Monkey See, Monkey Do

My girlfriend spotted this on Boingboing. It’s 1967 bicycle safety film called One Got Fat.

It has that weirdness that every Sixties-era public service film had and then some. You see, the kids who demonstrate every thing not to do on a bike are all wearing the freakiest monkey masks I have ever seen. It’s kinda effed up. I mean, I don’t like monkeys to begin with, and now they’re riding bikes on public streets. After watching this, I had this twisted dream involving Planet of the Apes and getting scolded by my elementary school principal.

Another Typical Seattle Commute

I ride 2 commute routes during a week, pretty much the same roads and the same times every day. I’m amazed at the daily differences. Take today for example: 1st real ride on the new gear ratio, nearly crushed by a bus, got smoked by a single-speeder on the Burke, witnessed seattle’s finest patrolling the path down near the U, and got to talk to a Paris-Brest-Paris veteran on the Bus on the way home. This list doesn’t include the amazing, fantastic sunset this evening. Ho-hum, just another wildly varied daily ride.

I finally got my big black and yellow rain bike back on the road after replacing most of the drive train last week. Unfortunately I neglected to get a new rear cog to match the larger front chain ring I put on, so I went from 60 some gear inches to 70 in one go, which may not be a lot for some but it’s a bit much for me. Rolling out of the house this morning I felt like I was standing on each pedal for much, much longer getting started up. Undoubtedly this is what distracted me until the Bus got too close.

Buses have a tough lot in life, they really do. Imagine your car was articulated, 60 feet long, and needed parking for 1 minute every 2 blocks. Now imagine some pip-squeak on a bike is pulling up along side you at an intersection with a stop on the next block. As you pull to the right to make the stop, the space for the rider gets smaller smaller… Fortunately the rider isn’t so distracted that he doesn’t just come to a complete stop to keep from being made into jam. Regardless of how tough life is for buses, this still pisses the rider (me) off. Bah to you, #5 bus!

Having survived the traffic, I made it down to Freemont and hit the Burke-Gilman trail. I figured I’d be going pretty fast on my new 70 gear inches of steel, but even this small hubris was paid off in spades as some guy on a single speed blew past me on the way to the same destination as me, clearly pushing a much smaller gear. Maybe it’s time to consider a different rear-cog.

Even if speed wasn’t on my side, luck was. As I huffed and puffed along the Burke I noticed a new addition to the stop signs at the first major intersection. “Stop. Police ahead”, hand written and taped to the stop sign. This got my attention much more quickly than the blinking red LEDs on the sign. Sure enough, Seattle’s finest bike police were just past the bushes on the other side, presumably warning forgetful cyclists about the dangers of running stop signs. Is Seattle finally stepping up enforcement of cycling laws? I chatted with the officer a bit, but he wouldn’t let on what was up.

So much for the morning commute, the evening commute was just about as good. After 2 buses passed me by with full racks and a minor hail storm, I was a bit surprised to see another rider pull up to my stop on 520. We got to talking and it turns out he’s ridden hundreds of miles in all kinds of conditions, say during the PBP. Turns out Albert’s a veteran member of SIR, the Seattle International Randonneurs and not only rode PBP last year but finished (remarkable because the dropout rate was about twice normal). Anybody who even shows up for the PBP has my complete respect, and it wasn’t wasted on Albert. He commutes up from Federal Way, sometimes as much as 34 miles 1-way on bike. We had a lovely chat about lights, commuting, and some of our local cycling celebrities.

The rest of the ride home was pretty much uneventful, including the part where I made it up the almost 400 feet to my house on the new tall gears. I fully expected to be walking my bike up the last few hills but low and behold I made it just fine. The weather cooperated very nicely, including a great sunset. So nice to have the sun still up when I’m headed home!

My carpool mate was asking me a few days ago if I’d take a bus instead of riding if it showed up directly in front of my house and honked every day. I don’t think I would. My daily commute’s a fantastic antidote to the daily grind, and even though it’s the same route there’s always something new around the next corner.

