Review while parked: Click-Stand

Amazingly stable once you lock one or both brakes.

Amazingly stable once you lock one or both brakes.

This is not a road test. This is a garage test, a rest-stop test, a two-year-parked-by-the-cafe test.

This is a test of the diner-tested, hyphen-endorsed Click-Stand, a lightweight, collapsible stick of aluminum tubing that fits between the ground and, via a rubber-coated cradle, your bicycle’s top tube. I’ve been parking my tandem with the device for two years.

U-shaped rest cradles the frame.

U-shaped rest cradles the frame.

And I’m happy to say it works. It just works.

Like parking your bike upright? It sure makes it easy to sort through a handlebar bag, seat bag, trunk pack or panniers. With a Click-Stand, you don’t have to lean your bike against a building or pole. You can park anywhere, even on an incline.

When you’re not parked, throw the compact, shock-corded collapsible device into a bag or strap it to a frame bracket. Nothing to come loose when you’re riding.

And, unlike a standard kickstand, the Click-Stand doesn’t clamp over lightweight tubing. (If you’re buying a bicycle and intending to use a regular kickstand, look for a frame featuring either a flat plate behind the cranks or mounting holes near the rear dropouts.)

The Click-Stand is especially popular among tandem teams.

The Click-Stand is especially popular among tandem teams.

The key to the Click-Stand is locking one or both of your brakes with the Brake-Bands that ship with the stand. Even if you still park by leaning the bike against a wall, Brake-Bands make it more secure. In fact, it’s amazing how stable your bicycle becomes when the wheels don’t turn.

Parked at the Horsey Hundred.

Parked at the Horsey Hundred.

And when you’re drinking coffee, the only thing that should turn is the stool you’re sitting on—right in front of the chalkboard proclaiming the pie of the day, which, in any rational world filled with bicycles and coffee, should be apple.

The only pie worth parking for.




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Connecting with the Northeast in Kentucky

IMG_1104Conversation, learning something without direct experience of it, is the original Google search.

Instead of typing, you talk. Instead of reaching a distant server, you seek to understand another human being—one right in front of you. You might learn something new; you might be reminded of what we all have in common. You might be diverted.

(Not diverted in the sense of digital task switching and shrinking attention spans—this is is the third paragraph of this essay; congratulations for hanging in there—but diverted from the expectations of the day.)IMG_9093

Take a recent visit to Georgetown, Kentucky. Wes and Laurie traveled from New York for two days of pedaling over rolling hills past horse farms staked out by dark fences and stone walls. And trees—right by the side of the road. Miles and miles of trees, a remarkable change from miles and miles of mechanized Illinois corn that throws no shade.

I spotted the Boston t-shirt in Galvin’s on Main Street. Wes talked up the Hub on Wheels Ride around Boston, and the couple invited us to skip the wait for a table and sit with them.

We did. And we learned other things.

  • There’s a ride through New York’s Finger Lakes region called the Highlander that features up to 10,000 feet of climbing. Wes claims to enjoy this.
  • The Tour de l’Île is a great way to get to know Montreal, Canada. Laurie recommends L’Appartement Hotel as a good place to stay downtown.
  • The Erie Canalway Trail has some gaps, but it’s a remarkable trail to pedal from Buffalo, New York, to Albany,
  • One of the better times to beat the crowds on Martha’s Vineyard is late September. Stay in Woods Hole and take the ferry over.

So, next bicycle ride, ride. Of course. But add an extra conversation to the event. Talk to someone you don’t know. Find out what’s important to them. It may become important to you.

And it may all start with a t-shirt.



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Big ride (even though we haven’t been king sized since we were 13 colonies)

The biggest piece of advertising real estate on a bicycle frame before carbon fiber tubes was the Chicago Schwinn's chainguard.

The biggest piece of advertising real estate on a bicycle frame before carbon fiber tubes was this Chicago Schwinn’s chainguard.

John Ringham stopped by the shop with another bicycle from his stable: a 1965 Schwinn King-Size American. A year ago, he was showing me his Specialized Expedition from the early 1980s.

New, the King Size American was between $50 and $60 bucks. It still runs, still fits.

New, the King Size American was between $50 and $60 bucks. It still runs, still fits.

Given that Schwinn was fond of naming its bicycles after cars, including the Jaguar and the Corvette, one might be excused for thinking the company named this all-steel machine after the Rambler by the same name.

But no, Schwinn made its American from 1955 to 1965 and promoted it as 100-percent American made (presumably meaning in the United States, as opposed to other countries in the Americas, such as Chile or Canada).

John's a big fan of foam grips on upright and drop bars.

John’s a big fan of foam grips on upright and drop bars.

John, also American made, got the bicycle for his 12th birthday—about the same time he was approaching six feet tall.

There have been some changes to the King-Size American over the years–some wheel reflectors, the all-encompassing foam handlebar grips–but the bike is in remarkable near-stock condition.

As is John.

The hub shiner's been in place as long as the hub.

The hub shiner’s been in place as long as the hub.


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Not Old Paint. Don Walker tandem does Horsey Hundred with no paint

One of the more interesting bicycles at the 2016 edition of the Horsey Hundred in Georgetown, Kentucky: a fillet-brazed Don Walker tandem. No paint on the frame, just a clear coat. And get this: the bike was only a few hours old before the owners headed out on the hilly ride.

IMG_9074 IMG_9079 IMG_9077 IMG_9076

Eventually, the bike will get stripped down and given a proper coat of paint. But for now, the details of the build are clear for anyone to see. A proper showcase for the builder and organizer of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.


Even after the ride.

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They shoot old bicycle stories, don’t they?

