Lance. I find myself more sympathetic than most, including Betsy Andreu, but it may be easier from this perch—than from her’s, especially—to be kinder toward Lance. Still, it seems to me that if you go into a pool and there’s a sign saying No Cannonballs, and everybody’s doing them and there’s a splash-making contest going on with full bleachers and cheerleaders and prize money for splashing—it might be hard not to splash. I know that’s not a perfect analogy. It doesn’t address the lawsuits and attacks and all, but at some level, Lance’s racing life and No Cannonballs (please ignore cheering and prizes) have something in common.
It is also not a great thing to do, kick somebody when he’s down. It’s not admirable, at least. It is tempting, maybe, since Lance isn’t a world class sympathetic figure, but he IS one of US, and to see the same people who egged him on and cheered him/encouraged him now berate him is a little weird. In the big picture he got caught in a trap, a web-of-deceit, and was flailing in different ways at different people to keep it all afloat. Coming clean in the middle of it could be seen as something honorable, but it also could have been seen as betraying his accomplices and teammates. Better for them, I’d think, that he didn’t do that then. And imagine what they’d have thought—-“what the f—, Lance?! What are you DOING? I thought we had a deal…”
It’s hard to even think straight about it. I’m sure I”m not, but I am sure of this: Lance is a complicated guy who’s living a life none of us can imagine but all of us find easy to judge. I totally understand the rage, but I don’t, personally, feel it. I want him to deal with the stuff he has to deal with, and then grow on and lead a decent life. Part 2 tonite, maybe I’ll flip flop.
It’s been a while, sorry—-unless saying “sorry” suggests more interest in this than is —— warranted? Something. Here’s what’s happening, or not; a mix of boring, interesting, personal, business, observation, trivia, bikes, and whatever else. Some you may know about already.
Price Changes, Frame Availability.
Don’t forget about our February 1st Frame price adjustments from the last Blug post. Important info about delivery. Orders must be in by January 31st to lock in current prices, even on bikes months out. Read it here.
Sam Hillborne news: We got a bunch of 56 Sams in, but they were supposed to have cream head tubes and didn’t, so we’re taking care of that locally, and in the meantime have some greyblue-head tube Sams that are catching on here, and for a little less money.
The 48s do not move, and it’ll be a cool evening down south before we make those again, so if you’ve had your eye on one, anytime….
The new Sam sizes, arriving in May, are 51, 55, 58, and 62. No more 64 Sams. The 51 is the only 650B’er, and the 58 and 62 will have the second top tube. Same color forever now: Greyblue with cream.
We’re doing one last run of 47s, and from then on it’ll be 50-55-60. The Betty, expected to be our worst seller, is now our second best seller behind the Sam. It should be, but it’s still surprising.
Six Fifty Bee/ Twenty Seven Fiver
For a year that has been called “The Year of 650B”, it sure is making a slow start. Almost everybody’s out of them or low on them, and lead times are as long as 5 months on some models. We’ve been waiting on Schwalbe Marathons about that long and they’re still a month out. The Fatty Rumpkin, our own tire, is coming in about a month, and it will be, this time around, a beefed up black version, screw the wait, make it thick, add puncture protection. We don’t know what it’ll weigh, but it’ll be a good stout all-around tire, fatter than the Marathon, pretty good.
Mark’s HA Rack (Hub Area rack; kind of like a low-rider) is being made right about now, and tested. It’s all Nitto, and ideally will be paired with the new HA RackSack Mark has also designed, to be in the Sackville line.
A guy was riding a lightly ridden Hunqapillar on a woodsy or gravelly road, when all of a sudden KA-RUNCH and assorted chaos behind and below him, and presumably continued pedaling through it, and two seconds later the dropout ripped in half and several spokes had snapped.
He was disappointed in the bike, and we are “accommodating” him, fine, but we get to get a lesson out of the accommodation, and the lesson is this:
- New things can get wrecked as easily as old things
- Noise coincides with contact, and sudden unfamiliar noises mean stop pedaling and stop the bike.
In this case, the wreckage is an impartial witness to what happened.
Something, maybe a stick, somehow got flipped through the spokes and onto the lower part of the chain and dragged to the derailer. It jammed there, and continued pedaling forced the rear derailer backward and upward, leveraging it against the dropout. Continued pedaling ripped the dropout in half. The evidence for a sudden rip, as opposed to a fatigue failure that grew over weeks or months, is that the broken cross-section is crystalline and sharp although, with no evidence of smoothed-over, burnished areas that have rubbed against one another for a while.
Plus, the derailer tab is bent, and has scar-marks that could only have been made by something harder than a twig, but probably not much thicker, so maybe a spoke.
That’s the limit of my after-the-fact/I wasn’t there analysis skills, and I might be stretching them some at that. Maybe the derailer had been bent or otherwise just shifted into the spokes and then got pulled up by the spokes. (So, maybe no object-from-the-road). The point is, something strange, unusual but not unheard of happened, and it made a noise immediately, and ideally the pedaling would have stopped before the mayhem ran its course. Were earbuds involved? We don’t know and at this point aren’t going to ask.
Although we have no policy, we try to come to your aid when something wacko hits you.
In this case we’re sending a new frame. We’ll repair this one. The biggest bummer is the super crappy packing job the local bike shop did. The rear wheel with cassette was resting on the downtube decal. It was padded with foam, but foam is no match for metal cogs and jostling, and so the decal is all chewed up. Good job, guys. It’s OK—everybody’s anonymous, but seriously, one would hope for more respect and foresight…on the bikepacker job.
