Monday, December 29, 2008

And the number of the count shall be......

That's right, it is that time of year again.....inventory countin' time! I guess the only thing good about the current counting is the relative ease versus several years ago. Not that many years ago, we would count everything and write it out long hand on pieces of notebook paper. Each line would be entered into a spread sheet with columns for description and quantity. Then it was off to the invoices, catalogs and memory bank to assign costs to each item. It was rough when different distributors had different prices for the same item and we had no way to tell who sold us a particular Shimano Deore XT derailleur. I would manage to spread out this misery for a couple of weeks to come up with a number that was in the ballpark at best. Fast forward to today with each item being tracked on the computer. It is just a matter of calling up the entire inventory, printing it off and comparing the "should have" to the "do have" number. Once the counts are corrected, we get a nice exact (and accurate) inventory amount. All of this can be done in a day or two which is nice. The bad part is having to reconcile the counts. Every time the actual count differs from the computer count, we have to figure out why. Not fun. So if you call us this week and we seem to be grumpy, now you know why!

On another note, I talked to Grab On today about some original style MTN-1 grips. This grip has been around forever and has always been a popular item. The grip is still available but they are using a lower density foam to keep the costs down. The current foam is an 18-24 pound foam while the originals used a 46 pound foam. This made the original grips much firmer plus longer lasting. They are willing to make us a run of the grips using the original weight foam. There seems to be a decent amount of interest in the project, so we will likely order them in the next week and were told to expect a 3-4 week turnaround. So if you like a nice firm grip or are looking for a grip that looks appropriate on your vintage bike, give us a shout in a month or so.

Friday, December 19, 2008

MOMBAT press release

We sent out a MOMBAT press release, announcing the museum, to about 75 different outlets so it will be interesting to see what comes of it. So fat, Gary at Bike Radar, has picked it up . Karen, from Dirt Rag, wants some pictures so hopefully we'll get something there as well.

Here is what we sent around.


Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology Opens

Statesville, NC – December 18, 2008 – The sport of mountain biking is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in 2009, and leading the celebration is The Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology, a recently opened museum that preserves and chronicles the evolution of the sport, it’s personalities and products.

In the mid 1970’s, the mountain bike sprang to life as a grassroots effort by a small group of riders in Marin County, California, who converted balloon-tired cruisers into trail bikes by removing superfluous equipment and installing knobby tires. The first purpose-built off road bikes were made in the late 1970's when the term “Mountain Bike’ was first used to describe them, and the sport grew rapidly worldwide in the following years. The original mass produced mountain bike, the Specialized Stumpjumper, arrived in stores in 1981. An example of this model now resides in the Smithsonian Institution, and a similar model is displayed at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology (MOMBAT).

Technological innovation is evident in the bicycles featured at MOMBAT, with the evolution of front and rear suspension designs, hydraulic disc brakes and the progression from five to 27 gears over the life of the sport. Frame materials also evolved, from basic steel tubes to wildly shaped and extremely lightweight composites and metals. Artistic design and construction is also found on bikes and components as some of the best examples of bicycle fabrication are on display at the museum, including details ranging from experimental to innovative and artful.

The museum’s collection contains over 400 bicycles, including more than 250 mountain bikes. Displayed alongside the bicycles at MOMBAT are hundreds of vintage parts and accessories and thousands of pieces of literature, including period catalogs and magazines that follow the evolution of the sport.

“With our location near the intersection of two major interstates, the museum is convenient for anyone traveling in the area, and we’ve had visitors from all around the U.S. and overseas as well.” said, Jeff Archer, the museum’s curator.

The museum also sponsors the Cackalacky Cup, an increasingly popular vintage-themed mountain bike festival that takes place each summer.

MOMBAT is located within First Flight Bicycles in historic downtown Statesville, NC. Admission is free and the museum is open to the public Monday-Friday, 10-6 and Saturday, 10-5. Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to take their time to view the exhibits. Those unable to visit the museum in person, can view much of the collection on the MOMBAT website, at

Jeff Archer
216 S. Center St.
Statesville, NC 28677
(704) 878-9683

Feel free to distribute it to anyone who might be interested. Thanks to Greg and Captain Dondo for helping us out on this little project.

Monday, December 15, 2008

An uncommon Thread

Last Thursday was an all-day meeting for the Carolina Thread Trail. The Thread Trail is an effort to get 15 counties to work together to unify their respective green-way plans. Within these 15 counties, there are probably 75 different municipalities that will need to get along. I am sure getting these folks to play together is like the proverbial kitty herding. The 800 pound gorilla smack dab in the middle of this 15 county universe would be Charlotte which makes all the other towns look like little satellites orbiting the Charlotte "Sun" while trying not to get pulled in and obliterated. The idea is to get each municipality to share their plan while using the counties to fill in the blank space between the towns. In Iredell County, home of Statesville, we have 3 towns plus the county government. What we need to do is get Mooresville, Troutman and Statesville working together to form their own plans and then get Iredell County to join the three plans together. Then Iredell county works with the adjacent counties to plan joining spots at the county borders. Hypothetically, when connected, there could be 500 miles of trails connected together!! This is a huge project and the talk is of 20+ years which likely means 40+ but it has to start somewhere.

Anyway, Thursday brought together 200 of these planners to listen to experts at each phase of green-way building: planning, funding, opposition, construction, maintenace and the selling of the concept to landowners. It sure made for a long day but it was a great learning experience. We even had an exercise at the end where you had to plan and build a trail on a map with your team members. It was interesting to balance the desires of different user groups with the given budget.

All in all, a great (but long) day. We even worked with the organizers to give away a Trek 4300 Disc mountain bike to one of the participants. If you get a chance, check out their web site at

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trail work @ the Itusi

We've been gearing up for another big work day at the Itusi Trail. The new loop, when completed, will bump us up to nearly 20 miles of volunteer built trail! bOb and I have been using the machines to rough cut the trail and on December 13, we will be having a large scale work day. This is what we will be working on: Photobucket

This section is definitely going to be a little tighter and more technical than the existing trail. If you get a chance, come out and help.

