Friday, March 27, 2009

First Frame Update Again!

Well, here she is, with the tan leather bar tape from Velo Orange. It's not really the same color as the saddle, as you can see... it's closer to the color of the straps on the saddlebag. I'm hoping some neat's foot oil, as Velo Orange recommends treating it, will darken it a bit. It's still a nice look... the leather saddle, leather straps on bag, leather bar tape, leather mud flap on the fender... they all harmonize, even if they don't match perfectly.

Also new are the tires. I designed the bike to accept tires up to 42mm wide, with the fenders, and I wanted to get a set of tires that size, both to prove the point and for use on rough surfaces like the C&O Canal here in DC, or even the footpath I ride part of the way to work. So I took off the original Panaracer Paselas that were labeled 700Cx35, and put on a set of Schwalbe Marathon Supremes, labeled 700Cx40, with an ERTRO size of 42-622.

Okay, to make that somewhat decipherable...the "700Cx40" designation is the generic "size" designation of the tire. 700C is the most common nominal diameter of "road" tire.. the second number, after the x is the width... theoretically. In the ERTRO (I can't for the life of me remember what that stands for now) standards, the first number before the dash is the width, the second is the diameter of the tire at the bead, where it hooks on the rim, which is 622mm for road tires. But wait, you say... the Schwalbes say they are 40mm wide in the "size" designation and 42mm wide in the ERTRO! Yeah, well welcome to the fun of bicycle tire sizing, where nothing is even remotely clear or consistent. GENERALLY, it's been my experience that the width listed under the ERTRO system is more accurate. Guess what? In the case of these tires, it's NOT! Turns out they measure a tad shy of 40mm wide, more like 38 or 39, actually. Argh. The whole point was to put the widest tires I could fit, and these really aren't more than 2 or 3 mm wider than the Panaracers. Ah well... they're supposed to be really good tires for touring, and are probably a bit more rugged than the Panaracers... and besides, I've paid for them already. The only real bummer is that the tan sidewalls of the Panaracers were nicer looking with the various brown bits on the bike. I can live with the black sidewalls for now. I just wish these were really 42mm wide.

Anyway, at this point the only thing I don't have on the bike is a front "low rider" rack for panniers. Until I'm ready to head out on a multi-day camping trip, I can hold off on that, but eventually I'll be putting a Tubus Tara rack on there. Those bike-savvy readers with sharp eyes will notice that the fork lacks brazed on upper attachment points for that rack... yeah, I know. I ran out of time in building the frame. It's ok, because the folks at Tubus have what looks like a really good mounting bracket to attach to the fork. Not as slick as a braze-on, but it will work fine.

So there she is, basically done! I'm very pleased with how the bike has turned out.. it looks sharp, but more importantly rides really nicely! Stable and smooth and comfortable, but by no means sluggish. Sure, I wouldn't use it for road racing, but it's nimble enough unloaded for my purposes. Sometime this spring I'll load it up with camping gear and head out for at least an overnight. I'll write then how it handles a load. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bikes From Boxes

I've seen a fair number of bikes that came from boxes lately... both literally pulled out of a box by an owner who bought it online, or received it as a promotional item, as well as those bought from a "big box" retailer like WalMart. Working on these bikes has gotten me thinking, and we all know that more often then not ends up here!

Before I launch into this, I want to start out by pointing to a link to my friend Beth's recent post on a realted topic:

In her post, Beth basically makes the case that no matter how cheap a bike might be, it's still a bike and can still give a rider some serviceable use. I can't argue with that, and for many folks, who probably won't be riding more than a few times a year, for a few miles, maybe it doesn't matter that a bike is heavier than it needs to be, poorly manufactured and poorly assembled. But as a life-long cycling enthusiast and now a professional mechanic in a shop, I think it's worth pointing out some of the shortcomings of such bikes. Folks can certainly make the choice to buy them still, but an informed public is a good thing, no?

So what's my beef with the Box Bikes? Well, let's start with the bike IN the box. It seems a lot of folks get these bikes still in the box... either because they ordered it online, or got it as a promotional item through work, or for whatever reason... and then they have to try to put it together themselves. Now I'm not going to try to tell you that assembling a bicycle is some dark art that requires years of study and self-denial, and offerings to the spirits of Michaux or Lallement (, but it's not without its challenges. And based on the number of times someone has come in to the shop saying "I got this bike from x, and put it together out of the box, and it just doesn't seem right", I'd guess a fair number of folks aren't up to the challenge, or at least feel the need for a professional to look it over. I've also had similar requests from folks who bought bikes at big box stores, fully assembled, by the way... which gives you some idea of the skills of the people in those stores assembling bikes!

