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.