Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My final post on this build is all about the ride, except for the part about my naïve error.

So let’s just get it out of the way – I underestimated the strength needs of the integrated seat mast.  After some research, I found that I really should have used a seat mast sleeve that would have created a much thicker and much more stable junction for the seat tube/top tube/ seat mast intersection.  The super light S3 seat post just doesn’t cut it.  In fact it really should be twice as thick through the intersection.  As I was building the frame, I had my suspicions.  So I really beefed up the intersection welds, but ended up crimping the area just above the welds after I rode the bike a few times.  The great thing about steel is that it is generally fixable.  I thought about a variety of fixes, but the one I felt the most confidence in is my patented “triple triangle” approach.  In other words I welded a very small support tube to the seat mast and the top tube to create a very strong triangle that would allow the seatmast to have a much larger support at the juncture.  While you can argue the aesthetic impact is not great, it definitely worked.  I have ridden the bike on many a very rough dirt road at 30+ mph on descents and it has held up.  Other than this “minor”[i] setback on my prototype frame, it has held up without flaw.

Other stuff I learned about S3, definitely use a thicker head tube or use some type of lugs/banding.  The head tube is too thin to ride well and doesn’t take to brazing to well.  As you can see, I created some cool sleeves to create a stiff head tube and a nice little frame detail. So back to the fun stuff. 

The paint job.  I happened to finish the bike around Father’s Day and my wife suggested the kids paint the frame as part of the event.  As you can see, it was an awesome suggestion.  After a primer and base glossy black coat, the kids did their thing and I finished with a few layers of clear.  The paint job is holding up OK, but isn’t nearly as chip proof than a powder coat.  I plan on adding a clear with a hardener eventually after I ride it for a while and touch up any chips.

So now for the ride.  I simply love this bike.  It descents stable and fast.   Feels light and snappy.  Sprints well, although just a bit less stiff than my Scandium Felt.  And I don’t really mind.  Handles a bit quick, but not alarmingly so.   I know the bike rides well when I don’t even care if I am going fast.  It is just so smooth and comfortable, without giving up the racing feel that I demand out of any of my frames. I don’t know if I could be happier considering this is a prototype approach.  The only thing (besides the seatpost issue) that I would change is the rear dropouts.  I wanted a seamless look and so I used inserted dropouts that I could only get in a semi-horizontal setup from Henry James.  Unfortunately that make getting a tire in and out a bit difficult and I have already had the wheel slide a bit after rolling through some tough dirt roads.  Not a huge issue, but an area for improvement.  I would also add internal cable routing as well.

I think the frame  is the best I have ever ridden for me.  The fit is right on (as it should be) and it handles better than expected.  I can’t say enough for the S3 steel.  It is just perfect.  And the brazing allows a builder to create a nice large platform for the areas you want to disperse force and by shaping the brazing you can actually control the contact patch for the force distribution based on how you want the bike to ride.  The crazy thing is how light the bike can be made.  I am riding a 56.5 cm top tube and the bike is weighing 16.3 lbs. as shown in the photos.    I plan on making another frame with some added cool details and adjustments in the future, but for now I am really enjoying the bike. 01e4222479fca89c0abcd27f19086679d2a1ce0871 01fb6e45f9d2c983e87806247bca44b8db3c38ec36 014c186436cb3e020cbb4938cc31d574390eaba8a5 015fe8537dfef82cd9d692a5280450468282464362 018ba356d01ae2c5dca9240ee965d0c06ba61b109e 018cb5e552ae2bb180744486ebe1180519f31aea4e 019bed627e0bfeb6431e4a561c4188265fba53ad40 0154dbdd8a487963fe14ce854b7501cc6a0349a229 01696b716d5b487f624e60470443e5e5e5c32baf5c 01872d19580bbbc2ab3964c560ec5b4835ded6cc76 013796ca93a46b3831a5dd9660dcb7d913846aba52 019696c1cdb7256f38677e6ecd724e8697136be2cb

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Ironman Boulder

Interestingly enough, the Ironman in Boulder is this weekend.  Almost exactly one year since my Hillbilly Ironman in 2013.  If you are getting ready to hit up Boulder, here is my take on the experience on many of the same roads for the bike.






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Since I really want to have a sold documentation of a first point recovery, I needed to add another post.  And likely will add more as the year progresses.

