Thursday, October 2, 2014

Surprisingly Bike-Like

What a strange, strange feeling it is to ride a bike built up around a frame you worked on yourself (clumsily, messily, and under heavy supervision, but worked on nonetheless!) and discover that it rides like a "real" bicycle.

I am not sure what I was expecting exactly. Ricketiness? Handling so wacky that I'd veer out of control before getting half way down the block? A full-on collapse at the joints on the first pedal stroke? Something like that. But this thing I was on felt surprisingly bike-like.

Whether it's a good bike or a bad bike I do not yet know. But oddly enough, the good vs bad does not seem all that important at the moment. It's the bike part that matters. And as a bike, it is remarkably convincing.


It's a bit silly when bloggers complain about being too busy to write. But what the heck, I'll say it: I've had a crazy couple of weeks. And in the midst of that craziness I somehow decided it was time to finally make this bicycle come alive. Scurrying ensued. Forces were mobilised. Problems surfaced. Chaos and despair reared their ugly heads. And then, just as deflated resignation was about to set in, it all came together and worked at the last minute. Out of my head with joy and disbelieve, I rode this functional two-wheeled object for 40 glorious minutes - fenders, handlebar bag and all - before it was taken apart and stuffed into a travel case, to be re-assembled in Ireland. I did not even take a decent photo.

I will write a calm and lucid post about the build, the purpose, the feel of the ride, et cetera, once the bike is back on the road in its new home. For now I have just enough energy to say thank you to everyone who helped me. I am running a mild fever from the mere awareness that this bike now exists. The experience of riding it for the first time is seared into my memory.

54 comments:

  1. Nice! I'll be curious to see how you use it in NI. If you need someone to test it here, please let me know ;)

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    1. You can test how comfy the bike bag is to carry up and down the stairs? :)

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  2. It would seem life has been rather hectic for you recently, as for your bike, it is a very smart looking unit and not many people can say they built their own frame - well done.

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  3. Do you feel like it's a Bike Imposter? Looks pretty Real to me! Congratulations - on the frame and on the build. Sure, you had help but you were (as we say in the legal field) the "controlling mind". :)

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  4. Please compare it to the Oscar Egg that you just wrote about. I could not help but notice the similarities.

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    1. Same wheel size and similar front-end geometry as the Oscar Egg, but lighter tubing and optimised for road vs upright position.

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  5. My friend Matt built a bike with Ant Bike Mike too, he had some of the same apprehensions but if his experience applies here, you probably have a WAY neat bike. It might not say Ant on the headtube but it was conjured under the wand and watchful eye of one of the best torch wizards around.

    Matt's really tuned in and he seems pretty pleased with his(except it did cause him to want to build another, and another, and now he's been lost to the world of normal jobs).

    Spindizzy

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  6. Oh, and by the way, at least from the picture, it looks like a bike I'd cross a busy street in the rain to get a better look at.

    Pretty swell I bet...

    Spindizzy

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  7. You decided not to keep the White Industries crank? Or was it Paul?

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    1. It was WI. Though the drivetrain on the Rawland was functional, I wasn't crazy about it. Can't say for certain whether it was these cranks, or the combination of them with 10 speed Campagnolo, but the setup just didn't feel as effortless as I wanted it to. I already had the RH cranks, obtained through a trade, so thought I'd give those a try on this build.

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  8. Congratulations on your perseverance.
    Seems to me it's always a thrill to find that something you've built yourself actually works and that thrill is addictive.
    What's your next "build project"?

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    1. No more build projects; I'll stick to photographing others' builds!

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    2. If I told you how I know this it would tear a hole in the fabric of space and time and destroy two-thirds of the universe, so forget you’ve even read it (I may not have written it yet anyway), but let’s just say I’ve consulted the runes and some day you’ll build a replica of The Quiet Man tandem (or, well, have one built). Trust me, I see stuff. ;)

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    3. Chills down my spine. Just the other day, a gypsy woman grabbed me by the hand in a crowded marketplace and told me this very same thing.

