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.


The progression of the Bicycle Air Bag Helmet.

Here is a snippet from our hopefully one day not too far away Cheviot Brochure.

All sizes are in stock here at the warehouse. Give us a call, real people are standing by to answer whatever questions you may have!  800.345.3918


(UPDATE 8/21/14. One hundred dollar PRICE DROP on this very special cheviot)

August Sale Coupon

Rush on over for 11% off the following items:
New red cap Riv Logo Bottles
Eight and Nine Speed Chains (the regular ones there not the Whippers)
John’s Irish Strap

While supplies last, get 11% off those four items with coupon code:

at checkout on web orders. No limit till we run out. Don’t forget to ask for a Sam Catalog in the notes.


Postcard From Sweden

[Grant’s been gone for a few weeks, sent this note from Sweden, pasted here for you. Skip to the end for exciting new 64cm Atlantis specs - Dave]

When you’ve seen one oldie, you still haven’t seen them all now, have you? It’s known by the RIVpeoplestaffers and anybody who’s emailed me and rec’d an autoreply that I’m in Sweden now & have been since 8/2, and it’s an ultra rare family vacation financed in part by a $6,000 book royalty (half a year’s sales), and the rest by friend and customer B, who lives here and spent half of our time taking us around to places not even Rick Steve knows about. It’s still expensive, but I sold a Gary Howells fly rod to help pay for it, too. Typically every dime beyond the barest basics goes to tuition, but Katie and Anna are home this summer and won’t be home again in the summer for years to come, and even boo-hoo maybe not for decades——-so this was our shot, and here we are.

At an antique shop today there was a Chinese ivory carving from the late 1800s, about 9-inches high, of a slender Eiffel-tower shaped towery thing made of carved animals and topped with about an inch-and-a-half diameter ball, with three additional balls—all intricately carved and seemingly perfect spheres, and each free-rolling and separate from its neighbors. I’ve always been a sucker for these things, The record is thirteen balls, and this one had just four, but hey.

I asked how much it was. The owner took it out of the case and handed it to me to inspect. I put it down carefully, and he told me it was (in USD) $1,800. But then he said, “That’s negotiable. Some people are rich and can afford it; others like you like it but aren’t rich, and I don’t mind cutting the price. Take a photo of it and think about it.” I’d like to show you my photo, but I left the memory card out of the Sony RX100 camera, so I only thought I got some good ones.

Of course I look at bikes and peek in bike shops when I find them. Yes, I’ve pedaled around Copenhagen, too, and I do all this with the curse that comes from being a one-trick pony bicycle guy, meaning every bike I see gets categorized within a second, and 99 of 100 get forgotten in the next second, because guess what—-the same carnage that’s happened in America has happened here. The fatt tubes, straight forks, tight clearances, and where’d the headset go? that afflicts most of our bikes also afflicts most of theirs.

And for the most part, the “old” bikes are from the eighties and nineties, with now and then a ’70s lugged Crescent or Monarch thrown in there, before both iconic Swedish brands went to China with everybody else. It’s all fine, but makes these other finds more remarkable. Here they are—two bikes shot with my wife’s iPhone after I discovered I’d forgotten to re-insert the mem card from my last downloading. There would’ve been more. That’s digital for you, but it makes sense for stuff like this. I brought film too, and Anna brought her Olympus OM-1 and her Mamiya 7II, if that means anything.

I’ll show the iphonepix here without commentary, because if they require it, it wouldn’t reach you—which is nobody’s fault, just a sad fact.

A point worth making and one that’s not obvious is that these bikes were probably nice in their day because somebody took some time with things that don’t, from a strictly function point of view, require it. That is KIND of what we’re trying to do, and it’s the thing you keep going when you buy something here, because that’s how it happens. This is not a plea to keep it up, just a pat on for what you’ve done.

The enduring beauty in these bikes is in the metal, for the most part. No amount of time can make it go away and leave these bikes generic. That’s a good thing about lugs, and nice looking ones at that. I had no idea this was going on in the ’40s or whenever these bikes were made.

I know there are some modern bikes that look nice, but nice or not, I don’t see the same stuff in them as I see in these. I’m not tricked by modern retro-attempts at artistry, by show bikes that are trying to romanticize the coal miner’s bike or the baguette-delivery boy’s bike, with—well, it’s not easy or nice to think or write descriptively about what I mean, and on the other hand, I’ve seen a zillion old bikes that don’t do it for me, either. I like our lugs, but I see them in a context in which they still don’t measure up to the art you see here, but they have their strengths, and the strengths are stronger now than they would have been then.

I also have some ideas for bikes that are wrong for the times, but in a couple of years I won’t care and we’ll do them, anyway. When you get this way and to this point, sometimes a creative-indulgent-impatient combo gets to you, and it’s easy not to care about the reaction—like, I just want to DO this, put out 500 of them, place them on the earth and then fast-forward the time machine and watch them age and continue to work and be beautiful old and as viable as bikes in fifty years as now. That’s not a clear explanation, but it’s clear in my head and I don’t have the time right now to work  it out. The last photo: Dig that chainstay-clamping C. The whole guard is more beautiful because it was never on a screen. Maybe this was a fop’s bike, it’s hard to say, but over time that part fades and this is what’s left, locked to a pole in Stockholm about a lifetime later, I’d say. Sorry I screwed up with the memory card, or there would have been more. Well….so much for “without commentary,” I guess, but what I meant was that I wasn’t going to point out details you’d see for yourself, anyway—-although I did do that with the C-clamp on that chainguard.

Official 2014 64cm Atlantis Geometry

Here’s the Current 64cm Atlantis Geometry, people have been emailing me:

72 seat x 72 head
48mm rake
upslope 2.5 deg
TT length   62.5
chainstay 48
drop 8cm


B&W Atlantis

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!


We’ve had the PDF version of our new Hillborne catalog available for a few weeks now, but who wants to stare at a computer screen more than they already have to? Here’s paper pulp hot off the press.

Only one way to get your hands on a paper copy is to place an order and say “Sam Bro Pretty Please” or something like that in the notes.

We can’t afford to mail them individually at this time, so only with orders.

Place order, ask for copy in the notes. Or cliquez ici for the virtual one.


"One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things"
Henry Miller testing out a prototype Tallux stem & Nigel Smythe cap circa 1965.  Bosco bars may have done him some good over the track drops. A kickstand too!
Will - Pletscher Diehard