Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vulture Knob Trail Day...Super!

Thanks to the hard work of 32 awesome volunteers, we accomplished a ton of work today and the Knob is in the best shape of all year. Completed were:

- Replaced Ant town bridge with telephone pole and pressure treated decking structure

- Bench/repaired the Fern Gully corner, the Powerline, Junk Hill, and finished the berm for the exit of the Over/Under

The work crew heading into the Under to bench and berm the exit...

- Hauled out three trailer loads of scrap/waste wood from projects over the last 20 years to the bonfire

- Totally reconfigured the Cheater's Hill longer a loose/rocky/rutted sketch trail, now a sweet high bank slope style run with a crazy fast drop in.  Should raise some heart rates.

Blanton dropping into the first high berm...

Jay testing out the final bermed corner...

The check out ride, "single track chili", and social time wrapped up a fine day with folks I'm proud to call my family.

Extra Kudos to Christi for her tireless work in the kitchen today to feed everyone, you're the best!

Thanks to ALL that came out and helped, you've made VK a place that will continue to enrich our lives and introduce others to our sport.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September Luv Handle Update

Ok folks,  here's the scoop on September Luvs...

Steel are all fabricated and the black gloss are powder coated, gonna try to get the white and silver done later this week when I have some oven time.

I'm processing the Ti Luvs right now (like, really, just taking a break for lunch and to post this)...

One mill vise is all set up for swaging the ends of the center sections to a defined width and oval shape, so that once mitered, they meet the smaller .875 grip sections.  With the Ti, I anneal the ends by heating to about 450 degrees F then into the swaging fixture it goes for a quick re-shaping.  The heat allows for a smooth profiling without any stress cracks at the peaks of the oval, a common issue with aggressively bending CWSR 3/2.5 tubing into flattened shapes.

Gol' dang...she's ugly. An ugly miter angle that is.

Working on Ti Luv handles today, so thought I'd give you a table eye's view of the complexity of the dual compound miter in the center section that creates the sweep and rise for the grips. To attain this, I have custom fixturing that bolts into the vise and a removable carriage that holds the center section allowing the .875" cutter to pass through the ovalized end of the center at just the right position, which is a nasty, long, ugly miter. Of course, we mountain bikers like it nasty and long anyways ;)

 Welding them up...I finished up the steel bars listening to some Yoko Love, now I'm pulling out all the stops and loading up Southern Culture on the Skids for the Ti...guaranteed welded with a funky attitude.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Carey's Race frame rehab...

One of the times I have an opportunity to try some new ideas, push limitations, and just see what does and does not work is with the sponsored race frames I put out there.  It gives me a chance to see what tubing choices, fabrication techniques, and variations to geometry actually do in a harsh, balls to the wall race environment.

I built Carey a race frame that used aggressive geometry for a 100mm fork, very light road tubing, and rear post mount disc brake.  The goal was to see just how light we could go and have the frame last the season.  The tubing choices were mostly Columbus, using their 7/4/7 butted profile.

Two seasons in, Carey's down tube water bottle boss cracked the tubing around the braze due to the weight of the bottle jacking it around along with the flexion in the down tube due to a longer travel 120mm fork he installed.  We left it go, too busy to attend to it at the time.

Now, with one race left in the third season, the lack of the fixed boss has allowed flexion cracks to propagate away from the vacant area...a predictable result but one that now needs attention.

Carey and I pushed through two mornings, before he had to head to work, to cut out the old tube, fabricate a new one and then spray it up in a quick and dirty paint job (a one coat paint/clear DCC that goes on quick and is flash dried) as he was leaving to ride tomorrow morning for the weekend at Raystown.

The new downtube is an OX Platinum that we bi-ovalized, 1/8/1 butted...

As Carey rides with John Shell a lot, aka "Chief", I didn't want him to feel insecure, so we gave him the title of El Jefe...the boss!

I added a little Yo skull and cross bones for each season the bike has survived, how many more can we get?

Finally, here's Andrea, modeling the newly revived frame...damn, the frame looks better on her than Carey!

We over built this down tube, insuring the lighter gauge top tube will be well protected.  We are going to do a dropout swap at the end of the year, re-paint with a killer hydrographics red boa pattern, and send him off for another season of racing.  Booh Yah!



