Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An early, busy spring.

With a mix of late May/June type weather in southern MN things have been totally nuts here lately.  We were caught with our figurative pants down.  At the time the shop was near fully torn apart, we had only one tolerably set up repair station, and our bike stock had not yet been replenished for the spring.  Without our seasonal help yet either, Curtis and I working was just enough to keep up on repairs.  In the middle of all of this we made our change to new opening hours of 9am, as well as adding a late night on Wednesday.  

After a few weeks of pure craziness we were able to catch a break.  Aimee came in and worked while home on spring break, and our new mechanic Todd started work.  Within four days the amount of work and progress made was staggering.  Most of the new counter tops are in place and finished.  Trim has been ordered for those as well.  We're now working with two complete, and one incomplete work station, greatly improving shop work flow.  

Major work has started today on the deck and window installation.  Our contractors have started on the first step towards both by removing the old covering and masonry around our outside basement stairs.  These stairs are sketchy as hell, and lead to a boarded up back entrance to the basement.  They have not been used in years, and have been nothing more than an eyesore and liability.  This opening will be capped and structurally sealed, the deck will go right over the top.  This will conceal it from view, while leaving the opening intact.  If and when we eventually put an addition off the back of the shop we will redo these stairs and have another inside access point to the basement.  

Talk about steep, these are at more than a 45 degree angle down.  It's a big ole hole. 

This is the start of a project I've wanted to do since I bought this shop.  I can't wait to watch work progress, and I'm dreaming of what the new space will look and feel like.  Here's a parting shot of the back as it is now.  It's about to change drastically for the better. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Salsa Cycles Spearfish 1

This year Salsa introduced two additional models to their Spearfish line.  By adding a model on the higher end, as well as the lower end of the price range they've made the Spearfish both more accessible and more performance competitive.  This post will focus on Salsa's new Spearfish 3, the flagship bike in that line.

The Salsa Spearfish is a wonderfully simple, efficient dual suspension bike.  I think of this bike more as riding more like a long travel soft tail as opposed to a traditional dual suspension bike.  The rear end of these feel as though there's just enough movement to take the edge off things and keep traction in many conditions.  The whole bike feels very planted and secure, regardless of pedaling technique.

Out back the Fox Float shock with Propedal and Boost Valve technology is an excellent pairing for the Spearfish.  One of the criticisms of the more entry level Spearfish bikes was that the shock provided was a bit basic, not so here.  The Spearfish 1 also features a 142mm thru axle rear end, matching the front end stiffness in the rear, and again improving over the standard Spearfish frame.

Up front the Spearfish features the excellent Fox Float thru axle fork.  Combined with the tapered steer tube and 15mm thru axle this fork tracks very well.  As with all high end Fox forks, these are easily adjustable to really dial your personal preferences.

The Spearfish 1 comes with Continental's new X King mountain tires.  The similar Race King's are some of my all time favorite tires, and these look to build on their great reputation.  The more aggressive X Kings should hook up much better in loose conditions, especially kitty litter type stuff over hardpack trails.  I may try running a Race King rear, X King front as my go to set up this season.  These are a great choice on this bike, and serve to compliment the comfort and control type suspension the Spearfish offers.

Components on this bike are top notch for the price.  The drive tain is predominantly Sram's X9 10 speed parts, with a X7 level front derailleur and Elixer 7 brakes used to keep costs a bit down.  These are all durable components that perform nearly on par with their higher end rivals that cost 2-3x's more.
Handlebars, and seat post are Salsa's new Pro Moto 1 carbon parts.  These are light, offer quite a bit of comfort, and are again reasonably priced.  These look phenomenal separately and on the bike, and fit the color scheme wonderfully well.  Salsa's Pro Moto 1 stem and a custom WTB Silverado stem round out the control package.

Wheels really make this bike stand out from it's competitors.  Most companies use wheels as a place to cut costs from bike models, not so here.  DT's excellent 350 thru axle hubs feature their famous star ratchet drive systemis the easiest to maintain of any high end hubs.  They are light, and roll very easily.  Out at the business end of things Stan's Arch rims are as good as it gets for standard XC tubeless rims. Laced with DT Swiss spokes right here in Minnesota, these hand built wheels are simply awesome.

