Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow daze

Madison got bombed Wednesday night and Thursday. We got 20 inches of heavy wet snow, then wind to blow it around. Trees sagged and broke under the weight of it. The city came to a standstill, nobody going anywhere.

I spent much of the morning driving the snow blower, first getting my car out of our driveway, then getting the car unstuck on the street and back into the driveway.

Then I built a set of wheels and watched movies.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Getting down to business

OK, I have been pretty lax about posting so far, but coming in the new year, I will be working a lot harder to build my business, Earle Wheels. There will be three components of the business: New wheels, primarily using rims from Velo Orange; custom builds with parts supplied by customers; and wheelbuilding classes.

The new wheels will be built on hubs specified or ordered by the customer, using rims and spokes that I will provide. For the rollout of the business through 2013, I will be offering Velo Orange rims in 700c and 650b, 32- and 36- hole drilling. Check out their products here:

The rims are well thought out, well made, and most of all, shiny! For classic bicycles and modern bicycles with a classic ethos, these are the rims of choice, with a variety of widths to be everything from fast and light to touring on rough stuff.

My custom work started five years ago with recommendation from one of the good guys in the business, John Barron, Collectors who have located classic rims and hubs send them to me for careful building of their wheels. My long experience, much of it the era of these classic parts, allows my customers to have wheels for their collectible bicycles that they can actually ride.

New for 2012 was my wheelbuilding class. I offered a one-day class at Cirque du Cyclisme, and learned that the classes need to have two or three sessions with some time for homework in between. I will be teaching that class on the weekend of the Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap on January 19, 2013, and at other weekend events throughout the year.

I also have a new Website coming, and it will have more details about all of this. Thank you for reading

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

OK, forget bicycles, lemme talk about music

A little over thirty years ago, I was going out for live music almost every night. A couple of the best bands at the time were the Skip Castro Band and the Nighthawks.

Fast forward to next month, and both bands will be playing at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, and my lovely bride and I will be there.

Boogie at Midnight!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More on the Lance Armstrong affair

OK, I was wrong when I did not include Lance himself in the list of guilty parties at the end of my rant about doping in pro cycle racing. And I was wrong about the USADA. In the face of a conspiracy worthy of a Robert Ludlum novel, the USADA finally cracked cycling's culture of "omerta."

As long as the secret held, Lance was good for the sport. His was a heart-wrenching story of personal triumph. The Lance Tour era was great for the bicycle business, and a US-labeled team was great for the growth of the sport.

Only the United States could support a market for hobbyists buying $10,000 disposable plastic race bikes, "like Lance rides." What other country would have such a huge market for US Postal, Discovery Channel and Radio Shack kit in size XXL?

On reflection, none of us should have had any more confidence that the UCI would be stricter on doping than the NFL or Major League Baseball. The Lance Armstrong was a fairy tale we could all buy into, so the ruling powers of cycling decided to let Lance dictate the agenda.

Maybe now we will see some real effort to clean up pro sports-- all of them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Wheel Deal

OK. Let's see if anybody is reading. Here's the deal of the week: Bolt-on mountain bike wheels -- FREE! Yes, no charge for the wheels. Free local pickup, free delivery to somewhere I will already be traveling to, otherwise, $50 for boxing and shipping. Not great wheels, but the price is right. Bolt-on hubs, alloy rims, straight gauge spokes, no tires, no freewheel. 26 x 1.75 wide rims. earle(dot)young(at)tds(dot)net.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keep on truckin'

Given the minuscule number of views so far on my blog, it would be easy to quit, but I am going to keep posting, and maybe something will click and people will read it.

Because of a funny accident I have been off my bike for almost two weeks now, and I miss riding. For close to 40 years, I have been a regular bicycle rider, sometimes just for transportation, a lot for recreation and mental escape, and for a short while, I even rode for money.

I was not a bicycle racer, but rather a bicycle messenger, at the very tail end of the time when a bike messenger who was fast and had a good dispatcher could make decent money.

I was steeped in the bike boom culture at the time when steel bicycles had reached their peak as race vehicles, working in shops pretty much full-time from 1973 to 1986, and seeing the quality of steel frames go from good to "Oh My God." One of the last bicycles I worked on as a full-time mechanic was a Bruce Gordon frame built for show. It was a stunning piece of art, with sculpted lugs that had been polished to a high shine, and just the few miles I managed to sneak in as the final test ride of the build were bliss on the road.

I am back in the business, building wheels and teaching wheelbuilding. I also just look at a lot of bikes. When I compare the best of the vintage era bikes to today's hand-built steel bikes, I realize that the best steel bikes ever built are being built in the United States right now.

If you are at all interested in bicycles, please make it a point to visit one of the frame-builders' shows popping up around the country.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stop right there, Buddy!

I just put a new set of Tektro R559 dual pivot, long reach brakes on my Raleigh Sports, along with a pair of vintage mountain bike levers. Now the bike actually stops. The stock steel brakes and the weird self-adjusting brake levers made for brakes that were hard to squeeze, tentative to stop and whose reach changed at random depending on how hard I had to squeeze the lever to stop last time.

I have not built the new wheels nor mounted the stainless fenders, but the 650B conversion is slowly coming together. I am waiting to assemble my next spoke order to build the wheels, and when they are done, I will mount the new fenders.