A mouthful of words can describe the Pensive Works 2015 Young Guns Challenge entry. Classic, outrageous, steam punk, next level… When unveiled last year at OBC it was a jaw dropper. We literally watched people waiting in line for a chance to get up close to this bike and take in all its details.
Nick and Stephanie, the show runners of Pensive Works located in Phoenix, Arizona brought the game to the Young Guns Challenge and OBC 2015. If there is ever a bike that could be called Kustom this would be it. The only thing that doesn’t have a custom touch on this ride is probably the tires.
Pensive Works started out with putting square tube through the roller. All the melding between rollers curved enough tube to create the one off frame and fork/handle bar combination. This isn’t the ground scraping frame so popular now days but a long and thin rendition that looks like it is doing 80 mph. standing still. It is a combination of graceful sweeps and jagged edges that make it so interesting to look at. Once assembled and welded the frame was smoothed out to perfection. Not “shove bondo in the corners” perfection but true perfect seams. A few drilled gussets in the high stress areas were also welded in to add some rigidity and an extra artistic bling to the machines skeleton. Getting crazy with some scroll work the dropouts were plasma cut in an organic design and welded in. With an added set of tail light mounts the frame (and fork) were sprayed in satin black by iKandy Paintworks.
The front fork was fabricated with enough girth to fit the wide hoops and have integrated handle bars. The fork legs have a slight roll to them that gives the whole bicycle a squatty “go fast” stance. The one off single tree design leaves the top of the head tube only capped. The fork dropouts mimic the organic scroll work of the rear of the frame and add a sophisticated and antique feel to the front end.
The drivetrain really sets of the glamour of this ride. Each of the 24X100mm wide hoops were hand drilled for 72 spokes and spoked with black spokes. The hoops, hubs, and the rest of the components were sprayed with a healthy coat of copper powder coat by ARC Powder before assembly. The bottom bracket was fitted with a custom axle milled to accept two different sprockets on the drive side. The outer large diameter sprocket send the copper half link chain to the rear hub while the inner small copper hub sends more drive chain to another bottom bracket shell welded above the drive bottom bracket. From there the chain runs up into the tank area that has two plates welded into the frame with a set of chain rings. Pinned to the outside of the tank are copper powder coated plasma cut scroll pieces that tie the front and rear dropouts together and set the whole bike of in a steam punk / Victorian style. On the other side is another sprocket set up as an idler style sprocket set. Confused yet? Just look at the pictures because it is hard to explain. The bottom bracket is bolted to a three piece crank set topped with copper coated pedals.
A copper headlight sits low and tight on the front end to guide your way at night while dual black tail lights with copper rings hang off the rear chain stays. Even the seat is custom with a mini gear set located on the rear of the seat.
Beyond show stopping custom builds Pensive Works also has a full line up of frame inserts, drop outs, and even some custom bike related jewelry.
You can contact Pensive Works on Facebook or at https://squareup.com/market/pensive-cycle-works.
Luke joined a bike building contest.
Luke built Pedro.
Pedro is a muscle bike.
Pedro is possibly THE muscle bike.
It is true, Luke Percival from Undera, Austrailia is a pretty well-known bike builder from the land down under. Residing a car drive north of Melbourne is a pretty cool place to be building American muscle bikes. Having done the bike thing with quite a few builds under his belt and entry in the 2015 Muscle Bike Build-off gave him a reason to let his hair down and go all out. While others are customizing their rides by adding a springer fork Luke went to the drawing board to figure out how to put the most muscle in a muscle bike.
What does it take to be a muscle bike? In the late 60s it was a slick on the back and a set of ape hangers. This isn’t the 60s though. Though the ideas still apply the methods have gotten a little more complicated.
Starting with a few bits and pieces Luke started rolling and bending steel until he had something that looks like a bike frame, kind of.
Let’s face it, not all bike frames are supposed to fit a Hoosier Dirt Sprint tire. To fit the tire Luke found a Daihatsu 13”x4.5 steel wheel. By slicing that in half and adding a piece of 1/8” rolled steel he made a wheel that measured in at a whopping 13”x11.5. Mounting the Hoosier was a piece of cake after that. For the hub there was some 16 ga. flat plate involved along with some 3” tube sleeves all stuck together with fire to fit the width of the wheel. The rear hub now equals out to a mere 423 mm. (Shimano 127mm can eat their hearts out). He added a 16 tooth rear sprocket to get the gearing something manageable for the super tall rear rubber.
