Light Action: A Lesson in Patience

Shimano Light Action Bar End Shifter

Shimano Light Action Bar End Shifter on Paul Components Thumbie

If you’ve read any of my posts you would probably infer that I hold bicycles pretty high in the hierarchy of super important things that humans have invented. Indeed, the bicycle as we know it evolved from a long history of rich people’s toys and false starts. I find it rather unfortunate that the modern bicycle finally began to be taken seriously about the same time cars and airplanes were invented. Indeed, if horses didn’t poop so much and weren’t so damn skittish, maybe we wouldn’t have bothered with the automobile. Imagine a world where people went places by bicycles and horses. Nope. Too easy. Humans would rather go to great expense to suck oil out of the ground to make a vehicle so energy inefficient that the only plus side is that it makes it easier for teenagers to make out in private.

So what does this have to do with the picture above? It’s to illustrate my point at how awesome bikes are. There’s beauty in simplicity and patience. How such dysfunctional race of beings that infest a planet they don’t care about can make such a simple machine that, despite its drawbacks (it’s not as fast as a car) can get us where we need to go just blows my mind. Seriously: we can ride a bike anywhere given enough time. Not only that, bicycles have a low cost of entry (pretty much anyone can afford one), they are cheaper to fuel (burritos give the best milage per unit), and they can be stunning examples of simplistic beauty. No matter what kind of bike you ride, they are all beautiful not only because some can be aesthetically so. But even the cheapest POS from REI still does the same thing as a Rivendell or S-Works Tarmac Disc…it has two wheels and moves you forward. You need at least one leg and a lot of patience to operate one.

<nonconformist_view>
         Patience, Dear Reader, is something that cars have destroyed — a hundred years ago. They have literally sucked it out of the earth as if they drank our milkshake.
</nonconformist_view>

I’m not saying that we should all hate the automobile. I just think that, deep down inside, they are ugly and dirty.

End of line.

Quick Review: The 2015 Kona Humuhumu

Yours truly on the Red 20-inch Kona Humuhumu

Sexy chicken leg. Yours truly on the Red 20-inch Kona Humuhumu.

Its not often that a bike company will bring an older model back to its original glory simply because you wished it so. I don’t normally subscribe to faith or the belief that positive thoughts always have a physical manifestation…but in this case, maybe I should actually read that copy of The Secret my mom gave five years ago. I wonder what else I can come up with? Anyway, read below and check out the gallery.

Up for review today is the 2015 Kona Humuhumu. A bike that was once thought lost and given up on. A bike that started out awesome and had a good run with a longer moniker, the Humuhumunukunukuapu’a. It was awesome…chromoly all over the place! That is, until the brain trust over at Kona R and D decided to replace it with the Humu…a bastard aluminum homunculus of the original that looked like it belonged in the back alley of a favella grog n’ puke. But I digress. As mentioned above, I was wishing in the back of my mind that Kona would get their shit together. They did. Well…almost. Lemme ‘splain:

The 2015 Kona Humuhumu, a partial revision of the original klunker-inspired piece of awesomeness that was the original (don’t make me type out the name again), has almost already sold out of its first production run. Chromoly butted frame and converted to a 29’er (with a 700c x 19 WTB disc wheelset), the new incarnation is not quite the phoenix I wished it to be, but it is a damn nice piece of metal and rubber. Seeing that the trend for cruisers seems to be foregoing the traditional in favor of the accommodating-giant-dude variety, it’s no surprise that Kona converted this machine to a 29er. The tire variety alone is enough to please any of the hardcore customizers. I’m sure I will be seeing this thing with 700 x 23 tires on it rolling down the street soon. The disc brakes and modern rear dropout configuration add a nice feeling of adaptability and stability. And who can resist the new klunker crossbar handlebars? Well played, Kona. Well played. But I have some questions for you:

<rant>Why would you stop so short, K-dog? I thought we had something, you and I. I thought we had a telepathic connection. I thought that if the bike ever did unfuck itself, it would be perfect. I wanted you and I to go all the way! But alas, that is not reality. Gone is the original Cook Brothers Racing-inspired curved top tube of the past. And don’t even get me started on the saddle: it looks like you all just threw in a bunch of reject Dew saddles that you had laying around, it almost as laughable as the Wellgo Christmas-stocking gift pedals you graced this bike with. And the buffalo logo on the seat tube? Did someone let a hipster slip into the graphics department in the middle of the night? Am I supposed to imagine riding this thing around the campsite whilst drinking craft-brewed IPA from a mason jar in the latest Wes Anderson film?</rant>

That’s all I got against this thing, really. Even with the few things that I dislike about it, I want it. Badly. Not because of the nostalgia factor, but because it looks awesome, it rides very well and I look awesome riding it. WOB recommendation: Buy it. Customize the shit out of it and kill some street. Full specs here. Gallery below. Check it out.

