Becoming the Craftsman I was meant to be

werker

ATTENTION: If you see a word/text that has an underline beneath then click on it!! It linked to another URL! Just incase you did not get it.

dedicated to good work for its own sake.

-- Richard Sennett

Friday 1 February 2008 19.17 EST

The Craftsman

"It's certainly possible to get by in life without dedication, but the craftsman exemplifies the special human condition of being engaged."

-- Richard Sennett

Friday 1 February 2008 19.17 EST

The Craftsman

"In today's labour market, doing good work is no guarantee of good fortune. In work, as in politics, sharks and incompetents have no trouble succeeding. Most men and women today spend the largest chunk of their waking hours in getting to work, working, and socialising with people they know at work. The desire to do a good job is one way to make these hours matter. Competence and engagement - the craftsman's ethos - appear to be the most solid source of adult self-respect, according to many studies conducted in Britain and the US."

-- Richard Sennett

Friday 1 February 2008 19.17 EST

The Craftsman

Two centuries ago, Immanuel Kant casually remarked: "The hand is the window on to the mind."

-- Richard Sennett

Friday 1 February 2008 19.17 EST

The Craftsman

"But most people have it in them to become good craftsmen. They have the capacities to become better at, and more involved in, what they do - the abilities to localise, question and open up problems that can result, eventually, in good work. Even if society does not reward people who have made this effort as much as it should, in the end, they can achieve a sense of self-worth - which is reward enough."

-- Richard Sennett

Friday 1 February 2008 19.17 EST

The Craftsman

I been riding bikes since age 7, and since the early nineties I have gotten really into bikes and velo culture since then over the next decades. But... shamefully over all this time have never ever built or repaired one. I was always filled with that fear and trepidation that I would fail... epically. I couldn't even fix a flat on my own, or spec out parts, understand the compatibility between different cycling hardware technologies and so forth.

During my sophmore year in the pursuit of my Bachelor's, Dr. Bronner exposed me to the writing and works of the world renowned Sociologist Richard Sennett, who also teaches at NYU. One of the influential non-fiction pieces that I read over the course of my life and taught me just how much "I could" rather than "I can't) and in the process strive for quality and excellence was his book "The Craftsman". I have written a rather lengthy blog post prior to this on the "Craftsman", but this post is about applying various trains of thoughts and ideas that Dr. Sennet expressed in the book to my own labours of love, and my own path to professional passion and excellence in my pursuits. At the forefront of all these passions is my pursuit of increasing my knowledge of bicycles and building my single-speeds and fixed gears/track bicycles.

Besides the "Craftsman", the DIY ethic that Punk Rock/HC/SXE extolls, my military training/career also had a huge impacting on the undergirding of what the book itself brought to the table. Let me set the stage... In the late fall/early winter of 2014 I was struggling with unemployment, depression, anxiety, and PTSD acutely. These issues had almost spiritually and psychologically paralyzed me, and I was so low I could play handball with the curb.

The previous year 2013, and on into 2014 had left me, with little to nothing that was uplifting or constructive except my meager stable of bicycles. But I didn't have a single-speed or fixed-gear whip. What to do... what to do... wtf do I do... I had read from one end of the internet to the other, how-tos and tutorials, blog posts on how to do a conversion. But I really didn't want to mess with my bikes, but I had a friend of mine.... He kept on talking about how he wanted me to convert an old Jamis that he had from the early 90s into a single-speed when we would be drinking etc.

Jamis

I told him repeatedly that I did not know what I was doing, I had some knowledge and ideas but not the experience or tools. Plus if we needed any parts I really really did not have any disposable income.

One night I sat looking at his bike, and it hit me, that this was a project or exercise in minimalist design. Deconstruction if you will. So my OCD kicked into high-gear as well a massive suplly of degreaser and I set upon the old beast. Youtube had immediately become invaluable as well as Sheldon Brown's site. I slowly but surely started to realize that this was not so hard or intimidating as my own mind had told me it was. What a suprise! Another person that has had a serious source of impact on me from both New York as well as Velo Culture is Ezra Caldwell. Both of these great human beings have passed away, but they are smiling down upon us as I type these words. They have ensured that I continue to appreciate even more that miracle of physics called a bicycle.

xt_disassemble

shimano_mtb_cassette

shimano_disassemble

I loved it.... This was like hacking on Linux/or any one of the BSDs, or a system administration technical solution with an elusive final correct technique or answer. There were many informal mentors that contributed to my personal knowlege base as it applied to the project at hand that were from the Local Bike Shops in Monmouth County. Specifically they are as follows; The Peddler in Long Branch, Bike Haven which is located in Fair Haven, as well as Cag's Bike Shop. The wrenches at all of these LBS(s) were super righteous and went above and beyond the call of duy to help me out in tool selection etc.

srt_ss_convert

Some of the tools that I needed for this project are listed below.

Buying a complete bicycle repair tool kit can be somewhat pricey even the Noobs version of one. Therefore I highly recommend just outfitting your existing home/house tool set with the specific bicycle tools that are required for what you attempting to do, before you commit completely to purchasing a full toolkit.

Surprisingly, there are not many parts that I needed to purchase in order to complete your Single Speed conversion, the aproximate list is below:

raceface

origin8_singlespeed

origin8_ssconversion

Another really big issue when repurposing something like a bicycle is to have a serious supply of degreaser and mechanics hand cleaner on hand. Now, Pedros and Park Tools has some good products but it gets pricey after a while. I actually just went to my local auto parts place and bought the following:

The single speed conversion kit comes with Spacers, Cogs, and a Chain Tensioner, and there are other companies out there for the kits like Surly. Do the research on your own, it will be more rewarding in the end. I am merely planting the seed in your mind.

When I approached this project one of my inherent strengths was my immense ATTENTION TO DETAIL, and ORGANIZATIONAL skills that I finally procured enough confidence to apply to the Palpable, physical, process of tinkering with the Mechanical in order repurpose my Aluminum Hardtail MTB into a awesomely fun *SingleSpeed

Now there was so much time spent on degreasing, cleaning and studying the various components that I dis-assembled it is not even funny. I spend an inordinate amount of time on Sheldon Brown's web site, just as hundreds of bicycle passionate people have done before me. Sheldon was truly a gift to the planet and universe. Most of my time was spent reading about Freewheels, dropouts, and Single Speed Conversions in general. Sheldon Brown is an Eternal Craftsman that truly set standards of excellence, Rest in Peace.

So I finished both the Jamis as well as my SRT HARDTAIL conversion too, my bro as far as I know has not ridden the Jamis, NOT COOL. I loved the SRT conversion (My bike) but the gearing is way too low at the moment, it's good to putz around on but I believe I need a bigger cog or chainring. Last January I just decided to stopped being scared and bought a fixed bike for the road/streets, and now I am flat-out Addicted, to this shit (Fixed) is my blood man, more than any other hobby or obsession I had, it even rivals skateboarding. But that's another story/post altogether... So Stay Tuned!

retrospec bikes