Sunday, December 03, 2006

Custom Racks and Banjo Cycles (Ahren Rogers)

A few months ago Ahren wandered into Madison after spending the past 5 years working as a welder for Seven Cycles. He was looking for some shop space where he could do his own thing (touring bikes, city bikes, custom racks, etc...) so Jeff (owner of Revolution Cycles where I "rent" my shop space from) and I decided to find some space for him in the shop.

Since he's been here he has been able to get some small run production work building racks for Velo Orange, and is well on his way to building frames (he even has a few orders already). He's also been working hard at getting some nice equipment: New frame and fork jig, a mill complete with mitering fixtures. Combined with the tools I already have it looks like we are going to have one nicely tooled shop! It's still in the initial planning stages, but we have been talking about teaming up to do some work: Maybe a run of stock size Jonny Cycles frames, maybe some other contact work, who knows...check the blog in a few months for more info on where we go with all that.

Custom racks: Since Ahren is a great welder and I really like the racks he has been building I'm going to offer custom racks built by him as an option on Jonny Cycles frames. What's so great about a custom rack? Since Ahren is literally right across the room from me, I can just give him the frame when I'm done building it and he can build a rack to fit that frame perfectly. No need for any ugly adjustment/sliding/whatever stuff, just a nice rack designed to fit the existing braze-ons perfectly. The rack can also be designed to fit the particular clients needs: Something for fully loaded expedition touring, something for light touring, a cute little front rack to carry your newspaper to work every morning...really anything!

I've been building a touring bike for my friend Lesley. Since it's for Lesley and I am bringing it to the the Handmade Bike Show, it has to be something special. I've decided no existing production rack will do so it's the perfect project to try out some front and rear expedition touring racks from Ahren. Since the frame is going to be fairly fancy with polished stainless steel lugs, we decided that a rack constructed from stainless steel with a nice brushed finish would compliment the frame well. The photos I have posted here are all taken while Ahren was building the rack. The rear rack is finished (as you can see in the photo) and I'm very happy with it. I'm anxious to see what he comes up with for the front rack!

Want to find more info about Banjo Cycles? No web-site yet, but Ahren can be found at

Thursday, November 30, 2006


maybe I've been spending to much time at

Friday, November 24, 2006

Cross Bikes!

This project started awhile back. Eric in LA who owns a single speed/fixed gear all around type I build him was interested in a cyclo-cross bike in time for race season this year. I had been interested in getting some cross bikes out in the local race series so I built three cross bikes. One for Eric, one for Zack (my assistant), and one for me. For something different and to save a little time I fillet brazed them (as opposed to lugged which I usually do). The bikes were finished before cross season...but unfortunately this was also when Jason (painter) was transitioning to a new shop. Jason managed to get Eric and Zack's bike painted so Eric will be able to get a few races in, and Zack was able to use his for the last race of the season here (the state championships). My frame has yet to be painted, which is fine because I really didn't do much cross racing this season anyway and now I'll have a shiny new frame to bring to NAHBS.

Enough with the words, on to some photos! Here are some frame photos: I'll admit, not the best photos as I was in a hurry to get Eric's bike shipped out and Zack was anxious to build his up in time for the race. Jason really outdid himself with the downtube logo this time!

Here are a couple photos of Zack's bike after he transferred the parts over from his old cross frame:

While I didn't race I did manage to make my way over to Sun Prarie for the 2006 Wisconsin Cyclocross state championships. A perfect sunny day, lots of people racing and spectating.

David on his Richard Sachs frame checking out Zack's new Jonny Cycles at the race start. Apparently it takes more than a fancy new bike to beat David. Zack hung with him for the first lap, but then crashed and David went on to finish 2nd in the race which put him in a tie for firs place in the overall CAT 3 series. Zack finished the season with an impressive 6th place standing in CAT 3.

The crash resulted in torn tights, scuffed bar tape, and a bent derailleur hanger but no problem for Zack as he managed to finish the race.

