Monday, June 30, 2008

What's 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.

Lawyer Tab Removal... A Pictorial

The fork

The tabs

The tools

The procedure

The end result

I took someone's front wheel off their bike the other day, beginning to spin the quick release, and was told - "Hey - you don't have to do that on my bike!". What a revelation. This bike was built pre lawyer tabs and removing the front wheel was as easy as flicking the brake release and opening the quick release lever. I was so used to unscrewing a quick release by now, I thought that's what they were for. No, they were meant to be quick releases. Read slowly, quick... release... If we wanted to spin things to remove them, we'd buy bottles of Michelob. Instead, we have invented bottle openers and speedy bra removal.

I think Ray Jardine wrote in one of his books (and I'm paraphrasing here) - don't be afraid to modify your stuff, void your warranties and remove labels. You're not as dumb as the lawyers who are involved in retail products think you are. That being said, Nippleworks claims no responsibility for someone who removes the tabs from their forks, then forgets to secure their quick release and actually loses it. Nor, are we advocating the removal of said tabs from a mountain bike, specifically one with a front disc brake. Read this article for an explanation of why that may be a bad idea. We're also not going to buy someone a new fork if they end up taking off their entire dropout, or a new eyeball if they put it out with a tool.

But, if you're mechanically inclined, and steady with a file or power tool (which for us comes from years of working on surgical instrument prototypes), give your bike all the functionality of a 1930 Campagnolo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Energy generating elevators - Amen!

This article from Velonews is genius. Bike to work. Showers in every office. Laundry machines in the office! Business in clothes that you can stuff in a backpack. Grocery shopping with a bike and a trailer. But the true genius is the elevators. You walk up the stairs, and ride the elevators down, generating electricity.

Picture from

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Scene of the crime

You'll never believe what I found on my commute home tonight. I was riding through an industrial (to put it politely) section of Redwood City, CA and saw something funny against a chainlink fence as I rolled into a left hand turn. I went back to check it out and discovered a cross frame, painted silver, blending into the fence backdrop leaning there. I picked it up. It had clearly been rattle-canned and had lots of paint chips and a piece of masking tape stuck over one of the headset races. It was tig welded, and a decently built frame. The rear brake cable was routed on the top tube and it appeared that some braze ons had been ground off the seat stays before the last low tech paint job. No head badge was present, but it looked like there was a blue paint job hiding under there. I looked around and spotted a wheel under a tree and went to check that out. A steel rim with a Velox rim strip and a French looking quick release. I'm no crime scene investigator, but I suspect fowl play. I couldn't bring it home with me because I was on my bike, but I held it up to my 58cm frame and figured it was about a 56. Email me at paul -at- if you want to go check it out.

Now for the low res cell phone camera shots:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Cannoli Project - Finished!

The Bianchi Folding Bike project is finally completed! This little Italian gem turned out great after some new components and some meticulous refurbishment. It all started out as a rusty old yellow crudbucket for $60. Now, it has a new life and is ready to rock!

I basically disassembled the entire bike and decided that the frame, fenders, and folding hinges were the only parts worth keeping. I went bargain hunting and found a bottom bracket, wheels, tires, quick releases, saddle, seatpost, stem, and headset. Most of the components were used or cheap BMX components since this bike is built around 20" wheels.

The majority of the work was in the painting. I used a homemade paint booth, spray can enamel, vinyl Bianchi decals from eBay as stencils, and a replica Edoardo Bianchi badge for the head tube. Although this was very tedious, it made the bike.

Here are some photos of the frame and components before the rebirth:

I'll post more details at a later time, but for now - IT'S DONE!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bladed spokes on a mountain bike?

According to, the 2009 Specialized Epic dual suspension mountain bike recently ridden to wold championship victory has bladed spokes. You know, for aerodynamics. More likely for efficiently cutting the tree branches that other guys stick in his wheels.

And no, it wasn't being ridden by this guy:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Crazy things I saw at the track

I went to Hellyer Park Velodrome this past Friday to witness the American Velodrome Challenge. Saw some great racing under the scorching sun and the electric lights. Check out this video I took of the women's Keirin race:

Besides the feats of strength, hot racing action and shocking crashes, I was really interested to see some of the kit these guys (and girls) were sporting. Check out the disc wheel seen on a Specialized factory rider's bike:

That's right, the thing was narrower'n a washed up starlet and narrower than the tire as well. Just enough width for the tire to get glued on. This guy killed the competition too with an amazing display of power, I've got to believe that aerodynamics played some role in his victory.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Someone asks why

Finally, someone asks why Campagnolo is coming out with an 11 speed drive train. At least there is one critical technical cycling journalist out there, and he works for Interesting things to note - there's no reach adjustment for people with small hands.

See the article here.

Maverick 29er Full Suspension - Please?

Maverick Bike has been building its own breed of full suspension bikes since the '90's. They have established a unique approach to their rear suspension pivots and, more importantly, their front suspension forks:

This unmistakable fork ranks up there as one of the toughest and sexiest forks on the market today. It is a fine component that means business, looks good on any bike, and is used by many custom framebuilders. They have 29er specific forks available in both a dual crown version and the single crown version. Personally, I would go for the dual - it's a wild child. Here's the revered wild child on an equally wild Niner RIP9 frame:

Unfortunatly, while Maverick builds extremely capable and responsive 26" full suspension bikes, they do not offer a 29er frame.

Well, the cat's been out of the bag for awhile that Spot Brand has purchased Maverick American. Spot has been a key player in the 29er game for years and might just have the resources and experience needed to launch a Maverick 29er platform.