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  9. It's SO pretty, and SO cool that you built it yourself at one of Mike's classes. I'm a little too far away (California), so I'm cheating by having him build one for me. I've wanted an ANT for many years, and finally took the plunge on a Roadster with 3-speed coaster and front drum brakes. Green, of course! :)

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    1. The Ant Roadster seems like such an anachronism (especially the way you are getting it set up), until you think about how a bike like that wants to be ridden and then it makes perfect sense. Anyone who makes bikes part of their life can use that bike for so much of their riding (at least until they got too old to throw a leg over), and it would be a source of growing pleasure and satisfaction as you put more and more time and miles on it.

      I want one too...

      Spindizzy

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    2. "Anyone who makes bikes part of their life can use that bike for so much of their riding..."

      "So much of their riding" is precisely what this bike is about: I'm not a "cyclist" as most people understand the word these days because I don't cover huge miles; don't have a chance to ride every day; and live too far from work to commute. So most of my cycling is of the "go for a ride" variety, and generally done at a mellow pace. I've always had a soft spot for old English 3-speeds, so this will be kind of a modern homage to them, plus I think a beautiful bicycle built exactly the way you want inclines one to ride more. I can't wait!

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    3. You can go one of two ways in Mike's classes: build an ANT, or build a bike of your own design (assuming Mike approves it). I did the latter, and the difference is important not so much in a "hey, that's MY bike no an ANT" sort of way, but because Mike would not make the same choices for tubing, geometry, etc., on a bike he'd put the ANT name to. Some of the things I did he specifically did not think a good idea, but allowed to be done in his workshop and under his supervision anyway as long as I understood his opinion and acknowledged the risks. So in that sense, it is my own bike that I built with Mike, rather than an ANT bike I was involved in building.

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    4. Ah, that's an interesting distinction. I didn't realize Mike provided a 'build it your way' option. So it's a Velouria frame built with the tools and guidance of Mike. That's cool!

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  10. That build looks very harmonious! Is that your actual saddle height or did you raise it for the picture?

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  11. Great looking bike. And as you've eluded to before, a bike is more then the sum of its parts. I would love to build my own bike some day. something where a little bit of my DNA is pressed into the tubes and joints.

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  12. " I am running a mild fever from the mere awareness that this bike now exists"

    Don't worry, it will fade. On to the next.

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  13. Looks like a different handlebar situation than the Rawland as well. This one being closer to the Seven and away from the bars you've had on every other road bike.

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    1. The Rawland had a threadless steerer, whereas this one is threaded - so the stem could not be moved over. The only threaded stem I had in the house was 110mm, so I decided to use that with some short reach bars I had lying around, achieving a similar overall reach to the Rawland's shorter stem and long reach bars combo.

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  14. I have wondered when this blessed event would happen. Congratulations; from here it looks like a fine build.

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  15. Great Build..Personal Satisfaction...Is Good.

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  16. It is a truly "Lovely Bicycle" Well done!
    Emile

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  17. That's an aggressive setup. Designed for time over pleasure?

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    1. Doesn't feel that way; feels comfortable. Then again I may be unusual in that my back hurts from sitting too upright on a bike.

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  18. Fantastic! It looks pretty wonderful. As Mike 12:14 says, harmonious.

    Is it displayed at the NE Bicycle Builder's Ball tonight?
    That'd be a great piece for ANTbike Mike's area.

    I know exactly what you mean about the disbelief part.
    Expectant that every instrument will implode violently upon stringing up and tuning to pitch, they invariably squawk a bit and learn to be a guitar or bass or uke or whatever in really short order.

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  19. Congratulations! It's beautiful.

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  20. I have a feeling your decision to assemble this bike was influenced by the Providence Handmade Show! Good to have you back in town.

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  21. What saddle do you have on the bike? It looks like one I might like to try on my steel touring bike.

