Saturday, October 8, 2016

Rehabbing a Classic Peugeot 26" Montreal Express

We're in the business of making frames, so it's not surprising that we focus a lot of attention on creating new things. But that doesn't mean that we don't appreciate well made bikes from the past too. Pedal Revolution in San Francisco refurbishes donated bikes as part of their mission to provides skills and opportunities for young people in the the community. While these bikes appear far more humble than most of what you'll seen on bike blogs and tradeshow floors, they offer a rare chance to improve and restore a bike that has proven it's self worthy of a second life on the streets of the city.

Built in Canada from Japanese Ishiwata steel, this bicycle represents another era of mountain bike design, perhaps closer to today's trekking and adventure touring models. The frame is lugged chromoly, while the fork is a TIG welded unicrown design. Both sets of dropouts feature rack and fender mounting eyelets, and the Shimano Deore V-Brakes we've installed offer plenty of clearance for the Soma New Xpress 26 x 1.75" tires.

We removed the original single wall 6 speed wheels and replaced them with a modern double wall 8 speed set. These will offer more reliability and an expanded gear range thanks to a 34 tooth cassette.

Another significant modification was replacing both the bars and the quill stem. This frame is much longer than it is tall, and would be difficult to fit with the original steel riser bars. We chose the locally designed Sycip Wonder Bars for their generous back sweep and their reasonable price. Paired with a Soma Fab Sutro quill stem we've elevated the cockpit to a more upright, commuter friendly position. These bars should play nicely with a front basket or cargo rack since they'll offer a fair bit 'o leverage.

In addition to the Shimano V-Brake levers we also installed a pair of IRD Power Ratchet friction thumb shifters. The original Shimano levers worked fine in friction mode, but were beginning to crack around the plastic casing so we opted to replace them. The IRD levers feature modified Rivendell Silver levers which work flawlessly paired with almost any drivetrain. The Sutro stem features our favorite SF landmark, which can be spotted from most parts of the city.

The original rear derailleur was not badly worn, but had been neglected and was covered in years of grime. A full disassembly, cleaning and lubrication brought it back to life and kept the Peugeot's retro aesthetic intact.

The wide range Sakae square taper triple cranks won't turn any collectors heads, but look fantastic and offer a much better range of gears for tackling the bay area's many climbs. As with the rear derailleur these too required a considerable amount of cleaning to restore their classic looks.

The original shop sticker marks this bikes south bay pedigree.

If you've got a classic ride that you've been dreaming about bringing back to life, or if you've got one bike too many and you want to donate it to support Pedal Rev's Youth Internship program you can call or email The Shop or better yet, stop by and say what's up.

Up next, we'll be rebuilding this New Albion Homebrew frame with a custom blend of components from the Pedal Rev collection. Stay tuned for more on that.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Rawland Ulv 650B+ Dirt Drop

Sean over at Rawland Cycles finally loaned us the prototype Ulv 650B+ trekking bike.

The frame is a little on the small size, so I swapped out the cockpit and the seatpost to approximate a slightly longer frame.

Normally with the Gator bars I would go with an even shorter stem, but for this bike an 80mm feels about right.

This frameset is designed around large volume 650b tires, and comes stock with the Panaracer Fat B Nimble.

Since the Ulv is a low trail bike, it works great with a loaded mini rack. We mounted the Ostrich F-702 handlebar bag to the Rawland Raido Verks rack.

The bag straps directly to the bars and rack tombstone and since the bars have such a generous amount of sweep there's no clearance issue on the hoods or in the drops.

We went with the Ostrich S-2 seatbag for a bit of extra storage space, since I'm running bottle cages in lieu of a frame pack.

This bike comes standard with wide range 1x11 Sram Rival components. We've used this kit for a number of Wolverines, so it was a welcome sight for this adventure focused build.

Rawland uses solid steel plates to keep the Q-factor very low without resorting to Boost specific cranks or a heavy chainstay yoke. The Panaracers have a decent amout of clearance mounted to WTB Scraper rims.

Although it's built up as a 1x11, it does have a cable stop should you ever want to run a wide range double or a MTB triple crankset.

