Thursday, December 6, 2007

And I would ride 5000 miles.....................

Wow, it's almost been a month since my last post...time is flying this time of year. I have three frames in the works right now and should have something to show this weekend. In the meantime, a bit of a Live Wire Cycles milestone was reached a few weeks ago- Jeff Kerby took his Live Wire 29er past the 5,000 mile mark, in less than 6 months! That's pretty impressive for any cyclist, but consider that 95% of the miles were off road, the bike was always loaded down with some kind of cargo, and it's a single speed. He's been throwing down 300 mile weeks lately as prep for the next GDR too!
It's pretty cool to see a Live Wire bike getting thrashed on a daily basis and keep coming back for more.

ps- I shouldn't have written the post title like that, I can't get that song out of my head now....damn those geeky Australian twins. And why would anybody want to get "heavered" to?

Friday, November 9, 2007

At the feet of the master......

A couple weeks ago, I took a weekend trip to Flagstaff for some framebuilding fun at Coconino Cycles to hang out with Steve Garro and to watch the master at work. It was a great time! From a surreal 11pm visit from a horde of drunken cyclists (yo Big Johnny!), to trying to hang with Denise on the trail, to running the mill and using the Anvil fixtures- this was my kinda vacation!

I can't believe how much that short trip added to my building knowledge. Thanks Steve for the hospitality, the tubes, and most of all, the salsa!

Here's Steve perfecting the dt miter on a super burly bike that's going to be ridden across Mongolia! Mongolia!
Gotta love the curved tubes, eh?

Tacking it up.

Speaking of curves, here's a frame I brought to work on (it's gonna be Jeff's GDR Racer.2) as it sat in the HJ getting the chainstays fitted up. See? even though I haven't been posting, I've been building!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Getting bent!

Here's a couple of pics showing how I've been bending the tubes on bikes like the NAHBS (not) 29er and the GDR frame from last summer. Influenced by (ok, ripped off from) Steve Garro. It's about as low-tech as you can get, which suits me fine. First you get the right size piece of chromoloy, pack it full of fine sand, cap the ends with duct tape, and then pose for a pic while invoking your inner Dio. This part is most essential, if you can't contact your Dio, there's no hope for you.
Now strap that sucka onto a mandrel and heave! The bending in this pic (ignore the date, it was really last May) made both top tubes for the GDR bike as well as the seat tube for the fixie that's coming up. The key to bending like this is to make sure the radius is large enough- 24" in this case- and the tubing is the right diameter. Any thin wall tube larger than 1 1/8" really needs a pro tube bender to curve it without kinking. Smaller tubing like seatstays can be bent the same way on much smaller mandrels and you usually don't even need the sand.

Gonna be doing a lot more of this soon, seems everyone wants a sexy bike these days!

Friday, October 19, 2007

As close as it will ever get to Portland.....

How small is too small? Well, as far as part time framebuilders are concerned, I got my answer today. It had been my plan to combine resources with Dab Cycles so we could have a booth at the North American Handbuilt Bucycle show in Portland this year. Turns out that you can't share a booth unless you get the big 10' x 20' space. We figured we could swing the 10' x 10' registration between the two of us, but that was about it. What can you do? Sell more frames and hope to have the extra scratch next time around, I guess. I sure am glad we didn't register before we found this out!

Well, with all the whining out of the way, here's a frame I'd hoped to debut at the show- might as well post it now. I tried all sorts of settings, lighting, etc and these are best pics I could get with this color. It's a curvy sexy SS 29er with a Sabrosa Cycles inspired "lugged" fork. The graphics are a dark "bass boat" blue- understated and glittery all at the same time! Hmmm, that description sounds like about half the population of Santa Fe. Not that there's anything wrong with that...........

In the close ups, you can see the pearl in the black base coat. Here you can just make out the lightning bolts that extend off of the inside of the fork lugs. The crown is 1 1/8" .049 chromoly and the sockets are .058 while the legs are beefy 1" round True Temper offerings from Henry James. I did build a prototype crown and tried to break it- holy shnikees is this configuration strong!

