As I write this we are packing everything to make the trip to Las Vegas to attend the OBC weekend. The staff has spent more hours making a list of everything we need than it will take to actually get everything packed. Of course personal items are up to each individual but magazine items are up to the staff. Who knew we had so many different items to pack (as the editor I should…but didn’t). For the bike show we need to pop-up, table, chairs and a box full of swag. I currently have a box at my feet full of spoke cards, button and stickers. There is a hefty box of magazine t-shirts laying in the doorway of my office to make sure it is not forgotten though I have tripped over it several times.
Bikes. After all this is all about the bike. In the shop we have packed an assortment of different sized tubes, a few extra links of chain, plenty of chain lube, assorted cleaning materials and plenty of tools that hopefully we won’t need. Being dragged the 700 miles to the desert will be the magazine’s bike that was featured last month, a few personal custom bikes that we ride and even a loaner for a friend that is attending OBC but is bikeless (how we are friends with people without bikes is beyond me).
Not everyone can attend OBC but everyone can read the magazine for free so we will be covering as much of the show as possible. Kustomized Bicycle Magazine is doing numerous prescheduled photoshoots while we are there and will also be taking pictures of various aspects of the weekend. Therefore we have photographers in the office packing gear, printing Permission of Photography forms, numbering SD cards and batteries as well as cleaning lenses. The biggest thing happening with this group is the cleaning of camera bags. Camera bags are the normal catch all for everything. Personally I have found parts of cameras I don’t own anymore, show cards and paper flyers over a year old and a candy bar wrapper tucked into the deepest recesses of a side pocket. No photographer wants to carry a 40 pound pack on their back so this is one of the most important duties on the pre-trip list.
It is only a few days before our caravan to Sin City. If you see us there please stop by and say hi. If you have ideas to make the magazine better we are open for that conversation. If you want to buy us a beer we are definitely cool with that. Or if you would like to purchase a t-shirt to help payer our server bill due this month that would be awesome.
 

2016 Custom Builder Challenge winner Danny Hazelwood

Here it is kids, the winner of the Custom Builders Challenge 2016. Dan Hazlewood of King Zebba Custom Cruisers spent the last months sweating in the shop creating the masterpiece called “Jokers Wild”.  His entry to the contest is a true work of rideable art and definitely is worth the title awarded. This bicycle is completely custom built and followed the rules of the Custom Builders Challenge having a completely custom frame and custom suspension fork.
Dan’s initial design went chopper style which is always a crowd pleaser. The frame and forks were fabricated from rolled square tube and in a somewhat abstract but flowing design. The tight backbone and down tube at first glance would lead you to believe that they were a single piece. With the addition of two additional pieces tying the two tubes together from the head tube create a stunning “tank” look reminiscent of the chopper coffin tanks of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
The bottom bracket shell floats in the air thanks to the downtube following the backbone then suddenly jutting forward to capture the pedal placement. Each tube has a very attractive and distinct arc that are both graceful and add to the distinct style of the frame overall. The sissy bar really stands out and is used not only as a thing of beauty but also keeps the rear motorcycle fender in place.
The front fork is longer in length than a normal bicycle fork giving the bicycle that aggressive chopper look. The suspension is made of a dual pivot at the top of the fork that is full adjustable through a dual spring / damper set-up. A single wave disk brake gives this bike the needed stopping power. Tied all together at the top of the fork is very clean integrated headlight mount. What makes this award winning machine stand at the top of the heap is all the small unnoticeable details that takes a while to pick up on. With the front fork notice the brake cable is ran through the tube to keep it hidden and keeps the whole assembly clean. Another outstanding detail is the hidden rocker switch in the backbone. Dan ran the headlight and taillight wiring through the frame and this rocker switch controls both the front and rear lights.