Rawland specced their own Raido Verks 12mm thru axle hubs for these builds. The updated graphics were inspired by Runes, and carry the tradition of Norse mythology that has been a theme of Rawland's models since the original Sogn was announced in 2007.

The Sram Rival disc brakes are unbelievable. They offer so much control with a fraction of the hand strength required to stop mechanical discs. While not an aftermarket option, Rawland used post mount brake mounting to ensure backwards compatibility with mechanical calipers like the Paul Klamper should you ever need to swap them out.

Rawland plans to release 100 complete bikes this year, but we can expect framesets to be available through shops after the first run is delivered.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tanaka Fujikoma Demi Porteur Rack

Here's a neat rack prototype we've been playing around with. Meet the Tanaka Fujikoma rack. These look very similar to our Champs Elysees stainless steel mini rack, but in fact it's aluminum.

The main difference is the platform is about twice as large as most traditional rando racks. The struts mount to standard mini rack eyelets, but p-clamps are also included for forks that lack them.

We expect these will work better with some of the larger Ostrich bags or the Swift Industries x Ocean Air Docena bag.

Used together with the Tanaka Decaleur, they will handle smaller bags like this Ostrich F-104 too. We should have these in stock in a few months if all goes according to plan. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hands On Wheels x Rivendell Appaloosa

The world renowned Rich of Hands On Wheels and Riv fame dropped by to pick up some dynamo hubs an let us snap a few pictures of his excellent Appaloosa build.

For those of you who don't subscribe to the RBW list, the Appaloosa is a newer model from Riv. Featuring extra long chain-stays and a slack seat tube, these bikes are definitely designed to handle a substantial load.

The Sugino XD is a staple of most Rivendell builds. Seen here in the wide/low double configuration with complimentary bash ring.

It looks like some miniature ponies pranced up and down the tube at some point.

Bucking the trend of reinventing classic lug designs, the fork crown for this model is distinctly industrial. Braze ons at the tops of the fork legs offer more front rack mounting options.

Clearly this bike belongs to a collector of classic Japanese components.

Give me platform pedals any day.

What happens when your customer bails on their custom wheelset? New wheels day.

Classic Riv cockpit: Nitto Albatross x Technomic

The legendary Suntour Command shifters. Way way ahead of their time.

The classic Riv trunk bag never goes out of style.


One does not simply use any old rear derailleur with Suntour shifters. Not if you're into indexing anyway.

Taken from a classic illustration apparently.

The Nigel Smythe fender flaps with a healthy amount of buse.

If you see this sticker on your rim you can rest assured that you are in good hands... yeah, I'm sorry too.

But seriously, this guy knows wheels. Hit him up if you need somthing special built up (cuz we don't do that) and he'll sort you right out. Thanks Rich!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Lovely Bike's 650b Tire Test Party

Our distributor, Merry Sales, sent a few sets of Soma and Panaracer 650b tires to Lovely Bicycle! all the way in Ireland. She found some fellow 650b riders to help her review them and posted her first report on the tires.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Coming Soon! The Fog Cutter

You may have a seen a social media photo of a new model we've been testing  earlier this year. We weren't too forthcoming with details, but we are ready now.

We call this new project the Fog Cutter.
The idea behind the name (besides that we get a lot of fog where we are) is how after getting up at the crack of dawn to do some miles your mind feels like it's in this fog, this thick fog made of eye gunk, but then you start to turn those pedals and your face gets that first blast of cold air, and you pedal some more, get into your rhythm, and you feel the stiffness in your knees melt away and as your bike and your body is cutting through that dewy morning air you feel that fog leave your body, too and you begin feel pretty good again... Yeah that's kind of what we had in mind.

New bike smell mixed with sea breeze.
Pre-production sample shown. Actual fork will sport matching paint and straight carbon blades. The sample build is sporting New Xpress 700x35c. Production design will fit slightly larger tires.