December 13, 2008
9:00 - 1:00
Bring your bike and ride the existing trail after trail work.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Itusi Trail web page

Forgot to mention that I have been working on improving the Itusi Trail web site. You can check on the progress @

Don't forget that we are having a work day on 12/13 from 9-2. We will be working on the new Phase IV which will give us close to 20 miles of trail when finished!

Store remodeling

Here are a couple of quick pictures of a few of the remodeling projects that we have going one:

Shorts rack on the new porch:

Water bottle "flower boxes":

Work in progress on the clothing racks for the back wall. I think they will end up looking a little different than these but this will give you an idea.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All o' Twitter

I kept seeing the Twitter site linked on different sites so I decided to check it out. Not 100% sure about what the theory is behind it but it might be kinda neat. The key appears to be only adding folks that might have something interesting to say. There was one that just kept track of who used Twitter most often in the past couple of hours.......nothing too useful there! I will admit to liking the 140 character limit on each entry. I usually spend a little time on each blog entry to make sure it is somewhat organized but with Twitter you don't have space to think. Anyway, if you are interested, we are FirstFlightBike.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

After 13 years, it is time!

We've been in our current location since July of 1995 and really haven't changed the store layout much since we moved in. At the time, I had been working in shops for over 10 years and had read a bunch of retail books, so the initial layout was pretty damn functional. But with the advent of all of these "concept" stores, it is time to take it up another level. Our goal has to make the store more "outdoorsy" by adding some more natural materials inside. So far, we have added some displays using bark nuggets, stone and greenery. The biggest project so far has been to move the counter to the center of the store and put a porch in its place. The 8' x 16' porch has a pergola over the top plus a full cedar shake wall (which really smells nice). Wes posted a couple of pictures on the First Flight Blog @

Here is a photo of the front of the shop, circa late 1950's.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Birth of a trail

Sam and I took about 4 hours on Sunday and walked the proposed trail line for Phase IV of the Itusi Trail at Lake Norman State Park. Our group/shop has been involved in building this trail for 8 years now and, as implied above, this next section will be the fourth "phase" of the trail. It is always exciting to watch the trail progress through the different stages: lay out, corridor clearing, grubbing, grooming and finally riding (saving the best for last). I tried to take some photos of the area before the trail and will hopefully be able to go out and take pictures of the same area after the trail is constructed.

Interesting ravine that we may be able to use for trail:

Looks like the bird lost this battle:

Nice view of the lake from the trail:

If this was an art exhibit, this would be "leaf on Water":

Old homestead foundation stones:

The Holly bushes are one of the few things that are still green:

Park boundary at the waters edge:

About the only "wild life" we saw all day:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What are they thinking??

We've been building a decent number of 2009 bikes. Each bike takes around an hour to build which gives you some head-scratchin' time. Couple of examples:

Cable mounts on suspension forks: Several years ago, most bikes used "v" brakes so suspension forks came with the appropriate mounts. Disc brake mounts were eventually added to the forks in addition to the rim brake mounts. During this ere, most of the cable routing duties for the disc brakes was handled by zip ties. As rim brake mounts disappeared, the cable routing didn't necessarily become any more elegant. You have a $500+ fork with zip ties wrapped around the fork legs. Rock Shox puts a couple of bumps on the arch to position the zip tie but that is it. Several of the less expensive forks offer a nice pass through for the housing which works great! I can understand that this type of mount would be a PITA for hydro brakes but can't they even give us a little trough mount for the zip tie like is often used on the frames? At least our friends at Fox have a slick cable mount(even if the bolt is a little undersized for the task).

Disc brake mounts: I sometimes wonder if the people in charge of bike design ever actually assemble any of their bikes. A few of the recent models have the rear brake tucked up in between the stays which is very clean looking. The problem arises when you try to adjust the brake. We had to cut down an Allen wrench to get it to fit the mounting bolts since they were so close to the seat stay. Not a huge deal at the shop but if you ever have to adjust it on the trail, it ain't gonna happen with a regular multi-tool.

Disc brake rotors: While I'm picking on the brake guys, how 'bout a little more clearance between the pads and the rotor. Most of these brake rotors have a mm, or less, clearance per side. Once you finally get the caliper set, it seems like that last torquing of the mounting bolts moves the caliper to one side just enough to make it rub. And thanks to the trucking folks that apparently can't comprehend the English language or at least the words that form "This end UP", it seems like every front rotor we get is warped. The manufacturer puts a big Frisbee-sized piece of plastic in the end of the axle to keep this from happening........doesn't work. Every rotor comes with this nice wave shape built in now. We have the Park tool that is supposed to help bend the rotor back into shape but it only succeeds in moving it to another spot on the rotor. And as a bonus, this all happens with all tne of your fingers nestled right up a piece of stainless steel shaped like a meat cutting blade!

I'm sure I could come up with another dozen of similar things but I'll let my blood pressure return to normal before posting more.

Still working on the Mountain Goat Escape Route (imported) frames. The details are coming together nicely. I think we are going to order a couple of color-matched rigid forks to go with the frames. Speaking of colors, I think I've decided on orange and black as the color options. The orange would have top/down/seat tube panels in the team green color. The black will also have panels except in a cream color. The down tube panel would contain "Mountain Goat", the top tube panel "Escape Route" and the seat tube panel would have the Goat head logo. I can't wait to see 'em.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Parts is parts...

The other project that we have going on at the shop is cataloging the parts that we have. So far, we have been able to take pictures of most of the parts in the shop area display cases. There are still hundreds of pictures to take but we had to start somewhere. Check out and let us know whatcha think.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How cool is this??

From the IMBA web site (and if you aren't a member, why not?)

A proposed National Park Service (NPS) regulation change will benefit Americans by improving mountain biking experiences in national parks. The new policy would empower park superintendents to manage trails for bicycles, without sacrificing environmental review or public comment opportunities.

"Bicycling is a good fit for many national parks. It's a quiet, low-impact, family-friendly activity that provides a great way to get adults and kids excited about exploring America's most scenic places," says IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel. "We're very pleased that the NPS intends to update its regulations to better serve visitors."

