Old Treks, plants, & pianos.

You might have seen this bike a million times but didn’t really think much of it.  It’s a bike.  Wisconsin made.  It’s sporty, but not spectacular.  Just what we’re looking for!

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Lot’s has happened since 1986 in the realm of bicycle components.  Basically, things got monumentally better.  What happens when you blend that modern functionality with the charm and buttery ride of an old frame?   Some deep purple paint, and yeller cloth bartape?  Then hang it on a box above that dime-a-dozen piano?  With some plants?

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Something like that.   By the way this thing rides like a dream…on clouds…drizzled in honey…on peanut butter toast.

Humble Beginnings Part II: “There’s a bike Shop in Emeryville”

Here’s a link to a little portrait of our family business in the hyper local Emeryville news!

 

Emeryville is a dense 1.2 square mile city with a cherished greenway and well-trafficked bike boulevard that runs the length of the city. We even recently received a silver designation by The League of American Bicyclists as a “Bicycle Friendly Community”. Despite these amenities, our city mysteriously does not have its own bike shop within city limits.

That is about to change as ‘Color Wheel’ (FKA Color Wheel Oakland) opened its doors to the public today as part of a News Years Day Open House event. Color Wheel is a venture of husband & wife tandem Monica Hamlett and Omar Sison that started as a mobile ‘pop-up’ bike shop in West Oakland.

Monica, originally from Kalamazoo, MI and Omar, from Concord and a Cal grad, met about four years ago while Omar was working as a mechanic at Manifesto in North Oakland. Monica was training for a ride and was suffering from some hip pain. She requested a personal bike fit from Omar and they soon began dating. “We’re both terrible flirts,” they admitted. “It took a while to start dating because neither of us were sure if the other was interested.” Two years later, they’re now a family of four with an eight month old daughter Naomi and dog Toast.

The duo have almost Jobs/Wozniak complimentary talents. Monica brings a background in supply chain social responsibility and is handling all the marketing, bookkeeping and account management. Her handling the ‘business end’ of things gives Omar the opportunity to retreat to his passion of fixing and optimizing bikes.

Their pop up idea started in front of Kilovolt Coffee on Mandela close to their West Oakland home. The novelty of their business (and perhaps their adorable family) began to draw attention by the local media including Hoodline and The East Bay Times. Omar’s reputation and experience as a quality mechanic helped them build a small but loyal following.

They slowly branched out to larger corporate clients including Emeryville businesses SCS Global Services and Royal Coffee. A chance encounter with Clif Bar art curator and avid bike commuter Jeff Hantman helped them get their foot in the door at Clif Bar. They began offering weekly pop-ups to employees at their lot at 65th & Hollis. Clif Bar has a well established reputation of supporting cycling causes and being a workplace that provides incentives to encourage bike commuting.

As their daughter started becoming more mobile, it made the pop-up/mobile idea tougher and they started to consider pursuing the live/work model. Omar and Monica initially signed a lease at a live/work space in South Berkeley but things soon became complicated. Their landlords began impeding their planned tenant improvement renovations putting their plans in limbo. It became apparent that they wanted them out which put them in a desperate situation. “I’ve never felt so close to being homeless,” Monica says now with relief.

A friend alerted them to the live-work space on 61st near Doyle-Hollis Park that is also home to INNA Jam and Canine Boardwalk. Monica was immediately smitten with the aesthetics of the space and proximity to family friendly amenities. Omar was a bit more discerning and needed to visualize the functionality of the space for bike repair. After touring the space together, he determined he could make it work and they moved in a week later. “When the dust settled, we looked up and said ‘this is amazing! A beautiful park with a lot of young families like ours and we’re surrounded by other successful businesses.”

“Emeryville is a great location for us. It’s busy and dense — but much fewer services than Oakland for whatever reason,” noted Monica. “We think it’s dense with the kind of people who appreciate what we do,” added Omar. “We like this location because, many of the folks that passed us on the Mandela bike corridor are now passing us here on the Greenway!”

Not only will Color Wheel provide maintenance and builds, they also do custom paint jobs. Find out more about their rates and contact them through colorwheelbicycle.com and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Emile’s Soma rebuild: clean and buttery.

Emile grabbed this Double Cross off Craigslist knowing he wanted to tour with it. He brought it to us with complaints of the shifting, saddle, and fork variety. What we found was the Craigslist seller had created a Frankenstein out of the bike, and so we started the rebuild, to make this Soma run smooth again.

One of our values is thrift, and so this project was up our alley. The crux of this rebuild was using the existing parts, only buying new parts if we couldn’t make the parts he had work as well as new ones would.

The brakes were mismatched, road levers and mountain bike calipers – we used the Travel Agent, an often forgotten solution for that made by Problem Solvers. We replaced the carbon fork with the Soma’s lugged steel fork to match the intended geometry and make front rack-ready. The front derailleur didn’t match his road shifters, resolving this was bike surgery, but we were successful in correcting for the incompatibility. The drive train was exhausted, so the bike got a new cassette, chain, as well as cables and housing.

The beauty of this outcome was Emile had enough money left in his budget for ergonomics and aesthetic. He swapped his saddle for the Specialized Romin, added fizik handlebar tape, both in white. He rolled away with his bike, ready for a Seattle to Portland trip, and it looked damn good too.

Powdercoat & Rebuild: Monica’s 1986 Trek

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Monica found this Trek Elance 400 on Craigslist for $500 complete, with Velo Orange randonneuring handlebars, Sugino crankset, and a Brooks B17 saddle.  She had been getting ready for a long tour with some friends, a southward journey from Portland to San Francisco.  This one fit her much better than her previous Trek Multitrack.

The tour was a success, but upon returning she had a few more ideas to improve on, particularly, the saddle and paint scheme. She went with the Specialized Auro, white Fizik bar wrap, and a creamy powder coat

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  • Frame: Trek Elance 400 with Reynolds 531 tubeset
  • Powdercoated in off-white RAL 9010
  • Wheelset: Sun CR18 rims, Velo Orange sealed hubs, handbuilt
  • Tires: Panaracer Col de la Vie 650A (26×1-3/8),
  • Handlebar tape: Fizik Microtex Superlight in white
  • Saddle: Specialized Oura Expert Gel, 155mm width
  • Shifting: Campagnolo Daytona
  • Crankset: Campagnolo Record
  • Brake Calipers: Tektro R559, nutted

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Before pics…

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Color inspiration is everywhere!

We are simply smitten by light, by color, by the way it awakens or calms, the way it speaks its wordless message.  We are often drawn to unbusy and lovely palettes, but color combinations that bring joy and meaning can come in all sorts of combinations.   It’s in us and around us all the time.  Like the Force.  We’re inspired by everywhere.

 

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