Dave Moulton

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How do you measure success?

I have spent many hours pondering the question, what is success, and by what yardstick does one measure success? I have come to the conclusion that success has a different meaning for different people.

Some measure success by money, but unless success brings one joy and satisfaction, is it really success? One can be successful in terms of money, but an absolute failure in terms of everything else. A relationship with a spouse or children, for example.

Friends who recently returned from Africa, after several years in the Peace Corps, told me, there are people who live in mud huts, existing on a handful of rice a day, and yet are basically happy and content with their lives.

People do not know they are poor unless they have contact with wealth, and can see others who have more than they do. It would be hard to live in a mud hut in America and have the degree of contentment of someone living in remote parts of Africa, for example.

Success is meeting your expectations. If your expectations are a handful of rice a day, and that is what you get. You are successful, and you are content. If you have a little chicken to go with your rice, you have exceeded expectations and you are even happier.

Success can be fleeting, but that is alright, there are always other successes that follow. I think I can honestly say I was a successful framebuilder. I became a good framebuilder because I built a lot of frames, and repetition is the key to success with any skill.

There was a time when I made a lot of money as a framebuilder, but the success was fleeting. Market trends and consumer tastes changed. I could have changed too, but I didn’t and so moved on and set other goals. That doesn’t make me any less successful as a framebuilder now, than the day I left the business.

This is why I believe one cannot quantify success in terms of money only. To me success is measured in satisfaction. Knowing that people are still riding bikes I built back in the 1980s, and enjoy doing so, brings immense satisfaction.

After I left the bike business, I wrote a successful novel. My intentions were to write a best-selling novel, but I settled for satisfaction once more.

Without exception, everyone who reads my novel Prodigal Child, raves about it. That is highly satisfying. The book was never a bestseller, because relatively few people know of it. It was never reviewed in the New York Times or blessed by Oprah Winfrey.

This blog too is no small success. Started in 2005, coming up 12 years, draws readers from all over the world. It gets recognition from other quarters too, recently listed in the Top 15 Cycling Blogs by Test Facts.  (See this and other awards in the top right column of this page.)

Success is recognizing the small or partial successes, because collectively they too bring joy, and satisfaction. The key is to have a few more successes than failures in life, and you are always ahead of the game. Occasionally there will be a little chicken to go with your rice.


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Frame Jig.

In the mid-1980s I commissioned Photographer Mike Graves to take some photographs of my frameshop. Above is a picture of my frame jig used to assemble frames. My work area was not as messy as it appears here, but Mike took some artistic license and added some extra tools and fixtures to compose a more interesting picture.

The picture does however give me an opportunity to explain what was going on before Mike took over to create this picture. Frames were made in three separate parts, the main triangle, which is not actually a triangle as it is made up of four tubes. Top and down tube, seat tube and head tube.

The second part is the rear triangle, made up of chainstays, seatstays, connected by the rear dropouts. The third part is the front fork that is assembled on a separate jig not shown here.

The main triangle was assembled here then fully brazed out of the jig to allow the metal to expand and contract freely. There is less distortion and built in stresses that way.

The main triangle is fully brazed at this stage. The lugs have yet to be filled and polished, but the surplus head tube has been cut off and the head tube has been machined ready to take a head bearing. The excess seat tube has also been cut off and filed to the shape of the seat lug.

At this stage the rear triangle is being assembled, so that it matches up with the main triangle.

This is evident by the seat stays left long at this point, to extend beyond the seat lug. (Pictured right.)

The seat stays at the rear dropout will be tacked in the jig, then fully brazed out of the jig.

The seatstays will be later cut to length and a machined seatstay cap will be brazed into the seatstay top end.

The main triangle and the rear triangle will both be finished filed and polished separately, because they are easier to handle and manipulate in a bench vise as separate smaller parts.

When the two parts are ready, they are assembled and brazed out of the jig to accommodate the distortion due to heat. Because the main and rear triangle were initially assembled in the jig, they will fit accurately out of the jig for the final brazing.

This modified vise-grip (Above.) has two pieces of angle iron brazed to the jaws, these clamp onto the seat tube. A short piece of round tube is welded to one side, at right angles to the seat tube.

The seatstays are then clamped to this tube on the fixture with two engineers clamps. One shown here. (Left.)

The chainstays are held in place at the bottom bracket with a vise grip on the chainstay sockets.

Alignment tools are used to make sure a wheel will sit central in the frame.   

Frames like the Fuso were made in batches of five frames all the same. So the set up in this picture will be used to make five rear triangles, for example. Each stage of the assembly process is repeated five times. With one exception.

Front fork blades, and chainstays were identical no matter what the frame size, so these were prepared ahead of time in batches of 20 or 30 pairs. Fork blades were bent (Raked.) slotted, tips brazed in, then fully filed and polished and cut to length.

Chainstays were cut to length, slotted, and the rear dropout brazed in. Followed by filing and polishing. One extra item, the right chainstay is flattened on the inside to clear the sprockets when the rear wheel is removed.

This is where this little tool comes into play.

