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Long-time lurker finally posts

Old 09-15-19, 08:29 PM
  #1  
ortliebsforever
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Long-time lurker finally posts

I've haunted the 'touring' forum here for decades but never posted. Until today.


Since the late 70's I've built lots of one-off custom hybrids for touring. Mostly I build the bikes for specific tours. Just added pics in my album of the most recent plaything. After giving up 700c's a long time ago I wanted to get back into the swing of things 'roady.' Got the Fuji cross bike as new-old-stock and took it home to put it on the workstand. Tossed everything but the frame, carbon fork, and rear derailleur. The pics tell the story. Still can't post a link. add the usual http,etc then: bikeforums.net/g/album/15203286


Well, not all of the story.


Leaned a brand new wheelset against the shop wall and for the first time ever in my life I lost consciousness. Fell smack on the front wheel. I could have straightened the rim but that's not my style. In a few months I'll be 70 y/o. During forty of those years I've been a hard-core bike tourist/bike packer, hooked on endorphins. Anyone else out there buy a new bike and have a stroke the same day? No harm done, though.


A tick bite is the most probable cause of heart failure in my later years (Lyme didease). But maybe not. It's too late to tell. I will say that if any of you hard riding cyclists notice an arrythmia of any kind, or if you're in tick country, keep in mind that there are risks. It make no difference how strong you are in your early years. Always consult a cardiologist if you notice an arrythmia or missed heartbeats. My resting rate used to be around 48bpm and for me that was normal. Trained athelete, I was. Now, pacemaker I have.


Thankfully I've kicked the endorphin habit. I don't miss those fully loaded 200 mile days, or the bug infested Arctic rides. But just can't kick the urge to put strange parts together to make weird touring concoctions. The cross bike handes like an F-18 Hornet. Put a bit of a load on it and it's somewhat subued, but still handles better than any factory touring bike can hope to.


Cheers, people! I love all your stories. Oh, by the way, there was a time when there was no 'Crazy Guy on a Bike.' You had to hang out in Marin County to get 'crazy' ideas for hybrid bikes that could go anywhere, anytime. How about five-speed freewheels, one on the front and one on the rear - swap the wheels for higher or lower gearing. A common trick that the pro's used to use.

Last edited by ortliebsforever; 09-21-19 at 11:04 AM. Reason: minor change
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Old 09-15-19, 09:04 PM
  #2  
Happy Feet
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Originally Posted by ortliebsforever View Post
...
Cheers, people! I love all your stories. Oh, by the way, there was a time when there was no 'Crazy Guy on a Bike.' You had to hang out in Marin County to get 'crazy' ideas for hybrid bikes that could go anywhere, anytime. How about five-speed freewheels, one on the front and one on the rear - swap the wheels for higher or lower gearing. A common trick that the pro's used to use.
Ok, now you have my attention! Do you mean a second freewheel on the front fork? Never heard of it until now but my mind suddenly lit up. Also, can't see an album link.
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Old 09-16-19, 07:12 AM
  #3  
ortliebsforever
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link

Rats. I assumed that my album pics were public. Can't put a link into the post until I have 10 posts. What to do? I can't attach all of the pics in the album.

Absolutely, they ran a narrow range freewheel on one wheel and a wider range with lower gears on the other wheel. Swap wheels to go from pavement to trails. Lots of cool rack designs too. In those days there wasn't much on the market but Blackburn and they were not so sturdy. Leave the pavement with a Blackburn rack and you'd be turning it in on warranty. I don't know how many I broke, front and rear. A lot of good designs came out of Marin County though. You'd run into these guys in the hike/bike camps or out on the trails and they'd be fully loaded on these custom bikes, some very professionally built, others not so much.

The first bike I toured on had the ancient Shimano front freewheel system where the entire drive train turned with the rear wheel. The freewheel was in the bottom bracket but I can't remember just how. Since the front chain rings turned when the bike was in motion you could coast and shift gears without moving your feet. Great for coming up to a stoplight and downshifting for when the light turns green. What a flop that idea was.