As always, a parting dropout shot. Paragon perfection, baby. I love the way these look right out of the box.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Here's a few shots of Pete's bike after paint by the inimitable Mr. Porter. Here it is showing off the polished "PM" seat stay bridge. I wasn't sure about Pete's choice of color at first, but after seeing it on the frame, I'm loving it! So much that my next fixie will be the same.

In case you forgot where it was made, we put on one of Dave's very cool "made in NM" decals. Nice lugs, eh?

In this shot you can see the Porter touch on the silver tt protector- it had a turquiose stone inlaid and everything! It makes this frame very unique, and very NM.

Pete has ordered a full DA group for this bad boy, I'll be sure to get some pics of that too
Man, I learned so much building this frame, I can't thank Dave enough for opening up his shop to me.

A parting shot of the drops. Pretty bitchin, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

One sweet ride

That's right baby, check out this ultra compact(tm) geometry hot rod cruiser! It should be all the rage in pre-school this fall.......

Anyway, too much job/kids/life going on to build all I need to. Got some cool stuff coming up though. The SS 29er should get done this week and my Morroni CJE is ready to go and I'll use it to do a curved seat tube fixie frame. More posts and pics soon- I promise!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Leadville recap and recovery

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? No blogging or any real building has gone on since the race- a cold, an in-law invasion, and a return to the day job saw to that.
Despite the fact that I pushed it up to the last minute on the bike build and only had a couple of miles on it, the bike performed flawlessly! Leadville marked the first time I had ridden a 29er more than 1/4 mile (test rides I've done on other builds) and it suited me perfectly. The fit was perfect (duh, it's a custom) and the 29" wheels did what everyone says they do- roll fast, smooth the bumps, and fly through the sand. And the MTB drop bars are quite possibly the greatest things ever! I think you would see a lot more of these on the trail if people would give them the chance.
Too bad the rider wasn't as good as the bike though. The race went great at first, I pushed it hard up to the 50 mile mark and was 45 min ahead of my time from two years ago. The downhills were kinda rough with no suspension and I had to stop to rest my arms a few times from the arm pump I got by squeezing those canti brakes with two fingers. I was feeling the fatigue on the way back, but it didn't really get me until the last big climb up the Powerline Trail at mile 75. Ninety percent of folks have to walk a good bit of this and it seemed like I bonked the second I got of the bike to push. I ended up 45 min SLOWER than my last time by the end! 11:35 was not the way I wanted to finish. But what can you do except go back the next time for a shot at redemption? We'll see..........

Here's a seat cluster shot of the Leadville bike. I really like how the cable hanger came out, just like it was planned ;) !

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Time is up!

Loaded the pics in reverse order today....oops. Anyway, here's how she sits, it's time to go- I have to be at the check-in Fri morning in Leadville, so I'll be packing the tools and finishing the final assembly in the hotel tomorrow. I really can't believe that I got this together in time. Of course it helps that I don't go back to work till next week and my painter is my neighbor who paints cars in his garage and will shoot my frames "whenever".
The rear brake cable hanger, just a little part that shows the custom touch or.....ummmm....shows that the builder kinda sorta forgot to braze a hanger on the frame- have I mentioned how this is the last time I'll ever do this? Mr. Sabrosa, you are right, I'm crazy.

Here's the bike as it looked yesterday morning with the first color on and masked for the second. I have new respect for anyone who masks lugs- it took me at least an hour to do the headtube and it still came out needing to be touched up.

The way it looks before I take it to the neighbor. I think the main reason he's happy to paint my frames is because I do all the prep and primering, all he does is mix paint, shoot, and get paid. I'm not complaining though.

