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.)
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.
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.
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?
The “heavy” bike is 15 pounds in this article, but it jives with what we’ve been claiming for years. If you want to ride faster, save your money, time and mental effort by first tuning up your engine rather than buying new bikes and parts every season.
"In short, you’re much better off upgrading your legs and dropping body fat through proper training and diet. In fact, losing unnecessary weight would have a dual impact on your power and speed. As weight decreases, the amount of power required to maintain a certain speed will also decrease. At the same time, the amount of power you are capable of generating should actually increase."
No matter how you slice it, in the big picture you can’t just buy speed, and at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
for 7% off any order up to $900. Use it again and again, send boxes full of riv parts to friends. Stock up on brake pads, pine tar, irish straps, water bottles, tires, toobs, bar tape & stuff you’ll buy later anyways when prices are higher and CA sales tax is 15% and you don’t have this super coupon. And most orders over $75 ship free, so there’s that… click here to go straight to new stuff and check the new web specials!
I like all of our stuff, or we wouldn’t sell it. Well——not quite true. I don’t like the corkish grips. That stuff feels like a handful of foamy chemicals to me, and although I liked fat-handled Jackie Robinson and Nelson Fox bats when I played baseball, I like skinny grips on handlebars. If you need the cush, you need higher handlebars more. I think the yellow/gray/or white tape with amber shellac looks great and feels fantastically thin and gritty…but that’s not on the mark for a list of favorites, since it’s a small generic thing + a treatment.
SaddleSacks. I live in and out of these every day, open and close them at least six times a day, between shopping, commuting, carrying stuff from here to there. We had a few snaps crap out on the removable flapstraps, then perhaps overreacted and had our maker rivet the straps on, and that was a mistake, because now you have to dig underneath the bag to unbuckle it. If you bought a bag in the last month, maybe it’s riveted. Send your address to firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll hook you up with a snapstrap in about a month (we ordered more, it takes time). Still, these bags are as good as saddlebags get, and we’re really proud of them.
Mark’s Rack. Every sidepull or centerpull bike needs one of these. It holds a Medium Wald basket (goes well with our new Captain Hook Net), and makes your bike useful. I’d count the Med Wald basket in there, too, as a favorite.
Stripey undies. When the temperature here dips below 85, that’s what I wear. Women buy then as pajama bottoms. I’ve used them in hotel pools as swimming trunks, and nobody knew.
Silver shifters. There are so many good shifters around, and if you have some you like, absolutely don’t switch. BUT if you’re starting from scratch and can shift without indexing (it’s so easy), and don’t mind like once a week or so snugging the wing-bolt to keep it from slipping, and aren’t sweating from having read the word “slipping,” and promise not to overcrank the wingbolt and crack the washer beneath it (it takes a lot to crack it), then you can’t do better. The sentiment here lately is that many riders don’t know how to snug the bolt, and half of those who do will wronch on it and crack the washer (we have extras and it still works with a cracked washer!)…so there has been an internal movement to not even recommend this (in my opinion) slickest shifter in the world, with the two-way power ratchet. But it still belongs on my short list of fav things, and is one of the things I’m most proud of putting out there from Rivendell.
Bosco or Albatross bars. For retrofits, go Bosco on mountain bikes, Alba on road bikes. These are the bars you’ll stick with once you try them. They’ve changed many bike-rider lives.
Cork Grips. Shellac ‘em second, glue ‘em first. I’d probably like ‘em skinnier, but they feel fine and I feel them at least 45 minutes a day, even in this horrible (by our standards) heat.
ALTUS rear derailer. Twenty-four dollars, monster pulleys, good looks, great function, how can it not be my favorite?
GrabSack. I’ve used it every day of my life for the last 3 years and never wished for a tweak, a different detail.
Trangia stove kit. It IS the stove+potset you’ll end up with and lock in forever if you ever try it. Quiet, windproof, stable, safe, clean, and powerful ENOUGH for anything you’re likely to get into, including snow.
Woolpower socks. It’s hard to think of socks in the heat here, and $18 to $24 is a lot to spend on socks, but these are the best sox I’ve worn.
The Song of Hiawatha. It’s a poem that’s a book and it’s like a novel, too. Should be required reading in gradeschool, but never will be.
Silver Brakes. They work great and look good, but more than anything, they allow good bike designs without cantilevers. Cantilevers are fine, but sometimes a sidepull is just easier
Gransfors Small Forest Ax. Pound-and-a-half head and 19-inch handle make it swingable with one hand or two. It’s not realistic to singe out one axe, but this is the most useful size.
The Sam Hillborne is our most popular bike ever and is still our most successful, but the ones we have in stock and the ones due in September are going to be the last of them in this form for maybe two years. It will be back exactly like it is, but between now and then we’re going to do some different things, and we aren’t rich enough to do the Sams AND the other things at the same time. It’s a cash flow thing, entirely.