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Trail Day at Vultures Knob...

I took half a day off and spent some time working at Vultures Knob to get the Over/Under trail option back open for experts.

Accompanied by Mikey J., we built a new bridge across the Junk Hill lead in.  We used treated 2x6 lumber for the planking, should not have any broken boards due to trail runners here again...

The rotten sections of the Over/Under creek log were cut out and the log supported on a new rock foundation.  We then armored the upstream side against winter water flows. She's still a tight turn onto the main line, but will keep the unique flavor of the feature.

We cleaned out the loose shale in the Under section and then built a rock retaining wall along the outside corner to prevent wash out rocks from filling the creek and diverting water onto the trail.  The line rides nice and smooth and with a bit more benching on the inside corner, should be a very fast exit from the drop rocks above...

Finally, we dug out wood clogged areas of the creek, allowing water to flow freely again.

We will have an organized trail day on September 30th at 1:00 pm.  Bring old clothes, whatever hand tools you may have to wield, and your bike.  We'll work for about 3 hours, hit the trail to check out our work, then finish the evening off with some provided food and socializing.  This should make for superb conditions for the fall riding season and the final race on October 13th.

The trail is in rippin' shape, get out and ride it some.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Martin's perspective...

Gday all.

It’s with great pleasure that Rody has let me write a guest post on his blog following my visit to Groovy Cycleworks.
My visit began by competing at 331 Racing’s Manatoc Experience. At the race site, my wife and I met with Rody for the first time, Rody was easy to find, I could hear him before I saw him, as he didn’t need the PA to be heard.
Race time rolled around, Rody had kindly loaned me a 29er Groovy bike for the race, it was a joy to ride (not the first loaner bike I’ve had from Rody, I might add), though I was paranoid that a fall may cause damage to the bike and/or lush paint job.
The race was fun, I never crashed, and probably managed last place in the Expert class.

Pic courtesey of Logan at
Handley, Martin BVR 2012 Expert 35 – 44 9thplace 02:52:01.46

Because of the humidity it took a good half an hour for the water to stop pouring out of my body.
I couldn’t help but compare this relatively ‘local’ race to some of the larger (and smaller) races which I’ve participated in over the (many) years in various parts of the world. I was impressed by the quality of the event, while still remaining very friendly, with volunteers who were more than happy to make the experience good for everyone who attended (not just the racers). The prize table was easily the biggest I’ve seen, and all this for a race with around 200 entrants, all for an entry fee of about a third of what I’d pay at home. This is what mountain biking racing should be all about.
Shorty after the prize presentation (which is worthy of a blog post on its own due to the unique wit that Rody applied to it), we made our way to Groovy Cycleworks HQ. The hospitality shown by Christi, the kids and the dogs was like no other I have experienced, we instantly felt at home.
Later that evening Rody and I spent a little time in the shop, where I caught first sight of my frame. It was a pretty cool experience, made even better by the fact that the frame isn’t finished quite yet. I do know a little about manufacturing and engineering, so I was looking forward to getting my hands dirty in assisting Rody progress the frame.

