The Slow Spoke is a place where I put my thoughts to words and hopefully some will read them. Since I'm a major bike geek most entries will be bike related but, not always. I'm also guilty of thinking far too much so you never know what the topic will be. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sweet Rides: Entry #6

Today again I’m just going to post a quick one. Today it’s all about Dekerf. I won’t say much, only that I’m a huge fan of Chris’ work, although, you can probably guess that though as even my header image is of my Dekerf caked in crud after a particularly gooey outing a number of years ago. Before anyone says anything about that – this was on privately owned land/trails and was actually an event with “Mud Run” in the title so I did not take part in destroying any of our local trails. :-) This was the nature of the event.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah! Chris' frames are as beautiful to look at as they are to ride – and they can take a serious wallop too. Although my enthusiasm for them never faded, after taking my old one out for a jam after such a long time a little while ago and making that little video (previous entry) there has been a resurgence of my love for that bike. I’ve been riding it more than my most current mtb on the trails hence the inspiration for this entry and the cluster of Dekerf content lately.

I hope you don't mind.

First is a killer-nice Elysium Ti. A friend of mine owns one of these too (not the one featured here) and, good God, it’s the picture of perfection.

This one is owned, ridden and raced by “catsoft” over on He’s done this ride justice by, in good taste, matching the orange Dekerf and RS decals with mango coloured Chris King headset and hubs, not to mention those lovely orange coloured nipples as well.

It’s details like that which make a sweet bike that much sweeter.

So very, very nice.

After some searching not so long ago I came across this awesome custom 29er. Seeing as I’m in the market for a steel 29er right now – I can’t help but think that this one would be so perfect in my quiver. I wish I could make that happen but, right now, I can't.

How about this Ti cross frame? Tell me you don't want that...

Lastly, is a blue Dekerf UK Limited (I believe); it may be a Team SST but it’s tough to tell from this photo. What is particularly nice about this one though is that matching Dekerf Tuning fork and that mega-rare Ti bar and stem combo that Chris has welded up in the past: a very freaking cool bike indeed.

That’s it for today folks. Just a quick one paying homage to Chris Dekerf and his fine work. I for one am very glad he kept the fillet brazing going after almost shutting the lights out at DK back in ‘07.

Phew! That was close! Thanks for all the great work Chris.

Anyone reading can submit bike photos (any bikes, not just Dekerf of course) to skabikes at hotmail dot com. I’d love to check them out.

Oh! Just before you go, here’s a nice close up shot of the good old Team St and that trademark wishbone design all his frames have. Just check out that craftsmanship.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sweet Rides: Entry #5

I have just a quick entry for today – it would seem I am pressed for time. I still wish to get this one in though.

Here’s an example of a French made whip; made by Sunn Bicycles. Wasn’t sure at first why I dug it so much but I totally do dig it. Seeing as it’s a soft tail doesn’t hurt but I must say that at first I laughed at the green headset, matching green anodized Race Face cranks, bolts and green V-brakes (fastened with anodized hot-pink (or is that purple?) bolts btw). On their own they’re alright but when you throw in the yellow stem and hubs (which are supported by white spokes no less) it all seemed so out of place. It was overwhelming! You’ll notice the blue shifters with a hint of blue in the BB area (I’d assume an old Race Face BB) so you know the owner is trying to tie stuff together. Then I got to the saddle – white and black plaid?? “Jesus.” I thought. It’s like an acid trip gone horribly wrong. But, my contemptuous views all changed once I focused my attention on that totally worn out Syncros seat post.

It was then that it occurred to me. This bike has been ridden – a lot. The owner has put his or her own mark on it which is precisely what I like so much about looking at all these things and the real reason I'm doing these entries and, maybe, why you’re reading them. Although the colors scheme would not have been one I’d have chosen, how can I judge this bike based strictly on my disapproval of a few anodized bits and pieces? Clearly this bike is appreciated by the person to whom it belongs and for that I am glad. Judging by looks alone the geometry appears to be spot-on and the bike, although somewhat retro, looks like it would be more than capable in performing today.

I’ve had this bike photo for a number of months now and each time I went back to view it I liked it more and more. I can now say (obviously since I’m posting about it) that I’m a big fan of this ride. If I acquired it, I’d even leave the colors as they are too. It’s grown on me just as it is! Maybe it’s just that the owner has seen it long before I did, or, maybe I’m just growing accustomed; I don’t know. All I know is that it’s f%#king nice - as is.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A Mellow Outing.