We have lots of all-sage Sams in stock now. It’s as good a solid-color bike as you’ll find, super low key and nice, has Silver frame tubes, everything good just like this brochure says: click here.
And yet…in September we’re getting in even more Sams, but these are the blue+creamers, as shown in the same brochure. We have no preference, colorwise. The Sage ones are lovely and look more delicate, but aren’t. The two-toners are showier but no better.
Sages can turn around and ship fast, blues arrive in September.
We won’t be reordering purple any year soon, BUT we are doing BLUE!!!!!!!!
Ding ding ding ding ding ding! Brass bells hammerstrike over the horizon, it’s blue! If you can’t hang with King Arthur’s royalest color of majestic mountains or you just didn’t get one while we had them, soon you can own one in the color of the seas, the skies, sad bummers, 12-bar 4/4 time I-IV-V songs, and Homer Hilsens. Blue.
That’s a blue swatch there on the o.g. purple one. Exactly the same good Merino as the purple stuff. Sizing same. This stuff is so good. Maybe not so excited about the old red stripe underpants version on our 100+ degree days out here lately, but the long sleeve crewneck is an excellent campout shirt, cold weather riding shirt, going to the bar shirt, whatever. Our staff will tell you it’s a perfect cool-morning wrenching shirt. They don’t show stains so you can go karazay with the seatpost grease and bacon fat splats in this shirt. What else is perfect about them? The wool is stretchy and we nailed the fit.
This is our own—can’t get it nowhere else—custom dye lot wool and it’s expensive to buy and we’re not getting a whole bunch, just like last time. Stitched up in San Leandro, California. We predict we’ll sell out rapidly of the common sizes like last time. So instead of selling out on day one, this time we are preselling. The only way to get one is presale because we’ll be ordering the sizes accordingly with a few extras for exchanges.
Place an order here. Please please please just preorder the shirt in a single order without other items. If you want other items, separate orders please. When they come in you’ll have a chance to swap sizes if you change your minds.
Lock in the $62 price too with preorders. Price might go up when they land. As always with MUSA still a smashing value because we don’t quadruple the cost to get our price and all of our development and marketing is never factored into the cost. Brilliant! Buy factory direct and save!
The idea is to give kids ages 8 to 14 a class in slingshot making.
We’ll supply the materials and guarantee that they’ll make with a slingshot. At the end of the class we’ll have them shoot mini-marshmallows at garbage can lids, seeing how loud a racket that’ll make.
It’ll be fun and safe, a good experience.
But there’s limited seating. Five is the number.
The class is free BUT BUT BUT to register, you must pay $20 in person by Saturday at 6pm. If you don’t show, we keep the money (we’ll donate it to a local charity, honest. If you do show and your son or daughter completes the class, you get your money back.
If you’d like to know how to make a slingshot but can’t make the class, here are some pics:
1. Find a fork. Buckeys and Walnuts grow lots of them. Pines and eucalyptus and sycamore and most other trees, none. Come to the class and we’ll tell you where you can find local buckeyes, and how to quickly, stealthily, and sustainably harvest a fork.
Then size the fork like this. Chamfer the ends at about 45-degree angle (pocketknife or file). This prevents splits. Cut 1/4-inch grooves around it to hold the rubber.
2. Will here is just digging in.
3. Cut a leather pouch. Cut holes in the ends for the elastic. Good elastic: Surgical tubing 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch, or Alliant No. 7 rubber bands, from Arkansas. If you’ve got another favorite, that’s great—but in the class, this is what we provide. We have some reindeer leather, cow too, and a bit of deer.
4. Here’s Will’s slingshot. It shoots fine! We shot balls of beeswax, but in the class it’ll be tiny marshmallows.
Again: If you want to bring your child or young person, confirm by paying $20 (per student), and you get that money back at the end of class.
It’s at BBH 1601 North Main #101, Walnut Creek. 10 to 1130 am.
A safe, satisying, wholesome, only mildly challenging event. We’ll make sure your student leaves with a slingsghot.
FIVE STUDENTS. Come on down! But register with the $20—
Last week a rider came by the Hatchet store, having ridden this-his-only-bike from a pretty good distance—40 miles or so, hilly and hot—and was familiar with RBW, etc, and I happened to look at his bike, which he was neither flaunting nor hiding. You never know what you’re going to find, at least I don’t, so without further anything…
Dang, I should have had a full-bike shot. Listen, it was a late-70s Trek 27-inch tire road bike, originally. He converted to 650B, and look how how flexible and clever and accommodating he was. The “neck” below the normal headset cup is an upper headset cone (another part of the headset) fitted onto the fork crown race. Sorry to bore you non-mechanics out there, but this must be the first time in the 3.5 billion year history of life that this has ever happened. He did it to “lift” the front end up after going from the big 27-wheel to the smallish 650B (don’t be confused that is is often referred to as a 27.5. The radius of a 27 x 1 1/4” wheel is typically about 350mm, and the radius of his 650B’er was about 330mm).
