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Thursday
Jun252015

Looking forward to the TDF

I have watched some great racing this year, the Spring Classics, the Giro d’Italia, and the lead up races to the Tour de France. The Paris/Niece, the Criterium du Dophine, the Route du Sud, and the Tour de Suisse. I have not written a single word about any of them here on my blog.

The reason, whenever I do it turns into a discussion on doping, and quite honestly if I am in the middle of watching a race, or I have just watched it, it spoils it for me. It is not that I am in denial, or that I am so naïve to believe that doping doesn’t still go on, but I do believe that the sport is in a better place than it has been for a long time.

The fact that no one rider is dominating the sport anymore, I feel is an indication of that. It makes for better and more interesting racing. Here we are approaching the Tour de France, with four favorites. Contador, Froome, Quintana, and Nibali.

The winner will be whoever hits peak form during the race, so don’t rule out Tejay Van Garderen. Sure Froome beat him in the Criterium du Dophine, but only by 10 seconds. And if Tejay peaks at the Tour that could change. Nibali did nothing in the same race, but then again he did the exact same thing last year but appeared to peak at the Tour.

The same goes for French riders Thibault Pinot and Warren Barguil, and young British rider Simon Yates. Any of these could peak at the right time and cause an upset. All are in with at least a chance of a podium place.

Froome has a good chance of winning if he doesn’t fall off his bike. But I would take bets on him falling off over winning. I read a quote somewhere, that Chris Froome’s riding style is like “An octopus falling from a tree.” Not a pleasing rider to watch. Sure he gets the job done, but Contador climbing out of the saddle is more like watching a ballet, and a joy to behold.

Contador has the Giro d’Italia in his legs, which could either help or hinder his chances, depending on whether or not he has taken all the right steps to recover. On the penultimate stage of the Route du Sud that included three category one climbs, Contador looked extremely strong, but Quintana was able to meet his every attack. In the end it was Contador’s superior bike handling skills on the final descent that won him the stage and the overall race.

I would like to see Contador win, if only to see him pull of the Giro/Tour double. He will almost certainly retire at the end of this year if he does. He is a joy to watch, and tough as nails, remember he dislocated a shoulder in a crash in this year’s Giro, and carried on to win. Quintana could win too, Froomey and Nibali I could care less really.

So let’s have all the anti-doping rhetoric now while I have a week to forget about it. Then I can sit back and enjoy the racing. It promises to be a great one.  

 

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Tuesday
Jun162015

Candy Apple Paint

If you don’t already know, a Candy-Apple paint finish is a two-step process. First a base color is applied, metallic gold for example, then a special translucent paint in a color of choice is sprayed over. The result is a finish of great depth and beauty.

One can see the sparkling metallic gold under the semi-transparent red, blue or green top coat. Just like seeing the apple under its candy coating. Hence the name.

The picture above is an example. The gold FUSO name on the down tube is actually the base coat, it was masked off, then the red candy apple was sprayed on, and the mask was removed after.

When I went to work for Masi in Southern California at the end of 1980, I was amazed at the beautiful paint work coming out of the shop.

Not only by Jim Allen, Masi’s painter, but former Masi painters, Brian Baylis, and Jim Cunningham of Cyclart, who were all sharing the same premises and paint booth.

At that time I had been painting my own frames for a number of years, so I knew how to handle a paint gun, but what I didn’t know were the little “Tricks of the Trade” it took to bring a paint finish up to the next level.

Like for example, spraying 6 or 8 clear coats over decals, then when dry, sanding smooth with very fine 600 grit paper, before applying a final clear coat. The result was a perfectly smooth finish with the decals completely buried under clear coats, with not even the slightest ripple in the top surface above the decal.

I also learned about candy apple finishes. One of the ways it was used, you would not even be aware that it is a candy apple finish. That is when used to produce a brilliant red finish. Red is one of the most difficult colors to paint and look half way decent.

The reason is the best red pigment is made from Cadmium. But it is no longer used in modern paint, because it is highly toxic and very expensive. So synthetic pigments are used, and the finished job ends up looking slightly orange. Not a true red. Red paint is also prone to fade over time when exposed to sunlight.

What I learned was the spray a candy apple red over a bright white base coat. What you see is the light reflecting back on the white undercoat, through the red translucent top coat. The result is a really intense deep red. A true red color. 

This process was not easy, because if the red was sprayed unevenly it would appear a darker or lighter shade in places where the paint was applied in heavier of lighter coats. For example, as you spray paint along the individual tubes of the frame there is a tendency to get a buildup of paint around the lugs.

If not careful, the lugs would appear darker that the main tubes. Or there might be dark blotches where the paint overlapped.

