Red and yellow, black and white….

Our dominant concern here these days is trying to raise enough money to pay for an incoming shipment of Cheviots, right after a shipment of Sams. It never ends, it seems, these cash flow problems, but it IS a luxurious problem to have in the same month as the ebola virus, ISIS, Scotland’s future, and all of that.

BUT in the NYT a few days ago there was a column that’s worth intervening for. On the surface it’s about football player Adrian PetersOn’s beating up on his 4-year old, but deeper down it’s more far-reaching, and there’s some history and perspective that fills in some cracks for all of us. Although the focus is on black people (which include those who are not African Americans), this kind of stuff goes on all over the world, etc.

Here we go:


On a lighter note, we’re working on a handlebar bag for the Albastache bar, and of course it’ll also work for the Moustache H’bar, I’m sure. Three months out, but it’s coming.

And I think we’ve mentioned before that we’re coming up with a new cheaper bike. It’s NOT going to have all the culiqued—curlicued—oh my, how does one spell CURL-EE-Q’d ?—details of a Sam or Homer or any of our other bikes. But it won’t be blatantly bland, either. There will be some points to love in it, things to look at, stuff to trust. The name is — I think we’ve put it out there already, but it’s the Clem Smith Jr. I think we’ve put it out there because we’ve gotten a few calls on it, asking, and some of the guys here don’t know what to say about it. We all KNOW about it, but there’s the concern about leaking too much too early.

Here’s the deal so far:

Who: Clem Smith Jr.

What: A fat-tired towny bike with touring and trail possibilities and for us, a super  inexpensive one. Not made in China.

Where: I don’t know what “where” means in this context.

When: March?

Why: Because lots of people can’t afford $2600 for a bike, and although there are a FEW good bikes that sell for a thousand or more less, there aren’t all that many, and we figure we can do as good a job (+) as anybody. Also, even if you have a more expensive bike, you might want or need a less precious bike for trips to the Dollar Mart, or for locking up in the alley by the Pachinko parlor.

How: How will we get the price so low (shooting for $1500 rideable)? Some tig, but not all. Maybe cheaper pedals, maybe cheaper but still good wheels. It might not even come with a front derailer, so..THERE!

But it will be a special bike, fully in keeping…

We have three unpainted sample frames, and we’re changing one thing on the head tube, and I brazed the changes on. I am not a framebuilder. I design them, but we have pros build them to our specs. But this was an easy job and I do know how to braze, and managed to put the things where I wanted them to go, and now we’ll paint them and will soon show  photos of Assembled Clems, but no detailed shots of the flubby fixed area. With luck, two weeks.



Customer Ken made a lip-balm holder, the Beta-version of which is shown here. I BELIEVE it’s all in good fun/tongue-in-cheek, but one never knows. I assume there are fewer than a handful in the world right now, and I’m pleased to have one. Thanks, Ken.


Every time I use the restroom here I see this, clipped from the paper more than 7 years ago and preserved with thick plastic tape.


The caption reads:

Israeli riot police met resistance yesterday as they removed Jewish settlers from illegal residences in the West Bank cit of Hebron. As one settler was carried off near the market, an officer rushed to pick up the man’s glasses from the ground.

So: They’re on opposite sides, and this nice thing. I may have posted this seven years ago, but I forget. Anyway, it’s worth a repost.


Yesterday a really good friend, Japanese guy I’ve known and worked with for 26 years (he imports Nitto for us, and communicated our wishes to NITTO) came over for a week to commemorate:

1. His 50th b’day

2. And the 20th Anniv of Bstone closing and RBW getting off the ground.

And he brought me this T-shirt from the last month of Bstone:


I didn’t arrange for these and I was too nervous to be INTO it at the time—-I was losing a job and just lost my mom and getting a new baby in two weeks, and I was wound up  in other stuff, like how’m I going to provide for the family (an ongoing concern…but especially then). So I didn’t even get one of these, but I got one now. And two days ago a Japanese bike journalist who freelances for Bstone came by and shot photos and interviewed, because there’s some interest in RBW’s connection with Bstone. Most of the guys I knew there are long gone, but at least one is not. The story is old news here and not that interesting, and it’s in the catalogue, but he’ll tell some version of it over there, maybe.

He alluded to Bstone having a faint whiff of interest  in the US market, but it’s a different company now, so many things different, and if BStone-Japan were to come back, you’d be insane to think they’d have 1989 MB-1s and 1993 XO-1s and all that. I’d actually like to see them try, and I mean that in the nice way, not the snide way. I’d follow it as closely as anybody. There’s a 1-in-100 chance they’d re-enter.