Well I'm outta here (fingers crossed) a Leadville survivor story when I get back

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

14 hr days

That's what I've done to get this bike ready in time. Note to self: never try to build a frame 1 week before a race. The main triangle brazed up nice and straight and I went to get the seatstays out of the box and instead of finding the manly mtb sized stays I thought I ordered, I got some wimpy looking roadbike stays. Damn! I should've checked them when I first got the parts. Now, of course, I have no time to order more. The fix? I cut the ultra skinny lowers off and added some thicker 4130 to the top. Now they match the rest of the bike better, plus the stays are stiffer for the brakes.
Here's the post braze ugly fluxiness of the rear triangle with the brake studs on. Brake studs and dropouts are brazed in with brass (stronger and cheaper) while the seatstay fillets are in 50n (lower temp than brass to keep the silver from melting out of the seatlug), can't tell in the pic, but that 50n makes some smooth fillets, not much to file on those!.

Seat lug after a soak, a wirebrushing, and an attack with the angle grinder.

It's 2am, do you know where your fork is? With everyone in the house asleep, I sneaked the fork into the kitchen for the de-fluxing. A couple of brazeons and a whole lot of finishing and it will be ready for paint. Man, I'm tired.

Monday, August 6, 2007

...and so begins the destruction

Getting after the Leadville bike: it all begins with the headtube/down tube miter. This is how I start every frame, no real reason, just feels right. First, the tube is clamped in a wood block at the right angle (60 degrees in this case)- it makes it much easier to hit the right angle if all you have to worry about is holding the file horizontal. Ignore the date on the pics, btw, the camera does this every time I change batteries and I took a bunch of pics before I remembered to fix it.
Four minutes later (yes, I'm a geek and I timed myself) after a little hacksaw work and a few swipes with the b.a.f. (big ass file). You can see I drew what I thought the miter would look like for reference, I don't know why- it used to really help me to cut the miter, but now, I don't really even look at it.

Eleven minutes elapsed time, and the miter is done. More work with the b.a.f. ,followed by an emory cloth wrapped in the headtube, and a few checks with the protracter and we are light-tight baby!

A rarely seen- at least by me- funky compound miter in the seat tube. Notches to clear the downtube, bb shell, and both chainstay ports are visible here.
Next, fire to metal...the brazing begins!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A fluxed up mess!

Here's my SS 29er, almost done. Just need to figure out how I want to place the brake cable brazeons and build the fork. But wait! Looks like time is running out fast to get this and my race bike done in time for Leadville. I was thinking I still had an extra week, doh! This one will have to sit like this while I build the other one, a lugged 29er set up to run dirt drop bars. I'll be posting the in-progress stuff next- gotta go cut some tubes!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Frame done...waiting for paint!

Here it is, a little series of craptastic pics for ya. Man, I really have to get a better camera, the full frames shots are too blurry to post! Anyway, here we have the front drops- you can just make out the cool knife edge detail on top.

I wanted to come up with something for the frame that fit well and signified the Porter/Matthews collaberation on this project, so I came up with this design for a seatstay bridge. I really like how this came out- as an added bonus, it's also Pete's initials!

A dt/ht shot after a little cleanup. You can't really tell, but there's some damn fine shorelines there!

And finally the seat cluster. This was my first time using "top eyes"- they came out ok, especially after I filed them to a sharper point, but I think I prefer making them myself out of scrap tubing- let's the craftsmanship show a litle more dontchaknow.
Can't wait to see this bad boy painted up!
Next up, the SS 29er, and details on the coolest jig ever!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Building backwards

Lots of good progress made today. As you can see I put fire to metal and brazed the rear end together. Normally, I'll build the entire front triangle before I attach the cs/ss, but at Mr. Porter's shop, we're using the CJE* (coolest jig ever) and it allows for a different approach. I could have still done it my old way, but this frame is about learning new things and I gotta say that it works well. It reminds me of Freddy Parr's method of "keel building" in which the cs/bb, bb/dt, and dt/ht are all assembled first. The idea being these pieces are the heart of the frame's stiffness and strength and if they are in alignment, the rest will just fall together as superstructure. It's working great so far!