I feel pretty much 100% most of the time, however it is definitely not read for full on soccer type activities.  I played 3 hrs of soccer with the kiddos a week ago and it was sore for 5 days.  It felt a bit loose and odd.  I didn’t notice it most of the time, however when I did it was a good reminder that the last few percentage points of healing will take some more time.  I will revisit soccer occasionally and see how it reacts as I go to see how it heals.  I skipped my weekly run last week to let it recover.   I guess I will see how it feels this week and if it is back to normal when I run midweek.  I haven’t felt any pain or discomfort at all in my knee when running, so I hope this is still the case.  If it feels bad, I’ll know that I really pushed it way too far a week ago.

The on the bike news is good.  I had my first ride where I felt like my old self on Sunday.  So the legs and lungs are starting to come back.  I am almost to the point where I might consider entering a weekly crit or something crazy…

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My last update on my MCL, hopefully.  It’s now been nearly 11 weeks since my injury and I hitting my stride (literally and figuratively).

As of this weekend I am clear to do whatever I want, at least from the Doc.  My lovely wife isn’t quite there on soccer and certain criteriums.

The knee feels better than before I injured it, which leads me to believe that I may have had a partial tear for a long time.  I still have random pains in my MCL area and other spots around both knees.  I think a lot of it is breaking up scar tissue and my support ligaments/muscles getting sorted out.   My knee is stiff if I don’t move it a lot and every so often my knee feels odd.

I can run 6 miles pain free.  I can ride my bike pain free.  I can play tennis with my kids.  I can swim all the different strokes without pain.  I have full range of motion, with some tightness on the quad stretch.

Am I healed?  No.  It can feel loose sometimes and have strange pains.  I suspect I will have occasional pains and a lot of work to do strengthening the support for my knees for a while.  However, as an active person, I don’t know what it feels like to not have little pains on a regular basis.  So, I suppose it is back to business as usual.  Just got to work on the wife about the soccer and those crits.

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Bus Stop 2014

I completed my first Bus Stop ride of the year last night.  As I have mentioned before (http://everydayracer.com/2012/05/03/redemption-at-the-bus-stop/) this ride is pretty intense and is a good way to gage fitness.

This is only my 9th or 10th ride since hurting my knee, making it my 9th or 10th ride in 3 months.  Since we had all the flood damage, the ride has been changed quite a bit and the route was still in debate at the beginning of the ride.  We ended up going down 36 to St. Vrain road, then 75th to Hygiene and back again.   The loop is pretty easy, except the climb on St. Vrain, which is where I departed the group.  I usually have a hard time there when I am fit and only stay with the top 10 guys or so that make it over that climb when I am at my best.  I ended up hanging in longer than many on the ride and felt very comfortable.  The new bike was quite quick on the front, which took a bit of getting used to in a group ride setting.   I’ll have more of an update on the bike to finish my series on the S3 frame once I get a few more miles in.  My legs (including my knee) and lungs felt fine.  They weren’t too tired today and I was able to run 6 miles around the reservoir this morning.  So overall – a good outing for my first time in a group since my injury (really since February due to my lack of time on the bike this year).  I think the group went pretty slow and easy, which was perfect for me to get back out there.

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My frame building partner in crime, Brent, received a request for some photos from a bike component manufacture.  Lucky as I am in life, my wife happens to be a great photographer and we hooked up a photo session to highlight some details of a few of Brent’s builds.  Here are some of my favs.  Enjoy.

IMG_5627099 IMG_5611094 IMG_5606092 IMG_5595089 IMG_5566078 IMG_5534064 IMG_5524059 IMG_5510055 IMG_5490044 IMG_5460036 IMG_5416021 IMG_5407017 IMG_5398015 IMG_5385014 IMG_5384013 IMG_5369010 IMG_5358007

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After finally getting the brazing figured out I was able to get the finishing started.  This did not go as planned.  I was up for the work, but I didn’t realize I would be so bad at it that I would actually kill off some of my tools.  I broke a file, broke the transmission on my dremel and wore out so many tips that I had to reinvest in my whole sanding/grinding system.  I must have refinished my welds at least 10 times each joint.  Talk about inexperience really coming into affect.  The enemies of a good finish are:

  1. Low spots. This took me way to many times to figure out.
  2. Pin holes. Contamination and too much flux seem to cause these issues. The great thing about pin holes are that they like to magically appear right when you think the joint looks perfect. If these aren’t remedied, they can make your welds look pot marked. No bueno.
  3. Out of proportion. Keeping the welds looked balanced and proportionate is an art. It actually pretty fun to sculpt the joints. However if you get this wrong its do over time.
  4. Not enough brazing laid down. Got to have enough material to make the joint strong and to work with to sculpt.

