Entries in Rock Lobster (18)
The lightest palette likely ever delivered to Boulder Cycle Sport rolled off the delivery truck last week! That, of course, was the highly anticipated palette of Belgian carbon goodness I spoke about in earlier posts. X-Nights, X-Fries, Crossbows and other goodies were unpacked and assembled for the show room floor including my highly anticipated X-Night frames. When they were 'presented', I got super weepy. Absolutely gorgeous.
I brought 'em home and proceeded to whip out the tape measure. The sizing (58cm) in my case was a 1/2 cm difference from my Rock Lobster frames but my ‘actual’ positioning on the bike will be nearly identical. The geometry is more slack than the R.L.’s with a slightly higher BB so I’ll more or less end up in the same position…which for me is very ‘forward’ to enable me to be on top of the pedal stroke (think how you power on the flats on top of the stroke) and not necessarily behind it (think how you position yourself when you climb...e.g 'pulling' the stroke).
I wanted to take the time to show off the details of the frame before I get them built. There are SO many details here in the X-Night it’s worth a closer look. So without further adieu, and with the help of my Nikon, check out the X-Night with me!
The 2010 Ridley X-Night in her full glory. All carbon with aluminum sleeves for the bottom bracket, headset and rear drop outs. Claimed weight is 1.25kgs/2lbs 12oz. My 58cm is closer to 3lbs. Compare that to my 3.01 lb Scandium Rock Lobster (~58cm). Oh, and don't forget that includes the 'seat post!'
The paint scheme is unbelievable. They are not just decals applied but carefully sprayed graphics with a good helping of clear coat.
The BB30 bottom bracket on the X-Night assists with q-factor fairly dramatically. I will be running my 2009 SRAM Red cranks utilizing an aftermarket SRAM adapter to insert into the BB30 so I can use my standard BB's from last season (my wallet thanks me).
Freudian? Indeed the seat mast if STIFF! It will be cut to my dimensions and likely the last thing we’ll do when the bike is built.
The X-Night features INTERNAL cable routing! YES! Finally someone listened. You can see the front derailleur cable’s exit hole just above the bb shell. Instead of a roller (used when cables are mounted on the top tube and run down the seat tube, around the roller and up into a traditional road derailleur), the X-Night features this ingenious cable stop seen above.
One burly a_ _ fork! The X-Night’s Oryx fork is maddeningly stout and stiff. It features a 1.25 (upper) to 1.5 (lower) carbon steerer tube making the steering precise and brake chatter virtually non-existent. This is a common problem when using carbon forks and exacerbated with carbon wheels. Even with toe-in capabilities on some of the more progressive brakes like the TRP EuroX Magnesium's, chatter on carbon forks is notorious. The Oryx erases this.
Another shot of the beautiful paint scheme.
The entrance for the front derailleur internal cable routing. There is an entirely sealed kevlar ‘pipe’ that your cable runs through completely sheltering it from mud.
Quick: What’s missing? See bottom of the post for the answer or try and guess!
Rear tire clearance by the bottom bracket is enormous. Seen above are size 34 Dugasts which leaves ample room for mud clearance.
And even more clearance by the seat stay yoke where mud often collects due to the brake arms.
The Oryx fork is no different. Again, mad clearance even with big tires.
If you watch any of the race coverage in Belgium, you know how peanut buttery the mud can get. Hamme Zogge’s course as an example is notorious derailleur shredder and has killed the chances of many a ‘sure winner’. The X-Night has thoughtfully included an ingenious replacement mechanism for BOTH drop outs (not just the derailleur side!). The are made of a plate of 7000 series aluminum bolted on ensuring the stiffness of a non-replaceable hanger with the practicality of a replaceable one.
ANSWER: No bottle cage bosses! This bike is a pure race breed. Super PRO.
So Scott, a reader of mine from DC, sends me this simple question:
Thanks for your thoughts.
Scott has started a religious debate, methinks. To which I responded with the following. I have received the question quite a few times, so I figured I'd broadcast the answer.