Jokers Wild’s drivetrain consists of Paul's Components Cranks and front hub. The aluminum chainring and crank arms are anodized in black keeping the look subtle. The Royal Flush chain ring defines the "Jokers Wild" name. On the end of the crank arms are a set of VP black oxide pedals. Adding a polished nickel half link chain moves the driving motion to the Sturmey Archer 3-Speed rear hub. Hooked to the rear hub is a disk brake. The whole rear assembly is adjusted through a set of Profile Racing tensioners. To row through the gears when needed Dan added a Boxkars shifter to the bottom chain stay and has a royal flush shifter arm to match the chain ring and is also anodized in black. 
Rolling stock is the rear 26”x4” black rear wheel completed with a fat 26x3.0 Duro tire while the front has a 29”x2” with Freedom Cruz C-Mute rubber.
For comfort Dan added a black Gyes dual spring saddle and matching tool bag the Jokers Wild.
What sets this bicycle apart from the rest is the three stage powder coat. The frame, fork, fender and sissy bar where all sprayed with “Emerald Luster” powder done by Daytec powder coating. In the shade the whole machine looks mysterious in black but when the machine rolls into the light the emerald green and pounds of metal flake explode. For the final detail some very complimentary lime green pin striping by Brad King was added to nearly every tube that only accentuates the profile of the frame.
Overall this machine is more than worthy of winning the Custom Builders Challenge and will be considered one of the best bikes of the year. It was an extremely tight competition but the overall profile, quality of craftsmanship and all the little details pushed Dan Hazlewood’s above the very worthy challengers.

Al's Ride

Al Aruth has been build bikes for quite some time. He knows what is cool and also knows what is a good deal. One day he noticed that one of his friends had a set of Electra wheels up for sale. Of course he couldn’t really miss them because of the color. Being a pretty good deal, Al jumped on the wheel deal and brought them home. Sometime later he spied a Lowlife Bikes “Undertow” frame. They were working out a deal when Gary Sheron took the frame to OBC. Unfortunatly it was sold at the show so Gary built Al one just for him. Al was more than comfortable with the quality of frame when buying unseen as this isn’t the first frame he has purchased from Lowlife Bikes. After the frame was massaged and sent Al had it powder coated in Granny Smith Apple by Dylan’s Powdercoating.
The wheels that started this build are a set of 26” Electra wheel fitted with a standard front hub and a Shimano Nexus 3 speed rear. The Nexus swaps gears with the help of a Skull topped Boxxcar shifter purchased from Lowlife bikes. Fitted around the wheels is a set of Boa-G 26”x3.45” tired purchased from the Rat Rod Bikes forum store front.
Up front is a chrome triple tree fork and headset from Bicycle Designers. The headset was topped by a polished neck. Wanting some of the best bars around to steer this bike in the right direction Al called Chop Shop Customz and had Chad Morgan send him a custom made set of bars also powder coated to match the frame.
In front of the fork and just below the bars Al bolted on an antique boat light (S&M Lamp Co. #90) converted to LED using an 1157 LED bulb. Above the light is a custom designed tool bag made by Robert Martinez at R&R Leather.
All in all Al put together a bike starting with a good deal on a set of wheels. Funny how that happens.
 

Alchemist Custom Bicycles

Alchemist Custom Bicycles has been a part of the biking community for many years. We first came across the Deven Science moniker back in the days on Rat Rod Bikes. What caught our eye initially was all the early styled builds (who doesn’t love a boardtrack styled bike). Over the years Deven has made a few changes which is where Alchemist Custom Bicycles came from. Deven was selected to compete in this year’s Custom Builders Challenge putting him up against some of the best builders. We are excited to see his entry as his builds are never the run of the mill. Kustomized Bicycle Magazine had a chance to talk with Deven and pick his brain on being a builder in the cycle world.

 