To answer Steve's question about the last post- the geo numbers are as follows: 74 degree head angle, 73 seat, 42mm rake, and 40cm chainstays.

I'll get going on the front half tomorrow.

*much more on the CJE coming soon

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pete's Bike and contact info.

Today we start Pete's bike, a road-going fixie with a geometry that will work well in the 'drome too.

When it comes to the fixed gear aesthetic, Pete and I see eye to eye. This frame will be classic all the way: lugged, standard tubes, with a horizontal TT-the way the fixed gear was meant to be. When built, this frame will look fast sitting still, a true hot rod baby.

This frame is gonna be really special because it represents a once in a lifetime chance for me to work with a master framebuilder, Dave Porter. I'll be building this frame in Dave's shop under his watchful eye- I'm REALLY looking forward to this. I should be able to seriously shorten my framebuilding learning curve. Being self taught is cool and all, but it's time for me to kick this framebuilding thing into high gear!

So, we start with a call to Lon at Nova Cycle Supply and he set us up with a great mix of Tange, Columbus, and Deda tubes along with a pair of Columbus track ends (second pic). As you can see, the work will start with "deuglifying" the track ends. I sketched out the shape I wanted and got out the angle grinder. Many sparks later, we have this (first pic)- much better, ya? I decided to forgo the window because it wouldn't leave enough meat and it would detract from the cool "knife" detail we carved around the outside. That detail should show up better in the pics once the ends are brazed in.....but that will have to wait till tomorrow.

Any questions about Livewire prices, styles, etc? Shoot me an email to koyconn(at)aol(dot)com.

Friday, July 6, 2007

And we're back

Hey folks, lots of building, but not a lot of blogging going on this past month. Well, that changes today.

First, we have closure to Jeff Kerby's GDR saga. After getting his bike 3hrs after the race start, Jeff proceeded to tear up the GDR race route. Through snow, rain, hail, and a crazy moose or two, he was poised to make a serious shot at breaking the single speed record on his Livewire. Until he got to El Rito, NM that is. A little advice for ya: if you ever are unfortunate enough to find yourself in El Rito, don't eat or drink ANYTHING! Three of the GDR racers got food poisoning there. Jeff and Matt McFee were hit so hard they ended up in the hospital with near fatal cases of dehydration, thus ending their race. Even with the race ending like that for Jeff, you have to admit it's still an amazing accomplishment. Riding the hardest terrain in N.America, self supported, on a full rigid single speed for 19 days and over 2,000 miles is something very few people will ever have the cajones to try. So, congrats to Jeff! We're all proud of you!

(pictured is Jeff on a fully-loaded test ride the week before the race started)

Since this is a blog about Livewire frames, I guess we should start talking more about that. Jeff's frame was built around two main design elements:

1) To be comfortable. You can see the more upright position he has. The seat tube angle is laid back at 71.5 degrees to compliment the riding style dictated by a loaded down SS mtb. Chainstays are longer for better weight distribution.

2) To be strong. Jeff has broken 6 frames in the last few years- most of them on his commute to work! So this frame has a straight gauge 4130 main triangle, beefy Deda stays, and a sleeve reinforcement at the seat cluster. The double curved TT was more for style, but it does add to the strength of the frame.

This was my first 29er and I'm very pleased with the results.

I have lots to document in the next few weeks. Coming up is another 29" mtb, a street going trackie, a monster cross for the Leadville 100 race, and an in-depth look at some of the most unique frame building equipment ever made.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Live in 5...4...3...2......

Good day and welcome to the Livewire Custom Bicycles blog. Livewire bikes is about to debut in a big way (atmo) with the start of the Great Divide Race on Fri, June 15 at noon. Keep your fingers crossed that our intrepid racer Jeff Kerby doesn't fall victim to the "bus people" as he Greyhound's his way to MT.
More frame detalis and race updates are coming up, but first, be patient with me while I figure out this blog thing.
If I can get the pic to post, that's me on the left, Jeff on the right.
Now, get out and ride!