Wednesday, March 31, 2010


For the dancing.

For better audio. Yo.

Curtis knows the truth. A few parts to mess around with, but Sean has an initial build up on his flickr site. I'm blown away...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The inimitable Mr Curiak.

Mike Curiak made it to Nome along the ITI course, self supported. I'm going to say that again. Self supported.

Wow. The bar has well and truly been raised. See side bar for mike's blog, where i am sure he'll be talking some story soon.

Picture taken from Phil's (excellent) blog.

Riding the Spine.

Looks good. A book is in the works apparently.

And more.....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

6 speeds.

(image credit:

Nope i'm not going to tell you how Sir Chris Hoy rampaged in the keirin tonight. 10th world championship! Awesome power - watching him kick then kick again to come round for the lead and then power on the gas for the win got me pretty damn goose pimply, i can tell you...

Anyway: 6 speeds...i've been reading around what folk have tried and it all seems pretty system dependent. We dont know how the 17-34 cassette is going to go on the back of the Vertigo just yet. the spacing has some leeway i would imagine because the spokes are so highly angled, the modded cassette can be moved in towards the middle of the wheel as well. The further away from the derailleur it is, the teeth it can cope with. This seems to be the stumbling block for some set ups. It also means you have to use lots of b-tension (which changes the arc of the top pulley compared to the cassette). Unfortunately, the more b-tension, the less smooth the shifts. There is also a minor matter of the limit screws being longer so the range of throw can be kept in check.

I want to use a saint mech, because they are tough. They are also shadow style mechs, which means they are tucked under the cassette further out of harms way but critically, closer to the cassette, decreasing their ability to cope with a 6 speed/large range set up. It is possible it aint going to like the 34 tooth low gear. Options: spacing the deraileur out from the drop out, sometimes by as little as 2mm can be useful apparently. Im not sure what i think about that...yet!

I could also drop the 17-34 modified cassette. The reason i am using that spread is primarily because it comes on an alloy carrier. The singlespeed cassette body of DT hubs is aluminium and individual thin steel cogs will chew it up for breakfast.

Other options. Use 18-32 xt cassette part. i drop a gear ratio, and get less useable range, but the 32 low gear may work. The xtr cassettes come on carriers and could give a similar range, but no real benefit over xt there.

I could also use a road cassette: in looking at the older style 9 speed ultegra 6700 i can use the two low gear parts - 21-24-27 on an alloy carrier and 17-19 pinned together. Then, because the pinned together bits dont have a spacer attached, (see the tech docs) a chris king cog should nudge up along side very nicely, maybe with a judicious 1mm spacer, to give me 15-27 6 speed. With the large range widget in place on the saint mech i reckon if the 17-34 doesnt work, this will. Only issue - the teeth on the 15 tooth king are likely to be a little taller, so the shifting onto and off may not be hugely crisp, we'll see if it is needed.

In that scenario, the gear development would change only very slightly if i use a 36 tooth ring. It is possible that this would allow me to put the ring in the middle position also - which MAY be better for chainline...we'll see.

With 36 tooth c'ring and 15-27 i get 121.5 to 218.7 development versus
with 40 tooth c'ring and 17-34 i get 107.2 to 214.4.

I could also use 35 or 34 if i needed more climbing gear.

Given the gear i run on the singlespeed (33-19) gives a development of 158.2 im pretty happy with this range.

Damn. My brain might have just cramped.

So once again, here is Hoy, on the BBC winning his 10th (!) world title...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Front end.

Clicky to make bigger.....and savour the flavour.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


(image from velovert - a good french mtb magazine.)

This is going to be the first in an irregular series of thoughts on the thing that seems to be most lacking in the cycling press - both magazine and online - these days. Veracity.

One could arguably quip that this is a hobby and therefore the pursuit of the truth could be considered over extension. But i'd disagree. Look at the average age and wealth of the average cycling media user. It is the responsibility of the media to try (at least a little) to avoid dumbing down this 'hobby'.

Why? well for one, misinformation can lead you into some pretty dark places if you get used to it. I wont go off on a rant about the state of world politics, health or personal relationships - but i dont think you'd have to ponder too long to come up with an example of how misinformation led to a malodorous conclusion for you recently.

But it's a hobby right? yes. Just because it is a hobby doesnt mean there should be an omission of action to provide a reasonable level of technical accuracy. Or in the worst cases a commission of effort to mislead.

Enough with the lecture. If you want more and a much more considered opinion, id recommend cozy beehive.

So for this first effort we have MBUK: a test of the Commencal absolut titanium 4x. A pretty cool bike, developed for a pretty cool rider. Yes MBUK is aimed at a younger audience than most, but why not get them early? get them interested in actual mechanical principles and engineering rather than ridiculous photo angles and odd haircuts?.

