Basically like Legos at this point. Except metal. And you have to carve them yourself and melt them together.
Cable stops are roughed in.
Let’s build a bike.
Another very long day, so I’ll just leave you with this shot of the most recent revision of the prototype. Getting closer to torch time.
I’d better come up with some slick marketing acronym for that suspension system soon. Always tough when it’s something you actually spent endless hours developing yourself. Easier when you’re just making up stuff and have no idea how the thing works.
Five years ago I wanted to make a bicycle–not just a regular bicycle, but one of those complicated bikes with shocks and stuff that lets you go stupid fast through ugly terrain but pedals without bobbing up and down. I don’t know what caused it, but I grew up riding motorcycles and then ended up being around the bike industry during the birth of mountain bikes and the rise of something we’re still calling “full-suspension” frames. Then I ended up selling and riding most of the best ones available. I got ideas.
Back then, I had a certain preconceived notion about what that process would be like. Mostly, I was worried I’d have to move to California and start wearing my cap flat-brim style. What I couldn’t have imagined at the time was living in Vancouver, Washington and working and seeing my work moving toward prototype stage, all while holding down two other jobs.
I find self-analysis pieces about “life throwing you curveballs” and shit not just unpleasant to read, but genuinely unbearable, so I’ll spare both of us that. Suffice to say, work hard enough to make something happen, and it probably will. So much can change between now and then, though, that if you’re not careful, you might not even notice.
Despite being busy with a whole lot of other projects, the bike I’m taking to prototype stage is my baby. It’s the thing I let myself think about once I’ve done everything else I needed to do. It’s the thing I couldn’t not do. Put me on a desert island, and I’d draw pictures of revised pivot points in the sand.
I can’t help it.
What I’m trying to remind myself at this point, though, is to enjoy the process. Maybe the design I’ve created will work well and maybe it’ll require a lot of additional work and refinement. But just being able to create it matters. I may be taking some time off the blog to dedicate to the bike, but as always, here’s where I’ll be updating anyone interested in the development process.
A while back I asked for some opinions about launching Project Danzig, my little bike design, on Kickstarter. While I consider both of the guys who read these posts to be infinitely wise and well-traveled in the world of bicycles, making sense of the responses has proven difficult. I got a lot of responses (OK, there are more than two of you out there), but zero consensus. Like a total 50/50 split.
Now I know some of you just vote the “no” ticket across the board, from supporting cheesy-sounding new “social micro-financing invention sites” to rescuing a bus filled with puppies from a volcano, but for the split to be so balanced wasn’t expected.
What’s up with that?
Either way, I’m taking a break from banging my head against the keyboard to point out one particularly upscale Kickstarter project, Fabike (I don’t know either–it’s like a cross between “Fabio,” the designer, and “bike”).
To my thinking, Fabike marks a few key changes to the bike projects I normally see on Kickstarter.
For one thing, most Kickstarter projects tend to skew toward hippie-capitalism–“it’s about all of us, man” kind of vibe. In contrast, Fabio’s baked his name right into the bike. He’s bringing a little bravado and swagger to the party, and why the hell not? If my name were Fabio, I would, too. There’s no “i” in “teamwork,” but there’s a lot of “fa” in the “fabike.”
More importantly, this is clearly a company, not a dude. You don’t set out to “fund your little labor of love” by offering a carbon fiber frameset and a full assortment of private label branded parts, from crankset to wheelset–to laser-etched BB30 adapter cup set.
I’m not for or against here. I’m just curious to see what’s clearly a company using Kickstarter to fund what appears to be a pretty sophisticated project. Why half of you don’t like Kickstarter, I may never know (unless you comment), but I’m wondering how Kickstarter has changed in the last year. I suspect it’s become a target for companies capitalized enough to have developed something without it, but using it to hedge their bets.
Interesting to see how all of this will change in the next week, let alone the next six months.