IMBA looks forward to an upcoming NPS announcement on the pending regulation change, and the ensuing public commentary period. Stay tuned to IMBA's website for additional news, and to register your comments with the NPS.
Bicycling Helps National Parks

Expanded opportunities for mountain biking can help energize national parks by attracting new visitors - particularly young ones. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, bicycling is the top gateway activity that gets kids outside and engaged in a variety of outdoor sports.

"Visitation numbers are a concern to the park service at all levels and something we are working with our many tourism partners such as IMBA to address. Having worked with mountain bikers on public lands at gateway communities, I know what a great economic impact they can have on a small town," said NPS National Tourism Director Dean Reeder. "In my experience, we can sustain a balance between resource conservation and appropriate, healthy recreational opportunities such as mountain biking.

Mountain bicycling on appropriate trails in national parks will also enhance visitors' appreciation for the natural world, as parks are better experienced on foot and by bicycle than from inside cars and RVs. Independent scientific studies, including those conducted by the National Park Service, have shown the environmental impacts of mountain biking are similar to those of hiking and less than those of many other user groups.
IMBA's Partnership With National Park Service

Since signing a formal partnership agreement in 2005, IMBA and the NPS have been working together to create and enhance appropriate opportunities for mountain bicycling in national parks. Currently, more than 40 NPS properties host mountain bicycling, on both dirt roads and narrow trails. Each year IMBA leads volunteer work parties to help improve eroded trails and unite trails communities around national parks. Annually, mountain bicyclists contribute almost one million hours of volunteer trailwork on public lands.

"Mountain bicycling is an appropriate activity in many units of the National Park System," says Christopher J. Stubbs, a NPS community planner in Virginia. "I have seen firsthand what bike trails can do for a park. IMBA's folks know how to build sustainable, environmentally sound trails that bring all user groups together. I see a huge potential for bringing a new generation of mountain bicyclists into the park system."
IMBA Has Requested Rule Change for Years

The current policy governing bicycling on NPS trails dates from 1986, and does not account for more than 20 years of research and experience managing bicycling on trails on public lands. The outdated rule is directed at motorized users such as personal watercraft, motorboats, snowmobiles, ORVs and commercial trucking, mining and aircraft. Regulation changes will streamline an overly cumbersome process, while maintaining all review and comment required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

"IMBA first began asking the agency to clarify and streamline this rule in 1992, when IMBA Executive Director Tim Blumenthal met with [then] NPS Director James Ridenour on the subject," says Van Abel. "We hope to see the process for recognizing mountain bike trails will now become more clear and efficient."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Scan, have we got scans!!

I've been working on the site quite a bit lately. My goal is to chronicle the histories of the pioneering mountain bike brands. Lately, I have been going through our mountain of older mountain bike magazines and scanning in articles. Each article is then placed onto the history page for that brand on the appropriate MOMBAT page. I have been scanning press releases, advertisements and reviews concentrating on the 1980's stuff right now. There have been some great articles and it was cool to see some of the older hand-drawn stuff. It definitely fit the era. I have found some brands, like Donovan, that I had never heard of before. Apparently, they inserted short pieces of drilled-out aluminum inside of the road gauge tubing to try and achieve a lighter/stronger frame. Kinda cool.

Anyway, if you have a couple of minutes, which could become hours, head over to the MOMBAT site, hit the history link and check it out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Goat Lovin'

If you read any of the retail sales guides, they usually mention some large number of people that irritated customers will run out and tell about some type of non-satisfactory interaction with a store. Typically, it is something around 20 people. I am sure the recent guy who thought a new front derailleur would somehow magically fix a worn out bottom bracket is out there right now. We kept his BSO (Bike Shaped Object) with huge miles running on the cheap for 5 years for the guy but now we are suddenly out to take advantage of him. He probably didn't utter a peep of praise in those five years but is probably out their now trying to hit his quota of complaints.

Unfortunately, the satisfied customers somehow don't interact with people and tell right around.....well, let's call it nobody. So, it was a pleasant surprise when the email below arrived from Kees in the Netherlands:

"After I received the photos you made, I was already very eager to get my hands on the frame but when I unpacked it, it looked better than the photos. Man , this is the most beautiful steel frame I have ever seen. I'm very glad that I chose the beige colour with the black and white decals. This makes on chique bike. Actually, I currently own 11 custom built bikes (including steel ones) and have spent more money that I should have on bikes in the past twenty years but this is frame is one of the most beautiful frames I have ever had. The fork is also stunning with the special fork leg tops and reinforcements on the inside. Thank you so much for helping me out with choosing the right geometry and giving me the opportunity to ride a real Mountain Goat"

We always open these email with some hesitation due to the percentage of people complaining vs. praising. It is especially worrisome with overseas buyers due to the language barrier and differing expectations. It is always tough to pick out colors by a description and a small color sample that looks different on every computer monitor.

Two days after the email above arrived, we got this one from Joe in England:

"W.T.R no.7 got put through its paces in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain. Got to say, it still impresses me with its perfect balance and ride. Ive been riding this for 2 1/2 years now and simply love it! I will definitely be interested in a cheaper eastern made Goat if it handles like my No.7."

It is even better when we get a note this far after the purchase. Everyone is excited to get a new toy but it is gratifying to know that it doesn't wear off after the first week.

Ride on guys!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Everbody now......It's a small world after all!

Occasionally, this big old ball of dirt seems impossibly small.

A couple of years ago, a girl stopped in the shop to check it out. They were traveling from Ohio to Florida. Since I am originally from Ohio as well, asking them from what town, is a good way to start a conversation. She says she is from around Mansfield (know for its ski "resort" and prison which was used in the Shawshank Redemption movie). I replied that was cool since I was from Lexington which is just a handful of miles from Mansfield to which she replies that she is also from Lexington but says Mansfield since more people are familiar with the larger town. We compare notes as to graduations years and figure out that she graduated with my sister and played softball with her. This was from a high school of around 800 students (all grades) that is 8+ hours away.

