Friday, June 29, 2007

Framebuilder's Questionnaire: Ira Ryan Cycles

Iran Ryan, local Portland framebuilder chimes in with the Plus One Lap Cyclocross framebuilder questionnaire:

1. How'd you first get interested in bicycles in general?

When I started riding my bike 7 miles one way on gravel to school and loitering around the local bike shop.

2. At what point did you begin building bikes?

I started framebuilding in January of 2005.

3. What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started out building bikes for people?

When you start building, you are trying to sell your frames and work out the kinks in the your system at the same time. I sold my first 8 bikes to close friends for the cost of materials. Just running a small business is also hard for some small one person builders.

4. How is your approach to build a cyclocross bike different than say in building a mountain or road bike?

Traditionally, cross geometry is close to touring geometry but in the last decade, cyclocross bikes are looking and riding more like road bikes. I tend to build a lot of bikes that people use for cross but also use for long rides or commuting using smaller tubes better suited for all day comfort. For racing cyclocross bikes, they need to be light, stiffer and faster handling for races lasting no more than an hour.

5. Whats your favorite bike that you own or have owned? What made it special?

I love my road bike. Being in the saddle for 6 hours. Climbing 8,000 feet and gliding down a mountain at 45mph feels awsome. My porteur bike (cupcake) is the bike i ride most often since it has a rack on the front and a upright position. Cupcake gets the most looks. I love it.

6. Do you race cyclocross?

I usually race a couple cross races a season but the races are usually a little short for me.

7. In your opinion, why are custom steel cyclocross bikes still so popular?

Something about the ride of steel off-road. You need something compliant but that still responds well to rider imput and steel seems to nail it in cross. Plus, it is totally classic for cross.

8. Whats your current wait time for a custom cyclocross frame?

My current waitlist time is 6 months.

9. Is there anything else you think readers would want to know about your approach to bikes, cycling and building frames?

I love to see beautiful bicycles but get sad when I see a beautiful bike hanging on the wall and not being ridden. I think bikes can change the world one rider at a time whether it is through commuting, racing or touring. Ride your bike, be happy and support your local framebuilder.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Colnago: decals are cool

So, the frame is "saved" and I decided to go forth and apply the decals. It was an involved process, I used the wet... application method, where you apply some soapy water to the frame in order for the decals to be moved and adjusted a little before they set up. It allowed for a little adjustment, but not a lot.

The seat tube decal was a little too wide and should have been trimmed prior to application, but in all, it looks pretty cool. Especially, if you recall what the frame looked like when I first got it.

There are still a few parts I'm waiting on: the chainrings are on their way and the italian octalink BB still needs to be ordered. Also, I'm on the hunt for a new stem as well. I have one, but I'm not sure I like it. Its not shiny enough.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Frame Builder's Questionnaire: Soulcraft

The third installment of the FBQ is talking with Soulcraft.

1. How'd you first get interested in bicycles in general?

I always loved riding when I was a really young... kid and when I saw a magazine called "BMX Plus" it opened up a whole new world. I started racing BMX and thought about opening a BMX oriented bike shop when I was in high school. At that time I also got into hot rods and got a job at Marin Speed and Machine, tearing apart motors and doing some machining. After high school I wanted to combine my love of bikes with my growing interest in working with machines and after seeing a Bicycle Guide Magazine with AlbertEisentraut on the cover I realized that being a framebuilder would make it happen.

2. At what point did you begin building bikes?

I worked for Bruce Gordon from the fall of 1988 to the spring of 1990 and did a little of everything: powder coating, alignment, machining, sales, etc. In 1990 I went to work for Salsa as the powder coater. From there I got into brazing and welding and eventually became the head framebuilder toward the end in 1999.

3. What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started out building bikes for people?

When Matt Nyiri and I started Soulcraft in 1999, we had absolutely no money. Just some machines and a lot of drive and passion and the biggest challenge was how to make enough money. We had a lot of orders but we were selling them all at wholesale so the profit was meager. Eventually we decided to go consumer direct and if asked, I tell any builder today that they shouldn't sell any bikes through shops. You are the one putting your heart and soul into these things and you don't owe anyone a slice of your pie.

4. How is your approach to build a cyclocross bike different than say in building a mountain or road bike?

A cross bike is a very specific breed. A true cross bike shouldn't be designed to use as a touring bike or anything but a cross bike. For me, it's fairly tight geometry with enough clearance for a 32c tire and just enough bottom bracket height to keep you from banging your pedals. No fender mounts or extra braze ons. Of course, if a customer wants that stuff I'm not going to stand in their way. I like them to handle quick and if you try to make some sort of "all purpose" bike you end up watering down the strengths of the basic cross machine.

