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Monday
Dec052016

Ebikes, problem or no?

 

Steath Ebike. 5,000 Watts. 50 mph.

I don’t want to be a kill-joy right before Christmas, and the sudden proliferation of electric assisted bikes, and the lack of regulations for said bikes, I find quite alarming.

There will be a lot of teens and even pre-teens getting one of these this holiday season. And the scary part is, they will receive little or no safety instruction for riding these new machines. Even 20 mph is too fast, if you ride against traffic, or on the sidewalk,

No license is required, so no driving test to pass, or training to pass such a test. I am concerned for my own safety, what do I do if I find one of these coming towards me at 20 mph, or they suddenly appear out of nowhere, from a side street or driveway.

And pedestrians, you thought pedal bicycles were a problem on hiking trails. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Now there are ebikes out there capable of 50 mph. These may not even be street legal, but this is the problem, regulations are sketchy, and there are so many grey areas. Use on off road trails will be one of them. And if 50 mph ebikes are available, they are going to find their way on the streets, legal or not.

It is not that I consider ebikes inherently dangerous, the problem is this. It is more likely that one of these machines will be ridden by someone inexperienced, making them a danger to themselves and others.

Bicycles can be dangerous if used without regard for safety rules and regulations, or even just plain old common sense. But the difference is a pedal bicycle can only go as fast as its rider can pedal. With a power assisted ebike the top speed begins at 20 mph, and it appears it is increasing from there.

What are your thoughts, am I over reacting?

Here is some more reading:

https://www.electricbike.com/dangers/

https://www.electricbike.com/10-fastest-ebikes/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws

 

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Monday
Nov282016

1983 John Howard in Mint Condition

There is a 1983 John Howard on eBay this week. It is a frame I built in 1983 built up with a Campagnolo 50th.Anniversary Group, with lofty $7,250 “Buy it Now” price on it. Maybe overpriced, but maybe not.

People do ask that amount and more for Campagnolo 50th. Anniversary groups alone. Whether they get that amount is another story. What people ask for, and what the get are two different entities when it comes to eBay selling.

I do not know the seller of this bike or have any interest in the sale. Except that the bike’s exceptional condition caught my eye. It is as pristine as the day it rolled out of my shop 33 years ago. The owner stated:

“I only rode the bike a few times as I was always worried about damaging it. I ended up buying another bike as a daily rider with the intention of only using the Howard occasionally. 

In the end, I didn't even ride it occasionally.  It has spent virtually all of the last 30 years hanging in my basement.”

That is tantamount to buying a beautiful musical instrument and never hearing it played, or buying a classic car and never driving it. What a bullshit business the top end bike business is. I can’t think of any other where an artist or craftsman makes something so fine that it is considered un-useable for its intended purpose.

You see I was dammed if I did do good work, and dammed if I didn’t. When I left Masi and opened my own shop in 1983, I was competing head on with Masi. My new John Howard frame had to be as finely finished as a Masi, or even exceed it. 

At the same time it sold for less than a Masi, because it didn’t have the Masi name. I even remember back then people telling me the bikes were too fine to ride, but what could I do? I wanted to command the highest price possible without pricing myself completely out of the market. 

It is why I took it down a notch with the Fuso and later the Recherche. These were frames that were built straight, rode and handled exactly the same as the finely finished custom frames and the John Howard. But these were a reasonably priced bike that one could ride and enjoy. And believe it or not even race on. Imagine that, a racing bike you could actually race on. 

I cannot envisage someone buying a beautiful handcrafted boat, but then never putting in the water because they were afraid to get it wet.

 

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Monday
Nov212016

Life is all about Ass

I try not to take life too seriously, or to rephrase that, I try not to take my own life too seriously. I have been blessed during my time here to have had the ability to build a few good bicycle frames, and that brings me joy and satisfaction.

The fact that people tell me they get pleasure from owning and riding bikes I built many years ago, to me is the gift that keeps on giving. Also the thought that many of these bikes will still be here long after I am gone, brings further satisfaction.

But in the whole grand scheme of life in general, to take it all seriously would be foolish. I look back at my childhood and it all seems such a short time ago. It is all pretty insignificant. It seems that all creatures, (And we are no different.) are put here to survive and procreate. To ensure that life continues in other words.

Anything else we do is for our own joy and happiness, and if we can bring joy and pleasure to others along the way, it is the sugar that compensates for the bitterness in life. That we largely bring on ourselves, I might add.

When I left the bike business in 1993, I was extremely bitter. My previous marriage had ended at the same time, and I felt abandoned on two fronts. The bike dealers and their customers who had supported me for years were gone. They too were chasing a new love, namely the mountain bike. Depression hit hard.

I got a job, and I decided to do what I wanted to do. As a young man I had dreamed of writing songs and playing music. So I moved closer to Los Angeles, and hung out with the songwriting community there. Learned the craft of songwriting.

I lost all contact with the bike business or anything to do with bikes for that matter. It was ten years later in 2003 when I wrote a novel called “Prodigal Child,” and put up a website to promote it, bike enthusiasts re-contacted me.