Last weekend a guy came in to look for a bike. I helped him choose a Trek 820 as a good choice for his 3 mile commute to the gym. He mentioned that he was living out of an RV and was a traveling nurse. While adding accessories to his bike we discuss the nursing profession since my wife is also a nurse. Once again, it is a series of questions that gets us there: where do you work? Charlotte, about an hour away. Oh yeah, what department? Oh, the children's hospital. Levine? Yeah. What department? Emergency room. That's where my wife works. Then we proceed to figure out that they have worked with each other.

So here is the most recent, and most convoluted, one. In our collection of mountain bikes, we have run across a couple that have belonged to the same guy out in Oregon. They have all been high end custom bikes and most have had little wear. I had looked up his phone number a year or so ago but always hate to cold call people. I feel like some hated guy trying to sell them new insulated windows. Anyway, a month ago, Jeff Lindsay (the true father of Mountain Goat) calls up and asks about an older Mountain Goat that we have on the web site. We get to talking and Jeff is going to Oregon and is visiting with the former owner of our bikes. He encourages us to call and tells us what a great guy he is and that he has bought quite a few Goats over the years. So I call him up and leave a message only half expecting a return call.......which came just a day or two later. We talked on the phone and discussed a few of the bikes that he has had over the years. A couple of weeks go by and a good sized box appears from the state of Oregon. OOOOOH, goodies! It is 4 Tyvek envelopes jammed full of old correspondence, pictures, magazine articles and catalogs. This is the kind of stuff that allows us to post more details on our web site and is always appreciated. I call him up to thank him and tell him that we'll get it copied and back out to him. He then tells us that it is ours and as he cleans out the filing cabinet, there may be more heading our way.

OK, this isn't that weird yet? No big deal. As I sort through the literature, there is one hand written note discussing the introduction of the Raven bike and it is signed with a name that starts with a "J". Through our research, we knew that John Olsen had designed the Raven. Putting 2 and 2 together, I figured the signature was Johns. I email John and mention the note. He asked if I was going to scan it and I said probably not since it wasn't that interesting and we didn't have a Raven page on the web site yet. I was scanning some other stuff and just stuck the note on the scanner to send to John. After he received it, he emailed to tell me it wasn't his signature and was actually the signature of Jim Zorn who was the QB for the Seattle Seahawks back then (and now coaches the Washington Redskins). John told me that Jim was friends with the shop owner who was selling the Ravens and helped him sell stuff during the off-season. It was kinda funny to me that a professional starting quarterback was a bike salesman during the off-season. Guess he needed to supplement his income?

When you pull on the end of the thread you never know where it will end up. Makes me wonder how many of these stories we miss by not pulling on every thread that comes our way?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Free" the Internet

With our web site, we get inquiries about vintage bike stuff every single day. Some are looking for an old bike that they had growing up or an elusive handlebar to finish their restoration. Some of the other calls are just from folks looking for someone who cares about their passion for older bikes and are just looking for someone who isn't hung up on the new crank arm that is 30% stiffer than its predecessor. We also get a fair number of people who don't have much interest in old bikes but just found an old bike when cleaning out aunt Millie's shed. Most of them are hoping they found a Ferrari in the garage but are OK when it turns out to be a 4 door Chevy. They just want to know what it is so they can tell their friends about it after finishing the rattle-can rehab. It takes some time to answer these questions but that is OK since they are "honest" inquiries.

Along with these questions have come questions of the "dis-honest" kind. Fortunately, they are usually pretty easy to spot. It often starts out as "what can you tell me about" which is code for "can you write my eBay auction description for me". The next most popular one is the "what is it worth" questions posed by folks putting it on Craigslist since they are too cheap to pay eBay fees. I guess this is their version of research. We have spent hundreds of hours studying catalogs that have cost us thousands of dollars to acquire. I often joke that I am studying for my PhD in vintage bikes. If I put the effort into a law degree, I could charge $300 an hour to talk to people about old bikes but I don't see that happening. For some reason, anybody that can be reached via email shouldn't have to be paid since somehow their time isn't worth anything??

What got me thinking about all of this was an email I received over the weekend. The guy wanted to know what bottom bracket he should mail order for his old mountain bike. He complained that if he took it to the local shop, "they would try to rip me off for $50". For some reason, our answer should be free?? Not to mention, the impossibility of really even answering the question without having the bike in the shop plus the need for tools..........I just don't get it. Where is the disconnect? Why should the Internet be "free"?

We have started to see this mentality invade the shop recently as well. These conversations usually start with "what size shoe do I need" or "what size bike do I need"? This is very lightly disguised code for I am buying something online but need you to do all of the work for me. We explain that bike sizes depends on style, brand ,usage, model and preference. Some bikes are measured center to center, some center to top and some along a hypothetical line somewhere in space. Some brands have odd sizes, some even.....riding off road? need more clearance? long legs? riding 6 hours? After all of this, they look at you again and ask "what size bike do I need" but with less patience this time. We usually see these guys back in a couple of weeks with their new pride and joy telling everyone what a great deal they got. Then they are back in another week since they can't seem to get their 6' 3" body comfortable on their 26" bike (which is really a 15" frame with 26" wheels) and wanting to know why the shock is spewing Valdez amount of crude on trail and why a tune up is $60 when they were able to put it together with Vice Grips.

Sooner or later, we'll all figure out that cheapest and smartest don't necessarily go hand in hand. I just hope there are still enough people around with the answers when this happens.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Escape Route

We've been contemplating importing a Mountain Goat frame for a couple of months now. I really prefer stuff made in the USA (pops worked at General Motors for 35+ years) but not everyone can swing a $1,400 frame. It has been interesting to see how the whole process works and I am sure there are a couple of wrinkles that I haven't discovered yet. We have worked in the traditional Goat features with the head tube reinforcements and wishbone stays. The tubing will be a good grade double butted cro-moly and will be available in all four sizes. Colors are still undecided but I am leaning towards one "normal" color and one a little bit wilder?

