Sunday, January 13, 2013

Work in progress

I am assembling a new bike. I know a lot of people call the process "building" a bike but I'm not comfortable with that term. It's a little to presumptuous for what I am doing. If I were cutting tubes, brazing joints, welding lugs, even lacing spokes into a rim, I might say I was building a bike. But I can't do any of that. I can order parts and assemble them into a working bike. That is what I am doing. Assembly. If I assemble IKEA furniture I don't tell people I built a couch. I just put it together.

But there is some skill and more than a little satisfaction in choosing parts and assembling them into a working machine, one that you hope will last through thousands of miles of adventure and travel, one that can do so well.

To me, a bike is also a work of functional visual art. Others have shown this far better than I can. Bicycle Quarterly, Lovely Bicycle, and Cyclofiend  to name a few  all showcase the art and beauty of a bike far better than I have.  But it can't just be pretty. There is the challenge of  taking the parts and assembling them into a workable whole; creating the flow of lines,  melding colors and textures,and doing all that within the confines of creating a vehicle that can safely and successfully carry its rider for tens of thousands of miles. The form has to function.

I grow unreasonably attached to people and things that prove their worth. My Surly Long Haul Trucker is one. It has seen me through thousands of miles and three years of successful Randonneuring. To assemble a new bike seems a little disloyal. It's just a bike - I know. But it took years of painstaking adjustments to get it to fit -just right-. And now that it is completely dialed in and proven. I am starting all over.

Maybe Sisyphus wasn't unhappy after all.

Anyway, here's a sneak peak of the new ride.

There'll be  more posts in the future.


  1. Nice to know that you can ride anywhere in the country on that bicycle.So far, the equipment looks just right.
    It would very nice with some Berthoud bags. (I have a few that you could trial- let me know). Len Zawodniak

  2. Really nice looking Hilsen, IR. I'll be interested to learn how you like the front rack, and how you mount your headlight.

    1. I have a few ideas for the light I will post a picture of the one I choose.

  3. Looks like it's going to be a beautiful bike. Looking forward to seeing your progress in assembling it.