State of the Stable 2023 #1

Bruce Gordon Rock’n’Road’n’Road Tour

I bought the frameset used at Christmas time 2022. The stem had been sold, but I got a matching Valentine Red stem from a friend a couple days later. Currently I’m using a slightly taller stem with less reach, but may go back to the red one.

It’s built up with 3×9 parts off the Fitz. XTR rear derailleurs and Ritchey Logic cranks have been signature parts for me since they were current.

A friend gave me (‘gave,’ not ‘gifted’) a set of gray brakes which kicked off the build set: gray PNW pedals and tape, but the tape discolors unpleasantly; gray XTR hubs I built into wheels with DT Swiss A319 rims (cheap wide good); gray Cambium saddle with a cool topo map pattern that looked good with the bar tape when the bar tape looked good.

Frances Cycles custom “light tourist”

I’ve had this bike for almost two years about six years now. Here’s a New Years 2022 update photo:

Frances custom bike – metallic green

People are shocked that it’s ‘new,’ since it’s steelier and beautifuler than most modern bikes. It’s a Frances, out of Santa Cruz, custom built by Joshua Muir for someone who is not me. I like it.

green frances frameset illusion mist powdercoat
What, this old thing?

It checks all my boxes: steel, fillet, gigantic, “all this by hand” custom, built with American tubes and fitments. Also a crazy color I did not pick. Color-matched stem and custom racks. I’ve met the builder and I like him. I think he’s a genius. Have you seen his cargo bikes??

I have three friends that regularly text me links to green bikes “YOU SHOULD BUY THIS.” This one I saw on Craigslist, looking for “custom.” The ad didn’t even say “Frances,” just “custom by Joshua Muir.”

“I know who that is!” I met Josh at a Portland NAHBS, or similar bike show, and fell immediately in love with the bikes and the pretensionless air of his whole presentation. Zero other builders had Nashbar brakes on their bikes. Josh had borrowed back bikes from his friends and customers, and they all had workmanlike quotidian builds, instead of self-conscious overwrought bling like everyone else.

This frame is unselfconscious bling. The color is amazing. It’s a metal flake green called Illusion Mist. The stays are bowed in a trademark way, and the stay ends and custom stem feature whale fluke details. The tubing is all True Temper, because Josh bought up as much as he could afford when TT got out of the bike tube business, and the fitments (dropouts, lugs, crown) are all Henry James or Pacenti. The stem and racks match the frame. Maybe one day I can afford a Wayfarer trailer, painted to match.

Bontrager Enduro Allroad ”gravel bike”

Bontrager Privateer Comp drop bar rigid mountain bike

2023 New Year’s update. Knobby tires, original XT cranks back from the Fitz. I moved the RTP tires to my sister in law’s Trek 930, and I sold off all the XTR cranks and funky bottom brackets, including the XTR/Jericho setup (which would have looked amazing on the Fitz…).


Bontrager Privateer Comp “gravel bike”

2022 New Year’s update. Rat Trap Pass tires, Nitto riser threadless stem, XTR cranks. Unicanitor saddle for all-weather riding. I stole the old-style Bontrager innertube sleeve to protect the seat post slot; I got the idea from the RoadLite, and found old catalog pictures showing other Bontragers with it.


One of my current older project/brainworms is to convert my Bontrager to a fat-tired road bike. Bars are On-One Midge bars with bar-end shifters. I swapped the SID Dual-Air for a Kona P2 canti fork, and bought some phenomenally expensive (for me) Compass Rat Trap Pass tires. I’d been planning the conversion for some time, but changed the fork the day after I rode down Mt Tam and back to the top with knobbies and a suspension fork.

I visited a couple of cool bike shops in Sebastopol, and got some bar tape, since I like to buy something when I visit a shop. Black bar tape replaces the dingy faded cloth tape, looking a little more intentional. Spot the electrical tape fanciness on the stem!


Here’s the “finished” bike, still wanting an LD stem (UPDATE: I tried an LD stem, and it was too tall), and A23 rims for tubeless setup. Maybe a setback (or just fresher-looking) 27.0 seatpost (UPDATE: I got a Thomson post).

Bontrager Privateer Comp with drop bars and rigid fork

I rode it for a week with the rigid fork. Less funky dive in the corners. I like it. I chose the canti-only fork because it’s lighter, I don’t like extraneous bits, and I’m happy with V-brakes on this bike.