It is always tough to name a bike but we are lucky since we have 20+ years of Goat history to lean on. The late 1980's imported Goat was the Trench Goat which was never one of my favorites but does set something of a precedent for the imported bike. The Escape Goat was the first "budget" oriented Goat which kinda fits. The first batch will all be 29" wheeled frames which will be like our current Route 29 frames. Take the two and put them together and come up with.......Escape Route. I like to think of riding as an Escape Route from the real world so I think it fits.

Anyway, as time get closer and the details get nailed down, we'll wee it here first!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tar n' gravel is bad....m'kay

It seems like every time I commute to work, the wonderful state of North Carolina decides to tar and gravel another road on my regular route. This appears to be the process: take used motor oil from cars that get regular 20,000 mile changes, pour it onto the road, throw down what appears to be ground up sharks teeth into the oil, put up a "Caution: loose gravel" sign, wait two weeks until the cars wear it down, come back and Krylon some stripes on the whole mess. I think they pay someone to arrange each individual piece of gravel so the sharpest edge is sticking up. As car pass over the whole mess, they are supposed to pack it down and smooth it out. While we are waiting for that to happen, all of the extra loose bits get piled up on the edge of road right where they expect the bikes to ride. Thank goodness for Bontrager Hard Case tires! Heaven forbid that anyone would ever go down on the road. I can imagine it would be like a sliding board made of cheese graters. Two weeks ago it was Amity Hill Road and today it was Judas Road. Can't wait until the get to the rest of the route.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cackalacky '08

Our 8th Annual Cackalacky Cup wrapped up last weekend and it was a blast! We generally try to have some vintage mountain bike "celebrities" attend but it just didn't work out this year. Capt. Dondo was heading our way with FTW in tow and a couple of bonus buddies as well and Rody, from Groovy Cycle Works, was making a return appearance. The bad news started Thursday afternoon when Dondo called to tell us FTW had a paying engagement and his two traveling buds were bailing out. Facing a 14 hour solo commute, Dondo opted out which left Rody. Rody doubles as a fireman and the fellow who was covering his shift had a death in the family so Rodys trip south was put on hold as well.

That was the sad part. The good news was EL, Don and Noah were still winging their way to NC. These guys are part of the vintage ATB brotherhood and come down to check out the bike collection and get in some great riding. After everyone arrived at the shop on Friday, we headed out for some traditional NC BBQ.

Saturday morning brought the competition portion of the weekend. We use the Itusi Trail, at Lake Norman State Park, for this part of the event. It is a great trail network that follows the contours of Lake Norman. We used the 4 mile Hawk Loop for the Technical Time Trial which featured a handful of benign obstacles. Miss an obstacle, get a time penalty. After that, we rode over to the 6 mile Monbo Loop for a full out time trial. The fastest cumulative time won a Fox Racing Shox and Cane Creek donated a set of disc wheels which were awarded randomly to a participant. We doubled the amount of racers we had last year and had a great time. It was nice to see about 15 kids participate. After the time trials, we took a more leisurely ride around the park. This was followed by pizzas and beers at the shop.

Sunday was a gorgeous day and we met at the shop at 8AM. Everyone piled in the cars and we headed to DuPont State Forest. When we got to the trail head, it was already full of cars. We looked at each other and wondered if they were there to ride with us. We took 13 "locals" and were met by 15 people from the Asheville area. 28 was too big of a group so we quickly broke into the "racer" group and "tourist" group. The racers blew by the scenic overlooks while us tourists took in the sights. Big thanks to David, Mike, Woody, Chuck and Ed (plus others) for showing us around.

The worst part about the weekend is that it only happens once a year!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Route 29 FS ride report

I've been riding the Route 29 FS for a couple of weeks now and have been very impressed. Coming from riding only hard tails, I prefer a fairly rigid bike without a lot of motion. The Trek Fuel EX, that we have had for a demo bike, has a very supple and easily activated suspension, almost feels limitless. To me, it feels like it is hinged in the middle and is always moving which is probably great for those who have always been riding fs bikes. The Goat doesn't feel like it is always moving but when I check the travel on the rear shock (via the O ring) it is definitely moving. The new Fox rear RP23 also has very useful adjustments. It is very easy to feel the differences between settings where some of the older shocks seemed to have very little differences between settings.

For right now, I have been riding the bike without paint......just a little oil between rides! Several of the folks who have seen the bike have encouraged me to leave it raw. It does look pretty cool but I'll probably look into paint in the near future. If you have interest in owning your own Mountain Goat FS bike, give us a shout. They are available in 26" or 29" wheels.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Goat happenings

Couple of neat things going on at the shop this week. Wes got the last Zanotti built Goat that we had in stock. We got Kees bike in which is a really nice parchment color with a matching segmented fork. The full suspension bike got a green way shake down ride to get it ready for the weekend trip to Dupont State Forest. We are going to check out some potential routes for this years Cackalacky Cup ride. It is still unpainted so I wiped it down with some oil to get it through the weekend. It is actually pretty cool looking. Full ride repost when we get back.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now is the time...... get cycling onto the governmental radar. I think we have a unique opportunity right now to raise the awareness of cycling. We have been seeing more people looking to bikes as an actual viable alternative to cars for some trips. Folks are buying hybrid bikes with racks to get to work. Most will site rising gas prices as the impetus for looking at cycling but are also attracted to the exercise, weight loss, reduced stress and general "green-ness" of riding. Several of these factors are colliding head first into each other and may give us the best opportunity in our lifetimes to push a cycling agenda. What we need is folks out there telling the money-holders that this is important to us.

The importance of this has been creeping up on me the last handful of years. When we build local trails, I am happy as a pig-in-slop just pushing dirt around. I seem to be much less inclined to sit in front of the TV screen with a keyboard but it seems to be at least as important as pushing dirt. When the IMBA Trail Care Crew visited in 2005, we were able to demo some trail machinery and I told bOb that somehow I was going to find a way to buy us a skid steer of our very own. In 2007 I wrote grants that bought us a Ditch Witch via Lowes Home Improvement, a Volvo mini excavator via Duke Energy and $5K worth of hand tools via the Adopt-a-Trail program. In our estimation, one machine hour is equal to 10 man hours which helps cut down on the number of volunteers that we need to coerce. I probably spent a total of 5 or 6 hours on the grants and they saved us hundreds of volunteer hours already which will increase every time we cut new trail. Sounds like a pretty sound return on investment??