2014 Annual Fiesta Cruiser Run

2014 Santa Barbara Fiesta Cruiser Run

Bicycles are family here in SB. A common thread.

The first Sunday of August is usually sort of a relief to locals. It marks the last day of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. A 90-year-old celebration of Spanish and Mexican tradition and culture here in Santa Barbara. It’s a great draw for tourists to spend their money and college kids to get drunk. Most of the locals tend to steer clear, only taking advantage of the food stalls and the barbecue opportunities. May of us Santa Barbarians like to call it Old Spanish Days Fiasco. Despite pretty notable things like featuring the largest equestrian parade in the United States, most locals are left wondering what the hell it is all for. Sure, we get to learn who Saint Barbara actually was and watch white people dress up like Mexicans for a day. It’s a big five-day city-wide party. But we are still left with millions of pieces of confetti lining the gutters and the subtle effluvia of horse shit.

It’s no wonder that many of the locals have created their own event to look forward to. The annual Fiesta Cruiser Run, now in its 32nd year, is an unsanctioned (illegal) ride that started out with a few cruiser/klunker riders riding north from Santa Barbara to Goleta on the beach. It soon evolved into a massive cluster of thousdands of riders taking over the streets, hitting liquor stores and beach parks along the way. Indeed, it has become so popular, that the police have shut down many of the rest-stop festivities. But that doesn’t stop the majority of Santa Barbara true bloods planning all year long and building bikes especially for the ride. The preferred conveyance is the straight-bar cruiser decked out in BMX/klunker livery. Chris King headsets and SE Racing Landing Gear forks are ever present. But the best ones are the restored original Mongooses, Gary Littlejohns and Cook Brothers bikes. It is a veritable history lesson in single-speed legacies.

Colorful Frames of Mind

Awesome track frames at Cranky's bikes in Santa Barbara, CA.

Awesome track frames at Cranky’s bikes in Santa Barbara, CA

Even though I work in a bike shop, I still love other bike shops. Cranky’s Bikes is no exception. Jim always has some beautiful frames hanging over the counter. His shop is a very colorful place. All the folks that work there are awesome.

I have pretty much given up on fixies. My knees are getting a little too old to handle them. I still love  riding track bikes, tho. In fact, I wish Santa Barbara had a velodrome as I would be all over it ‘ERRYDAY. Cranky’s mainstays are track bikes, cyclocross, road, touring, cruisers and BMX. I hope if you ever get a chance to stop by, click through here and check out the directions to the shop.

Deanne

Deanne and her Felt TK2 Track Racer

Rides a Felt TK 2
Shot at the Balboa Park Velodrome in San Diego, CA.

On my recent trip to San Diego, I had to visit the velodrome at Balboa Park. We really didn’t check the schedule, seeing as it was a Sunday, we just missed a class winding down. So I managed to sneak a shot at one of the members leaving for the day. There were some people milling around. Some with geared bikes and some with track bikes. It was a nice velodrome, considering that it was outside. The pavement was well maintained and free of debris. The association that looks after it offers all sorts of classes and races. If you’re ever in town, look them up and check the schedule…or you’ll wind up like me, looking like a dork with a camera standing by an empty track.

Andrew

Andrew and his 2013 Kona Paddy Wagon.

Rides a 2013 Kona Paddy Wagon single speed.

Andrew is probably going to kill me. He asked me not to post this picture under any circumstances. All I can say is that I don’t like good photos to go to waste. Not to pat myself on the back, but this is a damn good photo. If this doesn’t make him more popular with the ladies, I don’t know what will. Actually, he’s already got skating, surfing, motorcycling and being super badass covered. In any case, the fact that he thinks this photo will do anything except hurt his image is just ridiculous. Sorry Andrew, you’re wrong. I’m twice your age and you must listen to me. I know what I’m talking about. Now get out there and slay thirty more co-eds before your next session. That is all.

Stephen and the Titanium Express

Rides a Moots Vamoots CR with Campy Super Record 11.

Rides a Moots Vamoots CR with Campy Super Record 11.
Shot on State Street in Santa Barbara, CA

Moots bicycles are not super popular in Santa Barbara. I expect this is because, even though these things have a significant dollar value attached to them, many Santa Barbarians would rather stick to the bigger name brands. When most people of my economic status think of this bike, I think of a Fred who forks out a huge wad of cabbage for something he really doesn’t need. He would then get kitted out in his finest spandex emblazoned with the latest team to achieve a victory in the most recent big race (Omega Pharma Quick Step from Paris-Roubaix). Setting out to do a hard 20 miles of flat, sun-drenched coastline ride, he makes sure to choose a good route where he is sure to attract the attention of other Freds and hopefully, the Lycra Mafia with his expensive steed and brilliant team (which has no idea who he is) colors. But this is not the case with Stephen. Stephen is from Portland, Oregon. Portland, or PDX if you’re cool, is where riders are made of tougher stuff than us California folk. Most of us tend to be fair-weather riders only. It rains nine months out of the year in Portland. The weather sucks yet it is home to a huge cycling culture. Even Chris King, who used to have his workshop right below our little bike shop here in SB, moved there and now employs something like 80 people. People in Portland tend to know their bikes…well.