So how can my album pics be viewed by other members? I must be missing something.
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Old 09-16-19, 07:16 AM
  #4  
ortliebsforever
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I can go to 'Gallery' and choose 'Abums' and the album is 'Custom Build 2019-09-15 16:37:26.'
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Old 09-16-19, 08:14 AM
  #5  
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You just have to make ten posts and then you can link pics etc... just find threads you are interested in and comment, but not in a spam sort of way. Goes quickly.

Btw, welcome to the forums
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Old 09-16-19, 11:01 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Ok, now you have my attention! Do you mean a second freewheel on the front fork? Never heard of it until now but my mind suddenly lit up. Also, can't see an album link.
Didn't some Iditibike riders in years ago have a wider front fork with a wheel and cassette on it? I seem to remember seeing either an image of it or a video.

Cheers
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Old 09-18-19, 06:01 AM
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they'd have to have a custom fork no? 5 speed era dropouts were what, 120 or 126, and havent front always been 100?

I didnt know this bike forum was decades old, always figured around 10 or so.
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Old 09-18-19, 06:20 PM
  #8  
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Miele Man, yes they did. Thought it was are great idea, still do.
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Old 09-18-19, 07:38 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Didn't some Iditibike riders in years ago have a wider front fork with a wheel and cassette on it? I seem to remember seeing either an image of it or a video.

Cheers
Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Miele Man, yes they did. Thought it was are great idea, still do.
Since you mentioned it I have been looking on the net for some references but have found little in regards to gears on front. I tried one of my older SS bikes just to see and could fit a rear wheel up front by cold setting the fork a bit.

I'm trying to understand the concept though. If the rear packs it in and you swap out the front for it you still need a front. Was this just to have a spare cassette?
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Old 09-21-19, 10:16 AM
  #10  
ortliebsforever
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two freewheels

Well, this is interesting that nobody wants to click thru the albums to easily find the pics I posted, but there's this interest in the comment I made about the twin freewheels (go to 'Gallery' and choose 'Albums' and the album is 'Custom Build 2019-09-15 16:37:26). Still can't post a link. add the usual http,etc then bikeforums.net/g/album/15203286

Anyway, to clear this up, to the best of my memory the first of these custom touring bikes I ran across was in the hike/bike camp at Praire Creek in Northern California probably late 70's to early 80's. That bike I think I recall fairly well. I think it used 650c's and that would date the bike since I don't think 650's were invented until the late 70's or so. The frame was magnificent. My guess it came from Ritchey who was then quite well UN-known outside of Marin and surrounding counties. There were front forks with a 'u' shaped style then. Or maybe they were custom forks? The wheels both had a significant dish to them to accomodate the rear hubs with freewheels. Maybe the hubs were custom to fit a narrow front fork dropout? They were five speeds, that I know.

I don't recall any triple cranks in those days. The idea was to allow for a wider range of gearing by swapping the wheels front to back and vice versa, according to the road or trail surface.

I ran into a few other similar bikes. There were custom frame builders just getting started in those days who probably made lots of one-offs. The bikes that I saw using these dual freewheels were designed specifically for touring - on road and off. But off road touring meant gravel or dirt and not-so-technical trails in those days. There just wasn't a lot of innovation then by the major manufacturers when it came to off road bikes or even long-distance touring bikes. The first Specialized Stumpjumper was sort of a joke compared to what we have available today. I think it was mid-to-later 80's that Specialized gave us their 700c dedicated touring bike which was what we all drooled over when it hit the market. It had the flip-down generator mounted on the bottom bracket for the lights, with the wires running inside the frame. Ritchey and Fisher were just getting started at this time.

The question about front fork spacing is an interesting one. I don't know how the heck they did this, but it was done and it worked. I doubt anyone would have posted any such thing on the internet showing this freewheel arrangment. But the fellow I met at Praire Creek might still be alive and might actually have something to say about his bike. I'm a few months from 70y/o and the fellow I met was somewhat older than I was. We're talking ancient history. If memory serves me, that bike had custom racks built specifically for that beautiful frame. All were a light mint green. I think the paint was Emron but I'm not sure exactly when Emron hit the market. You have to understand that this was a long time ago and memories get mixed up. I'm pretty certain that the details above are accurate, though.

