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Messages - tbessie

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Own a piece of history! Handmade in Petaluma, California!

Well, recent history, built by a classic bike builder and innovator, who retired last year and is no longer building bikes. EDIT: I just learned that Bruce died recently, so... definitely no longer building bikes: :-/

I had Bruce Gordon build me this bike - a 2014 "Rock n' Road Tour" touring bike (steel frame, 53cm); used it for one trip of 750 miles, during which it performed beautifully; and have stored it in a closet ever since.

Since then, I decided I would be doing more touring overseas, for which I needed a travel touring bike (with couplers so it can be disassembled and taken on planes easily). So I commissioned a new bike, and had most of the drivetrain from the Bruce Gordon put on it.

What I have left is the following:

1. Bruce Gordon steel frame, 53cm seat tube (center to center); 56cm top tube (center to center; 53.5cm measured end-to-end); effective top tube length not much different, as top tube has little slope

2. Bruce Gordon steel fork

3. Bruce Gordon steel stem (threaded)

4. Shimano XT Bottom Bracket

5. Cane Creek 110 EC30 Classic Headset

6. Handlebars (not sure of the make, but they are good quality alloy bars)

7. Wheels: Mavic A719 touring rims, 700c, 36-spoke; Shimano XT hubs; Shimano XT skewers

8. Shimano Cantilever brakes

9. Front cable hanger, seat tube collar

I am 5'10" with average proportions, and the bike fits me perfectly.

The bare frame cost $1800 when I bought it; I'm selling it with wheels and other parts, so I feel this is a fair price.

For info about Bruce and his bikes, take a look at his (now mostly defunct) web page:

No trades, Price firm; If purchaser does not live locally (San Francisco area), we can arrange shipping method and price at that time.

Contact Info: Please contact me via this site

General Discussion / Re: Passing of Bruce Gordon
« on: June 11, 2019, 02:28:52 pm »
Yes, very sad; I bought my very first touring bike from him (a "Rock and Road Tour" in 2014, a present to myself for my 50th birthday).

I talked with him (in person and on the phone) quite a few times since I ordered that bike, and the last time I saw him was at NAHBS in Sacramento this year.  He was the semi-loveable grouch he always was; I wished I'd had the time and opportunity to get to know him better.  I'm glad he got to do some traveling before he died, thought it's such a great shame he didn't get to enjoy more of his retirement.

I will miss knowing that he's around. :-(

Pix below are from the Norblad Hotel in Astoria, OR at the start of a coastal trip back to San Francisco; and on the Oregon coast.

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best Touring Wheelset
« on: March 21, 2018, 12:47:43 pm »
I'm having my dream touring bike set up, and I'm getting Velocity Atlas rims with Phil Wood touring hubs.

My older (Bruce Gordon) touring bike has Mavic A719 rims on it and they've been quite fine; I might have chosen those again, but I'm getting this bike to use 650b wheels, and they don't make that rim in 650b; so I'm getting the Atlas rims.  The guy who's building the wheels for me is the wheel builder for Rivendell, and he said that Rivendell worked with Velocity to develop the Atlas.

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Search for the perfect touring bike mirror
« on: March 18, 2018, 11:23:26 pm »
Another fan of Take-A-Look mirrors.  All the others I tried were annoying; Take-A-Look were the only ones that worked perfectly and consistently for me.

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: 32x650b touring tires, anyone?
« on: March 17, 2018, 06:25:06 pm »
Tim, I was going to suggest the pricey Compass tires, but they apparently only go "down" to 38 on a 650B.  Can your builder fit something that wide into your new frame?  You could also get the Panaracer Pacenti in that size.

The frame's being built to handle up to 38mm tires (I don't foresee doing any backcountry tours where I need anything more than that).  The wheels are going to be Velocity Atlas:

That page says tire width is "28mm - 45mm", so it can take quite a range; I'm getting Paul Racer brakes:

... which can take a wide range.

I'm getting Honjo fenders, however, in a size that only takes up to 34mm, so that's my limit when running fenders.  I won't be taking the fenders on the next trip, I don't think, so that won't be a limiting factor; I may use bigger tires for this trip, and hope that smaller ones come out before the next trip. :-)

- Tim

Gear Talk / 32x650b touring tires, anyone?
« on: March 17, 2018, 05:47:40 pm »
Hey all...

So I'm having my dream touring bike built; I decided to go for 650b wheels, as 1) this is for an S&S coupled bike, so it'll be slightly easier to fit in the case without as much playing with the parts, and 2) it seems like 26" will be slowly dying while 650b will be slowly taking its place.

I'm not sure how true any of the above is, but after lots of discussing of this with people, this was the route I took.

In any case, the frame is being built right now (by Steve Potts, made of titanium), and the wheels will be built by a good local builder (the guy who builds the wheels for Rivendell).

So it was time to look for tires.  I was just going to get some of the good ol' Schwalbe Marathons that I've used in the past on my 700c bike... until I found, they don't make them in that size.  Anything they do for touring in 650b is wider than that.

So I've been looking around, and 32x650b is almost nonexistent... almost nobody makes such a tire.  The few I've found seem to be marketed to mountain-bike-oriented people for that cohort's city bikes... slick tread, "fast" etc... not so much for touring.