5. Whats your favorite bike that you own or have owned? What made it special?

Actually, my current cross bike is one of my all time favorites. I have Michelin 32c Jets on it and do some pretty cool 50/50 rides in Marin on it. I haven't owned a road bike in about 4 years now and just use my cross bike. I roll out the door and decide where I want to go as the ride develops.

6. Do you race cyclocross?

Nope. Never have.

7. In your opinion, why are custom steel cyclocross bikes still so popular?

I think it's a lot of customers who rode steel all along or are coming back to it after being lured away by the intrigue of other materials. Cross is still a pretty niche/hardcore sport and because of that I think the "core" people have always held steel in high regard for many reasons: it lends itself to the rough terrain in cross, it represents the "classic/old world" identity that cross holds, and, especially in Northern California, there are a lot of builders here to work with.

8. Whats your current wait time for a custom cyclocross frame?

4-6 months

9. Is there anything else you think readers would want to know about your approach to bikes, cycling and building frames?

I'm pretty down to earth about framebuilding. It's not rocket science but I've honed my approach and skills over many years and feel a responsibility to raise the bar and carry the torch to keep Northern California on the map as an epicenter for framebuilding.

Colnago: Frame saver applied

Last night, stopped by River City Bikes here in Portland and picked up some JP Weigle's Frame Saver. Pretty easy and self explanatory on how to apply: squirt some down the tubes. Not sure if it helps bikes that are already rusty inside (not that my frame was, at least not in the BB area). Easy insurance though. Supposed to last a few years.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Framebuilders Questionnaire: Zanconato Bikes

This week on the Frame builder's Questionnaire is Mike Zanconato of Zanconato Custom Cycles. Mike makes bikes that look classic and race inspired. Check it out.

Q. How'd you first get interested in bicycles in general?

A. I started cycling my freshman year of high school as a way to train for alpine ski racing. My ski coach was a cat 3 on the road and he started taking me out. He let me borrow his old Colnago and I bought a mountain bike. I started mountain bike racing that summer and did my first cross race that fall. It was the BCA Cyclocross at Pittsfield State Forest in Pittsfield, MA.

Q. At what point did you begin building bikes?

A. I built my first two framesets during the summer of 98. The first one was never painted and never assembled into a bike. The second one was a cross frame that I primed and raced that fall. I built two more in January of 1999 during the winter break of my senior year at UMass. They were both road frames for me and my wife-to-be. That spring, I also built some bikes for my
UMass teammates.

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started out building bikes for people?

A. Establishing credibility is the hardest thing for a new builder to do. People don't know you, so they don't know what you are capable of. And knowing the nuts and bolts of how to build a frame is a lot different than knowing how to properly design a frame. I studied everything I could find on the subject and talked with quite a few veterans. Getting your name out
there as someone who knows how to properly design a bike is the hardest task for a new builder. You have to prove yourself to some tough critics who really know how a bicycle should ride.

Q. How is your approach to build a cyclocross bike different than say in building a mountain or road bike?

A. The approach to designing a cyclocross bike is not too different from designing a road racing bike. The cross races have gotten so fast that most racers feel strongest in a position that is very close to their road position. The bars may be 5-10 mm higher and 5 mm closer, but usually
nothing more than that. Compared to a road frameset, the cross framesets will have a slightly longer front-center and chainstay length. I try to keep the BB height as close to a road bike as possible. I don't like the way a bike with a high BB rides. If a rider comes from a region where the courses have a lot of off-camber, we may raise it up a bit.

Q. Whats your favorite bike that you own or have owned? What made it special?

A. I wrote a little piece on my blog about a Carrera that I owned in college. It has inspired a lot of my design ideas. The bike just looked "right" and it rode very, very nice. I always felt confident on it. The geometry was very well balanced. Unfortunately, I had to sell it to finance
my first frame building fixtures. But, I will always remember that bike.

Q. Do you race cyclocross?

A. Cyclocross is my favorite cycling discipline! Last year, my wife and I did 19 cross races. This year, we have 21 on the calendar. I also do about 12 mountain bikes races in the spring and summer.