Overall this is a hugely high performance bike for a reasonable price.  For $3499.99 this bike offers a ton of smartly picked parts.  It's a great looking bike, and it should be fast as all get out.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Musing

I've been thinking a lot on this lately.  My blue Phil Wood hubs in a Salsa Ti Mukluk.  It looks so damn good I'm going to have a very hard time not giving in...

... not that the bike would be a bad thing.  ;)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Frosty Shop Truck Photos

It's no secret that my friend Jason is a great photographer.  His websites, and now are full of stunning photographs from all genres.  Last month, (back when it was still winter in MN,) he took a few film photos of our shop truck in progress.  They are just awesome.

If you're not already following Gnat's sites you should be.  His current one is  It's worth taking a look on a regular basis.  Simply gorgeous work.

These photos are a great kick in the butt to stay working on this project.  I can't wait to get out and drive this beast.  We have decided it's going to get a flat bed with stake sides.  This will be a great work vehicle for the shop.  It'll look simply gorgeous with a bed full of awesome bikes as well!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Salsa Cycles Titanium Fargo

Salsa makes a lot of nice bikes.  This is my favorite of all of them.  Of all the bikes they make I'd argue this is the most versatile.  Gravel, mountain terrain, touring, single track, town bomber, this bike can do most anything.  While the steel Fargo's will do all of these things just fine, the Fargo Ti takes it all to 11.

A lot of this bikes versatility comes from the use of Salsa's excellent Woodchipper handlebars.  These offer comfortable positions regardless of terrain.  V brake specific levers and traditional bar end shifters on this build keep durability high, while providing excellent shifting and braking performance.

Full Shimano XT components complimented by DT swiss rims and Avid BB7 brakes insure years of reliable use.  This bike is meant to be ridden long and hard.  The component choices are certainly nice enough to support that kind of use!  Everything on this bike is also decidedly understated.  I love the overall classic look of the build.

Cane Creek's Thudbuster seatpost and a Brooks B-17 leather saddle are super comfy.  The saddle especially adds to the classic aesthetic of the bike.  Both of these items go a long way towards making this a great long distance cruiser.  Both are also items you won't find as standard on bikes from other companies.  Yes, they cost more, and yes they're worth it!

This bike then is just simply beautiful.  It'll be reliable, comfortable, and classic for a very long time.  No matter what you'd like to use it for, it's a hell of a bike.  I think it's easy to see why it's my favorite Salsa!

Priced at $3399.99 this bike offers a great value for the dollar.  With quality components throughout, a stellar riding US built Ti frame, and looks that will be timeless, this is a hell of a bike.  Whether you're interested in a complete bike, or are interested in looking at a custom build, give us a ring.  We've built and ridden lots of Fargo's.  We can help you get into the perfect one.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Revelate Fargo and El Mariachi Framebags.

Revelate recently released their stellar frame bags to fit Salsa's El Mariachi and Gen 2 Fargo models.  Due to their flexible nature, these are interchangeable between like sizes of these bikes.

Here's a large Fargo Ti with the large frame bag installed.

Here's a shot of the medium El Mariachi Ti with the medium frame bag installed.

These are made with the same top notch, US sewn, kick butt construction of all of the other Revelate products.  We have these in stock now in all sizes.  They sell for $160, and shipping is very inexpensive if you need it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Custom Bike Build: My Fargo.

I recently put together a Salsa Fargo for myself.  This bike is to replace my Salsa Casseroll I rode a ton last summer and fall.  I love the position and efficiency that bike offered, but I was looking for a bigger tire and a little more off road capability.  The Generation 2 Fargo was an obvious choice.  Shown below is the bike with my commuting set up, namely the full frame bag from Revelate designs.  Salsa Revelate frame bags will be out any day now for Fargo's and El Mariachi's.  We will have those in stock as soon as we can get them.

My set up on this bike is very similar to my Casseroll.  Based around Salsa's 44cm Cowbell bar, this bike sports aero bars from Profile designs for long days in the saddle.  The bar is set lower than the saddle, in contrast to being set slightly above my saddle on my offroad, Woodchipper equipped bikes.  Shifting and braking controls are from Sram on this bike.