The big bike market is so, so strange weird and nutty to me. I read the trade magazines, and I’m glad we’re not a part of it. Whatever moans I have here, I’m so grateful not to be THERE.

Don’t forget to click on this link:

Amazing Color-changing Cheviots

If you’re interested call soon, because not too many. 800 345 3918.

Top photo: Cheviots are on their way as we type. Most are orange, just like the last ones, but a few are this amazing “Chameleon” color that changes between green, gold and brown. It’s a green that wobbles. Sea-sick green? They call it “Chameleon.” We’re having fun with it, it’s fun, it’s a color right at home on a 90s drop-top Camaro.

We’re taking a gamble on the marketability of the world’s first (and possibly last) production lugged-steel color-changing mix-te. Will it go the way of the SpeedBlend™ Ruffy Tuffies? Good thing we only got a few.

Bottom photo: here’s that same Chameleon color on a prototype frame. It’s a better picture and shows the color better. The Cheviots won’t have cream headtubes though. See top photo. This frame is in our showroom if you want to see it.

Want one? Limited quantity coming. Six per size. First caller to plunk down a 75% deposit gets one.

Other Things from the email update

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory." - Fredrich Engels

Jellybean Contest

Guess how many Sams in a ton.

We don’t booth at InterBike anymore but our Sam Hillborne made a splash at the Brooks display. Thanks guys! (all i could find online... look at 0:55)

Our latest shipment of Sam Hillbornes arrived today. Guess how many we got and maybe win something based on the following info.

  • The cargo manifest weighed it in at just over a long (metric) ton.
  • This includes six wooden (not blue) pallets
  • 51cm, 55cm, and 62cm frames all weigh a little different, and the batch was mixed, we won’t say how many of each size (no 58s this time because we have them already)
  • headsets and bottom brackets installed
  • generous cardboard and styrofoam packaging included in the weight
  • 100 soon-to-be-announced dyno hubs and skewers among them

That’s all you’ve got to work with. Place an order online between now and midnight PST Friday and put your guess in the order notes. Correct guesses will get a small limited edition prize included in their order, valued at around a buck. Till we run out. We have about a hundred of these prize things. Incorrect guesses get a Sam Brochure, not bad.

Then on Monday, five randomly selected correct answers will get a gift certificate for $25, $50, $75, $100 or $125. We’ll contact you directly if you win.

All you’ve gotta do is guess in the order notes BEFORE SATURDAY… and be right. No minimum order.

New and Noteworthy

New Black Pletscher t-shirts available here. Great cotton tees made in America, logoed in America, and sold from America, but proud of their Swissness just the same.

It’s been too long since the last Riv-Vid. This one is sure to stir up the pot a little…. read the disclaimer a few times before watching. View it here.

Handsome new grey wool zips from Sweden. These are staff favorites that were only available at our Hatchet shop downtown. Now we have enough for you too. Also available in green.

New light bright from SoCal guys at Cygolite. You know, the usual: smaller, brighter, cheaper, the wheel goes round.

We gone done and did it, ordered up a custom batch of wool blankets from New Zealand Rivendell style in hopes of triggering an industry-wide trend towards bike blankets that would practically require sales of our larger than average saddlebags. Read about them and buy them here. Only a few, cuz gosh they are expensive. Cats go nuts for them. Just in time for those early evening sunset S4Ps (Sub 4 hour picnics). Be romantic like that. Wear your new wool zip.

New Coupon!

"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."    -Abraham Lincoln

Use coupon code:


for 10% off the following coffee & tee related products till October 1st. While supplies last.

Aeropress & Filters
Trangia cooksets
Nitto Tees
Pletscher Tees

This Homer goes everywhere man. S&S couplers allow the customer to fold it in half and fit in a bag for travel.

Fork battle for pink slips….

This is an awful thing, but it does happen

Howdy from the Shipping Department,

Robert and I send out hundreds of orders per week, while Will and Sean send out close to a dozen bicycles and frames per week (sometimes even more).

We are all top-notch and put a lot of care and effort and thought into each individual package that leaves our hands, no matter what size it is. If you’ve ordered from us, you’ve seen it. Years ago, way before I began at RBW, I worked as a package handler (then courier, eventually) for a Major Shipping Company and have seen firsthand what happens to poorly packed items. A simple YouTube search of “UPS/Fedex throwing packages" can bring hundreds of videos that’ll probably bring you an emotion that falls somewhere between horror and amazement and rage. (And let me tell you, the videos are tame in comparison to what goes on behind the scenes in the hubs.)