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    1. Selle Anatomica (see review here). There are things I like and dislike about the SA saddles. But one of the positives is that they feel comfortable (to me) without padded shorts, even in a roadbike position. Important on this bike, because half the time I'll be riding it in street clothes.

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  22. This is outstanding.

    Don't you feel like riding only this bike, since you made the frame with your own hands?

    What tubing did you use?

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    1. True Temper, 7-4-7 top tube and 8-5-8 downtube.

      This bike has a specific purpose and I'm expecting to ride it a lot, especially over the cold season. But as a performance bike my Seven roadbike wins.

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  23. Congratulations on getting that whole thing together! It looks great.

    Also, I think I know that feeling. Two summers ago, I repaired/patched my car's brake line, redneck style, for the first time after it blew out on me and it took a few hours ... When I tested it out, it worked perfectly (and has worked for more than year now). I was surprised, but at the same time, I didn't do all the work only to expect it not to function correctly. Kinda funny, isn't it?

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  24. A long route to end up back where you began. This looks so similar to the first of your drop bar bikes, but much smarter. I trust the journey was worth it.

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    1. Yes…Well, except for the cream color tires and tight fender clearance…:)

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    2. Cream tires are OVER. Unfortunately, these are annoyingly durable, so it's cream until I wear them out. I suspect the Irish roads will take care of that over the coming winter.

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    3. "Cream tires are OVER."

      wait....wut?

      650b tires come in something other than cream with gum sidewalls? Crazy talk.

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    4. Ah, interesting. Would love to see a blog post on this subject. What does 'OVER' mean? How have your thoughts changed? I suspect the newer version will also not have a kickstand or twine wrapped around everything. It really is a beautiful build. Kudos.

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    5. Cream tires are over already? And gum? Wait, I never even...

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    6. I might need to wrap twine around the centerpull hanger for certain reasons, but otherwise yes - twine is also OVER. (It's a silly reference to a Portlandia skit, see here.)

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  25. Oh the joy of building, upgrading or simply tinkering, it can bring as much pleasure as riding the bike, certainly at this time of the year and on occasion make the ride even more enjoyable. I guess a similar question is when does a house become a home? For me it’s only when personalised with a painting, an old mirror hung above the hearth or a lick of paint upon a wall that the house slowly starts to close around you like a favorite blanket. When a bike is new or has been purchased second hand someone else has left their stamp upon it, it often feels like a car seat that is slightly ‘off kilter’ and needs that adjustment to become comfortable, somewhere where you can spend a little time. A shorter stem, trusty saddle or even a new bottle cage can start the process of personalisation and with it the candlelight burning of the ‘eternal tinker’.

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    1. My houses, in spite of the paintings, the antique mirror and the paint slung about like snot in a kindergarten, always seem to close in around me like a damp cardboard box rather than a favorite blanket... Probably because I spend too much time messing with the bikes.

      Spindizzy

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  26. Yay, you’ve built it up! Some day soon you’ll be riding around the roads and trails of Northern Ireland when an Irish cyclist pulls alongside and asks you about your new bicycle...
    “I built it,” you’ll say.
    “You mean, you built it up?”
    “I mean I built it.”
    “How do you mean, you built it?”
    “I mean I built the frame.”
    “You mean... you built... the frame?”
    “Yup.”
    “You’re kidding me.”
    “Nope.”
    “What, you mean, like... welded it?”
    “Well, not quite welded. Brazed, actually.”
    “Brazed... They teach you things like that in America?”
    “Sometimes.”
    “You’re some woman!”

    *Heart swells with pride* :)))

    Still, what you’ll need to do is, print out the photo of you filing the frame – the one with you wearing a grey Arran sweater, with your hair tied up – and carry it with you when you’re riding ‘your’ bicycle. It’s the only way they’ll be sure to believe you! :)

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    1. You know, the few people here I've told that so far find it kind of normal, nodding wistfully in an "Ah to be young and brazing things!" kind of way.

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  27. Why did you choose a quill stem over a threadless?

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    1. I'm asking myself that as well. Probably due to some notion of wanting to keep it traditional.

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