(KBM): When did your shop form and what is your background pertaining to fabrication and design?
(Deven Seymour): I started building bikes seriously in 2011, after returning from my final deployment to Afghanistan. I saved up a good chunk of change while overseas, and dropped a few thousand to set myself up to do some fabrication. The name Alchemist Custom Bicycles was born in 2013, in my attempt to turn it from a hobby into a hobby/side business. Before that, it was just known as Deven Science Labs, since Deven Science is my name online almost everywhere.
As to background, I was a Steelworker in the Navy Seabees for 20 years, and I do pipefitting as my day job. I love working with metal.
(KBM): Who originally got you into bicycles and can take credit for your hands-on interest?
(Deven Seymour): This is an almost sad answer, but it was mostly those various motorcycle building shows on Discovery and TLC. I wanted to build a motorcycle, and did end up building one before I got into bicycles. But it took five years, and lots of money, and dealing with the CHP, and the DMV. When I sold it at a HUGE LOSS, I thought, bicycles might be a way to channel this energy, without as much time and expense. I've since become fascinated with human-powered vehicles. If I had the room for it, I'd be working on a human-powered boat, and plane, as well.
As to influence within the biking community –just so I don't blow off your answer completely. I entered a couple of bikes I built into my first bike show, and one –the Bed Frame Bike– got me on the local morning show Good Day Sacramento. That drew the interest of Ted Florez, who leads a lot of the custom bicycle events in Sacramento. He runs the monthly 2nd Saturday rides, and the Sacramento Cyclefest bicycle show. I was building mostly freakbikes, like the Bed Frame Bike, or cutting up and stretching vintage bikes, and he started commissioning me to build him stretched cruiser stuff. Ted has become a real friend, and someone I turn to for advice.
(KBM): What is your favorite bike you have built to date?
(Deven Seymour): Probably the Shelgin. It's a vintage cut 'n' hack job. I took a '39 Elgin that had a damaged headtube, and mated it with a '50s girl's Shelby, using both tanks, and a lot of sheet metal. It's actually a very comfortable ride, with 8" of stretch, and the Shelby Shock-Ease fork.
(KBM): With the explosion of the custom bike world in the last few years where do you see this scene going?
(Deven Seymour): That's a tough question. I hope the fat tire trend dies down soon, but it just seems to be getting worse! I poke fun at that trend a bit, because I am not a fat tire guy. I see more and more people figuring out that they can do this stuff on their own. We'll see more homemade frames at O.B.C. every year. It's tough for new people just starting out, as they compare their work to the best of the best there at the show, and they say, "I'll never be up to that level." It can be discouraging. But I suspect that as time goes on, more folks will realize that they all don't have to be shiny show bikes. You can make your bike out of junk steel from the scrap yard, and end up with something cool, that's only that much cooler because you can say "I made this." As the prices of custom frames, wheels, and other parts continue to go up, we'll see more DIY bikes out there.
(KBM): If someone hasn’t seen an Alchemist Custom Bicycle bike how would you describe its style?
(Deven Seymour): A mix of old and new. One theme that I continue to try to explore is vintage parts on a new custom frame. I've done it a few times, but I haven't looked at any of them yet and been able to say, "Yes! That's it, that's what I envisioned," so I'll continue to experiment with that. I do build new cruiser frames, but I still do a lot of cut 'n' hack vintage stuff as well. I don't think I'll ever fully abandon that. I love the looks of vintage parts and bicycles. They were made with such care, and such style. No modern custom part beats, say, an Evansaction springer fork for style.
(KBM): Is your shop a one stop shop? Do you build custom bikes that are ready to ride or a series of pieces that can be purchased together?
(Deven Seymour): Mostly the way it breaks down is, I make frames for customers, and complete bikes for me. Now, I've always got a few bikes for sale, because I build so MANY bikes for me, that I've got to make room.
While not exactly a one stop shop, I do a lot of other welding jobs, not always bicycle related. I recently made a metal shelving unit for a guy to display his collectible soccer balls. People will come to me and say, "this is cracked," or "I want this seat tube angled back more," and I'll do that kind of thing.
(KBM): What is your favorite style of bike to build: chopper, bobber, stretched cruiser?
(Deven Seymour): I'm not a chopper connoisseur. I mostly build stretched cruisers, but I also really enjoy building boardtrackers, and some bobbers. The 1920s boardtrackers might as well be porn to me, they're such beautiful machines.
(KBM): When not in the shop building bikes what do you spend your time doing?
(Deven Seymour): I've got my day job, doing plumbing and pipefitting, of course. I watch a lot of movies. I drag my family to as many movies as they can stand. I'm one of those guys that knows all the actors names, who directed, edited it, who did the music, etc.
My 13 year old son and I do a silly podcast on YouTube called SodaGeeks, where we taste and talk about crazy, or gourmet sodas from all over. Each episode is only like 5 minutes, and gets like 7 views, but we enjoy doing it.