For the drive train on this bike I went with proven components from Shimano and Sram.  Up front an XT crank and compact front derailleur handing shifting wonderfully.  Out back a Sram X9 derailleur and cassette work wonderfully and allow for the use of a 12-36t wide range cassette if I'd like.  I went with an 11-32 cassette for use around here.

Wheels are my standard choices of White Industry hubs and quality rims set up tubeless.  I'm running WTB Vulpine semi slick tires at about 30-35 psi.  This is an amazing combo of comfort and effortless rolling.  The tires feel almost road bike like on hard surfaces, and they actually corner surprisingly well.  

I've spent quite a bit of time on this bike this year.  I love the comfort and stability of the larger tires, the aesthetics, and the fit is great.  I have a few minor changes I'd like to make, but these really are niggling points.  All in all this bike flat out rocks.  I can't wait to get some serious miles in on it! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Salsa Cycles Horsethief

The Horsethief is Salsa's new trail bike for 2012.  As it comes stock from Salsa it offers a lot of performance for the dollar.  This is what we've come to expect from Salsa's models across the line, and this bike doesn't disappoint.  Finished in a really subtle gray/green color with various green, white and brown accents this bike is a looker.

I love the graphics on this bike.  Paired with the low stack height of the tapered head tube and next to the big white fork they really set the feel of the bike.  

The bike gets it's kicks from 120mm of travel front and rear via Fox Float forks and rear shock.  The Fox Float up front comes set at 120mm, but is internally convertible to 140mm of travel if you so desire.  

This fork is one of the latest gen 29er forks to get 34mm legs.  This combined with the 15mm thru axle hub really keep things tracking well up front.  For those of us who have ridden 29er's from the onset, this is about as far as things could get from the original Marzocchi noodles that first came on stock bikes!  I love the graphics on these forks as well, they are a highlight component on this bike.  

Fox's Float rear shock is also used on this bike.  With a bigger air chamber and a Propedal damper, this shock gives you plush travel and pedaling efficiency. 

Parts spec on this bike is a really nice mix of performance while keeping costs reasonable.  The Horsethief uses Salsa's own bars, stem, and seatpost.  Braking is handled by Avid's Elixer 5 hydraulic brakes.  Drive train components are composed of Sram X7 parts with a X9 rear derailleur. These are all serviceable parts that should provide reliable performance for years.  Though the Horsethief frame is equipped with ISCG chain guard tabs, but the complete bike comes stock with a 2x10 set up.  Overall the spec is what I would term overall trail feeling, or maybe rough use XC parts.  

Wheel spec on this bike is a great blend of weight, performance, and strength.  These wheels are all handbuilt in house in Bloomington by QBP's Handspun wheel house.  They are built around Formula cartridge bearing hubs, (Sram X9's basically,) and they are laced to Stan's No Tubes excellent Flow rims.  Tire spec is the newly revised Continental Mountain Kings.  These tires have changed for the better over the previous generations of Mountain Kings.  

The tread pattern on the new tires is all business.  Big, open spaced knobs with large side knobs should make these a hell of a gripper.  In the background you can see the colored decals carried through to the seat stays as well.   

Overall this is an impressive bike.  It looks good, it's built with reliable parts, and at $2950 for the complete it's a great value.  This bike is a great choice for those folks looking for a XC worth bike that has bigger aspirations.  With features such as the ISCG tabs and adjustable fork this bike can be built to do whatever you'd like.  Stop in and check it out today. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Morning still life.

Finished counter top, fresh coffee, sunnies. 

  Hanging new tools above new benches this morning as well.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New extended hours.

Effective immediately, we will be open the following hours.

Sunday to Monday- Closed
Tuesday 9am - 6pm.
Wednesday 9am - 8pm.
Thursday 9am - 6pm.
Friday 9am - 6pm.
Saturday 9am - 6pm.

We're excited about these changes.  It should be a great year!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Lots of Shop Changes A Foot.

