Bunyan Velo No.4

Bunyan Velo is an online magazine dedicated to the beauty and the story of bicycle travel.  Only out for a year now the latest issue, No.4, was recently released.  I have been asking Lucas, the editor, for advertising rates and space for the last six months, and the answer has always been no.  He wanted an article.  Most of the articles are about grand adventures to far away places, and my big adventure has been family and Ocean Air Cycles for the last two years.  He wanted to share my story a bit, how the micro adventures are crammed into the gaps in the day.  After kicking some ideas back and forth we settled on the #coffee outside.  Cramming a little bit of campaign back into a regular morning.


I am honored to be included in a journal with so many great story tellers, photographers and adventurers.  Each issue keeps getting better.  Check it out, share it with your friend and spread the word.

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38mm and Tubeless?

The tubeless tire setups common in the MTB world have been slowly starting to creep into the fat tire road bike niche.  The benefits of weight savings, running lower pressures and near flat-proofness all translate to some degree.  I have been asked, and do not recommend that the commonly available 38-40mm tires be set up tubeless for most riders.  The risk of failure is too high for most of us.  That said, today I did this:

2.22 Orange Seal wp-9040997Things are not always what they appear though.

There are a few perimeters that all come into play to make tubeless setups work.  Removing the rim from this discussion for now, the tire generally needs a bead that has near zero stretch, and a sidewall/casing with a butyl liner to protect it from the solvents in the tubeless compound.  Tubeless setups are generally run at lower pressures for improved traction and comfort.  The sealing solution is meant to seal up any small gaps in the system, but also seals any punctures along the way.

That all sounds great for what we want out of our light and supple 38mm tires.  I brought this up a few years back while talking with Kirk Pacenti ant NAHBS.  He has a strong grasp of tubeless design and had recently launched his 650b PariMoto tire.  The first problem is with the tire itself.  To make them proper for tubeless they have a butyl liner bonded to the inside of the tire.  With large MTB tires this liner is significantly lighter than the tube it replaces.  As the tire gets smaller the point of diminishing returns is approached.  The available super light tubes weigh about the same (100-120g) as that the liner and a full load of sealant would weigh.  The zero stretch bead needed adds further weight.  Then there is the pressure consideration.  Riders at or over 180 lbs will likely be running pressures greater than 45psi.  this pushes the limits of where non-tubless tires will stay on the rim without a tube.

So what did I do to my wheels this afternoon?  With the goathead thorn season getting ready to ramp up and some dirt road group rides planned I wanted to add a bit of insurance to my system.  I decided to take as much of the good as I could and set up an optimized system for the 38mm tires and my weight (210 lbs).  Starting with the Velocity A23 tubeless rim, the secure tubeless ready fit gives a snug fit with the tire bead.  The Soma C Line tires are one of the widest, light 380g, and supple 700c tires on the market at the moment.  I opted for the super light Q tubes at about 120g each for the 700x 35.  This set up alone has been going great for months now.  Taking it to the next steep in flat protection I added 2 oz, half the normal amount for a full sized MTB tire of Orange Seal to each Tube.  This will add about 70g to each tire, less than  standard tube and aramid liner.

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The process was simple.  Let the air out to the tire, having a presta nut on will help later

2.22 Orange Seal wp-9040991Next up grab a 4mm wrench and remove the valve core from the stem.

2.22 Orange Seal wp-90409942.22 Orange Seal wp-9040993Insert the plastic end of the supplied hose onto the well shaken bottle of sealant

2.22 Orange Seal wp-9040995And the other end goes over the stem.  Invert the bottle and squirt in about half.

2.22 Orange Seal wp-9040997

Turn the bottle right side up an detach the hose.  Re-install the valve core and inflate to the desired pressure.  I keep my C Lines between 55 and 60 psi.  Repeat on the other tire and ride.  It is that simple.

What are the gains in theory, and how is this different than a basic Slime brand pre-filled inner tube?  The whole system is optimized to be light and supple for decreased rolling resistance.  The level of safety is high.  Time will tell if there is improved air retention and flat protection.  The end is a system with all of the good parts of each improvement and less risk to safety.

There have been reports of successful tubeless setups with 42m tires and lower pressures.  I suspect the rider weight and load were also correspondingly lower.  While there have been successes, there have also been failures.   The tires and pressures we are using on “Rando” bikes are close to the margins of safety for tubeless design.  The price of failure is high.  Failure being the front tire coming off of the rim at speed with total loss of air pressure.  While I want improved performance as much as the next rider, I do not think tubeless is the right choice for our needs.  I am looking forward to increased flat protection while having the piece of mind that my tire is far more likely to stay on the rim.

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Trek 613 650b Conversion For Sale

The Trek 613 650b conversion I did for a customer just over two years ago has come back to our stable to find a new home.  It has aged quite gracefully, and looks better now then it did at the start.

