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Wednesday
May312017

Stolen... Be on the Lookout

The Fuso pictured above is owned by Richard Salinas of Ontario, California. It is a 56 cm. frame, serial number 190. It was stolen from an apartment communial garage last Sunday 28th May. 

Please be on the lookout, especaily in the Inland Empire (South East of LA.) area. The frame is a pretty distictive one. One of a kind if my memory serves me.

The Blue/Red paint was one reserved fo a bike store called Two Wheel Transit Autority, a huge store that was once in Huntigton Beach, CA. The store closed its doors in the late 1980s. They sold a lot of Fuso frames and bikes over the years.

This particular one was built for the owner of the store who requested something distinctive. I placed random white stars on the bottom blue portion of the frame.

This should make it easy to spot and difficult to sell. If anyone has info, please either contact Richad via his FB liknk above, or comment here or contact me via the email link on the right column of this page.

Footnote: If ever your bike is stolen file a police report. I have been told on good autority that the police often recover stolen bikes, but then have no record to get it back to its owner. Also if the bike is sold, and it could change hands several times, then the original owner has a problem proving ownership. File a report, its worth the effort.

 

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Monday
May292017

Childhood Memories on this Memorial Day

The picture on the left is of me aged five with my Uncle David. He was my father’s younger brother, and I was named after him.

It was 1941 during the early days of WWII; in the background of the picture you can see tents.

This was a British Army camp, and I have clear memories of watching a drill sergeant marching the new recruits up and down the road outside my house.

One day leaving home with my mother, the soldiers were lined up on the road three deep, standing to attention. As we walked by I said in a loud voice as kids often do,

“Mum, you see the one with the beard under his nose. (The drill sergeant had a mustache.) He’s the one who does all the shouting.”

There was audible laughter from some of the soldiers and as my mother hurried me away, I could hear the drill sergeant screaming at the men to be quiet.

We were living in a rural area in Southern England, having moved there in 1940 to escape the bombing in London. The war was something I didn’t understand at the time, but it was all I knew; my father was gone, fighting somewhere in Sahara Desert of North Africa.

Another clear memory I have is of early 1944 when the American soldiers arrived in preparation for the Normandy Invasion. They were everywhere, camped on every spare piece of land, including the same camp behind my house.

I was now eight years old and although they seemed like grown-ups to me, I realize today that most of these young army recruits were barely ten or twelve years older than I was at the time. 

I remember they were always happy, laughing and continually goofing around as teenagers will do.

They were so good to us kids, giving us candy and chewing gum every time the saw us. This was a huge deal as sugar was rationed and we had to get by on an allowance of only 2 oz. of candy a month.

We became used to the American soldiers being there, jeeps, trucks and even Sherman Tanks driving by all the time. Then one day, the first week of June 1944 the soldiers were gone. I went to school in the morning and they were there, I came home from school that afternoon and they were all gone.

It was a surreal experience that I didn’t understand at the time, anymore than I understood anything else that went on during that period of my life.

Later when I became an adult, it had a profound effect on me. Because even to this day I can still see the faces of those young American boys, (Because that is what many of them were.) laughing, and goofing around.

Only now I realize that those same kids died in their thousands on the Beaches of Normandy and beyond.

I will never forget the sacrifice they made. A sacrifice not of their choosing. But one they made none the less so I would never have to do the same.

 

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Monday
May222017

In search of the perfect fork blade

When a fork blade comes from the tube manufacturer’s factory, it is straight, the framebuilder bends it to a curve that suits his requirements. 

An un-raked road fork blade is oval at the top. The oval section runs parallel for about a third of its length.

Then the cross section becomes round and starts to taper gradually to its smallest diameter section at the bottom end.

The fork blade is bent cold on a curved form that is sometimes made from hard wood. I used one I made myself from two heavy-duty steel fork blades, bent in the desired curve, and brazed together side by side. This made a natural grove between the two blades where the blade would sit as I was bending.