Last month, I was invited to join the board of the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation (DSDC) which is in charge of keeping our downtown healthy and is funded via a property tax on downtown properties. Another project is the beginnings of the Carolina Thread Trail program that aims to tie together 15 counties via a system of greenways. It is a very ambitious program but it won't happen if we don't start somewhere. Because of our involvement with the state park trail, I was invited to join the citizens Park Advisory Committee. It seems like each of these organizations has some overlap in membership which means you see a lot of the same people in different settings. In each of these, I keep pushing cycling with an emphasis on the particular venue. AT DSDC meetings, it is using bikes to get people into town to shop which means more dollars for the merchants. At the LNSP PAC, it is building more trails to get more park attendance which means more dollars for the park. At the Thread trail meetings, it is pushing for more people to visit the area which means more dollars for the county. See a pattern here?

The last meeting we (Daryl, Shawn, wES and I) attended was the public forum for the Iredell County Park and Rec master plan. This is the plan that will guide the parks department for the next 10-15 years. We all gave up a ride night to go sit in and listen to the plan. They did mentions a couple of cycling related options in the plan and we just made sure that they realized there was interest in these activities and that all parks didn't have to be centered around stick and ball fields.

I guess the whole point of this is to go out and do SOMETHING, attend a meeting, push some dirt, call your county commissioners, buy some tools, write a grant proposal.....anything to help improve the atmosphere for cycling. If you don't get involved, you lose the right to complain about it! This is our time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bunny Rabbit v. Lincoln Continental

I've recently started doing a bit of commuting to work which gives me a couple of hours a day to ponder "stuff".

One of the things that I have noticed has been the large number of animals that appear to have had nothing left to live for. Maybe Mrs. Skunk was berating Mr. Skunk about his lack of motivation when searching out grubs for dinner or maybe the chipmunk just couldn't take the daily strain of nut gathering. Thank goodness we humans put a lot of roads through the woods to help with their suicide by automobile. Maybe it isn't that complicated. Maybe it is just the young groundhogs hanging around with nothing to do and playing "chicken" with the tandem axle dump trucks?

I was going to try and count the number of flattened animals on the way in to work but lost count pretty quickly. The early census revealed a chipmunk, two squirrels, a skunk, a groundhog, three birds, 3 snakes (although one may have been a fan belt),two turtles and a couple of unidentifiable fur mounds. I think I feel the worst for the reptiles. The poor old box turtle takes an eternity to clear the traffic lanes and has a couple hundred times the chance of getting crushed than say a hyperactive squirrel. Then you have the snakes. They are relatively slow but their main issue would be length. Most of the black snakes around here run 3' - 4' long which means they've got a high hit ratio when compared to the chipmunk. Now that I think about it, birds have issues too. Not only do they have to watch out for tires, they've got the rest of the vehicle to worry about. Might explain the high number of our winged friends?

If ya'll stop running over our forest friends, I'll have to ponder something else on the ride home!

Monday, July 7, 2008

T-shirt update, call for art work

If you've been following along, you know we've been doing a run of limited edition Mountain Goat Cycles t-shirts. Each shirt is a run of 100 shirts in miscellaneous sizes but just one color (except the first one which had a few orange shirts accidentally thrown in) .

The first run was the old traditional head tube badge from the original Goats in gray.

The second run was the original catalog artwork circa 1982 in brown. The art work was also used a decal on some of the early bikes.

The third edition was a new design drawn by my brother-in-law (who does newspaper design work and is an accomplished artist) and done in red.

The first edition sold out, the second is down to a handful in XL and XXL and the third is down to a couple of larges, XL and XXL. I guess that makes it time to design another shirt. If anyone out there would like to see their art work on a t-shirt, send it on. No $$$, just fame (and a couple of t-shirts!)

No real rules, I just have to like it and believe that we can sell 100 of them. Feel free to use any of the images from the web site or make up your own. Send the results to

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4 Goat updates

There have been a few pretty cool developments of late here at Goat-central. I finally got our prototype Route 29 full suspension frame in. This one uses the 4" travel Ventana rear with a Fox shock. I think we are going to try one of the local motorcycle painters who recently painted a bike for one of our customers. It came out looking great and the price was reasonable. I've had a couple of ideas for paint but won't know until I talk to the painter. One possibility was to do a NC Yuppie which would have North Carolina images such as NASCAR, tobacco, Wright Bros, moonshine..........we could start one end of the bike at the beach and finish the other end in the mountains! The other possibility was to try some Goat skeletons. The painter does some really nice skeletons and it would be neat to do some Goats......maybe we could call it the Goatful Dead? Anyway, we are mocking the bike up and ordering some parts so look for the finished product soon!

Friday, June 27, 2008

$4 / gallon

I suspect the most common question that people in the bike industry get these days would be something along the lines of "bet this $4 gas is great for your business, isn't it?". On the surface, it might look like it but I am not so sure. Bikes are still typically a discretionary purchase. Most people don't "need" a bicycle like they need food. Since most folks have already succumbed to the urban sprawl, and moved 20+ miles from their chosen place of employment, most don't consider commuting a viable option. So $4 a gallon it is, thank you sir may I have another. There goes another $25-$30 out the tail pipe a week and there goes your discretionary, aka bike, funds. And even if your job is on solid ground, the constant background noise about the economy circling the drain works its way into your conscience even if it is just by osmosis.

What we have noticed is increased repairs and accessories. People that bought bikes in the last decade, and let them become garage ornaments, are dragging out the remains to have them rehabilitated. The margins are pretty good on this stuff but it can still be relatively small dollars when compared to full bike sales. Of course, bike parts are getting more and more expensive and it seems like tire/tube prices are tied directly to the price a a barrel of light sweet crude for September delivery (not really sure what that means but it apparently hits a new high on a daily basis now).