 

(KBM): What is your favorite tool in the shop and what is usually playing on the stereo?
(Deven Seymour): My favorite tool is probably my oxy/acetylene set up. My frames are mostly gas welded, as I enjoy the process, and the very different look it gives. I use it to heat, cut, harden, temper, anneal, forge, and on and on. That was the best investment I made in that initial purchase of shop supplies five years ago.
As to the stereo, I mostly listen to podcasts when in the shop. I'll throw music in there, such as Rammstein, or Devo, but mostly, it's the Film Junk podcast, or Doug Loves Movies, or Freakonomics Radio. Two out of the three I just named are about movies. Told you I love them!
(KBM): If a person hasn’t had access to the settings, tools, and skills like welding, fabrication, paint, etc. What is a good first step to take in learning what it takes to build a project bike?
(Deven Seymour): First, I would say to learn how to build a bike, period. Before you get custom, take whatever bike you have, disassemble it, and put it back together. Learn the full mechanics of a bicycle. The bearings, how the bottom bracket works inside, how the head tube and steer tube marry together. Then, once you have the knowledge, you might be in a better position to make alterations or upgrades to any of those things.
(KBM): What is next for your shop? Upcoming projects, lines of parts?
(Deven Seymour): I'm evolving a bit, and expanding what I do so that it's not all about bicycles. I'm just starting to make little sculptures out of scrap and other doodads that I've collected over the years. I recently made a 30's rat rod car out of scrap steel, skateboard wheels, plumbing parts, and nails. Doing something so different has really re-energized me in the shop. I've actually successfully sold every one I've made so far, and plan on continuing to make them as I see parts and pieces that inspire me to do so. I got the idea for one sculpture when I replaced two wheel lugs on my brother's van that had sheared off, and I noted that the lugs looked like little engine cylinders. So, I made a small boardtracker sculpture around them. Came out great, and I had never done anything like that before.

Custom Mag Wheels

Normally we have a hands-on tech article as this monthly feature but this month we are changing it up a bit. Every bike builder has a thing for wheels. A bicycles rolling stock will make or break a build. Lately hoop size has gotten bigger and wider that the normal 26” x 1.75” that was the go to-for so many years. But let’s face it, spokes are spokes. I remember in my early years wanting a set of mags for my BMX bike so bad. Even now I want a set of mags for my custom builds but where can I get them?  Not many of us have 250K worth of high end CAD/CAM equipment laying around the garge. There has been one or two builders that dropped a wallet full of cash to get some custom wheels milled but now days it is very rare.
Luckily we were doing some research and came across Ray Pena and is company Custom Sulky Wheels. Once we heard that his company was doing custom milled wheels regularly we had to get ahold of him and see what was what. Kustomized Bicycle Magazine was able to interview Ray and get the skinny on custom wheels, what he can do for us custom bicycle people and what can be done.


