things that work!

i have along running tab of things that i like to see on bikes and things that make riding bikes better. they change based on the season and how i might be feeling that day but there are a number of things that always seem to be on the list of things that work. something that works should be repairable and dependable without fail. regardless of rain or sun, snow or mud, hills or flats. they should be comfortable and within a realistic budget. while i pride myself to be a professional mechanic and favor function over form often, i would be lying if i said some of the items on this list of things that work are no classically beautiful.

i got my first set of chris king hubs five years ago as part of the rapha continental project and have ridden them every year since. these rides have included river crossings, hundreds of miles of gravel roads, descending down rough pavement and even withstood a crash caused by doug ollershaw and that was just the first year. after two seasons of road use (and some abuse) i decided to use them for cross. they took a whole fall and winter of being raced hard and put away wet. i would like to think that i am the guy who overhauls his bike every 6 months but i seem to follow the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” principle better. after all this time, i thought it might be time to open them up and give them a proper servicing. upon taking the drivesplines out and looking it all over, they just needed a little cleaning with a rag and to be put back together. the sealed bearings were smooth as butter and needed nothing. some people might not like the sound of the angry bee rolling down the road but i say, it’s worth it.

despite the picture above, it did rain that day and come to think of it, it has rained everyday since last week. with the grey skies looming overhead in portland it is important to have a good rain jacket to keep you dry and comfy all winter long. while i have used cheap plastic rain capes for years and have tried a number of high dollar jackets too, the showers pass jacket fits like a glove and has yet to not impress me with its water proofness and sleek black ninja look. i will be able to ride the king kong classic loop over and over in january without getting soaked or cold.

even if you are wet your legs don’t have to be cold. i don’t pretend to be so cool that i have used embro for years. i am new to its magic heating action. we used to joke in iowa that we would slather bacon fat on our knees just to be able to ride in the winter but the heating power of the russisch thee is by far the toastiest embro and perfect for cold cross races in the sloppy mud. on top of it all, it’s natural and comes off with soap, water and some scrubbing as opposed to other oil based embros that are burning your legs at 3am. i love the mad alchemy.

for some reason tom waits comes to mind. “a day late and a dollar short.” this is a bit how i feel about laser cut dropouts on an ira ryan bike but this is a shape that i have used in forged dropouts for years and have come to love as my favorite. this is the first incarnation of these and some folks might say they are simple looking. well, that is what i like about them and why i haven’t jumped on the stainless steel, polished, etched, branded dropout bandwagon sooner. i wanted something that i know works and looks clean when they are all done. they weren’t cheap and the faces are silver brazed on but i love the hard edges and crisp look.

while some folks love their slr or their carbon fiber sliver of a saddle, i am always searching for old flites, turbo’s and rolls. if they are good enough for boonen on the pave then i don’t see why they shouldn’t be on everyone’s bike. granted, they are heavy and do not fit with your vegan lifestyle but they look good and ride even better. if you scuff the leather, they can be recovered in whatever leopard print or white leather you might want.  i would love to use a white perforated turbo but the reality of a white saddle on a bike that gets ridden all winter is a sad and dirty one. i find the rolls works even better when paired with some dura ace 10 speed downtube shifters but that’s just me.

the list of things that work could and should also include new sharp files, espresso makers, my white board (which is a substitute for my brain somedays), full fenders, 1970’s stereo receivers and speakers, edge carbon forks, powdercoating by coat paint shop, hats made by caroline and my lathe.



5 Responses to “things that work!”

  1. ari Says:

    My king hubs were given to me by my friend Billabong. After 60,000 miles on them and several continental crossings I have been using them for the past 5 years. Bombproof.
    Rolls saddles are my favorite. I used one for 20 years until the one side of the rail broke. I have outfitted the Ira Ryan Porteur with a White Perforated Rolls that my friend gave to me. No other saddle fits the bike so well.

  2. Johnny Says:

    Which Showers Pass jacket do you have/like? I have been using an Elite for a couple years now and echo your sentiment. Keeps the wind & rain out, even when it’s pouring. It’s pretty comfortable as well. It doesn’t pack up tight, but then it’s not supposed to. I think a set of King wheels is in my not-so-distant future as well. When it’s really nasty out, you learn to cherish those items that really work great. My most recent discovery is the Mission Workshop Rambler backpack. It’s a very worthy backpack & oh so comfy for heavy & awkward loads.

    • iraryanbicycles Says:

      i have the elite 2.0 jacket. i really like the pro jacket but have a thing about wearing a yellow rain cape. the king wheels are great. i have been using the rapha fixed backpack for two years now and love it.

  3. beth h Says:

    I have been on the fence about upgrading my hubs — even in my shoes it’s still more money than I can really afford all at once — but everyone I’ve talked to has said it’s totally worth it; and your photos of the (OMG!) Pink hub didn’t help, either. Now I just have to figure out which limbs will get me enough money to finance the project. Rats!

    I’ve using the SP Club Pro for commuting and long rides in the country this fall and winter. For the price it has a lot of nice features and fits better than its previous incarnation (The Club).

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    […]things that work! « Ira Ryan Cycles[…]…

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