The WiseCracker orders are rolling in so we've just launched a new webstore to automate the ordering process. Please visit:
For questions, please contact Rob Meusel > firstname.lastname@example.org
NAHBS EVENT PREPARATION
December 12, 2006
Ahrens Bicycles continues to merge the science and art of frame building to create custom mountain bike solutions in both steel and aluminum. We are very excited to showcase our current projects at the 2007 NAHBS next March in our own hometown. Our booth will include new frame designs as well as frame building components that other builders can utilize. Each concept below is developed using advanced 3D modeling software to guarantee only precise, high-quality products are created. This technique differentiates Ahrens Bicycles from other small frame builders and we will continue to invest in technology to advance our frame designs even further!
Frame Concepts for 2007
Single Speed Mountain Frame: 7005 aluminum frame with sliding dropouts. This unique frame design can accommodate both 26” and 29” wheels and can be setup for many different riding applications (mountain bike, commuter bike, single-speed, geared, disc brake, non-disc brake, etc)
Vanderkitten Hardtail: Offered in both steel and 7005 aluminum, these frames feature women-specific geometry and specialized color scheme developed by Vanderkitten, a Bay Area apparel company making clothing for ‘girls who kick ass’
7005 Aluminum Frame Building Components
Sliding Disc Dropouts: Hooded dropout body with replaceable sliders (disc, non-disc, geared). Can be used for mountain, road, fixed or track bike frames
10mm Rear Dropouts: Feature ‘radially hooded surfaces’ for easy chainstay and seatstay tube attachment
Refined Yoke Designs: Offer torsional flexibility in the rear triangle to improve frame compliance and responsiveness. The lower yoke is now offered in a 29” version and it features improved rear tire clearance, pre-mitered tubing attachment surfaces and reduced weight
WiseCracker Bottle Opener
The WiseCracker mounts directly to your seat post or steer tube (where it serves as a headset spacer). Since the opener attaches directly to the bike, riders can enjoy their favorite beverage on the trail or after any ride. At only 36 grams, it’s worth its weight in gold and has been called ‘the best invention in all of beerkind’ by its users
- Machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, the final product is hard black anodized and has a laser marked finish. Customization is available on higher volume orders.
- Since its debut at Interbike 2006, this product is gaining traction in the market and will be distributed through QBP in early 2007
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 1:37 PM
For the last few months I've been developing (2) steel race frames for Emma and Tsering at UC Berkeley. These guys are serious about racing and I wanted to make sure their frames could get the job done. Enter Dave at Vanderkitten.....I've built a variety of frames for Dave over the years and his input is always valuable in terms of material selection, geometry and overall aesthetic. Blending a variety of high-end steels, each frame has been hand-crafted with performance in mind. Click on drawings below to view each frame's geometry:
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 11:13 AM
The Handmade Bicycle Show is coming next March....and Ahrens Bicycles is busy preparing for a successful show. We've been working closely with branding experts to refine our image and overall aesthetic - very exciting. Click on the image below to visit the NAHBS portal and feel the passion of so many builders in one place! Cheers, Mike
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 8:33 PM
I've been working closely with Vanderkitten to develop a new line of women's frames that provide ideal fit, responsive handling and unique aesthetics. Derived from the venerable Apex hardtail, these frames feature Easton 7005 Ultralite tubing in the front triangle, machined yokes/dropouts and rectangular stays in the rear triangle.
The frame shown is a women's size large and it tips the scales at 3.5 lbs even. Geometry is set for slightly forward riding position to minimize pressure on the wrists and lower back. Standover height has been maximized by sloping the top tube downward as much as possible without sacrificing strength at the seat tube cluster.
With a moderately light build kit, final bike weight is just under 23 lbs....race setups can shave another pound easily! Below are photos detailing the new Vanderkitten hardtail frame design - stay tuned for more updates and ride reports. And of course check out the Vanderkitten website!
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 8:10 PM
Last week was Interbike 2006 in Las Vegas and my friend Rob and I gladly made the trek to view the industry's latest creations. The composite advancements are truly awesome - in fact there was a seven pound fixed-gear road bike at the True Temper booth that was sick. And Felt's new 4-bar dually was also unbelievable....and I can't forget about the freeride bike from Scott with tons of travel and full-composite construction. I'm a big fan of Hope's product line and their new disc brake rotor is an engineering feat. Made from (2) thin pieces of stainless steel, air is trapped between each side of the assembly for better cooling - truly innovative and I can't wait to try these out.