So what's the problem? Well, first off, many folks buy bikes like this because it was a "bargain". And it's true, almost any Box Bike is going to have a purchase price lower than you would pay for a bike in a bicycle shop. But depending on how much I have to do to the bike when you bring it to me, you could easily spend an additional $70 or so getting it working as well as possible. And that's the second part... in most such cases, "as well as possible" just doesn't measure up to how well a bike bought in a bike shop will work. Granted, it may still be less cost over all, and for some people the quality difference doesn't matter. But I'd ask that you think long and hard about that... the Box Bike is not as good to start with, and will not last as long, nor be as reliable as a bike bought from a reputable bicycle dealer.

One other thing I've run into a lot with Box Bikes... more often than not, they seem to be purchased not by the intended user, but by a well-meaning spouse, parent, or relative. And on a number of ocassions, I've been told that it was bought "so they can start riding again"... giving the impression that it's an attempt to help a loved one regain the joy of riding they had in years gone by. Well, I have to say... most of the Box Bikes I've worked on are unlikely to inspire much joy and enthusiasm. It's hard to get fired up about riding something that's heavy and creaky and doesn't shift well or stop well, and seems to always be having problems of one sort or another.
I'm sure there are those souls who through luck and pluck, manage to make these bikes work for them, and even find pleasure in riding them, but I sometimes wonder if such bikes don't turn more people OFF of cycling in the long run.

Now, all that being said, it's still hard to argue with folks who can't imagine spending more than $150 or $200 on a bike (which, by the way, was what bike shop bikes started at when I got my first 10-speed in the early 70s). And I can understand that, especially if they are on a tight budget and don't imagine riding it more than a few times a year on short, casual rides. But some of the folks I see bringing bikes like this in clearly have the money that they could afford a better bike that would last longer. I guess it's just a matter of priorities, and the fact that we still generally view bikes as toys in this country. But for that same $150-200, you can get a heck of a good used bike from a shop that handles such things. And you'll get a bike that's better quality, although older, and that has been adjusted and tuned before sale. AND you'll have a bike shop behind it, should problems arise.

So before you reach for that box... give your local bike shop a chance. They may be able to help you find something better for about the same price... and if not, at least you know who to call when you are sitting in your garage with this big box and partly assembled mystery in front of you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Stem For First Frame

Well, just a short update tonight... I decided to put a silver stem on the bike in place of the black one. It's a Nitto Technomic, the same stem I have on a lot of my bikes. I think it looks better, don't you?

Oh, on a minor note, there's a new pump there too, along the top tube. I decided the silver Road Master Blaster from Topeak was a better choice than the black Zefal hpx. The Zefal works great, but is kinda ugly on this bike.

Next is the Velo-Orange elk hide bar wrap, in a brown that's close to the saddle color. After that, the only things I have left to address are a front rack and eventually some bigger tires for off road touring. I am planning to try Schwalbe
Marathon Supremes in a 700x40 size for the tires, and a Tubus Tara for the front rack. Beyond that, I MIGHT add a handlebar bag, but I might not. I'm not that big a fan of them, honestly, but for touring they can come in handy. The trick is to get one that's functional, stable, and attractive... not that easy to find, from what I've seen.

I really like how it's riding now with the new bars and shifters and brake levers. I made the right choice to ditch the trekking bars.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Bars on First Frame

Well, I gave the "trekking" or "butterfly" bars a few rides to see how I liked them, and they just didn't work for me on this bike. The main reason is that it just felt like I was sitting too upright, and my hands felt too close in for comfort on long rides. As I thought about it, it made sense... I had designed the bike around the dimensions of my 1986 Miyata 1000, which has a short top tube by today's standards. That worked fine for me with the Miyata with drop handlebars. I'm long of leg and short of torso, so older road bikes with shorter top tubes fit me well... but the trekking bars have a much shorter effective "reach" than drops. If you look at them, you'll see the closest "in" position places your hands quite a bit closer than the top part of a drop bar, and the furthest "out" position really doesn't get you much farther than the "ramp" behind the brake levers on a drop bar. I've put up photos of both bar setups for comparison below.

The new bars are a Nitto B135 Randonneur bar, a drop bar designed for touring. You can see from the photos that the bar has a gentle sweep upward from the stem, and the drop portions flare out as well. It's fairly similar to the old Nitto Dirt Drop bars that I have on my Bridgestone XO-2, and lots of folks like the Randonneur bars for touring, so I thought I'd give them a try. So far, I like them! Very comfortable, and a graceful look to them that seems to suit this bike. And the position is MUCH better for me... I feel like I'm reaching just the right distance in all positions, and the bike's handling feels better as well, with more of my weight forward now.