Today life is good. I am part of a wonderful community of writers and songwriters in the Charleston South Carolina area. I was recently offered a chance to make a video with the Musical Fiction Alliance of America. (MUFIC) The video is at the top.

It is a little novelty song called “The Ass Song.” Things have gone full circle again and songs like this bring pleasure to others. It makes them laugh. Several local musicians are performing this song in music venues in my area.

Please share the video with your friends, It would be nice if the the cycling community could send it viral. Success today is measured in the number of clicks you get.

If you view the video on YouTube, check out Tim Styles the young man who interviews me. He is an extremely talented songwriter/musician and deserves a wider audience. These songs in particular:

Million Dollar Shoes

Old Outlaw

Meaning of Life  A more serious meaning than my song

 

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Thursday
Nov172016

Going above and beyond

Last week I got an eMail from an Officer James Duffy, who is with the Moreno Valley, CA Police Department. He had a Fuso bike he believed to be stolen, and was trying to find its rightful owner. The bike is pictured above.

He told the story of how a local citizen had spotted someone acting suspiciously. It was late Saturday night and this person was riding a bike, and pushing the Fuso alongside. This Good Samaritan decided to call it in to the police, and followed the suspicious person in his car.

When the suspect realized he was being followed, he dropped the bike in front of someone’s house and took off. The driver, still on the phone with the police, waited for an officer to arrive. Officer James Duffy then took possession of the bike, and went to the trouble of Googling my name as the builder of the bike to see if I had records of the owner.

He told me, and I quote: “I want to get this back in the hands of whomever it belongs to, because it's obviously in good condition, and probably quite loved.” I am impressed. Here is an officer going way above and beyond his duties as a Police Officer.

Unfortunately, the bike was not listed on my Registry. The Moreno Valley PD. have a Facebook page where they posted pictures of the bike. People I know who work in bike stores tell me that people who have their bike stolen, rarely report it to their local police. I can’t think why? In this case had the owner done so, he would have his bike back by now.

If you live in the Moreno Valley area, please help spread this information. This story needs to have a happy ending. 

 

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Friday
Nov112016

It’s all over bar the shouting

America, the Land of the Free. It is even in the National Anthem. But I am only as free as other people allow me to be.

I am free to ride my bike on a public highway, but it will only take one butt-hole who in his opinion thinks I shouldn’t be there, and if he feels strong enough he could run me down and kill me. And he could even get away with it if there were no witnesses, it would be labeled, “Just another accident.”

I have freedom of speech, I can say anything I wish, or can I? There used to be a saying that went:

“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend until the death, your right to say it.”

What happened to that sentiment?

For today if someone says something the goes against popular opinion, he or she will be ostracized in the social media. Not only do people disagree with someone’s opinion, they no longer defend their right to have that opinion. And on top of that they want that person punished for their opinions.

The only real freedom people have left is their own thoughts. And God help us if technology ever finds a way to read our thoughts. The other freedom is the vote, because like people’s thoughts no one really knows how they voted. Not friends or even close family. They can say nothing, or say the opposite of how they voted. No one really knows.

I don’t get to vote, I am not a US citizen, I am a legal Resident Alien. So I don’t express my political opinions. I feel if I can’t vote I do not have that right. I just observe. I was surprised as anyone else when I woke on Wednesday morning to find that Donald Trump was president. I believe even Donald Trump was surprised.

Because here was a man who it seemed was hated by everyone. Members of his own party distanced themselves from him. Major newspapers even the Republican ones wrote editorials saying, “Don’t vote for this man.” The rest of the media mocked and ridiculed Donald Trump.

So WTF happened? I tell you what happened. People exercised the only real freedom they have left, their thoughts and their vote. Now that may be a scary thought in and of itself to some people. But it is democracy in action, proof that we still have a democracy.

There is another old saying that goes:

“It’s all over bar the shouting”

 

There is much shouting going on right now, but it is over. Deal with it for at least the next four years. You don’t get to do it over because the result didn’t turn out as you expected. Exactly the same thing happened recently in Britain. There was a vote whether or not to leave the European Union. (EU)

It appears the majority of Brits, thought “That will never happen,” but those for “Brexit” got out and voted, and many of those against stayed home. Then when the result came in with a small majority for leaving the EU, everyone went, “Oh no, that’s not what we wanted.” Sorry, but it’s a done deal, people voted. Maybe something similar happened in America.

This is really not a time to take the “United” out of the United States of America. There are people in California want to secede from the Union, and become their own country. Really, you’re going to take your ball and leave, because you don’t like this game anymore.

Rioting and destroying stuff never achieved anything either. And if anyone stops to think about it, it is a good thing that it doesn’t. Racism and sexism can only be eradicated by peaceful means, by example and education. You can’t enforce it by rioting, and you can’t enforce it with political correctness. People just stop saying racist and sexist stuff. It doesn’t stop them thinking it.

 

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