Thanks for the note, man. You have asked a very religious question! for me, its sort of a confluence of materials, custom sizing/geometry and finally 'cult' status. I've raced a variety of off the shelf bikes from Kelly (a production/non custom steel frame), Felt and Scott and of course my various Rock Lobsters. Let me net it out this way:
a) Scandium rocks: The material of choice for me is scandium. It's SUPER light, SUPER strong and has a variety of characteristics I like that frame builders can literally 'tune' the design to how you want it to ride. As an example, I had Rocklobster's Paul Sadoff give me super rigid chain stays (for power transmission) yet the scandium down stays provide some level of flex for comfort. I get exactly what I want in a 3.0 pound frame that is roughly a 59cm (so that light in a larger frame size). Carbon's good, do not get me wrong, but it has limits (for me) on sizing, geometry, colors, et al (see b. next).
b) Custom sizing/geometry: A lot of these off the shelf manufacturers think that sloping top tubes and lower bottom brackets are 'cross' geometry. It's MARKETING geometry. They wouldn't know a cross bike and how it should ride from a commuter bike with 700c tires and cantilever brakes. A horizontal top tube and high BB are CORE cross with near road geometry...albeit just ever so slightly slacker. I personally think Ridley and Colnago have it nailed on the production side (wonder why the best teams ride these frames in Belgium?)...the latter requiring a double mortgage on your house to afford. Paul has built cross bikes for 20+ years....for many national champions and Europeans. His geometry stands the test of time. I have one special requirement though on my frames he builds.....OK 2: First, I run double chain guides with a single ring. I have him specifically crimp the right chain stay to allow for this clearance AND ensuring I can fit a 34 tubular in the stays with appropriate mud clearance. He nailed that. The second thing is that if I want to run a double ring up front, I would (personally) ask him to route my f. der. cable on the top tube. He likes the down tube routing. This may have no bearing on your tastes/desire though.
c) Cult: Support your local frame builder! OK, Paul's in Santa Cruz....but he WAS local to me when I lived there! Ha! I have an affinity for the hard working manufacturers of the sport...who are artists in all senses of the definition. Paul is an artist to me before he is a bike frame builder.
Hope this helps you! In fact, I may post this as it is a question I get often!
It's absolutely simple, really. That is what can appease my aching head. For me, as a kid, it was a Tamiya model or a new plastic M-16 and I'd go play. Now, I have this little black rain cloud over my head. It's all semi hilarious and trust me, I pop open the mental umbrella most days to fend it off and keep the powder dry. Now that I'm all grows dup, it's new rubber that can take the surliness right out of me. Challenge Grifo XS. 32's. File tread. White. Of course.
Kids to bed, wife with tea and book and smiling, me and my rain cloud head out to the garage dialing in the bikes. Door open. Fall coldness enveloping the room. A bit of tune-age going on...I'm vibing with Fleet Foxes these days...and it's Zen. Paradise. Bike in the stand. Gears humming up and down the cassette. Sweet smell of Tri-Flow. Everything gets polished. Dialed. Ready. Rain cloud disappears.
Being fast these days is tres difficile. The league is deeper. Way deeper. Still balanced but nothing's easy. Ever. Couple steps forward, massive steps back. A few more leaps forward, a tumultuous tumble backward. But I just clench my teeth and bring it.
Bike practice tomorrow. Shake the toxins still in me, won't you? It's hard to say no to a Delicious Beer these days. Or 3. Discipline or be disciplined. Left hand holds training and focus, right hand holds a cold beer and sensibilities.
Building. Rebuilding. Cold mornings. It's all coming into focus again....my mind feels the same way your eyes do when you come out of a movie theater in the mid afternoon on a sunny day. Part of me is thankful it's here....as it pulls me like an anchor each year to get me through. Then, before I know it...
And then begin again.
I got out today to practice the skills I love to teach. Sloooooow technique. 1, 2, 3 dismount...1, 2, 3 mount. Repeat. hundres of times. Both sides. One hour. Active recovery.