California State Parks instituted the hiker/biker camps for the Pacific Coast Bicentennial route on hwy101 and hwy1. That was in the late 70's. Just tried to attach a pic of the original Pacific Coast Bicentennial map that Caltrans printed, which was a bound book shaped such that it would fit on top of a handlebar bag. Too bad I can't paste a link or attach a photo. I'm sure plenty of folks remember those maps. The original Pacific Coast Bicentennial bike route signs were blue and red on a white background. They all ended up in bike shops, garages, and hanging on rider's walls at home. Everyone who rode that route stole a sign. Caltrans gave up replacing them and so we have the ordinary green signs today. Search Google Images for 'Bicentennial Pacific Coast bicycle' and you'll see a number of riders posing with their pretty stolen signs.

My touring experience in California put me in the right place at the right time to find inspiration for setting up a touring bike that could navigate off pavment. In later years I tended to ride into the far north to get away from civilization. The best 700c bike I put together I will never forget. I think it was in '90 or '91 that Cannondale made their 'ST' frame. It used a mountain bike style U-shaped front fork and the chain stays were relieved so that you could fit a fatter tire than usual. I used the then newly released Specialized Nimbus tires on that bike, maybe 700x45? I built a set of 48 hole tandem wheels for it using Phil Wood hubs. The combination of super-stiff Cannondale aluminum frame (huge eggshell thin downtube) and those bombproof wheels meant that every ounce of pedal pressure went straight to the rear wheel with no flex whatsoever.

I carried 100lbs on that bike at times in Yukon and Alaska. Those rides were challenging. The further north you go, the later the snow melt. You'll be riding dirt roads in the summer with meltwater everywhere. You couldn't filter the silt out of the water so effectively you were riding in desert and had to carry lots of water - plus food, tools, and spare parts. The Cannondale did the job. After that bike I went to 26" wheels. The Fuji I posted pics of in my album is the first 700c bike I've had since that Cannondale. Had to sell the Cannondale to pay for doctor bills. I ended up sort of paralyzed from the waist down just a few weeks after flying out of Anchorage with the Cannondale to get back to Seattle. I was getting snowed on in Alaska. A year later I was able to start walking again. Maybe the fellow who purchased that Cannondale in Seattle will read this thread. His eyes sparkled like xmas lights when he saw the bike. It was one of my favorites.

The next bike I purchased was from the LBS in Seattle's u-district while I was stuck using two of those arm-brace crutches to (barely) get around. The guys in the bike shop thought I was a real whack-job since I couldn't ride the bike, let alone get my leg over it. Some months later I was able to get a leg over and to coast down the alleyway. Eventually I got the legs back and was back touring again doing even more radical off-road tours. Eventually I became worried that attempting to constantly escape civilization was not mentally healthy. That led me to following National Historic Trails. Spent two years doing photography and historical research on the Oregon-California Trail using a Trek aluminum frame with 26" rims and a state-of-the art Manitou suspension fork. How far we've come with suspension! That ancient fork used elastomers - no oil, no air. The bike was loaded with camera gear, maps, books, very early GPS, and all the usual lightweight backcountry gear. Much of that ride was on pavement, but quite a bit was dirt and just plain raw desert and praire. Also managed the Nez Perce trail and Lewis and Clark in subsequent years.

Now, how many of you have tried to get over Lolo Pass using the original native trail? Take it from me, the highway is easier. The big problem with using the Forest Service road and trail route was the lack of water. The native people's had been using that route for millenia. But today the natural springs that made it possible to navigate those mountains have been destroyed by cattle grazing. Water can be a big problem even in places where you think it won't be.

Last edited by ortliebsforever; 09-21-19 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 09-22-19, 04:10 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by ortliebsforever View Post
Well, this is interesting that nobody wants to click thru the albums to easily find the pics I posted...
Here's a link to the album...

https://www.bikeforums.net/g/album/15203286
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Old 09-22-19, 11:32 AM
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I looked when it was first posted. These things take time. Bike tourers are a bit like Ents.
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Old 09-22-19, 11:43 PM
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ortliebsforever
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link to album

Thank you BobG for posting the direct link. Thank you.