So what I discovered when I reviewed the patent on this thing last night is that the forward lower pivot does not need to be below the rearward lower pivot. Does that make any sense, or have I gone full redrum at this point? I had to impose constraints about the relationship between the upper and lower pivots, but not the vertical relationship between pivots on the same rocker. OK, I’m pretty sure that one didn’t make any sense. Redrum.
Basically, I can rotate the front of the lower linkage up, away from the bottom bracket shell. There are some interesting things that happen when you do this but overall it’s just an option, and I’m at the point where design options damn near make me weep. Right now options are cause for celebration the way finding out you can scratch your nose against the ground when buried to your neck in sand is cause for celebration. A little wiggle room when you thought you were all out of that sort of thing can be a pretty big deal.
Still no magic wand, though. Because the real beauty of the system is how the lower link tracks right along the chain, you really can’t just go putting it anywhere without screwing up the system.
Anyway, back to the drawing board.
A very good friend of many years suggested I should begin a blog entry with “Dear diary,” so there it is. It’s kind of nice, you know, writing notes to yourself. Except I find me so boring that I hardly ever read anything I’ve written, as anyone who reads this blog has already realized.
Looks like we elected a president again last night. I did my part. Other than hoping he also carries the popular vote to minimize the chance of a shooting spree or two over the coming months, I keep politics well out of my Canootervalve. Let’s all agree to dislike one another while hoping for the best.
Also on the subject of writing notes to oneself, I ended up having to read my own patent tonight. Hard to believe I didn’t drink back then.
The good news is that I learned something that will make creating bikes a hell of a lot easier. It’s like the me of 2007 knew the me of 2012 would be a distracted dumbass and would need clear instructions–written in legalese or not–regarding the removal of one’s head from one’s ass. Go me!
What I discovered should go a long way toward solving the pivot size and front derailleur issues, and sort of gives me a whole new parameter of adjustment I didn’t realize was available. It’s like being a painter for twenty years and then discovering the color blue.
Lots of drawing to do.
Two posts today? Yep. To prove I was sufficiently exhausted when I queued up yesterday’s post late Sunday night, I ended up failing to actually post it. I believe I fell asleep on the keyboard, woke up and went to bed.
Anyway, tonight I received the optimal location of my pivots in light of clearances and structure. Or something. Basically, the pivot locations you see above would play nice with things like front derailleurs, bottom brackets and giant pivot axles.
They just wouldn’t work right from a suspension standpoint.
So the challenge now becomes how to provide as much room for derailleurs and everything as possible, while staying true to my design. The pivots really do need to be in very specific locations for this to work. There are little pockets, though, small ranges of potential locations.
That’s what I’ll be doing with my late nights for a while now. At least I know now that any problems I have with the design I can blame on the UCI.
Seriously, happy as I am to see the vultures descending on Messrs. McQuaid and Verbruggen, they are still vultures.
I know it’s been a long week of posts for anyone not particularly interested in the ecommerce side of my ramblings, but I’ve been eyeball-deep in that lately. As in “work on it all day, come home and work on another version of it” deep. Tough to get your brain out of that gear after a while. Even Halloween, traditionally a favorite holiday of mine, has crept up on me unexpectedly, so to speak.
But other projects are afoot and all. I’ve been paying particular attention to bikes and frames that’ve been appearing on Kickstarter. Volagi seemed to kill it with some pretty compelling offers on what’s going to be a very interesting new frameset, and now I’m seeing a Kickstarter project from a little company back on the East Coast. At least, let’s hope they’re still on the East Coast–after the past few days of hurricane conditons, they might well be located in Indiana now. (I have a lot of friends up and down that coast. Hope everyone’s well tonight.)
So: Danzig. The first prototype is in its early development stages now, but production is a whole separate serious of costs. If the prototype shows promise, should we use Kickstarter to offer t-shirts, new bike company stuff, and most importantly frames? I’m thinking we’d price at a “supporter” level that’d be about the same as a shop’s EP price.
What I’m wondering is this: is Kickstarter worth considering? As usual I turn to my favorite people in the world for guidance. Should we make Danzig frames available on Kickstarter? Let me know.