Bicycle builders generally use quite a bit of sophisticated tools to make their bicycles. Most of those tools have been around for quite a long time.
The builders use jigs for the frames. They can bend and shape the materials, if they are a metal of some kind, perhaps titanium, steel, or aluminum. The jigs are complex and very cool. I saw several at the National Handmade Bike Show a couple of years ago, when it came to Sacramento, California.
For other materials, the jig provides a template for other, non-metal materials. Bamboo and carbon frames have to start somewhere, and a good model to work from is necessary.
A lot of and welding, some of it pretty specialized, comes into play, along with brazing, to get metal pieces to hold together. This is welding and brazing that has to look very good when it’s finished. You can’t cover up a bad weld or braze.
All of this is known and old technology. It works. It’s worked for what seems like forever. That may be about to change.
3D printers have hit the news in the last few years. The technology has been around since the 1980′s. The first working 3D printer was made by Chuck Hull in 1984. He worked for an outfit called 3D Systems, Inc.
In 2010, these machines became commercially available. Their value is obvious, as the 3D printer and services market in 2012 was estimated be $2.2 billion worldwide.
It’s a pretty interesting process. The short version is that the printer lays down layers, which build up to produce the 3D product.
The technology has come to bicycles. Bicycles made with a 3D printer. Fascinating.
The frame was printed in sections, using titanium alloy that was then sleeved and bonded together, which, the company says, “…offers several advantages in design freedom, construction and performance.”
Starting with a basic design, they remove material from areas of low stress. This ends up with a new design that is both lightweight and strong.
Bicycle manufacturers typically will go through a few designs before settling on one that will be built for riders. It can be a somewhat long and expensive process.
With the 3D process, these design changes are much faster and more flexible, allowing a finished design to come to market more quickly.
They used a Renishaw AM250 laser melting system to “print” the frame. Using titanium alloy, the frame is strong, durable and lightweight. According to Renishaw, “…additively manufacturing the frame using titanium makes the parts denser–and thus stronger–than if they were cast.”
It’s what cyclists all around the globe look for. A strong, lightweight bike that will stand up to whatever riding they do. With a 3D printer, using a titainium alloy that is laser melted, the frame pieces can simply be whatever they need to be, and that is, always in cycling, strong, durable, and lightweight.
How extensive this technology will be in bicycle manufacturing is anyone’s guess. It could be a tool for very custom bikes. It could just as easily be a tool for less custom bikes too.
There will always be a place in the custom bicycle world for frames that are first designed on a scrap of paper, transferred to a CAD program, and then laid up on a jig and expertly brazed and welded together, or put together with layered carbon or expertly cut bamboo.
Everything changes over time, including how bike frames are made. Amazing.by papa with no comments yet
This Saturday, December 21, at about 9:11 a.m., autumn bows out for the year. Winter officially makes its debut. Despite all the weather guessers touting “winter weather” and “ooh, it’s wintery cold outside”, the facts are that winter starts in December, every year, not November.
The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year. This is a big day for all of us outdoor types. The need to keep lit, as in bike lights and so on, continues. The day and night hours won’t be equal till the Vernal Equinox in March.
The way the light filters through everything at this time of year makes for some pretty muted scenes. The earth is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun, so the light has to shine through more things than in summer. Those things are trees, bushes, and buildings.
It doesn’t matter how you chose to make yourself more visible, it only matters that you do. There are far too many riders who pedal in low light and plain dark conditions wearing dark clothing, no lights on their bikes, and riding against the traffic on a street. There’s no polite spin on this. It’s just plain stupid.
That type of riding puts everyone in a bad spot. Drivers can’t see the riders well, if at all, until they are right on top of them. Car vs. bike crashes don’t work out well for the bikes. Riders simply put themselves in the Grim Reapers crosshairs.
Keep the lights lit. Wear gear with reflective tapes and logo’s. Ride with traffic. If you able, stay off the streets at night. We didn’t live this long by ignoring too much of reality. Some maybe, but not the really obvious stuff.
Enjoy these last really wonderful days of autumn. On Saturday, you may start enjoying the early winter days. Ride on!by papa with no comments yet
Winter won’t roll in for another two weeks. December 21 is the Solstice this year, with the first full day of winter on the 22d. That hasn’t stopped the cold weather from racing in though.