As you can see I eventually got there.  I developed some nice calluses in the process.

IMG_0295 IMG_0287 IMG_0284

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Once the miters are all good and the geometry is the way I wanted, the welding commenced.  Braze welding is an art and I was starting from a big disadvantage.

  1. First time using my torch
  2. First time on S3 tubing
  3. First time fully brazing a whole bike
  4. First time using this type of flux and brass

Most builders would rightly start out on some cheapo tubing set and then move upwards to finally getting to S3.  I have a slightly different philosophy and mush less wise one.  I like to learn on what I plan on building with and know that if you can do the hardest stuff, then you can do the easy stuff if you want to later.  I also acknowledge that I may have to redo and start over a lot in order to figure it out. I did a decent amount of practicing with some old tubes before I started.  This was obviously needed just to get used to the setup, heat control and to learn how the brazing material behaves.

I did have one advantage, my buddy at Rabid Frameworks has popped out so many bikes with the setup I am using that he has a lot of lessons learned to share.  He also was able to be a resource for me to bounce questions off of and to brainstorm solutions together.  We actually were able to do some late mods on the frame late into the build together.  Another advantage – I was in no hurry.  The frame ended up taking 4 months to build because I wanted to use this build as a prototype and to take the time to learn.

I have attached a variety of my welds as I went.  As you will see they were pretty pathetic.   I am confident in their strength, but the finish was awful.  I kept having contamination from the torch due to build up and incorrect settings on oxy vs propane.  I also didn’t have a good sense of how to create a consistent depth.  I also didn’t understand the finish process and had to keep going back and redoing joints after finishing them up and not liking the results.  Eventually I was able to understand more about how to build up the brazing to create the finish affect I wanted.  But the heating and reheating caused a lot of warping of the steel and probably isn’t the best experience for a steel frame to go through.  I was able to get it all back to where I wanted and to finish it off in a professional way, but I got there the hard way.  (No surprise based on my philosophy of trying to race with the pros as soon as I decided to race a bike.)

One thing that happens a lot with this kind of tubing is that it warps. Things like the head tube ovalizing or the bottom bracket bananerizing or the seat tube bulging seem to be quite common for amateurs.  I learned how to avoid this and how to fix this as I went through the process.

IMG_9939IMG_9940 IMG_9949 IMG_9947 IMG_9892


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Next step was to begin the design process.  Up to this point, I have been using good ol’ AutoCad.  In my efforts to be a bit more professional, I used two programs (rattleCAD and BG101) to create my design and set up the jig.  Maybe I will post more detailed descriptions of these programs later, but safe to say they provide a ton of data and give you the jig setup, not just the bike geo.


As usual, I like to do something different with my builds than the standard bike.  What is the point of building custom frames if they are the same as any other?   I decided to go with an integrated seatpost (more on that later) and a ever so slight compact geometry.


Since S3 tubes come in some crazy shapes (only the seat tube and head tube are round), the miter templates were not terribly useful.  I am crazy about getting miters correct and I was pleased that I could really get a perfect fit.  A good bike jig is really helpful for miter fit. You can put the bike together without a single weld and check the miters.  I was able to refined the miters through this process and definitely get them spot on.  I was also able to check the geometry in this process and make design decisions as I went.  For instance, I was able to think about where I wanted my seat stays to connect to my seat tube with the bike put together and not have made any commitments on welds yet.

As you can see, this steel is paper thin.  Once I get in to brazing, I’ll talk more about working on such thin tubing.








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I have been wanting to build a new steel road frame for a long time.  Instead of a traditional lugged frame, I decided to go with a full brazed bike.  I have been doing a bit of brazing on all my bikes for certain joints, but this would be 100% brazed.  This look provides a near carbon frame appearance and gives the builder a much larger amount of leeway when choosing build options.   I also wanted to build a cutting edge frame, so I chose True Temper S3 tubing.  Instead of getting all custom with tubing choices, I decided to go with the full S3 build and trust True Tempers engineering.  Another big difference with this build is that I used the Anvil Journeyman Jig, lent to me from Rabid Frameworks.  Pretty crazy setup and it makes things SOOO much easier.  However, I would find out as I went that the jig is just a tool and like any other tool, the builder has to really know what they are doing to get the most out of the tool and get the bike right.


Poppa's Gotta Brand New Jig

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