To quote the review: "The entire frame has a special bead blasted finish that helps to increase both stiffness and overall strength."

I'm not sure where this claim comes from: a cosmetic finish adding to the strength and stiffness? i get the feeling that somewhere along the line there is an assumption that bead blasting confers some form of mechanical advantage in the way ball burnishing can. Either that, or the writer is mistaken and the frame is not bead blasted but ball burnished (or shot peened). The commencal website doesn't have any information obviously available, and i could find nothing on the web to clarify matters. So why did the reviewer say that?

I'm going to copy and paste a section from the independent fabrication website that will give some further information regarding this. This will be at the bottom of this blog entry. Bear in mind that most ti bike manufacturers are notoriously opinionated about the benefits versus harm of any surface treatment of ti tubing. Seven cycles have a retort on their website.

There you have it...or dont as the case may be.

Shot Peening? Why Do We Do It?
Shot peening has 4 major benefits in the crafting of titanium bicycle frames:

Fatigue life is enhanced significantly increasing the useful life of the frame
The frame is stress relieved so that all of the component parts work together
Surface hardness is enhanced increasing resistance to scratches
Provides an aesthetically pleasing finish
Shot peening is a cold working process in which the frame is bombarded with small spherical metal balls called shot at a precise angle. Shot act like tiny ball peen hammers and create a uniform dimpled texture on the surface of the frame. This compacts the outer layer of the material.

The processes of butting and welding titanium tubes to make a bike frame are known to create tensile stresses in the frame material. Tensile stresses make the area in question want to pull itself apart. This is a bad property to impart to a bicycle frame as any minor notch or micro crack in the frame will want to propagate and further compromise the material. The induced tensile stresses are most concentrated in the heat affected zone — the area of the welds. Thus, strength is compromised precisely where you would like it to be greatest.

Shot peening of a welded titanium joint substantially increases both fatigue strength and fatigue life as compared to the same joint which is not shot peened. Shot peening imparts what is called residual compressive stress which counteracts the residual tensile stress, which is created in the process of cutting, grinding and welding. Typically, fatigue strength of a welded titanium joint after shot peening is double that without shot peening. Fatigue life is enhanced by shot peening to an even greater degree.

By shot peening the frame after it is welded together, we are able to relieve the stresses in the material providing compressive qualities, which are known to reduce micro cracking and enhance fatigue life. Without stress relieving, each of the tubes will retain tensile stresses which tend to conflict with one another. Stress relieving allows the component tubes of the frame to work together as designed, acting as a unified structure rather than a collection of competing parts.

The shot peening process work hardens the surface of the tube, while giving it a finely textured surface. These two properties together create an attractive finish that is highly resistant to scratches. If scratched, the scratch is harder to see because the surface is textured. The textured surface glitters in the sun in a manner similar to that of a pearl paint job.

Some people may confuse shot peening with sand blasting or bead blasting. At IF, we use sand blasting on our steel frames to remove contaminants. We also use it impart a microscopic tooth to the surface of the metal to provide a mechanical bond with the paint. Bead blasting is used for cosmetic purposes to provide a uniform finish to the surface of the metal. Neither sand blasting nor bead blasting improve the mechanical properties of the metal.

Shot peening is used precisely because it improves the performance characteristics of the finished parts. It is used in the aerospace industry, in high performance cars and motorcycles, and in light weight bicycle stems and bars where light weight and high strength are performance imperatives.

What's the big deal? Don't a lot of frame builders shot peen their frames?
To the best of our knowledge we are the only titanium frame builder using the shot peening process. This process should not be confused with bead blasting, which is used to provide a cosmetic finish to ti bikes. Any company that claims to bead blast over a shot peened finish does not understand shot peening. Any type of finish polishing brushing or bead blasting applied after shot peening negates the benefits of shot peening.

See for more info.

Who does the shot peening of IF frames?
We do not do the shot peening in house. We use Metal Improvement Company in Wakefield, MA, which specializes in shot peening high performance parts for the aerospace industry. At Metal Improvement our frames are peened along side of parts for the space shuttle and F14 jet engine rotors.

See for more info.

Why can't IF do its own shot peening?
To shot peen properly requires the use of very large, sophisticated, and expensive computer-controlled equipment, and trained personel. Shot Peening really is high-tech stuff, and it's tough to get right. We decided to leave it to the specialists. In addition, we are confident in the established leadership, reputation, and quality of Metal Improvement.

Someone told me that shot peening can tear the metal if the angle of attack is less than 85 degrees. Is that true?

The shot peening flow at less than 85 degrees is known as overspray. This neither helps nor hurts the frame surface. It does nothing to a previously unimpacted surface and it does not detract from a previously impacted surface.