2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040861 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040864 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040865 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040867 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040868 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040873 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040874 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040875 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040876 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040878 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040886 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040892 2.18 Trek 613 WP-1040893

The Trek 613 frame is the backbone for this build.  it was what Trek listed as a 23″ frame, and has a 57cm seat tube and a 56cm top tube,  It would best first riders with a pubic bone height in the mid 80′s

Everything about this build/restoration met or exceeded the original expectations.  There were a few things that worked but need disclosure.  The extra long reach brakes stop the bike, but will not induce a skid.  This is not really a safety issue but sometimes the nature of these sort of conversions, the bike stops just fine when you need it to.  There are some chips and scratches in the paint, no dents.  The Suntour Symmetric shifter is gorgeous, but only pulls enough cable to shift through 7 of the 8 rear cogs.  The stainless Berthoud fenders have a few small dents, but are solid and crack free.  The HT AE-01 pedals are in need of a rebuild, they spin fine, but a rebuild would get you another decade out of them.  The original front rack and basket were intended to be a temporary thing, that ended up going the whole time.  I was not happy with the mounting and they are not included with this offering.  I would recommend the Soma Porteur or Pass & Stowe as the best non-custom replacement option.

On the plus side this is an incredibly smooth and nimble riding bike.  Everything is in fine working order to take it home and get riding.  It has proven itself both around town and on more then a few mixed terrain short tours.  The Brooks B17 Select has restored my faith in current Brooks production standards.  There are a few top notch upgrades like the Nitto Technomic stem and Albatross bars, and Brooks Select saddle.  The serial Number, dates the bike to 80-81 an fit is in fantastic condition for a bike that age.  It is rust free inside and out.  All of the bearings are clean and free spinning.

I am offering the bike at $1800 $1500 as seen in the pictures.  I have a couple of interested parties, but I am starting a list of potential buyers.  While I would prefer a local sale, we can facilitate packing and shipping at a reasonable fee.  If the potential buyer would like too use this as a starting point for some other improvements, I would be willing to facilitate any thing you may want, like a new front rack etc.  Contact me for a full re-build quote

General thoughts, Trek 650b conversions like this are intended to be ridden with a front load.  The handling is great unloaded, but things really stay nice and neutral as you put a but up front.  The big difference between this and the Ramblers is all of the details for lighting, better performing brakes and rack mounts.  These old Treks provides a fair amount of inspiration for the Ramblers.

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Scout Book Meeting Wallet

This year has started off with a flurry of meetings, and my note taking / business card distribution system was in series need of improvement.  It was time to hit the workbench and fix things a bit.  The “Scout Books Meeting Wallet” samples are the outcome

2.13 SB Samples WP-1040787I like the Scout Books, enough to design a wallet around it.  The paper is great, fountain pen friendly, recycled, and the whole thing is made in the USA.  They get bonus points for building a system that will allow for custom printed journals (another project in the works around here).  The wallet is there to add a bit of protection, and hold the other things I need for quick business meetings, card holding slots, extra pocket, room for a writing utensil in the fold etc.  I can grab this and go.

2.13 SB Samples WP-10407852.13 SB Samples WP-10407842.13 SB Samples WP-10407812.13 SB Samples WP-1040783The secret money pocket for those moments when you should have brought a little extra cash, meetings overrun into meals, coffee etc.  The whole thing drops into the back pocket, and just makes it into a shirt pocket.

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All of our leather goods are made with Veg Tanned natural leather produced in the USA.  We treat the leather with a bee’s wax based leather dressing.  Use and sunlight will put on the patina, these are built to last, and will just keep getting better with time.  This is what one of my early wallets looks like with over a year in the pocket

2.13 SB Samples WP-1040789

These will be up on the storefront later today as a custom order item.  I also will be switching all of our leather goods, single and double pocket wallets, to a custom order basis so that I can manage the supply a bit better than I have been.  I need the demand to get me sewing, and then make the steps to start working with a contractor for some managed growth of the line.

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VP Vice pedal in Silver

We love Flat pedals, all sorts.  This is a broad category that includes all pedals that do not somehow attach you to the pedal, i.e. clipless or toe clips and straps.  Grant at Rivendell wrote a piece years ago, The Shoes Ruse, that sums it up better than I ever could into one essay.  After months of compiling commute time data with all sorts of pedals, the clip less showed no significant benefit.  I switched completely to flats.  Last year when considering what pedals to offer our customers I compiled all of my of my thoughts and reasoning behind choosing the VP Vice into a blog post.

