Posts Tagged bike

Speedhound in Popular Mechanics

That’s right, we’re in the May 2011 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine, in an article titled “DIY Underground.”  In early February, PM’s Associate Photo Editor flew out from Hearst’s New York office to see us and the rest of the crew in the Peacock Groove space.  She brought a local free-lance photographer and his assistant, who took hundreds of pictures, including some hot welding and brazing action.  One photo made it into the article:

Chris Cleveland and Chris Kvale inspect a Speedhound frameThe caption reads “A Speedhound frame built by Peacock Groove gets the once-over from Speedhound designer Chris Cleveland (left) and Chris Kvale – frame builder, neighbor and member of the Minneapolis bike-building community.”

Photo:  Darin Back

 

 

 

 

PM describes the Speedhound ONLY ONE as having a “Swiss Army Knife vibe.”  We couldn’t agree more.  We’d link to the article, but it’s subscription only.  So if you’re at a newsstand in the near future, take a peep at page 77 of the May 2011 Popular Mechanics.  Or better yet, buy the mag.  We hadn’t read it for years, and were pleasantly surprised to see it’s had a major makeover.

Here are some of our own behind the scenes shots of the session:

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Speedhounds love gravel!

Riding and racing on gravel roads have become extremely popular in the last few years.  Road and cyclocross bikes on skinny tires share the country lanes and forest service roads happily with MTBs.  Gravel events are springing up all over the country.  The Speedhound geometry is perfect for off-road adventures where farm dogs outnumber motor vehicles.

Gravel riders face a variety of conditions from dusty hard-packed roads to muddy, rutted lanes that barely qualify as “roads”.  That diversity of terrain requires a different set of skills and a greater attention to the road surface.  Wise gravel riders take corners at much less than criterium speeds to avoid laying the bike down in a spray of pebbles.  Safe drafting distances increase, also.  It’s particularly important to use the brakes lightly – that keeps skidding and slipping to a minimum.  Of course, staying on the right side of the road is absolutely critical, especially on country hills.  Farm vehicles don’t expect cyclists to occupy their lane as they come over the top of those rolling hills and won’t be able to stop or swerve in time to avoid you.  Remember that the speed limit on unpaved roads can be as high as 55 mph.

Accessories can make a major difference in gravel bike performance.  Most gravel riders run at least 28 mm tires with some tread.  Many opt for cyclocross tires if the surface is particularly rough or muddy.  A set of flared drop bars can create a stable ride with multiple handholds.  The shorter drop these bars offer means the height difference between the saddle and your hands is minimized.  Cantilever or V-brakes allow more clearance when mud and dirt collect on your tires.

There’s a world of gravel riding adventure out there.  The Speedhound Only One frameset makes a perfect partner for off-road trekking.  If you’re interested in learning more about gravel riding and racing check out these resources:

Events

Barry-Roubaix – MI

Almonzo 100 – MN

Trans Iowa – IA

Dirty Kanza 200 – KS

 

Websites

Guitar Ted Productions

Gravel Grinder News

 

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ACE Red!

Recently, we built a beautiful ACE Red Speedhound with a Nuvinci internally-geared hub.  it’s a sweet commuter with some beautiful lines and curves.  Pictures of this beauty are up on our flickr stream.

See all the glamour shots here.

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Speedhound Is Going To NAHBS!

NAHBS logoWe are excited to be exhibiting at the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Austin, Texas, February 25 – 27. NAHBS is the world’s largest show for handmade bikes, with over 160 exhibitors expected this year. For a peek at some of the incredible artistry that will be on display, go to www.2011.handmadebicycleshow.com. NAHBS has become a must-attend bike culture event for connoisseurs of fine machines, bike geeks, and industry trend watchers. The show is open to the public and will be held at the Austin Convention Center.

Stay tuned for pics and details on our show bikes and reports from the show.