(KBM): How long have you been making custom wheels and how did you get started? –
(Ray Pena): We have been making wheels for just over 5 years now, and we must have made thousands of wheels in that time. We got started making wheels, kind of by accident. Our first wheel customer was an unmanned aircraft manufacturer that need MUCH better wheels for his aircraft than the plastic ones that were available. We designed, engineered and manufactured several thousand custom aluminum UAV wheels. A few years later a customer came into our shop and wanted to make a custom wheel for harness racing that no one had ever seen and wanted to place an order for them. We designed and engineered the wheel (which included being strong enough to be kicked by horses) and we also had to engineer the hubs for these custom wheels which is why we have a bolt-in hub design. As you know when machining, there are design, drawing, programming expenses as well as custom fixtures and tooling. The customer simply did not want to incur that expense of manufacturing the wheel (which was about 15K), simply the direct cost of the wheel. We agreed, with the express condition that we owned all the fixtures and tooling as well as the engineered method of manufacturing. Seeing that I needed to recoup the large expense of setting up the wheels, I started Custom Sulky Wheels to market our wheels worldwide, not knowing if it would work out. PS....it did.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVP26G4XREI
(KBM): From the video you published on YouTube it looks like the wheel material is 6061 ½” thick aluminum. Is this the material normally used? Have you ever used a more exotic material?
(Ray Pena): Yes, the material is 1/2" 6061. We normally use that grade and thickness of aluminum however we love to experiment and our manufacturing methods affords us the ability to experiment. Some other materials we have played with over the years are polypropylene, ACM (aluminum composite material) and a riveted composite of several layers of aluminum, think of it like an airplane wing construction except the skin is on the inside and the ribs are on the outside. I have another "unusual" wheel material in the works, so I don't want to disclose it just yet.
(KBM): Do you have in house wheel designs that can be purchased? If a customer wants a very specific design do you have the CAD software to bring their design to life or would the customer need the design modeled then sent to you?
(Ray Pena): we currently have well over 80 wheels designs that we have already engineered for manufacturing. If someone wants a custom wheel, yes we can. the back of our business cards have a rim with tire and a hub, and we encourage customers to draw what they want a wheel to look like...and we WILL find a way to make it work. We have many different CAD and CAD/CAM software we use to model, design and ultimately manufacture wheels....all kinds of wheels. I should probably mention that I was an architect for 10 years before getting into the precision machining and fabrication business, design and engineering is in my BLOOD!
(KBM): In your video it shown you installing what looks to be a custom milled rear hub. What kind of hub is interchangeable as far as the internals?
(Ray Pena): our Hubs are engineered for our wheels, they won’t fit any other wheels nor will any other hubs fit our wheels. Our hubs were engineered for performance and the reality is, we could not find anything available on the market with the characteristics we were looking for, so we designed and manufactured our own. The current hub is in its 3rd generation design. The beauty of the design is that any of our previously manufactured wheels will accept our current hubs and all the wheels we currently manufacture are future compatible/upgradable.
(KBM): If someone wanted to use a different hub such as a Shimano 3 or 7 speed would you be able to accommodate something that custom?
(Ray Pena): absolutely, we have not yet had the opportunity to adapt a 3 or 7 speed hub but we certainly can machine a wheel (and the hub) to accommodate the mating of a custom component. We suggest that if the customer wants to incorporate something unusual, all they have to do is send it to us so we can engineer the wheel around it.
(KBM): Wide custom wheels are all the rage currently and there are manufacturers making non-drilled hoops in various diameters with thicknesses in 57mm, 80mm, 100mm and even wider. Would you be able to accommodate wide hoops with custom milled wheels?
(Ray Pena): Certainly. The skull wheels we call "rock and roll creep show" have 50mm wide Mulefut rims in a 29er diameter with 3" wide tires. Those are the widest we have made but size is not an issue. The biggest wheels we have worked on are 60" diameter tractor wheels.
(KBM): Builders definitely have issues with using off the shelf parts and still keeping a proper chain line. Along the same lines as the custom wheel widths is there a possibility for custom wheel offsets?
(Ray Pena): yes! The skull wheels are for my own personal fat tire project, and i have designed a special 6" wide hub to accommodate the wheel. The interesting thing is I had to make the wheels first and engineer the bike around the wheels....so the rear wheel hub has a modular design (prototype complete and production will start shortly) that will allow for custom offsets, either by us or by any builder. I also designed a one-off bolt in crank assembly in order to establish the chain line, so that I can then establish my offset, which is where the modular offset idea was inspired.
(KBM): What are the current lead times for a set of custom wheels once the design is approved by both you and the customer?
(Ray Pena): once the design is approved (and deposit made) we usually can get CUSTOM made wheels out in 1-4 weeks, depending on scheduling.
(KBM): Once the wheels are machined and assembled do you supply and finishing services like polishing, paint or powder coating?
(Ray Pena): We have a local shop that does all of our powder coating, and they do a great job. Ultimately it is up to the customer what finishing they want us to do. We supply the wheels as complete and ready to roll, with covers or without, and as "wheel kits" with all the parts you need to finish and assemble the wheels yourself. As of yet we have not had any requests for polishing, although we have had wheels chrome powder coated.
(KBM): Our readers are very knowledgeable with the pricing of custom parts. Frames can cost anywhere from $400.00 to $1500.00 pretty easily. We also realize the more machining time costs more money. But what is the average ballpark price of a set of custom wheels like the ones filmed for your video?
(Ray Pena): the customer whose wheels featured in the video, purchases 10 wheels at a time, several times a year so they are a wholesale customer, but the average pair of wheels are $1400-1500 USD. The most expensive set we have made to date were the "NZ silver fern" wheels which were $2800/pair...the customer ordered 2 pairs.
(KBM): By watching the video we know the wheels are bolted to the hoops. Could they be TIG welded or would bolting be better since there is always the possibility that a hoop can be damaged and need to be replaced?
(Ray Pena): as you know, welding is not a "precise" method. As you weld, even if you are firmly fixtured, the material has a tendency to move. Which will guarantee you will never have a "true" wheel. If you noticed in the video, we actually perform the truing operation twice; once before drilling and again before securing. This means we can hold a tolerance for true-ness of .003" to .005" with a max threshold of .012". A welded assembly will not allow you to get those results. Additionally as you pointed out, replacement of a damaged rim will be impossible. We replace rims about once or twice a year for our customers. It’s rare but it does happen, and at a cost of 90% less than a replacement wheel!
(KBM): What is your contact information for people interested in getting a set of custom wheels made?
(Ray Pena): Since we are a small family business that serves a worldwide market the best way to get a hold of me is by email ray@customsulkywheels.com (attached is the rest of my contact info).
There you have it folks. You can have custom mag type wheels. They look super cool and can definitely set you bike off from the others.
 

