3g triple tree fork
Springer style forks have been around since the dawn of time...or so it seems. Early Harley's and its European brethren ruled the cycle scene with their bouncer front ends for the last century. That technology was picked up by the bicycle community not long after the first motorcycles hit the roads. Just off the top of my head I can name two hands of fingers....Monark, rat trap, beehive, leaf spring, Girvin, Schwinn style springer, telescoping legs like Rock Shox, telescoping head like Cannondale's Head Shock, Cycles U.S. Springer fork kit..... and on and on. This of course doesn't include the new builders doing interesting suspension forks in one-offs and low production runs. Technology changed through the decades and of course made the ride better every year. But options aren’t so available for custom cruiser bicycles compared to mountain bikes. Enter Gary Silva and 3G. For the last decade and a half the 3G Triple Tree Linkage Fork has been on the market. Kustomized Bicycle Magazine decided we would contact Gary and get the really skinny on his fork design with a little history thrown in.
I was lucky enough to be talking to Gary Silva a few days ago where he gave me a brief history and the specs of his fork. If you don't know Gary then you are missing out. He has been in the scene since most of us were still in diapers. He opened his first bicycle shop in the 80's and was up to seven in the early 90's while basking in the sunshine of southern Florida. Holding several patents for his custom bicycle technology he delivered Phat Cycles to the world in 1999. For most of us it was the first production modern chopper bicycle we had put our eyes on. He must have received some great feedback because in 2003 3G Bicycles was born. He currently produces several different lines of bikes including the Stepper. He also has parts listed on his website so feel free to give them a look.
So now you know that Gary has been around and is the real deal but let’s get to the fork. You can tell the 3G Triple Tree Linkage fork at a glance. The dual spring sticking up in a single stack, the rockers that move like they are floating on a different plane of existence, and the retina blistering chrome say "Look at me" from across the boardwalk. I personally have used several of them on builds rolling out of my shop in the last decade.
"The history goes back before my Phat Cycles day. In 1998 I made the first one in Huntington Beach using some of the many CNC shops in the area. The production models were made in 2000 for Phat Cycles production Whopper Chopper. In 2003 we made some changes which are the same design as we have today."
Looking at the 3G for the first time you are really hit hard with the beautiful finish. Everything is polished to a high luster and practically blinds you as you open the box. The next thing you will notice is the weight. This isn’t some carbon fiber aerodynamic race item nor a cheap thin walled springer you find on most production bikes. With Chromoly tubing and CNC milled aluminum plates all dipped in chrome its weight comes in at a hefty 18 lbs. . "Sturdy" should be this fork's middle name. Both the front 28" legs and the rear 40" legs are chromed Chromoly tube. The triple trees and rockers are milled aluminum and the top plate with the integrated handle bar clamp are milled aluminum dipped in chrome.
I propped the fork up with the front of the rockers on the shop floor and applying my body weight felt the fluid articulation of the rockers and springs. So many forks use bushings with some kind of shoulder bolt system now days. That is old technology from way back in the Monark days. You can really feel the difference and appreciate actual bearings.
After fondling my new toy for some time (my wife started giving me looks of disdain with a hint off divorce) it was time for the install. The steering tube is 1" O.D. which will fit most head tubes. It is easy enough to convert to 1 1/8" if needed with the right headset or the adapter that 3G will sell you. With the adjustability of the fork legs and steering tube I believe I could make this fork fit anything from a 16" to a 700cc wheel if desired. I haven’t seen one with a 32" but I would be willing to try to mock it up sometime. It even has a disk brake mount if you wanted to run one or run brakeless. Within the hour I had the fork installed, wheel and tire mounted, and bars clamped down. I played with the large spring top nut for a while adjusting the preload to fit my weight and frame geometry. When happy with the amount of suspension, I rolled my bicycle out of the shop and headed down the street towards the hot dog shop in Olde Town. It has been some time since I have ridden a bicycle with the 3G Triple Tree Linkage Fork so this was a lot like riding something new. Words to define the experience would be "smooth" and "quiet". Most spring style forks will give you a rattle as you ride off the curb or over a rough section of road and bounce as you pedal hard. The 3G did neither. I had to run off curbs with my head cocked to the side and looking at the rockers just to make sure they were moving. At one point I turned off my IPod just to listen for any noise coming from the fork while running through the crappy asphalt patch that runs down a side street where they replace the main water line a few months back (Yay city workers and their crappy patch jobs). After a few block I flipped The Cramps back on since there was no noise coming from the front end. These forks are super quiet and sucked up everything I could run though around town. I talked about the weight earlier. It's true that I initially balked at the weight but after my first high speed corner while dragging pedal through a long downhill sweeper I realized the front tire held strong instead of tweaking under pressure like so many lesser springer forks
Obviously this isn't a cheap suspension fork. List price is $399.00 but if you compare a Cadillac to a Honda Accord you will find that the Cadillac is worth the extra money. This fork is a true work of art. Fit and finish is exceptional but function is where it truly shines. You can check out the 3G fork at
Frame Jig 101
(or getting jiggy at T.J.’s shop)
Let me preface this article by saying "there are a thousand ways to skin a cat". This frame jig is that cat. Everyone has their way of building and what works for one may not be the best way for others. One thing I do know is that you can't build a quality frame without a jig. Kustomized Bicycle Magazine stopped in at a local builder's (and good friend's) shop to check out his frame jig and start on a new frame. This frame jig is the culmination of what works for one builder. Granted this builder has a vast amount of experience with welding and fabrication of items much more difficult than a bicycles but putting that type of knowledge to build a jig means we are headed in the direction of a quality frame.