The frame roughly follows the geometry of our ES road sport / endurance frame, but it is designed with disc brakes. We could've just left it at that, because that's basically what some customers have been asking for. Since we were leaving the confines of the mid-reach caliper brake, we decided to increase tire clearance where we can. We ended up adopting the fork length and chainstay design of our Double Cross frame, but have kept the angles and lower bottom bracket of a true road frame. Because it is design around a CX disc fork, it opens up a few more options for aftermarket forks than the ES ever had. Our optional matching fork will be carbon; lighter than steel, but our spec is definitely beefy enough to commute on daily.

We think the Fog Cutter is near perfect for bike for fondos and credit card touring. It's also killer for all weather commuting, because it fits disc brakes and tires up to 38c with fenders, and is welded with Tange Prestige heat-treated Chromoly tubes to soak up asphalt chatter day after day.  As with almost all our frames there are mounts for a rear rack and fenders. MSRP: $479.99 (frame) $219.99(carbon fork with alloy steerer) Available in about 4 months.

The seat tube decal is insprired by the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
Stay at the hostel if you are ever in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New Albion Privateer x Champs Elysees Low Trail Fork

I've had a few questions about the bike we featured last week, so here's a few more detailed shots.

The New Albion Privateer is my daily driver. This build is what we in the biz call a "mechanics special". Aka, the bike that I ride every day, but rarely service.

The great thing about having a bike like this is any time I have a new prototype or sample part I just throw it on. That gives me an excellent base line for comparing iterations of products that aren't ready for mass production.

For instance, this bike has seen every version of the Tanaka Decaleur. As a result it's slowly evolved into an almost flawless commuter bike. The tape is Soma Thick & Zesty in Camo Brown. It's a little funky, but it's growing on me.

The Champs Elysees Low Trail forks were designed to fit a variety of frames, but paired with the Privateer's 72mm headtube it yields 45mm of mechanical trail. This works out nicely for larger handlebar bags that tend to hang over the front hub.

The blades on these 65mm offset forks are a bit springier than the 45mm Classic Curves, but that certainly doesn't preclude you from loading it down a bit. I typically use 2 front panniers in addition to my Ostrich bag.

While it adds a bit of extra, weight I love that I can slap on pretty much any rack I happen to get a hold of due to the selection of mounts.

I have this prototype Gamoh Japan mini rack. It's similar to the Nitto M-18 and the Soma Champs Elysees, but it's made from sturdier CrMo tubing. I'm putting it through it's paces, but I doubt there's much that it can't handle, especially mounted directly to the mini rack eyelets.

Looking forward to more new racks from Gamoh this year.

I've been using this Ostrich rando bag for a couple years. I've tested a few other front bags, but this is the only one I bought outright. It's a modest, cotton bag with front closure. It has small rear pockets and a map case on top. This style of bag works great for commuting and photo shoots, because it comes off easily and can be carried with the shoulder strap.

These new Sun XCD crankarms are one of the newer parts I'm trying out. They're similar to the classic Stronglight and TA style cranks, which utilize a direct mount large ring and a 3 bolt inner chainring. We've sold these crank arms for a while now, but the introduction of these new chainrings makes them far more compelling in my opinion. I'm currently using a 44t large ring and a 30t inner ring, but I may swap the inner ring for a lower climbing gear at some point.

I have use a lot of derailleurs over the years, including road and mountain options from Sram and Shimano, but this Sunrace M40 is the cheapest derailleur I've ever used. It retails for about 20 bucks, and is equal parts aluminum and plastic. But you know what? It works great. Seriously. Paired with ENE Ciclo friction shifters it can push a 34t cassette with capacity to spare.

After riding the Cazaderos and then the Gravel Kings for the last few months I decided to try out a set of the super light Soma Supple Vs.

So far I've only had one flat in about 400 miles or so. These tires are noticeably faster than anything else I've ever ridden (340 g in 700x42c), but they're definitely a road oriented tire. Not that you can't use lightweight tires on dirt, but you need to be a little more conservative when you choose your line. I'm going to get my money's worth from these, but I'll probably try some of the upcoming skinwall Gravel King SKs when they show up.

So that's my bike. Not a particularly fancy build, but it's a great ride for the money and the most reliable steed in my stable.