Another Jacob Bike

This one’s a good one. They’re all good ones I guess, but this one only cost me 50 bucks. I was surfing an obscure “for sale” type app early one morning and saw a big huge old mountain bike for sale. I messaged the guy and set up a meeting to pick it up using the Bike Project’s Surly Trailer.

It’s an 87 Mongoose Hilltopper in the ever-so-sought-after-by-Jacob 58cm size. It came with Suntour A3000 (any Outkast fans?) components and some fun colors. I brought it back to the bike project and started ripping it down and scheming about the parts I would eventually throw on it later that day. A better seat, a Hite-Rite dropper post-y doo, a set of thumbies (fire drilled [upside down and swapped sides]) a triple crankset, a set of trusty STX wheels and a 10s cassette, and a 105 rear derailleur, as well as my old jones bars and b-uuuuutiful suntour brake levers. Oh yeah, and my surly front rack. It rides really nice with studded tires and fenders and 30 speeds. Ice, no ice, snow, rain, whatevs. I’m sure I’ll have this bike for a while. Look out for it covered in rust, stickers, and quality bicycle components in 10 years.

My Bike! 3rd Edition

Heyo, I guess I’m obligated to jump on this train huh? As it lies, I have more bikes than I could manageably post on this blog so not all of them are likely to show up here, but I am absolutely giving you guys a look-see of my favorites. First up is a cherished possession of mine that I just plain enjoy to ride and admire. It’s a 1982 Trek 720 Frameset with a load of goods on it.

The story goes, Adam (the uhhhh shop manager guy) gave me this frame and fork for watching his dogs while he went out of town, and I built it up in to this gosh darn dreamboat of a bicycle. The frame is made of Reynolds 531 tubing with nice, simple, but attractive lugs, and dark root-beer-ish paneling on the headtube and seattube. It’s a 56cm, which is admittedly a size or two too small for me, but that’s what long seatposts and tall stems are for, right? Other frame features include a Cinelli bottom bracket and Campagnolo dropouts If anyone out there has an identical 58 or 60cm frameset I’ll trade ya.

When I was scheming for this build, I had 2 real talking points, and the rest was up in the air. I had been slowly amassing a collection of DuraAce 7700 parts, and I had a set of 650b rims and Rivendell tires. I’ll talk about the wheels now, I suppose.

I opine that 650b is the holy wheel size. 25mm bigger around than a 26 inch wheel, and 38mm smaller than a 700c one. Commonly found on old french randoneurring bikes, and now essentially everywhere you look. I did a funky-fresh trick on this bike (meant for 700c) and got some long reach brake calipers (made by tektro) so that I could use these wheels. Since they’re smaller in diameter, I’m able to use a larger tire than I would have been able to with a 700c wheelset, and I also drop the bottom bracket down a few millimeters while also lowering the trail dimension of the front end’s geometry. For tires, I was riding Rivendell Fatty Rumpkin 650b x 41.5(or so) tires for a while, but recently switched to Surly’s knard in a 650b x 41 (for getting knarly) theres ample clearance for a 43 or so, but who’s got time for that? I built the rims (a cheap set of Zac19’s that I’ve had forever) to a set of 32h DuraAce hubs. I’ve contemplated setting them up tubeless, but the rims are kinda crummy so I’m waiting to buy some Velocity’s.

Another highlight of the overall build is a (nearly) full DuraAce 7700 drivetrain. I accumulated it over a few moths or so and decided to throw it all together on a bike when I finally got a hold of a 32h hubset (which spins buttery smooth). Shifting is set up with bar ends in friction 9spd and an XTR M950 11-28t cassette plus the stock 53/39t chainrings up front. This makes for a pretty difficult bike to ride but I feel it adds a classic masochism to an otherwise #chillaxed touring bike. I should note that I’ve got a 7400 front derailleur and headset on it, but who’s counting?

Other notable parts and pieces include VeloOrange Rando bars in 50cm, a 70mm Nitto Technomic Stem, and a VeloOrange Constructeur Front Rack. It rides like a dream!

Indexing is for Librarians

Jacob here. That quote isn’t mine, by the way. I don’t have the wit to come up with that genius gatekeeping tagline. I absolutely approve, though. I’m something of a friction shifting superfan in training myself, and while I know there a plenty of people that are immensely more capable of describing the phenomenon, I definitely have enough clout to speak confidently on the topic. With that in mind, let’s get started on this blog with an essential focus on friction shifting. 