So how would a bike with a wheel that size be pedaled you may ask? Luke did a little work to the bottom bracket shell. By little work I mean that is was cut, sleeved, and now 18” long. With that wide of a bottom bracket the measurement from pedal tip to pedal tip is a whopping 28”. With a custom axle and a set of three piece cranks assembled Luke was able to run a pretty standard size chain to the rear hub. Adding a 26 tooth front chain ring brings the drivetrain to a very rider friendly 2.25 gear ratio.
The front wheel was pulled from a kid’s bike and measures a mere 16” tall. With as much muscle as this bike has in the back it really doesn’t need much up front. But Luke also sliced the front wheel and added another piece of rolled flat to widen the 1.75” wide hoop so he could mount a 2.125” tire.
With the “go fast” parts all mounted Pedro needs to be able to stop. Luke supplied a 203mm Barradine brake disc with generic Boli caliper. Then with some creative metal cutting and welding he got the brake assembly to mount to the rear wheel and frame. He really should have just forgot about the rear brake and maybe installed a parachute system?
With such a wide wheel Pedro would definitely be a “cuff killer” (a term my dad always used when I ran an open primary on my Harley because it would catch my jeans and tear the side of my pant cuff off) so Luke massaged a chain guard to cover the chain. A rear mount was custom made to match the awesome custom “drop outs” in the rear then welded onto the chassis. Adding a high standard neck and a set of 16” ape hangers had Pedro fitted with all the must haves.
For Luke’s riding pleasure he added more rolled tube to the chassis to frame out a banana seat of sorts. He fabricated a custom two piece seat from 3 layers of dual density foam shaped with a flap disc on an angle grinder and covered in fabric to give Pedro some color.
Pedro needed some lights. After all the old drag racing adage of “All you will see is tail lights is defiantly part of muscle bike lore. What better tail lights than a set of reproduction rocket ship lights of the 1959 Cadillac style. Luke sleeved the lights to the backrest in some steel tube then slid the painted bezels over the assembly and bolted it all together. The headlight is a tractor unit tastefully mounted low to the front fork. Luke converted the front light to a LED assembly then wired the front and back lights to a battery box with switch hidden under the seat.
Before final assembly Luke gave Pedro 2 coats of Baslac Black base followed by a coat of Baslac intercoat. On top of that a coat of Paint with Pearl Gold Holographic prism flake was shot all over Pedro to make it look like a month’s worth of stripper has ridden him. If flash was cash Pedro would be a millionaire. Luke then shot four coats of clear followed by a wet sanding session. Then another four coats of clear was laid down so Pedro would still shine during an eclipse.
Final specs of Pedro made it out to be 52” long, 45” wide and have a 32” wheel base. It doesn’t matter whether Pedro and Luke win the build off, Kustomized Bicycle Magazine picks it as the muscle bike winner.
POWDER COATING 101
I am a huge fan of paint. Metal flake, Panel jobs, Candies, fish scales, lace jobs, pearls there is nothing that can beat a custom paint job. At least I thought that for years. My initial indoctrination into powder coating was many years ago. I decided to have the wheels and all the suspension parts powder coated for my hemi powered roadster. Back then the whole process was expensive and had the color choices of gloss black, flat black, greyish silver, and white. Many years later my daily stretched cruiser bike was in serious need of some love. Nearly 15 years had passed and the original paint job needed serious help. I had seen a few powder coat jobs that looked nice and knew how durable it was so I headed to my local powder coater to have a talk. Asking what color I was looking for I replied that I didn’t know, what did they have? Out came a series of Pantone style rings filled with every color under the rainbow. To make matters worse he started explaining two coat systems that can either work like a candy or a pearl paint job. Then there are the two part systems that have a metal flake looking powder also mixed in…
Let us take a walk through the in’s and out’s of powder coating.
Powder coating is a solids in a powder form that is electrostatically applied then cured under heat to provide the coating. Since there is no liquid carrier the coating is much thicker than paint that will not run or sag. Being a thermoplastic or thermoset polymer is also much harder and tougher finish. Powder coating all allows the mixing of different colors in a single coat allowing for color blending and other special effects whereas paint requires multiple coats. The largest difference between paint and powder is that paint uses solvents to keep the paint in a liquid form. Because there are no solvents the powder coating process isn’t nearly as harmful to the environment because it releases very few VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere.