I would slip a short piece of tube over the thin end of the form and the blade I was bending. This acted as a collar to hold it in place. Then I'd start bending, first by pushing down by hand. The thin end of the blade bends easily, and I would finish off by squeezing it in a vise.

Bicycle tubing is hardened, and it will spring back after bending. Because of this, the form needs to be a greater curve than the finished fork blade will be. 

A fork blade is several inches longer than it needs to be. The framebuilder chooses where he will put the bend, and where he will cut to length. For example, if I were making a criterium frame and wanted a very stiff fork, I would cut from the bottom, thin end.

If I were building a touring frame, and wanted a flexible fork for a more comfortable ride, I would cut from the top end and leave the blade thin at the bottom end. The framebuilder creates the perfect fork blade, by selecting the best place to bend the blade, and by choosing how much to cut from either end.

It is rather like a furniture maker choosing where to cut from a piece of wood to achieve the best end product. Once I arrived at the perfect fork blade, it was then an easy matter to repeat the process again and again.

On a John Howard

On a Fuso

On a Recherché

One exception to this process was the Reynolds 753 fork blades. 753 was heat treated to a degree that the material could not be bent after. These were bent at the factory, then heat treated, and the framebuilder then cut to the required length. You will notice on the 753 Fuso Lux frame (Pictured below.) that the fork bend is a different shape than the ones bent by me.

Chainstays and seatstays are also tapered and the same selective cutting to length is employed. In this case, where the cut is made depends a great deal on the size of frame and its end use. 

The perfect fork blade is stiff enough to allow precise handling, but with some flex to absorb road shocks. It also looks pleasing to the eye. I have a theory that when something is designed correctly from a functional standpoint, it has a natural aesthetic beauty. This is true of a boat, a bridge, a building, and even a bicycle frame.

The modern trend of building straight forks of course saves the framebuilder a great deal of time and effort. If this look has become acceptable, why should today’s builder go through all the time consuming process I have described here? 

The straight blade is angled forward so the same fork rake or offset is achieved and handling would be the same. I can’t comment on the shock absorption qualities because I have never built a frame with a straight fork.

In my view, a great deal is lost aesthetically, so where does that leave my theory about function being linked to aesthetics? On the other hand, is it simply that beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

 

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Monday
May152017

10 useful tips for car drivers

1.)    If you see a cyclist ahead and you can’t pass because of opposing traffic, resist the urge to run over him, even though you can. You know what a mess it can make of your car if you hit a deer, a cyclist will probably do even more damage.

2.)    Don’t throw stuff at cyclists: In some states there is a $250 fine for this, plus there is a $1,000 fine for littering. It can add up. If you feel you must throw something at a cyclist, think of the environment and throw something that is biodegradable.

3.)    Don’t waste time thinking of clever things to yell at cyclists as you drive by at 50mph. Just shout, "Garble, garble, garble, fucking road." It is all they will hear anyway

4.)    If you are approaching a right turn, slow and wait behind the cyclist ahead of you. If you can’t do this at least be consistent and race ahead of other cars, then cut them off by turning right in front of them.

5.)    Use the buddy system. If you can’t resist the urge to text while driving have a buddy ride along to look out for cyclists.

6.)    Pedestrians can also be annoying. They will not stay on one side of the road and are likely to interrupt your texting by crossing over to the other side at some point.

7.)    Resist the urge to lay on the horn. If you can’t do this consider fitting a second horn inside the car a few feet from your head. This will give you a realistic feel of how incredibly fucking loud your car horn is.

8.)    Watch your blind spot: Looking in store windows or at pretty girls as you drive by creates a huge blind spot ahead of you. Cyclists have an annoying habit of riding in this blind spot.

9.)    If a cyclist is riding in the middle of the lane, it could be because he will not ride within five feet of a parked car. (The door zone.) If you expect cyclists to ride within inches of parked cars, set an example by driving within inches of parked cars.