Sam & the Void

After the next, incoming Sams of next week, we’re putting ol’ Sam on ‘old for a couple of years…is the plan. We had a rare meeting about it and it seems dumb or strange to do this “to” our most popular bike, we had to, to make room for two new models we’ve got coming up next year. One is the Clem Smith Jr., the other is so far unnamed, but don’t be surprised if “Buffalo” is in there somewhere, maybe with a first name tagged onto it, so  it’ll feel at home with A. Homer Hilsen, Sam Hillborne, and Betty Foy. Save your “Norton Buffalo” comments—that’s not happening and I can’t name one song from them, and we wouldn’t name a great bike after a Norton Buffalo song, anyway.

But a point I’d like to make is that although it’s always a good time to order a Sam from us, now is an especially good time. The last forseeable run of Sams are in a barge on the Pacific.

We also have a Cheviot order shipping next week, and they’ll be here after a few weeks in their own barge. Half will Cheviot orange, half a new greenish brown, reminiscent of but more lustrous than the old green Raleighs. No photos yet. Although, if you scroll down on the blog a little you’ll see a prototype frame teaser photo to the same green. We’re only getting half the run this color, so plan ahead.

Random Feed

neu colour!

pletscher t-shirts

Albastache bar wrap sourced from bits & scraps of Newbaum’s tape from around the shop on the boss’s single speed.

I found this Lancaster PA made Halco Pinto toy cap gun out on a ride the other day. If you’re over 30 you probably played with one of these at some point.


Help ol’ Hiawatha

The Song of Hiawatha

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

[on sale in the webstore along with Shopsacks and Grabsacks with coupon code: cyprus.   That gets you 12% off till September 15]

From its publication in 1855 until about 1966, every child growing up in American either read this book (or the Dell Classic comic book version) or at least had heard of it, but it seems to have lost its footing in the late 1960s, and it’s safe to say that today’s kids and most of their parents haven’t heard of The Song of Hiawatha, and life marches on—although, I’ve got to say, it’s not as proud of a  march without this book in one’s life.

It’s an epic (book-length) poem written in an eight-syllable beat called trochaic tetrameter, a rhythmic flow that pulls you down the page like you’re on a river in an inner tube.

Its release came at a time when racial tensions were way worse than they are now, even in Ferguson. Many of your ancestors were still in favor or wiping out the Indians, and were actively pursuing this goal. The Song of Hiawatha humanized the Indians (the “savages,” the “heathens”), which of course shamed the slaughterers, who slammed the poem and its author. But it struck a chord with a minority, and is now regarded as an early milestone in the civil rights movement, with Longfellow an early champion. 

It is long but sooo beautiful, and don’t be scared by its length. Each line has eight syllables, a length that uses up a third of your exhale. So when you read it aloud, you can read three lines before inhaling. Most likely, you’ll read it to yourself.

If you’ve read this far, hang in there a bit more and here the back story of this book.

Gulf Lives


It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Gulf station here, but they’re all over Sweden, and they sell hats and T’s and sweatshirts in by the register, so I picked myself up this beauty.  If you can forget for a while that the GULF is probably where they get a lot of their raw material, then you can thoroughly enjoy the fantastic colors up there; the choice of light blue is perfect, although i think grey or black would look good, too.


On a really lousy note now: I went on vacation, a guy in SoCal got to my email and —hijacked it, whatever the term is—and told people as me that I was in Cyprus needing money. My password wasn’t THAT bad, but these guys have a way of finding them; I was not the pioneering case of this, and I’ve received some angry emails from people blaming me for this incident. I will accept whatever blame is due, but in retrospect I wouldn’t have done anything differently..although I’ll think twice about a Vacation Responder note again…because that likely was a flashing light for the guy.

I think Dave’s description of my password as “the crappiest password I’ve ever seen” was an attempt to reassure you all that the new password is trickier—which it certainly is, but I was aware of password issues before, and picked that one with that in mind. When a breach occurs, it’s easy to point to anything that could have been different, and maybe the difference would have made The Difference. I would like NOT to be blamed, naturally. If I’m completely to blame, then the guy who did it isn’t. Do we share the blame 50-50? How to proportion it?

I’m done with it now, and truly sorry.