Most of this trip was spent seeing new stuff, promoting the WiseCracker bottle opener and of course drinking beer. I selectively dropped samples off at key magazines and even got to chat with Richard Cunningham from MBA for a while. We talked about my new dual-suspension design and the small builder perspective. Jeremy Sycip was nice enough to mount a WiseCracker to a townie bike he was showing. The WiseCrackers got great feedback from consumers, bike shop owners, reps and magazine editors - I expect that in the next few months orders will be flowing! Below are some photos:
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 8:25 PM
And then it dawned on me, why not make a bottle opener that mounts directly to your seat post? Similar to a seat clamp but adjustable in height for different frame sizes...and beer bottle sizes! Below are images of my newest invention, the WiseCracker Bottle Opener (was previously called the Wiseass opener). Machined from 6061-T6 aluminum with a hard black anodized finish, these babies take less than five minutes to install - even for the novice bike mechanic that's already had a few. The first prototypes are machined to fit 27.2mm posts and 30.9mm and 31.6mm versions are in the works. Kick back, relax and enjoy a cold brew on your next ride with your constant companion - the WiseCracker bottle opener!
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 8:38 PM
Bike: Apex Steel 26” Trail Bike
Riders: Mike Ahrens (6’4” – 185 lbs)
Location: UC Santa Cruz/Wilder Ranch
Duration: 2.5 hours
Today I had a chance to thoroughly test ride my newest fleet bike, a steel Apex hardtail finished in cream powdercoat and black stickers. I chose to ride a loop that Paul Sadoff, owner of Rock Lobster Cycles, introduced me to many years ago. Starting at Paul’s shop on the west side of Santa Cruz, I briefly rode through a neighborhood and cut through a creek trail headed for UC Santa Cruz. Weather was perfect at 70 degrees with a slight sea breeze prevalent through the entire ride. When arriving at the UCSC entrance at the end of Bay Street, there is a 1 mile paved climb with moderate elevation gain. This first climb gets you into the heart of the campus with beautiful redwoods, pines and manzanita brush all around.
In 1996, Paul Sadoff built me a steel hardtail using Tange Prestige tubing, Breezer dropouts and wavy gussets. I rode this bike for many years and loved the way it carved local trails around the Bay Area. It was powdercoated ‘laser green’ and finished with yellow stickers on the down tube and head tube. The photo below shows this bike in its early state with full XTR drivetrain, King headset, Salsa skewers, Ringle hubs laced to Sun rims, Control Tech brakes and seat post and Gravity Research brake levers. I liked the brakes so much they now live on my cross bike! The Rock Shox Judy carbon fork was rebuilt with an SL crown w/alloy steer tube, Risse GEM cartridge and Speed Springs for one of the lightest setups available. The fork was so light that excessive flex caused me to sell it and replace it with a newer Judy XC after a few months. This bike was eventually parted out and sold to make way for some dual-suspension designs I was developing with Paul at the time. I always regret selling this bike since it rode so well and truly introduced me to the sport of mountain biking. All of my current steel designs refer back to the ‘laser green’ hardtail for inspiration in terms of tight geometry, material selection and optimal riding position.
Current Frame Setup:
For my latest fleet bike, I used a combination of steel tubes to provide a vibrant ride quality without excessive weight. The top tube and down tube are Reynolds 853, the seat tube and head tube are Columbus Zona, the chainstays are Tange Prestige and the wishbone seatstays come directly from Nova Cycle Supply. The BB shell and rear disc dropouts come from Paragon and cable routing is disc-specific.
Head Angle = 70 deg
Seat Angle = 72 deg
Top Tube Length (Eff) = 24.50”
Head Tube = 5.25”
BB Drop = 1.00” (12.5" BB Height with 2.1" Exi Wolf tires)
Chainstay Length (Eff) = 16.80”
My personal bikes always have precise steering characteristics. I’m looking for ‘point and shoot’ performance without any delay whatsoever. My tendency is to match a bolt-on front hub with a robust fork and of course disc brakes. By matching a Fox F100 RLC to a Paul Disc FHUB and Hope Mono Mini brakes, steering precision is dead accurate on this machine. The custom wheels are hand-built by Tahn Rehmer, the Crazy F*ckin’ German at Willow Glen Bicycles. Front and rear rims are Velocity VXC Disc, 32 hole with black anodize finish. Spokes are Sapim CX-Ray front/rear with 3-cross lacing pattern and brass nipples for durability. Rear hub is a Hugi 240 Disc with red/white stickers – clean, light and dependable all around.
The drivetrain is basically Shimano XT with the exception of the rear cassette which is XTR to save weight. A mixture of Easton and WTB parts round off the build kit to provide a lightweight yet durable bike. Final bike weight is 24.5 lbs with plans to shave a few grams off the assembly with an Easton EC70 post and super light tubes. For the time being the build kit will remain as-is until I have some more money to change things around!
Back to the ride….after climbing up to the UCSC campus, I took a series of singletrack trails which aim towards Wilder Ranch. These first trails really gave me a taste of my new bike’s nimble character. Climbing over root sections, ruts and fallen branches was easier than expected since the bike is so maneuverable. I really felt at home right away and focused on spinning through each obstacle one at a time. My fitness level was definitely being tested during some steep transition climbs within the campus; portaging the bike was also not an issue since the front triangle is large and shouldering is no sweat. I even had a chance to talk to a father who was taking his five year old son mountain biking – good job starting them out so young!