If more drivers did this and removed a few car doors, and busted a few knuckles as a result, it would help by reminding people to look before opening a car door. At the present time cyclists hitting car doors does not have the same impact.

10.)  Avoid hitting cyclists by simply going around them. If you should hit one because he happened to be there when you were applying makeup, or you were distracted in some other way. Don’t say “He swerved in front of me.” Simply tell the police officer, “I didn’t see him.”

This is becoming the more widely accepted defense. After all it is the truth and a driver can’t be expected to see everything. (Don’t try the “I didn’t see it” defense if you run a stop sign. For some strange reason this does not work.)  

 

First posted December 2011. 

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Tuesday
May092017

Riding Position Simplified

There is so much information available on bike riding position, it can be confusing to both beginners and experienced riders alike. A whole cottage industry has sprung up dealing with bike fit, and one can spend a great deal of money, and often be no better off.

So let’s forget about computer programs and magic formulas, and look at the basic issues we are dealing with. Assuming our bike is the right size, and not too big or small by extremes, how can we find a good place to start? Find a position that is both efficient and comfortable.

There are really only two main issues we need to concern ourselves with. That is saddle height, and position of your arms in relation to your legs. Whether you are looking for an extreme aero racing position, or a more upright leisure riding position, the same principle applies. You need an efficient position, whether your goal is to go fast, or ride in comfort.

1.)    Saddle height. Imagine you are doing squats with a weight as shown in the picture above. Note that when in the lowest possible squat, the knees are spread apart. That is because the hip joint in the pelvis has a limit to how far it can travel. When you reach that limit the only way to squat any lower is to spread the knees apart.

When you see someone on a bike riding with their knees spread, it is often an indication that their saddle is too low and the hip joint has reached its limit of rotation. An extremely low back position, or the saddle positioned far back will exacerbate the problem because you are rotating the pelvis forward. However in most cases if the saddle is high enough, no matter how low your back, at the top of the pedal stroke, the hip joint will not be at or near its limit.

When doing squats with a weight it is hard to lift from the lowest position. It would be much easier if you started from the half way position. In other words, leg muscles work more efficiently near the top end of the lift. So if you can ride a bike with the saddle as high as it can be, you are pedaling with more efficiency that with the saddle set low.

How high would be too high? Well, if you are stretching for the pedal at the bottom of the stroke, and your pelvis is rocking side to side, it would indicate your saddle is too high. With one crank at its lowest point, your toe should be pointing down, but not stretched. You should be then able to lift your butt 1/4 inch (6mm) above the saddle. If you can lift yourself more than that, your saddle needs to go higher. When riding, it is easier to tell by feel if a saddle is too high, but not so easy to tell if it is slightly too low.

2.)     Position of arms in relation to the legs. When pedaling at maximum effort we are pushing down with more than our body weight. The only thing holding us down is our hands grasping the handlebars. Power is transmitted through the arms, shoulders, and back muscles to the legs.

Look at the top picture of Peter Sagan. With the crank arms horizontal and the pedal on its downward stroke, the red line line drawn from the hip joint to the pedal, is approximately parallel to a line drawn from the shoulder to the hands on the drops. In other words arms are in exact opposition to the legs.

Notice I said approximately. The lines do not have to be exactly parallel, but if there is a wide difference this is not a good position. It doesn’t matter what your back angle is, horizontal or a leisurely 45 degree angle. Arms opposing legs still apply.

Many recreational riders make the mistake of raising their handlebars higher and higher to achieve a more upright back angle, when a better approach might be to fit a shorter stem and raise it less. (The resulting back angle is the same.) If the arms are not opposing the legs, backache can result, or you find yourself constantly sliding forward on the saddle.

Weight distribution too comes into account. Weight should be distributed between the pedals, saddle and handlebars. If the bars are above the saddle then all the weight is on the saddle.

 

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