Wednesday, December 23, 2009
For myself, I found that Alex Singer Bicycles were most likely, among all makes of bicycles, to provide a perfect combination of lively ride and great handling. If one was to hand me a bicycle from any maker from the 1960's through 1980's, and ask me which one I'd probably like the best (including those of another famous french maker), I'd say that to be safest, I'd select the Alex Singer.
But more than a bicycle, a geometry, or a wonderful logo, the Alex Singer shop was always known for its warmth and kindness. Alex Singer himself was known as a gentleman of gentleman, and Ernest Cusuka carried on that tradition to the end of his life. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Ernest Csuka a few years back, and his energetic glow permeated the hallowed ground that is the Alex Singer shop.
The world feels a bit empty right now - may Ernest Csuka rest in peace.
M Kone in Boulder CO USA
Saturday, December 5, 2009
It is very important to us to maintain the history of craft and manufacturing in the United States. And Franklin, as most of you know, spent considerable time in France (we might not be the United States of America had his efforts to enlist French help during the revolution been unsuccesful). So perhaps this all sounds a bit hokey, but we think it all fits together quite nicely.
The series of frames we are making using these lugs are the Paris-Brest-Paris model. It is a 700c frame that is optimized for tires in the 29 to 32mm range. So it can be a go-fast PBP bike, yet back home before and after it will enjoy a bit of rough stuff too perhaps. All frames, of course, are completely custom designed, but must follow the rough guideliness of typical Rene Herse geometry. And of course, each frame is hand lettered and has box lining.
There are more images of these lugs to be found on the Bilenky flickr site. The link is
So please enjoy.
MK in Boulder CO
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Well things are moving along here well - we have a couple of Boulder Bicycle's on the build stand. One 700c and one 650b. We've been playing with lighting wire plumbing. Here you see a wire entering the rear fender. We've been using grommets with O-rings to keep them in place where wires pass through fenders. The idea is to keep sharp edges from damaging wires. You also will see a shrink-wrap area of the wire. We like to have lots of disconects so that racks and fenders can come off the bike without having to cut wires.
We have tweaked the Boulder Bicycle prices some. Due to changing exchange rates, and a more careful analysis of bicycle build times, we realized we had to raise prices some. Something new, though, is we are now offering Boulder Bicycles as unassembled build kits for those who like to do the assemble themselves. Our website now has updated Boulder Bicycle Pricing.
Mike K in Boulder CO
Thursday, October 15, 2009
For awhile, we've been wanting some solution for a decaleur to use with ahead style stems. This is especially important for us since our Boulder Bicycles are usually supplied with ahead style stems.
There are ahead style decaleurs out there, and while they seem to be generally satisfactory, there are reports of occasional failures. Plus, those that attach with "a big washer" around the steerer can move if the decaleur is not sandwiched tightly. And finally, most of the decaleurs out there, even the highly regarded Alex Singer and our own Rene herse decaleurs still depend on an interference fit and you always wonder when going over speed bumps.
Well with the modified Berthoud decaleur shown above, we think most of the issues are dealt with. It takes some work, and probably not everyone can do this at home (most houses don't have a milling machine on hand, although we bet some do!), but we will probably wait for some feedback on the above example we just sent out the door, and then supply them on our Boulder bicycles. We might even offer a kit with hardware that you can by with a Berthoud decaleur if you want to do it at home.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Well we are finally starting to catch up on things for real after the move. Our new space gives us room to move around finally.
Above is a shot of our shop Boulder Bicycle 65ob on location outside of Estes Park, near Rocky Mountain National Park. The nice thing about or location in Boulder is that we are close to lots of great areas to test out our bikes. If you ever visit our shop, you'll notice our display bikes have dirt on them and look a bit used, even when cleaned up. Only through using them can we really test the designs and features, as well as identify any potential deficiences in components.
Latest news is we just received the forkcrowns for Imperial Blades from Japan. We have to chuckle at the "comment" made on our previous blog listing which asks why anyone would want to use the "inferior" Imperial blade section. I think the answer is that it comes down to preference. Some folks are convinced that the Imperial blade is more comfortable. It think there is something to that, but weight of the blade is perhaps more important than shape for determining comfort. Also, I personally think that the Imperial section blades feel "less planted" than the Imperial oval. But it really is very subjective and a matter of preference. Kinda like saying that blondes are inferior to redheads. Such statements are nonsensical I think. Some folks like the Imperial section, others the Continental oval. And now we can have more options. A good thing.
We are still thinking about decaleurs. Regardless of other options, we'll probably do a run of classic Rene Herse style decaleurs, perhaps some also with the ahead style stem modification. But I'm wondering if there is a nifty way to modify a Berthoud decaleur for use on an ahead style stem. I have an idea to try out; hopefully in about 10 days we'll have a demonstration of the modification
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The key element is that the forkcrown is quite wide. It is ideal for making frames that are designed for wide 650b tires. Plus, until now, there was no crown currently available that would accept the old Imperial shape blades.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The new location is in the same building, but on the front side, and has much better visibility. More importantly, the shop will be TWICE the size (we're going from small to less small). This will enable us to have a much nicer and more open area for retail display of our bicycles and parts.
