Wednesday, October 14, 2009
You know that sensation you get when you buy a new pair of shoes, have your first cup of morning coffee, or when you go see your favorite band play in concert for the first time? Well multiply that by 10 and that's the feeling I got when I finally received notice that my new LIVESTRONG themed fixed gear was ready for pick up. For me the funnest part about any new bike build is the collaboration. This was a project that involved the master mind of Mellow Johnny's bike engineer/guru Christian Hartwig. The guy has been in the business for over 20 years and knows a ton about bikes. If you ever need a custom build, need a wheel trued, or just want to talk shop about bikes, then Christian is your guy; oh and it helps that's he a super cool cat. The collaboration/project started a couple of months after we completed a Cinelli Vigorelli build. Christian aka "Chicken" informed me that Cinelli was coming out with a limited run of a new pursuit bike. The new bike was a collaboration with the folks from MASH and when I saw the pictures of the frame I knew we would soon be working on a new project.
The first thing we decided on for the new MASH build, was that we were going to approach this with a weight weenie mentality. Meaning our initial goal was to get the bike to weigh in less than the Vigorelli build (approximately 18lbs). Chicken informed me that it shouldn't be a problem being that there were several areas we could have shaved weight with the Vigorelli. Game on! Let's do this! We had some time for the build because the frame was coming directly from Italy and it wasn't expected to be in the U.S. until late August, early September. We started this in July so I wasn't too worried about it. Something else I had decided to do this year was the LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE aka the Ride for the Roses. Once I made this decision I had the idea of a LIVESTRONG color scheme for the new build. I ran this by Chicken and he thought it was a great idea. Yellow accents on a gray frame, "I'm sure Lance would approve" was what Chicken said.
Now that we had the frame ordered and an idea of what colors we wanted to use, we needed to decide on what parts to do in yellow, without over doing it. First thing we decided on were the rims. I just love the DT Swiss 1.2 Rims and I wanted to stick with these wheels. We decided that we would send off the rims and any other parts we wanted yellow, to be custom powder coated. Chicken contacted DT Swiss and they told him they would send him the decals for the rims! YES! Chicken's master mind thought of the next idea "You know it would be cool if we had your Pista Campy cranks powder coated! it would piss off the purists and the fixie folks would love it" My response "Hell yeah!, let's do it!" we both had a nice chuckle about that. We decided that having the cranks powder coated black while leaving the bolts and chain ring chrome would have a nice pop to it. Once we had these 2 color schemes the rest was pretty easy. We decided to do yellow Cinelli bar tap, have the toe cages powder coated yellow and try and find a yellow seat. The chain was really the only part we couldn't decide on, we had a couple of ideas and finally came to the conclusion that chrome would look the nicest. One thing we wanted to avoid was over doing the yellow. Hannie (a friend of mine that works at Juan Pelota Cafe) had an interesting idea regarding the chain. He wanted to have 1 side of the chain yellow and the other side gray. He was even willing to rebuild the entire chain for this. I think he was more stoked than I was about the build! Again for me this is the fun part; being able to run all of these ideas by bike geeks like myself and getting their perspective is part of the fun.
Another fun part about this project was seeing the parts come in and going to the shop to see them first hand. First were the Deda bullhorn bars followed by the White Industries pedals (both are ridiculously light!). Whenever I would arrive at the shop, someone would tell me "I saw your bikes parts, they're sweet!" Every time I saw a new part come in I would respond with "man I can't wait! this is going to be so cool!" Fast forward a month. Basically all of the parts we ordered, including the parts we shipped off for painting arrived at Mellow Johnny's. Chicken emailed me and said "dude the parts look sweet, wait till you see the cranks!" He later informed me that he showed a co-worker the cranks and they said "are those campy cranks that you got painted?" Chicken "they sure are, pretty sweet huh?" Chicken said the reaction was a mixed reaction of "that's cool but I can't believe you painted campy cranks" MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I found out that the frame would now arrive in September so we still had plenty of time to build the bike and have it ready for the Challenge on 10-25-09. Perfect. When the frame arrived I went down to the shop to have a look at it and it was love at first site. The pictures didn't do it justice and I knew the yellow accents would work well with the frame. Now it was time to start building it. While I was looking at the frame and fork I had asked Chicken where we could put a Mellow Johnny's decal? Maybe on the inside of the fork? Again his artistic approach to builds, he decided that having the decal on the inside of the fork didn't look as appealing as he wanted it to. He had a better idea. How about we put some LIVESTRONG decals on it instead? BRILLIANT! Yes! Chicken contacted Chris Brewer at Livestrong HQ to see about having some LIVESTRONG decals made up for us and he kindly agreed to do this. Another idea Chicken had was to put Livestrong bracelets around each of the hubs. Sort of a throwback to the hub cleaners back in the BMX days. His attention to detail is uncanny. Another idea he had was to put grip tape on top of the toe cages so the paint wouldn't chip off whenever they hit the ground.