Next day Rody and Kalten took me for a spin around Vultures Knob, I can’t say that I’ve ever ridden on a trail built on an old landfill site, and I probably wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been told given the extensive flora and fauna. It’s a great circuit, over an hour of almost continuous singletrack, with almost every trail feature you could imagine, including a huge suspension bridge and sections where product in the landfill was being exposed on the singletrack.
Around noon, we were back at the shop to continue work on the frame (Rody had already been working on this from before dawn). Being in the shop with Rody was a pleasure, to see first hand the effort and care which Rody applies to the frame, it makes waiting on a long build list worth every second, I tried to assist Rody, with some pre-assembly work, but just hanging out in the shop talking about life, bikes and the world, was a real pleasure.
At about 11pm in the shop I was getting a little hazy, and I truly can’t remember what aspect of the frame Rody was working on, or what I was supposed to be doing. Shortly after midnight we called it a day and agreed to be back in the shop at 5am.
I never slept much, as I was still trying to get over my jet lag, so getting up to assist Rody at 5am when on vacation wasn’t a big task. As I walked up to the shop, Rody was already on the tools, picking up where we left off the night before. I spent much of the morning in a haze, trying to fool myself that I was helping, while Rody continued actual work on the frame.
Rody suggested that I go out to ride at the Mohican state forest, even though it was a wet morning, with a concrete sky, I was keen to sample some more riding as we had less than a day left in Ohio. A 24 mile ride sounded like a perfect distance for a morning ride. After being in the saddle for a touch over 3 hours, I struggled to recall another ride I’d done which had contained so much singletrack, I’d reckon about 90% of this trail was singletrack. With a nice balance of climbing and descending, mixed in with endless contouring along gullies and hillsides, it made for fantastic riding. The lush canopy which covered much of the trail, kept me pretty much sheltered from the constant drizzle, and the track also benefitted from this, with hardly any wet sections of trail.
Back at the shop at around noon, Rody had completed all of the fabrication on the frame while I was out riding. Next step was the finish for the frame and fabrication of the fork. We spent much of the afternoon and evening on finishing. Although the frame will be the first Groovy for a long time without any paint, I was stunned just how much time and effort it took to create the finish for the frame. I actually managed to take an active role, working the bead blaster, etching in the graphics. Once much of the finishing was complete, we took the frame into the spray booth. Under the bright flouro lights my novice finishing skills were exposed, as the finish was patchy in areas. Rody and I both agreed that it could have been better, but we had a deadline to meet to have the bike complete by the next morning for our departure. I decided that I would live with the finish due to my lack of skill, and I wouldn’t expect Rody to fix this, as he had already made a super human effort to get this far, and had sacrificed more family time on my frame that I deserved to receive. I’m sure deep down, we both wanted the perfect finish to match the effort which had gone into the fabrication of the frame.
We started to assemble parts onto the frame, soon we ran into a minor fit problem with crank spacers, necessitating machining some new ones. This was the catalyst for Rody to take stock of where we were at. We decided that our unspoken plan of working through the night to complete the build for our departure at 9am was not going to happen, and if it did happen, then the quality of the build would almost certainly be compromised. At around 1am Rody estimated the hours required to complete the build, there was at least another 20 hours left to meet his satisfaction. While we discussed arrangements for the bike to be shipped on to me once complete, my mind considered the commitment of a 20 hour day continuing to build a dream bike.
Next morning Rody explained to me his plan to complete the build, this included making good the frame finish which I made a mess of the day before, I was really happy to hear this.
I’m sure it’s been written elsewhere, but Rody is a high energy guy, with a zest for life that I’ve just not seen in anyone before, his holistic approach to all things bike related is amazing, time consuming, successful, and it brings so much joy to so many folk.
I’d like to thank the following people who made this experience possible:-
Christi - for working invisibly behind the scenes to make it all happen.
Kalten – for taking visitors riding and introducing Jacinta to scratching (DJ style).
Emily – for eating all the Tim Tams.
Rody –for having a vision to make dreams come true and all a whole lot of goodwill towards us.
Jacinta – My wonderful wife and life partner, who encouraged and supported me through this whole journey, including travelling uber long haul despite being 3 months pregnant.

And, in case you were wondering what this is all about, here’s a sneaky peak.

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Martins 15mm thru axle ti fork...

To compliment Martin's Ti frame, he requested a rigid ti fork, as the harsh desert climate he lives in eats away the stantion tubes of suspension forks.  The goal was a compliant fork to take the sting out of the trail, but with lateral rigidity so that it tracks well.  We decided on a 15mm thru axle design that would allow compatibility with a Fox suspension fork if he decided later he wished for more squish  :).

To get started, I designed the frame and fork around some medium numbers that would allow some diversity in fork choices in the of the nice benefits of a 650b.  If fore thought is applied, it can fit a 26" 100mm suspension fork, a 650b specific fork, and a 80mm 29er fork with very little change in axle to crown length and resultant handling. ,allowing for a frame that has long term viability regardless of parts availability.

I began by bending up the unicrown blades...

Once I had the desired shape and angle, into the horizontal mill they go for mitering...

The finished cut fits the desired steerer tube, the miter positioned to allow for offset and lateral position to place the dropouts at the proper spacing...

Checking the fit...

