An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Vise squad

My framebuilding tools generally tend toward the manual variety -- for power tools I have a bench grinder, belt sander, and drill press. Beyond that it's all done by hand. Okay, the torch uses an electric oxygen concentrator, but otherwise the tubes are cut and mitered by hand, and I often have to clamp tubes in V-blocks when the frame jig doesn't quite do the job.

My bench vise gets a lot of action. 

One tool that has become vital is the cross-slide vise used on the work table of the drill press. Holding tubes in place for drilling, and in a few cases cutting a miter. This weekend it became unusable.
Slide vise. Not mine.

This is what the main carriage looks
like from the bottom.

I've had this item for several years, and it's always been a little problematic. Harbor Freight has been a miss/hit/miss place to purchase tools. When I bought the cross-slide vise at this establishment, my wife asked me if I'd bought the least expensive model. I hadn't, but I had bought the least expensive model that I thought would meet my needs. Fool that I was.

The vise was made to hit a price point, and not be anything near sufficient for any kind of precision work. Issues developed immediately. The carriages were neither smooth nor secure. I tightened up some hardware, which took care of most of the slop. The handles would often come loose. Any vibration during use would cause the upper carriage to slowly move. And the main carriage had almost a half-turn of the handle before it would move in either direction.

And this last item is what became worse over time. Drilling small holes wasn't so much of a problem, as the low torque against the tube didn't cause undo shaking. But trying to use a hole saw to make a hole of any appreciable size cause the entire drill press to shake. Yesterday it was enough to walk the tube right out of the vise, gouging it beyond use. 

I disassembled the lower carriage to see what was the cause -- the threaded rod for adjusting the lower carriage went through a plastic fitting that had a peg protruding into the upper slider. PLASTIC. With no means to tighten the piece, and no way to lock the carriage, every bit of vibration worked against that plastic, causing increasingly more slop as time wore (see what I did there) on.
The offending plastic piece.
And the hole into which it fits.

So I'm on the search for a new cross slide vise. I'm extremely gun shy of low priced models, especially anything made in China. I won't be going back to Harbor Freight, that's for sure. And shopping online when I can't verify things like materials and construction makes it even more difficult. I may be replacing it with an X-Y table and stationary vise.

Until then I'll be drilling holes by hand undersize and using a file (by hand again) to bring them up to spec.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Full Circle

In a follow-up to my post from last August, I’ve been following Matt Broshat’s journey around the perimeter of the United States with interest. 

We had hosted him at our house on his second night, and he put in over 100 miles that day to our place just a couple miles off his planned route between Portland and Seattle. He kept getting further ahead of schedule with the passing days…
And so it was that late last week we were estimating his arrival back in Portland, some 11,000 miles after his start, making his way clockwise around the borders and coasts.

We thought early on that it would be fun to meet up with him at the finish, but the logistics of scheduling were… well, impossible. It just had to happen whenever it did. We had him join our Life360 family group just a few days from the finish so we could see where he was, and get close estimates of his arrival. My plan was to find him in Portland, take him out to dinner, maybe have some of the local cycling community meet up with us.
The day arrived, sunny and bright, and a bit cold. It is winter, after all. Matt had already started off with just a little over 40 miles to go. I imagine he was savoring the day a bit. We drove down to Portland, did a little shopping, and then contacted Matt. He said he had an interview at 2, but was free after that.

An interview? We wondered if he was applying for local work…

We traced him down to the riverside and drove out. When we were close, my wife said, “There he is. With a news camera.”

Ah, not a job interview…

Turns out it was the local news doing a spot for their evening broadcast.

We parked and walked back, then met up with him. The smile was as wide as day two, and we were greeted with hugs. A short talk there, then Matt headed to the airport for the full circle – where he assembled his bike and started the journey. We met up again near the airport, then went to the Hopworks Bike Bar for dinner.

There were so many stories of the adventure, talk of the future, his involvement with Young Life Capernaum… Just a fun evening.

After that, we drove him out to where he was spending the night. Dropping him off, we wished him well, though we knew that life will be no boring thing for Matt. 