Much of the U.S. is dealing with a pretty good deep freeze right now. What now? Put the shorts away would be the first thing.
Riding in the cold can be a bit more a challenge, especially if it is really, really, cold, say, less than 20 degrees. What’s a rider to do, especially a rider of a certain age?
Bundle up. That’s the long and short of it. People who live in the colder states don’t just quit riding when the weather goes far beyond chilly.
You do have to take a bit more time getting ready. Putting on the layers that will keep you warm on your ride takes a bit of thought and time, more so than in the warmer months.
First, you need a base layer, which translates to long johns. These aren’t the Bronco Nagurski lj’s that Click and Clack talk about. Synthetic or wool, wool blend, lj tops and bottoms, along with wool blend or synthetic socks kick off the layers. Leg warmers are good for some. Wool, wool blend or synthetic, please. Your cushie tushies are already synthetic, no worries there.
Next comes the windstopper gear. Some kind of riding tights or pants that have the ability to block wind. Again, synthetic or wool blend is what’s called for. Another top, topped by a windproof but light weight jacket comes next., depending on the cold. The layers are building, and for good reason.
Taking care of your hands is a pretty good idea. Thermal gloves work. A pair of wool blend/synthetic glove liners, topped by ski gloves works pretty well.
Your head needs some protection, other than your helmet. A beanie of some kind, preferably windproof, is good. One that covers your ears is great if you don’t have those cool synchilla type ear muffs. Cold ears, ones that hurt because of the cold, can ruin your ride.
Get a cover for you helmet too. Shoe covers may be necessary.
Notice that everything you have on should be wool, a wool blend, or a synthetic material. Cotton just doesn’t cut it for the outdoors. Combine cold with wet, and any cotton clothing, from your underroos to your beanie, are going to quickly become a liability, a very uncomfortable, and potentially, dangerous liability.
For Boomers, or anyone else, in the really cold spots around the country, you know you’ll have to gear up even more.
Why layers? Simple. If you get too warm, shed a layer. Put it back on when the cold starts to bite again. Rule of thumb: if you are too warm when you start, you’ve got too much on. Riding will quickly build up some body heat.
This doesn’t entail a bank emptying trip to the gear shop. You may already have most of what you need. Anyone who plays in the snow is ahead of the game.
The most important thing: a great big dose of common sense. Freezing to death because you didn’t check the weather report kind of ruins the whole thing. Too cold? Stay in, ride the trainer, or just wait for a better day.
Winter riding is pretty wonderful, as long as you’re ready for it. Ride on!
by papa with no comments yet
Daylight savings time is over, for now. I’ve never understood the reason for it, and if it ever was a valid reason, I can’t imagine that it is now.
What comes along with autumn is diminishing daylight hours. Throw standard time in, and the time we have to ride about in adequate light drops just a bit every day. This will continue till the winter solstice, around Dec. 21.
Keeping in mind that most of us in the geezer and geezerette range no longer have the 20/20 vision we used to have, it’s obvious that we need to pay attention to the light later in the day.
Not only does it get darker earlier, the angle of the light changes too. Things are just a bit more muted out there as the day progresses. What’s important is staying safe out on the roads and trails.
First thing to do is change the batteries in the front and rear lights on your bike. If you don’t have lights, get some. The only people I know who would hurl at this suggestion are the elite racer types. We all know that I, and most of us, don’t have a toe in that pool, so get lit.
You can pick up lights at your local bike shop, or REI, at reasonable prices. The red one goes in back, in case you are confused. Those lights, with good batteries, especially in the flashing mode, can be see by motorists very easily, even in good daylight hours. I turn on the lights on my bike before I get on.
Mountain bikes need to be lit too. If you are an avid mountain bikeist, you just might find that the light can come in handy if you find yourself out on the trails with the sun starting to dip below the tree line.
The whole point, always, is to be as visible as possible, at all times. If the people driving cars are able to see you, your chances of staying safe go way up. Light your bike. Ride on!by papa with no comments yet
Ah, the joys of autumn. The trees putting on the their annual color parade, riding through fallen leaves, eating more warm pastries than we should–it’s great.
