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Archive for October, 2009

JKS for Colorado.

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Here is what I spent most of this week working on. It’s a JK Special destined to be ridden in the mountains of Colorado. It came out super clean and straight and just felt like it fell together on it’s own.

Next week I start working on a project that won’t see the light of day for awhile but when it’s ready you’ll see it here first.

Enjoy your weekend,



Side-tack seat stays.

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The connection of the seat stays to the seat cluster is one of the places a builder really gets to play with the aesthetic. I build frames with both fast-back and side-tack stays and while they function the same they have much different looks to them. The fast-back have a more modern feel to me while the side-tack, like those pictured below, are much more traditional.

I construct my side-tack stay caps from scratch so that I can get the look I want as well as to save a good chunk of weight compared to the solid plug style that are so popular. With the fabricated caps the stay is hollow right up into the point compared to the plug type that are solid for a good 35 mm. The plugs work just fine but I can’t see using them when I can make my own and have them be hollow and light.

Anyway, here’s some side-tack stays on a bike I just completed for Barry. It’s on it’s way to JB today and tomorrow I start another JKS.




Where are all the bikes?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I posted a few photos on a cycling forum the other day and got a question from someone asking “where are all the bikes?”. This is not the first time this has been asked and it’s understandable. If you see photos of my shop there are only a few bikes, typically Karin’s and mine, hanging up. One won’t see the typical builder shop photos with bikes hanging from hooks everywhere. The same thing happens when I have a visitor. They walk in and look around and inevitably ask “well, where are all the bikes?”.

There’s reason you don’t see a shop full of bikes and that is that I build one frame at a time. I start the frame and work on it until it’s completed and shipped off to JB, and only then do I start another. When I get bikes back from JB I hang parts on them and then turn them around and get them out the door to their new homes within 24 hours so they aren’t here for long and are seldom seen in shop photos. That means you won’t see frames that are 1/2 done hanging from hooks everywhere. This, in my opinion is very important for more reasons that I can count but the most important reason is that it means you don’t have to wait as long to get the frame you have on order. If I have a shop full of frames that are 1/2 done I have a huge amount of time,  labor  and materials on those hooks and the customers don’t have the bikes. It’s a lose-lose situation IMO. So, there are no extra bikes here. On any given day there is the bike in process and maybe a bike that just came back from paint and that will be it.

Here are a few photos of the bike that has been in the shop for most of the last week. It’s for Barry and it’s a traditonal straight up sport bike with side tack seat stays (using Kirk shaped caps) with room for 28mm tires. Should be a lot of fun. It will be done on Monday and on Tuesday another will get started and the hooks will stay empty.

Have a great weekend.




Monday, October 19th, 2009

This falls under the “no detail is too small” umbrella. Almost every bike out there has a pair of derailleur cable adjusters and very little thought is given to them. Most are aluminum because the raw material is dirt cheap and the cost to machine them is also very low. This would seem to be a good thing but I just can’t stand aluminum adjusters. They can look OK I suppose but they leave more than a little bit to be desired in regards to function.

Most people will use the adjuster when the bike is first built up and then not spin them for a good long time. This can be a real problem with aluminum adjusters as they tend to corrode and freeze themselves in place. They can’t do you much good if if you can’t spin them. You can of course grab some pliers and give them a twist but you stand a very good chance of breaking them off and leaving part of the adjuster stuck in the frame. Removing a broken off adjuster is very low on my list of fun things to do.

Aluminum adjusters are also prone to breaking off if something hits them from the side which then leaves you trying to figure out a way to get the remaining piece out of the frame so it can be replaced.

These are a few of the reasons I have special adjusters made for me from the high tech, wonder-material brass. Brass is fantastic because it won’t corrode and get stuck in the frame and it’s also soft enough to that should you have an accident and hit them hard enough they will just bend and not break off. Should this happen, all you need to do is slip the cable out and spin the bent adjust out and spin a new one in. No damage to the frame and nothing needs to be drilled out. A beautiful thing in my opinion. That and they look really cool.

