Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bike Sidehack

Image swiped from Speedgoat
Saw one of these for the first time this weekend. A bicycle sidecar from Chariot. Besides being more complicated to connect, and making bike parking a hassle, I suppose the main effect is that you can look at your kid. If that's important, time to get a bakfiets. Has anyone out there ever used one? Does it allow you to take left turns like this?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fork Chatter Solution Proven

nippleworks reader Matt from Vermont implemented one of our suggestions to minimize cross fork chatter and had good results. Read Matt's report here. Read our suggestions here.

Cross on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blue Frames - Trigon Made

This craigslist post answers a question asked by this blog some time ago - who is Trigon making frames for? Turns out, Blue of Norcross, Georgia.

There you go, if you think Blue bikes are nice, go straight to the factory and cut out the middle man.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cyclocross, France, 1940's

Fantastic video of cross on the cobbles, up and down the stairs and around the town in France, 1940's.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lugged Cyclocross Frame Creation

It's nice to see a craftsman at work, even if just via digital photos:

Monday, August 17, 2009


I rode around Lake Tahoe last weekend. I had done this once, probably 17 years ago, so my impression of the ride is totally different now. For one thing, it was a lot flatter than I remembered. Probably because many of the rides in my area begin with a steep climb to get out of the valley. Don't get me wrong, there's some real elevation change, it's just not really steep. Also, You don't spend as much time looking at the lake as I remembered. The scenery is all fantastic, but there's more mountain meadow, hillside and housing than I remember. The meadows and hillsides aren't new, but maybe the housing is. Anyway, I thought I'd write down some advice, partially to help myself remember, and partially as a trip report for others wishing to do the ride.

-Ride on a weekday. Summer weekends in Tahoe are very crowded.

-Ride on the lake side (go clockwise). In the steep sections around Emerald Bay, drivers are more likely looking at the lake than the ditch on the other side of the road.

-Start early. Beach traffic and thunderstorms are more likely in the afternoon.

-Bring a rain jacket and some arm warmers. I didn't need them, but as with any alpine travel, the weather can get exciting.

-There are lots of state parks and beaches where highways 267 and 89 meet the lake. Good spots for toilets and water.

-Incline Village has some city parks for water and the Nevada scenic overlook south of that is the last water source until the Cave Rock Area. You can avoid the highway for a bit on Lakeshore Blvd. in this area. Wish I'd known.

-There's a really fast descent down Higway 50 on the East side of the lake. This is an interstate but you can go really fast. I took up the right lane since there was another lane to pass me and no shoulder.

-Forget Stateline (South shore). It's a shoulderless, confused, drunken, gambling addicted urban driving scene. There may be a better way to go through the Tahoe Keys, but I couldn't find it and the bike path system is confusing and worthless. Make your stops before or after town and blast through.

-There's a cool historic site just past Stateline with water fountains, a nice beach and some giant stone and timber lodges built by rich San Franciscans at the turn of the last century. Good place to stop and snack before the big Emerald Bay inclines.

-The bike path on the West shore is a mess of strollers, kids with training wheels and people walking 3 abreast. Hardly good for riding. If the traffic is light, stay on the narrow shoulder, if not, the path crosses the road many times and you can get back on it. People appreciate it when you shout 'On your left!' more than being buzzed.

-There is a mile marker system that begins in Tahoe City and goes clockwise.

-Round trip, minus side routes ~72 miles. I averaged 15 mph and had a late lunch in the grocery store parking lot in Tahoe City. Total fuel consumed - 1/4 lb of G.O.R.P. and a Cliff Bar

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Everything old is shoe again

Wow, with a Look compatible three bolt cleat pattern, these Marresi leather cycling shoes would work with any modern road bike pedal system and look really fantastic. They'd probably break in and wear quite nicely, just like the Brooks saddle they could be used to match:

Of course, you'd have to polish or wax them for water resistance, but the perforations would make them better summer shoes.

Mongoose Cyclocross Bike Dropouts

Mongoose has a somewhat elegant, neat looking aluminum dropout on the rear of their cyclocross frame which allows for both a disc brake (it's coming, oh yes, mark my words) and a rack + fender mount. If only I could read Hungarian.

Many companies have tried this with varying levels of slick-ness. For example, here's Voodoo's attempt at making the rear dropout that is all things to all people:

My take on putting a disc brake braze-on on a non mountain bike is that you want to localize the stresses of braking in the forged, stamped or CNC'd dropout part instead of transfering them onto the slender, flexible seat stays. Niner places theirs there, but then has to beef up the joint with a welded-in gusset.

I particularly like the Mongoose approach because it keeps the disc brake out of the way of the fender or rack, which prevents this giant kluge:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sweet Electric Bikes and New Things From Trek/Fisher

Gary Fisher has been using his Twitter/Yfrog account to display some radical new bicycles. Most of the concepts center around urban riding with an emphasis on transportation.

Belt drive electric storm trooper bike with fenders and disc brakes:

Retro motorcycle style derny-esque steampunk machine:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rock the Bike - The Fossil Fool

I met the Fossil Fool, proprieter of Rock the Bike a few weeks ago in SF. There's way to much going on here to type about, check the pictures:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Deep form the heart of North Central Colorado, Rossitron sends us this:

Apparently, this 1933 bicycle photographed in a café at the top of the Tourmalet climb in France is a two speed. Pedal forwards for high gear, backwards for low gear with two cogs running two separate freewheels. HammerSchmidt eat your heart out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Who here has heard of DOE? Design of Experiments is a method that allows an optimal solution to be found in a quick manner involving a little math and some statistics. For scientists/engineers/R&D types on a short schedule with a bunch of crap to try, you can use this method to narrow down your options.

First, pick your responses. These are the qualities you want to maximize, minimize, optimize. Then, pick a slew of factors. These are the things that you can adjust or choose to give you a desired outcome. Say you were a triathlete or stage race cyclist on a budget. Say you were a college cycling athlete for example. Or this individual, looking to improve your ride split time and add the structure and focus you so desperately need in your life through statistics and rigorous science:
Here are some examples I thought up:

Aerobars vs drops

Aero Helmet vs Road Helmet

Skinsuit vs. Road Kit

Aero Wheels vs. Road Wheels


Cd / Course Time

Total Gear Cost

You'd want to minimize both coefficient of drag (if you have iBike / Powertap combo or course time if you don't) and also minimze total gear cost. Total gear cost would be easy to figure out. Bust out a catalog and add up the total cost for the gear combo under test. Ideally, you'd have some statistical software to randomize the test runs and crunch the numbers like JMP or Minitab but if you're a science/enginering/business school student, you should probably be forced to figure it out using a mechanical pencil, quadrille pad and formula tables :-) The software though, would help you to spot interactions. Like, does an aero helmet make a difference if you don't have aero bars? Maybe not. The results could be very influential to all levels of competitive cyclists.

So, anyone got some free time and a desire to try this? Caltech Velo I'm looking your way...

photo shamelessly stolen from

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Disposable Crankset

A coworker of mine recently purchased a Giant townie bike for getting a little fitness riding in. He decided that he needed longer cranks. Taking into account his bottom bracket type and current chainring configuration, I recommended these from the QBP catalog:

They arrived over the weekend and we installed them today.

Totally offensive. The chainrings are riveted onto the crank arm. For that matter, so were the nameless ones that came with the bike. That means, if any one chain ring becomes bent or worn, the whole right crank assembly must be replaced. How much more effort would it be to throw fasteners instead of rivets in there?