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Wednesday
Mar042015

Buyer’s Remorse

I occasionally sell a few items on eBay. I don’t make a regular business out of it, but like most bike enthusiasts I collect a lot of bike parts, and need to get rid of them from time to time.

A couple of weeks ago I collected about six items together, took photos, and listed them on eBay. It was quite a lengthy process that took up most of a whole day. I didn’t look too closely at the items, and maybe I should have paid more attention.  I listed a pair of Campagnolo, 1980ish brake levers as having “Slight sctatching,” and added “See photos.”

The photos clearly showed the scratches, especially when enlarged, which is a feature eBay has. I listed the item with a starting price of $9.99 and no reserve. They could have gone for $9.99, and I would have had to accept that. I was amazed when there were 21 bids and these levers went for $83 + $6 Shipping.

Now if anyone is paying $89 for a pair old Campagnolo brake levers, they had better be in unblemished mint condition. These were not, and I knew this customer had overpaid. But on the other hand I had set the starting price at just under ten bucks, it was not my doing some people got carried away and pushed the price up to over eight times that.

So it came as no big surprise when the buyer put in a claim for his money back. I emailed back immediately asking if I refunded $30, making the price $53, would he be interested in keeping the levers.

This was in keeping with a similar pair of levers I had sold before. He emailed back to say he wouldn’t accept less than $40 off. I agreed to $40 off, but in the end that was not acceptable either. I said, fine, just send the levers back and I will refund the $89. (Item + shipping.)

The levers arrived back today, and I issued the refund. After closer inspection I will agree I should have paid more attention, and not listed these as having “Slight” scratching. But on the other hand anyone paying over $80 for a pair of vintage Campagnolo brake levers, the word “Scratches” should not even be in the item description.

I would hope it is clear that I am not out to rip people off on eBay, otherwise I wouldn’t have listed these at $9.99. But it seems to me that in this case, “Buyer’s Remorse” had already kicked in long before this item even arrived to this customer.

Take a look at the eBay listing here, hover over or click on the photos to enlarge and tell me, after looking at the photo’s would you have bid $83 for these? I will list them again this weekend and you can be sure when referring to the scratches, the word “Slight” will not appear.

 

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Wednesday
Feb252015

Labels

Our society has this strange trait of labeling everyone.

It is not enough that we know someone by their given name, we have to categorize them further by what they do for a living, their political or religious beliefs. Even their hobbies.

I’m sure people who live in my neighborhood but have not yet met me, refer to me as “The Cyclist,” because they see my ride by on my bike.

The problem is that being labeled a “Cyclist,” I am then pre-judged by the worst behavior of other cyclists, even those who would not necessarily label themselves as cyclists.    

The dictionary defines a cyclist as “Somebody who rides a bicycle,” and as far as the media and news reports go that pretty much covers it. If a person robs a bank and makes his get-away on a bike, the story will read “Cyclist robs bank.”

What about the three-year-old child riding his little bike on his driveway, possibly with training wheels still installed. Is this little fellow a “Cyclist” or a child playing at being a cyclist?

There are people who ride bicycles as their only means of transport, either by choice, or for economic reasons, but would they necessarily label themselves as cyclists? 

A person who has lost their driver’s license or a young person not yet old enough to drive will ride a bicycle, and would not call themselves a cyclist. But should they be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, the media will say, “Cyclist hit by car.” When in the interest of accuracy, shouldn’t the report read, “Cyclist hit by Motorist?”

Some use a bicycle as an exercise machine but would not necessarily call themselves a cyclist any more than they would call themselves “treadmillist,” if there were such a word for a person who chose a treadmill as their exercise machine of choice.

At some point I need to be careful, lest I am accused of becoming “elitist.” When a person starts to ride a bike for no other reason than the pure joy of riding a bicycle, the temptation is to want to spread that joy and convert others to become cyclists and discover the joys of cycling.

When they resist efforts at conversion, it must be the same feeling that Jehovah’s Witnesses get when they knock on my door but fail to convert me to their way of thinking.  There is a danger of being a “Cyclist” becoming a belief system, almost a religion.

