October 24, 2011

Klein Pinnacle part II

After thinking about which way to take the build of my Klein Pinnacle i came across a post on a vintage mtb forum about a converted Cannondale. The whole idea about that converted Cannondale was to make a bike in the spirit of the bikes made by Charlie Cunningham.  That meant talking an old u-brake compatible Cannondale frame and fit all kind of components on it that Charlie might have used. The result a Canningham! After studying the concept a bit more i also came across the Kleiningham which is the same idea but than with an old Klein frame!

So there it was the concept for my Pinnacle a Kleiningham. The problem straight away was that i do not own or want to own any of the components that are usually to be found on a Cunningham. What i do have is some very nice IRD parts and a stack of components to build a few bikes. The build was on!

The frame was stripped of it's paint and the fork refinished in satin black. The frame was sanded down for a few hours until raw but smooth. The rear wheel i had was 135mm spaced but the frame needs a 130mm spaced wheel. I changed some spacers on the rear axle and made it fit without the wheel needing to be redished. The catch was that a normal cassette wouldn't fit so i use five speeds. The rest is all standard.

Frame: Klein Pinnacle
Fork: Klein Spinner
Headset: Shimano Deore DX
Stem: Nitto Dirt-drop
Handlebar: On-One Midge (finish stripped)
Levers: Shimano
Tape: Cinelli cork
Seatpost: IRD
Seat: SDG Bell-Air cromo
Seatbolt: Shimano
Front brake: IRD Switchback
Rear brake: IRD Rotary
Bracket: Klein
Cranks: Shimano Deore XT 180mm
Chainwheel: Surly 40 teeth
Pedals: Cranks Bros Egg-Beater SL
Chain: Shimano
Cassette: Shimano 5 speed
Hubset: Shimano Deore XT
Quick releases: Slow-release
Spokes: Stainless
Rims: Araya RM-400pro
Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore XT (short cage)
Tires: Ritchey Tom Slicks 26"x1,4" (use it on the road until next spring)

September 12, 2011

Klein Pinnacle

Already a steel bike, the high-end Specialized S-Works, I lusted for something else, something different. Being an avid follower of several vintage bike forums and blogs I came across the amazing aluminium bikes made by a guy called Charlie Cunningham. These bikes made in the eighties and beginning of the nineties where ahead of their time and are a complete statement of the builders philosophy and skill. I would suggest a visit to the site: www.cunninghambikes.com for all the info about Charlie and his bikes.

Owning a Cunningham is a different story all together! Besides being very rare and extremely collectable, read expensive, the bikes do not give the owner the possibility of tinkering with it. The philosophy behind it is so strong every change will be an insult to it. Being a tinkerer these bikes are like art, great to look at but no obsession to own it!

Another important feature of the new bike is the possibility to mount my IRD Switchback and Rotary brake on it. This means that the frame needs rear u-brake mounts!

Walking to the station with Noah after our meeting in Amsterdam I told him what i was looking for in a bike and that I was thinking about owning a Klein Pinnacle. He advised me to go get one and that there was one for sale on ebay in a big size. Being the only one bidding on it I am now the proud owner of a Klein Pinnacle build up with components from IRD, Shimano Deore XT, Specialized, Scott/Pederson and Dia Compe. The paint is non original by Cyclart so perfect for me to tinker with and customize!

Already the thinking has started to decide which way to take it!

August 31, 2011

Specialized S-Works revisited again...

As you can now imagine, with a post like this, half of the bike fun is tinkering with setups. If the setup is not to ones taste a quick change of components can make all the difference.

About a month ago i had the opportunity to meet, complete bicycle nut and nice guy, Noah aka Bushpig when on vacation here in Holland. Noah probably owns the most amazing mountain bike collection you can imagine specializing in the bikes and components made by a guy called Charlie Cunningham and also runs a website dedicated to him. Besides being a fan he also is close friends with Charlie and his wife the legendary Jacquie Phelan.