2.2 Silver Vice Pre NL-1150319The vice is our favorite pedal for the money.  The color options are really fun to add a touch of detail to your build.  The next closest options that offer significantly better mechanical features cost roughly twice as much.  I have helped a bunch of people onto these pedals over the last year.  The only non-positive feedback was the wish that they came in Silver.

2.2 Silver Vice Pre NL-1130077

Well this year they will.  We are working with VP USA to import a batch of these in Silver (clear) anodized finish.  We are close to our minimums for making the project happen, and need your help to get over the hump.  We have set up a Pre-order on our storefront.  The turnaround time on these is about 60 days, and we expect a mid to late April delivery.

Place Your Pre-Sale Order Here

2.2 Silver Vice2 ig-1130085Today is the last day of the lowest pre-sale pricing, tomorrow the price will go up another $10 before we settle in at the new $95 price point for the year.  To see presale pricing you will need to add the pedals to your cart and use Coupon Code SVPVPS at checkout.  While we can not advertise the price, I will say this is a smoking deal and below the wholesale price of most other thin flat pedals on the market.

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Coffee Outside

The new baby is finally sleeping through most of the night, at least for the moment.  THat helps get me out of bed and out to the beach in time for some coffee outside and the sun rise.  Today was tight, but I set up in the dark, then as the sun light passed through the clouds and the magic lens of LA air things went all sorts of psychedelic for a bit, then settled in closer to normal.  As usual, a great day to enjoy being outside, light breezes and temps in the 40′s but closer to 50 right by the water.

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Holes In Metal Fenders

Metal fenders offer a bunch of benefits over their plastic counterparts.  They are often lighter, offer better coverage of the tire, the rolled lip reduces side spray, they generally look nicer, etc.  One of the challenges of the fender though is the need to put more hand work into the install.  My last post resulted in a few questions that made me realize our readers could use a little more info on some sheet metal working skills used to put holes in the fender.  Part of installing the fender, lights and wires will often if not always require you to make holes in what are perfectly good fenders.  Good technique and proper tools can make this a breeze, a couple of lazy steps could leave you with expensive scrap metal.  I documented an install of a headlight on a bike that already had the rack and fenders mounted in place.  If you are building from scratch it is often far easier to make all of the needed holes at the work bench.

Here are the basic tools you will need: Marker, Drill Bits (in the event that you did not get a step bit), Countersink, Round File, Step Bit, Center Punch, Stress Relief Grommets, Wooden Backing, Drill Motor

1.25 holes-1040548 anoThere are other tools out there, like a large hole punch made by Honjo, but these are the basic hand tools that many of you may already have, or can get at you local hardware store.

First step is to put your drill bit into the motor, think about where your holes will be, then remove everything that is in the way.

1.25 holes-1040551This includes you tire, the light, possibly the rack and any other accessories that may be in the way.  If you get lazy and leave stuff in the way you have a high risk of wrecking stuff, it is not worth it, trust me.

With everything you need stripped off, use the marker to make a mark where you want the holes.  With lighting wires there is a bit more margin on the location.  Mounting holes need to be precise.  Taking the time to make the mark forces you to take a second and think twice (or more) about where you are making the holes

1.25 holes-1040553 1.25 holes-1040552Once you are sure of the hole location use your center punch to make a small indent in the place you want to be the center of the hole.  The indent will help to keep the drill bit from running all over your fender at the start of drilling.  When you make the indent with the punch be sure to support the fender from behind with you hand and the block of backing wood.

1.25 holes-1040558Without support from behind, the indent you make with the punch could end up damaging the fender more than intended.  If you do not have a spring loaded center punch a sharp nail can substitute, but you may need a second set of hands to keep everything supported.

It is time to drill.  If you have the step drill this will go a bit easier.  These are made specifically for sheet metal and the way they take incremental cuts, as well as the shape of the cutting edge help to reduce the pressure needed to make the hole cut.  If you are using traditional drill bits be sire to start with a small bit (hole), then move up to a bigger bit.  Also be sure to back the hole with a wooden block.

1.25 holes-1040559With the step drill you do not need the wooden block and things are a bit easier.  You can see the black lines I made on the bit.  These mark the diameters where I want to stop.  The black line makes it much easier to see on the spinning bit.

This is what the hole should look like.

1.25 holes-1040560Nice and round, a tiny bit smaller then the final hole you want and there will be a metal bur around the edge.  You can either use your countersink by hand or the round file to gently de-bur and clean up the edge of the hole.  I am using the file in the picture below.

1.25 holes-1040561With the hole tuned up it is tie to push in the stress relief grommet.  If this were a mounting hole it would be done.  THe stress relief grommet protects the electrical wire from the sharp edge of the hole.  Even with the edge filed smooth, the wire would likely wear through and fail from the vibrations of riding.  The grommets can be bought in a variety of sizes at you local hardware store.  They are usually found in the electrical section.  They are shaped like tiny doughnuts with a groove cut in around the edges

1.25 holes-1040569Every time I hold one I think of it as a tiny Death Star with Luke flying around the trench in an X-Wing.  Yes that kid is alive and well in all of us I hope.