Why did IF decide to use shot peening on their Titanimum frames?
The primary reasons are that we are pleased with the mechanical properties we achieve with shot peening and we are delighted with the lustrous finish. The finish beautifully matches the painted panels we apply to our frames which often have pearl or metallic qualities, and it makes the frame stronger in the process. Another important reason is that we were not happy with the established ways of finishing ti frames. While these are less expensive, brush and polish finishes are purely cosmetic. In addition, applying those finishes is a dirty and possibly unhealthy job which no one enjoys doing.

Why not give the customer a choice in finishes?
While we considered offering bead blasting, brushed and polished finishes as alternatives, we became so convinced of the mechanical and cosmetic merits of shot peening that we concluded anything else would be offering less than the best.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to both shot peen and have final finishes employing these other methods. Shot peening must be the final finish with the exception of paint, as bead blasting, brushing, or polishing would destroy the mechanical benefits of shot peening.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


A man after my own heart attack.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Self harm.

So a report on radio 4 this morning suggested that the incidence of self harm hospitalisations had increased by 50% over the last 2 years. Conveniently, it never mentioned whether the ACTUAL incidence of self harm had increased - just that more people were going to hospital. Still its not good. Why would people want to harm themselves?

In the same program mention was made of a new gallic phenomenon - the French youth - some as young as 12 years old - taking up 'Le Binge' drinking. Copying the UK?

Why are the youth so visibly disaffected? Could it be (as reported)the growing number of websites looking at self harm with (gasp!) pictures and real life stories?

Lets look at the rest of the news this morning. The brutality of the killing in Nigeria. Biden (with no clear self consciousness) calling for the Palestinians and Israel to re-enter talks even as Israel plans and builds more housing in the occupied territories - despite impotent international condemnation. The refusal of the saintly Obama to recognise the 1915 Armenian Genocide (do you read robert fisk in the independent? you should - heres a quote thats worth chewing on "Perhaps it's worth remembering that in 1939, Hitler asked his generals – before setting off into Poland to murder the millions of Jews in eastern Europe – a simple question: "Who now remembers the Armenians?" Well, Hitler got the answer he would have wanted from Obama this week.")

What else? The collapse of modern banking? The ruination of pensions? The lying and stealing of British politicians all to make a quick buck. Teachers who are members of the BNP and angelic Mark Owen admitting to at least 10 affairs despite having married the only woman for him. OMG - OMG!

So these young people who are drinking and fighting and hurting themselves - truly, is it ANY wonder?

What do they have to aspire to? The readily accessible stream of information and bullshit shows them, quite plainly, that no matter how hard they try the odds are high that their future holds nothing but financial worry, dishonesty and unhappiness. Perchance to dream...just as for Hamlet....where can one find the truth that justifies our actions?

I truly dont know the answer to that question. I dont think i ever will.

Burn those beards....

Monday, March 08, 2010

Someone needs to invent a nose plug.

First century of the year today, and apart from numerous mechanical issues - of which more later - my nose dribbled the whole damned time....

100miles. 6.5 hours. Tak me doon climb (ouchy) and some sketchy traffic in Airdrie on the way back....

It feels sore, but good to have turned circles for a while...but fitness is still a ways off.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Headset solution: xx 44mm trad.

This post has had to wait for me to have a little time to type it all up. Recently, i decided that my riding had become a little too limited. Singlespeed or fixed: rigid. All the time. No matter the distance or terrain. At first it was both interesting and enjoyable. A challenge to ride fast or far over sometimes difficult terrain with the simplest of bikes. But after several conversations with the chops optional and dan "damn he's fast" darwood, i began to question whether i was too *used* to travelling at a certain speed. The point was made that your vision for riding can be changed - you can get used to going faster. Sounds simple, and i kind of thought that maybe it would pull me out of the rut i had found myself in. I have also become a little bored with the diet of endurance races. There was a time when i rode cross country races, too. Yes i was a younger chap then, and i didnt have so much mass to move, but i used to quite enjoy it. i was also getting jaded watching the clock and the odometer, rather than the terrain and the view. i wasnt riding for enjoyment.

So i made a decision to buy a road bike, so i could more easily 'train' over distance, using power, and heart rate to see how i was going. In addition, i would ride my mountain bikes for (gasp!) fun! try to head places where i could ride in the woods, on technical terrain over rocks and roots. I also decided to explore the options of getting a geared, suspension type bike. With that, i would learn to read terrain differently and mix up the riding more. Perhaps even enter some enduro/megavalanche type races.

A few months of thinking, reading and asking questions. My initial thoughts were based around a full suspension 29er bike. I am so used to the bigger wheels now, that 26" just looks and feels weird. The options were somewhat limited - fisher rumblefish, superfly 100 (which is a little racier), intense tracer 29, turner sultan, or the one i was tending towards, santa cruz tall boy.