Doing that meant pulling the whole steer tube down, so now—not enough room for the locknut. He locktit the upper bearing cup in place, and it’s held for several months and many hundreds of miles, so…there. The knurled cup and zigzagged teeth were intended, many decades ago, to allow take-apart-by-hand, to make train-traveling easier in countries like Japan where yes you can take your bike, but you have to take it apart. There are other advantages. Bstone made its own headsets like this. Lots of French bikes had them—there was a Stronglight headset model called the V4 made this way. I rode one for 8 years on a Ritchey, maybe the only Ritchey to have a V4.
He made his own brake-drop fitting, so the pads would reach.
This bike wouldn’t stop most passersby or tresspassers W (first pm to nail that references wins $25 credit; second wins nothing), but it was sure fun to see how he did it. He got the bike from the dump.
Did I already post this? Maybe. The Albastache bar with assorted bar tapes, shellacked amber, clear, and not at all. Twined wherever. I like this look. I don’t see why it’s not more popular, seriously.
This one too—old news? I start BLUG posts and don’t finish, then forget, and anyway, the final Clem badge will look similar but way better. The foundation is there, but the execution and two details will be better.
At a gift shop in the airport in Taipei I fell in love with this, measuring about 17-inches wide and now on display at BikeBookHatchet. I’m not a bones-and-teeth person by nature, but I liked the title: Fish and Reptile Fossils From the Phosphate Mines of Morrocco. I didn’t know there were phosphate mines in Morrocco.
This is old-school bodybuilding stuff, found in a book in a used bookstore in Locke, California, for $0.50. The title is “Beef It,” which is funny enough, but it’s full of bodybuilding stories and photos like this, which I, like most of you, think are weird and disgusting—no need to say more about that—but like the tooth display, it’s the caption that makes the whole deal. The book is full of captions of this kind, but one’s enough for here. Find “Beef It” on Amazon used for a penny + $3.99 shipping, and see for yourself.
For a generation or at most a generation and a half, people have become used to the idea of purchasing computer and car and photo and music and some other kinds of performance via improved technology. And to an extent that can happen with bikes, but … that’s the topic here.
Immature, emerging, nascent, and futuristic widgets are the ones most in need of and most likely to benefit from radical changes. Bikes have been pretty good for at least twenty of the past 154 years they’ve been around, but the whole headline-making machinery behind the popular bike demands constant change, and this situation creates another situation in which change is automatically positive, and anybody who questions it is automatically an anchor in the mud living in the past.
Let’s try to be objective about brakes. I won’t be able to be fully objective, but I’ll try, at least.
The bigger diameter the disc, the more leverage it has against the rotating force of the wheel. If you could somehow apply brakes well above the wheel, where now there’s only air or maybe a bee, it would take less force to slow that wheel. That’s currently impossible, so the next logical place to brake is at the rim. I’m not advocating the ancient spoon-brakes that pushed down on top of the tire; just talking ‘bout the rim.
The rim IS a disc, the biggest practical disc on the wheel, and mechanically it has a theoretical advantage over a hub-mounted brake. Hub-disc brakes compensate nicely by providing more contact area, which also dissipates heat well. But there’s a ton of force on that disc, and the force is transferred to the frame (seat stays) and fork and spokes, which is why frames have to be overbuilt to withstand the braking forces, and spokes on disc wheels break more often.
Hub-disc-ers point out that a rim designed for rim brakes has to compromise its two functions (braking surface, holding the tire), and that also is a theoretical point against rim brakes. But it so happens that the compromises are nearly invisible. The taller braking surface on a rim-brake rim also adds strength. Why don’t hub disc-brake rims have this? I can’t see the advantage to a low, curved, brakepad-incompatible sidewall, unless it’s to shave grams. There are better places to shave grams.
There’s room for all kinds of technology and detail in bicycles. Thank god not all bikes look like ours, or else ours wouldn’t be special and we’d go under in a month. But the idea that hub-disc brakes are an advancement or even desirable for general purpose riding…is nonsense. For special purpose riding, they must have their place. They belong in the panoply, for those super slimy gritty conditions that characterize downhill races on the slopes of volcanoes in the rain…and even maybe on the greasy trails you ride. But when they’re tossed onto $700 commute bikes and then sold (on the sales floor) as a desirable technology bump, that’s where it gets weird. For most riding (maybe not the extreme-condition riding that people fantasize about, but for most riding, in all seasons and over most terrain) rim-disc brakes remain our favorite.