Push the grommet into the hole and work around the edges on moth singes to make sure that the grommet is centered with the top and bottom fully sandwiching the metal of the fender.

1.25 holes-1040562 1.25 holes-1040563It should look the same on both sides, none of the lip caught in the hole.  If you were lazy with the de-burring it will likely have taught your finger tips a lesson when working the grommet into place.

The hole is now ready and safe to pass your wire through, finishing off the rest of your lighting install.

1.24 secula WP-1040504If I were to insert this much detail into a single post it would end up incredibly long.  I will do my best to expand steps like this where needed.  Later this week there may be a post on grommets alone.  Eventually I will cover wire terminations, and a bunch of other stuff that I take for granted.  I was lucky to grow up in a mechanically inclined environment,  then back it up with an engineering education, time in machine shops and countless hours keeping mechanical things running.  This is my chance to share the knowledge.  If at any point you think I jumped a step or need to explain something in more detail, hit me with a comment or message.

Because much of this is second nature to me there will be things I skip, like eye protection.  Not that I skipped it, but forgot to write it out.  Eye and face protection are no joke when working with metal.  Metal bits in your eye sucks, really bad, trust me.  I usually wear a full face shield, it is easy and keep thing from getting in any of your head holes.

Now have fun punching holes in your perfectly good $100 plus new fenders, in the long run you will be happy with them.

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New Secula Tail Light

As part of the recent rebuild of my personal Rambler I included a new dynamo powered tail light.  THe B&M Secula is looking to be one of the better options for 2014 and I wanted some first hand experience with set up and performance.

1.24 secula WP-1040488My previous go to light was the B&M Seculight, also a good performer and better than many battery powered lights on the Market.  The Secula implements what B&M is calling LineTec.  The LED shines into a thick prismatic lens distributing the light across a wider angle of view.  Initial bench tests look quite promising, and I am looking forward to getting this out in the dark.

One thing I never noticed with the older B&M packaging was the direct intent to be used as a hole template for drilling the fender mounting location, this worked out nicely.

1.24 secula WP-1040489 1.24 secula WP-1040490 1.24 secula WP-1040491Everything went together well as a standard fender mounted tail light would.  The only thing that bothered be a bit was the wire routing out of the fender to the bottom connection points.  The design intent is to use a common hole for the alignment prong on the light base and the wire pass through the fender.  As a rule I always use a relieve grommet on the holes to ensure the wire does not get cut over time.  This led to a space conflict as well as the light base no longer following the curve of the fender.  I resolved this by cutting a small section out of the relief grommet as well as shimming the mounting bolt with a round leather washer.

1.24 secula WP-1040496It all pulled in flush and snug.  I replaced the stock nut with a nylon lock nut and trimmed the bolt a few thready to maximize tire clearance.  It all came together well.

1.24 secula WP-1040501Through frame wiring was a breeze.  I use an old derailer cable butt spliced to my dual conductor wire with the glue filled shrink wrap as a wire fish.  All wire runs are through the frame or inside the fenders with the wires tucked into an edge.  The exposed run from the seat tube to the rear fender is secured with a short piece of cloth tape.  THe front fender had been previously drilled for a head light only.  For this build I opted for a second set of holes.  On new builds I generally use a larger hole and grommet to accommodate the two wires.

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1.24 secula WP-1040506 1.24 secula WP-1040504 1.24 secula WP-1040503My personal Rambler is finally reflecting the complete vision of what a Rambler is meant to be.  There are a few details like the bottle cages to take care of still.  My Rambler will also be the test bed for rack and bag projects, so matching there may never happen.  Overall though I am thrilled with the way this build came together

1.23 almost FL-1040499

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Re-Stocking Caps

The freshest shipment of Randi Jo Caps hit our door step this week and the storefront stock has been updated.  Getting boxes from Randi is always a little bit like Christmas.


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Farmer’s Market Ride

The first one of the year.  Temps starting in the high 40′s with Santa Anna conditions starting up it started to move between 55 and 75 depending where you were along the coast.  Temperature fluctuations were the least of the drama though with a cross wind gusting to 35mph plus.  That said it was still great to get out and ride, and bring home some food for the week.

1.5  FM WP-11500641.5  FM WP-1040315 1.5  FM WP-1040316 1.5  FM WP-10403171.5  FM WP-1150087 1.5  FM WP-1150100Yes, the bag fits my two dozen eggs perfectly, pictures make it look perfect out, it was.  THe wind kept things exciting, and I have some more “handling in a cross wind” data added to the design journal.

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