Wednesday, February 28, 2007


A few months back a customer brought an old road bike into the shop looking for someone to take it off their hands. Although very old and beat up, Tom took the bike thinking it might make a good project bike for someone. After looking at the ugly beater hanging from the ceiling for months, I decided to pull it down and measure it. It came in around 58cm which wouldn't you know...would work just fine for me. The bike is a Montarino, which sounds Italian but it's not, the sticker on the seat tube proudly proclaims that it was made in West Germany. From the little bit of information I could find regarding the Montarino brand on the Internet and using the components as a gauge, I estimate that this bike was manufactured during the early to mid 70's. I decided to strip the old busted components off of the bike and make it a fixed gear city cruiser. I tried to keep it as original as possible yet still make it safe and comfortable. New wheels and tires were a must since I was unable to locate tires that would fit the original wheels. Besides that, I flipped and chopped the handlebar, gave it a fresh wrap of Cateye cloth tape and added a new seat and chrome toe clips. I've taken it out a few times so far and it's a great ride. It feels good breath life into and ride something you saved from the landfill.

Monday, February 26, 2007

North American Hand Built Bicycle Show Preview

Since I live vicariously through Danielle’s stories about her trip to the Independent Fabrication factory, I want to fill you in on a bike that she left out of her post. The bike pictured is a very special XS. It will be on display at the North American Hand Built Bicycle Show on March 2-4 in California. The frame’s titanium lugs were first polished to a mirror sheen and then coated with Titanium Nitride (that’s the same stuff they coat high end drill bits with). This process leaves an extremely tough finish on the bike and a strikingly unique and beautiful golden tone. This bike represents IF’s first frame to receive this finish option. The carbon fiber tubes were finished with a harlequin clear coat which rounds out the bike. Oh yeah… and that head badge is made of real gold!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Snow Mountain Bike Excursions

The Gambrill Night Ride was a bust. With the temps hovering around freezing, conditions were up in the air. The five brave souls found trails covered by virtually un-rideable slush. After about 1.5 miles we called it a day and headed home to our warm and cozy houses.

This ride comes in great contrast to the one I took on Sunday with my new Jamis Exile 29er single speed. The snow was frozen solid and I was able to skate across the top- always on the verge on loosing control. It was great. I pedaled around some local school soccer fields, and down a few prime sledding hills. I then raced over to an abandoned rock quarry near my house. The snow made it possible to ride places you can not in the warmer months so there is no need to be restricted to the trail. I snaked in and out around trees with a child-like grin. It was lots of fun but I must admit I am a little anxious to hit the dirt again.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Danielle Goes to Independent Fabrication...

At the end of January, in fact, the last hour of January, my sister-in-law give birth to a little baby girl (see 1st photo on the right). This joyous occasion made me purchase a plane ticket and fly to Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts where my new niece and her parents reside. The awesome thing about this neighborhood in Boston is that it is about 6 miles from Somerville, MA a.k.a. home of Independent Fabrication. So, during my stay in lovely Boston I traveled by subway to 86 Joy Street to see what exactly goes on in that place where the finest handcrafted frames are created.

Lucky me was picked up at one of Boston's many Dunkins Donuts by Mr. Matt Bracken, President of IF, and whisked away to the IF compound. Matt and his dog, Charleston, gave me a very thorough tour of the workshop. He started at the wall of tubes (see picture under the "Live the Dream" sign) where each tube is hand picked to fit a customer's individual needs. I then followed Matt around the shop as he explained each step of the bike-making process. I, of course, noticed the interesting contents in the trash can and had to take a photo. The can was filled with Dunkin Donuts coffee cup after coffee cup proving that "IF runs on Dunkins."

I met most of the fine men and women on the back of the IF catalog and had the opportunity to stand and stare at them while they worked (I am sure they loved that). Under the picture of the array of Dunkin Donut cups you see Finn holding the one and only custom comfort bike designed for a show that IF will be attending. I think I may put that bike on my Christmas list.

Below the custom step-through frame you see Cliff working on an XS frame. Below him is a white arrow pointing at another XS. This frame is a special work in progress that, when completed, will be featured in Wired Magazine.

I took about a million pictures while I was at IF, some of which are on our Flickr page.

I am completely amazed with Independent Fabrication. Not only do they make absolutely stunning bicycles always paying attention to detail and handling each bike with loving care but they totally rock in the customer service department. They most certainly score bonus points with The Bicycle Escape for inviting me into their "home", teaching me about what they do and making me feel welcomed.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Stop Swap and Save

Yesterday was the Stop Swap and Save bicycle swap meet in Westminster. For the second year in a row we spent the day inviting attendees to play the “Wheel Game” for a chance at one of many great prizes. The fixed gear bikes that we brought sold almost immediately.
My favorite part of this event is being surrounded by so many different riders and getting a chance to speak with lots of them about there cycling experiences. It also provides a opportunity to see people from other shops that I seldom have a chance to hang out with. All-in-all it was a great event that we plan on attending next year.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fixed Gears, Frederick, and Indie Rockers

With the Westminster Bicycle Swap Meet fast approaching I finally got around to converting two old road bikes into fixed gears to sell at the event. I always enjoy doing these conversions. I love the simplicity of a fixed gear bicycle. I also love the nostalgic throw back to the early years of cycling, both historically and personally (after all my Big Wheel was technically a fixed gear). Gradually, riding fixed gear bikes has become a cool thing to do. More recently it has morphed into the "ultra-hip-indie-rocker-high-school-kid- in-tight-jeans" way to separate from the crowd. Aspects of this are great. Few elements of cycling find their way into pop-culture. Other factors however, are less appealing. A select number of these youths recently latched onto the term "Critical Mass Ride" and altered the meaning to fit their musings. They somehow believe the intent is to ride 4,5,6… abreast through downtown Frederick on epoxy-made fixed gear bicycles as a prank on the community. Now I enjoy pranks and have done my fair share of joking around especially in my teen years. My two concerns are that the actions of a few will paint cyclists in a negative light and these few young people will never fully respect the bicycle in all of its glory.

Here is a video about the fixed gear craze.