Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday News And Views

Made In The U.S.A.: I came across this article written by Bruce Gordon, he of frame building fame, on his "SOPWAMTOS" blog. He laments the fact that frame building, (and I assume components as well, since he brings up stems, etc), have been "out-sourced", or in other words- stuff isn't being made in the U.S. anymore. The main point of the piece being that if we do not support those who do make stuff here in the U.S., it will all wither and die and go away.

In terms of bicycles, one has to keep reminding themselves that a complete bicycle  is a system of parts originating from all over the place, (but yes- mostly from Asia), and that by merely making the frame in the U.S, it isn't really accomplishing all that much. It is something to be sure, but come on...... Made in the U.S.A. means "all of it made here" to most folks. That isn't going to happen anytime soon.

There was a time when a "Made in the U.S.A." drive train was done here. In the mid-90's, the 'CNC machine craze" was full on in mountain biking, and the dream of a full U.S. manufactured drive train was quickly becoming a reality. Riders were into it too, regardless of the high price of entry. Most of the parts costing 3 times what comparable Asian manufactured drive train parts cost.

However; poor quality and Shimano's introduction of XTR pretty much knocked that idea right outta the ring. U.S. made or not- the stuff needed to work well, and Shimano just killed the CNC guys with their forging technology and engineering. So it has been ever since.

I like Bruce Gordon's idea, and his heart is in the right place, but reality has a long way to go before this kind of "Made in the U.S.A", "people that make their own shit" idea ever becomes feasible for riders. Making more than just frames would be a good start. That said, support those guys that do try.

Surly "Big Dummy"
Cargo Bike Dilemma: I have been bouncing ideas back and forth concerning what I wanted to do about a cargo bike. I have an "Xtracycled" Schwinn Sierra from the 80's, and well.......I find it to be sub-optimal for my needs.

It does have all of the nice Xtracycle accessories though, so I just didn't want to switch to something that I couldn't make use of those accessories with. That meant the excellent Fisher Collection Transport was out of the running. I really, really like that bike, but it doesn't play with my stuff. So, the next apparent choice was the Sun Atlas cargo bike, but I found out that it also does not accept all of the accessories I have already.

That leaves the Big Dummy, which isn't a bad choice at all. It obviously will take on all of my accessories from Xtracycle, and it is smartly designed. I look forward to building that rig out next spring.

Image Credit: W. Kilburg
Trans Iowa V8: So, this "non-snow" event we're having looks to be playing into my hands now in regard to Trans Iowa recon. I usually am stuck just sitting around thinking about stuff this time of year. Not this year.

I haven't had the opportunity to get out yet for a couple weeks due to illness and then family obligations, but I look forward to scooting out and doing some more recon very soon.

I have a certain section to get at that should be the end of any speculation on my part for the course. A big part of the last bits I am already quite familiar with, and I only need to string it together and drive it to verify the roads. All told, there is about a 150 miles to drive yet, and then it will all be in the bag.

Then it will be all detail work. Cue sheets, getting the finish line setting squared away, number plates, or not, and drumming up some volunteers for the Checkpoint #1 duty and one other checkpoint. Want to volunteer? Give me a shout and I'll get you on my list.

Okay, that's a wrap. If you are traveling, have a safe trip, and Merry Christmas from Guitar Ted Productions! I'll be checking in here this weekend at least once, otherwise, see ya next week!


retroscool said...

Not sure if you've heard of this guy or been following what he's doing but it's crazy and great! The post on the Big Dummy reminded me of it.

Ari said...

My wife rides a big dummy with a custom made kickstand by a certain T.I. winner by the name of Dennis.
This bike gets daily use and rides/hauls fantastically.

Glenn said...

While it may not be possible to have a completely "made in the USA" bicycle, any parts that can be made here is good in my opinion. It seems as if frames are the most common part to be made here.

It's something I enjoy about my bikes, but probably more I enjoy the thought and design that went into the whole package, especially when it seems to come from a company that gives back to cycling, and a company with good customer support.

MG said...

I will volunteer this year.

Merry Christmas!

Guitar Ted said...

Thanks MG! I'll put you down on my roster of Volunteers and get with you about the assignment later.

MG said...

Coolio... Chat with ya soon.