Requiem for a 76er

Once upon a time, there was a BMXer-turned-MTB pro rider named John Tomac who dominated the early mountainbike race scene. He later did road racing too, during which period I heard news about him crashing after attempting to avoid another racer who fell in front of him. By avoiding I mean, well he meant, bunnyhopping over. That kind of approach to things intrigues me. However, if something worse happens to those that take that kind of approach, I’m bummed.

Alpinist Ueli Steck reportedly passed away a few days ago. He’s not my personal friend but someone I’m a fan of, and someone born in the same year. What a bummer.

As you may know, Ueli a.k.a. the Swiss Machine was recognized most widely for his ultra high speed climbing, as in his infamous Eiger ascent in way less than three hours, as opposed to a few days it takes most world famous alpinists. Some say he was actually very precise and careful contrary to that public image, but I see no wonder. Without utmost carefulness, he wouldn’t have been climbing for decades. That is, one mistake can just be literally fatal.

One of the reasons I’m fascinated by such radical styles of mountaineering like what he has demonstrated is because of this insight that other sports like bike riding have in common. That’s about your stance as to how to handle the dilemma concerning safety, by which I mean it’s sometimes safer to forget about ropes and climb fast. Safety equipment such as bells and brakes, if equipped on Keirin bikes, will only make it more dangerous. Likewise, spending time on ensuring more safety in high altitudes than necessary is nothing but ridiculous in consideration of weather, fatigue, equipment weight, and other factors. Although, the “necessary” level largely depends on the skill of the person, so it’s virtually impossible to discuss it from a neutral, objective viewpoint. The only comprehensible index left will be, sadly, whether the person died in the mountains.

It breaks my heart that Ueli went to that side of the story, but the inspiration he has given to the world will still live on. Climb in peace.

That seasonal CAD fever

Just heard cherry blossoms have finally reached this area.

Meanwhile at NSP, I’ve been just drawing stuff all day long.

Working on an involute curve, which is often used for gears. Also a long time ago, God had to punch G codes for this curve into the machining center when creating the Ammonite, so he could use the finished piece as the base mold to mass-produce ammonites by injection molding in China or somewhere and distribute in all seven seas. That was about 400 million years ago, when 3D printers were not available.

Involute curves are also used for splines on shaft ends, such as drive shafts and steering shafts on automobile and some BB shaft/crank interface and rear sprocket interface on bikes. However, these curved splines have only been acquiring some popularity in the last few decades or so, and especially in the bike world, they have been hindered by old straight-cut splines. Take the square 9-spline for cassette cogs. It looks just like 9 Kim Jong-un’s arrayed on the circumference. Or the 48-spline standard in BMX. That’s based on SAE J500 or something, an obsolete standard. What it all means is nothing more than that these outdated stuff may perform poorly, break easily, and not make sense, though. Nothing serious.

By examining each and every mechanical element, preparing drawings and having factories make it, voila, you’ve got the best bike this planet has ever seen. Being a bike manufacturer is as simple as that. This way, we are striving to reinvent the wheel day after day.

Tanatos frame updated as E-gravity bike

The Taipei Cycle Show last week was all about electric bikes, with manufacturers offering e-bikes, bike companies designing e-bikes, and users coming over to check out e-bikes. We were no exception. We are sick and tired of using actual muscles to bunnyhop on the bike, so we decided to pursue a new path. That’s how and why we are updating our flagship Tanatos frame into the world’s first e-gravity bike.

Powered by a tough and proven 18v battery, the dual conical coil type countergravity device concealed in the seat tube lets you levitate with zero effort. In the photo above the g-value is set at 0.1, which is why the bike is standing still without support. By applying any negative g-value pulse, the bike leaps off the ground.

The battery slides onto the control box, which receives wireless Bluetooth g-value input from any mobile device or your BrainDock, if you have one installed in your head already.

You can also apply g-values larger than 1, which will pull the bike downward and into the terrain.

In line with this revision, all manual Tanatos frames currently in stock are sold at special clearance price of 66,200 JPY. If you’re the old school manual type, hurry up and hit your local shop!

Consideration on welding machines

Sorry, this article is only available in 日本語.

Tool making and hub overhauling day

We have plenty of our Clicker Hubs in stock, out of which I picked a few and stripped them to try some idea I just got on.

This hub can be taken apart without intricate tools, except one part.

There is a rugged steel ring screwed onto the hub shell (which is a common construction). And I want to take everything apart this time. I’ve never really heard of a process to remove this ring, let alone special tools to do the job. The ring usually stays there for life. It’s under constant tightening force whenever the rider pedals, and there is no structural reception of the force if one tries to untighten it. Okay, time to make a tool.

At first I thought it might be quite time consuming to make a tool out of some thick steel plate. Then the idea came to me that when you make a tool, it’s quicker to make it out of a tool. A quick look into the tool box netted me a freewheel remover from ACS. Perfect item to chop up as I hadn’t used it in a decade. Also perfect that it had four pawls. Two is not stable. Three is impossible to measure the diameter of.

Felt as if the god of crafts had a visit. I just whipped out the hand grinder, and voila, it’s done, with precision. There should be no excessive play, nor hammer-in tight fit. I’d thought zero to 5/100 tool clearance. And it somehow just happened that way.

It’s easy to use on a vise. These rings are not super tight on new hubs right out of box, so turning with hands usually does the trick. If not, applying some heat to the hub shell helps, as the aluminum shell has larger coefficient of thermal expansion than the steel internal.

So I ended the day with these beautiful bare shells. Pretty excited to think about what to do with them next.

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