Rambler Stock Getting Low

We are getting to an interesting turning point with the business as Rambler stock is getting lower. But before we bore you with the details, a couple pics to tantalize you with what your Rambler could be:

10.13 Rambler Stock us wp 2-1 10.13 Rambler Stock us wp-1The current stock falls into a couple of categories summarized in the matrix below.  Nothing in the box means we have sold through that size/color combination in this run.  A number indicates stock on hand.  The letter “B” followed by a number indicated the number of blemish frame sets on hand in this combination.  Then there are the “X” frames.  These four have been caught in a combination of coating re-work and small business Purgatory.  The only thing setting them free will be cash flow from sales of a few more frame sets.  From there we can inspect them and determine if they are first quality, blemishes or worst case un sellable.  I can tell you, the line for the Sunflower 63 is about 5 customers deep right now.

10.13 Rambler Stock2 WP-1What does this mean?  If you have been thinking of getting a Rambler, and we have your size on hand it is probably a good time to buy one.  Will there be more Ramblers?  It is quite likely.  How we will get there is still not quite certain.  The demand is growing rapidly, I wish I had about 10 size 63 and 10 more 57.  Our current builder has minimums that push our cash flow to the limits and beyond.  I dream of doing 75-100 more Ramblers for Spring, but not sure how to get there yet, pre-sales, Indegogo, bank loan, etc.  Sorting that out over the next couple of months.  Short of a massive pile of cash falling from the sky, it will most likely be the middle of 2015 before a new batch of Ramblers are ready to go.

There is the issue of healing our wounds from this past round, learning some lessons, and adjusting sourcing and coating.  Some colors just did not work, hence all the Blems.  Some colors may come back, there may be new ones.  There are some business aspects, supply chain, increased quality control, contracts with rework clauses clearly spelled out, insurance for stuff destroyed in re-work, and all the other less exciting details of the business.  This will all start to be sorted in the coming months.

What is certain?  If you see your size in the matrix above, and you want a Rambler it would be a good time to get one.  They are great bikes, customer feedback has been unanimous.  The only thing changing in the next round is possibly less color choices.  The design is solid.  Need more inspiration, everybody loves bike pics?

10.13 Rambler Stock us wp 4-1 10.13 Rambler Stock us wp 3-1What else do we have in the works?  On the new front we have t-shirts, yes more than one design, custom printed bandannas, still searching for a leather contractor, possibly Rambler specific racks some new touring cap variants.  The standards are still her as well: Docena bags on a quarterly basis, Bandannas, Double Weave Kerchiefs, Farm and Field knives, Caldera Cone Stoves Silver Vice pedals, Tires etc.  We are constantly increasing the number of items on hand.

Thank you for helping us get this far.  Without your continued support we would not have made it this far.

Click Here to get to the Store Front

 Also, there are still two frames waiting to go at Blue Lug in Japan and Free Range in Seattle has two or three, one of which is built up and ready to ride

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Fender Mounted Reflectors

This is one of those things that used to be pretty standard on bikes that went away for a long time.  It has been a side burner project around here for years.  I have talked with CatEye, a few smaller makers and some third party importers from Japan.  Take note, there are some pretty cool options in the fender mounted gadget scene over in Japan.  It really came down to a numbers thing, the affordable options involved quantities too high for us, and the smaller runs could not be done a fair price to you.

Then Velo Orange went off and just got it done, and did a pretty darn good job.

10.11 Flect-5 10.11 Flect-4 10.11 Flect-3 10.11 Flect-2 10.11 Flect-1It does everything a reflector is supposed to do, and looks good doing it.  The time change is coming on fast, tail lights are a must for night riding, but a bit of extra passive reflectance never hurts.

We have added these to the store front and will do our best to keep them in stock.

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First Fall Coffee Outside

Life has been happening at an astonishing speed this summer.  That is when I realized summer was over…I pulled the emergency chute this morning and headed to the beach for some coffee outside.  California did not disappoint with indian summer Santa Ana conditions in full swing

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Andrews King Cages In the Store

I have used a ton of different cages over the years at all price points.  for years now there is only one cage that we prefer, use and now sell.

10.1 King cages b-1 10.1 King cages-1Andrews King cages are made in Colorado from tubular 304 stainless.  They do everything a cage is supposed to do: hold your bottles, not let go unless you are pulling it out the top, easy to get the bottle back in etc.  They do two different shapes, the standard King cage and the Iris.  The standard King cage is based on traditional designs and just works better than anything else we have tried when using standard bidons (water bottles).  The stainless steel will not markup the bottle either.

10.1 King White-1The Iris is unique in the bottle cage world.  formed from the same 304 stainless it has all the basic properties of the standard.  The shape holds as tightly too, but there is no inwardly bent upper tab.  The in turn works much better, and rattle free, with many of the metal bottles like the Klean Canteen.  his one will scuff up the metal bottles a bit, but IMO is a fair price to pay for not rattling

10.1 King White-2We love and use then both on our Rambler builds.  As an introductory bonus for adding them to our lineup of offerings you can use coupon code OCEANKING to shave $2 off each cage until current stock runs out or tomorrow night, whichever comes first.