Many do not know that even on my production Fuso and Recherche frames this same candy apple red was used.

(Above and Right) But instead of a white base, I sprayed over a bright orange base coat.

The red appeared only slightly darker, but spraying over orange was a little more forgiving, therefore easier than over a pure white base.

Some of these frames are 30 years old and the red paint has not faded, the red is still as vibrant as the day it left my shop.

In the example above. The frame was painted metallic black, and white decals applied. Next a candy apple red was sprayed over all, and the end result is a deep burgundy main color with red decals.

Finally, this Fuso Lux frame was first painted white all over. Then a candy apple purple was sprayed on the bottom section only. The white acting as the base coat. Where the color fade transition takes place, the tubes were masked off in a checker board fashion. The purple was faded over this masking which was removed when the paint was dry.

Then I came back a final coat of the purple, and sprayed slightly overlapping the white squares. The effect is a checkered pattern that appears to fade in from the purple, and then disappear into the white. It also demonstrates the effect of lighter and heavier coats of the candy apple paint that I mentioned earlier.

 

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Friday
Jun052015

The Naked Truth

It is rare to see one of my frames stripped of its paint. This custom 'dave moulton' Criterium frame was recently bought on eBay in this already stripped condition. Only 36 of the Criterium model were built.

This frame was designed with lateral stiffness in mind, for fast sprinting out of corners, etc. For this reason it has oversize seatstays, and this modified track fork crown. (Picture above.) The Columbus oval fork blades were re-formed round at the top to fit this crown, which is engraved with my four "m" logo.

(Above.) All California built custom frames from 1982 on, had my name engraved in the bottom bracket shell. 

(Above.) Nice sharp points on the lug work. Those diamond shaped bridge re-enforcers were hand cut and shaped from the off-cuts from chainstays. 

(Above.) Rear drop-out detail. 

(Above.) The rear brake bridge. Again the re-enforcers were hand cut from a scrap piece of tubing. They were never measured exactly, but cut and shaped until the pair matched. The bridge itself is a straight piece of 1/2 inch diameter chrome molly tube. The little barrel shaped center was cutom made for me by a machine shop in Worcester, England, and I brought a box of them with me when I came to the US in 1979. 

(Above.) The seat lug and seatstay top eyes. Again roughly measured, and filed with a large round file to accept an off cut from a piece of head tube, which was then brazed in place and shaped untill the pair matched when held up side by side.

These little hand made touches were what made each custom frame different and special. Each frame was slightly different from another, because these little extras were purly decerative. As long as one side matched the opposite side, they didn't need to be precise.

The frame is now owned by Jack Gabus who plans to have it re finished. I appreciate him sharing these photos of the frame in its current state.

 

Footnote: Just this week, Mitch Pullen set up a group Facebook page for owners of frames I built. Lots of pictures already posted over there. Click here to take a look.

 

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Friday
May292015

Padded Under Shorts

Traditionally cycling shorts are worn without underwear. Anyone who knows anything about cycling knows that.

The reason, most garments including underwear have seams where the panels that make up the garment are stitched together.

These seams will rub and chafe the tender underparts and the insides of your thighs, as you sit on a narrow saddle, with your legs pumping up and down as you pedal your bicycle.

I have been involved in cycling and cycle racing since the early 1950s. Long enough to remember wearing woolen jerseys and shorts for racing. Woolen shorts, always black, not only by tradition, but by UCI regulation at one time.

The shorts had a one piece seamless patch on soft chamois leather sewn inside the crotch of the shorts. There was no padding. Both the jerseys and shorts were a lot of work to launder. They had to be hand washed, and left to air dry, or the wool would shrink and become matted and useless in a very short time.

After washing, the chamois leather in the shorts became stiff and hard. It required that you rub the leather between both hands to make it supple again. Then on race day the chamois patch was smeared generously with Vaseline.

With all this special care and expense, we never trained in our racing clothes. There were no cycling specific clothes in the 1950s, unless you could afford something tailor made. Our cycling shorts for training rides in the summer were often an old pair of cut-off trousers.

It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that cycling specific clothing became available for non-racing use. Manmade fibers like Acrylic, often replaced wool, making them easier to launder and care for. For racing too, Acrylic or a Wool/Acrylic mixture, replaced the pure wool shorts and jerseys.

However the chamois leather patch inside the shorts continued into the 1980s. Then as manmade fabrics for cycling clothing took over completely, the chamois seat insert was also replaced with a manmade material. The extra padding inside the shorts is quite a recent addition.

And so the tradition of not wearing underwear under your cycling shorts continues. But what if the underwear has the exact same padded insert that your cycling shorts have?