So what is it? Where do I find it? How does it work? And what’s up with that funky alternative widely known as indexed shifting? Well, ladies and gentlemen and the gender non-conforming, friction shifting is something I’d describe as classic. Beautiful and flashy but tastefully so. Reliable, yet touchy. I see friction shifting as not only a concept, but also a simple (and somehow also nuanced) learned skill. If you’ve used friction shifting you may know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t I hope my carefully chosen words have your mouth watering for more. The best way to introduce this shin-dig is to start with what everyone knows: indexed shifting. 

You readers have ridden a bike, right? If you haven’t, you should try it. For those of you that have, you’re familiar with gears, and the way they shift. The clicks! The different gears! Push a lever and it clicks, and suddenly you’re in 2nd gear, cruising up a hill much easier than before. That click of the shifter? That’s an index! That’s the resounding effect of technological innovation that just threw you into 2nd gear with ease. The rest of the gears have their respective clicks, too. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Indexing is great. Love it. It’s a piece of cake. But imagine a world where those clicks don’t exist. A world where shifting gears is a little peskier. That’s the art of friction shifting. 

On a basic level, shifting gears has to do with the basic action of pulling a cable attached to the derailleur. I can’t dive into derailleurs right now because that’s gonna be a whole different post at some point, but the derailleur changes the path of the chain so it’s lined up with certain gears. Generally pulling the shift cable tighter makes it easier to pedal, and cutting some slack makes it harder. Them’s the rules. I don’t make ’em. The shifter itself usually involves some sort of pulley that, when adjusted, wraps the cable tighter or looser around it which in turn “shifts” the gears. In an indexed shifter, there’s little stops inside a mechanism that are spring loaded to catch on each gear as the pulley is turned by the action of the lever. On a friction shifter, that ain’t a thing. That’s a luxury unafforded by the gods of love and everything exquisite. Fricton holds the shifter in position, and it’s up to the user to properly adjust that shifter so the derailleur is lined up with the right gear. If it’s out of line, you bike is gonna sound broke as heck. That’s no good. That’s why its a skill. If you have 9 speeds in the back, shifting to each of those 9 speeds is gonna be a task in and of itself that brings you and your mind closer to understanding the bike. 

Friction shifters are most commonly found in three forms. There’s the downtube shifter, the bar-end shifter, and the thumb shifter. They’re all essentially the same basic mechanism except some smarty-pants figured out how to put it somewhere else. The first photo is a Suntour XCD Thum b shifter, the second is a set of Shimano 600 Tri-Color downtube shifters, and the third is a set of Shimano bar end shifters on one of my personal bikes. 

Over my short yet dense 3 years of riding and working on bikes religiously, I’ve come to love, cherish, and revere friction shifting as my preferred method of doing things. I’ve got favorite drivetrain configurations and things I dream about. I’ve got friction shifting systems stored away, waiting for the perfect bike. Something I can tell you is that friction shifting is fantastic for 5-9 speed drivetrains. 10 speed is a little too finicky for me to thoroughly enjoy, but I’ve got my winter commuter set up friction 10 to try and get it under my belt. I’ve made a few fun modifications to that whole system that I won’t dive into too much detail on. If you’d like to see that and a goofy explanation, head to my Instagram @h8gate8 and check out one of my more recent posts (as of 12/13/18 for archive purposes). Friction 11 is something I’ve only used once or twice but I can say for sure that it’s much easier to use than friction 10. My theory on this is because there are really small gaps between gears in the back, which lends itself to ease of shifting because it takes so little input from the shifter to throw the chain around, and the incredibly stiff nature of shifts along all 11 speed systems is fantastic for getting your shift fine tuned. 10 speed drivetrains have what I speculate to be just enough space between gears (A.K.A. pitch) that it’s hard to find that sweet spot. This is also likely exacerbated by the “power” mechanism found in most Suntour shifters that I enjoy oh-so much. The power shifters made my Suntour have a quasi-index feature that is basically a ratchet that ensures minimum slippage while making the lever throw feel nice and smooth. 

If you’d like to try friction shifting out for yourself, you can stop by the bike project and convert your existing bike, or try one of our bikes, or if you’re looking for something new and shiny head to your local bike shop and talk to those guys about Gevenalle shifters, Microshift thumbies, Shimano Bar-ends, or something from the lovely folks over at Rivendell. Until then, you can find some light reading on pages 8 & 9 of the 1992 Bridgestone Bicycles catalog here.

Jacob’s Blog 2: Electric Blogaloo

The bike project is full of weird parts and doo-dads that leave us scratching our collective head, but we always seem to find out what the heck we’re looking at. Whether it’s wonderful places like sheldonbrown dot com, velobase dot com, or us tinkering around and finally figuring out what’s up, or possibly even the existing knowledge of our help. That’s why I decided to round up some old parts (hopefully) every week. This week turned out to be a bunch of 90’s MTB treasures. The pictures and accompanying wordage represent just a fraction of what we’ve got, and what’s out there.