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Thoughts on Packing and Shipping Stuff

Getting the stuff you buy online is part of the experience.  It has become part of the reality most of us encounter.  At the low-end of the spectrum you have the small item from amazon bouncing loosely in a box ten times its own size that lands on your doorstep half crushed.  As regular American I get my own fair share of stuff shipped to the door, as well as most of the product we re-sell.  I see a fair bit of the good, the bad and the ugly.  We strive to be as far as possible to the good side when we send things out.

There are a few things I consider paramount.  When you choose your packaging it should serve its minimum purpose of protecting the end product for a secure delivery.  After that it needs to enhance the general experience.  This can be done by imparting useful information, creating an unwrapping experience that brings back good memories, feels like getting a gift, all of it is able to be reused or recycled, or leaves you with useful materials beyond the intended purchase etc.

Here is the latest in our evolving practice to deliver a favorable experience when you receive your stuff that we shipped you.   On the receiving end we get a ton of different packing material.  The bottom end of the spectrum are the foam peanuts, but our favorite is the brown craft paper.

9.27 Packing-2We end up with mountains of the stuff at times.  It all gets flattened back out, and staged for reuse.  Not all is created equal, certain types are better at different things, but almost every square inch of it sees a second chance at passing through the shipping channels.

9.27 Packing-5The lighter weight pieces are used for wrapping, the rest ends up as packing material to hold the item securely in the box.

9.27 Packing-3In the past we tied the wrapping closed with the scrap fabric from our double weave kerchief production.  Lately we have become enamoured with the colored hemp twine from Newbaums.  You probably already know we have a thing for color, and traditional bar tape with twined ends.  This twine opens up a whole new range of options to add some more color to your builds.  Starting in the last week, packages have been going out with the thank you notes attached with a length long enough to do a trial wrap somewhere on your build.  Sometimes I pick a color that I know is either your favorite, and or could complement your Rambler well (yes I actually think about this stuff while wrapping things up).  They have a wide variety of options that match or complement just about every color of the Newbaums cloth bar tape.  The rolls from Merry Sales are huge, way bigger then the average person will need.  In the near future we will be adding it to the storefront in 10 ft lengths.

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I think about this sort of stuff, probably way too much.  Every little bit helps, it keeps it fun for you and us.  Sometimes I envision the paper being used over and over, stamped by each brand or user, and ending up like that well traveled passport.  This one is just getting ready to start the next leg of its journey.

9.27 Packing-6Reduce – Reuse – Recycle!

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Topo and Docena Synergies

I have been a long time stalker of Topo Designs bags.  They do really good stuff, simple, yet feature filled and made in Colorado.  About a week ago I pulled the trigger on a couple of their Dopp Kits and a Mountain Hip Pack.

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Both happen to have a really fantastic synergy with the Docena handlebar bags.  The dimensions work out to be near perfect modules for organizing or escape pods.  The dopp kits are a bit over 11″ wide. about 5 inches tall and triangular in cross section.  This slots them perfectly into the upper or lower compartments.  One is great for helping keep things organized, as a dopp kit for toiletries, camp kitchen supplies.  If one were really on an OCD tear you can get two easily into a Docena section, possibly 3 if they were not overstuffed.

9.18 Topo-2 9.18 Topo-1The Mountain hip bag completely fills either the upper or lower Docena compartment.  Why carry a bag in a bag?  if you are headed out to the mountains, either all day or overnight for a bit of biking and hiking it is a great way to get you day hiking stuff to the trail head without having to ride with it on your body and then carry the docena on the hike.  At a bit over 400 cubic inches in volume, with multiple external lashing points, it is the perfect companion for day hikes, walks dow to the stream for a quick fish haul a compact camera system and your lunch etc.

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9.18 Topo-7 9.18 Topo-5I am looking forward to working all of these into my daily carry routines.  great bags help make transport fun and the lads easier to manage.  Thanks to everybody at Topo for making great bags and all sorts of other stuff.  I can see some of their Accessory Bags in my future, also coincidentally sized to drop right into the Docena

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New Rambler In the Demo Fleet

The summer has been pretty good to us, and it was time to take some of that cash flow and use it to add another demo Rambler to out fleet.  Until now we had the 51 and 63.  Everything in between for test rides, expos etc. depended on the help of friends and customers.  I pulled a 59 US Blue from inventory and built it up in a pretty non-standard Rambler way, just to show how versatile the frame set can be.