Q. In your opinion, why are custom steel cyclocross bikes still so popular?

A. I think there are a number of reasons why tailored steel cross bikes are still a preferred tool for cross racing. There are the functional reasons, such as proper frame design yielding a great riding race bike, the contact points being exactly where they need to be, and the braze-ons being in the appropriate places. There are the aesthetic reasons, such as choosing from a number of different lug and paint options. And, there is still some nostalgia attached to the lugged steel bicycle. Most of my customers come to me with function being the primary need, but aesthetics are important to most of them too. I prefer my bikes to look clean and understated from a
distance, without too many loud flourishes. But when you get a closer look, you start to find some details and touches that make it unique. I think people appreciate the thought that goes into the smaller and finer points.

Q. Whats your current wait time for a custom cyclocross frame?

A. It's best to call. Being a one man shop, lead time can swing drastically depending on the time of year. For some reason, I tend to get orders in batches. So I may have a 10 week lead time, but then I will get a bunch of orders within a couple of weeks and the lead time stretches out to 6 months. And then it is quiet for awhile, which is fine because I can focus on the orders that are on the books. I guess this is a long-winded answer. The short answer is it varies throughout the year. Give me a call to get the most current lead time.

Q. Is there anything else you think readers would want to know about your approach to bikes, cycling and building frames?

A. For me, cycling is about the people and the experiences. Most of my closest friends have been met through cycling. Logging lots of miles with people means you spend a lot of time with them. Not just on the bikes, but driving to and from events, the post-ride feasts, the club meetings,
pre-race warm-ups and so on. You really get to know people. Yeah, I'm a gear-head too. But I want my bikes to be reliable so that I don't have to miss a ride and miss time with my pals. So reliability is key. But I also take the miles themselves seriously. I want a tool that is not only
reliable, but is highly functional and efficient. Bicycles are tools to me. My approach to frame building is to build the best tool for the job for each customer. Now, part of being the "best tool for the job" for a particular customer might be that it has got to be Bittersweet Pearl with Cortez Blue Pearl panels. But whatever it takes to get that person out on the bike is all that matters. And that paint job was pretty freakin' hot too.

Thanks, Jeremy!

Mike Zanconato
Zanconato Custom Cycles

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Colnago: the plastic comes off

Just got my Colnago Super to cyclocross bike conversion back from the powdercoaters, and snapped some pics. More pics by clicking "more" funny how that works huh?

Click on the pics to make bigger (as usual).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Look what I got back today...

The powdercoating didn't come out perfect, but it looks pretty nice just the same. More pics later, btw I got my Colnago decal set today as well.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Clunker bikes, "inventing" mountain bikes and cyclocross

So, I stumbled upon this link to a website dedicated to the men who first "invented" mountain biking. I use quotations around invented because, in all of the articles I've ever read about the birth of mountain biking, there is never a mention of cyclocross.

The link above is cool and tells a great story. But again, that story always fails to remember that what they did in Marin County in the 70's was already done in Europe in the 20's.

Cyclocross was born many decades before... mountain bikes ever came along. Originally, they were a hodgepodge of hand me down road bike parts and results from the scavenging of a rider's road bike. They were creations to be muddied and ridden hard. They were frankenbikes.

Sixty years later not far from where I was born in Northern California, some guys took some cruisers with coaster brakes and modified them to be ridden in the dirt. And a "revolution" was born.

It is cool to hear about the guys that first "invented" mountain biking, guys with last names like Fisher and Bontrager and the like. Here's a direct quote:

A revolutionary moment in this history occurred three or four years ago, when Gary Fisher got the idea of putting a ten-speed dérailleur assembly on a balloon-tired bicycle. (Gary, who is acknowledged in these parts as being the first person to create such a hybrid, is a lightweight bicycle road racer, who also happens to hold the record time on the local clunker downhill race course, the Repack.) It took some fiddling, of course, European dimensions vs. American, but when it was finished, the result was a bicycle that not only would roll down the hilly dirt trails, it could also be pedaled back up them. It could be ridden over deer and cow trails, and unlike dirt motorcycles, it could easily be carried over fallen logs and gullies. And it was quiet!

Sounds like a cyclocross bike to me. A bike that can go down hills, over cow trails and can be lifted over logs? Thats a cross bike dudes! Surely 27" wheels roll down a hill just as fast as 26" ones do.

Today, if you browse over to the Fisher website, the concept of the 29'er bike is all the latest rage. Wow! All hail the mountain bikers who once again reinvented the cross bike, again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Framebuilder Questionnaire: Hottubes

The first Framebuilder's Questionnaire is from Toby at Hottubes. Toby has made frames for some of the best American cyclocross racers out there.

1. How'd you first get interested in bicycles in general?

A: I started as a bike racer in the 80's. I moved from that to running a bike shop and from there to building and painting.

2. At what point did you begin building bikes?

A: I built my first bike in 1989. It was a lugged road bike for me.