Topek FLashstand Fat

Tell us this hasn’t happened to you…you are rolling through the cruise spot and get a little thirsty after the long ride and decide to stop and garb a drink of some kind. You pull your custom framed into a safe spot only to realize that you don’t have a kickstand. What are you going to do? You can lean it up against the wall or a local tree? Just lay it down on the sidewalk?
Of course you don’t have a kickstand. No kickstand ever made has been able to fit a custom frame without ruining the frame’s lines or detracting from the custom paint.  At Kustomized Bicycle Magazine headquarters the Gut Punch has been sitting on a block of 2”x4” for the last month or so. Riding around with a block of wood to hold up your bike isn’t that cool either.
After some research we found the Topeka FlashStand™ FAT which is a cousin to the original slim model. It is a pretty interesting design. The stand slips over the non-drive side crank arm of your bike and has two rotatable legs that once unfolded holds your bike up. The specifications say it will hold a max weight of 44 lbs., weighs 9.72 oz. (276 g) and has measurements of 3.8”x1.2”x6.2” folded and 7.8”x5.3”x6.5” open.  It is main body is made from cast aluminum with other pars made from an “engineering grade” polymer.  The height is adjustable to accommodate several bikes and the leg tension is also adjustable.  We thought this might fit our needs so we ordered one up and waited for the big brown truck to drop off the little brown box.
Upon arrive we opened the box and were pretty surprised at the overall design. It actually looked really cool. The button on the lower front that locks the adjustability in height felt really firm and locked into place with a snap. Unfolding the legs was simple and they didn’t flop around. They folded tightly against the body of the stand. The sleeve that the crank arm slides in is the plastic part (as well as a coating around the folding legs). It seemed firm and has a pretty open area for the crank arm to slide in. This assembly may be a little tall for our use on the Gut Punch bike but the plastic sleeve was easily removed but just sliding it out of the aluminum housing. The housing also has an open area and a slot for the pedal axle.
We had decided we needed to take a look at the Gut Punch and see how it was going to fit. We headed to the shop to see what it can do. The Gut Punch has Mission BMX Transit Cranks. With the pedal threaded boss the depth of the crank wouldn’t fit in the stand. We rolled the downhill bike from the corner and tried the stand. The Shimano XT Dyna-Sys FC-M785 wouldn’t fit in the stand because of the width of the crank.  As far as the sales description (fits most bikes)…either we have weird bikes or we aren’t “Most”. I grabbed the errand runner fixie from the rack and the stand fit well around the no-name cheap crank and pedal. So the fixie was named the test subject.
The height adjustment was simple. We held the fixie up straight and pushed the button on the stand body.  The stand raised perfectly with a push of the button and we set the stand with about 2mm of space between the stand and the pedal axle in its lowest position. We leaned the bike over to let the stand bare the loud and the bike rolled forward and slipped out of the stand. After several tries we finally got the bike to balance. But if anyone touched any part of the bike it would roll out of the stand. Since no one has locking brakes now days we realized that this isn’t working well. Thinking that leaning the bike over a few more degrees might keep it from rolling around we took the stand down one segment in height. We balanced the bike again and were pretty proud of ourselves until the fixie hit the floor. With this stand you have to be anywhere from 87-90 degrees or the stand won’t hold the weight. For something that is made for “Fat” mountain bikes having an 18 pound fixie topple it over didn’t bode well. Obviously in some perfect parallel world this stand may work well but here on earth it just doesn’t. We ended up boxing up the Topeka FlashStand™ FAT and sending it back.  For now Gut Punch will lean against the work bench when not in use.
Review:
Taste: cold and metallic
Smell: cardboard like with a tinge of nylon.
Touch: seemed like a quality product with good weight to it.
Look: Yeah, it looks pretty cool. Like a Thule Space pack that fits in your pocket.
Pros:
None
Cons:
It didn’t fit 2 of 3 bikes we tried it on
It is a balancing act. Anything free rolling will roll right out of the stand on a flat smooth surface. Maybe on carpet it might work better.
Bike has to be nearly perpendicular (within a few degrees) to the floor or it won’t be able to hold up the weight.

