Archive for category Adventures

NAHBS 2015 Here We Come

Translucent candy apple red powder coat and black stove enamel over chrome.

We’re heading the 2015 installment of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Louisville, Kentucky, running March 6 to 8.  We’ll be bringing four bikes, including our Nuovo Cromovalato LWB, shown here.  The finish on this one-off frame is a new twist on an old Italian technique called cromovelato, which used a tinted lacquer over chrome plating.  We’ve updated it with translucent powder coating on the chrome.  “LWB” stands for long wheel base, which this bike achieves with extra-long 47 cm. chainstays.  It’s smooooth and steady, but still carves turns with ease.  We’ll feature this and other show bikes in upcoming posts.

You have to see it shining in the sun to fully appreciate this stunning finish!

Adam T’s Almanzo Gravel Racer

The BT Riders finished their first event of the season, the Almanzo 100 gravel race, four of them on Speedhounds.  Speedhound rider Adam Turman has been riding “Little Red” since August 2012, and never fails to praise the bike.  Here’s how he set up his ONLY ONE for race day:

Frameset:  Speedhound ONLY ONE, 54 cm, in Ace Red

Adam T and his Speedhound "Little Red" moments before the start of the 2013 Almanzo 100 gravel race.

Headset: Cane Creek Forty

Crankset: SRAM Force compact 50/34t, 170 mm, SRAM Team GXP bottom bracket

Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force

Front Derailleur: SRAM Force

Shifters: SRAM Force

Cassette/freewheel: SRAM PG-1050 10spd 12-25

Chain: SRAM PC-1051

Pedals: Ritchey SPD

Brake Calipers: Avid Shorty 6 cantilevers

Handlebars: Salsa Cowbell 2

Stem: Salsa Pro Moto

Little Red, set up for the street. For the gravel race, Adam used wheels with a beefier Mavic rim and 700X30 Challenge Almanzo tires.

Seat Post: Salsa 27.2 mm

Saddle: Brooks B17 (electric blue, black rails)

Front Wheel: Shimano Deore XT 36 hole, Mavic A119 rim, DT 14g 3X spokes

Rear Wheel: Shimano Deore XT 36 hole, Mavic A119 rim, DT 14g 3X spokes

Tires: Challenge Almanzo 700 X 30

Accessories:  Banjo Brothers frame and seat packs

The Speedhound ONLY ONE’s long wheelbase and stable handling proved ideal for the conditions on the Almanzo course.  All of the BT Riders stayed upright and finished in style, even through a challenging stream bed or two.  Trust us, it’s an accomplishment!



We’re Going to Grind Some Gravel

Our branding and Web design crew at  Bicycle Theory pulled together a motley “team” of non-racers to go out and show how to have a blast riding in the new breed of alternative bike races.  We’re the BT Riders, and we’re not out to win anything!  Our Spring Tour begins with the Almanzo 100 gravel race in Spring Valley, Minnesota.  Over one hundred miles on gravel roads.  Ouch, this could hurt!  Fortunately,  four of us will be riding Speedhound ONLY ONE bikes fitted out with puffy cyclo-cross tires, measuring from 700X30 to 700X33.  The extra tire volume and the ONLY ONE’s long wheelbase will help kill some of the sting.  Here’s BT Rider Kristine’s Our Blue 54cm gravel racer, before she swapped the Michelins for a pair of Kenda Small Block Eight 700X32 tires.  Kristine is coming from the MTB world, but she’s been killing it out on the dirt roads on our training rides.  We’ll post a post-ride report soon.  Keep the rubber side down and go your own speed!

Kristine's ONLY ONE gravel racer. The Hed wheels add lightness and the wider rims are a great match for the 700X32 tires she'll ride in the Almanzo.

There's plenty of room for more tire under that Speedhound fork crown. Kristine loves the shape and feel of the new Thomson carbon bar. The assymetric bar tape is just for stylish kicks.

Bike Night 2012 – Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is hosting Bike Night again this Thursday, July 19, starting at 6:00 p.m, and we’ll be there!  A group ride departs for the MIA from Twin Six World HQ at 5:30 p.m.  Or just ride over to the MIA at 24th Street and Third Avenue South in Minneapolis for the cycling scene’s social event of the summer.  Bike Night includes:

  • The opening of the Bicycle Film Festival, with shows at 7:00 and 8:15 p.m.
  • Live music
  • Outdoor cocktail lounge
  • Exhibits by Speedhound, Peacock Groove and other notable home-grown bike frame builders
  • Drawings for bike and swag giveaways
  • Pedal-powered bike art activities presented by Speedhound retailer The Hub Bike Co-op
  • Local bike shop clinics and gear
  • Thousands of Twin Cities bike hipstas!

We’re planning to show some of the great Speedhounds we showed at NAHBS.  See you there!