In looking back at the 90’s MTB industry, I see a move away from the conventional beauty of bicycles to an overall jagged, erector-set aesthetic. That’s not to say that I don’t find 90’s mountain bikes to be “beautiful”. I enjoy a good CODA crankset or Paul derailleur just as much as I love a set of Mafac Centerpulls or a Superbe Pro derailleur.  90’s MTB tech is accentuated by proprietary suspension systems, and while elastomers aren’t the greatest at suspending the rear end of a bike, they’re good for other things (see: Cane Creek Thudbuster). This is where this, a Girvin Flex-Stem, comes in.

 

 

 

As far as I know, Girvin stems were one of the first mass produced suspension systems and the brand was sort of related to Pro-Flex who made wicked full suspension mountain bikes through the decade. I’d imagine the stem itself rides like a regular old stem with a little added plush. Who knows. Maybe I’ll throw it on a bike and find out someday. If somebody wants it, it’s here for ya.

Next on our list is a chain-suck protector from an unknown manufacturer in a lovely anodized purple. These were made by a few different brands in a few different configurations. Some frames even came with braze-ons for one. This one will attach to most any frame. They’d essentially make sure the chain didn’t suck down in between the chainrings and the chainstay which would happen frequently in the age of mountain triples and weakly tensioned rear derailleurs on rough terrain.

 

 

Third-ly(?) is the Rock-Ring. We’ve got quite a few of these, to be honest and I’m sure we haven’t even begun to see the majority of them. Remember the days when even pro-level mountain bikes came with 40-something tooth chainrings? I don’t. But that’s because I’m 19. Well, when you’re chunking around on your slingshot with the all new XTR M900 group, you don’t wanna hit that nice, new big ring on a rock, do ya? Enter: ROCK-RING.

 

Signing off,

Jacob Stacy

Resident Nerd

CBPO Blog Post Numero Uno

Heyo. Welcome to the first installation of what is sure to become a semi-regular occurrence: the CBPO Blog. This… blog… will serve as a black hole of information regarding everyday shop operations, events, and the like. Possibly even a place where I can rant and rave about bicycles and their many, many intricacies. I’m Jacob, by the way. An avid volunteer at the CBPO and bicycle enthusiast, if you will. I’ve been wondering what on earth I could possibly write about for this inaugural post and I think I settled on just.. ya know.. giving all of our readers an update on shop haps. I’ve been noticing a nice atmosphere around everything CBPO lately, and I hope everyone else who is there on a semi-regular basis can agree. We’re doing things. Big things. Lots of super rad bicycles are walking in the door. Some for maintenance. Others for winter season preparations. Others as donations (thank you, patrons). We have quite a few old mountain bikes and road bikes waiting around for someone to come beat them up for the snowy (and salty) season. But beyond this, I think that some recent happenings in my own life have made me quite reflective of the impact the bike project has had on me and other people who call it a second home. We’ve had some new volunteers coming in (Lookin’ at you, Zane, Garrett, and Rick!) as well as the same ol’ familiar faces you’re guaranteed to see at least once a week. There’s not much that feels more cohesive to me than the group of pals that have adopted the bike shop as a passion project and safe space. I remember my early days of hanging out at the bike project and the warm embrace of walking in the door with my ever changing bicycle to see people that I now hold dear. The shop still feels nice and cozy to me every time I walk in. It’s a place of bikes, sure. But its also a space for learning and joking and dancing and pondering and planning. This culmination of things has been hitting me real hard lately. We’re a big family of big hearts and that’s pretty nice. In terms of things our individual patrons have been doing, we’ve had Rick fixing up an old Schwinn tandem with knobby tires and a springer fork. Garrett is making a super cool podcast about us, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Mohamed’s been getting into the grittiest parts of derailleur adjustment techniques and planning a huge bike tour. Sara just set up a dynamo on her trusty Trek. Both Jeff and Wyatt (and their respective families) have new babies! Congrats, friends. Zane is a new arrival to both Omaha and the CBPO, and hes got a sweet new cargo bike and a cat to haul around in it. Sam and James are just as helpful and supportive as a ever! We also have a seriously awesome new sign painted on the front of the building, thanks to the wonderful Arbor Street Studios! Things are great and I couldn’t be more stoked. We’ve got some projects planned for the cold season that have to do with reorganization of the existing chaos, and we’re looking to complete quite a few things that will make everyday operations much easier. It feels like we’re all on the same page down here at 525 N 33rd. Out here doing the do like only we know how to, and that’s a good feeling. Check back soon for more updates!