3. What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started out building bikes for people?

A: Some of the first challenges were getting people interested in buying one of your bikes. I was fortunate since three of the first guys riding my cross bikes were Jonathan Page and Frank and Mark McCormack. JP began racing cross on one of my bikes, so over the years, I've gotten good feedback from all three about how to make them better.

4. How is your approach to build a cyclocross bike different than say
in building a mountain or road bike?

A: I build cross bikes for racers mostly, but, that said, in cross, racers come in many different shapes and sizes and abilities. You need to make a bike that fits their riding style, their body and their riding style. For road bikes, you make it fit their body mostly.

5. What's your favorite bike that you own or have owned? What made it special?

A: The first bike I ever built. It was the first bike I ever built.

6. Do you race cyclocross?

A. I don't race cross, but I run a team that does and I have been in the pits for Frankie, Mark and Jonathan at the biggest races there is.

7. In your opinion, why are custom steel cyclocross bikes still so popular?

A: Why are custom steel cross bikes so popular, because they are the only affordable custom bike option for cross and they ride as well or better than anything else out there.

8. What's your current wait time for a custom cyclocross frame?

A: Time frame for a custom bike is usually four weeks from receipt of deposit to the finish of the paint. That said, don't wait until the start of the season.

9. Is there anything else you think readers would want to know about
your approach to bikes, cycling and building frames?

A: My best advertisement is the happy, satisfied customer base. They are responsible for most of the new orders I get.

The photo attached is a bike I built for the team mechanic from CSC. He could have anything he wanted but he bought one from me.



Tobias Stanton
Director: Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team Inc.
75 Webster Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01603 USA
(508) 792-9545

Top photo is for the CSC mechanic, the cyclocross frame pics are taken from a poster on RBR here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Custom Framebuilder Database

So I've amassed a list of custom cyclocross frame builders throughout the USA into the "database" located below. I've scoured the internet so that you don't have to. In the near future, I will be posting interviews with various custom frame builders asking them some of the same questions you might before throwing down a few $K on a new sweet custom ride.

If I missed your...
local or favorite builder, let me know in the comments section below. If you are a custom cyclocross frame builder send me an email at plusonelap at gmail dot com and I'll add you to the list and email you a copy of the Plus One Lap Framebuilder's Questionnaire.

Ahearne Cycles,
Portland OR
Badger Custom Cycles, Lawrence, Kansas
Curt Goodrich, Minneapolis, MN
Curtlo Winthrop, WA
De Salvo Ashland, OR
Echelon Cycleworks Rhode Island
Hottubes Worcester, MA
Hunter Watsonville, CA
Independent Fabrication Somerville, MA
Ira Ryan, Portland OR
Kish SLO, CA
Landshark Medford OR
Luna cycles Nederland, CO
Marcroft Cycles, Salem OR
Peacock Groove unknown
Pereira cycles Portland, OR
Primus Mootry Longmont, CO
Richard Sachs Chester, CT
Rocklobster Santa Cruz, CA
SadiLah Handmade Framesets, San Diego, CA
SoulCraft Petaluma, CA
Steelman Redwood City, CA
Steve Rex Sacramento, CA
Strong Bozeman, MT
Sycip Santa Rosa, CA
TerraFerma Cycles unknown
True North Cycles, Ontario Canada

Tsunehiro Cycles, Portland OR
Tom Teesdale West Branch, IA
Vanilla Portland, OR
Vertigo Cycles Portland OR
Vulture no longer makes frames
Waltworks Boulder, CO
Zanconato Worcester, MA

Saturday, June 09, 2007 dead at age 5

While not exactly cyclocross related, the website was an offroad fixed gear cycling site. With articles written by those in the know, it was always an interesting read.

Sorry to hear it will no longer be contributed to...RIP 63xc

New writers coming to Plus One Lap

I'm very excited to announce that a few friends of mine will soon be contributing to Plus One Lap with articles, stories and reviews.

Stay tuned for more details and fresh new content from multiple writers.

How many wheels do you have?

Well, for the last year or so, I've been a wheel collector, well, collector sounds more refined, maybe more of a wheel hoarder.

The idea to have multiple wheels for multiple bikes for multiple... courses is a pretty cool thing. With the advent of Ebay, you can pick up a lot of these wheels for pretty cheap. Sticking to wheels that are serviceable (read: Mavic rims on Shimano or Campy hubs) is advised. The Mavic GL280's and 330's are fairly light wheels with the reputation of not being extra durable. Other tubular rims such as the Reflex have been proven to be light enough and durable enough to hold up to the rigors of cross.