This was always a fine bike, and it came with Bontrager-modified King hubs. Keith Bontrager once told an interviewer they were the one piece of kit he wished he had a secret stash of.

Bontrager Privateer with drop bars and suspension fork

State of the Ross Porteur – 10/11/14

State of the Ross 9-30-2014 Left it under the oak tree for six months, the fenders are jacked up, and I sold the front wheel with the matching S3X rear. Sad.

I sold my S3X/dyno wheelset and halogen lights, leaving the Ross without a front wheel (because I didn’t go get one off the pile in the shed and put a tire on it), and I took the chain for the Singular, or maybe the Quickbeam after I rode it on gravel paths in a rainstorm.

Stripping the Ross porteur down. Maybe build it as a road bike?

I had planned to make this into a geared roadbike, with the old SON hub and new IQ Cyo LED headlight, but no derailleur hanger or shifter bosses make it seem better off remaining a fixie. Maybe the Quickbeam needs to become the fendered winter commuter, and the Ross setup as the fixed/free double-single “fast” roadbike.

SOLD: Amazing 56cm Bombadil Frame

Rivendell Bombadil mountain frameset: 56 cm frame
Frame/fork/headset/BB, asking $1200 shipped.
Bought on the 'bay

The seller (friend Pudge) says, “There are some chips and rubs, no dents. If I kept it I would probably have had it repainted, but I’m a bit fastidious about such things.” I read that as “almost flawless,” but I am NOT fastidious about such things. I love the solid blue color for this style of bike. It’s an early Bombadil, with the parallel twin top tube, not the diaga-tube, and without the later “extra” mid-stays.

Interested, click through to comment on the Flickr picture.

If you’re interested in the bike as built, you’re going to have to make an offer, which might necessitate some research to get values on the unique parts build. Ghisallo wooden rims, creme Hetre tires, and the great custom “cats” chainring. Put on your sunglasses, this is awesome.

Rivendell Bombadil glamour shot


56 cm frame; Nitto Lugged Stem, Mini Front Rack and Bullmoose handlebars; Brooks B-17 Select and Plump Grips; Ghisallo beechwood rims; Weigle-modified Campy front and White Industries ENO rear hubs; Bruce Gordon cantis with replacement cork pads to accommodate wooden rims; Paul Canti levers; Stronglight 49D crankset with Bespoke Chainrings “Solida Cats” 44 tooth chainring; Phil Wood pedals; Berthoud Saddlebag and rack; Grand Bois Hetres.

Entmoot Patches

In addition to the tee shirts (and posters, hopefully) for the Rivendell Owner’s Bunch unofficial RBW 20th Anniversary Jamboree and Get Together, I have arranged for “Entmoot*” patches.

These are drawn by me, produced by Falls Creek Outfitters. I’m pretty excited; it’s the first patch I’ve ever designed. I may do a lot more if this works out.

It shows the China Camp derelict boat, to tie it to the 2014 Jamboree, and there are three Quickbeam bicycles.


They represent the three runs of Quickbeams:

And three possible styles of setup:

My first thought was a simple flipping of the jamboree graphic, and replacing its Sam Hillborne with a Quickbeam. But… an Entmoot of one is no Entmoot at all, right? Plus I’ve had this idea of showing multiple setups of Riv bikes for a while. So, with the lower fidelity of patches, and my new interest in showing the handwork in my finished artwork, I busted out a new drawing last weekend. It took longer to color it in Photoshop than it took to draw the bikes.

There were a couple of versions – the first one had worse bikes, and too much blackness.


The second version had the wheels, bike overlap, and front end geometry adjusted, and the ship simplified.

entmoot patch - cleanup

I didn’t know how the “colorway” should go, except for the colors of the bikes.


After leaving the two colorways alone for a couple of hours, I chose the final one. Maybe a little plainer, but definitely clearer, and without the background color coloring the bike colors.

I learned not to outline silver parts (maybe not outline anything) – they get knobbly. Much better to simply make a solid bar for a crank or a stem. Next time.

*Entmoot = Gathering of Ents from The Lord of the Rings. Rivendell’s “Quickbeam” bicycle is named for the ‘hasty Ent’ in that book. So a gathering of Quickbeams = an Entmoot. A nerdery at least three layers deep.