Now as we've been moving stuff, we're thinking that we might have a celebratory moving sale sometime this week. We are accumulating demo bikes, have some cool vintage machines, and have some other assorted bits that we really haven't tried to sell but which are taking space and tying up capital. So stay tuned to our on-line store as soon we'll have a "moving sale" page their with some cool deals.
Oh - we almost forgot to mention, the Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show last weekend was a blast. We met all sorts of folks from the area and did a brisk business with our randonneur and vintage offerings. And we also introduced a new randonnuer frame which we'll talk about more in the next week or two.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
August 22 and August 23, we'll be at the Rocky Mountain Bicycle show in Denver. Rene Herse Bicycles will have bikes and cool Rando (and maybe some vintage stuff) for display and sale. It should be lots of fun. Builders from all across America are coming to this event.
Please visit http://www.rmbshow.com/index.html
For fun, the gang at Rene Herse Bicycles is also putting on a display of vintage racing bicycles which should hit on many of the key events that led to the evolution of the modern bicycle. For rando oriented folks, their will be something sure to please as well.
In other news, we're thinking that we may have outgrown our current digs. We are in negotiations to take on a larger space (in the same building) with a much larger area and with better street visibility.
In Rene Herse news, we finally have our twin plate forkcrown blanks competed at the machine shop. These are the ones for Continental oval. For those wishing to use Imperial Oval (the old classic shape), we are hoping for confirmation that those will be available soon (they are currently in production and we plan to sell them in the US).
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The typical Herse decaleur attaches by the stem bolts to the underside of an Herse stem, with the bolts going vertically (perpendicular to the ground).
One downside, though, is that this results in a bag that is mounted pretty high. We could modify the bag attachment, or perhaps increase the drop of the decaleur, to use a smaller bag. So with the current arrangement, for a frame that is essentially like a 59cm, with an inch and a half of drop between saddle and bar tops, the necessary bag is a Berthoud 28.
So if this design has some appeal, let us know and maybe we'll run a batch. We probably would use a maker somewhere in Colorado for this, but probably not Mark Nobilette as he is so busy.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I'm waiting for some images of this past weekends riding - some mildly epic paved and moderate unpaved. But my mind is wondering this morning to the techical.
Front end shimmy is an issue that rando bike builders must deal with. As a basic rule, it seems that front end loads coupled with light tube sets can lead to the problem. Interestingly, a change of headset can make a radical difference.
In the latest issue of Bicycle Quarterly, a Toei was reviewed, and it had a real shimmy problem. I can't imagine that it is the bikes fault. The tube set is not terribly light, and they've been working on geometry for decades. But unlike most bikes in Japan I suspect along with the reviewer, that the "trouble maker" on the bike the Chris King headset. Now the Chris King headset should not be considered a "bad" headset. If anyting, it might be too good! Let me explain.
(Now I'm not sure I have this all straight, but here is my understanding of this topic)
If you spin a wheel in your hand, it wants to "wander" - it goes into a bit of side to side ocillation. Now when the wheel is on the bike, and your moving along, it does the same thing and it rotates the handlebars along with it. Now a bike frame has a natural frequency for its own movement (others can explain this better). If the wheel's frequency of ocillation is in sync with the frame's frequency, together they build, and a shimmy in the frame develops. And all this is related to frame geometry and forkrake as well. I'm sure glosses over something, but it captures the core idea.
For a frame that has a shimmy, anything that is done to change the frequency of either the wheel/fork or the frame, to get them out of sync, can reduce the problem. So a much heavier or much lighter frame can fix things - so a frame may even be "not light enough" to avoid a shimmy. Of course, going super light can have other problems.
One easy fix to imagine is to change the dampening of the headset. A Chris King headset rotates very easily, so with many tube sets and geometries that are otherwise favorable to randonneur riders, it seems to have a tendancy to get systems in sync so they shimmy.
But why to needlebearing headsets, such as the Stronglight A9, or the Miche shown above seem to reduce the problem? Well these headsets have natural dampning! A wise friend who hadn't thought too much about this opened my eyes to the probable reason. With a needlebearing headset, especially one that is not made with tappered rollers, the needles are only in true rotation with the races at one spot on the needle. This is because the race has variable diameter - so where the needle is contacting the race part with a larger diameter, the needle would need to be rotating faster than along the area with the smaller diameter. So with the needlebearing headsets, the actual rotation contact area is small, and there is "sliding" along nearly all the remainder of the surface! On the plus side, there is an increadible amount of contact area, so the headset itself wears out very slowly, but it doesn't move as freely. So a needlbearing headset is a headset with natural dampening.
Now one could even play with grease viscosity to fine tune the system. Of course, the handling of the bike then becomes susceptible to temperature change, but this happens anyway.