So this is the break down (they're all 700c):

Pair Sun M19AII tubular's mounted onto Hershey Naked Front and an American Classic rear (cassette)---this is one of my favorite wheelsets. Its super light, strong and have never been the reason why I'm not a superstar.

Pair Mavic Reflex (clincher) with Dura Ace hubs and blue alloy nipples. Got these off of Ebay a couple years ago for $70. They are cassette as well.

Pair Mavic CXP 21 clinchers with Ultegra hubs. This was my first cyclocross wheelset. The hub needs some servicing. CXP series seem to be good cross wheels as they have the V profile which seems to work in the mud and durable.

Pair Campagnolo Victory Crono tubular wheels on I think some Campy hubs. These are a SS race set of wheels for me. Which have some Tufo Elites mounted on them.

Pair Fir Quasar tubulars on Dura Ace hubs. The rear hub is a screw on freewheel type, which is fine for a SS wheelset. I bought these as a backup SS cross wheelset, I think this is one pair I will be selling. No tires mounted currently.

Pair Mavic Monthlery Route tubular on Campy hubs, No tires mounted.

One Mavic Open Pro front with Ultegra hub

One Mavic MA2 rear with Dura Ace hub, cassette. The MA2 is another bulletproof rim. I had this built up in college after I was hit by a car and the rear OPen pro rim was toast. On a budget, I had the LBS build this u pfor me using the existing hub.

One Zipp 404 front clincher. Will probably sell this also as I'm not planning on doing any du's or tri's in the near future. For Sale Here

One Mavic Reflex clincher with a Dura Ace hub. Rim needs to be replaced after a failed attempt at bunnyhopping a cement barrier.

I have 16 wheels! I knew I had a lot laying around. How many wheels have you guys got taking up space? Let us know in the comments section.

Friday, June 08, 2007

More Cyclocross Pros Crashing

I just love this stuff, this video is even better than the one I posted a few days ago. Its great to see the world's best looking clumsy in the mud. I can totally relate.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dual Gallery Bike #17 and #26: Gary's Sycip

Gary from California put together a pretty cool handmade Sycip cross bike that is light enough to also make it into the Lightweight Gallery as well. Aluminum custom cross, black ano, cool.

Here is my custom Sycip born this past March 2007 by Jeremy in their Santa Rosa Facilities. It has the following build. It weights 16.5 lbs as shown. Please include it in both galleries, thanks.

Custom Sycip 7005 Easton Frame
Reynolds Cyclocross Fork
Chris King Headset
Dura ace 7800
-Rear Derailluer
-Cranks with FSA 46/38 rings
-Bottom Bracket
-Cassette 12/25
-Chain Ultegra 6600
-Front Derailluer with Problem Solvers Band Clamp

Mavic Ksyrium SL3 Tubulars with Tufo Elite Tires
Ritchey WCS Alloy Bars and Stem
Ritchey WCS Carbon Seatpost
Fizik Handlebar tape
WTB Stealth Seat
Easton Seatpost Clamp
Crankbrothers Triple Ti Eggbeater Pedals
Jagwire Cables and Housing
Empella Frog Leg Brakes

If you have a lightweight (sub 18 lb) cyclocross bike or a handmade cross bike, email it to me at plusonelap at gmail dot com

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Colnago Cyclocross

Previously I was reporting on building up a Colnago road bike into a cyclocross bike. As the season rapidly approaches, I've started working... on it again. As mentioned the other day, I've purchased some decals for this thing. Also, I just dropped off the frame at a local powdercoater. I think powdercoating is the perfect solution to the rigors of cyclocross.

Powdercoating is strong, durable, wont chip easily, plenty of colors to choose from, and its fairly cheap too. My local powdercoater is doing my frame and fork for only $100. I've chosen DuPont Sky White. And will leave all of the chrome sections exposed for the obvious reason----Chrome = cool. They said it would take 1-2 weeks.

The only downside to powdercoating on a frame like this, is that the lug cutouts of the clover and the "colnago" will not be as sharp as in a typical paint finish. I am willing to deal with this, as I value the toughness of the powdercoat and HATE paint chips on an otherwise nice bike.

I reported last time, that the frame spacing changed after the dimpling of the stays. I respaced them without issue to 130mm before I took it into the Powdercoater.

The only part I need now is a set of Dura Ace Cranks like these:

To match the DA headset that I've got for the bike, as well as the general 80's theme. I'm excited that within the next month, I'll be able to take this creation out for a spin.

Pros Crashing