Work next began on the steerer tube crown race by boring out a piece of 3/2.5 Ti tube to a tight slip fit ID

The tubing was then turned on the lathe to create a press fit lip for the headset race and then parted off so it can be welded to the steerer tube...

The finished crown race for the Ti fork...

The next project was to tackle the machining for the 15mm dropouts.  I started with some heavy wall Ti tubing, some solid Ti bar, and an indexed insert from Fox.  The tubing was turned in the lathe to open up the ID to accept the .875 bar stock which will be machined for the thru axle and the insert.  Below you can see the four finished pieces; the tubing has been machined for a press fit with the internal axle pieces and a hooded relief created to allow maximum surface area contact with the fork leg.  The two axle pieces were designed to allow precision fit of the 15mm thru axle with an inset cup for the indexed aluminum piece...

Placed together, this is the final configuration of the dropout.  The piece was welded and then face machined to insure that all the surfaces set parallel to each other.

Once all the fiddly bits were done, it was all loaded up into the fixture, purged, and welded together...

The last bit to complete were the post mounts for the disc brake and the index point for the axle position.  The index tooth was machined and welded to the rear of the dropout, allowing for the female index insert to be lifted out and rotated to fine tune the position of the quick release...

A 3mm tapped hole on the face of the index tooth allows a retaining plate to be mounted once all adjustments are made...

So that's it, a nice ti fork with 15m t/a , post mount disc brakes, and silky smooth ride.

Tomorrow, final pics of the bike and a blog post from Martin's perspective on the process and his visit.



Monday, September 10, 2012

Martin's 3 through ???

Ok, so I kinda dropped off the face of the web for a week or so.  I was so obsessed with moving forward on this build that I neglected everything else.  What follows are some highlights of the fabrication for ya...

With the front triangle mitered up, it's time to start sewing it up.  Here we fused the seat tube to the bottom bracket all the way around, did a second pass under the area covered by the down tube, then everything welded up...

Welding in the fixture using a sequential sequence controls potential distortion and allows for a dead straight frame with zero cold setting necessary.  Here we have the welding that connects our head tube to the rest of the frame, the internal cable routing entering the head tube on the right.

 The front trinagle all put together, you can begin to see the slinky shape she'll be sporting...

With the front done, I began laying out the stays.  I diagram the rear end of the frame on the set up table and then determine the clearances necessary.  Here I'm laying out the seat stays, you can see the different markings and the processes they correspond with...

Bending .875" x 036" Ti is no easy task, even with my 225 pounds hanging in mid air...

When all the effort is complete, we have a compound bent stay that will accentuate the shape of the front triangle...

As this is a Gates Belt drive bike, one consideration is that the front chainwheel is a much larger diameter than what would be used for a chained system (larger size for greater surface area contact).  To insure there is enough room, I need to make a cut out of the chain stay.  I fixture up the stay on the horizontal mill and rev it up...

A quick reference on the table to insure the angle and depth are what I need, then a plate will be formed and welded in using a heavier gauge ti.

The stays are welded to the dropouts and then off to the vertical mill to miter in the BB...

 The other consideration for a belt drive is that unlike a chain, we cannot take the belt apart to get it on the frame and associated components, so we need to make a passage in the frame.  I normally will machine a "gate" passage, but as there are no straight sections to these seat stays, I had to take another approach.  I start with a solid bar of 6/4 .875" ti...

After copius machining and time, I have a stepped insert that is tapped to accept a 5mm bolt.

 I then machined a mating piece that is bored out to a .120" wall that will be mitered to meet the hooded dropout.  The hood will be drilled and chamfered, allowing us to pass a bolt up through and threading the two sections together.  Once the upper step is welded into the seat stay, we will have a near invisible point to separate our frame and allow the belt to pass through...

The stay is then mitered and carefully filed to match the curved and ovalized top tube, giving a nice flow and aesthetic...

The top tube is opened up to allow the internal cable routing to pass up through the seat stay, into the top tube, and out the head tube.

The rear end is then welded in place...

 I then machined the internal ports to allow for the internal cable routing...

and then welded them into the seat stays, keeping them symetrical, one for the rear hydro line and one for the rear derailleur cable.  The third port is hidden under the top tube/seat stay joint.

Ok, with that, the frame is well on the way.  The next installment will be on the Ti Unicrown 15mm t/a fork.