State of the Gravel Roadster 1-24-14

state of the gravel roadster

The Gravel Roadster has given up many of its parts (wheels, bars, brakes and seat) to the Singular Gryphon frameset I’ve been riding for a month or so. I’ll review that bike later, but I want to get some real 29er tires for it. The Gryphon is a mountain bike, and the Gravel Roadster was a road bike. “29er Road Bike” – Can I trademark that?

This is a 43cm Fisher Utopia frame (very light aluminum hybrid) with a Kona P2 fork, single ring and 7 or 9 speed cassette. I’m 6’2″. If I were to build this from blank paper (or an actual budget), it would be exactly the same, but in a larger size. This one frame fits a huge range of rider sizes, and if I can get a longer seatpost and another wheelset I’ll probably resurrect it.

Right now the frame, fork, headset, stem, crankset and seatpost are wrapped up in that Niner box. Any takers? Cheap.

Bruce Gordon’s retail store opening

I sent an email around to the cyclists at work, alerting them to the Bruce Gordon Retail Space Grand Opening, with the caveat that “he has a reputation as a curmudgeon, but he’s always been nice to me.”

I laughed out loud when Bruce came through passing out tiny buttons that said “Bruce Gordon Was Nice To Me!!” He had bags of them, and a pin press for making them.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Someone told me that earlier in the day, Ross Shafer had taken one, looked at it and handed it back. “I can’t take this, Bruce, you’ve NEVER been nice to me!” Apparently they were an answer to pins he’d made years ago, saying “Bruce Gordon Was Rude To Me.” My friend Mark showed me one later, along with a BG Cycles pocket protector.

Bruce Gordon Cycles "where the touring nerd is king." POCKET PROTECTOR!

I’ve met Bruce at a couple bike shows, but introduced myself as a friend of some of his old Dempsey’s friends (see above). After hearing some good Bruce stories (“You can’t afford one of my bikes – CLICK”) around the (Dempsey’s Red Rooster and PSA) beer kegs, it seems that a beer connection might start things off on a much better footing than a bike connection.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

The bikes are great. I saw them at a NAHBS, and bought a CD of excellent photos of them (“I paid five dollars for a HEINEKEN on the train – I think I can buy a $5 CD of bike pictures.”) It was very cool to see them in a smaller venue (if you will).

The retail space is extremely small, with Two Fish, White Industries, Bruce Gordon and Honjo items for sale. Nice stuff. MOAR!

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

After looking at all the bikes twice, once for the overall effect of 37 years of bikes, one bike a year, all in Bruce’s size, and then again to see the details, I drifted around the shop space, then hung out by the keg as the head of the Sonoma County Bike Coalition held court.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Integrated seat mast?
Bruce Gordon, 1977.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Road-going fixed gear? Single brake, bell, light, rack?
Bruce Gordon, 1980

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Green tigerstripe mountain bike with a fastback seat cluster?
Bruce Gordon, 1983

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Flintstones bike?
Bruce Gordon, 1,000,000 BC

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

In addition to bikes, I like shops.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

There was some cool engine-fancy happening. My first car was an MGB, my dad had (has) a Triumph motorcycle, Angelina has a Vespa, and we were married in a hearse, so I had some things to talk about on that front, too.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening
Bruce Gordon retail store opening
Bruce Gordon retail store opening
Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Around the kegs, we chatted about hiding new bicycles in friends’ garages, Cadillac engines vs flathead Fords, and how long people keep riding the same bicycle. Gary (king of the tap) said, “My wife is still riding the bike I made for her when I owned Merlin.”



I chatted with Maurice Tierney (he lives around here now), and he encouraged me to contact the new Dirt Rag art director, and maybe do some more illustrations for them. I said I would, but I haven’t.


State of the Quickbeam 12-21-13

First day of Winter… 58 degrees tonight sitting on my porch in California. It’s been a while since I documented my bikes; the Quickbeam has C-Lines and thornflickers, but it’s about the same. Except no fenders or lighting, since it never rains here and never gets dark. So… pretty much totally different. The weight of the bike as shown is 25.5 lbs.

I went for a little spin around downtown, the JC, and the MacDonald neighborhoods. There are Snoopys all over town, since Charles Schultz lived here.

