat (red, like the head tube color), so that should improve conditions, somewhat.  Finally, fenders would be a nice add as we’re expecting shit tons of rain with The Nino coming in, this year.

Now – just like the old days – I’m working on a new bike project.  Rivendell has a bike called the Clem Smith, Jr.  It amounts to what would be and old, lugged, mountain bike frame, that has been converted to cruiser status:  Upright bars, fenders and racks, sharp looking.  Price:  $1500.  Well, hell.  That’s cheap for a Rivendell, but still a tidy sum.  So, my thought is to build up my own facsimile – buy a used steel rigid mountain bike frame and cannibalize the FSR.  Part of me feels weird going “backwards” from an FS bike to rigid, but truth be told, I’ve always felt that the FSR was far out of my range of capability anyway, so it’s not much of a loss.  It’s a gain, actually, as I’ll have a bike that I’ll actually ride.  The thought, then, is to make an adventure bike – something I can take on trails and do some bikepacking with, but not do any shredding of gnars, gleaming of cubes, or weezing of juices (or whateverthefuck hard core mountain bikers with exponentially more skill than I, do).  I’ve taken the first step of buying a frame – a 1989 Jamis Diablo,  made with Tange MTB tubing.  Overall, the frame is good – I want to get some braze on’s installed for a front rack and maybe for a frame tube, then send it off to the powder coater.

So, with these two items – Dawes getting a new front hub, and the new bike getting braze ons – I needed someone that can actually do the work.

I called Walt’s, but they weren’t up to the job.  I went more localler, and called Talbot’s – same thing, not their thing.  Then I did what I should have done in the first place:  Googled Tahn and see where he landed after Willow Glen Bikes.

Turns out, he’s at Bronson Silva Cycles in Campbell right now.  A very friendly and informative call with Bronson himself told me that yes, they install hubs (Tahn being a master wheel builder and all) and yes, they do braze ons as they build entire frames.  Tahn returns from vacation on January 2, so I’ll be heading over,6-pack in hand, asking for advice.  Just like the old days.