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Just Ride: A Review of Grant Petersen’s New Book

There’s a high likelihood that you’ve heard of Grant Petersen and Rivendell Bicycle Works.  (Speedhound tends to attract riders who dig steel bikes, and nobody has done more than Grant Petersen to praise the many virtues of steel.)  If G.P. and Riv mean nothing to you, though, it’s your lucky day.  G.P.’s new book, Just Ride (subtitled “A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike”), might just change your life.  As the author says in the Introduction, “my main goal with this book is to point out what I see as bike racing’s bad influence on bicycles, equipment, and attitudes, and then undo it.”

I’d subscribed to G.P.’s Rivendell Reader for years, and whether I agreed or disagreed with his many opinions, the Reader was always entertaining and useful.  G.P. challenged conventional biking wisdom and rejected the racer as a role model.  He gave us permission to raise our handlebars, lower our tire pressure, and leave the Lycra at home.  In large doses, his writing could come off as judgmental and cranky, or sometimes painfully wordy and confessional.  It pulled you in anyway, with a vaguely cult-like vibe you wanted to be a part of, even if it just meant ordering a Rivendell handlebar bag.

The last print edition of the Reader was published in February 2009, and I hadn’t gotten around to reading the two later, on-line volumes until recently.  (Available to download free at  So when I started reading Just Ride, it was like a visit from an old friend.  All of the familiar themes were there, including G.P.’s pet equipment likes: steel frames, lugs, wheels with lots of spokes, puffy tires, flat pedals (not clipless), friction shifters, threaded forks, quill stems, fenders, saddle bags, kickstands, leather saddles, cotton bar tape, shellac, hemp twine, and wool.  Practical, durable stuff, not for racing.

So what’s new?  Part 4 of Just Ride is titled “Health and Fitness,” and G.P. says it’s his second-favorite chapter in the book.  It’s my favorite.  Here are some of the section headings:

  • Riding is lousy all-around exercise.
  • Riding burns calories and makes you eat more.
  • Carbohydrates make you fat.
  • Branch out and buff up.
  • Stretching is overrated.

Wow, G.P. has gone all low carb and paleo!  (He doesn’t use the term.)  It’s offered as his own advice, but it’s really a distillation of, among others, Gary Taubes (Why We Get Fat) and Mark Sisson (The Primal Blueprint) These books, two favorites in my library, are offered for sale on the Rivendell site.  G.P. says “My education will be questioned.  Some will accuse me of making irresponsible, even dangerous claims, and will want to see the studies.  The studies are out there; look them up.  I’ve been careful.  I’ve read everything, seen through the BS, seen the results in others and in myself.  Do what I recommend here, and you will get healthier.”

Believe it.  I’ve followed my own primal lifestyle experiment for almost three years and it works.  You’ll disagree with much of G.P.’s advice when it comes to bikes and riding, but you owe it to yourself to read Just Ride, and when you’re done, Why We Get Fat (even if you’re not) and The Primal Blueprint.  This is life changing stuff.  Now go out and just ride!

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The Case of the Missing Bolts

Or, Don’t Try This At Home!

If you’ve checked out the Speedhound Dropout System, you probably know that the interchangeable dropouts are attached to the frame receivers with standard steel chainring bolts.  These fasteners have the benefit of a large surface area to contact the chainrings and crank spider, or in the case of the SDS, the dropouts and the receivers.  The threads on the bolts don’t come into contact with any of the mating surfaces, and the bolts do a good job of handling shear forces.

Think of a crank spider and chainring as the blades of a pair of scissors, trying to cut through the bolts.  As you jump on the pedals, your power is transmitted from the crank spider to the chainring, which pulls the chain forward.  A large, powerful rider could generate 500 pounds of pulling force at the chain, especially on a small chainring and long cranks.

Once in a while I like to do some sprints to rev up my heart and keep my legs sharp.  I’ll do hill sprints, on the bike or on foot.  Other weeks I’ll just make sure to include some focused accelerations during my rides.  During the winter, I get it done indoors on a trainer, rotating through five spinning CDs.  I aim to average 10 minutes of actual sprinting every week (not counting warm-ups and rest periods).

I rarely get on the “nowhere bike” during the summer, but last week a heat wave hit, and I was feeling short on sprints, so I went down to the cool of the basement to catch up.  I’ve got a fixed-gear Speedhound that I use on a variable-resistance fluid trainer.  It’s got a Gates Carbon Drive belt and 50X20 sprockets and it’s very smooth.

We’re finishing up the development of the production version of a slider-style dropout for the SDS (more on that in a future post).  I needed three chainring bolts for a meeting at the machine shop that’s helping us with the project.  I didn’t have time to go to Speedhound HQ, so I pulled the bolts from the Sugino RD-2 cranks on my Speedhound fixie.