With the 29ers becoming more popular and 29er full suspensions becoming more available, it would only make sense that Spot/Maverick have an offering in the near future. It will be the elusive "perfect mountain bike" spawned from the expert in tried and true 29er platforms and the expert in innovative full suspension technology... if they decide to make it, that is.

Photos usurped from (in order):

What do you call nuts with lotion on them? DZ Nuts!

Regardless of whether the proprietor of this chamois creme is a famous cyclist or not, you have to appreciate his product.

Pic purloined from

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jet bike spotted in Harlem

I was checking out pictures of the Harlem Classic race online and saw a picture of Tyler Hamilton with what looked like some sort of JATO rocket attached to the back. Was this some sort of Wile E. Coyote / Michael Ball invention? Kind of like the wheels he was going to make himself? No, it was not. If you look closely at other pictures you will notice that it's merely a novel water bottle holder:
Which is cool. Anyone know who makes that? The other interesting thing to note is that Hamilton is riding a Fuji while all his teammates are riding De Rosa's (the official sponsor):

Pictures pilfered from:


Velonews 'reviewed' the new Campy 11 speed components today and by reviewed I mean wrote lukewarm prose like "The 11-cogs seem to shift as smoothly as 10" and generally had nothing critical to say and read like a Campagnolo corporate press release.

Friday, June 13, 2008



There are reports from online sources that Campagnolo will sell 11 speed road components in 2009. What does 11 speeds do that 10 speeds doesn't do? What does 10 speeds do that 9 speeds doesn't do? I'll tell you what it doesn't do, it doesn't take step forward in the bicycle technology of its time like, say, this did:

I'm usually a big fan of Campagnolo design, but it seems that component companies are making incremental changes (like "Bold, new styling!") that aren't really making the products better, just more expensive. Where's the next disruptive technology? Where's the new equivalent of integrated shifters? Probably coming from somewhere like this.

Images from (in order):

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bikes & Bottle Openers

Many riders will say that their favorite post-ride beverage is an ice cold beer. Some bike companies are sponsored by microbreweries, and at least one microbrewery was started on a bike tour. Whether in the city or on the trail, they seem to always go hand in hand. It has even evolved into loose stereotypes where you can match the beer with the type of bike without even seeing the rider. See this chart from the Nipple Works research panel:

Well, because of this marriage between bikes and beer, there are plenty of options for cracking open your favorite bottled beverage. These integrated solutions place the bottle opener directly on the bike (seems like an invitation for danger, yet is simultaneously intriguing):

Qball bike frame w/ dropout opener (
If you're a 29er rider who can take a swig of a muddy bottle and consider it the taste of mountainous accomplishment, this is for you.

Surly Tuggnut chain tensioner (
This similar offering can appeal to all single-speeders, whether MTB, BMX, Cross, Fixed, Cruiser, etc.

Raleigh Coasting bike (
Not only does this bike have a bottle opener on the front rack, but the rack itself is sized for your favorite 6-pack.

Ahrens WiseCracker (
This opener does not discriminate. If your bike has a seat post, then it will work. No frills, all function.

Swobo Cart Saddle (
The opener below the saddle is pretty clever, but make sure to dismount before using it... unless your buddies don't mind the sight of you apparently cracking open a brew from your backside.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Nippleless - the Prêt-à-porter wheel

What's missing from this photo? I was hanging out in a local shop and someone pointed out a wicked light set of Mavic tubular wheels complete with carbon hubs and carbon linguine spokes glued or otherwise inexorably attached to the hubs at the factory. No nipples. According to the product entry at Excel Sports - no truing of the front wheel is necessary! What they don't mention is that no truing of the front wheel is possible. The front wheel is basically a $1400 disposable hoop. I'm also skeptical of lateral stiffness, given that the the spokes are flat in the left-right direction, giving them the moment of inertia of half a popsicle stick. It's not like they can't make a wicked light wheel with replaceable spokes. They do that with the Mavic R-Sys. It's just that they prefer to manufacture a product that will be rendered into a heap of pencil lead when it comes into contact with a curb, pothole, or even the furry behind of a chien.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Walking on Thin Ice

Recently, I found myself shopping for a 29er mountain bike. I'm a fan of Bianchi bikes, having owned three of their steel framed road/touring bikes. So, I decided to check out their big wheel offerings. I was in luck, they sell a 29 speed model with a good fork, good component spec and at a reasonable price, the SOK. So I start calling around. A shop over in Santa Cruz has a single speed model in my size and they'll let me ride it, even in the rain. You can't hurt a single speed with the rain, the guy says. I like these folks already. So I romp it through the neighborhoods in a light drizzle, off curbs, through yards, up bark covered slopes and back to the shop. I like it. Can they get a multi-speed version? Yes they can. So I go home and check it out on the web. Wait.. what? This thing is built with aluminum horizontal dropouts with no adjustment and a welded on derailer hanger?

Photo swiped from

So, if I drop this thing to the right, or skim a rock with it, I'm gonna bend that hanger in and I walk home? And then, when I try to bend it back, it snaps like a cheap paperclip? Nein danke. I am reminded of the smash Yoko Ono hit, Walking on Thin Ice...

Apparently, the quality of their engineering is reverting. Back in 2005, they sold single speeds with chain tensioners and aluminum frames with replaceable dropouts. Now they sell this:

Photo swiped from, check out that hideous paint removal, and what happens to the disk brake when you move the axle?

What gives?