Dave Moulton

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Monday
Aug132018

We owe a lot to the bicycle

Modern road and air transport owes a great deal to the bicycle and to those who experimented on perfecting it.

Some thirty years before the first automobile was built, innovations appeared on bicycles, many of which are built into the design of powered transport today. A few of them are:

  • Pneumatic tires
  • Cable control brakes and other units
  • Ball Bearings
  • Free wheels
  • Differential gears
  • Chain drives
  • Shaft drives
  • Variable gears – the foundation of the transmission

Equally important contributions were improvements in the specifications of metals, also changes came about in machine tools, engineering techniques, and in production methods.

Many of the people who designed and manufactured bicycles went on the design and build the first automobiles. American aviation pioneers Orville and Wilber Wright designed bicycles in their Dayton, Ohio factory that subsequently became a proving ground for airplane components.

Today, bicycle advocates lobby governments to maintain the cyclist’s rights to be on the road. Many forget it was similar bicycle advocates who were instrumental in getting roads paved in the first place at the turn of the last century. Paved roads that were suitable for the introduction of the automobile.

The bicycle came into being as a viable form of transport and for many years was recognized and accepted as such. Somehow over the years the bicycle became relegated to the status of a recreational toy.

The next time you are sitting on an airplane, or you see an eighteen-wheeler truck hauling the nation’s supplies along our highways, you might do well to remember it all began with the humble bicycle.

 

Previously posted May 2010 

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Monday
Aug062018

The Outspoken Cyclist: Podcast

Last week I was interviewed by Diane Jenks for an Outspoken Cyclist Podcast.

The interview was unscripted, although Diane had sent me the questions we were to feature so I was able to prepare somewhat. However, listening to the podcast again I realize my brain works faster than my mouth. When asked a question I know immediately what I am to say, but keep skipping words, then backtrack to fill in the missing words. It is something I need to work on.

During the interview Diane referenced articles here on my blog. Here are the links so you don't have to search for them: The US Team Aero Bikes Built at Paris Sport.

My uTube video explaining my "No Visitor" Policy.

How a movie "Breaking  Away" changed the course of my framebuilding career.

We talked about frame sizing, this article may help: Finding Virtual Frame Size.

Trail, fork rake and a little bit of history

Here is an extensive 3 part article on Tubular  Tires.

I talked about Beryl Burton but I failed to mention she was Women's World Road Champion 3 times, and Women's World Pursuit Champion (On the track.) 5 times. Read more about Beryl here.

We also talked about an article called Freedom and People Killing People.

At the end of the podcast Diane was kind enough to mention my Ass Song Video.

I hope you found the podcast entertaining and informative. Your comments both here and on the Outspoken Cyclist Podcast are welcome and much appreciated.

 

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Monday
Jul302018

Paris Sport Mystery

I never know on any given day what will show up in my email inbox, like this one from Gaelan Mundorff, who works for Eden Bicycles in Castro Valley, California. He said:

“I came across this bike today, it’s beautiful. Complete Campagnolo Record and apparently never ridden. It has no serial number stamped, I’d really love to know more about it. 

I have a friend here in town who repurposes bicycles for those in need and has a ton of old frames lying around and this was one in his rafters. He says a woman donated it to him after her husband passed away and that he had this frame custom made for him and never rode it.”

 

Three pictures were attached. The first I looked at was the one above showing the underside of the bottom bracket shell. No serial number, but those derailleur cable guides looked familiar, it could be my work.

Another thing that caught my eye was the “Hidden” vent holes in the Chainstay Bridge. There have to be vent holes anytime a tube is totally enclosed. I explained that in this article. The vent holes in this case were drilled though the left and right chainstays, before the bridge tube was brazed in place.

So the tube is vented through the inside of the chainstays, which are themselves open to the inside of the bottom bracket. This is something I often did, especially on custom frames. It was a good identification clue. I was thinking this was a Paris Sport frame. 

The absence of a serial number was another clue. I worked for Paris Sport from January 1979 to October 1980. None of the frames I built had serial numbers. Why, I am not sure, except to say that there is no point in stamping a serial number on anything unless someone is recording those numbers in a book or file somewhere. No one seemed interested in doing that. 

The next picture (Left.) confirmed it was a Paris Sport, it had the head tube logo with Ets. Fraysee. (The Fraysee Establishment, in French.)

Paris Sport was owned by Vic Fraysee and his son Mike. The last picture (Top of page.) was a mystery to me. It showed a ‘dave moulton’ decal on the down tube. I had never seen that on a Paris Sport.

On occasions, a customer would ask to have my name on the frame as the builder rather than Paris Sport. The Fraysee’s were always adamant and said no.  

I fully understood and respected this. Paris Sport was an established brand name, and I was employed to build those frames. Why would the owners of Paris Sport put the name of their employee on a frame rather than their own brand name?

Mike Fraysee had on occasions compromised and put my four “m,s” logo on the seat tube, (As this frame has.) but it always had the Paris Sport name on the down tube. And yet here was a Paris Sport frame with my name on it. Mike Fraysee painted the frames and often did so at night after I had left for the day, so I probably never saw this frame before it was shipped to the customer.

In this case the customer must have had stronger powers of persuasion than Mike Fraysee, or paid extra, or possibly refused to take delivery unless it was so labeled. Whatever the reason it is a mystery to me.  

Who does all that, and then never completes the build, or rides it?That’s an even bigger mystery.