After a long while of just sitting there, I thought it might be a good idea to take my old Dekerf Team ST out for a jaunt. Just something to do – you know? I wasn’t interested in going particularly hard on this day (kind of a recovery ride) so I decided to bring my camera as well.

The temps were cool so I bundled up in layers to deal with that. The fall colors were just starting to appear so it made for a good day to film. Getting out in the woods never gets old for me and this bike is still my favourite bike of all time. It’s still as much fun to ride today as it was the day I bought it.

It’s the one bike in my quiver that will not be parted with. I love it.

Enjoy everything about your rides folks.

A Mellow Ride On My Old Dekerf........ from Steve Arseneault on Vimeo.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sweet Rides: Entry #4

Today I’d like to show how on occasion, a bike is so nice, that when I’m shopping, it helps to focus my attention in a particular direction or, inspire me if you will. Although there is always more than one option, a nice bike will, at the very least, cause me to investigate more closely. Sometimes I jump, sometimes I don’t.

An example would be the blue Surly Karate Monkey I mentioned in Entry #2. I’m currently looking into going back to a steel hardtail (I miss steel and I miss that hardtail feel) so my options are endless. My search has narrowed but that Surly made me check again and make absolutely sure that the Karate Monkey isn’t quite what I am looking for.

Whenever I look into buying a new rig, I build them from the frame up. I shop. I research everything to death. Every decision is based on what I need, and how it will perform. I study geometries and try to get a good idea of what a bike will be like before I even build it up. Experience allows me the ability to do that. I’ve gotten it right on four separate occasions so far so my tactics are proving effective – for me. Before that, it was just a case of walking into a shop, like most folks do, and picking what I liked. That was years ago and before loads of riding and figuring out exactly what I like and don’t like. There’s nothing wrong with doing that either, going to the shop and picking off the shelf that is, I don’t mean that in an offensive way at all. It’s just that once you get to know what is out there and what’s available, and you figure out how to “get it right” – you do what you have to. It’s natural.

I’ve had people ask questions like; “Do you think that would be a good fit for me?”. And honestly, aside from being roughly right in terms of size, how is one supposed to know what someone else likes? It’s impossible. A person with the exact same measurements as me (ie. height, inseam, upper torso length, shoulder width etc.) may get on my bike and think I’m crazy. Really, what works for me, works for me. Some people like to be like Superman and all stretched out on their bikes and others prefer a less aggressive position. It’s very personal so once you get something dialled – stick with it.

Although these entries are based on bikes that “look good” I never buy or even consider a bike if I don’t feel it will function as I need it to. Looks come in last but if you can get a bike that performs well AND looks good, it’s a freaking win – win!

Back in 2007 I was looking into trying the whole full-suspension thing. The bike I had before was so perfect that I had a really hard time letting go. In the end, technology forced my hand and I moved on. For a change, I thought of trying a full-suspension ride and had my search narrow down to a handful of frames. In the end, I’d decided on one – a Salsa El Santo. The El Santo was one of 6 frames in the running and finally made it down to the last 2. A stellar deal on the last medium frame in stock made for the ultimate decision. But, at one point, before that time, there was a bike that inspired me to investigate that frame further.

Here’s the one that had me thinking and looking into geometries and stuff.

So, once down to the last 2 possibilities, my killer deal had me buying and building this.

Note: photo taken the day I finished it and before I trimmed the front brake, line.

Since I’m partial to Chris King hubs I had some laced to some Mavic 717 discs. A mix of XO/XTR bits, Noir cranks, a fox RLC fork and Avid Juicy Ultimates finished it off. I do, however, deeply regret the Avids. In my experience (and many others) they are a very nasty brake system requiring constant attention and bleeding. Of course initially they received rave reviews however a quick search now will show how not-so-nice they really are. Too bad really because when they work – they work great!

The El Santo was a beautiful ride and it did everything Salsa said it would do. I had many good outings on it and I rode it with loads of confidence (as long as those damn Avids didn’t fail me). Despite that, after a couple years of riding it, I’ve decided that the FS thing isn’t for me. It has nothing to do with Salsa or this bike at all. I really think I’d feel the same way no matter what FS rig I’d chosen. I just don’t feel as “connected” when I’m floating on a bunch of pivots. It’s just a personal opinion of course – full susers have their place. There’s no doubt about that. But, for now, I’m looking to get another hardtail.