There has been the slightest hint of an increase in bike trips but it has mainly been folks who already used a bike for recreation ,which doesn't help the bike shop bottom line to any large degree. We have talked about the tipping point and wondered where it will be........$5 a gallon, $6 a gallon or the $7 they talked about on the radio this morning. What will it take to get more people using bikes for "work" as opposed to "play. Stay tuned, we may be finding out soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The 24 hours of Burn

This year marked the 8th year of the Source Burn 24 hour race which was held just north of Statesville, in Wilkesboro, NC. Since it is so close, we have a good local turn out for the event. The Dark Mountain trails work out nicely for the race and the big field, by the lake, is a great place for set up shop. The last couple of years, we have taken a herd of Goats and let them graze in the field. It has been a nice way to get a little local exposure. There seems to be growing interest in the custom frames and folks like something unique.

This year, Darrell rode his single speed Mountain Goat Route 29 in the solo category and completed 18 laps. Other FoFFB (friends of First Flight Bikes) were Ross, David, Paul, James, Clyde and Carl. They raced in various categories and had a great time. Matt, Sean and Wes hung out for the whole event and supported Darrell, David and Ross. I took the boys up after the shop closed to hang out for a couple of hours and ride the Over Mountain Victory Trail (nice berms!). Last year, Wes crewed for Darrell, Matt and Ross, who all rode solo (Matt and Ross single speed, Darrell geared). In 2005, Ross, Matt and Wes teamed up with Bob to do the 4 man single speed team.
It was good to see that Darrell upped his lap total even though he switched from a geared bike to a single speed bike. I bet Darrell will claim that he upped his mileage by training harder and riding more but I like to think it was Mountain Goat! (Gotta be the shoes)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bike racing

I've never been horribly athletic so most competitive sports are not my cup o' tea. I threw discus, a some shop put, in high school but that was about it for actual scored competition. That may be part of the reason the bike riding has always appealed to me. I enjoy riding and can keep up a reasonable pace but have never felt compelled to "race" a bike. With kids, it is tough to find time to ride, let alone train. Fortunately, the boys (Sam 10 and Seth 13) are getting to the age that they can ride along reasonably well. Seth has even gotten to the point that he is probably faster than the old man. When we ride, he can pull away on the open runs but I catch back up on the technical sections (at least for right now).

Neal, who helps us with the Cackalacky Cup, puts on a fantastic summer series of mountain bike races, including a couple of kids categories. With Seth getting a little bit faster, I thought the race series might interest him. I checked the calendar and the race at the Fisher Farm trail was June 11. Fisher Farm is a great local trail that isn't terribly technical and,even more importantly, isn't on the other side of Charlotte (important when registration is @ 5:00 on a week night). We decide to give it a shot and wnet down the Sunday before to ride the trail and check it out. Mark Sullivan, trail boss @ Fisher Farm, was felling a decent sized tree so we stopped to spectate and then help. After the sixth cut or so, the tree was down and we were on our way again.

Wednesday evening came and we headed out to the trail. Seth got all signed up for the 8-13 year olds race which ended up being only one lap. To break up the start, Neal added in a long climb through a grassy field before going into the woods. The entry to the trail is a really quick downhill section so this strung out the field to reduce the carnage. The kids group had 5 racers in it and Seth was first tot he summit of the grassy knoll. There weren't a whole lot of places to pass so I had warned him about letting some of the older, faster riders by. Unfortunately, when one of them called the pass, another kid snuck by Seth along with the expert rider and beat him to the finish by a couple of bike lengths. The kid who beat him was named Anakin (insert, Luke......I am your father joke here).

Anyway, Seth was riding an old school Jamis Diablo with a 1" steerer tube and rigid fork! Looks like it might be time for a little upgrading. Wes had a pair of SPD compatible shoes so we'll start there. Couple other races this summer on the North side of Charlotte so maybe we'll give it a go. Might even see if we could get anyway interested from the Boy Scouts!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May Updates

For some reason, blog updates always seems to fall to the bottom of the stack of stuff to do! Just a couple of recent happenings.

Both Ti frames are in and we are working on getting pictures of them built up. The etching looks fantastic on the frames but is tough to picture.

We did get some really nice wicking jerseys made up. These are a casual cut without pockets so they work great off the bike as well as on the bike. We have been trying them out the last couple of weeks and they work great. Right now, all sizes (s-xxl) are available in either royal blue or team orange for $34.99

The Source Burn 24 hour race is next week end and is always a great time. Darrell will be rocking the single speed Goat on his first solo single speed effort. Wes is going to be crewing for Darrell as well as Ross and David.

We did sell our first "in-store" spec bike over the weekend. When we built up the last batch of frames, we bought a couple of extras that weren't painted so we could finish them in the customers choice of colors. We wanted to have one built up in the shop so we built up a 19" single speed Route 29 with a nice mix of parts and had it powder coated in red. Lee, a long time customer and trail worker, came in and decided to give 'er a new home. Looks like it is time to built up another.

The National Geographic channel ran a program called "I was Superhuman" which featured Goat Owner, Sinjin. The short story is, Sinjin was trapped under a boulder while hiking and was able to summon up superhuman strength and push the boulder off of him. Towards the end of the segment, there is a great video of Sinjin riding his Mountain Goat. I'm going to try and post a copy of it soon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring is good!

Man it sure is nice when the weather takes a turn for the good. It is great to ride on a fairly regular basis again. The Goats are all getting their regular exercise now.

A couple of updates:
-#26 arrived, got build up and is out on the trails. Joe was unsure about totally committing to riding a single speed so we set it up with stealth braze-ons so it can be run geared in the future. Pictures are posted on the Mountain Goat web site.
-#27 is the first ever (to my knowledge) titanium Mountain Goat.The etched panels sure do look great. It is a unique and subtle look. We are currently gathering parts to build this one up and will post pictures when it is complete.
-#28 will be the first Ti 29" frame and will also feature the etched panels. ETA is April 10th on this one.
-#29 is in line at Sycip and will be heading to the Netherlands when finished.
-#30 looks to be our first frame built by Carl @ Vicious Cycles. We have talked to Carl for awhile now and will be looking forward to getting our first frame from him. We have been taunting Sean on our local rides about being the only person on a production bike and #30 will take care of that issue. We are still working on the finish options but it is sounding very cool so far.
-#31 Could be you, give us a call!