Powder coating is typically used for coatings of metals and other parts that allow an electrostatic charge to get the powder to hold. There are newer technologies coming into the market that will allow other materials such as plastics and wood to be powder coated thought he process is somewhat different that the standard process. Currently there are two types of powder coating in mass use. Thermosetting powder coating reacts with other chemical groups in the powder to polymerize which improves the performance properties. Thermostatic powder doesn’t have any other chemical groupings and in its root form flows to the final product by heat only. The powder polymer itself depends on the type of powder coating and manufacturer. Common polymers are polyester, polyurethane, epoxy, and a polyester-epoxy hybrid. Making the powder itself is a pretty simple process. The polymer is mixed with hardeners, pigments (color), and other ingredients. The mixture is then heated then rolled flat and allowed to cool. Once cool the flats are broken into smaller pieces then milled and sieved to make the fine powder. This fine powder is usually sized in the range of 30 to 50 um (micrometers). Once applied the powder has a softening temperature of approximately 176F (Fahrenheit) and melts at 302F. Once melted the temperature is increased to 392F that will allow the material to cure and harden.
The powder coating process:
Part preparation is the key to any finish whether paint or powder coat. We have always heard that preparation in 90% of a quality job. The removal of welding scale, dirt, and oils are essential.
Most powder coat houses will start the preparation process by dipping the part in either a single or multiple chemical pre-treatment wash. The prewash will degrease and etch the item to be coated. A titanium zirconium and silanes final wash improves bonding of the powder and inhibits corrosion.
Once clean the part will head to the abrasive blasting station (otherwise known as sandblasting). Blasting provides a surface texture (etching) that allows the powder coating once melted to fill the tiny voids for a much better adhesion that primer and paint will not allow. This makes a powder coated project more durable than paint. Depending on the material being blasted tells a shop which blasting media to use. For something that doesn’t have the strength and density as steel like aluminum or certain plastics would require something “lighter” such as plastic media while large steel items like pipe, tube, and angle would use a cast steel shot sand, or steel grit.
There are several different ways to apply powder to a part but the most common way is the use of an electrostatic gun. The part is usually hung on a rack and is electrically grounded. The powder coats the part by sending the powder through the electrostatic gun with compressed air. The powder itself picks up a positive charge and therefore sticks to the grounded part. Like paint the electrostatic gun has a variety of spray nozzles available. The type of nozzle used depends on the size of the powder and shape of the part being coated.
Heat and Cure:
The part is then gently moved into an oven where it is heated. The powder melts at 302F and does a chemical reaction to form the coating with a higher molecular weight polymer. It fills the voids left by the blasting process and forms a smooth coating on the part. The part is then heated even hotter 390F for 10 minutes for the cure. The curing process (also called crosslinking) allows the now liquid powder to complete its chemical reaction and harden completely. The heat and cure can be accomplished by any kind of heat process including convection and infrared ovens. Note that because of the heat required to do the final cure it is not a good idea to powder coat spring steel. The heat will take some of the “spring” from the steel and make the springs unsafe.
Removing powder coating:
What we love about powder coating is its strength and durability which means a powder coating can be very difficult to remove. Organic solvents and thinners are completely useless. The coating can be either mechanically removed (get out the flap disk and get ready to get dirty) or use benzyl alcohol or acetone to remove it chemically. Powder coating can also go through a “burn-off’ process. This requires heating the part up between 572F and 842F depending on the powder. Unfortunately thinner gauge metals (like bicycle frame tubes) will warp and lose strength at that temperature.
In conclusion powder coating was once thought of an industrial process has stepped forward into the world and proven that it is competing with paint in practically every way. Though we still haven’t seen a lace panel job done with powder I am sure that it is coming in the near future.
In this day and age bad things happen to good people too often. The Los Ryderz Bicycle Club has done amazing things for their community for some time and unfortunately were cleaned out when their building was broken in to. The bikes, parts, and the fabrication tools were long gone.
A handful of bicycle builders partnered with the awesome Amy Tuleen (of OBC fame) and decided to use their skills and give something back. Everyone started scrounging for parts and rolling tube in order to make a one of a kind raffle bicycle. Having some of the best builders around getting together on one build hasn’t happened in the past. So we were sure the outcome would be everything you would expect. Amy took care of all the tickets sales and advertising.
The bike frame was built by Lance Tudor at Tudorbuilt in Arizona. He also was in charge of final assembly.
