Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Side Projects

My life is a side project.  I bounce around from one activity to another in an ADD kid sort of way.  That's OK I dig it that way.  I've been working on some projects that I've been wanting to do for a while now...handlebars and stems and eventually racks.  I got some sweet new stem steerer clamps from PMW and have been super excited to turn them into something.  First up is a pair of Bull Moose bars for Scott the Hobot.  I figured this would be pretty was I wrong.  I think all told it took three days....maybe more.  The coolest part about all this though was the brain puzzle.  It involved breaking down the elements of steering geometry into its axes to change very minor design elements of a handlebar (width, rise, and particularly sweep) while keeping the hand position of the rider essentially the same.  Bending the bar alone took the better part of a day.  I bought a mechanical bender for 7/8" pipe off of ebay for $100 a year ago and have yet to really use it.  After a little modification to the holding mechanism, it works pretty well.  It bends accurately and consistently and the bends are pretty smooth at that.  I wanted to keep the moose bar consistent with the look of Hobot's bike so I sleeved the stem interface and bulged them out with fillets on either side.  The pictures will probably explain the rest but not one bit of this project was easy.  Hopefully the next set will only take a day or so.

Elder Heinchez' bike got colored in real nice with sky blue and a shiny clear coat.  I left the moustache rather scruffy to offset the sheen.  Check it out.

More soon now.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A year has gone and a year has come.

Welcome to 2011.  Its really an arbitrary number but I like new years and I like the fresh start that I feel it brings.  As well as the reflection and the opportunity to improve things...yes I'm talking about resolutions.  No, I'm not going to blabber on about mine either, at least not here.  I don't always have them, I just like them.  I am going to reflect a little bit though.  2010.  6 frames and 7 forks (you could probably count the truss fork as some combination of the two).  I definitely learned something new in doing each one.  I'm still honing my process in this experiment, but with each bike or fork I feel like I spend less time at each step and have a better "feeling" as to what will work and what won't.  I developed new ideas, techniques, and methods by pushing through projects that I would never have known if I hadn't just gone for it and as a result built some of the coolest things, bikes, whatever, that I've ever created.  To me what makes this worth it though is the interactions I get to have with the people who commission me.  In the waning hours of 2010 I found myself in a conversation with Elder Heinsius, whose frame I finished only an hour before. He's somewhat new to riding bikes, but not at all unfamiliar with them.  He's been getting increasingly excited about his build and was always stoked to check out his work in progress.  What he told me that I think in the end was that over the many conversations we had in conceptualizing his bike, we didn't talk about bikes all that much.  I mean we did the measurements and the jargon and whatnot, but we really talked about guitars, music, movement, how the Elder gets into things, what fuels his passions.  And through those conversations I really got into his bike.  I think I cranked it out in a week even being laid out two days with a cold.  Not to toot my own horn, this is just what makes it worth it for me.  Getting to know someone in ways that I otherwise wouldn't through building him or her a bike.  Translating conversation and abstract ideas into functional art that I hope represents that person's personality.  I think I can say that of every frame I built this year--it represents its rider's personality.

horseshoe chainstay brace, clearance for 26x2.5s, mud, and a triple.

That being this point I have a hard time with the idea of expanding on what I'm doing.  I kind of like it just where it is.  I already spend entirely too much time in the garage and am at the point where the other things I want to do take a back seat.  I give myself cabin fever here in the winter.  I get kind of freaked at the idea of filling 10 or 20 orders, even knowing what that means.  Right now I have one bike in que and I'm so OK with that.  I need to do something else, have another job, figure things out, go outside more, whatever.  Right now everything in my life comes in very intense waves and then I sort of freak out and have to get out.  I wonder what part of it is my personality and what part of it has to do with spending the four intense summers fighting fires and completely throwing off my balance.  Anybody have any thoughts?

Happy New Year.