Where's Waldo This Week?

Before I tell you that we'll be at the BCA and Winchester races this weekend, let me waste some figurative breath describing some of the process of getting a new product built. 

When you buy a "frame" from us, that includes the frame, the fork, the headset, the cable guides, the spacers, the clips, the clamps, barrel adjusters, the tire levers (our business cards are tire levers), the chainstay protector, the expander plug, the VeloShine wipes, some DZ Nuts, and maybe most importantly the two of us on the other end of the line should you run into any snags or start to wear a hole in the back of your pants scratching your butt wondering about how something goes together.

When we buy a frame, it includes the frame.  If we order the fork, it includes the fork.  The other stuff, we're on our own.  For the most part, our man in Taiwan (every time I refer to him I love going Graham Greene on it, it's the only place in my life where I really get to do that and I do enjoy it so) helps us out sourcing stuff but with everyone in the bike world focusing on some big shows in Taiwan, and then Eurobike, and then Interbike, we've picked a heck of a time to get the cross bike project going.  The change from metal to carbon bikes, while we think it will absolutely end up in the best possible place, cost us a bunch of time and simplicity of getting things done.  So now we're hustling to get all the little odds and ends sorted out. 

Broadly, it's like training.  You have a "base" period, which is a macro-cycle containing meso-cycles, and the you have the "build," prep," and "race" periods, each with their own micro-cycles.  Base, we've done by getting the frames and forks here.  Build is when we get parts and pieces to turn the thing into an actual "bike" that does nice things like roll forward, respond to pedaling, and stop.  Prep is when we tune those things to the point where they work well enough for us to isolate different things and make close choices.  Race is when we get the whole thing to the point of being ready for prime time, a consumer-ready product that we're eager to get out into the world and to have our names on.

Right now we're in build mode.  We've come across some little things, like the rear brake stop.  Our frame comes with a wishbone mounted stop with a barrel adjuster, which in the smallest sizes doesn't leave room for the cable housing to leave the adjuster and clear the seat clamp without causing a bend that would infringe on great brake response.  So we've chopped that off (the nub is still there, the thing was put on with some space age polymer that has psychotic bond strength) and replaced it with a seat clamp that has an integrated cable stop.  An in-line barrel adjuster will go up front, between the bars and the forward top tube housing stop. 

With a 1.5" fork steerer base, we're pretty sure that brake shudder will be non-existent.  The thing is a truck.  However, we want to definitely know whether a fork-mounted stop will be better than a steerer-mounted stop, so we are alternating sizes.  One gets a fork mount, the next gets a steerer mount, then back to fork, and so on.  At some point this fall, if nothing is conclusive, we'll switch each bike's setup so each rider can see how the other half lives and make a decision from there. 

I'm sure we'll run into a bunch more fun stuff before all the bikes are built and ready to race, and even more as they are used in races, and this is exactly as we expect and as we plan.  The thing is of course that had circumstances not made the late switch in frames completely the right big picture thing to do, we would ideally have been bashing bikes around for over a month now, but we haven't.  This leads to two things:

1. You will not see all of our team racing their November bikes this weekend.  We are all meeting on Friday evening at the new Service Course to build bikes and eat cased meats and drink the beer of the week (which since I have to buy a lot of beer this week is guaranteed to be some cheap swill).  It's just plain not right to ask people to race on bikes they've never properly ridden and debugged, and I'd 1000x rather have Paul, for example, have two more great races on his current bike and then take (a still slightly insanely short amount of) time to get his November to where it's got his back. 

2. For those of us who do race our bikes this weekend, there's likely to be some amount of the MacGuyver fabulousness going on.  As I write this on Thursday morning, one frame has most of a drivetrain on it.  The rest of the bikes are 100% unbuilt.  We're skipping workshops and rehearsals and dress rehearsals and going straight to opening night in.  Stuff working not quite right will be an endorsement of our process of working through all the BS to get a completely "ready for you" product together, rather than an indictment of the product. 

With that said, we'll be at both the BCA and Winchester Apple races this weekend.  Come get a completely behind the curtain look at things.  We'll also have road bikes, wheels, and whatever else for you to ogle and try.  I can't say we'll be the first people there and the last to leave, but if you're there in the meat of the day, we'll be there. 

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In addition to the pearls and nuggets of wisdom that you guys provide, i look forward to anoncx's commentay. It is priceless.




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