It’s also getting darker earlier. Slowly but surely, the light fades out just a bit earlier every day. Soon, taking off for a ride at around 4 p.m. will be a bit sketchy.
Since those of us in the more mature group, or so we think anyway, may already have some vision issues, riding in fading light can be a bit of challenge.
Considering that Boomers are also driving in fading light, it seems important to shout out my yearly blast about lighting up your bike. It doesn’t take much brain power to understand the results of a car hitting a bicycle. Bikes lose, it’s that simple.
I don’t race, and am unconcerned about whether I am in the super cool crowd who wouldn’t ever put lights on their bikes. They weigh too much, they produce drag, and other very elite arguments, just don’t have anything to do with me.
My bikes have lights, road and mountain, front and back. Before I saddle up, the lights go on, every time. I don’t ride in fading light or in the dark. I do have to say that, once, on what was supposed to be a “group” ride, I ended up riding half of it in very poor light, by myself. I didn’t appreciate either the dark or the alone part. I was quite happy I had lights on my bike though.
The reason most of us wear brightly colored jerseys and so on is so that we will be seen by the motoring public. It’s good to be seen. I wear the colorful jerseys, and I have bright flashing lights too. I got hit once. Didn’t like it.
Not only do I have the lights, I actually change the batteries twice a year. As I said, being seen while on the road is good.
As we ride into the wonderful light of autumn, remember to light up. No excuses. Our older bones don’t need any auto hits.
Suit up, turn the lights on, and ride on!
by papa with no comments yet
Autumn blew in with gusto last Sunday. Wind, rain, snow in the mountains. Perfect. I hope wherever you are that the start of this fine season was as good as what we got in the Sierra.
Things do change with the arrival of autumn. The days grow shorter, cooler. The angle of the light changes. The smells of autumn are different. It is really nice.
One of the joys of autumn riding where I live is being able to ride through the leaves that fall. The crunch, the snap, the pure joy of it is hard to beat.
Once or twice, more if I am lucky, the wind will kick up just enough to let loose a shower of leaves as I am pedaling along a forested road. I ride along through the falling leaves, and come out the other side, wanting more of the same. It’s too much. I just laugh.
Down in Sacramento, the city of trees, I imagine the same thing happens. I have to imagine that the reaction is just about the same too. The pure joy of riding goes up when riding through leaves.
For all of us of a certain age, these kinds of things reach deep into our past and touches a part of our childhood from long ago. Maybe, even if it’s just for a few seconds, we are privileged to experience pure joy, no strings attached.
It’s wonderful. Ride on!by papa with no comments yet
Interbike, a massive and wonderful gathering of retailers and vendors of all things bicycle, is held in Las Vegas every year. It’s mostly in the middle of September, and the general public doesn’t get to go. You do, however, get to see the blog, and it is worth seeing, so take a look at Interbike 2013.
Now on to Autumn! This wonderful season arrived in our area at 1:44pm on September 22. The days are slowly growing shorter, the nights longer. The temperatures, are, for the most part, cooling down. This is especially true in the mountains. It snowed down to 6,500 feet on the equinox. Love it.
What a great time to ride. The trees are getting ready to put on their “…dresses of red and gold…”. Where I live, in the mountains, one of the best things about autumn, on a road or mountain bike, is riding through the leaves that will steadily coat the roads, paths, and trails around here. It’s just magical. Boomers need a bit of magical now and again. A bit of childhood wings its way into our lives with the winds of autumn.
Wonderful. Just wonderful. No matter your age, this is perfect bike riding weather. Put your helmet on, throw your leg over the bar, and start pedaling your way to a very big smile. Ride on!
by papa with no comments yet
We have about two weeks of summer left. The Autumnal Equinox is on September 22, at about 1:44 p.m. PDT. The dog days of August are over. Nothing to do with dogs by the way. It’s simply when Sirius, the dog star, launches onto the night stage in the sky.
Schools are in session. The weekends are devoted to football and homework, plays, music to be learned and so on. What that leaves is fewer people out on the trails. For those of us of a certain age, this is good. We aren’t as likely to be passed up by a young person in the single digits of their life. Really, when a 9 year old blows past, and you are already working hard, it just isn’t fair.