The thin end of the chainstay was placed in one of the slots, heated to a red heat, and hammered flat with a small hammer.

This was done prior to slotting the tube to receive the rear dropout. 


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I get tired of this

I get tired of watching videos of cyclists who just stand passively by and allow someone to sucker punch them, and not retaliate. You are allowed to defend yourself.

In this case you have an old guy probably in his sixties with a belly, assaults what appears to be a super fit athlete, probably half his age, who does nothing but take the guy’s number. What a pussy.

If someone approaches you under these circumstances, it is highly probable they will take a swing at you. At least attempt to block it, or stick your head down so he punches your helmet. After all, helmets are for protection.

You notice the old guy gets in one, possibly two punches, and then goes to get back in his truck. The assailant probably realized he had taken on a bigger and younger man. The cyclist should never have allowed the old guy to leave the scene. But hold him there until the cops came.

He could have got in the old guy’s face verbally, and he probably would have backed down. If the truck driver fought back physically, the cyclist appears to be the stronger of the two and could have restrained him and taken his keys.

There are those who will say, the cyclist did everything right in accordance with the law. Possibly, but he could have done more than just stand there and take it, and still stayed within the law.

Grow some balls and stand up for yourself. If it were me I would be ashamed to have this video out there. 


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Ride the Long White Cloud

The indigenous Maori people of New Zealand named their island Aotearoa, which translated means “Long White Cloud.” New Zealand is actually made up of two main islands with a short 15 mile ferry ride between the North and South Islands.

The above video shows how one man, Cameron Nicholls rode the entire length of New Zealand from top to bottom, a distance of 1,451 miles (2,336 km.) Cameron completed the ride in 13 days. People have ridden the distance in much less time, but this was a ride taken at a pace that would be a challenge, but still allow the rider to enjoy the spectacular scenery on the way.

To make the ride even more challenging, it was completed in winter. “Why do that?” was my first thought, but then remembered some of my own winter rides in England, in atrocious weather conditions.  I suffered horribly at the time, but those are the rides I remember more vividly as time passes. Another plus was that the scenery in winter is even more spectacular.

Cameron has a 13 year old cousin undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, so the ride was also to raise money for the sister charities CanTeen New Zealand and CanTeen Australia. Thus raising funds and awareness for these organizations, who deal specifically with supporting young people affected by cancer.

The six and a half minute video is produced and edited extremely well, with a well-chosen musical soundtrack. Before you view, I suggest you click on the 4 arrows, bottom right next to the word “Vimeo.” This will take you to full screen mode, then start the video, and make sure your sound is on.

Enjoy, as I certainly did.


You can read Cameron Nicholls full account of the ride here.

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Riding my bike: Then and now

It’s taken me the best years of my life to reach the best years of my life. That statement is certainly true of cycling.

I find nearly all forms of exercise a chore, with the exception of riding my bike. Although I will agree that even that is not a pleasure when I am below a certain level of fitness. It becomes a pleasure when my level of fitness allows me to ride at a level where I am happy.

I remember in the 1980s living in Southern California, great weather, wonderful terrain, hills etc. However, I didn’t enjoy riding because the pressure of my business, didn’t allow me enough time to ever get fit enough to ride at the level I wanted to ride at that time.

It had not been many years since I had quit racing, and I still expected to ride at that level. Hammer up the hills is what was in my psyche told me, but my mind was making a promise that my body couldn’t keep. The result, I suffered horribly. It became a chore.

I still had that racing mentality, it wasn't about just enjoying a bike ride, it was all about how hard could I push my body. The competitiveness of beating, or even just hanging on to the wheel of someone at a level of fitness way above mine.

When I was racing the bike was simply a tool, a piece of equipment necessary to participate. Even training rides with others were unofficial races, always trying to be first to the top of a hill, or always having my front wheel ahead of the rider next to me. (Known as Half-Wheeling.)

Today, I have reached an age where I have nothing left to prove to myself or anyone else. Just to get out and ride two or three hours is an achievement in itself. I am content to ride without pushing myself to the point of exhaustion.

Speed is less important, just the distance I can cover. More miles equate to more time on the bike, and more cycling pleasure. I now remember what it was like to ride in my early teen years before I started racing.

For me cycling started out as a means of escape from my dysfunctional home life. I would stay out and ride for hours, and on weekends I would even cover close to a hundred miles at the age of thirteen or fourteen. All this on a Hercules Roadster with a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub gear, the bike must have weighed around forty pounds.

Mostly I rode alone because none of my friends were willing to cover the distances I did. I grew used to, and even enjoyed riding alone. This still is the case today. Now, a ride on my bike is almost sacred. I enjoy social situations, and good conversations, but not while I’m riding.

Riding is still often my "alone time," I have few thoughts and it becomes a form of meditation. I am at one with the elements, the temperature, the wind, even the rain on occasions. I am at one with the terrain, up or downhill, the road surface, smooth or rough.

Lastly, I am at one with my bike, it becomes an extension of my body. The closest thing to human flight without actually leaving the ground.

It is still not about the bike, it is about riding the bike and all that goes with it.


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