The bike that Stephen rides is a Moots Vamoots CR. For those of you who don’t know, Moots is all about handmade titanium frames. This being the first time (right?) that I have seen a Campagnolo Super Record 11 gruppo on a bike, I grabbed my camera so fast I almost broke the lens from the sheer G-forces I placed on it moving it up to my eye. This bike is pretty cool, and you can tell Stephen rides the shit out of this thing. It is not sparkling clean. It is a well-used and well-cared-for bicycle. That makes it all the more awesome. Please check out the gallery below for some rad closeups of this fine conveyance.

Luis and the Mexican Connection

Luis and his Mexican Benotto.

Rides a Mexican Benotto.
Shot on Ortega Street in Santa Barbara, CA.

I have been highlighting Luis on here a lot lately because I just can’t help it. He always comes up with the coolest bikes. You can see his other posts here, here and another of his bikes here. Today he stopped by with an amazingly well-preserved Benotto double-top tube bicycle. I had never seen one of these in person before and I was so stoked I had the opportunity to take some pictures of this. Benotto bicycles started in Turin, Italy in the 1930s. In the 1950s, they expanded into Mexico, producing most of their bikes there. They kept the same old European styling well into the 1970s. Luis’s bike is a classic example of a late-model Benotto probably produced in the late 1960s or early 1970s. It has all the hallmarks of a pre-war european bicycle complete with triple-sprung leather saddle and rod-actuated brakes.

This particular bicycle has been in Luis’s family for a while now and he recently moved it here from Mexico. It is remarkably well preserved and has only a few scratches and a light patina of rust on the chrome parts. But looking at a bike like this, you’d expect some character to show its age and to me, that makes it all the more desirable. Amazingly, the rims have not a spot of rust on them and the spokes themselves are even clean. What strikes me is the unique lug setup on the frame. It’s almost as if it were built using steel sleeves attached to the horizontal tubes, slipped over the steer tube and down tube and welded into place. Though not traditional fillet-brazing, it gives the bike a unique look that a lot of the nicer European bikes just cannot meet.

For me, and definitely for my friend Luis here, this bike is perfect for getting around town and getting rad. Bring on the next tweed ride and we’re in business. Thanks, bro.

Luis

Luis and his Leader 725 track bike.

Rides a Leader 725 Track Bike.
Shot on Ortega Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA.

You may be saying to yourself, “didn’t that fixie scene die out like four years ago?” I thought so. But that was when people were buying them because they carried some sort of hipster caché. Indeed, it used to be college students insisted on getting a beach cruiser. Not so anymore. They all want fixies. Why? Well they’re faster, easier to handle and a lot smaller and lighter than a cruiser. There are very few people left who are buying them because they are cool. Fixies aren’t a hipster accessory anymore. Those people traded theirs in a long time ago on account of the fact they realized they were posers. The people these days who are still riding them? Men and women. Real men and women (except for my friend Chris, he just hasn’t yet realized that he’s never going to be cool). Face it: track bikes aren’t going away. There are plenty of hardcore riders out there who scoff when they hear the scene is dead. They were never part of it.

Bikes are bikes. Everyone likes different kinds. But those that stay true to their roots are the strongest riders of all. We’re not triathletes for crissake. Our bikes aren’t just some type of tool, accessory or a means to an end. If I treated my bikes like that I’d kick my own ass.

Luis

Luis and his 1950 Schwinn Cruiser.

Rides a 1950 Schwinn Cruiser (well-seasoned).
Shot on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA.

Some of the time, I like to see an old bike left as it is. A patina of rust and faded paint. A saddle that looks like it has seen many miles. These are the things that make bicycles unique among all other antique vehicles. But an old bicycle is far more precious than an old car. If you find an old car in this condition, it’s a safe bet you will have to get a tow truck to take it to your garage only to get it in running condition. There’s too many dollars attached to that…But a bicycle? The simplicity of a vehicle for which you are the engine is unmatched in this world. The average person with little or no mechanical knowledge can easily get a bike in rideable condition. Then, it becomes free transportation. Well, burritos and beer cost money, but they are cheaper than gas to the mile.

Luis showed up with this awesome piece of 1950 Chicago steel the other day. His gal, Serena has also made an appearance. Bicycles create a circle of people with the same interests. Just like old cars, stamps and blenders. Our antiques are precious. They are products of the past and have been through it all. You may know who rode your old bike before you, but chances are, you don’t. That’s the beauty of the mystery of old bikes. Provenance is for valuables. Cycling is forever. See more of Luis’s 1950 Schwinn below.