This time the change will be a jaunt into the world of 29ers. I’m in the market. I’m shopping. I’m driving my wife crazy. I’m telling my 18 month old son all the things I’m considering and he usually points out the window and yells “BIRD!” or some other random thing he’s seen. He doesn’t get it – yet. :-)

For now, I’m down to 2 frames again so the time is coming. I’m looking forward to entering a new world again and I hope it’s as fulfilling as that old bike I refused to give up on for so long years ago. I need that connection.

We’ll see.

I thought I’d throw another bike in the mix for today and it’s one that really, a few years ago, wouldn’t make the cut. I don’t like gimmicks. I do have something to admit tough. I’ve always been one to admit when I’m wrong so I’m going to do it right here and now.

When Cannondale initially came out with that Lefty fork I thought to myself “Oh God, here we go again.” But here we are, years later, and those things have been fine tuned and actually work extremely well. I tried one out not long ago and pushed it quite hard. It was actually very nice! I liked it! My initial thoughts years ago were that because of its (at the time) unorthodox look, people would buy them based strictly on that but they’ve now pretty much become commonplace. So, even though this bike initially would not have made it on my list of appealing bikes, I must say, that I’d love to spend a few hours racing this thing around. It even LOOKS fast! I wouldn’t have any worries about this thing carrying me over the nasty stuff – fast! Mega marks for smartly being set up as a 1X9 too. Great stuff. Really!

This bike scores high as a full-on racer and has just the right bits fitted to make it an “I-want” bike on my list. A real beauty IMO.

So, the apology: To Cannondale – sorry for doubting your Lefty Fork way back in the day. I was wrong: kudos to you for pushing the envelope. Your fork has definitely proven itself worthy.

Remember to comment if you’re reading and have something to add. And don’t forget to submit your ride if you think it belongs! I’d love to check it out. E-mail it to skabikes at hotmail dot com.

Steve A.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sweet Rides: Entry #3

Well, for today’s entry I decided to throw in a Salsa El Mariachi. This bird caught my eye straight away being tastefully assembled and with perfectly matching gear. It’s simple yet effective I’m sure; being single speed and fully rigid. It’s a bike to be managed with skill and finesse but, no matter how this bike is ridden, it scores a heap of bonus points for being equipped with a Brooks saddle and matching mud. Looks fun!

It’s really nice to see these things being used too.

Nice bike ~gomez~ from mtbr.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sweet Rides: Entry #2

Well, I’ve gotten some responses to my request for bike pics and I thought, almost aloud, “Screw waiting a week. I’ll post some more now while I have a minute.” But, before I begin posting, I felt I should explain something.

For those reading who may not necessarily be a “bike geek” or hold any appreciation at all for a well made bike, you’re probably wondering what the hell this is all about. Well, it’s like the perfectly aged and tempered wine to a wine connoisseur, the Bugatti Veyron to the super car fanatic, or, to a skier, being the first one down a slope covered in three feet of fresh pounder. It’s one of those things that can’t be explained. It’s just understood by those who have a passion for it.Although owning and riding these works of art would be the ultimate, just like that perfect bottle of wine, the Bugatti, or that fresh powder, we can’t always have it and that is the essence of this series of blog entries.

Just like a supercar fanatic will go to magazines or websites to read and look at the Veyron, the skier will leaf through mags or live vicariously through forum entries, I’m attempting to forward that sort of experience to my bike brethren. I hope that helps.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

The first couple were taken from the Independent Fabrication blog where I spent far too much time the other day. I hope they don’t mind me posting these. Both of these examples are absolutely breath taking.

The first is of one of their custom commuters built up with old-school XTR cranks, derailleur and brakes. How many of you remember those old Syncros stems? The rims, having been painted to match the frame, is a nice touch and the saddle coordinates well with the decals to balance it off nicely; a great looking commuter indeed.

The next one left me speechless it’s so nice. I have nothing to say still except I wish it was mine. Assembled for Kevin who is part of Team New Beige (IF Factory team) I’m fairly confident that there are guys on the course who will be cursing their sponsors wondering why their bikes don’t look this freaking rad. If it performs as well as it looks (I’m sure it does) there are definitely some podium finishes to be had.

Now, look at this specimen right here! This one was submitted via MTBR and it made me lean forward towards my screen to get a closer look! Yet another great example of what we, as thinking human beings, can accomplish. This would make any trail more exciting to ride and believe me, I’d love to take this one out for a spin. The mix of new and old is perfect and seems right at home on this refinished-and-disc-tabs-added 1998 Fat Chance. An out of this world addition to the collection for sure; thanks for the submission! Very nice indeed. It’s also nice to see it’s getting dirty too!

