Category: 1

Bling: 650B Hetre Tires and 50mm Berthoud Mudguards

Made by Mark Nobilette and designed by Grant Peterson, my 650B Protovelo is a lot of fun to ride. I’ve had it set up as a city bike and as an all-rounder with drop bars, but I’ve always wanted to try the Grand Bois Hetre tires. Like a lot of bikes made before last year, it was optimized for 38mm tires, so the Hetres, coming it at 42mm, are a tight fit with fenders, especially at the seatstay bridge:

I am not a parts snob by any means, but I must say that these tires are the best I’ve ever ridden. It kind of feels like they’re not there. Like you’re floating along. And what better way is there to amble through the city or along a nice country backroad…

The 50mm Honjos I had on the bike were a bit tighter than I was comfortable with. I added 50mm Berthouds in order to better accommodate the Hetres. I tried to document the clearance with these mudguards:

On the Rene Herse site, they remark,

“For many bikes using the Grand Bois 650b x 42 Hetre tire, the 650b x 50mm Berthoud fender is the best fender option available. The reason is more luck than intent we believe. The Berthoud fender in this size has a relatively flat profile – so it doesn’t wrap as far down alongside the fender as some of the traditional French fenders that are not easily obtainable. So the result is that the fender needs less clearance.”

I found that there was a bit more room with the Berthouds, but they are more stretchy than the Honjos. When I first mounted the rear fender, I drilled the hole for the seatstay bridge a bit off, and it stretched out the fender. When that happened, it became slightly more narrow.

I think 650B bicycles look “right” with mudguards, especially ones in larger sizes. It all depends on clearance.


Beauty, Bike, & BUST

My flickr friend Meli is featured in the latest issue of BUST magazine. THe photo features her and her bike, a lovely motobecane astra mixte. On her blog, she remarks:

“What makes me happy is the exposure of the bike, the cities we live in and that being dressed ‘normal’ and a woman is no longer that rare. We don’t need crazy get-ups (cute shoes are not consider crazy! he hee), fancy gadgets or man-lead long distance groups, to be part of the bicycle culture. We are here, and we are ready to ride, with our normal clothes and our happy faces.”

Its nice to get some common sense about cycling out there in print media (besides the NYT Style/Bicycle section), and especially in an interesting magazine like BUST.

Beers with

I had a few beers with my friends who edit Bike San Diego. You might recognize them from Life w/Bicycle and Brown Girl in the Lane. We enjoyed some craft beers, mostly stouts between the three of us (OK, I had 4), and talked about riding, family, books, and culture.

I’m going to start writing a column for Bike San Diego, but I’ve got to figure out a theme, or a position to write about. Without being too narrow, I’d like my contribution to be about the fun aspects of utility riding, which is almost the whole endeavor. We’ll see how it goes.

I then rode home in the rain, part of the way with Beany. She is undeterred, and even thrilled by the rain. I enjoy it too.

Where Are My Slipper Socks!?

I love Rivendell Bicycle Works for so many reasons. The bikes and designs are great, of course. But Grant and Co. do so much good work and embrace craft and in general run counter to the meanie trends of global capitalism.

Sometimes they offer off-the-wall stuff that they find simple, useful, and made in countries that do not mix unrestricted capitalism with strict authoritarianism. One of these doodads that I recently started using is the Australian-made slipper sock. Here’s what Grant says:

Nobody will buy these for you, because they’ll think you’ll want Uggs if you want slippers at all, and these aren’t that fancy. Tough! They’re easy on-and-off, perfect for hanging out in, retrieving the paper, packing for travel, in camp, in your tent, and even walking down the hall to the hotel vending machine late at night.

They are good. I don’t ride in them, but coming off a cold ride home and while making dinner, they take the cake.

Waiting Out the Storm

Some rain and snow can be fun to ride in. When I was in graduate school in Western Massachusetts, I loved riding my 3 speed in fresh snow. But when the snow was crushed into perma-ice, I stopped riding out of safety’s sake.

I also love riding in the rain. It feels fresh, adventurous, and it gets you where you need to go. But sometimes, its worth waiting it out. The third of three major storms hitting California is currently making my windows whistle. It hasn’t been too bad, but when a Pacific storm brings wind and water, drivers can’t see well and people don’t necessarily slow down.

Yesterday, I had a second moka pot and worked from home until things became less blustery. All things shall pass. Same today.

William’s Great Cork Grip Hint

I finally met William during my last trip up to the Bay Area, and I look forward to rides and coffee with him in the future. But just this morning, while obsessing over the Ebisu bicycle, I found this great post at his blog Workhorse Bikes.

So over here he discusses how to secure cork grips without the use of glue or hairspray. Simply wrap some cloth tape a few times around the middle of the grip area and push the cork grip over it.

That’s pretty darn good. Detailed instructions are included.

Back Home

It’s always nice to be home. Southern California has been experiencing some unseasonably warm weather while we were up in the Bay Area. Typically, I like cool weather in the winter, and days in the 70s in January kind of annoy me. But sometimes a bike ride around town when its warm this time of year brings a little smile on my face, especially when remembering my time in graduate school in Western Massachusetts.

Even though I love riding elsewhere to get out of the familiar routes back in San Diego, it is always nice to get back home and appreciate the great riding out one’s doorstep. Unless you’re snowed in.

First Long Ride of 2010

I met a bunch of great people, most for the first time in person, for about 90 miles from San Francisco to Pt. Reyes Station. It rained the day before, and the mist kept things damp for most of the ride. The scenery was lovely, and the company was great. Bikes and riders included Cyclofiend’s and Bradley’s Rivendell Quickbeams (both fixed), Aaron and I each on a Rivendell Romulus; JimG on his Kogswell P/R; Adam’s Pelican (fixed).

Glancing Back at the Oregon Manifest

Photo by Philip Williamson

There has been plenty of anticipation, coverage, and reflection about the recent 2009 Oregon Manifest on the Internet. Clearly, this is a great event for the Northwest, for bicycles, builders, riders, and for cycling culture.

I’d like to take a few brief glances back at some of the bikes built for the Constructor’s Design Challenge for this year. Framebuilders were charged with creating the ultimate transportation bike: “an innovative, modern transportation bike in this technical trial of engineering dexterity and fabrication mettle.” The builders (or their designees) then “raced” the bikes on a mixed surface ride with some cargo involved.

Its clear that some of the ideas expressed by the builders will be appropriated by the big industry players. We’re already seeing Trek, Specialized, and Raleigh slap nice powder coats on their newly-reconceptualized city bikes, inspired by so many handmade and custom shows.

But more importantly, these bicycles represent attempts to build the ideal transportation bicycle. They are beautifully crafted with clever details, so that movement through space can be afforded the aesthetic grace that it deserves. They are also very utilitarian, with custom racks, locking systems, mudguards, and comfortable riding positions. They seem to be a mix between the classic long-distance randonneuring bike, built for comfort, and the city bike, built for comfort and portage. For most of us, these designs will inspire how we might reconfigure our vintage ride, build up a frame, or how we might think about a custom bike down the line.

For now, feel free to linger over these:
Pereira Cycles:

Photo by Tony Pereira


Photo by Scurvy Knaves

Boxer Bicycles:

Photo by Dan Boxer

Frances Cycles:

Photo by J. Muir