Charlie Cunningham was part owner of a company called WTB which made some of the best components and bikes possible. Together with IRD i actually rate them as the most innovative company in the history of mountain biking. The bike they made was a steel hard-tail called the Phoenix which Jacquie rode besides her Cunninghams. For some reason Charlie left WTB in a bad way and the Phoenix was un WTB'ed and made a single speed for a new event called the SSWC or Single Speed World Championships in which Jacquie competed. Jacquie never won the race but actually won the price for the oldest bike in the competition, the price... a custom build frame!

The Phoenix was painted pink and all the references to WTB where masked by adding black tape, this probably to make everyone aware some love was lost between them. The other side of the frame has a big sticker saying "single speed outlaw".

Well to end this strange story Noah ended up buying it from Jacquie and put some amazing pics of this legendary bike on the net. To me this bike sums up mountain biking: it's raw, it's simple, it's independent, it's been used hard and the gearing just hurts my knees by looking at it.

Revisiting the S-Works again I was inspired by the pink bike and changed it in to a single speed. The rear derailleur, cassette and sti-unit where removed and a single cog with spacers, a tensioner and a normal brake lever where added. Now of course it lacks all the things that makes the pink bike a legend but the idea was there, really!

Noah i hope you don't mind me posting your picture of this amazing pink bike. It rocks!
(And yeah i know i need to mow the lawn...)

July 30, 2011

Specialized S-Works revisited

After riding the S-Works as a road bike for the last few months i have decided to refit it again as a mountain bike. The slicks didn't to it justice so it was time to rebuild. So i pulled out the Panaracer Smoke and Dart combo from storage and fitted a smaller chainwheel with 36 teeth. The stem was pulled out a bit and a mountain cassette was fitted. It will go a bit slower than before but at least it is a mountain bike again!

Portable stargazing setup

Besides liking to photograph the nights sky i sometimes just want to watch it directly through my telescope. This because getting the setup ready for photography takes a lot of time and care.

The setup i use is highly portable because of it's low weight and bulk. It consists out of a Vixen Porta mount and a Stellarvue SVR 80ED Raptor telescope with a Stellarvue diagonal and red-dot finder. The used eyepieces are Vixen NLV 20, 15 and 10mm.

The Vixen Porta mount came with my first telescope set i ever bought. The telescope it came with was crap but the mount is very nicely made. It is an altazimuth design meaning that for tracking objects you need to adjust both axis of movement. It's perfect for lighter telescopes heavier ones will cause to much vibrations and flex in the legs.

The Stellarvue SVR 80ED Raptor is a refractor type telescope meaning that it uses lenses in stead of mirrors for gathering light. It is also an apochromat with a doublet type lens. What that means is that it uses a lens that consists out of two glued together lenses. This ensures that the different frequencies of light will all come together in focus. They will refract to the same point ensuring that the color will be true. The lens has a diameter of 80mm and is housed in a carbon tube making it light and very usable.

June 15, 2011

IRD Switchback

They alway come in pairs...

As i wrote before i'm a bit of a nut when it comes to the component designs of a company called IRD or Interloc Racing Design. Especially the brakes are very well thought out and are very powerful to use. Already owning the Rotary and the Widget brakes the third one, the Switchback, was still missing. So you can understand how happy and amazed i was when not one but two of them popped up on eBay. One was a later version which, like the Widget, was drilled and shiny and the other an early version in black without the holes but including an IRD brakebooster. I straight away bid on both and won the early black version. 

The idea of the Switchback is to apply the brake power via a wire that is wrapped around two small wheels which are fixed to the brake arms. When pulling the brake-cable up, applying the brake, the wire around the two small wheels will make them rotate so that they will push the brake arms towards the rim. The wire will also slip around the small wheels pushing the arms together.    

April 16, 2011

IRD Widget

Back in 1994 the pages in Mountain Bike Action were filled with a multitude of fancy and colorful cnc machined parts. All of them claiming to be the strongest and/or the lightest! The best adverts to drool about them where CBO or Cambria Bicycle Outfitters and the legendary BikePro.com. Lots of hours where spend assembling the dream bike of the moment.