I got the urge to post and share and couldn't stop myself. So I quick took some pics. The bike has seen pavement only twice this summer. In my semi-shut-in situation I look at the bike leaning against the living room wall, play with it now and then, and pretty much use it to hang clothes on.

It used to be nice to take leisurely rides down the coast just to plug in with the riders out there. Those days are sorta gone and I tend to ramble like the old man that I am rapidly becoming.

Touring and bikepacking has been my life, along with long-distance backpacking and . . . wait for it: electronics applied to psychology research (EEG analysis, polysomnography) and medical device engineering. And I hate cities. So go figure.
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Old 09-23-19, 04:25 AM
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Those look like very well designed and made clamps to attach the front fork to the suspension stanchions. They look like the tubus ones.
I hope that you can ride regularly again, and at least start out slowly.
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Old 09-23-19, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ortliebsforever View Post
I don't recall any triple cranks in those days...
The French TA Cyclotouriste and Stronglight cranksets were among the few triples available in the 60s & 70s Some of the early MTBs used them before the Japanese products became available. In high school I worked for Mel Pinto Imports in Arlington VA. He was a distributor for both brands and and we shipped out a lot of them.

Photo cropped from my other post at Grab On thread...


TA Cyclotouriste Crankset ^
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Old 09-23-19, 11:26 AM
  #16  
ortliebsforever
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
The French TA Cyclotouriste and Stronglight cranksets were among the few triples available in the 60s & 70s Some of the early MTBs used them before the Japanese products became available.
Thanks for that hint.

I have to say that if components weren't Japanese I didn't know much about them. European bikes fascinate me but not to the point where I ever owned one. I like to haunt Sheldon Brown's site for details on the European bikes.

The history of off-road bikes in the U.S. is quite interesting and I'm learning a lot about it lately just by re-living those days and writing about my experiences. I know that a lot of cyclists have a love/hate relationship with Shimano. For some the only 'love' is in that the Shimano product is easily available. I wouldn't put Shimano and Microsoft in the same sentence (but I did) except that I could never figure out why Shimano couldn't make a component set that wasn't obsolete the day you purchased it.

If it weren't for the availability of Shimano MTB components, though, we wouldn't have seen as many early off-road bikes. The manufacturers were in it for profit, and Shimano gave them inexpensive components compared to the more highly engineered European stuff. Specialized sure did change the face of the U.S. market, that's for sure. Suntour lost out, and Shimano won.

I was happy when I managed to fit the holotech triple on a road frame and actually make it work. I like having a bash guard on the outside ring and using the triple crank as a double.
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Old 09-23-19, 11:44 AM
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ortliebsforever
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Those look like very well designed and made clamps to attach the front fork to the suspension stanchions. They look like the tubus ones.
I hope that you can ride regularly again, and at least start out slowly.
That 2005 fork and those racks have seen a lot of loaded miles on several frames. Mostly the miles are in lockout mode. They still look pretty, though. Got the fork late 2005 from Performance and it killed my wallet even on sale. I never thought I'd get so much use out of it. I would have bagged the Manitou and gone for a later model Fox 29er but nobody has made suspension forks with V-brake mounts for ages. Without the V-brake mounts the rack idea just doesn't work.

Not sure what will happen with that Fuji. Electric assist is a big thing around town. Our LBS sells Trek and they have some great E-bike designs.
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Old 09-23-19, 12:43 PM
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Those TA cranks were never made for the rigors of mountain biking. They were just what was available in the early days. Heck, I've snapped two on road tours! I also use Shimano Hollowtech now.

I found one archived photo of a Tom Ritchey bike with a TA crankset. It may be a wide double...

https://mmbhof.org/portfolio/first-f...rly-available/

youtube close up...


Last edited by BobG; 09-24-19 at 07:06 AM. Reason: add youtube screen shot
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