Hotspur and Oversize Titanium Tubing


For the Hotspur frame, Bill Davidson decided that to use the Feather Tech oversize titanium tubing. The key feature is the custom milling that Feather Tech employs to create external butting on very large diameter (for titanium) tubing.

hotspur%2013.jpg It’s simple statics that dictates that doubling tube diameter increases stiffness by a factor of 16 if the wall thickness is kept constant. So, what you do is increase the diameter by say, 20%, and decrease wall thickness until the weight is less than a standard tube but still thick enough at the ends to survive the welding process. Then you end up with a tube that is both lighter and stiffer than before. Large diameter, butted tubing is not a new concept. Steel bikes have evolved along these guidelines for over a hundred years, hastened by newer, stronger micro-alloyed steels and better tube-drawing methods that allow thinner walls to be created.

However, titanium is NOT steel. It’s material properties are such that higher strength ti alloys are not very suitable for seamless tube drawing. And not everyone can make titanium tubing; most of it comes from industries catering to aerospace companies. So, in other words, these companies are not interested in creating bicycle tubing. Smaller companies can then buy the tubing and modify the tubing. Feather Tech is one such company.

Steel is generally butted using a method called rolling, which doesn’t actually involve material removal (loss). This creates an internal butting profile, ie the change of wall thickness is only detectable on the inside of the tube, thus invisible on the finished frame. For titanium, Feather Tech removes material from the outside of the tube; you can see how the ends are thicker.

The Hotspur’s top tube is 38mm (versus the typical 32-35mm) and the downtube is a massive 42mm (vs 35-38mm). The seat tube is 35mm with a machined cap to bring the inside diameter down to fit a 31.6mm seatpost. Bill could have easily chosen the next size smaller for each of the tubes to create a lighter bike, but Bikehugger specifically requested a stiffer, more responsive frame.

Next Bill opted for the Reynolds carbon seat stay. Light, stiff, and clean, the Reynolds piece provides a little vibration damping where it can do the most good. And Paragon makes a ti dropout that elegantly connects to the bottom of the Reynolds seat stay. Bill then used Dedacciai tapered chainstays to stiffen the power transfer to the rear wheel. Bill thinks that that a metal connection from the BB to the rear axle is the strongest, most durable structure.

In the same philosophy of leaving material where it’s needed and removing it where it’s not, Bill eccentrically machined the head tube stock to thin the tube on the front and leave material on the back to reduce warp from the welding of the top and down tubes. The frame accepts a standard 1-1/8 headset, because there is no good reason to incorporate an integrated headset into a steel or titanium frame. It would just unnecessarily add weight (for reasons beyond the scope of this article, integrated works pretty good for aluminium and great for carbon).

The resulting frame weighed 1280 gr before paint in a 56cm equivalent size, just about 80 grs heavier than the ‘07 Trek Madone frame that it will replace. When combined with paint and a Reynolds UL carbon fork, the whole thing is just about the same as the Madone and its respective fork (within 5gr or so). Quite competitive, especially keeping in mind that ultra-light wasn’t the design goal. Bill could have built a lighter bike, but that wasn’t what Bikehugger asked for. The Hotspur is a bike for the roads you actually ride, and how you want to ride them.


Hed After Hours @ One On One

HED Cycling Products is un-tapping kegs, un-corking bottles and shedding parkas for a social this weekend at One on One Bicycle Studio.



Friday, February 15th
7pm-12am, Product preview, social

Saturday, February 16th¨
10am “ 7pm, Product demos, informational talks, 7pm “ 12am, Social
117 Washington Ave N. | Warehouse District ¨Minneapolis

More HED

  • The Hotspur debuted at the Handmade Bike Show with the new Ardennes
  • Trek blogged about working with Steve Hed in the wind tunnel
  • I’ll ride the Ardennes extensively in Maui next week and post all about them.

Builders at the Handmade Bike Show

In our 3rd video from the Handmade Bike Show, we stop at the Dean booth, check a Roark S&S frame, see the JK special, and the BME C-Thru. We also talk with Bike Friday about the Tikit, custom carbon frames from RR Velo, and wondered what the robots were all about at the SRAM booth.


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