vans cult odi prolock grips

Vans Cult / ODI Lock On grips
Picking your grips is like picking your shoes….it is a very personal thing. Being a Vans guy (I got my first pair when I was 11 which would make it sometime in the very early 80s) I was pretty excited when Vans Cult came out with their line of grips. I was really happy with their grips on both a visual and performance aspect.
How could you go wrong when:
They have the VANS® Waffle sole design
Come in every color under the rainbow (and some not found in the rainbow)
Are sticky straight from the box and only get stickier over time
Have the perfect durometer rating (hardness of material)
Wear much better over time than other grips we used.
On the other hand I really like the ODI Lock-On Grips on my quads. They are super easy to put on and take off, the Lock-On system has held up really well even when slammed against trees, rocks and other riders.
When I heard that VANS® and ODI had joined forces to have a VANS® Waffle pattern with ODI’s Lock-On system I was pretty sold on the spot. Note that I have used the standard Vans Cult grips on my last 5-6 bikes so I knew how they felt and wear.
"We're extremely excited about this partnership with VANS®," stated Brand Manager, Colby Young. "I'll always remember the day my mom took me to buy my first set of slip-ons. It's like one of those coming of age events that every kid should experience."
"We saw an opportunity for our waffle tread pattern to be used on other applications within the bike market and grips were the perfect project. We searched out and collaborated with ODI because of the similarities between our brands. Vans and ODI are both authentic and original brands within the bike market, rooted in Southern California culture. On top of that, ODI is the leader in the grip market with the best feeling rubber compounds out there." Sean Methven, Vans® Category Manager.
So we snagged a set of these grips and slid them on a set of custom bars on the daily cruiser. No cutting needed to get them back off mind you. They slid on easily and with the turn of a hex wrench they were tight. Initially they seemed a bit stiff but I was willing to forgive because I was mesmerized by the Vans “new shoe” smell (you know…when they come straight from the box). New they were surprisingly sticky though. Over the next few weeks the rubber loosened up a bit and became softer but the grips have not lost their stickyness. One night some drunk douche knocked over my bike in the parking lot of the local barb-que joint. Inspecting the damage later there was only a scuff on the ODI end cap. All this is a plus. I have had the standard Vans Cult grips on many cruisers for several years with hundreds of miles without any significant wear that are still sticky. After all, these grips are designed and built to take on the rigors of BMX and Freestyle racing / riding so our bar hop cruising does no damage at all.