It is okay to feel superior, after all that is nothing more than a feeling of self-esteem, which is good. What I will try not to do is to look down on lesser mortals who are not cyclists. Those unfortunate souls who have not yet discovered the joy of being a cyclist. Those trapped inside their unfit bodies and their SUVs.   

However, I will not preach to non-cyclists or try to convert them. I will not display an elitist persona of superiority. I will not show disdain at those who choose to travel by car or on foot. I will try to show my fellow traveler, respect and common courtesy. Be they on the road (Literally.) or on this journey that is this life. Even though it is entirely possible they will not show me the same respect.

I will occasionally allow myself to "Poke fun" at the non-cyclist, in a good natured way, on this blog, knowing that the non-cyclist will not read it any more than I will read the Jehovah’s Witness literature that was tucked behind my screen door.

I will try to lead by example that people might say, “Here’s a happy, healthy, content individual, what’s your secret?” Then maybe I might tell them.

 

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Thursday
Feb192015

Drink Your Water

I have a pretty serious urinary tract infection. If you have never experienced one of these, I advise that you take all the steps to avoid one at all costs.

It involves frequent trips to the bathroom, and when there the best you can manage is a slight dribble, with a pain that I can only describe as “Pissing Razor Blades.” To be repeated every twenty or thirty minutes.

This all started quite suddenly and without warning in the early hours of Monday morning. I didn’t go to a doctor until I was pissing blood on Tuesday.

It is caused by bacteria in the pee tube, and is easily treatable with antibiotics, which I am now on. I am improving. The pain now is now at a level where I mutter the word “Fuck” under my breath, instead of screaming it out in agony.

I am not looking for sympathy, in fact I need my arse kicking for allowing this to happen. The doctor said it is usually caused by not drinking enough water. I am not opposed to drinking water, or even dislike it. It is just that I am not good at keeping account of how much, or rather how little water I take in on any given day.

I get busy doing other things and simply forget to drink water. This has been a painful lesson and I will do better in the future. Apparently I should drink 60 oz. of water every day. I have a large, 20 oz. drinking glass, which is a British pint. I need to drink at least three of these a day. I drink one straight off the moment I get out of bed. Another mid-day, and one in the evening. Sipping water all day long will not work for me, because I can’t keep track.

Originally the last thing I wanted to do was to go public with this. But then I thought if it means someone else can avoid going through this, it will be a plus. Please, drink your water, don’t go through the agony I am experiencing right now. Before this happened, I was priding myself that I could go the whole night with only one trip to the bathroom. So this was completely unexpected.

I am exhausted because I have not slept properly since Monday, but it is improving. My urine is clear now, still frequent but less painful. So I can’t really leave the house. I should be all better by this time next week when the antibiotics have run their course.

 

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Wednesday
Feb112015

Fuso FRX Criterium

When I first introduced the Fuso frame in 1984 there was just one model. It was simply a “Fuso.” Then after a couple of years I was getting requests for chrome plating, and an upgraded paint job, so in 1986 I brought out the Fuso “LUX” model. LUX short for Luxury.

So now the original Fuso needed a model name, so it became the FR1. FR for Fuso Racing, and “1” because it was the 1st. Fuso. In another year or so, I realized there was a need for something in between the no frills FR1, and the no expense spared LUX model. So I introduced the FRX model, which was the same frame as the FR1 but had some “Extra” time spent on the paint job. Hence the X.

The FRX was at a price point somewhere in between the other two models, and costing a little more meant that I could offer a few more “Custom” options. I did build a few Fuso FRX track frames, and even fewer Criterium frames, like this one. They are quite rare.

I only know of two on my bike registry. I am sure there are a few more, but I never kept an acurate count of how many of the various models I built. The reason I never kept better records, I never expected to be corresponding with owners and writing on this blog, 25 or more years later.

The Criterium model was based on the geometry of my custom ‘dave moulton’ Criterium frame.

It had a slightly steeper head angle of 74 degrees, and a shorter fork rake or offset of 1 1/8in. (30mm.)

It had a higher Bottom Bracket height, also the seat stays were the larger 5/8 in. diameter as opposed to the 9/16 in. diameter on the other Fuso models.