A frame jig is a mechanical fixture used by builders that clamp components into a desired location allowing for the rest of the frame to be fabricated around those components. We know that the key components of a bicycle are the head tube, bottom bracket, and rear hub. Therefore a fixture that will hold the head tube at a predefined angle and location while dimensionally tying it to the bottom bracket and rear hub and keeping them on the same centerline will insure that you have a straight frame vertically with all the centerlines on a single plane. The frame jig must also be robust enough that while welding the fixture does not allow the components to move during the heat/ cooling cycles. A bicycle frame jig robust enough to do these things amounts to a bike that can be ridden with one hand taking a selfie and the other holding a beverage of your choice. And who thought you would ever use that geometry you learned in high school?
Editor’s Note: One thing to consider before designing and fabricating a frame jig is the intent. Is it going to be used as a production fixture where the measurements and locations of the key components are all the same? Are you a full custom builder where each frame has different dimensions and components locations? Unless you are going to build one frame or are going to mass produce frames like Electra or Ruff you are going to want to build adjustability into your jig for custom frames. Luckily this jig has adjustability to spare.
Custom bikeframesville, here we come.
It's All About the Base....Literally. A frame jig has to be on a steady base. It holds the weight of the jig and the frame on the jig without any movement. We are lucky to have a large amount of space so the frame jig in this situation sits on a large welding table that has been leveled. With a thick steel top on the table there is no way for the jig to move once mounted. If the jig is to be free-standing, shorter legs and wide feet will help in keeping the assembly from being top heavy. A set of leveling feet will also be necessary. If the entire jig isn't level then trying to use a level for the fabrication of the frame would be impossible.
The jig in this article is made from 20 feet of 2"x2"x .065 hot rolled square tube, a fair amount of 0.188” steel plate, and a large handful of 7/16” hardware (bolts of various length, flat washers, lock washers, and nuts), and some 7/16” all-thread. The two bottom 2”x2” square tube rails are 6 feet long. These rails are what the rest of the fixture is mounted to. The rails are set on some scrap 1"x1" square tube so the fixture uprights are clear of the table top and a wrench can be put on the upright mounting bolts from the underside of the frame rails. The picture below shows how the head tube and rear hub pieces of the fixture are fabricated. The only difference between the two is the front upright (head tube) is 4 feet tall and the rear upright (rear hub) is 20 inches tall. The uprights were centered and welded to a piece of 6"x 5"x .188 plate. A hole was drilled on the centerline 1/2" inch in from the edge. Two pieces of 1"x1"x6" angle were cut and drilled to match. 2 1/2" hardware was used to bolt it all together.
Editor’s note: If all plates are cut in pairs and drilled while clamped together one would be sure that all the hardware will be square to the tubes they clamp to.
Sliding the welded plate under and in between the jig rails to the desired location are then clamped and measured for squareness then tighten together with the two pieces of angle. Once tight the clamps can be removed.
The image below shows the head tube upright mounting.
The image below shows the rear hub upright mounting.
Things get a little different when we move to the bottom bracket upright mount to the rails. The upright attaches to one of the lower rails (can be interchanged from one side to the other) with two pieces of 4"x4"x.188" plate. The upright itself is 16" tall with a hole drilled through along the centerline every 3/4". A piece of 12" all thread, hardware, and a set of cones are used to center the bottom bracket to the lower rails. Careful measuring of the width of the bottom bracket and a T-square will insure the center of the bottom bracket is in its needed location. Four holes were drilled so the mounting hardware is as close to the upright tube as possible. Loosening the four bolts allows the hub upright to be slid down the rail to any desired location keeping adjustable locations for those custom frames.
Editor’s Note: Because of the 4" wide wheels I have used on builds it has been necessary to offset the bottom bracket centerline 1/4" to the drive side for chain to tire clearance. No pictures were taken of this actual bottom bracket all-thread or cones because they are still getting fabricated at the time of this article. Hopefully the article helps one visualize that piece.
