Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category



Cycling season is upon us which also means the agony of getting into riding shape has begun. When I ride my road bike I typically ride by myself. I like zoning out and riding at my own pace. What I also like are all the training numbers that can be had, and analyzed, based on my own riding performance. I monitor heart rate and cadence as the primary indicators that help me determine my progress and abilities.

This year I began using the Strava app on my phone which allows me to track more of my riding data. I won’t go into detail about the app since the website would do a better job of explaining it however I will say that it is packed full of data that helps determine the pace I am riding at and how I improve.

Since I want to have my phone visible when I ride I wanted to have it mount in a location on my handlebar stem. There are companies that offer phone mounts for bicycles however the ones that I looked at all had some minor issues that I did not like. I figured I had a Saturday afternoon to kill so I thought I would see what the milling machine could produce for a mount.

I spent a few sleepless hours, the night before, lying awake in bed mentally engineering the mount. Once I had the neuron blueprint made I caught a few hours of sleep then headed into the shop and starting chipping out some 6061 aluminium.

The criteria were fairly basic. The mount needed to be solid; I didn’t want Velcro or rubber bands holding it on. Second concern was that the phone had to mount to it quickly. Third thing was that I wanted the mount to accommodate my Otter Box case. With these 3 personal requests I came up with a plan. The rest is of the story is told below.


I started off with a section of 1.500″ x .500″ flat 6061 aluminum and began hogging out metal to form a clamp for the phone.


With the middle sectioned out I started to open things up from the outside.


A little more milling and I finally had something that resembled the clamp that I dreamt up the night before.


I required a 6 mm thread in the center hole that would eventually provide the clamping force adjustment.


I am not a weight junkie however there is no need in carrying around anything that is not required. I milled off some extra aluminum that was not necessary.


With the clamp roughed out it was time to start on the base. The first order of business included milling out a section to accept the previously build clamp.


Next step involved hogging out all the unwanted aluminum. My projects sometimes get “chunky” and I did’t want that to happen on this one.


I needed 2 flanges that would allow me to bolt the holder to the bike and the other to help keep my phone centered. Out came the boring head and things were trimmed up.


Here it is just rough machined. Not finished yet.


I test fit the mount on the bike and determined things were, in fact, too “chunky”. I decided that the smaller flange I previously cut in order to keep my phone centered really was not required. Therefore it was time to undo my work. I set the base up on the rotary table and cut off the top section on the mount which included my previously machined smaller flange.


It is definitely looking better, and lighter, having been cut down.


As I continue to lighten things up I cut some speed holes. The one exception was the bottom 6 o’clock hole. It was drilled and tapped, you will see why later.


Here are all the components that make up my holder. You can see a knob, which I didn’t show any pictures of machining it, which will be used in conjunction with my clamp.


Onto the finishing portion of the project. The mount will get anodized in order to protect if from the elements. Of course I say elements because it needs to sound like I need a reason. Truth is that it just looks really cool when anodized. All the edges and surfaces got touched up and then were hit with 2 stage buffing. Then thoroughly cleaned and ready for anodizing.


Here they sit in a sulfuric acid bath and soak for a couple hours while getting bombarded with electrons.


Onto the coolest part of anodizing. 5 minutes in the Red Bordeaux dye resulted in a fantastic shade of red.


This is the clamp fresh out of the dye.


Because there is always 1 person that says “How much does that weigh?” the answer is 109 grams. Yes it is weight, get over it!


Here you can finally see how the mechanics of the clamp works. The knob allows me to tension up the clamp against the soft, flexible, section of the Otter Box phone case.


The base mounts in place of the steering head center cap. It is solid and secure.


The single tapped hole in the array of speed holes was done in order to allow me to store the clamp when the phone is not installed. I simply spin the clamp onto the base and that way it won’t get misplaced.


Here you can see how the entire system was designed, and built, to work. The phone is mounted very securely and has no movement.


All that is visible from the top side are the fingers that wrap around the sides and clamp. I am happy to say that I have cycled multiple times using the mount and there are no issues.



Ram tough? Not as tough as hard core cyclists. A riding friend of mine approached me with an idea for a small project to help spruce up his winter beater. This winter season he found himself battling the snow drifts in an older Dodge Ram 4×4. Being an avid cyclist he wanted to bring out a bit of his personality in his vehicle. So it was decided that the ram hood ornament was going to be replaced with a mountain bike handlebar assembly.

The plan was to machine a perch that would bolt to the original hood ornament mount. The perch would allow for the mounting of a stubby steering stem. The original ram head was spring mounted. Since the handle bar assembly would weigh significantly more then the aluminum ram it was decided to incorporate solid mounting of the perch.

The build was fairly simple, the pictures tell the tale. A section of 1.375” solid round 6061 aluminum was chucked up on the mill and a centering slot was machined. The slot was designed to ensure the perch would not pivot which in turn would have put the bars off center.

The rest of the work was done on the lathe. The perch was machined with a built in stem cap. The idea behind it was to prevent theft of the stem. The stem would need to be mounted onto the perch first and then the perch bolted to the hood from the inside. Since the hood is latched, with an inside release, one would not be able to remove the perch. This, of course, does not prevent someone from unbolting the bar from the stem…not my problem.

