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Archive for the ‘Cool Pushies’ Category

My latest pushie build, and my entry into the Rat Rod Bikes Build Off #11. An Electra Custom, built with a more European influence along the lines of a porteur bike. The frame was taken back to bare alloy and brushed, and key components like a Basil Portland front rack, Brooks seat and grips, and a careful selection of other parts to carry through the low key look.

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After thinning out the quiver of bikes in the shed, I got the itch to get some new wheels. The end result was this tough Electra, which is currently living in my dining room.

The Electra is in mint condition, it still has the moulding knobs on the tyres and not a single scratch. It even came with the original plastic bag on the handlebars with warranty info, user manual and sticker. It’s got a 24″ x 3″ slick up the back, with a regular 26″ up front. An internal 3 speed hub makes it a little more practical, and the back pedal brakes are massively assisted with a mountain bike style V-brake on the triple clamp forks. I swapped the original bars for some with less sweep, and removed all the guards for a smoother look. It rides super smooth and maintains speed well, but the weight of the forks and rear rubber means it’s an effort to throw it around in tighter tracks. Well it is a beach cruiser after all. I’m still throwing around ideas over what I’ll change next, but a priority is ditching the forks for something that feels a little less like it’s trying too hard to be a motorbike.

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Looking to get some wheels for summer? My tip is to try and find a good quality brand like Dyno, Electra, Felt, or Nirve on ebay or gumtree. Sure you can get cheaper brands, but I give my bikes a decent workout and I want something that isn’t going to literally fail and dump me onto the road. After having a hub collapse while riding a cheap shitter, I steer clear of them. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s good value! You’d also be surprised at some of the awesome bike paths in our major cities, and daylight savings is a perfect time to ride.

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The best looking beach cruiser frame around, in my opinion, is the Dyno. Originally a sub-brand of GT, the Dyno’s have a classic cantilever frame with sleek and smooth lines. They look awesome stripped down to their basics, or loaded up with full beach cruiser style guards.

 The grand-daddy of the Dyno’s is without doubt the Roadster model. Coming in at a massive 2.2m of length, the Roadster is like a 9 foot longboard or a Cadillac, just laid back and cruisey. So how the heck did a mainstream bike manufacturer get the balls to build such an awesome bike? Well the guys were bike nuts, and Jeff Souceck one of the original guys involved posted this story below on a website dedicated to Roadsters, both stockers and customs. By the way Jeff Soucek is now the Director of R & D at Felt bikes, which I think explains part of the reason they’re the guys leading the current market in cool bikes. Over to Jeff:

“It is great to see an appreciation for this bike after all of these years.  Let me introduce myself, my name is Jeff Soucek and I actually designed that frame while working for GT bicycles between the years 1992 and 1998.  I thought I could share a little incite to the project and how it became.

The idea of this Roadster frame actually was conceived after Sean Flickinger (one of the other GT Industrial Designers) designed the standard Dyno cruiser frame.  I was responsible for the geometry of that bike, and at the time we wanted a standard cruiser that would simply blow away the old Schwinn cruises that were so popular at that time.  We kept kicking the geometry back and slacking out the frame until it had –what we called at the time “6 pack geometry” This meant you could be half lit and still ride it to the liquor store and them back with one hand on the bar and a six pack of beer in the other.

The next part of the story goes like this.  Bill Duehring (Director of R&D at GT, and now President of Felt Bicycles) knew we had just designed a great cruiser, and wanted to create something to stir up the excitement of this new “standard” cruiser.  We really wanted to highlight the new “six pack” geometry of the new bike.  There was a small custom builder in the Huntington Beach California area where our office was, called HB CRUISERS.  This guy had made some super stretched out cruisers that we had seen the locals riding down at the beach.  This gave us the idea to take our standard cruiser design and “six pack” geometry and stretch it out to the Roadster length, creating a “show bike” for the Interbike release that year in Aneheim California.  This would be such an obviously different bike that it would help draw attention to the “standard” cruiser line.

So I went to work hand building the first prototype of this Roadster with the help of Dan McGrew (master frame builder in the GT tooling room).  We hand formed, bent, flared and machined everything from scratch.  Next we had the front half of the frame chrome plated and painted it custom with classic chrome darts, electric blue pinstripes, and black from there back. Even the front fender and chainguard were half chromed and painted.  It was a beautiful job done by the Custom GT paintshop in Colorado responsible for all of the Custom frames made by GT at the time.  All of the other bits were triple chrome plated to car show quality, down to the 12 gage spokes and nipples.  It even had an internal generator front hub with a headlight and internal wiring.

Once the bike was complete, everybody was freaking out about how cool it was, so it was time to show it to the boss Richard Long (owner and president of GT)  We approached him with the bike the day of the yearly sales meeting where all of the sales reps from the entire country were in the building.  We brought it up to the meeting and called Richard into the hallway were we had the bike sitting to surprise him, and as him for permission to show it to the Sales reps.  I still remember his words when he came out and saw it “Are you Fucking serious, you actually think you can sell those”.  We said “let us bring it in and show the sales reps and see what they say”.  He reluctantly agreed, and we left the meeting with the Reps cheering.  The bike was now set to be shown at the Interbike in Aneheim.  Needless to say the bike caused quite a stir at the show.  When we noticed the big guys from most of competition was in our booth checking it out, Richard had us pull the bike from the show after the first day and gave us the go-ahead to make a production bike.  The rest is history with this bike surprising all with the numbers sold over the few years it was in production.