Every Kirk frame comes equipped with the brass adjusters and I always have them in stock should you need some. They will fit most brands of frames out there and if you want to upgrade you can click and buy a pair from the website.

Like I said, no detail too small.

Thanks for reading.



Curve Ball.

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and things just don’t work out as you’d hoped they would. That what has happened with a very good repeat customer of mine recently. A good while back I designed and built a JK Special for him and life was good. Unfortunately just after it was built and before it was painted he hurt his back and realized that his position needed to change a good bit and that this JKS I’d just built would not work with his new position. So I’ll be building him a new JKS to fit the new position and this frameset is up for sale

It’s of course brand new and at this point and is unpainted and at Joe Bell’s place waiting for you to pick a color. The photos here show the actual bike and are shots I sent to him during the build process. I’ve also put up a BikeCad image of the bike with the core dimensions so you can get an idea if the fit would be right for you.

The frame will of course carry the normal lifetime warrantee.

The normal price for this frameset with single color paint is $3600 and the wait is about a year. This frameset is now available for $3300 and it’s available now. You just pick the color and JB will work his magic and then it’s on it’s way to you.

The frameset is available on it’s own or you can opt for having it built with your choice of kits. Call/email for pricing.

Call or email with any questions.



Step by step.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

I’m working on a JK Special for a Gentleman back east and I thought it might be fun for you to see a single lugged joint at each of it’s major steps. I’ve chosen to feature the headtube/downtube lug and I think the photos give a good idea of what is happening.

The first photo shows the lug with the tubes installed and all of it fitted into the jig. This step is to check fit of the lug to the tubes and the angle between those tubes. I usually need to dry fit the lug a few times to check the fit as it’s being adjusted.

The following photo shows the lug all covered with brazing flux. The flux is an acid paste that, when heated turns into a glassy and smooth thick honey like liquid. The flux cleans the metal so the silver will flow properly and makes a barrier so that the metal isn’t exposed to oxygen during the brazing process.

The next photo shows the lug right after it was tacked together. ‘Tacking’ is simply put a number of small spots of braze in the edge of the lug to hold the joint together so the frame can be removed from the jig to be brazed in a free floating work stand.

The following photo shows the joint right after it was brazed and it still hot. The flux is a glassy coating over the entire surface and if you look closely you can see the silver shining through it. After the joint has cooled to room temperature it is soaked in a hot water solution to remove the flux which is water soluble.

Next up is a photo of the joint after the flux has been soaked off. You can plainly see the silver and where it has ‘wetted out’ onto the downtube. The downtube (and top tube) of the JKS is stainless and you can see how the silver wets out on the stainless differently than is does on the non-stainless head tube.

This last photo shows the joint after it has been cleaned and sanded. The sanding is done by hand and accomplishes two things. The first is that it smoothes out the rough parts of the cast lug. The sanding also removes any extra silver from the area so it will look smooth and clean under paint. The last step is to give the area a quick polish. The polishing will highlight any imperfections that would be hard to see otherwise and that would show through under the paint.

As you can see there are a good number of steps with each joint and while none of them takes all that long to do they all add up to a very full day. Today I did this process on the entire front triangle as well as adding the braze-ons, machining and checking the alignment. A pretty full day.

Tomorrow I add the rear end of the frame to this finished front.

Thanks for reading,




Monday, October 5th, 2009

Thanks to all who wrote or called about the Red bike I listed for sale a few days back in this space. The frameset is in a box and heads via Fed Ex to Perth Australia tomorrow and it should be there in about a week.

I look forward to seeing photos of it all built up and being ridden in it’s new home.

Look for updates about the JKS I’m in the middle of building right now here in the next few days. it’s going well and should be done by the end of the week.

Thanks again,


JKS Signature.

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

I just got this back from JB and turned it around and sent it off to it’s new home. It has what has become known as the “JKS Signature” paint job. It was designed for the NAHBS show two years back and to my eye no paint scheme has ever looked better.

What do you think?