cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

September 2007
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Homeric Proportions
Filed under: rides, photos, bike tech
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:52 pm

A saddle and pedal-less A. Homer Hilsen stood before me.  Not technically mine, as we hadn’t yet retreated to the office to settle finances, but clearly mine-to-be as it had my name on it. Mark whisked the paper away and Keven wandered back to the warehouse to nab a saddle while I stood there and kinda vibrated like a giddy schoolgirl on Red Bull. The bike was beautiful, and my eyes found subtle touches throughout which made the Hilsen such a stunner.

The lugs, of course.
But a couple things which aren’t immediately apparent from the photos you generally see (and I’ll have to hunker down with a decent camera to record them)
- Asymmetrical sweeps - similar to the Legolas, the headtube lugs have a flourish to them which I really like.
- Contrasting band - There’s a thin indent near the top and bottom of the headtube which has been masked and painted in white.
- A multitude of windows - The lugs themselves had been opened up in several areas and again contrast-painted.  Many of them are non-obvious, and you don’t notice them until you look from odd angles. Really nice.

The finish.
- The blue is sublime. Deeper than the common Rambouillet color, and it seems to have a fine richness in the light.
- The style of type used on the decals just bowls me over.  Really love the look of it.
- White contrasting panels.  A ridiculous amount of masking and extra work in the finish.  Plus they contrasted the front dropout spears.

Then I took a step back, and most obvious thing about the bike occurred to me…
- Proportional Clearance -  The AHH wore a  brand spankin’ new pair of Jack Brown tires, which are big puffy things that look like they want to roll forever.  The Silver brakes have a uniquely decent reach.  The AHH frame has a stance that gives it a roomy fit.  When you look at these things individually, there’s a tendancy to see them as big, long and lanky, respectively. Fitted together, everything seems perfectly in tune. In fact, I did hear music when I looked at the bike.

Hovering back towards the bike again, I began to notice the build. 
If you’ll permit a bit of a digression… The base fact is that I haven’t taken delivery of a “built” bike in about 12 years or so. I don’t profess to have anything other than basic mechanical chops, and I’m reasonably slow with a wrench, but it’s been a while since someone else built up my bike.  I’m not persnickity about it, well… actually, I probably am. It’s just been part of the way all my recent bikes have been made ready to ride, whether dumpster ressurection or outta-da-box. Maybe it seems a little bit decadant to have someone else build the bike up.  But….(insert low whistle here)…   Looking at the quality of the work could make me pretty danged spoiled.  Not a stray glob of grease or a cable out of proportion, bars smartly dressed and finished with what looked to be a lazer-aligned twine wrap at the top center. It was awesome.  Thanks Mark.  Beautiful work.

Which meant I needed to get some breeze in my hair and bugs in my teeth - Keven brought out a nice honey B-17, after gently helping me come back to my senses from ti-railed version lust.  Saddle on, pedals from the car, seatpost lowered and it was time to see what all the shouting was about.

It wanted to ride. It also let me coast. Moving the levers seemed to make things either easier or more difficult to pedal. Curious…

We added some bits to the purchase pile - some cages and such  - before settling up and getting ready to head off. Had a bit of a chance to chat before the gotta-get-back bug hit.  Everyone was several notches past helpful, and seemed as excited as I was. GP took a moment away from another Hilsen he was putting some finishing touches on, and I thanked him again for designing a bike like that.  There’s so many “me-too” bikes out there these days, and in my opinion takes a bit of foresight and fortitude to pursue something different.

Grant said that it needed a kickstand. I had to admit that he’s probably correct in the long term, but for now, my plan was not to be standing the Hilsen anywhere when I could be riding it.

I zipped through the rest of work constraints as quickly as possible, and took it out for a position tweak road loop. The bicycle itself felt very similar to what I like about the Quickbeam - stable and responsive.  One thing that I always forget about is the descending ability of the QB - since a lot of the non-epic descents take place in fixed-gear mode, I don’t really push the envelope with the full outside-leg-down technique.  But, when I flop the wheel, I’m always realizing that it loves to track. Since the Hilsen came with the whole coastable/shiftinating system, I can pretend I’m Paolo Savoldelli whenever the urge strikes me.

Between the design of the bike and the full-body-squeeze of the Jack Brown tires, it just seemed like I was well within what the bike will do.  Got to push the big gear with help of a tailwind, and even enjoyed the headwind return leg.  Of course, I couldn’t resist another glam shot or two before finishing up…

good stuff.