After the UC singletrack was behind me, I headed into Wilder Ranch through the Gray Whale corridor and I knew I was headed for fun. Trail conditions were ideal with nice hardpack and almost zero dust….most likely since the mornings in Santa Cruz can be damp and foggy. I chose to descend a trail called Fence Line which runs parallel to a large open space preserve on the right. The descent was lengthy and relatively easy to maintain speed through s-turns, stutter bumps, ruts and mini rock gardens. Overall the trail is extremely smooth and ‘picking a line’ doesn’t require too much concentration. Three hikers mid-way down were very nice and moved right over when they heard me coming…I was thinking how glad I was to be riding in Santa Cruz and not Marin County right at that point since I flew right by them without slowing down! Another 1/2 mile and the trail spills out into the open space preserve which has tall grass and a very narrow trail which snakes above/along another creek area. All this time the Hope Mono Minis operated squeal free thanks to their Spot Face Tool which keeps all of the mating parts aligned and parallel. At this point in the ride it was getting late and I bailed out by taking the fire road back down to Highway 1 - next time around I will be doing at least (1) more loop on the Zane Gray trail if time allows.
Summary: This new bike is a great complement to my arsenal of personal frames. It is light, responsive and goes exactly where you point it. Blending the best materials together into a cohesive package has again yielded positive results! Would I change anything next time around? Definitely not - this ride has a 'steel soul' dating back 10 years and there is no need to reinvent the wheel...
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 4:28 PM
To spread stress over a larger surface area and improve joint strength, wavy gussets are used. On this frame, the custom gussets have been reworked to reduce weight while retaining their nice looks. The finishing touch has to be the nickel plated head badge securely attached with two button head screws.
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 9:01 AM
Here are some photos of my personal steel APEX trail bike. This custom frame has slack geometry and a nice mixture of steel tubing and machined frame components - see details below:
TT/DT = Reynolds 853
ST/HT = Columbus Zona
Chainstays = Tange Prestige (superb steel MTB chainstays that are very rare these days!)
Seatstays = Nova Wishbone Style
BB Shell/Rear Disc Dropouts = Paragon Machine Works
Head Angle = 70 deg
Seat Angle = 72 deg
BB Height = 12.5" with 2.1" tires Chainstay = 16.77" level to ground Machined Head Tube = 5.25"
The build kit is fairly conservative with a 2007 Fox F100 fork, XT cranks, XT front/rear derailleurs, XT pods, XTR ti rear cassette and Crank Bros Twin Ti egg beaters. Easton EC70 carbon bars and post (Thomson post is temporary), Easton EA70 stem, WTB Pure V SLT saddle and ExiWolf 2.1" tires complete the package.
Special thanks to the Crazy F*ckin' German Tahn Von Rehmer at Willow Glen Bicycles for the light wheel build using Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes, Hugi 240 rear hub, Paul disc front hub and Velocity Synergy rims. The current weight of this complete bike is 24.5 lbs with plans to upgrade to Hutchinson Air Lyte tubes and EC70 carbon post. Stay tuned for ride report #1 coming soon...
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 8:59 AM
Total Weight = 25.9lbs...not bad for such a big bike with Hope M4 brakes and 200mm rotors! A chunk of weight savings comes from the custom hand-built wheelset by Tahn Von Rehmer at Willow Glen Bicycles:
Hope Pro II hub w/Maverick 24mm axle conversion kit
Velocity VXC 29er rim
Sapim CX-Ray spokes
Three cross lacing pattern
Hope Pro II hub
Velocity VXC 29er rim
Sapim CX-Ray spokes
Three cross lacing pattern
Wheelset weight = 1740g...this is over 100g lighter than many pre-built wheels on the market! Thanks Tahn for such a sweet build.
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 4:25 PM
The machined parts on the rear triangle (upper/lower yokes + rear dropouts) can also be used to produce a 26" hardtail with XC geometry, slalom/dirt jumping geometry and even single speeds! This technique saves valuable time during the build process while providing greater design flexibility.
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 4:24 PM
First the head badge is machined from a thin sheet of 2024 aluminum. After that it is bead blasted to remove any milling marks and then hand-formed to the head tube's contour. Once the forming is done, the badge is nickel plated for a truly durable finish and understated appearance.
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 4:24 PM
Here are some photos of a black chrome Revolver 29" frame recently built. This has to be one of the nicest aluminum frames anyone could ask for. Easton Ultralite tubing in the front triangle, machined dropouts/yokes and square stays in the rear triangle, and a high-end build kit that requires deep pockets. This frame experienced a two-stage powdercoat, sticker application, then liquid clear-coat for a smooth finish.
Posted by Mike Ahrens at 4:17 PM