10003898_864648686892836_5871425484533033503_nStories are how we compare one thing to another, learn, and make sense of the passage of time. Here are three stories I’m about to give up because I’ve repeated them too often. Especially now that I’m back in a bicycle shop after a quarter century, an event which calls out for new and different stories.

  1. I was riding my tricycle the other day (yes, I have a tricycle, built by Scott Paisley in Ohio years ago) when I realized it’s 2016 and I have three machines with SunTour Power Ratchet bar ends. What can I say? They work. They also make it hard to remember that indexed shifting isn’t new. It was introduced to the masses in the mid-1980s.
  2. I remember working at the shop when we had, basically, three types of bikes: road, kids and a single mountain bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper, which we thought was neat as all get out but wondered whether we’d ever sell for $750. Short story even shorter, we did.
  3. I started working at a bicycle shop in Peoria Heights in 1981. This was well after the zenith of transcontinental cycling. Still, we were selling a fair number of touring bikes, mostly from Trek, which was still a relatively new company. I remember suggesting a Trek to a customer and getting an incredulous look when I explained it was a bicycle made in Wisconsin. (Wisconsin had gained statehood several years earlier, which I thought would lend it a modicum of credibility.)

So that’s it, three stories. Now the talking dinosaur is trying to dance with more nimble mammals while avoiding the tar pits and pondering the possibility of an incoming asteroid.

But I think it’ll be okay. If you’re in Peoria, bring your bike and ride the Rock Island Greenway to visit me at Peoria’s Bushwhacker in Junction City.

Maybe you can help me work on a new story.

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Bicycle tires: The opposite of supple is ok, too.


Chrome on a cloudy day.

Chrome on a cloudy day.

If you’re a fan of Bicycle Quarterly, like I am, you know the drill on good tires: generous width, lightweight and supple casings. Oh, yes: supple.

Now, think of tires that come up short. Thick tread. Stiff sidewalls. An extra layer of material that adds weight while, admittedly, doing a fine job of fighting flats.

That’s what I put on the Bianchi Pista today. Reasons? 1) They were free and 2) See number one.

I’m not going to share the manufacturer’s name–though it’s similar to that of an English monarch from the 19th century–because makers make a variety of tires, and riders ride, some, quite happily, that same variety.

But you know what? These tires were ok. They were a little wider than the tires I replaced, which is a good thing, and they didn’t go flat, which is a great thing, especially in colder weather.

But the main reason they were ok was I mounted them on a fixed-gear bike with a 64-inch gear. (Imagine a tricycle with a 64-inch front wheel; a road bike will have a top gear over 100 inches, and you can coast going downhill.)

Better tires wouldn’t have helped me go any faster. The tires were no slower than the bicycle.

Or the rider. Let’s not forget the rider. Not quite as supple as he used to be, either.

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In the shop: Austro-Daimler Vent Noir

In the mid-to-late 1970s, an Austrian bicycle manufacturer went upscale in hopes of capturing the enduring loyalty of bicycle enthusiasts.

Steyr-Daimler-Puch made it to the 1990s before disappearing into the parts bins of several other corporations.

The company goes back to a gun maker in 1855. Before the end, employees could reflect on a rich history that included bicycles, motorcycles, airplane engines, mopeds, cars and trucks. (And an infamous history that included such things as Nazis and the Sears Free Spirit bicycle.)

This particular piece of Steyr-Daimler-Puch history, an Austro-Daimler Vent Noir, arrived at the shop with a seized freewheel and a good bit of rust. Here’s what I found about it on one amazingly exhaustive website:

The 1976 specification ‘Austro-Daimler’ and European market ‘Puch’ Vent Noir ten speed bicycles were originally provided with the Shimano Dura-Ace components gruppo with a 42/53 tooth crankset and Shimano Crane rear derailleur. Most distinctively, some of the gruppo components were anodized black. These bicycles incorporated ‘Regina Oro’ cassette and chain in gold finish, the pedals were MKS-URK2 (Mikashima Industrial Co., Ltd. of Japan) with toe clips. The hubs were Dura-Ace, with Fiamme #1 wheel rims and Inox 2mm spokes. The tires were Clement Strada 66. The saddle was a Gilux 3000, the bar and stem were by GB. The set included a bicycle tire pump with Campagnolo ends. This was listed as weighing 22-½ lbs. with a price then of $540.00.

austro-daimler frame collage

This particular Vent Noir (French for Black Wind) was in rough shape, but most of the pin-striping and head-tube decal were still present. It features a Reynolds 531 frame with Shimano dropouts and, except for the tubular wheels, all its original parts.

mikashima pedal collage

When Bushwhacker mechanic Robert Woo first showed me this pedal, I thought the dust cap was gone because of all the rust inside, but no, he had just removed the cap to inspect the bearings.

You can imagine the bike sitting in a pile of dirty snow outside a New York brownstone, though you cannot imagine how it was never stolen.

Note the Presta valve adapter screwed to a toe clip bolt inside the pedal cage in the lower picture.

dura-ace collage

Here you go: Shimano’s best parts group back in the days before aero levers, clipless pedals and indexed shifting.

Note the pierced or drilled holes in the brake lever and chain rings–and the big remaining advantage of a 1970s sidepull brake caliper: room for wider tires.

Finally, get rid of the rust and the Crane rear derailleur is a beauty, though, as Disraeli Gears points out: “The only fly in the ointment was SunTour’s patent on the slant parallelogram. The Crane never changed gear quite as well as the much more lowly SunTour V series—despite Shimano’s puff about the efficacy of their ‘servo pantagraph’ design with its two sprung pivots.”

Hmph. At this date, it’s enough to say of the Crane and the rest of the bike that eppur si muove. 

Sometime soon, one hopes. Like the wind.

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