RBW headquarters will be closed Saturday for the Entmoot.
Rivendell Bike Book & Hatchet will be open normal hours 12am - 8pm at 1601 N. Main St. on Saturday.
What is the Entmoot?
A gathering of Riv fans organized by Jim, now Dan & Joe. They’re organizing, coordinating, all that. It’s not an official Riv thing, but some Rivvers will be there (not working, so go easy on them), and we’re officially not the organizers so please use this link for info. All the info is assembled here. Campouts and group rides.There’s also a virtual Entmoot ride that Patrick organized. Info here.
This weekend. See the link. Bike Book & Hatchet will be open Monday 10am-2pm for all the returning campers.
The San Francisco Bay Area. Again see the link for details.
It was all organized by members of the Rivendell Owners Bunch and some employees are going.
Boy oh boy. See the link. All over the bay, ferries, bridges, BARTs, bikes.
What a great group of customers we have. THANK YOU for organizing this.
Have you ever been on the fence about ordering a product and wanted to know exactly how many we had available?
Here’s a trick that we do all the time, that you can do on our site and many others. Try adding 900 of that item to the cart. If the site is configured like ours it will say something like, “Sorry we’ve adjusted the total to the quantity available.” You’ll have something like 12 in your cart, and there you have it. The insiders view into our inventory. Still call though if you want, we like talking.
Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door...
That phrase is a misquotation of Emerson, did you know that?
Here’s what he really said:
If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.
Well, what we’ve got here is our best attempt at improving the classic, beloved Pletscher clampy rack:
At under two pounds it’s got gobs of features. It’s modular, expandable, practical, and affordable at $50 for the rack sans accessories (pump, pannier rails, tail light bracket). Perfect for the compatible baby seats and baskets and stuff you’ll have to (For now) get elsewhere. Maybe we’ll carry the basket.
This is a good rack, we might sell out of the first batch but will get more promptly. Follow this broad hard-beaten hyperlink to our web home, though it be in the woods.
Rivendell Bicycle Works Garage Sale 2040 N. Main St. Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Saturday June 7, 2014. 9am.
We have a little of everything but a lot of:
Old MUSA Pants with velcro, not zippers
$5 T shirts
107 bottom brackets
Wool leg warmers
Marred seat posts
As usual we’ll serve coffe on a wooden barrel in front of the building and unleash the items right after 9am. Cash sales only until the shop opens at 10am for normal Saturday operations. Cash is king, so first buyer with cash in hand gets any item, even if you’re sitting on it with a credit card between your teeth. After the sale ends we will process credit card sales.
The Smog shop down the block opens at 9am too, so we’ll be doing it in our parking spots instead of the driveway. The driveway will be busy with smoggers. Park on the street or on the other side of our building. We have no available spots. Bike parking will also be limited because our rack will be covered in garage sale items. Make a friend and lock your bikes together.
Priced to move
This is a liquidation! Everything is priced for a quick sale. Rims, derailers, brakes, hubs, you name it. Bring change, small bills.
Above: Bike Book & Hatchet @ 1601 N. Main St. There will be a storewide 10% off sale here all day after the garage sale up the street. Opens at 11am. You’ll have an hour to kill. Only four blocks away.
Jared photo-ing the new striped undies, which, by the way, a quarter of them are gone already. Buy up a size. Look at Jared’s leg. He does this all the time, for minutes continuously. It’s his default relaxing position.
In Fig. 3A above, I prove that I had a thing for Huret Jubilee rear derailers. A few are old with 20,000 miles on at least one of them. Some are new. The best-looking derailer of ever time, the lightest, too (140g). But many of those imported were configured for a French style dropout and wouldn’t work on normal Campy-style dropouts, which would drive anybody mad, and did me, several times.
The lower right is a SunTour LePree from ‘83/’84, with three pulleys, to wrap more chain without hanging down as low. Nice idea, but…didn’t fly.
And the lower middle is what may be, are you ready?—the first ever SunTour derailer, never mounted, from—-1940’s? I don’t have time to look up the SunTour history, but this is a Blug, not The World Book Encyclopedia. I’ll post a close-up of it sometime in the next few days, not now.
This is my current favorite rear derailer. Onlt $24, with a 13t upper and 15t lower pulley. If people didn’t count grams and all derailers cost the same, this is the one we’d all be loving daily. Mounted on a future dropout, POSSIBLY one you’ll see on some other bikes. There’s more to it than just the “Breezer style” hood. A lot going on there. Details later, if ever, but…there is.
Part of our handlebar display at Bike Book & Hatchet. Showing bare and amber shellac over various colors.
In the distant future there may be a Clem Smith Jr. Not A. Clem Smith Jr., just Clem Smith Jr. Save your money, but not too much. We’re not saying more about it. Might not even happen.