In order to provide a bit more support for the whole assembly a smaller bushing was machined to give some strength from the underside of the hood. The completed perch was then taken to the buffing wheel and finished with a mirror shine to match the rest of the mount. In the end I think the perch worked out great. My fiend still has yet to piece the whole show together however it is guaranteed to add some personality to his ride and will keep him dreaming about the trails to come in drier months.

I thought I would add to a previous post regarding CCM bicycle serial numbers. I am amazed at how many searches are made on older CCM bicycles from people looking for information. I do not regard my 1935 CCM Marshall Wells Zenith bicycle as a collector’s item nor do I suspect it is worth much however I still really like it. It’s vintage and so it is worth something to me.

I had previously posted a list of early CCM serial numbers ranging from the years 1921 to 1960. As I was hunting around looking for some unrelated information I happen to stumble upon a slightly more comprehensive list of serial numbers ranging from 1921 up to 1975. I thought I would throw them into a table and post the new found information. Of course this information comes with no guarantee that it is correct so use it as you would use anything found on the internet. You can click the image to enlarge it for easier reading.

I was in need of a mental break last night so I decided to shift gears and make some progress on my 1935 Marshall Wells Zenith CCM bicycle restoration. I have desperately wanted to get the wooden rims sanded down. I want to be able to inspect the condition of the wood, rebuild the hubs, and start measuring things up to determine the new spoke length.

 I de-laced one wheel so I could start working on just the hoop. It was a mindless evening spent sanding all the red paint off. I knocked off the majority of the top layer using my Black and Decker Mouse sander outfitted with 80 grit paper. I then went over the hoop twice by hand. First time with 120 grit and then finished it off with 220 grit. The rim came out smooth as glass.

 Since I spent the evening staring at every square millimetre of the rim I was able to get a good idea as to its condition. I am very pleased with the condition of the wood, very few nicks and no major gouges. The rim joint looks to be in good condition as well, no signs of separation. The rim sanded up great.

 I am unsure the type of wood that CCM used for these rims. I had talked to my uncle, a carpenter, and he thought it may be Maple (at least I think that is what he said) I am sure I will find out the species before the project is complete. I really like the grain of the bare wood so at this point in time I think I am going to clear finish the rims in order to maintain to natural wood look.

So I stumbled across this video and I had a burning desire to share it. The video was shot by filmmaker Michael John Evans who is a filmmaker, writer, and illustrator. You can find out more about him here. I know nothing about the film making business and what makes a good film however I think this video is awesome. It features Sean Walling, owner of Soulcraft a bicycle frame building company based out of Petaluma California, building a mountain bike from scratch. I think there are multiple reasons I enjoyed the video, the videography done by Michael is fantastic, the equipment featured is impressive, the precision involved  is soothing (is that weird to admit to? I dunno…it relaxes me), and the soundtrack makes for a fabulous 6 minutes worth of viewing pleasure.

Building a bicycle frame is an item that is on my very long list of future projects. Watching Sean work makes me rethink the skills I lack and need to obtain. Blow this video up to full screen, crank up the volume and give yourself a 6 minute well deserved break. This kind of stuff rocks the show!


There have been some questions lately concerning how to determine the year of certain Zenith bicycles that were built by CCM for the Marshall Wells department store chain. I posted a chart that outlines the letters assigned to CCM bicycles between the years 1921 to 1960. For those of you who are interested in my connection to CCM built Zenith bicycles check out my post on my 1935 model.

It took a little bit of sanding on the frame of my 1935 model to actually find where the numbers are stamped. I finally recovered the numbers on the left side of the seat tube at the very top of the tube were the seat post slides in. My number was fairly well stamped and with a little bit of sanding it was readable. I am unsure if all frames are stamped this well. The number on my model is X4076. According to the chart there are up to 5 numbers that follow the initial letters between the years 1921 to 1936.  I am assuming because the bike was under the 10000 produced amount I only have 4 numbers.

I located the serial number chart awhile back on the internet. I am unable to give credit for it where credit is due.

 A friend of mine who belongs to a local vintage motorcycle club introduced me to one of the vetran members who was selling some vintage motorcycles and bicycles he had accumulated over the years.

He had this vintage Marshell Wells bicycle, which he believed was from 1923, that was made by CCM. Marshell Wells was a Canadian chain of department stores bought out by the Hudsons Bay Company in 1982. This particular bike eventually made its way into the display window of a Marshell Well’s store. It was rigged onto a motorized rolling stand that was designed to make the wheels and pedals turn in the store window. Someone had re-spoked both the front and rear wheels in order to off-center the hubs. They did this to make the bicycle go up and down in the window.

Marshell Wells had given the bike the name Zenith. It appears that multiple products built for the Marshell Wells department store were also branded Zenith.

What I like about the bike is that it’s 100% original, it’s complete, it has wooden rims that are in great shape, it is vintage, and it is 100% restorable. The head tube bearings are seized up and the bottom bracket is a bit rough. The chain ring is bent and the frame has got about 3 layers of paint on it. The top tube has a couple of minor dents in it but they are fixable.

I went hunting for the serial number and, after stripping paint off in all the common spots, I finally located the number at the top of the seat tube. The serial number started with an X. I was able to find a vintage listing of CCM serial numbers in that era and it turns out the bike is from 1935. Not as old as originally thought but I am still pleased with the find.

Right now the bike has secured a spot on my list of projects to complete. I plan a full restoration which will include some personal touches. I am looking forward to sanding down the rims and exposing the wood grain.  Once I get working on it I’ll be sure to post some pictures.