March 2, 2012

May you live in interesting times…

It seems that I seldom get to build “normal” bikes. I guess that’s to be expected, since I do build custom bikes, but sometimes I wish I was a bearded, wool-knicker wearing lug builder who only did 73/73 road frames. I seem to end up with all the weirdos (no offense, you freaks) who want really unusual and often really cool stuff, and so I end up spending all my time figuring out how to do it.

Witness Dave’s bike. You may remember him as the nutbar who wanted me to build him a custom headshok. Apparently that project wasn’t weird enough, as he then decided to have me build him a breakaway 29er singlespeed – with a headshok.

Long story short, the headshok got nixed because we couldn’t get the bars low enough for Dave’s preferences (even with a -20 degree stem!) and we decided to roll with a conventional suspension fork, but the rest of the setup is still pretty odd.

As far as I know, there are no other breakaway 29ers on earth – and I soon figured out why. The lower coupler/hinge clamp assembly is too short to allow a bike with a tall front end/steep downtube angle to fit a seat tube miter (check out the awful picture and you’ll get the idea) so I was forced improvise. A lathe, an old BB shell, and a few hours later, the coupler has all the room it needs.

I also had to sacrifice an old Titec seatpost to allow me to clamp the upper seat sleeve/lug assembly together. The lower lug is silver brazed in, and I’m planning to TIG weld the toptube and seatstays – though it’s looking like I’ll destroy the Ritchey logo in the process… c’est la vie. Should be a fun bike when it’s done, and the Ritchey system is both cheaper and lighter than S&S – but there’s not much flexibility in terms of tube diameters or butting.