Moving upward to the head tube you can see two 4"x8"x.188" plates. The four holes that surround the upright were drilled to keep the hardware as close to the tube as possible. Loosening these bolts allows the height of the head tube to be adjusted. This builder uses the same diameter head tube so a piece of 2"x2" square tube was cut and a round tube milled a few thousandths under the he inside diameter of the head tube was centered than welded to it. If one was to be using different head tube diameters the round tube could be replaced with all-thread and a set of cones. A hole was drilled through the center of the tube as shown. Three more holes are drilled through the plate as shown. The center hole has hardware that goes through the head tube square tube and controls the setting of the head tube angle while the two other holes clamp the head tube square tube solidly in place. Loosening these three bolt allows the head tube angle to be adjusted.
The rear hub mounting is not unlike the head tube mounting. Two 4"x6"x.188 plates were cut, holes drilled like the other plates with another single hole drilled to the rear in the center of the plates. A single 12" piece of all-thread is used as the rear hub. A 2" piece of tube with the inside diameter larger than the diameter of the all-thread is sandwiched between the plates so the plates do not bend when tightening the outside bolts around whatever mounting plate is used. A series of washers and spacers on each side of the mounting plates are used to center the mounting point and be the width of whatever rear hub will be used on the back wheel of the bicycle.
So readers of Kustomized Bicycle Magazine, this is one way to fabricate a full proof frame jig that has been tried and tested. The day we were in the shop to write this article we also rolled out some 1 1/2"x .065 square tube, mitered all the corners, and tack welded the basics in place for the new custom frame shown below.
If you don’t have the ability to build one of these fixtures yourself you can look online for kits or the necessary parts. Check out the Cycle Source, Mechwerks, or Chop Source websites (among many others).
Hip Lok v 1.5
We all love our bikes more than most. Keeping them safe when out in public is always a major concearn. Cable locks can be cut and locks with barrel keys can be easily unlocked by anyone with a Bic pen and a little skill. Kustomized Bicycle Magazine has all these concerns when out on the town with our rides. If we aren't in direct sight of our two wheeled custom creations I get that little thumping in my chest and a bit of sweat on the brow. There are several manufacturers producing almost thief-proof locks that can remove the anxiousness from your trip. We came across a company that not many people in the U.S. seem to know about.
Two British Industrial Designers came together to form Hiplok. They offer bicycle security items to the masses that are designed and tested in the UK. We picked up the Hiplok V1.50 and was immediately turned off by its weight. 4 lbs. is quite a bit of weight to be hauling around we thought. The 10mm hardened steel shackle feels super beefy and with the 24" chain body incased in a black nylon sleeve (done nicely with silver reflective badging) I was pretty sure it wasn't going to tear up the fresh candy apply with gold microflake paint job I just had done on my daily stretched ride.
Strapping the lock around my waist with the integrated large Velcro "belt" I was happy to feel that the 4 lbs. seemed to not be as portly as I first thought it might be. The lock is adjustable from 24" to 444" so it will fit most people. The steel lock body with brass locking mechanism looked to have a nice hard nylon coating (once again, worried about that paint job). It came with two standard double side type keys so I grabbed one, slid it on to my key ring and took off to run some local errands. Using it the first time I realized that the overall locking dimension was a little shorter than I was accustomed to but at 40cm it worked nicely for a single bike and bike rack. The lock snapped tightly and unlocked with a nice tough thud.
Since my first ride with the Hiplok it has become my normal accessory. I never leave home on a bike without it. They are a bit pricy right under $100 but personally I think my bike is worth it. The Hiplok website has a few videos to watch if you are interested and though from the UK they are pretty readably available online or through your local bike store. If you're in the market for a beefy lock, belt, or side view mirror removal tool (I do not indorse such a thing) you have a pretty good option with the Hiplok. Check them out at www.hiplok.com.
The Tale of the Spyder ( or "How To Go From 40 To 10 Years Old In A Month For Less Than $500.00)
Let’s go back to a time when REO Speedwagon's "Keep On Loving You" was blaring from open car windows on the boulevard in the summer time heat. Two kids are riding down the bustling city sidewalk to the local Circle K where they drop their weekly allowance on Centipede and Galaga as well as a candy bar and soda pop.
Those two kids were me and my best friend. We spent our weekends together cruising the back alleys of North Denver. I had my yellow and blue Free Spirit BMX and my friend had a 1968 Purple Sears Spyder 5-Speed. That Spyder would glisten in the sun with its purple paint, chrome, and metal flake vinyl seat. I would pedal furiously behind him trying to keep up with the Shimano 333 gear set hooked to the 5 speed shifter on the top tubes. We would trade bikes throughout the day so he could ride wheelies and endo curbs while I would just roll through the neighborhood holding on to those beautiful ape hangers while trying to lean all the way back to rest against the sissy bar. Sure I loved my BMX but there was something about that non-cool Spyder that I loved.