A company called Gearbest contacted me recently to see if any of the wide range of products they offered would interest me. I noticed some padded cycling specific boxer shorts that I thought might be worth a closer look. They sent me four pairs of these shorts. Two different brands, a L and an XL size of each.

The sizing is a little skimpy, and I found the XL size fitted me best. I do have a little middle age, old age spread. My waist is 37 inch. They do make an XXL size, but if you are really big around, these may not work.

The two brands I tried were Arsuxeo, priced at $9.16, and Kingbike, priced at $9.73. They were both made in a similar black Polyester/Spandex type material, a lot thinner than regular cycling shorts, but this is a good thing because they are considered an under-garment, and any thicker they would retain too much heat.

The Silicone padding was similar to that I am used to seeing in most cycling shorts on the market.

Of the two brands, the Kingbike has a nicer wide elastic waistband. The Arsuxeo had slightly thicker padding.

Wearing these under my regular padded shorts, I was aware of the extra padding, but didn’t find it uncomfortable. In fact as I got into my ride I didn’t even think about it.

Another reason to wear undershorts is modesty. I have mentioned before, that modern cycling shorts, even the expensive ones are often see through when stretched tightly across a well-rounded butt. Just stretch the fabric and hold it up to the light, you might be surprised at how translucent your shorts are, and when riding behind you, we can see your butt crack. The extra thin layer of black material these undershorts offer takes care of this issue.

There are many people who ride a bike for transport, either commuting to work, or out for a social evening. They wear their regular street clothes. Some wear a pair of cycling shorts underneath for comfort. But in summer this can get really hot. These boxer shorts would be a perfect replacement. They have no fly opening, so are considered unisex.

The Arsuxeo Shorts are shown at the top left. The Kingbike Shorts lower right. In both images the shorts are inside out to show the padding. Priced at under $10 a pair one could afford to buy several, ensuring you always have a clean pair in your underwear drawer.  

 

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Tuesday
May192015

The Mob Mentality

Whenever I am engaged in conversation with people who are not cyclists, on learning of my background in the bike business, and my continued interest in riding, they will invariably ask me,

“Why do large groups of cyclists take up the whole damn road? If you give even a friendly toot on the horn to let them know you are passing, you will more often than not get the finger. Why are they so hostile and so rude?”

This is how I try to explain it:

First of all in any random group of people you have a cross-section of society. Some are nice people, and some are assholes. It is the assholes in the group that will give you the finger. Rarely would you get the whole group giving the one finger salute in unison. Just as there are assholes who drive cars, there are assholes who ride bikes.

The other thing is the mob mentality. This is a common human trait that we see in any group of people not just cyclists. When people get together in a group they are less considerate of others outside the group.

Your neighbor is having a party, and as the guests leave late at night, they laugh and talk loudly, slam car doors, and disrupt the sleep of people living several houses away. Usually these people are good neighbors, why would they have such inconsiderate friends we ask ourselves?

How many people have been in a restaurant where there is a large group of say ten or more people? I guarantee that party will be extremely loud, often obnoxious, and will have little regard for anyone else who is unfortunate enough to be seated nearby.  

However, this is what we have come to expect in certain bars and restaurants. There will always be large groups made up of co-workers, family members, celebrating someone’s birthday or something.

Also an important factor, these are just people you can’t stereotype them.

But get a bunch of cyclists on the road, enjoying each other’s company, and are being no more, or no less considerate of others around them than the party in the restaurant.

The big difference is, now you can stereotype them, they are cyclists. Whenever you see a bunch of cyclist together they seem to be behaving badly, therefore all cyclists are lumped together as being bad.

The larger the group the worse the behavior. Take sports fans assembled in their thousands and the mob mentality really takes over. The mob could be angry over their team’s loss, or celebrating their victory, the outcome is the same. Store windows are broken, parked cars are overturned, and even set on fire. Most people would not behave that way individually, or even in a smaller group.

This is how I try to explain why some cyclists behave badly. I don’t condone it. It is one of the reasons I no longer ride with large groups, even though it can be fun. So I ask that people don’t condemn me for riding a bike, just because a few cyclists behave badly.

What is needed is a little more tolerance and understanding on both sides. Cyclists need to be a little more considerate of other road users. Remember Lycra is the different color skin we put on, so we will be stereotyped and others like us will be judged by our behavior.

And the general public needs to realize that these are just a group of friends enjoying each other’s company, and getting some fresh air and exercise while doing so.  And if it is a Sunday, where are you going in such a big fucking hurry anyway?

What are your views, and how do you handle the conversation with non-cyclists?

 

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