Celeb Framebuilder Swears off Award Shows

Brando Warhol

A builder like Brando

He’s got the longest waitlist of them all (waitlists are how framebuilders measure their worth in this game) and stayed home from the annual framebuilder pageant. The backchannel chatter about NAHBS (North American Handbuilt Bike Show) was more negative this Spring than most shows. I’ll leave the why that is for the people that were there, but this is like Brando swearing off award shows ‘cause it’s not about the art.

Most Y2K framebuilders couldn’t work without a cad program. Or design a frame without a misfitter. Many couldn’t produce a frame without a dedicated fixture, or measure “straight” without a two ton granite table. There’s a whole subculture that goes online and asks OTHER framebuilders how to add braze-ons, what tubes to use, and what brazing rod to buy. These guys aren’t building something as much as they’re assembling material based on a set of instructions. And who among them still makes his own forks?! Things have changed, alright.

Well of course it isn’t. I also don’t expect Sachs to get fat and wear a muumuu, but he does fashion himself as a celeb. One trained in the craft and not playing to some scripted reality show.

Ignore the best lug or ironic facial hair awards and find a builder near you. The best ones I know don’t seek the limelight. They just make bikes, like this one by Bill Davidson and Mark V…

D-Plus in the Gulley

D-Plus outfitted for gravel with those Sammy Slicks



Light & Motion Solite 100

I’ve got this thing going on where Start out the work week sick, stumble through a couple days dead on my feet, become a whirling dervish of productivity for the next two days and then fall sick again for my days off. An old roommate flew in to town to get away from the Deep South for a bit and do some hiking. I had to opt out, but I gave him one of my Light & Motion lights, the Solite 100. It’s a little multi-purpose, USB-rechargeable light that can be hand held, stood on end with an articulating light head, or worn on a strap about a helmet or bare head. You can get a bike-mount for it, but there are other L&M lights that do that better. It’s not super bright compared to my L&M bike lights, but it does provide more than enough light to set up camp on a dark, cold, rainy night out on the Olympic peninsula. And with a 20hr burn time on low, you have enough time to get things done without worrying that it’ll cut out on you. But I still couldn’t be motivated to leave the warmth of my apartment.

I think my friend was just enjoying the novelty of cold rain; he went back to Alabama on a Monday night red eye. Meanwhile, I’ve had all winter to enjoy rubbish wet weather. I’d gladly take some sunshine, and if not that, then at least good health. Literally sick and tired of this.

Light & Motion Solite

Light & Motion Solite



Halo Belt in a Bag


A Kickstarter we apparently missed is now in rev 2.0 and it’s an LED belt for cyclists and anyone else out at night. Well how ‘bout an iteration of this concept that lights up a messenger bag? Like this Halo Zero Messenger Bag from Rickshaw we spotted a few years ago during our Mobile Social Interbike.

Glowy Bag

A bag that glows



PDW 3Wrencho

A month ago I wrote about being selective with your portable tools, and I explicitly recommended the Soma Steel Core tyre lever. Funny enough, seems that some people read the prose I spew on this blog; the guys at Portland Design Works took issue with my choice of tyre levers. So I said I’d take the Pepsi Challenge. A few days later a PDW 3Wrencho arrived in the mail.

A little explanation about the name of the tool. 3Wrencho is a play on San Rensho, which was the brand name of legendary keirin (Japanese professional track racing) framebuilder, Yoshi Konno. The name San Rensho roughly translates into “three victories”, where “san” means “3” in Japanese. By coincidence, San Rensho at one time marketed some keirin-specific tools for adjusting regulation track bikes at the velodrome. Though San Rensho doesn’t exist anymore as a builder, the tool is still available (at least a few years ago), and I have one. However, that tool is too big to use as on-the-road repair kit, and neither does it have a tyre lever. And why would it? Keirin bikes only use tubulars anyways.

Back to the actual 3Wrencho tool: is it the best tyre lever ever? Well, it just might be. It matches my criteria in terms of shape, and it is nylon-coated to protect your rim. But it is definitely beefier than a Soma Steel Core, and I’m not quite sure what it would take to break it. Despite this, the 3Wrencho isn’t so thick that you can’t get it under the bead of tight fitting tyres. The 3Wrencho also incorporates a 15mm box wrench to fit track hub fixing nuts, the tyre lever portion is even angled out so that you can spin the wrench on the nut without catching on the bike’s stays. Compared to Surly’s Jethro Tool, the 3 Wrencho is miles better ergonomically for hossing on track nuts while only marginally longer, while the shape of the 15mm box fits better than the Jethro’s on the fixing nuts of certain internally-geared hubs. And the Jethro doesn’t have a superb tyre lever integrated into the other end like the PDW product. The Jethro just has a bottle-opener….and it’s not like there is any great shortage of bottle opening technologies in the world.