Yen Watch (our financial section)
Japan elected out a government that liked keeping the Yen strong to make its many millions of retirees flush in travel money, and elected in a more reasonable set of rule makes you see that in the big picture, an economy that is based on exports and manufacturing needs to be more export friendly, which means a weaker Yen. The Yen – stay with this now – needs to be weak to allow importers of Japanese goods to wholesale them to retailers who sell them to you at a reasonable price. For that to happen, a dollar needs to buy about 150 Yen. Bstone got worried at 130, morose at 125 (break even point, why bother?) and quit, gave up, at 110. I started Rivendell at 110, and within a year it was 82. That was laughably low, except that it wasn’t, and yet for the past year and a half a dollar has been worth about 78 Yen, with a low of 75.5 or something.
Then the new government, and in the last two months it has climbed to 88. To us this means a savings of between $2,000 and $4,000 on every big old shipment. I’d like to say it’ll mean lower prices to you, but the fact is that for the last year and a half we’ve been selling Nitto Etc, at less than sustainable prices, HOPING that this turnaround would happen, and here it is. It’s like now we have raindrops in the water cup, and we get to at least lick ‘em out. For us to consider Japanese bikes again, Yen would have to go to 110.
New Riv Vid
Jay Ritchey, who used to work here until he moved to Arizona to be with his girlfriend who is temporarily there doing her internship, is now a moviemaker, a career he kind of got started here, doing Hunqapiller videos for us. Now he’s made a Rivideo, and it is right here and any way I’d have to introduce it beyond that is covered in the first minute or so of the video, which lasts about 30 whole minutes, and is right here. Jay did a great job.
The Funny Long bike is officially called the Joe Appaloosa, a fitting name suggested by local Finn Taylor, after I and we were drawing blanks. It’s a fitting name, not to overanalyze it, but here goes: Bikes are like horses, and Appaloosa is a kind of horse. The defining characteristics are spotted lips, often with other spots but always the lips, which—-maybe when the bike comes out we’ll supply it with spotty decals to be used or not. Appaloosas came from Spain, but were famously bred and developed and rose to fame as the horses of Nez Perce (“pierced nose”) Indians. Want to read more about the breed? Here.
I’ve always liked Indians, the lore, the lifestyle, the weapons, the look—-pretty much everything about Indians is right down my aisle, although I’ve never been a fan of the look of the long pipe-smoking Tecumseh (he did good things, but looked the wimp). Growing up as I did wanting to BE an Indian, I’m not one who’s quick to cry foul when I hear somebody not refer to them as Native Americans. I get that they were the first to inhabit where most of us are now, but they were immigrants, too. I think they got the royal shaft, no qualifiers there. It is our eternal shame, and just one of those things that——-well, we can’t own all past infractions, but let’s own some of this one, since it happened so recently.
Anyway, the Joe comes in NOT from Injun Joe of Tom Sawyer fame—-although there’s the Indian theme again, and I do like that—-but because our recent models have had people names, and with a long last name we needed a short first name. If it were strictly a women’s bike, maybe Jo Appaloosa, but it’s a unisex model, and so we follow in the tradition, good or bad, of defaulting to the boyish name for both. Here’s the headbadge:
The bike itself is probably a year away. We may have Nobilette make a run of 20 of them, but they’ll cost a lot, and this is a wonderful bike that warrants a bigger litter and lower prices…and yet the question remains, can we sell a hundred of them in a year? That’s what we’d need to do to justify them from Taiwan.
Shimano’s subcontractor and to the same quality standards. We had some mixed results with IRD freewheels (problems now solved), so were nervous about these, but the Shimano connection and us not being the beta-testers have let us relax about these, and Brian has one on his bike, no problem. Anyway, the great thing is we got to pick the ratios, and although it’s hard to go way wrong with a cassette, there is a theoretically-smarter-than-usual way to go about it, and that’s what we’ve done. The cog gaps increase as they cogs get bigger, so the effective change in gear or effort makes sense. PLUS, we got 12t top cogs, which are more useful than 11’s, and 34t low cogs, which split the difference nicely between a 32 and 36. Coggery lends itself to overthinking, but we’re thrilled (that’s overstating) with what we’re stocking.
One of the bigger projects here is a paper catalogue. I hope “catalogue” isn’t like “tyres” and “rear mech” and “mudguards.” I got into the “ue” habit when I was at Bstone and a guy named Tom Franges sent me an old catalogue as a model for a good catalogue, and that combined with being slightly more of a weirdo back then got me started on “catalogue”, and I automatically type it that way now. I have these obsessions. That’s one. Another is, I’ve never once typed a shorter version, with the second word H, of Moustache Handlebar or Moustache H’bar. Not once. Maybe the “Moustache” is another one of those things, but it’s a good marker now, so when some other bar maker comes out with a “Moustache” model, I can trace it to the Nitto one. Otherwise, “mustache.”
The catalogue will be nearly 90p and letter-sized. We’re planning to sell it, not give it away, but wait: You will get a coupon-toward-purchase for more than the purchase price of the catalogueuegue, and the catalogue itself will be useful in some ways beyond the merchandise. There may be a useful chart or sidebar. We can’t do a big catalogue, print and mail, unless we do it like this, and so, if you’re so inclined, please go along.
And looky what’s here on the Brooks blog.