Zack (far right) and Eric from Planet Bike crossing the barriers

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lugged Reynolds 953

In case you haven't been paying attention Reynolds has been shipping their new 953 tubeset. I've been following it's development with interest and they are finally offering tubing in the required dimensions for a lugged bike (head-tubes and chain-stays were previously lacking).

Whats good about 953:
-It's stainless
-It's super strong, thus thin and light (some tubes are offered as thin as 0.3mm!)

If the tubing is as Reynolds promises it should be the lightest tubeset out there, not that weight is the big est factor in a frame and really its only a few grams lighter than some of the newer Columbus or True Temper tubsets.

What am I going to do with it? My friend Kevin (owner of Jonny Cycles #2) wants a nice sport touring type frameset...something light and fast that can carry a little load (note: Not a fully loaded ends of the earth touring bike). 953 seems like a good material to try and Kevin's excited about having a bike with no paint to scratch that's made out of fancy new tubing. It's going to be an all stainless frame (lugs and all) I probably wont polish it but rather do a nice brushed or blasted finish depending on how things turn out.

Reynolds was very prompt as usual answering all my questions and I have a tube set on order which they say will arrive in about 30 days. I should have enough time to build the frame and bring it to display at the upcoming handmade bike show!

If everything goes well, I like working with the stuff, and it builds a nice riding frame I'll offer it as an option (it will most likely be a rather expensive option). As usual I'll post photos of the frame when I start building it!

What Reynolds has to say
What some of the other framebuilders have to say about 953

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More frame ends

Since I'm on the topic of frame ends:

Some of the G.P. Wilson dropouts arrived in the mail last week. I first saw these at the North American Handmade Bike show last year. Vincent Domínguez now owns the original molds for this design and is having them cast.

Neat looking ends. They are cast out of the super strong 17-4 stainless steel and thus super thin. The castings are a little rough and will require a little cleanup to look nice and the tabs are a bit narrow which limits the chain and seat stays that can be used with so I don't think I'll be using these regularly. This set is going to go on a bike I hope to brink to the upcoming NAHBS.
More details on that bike later.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Road frame ends

I'm really picky about frame ends. Not so long ago I didn't pay much attention to them, but more recently I've been obsessed with them. Its one of those spots where there are so many options available and its a great place to look to see a particular framebuilders style and workmanship. There are choices in type of end: tab style, socket, plug in, forged, cast, etc... and then there are the various finishing options for each of these (paint, chrome, stainless, raised faces...). The ideal frame end is that perfect combination of function and style, it should integrate seemlessley with the overall look of the bike just like everything else (lugs, paint, components).

I'm really happy with the track frame ends I have designed so I've decided its time for some road ends to compliment them.

For the most part I've been using the Henry James horizontal road ends...but they're not quite perfect.
From a style standpoint they are ok, but I've always preferred a tab style dropout to the plug in type.

Function: The Henry James certainly work well, but I've always though it was silly to do a short horizontal dropout...whats the point? If it was a full 1" slot then the ends could be used with a deraiulleur, or without for single speed/fixed use.

The old Campagnolo 1010 dropouts are a nice option, but getting hard to find and they are a little boring (there are just so many of them out there!). I also don't care much for the adjustor screw and would prefer if the wheel would sit all the way back in the slot as opposed to all the way forward where it needs to be to get proper shifting with a modern indexing drivetrain.

The criteria for my ends:
-Long horizontal (full 1") slots for single speed or use with a derailleur.
-Derailleur hanger is positioned to work best with the wheel all the way back in the slot. No adjustor screws.
-Stainless steel faces.
-Stylish (what I really mean is a star cutout).

Here is a drawing of my initial design. I may refine it a little and I'll probably add some rack/fender mounts, but should have some of these made soon so they will probably show up on the next road frame I build. I think its going to work and look great and can't wait to braze one into a frame!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Welcome to my blog!

Well...everyone else is doing it so I guess I should too. Here it is, the Jonny Cycles blog! I'm not sure exactley what all I'm going to write about but at the moment I'm thinking its going to be about new stuff, exciting shop projects I have planned, interesting things happening in the frame shop, generally anything new and bike related that I feel like writing about. Check back soon, hopefully I'll write something interesting.