 

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Monday
Jul232018

The simple physics of going straight or around corners

Laws of physics tell us a moving object will travel in a straight line until some other force changes its direction. Throw a rock or a ball, or shoot an arrow from a bow and it will fly straight, until it bounces off some other object, or a side wind pushes it to the left or right.

I realize this is all basic stuff that we learned in grade school, but sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the simple stuff in order to understand the more complicated stuff, because through it all, the laws of physics remain the same.

Spinning wheels have a tendency to stay upright, but have more effect on steering than balancing. Get up to speed on a bike and in theory we are no different from a cannon ball fired from a gun. The laws of physics keep us going straight. In other words, our momentum. The faster we go the easier it becomes to ride straight and stay upright.

Riding slowly at a walking pace, staying upright becomes a balancing act as simple as balancing an upturned broom on the palm of our hand. We move the palm of our hand to keep it directly under the broom’s center of mass. (Its head.) Or we steer the bicycle left or right to keep the wheels directly under the body’s mass.

It is easier to balance an upturned broom than a lightweight stick, because its center of mass is high. Similarly, a bike may weigh 30 lbs. or less, and a body 100 lbs. or more. The bike is the broom handle, and our body the broom head, some four feet above the tires in contact with the ground.

Let’s talk about centrifugal forces. If we tie a rock to a piece of string and swing over our head the rock will travel in a circle and the string will remain taunt. We call this pull on the string centrifugal force. Actually the rock is a moving object and would travel in a straight line, but it can’t because it is tied to a piece of string. If the string breaks the rock would fly off in a straight line.

Let’s say we are traveling at speed and momentum is keeping us going straight. Now we want to turn left. If we simply turned the handlebars to the left, the bike would turn left, but our body would continue to go straight, and a horrible crash would ensue.  

Instead we lean to the left. A spinning wheel will turn in the direction it leans. That is another law of physics. So we don’t actually steer the bike, it steers itself. Don’t forget the rear wheel too, even though it is fixed within the frame, it too is leaning and so assists turning.

Because we are leaning to the left, if we were not in motion gravity would cause us to fall over. But the force of momentum that would normally keep us going straight, is counter balanced by the force of gravity pulling us over. We are the rock being twirled on a string, and gravity is the string.

Momentum or centrifugal force is pulling on the string. Too much speed (Momentum.) and the string breaks, and we fly off the road. Lean too much, or wheels lose traction and the bike slides out from under us.

We quickly learn these skills, and do all this naturally without even thinking about it. That is why the bicycle is probably one of human kind’s greatest inventions. It is simply a mechanical extension of the human body.

 

Read more about the physics of spinning wheels and steering in previous articles: “The Mechanics of Steering.”

Also: “Head Angles and Steering.”

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Monday
Jul162018

The American Dream

There used to be something called the American Dream. I’m not sure if it still exists, but I participated in it back in 1983.

I had arrived in the US just four years earlier in 1979. Before leaving England I had turned over everything had to my former wife and my children.

I literally came here with the clothes on my back, the luggage I carried was mostly the tools I needed to build bike frames.

I had a job at Paris Sport in New Jersey, and the owners Vic and Mike Fraysee paid my air fare, and I lived in Vic Fraysee’s basement. They even bought me work boots, jeans and other work clothes, because I only had the clothes I was wearing.

A year and a half later I left Paris Sport and took a job with Masi in San Marcos, California. I was by now not quite as poor as I was on arrival in America, and I was able to furnish a modest apartment and buy a car.

I worked for Masi for a little over a year, when the economy took a down turn, and this coincided with Masi being overstocked with several hundred frames I had built. Masi laid me off, but prior to that had allowed me to build my own frames in my spare time. This had helped my income, and I had built a relationship with a few bicycle dealers.

I could have collected unemployment, but would not on principal. I had not traveled 6,000 miles from England to stand in an unemployment line. Instead I came to an arrangement with Ted Kirkbride, the owner of the frameshop, and after a lot of cold phone calls to bike dealers all over the US, I started to get orders.

I was able to take an order for a custom frame, and deliver it in as little as two weeks, which was unheard of at the time. The dealer was able to make a mark-up on the frame, plus the components and charge for assembly.

It just so happened there was a little strip mall across the street from the Masi shop, and in a tiny retail space, there was a bank. (Just starting up.) I initially banked there because it was convenient, I could walk across the street.

Because the bank was so small, the manager sat at a desk just inside the front door, and as I was depositing checks almost daily, he struck up a conversation, and asked me what I did. This is how the relationship started and he told me the bank was building a brand new building just down the street.

By 1983 this new bank had opened, and it became obvious if my business was to grow I needed my own shop. The cost would be $30,000. I had saved $7,000 so needed a loan of $23,000. Here was the tricky part. Because I had only been in the US for four years, I had no credit rating. I could not even get a credit card.

I had bought a new car two years earlier and was paying that off. The reason I had bought a new car was because it was easier to get a new car financed than a used one.

Because I had built a relationship with this young bank manager, he loaned me the $23,000 on my signature alone. No credit rating, no collateral. I seem to remember I paid it off in a couple of years.

The $30,000 it cost to open my frame shop in 1983, would probably be $100,000 in today’s money. Would I have been able to do that today, under the same circumstances? Somehow I doubt it. Which is why I doubt the American Dream exists anymore.

 

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