Can't See the Hammer for the Trees

OK, enough hammer, back on the horse:

Tree Bike Co are the legendary little guys of bmx. They only make new shit when it's better than the old shit, they don't advertise much so just rely on the quality of their stuff to sell itself, they don't do gimmicks, and they should be the heros of anyone that rides bmx and has ever laid hands on any lathe or some kind of rudimentary milling set up.

Their most recent bit of machinemanship is to be a stem they've done with the help of Super Rat Machine Works. At the risk of waving a red flag to the nothing-is-new-that-was-done-in-84 crowd, I'm saying that this stem features a new clamping system.

I can't tell you exactly how it works, but I can try to tell you exactly how I think it works. Will that do? I'd say the collar that goes around your fork steerer is slightly larger than the cavity that it sits in, so as the top and bottom pieces of the stem are tightened, the collar finds space by contracting in on itself and clamps your steerer in the process. Of course your bars are also clamped by the two bits of the stem body.

That was a shit description, but it's all I've got. Hopefully you get what I'm talking about, and hopefully what I'm talking about is what actually happens. Do you ever feel like you're wasting your time reading this? You could always go back and watch that MC Hammer clip in my last post.

Anyway, here's some pictures of the Stem With No Name and some captions from Sam Tree himself:

One stem. Three pieces. Four bolts. High Five!

He had some other captions for here, but the first one was better

I once had a hand in designing a stem.
It was shit.

Well... I didn't actually design one, I just made an almost entirely unresolved sketch. And although it may well have turned out to be shit if it was ever made, the shittiness that I'm refering to is that it attempts to solve a problem that I don't really even think really is a problem. You see, I had a friend who had an idea to design a stem that slotted onto your steerer so that your bars were all nice and straight. Of course people have been putting handlebars onto bikes for years and you don't often hear someone complaining that they just can't get their bars straight, but working on the principal that my hunches are very often wrong and just being generally keen to draw some bike stuff, I had a go and came up with this:

It's based around Superstar's Neutral fork which has an internally fluted steerer tube, but is probably too complicate to bother even trying to manufacture, especially when you consider that even 0.1mm slop in any of the fits would probably be amplified to a really noticeable amount of movement in the bars. My friend didn't like it and so together we came up with this:

That one might have been a little more realistic, and could have been done by machining a really slight groove down the sides of the steerer rather than the fluting that I sketched. But really you're probably just complicating things without really adding much other than the possibility that due to some slight error in jig set up or whatever, you'd end up making bars that locked on crooked to the steerer. That said one of the advantages of this idea is that the stem could come with two sets of wedges - with or without tabs - so it would also work without the slotted fork.

Anyway, whay am I posting all this? Well, apart from trying to make things a little more interesting, I'd been thinking that the Shola stem which was around at InterBike might be trying for something similar with what looks like little grub screws on the clamping collar:

And while we're talking stems, I may as well try to make up for some recent slackness by posting up the current incarnation of T1's Cyclops stem that was also around at InterBike. But that's it, I'm all outta stem news:

Here Come the Hammer...

Hey, long time no blog. How you been?

I admit that a week between blogs is pathetic, but I've been busy man. Take for example the fact that I recently formed a band named Hammer that are poised to set eyebrows on fire all over the globe. Said forming also included the development of a marketing strategy for the band involving popularising new slang uses of the word "hammer" such as "Mirra is all hammer on that special flip", or "Sergio's new tyre looks the hammer":

Truth be told, that whole Hammer thing only required a couple of mis-spent saturday evening hours and that the infrequent blogging thing is probably more about the fact that on this side of the world clocks have gone forward, we get an extra hour of light and after work sessions are back. Anyway tune in to see how that goes, but in the mean time, here come the Hammer:

The Odyssey

Odyssey have written a novel.

Odyssey actually haven't written a novel, but they have put together an encyclopedic product catalogue with a word count unprecedented by any bmx publication to date. I wonder who they think is going to read all those words? The BMX acedemia? I have a fairly high tolerance for that kind of stuff, but I've got to say, lost heart pretty quickly. That said, it's probably not so suited to an online experience. In hardcopy it'd be sure to be a thing of beauty - there's lots of nice photos and artwork, little tech diagrams and cut-away sections... and words, lots of words.

As said, amongst the words there are some photos of their new stuff:

This is their Chainwheel sprocket. I saw this from the InterBike coverage of their stand, but didn't really know what to say about it. It just kind of looked unfinished and I didn't really understand why they wanted to add a bad looking sprocket that kind of has a milled-in-your-grandads-back-shed feel to it, to their range of really dope sprockets. But the answer to all question are to be found within the pages of the Odyssey encyclopedia. If you make it through the 500 word intro, you'll find that it's actually supposed to look bad. At least it's supposed to look like a chainwheel / spider set up of yesteryear. Fair enough.