My ribs still remind me. Am I dumb?
Bikes are coming into shape. Sold one set of Dura Ace and waiting for all the SRAM bits. But got the B bike dialed for now. Anyone locally interested in a set of Dura Ace cranks (175's), BB, 42t ring and dual Wetzikons? Email me if interested.
I'm there. I'm back. I'm home. I'm there. Here. There. Everywhere. Yup. Back in La Cruz this week. A long one, this. Lots of work to do here. My weekend was tumultuous, but I am not going to take up pixels here for now. It's deep and personal and tested what I'd prepared myself for a decade ago. May was a horrible month....
Today I flew in, in the AM and finished up my workday in Scotts Valley and got a wild hare. Instead of just going back to the hotel and re-firing up the laptop, I decided to cruise to the Cruz to see if I could catch Paul and say hello. It's been a while and I really wanted to see him. So I flew down the 17 to the old workshop. I needed no directions. I got to the Rock Lobster lab all on memory and instinct having been here a zillion times before when I lived in this beautiful part of the country.
As expected, Paul's shop door was wide open and there's Paul finishing up his workday working on a spectacular single speed for Aaron K. Oh God. Yum. The Easton Elite tubing was all married together with Mike's beautiful yokes and his now OEM'd single speed parts like you see here to the right.
It was fantastic to say hello and thank Paul for his long time help he's given me with frames and experience. I will have to work on getting a bike to stash out here so I can hang with the fellas and visit some of the old haunts.
I'm going to try and trail run amongst the redwoods before I begin the day's onslaught. I'll need something to keep my head on right. Things are going to get intense.
No, not the 'finest' from that far NorCal of, say, the Humboldt variant. No, I'm speaking about the finest of the ferrous and non-ferrous variant. Like you, I scoped out the article on Cycling News and was stoked to see Sycip getting some air coverage for their Diesel 1 x 1. Jeremy and Jay Sycip (say: SEE-sip not SIGH-sip) are brothers who have made the bicycle their "trade"...but not without wrapping the trade in a thick layer of gooey art that draws you into their product like a moth to a flame. A welding torch and the most insane paint jobs are their rough parallels to oil and canvas. Outside bicycles, if you get the chance, you should check out some of the custom designed furniture these guys produce. Sick.
I am totally biased here having been a Sycip owner since 2001. The first time I saw these guys was at the 1999 Super Cup/National Championships when we raced in the beautiful Presidio in San Francisco (and we'll never be able to again. Long story...). I finished my race and walked past their hobble of a booth where they had like one bike on display. It was this sort of mint green and black thing I recall that shone like a beacon and it just drew me in. One side was the mint....the other was the black. Extremely unique paint job....which I would later find out is call their "split personality" paint scheme. I scoped out the bike and studied every detail form the paint to the over sized Columbus tubing used. Love. Or maybe lust. So I saved my pennies (it took me a while as a struggling computer guy living in a 200 square ft apartment in SF at $1000 a month) and by 2001 I ordered my custom Sycip. I walked down to the piers in San Francisco on the Bay where they had their 'laboratory'. They fit me, asked me questions and we assembled a combination of Columbus tubing for the main triangles and Tange for the chain stays which were stiffer and made for track bikes....all designed to some how find a balance for a bike that I would use all around...from climbing to sprinting. They NAILED it. From crits to Colorado dirt road races (we do a LOT of those out here), the bike Jeremy and Jay made me is irreplaceable. I do not know how I will be able to sit on a 'new' frame and not be able to judge it against the Sycip. Having ridden steel, carbon fiber and titanium road bikes, the Columbus tubing just makes this bike feel perfect in and out of the saddle, at speed or on slow technical climbs.
Anyhoo, go talk to them if you are interested in a new frame. There's my plug.