It was special to be able to share in such a feat. In many ways we felt like we were a part of it, though it was some one else turning the pedals.

What’s next? He says the next adventure will likely be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with his brother.

(NOTE: All photos except the group dinner photo are Matt's.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Finally got it all together

I’ve got a hard-tail mountain bike in the build queue.

I’ve been poised to start fabrication for a little while now. But there were a couple of (critical) hold-outs.

When I fabricate a frame, I usually start from the ends and work my way to the middle. The fork determines the location of the bottom of the head tube, so that has to come before the final jig set-up for the main triangle. When the fork is an “extra” part that can be swapped into the frame in place of a suspension fork, as is the case for most hard-tail mountain bikes, the crown dimension is known, so the frame and fork can be made separately, but…

When fab’ing the frame itself, I start with the assembly of the rear dropouts to the chainstays, and then that to the bottom bracket. Then that assembly goes into the jig and is joined to the seat tube, then the rest of the frame. But…

But there were three missing pieces: The fork steerer tube, the rear dropouts (all from the same company), and some jig cones for the oversize head tube.

I sourced the cones and they arrived fairly quickly. The other parts I had ordered in November… Where were they? I contacted the supply company, and somewhere between charging my credit card and the shipping department, the order was lost. They sent me a T-shirt in apology along with the parts.

So now it’s all together. Time to start making flakes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Lintaman gets it almost right

I was made aware via a post on BikeRumor of a new shoe offering by a company I'd seen once before, but had forgotten about.


Some time back, they had introduced a very adaptable road cycling shoe called the Adjust, which allowed the shoe to be adjusted (hence the name, I'm sure) to accommodate many nuances in foot shape.

Their new offering is in line with the minimalism concept from running and casual shoes, aptly named Minimal, and it's rather intriguing.
First off, the sole is flat. This is something that is virtually unknown in the cycling shoe world, for some unknown
reason. But it makes sense, at least to me. I look at Adam Hansen's home-made carbon shoes, and they also exhibit a flat bottom profile (as far as heel, ball, and toes).

Beyond that, the upper resembles more of a sandal than a shoe in the way it is held onto the foot. This aligns very closely to how I had conceptualized the shoes I was planning to make (some day).

The heel has an adjustment that allows the shoe to fit a wide range in each size, and as such Lintaman only offers this shoe in seven sizes.

The sole is slotted for a variety of cleat positions, from standard to very mid-foot.  
The only issue I have is the toe box shape. Like most shoes (with some notable exceptions being Altra and a few minimalist makes like Vivobarefoot and Topo), the bog toe is forced sideways, essentially creating bunions. It's a fashion nod that, frankly, is out of character for the shoe. 

It is nicely placed into the medium area of price (for cycling shoes), at $145.95, an area that may well entice me to try them, even with my misgivings about the toe box.

Kudos to Lintaman for venturing into this area.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Many bikes, one seatpost -- Cirrus Cycles Kinekt

Well, two seatposts, really. One being the carbon-shafted version.

But today I just had the thought that since March 8th, I've been riding exclusively on the Cirrus Cycles Kinekt seatpost, on four difference bikes. One road bike, and three off-pavement bikes.

It represents a little over 280 hours of riding over varying terrain, though mostly on gravel roads. Within that are five events, ranging from a road metric century to a two-day epic off-pavement tour.

I've made some efforts to keep them clean, making two small fenders that attach to the seatpost shaft just below the parallelogram linkage. Just enough coverage to keep the road spray at bay.

I'd posit that it's still a little early to properly judge the longevity of the Kinekt, but it's safe to say I'm well into the long-term test phase. 

All I can say about the Kinekt is that I'm beyond happy with the performance and comfort it profers. It's not that the Kinekt makes me faster in raw speed, but the comfort, the isolation from road buzz and the minor-but-constant small hits from gravel, mean less fatigue -- and that means more speed later, or slowing down less.

So far, the Kinekt seems to be as solid as day one, and I haven't babied them at all (well, other than keeping the grime away).

I'm no Charleton Heston, but you can have my Kinekt seatpost when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.