"When my good friend Joe Cavaliere and I were talking about this we decided it would be a good idea to spread the bike life support to a brother in need. Everybody pretty much decided that they weren't going to be able to fabricate the frame in enough time therefore they nominated me to fabricate and designed this bike because we all know Tudorbuilt could bang it out. I drew up a design that I wanted to go with and made sure it would be user-friendly for male or female. It was so much fun building this and there was definitely a couple of mantrums but I feel honored to be able to help out JP from Los Ryders. With the help and collaboration of 6 other builders and the OBC team we were able to bang this out for one lucky winner" - Lance Tudor
PCB Joe at Pacific Coast Bikes donated the rear wheel hub and shifting linkage.
Joe Cavaliere of Low Tide Customs sent the wheels and custom drop outs.
Matt Molner at Matt's Bicycle Center donated the front hub.
Gary Sheron of Lowlife Bikes donated the last set of his Knuckle Forks and the wrap for the hoops.
Jimmy Peek of Peek Cycles threw in the bottom bracket shell, cranks, and set of handle bars.
Randy and Carrie Blackledge donates a hefty amount of cash and also the flake for the paint.
Chad Morgan of Chop Shop Customz sent a set of 26 inch Thick Slick tires, tubes, 1-1/8 neck and paid all shipping fees for winner
Danny Hazlewood of King Zebba Custom Cruisers contributed a seat, pedals, grips, and a custom built kickstand.
Amy, T-Flo, Pee-Wee, and the rest of OBC helped spread the noise for this build and let the masses know all the information and how to purchase tickets.
People around the world bought over 120 tickets for $20.00 apiece and watched the build come together on the Custom Builders Challenge Facebook page. The winner was picked at the end of November with Skipton Skiba being the winner. Of course the funds from ticket sales were given to the Los Ryderz Bicycle Club to build their shop back up again.
The Truth: Half Link Chain
Star Trek vs. Star Wars, White bread vs. Wheat bread, Crunchy vs. Smooth…these are the pictures that pop up in my head while reading through various forums with posts dealing with the standard vs. half-link chain argument. Honestly it is pretty infuriating to read any of these forum arguments because most of the information is just a matter of uneducated opinion or flat-out lies.
Read on for the TRUTH about half-link chains.
Half-link chains look cool. They really do. They have the smooth flow and almost armored look. In the custom bicycle world looks is a good part of what we do. Let’s face it, a stretched cruiser maybe isn’t the best way to transport you and yours across town but if you look good riding we will sacrifice.
Half-link chains allow for a more precise chain adjustment and back wheel placement. This is especially needed with bikes that have vertical dropouts. Horizontal dropouts have adjustability built into the frame but if you are vertical you are out of luck. So a half-link chain allows you twice the adjustment as a standard link chain.
Half-link chains are more expensive. Though the price has dropped drastically in the last few years a quality half link chain is still twice the price of quality standard chain.
Half-link chains will “grind” better across obstacles because of the smoother plate profile. Custom bike people don’t really worry about such things but it is a point of argument that has come up on the interwebs several time.
Are half-link chains twice as heavy as a standard chain? We run wide wheels and fat tires. We really need to save weight where we can. Is saving a few hundred grams really big deal to us? I have read in several places that half-link chains are heavier because there are more chain plates and pins. This isn’t true. Counting the number of plates and pins with the same length of chain laying side by side proves that the count in the same. They are heavier because instead of having two different chain plate profiles (one with a large profile and one smaller by weight) the chain plates are all the same and as large as the standard outside plate.
Are half-Link chains stronger? Yes and No. A half link chain would be stronger and keep from bending side to side until they break because the plate size it larger than the inside plates of a standard chain. BUT….because the chain plates on a half link chain have two bends built into the plates large amounts of tension would theoretically try to straighten those bend before the chain pins or plates would break. If this did happen (you might need to weigh 600 lbs. and be cranking it up the side of a mountain) the chain would stretch. Note that this is not the chain stretch we normally think of where the chain pins have worn.
Are half-link chains directional? Older half-link chains are directional but the newer models have a new chain plate profile that makes them non-directional. Directional chains have the plates go from inside to outside toward the rear of the bike.
Do half-link chains wear as quickly as standard chains? This is not true. Chain wear happens to the roller and pins. Since a half link chain has the same rollers and pins as a standard chain they would not wear any slower or faster than a standard chain.
In conclusion if you NEED to run a half link chain for more precise adjustment I would suggest a standard chain with a half-link link added. If you WANT to run a half link chain on a custom cruiser there is absolutely no reason not to because we aren’t as hard on our bikes as a fixed gear velodrome racer or Tour De France roadie and they look cool.