I purchased the Spyder from my friend for twenty five dollars later that summer. I would have paid twice that amount from my lawn mowing stash to get ahold of it. I brought it home as proud as could be. My dad just shook his head as he looked it up and down. That summer my BMX sat in the corner of the garage while I cruised the Spyder thinking I was the coolest kid in the 'hood. Note: Later that summer I talked my dad into taking me to the bike store where I bought a 16" front wheel and tire to replace the 24" stocker. He let me borrow his tools to re-adjust the sissy and seat so I could actually ride it with its new altered stance. Was this my first customization?
I got older and started racing BMX, hanging out at the mall, and eventually fell in love with the four wheeled engine powered rides of the time. Like most bikes owned by a kid my age the Spyder was hung in the rafters in the garage. Following a few moves after my parents divorced the bike drifted away to somewhere unknown.
Fast forward thirty years or so. I still build bikes and still ride bikes though my neighborhood. I build my own frames, do my own welding and machining, and lace my own wheels just like most everyone else reading this. Thoughts of that Spyder still would enter my head late at night. I started to search the local bike swaps, Craigslist, and eBay. Most of what I found were missing the essentials or way beyond repair. One day I stumbled across an eBay add listing one 1969 Sears Spyder 10-speed. It was mostly there, at least the important parts were. The frame and fork were in fairly good shape, the back wheel and gear set were present, both derailleurs were accounted for, the seat was there but had seen better days, and that shifter....the one with the butterfly emblem who’s chromed plastic glittered in the sun of my childhood was still attached to the twin bar top tubes. Two weeks later I was slicing the box open quicker than a seven year old on Christmas morning.
The plan is to build the bike of my childhood with the mild custom touches I saw in magazines that I could have never afforded nor knew how to do at that age.
Day one I had the "most of a bike" up on the stand and within two beers had a bare frame and pile of parts. I made my list after taking inventory of what I had that was usable, what needed to be replaced, and what was just missing. A few online purchases later I was once again waiting for the brown truck.
When all the parts rolled in I moved forward with the rebuild. An interesting thing I learned is that Shimano hasn't changed their derailleur cogs in forever so rebuild kits with new cogs, bushing, and hardware are readily available. With the Shimano 333 front and rear rebuilt I installed the new headset and BB. I rebuilt the rear wheel and mocked it together with a new chain to set up the derailleurs. I installed a butterfly stem for the "drag race" look, ditched the stock fork (it was tweaked pretty badly anyways) for a chrome 26" springer. With new rubber on the rear and a new 20" chrome front wheel and tire I got it off the stand and started to mock it up to fit me. I found that the seat placement was an issue. I replaced the old seat clamp because of the small diameter with a newer model but still had a seat post issue. No one makes a bent seat post in that diameter. With spare set of handlebars, the old seat post, a chops saw, welder, and creative measuring I fabbed the lay back seat post you see now.
Moving forward I fabricated my version of the Wham-O Wheelie Bar. Using a new short sissy bar, two sections of aluminum tube, skate wheels, and some miscellaneous hardware I got the contraption assembled. With some time in front of the polisher the aluminum tube matches the chrome. Note: Look forward to a future How-To article and how to fab up this version of a wheelie bar in an upcomingKustomized Bicycle Magazine.
Back to the front end I picked up a speedometer that needed some attention. After disassembly, cleaning, white lithium grease for the gears and cable, and more time in front of the polisher it was as good as new. I installed a set of 16" Ape Hangers and liked the look. But I didn’t love it. I searched the net for a few weeks looking for a set of NOS butterfly or rams horn bars without luck. I took the 16" bars off and cut the top curve and bar ends off with the chop saw then chopped the top curves out of another set of low rise bars I had laying in the shop. Putting the pieces together and 20 minutes with the buzz box I had my interpretation of a set of butterfly bars that were tall enough to fit my frame. Picking up a roll of NOS Wald purple bar tape and a set of red dot brake levers completed the front end.
I have had this repopped 1959 Cadillac tail light sitting on one of the shelves in my shop for years. I had many plans for it that always ended up changing. Holding the lens up under the seat I decided that this is finally the project to use it on. I cut and welded up a bracket that bolts to four of the six seat mount holes in the sissy bar that has a big enough section to mount the tail light bucket flange to. With an extra hole drilled through the center of the bracket to run the wiring and one off to the side to run an on/off micro switch I shot the bracket with some black epoxy paint. I mounted a nine volt battery tray under the seat to power the whole assembly. Looking at it….it looks like it was born there.
There were some additions that came later like the sissy bar pillow, the pinkish Vans brake shoes on all for brake pads on the rear wheel, the purple Rat Fink valve covers (damn, I love this bike). There you have it my friends, the story of how my Spyder came to be and how you can revert to your childhood for less than $500.00 and a months’ worth of work.