Swoosh! Coast! Brake! Swoosh! Sally O’Malley’s got nuthin’ on me…

Awhile back, I wrote a bit about incoming gadgets, etc. “…A new deba, crankset, pedals, bottom bracket, sprockets, a bluetooth card…” Since all this shit has arrived and been in use for awhile, I thought I’d jot down a quickie review, if for no other reason than I’ve had spotty luck finding good consumer product criticism online (at least re: these things).

First up: The Kershaw Knives Shun Pro II 105mm Deba. This knife has been my introduction to quality Japanese kitchen cutlery. Right out of the box, into my greedy clutches, this knife is immediately and obviously the two things everybody else has already mentioned, ie., sexy beautiful and sharp as fuck. Being my first single-bevel working knife (having previously used steep double-bevel German-style knives), I was taken for a ride as soon as I sliced up my fist veggie with it. The combination of the deep hollow grind on one side of the blade and the shallow single bevel on the other works to pull the blade deeper into the cut as you go; you can start a slice as this as you please, and this blade will not skip out the end of the veg and turn your paper-this sliver into a wedgey chunk. In fact, it took me awhile to stop angling my cuts to compensate as I would with a double-bevel blade and just let the sharp as fuck edge do it’s thang. First dish prepared? Paper-thin beet carpaccio with tiny slivers of Rainier cheery.
An aside: my girlfriend was first attracted to me by seeing my way with a sharp knife and a board full of veggie prep. Honest! To this day, we both get a wee bit mushy when I cut the cucumber…
Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the knife. Not sure why they call it a Deba; too hollow and too thin in the body. I guess it’s because the belly of the edge curves too much to be a mini-santoku. I liked it enough to go ahead and pull the trigger on a Pro II 165mm Nakiri (also a misnomer; the single edge properly makes this a usuba-bocho). (Whatever, ya knife-nerd.)

Next on the list: Bike parts. After literally months of agonizing, I whacked the gadget-tree with my cheap-hammer and let the cheapest crankset and BB fall out to the ground. I ended up with an Origin 8 170mm crankset and BB. Installed with the accompanying 46T ring, 18T freewheel cog, and Origin 8 track pedals, I was off to the races. Something stank down there from the very start… I pulled, inspected, and reinstalled the cranks… upped the torque on the crankbolts a wee bit… and still something weird. Finally figured it out a week later: the crankarms aren’t 180 degrees apart. Close, but not quite. Hard to say if it’s the tapers on the BB or the machining on the arms, but it’s gotta be out no few degrees. Unridable, no. Disconcerting, yes. Well I got what I paid for: $80 for cranks, ring, and BB clearly doesn’t buy perfection. We’ll get it “right” later, folks; for now, fuck it let’s ride!

Oh yeah, the BT card for “Lappy No. Dos”: Plug’n’played, recognised a-okay in Ubuntu 9.04, syncing phone and Palm files minutes later. Didn’t even have to rebootload the works a la Windoze.

For awhile now I’ve been wanting a new bike. I have a decent ride now to get around town on (a GT Dyno Glide cruiser), but I really want a hotrod urban singlespeed. I recently picked up a frame via craigslist for $20: a 1984 Panasonic Sport-LX; chromoly tubing (likely straight-gauge), brazed/lugged, Tange fork, etc, etc.
The plan has been to build the bike as a singlespeed, although if I chance upon the right collection of Sturmey Archer parts, I may just make it a 3-speed. No fixie here! I like coasting, I like braking, okay?
I’ve stripped the aging paint, and beadblasted the works to remove any traces of rust/pitting/flaking. The blasting left the surface a little too matte for my taste, but a little more work with the steel wool is yielding a nice burnished finish, smooth to the touch, with the appearance of a fine fine metalflake.
I’ve ordered an electroplating kit, and am going to try bronze-plating the frame lugs. If that works out well, I’ll pinstripe the lug/tube junctures, then clearcoat the whole thing with a traditional hot linseed oil and beeswax mixture.
Today I found the perfect old quill stem at a local bike shop. I picked up a set of $10 bars too; not exactly what I was looking for (black Soma Sparrow 490’s, which appear to be backorded into the next century), but worth a try at the price.
Next on the “get list” is a crankset/bottom bracket, and brakes. I’m fairly determined to buy some sick modern brakes, like Mavic SSC’s; stopping on a dime is good. Finding the right levers is gonna be harder though. Wheels will come from Craig at Bicycles Vancouver.
Soon, all the bike will need is a cool name…