With the standard Vans Cult (flanged or flangeless) grips priced at a mere $12.00 you can’t go wrong.
When the VANS® ODI’s Lock-On Grips priced between $20.00 and $22.00 you know that it is a great deal. O
Review:
Taste: rubbery and gummy
Smell: Like a fresh set of Vans coming straight out of the box
Touch: Firm and grippy…almost sticky a bit.
Look: VANS® Waffle sole for your hands. Awesome. 
Pros:
Vast array of colors
They are removable from your bars over and over
Bonus checkerboard lock rings….
Robust bar plugs that should survive a beating.
$20 for grips that should last you at least twice as long than the standard grip (because they are removable).
VANS® Waffle sole for your hands.

 

Cons:
They aren’t checkerboard?

 

Better CruiseR RIDE PHOTOS

How-To: Tips to Photograph Your Bike Rides
By: Sct Bur


We love to build, we love to ride, and sometimes we even take photos of our pride and joys (one bike is never enough). The vast majority of those photos are static shots of the bike.  While I'm not knocking this by any means, I find that images from bicycle rides convey more than the bike itself. 


While volumes are written about the subject of photography, here's some notes I've compiled throughout the years of taking pictures of bike rides.
I've been told that photography is just painting with light. The problem is almost all cruiser rides I've been on start at or after sunset. As a result, you wind up with either blurry or grainy photos. Blurry photos a result of a long exposure, and grainy photos a result of a high ISO on the camera (ISO is the sensitivity of your camera to available light). Because it is impractical to carry a tripod or flash on a ride, you want to look for a camera that has a good ability to minimize noise at a high ISO. To see some samples without buying 100 different cameras, check out www.imaging-resource.com and look at the low light test images (they do this for all the cameras they review).
Besides having a good camera body, you want a fast lens to let as much light in as possible. Now what is a fast lens? Stamped on the front or side of the lens body is a number that starts with an "F" and you want this number to be as low as possible, usually F1.8 or less.
Does this mean you need an SLR and lens that requires a second mortgage, no. While I used to use a low end SLR (Nikon D5100), nowadays I use a Sony A6000, which Sony only considers an advanced amateur camera. Another tip on shooting bicycle rides you're riding in, invest in a camera sling camera strap (Blackrapid is the original but many variants are out there). Being able to hang the camera to one side makes it much easier than fighting to keep it from hitting the handlebars while riding.
Now with equipment out of the way, let's move onto technique. For settings on the camera, I force the flash off (too slow a cycle time), auto ISO because I can work with a grainy image better than a blurry one, and then put the camera into program mode or auto. Its looks better to have the riders coming towards you in an image so you have to ride ahead of the group, pull off to the side, take a bunch of photos as the group rides by, catch up to the group and repeat. I'd strongly discourage you from trying to take photos while pedaling. I did this for a couple years, but last year had an incident on a ride where I fell off the bike and tore my rotator cuff (no surgery but it still aches sometimes). Going back to the concept of painting with light, even with good equipment handheld night shots are difficult, so another tip is to set up and take shots where the subject is under a street light. Strange as is it sounds, the extra light aids in focusing and image quality. Finally, take as many pictures as possible. Its digital, you're not spending $.50 every time you push the button, and you're lucky if one in ten come out useful.
So after taking copious amounts of photos, time to move onto processing. Plenty of packages out there and many different techniques, but here’s what I do. After downloading all the photos onto the computer, I look through each one again and cull what I plan to process (see the one in ten comment above). In processing, I usually need to adjust the white balance (that funny green, yellow, or blue color cast), and even then you sometimes need to make a choice as to what colors look right or not.  Sometimes I cannot eliminate the color cast so I end up making in black and white


Second step is to adjust the exposure if needed.


The next step I take is cropping for effect (or composition). Rarely does an image look perfect right out of the camera. Besides the old rule of thirds ( google it if you haven’t heard of this before), I try to remove empty space and any distracting elements from the subject. If you don't know what the rule of thirds is, basically try not to place your focus dead center in the image, but off center a noticeable but not extreme amount.


 Finally, sharpen and enhance the colors to make the photo have some more pop. In this aspect, add enough for effect but not too much as the wow effect wears off if it’s done to every photo.
Another example.
LEFT: Raw photo                                   RIGHT: Result after sharpening and color enhancement.