-The SWOBO jersey may still live but we'll see.

-There is a new wicking t-shirt stype jersey in the works. This one will feature the "cartoon" Goat, by Gabi, standing on top of a bike. Colors will be royal blue or orange and they should run about $35. ETA of about 3 weeks on this one.

-We'll probably end up with a Mountain Goat bar end cap next time we order headset caps and spacers.

That's about it for now.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The girl in the wall

This is our girl in the wall.

You'll often see bikes with some type of "mojo" zip tied to the handlebars of a bicycle. The girl in the wall is the mojo for our shop. When we first moved into this building, in 1995, the area around the bottom of the stairs was walled off and didn't have much light coming in. I was coming down the stairs with a flash light and as the beam hit the wall, the doll eyes lit up and scared the bejesus out of me. When I calmed down, I took a closer look and saw a disembodied doll head wedged in a hole in the brick wall. It was kinda spooky but neat at the same time.

A couple of years later a guy came into the shop that worked in this building when it was five and dime store in the 1970's. He told stories about going upstairs and pulling out laid-away toys at Christmas time. After we talked for a bit, he asked if the doll head was still in the wall. I told him that she was still there and we went to the stairway so he could check her out. He said that it had been there as long as he remembered. That makes her at least 35 years old!

And now a couple of Goat updates:
-The first Ti Whiskeytown Racer should be here around March 19th. Can't wait to see the panel etchings.
-We have now placed an order for the first Ti Route 29 as well. We are doing the etched panels on this one as well.
-Mark, owner of the purple flamed Goat, has started a Blog to update the building of the beast. Check it out at

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Goat site overhaul

I've never been 100% happy with the Goat web site so it has a new "face" as of today! Take a look and see whatcha think. Hopefully it is a little easier to navigate and a little easier on the eyes!

There is a PDF file of the new Ti Goat at If you get a chance, take a look and give us some feedback. The idea was to replicate the panels of the team paint except substituting brushed Ti and etched Ti for the orange and green. I really like the look of it. As soon as we finalize the details, construction should be a short 3 weeks!

The new map on the blog is a kinda neat addition. It is fun to see the location of the blog viewers. The APO flag in the middle of the ocean threw me off at first.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Goat Goodness

Lots of pretty cool stuff happening here in Goat land.

Goat #22 finally made the scene after wintering at AirArt to get a shiny new coat of Hot Rod flames over a deep purple base coat. The yellow/orange flames really stand out nicely against the dark purple. Photobucket


Many more pictures @ and I hope to get some pictures of the built bike soon.

The first set of Ti bull moose bars have also landed. These are made exclusively for Mountain Goat by the Lynskey family. We'll be trying this set out before we finalize the specs but they should be pretty close to perfect already.


If you've followed the Goat Droppings since the beginning, you'll remember the nightmare of trying to get wool jerseys made. Well it finally happened and we sold enough that it was time to re-order. Now the minimum quantity has gone up and it just doesn't look like a viable project right now. So......if you are interested in a Goat wool jersey, you need to grab one of the last couple available. We've knocked down the price to $99.99 but in limited sizes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's Winter in Goat Land

wESd here, since Jeff has been spending any spare time on the new website I figured I would check in and let everyone know what has been going on at the shop.
We measured up Matt's beloved Rock Lobster to get its geometry for his Ti Goat and will hopefully place the order once we go over the details with him next week. Its finally just about to cold for a night ride on Tuesdays so we started our trainer ride tonight and It has reminded me just how bad riding the trainer hurts.
Russ called to let us know that Mark's frame should be headed our way very soon. I can't wait to see how the flames look in another color to compare to Sinjin's.
I called Swobo to order some more wool jerseys and we will have them stitched up as soon as we get them to fill in stock.

Thats about it for now, more soon

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pinewood Derby and "Do your best"

As a few of you know, I am Cubmaster for Pack 171 here in Mooresville, NC. For those not familiar with the program, Cub Scouts is for boys in Grades 1-5 and our pack has about 75 boys in it. The flagship event each year is the Pinewood Derby.

The Cub Scout motto is "Do your best" but as I have heard, that changes to "Have your dad do his best" when it comes to the Pinewood Derby. Each boy receives a small chunk of pine plus four plastic wheels and four nails. The idea is to sculpt the wood into something that travels down a 20' track as fast as possible. The cars have a maximum height, wheelbase and weight. The wheels and axles can be "smoothed" but not really modified. As with all racing, the winner is th one who can bend the rules the most without actually breaking them.

Dads armed with cordless drills hover near the weigh in area ready to drill out that .005 ounce in order to hit 5.0 ounces exactly. In gravity racing, every ounce counts. Being in the heart of NASCAR country, it seems like half the dads work in race shops and the cars reflect it. Some of these things are works of art with paint work that would put a Mercedes to shame and polished axles gleaming with some unobtanium lubricant.

To try and channel all of these creative juices, I started an adults/siblings race last year. We changed the rules to allow axle and wheel modifications and upped the weight to 10 ounces. There ended up being 15 adult/sibling cars which was great but there were still a lot of "adult" kids cars. Not everyone got the memo! It's tough to see the kids who actually built their own cars (as evidenced by the hand painted racing stripes on the asymmetrical body) get whooped on by kids who had no part of the building process (as evidenced by the look on the kids face when he sees his car for the first time at check in). Not sure who the "winners" and "losers" are in this process?

It is a tough process to sort out and we generally get a pretty short time to do it. Typically, a Cubmaster serves two years and the first one is spend trying to learn the system. The second year you get to improve on the mistakes made the first year and then it is time to pass it on to the next generation of leaders. Maybe, some future leader will figure out the Pinewood conundrum, since I wasn't able to.