Dave Moulton

More pictures of my past work can be viewed in the Photo Gallery on the Owner's Registry. A link is in the navigation bar at the top

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Don Tate: Cyclist

[Click on picture to view an enlarged version.]

When a bike enthusiast emails me I add the name to my “Bike List.” I have 126 email addresses on the list now. Occasionally I send a group email out when I have something to announce. I try not to do this too often as everyone, including myself, gets too much junk email; I have no wish to add to the problem.

I sent out such a group message last Sunday to announce the first anniversary of my Bike Blog. Some of the recipients emailed back to say they enjoy reading the blog. One email in particular from the wife of someone on my list, touched me deeply; here is an excerpt from the message:

"My husband Don passed away Dec 15, 2005 from neuro endocrine cancer. He enjoyed reading your blogs and hoped to ride his bicycles again. Don bought his first "real" bike when he was fifteen years old from money saved from his newspaper route. He always said cycling was in your blood; it became a passion that carried with you through out your whole life. For Don, this was true. Even though he couldn't ride while he was undergoing chemo, he would sit in his bike room (a designated bedroom in our home, "because his bikes were too precious to him to be left in he garage") and plan cycling trips."

Fuso owner, Don Tate had first contacted me in January 2005. Among his collection of memorabilia, he had a copy of a souvenir program/magazine from the 1985 Coor’s Classic Bicycle Race. It had a full page color ad on the back cover for my then new Fuso frame. The ad is pictured at the top of this blog; it featured a picture of the first Fuso (# 001.) built the year before in 1984.

Don asked me if I would sign his copy of the magazine for him. He subsequently mailed it to me and included a very nice glossy copy of the ad for myself. This was greatly appreciated as I had lost my copy of this particular program.

Don’s statement that cycling is in one’s blood is very true; it is something intangible deep within the psyche of the cyclist. We can’t explain it but we all know it is there. Because we share this thing, whatever it is, we feel connected in some way.

It is more than just a group of people sharing a common interest, like playing golf, or collecting Baseball Cards. Although we could never describe what it is we experience when riding, we automatically know that another bike rider knows, and that creates a bond between some of us.

I say some of us because this is something different from a runner’s high, which is an adrenaline rush, newcomers to cycling do not always get it right away; a few never get it. Wrapped up in the materialistic, they see the bike as an art object, or thing of beauty; never realizing that the true beauty is in the ride, not just in the metalwork and paint.

There is a definite physical connection between rider and the bicycle; the machine becomes an extension of the rider. Then there are psychic connections not only to the bike but also to the elements like the wind, whether it is a head wind or tail wind. There is a connection to the terrain also, uphill, downhill, or even a fast stretch of smooth, flat road.

I never had the privilege of meeting Don Tate face to face, shaking his hand, but I feel I knew him. I knew of his connection to his bike and to cycling. Because he also rode one of my bikes, and because there is a part of me in every frame I built, I felt an added connection, which is probably why I was so deeply touched his wife’s email and its content.

Some of us believe in a Heaven, or afterlife; I believe this journey we call life has to lead to something. Maybe it will include cycling, or maybe the feeling we get when riding is what we will feel all the time.

That would be Heaven.


Where have all the Fusos gone?

As well as starting this blog a year ago, it was also in November 2005 that I started tracking my bikes and frames for sale on eBay.

In the first ten months of the year there was never more that a week went by that there wasn’t one of my products up for bidding. Mostly Fusos, but a few John Howard and Recherche marques.

Only two custom ‘dave moulton’ came up; one track bike sold on the UK eBay, and a frame sold in September. Both of these were built in England in the 1970s.

Now the flow has stopped for whatever reason there hasn’t been one on eBay for two months; September, 17th was the last.

In the twelve months I tracked sales, there were only a total of 37 up for sale; a mere drop in the bucket when you consider I built close to 3,000 Fuso frames, 200 or so John Howards and just over 200 Recherche frames.

So were have they all gone? I hope a lot of them are still being ridden and enjoyed, but I suspect a lot are sitting in garages and basements, neglected, unloved, and their owners have no idea what they have.

I recently heard from a young man who bought a complete John Howard bike for $6; the components were corroded, the chain rusting, and the tires were shot, but six bucks?

I told the young buyer he could have turned it around on eBay as it was for $200-$300. I’m pleased to say he decided to keep it and ride it.

Where have all the Fusos gone?
Long time passing,
Where have all the Fusos gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the Fusos gone?
They rust in basements, one by one,
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

With apologies to Pete Seeger, (Peter, Paul and Mary.)


Happy Birthday Dear Bike Blog

Dave’s Bike Blog is one year old today, how time flies when you are having fun.

I have posted 45 blogs; that’s a little under one a week for the year. I started out slow, averaging only two or three new posts a month to begin with, but in recent months that has increased to as many as six to eight a month.

One of the reasons for the slow beginning; when I started I had three blogs going, which proved to be hard to keep up. As the Bike Blog seemed to have the most support, I dropped the other two and kept this one.

I have come to realize that in order for a blog to be successful and have a following the blogger needs to post something new on a regular basis, and try to keep it interesting. That can be a challenge.

My writings are of course aimed at the bike enthusiast, but I try to write in a way that a person outside the sport would find the piece interesting, informative and entertaining. So if you ever feel that I am “dumbing down” an article remember that there are some out there who are new to this wonderful pastime of ours.