Wondering why there have been no blog posts in a while?  Let me tell you.  To say things have been busy around here is an understatement.  We've taken it upon ourselves to completely re-work our mechanic area of the shop this spring.

To start this work we acquired some pretty special wood.  Sourced through a cousin of mine, we were able to procure three, eight and a half foot long sections of reclaimed, solid maple, bowling alley floors!  These are made up of 2.5" thick strips of maple that are a bit over a half inch thick.  Laminated and screwed together, these bulk sections were so heavy that Curtis and I could barely slide them into the shop.  These we split down to appropriate widths to form the bases for all new counter tops throughout the shop.

Rather than try and work through the nearly 3mm thick lane surface we chose to refinish the underside of the lanes.  You can see in the photo above how uneven this side was.  Once split down to manageable widths these were run through a huge stationary belt sander with 36, and then 80 grit sandpaper.  As you can see below, this yielded some pretty amazing results.  This wood will be the backbone on which all of the shop is rebuilt.  It's simply gorgeous.

Our old set up was less than ideal for a number of reasons.  The old shop was set up along the long side of the shop and had only two benches.  This meant three mechanics could not work well in the space at the same time.  A number of tools were also shared between work stations, which made working a bit of a nightmare sometimes.  When using all three stands the old shop also spilled out into the waling path into the shop from the back door.  This made it feel as if you were walking through our shop to get into the store, which was not ideal.  With space being a premium, this often lead to narrow walkways through crowded repair bikes and parts piles.

The new set up will not only look phenomenally better, it will vastly improve work flow.  This layout puts in place three galley style work stations set perpendicular to the long wall.  All stations will have three complete sets of tools, including vices and truing stands.  All the tools will be displayed on dedicated tool walls, and will be very easy to look at and keep organized.  In addition to this the new layout is much more compact.  It achieves all of these improvements in a smaller foot print than the old layout did.  Nothing of the shop will stick out past the seven foot long benches.  This will make using the back door hugely more comfortable and easy.

Here's a shot of the middle bench.  This bench is divided by a foot and a half tall tool wall, and is about feet deep and seven feet wide.  This ample work space will be great to work in and look at.  It's a huge step forward.  Hanging above these central work stations is a shelving unit that will house complete sets of cable housing and cables as well as small parts.  Basically anything you'll need for normal bike repairs will be accessible at arms reach.

Here's a shot final sanded and tool wall painted.  Trim will be added once the polyurethane on the bench tops finishes drying.

The wood finished with polyurethane drying is simply gorgeous.  There's some nice pieces of wood in these.  I can't wait to have them all finished.  Trim will come soon to wrap it all up.  The sunlight really brings out the character of the wood.

Speaking of sunlight, we are opening a previously boarded up window in the back of the shop.  Last year we replaced our old solid back door with a full glass one.  The change this made by adding natural light to the shop was amazing.  It's one of the biggest positive changes I've ever made here.  For comparison sake, the window in the back door is about 2' by 5'.  The window we will be opening up measures 3' by 10.5'!  I can't fully imagine what this will do to that back of the store.  Both from the inside looking out, and from the outside looking in it will drastically change the feel of the store.  What you see in the photo below is only half of the window.  It extends another full pane above the lower one!  The new window has been ordered, and is on the way.  It should be installed in about 2 weeks.

Phew!  Man there's a lot to all of this.  It's been a dream for a long time now, and it's almost there.  I simply can't wait to be able to work in a shop like this.  It's been what I've wanted for years now, and it feels great to be nearly there.

There are three other major projects we are working on in addition to these.  Along with the new benches we'll be building a new checkout counter.  This will also be a butcher block maple top with a custom pedestal to hold all of our peripherals, printers, and office stuff.  This too will be much smaller and more refined than what we have now.  The second project to finish up will be our fit/training station.  This will get finish trim installed, and will have it's own set of sizing stems and tools.  Third, and in my opinion most exciting, is we will finally have a deck put on the back of the shop!  This has also been a goal for years, and it'll happen in a month of so.

All of this is going to be a great reason to throw a party!  We'll be picking a date in late April soon.  This is all enormously exciting for us.  I'm excited to show it to you all soon!