The Quickbeam currently has a 44t ugly Rocket Ring, a 15t D/A cog and a 17/21 Surly Dingle cog. With 37mm Soma C-Lines, it’s geared with 80″, 71″, and 57″. I think the 44t ring is going to move to the Gryphon to replace the 48t ring, which means the Ross will probably give up a ring or two, or I’ll just put the stock 40/32 back on the Quickbeam. This Arabesque 600 crank belongs on the Ross anyway.


I still love the WTB dirt drops on the Quickbeam. The tape faded, and the shellac turned it white in the rain. The Salsa stem might need a respray with the Plasti-kote “Shamrock,” if I can get another can.


The Soma C-Lines are very nice tires. I didn’t like the Tektro 720s when I first got them, but they improved greatly with Koolstop pads. I put the original low-profile brakes back on the rear, though, since these hit my heels. I think every Quickbeam should have a Nitto M12 rack. It connects to the canti posts for a clean look, and it’s very strong. I use a basket, attached with hose clamps. Other people use zip ties, but I don’t trust ’em.


Stock Tiagra brake levers on the WTB dirt drops. The gray plastic bit on the right lever broke and disappeared a couple years ago. I was going to replace it, but it doesn’t seem to matter.


Front view. Quickbeam badge, Wilderness Trail dirt drops’ sexy swoop, green Brooks Special saddle in the background.

Side view. The bike-holder-uppers were sourced from Rivendell. This is the first time I’ve used two on one bike.


Interesting Bontrager for sale

Our friend Cyclotourist has a Bontrager in Redlands CA that he wants to sell for a good cause (rent for the bike coöp).

Is it a Race? Race Lite? Privateer? It’s loaded with XTR, the hubs are Ringlé, and it has a Marzocchi Bomber fork (uncut steerer, new looking).

Yes, I want it.


Silver, slanted decals.


Prettiest crank I’ve seen in a while, and USA stamps on the chainring.


According to Yojimg, he of the Bontrager Info Page, tube gussets at the bottom bracket make it pretty clear it’s a Race. The head tube isn’t relieved, though, so it’s not a Race Lite.



Further, he says:

That looks to me like a size XL post-1995 made-in-Santa-Cruz Bontrager Race.  Here’s why:

1. The seat stays use the later single-piece design, which I believe dates it to 1995 or later.
2. It still has the canti-brake cable stop, meaning it’s older than 1997-98.
3. The top tube is very nearly horizontal, and the mono-seat-stay is quite long, meaning it’s bigger than a size L.
4. 1-inch steerer tube.
5. The front of the head tube is not milled, so it’s definitely not a Race Lite.
6. The rear dropouts don’t look forged (like this: so I don’t think it’s a Privateer.  Also Trek-built Privateers never came in that color or with that color of decal.  However, it could be a repaint/repowder.
7. True top-pull front derailleur (without a cable pulley to redirect 180º for a bottom-pull front) so it’s later than 1994.
8. The TT and DT gussets at the HT look a little different than others I’ve seen.  As such, it might be a Privateer, but I don’t think so.
FWIW, the serial numbers likely don’t mean squat.  The story I heard was that they literally stamped random, 4-digit numbers on the dropouts before they were welded to a frame, and just tossed them in a box.  My ’93 RL is 0423, while the ’94 Race I had before that was 2494.
Most of what I know about Bontragers can be found at

I love the idea of unique identifiers thrown in a box for future use. “Yes, they’re unique. No, they don’t represent a fixed date. Why the fuck would you care?” It’s like an ISBN. It does the job it needs to do. Don’t overthink it.

Many thanks to my awesome friends. I hope one of you buys this Race for $1000 and makes me sorry I didn’t snap it up at $600.


andy, wade, joseph,et al., originally uploaded by BikeTinker.
There are a couple of things I’ve been missing about Oregon*, and proximity to Portland is one of them. The super happy guy on the far right (really, I’ve never seen him NOT look like that) invited me to the Oregon Handbuilt Show (and secret pre-show Builder’s Ride** – how cool is that?), but I had to pass, since I’m back in California, and I haven’t saved up a jet-set weekend fund yet.
I should have put this up earlier in the week, like when I was home sick, but Sunday is the best day, seriously.
*Riding my bike above Rainbow Lake with the dog. Rain. Snow. McMenamins, Powells, Little Big Burger, Floating World Comics. Handmade bike pride. Pretty much everything else is in the “I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t trade back” category. Sorry.
** It’s not secret.
Strawberry, Vulture, Ahearne, Pedal Nation