Has anyone got some ideas about what I might try?  All I've found after searching the major sites have been these two:

Those might do ok, but they're not as tough as the touring tires I'm used to.

Anyone have any suggestions (besides telling me I made a mistake getting a 650b bike? ;-) ).

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: January 07, 2018, 03:21:40 pm »
I have a coupled bike.  If I were building a new one I would go with centerlock 160 MM rotors and TRP HY/Rd brakes.  Cable driven hydraulic brakes.  It's just one nut to remove the rotors and one cable to splice for the rear brakes.  More braking power than you will likely ever need and will work well regardless of weather conditions.  While we are talking about cable splicing take a look at SAM red WiFli  e-tap.  Compact crank up front and 11-32 cassette in the rear.  No cables to splice and you can put blips wherever you want for shift points on your bars.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I'm completely anti-electric for my bikes - that misses the point of a bike (for me, not for others), where everything is mechanical; so no wireless shifting on my bikes. :-)

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 20, 2017, 01:59:40 pm »
Consolidate bikes?  What are you thinking!?!?!  :)

Well, I live in a small San Francisco apartment... hard to contain all my bikes in that tiny space.

If I lived in a big house with a garage, tho' - WATCH OUT! :-D

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 20, 2017, 12:39:44 am »
... It seems to me the much narrower cantilever brakes would eliminate this problem of fitting into the bike cases.

Thanks much, Russ!  Good suggestions!

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 20, 2017, 12:38:40 am »
"I know the feeling - my bike's around a 56cm in size, and things are pretty difficult to pack in the case"
Try packing a 64 cm with fenders and racks!

That sounds like it would be well-nigh impossible!

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 17, 2017, 04:33:22 pm »
Packing an S&S bike is one of the few times I've wished I were shorter.  If I were shorter, I could leave the crank on and just take off the pedals.  Maybe I could even pack the bike without taking the fork off!

I know the feeling - my bike's around a 56cm in size, and things are pretty difficult to pack in the case.

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 17, 2017, 04:32:22 pm »
Thanks for the explanations, folks!  Yeah, by "caliper brakes", I meant the kind of rim brake most commonly found on road bikes, eg:

... and by "cantilever" brakes I meant ones like this:

The latter are what I currently have on my touring bikes.  They do tend to stick out and get in the way when packing up my S&S coupled bike in its case, and I was hoping to find something that is easier to pack and takes up a minimum of space, doesn't stick out, and is just as good as far as braking power on a fully loaded bike as the cantilevers.

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 16, 2017, 08:04:32 pm »
Personally I can't see the point of having S&S couplers. Unless you are travelling regularly they don't seem good value. And then you have to store the case or forward it to your end point.

Well for me, it makes sense; I take my bike for trips overseas, and I use public transport to get all my gear and the bike to several places before I eventually assemble and disassemble it.  Lots of trains I use don't allow fully-sized bikes onboard (eg. TGV trains).  Getting to and from the airport with several large bags AND a bicycle would be impossible for me.  The only way all that lugging around on public transport and to/from the airport works for me is to have the bike in a case.

Yeah, assembling and disassembling is kind of a pain, but the way I travel, it ends up being easier.

But if I was building such a bike today I would choose 650B wheels and disc brakes. With cantilever brakes I've had some very anxious moments trying to rein in my loaded bike, hands cramping from squeezing the levers.

I built my current bike with disc brakes and they have definitely been a big improvement, so I can now descend at speed with confidence, knowing that when I arrive at a hairpin bend I'll be able to slow enough to take it safely.

 If you are concerned about bending the discs, build the wheels with centerlock hubs and the discs will be easily removed when packing the bike. Even 6-bolt discs are no great effort to remove if necessary. I always remove my discs for travel.

Do you use hydraulic or cable disc brakes?

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 16, 2017, 06:20:33 pm »
I was thinking that caliper brakes would probably be the least bulky, but I've been told that they aren't dependably strong enough when, say, going downhill fast fully loaded.

I don't know who told you this, but its nonsense.  Until the last couple years, every touring bike used cantilever brakes.  Or in the olden days maybe they used center pull calipers.  Most of them made it down every mountain road in the world just fine.  I'm sure someone crashed on the way down, but I don't know if it was due to bad brakes or bad steering or some other reason.  Cantilever brakes wok just fine on a loaded touring bike in the Dolomites, Alps, and Rockies.  These are the only mountains I've ridden my cantilever braked loaded touring bike.  Hit 60 mph down the Rockies.

I think you may have misread what I wrote - I'm talking about calipers, but you're talking about how well cantilevers worked for you... were you saying that calipers worked great on fully loaded touring bikes, or cantilevers, or both, or...?

- Tim

Gear Talk / Re: Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 16, 2017, 05:49:32 pm »
I had a 56 cm Co-Motion single with S&S couplers and 700c wheels and 700-23 tires  The wheels with tires would just fit. I did deflate the tires but did not have to remove them.  As to brakes, regular road caliper brakes pack easily with no problems.

I generally ride around a 56 as well, so we're likely similarly sized.

The 700c wheels on the Long-Haul Trucker don't fit with the tires on, even if deflated, and they're only 32mm tires.  Perhaps my packing stills aren't as good as they should be. :-)

What do you think about road caliper braking power on a fully loaded bike?  They seem discouraged.

- TIm

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