But then i read the review of the fascinating full suspension bike of IRD. While the suspension was not that good the rear brake was just incredible. It was the IRD Widget brake and to me right than other brake designs where not interesting anymore. And even worse i had to have a set of them as soon as possible.

So I altavista'ed their website (the commercial use of internet was just beginning) and mailed them. A day or so later i got a response from Rod Moses, the founder of IRD, who ofcourse was more than interested to sell me a couple of Widget brakes. But besides that he was also interested in trying to break into the Dutch market and so sort of asked me to interest shops in the products of IRD. A few weeks later after transfering money to him the package arrived. In it where two sets of the amazing IRD Widget brakes, a Rocketboy.inc t-shirt and a stack of catalogues and stickers for me to give to interested shops.

Sad to say my commercial skills where more than lacking and the market was filled with other US made products. So i did not even manage to loose even one catalogue!

The brakes however where magic. Although more than troublesome to adjust neatly the power and quality was just incredible! And flashing forward 17 years they are still stopping me every day on my S-Works bike. Although nowadays discbrakes have better performance they are still without a doubt the strongest cantilevers ever made!

April 14, 2011

The Moon

The Moon was the fist ever space object i photographed through my telescope.
At the time i did not yet have a telescope mount that compensates for the Earths rotation making the Moon the ideal target. Because the Moon is very bright and close by the time needed to make a picture will be about the same as taking a picture during daytime. The lens (telescope) used has a much bigger aperture than a standard lens on a camera and so captures much more light reducing the time needed. The short time also reduces motion blur created by the rotation of the Earth and Moon.

February 21, 2011

IRD Rotary brake

The history of mountainbiking is filled with small companies that tried to make their mark by refining existing component designs, there are only a few companies that had the engineering know-how to design and fabricate their own unique parts. One of these companies was IRD or Interloc Racing Design.

IRD was founded by Rod Moses who partnered with Ray Baldwin to produce some of the most well engineered components to be found! Although they are probably most famous for the invention of the two-bolt seatpost, which until today is copied by a lot of companies, their brake designs is what i'm most interested in.

In the eighties and the beginning of the nineties the u-brake was used as an alternative over standard cantilever designs. The problem with cantilevers is that they pivot at the bottom end of the brake-arms and that they are mounted on the seatstays. Because the seatstays are longer and often thinner than the chainstays they will flex outwards resulting in lost perfomance. U-brakes are best mounted under the chainstays and that combined with a pivoting point in the middle of the brake-arms gives a lot less flex.

IRD came up with an ever better design. Although the pivot point and the brake pads are held in the same position as a standard u-brake, the way the power is delivered is just brilliant and powerful!

The photo above shows the mechanics of this brake. The cable that sticks out at the top of the brake wraps around the big wheel which is mounted to the right arm at top center. The other end of the cable is fixed on the big wheel on the other side of it's mounting point. The mounting point allows the big wheel to rotate. What happens is that when you pull the cable the big wheel will swing out to the left, pushing the top of both arms outwards and both brake pads together crushing the rim!

February 15, 2011

Specialized S-Works

When i think of mountainbikes i think back to the first half of the nineties, the booming years of colorful cnc-machined parts and experimental bike designs. The years when mountainbiking still meant to be self supporting and Tomac thundered down the mountain with his Tioga Diskdrive.
I also rembered an issue of the magazine Mountainbike Action which had a test of the most gorgeous mountainbike ever, the Specialized S-Works Steel! To me this was the bike to dream about, expensive, rare and precision made by the Japanese. Being only 17 it was unobtainable for me so i settled for a Koga Miyata Trailrunner carbolite. But trough all those years this was the frame for me to have!

Than the incredible thing happened, my dream frame appeared on a retrobike forum. It was still in a very good condition and for some reason didn't sell. So i got in and bought it for little money including the gorgeous Nitto S-Works seatpost.

