A Long Strange Trip
Friday, May 24, 2013
A few years ago we came up with the idea to do a S&S coupled frame set as an option for those of us who travel a fair amount and want to bring our bicycles along with us. Having a bike to ride in cities traveled to is a refreshing alternative to cabs, buses and cars, and allows you to see and experience new places in more intimate fashion. While there was agreement within our group an the idea of doing this type of frame, there wasn’t consensus at first on what the frame should be. Some thought it should be a mountain bike, others thought a road bike, and still others a touring bike. In the end we decided that our Cross Check would be a good fit because of its versatility and solid ride characteristics, and thus was born the Travelers Check.
I received my frame as one of the test samples in my choice of color, which I thought would be a turquoise green but arrived in what one might describe as mint toothpaste green. Some loved the color and many hated it, but I didn’t care because I just wanted to ride it. I did indeed ride it: all over the world in fact. And after about 10 trips with it the paint was battered and beaten to the point where I started dreaming of giving it a fresh coat of paint. This dream went on for a couple of years, long after the parts from it had been stripped off and installed on my new Trucker Deluxe sample that needed testing. Meanwhile, my Travelers Check hung neglected in my garage as I continued to think about what to do with it.
I finally realized its calling as I reckoned back to 1995 when Gary Fisher released their Grateful Dead special edition Hoo Koo E Koo bike, which had a Dead inspired paint scheme and graphics designed by Prairie Prince himself. I had no intention of copying what they did with my bike, but I did want something fairly trippy and mellow to mimic the feeling I get when I ride my Travelers Check in cool exotic places.
I began with choosing a paint color that would fit my version of this theme. My favorite color is navy blue, so I went looking for something in this range, but also with some metal flake. I found what I was looking for on a powder coater’s website, and then I asked fellow coworker Anthony Peterson if he could replicate it for me. He said he was up to the challenge, so I handed him my frame, fork and two Salsa steel stems to paint for me. Within three weeks the paint was done, but during that time I started thinking about how to make the decals special, so I asked Andy Wood to help me figure something out when he wasn’t working on making videos about bikes and chips. We bought some silver cutting sheet and he designed what you see on the bike. This took a lot longer than you might think, and I do not recommend doing this yourself unless you enjoy tedious and labor-intensive work, but the end result was pretty kick ass if I do say so myself.
I also wanted something special for the head badge, so I called up Jen Green and asked her to make the Steal Your Face graphic in relief that you see here. She had already done one of these for another customer so it wasn’t too hard for her to do.
I also wanted polished silver parts to compliment the dark blue sparkle paint job, so I called up Paul Components and ordered me a barrage of shiny bits. The hubs are laced to HED Belgium C2 rims, which are the nicest pavement rims I have ever used. My good friend Shinya Tanaka from Circles Bike Shop in Nagoya hooked me up with the Nitto Sim Works chromed cromoly stem. The handlebars are Nitto and the bar tape is Brooks leather. I also received a chromed steel rack from Nitto for this but it was too small for my frame size and was impossible to get level, so I swapped it for a Surly Rack. The tires are Resist Nomad in 700x45, which roll fast and provide comfort while not costing much.
The pedals were a very special addition from my friend Ali at Moto Bicycles in Berlin, Germany. He makes the flats of the pedals from skateboard decks and uses a sandwich of two high impact plastic plates to reinforce the wood for durability. They are low profile and allow you to wear all kinds of casual footwear comfortably. The non-skid surfaces are replaceable and do the job quite well in wet or dry conditions. These pedals are not cheap, but they are very unique so if you would like a pair of your own you should contact Ali through his website. These pedals are currently not available in most countries outside of Germany.
This project took a lot longer than expected to complete, but it was a great way to spend the long cold winter here in Minnesota. Now it's time to ride.