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

Friday, October 26, 2018

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet

A bur in my saddle.

A thorn in my side.

And whatever other metaphor you want to apply.

My shoe nerdiness is coming to the fore again, and I’ve got a thought that just won’t go away.

By way of explanation, I’ve grown very tired of shoes that assume I have bunions. And cycling shoes are the worst. At least with casual and running (even minimalist) shoes there are several options now that offer a properly shaped toe box that my toes aren’t forced sideways. But find something similar in a cycling shoe? Nada.
I must have really oddly shaped feet. Basically, I can draw a straight line from my heel to the ball of my foot, and continue on to my big toe. Is that really so strange? But what usually happens with a shoe that is shaped “normally” is that I end up with my little toe smashed into the outer portion of the toe box, while the ball area of the shoe ends up with a void. And that tends to pull the shoe upper away from the sole.

I've all but BEGGED Altra to make cycling shoes...

One of the last pair of Sidi shoes I've had was relegated to stationary trainer use due to being made full of holes. After some time I cut away the upper material over and around my bog toes to allow them more room. Even though my toes hung half-way out of the shoes, it was far more comfortable.

After feeling my big toes pressing into the show upper on one of my recent lunchtime rides, the bug bit. Hard.

Why not make my own cycling shoes? I’ve got a co-worker who is very experienced in composite materials and construction, and has expressed interest in building any of my cycling-related ideas. 

It can't be all THAT difficult, right?

And there’s Adam Hansen, a pro-cyclist who is known for going down a path seldom trod as far as riding position and such. He makes his own cycling shoes, and even offers them for sale – though the sale part is really to satisfy a UCI requirement and not so much that he’s looking for another income stream.  His shoes look very non-traditional, long on function and short on nods to fashion. When the cleat is heavier than the shoe…

So this has made me think. A thought that just won’t fade.

Make my own cycling shoes that actually FIT my feet. It’s not that far fetched.

Sure, I need another project like I need a hole in my head. But eventually I see it happening.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

And then there were four...

A couple weeks ago I had “one of those days” in the shop.  Already with two bikes in near-complete status, plus the aforementioned extensive re-do, I suddenly had four bikes in a state of build or rebuild.

The two that were already in process:
* a gravel bike (groader) was in need of the braze-on bits and finish work that was set aside to finish
* a first pedal bike for my daughter, which just needed seatstays and finish work.

I took an hour to cut up the lightweight climbing frame and set up the jig for the re-do, then set to work on the seatstays for the kiddie-ride. Getting them mitered was a quick job, brazing them on only slightly more time consuming. Letting that cool a bit before dropping it into the flux bath, I moved over to mounting a new tire on my MTB rear wheel. It was slightly wider than the one I took off, and chainstay clearance wasn’t all that prevalent on this frame, so I fit it into the dropouts to make sure I had the sliders positioned correctly. Bike upside-down to better access the adjuster screws, I put the wheel in, and saw that it was rubbing on the left chainstay.

When I opened the quick release to pull the wheel out, I noticed it – a little line along the bottom the drive-side stay about an inch from the dropout, where I’d drilled a vent hole. Oh no…

I got a razor blade to scrape the paint back, and, sure enough, it was a crack. Obvious where it started (that vent hole), it circled the stay almost all the way around.

This would be the first frame I’ve had fail, it did so in a very non-catastrophic manner (good), and pointed out a detail which I’ve not put into any other frames (the vent hole located on the bottom of the stay – normally I put them through the dropout; also good). This would also be my first structural frame modification/repair on one of my builds after it’s gone into the wild. Fortunately I have a back-up bike to take to work for my lunchtime rides.

Back to the other bike (may daughter’s bike), I decided to throw the wheel and crank arms into the frame to check on the chain run and coaster brake tab location. That meant making sure the bottom bracket shell was tapped and faced, and since all the heat operations were done in that area, it wasn’t a risk. I got the parts installed, and sighted the chain line… which passed right through the seatstay I’d just brazed in.


Four bikes now in-process.

I’ve got the kid bike to the finishing stage, the groader is getting the hand-work treatment, and the climber is slowly getting closer to getting brazed back together. I’ve stripped the MTB frame and it’s ready to have the chainstays cut out, and I’ve got replacement tubes to put in their place.

And on Saturday I do a day road-trip for a fitting on a MTB for a new customer.

Then there will be five…