This is the reason for the different seatstay caps you see in these pictures here. These are the long fluted kind, the standard Fuso caps would not work with the fatter tubes. As its name implies it is a specialist frame built to be stiff and responsive, and handle quickly.

This bike was built in 1989, and is still owned by its original owner. It is a 60cm. (C to T) but looks bigger because of the higher BB.

 

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Wednesday
Feb042015

Chillin

“Chillin” is a word that has crept into the Urban Dictionary. A word for “Relaxing, doing nothing in particular.”

Chillin, in my book would require having happy thoughts, or better yet no thoughts. Living in the moment.

Children do that so well, they are not thinking ten minutes into the past or future. Animals too, like the cat on the right.

Their brain is not developed enough to have a whole a lot of memories of the past, or thoughts of the future. Human kind’s intelligence and memory capacity is both a gift and a curse.

I left the bike business in 1993. Over 20 years, or a lifetime for some young person. Since that time I have practiced doing nothing.

If you think that sounds easy, the next time you go to a doctor’s office or take your car in for an oil change, try to sit in the waiting room with your hands in your lap, and do nothing. Do not pick up a magazine or fiddle with your cell phone. More important keep your mind blank, free of any thought.

In the 1990s to achieve this state of mind I would have to make a point to set time aside each day to meditate. I did not get into meditation out of any desire to engage in some mystic eastern religion, but after reading about the practice it seemed like a good idea.

At the time my mind was constantly filled with negative thoughts, and as a result my life was filled with negativity. Throughout my waking hours my mind was filled with either thoughts of the past or future. I was either reliving the bad events of my past, or worrying about the possible misfortunes of the future.

My daily life was a constant torment and I realized it was of my own making. In time I realized, no matter how hard I tried my past would never get any better. What was the point of constantly reliving it, over and over?

The same with the future, it was only imagined. I was mourning some future bad event before it even happened. Worse still, my negative thoughts most probably brought about the very thing I was worrying about.

At least by consciously sitting quietly and pushing all thought from my mind, I was not thinking negatively. At first it was extremely difficult, I could not go but a minute or so before a thought about something or other would pop into my head.

I became an observer of my own mind. I could see that one idle random thought would lead to another and pretty soon there would be a whole train of thought on a track leading to who knows where.

At first my meditation sessions went something like this: Sit with my mind blank… a thought pops in… push it out… repeat… sit with my mind blank. In time, the periods I could consciously keep my mind blank increased, and if thoughts did pop in, they were pushed out with ease.

Even more beneficial, in time throughout the day while driving to work, or during my time at work I observed idle thoughts entering my mind, idle chatter that served no useful purpose. I began to consciously push these thoughts from my mind and keep it blank.

It probably took me about five years of effort to banish idle chatter from my mind. Today I rarely set aside actual time to meditate, instead I practice keeping my mind blank at all times.

While I sit and drink my coffee in the morning. If I drive my car, or ride my bike, or as I already pointed out while sitting in a waiting room somewhere.

Having a blank mind while driving or riding my bike is actually better and safer than being deep in thought. To be deep in thought, especially about something troubling is to be distracted, even to be in a state of trance.

Driving or riding a bike does not require conscious thought to anyone with experience, it is automatic. By that I mean even defensive riding or driving is automatic. Keeping the mind clear of extraneous thought, one is actually more alert should an emergency occur.

Keeping my mind blank is like sitting in front of a blank computer screen, or having a blank page of a notebook in front of me. It is an opportunity for creative thoughts to appear.

Just as it is impossible to convey my thoughts to someone else if that person will not stop talking and listen, if my mind is filled with constant chatter, creative thoughts have nowhere to enter.

I can highly recommend doing nothing when nothing is required, my life is mostly stress free. It is not necessary to be thinking if all you have to achieve is waiting for the oil to be changed in your car.  It is not difficult either, but it does take time, it is not going to happen overnight.

It has taken me over twenty years to get to the peaceful happy place I am now. But looking back it took me a great many more years to get to the mental Hell where I lived before.

 

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