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What We’re Made Of

Steel is Real

The ONLY ONE frame and fork are made of chromium- molybdenum alloy steel, often referred to as “chrome-moly” or “cro-mo.”  We use True Temper brand for the fork blades and steerer, the main tubes, head tube and seat stays.  Our HouseBendTM chainstays start as straight, oversized 30X16 mm oval-to-round tapered tubes, which we manipulate to achieve our special shape.   This careful forming gives the ONLY ONE generous tire and fender clearance along with the ability to run a 55 tooth Gates belt drive sprocket on a narrow chainline.  We also bend our fork blades in-house, which gives us control over the rake and location of the bend.

The steel in True Temper tubes comes from mills in Pennsylvania, where it’s drawn into seamless, plain gauge stock and then shipped by rail to True Temper’s plant in Amory, Mississippi.  This is where the transformation to lightweight, high-performance bike tubing takes place.  By drawing the steel through dies, rollers and mandrels, the tubing is butted or tapered to suit each location in a bike frame.  After being formed to shape, and depending on the application, the tubes are then stress relieved, heat treated, or air hardened.  We use a mix of True Temper tubes, including air-hardened OX Platinum, heat-treated Verus 4130, and stress-relieved Verus 4130.

The main tubes in the ONLY ONE are double-butted, meaning that the wall thickness is greater at each end than in the middle.  This gives extra strength where the tubes are joined and reduces weight in the middle, thinner section.  The top of the seat tube is externally butted, so the transition in wall thickness can be felt by hand and seen as a subtle increase in outer diameter.  All of the other butts are internal.  The fork blades and stays are taper-gauge, with the wall thickness tapering from one end to the other.

Our selection of tubing diameter, wall thickness and butt length, together with the ONLY ONE’s geometry, gives the Speedhound a ride that’s taught, plush, responsive, predictable, lively, and tough, all at the same time. We’re convinced that modern steel alloys give the best combination of performance, weight, durability and value.  It’s what we’re made of.

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Speedhound’s Graphic Inspiration

At Speedhound, we’ve long had a passion for lightweight British bicycles from the early post-WWII era, when cars were scarce, gas supplies short, and the club riding scene flourished.  There were mass-produced brands, of course:  Armstrong, BSA, Dunelt, Hercules, Humber, Norman, Phillips, Raleigh, Rudge, and Sun, but the really special machines were from the boutique hand builders, particularly in the London area.  Some of the notables included Bates, Gillott, Ephgrave, Hetchins, Hobbs, Maclean, H.R. Morris, and Paris.  You can see some stunning examples from these and many other artisanal makers on www.classicrendezvous.com.

We have to admit that we’ve borrowed a bit of the graphical style from the bikes of  this era.  The headbadge and seat tube graphic of the ONLY ONE draw inspiration from coats of arms, which were a common theme in British commercial design.  Although the font for our downtube decal is more 1950’s Frigidaire than English script, it’s understated and elegant.  Perhaps our best muse is Hetchins, with its heroic cast metal headbadge and seat tube shield wreathed in laurel.  The photos show details of a bike in Speedhound’s collection, a 1956 Hetchins Experto Crede Vibrant in original, unrestored condition.  This old steed still rides wonderfully, a testament to the enduring quality of steel.  For more vintage eye candy, go to www.hetchins.org.

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The ONLY ONE is Short for Its Size

Many factors go into proper bike fit, but one thing is certain – you want to be able to comfortably clear the top tube with both feet flat on the ground!  The distance from the top of the top tube to the ground is the standover height of a bike.  Bike frame sizes are generally expressed as the length of the seat tube, but you can’t assume that two 56 cm bikes will have the same standover height.  A 56 cm frame measured “center-to-center” will be taller than a 56 cm frame measured “center-to-top.”  In addition to seat tube length, other variables that affect a bike’s standover height include bottom bracket drop, slope of the top tube, seat tube angle and the size of the tires.