PDW 3Wrencho tool

PDW 3Wrencho has a 15mm box wrench end for the fixing nuts of track hubs and internally geared hubs.

So final verdict? Is the 3Wrencho the best tyre lever ever? Hmmmm, I’m not gonna say that that for a couple reasons. First, it costs $25 which is a lot for a tyre lever if you rarely need one in your travels. Sure, it has that 15mm box wrench, but if you have quick-releases on your wheels then that’s not doing anything for you. It would no doubt last longer than a Soma Steel Core in a shop environment. But even if it doesn’t break, in a shop environment you will eventually wear through the nylon coating, depending on your technique. And in a busy bike shop, tyre levers are like Bic pens in a office: they disappear constantly. I can buy 10 Soma Steel Core levers for the price of one 3Wrencho, lose 3, have another 3 stolen, break one, give one away, accidentally take one home in my pocket, and still come out ahead (yep, that about describes what actually happens).

However, if you look in my own personal tool kit, I keep a 3Wrencho. It is handier than the Jethro Tool as a track nut wrench and better than the Soma as a tyre lever, so I could reduce the number of tools I’m carrying while simultaneously improving ergonomics. If you want an utterly dependable tyre lever for your portable tool kit, there is no finer. And if you ride a bike with some sort of fixing nut for the hub, then without a doubt this is your tool.

PDW 3Wrencho tool

Soma Steel Core lever on left, PDW 3Wrencho on left

PDW 3Wrencho tool

PDW 3Wrencho tool



When Shimano Creates a Vacuum, Others Will Fill The Void

If you’re a consumer, you may not have noticed one of the bigger shakeups in North American component distribution. Mid-last year, Shimano America announced that they would end relations with all but a handful of continental distributors for aftermarket components while “encouraging” retail shops to buy direct (with a B2B system that is loved by exactly no one). Ostensibly this move would help dealers maintain profit margins by eliminating venders from dumping inventory on the market, but many shops are upset about the change since they would prefer to just order parts from their preferred distributor along with their non-Shimano inventory needs. Other shops point out that the online retailers from the UK sell parts to consumers in the US for about the same price that the shops pay wholesale; the distribution change does nothing to solve this. And besides derailleurs and whatnot, Shimano plans to exclusively sell pedals directly to shops. Aside from my own angst, having to deal with Shimano directly, I am curious to see how this pedal plan will play out in the long run.

In my mind, Shimano has been the industry’s 600-lb gorilla since the mid-1980s, wielding huge influence on bike design and distribution. But when Shimano stumbles, other players pounce. I theorize that SRAM’s move into the road market was triggered by a lag in Shimano’s deliveries for road product in the mid-00s. Up till that point, SRAM was strictly an mtb parts maker, but then you started to see SRAM 8 and 9sp cassettes/chains on many entry and mid-level road bikes. They also purchased Truvativ in 2005, given them presence in cranks and chainrings. At the same time, bike manufacturers had some delays delivering bikes because they couldn’t get the Shimano kits. Within a few years, SRAM debuted Force and Rival road gruppos.

To be honest, I’m not sure how much of those events have a causal relationship versus merely correlation, but what is certainly true is that North American distributors are stepping up house brand pedal systems to sell to shops who don’t want to kowtow to Shimano’s distribution schemes. Most of these designs, like QBP’s iSSi and MDW lines, seem to be manufactured by ever incorrigible Shimano knock-off, Wellgo. As such, I’m afraid that my gut-instinct is that these initial offerings will be inferior quality, but who knows what the future will hold? Or perhaps another manufacturer will step in with the resources necessary to build and market a pedal system to go toe-to-toe with the venerable SPD. Maybe old school players like Time and LOOK will end up grabbing back market share.

issie



Page 7 of 1172 pages ‹ First  < 5 6 7 8 9 >  Last › | Archives

0 Comments

To comment

Or with us.





Advertise here

About this Entry

Find more recent content on our home page and archives.

About Bike Hugger