This also gave me the opportunity to choose and buy the components that i could never afford and really make it my dreambike! Finding the components actually took quite a long time but for some reason the right components just appeared on auction sites like they where meant for me to buy them at a very reasonable price.

The bike than was powder coated in a very understated grey finish and was carefully build up by me resulting in a very light and beautifully riding bike, the best i have ever had!

After it's maiden ride during a retrobike meeting it was refitted with road slicks. This because my riding is mostly on the road.

Frame: Specialized S-Works Steel
Fork: Tange
Headset: Specialized Steel
Stem: Nitto Dirt-drop
Handlebar: On-One Midge (finish stripped)
Levers: Shimano
Tape: Cinelli cork
Seatpost: Nitto S-Works
Seat: SDG Bell-Air titanium
Seatbolt: Odyssey titanium
Brakes: IRD Widget
Bracket: Specialized titanium
Cranks: Shimano Deore XT 170mm
Chainwheel: Surly 40 teeth
Pedals: Cranks Bros Egg-Beater SL
Chain: Shimano
Cassette: Shimano 8 speed
Hubset: White Industries
Quick releases: Salsa titanium
Spokes: Stainless
Rims: Araya RM-14
Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore XT
Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Racer 26"x1,5"

January 31, 2011

M42 the nebula in Orion

This is probably the most photographed deep space object there is, the nebula in Orion.
When you look at the constellation of Orion you straight away make out the three stars that form his belt but below that there is a row of what looks like three stars. That is the sword on Orions belt and contains the famous nebula. Actually the middle star is a collection of multiple stars that sit in the middle of the nebula.

One photo of 30 seconds on ISO 400 already shows the nebula and i'm located in a very light polluted area. The photo is made of stack of 16 photo's.

January 21, 2011

M57 ring nebula in Lyra

The ring nebula in the constellation of Lyra is the result of a star that at the end of it's life has expelled it's outer atmosphere, this is called a planetary nebula. What is left is the core with around it an expanding ring of expelled atmosphere. M57 is one of the best examples of this kind of object.
This object is too faint to see with the naked eye but a small telescope will show the ring.

The two bright stars at the far right and left of the nebula are the two bottom stars of the constellation Lyra.

This picture is made out of a stack of 15 photos.

January 19, 2011

M13 globular cluster in Hercules

To start with my first astronomical entry i have to explain a bit about what the name M13 exactly is and what kind of object it is.

The name M13 is short for the 13th deep space object on the list compiled by the French astronomer Charles Messier. Charles Messier lived from the 26th of june 1730 until the 12th of april 1817. He identified 110 objects and listed them under M or Messier numbers.

M13 is a very easy object to find because it stands high in the summer sky in the constellation of Hercules. It is relatively large and bright so even in a not pitch black sky it is to been seen with the naked eye.

The technical designation for it is a "globular cluster of stars" and contains hundreds of thousands of stars.

A small telescope will let you see it as a fuzzy ball much larger that individual stars around it and a bigger telescope will let you see a lot of the individual stars in it. But the best way to enjoy it is to photograph it.

This picture was made by stacking 20 individual photo's on top of each other increasing the brightness of the object and than adjusting the values of the stacked image to bring out the best!

In the near future i will explain a bit more about astrophotography and photo stacking.

The beginning

This weblog will be dedicated to the two hobbies in my life that keep me entertained for many hours a day.

First is my fascination for "old skool" mountain bikes from the first half of the nineties. It's just the way they look and ride that makes them so very appealing to me. That era also represents the pinnacle of the small creative workshops that cranked out beautiful and outrages cnc'ed machined parts. Especially the products from IRD or Interloc Racing Designs are very dear to me.

Second is the endless void above our heads, that is filled with the most extra-ordinairy and beautiful objects you can imagine. I'm ofcourse talking about the nights sky filled with globular clusters, nebulae, galaxies, etc... Most of them are hardly to be seen with the naked eye but a telescope with a camera attached to it will make to most wonderful colors and shapes come out.

I hope to fill this blog with many photo's and words explaining my love for both!