Pretty interesting side note:  Bill Duehring the director of GT R&D during this time is now the President of Felt Bicycles.  Some of the same guys who worked on these bikes at GT now work with Bill once again for Felt.  It is cool to see that the Felt Forks/Bars, Tires, cranks and other misc. parts you put on your custom cruiser are actually designed all by the same people.  It is almost like a continuation or evolution of the bike.

Thanks for keeping it alive and we would love to see more of your work.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Best Regards. Jeff

Jeff Soucek / Felt Bicycles
Senior Design Engineer”

Anyway, here’s some pics of my Dyno Roadster I took the other day with our EK.

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Lake Hume rail trail

Easter Rides – Part 2 of 3

For part 2 of the rides I got up to over Easter, I’ll share some pics from the rail trail which goes along next to Lake Hume. Officially known as the High Country Rail Trail, the route takes you along next to the picturesque Lake Hume.

The construction of this section of railway line was started back in 1887, and was extended in various dribs and drabs until the 1920s. In the 1930s some sections of the line had to be moved when the Hume Dam was built, and then again in the 50s when the height of the dam was increased. The line saw duty during the construction of the Snowies Hydro Scheme, however its used declined after this, until it was officially closed in ’81.

As with a number of similar disused railway lines, it has now become a mixed used pathway for bikes and walkers. The great thing is being a railway line is that there’s no killer hills to deal with! The west end of the trail which we did passes plenty of picnic areas which are great to stop at and have a break, or take a picnic lunch. It’s also good for when your fiance gets tired, she can stay there while you ride back and get the car to pick her up! Overall the trail is pretty good with great views, though the gravel is fairly chunky in places which provides a rough and unpleasant ride – definitely not one for a road bike or hybrid bike with skinny tyres.

Enough of the blah blah blah, here’s some pics.

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Easter Rides – Part 1 of 3
This Easter weekend I managed to get in a bit of cruising on the pushies (in between visiting relos and eating chocolate). I’ll cover the rides over 3 blog posts, rather than just do one massive post. First ride of the weekend was in Wagga, where there were serious floods only a few weeks ago.

The levee bank which protects the town has a track along much of it, which makes for great cruising given the bush surrounds and it’s also nice and flat! I woke up just after dawn, so decided to drag the bike out of the hotel room and take her for an early morning cruise. Given I’m seldom up at this hour, I had to take advantage of the gorgeous sunrise and get some pics.

These next shots are to try to give you some idea of the level of flooding. This first pic shows the water level during the floods.

And this next one gives you a sense of scale. The blue flood marker sign is high above my bike, which is probably already 5m above the water level.

The track along the river is nice and wide which makes for good passing, and there’s some interesting stuff like industrial ruins from the old Waterworks as well.

And a few pics of the damage caused by the floodwaters. This concrete section of path has been decimated.

And here you can clearly see how the eddy created by the seat and tree has ripped up the asphault.

Another stop for some pics.

And some more pics showing the extent of the flooding. This is the entry to the Wagga Beach Caravan Park.

And at rides end. Time to head back to the hotel for a shower and a clean up, followed by some bacon and eggs for brekky!

Ridden not hidden!

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Last weekend I finally made it up to the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival. It’s been one of those events I’ve been meaning to get to for years, but there’s always been other things on and stuff getting in the way. So when a mate offered a spare seat in his ’61 Lincoln to head up there on the Sunday, I jumped at the chance.

The best way to explain the show is to imagine Wintersun, held in a country town. We got there about mid morning and by the look of all the neat cars on the side streets, the show and shine was well and truely packed. We later found out it was full by 9am! The main street was chockas – full of cars, people, stalls and a couple of bands. The range of cars was great too, with everything from rods and customs, to restos, street machines and few muscle cars as well. The great thing was getting away from Sydney and checking out some fresh cars.

Overall a pretty cool event with a great vibe, and plenty of cool cars and people. Here’s a few pics of stuff that got my interest.

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Every Australia Day long weekend for the last five years I’ve made the trip down to CRAKK. Officially known as the Canberra Rod and Kustom Kruise, it’s one of the best runs I’ve been to and I’m counting down the sleeps like a little school kid. This year word went out that they were looking for trophies for the pushies, so I decided to put my hand up. One I love bikes, but more importantly it was a great opportunity to support an event I love. Plus it was an excuse for another art project! Here’s a quick blow by blow from concept to finished trophy.

First step was some simple sketches to feel out some ideas. I figured a hacksaw was cool because it was the kind of tool you’d use to chop up a bike frame.

Make a template.

Cut up some steel.

Find an old ’90s mag to chop up. A razor sharp x-acto knife is perfect for this.

I purposely went for an old mag to get black and white pics. This will make them more monochromatic and make the lettering stand out more. I layed the pics out so I get a rough feel for how many I needed.

All decoupaged up, and drying in the sun.

For the text I wanted painted numbers. Lettering is a skill in itself, and I think much more difficult than pinstriping. I love street art so I took some inspiration from that and decided to go with a two layer stencil. First some red primer for the background and then a cream for the letters themselves. I used a clear overhead sheet, as this doesn’t curl at the edges like paper tends to. The end result is a cleaner edge with less underspray.

And I missed taking pics of the cream stencil (I was finishing it off and cooking a lamb roast at the same time!), so here’s some pics of the finished article.

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