At Speedhound, we measure frame size from the center of the bottom bracket shell to the top of the seat collar.  The ONLY ONE seat tube extends 30 mm above the top tube, which has a 3.9 degree upslope.  We also use a relatively low bottom bracket (75 mm drop), because we like what it does for stability and handling.  This all adds up to a standover height that is low for the stated frame size.  For example, our 51 cm frame has a standover height of 74.8 cm (29.4 inches), which is lower than the standover of some frames that are sold as 46 cm!  So you could say the ONLY ONE is short for its size.

Speedhound ONLY ONE Standover Height Chart

Frame Size (cm) Standover Height (cm/inches)

51                                                            74.8/29.4

54                                                            77.4/30.5

56                                                            79.2/31.2

58                                                            81.1/31.9

61                                                            83.9/33.0

These standover heights are based on a 700 X 23 tire.  For a 700 X 35 tire, add 0.7 cm (0.28 inches).

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Why belt drive?

Why Belt Drive?  It’s like a human-powered motorcycle!

Belt Drive CranksetThe unique Speedhound Dropout System takes the fuss and muss of chains, derailleurs and chain lube out of the daily commute by accommodating a belt drive.  The unique slot in the dropout receiver makes installation and removal of drive belts a snap.

Why would someone want a belt-driven bike?  There are good reasons, especially for commuters.

  • Low maintenance  - Belts do not rust and are more resistant to debris than chain drives.
  • No grease! – Lubrication is not required, making the bike ideal for commuters – no more pants straps!
  • Light weight
  • Durability
  • Smoother, quieter operation. A belt’s teeth completely engage into the system for decreased friction.

History of the Belt Drive

Bridgestone PicnicaThe Bridgestone Picnica belt-drive bicycle was introduced in the early 1980s. It used a tooth-belt drive like auto timing belts and Harley-Davidson drive belts, along with a novel two-part chainring that increased belt tension with increasing load. The Picnica was a folding bicycle, and part of the appeal of the belt drive was cleanliness. The Picnica was a small wheel bicycle, so belt tension may have been less than on a bicycle with standard-size wheels. The Picnica was apparently successful, but was offered mainly in Japan.

In 1984 and 1985, Mark Sanders, a designer who had earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College, London, designed a folding bicycle as part of his graduate studies in an Industrial Design Engineering program.  He collaborated with a design engineer from Gates Corporation to outfit his bicycle with a belt, rather than a chain.

Possibilities for belt-driven bicycles have widened as hub gears inside the rear hub, were applied. In lieu of a derailleur, the hub gear allows riders of belt-driven bicycles to shift easily. Major internal hub makers include Shimano (Nexus), SRAM and Rohloff.

Suggested belt drive build kit:

The late, great Sheldon Brown posted an excellent summary of belt drive systems on his site.  It’s worth a read.  Check it out here.

Belt drives recently “dropped” with some mainstream press in the NY Times, too.  Read the article here.

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Powder Coating – Why We Don’t Paint.

Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. The main difference between a conventional liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form.

The coating is typically applied electrostatically and is then cured under heat to allow it to flow and form a “skin”. The powder may be a thermoplastic or a thermoset polymer. The most common polymers used are polyester, polyurethane, polyester-epoxy (known as hybrid), straight epoxy (fusion bonded epoxy) and acrylics.  Powder coating creates a hard finish that is tougher than conventional paint.

Here’s a bowl full of Speedhound’s TRO Orange “paint” waiting to be applied.

TRO Orange powder

There are several advantages of powder coating over conventional paint.  In addition to the durability of the coating, this process is very green:

  1. Powder coatings emit zero or near zero volatile organic compounds (VOC).
  2. Powder coating overspray can be recycled and thus it is possible to achieve nearly 100% use of the coating.
  3. Powder coating production lines produce less hazardous waste than conventional liquid coatings.

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Road Sportif Concept Bike photos

We’ve posted several photos of the Road Sportif concept bike featured here last week on our Flickr stream. See it in it’s full glory here.

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