Bike shops will soon be looking to draw down their 2013 inventory further than they already have. The 2014 uber wonderful bikes are on the way, and there has to be room for them. It’s time to look for sales, and to bargain when you’re buying.
It’s also time to realize that the daylight hours are very subtly shortening. Beginning on September 23, the subtle aspects will start to disappear. Long late afternoon rides are still possible for a while. What we will all face though is fading light earlier in the afternoon. Bike commuters especially will have to deal with this.
It’s time to make certain the batteries in the lights on your bike are fresh. Riding about at dusk without good lights isn’t very smart. It’s a good thing when cars are able to see you.
It’s a wonderful time of year to ride, no matter where you are. All you have to do is saddle up and start pushing the pedals. Ride on!by papa with no comments yet
The Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest has blanketed a rather large area to the north of the fire with smoke. A lot of smoke.
I’ve been able to ride 3 times since the fire started. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, we have not much smoke, or quite a lot. The Tahoe basin simply gets socked in. The smoke settles into the basin, and stays there unless the wind blows the right way.
Where I live, at 4,000 feet on the west slope, outside the basin, the smoke overnight and in the mornings can cause outdoor rec types to wait till later in the day to do anything. Again, depending on the wind direction, maybe it’s OK to ride/hike/kayak/run and so on. Maybe not. I can’t imagine what it’s like in Tahoe. We haven’t gone up there since the smoke arrived.
Going out full bore in this stuff is pretty nuts. I figure that if I can see the smoke all around me, it’s a no go day. I just look down the street, then up into the trees to figure out what to do. There isn’t any gain in gutting it out.
Respiratory issues can pop up pretty quickly, especially for those of us in the Boomer years, or anyone with any kind of respiratory issues. Headaches and burning eyes are the least of it.
The fire will be controlled, and slowly smolder out relative soon, and the smoke will fade away. That’s when I’ll feel OK to saddle up and turn the pedals. Best advice for everyone in the Sacramento valley is this: stay in the valley. The foothills and mountains aren’t good right now.
The Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association has had to postpone the Rose to Toads mountain bike ride, a 60 miler through the mountains from Mt. Rose to the famous Mr. Toads trail on the south shore. It’s been rescheduled for September 22.
Yes, it’s that bad. If I want to ride, I’ll have to head to Sacramento.by papa with no comments yet
Recently, I wrote about a pedestrian who was hit by a drunk bicyclist in Truckee, on July 4. On July 9, the gentleman who was hit died from his head injuries.
About 3 days ago, there was an article in the Sacramento Bee about another cycling accident. Seems a cyclist ran a stop sign, and was hit and seriously injured by a car which had the right of way. Both of these accidents were completely preventable. I don’t know if the stop sign running cyclist has survived or not.
It is distressing to be in the Sacramento area, Folsom to Mid-Town, Downtown, Roseville, Granite Bay, Citrus Heights, and so on, and observe so many cyclists simply ignoring the rules of the road. I ride, a lot. I stop at stop signs. I actually signal my turns. I don’t think it takes any more brains or energy to ride safely.
Now, I may not look like a Tour de France rider, or a club rider, or a model for spandex, but I do know that, gray beard and all, the rules of the road apply to me and every other bike rider out there.
I stink at math, but simple physics tells me that since my bike and I weigh less than the average set of tires on a car, I will be the clear loser in any crash with an auto of any kind.
A very long time ago, while in my teens, an older driver, stopped at a stop sign, decided that it was OK to pull out into the main road, where I was riding, and had the right of way. He looked right, then left, right at me, then forward, and, gripping the huge steering wheel with both hands, pulled right on out.
I had no chance, although I vaguely remember slamming on the brakes and attempting to swerve out of his way. It didn’t work. I was T-boned, meeting the great chrome bumper on his great big tank of a car, and subsequently greeting the pavement, where, fortunately, no other cars were travelling. I didn’t enjoy the experience very much, nor did my bike. Physics and experience are at work here.
There is no excuse for any rider to ignore stop signs, stop lights, pedestrians, or any common sense rules. Those who do endanger all of us. There are already too many car drivers who’d rather we didn’t ride. Pay attention. Being an idiot on a bike is a losing proposition. Wise up.by papa with no comments yet