I have always believed in writing in simple, uncomplicated terms anyway; some people can get way too technical about bicycles. The bicycle is one of the simplest and yet most efficient machines ever invented; you push one pedal down, and the other comes up. How can you get over technical on such a simple machine?

Why do I blog? Several reasons. Writing is what I do now and just as building a lot of bicycle frames improved my skill as a framebuilder; a writer needs to write on a regular basis.

This blog allows me to post random thoughts and other writings without cluttering up my website; although I will admit my website gets neglected at times because of time spent writing blogs, when it too needs updating regularly.

Earlier this year I added advertisements to the blog, but removed them after only a week or two. The reason; I realized we are all bombarded with too much advertising and I did not need to be cluttering up my blog with more junk.

This blog is of course a form of self-promotion, to make others aware of my current creative endeavors. There is no point in creating anything if no one knows about it

When I came to the US in 1979 I was an unknown framebuilder. Even though I had a solid reputation in my native England; I was relatively unknown in America. The way I became known was by articles in various magazines like Bicycling and Velo-News, and after that it was steady word of mouth.

Now I am a relatively unknown writer with a novel called Prodigal Child; it too sells largely by word of mouth. This blog is a two way street; if I can manage to inform, entertain, and occasionally amuse you with my writings, hopefully you will become a regular reader and tell others of this blog and thereby perpetuate the word of mouth thing.

I appreciate and encourage your participation by way of comments and suggestions. Some of you don’t want the hassle of signing up with Blogger to post a comment, but you can always go to my profile page where you will find my email and contact me directly if you have a specific question or suggestion for a blog.

Sometimes I am swamped with emails and it takes me a while to answer them all, but I am not at the point yet where I cannot handle the personal contact. When it gets to that point it will be nice to have a wider audience for my writings, but for now I like the way it is; I feel I have a small but very elite following.

But then bike riders are, for the most part, an elite bunch anyway.


Centering side-pull brakes

Do you have trouble in centering side-pull brakes? Here’s a simple little trick that I have always used. First, tighten the brake; don’t worry too much about centering the brake pads at this stage.

With a flat punch, (An old bolt or ¼ inch socket extension works well.) and a small hammer, tap on the top of the brake spring as shown below. Tap on the right or left side, moving the pads in the direction they need to go to center.

What you are doing, is not bending the spring, a light tap with a hammer will not do any harm. By tapping on the spring you nudge the brake bolt into the center position without loosening it. 

Make sure your brake cable housing is not too long, or too short, or it will constantly push or pull you brake pads off center.


Toe Overlap: No Problem

There was a discussion recently on Classic Rendezvous Bike list; the tread titled “Toe overlap even on good bikes,” implied that toe overlap was a design flaw and one should not expect to see this on quality bikes. Toe overlap is a result of other critical design factors and cannot always be avoided especially on smaller frames.

When a framebuilder designs and builds a racing frame, his main criteria are to: (1.) Place the rider in a position where he can pedal with maximum efficiency, and (2.) Design the frame so the finished bike will handle at speed in the best way possible. If the result of the design is toe overlap then the builder can do little because to achieve toe clearance other aspects of the frame’s design would have to be altered.

For example the picture above shows my own bike. It has a small 52 cm. (C to T) frame and has about an inch of toe overlap. If I were to make the front end of the bike one inch longer to avoid toe overlap, I would have to do one of the four following things or a combination of all four.

(1.) I could make the seat angle steeper, or (2.) the top tube longer. (3.) I could make the head angle shallower, or (4.) the fork rake (offset) longer. The first two would effect my riding position; the last two would affect the handling of the bike.

Toe overlap is not a problem because riding and cornering at normal speed the front wheel never turns far enough for the toe to hit the front wheel. The only time it becomes an issue is when turning sharply at a very slow speed; doing a U-turn on a very narrow road for example.

Caution and common sense are all that is required when executing a tight U-turn. If you are turning left then your right pedal will be down for maximum ground clearance as you coast into the turn. By the time you need to start pedaling again you are already half way through the turn, and the right crank has to complete ¾ of a turn before the toe is opposite the front wheel.

By that time, you should be all the way around and the front wheel is straight ahead again. If you are not the coast again, or ratchet the crank back again on the freewheel.

Doing the same maneuver with a fixed gear is a little trickier; but it is a matter of timing. Go very slow and start to turn as the toe passes the front wheel; that way the crank has a whole revolution to go before it makes contact again. If the front wheel is still turned the next time round; straighten the front wheel so the toe clears, then turn sharply after it has passed.

Fixed gear and fenders (Mudguards.) is going to make this move a little difficult, but not impossible. With clipless pedals, you could unclip the outside foot and move your toe back to give more clearance. I sometimes get out of the saddle and simply point my toe downwards to give more clearance.

What you need to avoid is a situation where you get your toe on the wrong side of the wheel in a turn; if you do, try not to panic. Ratchet the crank back if you have a freewheel, or if you are riding fixed gear, keep going and let the toe pass the front wheel so you can straighten up again.

Lastly, I would like to point out that a racing motorcycle with narrow swept down handlebars; turning is restricted because the handlebars touch the fuel tank. Here is a machine that will go 200 mph plus, and restricted turning seems not to be a problem. Therefore, I maintain the opinion that toe overlap on a bicycle is neither a design fault nor a problem.