Sunday, March 24, 2013

There are a few ways to skin a cat.

A few mounts ago, I was at the bike shop talking with the guys about all of the new rear axles coming out and all of the parts we would need to have machined in order to accommodate them.  We had about 15 new Scott Sparks and a handful of Treks waiting for fittings.  We came to the realization that we were screwed and that we would never be able to keep up, so we needed to find a solution.  After a few sleepless nights, I came up something.  

Since the rear axle configuration is different from brand to brand and the industry has not yet adopted a standard, it made sense to think about fitting a bike from the front fork.   These measurements are more standardized; 9mm, 15mm, and 20mm.  So I started measuring every bike I could find and building a database of wheel bases and axle heights.  With that information in hand, I was able to draw my design.  My good friend, Ernie Wieber, looked over my design and put it into SolidWorks.  EW then handed the design over to a friend who used his laser cutter to make the parts.


A few weeks later we had our parts back.  Seeing them ready to be put together was amazing.  Imagine seeing pieces to a puzzle that you designed yourself.

A couple of my buddies at Grunion Customs, Kevin Grunion and John Ryder, were nice enough to let me assemble it at their shop.  

Keven knurling the adjustment rod on his lathe.

It was a little nerve racking for me, I hadn't welded since the shipyards in Alaska last summer.

It was really starting to come together.

All of the fabrication was finally done, I couldn't wait to get back to the shop and install it.

We decided to modify our old table in order to accomodate the new system.

After a few hours of measuring and cutting, we finally had it bolted in straight.  It was so much fun to see Kaolin on the first test ride.  Because of the rubber mounted main beam and heim joints on the adjustment rod, it had a certain amount of sway while still staying on the same plane.  This will give the rider a more natural feel.  With a comfortable rider it is possible to get a more realistic fit.  This is somethting that was previously impossible, unless the fitter was using a set of rollers and cameras.

There are a few problems with fitting a rider on a bike that way.  First of all, it's not easy for most people to ride on rollers.  Also, fitters are unable to make adjustments on the fly.  Lastly, the fitter is not able to physically touch the rider, which makes it difficult to accurately measure flexibility. 

As far as I know, the Flat Tire Bike Shop is the only shop that can offer a fit on any bike that is currently made.  Oh yeah!  And for you nay sayers...We can fit fat bikes and Lefty's as well.  Boom!