9.13 sunset b wp-1The drive train is the White Industries Double/Double, The front rings are a 38/35 machined from a single plate and a 16/19 freewheel in back.  This gives me a great high gear for around town and moderate hills, and a more moderate low for when I hit the dirt roads.  The rear ENO hub has an eccentric axle to manage chain tension.  Switching between high and low is done manually.  There is also a fixed cog on the other side should I ever choose to go that route, options.  Up front there is a SON 28 dyno powering B&M head and tail lights.  Silver Vice pedals, King Sotto Voce headset, Nitto Albatross bars wrapped in Newbaums Cotton, Selle Anatomica NSX saddle and plenty of Paul Comp details.  The Docena bag fits the gap between bars and rack on the front like a glove.  The tires are the new Soma Cazadero 700×43 knobby, and I am liking them a ton.  So far I have about 40 miles on the build and am beyond happy to have it as a second Rambler in the fleet that I can ride.  I will have a more detailed photo series in a week or two once I have everything dialed in, already swapped the bars and saddle, there may be a few more adjustments, but things are close.

9.13 sunset wp-1The shakedown ride after the above mentioned bar and saddle swap was a roaring success and the shellac is drying on the bar tape as I type.

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Pannier Hardware Decaleur Hack

With the first batch of Docena bags landing at their new owner’s this week, I wanted to share a bit about the hardware hack I have been rolling with for over a year now.  I opted to engineer a rock solid quick release system around commonly available pannier hooks.  They are cheaper, lighter, faster on/off and familiar to most cyclists outside of the french rando historical reenactment scene.  Likewise, I hacked a Nitto Lamp holder two with an old MTB handlebar and 10mm cabinet pull to male the handlebar side of the mount.  I wholly believe convenience and safety are key tenants as part of my quest to bring front loading bikes to the mainstream, getting there with familiar hardware can only help.  Here is a pic of the end hard mounted to the handlebars.

8.30 decaleur hack-1The next step is prepping your pannier hardware of choice.  I went with Ortlieb because the locking mechanism is simple and strong.  The mounting rail adds a bit of welcome rigidity to the bag, and there is little weight penalty with the molded plastic structure.  I mount the bare hooks on the 10mm “decaleur” rail to get them centered.

8.30 decaleur hack-2Put the bag on the rack and make sure the height of the mounting rail works out with the space between Docena rear pockets and the top flap.

8.30 decaleur hack-3This is a place where the adjustability of the Nitto mount hack really shines.  there are miltiple degrees of freedom in moving the mounting rail forward, back up and down by simply rotating around the two clamping axis.  With two rotating axis you end up wiht a reasonable amount of adjustment.  In the last few months the Nitto Lamp holder 2 has also shown up on our shores in a variety of mounting bracket lengths.  Once happy with how it all lines up, mark you horizontal line on the bag at the bottom of your bracket

8.30 decaleur hack-4Taking the bag over to the work bench, use a ruler to locate and align the center of the rail to the center of your bag.  This is the start of where you will want to be as careful as possible.  Measure twice  and be certain of every step.

8.30 decaleur hack-5From there I set the rail into position, and mark the mounting holes.

8.30 decaleur hack-6I use a hot soldering iron to make the holes and sear the material from fraying in a single pass.  I have also seen this done with a hot nail.  Use some common sense, do not burn your fingers being careless about the process.  This is best done with the stiffener fully inserted in the final position.  You will want the holes to pass all the way through and fully engage the bag and coroplast stiffener.

8.30 decaleur hack-7My picture of the mounting hardware turned out terrible.  I will insert one from the next bag I set up.  It really is the most straight forward step, just nuts and bolts.  That is it.  From there the nylon strap goes over the tombstone on your lower rack, and the pannier hooks grab your hacked decaleur just like the panniers most of us are familiar with.  If I know I will be leaving the bag on, or riding for long periods off pavement, I take the time run the bottom velcro straps through the rack.  Honestly though, I do not use them for most of my day to day riding.

8.30 decaleur hack-8Based of feedback from other riders using Swift bags the Berthoud decaleur for threadless stems is also a good solution.  There are a variety of off the shelf solutions that will get you where you want to go.  My hack above works better than most IMO, shaves a bit of $$ and feeds your inner maker monkey.  At some point we will offer a packaged solution, but there are a few other projects ahead of it in line.

 

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New Dingle Speed Rambler in The Stable

It was time to add one more demo Rambler to the fleet.  This is a 59 with a few fun details not yet seen on other builds.  New Soma Cazadero 700×43 knobby tires, White Industries Double/Double drive train and ENO eccentric rear hub, Nitto Bosco bars, and a dropout mounted tail light.  I made it out for a 30’ish mile shake down ride today and am really happy to have this one around.  It will end up being the slightly more simple grab and go bike for around town.  Even with the wider knobby tires there is still room for plastic fenders.  The tires really need a 55mm fender, and at the moment there is no metal offering in that size that I know of.  Now for the fun part.

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Docena Pre-Sale Is On

6.28 Docena Launch mail-1

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