The other day, a panicked thought crossed my mind – had I done my last 40 minute spinning session with only two chainring bolts in the crankset?   Yikes.  I ran down to the basement to look.  Here’s what I saw:

Missing Chain Ring Bolts

The two bolts were next to each other, leaving 288 degrees of the sprocket unsupported. But the sprocket ran true and there were no clicks or any other signs that parts were missing, other than three empty holes.  Nothing bad happened, no sprocket tacos, no noises, nothing different at all.  Why did it work?  Spot-on alignment between the front and rear sprockets, the lateral stiffness of the Gates Carbon Drive belt, the meshing of the teeth and sprockets, and the location of the sprocket centerline to the inside of the shoulders on the spider.  Oh, and the ability of those two chainring bolts to resist the shearing forces as I pedaled.  I’m back to five bolts now.  And please, don’t try this at home!

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The Wolf Pack

The Speedhound OnlyOne™ frameset is an incredibly versatile bike – but it was designed first and foremost for fun! And what’s more fun that riding bikes with your friends before relaxing with a couple of cold ones?

For our third video, we asked the guys behind MPLS Bike Love to send us some fun-loving guys for a group ride. And just to make it interesting, we brought them out to Saint Paul thinking it would take them out of their element. Think again.

Special thanks to Adam Turman, Charles Youel, Matt Appleman, and Ben McCoy for helping us out!


Chris Cleveland (
Ben McCoy (
Adam Turman (
Charles Youel (
Matt Appleman (

Shot and Edited by:
Paul Moehring (

Produced by:
Bicycle Theory (

The JenNastix Experience

One of the most impressive things about the patent-pending Speedhound Dropout System™ is that it allows you to easily and elegantly use a belt drive.

For our second video, we recruited fixed gear enthusiast (and Banjo Brothers model) Jenn ‘JenNastix’ Gallup to put the Speedhound OnlyOne™ frameset with a Gates Carbon Drive to the test. And, oh yes she did!

Jenn Gallup

Shot and Edited by:
Paul Moehring (

Produced by:
Bicycle Theory (

The Tortoise and the Hurl

The Speedhound OnlyOne™ frameset is the only bike to feature the patent-pending Speedhound Dropout System™ – accommodating just about any type of ride style and configuration. To showcase this, we recruited a diverse range of local riders and video-taped their experiences in and around our home towns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota.

For the first video, we started by challenging one of Minneapolis’ most infamous characters, Tom ‘Hurl’ Everson of Cars-R-Coffins to a confrontation with Norman, the red-footed tortoise. We chose the gravel of the Southwest LRT near Chaska, MN so both would feel a bit more at home. Hurl was set up with a geared OnlyOne™ frameset, while Norman was armed with shells of persistence.

Tom ‘Hurl’ Everson (
Norman the red-footed tortoise

Story by:
Chris Cleveland (

Shot and Edited by:
Paul Moehring (

Produced by:
Bicycle Theory (

Wearing a Belt in the Cold

We’ve been wishing for some old-fashioned, sub-zero Minnesota winter weather lately.  The kind where your bike tires squeak on the hard-packed snow and there’s no point to carrying a water bottle, because it’ll be frozen just about the time you want a drink.  The kind where the biggest challenge is keeping your feet warm, so you ditch the clipless pedals and bike shoes and wear your roomiest boots with extra socks.  The kind where your face mask freezes stiff with your own breath and you hope you don’t get a flat, because your hands will be too cold for a roadside repair.

Speedhound with Belt Drive

Our beloved Speedhounds out for some winter fun

So why would we want that?  To test the cold weather performance of a belt drive Speedhound!  Gates says that “the technology behind the Carbon Drive belt has a published temperature range of -65 to +185.  If you’re riding somewhere colder or hotter, we’d love to hear your story.”  Well, so far in 2012, we’ve had exactly ONE sub-zero day in Minneapolis, with a low of -11F (-24C) and a windchill at a balmy -23F (-30C).  It was perfect, so I wheeled out our original Speedhound test mule, with a single speed 50X22 belt drive.  I let the bike sit outside for several hours and bundled up for a ride around town.

Belt Drive Speedhound on a winter ride

One of these Speedhounds loves the cold. The other, not so much.

So how did it go?  After a brief warmup, I jumped on the pedals at varying speeds and ground up the steepest hill in the neighborhood.  I spun as fast as I could with my stiff legs.  Underway, the belt felt – normal.  I thought I detected a slight clacking sound from the belt engaging the cogs, but maybe it was my teeth chattering.  Off the bike, I rotated the pedals backward by hand.  The drivetrain was stiffer than in warm weather, but it was difficult to say how much of the drag was from the grease in the bearings and how much was the belt.  I didn’t perceive any added resistance when riding.    With the bright sun, I could almost imagine it was a July day, except by the time I got back to Speedhound HQ, my toes felt like frozen peas.

Check out the full photo set on Flickr.

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