Anyway let's offset these negative vibes with some afore mentioned "dope" sprocket imagery:

Awwwww - that's more like it! They've updated the Vermont sprocket and are calling it the Burlington. And that's a 25 tooth, in gold and looking rad. Apparently they've changed the tooth profile on this and the Chainwheel sprockets to something they're calling an Incisor tooth profile. And that's pretty much how it looks.

Pedals. While we're talking pedals it should be noted that you actually would need an encyclopedia to keep up with the number of colourways that you can get Odyssey's PC pedals in. This may, or may not be the newest edition added to that list:

That's also gold in case you didn't catch it. I have no idea how many colour variation these pedals have seen in the couple of years since they've become the pedal of choice for just about everyone, but my guess would be 23. Just sounds about right. I'd also guess that somewhere out there is a Ody PC freaker who has a cupboard full of bagged up mint editions of every colour ever released. Definitely. In fact, if you are that guy, could you please fill me in on the official total?

I suppose you can't count these as straight PCs, but you can definitely count me in for a pair. And of course they're set to open up a whole new world of pedal mixin'n'matchin:

JC PC's. That's a lot of little piec-es.

But Jim, while I've got you here: What's with the crappy 3rd wave tube photos in this flip book? You've managed to focus on just about everything but the fucking tubes!

Anyway, I don't want to get on Jim's bad side, so I'll leave that. But you think there would be a few 3rd wave frames lying around the Sunday offices and it might be worth actually snapping a decent photo - I mean Adam managed alright.

Anyway, in amongst the shoes, tyres, promotional displays and whatnot in focus was what looked like... wait for it... a new PC pedal colourway. Camo, it seems. That is new isn't it? So at least some good came from it.

I think that's more than enough.

Gold Soundz

It's Saturday.

And I just heard that Pavement are re-forming.
And doing shows in Melbourne.

I know you don't care but...

So drunk in the August sun
And you're the kind of girl I like
Because you're empty
And I'm empty...

Gold soundz.

American Metal

If you're a machine head, or even just somewhat mechanically inclined, you'll appreciate this:

There's a flipbook up on FBM with all the detail of their new Steadfast trails frame. The frame looks damn nice and has the added bonus of coming with a cast pewter headtube badge. But really I just wanted an excuse to lift that photo and put it here. There's just something about it isn't there? Precision metal, ready for some precision weldsmanship, and just a few hours away from being someone's object of desire. Nice.

And here's another nice one for the mechanically inclined - the making of a Fit DLR stem. Along with the precision metal, this even has the added nicety of couple of bad-asses doing there thing.There's Van Homan disregarding his personal safety and flicking the bars 6 feet up, as well as some anodiser doing the dip and filling his lungs with hydrogen and sulfuric acid fumes all in a self-less quest to feed the colour machine. Enjoy:

Van Homan will save... Fit?

So Van Homan put out a statement with his word on the whole Fit situation. It was pretty long and he said some things. But what really comes through is that the guy is not only a hard ass, but humble, loyal and smart - that's a combo that you really can't fault and a reminder how the word "pro" is short for professional - not promotional tool.

Anyway, you've got the option for the Defgrip or TheComeUp flavoured version, but it's only the comments that taste different.

Just sticking with the drama for a moment. Then came the news that Sean McKinney, who's been at S&M for ten years, had quit. Apparently to pursue a career being photographed wearing Cult shirts... or something:

Turned out that was bullshit.

Really it's a great little soap opera isn't it - like a little daytime bmx drama. Of course there's more, and there'll be more, and more.
And more.

But what about this guy with the OG Cult set up? It was a good name - he knew it was. So he went ahead and registered and has been socially-networking like a man possessed. Now finally all that hard work is paying off and the AdSense chickens are coming home to roost.

But really, you can get some valuable information about "BMX bikes" over there at Apparently they have the have "exact steering mechanisms to be able to perform tricks and stunts specifically and precisely" - Nice. But beware "they can be adventurous, dangerous and loads of fun as long as the individual uses the proper safety measures". Disclaimer right there.

Anyway, do the dude a favour and click a bunch of ads while you're over there - he might just have a little legal battle on the horizon.

Angry Space Invaders

100 posts in 6+ months. Blog slackness.

Anyway, no slacking at Odyssey. They've got a new site up. I still can't find anything, but at least I'm getting lost more quickly - if you get what I mean. Death to Flash I say... or whatever god forsaken program created that old site.