Throughout the build process I would be sent pictures of certain aspects of the bike. The first one I got was of the drive train. The black powder coated campy cranks looked even sweeter once they were added to the bike. The pictures were like ransom notes! The Livestrong decals that were added to the bike is probably the coolest part of the bike. When Chicken showed me the "STRONG" sticker added to the end of MASH I was speechless. MASH STRONG.
Fast forward to October and the bike is finally complete. There's a reason why the bike took a while to build and it was well worth the wait. I think there was a collective moment of silence after the bike was brought up from downstairs. Seeing the bike complete was like a dream come true and I was in awe. All the time we spent going over different part configurations and color spec's all came together quite nicely. Hannie said "Have you weighed it yet?" and I said "no I'm still drooling over it". So Hannie said "Let's weigh it!" The bike weighed in at 16.11 lbs! Just over 2 lbs lighter than the Vigorelli. Another mission accomplished! My Livestrong or MASH strong fixie is now complete, well sort of. I figured what better place to take pictures of the new ride than the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Everyone thought it was a great idea so before I left Hannie and Chicken said "you're bringing the bike back right?" I wasn't sure why other than Chicken needing to add the bracelets to the hubs and the computer chip so I said sure I suppose. Hannie said "yeah bring it back we're still working on something" hmm now I'm curious. So Wednesday night I get an email with the subject line "LA loves the MASH!" I did a double take and quickly opened up the email to see a picture of my bike with Lance's signature! They got him to sign my bike!!! No freaking way! those were my EXACT words. I couldn't believe it, he signed the bike. I couldn't believe the picture I was seeing. I noticed I had a post on my FB page stating "Wait till you see what's on your bike now, you're going to be stoked..STOKED!" Later Chicken called me and told me all about it. He told me that Lance was in the shop for a meeting and was downstairs signing some bikes for Tony Hawk. After signing the bikes Chicken said "Hey I have another bike you can sign" so Lance responded with "sure bring it over" Chicken said that Lance loved the bike as soon as he saw it and couldn't put the bike down. He asked where he should sign it? and Chicken said "where ever you want". He said that he was telling the people he had a meeting with about the bike build and even went back downstairs to look at the bike after his meeting. He even asked if I was going to put a brake on it and Chicken replied "nope, in fact he's riding this thing 65 miles for the Challenge". Lance "can he ride?" Chicken "Yeah he can ride, in fact he rode with you during the Livestrong day ride and took out his Flip and filmed the ride on his Vigorelli" Lance "Crazy!" Hearing Chicken tell me all about it was cool and he said the entire experience was surreal. I mean here he his the one that built the bike and he's getting a chance to tell Lance all about the bike and have him sign it for me. So Cool!! Everyone else at the shop that day confirmed the same thing, that he loved my bike and now wanted one for himself! I still can't believe it. Unbelievable.
So there you have it, that's my experience with this MASH STRONG build, one I will never forget and something I will always cherish. I can't thank the kind folks at Mellow Johnny's enough for their part in this build, specifically Christian "Chicken" Hartwig. Thanks brother! I look forward to riding this 65 miles in the LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE and as Hannie would say "now all you have to do is ride it!"
MASH STRONG! oh yeah and Thanks Lance for signing it, you rock! Let me know when you want to go for another ride, I'm game!
Cinelli MASH parts list:
53 cm Cinelli frame and fork
DT Swiss 1.2 rims (custom powder coated)
DT Swiss white spokes
Thompson masterpiece seat post
White Industries pedals
165mm Pista Campy Cranks 49t chain ring
Phil Wood Ti BB
Phil Wood SL hubs
Phil Wood 19t Cog
Deda Nero Bullhorn bars 31.8
Cinelli Graphis Stem 90mm 31.8
Cinelli Yellow bar tape
Mash bar caps (custom painted)
All City toe cages (custom powder coated)
Tokyo Sag toe straps
Selle Italia seat
KMC Z41 chrome chain
Continental Gran Prix 4000 tires