Lastly for today is a bike that I personally dig a lot. Partially just because I love the Surly blue but I also wanted to post it because I wanted to prove to people that I don’t only select or appreciate bikes that cost more than the average national deficit. This Surly is a real beauty and simple. It really inspired me to consider heavily the possibility of adding a Karate Monkey to my quiver. I’m still leaning towards the Niner M.C.R. 9 but the Surly isn’t out of the mix yet and this bike is the reason for that. I love it. Two thumbs up! Way up on this one!

I've got tons to come so keep checking in if you're into it. Let me know what you think and be sure to submit some pics!

Cheers and thanks for looking.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The road trip.....

My bud Greg and I hit up the trails at Hardwood Hills for a day and I shot a bit of footage at the end of the day. We were wasted by this point though after such a long time in the saddle. By "wasted" I mean tired since it's not really a good idea to be "wasted" wasted on the trails.

Anyway, to prevent being sued, the tune is The Heinrich Maneuver by Interpol. I always credit songs in the videos themselves but I figure I'll start putting them in text as well.

Cheers, thanks for watching and feel free to comment.
Steve A.

Road Trip for Singletrack........ from Steve Arseneault on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Sweet Rides: Entry #1

I’ve been meaning to do this for years...... I better start right now.

Sometimes I find myself surfing the web, browsing other blogs or forums just for something to do. Often I get into places where there are some real gems in terms of non-cookie-cutter rides and I get pretty stoked. It's obvious then that I'm a bike geek through and through.

I love everything from mountain to road to cross to SS to fully geared to fixed to carbon to steel get the idea. I do have a particularly soft spot for steel though but really I love it all and I especially love non-cookie-cutter bikes.

By that I mean bikes that aren't straight out of the box but instead are assembled piece by piece each part being hand selected by the owner to bring together a true work of art and a bike as individual and unique as the person riding it: a real stand-out ride.

Frames aren’t necessarily boutique either. They are sometimes the most common frame but have been stripped of most or all factory parts and a full custom selection of components are hanging (or not in the case of single speeds) from them. It’s a real thing of beauty that I know many out there like me understand. As nice as bikes are to ride; some are just as nice to look at. After all, if you don’t own them that's all we can do. Sometimes they are built up with the highest end components on the market but often they are slapped together with bits and pieces that have been lying around in the basement. It’s great stuff!

I don't want to seem like a bike snob though and I don’t want this to seem like an anti out-of-box entry. There is nothing wrong with people going into a bike shop and purchasing exactly what suits their needs. Most are quite happy with doing just that and that is totally cool too. Enjoy what you’ve got brothers and sisters! All I’m looking to do is get this ball rolling after all this time on some bikes that really stand out in a sea of two-wheeled gravy.

I figure, at least once/week I will upload at least a couple of bikes and some details (if I have any) on customs builds out there. I really need to get this blog happening at least a little so I’ll give it a shot.

There are some real cherries out there and I applaud the effort put forth by all the owners taking the time to rock some sweet rides. Keep up the candy!

Here are the first entries to the blog.

First one doesn’t really count because it’s mine. I’m putting it up because it’s a good example of what I mean. It’s a Surly Cross Check built up with spare parts I had kicking around in some boxes in the basement. After selling my Colnago Crystal road frame all I needed to buy (after the Surly frame and fork obviously) were tires, a headset and cantilever brakes. My cross bike was built! After money was exchanged, it cost me $27 to build. It’s one of my favourite bikes in my quiver. I beat it silly too. It's great. Again, it doesn’t count though ‘cause I ride this one and it’s not nearly as pretty as some others I have pics of. :-)

Next is an incredibly stellar looking Misfitpsycles single speed 29er built and owned by nspace who posts over on MTBR. Absolutely rockin’ bike. It even looks fast! I love it.

Rock Lobster CX bike. Say what you will about the color, I absolutely dig this one too. The gumwall tires really help set it off too. Very nice. It’s an old pic so I don’t know what it looks like now but if it’s sporting a Brooks saddle today this thing would be a 10+ out of ten. If you’re the owner. Nice job regardless.

Last but certainly not least, a really nice bike built by Ted Wojcik. I want to ride this one pretty bad. Very nice.

Hope you enjoyed what was the first entry. And please, feel free to comment and, if you think you have a bike that I would like to see you can e-mail me at skabikes at hotmail dot com.

Steve A.