So they've also put up some more info on their Quadrant rim and have been good enough to including a good old fashioned section pic:

The Quadrant: 420g of cheapness and cheer

As you can see the Quadrant rim is an innocent and optimistic character just doing his best to keep everyone happy. At 420 grams he's light and being a simple pin jointed fellow, he doesn't have the ego that some of those welded rims have. I mean, just have a look at 'em, giving everyone attitude like a couple of angry space invaders:

The Hazard Lite: 500g, hazardous, light, with a chip on his shoulder

The 7-KA: 453g... 7 and K with an A

If you'd like to read something about these rims that makes sense, you're probably best off going here.


I'm in Australia. Most of you are on the other side of the world. You probably have no idea, and possibly no interest, about what's happening down here. If you have absolutely no interest, now is the time to change the channel, cause I'm going to drop a little Australiana on ya!

First up there's a company that you might, or might not know, called Tempered Bikes. They've got a small but perfectly formed product catalogue at the moment - frames, bars, forks, seats - but there's also a load of 2010 stuff about to turn up and I'll be posting it up when it does.

Then there's Focal Point which is a Melbourne based website, but pretty much covering the whole Australian scene. If you were a somewhat regular reader of TCU you'd probably have come across links to the Focal Point mag that they put out quaterly, as well as edits and trailers for their DVDs .

My mind is continually blown with the amount of work that the dude who runs it puts in. The mag, the site, videos, interviews, reviews - relentless. In the past it was pretty much just a zine that you could pick up for free in bike shops. You can still get it in hardcopy, and still reads like a no-bullshit zine, but the quality of the photos and layout just gets more and more pro all the time. These days they've even gone all Issuu on your ass:

Amongst the truck load of stuff on Focal Point there's a recent Top Fives type-thing with Jimmy Rostlund from who designs for Simple Bikes. It's at the bottom of the page here. If you missed the BMXtec interview that I did with Jimmy, you can check that here.

While we are talking flipbooks and work loads, James Wade out of Adelaide in South Australia is a busy man looking after a forum called Ugzine, a blog by the name of Stay Fresh Yo!, and clothing brand called Dishonour. And he puts out rad photo flips.

A little Dishonourable goodness

To round it off there is Nightfall Bike Co out of Northern Queensland - which if you don't know it, is just about the most Australian part of Australia. If you wanted proof of that you'd only have to check their blog to see them spinning the bars on some weird object that looks like it's in the middle of nowhere, or actually spinning them in the middle of nowhere. Or you could check this post. That's Australiana.

Nightfall's Level frame - hit up their eBay shop

Nightfall's Killuminati sprocket

PC or not PC?

David at Fly has posted up some more info about the plastic Ruben pedals, so if you've been wondering if Fly were going to bring something new to the PC pedal table, have a listen to what he's got to say:
"We wanted to make a plastic pedal with the same thin shape as the Ruben aluminum ones so we searched for a harder material to achieve that. After some testing we found a new compound out of nylon and fiber glass that we call “graphite” which is harder than the material currently used on other plastic pedals. These new pedals are only 1mm. thicker than the aluminum ones on each side so the feeling is the same as the alumium ones.

Other detail on these pedals are how grippy they are. We used coned 3 x 3mm. Squared pins that are grippier than rounded ones. And since this material is harder, the knurling on the whole pedal surface is sharper. Of course still the aluminum ones are grippier but the difference is not much…The low profile makes them really light as well with a a weight of 360grs. / 12.6 oz. per pair."
How new is that? They're not PC. That is, they're not molded in poly carbonate, they're graphite. Well... they're not actually graphite either, they're glass filled nylon. So what the hell is that? Here's a little something, lifted from somewhere:
"Nylon ® is significantly strengthened by the addition of glass-fibers. The added glass provides stability & rigidity, but reduces the non-lubricated wear properties. 30% glass filled nylon has 200% better strength than general purpose nylon but it is highly abrasive and will abraid or gall mating surfaces."
"Abraid or gall mating surfaces" - Careful, that's your shoe man!

Though if you're counting grams, they will have the additional pull of being the lightest (don't quote me) freestyle pedals on the market and regardless of possible abraiding or galling to the soles of my Orchids, I'll be tossing up between a pair of these and Odyssey's JC PCs. It's that recurring dilema: "superior grip v.s possible shin carnage". It's hard isn't it? Life. Just one big decision after another. Fortunately these wont be dropping till December, so all fretting and obsessing can be postpone till then.

Edit: OK, they're not the lightest. These probably are, but really? As for the titanium thing, can you count pedals with ti spindles as freestyle pedals?
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