Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Naked Experience

Now that I'm back on the mainland, I should probably recap my recent bike building work/vacation before it is too far in the past.

Working at Naked bikes was an absolutely incredible experience for me. Not only because I was working under an idol of mine, but because I got to live (in my van) just outside of the shop. I was literally eating, sleeping, and breathing bike building for a month. In my last post I think I mentioned how much mountain biking goes on on Quadra. They are blessed to have an agreement with the forestry people where they can make as many trails as they want providing they do not publish a map, and they do not build permanent structures. This of course doesn't mean they can't bring teeter totters and other wooden structures into the woods. They just can't attach them to the trees.

During one of the rides, Sam proposed a single speed rigid 29er build off. Just $300 in parts from the Norco catalog, no paint, may the best bike win. Honestly, this got me pretty hyped. I wouldn't even have considered building a 29er if it hadn't been put out there. I started thinking about it more and more. I eventually priced out the parts, and used BikeCAD to figure out the dimensions.

Suddenly, all my big wheeled hopes were dashed. Andrea ran into the shop and said that we'd be building a bike for Shimano Canada. Due in two weeks! We were knee deep in Steel Wool semi custom cyclocross frames at the time and even the end of those bikes didn't seem to be on the horizon. During the next few meals we discussed the direction we wanted to take the Shimano bike.

Shimano wanted another city bike using Alfine, but this time they wanted it to be FASTER. Originally the parts were going to be all black, then all silver, then we received boxes of mismatched silver and black Alfine groups from Shimano, and the rep didn't have a good answer for us. They only thing they wanted was that the bike should be white.

We sketched out a few designs. Curved tubes were in order, as well as aggressive looking geometry. Over the next few days we hashed out a design to be somewhere between a 90s pursuit bike, and a quote cafe racer unquote. Of course, we didn't get started on it until halfway through the two week deadline.

Heres what we started with on Monday Morning:

So, It looks fairly normal in that diagram, but I'll tell you what's going on.

First, the top tube is bent once. Secondly, the seat stays are bent twice. The headtube is a custom machined and silver brazed integrated system, in that it has 45° surfaces internally to hold the anglular cartridge bearings. Then we made a crazy fork crown to match up with it and give it a blocky solid look:

Sam has this thing against slotted dropouts with disc brake tabs, and he was fresh out of eccentric bottom brackets. Since the bike has no derailleur we had to figure out SOME way to tension the chain. We were joking around about making turnbuckle chain stays, and then decided WHY NOT!

We decided that the stock Shimano rims were boring, and ordered some super deep white B43s from Velocity. I had to get Mighty Riders Vancouver to cut us some shorter straight pull spokes in order to build these wheels. They didn't have a full set, so they sent me a bunch of scraps basically (different types and gauges, all cut to the right lengths). It made the build very confusing, as I had to separate all the spokes to get the thickest ones in the right spots on the wheel so that it would be strong enough.

..and here's what the bike looked like during a dry test build to check the chain tensioning system (which worked amazingly btw):

What's also amazing that we made it that far in 5 days!

On the weekend Sam spent some SERIOUS time in the paint booth, and layed down some super gloss white on the frame. Here it is as I left it.

More photos on Flickr

I never got to see it, but in the next couple of days, Sam's artist friend was going to hand detail the frame and wheels in black and silver paint pens to give it some more zazz. (note: this never turned out, so the bike stayed totally white and is on display like this in Montreal right now)

I'm also pretty glad that its got a lot of my design cues in it, and that I did a lot of the work in getting it together. Its been a really fun project to work on, and hopefully Shimano Canada sends it to Shimano USA for the big Interbike trade show in Las Vegas next month.

Another project I worked on while I was there, was a cargo conversion front end for a track or road bike. Sounds weird I know. It looks weird too:

So far it has been tested up to 190lbs. I kept the trail low (20mm) so that changing the amount of weight on the front end would affect the steering less. I used the same fork blades that I would have used on my 29er had it materialized. Its got a good combination of TIG, silver and brass holding it together. And yes, that is an 8" rotor=]

I don't really know how to wrap this post up other than to thank Naked Bicycles and Design for giving me the oportunity to work at their shop. I should also mention that right now Sam is heading to Battle Mountain Nevada to defend his title as the world's fastest cyclist. Having trained with him for the past month (and gotten dropped on every hill Quadra Island had to offer) I'm sure he'll do just fine.


rhystard said...

awesome stuff man!

those turnbuckle style dropouts are cool as hell.

musta been a great experience.

Anonymous said...

the turnbuckle system is brilliance.

this post makes my heart all warm and fuzzy.

nikcee said...

lyle when you are done being so awesome... can everybody else have a chance?

i'm with brandon... this post makes me feel very pleased to know proj-b and its crew.

mander said...

Great stuff Lyle! I'm very interested to see what becomes of that cargo conversion fork-n-rack prototype.

Prolly said...

so rad man

Dave said...

This is awesome. What bars are those?

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