The REAL intent of the story here is the NorCal builder's story...and to expose you to some rich history and some other builders from the Bay Area. All of these NorCal manufacturers have a very intertwined and incestuous ancestry. Obviously, this is a personal story of some 'connections' between builders connected to my life, but the NorCal builders 'history' is legendary and well documented already.
As you read in the Sycip Diesel article on CyclingNews, Jeremy Sycip apprenticed under my long time friend Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster Cycles. It was there that Jeremy learned the ins-and-outs of welding frames and getting to know the characteristics of how various materials from steel to Aluminum, to Scandium to Titanium get 'glued' together. As you'll see, it seems like a LOT has been inspired from the hallowed halls of Paul's Rock Lobster 'laboratory' in Santa Cruz. Let's start there...
Paul is a Brooklyn-ite who emigrated to the Left Coast ages and ages ago. He found his way to Santa Cruz and befriended the likes of builders such as Keith Bontrager (who also was building bikes and bits in his garage) and Salsa Cycle's Ross Schafer (with whom Paul plays music with as they are both insane musicians). When you look at the styles of their frame building, so much of their influence rubbed off on each other. Look at the rear triangles of a Rock Lobster and a Bontrager and you'll see what I mean.
Paul's reputation grew as his frames carried various known names to 'cross and track national titles. In the late '90's, a 'boy' at the time, Mike Ahrens was nearing graduation from his university, and his thesis in his engineering program was a full suspension bike frame design. Mike did the engineering and he solicited Paul's help given his reputation to apply 'truth' to the design vis-a-vis materials, etc. Together they built what would later be called the "Pinch a Log" (see photo to the right). I also ran this FS rig for a while helping Mike dial in the characteristics. With Paul's guidance over the years and a helluva lot of engineering savvy on his own behalf, Mike has since gone on to create his own company, Ahrens Bicycles. I am absolutely looking forward to getting my Ahrens Revolver 29'er built up this spring!
While all this 'apprenticing' activity was going on at Paul's shop, another welding torch was burning bright right within the same space. Paul shared workspace in this small studio with another Santa Cruz artist: Rick Hunter. To see his bikes is to get a sense of retro-meets-modern-meets-funk. Rick's bikes are epic. His signature now is curvy top tubes as well as truly unique designs...but some things have remained the same such as his use of razor thin seat stays that shout out to Bontrager and Rock Lobster designs of 'back in the day'. I'm not necessarily saying Paul rubbed off on Rick given the close proximity of their work stands...but I wonder of there was a bit of that apprenticing going on as well. In any event, Hunter frames get worked in the West Coast mud weekend in and out by folks wearing lycra....or in drag.
Simon has hung up the tubulars and is selling his race steed. A georgeous RL Team Scandium.
You can see the full posting with more pics here but the 'need to know' is this:
Yes, it is with a heavy heart that I sell my good friend Simon's 'cross bike. This is about as full race as you can get right down to the Dugast tires. There are no downstream cheap bunko parts on this machine.....all the best of the best. For details call me at 831-429-8010 weekdays. Simon has retired from racing and somebody out there will get the bike he did his last season of racing on. This bike is near mint and has many more races left in it.
...or so Timmy said this past weekend and made me chuckle. So true. While I like my arrows, this 'Indian' needs to ride fast! Anyhoo, I had to dial in the 'A-arrow' after last weekend's debacle. Some cool bits....
My main man Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster Cycles apparently had himself a little crishy-crash and took out his good weldin' thumb. But, that does not stop this guy fro pumping out the 'cross frames for all the hungry racers queued up for his beautiful masterpieces. Spy photos from his lab:
So Christine's note to me in my post below reminded me to do two things:
a) Ensure I link out to her blog
b) Ensure you know what this tough as nails chiquita is doing over there in the Belgian mud and cobbles
Christine "the PEANUT" Vardaros is an American living the dream over there in Belgie. I was made known of her exploits through Paul and my friends at Rock Lobster, who also supply Christine with her frames for 'cross (at least in years past).
Have a read and learn how un-PRO you really are when you filter through her trials and tribulations.