Now of course, some bikes might "avoid a shimmy" if dampeining is bad (casuses a frequency match-up). So maybe some race bike shimmy less if a Chris King headset is used. Interesting question. But for us on the rando side, the needlebearing headset is a help.
Is there a downside to the needlebearing headset? For one, I think that at low speeds I can sometimes feel a headset with a lot of dampening as it is harder to correct in sharp turns. But I'm not quite sure about that. Certainly, with hands on the bars, using a needlebearing headset is rather impossible to detect.
Now I have some more thoughts on this too - but those will follow in a few days. It would be great to get some comments on this!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Well we've been busy here - filling orders and trying to clean up the shop a bit.
This morning we picked up a small run of spacers to fit TA cranks from the local machine shop. These spacers are narrower than those typically supplied by TA. Some of the TA spacers are as much as 3.6mm, and with narrow 9 and 10sp chains, folks often have issues with the chain dropping between the rings.
So we had some custom spacers made, with a thickness of 3.15mm. In reality, the spacers float in width between about 3.08 and 3.24mm. We then sorted them, and bagged them in groups of 6, with spacers of fairly close dimension. Note that we were really splitting hairs here - but we want things as close as possible.
So these will work with double or triple TA Cyclotourist Cranks (Pro Vis). We didn't get too many of these sets, as we don't know what the demand will be. We can always get more made, and if we do a bigger batch the cost will come down for sure next time.
On other fronts, we're still waiting on the final twin plate forkcrown parts from the machinist. This is a batch of plates like those on the 650b Herse on our website. The crown uses Continental Oval blades, which we really like. But for those who want Imperial oval (like the old forks of years ago), it looks like a new crown will be forthcoming to accept those blades (such as those still made by Kasai and Reynolds).
We will be adding lots more stuff to our website soon - there is only so much time in a day. Also, this weekend may involve some serious dirt miles on the shop 650b Boulder Bicycle. Stay tuned for photos of this bike with the latest iteration of lighting for the Boulder Bicycle.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Well this weekend I was able to go on a couple of rides. The photo above shows my friend Ted with his cross bike next to the 2008 Herse I rode. This is a great area in the foothills outside Boulder. The stone edifice is part of a gold processing facility that was used I believe briefly in the late 1800's. One can actually find old portions of the gold rail cars that used to run from the mine to the nearby train (I think I have this right). The town's name is Wall Street, and there is even a restored Assay office museum nearby as well.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Recently, my wife and I did a wonderful day of riding on the Katy trail in Missouri. The trail's website describe this ride as comfortable on wider road tires, or a mountain bike. The Katy trail is amazingly pleasant, with relatively luxurious restrooms and stops all along the way. We stayed in Boonville and did day rides from the area, and it was perfect. Now the trail is not challenging in terms of dirt or pitch; unlike the steep dirt roads outside Boulder.
The Berthoud 192 bag, though was a blessing. We didn't have too much stuff to carry, but did have a camera, extra water (not needed with the amenities), and some food and tools. Another shot of the Berthoud bag is shown below.
What is nifty about this bag is how nicely it attaches with the quick fix. It really comes off in just a moment.
So how does the vintage Cinelli do? Quite nicely. Since it has more trail then a machine designed for a front load, there is a bit of wheel flop. But the rake on some of these older race bikes is often quite generous for a given headangle, so all in all the handling is quite acceptable.
Now what about going "all out" in the rando conversion? The two things the bike lacks are lighting and fenders. Lighting actually can be easy. At some point, I may set up a B&M Cyo or a Schmidt Edelux on a Nitto skewer light attachment (and also use the B&M handlebar diameter adapter) with a Schmidt hub and I'll be grooving at night, at least up front.
For fenders, though, all is not well. It is really important to keep your foot from getting caught in the front fender and unleasing a catastrophe. For a size 8.5 or 9 shoe, a front center close to around 615mm is really needed. A few mm shy may be fine (and often Rene Herse built right to the edge we've found). But the Cinelli is about 590mm. That is an invitation for dissaster. So no fenders on this machine. Plus this one does not have eyelets.
Interestingly, some early Cinelli frames from the early 70's and before were made with fenders in mind. They had threaded points on the chainstay and brake bridges to accomodate fenders, as well as eyelets. I don't know the geometry on them, but memory indicates that they were more laid back with greater clearances so they would be fender safe.
So what is with the horrid handlebar tape (and electrical tape) on the Cinelli pictured? The bike had to spend some time in the roof rack, and sometimes gets locked up around town. So I figure the shabby tape makes the bike look like a beater bike and is a bit of theft insurance. Rather intentionally, I've waited to see how bad the tape can look (and how dirty the bike can get). But something inside me is saying its time to build a real beater bike and get this one spiffed up again.
So here it goes - my goal is to add a post 3 or 4 times a week. But maybe some days it will be multiple times per day.
For now, we'll let the comments go "unmoderated". Constructive comments are always welcome, but nastiness to us or anyone else is not OK. So let the blogging begin...
Mike Kone in Boulder CO
Rene Herse Bicycles Inc. / Boulder Bicycle