Then i got to thinking. Those were all a LOT of bike. They were going to be a big change: they also had shortcomings - for me at least. Geometry, material, components etc. i began to think i was perhaps a year or so ahead of myself. What i really needed was a hardtail. Ease myself into the whole gears and suspension thing. I havent ridden a geared bike for 10 years!

The canfield bros nimble 9 and the banshee bikes paradox were looking like just the ticket. Stout, and built for 120mm travel forks.

About 5 minutes after convincing myself to wait for the nimble 9 to appear, i started seeing all the things i didnt like. Material (steel is less scotland proof than ti) again, geometry (it could be lower, and slacker) blah blah blah. The other thing that just didnt cut it for me was the fact i couldnt run a tapered steerer. These are de rigeur as far as i am concerned for longer travel 29er forks. Bam! i remembered a thread where a custom frame builder had mooted a new headset solution, that would allow an aesthetically attractive way to fit a tapered steerer fork to a headtube designed for the zero stack/inset standard.

I rememebered seeing some of his other builds and decided to drop a mail, you know, just to see if it would be an option. Some of my other thoughts had centered around the tech being used in snow and downhill bikes: wider hubs and bb, offset seat tubes to allow shorter stays and more.

So i got in contact with sean chaney of vertigo cycles. With the speed of thought the frame was blue printed, and the components to be used sorted out. The head set was still embryonic, but the idea was clearly excellent. Singlehandedly, sean has created what i consider to be the most versatile headset system in the industry. i felt it was only a matter of time before it was picked up by a large component maker. I think sean thought it might take an actual bike to show people. My bike-to-be and a similar bike sean is going to make for himself were going to be the working prototypes. The lower cup was going to be made as part of a small run by a machine shop and the upper was going to be a slightly modified zero stack or inset.

Then cane creek became involved and all of a sudden it is a reality. Dubbed xx44mm traditional.

Hold on! i hear you say, dont we already have a 1.5" headtube and headset that can do all this? Yes. But its heavy, and ugly. Fine if you want to run a lefty, but i dont. The differences may seem small but they are important. The tube is 44mm inside diameter, making the outer diameter more in keeping with modern standard tube sets than the barrel used for 1.5". The upper bearing is fitted inside the steerer tube, giving clean lines, and minimal weight. The lower is an external cup with a 1.5" standard bearing, but a cup skirt to fit the 44mm headtube. Anything from a ~75mm length headtube and longer can be used, with any of the currently available (more on this in a minute) forks. Ti tube is available, and steel will be very shortly. Aluminium wont be far behind. Simple, and sensible. As an aside, this headset also means that if you have, say, a Giant trance, you can run this headset and fit a tapered steerer fork - with all the benefits that entails. Genius.

Cane Creeks press release:

About the forks. Niner have Fox forks with limited availability, there are some OE Rebas kicking around and there are Marzocchis. Trek/fisher are using forks but dont sell them separately. Although finding forks is tricky, its not imposible, and very shortly, i suspect tapered steerer will become standard.

Thats it for now.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Things have been sort of dense lately. Packed in. A lot of stuff with not much space around the side. Weather, work, riding, all sorts of things.

Anyways. I finally blew a fuse today on the way to work. All 1/4 of a mile of the journey. I drove to work today, as i was doing house calls. The roads are something i usually skim over rather than sit 'in' but thats the beauty of a bike eh?

Three times on the way to work i was exasperated at the selfishness of drivers. Aiming for that gap, even if it means others can't pass. Or pulling out of side streets whilst forcing anohter to brake hard to avoid a collision: "sorry! but i was in a rush!". Yeah. Right.

Then of course there is the classic amber - oonot quite its red now!- gambler. All to get stopped at the next light that is 200 yards further down the street anyway.

What the hell is wrong with these people? And that does nothing to explain the turmoil in the carpark at work. People parked on the grass, half way infront of others or completely in front of others 'because im only going to be 5 minutes'. Yeah yeah yeah. To gain what? a 50 yard shorter walk to the front of the health centre. Please.

Anyway, ill stop whingeing while im only slightly less than ahead...

heres an interesting read: Bohemian cycles on bamboo.

Heres another interesting read: a considered legal opinion of 'sorry, mate i didnt see you!": its not a defence, its an indictment. This needs shouted from the rooftops.

What else?

Cane Creek to make a headset that addresses a *lot* of issues for modern frames. My opinion: This headtube/headset interface will be the optimum choice for most bikes that are ridden off road from now on.

Token NAHBS pic? a really lovely Quiring. It hits the scales at just under 20lbs and looks fast. He can build as well as he raced!

Pic from a good gallery: from cycles deOro.