I've also decided to try a different brake lever for a change. In modern road brake levers, I've generally stuck with the Shimano "aero" style levers, and I like them a lot. Beautifully made and a very comfortable shape, I'm very happy with them on my other bikes. But I had been wanting to try one of the other levers out there, and settled on the Tektro R200A levers. The lever body is wider and chunkier than the Shimano levers, and some people have a strong preference for one over the other. Maybe I'm not picky enough, but I find after several rides I'm just fine with either. One feature the Tektro levers have that the Shimano lack is a quick release built into the lever. For this bike it's not really a big deal, since cantilever brakes can be easily released for wheel removal, but I can see where it might be handy on other bikes.

In the "tried and true" realm, you'll see I've also installed "interruptor" or "cross" levers on the tops of the handlebars as well. This gives a second braking position, similar to that created by the old "safety" levers, but in this case, they actuall WORK, unlike the old style, which gave feeble braking at best.

Finally, you'll notice that I've once again gone with the Shimano bar end shift levers, in place of the Deore XT thumbshifters I used on the trekking bars. Thumbies don't fit road bars, and I really wasn't that fond of them anyway.

One last change I am contemplating before wrapping the handlebars... the black Salsa stem, while a very nice stem, looks kind of out of place on this bike, and I'm leaning toward a more traditional silver Nitto stem. The only downside to that is that they don't have the two bolt open face design that allows easy bar swaps. On the other hand, if I make sure I like the Randonneur bars before I wrap them, I really shouldn't have to worry about the open face stem any time soon. What do you folks think? Is it worth it to swap out for a silver stem, or should I just leave well enough alone? Hmmmmmm... anyone...anyone?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Bicycling Artifact

Well, here's another bit of bicycling history! Another rear derailleur... this time from the French maker, Simplex. I'm not an expert on such things, and apparently even experts have a hard time identifying specific models and years of Simplex derailleurs. At least that's what the book The Dancing Chain ( says. In case you've never seen it, that book is an amazing history, primarily of the derailleur bicycle, but also of bicycles in general. Some of you may remember Frank Berto from older issues of Bicycling! magazine (back in the late 70s and early 80s, the good ol' days)... he's the lead author of the book, and it's really an excellent text.

Anyway, best guess is this is a late 50s Simplex, based on the plastic pulley. As you can see, it's missing one pulley and the hardware to mount it. A shame, because otherwise it appears to be in excellent shape. Unlike the modern parallelogram derailleur, this one operates on a push/pull rod of sorts, where there's a large coil spring that returns the pulleys to the innermost cog, and a cable connected to a "pull chain" (similar to that on the the old Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub gears) pulls against the spring to move to the outer cogs. I'm guessing when this was made, we were shifting across 3 or maybe 4 cogs. Seems strange when today we have recently seen the introduction of an 11 cog rear cluster, but 3 or 4 was the norm back in the day. The back side of the pulley cage is stamped "4 vit. chaine 238", which I believe means "4 speeds (vitesses)". Not sure what the 238 means. A model number? Maybe.

A fun thing to have, I have to admit. The oldest derailleur I've ever owned, and definitely the least like a modern one. I really like the black main pivot with gold lettering... very snazzy looking! Most Americans, if they know Simplex at all, probably associate them with their Prestige derailleur from the 60s and 70s, which came on any number of bikes in those days. It's singular feature was that it was made almost entirely from delrin, a low friction plastic, very high tech in its day, I suppose. You'll find lots of discussion online about the Prestige, I'd bet, both pro and con. I've owned a couple of bikes with them, and they shift well, but seem really flimsy. And the front derailleur mountings eventually crack with age, pretty consistently in my experience.

If anyone knows more about this derailleur, please let me know. And no, I'm not interested in parting with it. But if you have a source for the missing hardware, let me know!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More info on First Frame

Well, in case any of you are out there wondering just what bits and pieces I used to put together a bike designed and built by me for me, here goes!

The frameset itself is built from cro-moly steel tubing provided by United Bicycle Institute, and I believe most of it is Deddaciai brand from Italy. The main tubes are "oversize" outer diameters, which for steel road bikes means the seat and top tubes are 28.6mm and the downtube is 31.8mm. The wall thickness of the main tubes is .9mm at the ends and .6mm in the middle. The variable wall thickness is what is known as "double butted" tubing, and a special process in manufacture gives you extra thickness at the joints, and thinner walls in the less-stressed middles of the tubes. The lugs (the sleeves that help connect the tubes) are from Henry James, a maker of frame components and framebuilding tools. They also make the remarkable jigs that we used at UBI to set up and braze the main triangle of the frame. The bottom bracket shell is from Pacenti Cycle design, and the fork crown is an Everest cyclocross model. All of these components were easy to work with, although the bottom bracket shell needed a fair amount of tweaking to accomodate the large tire clearance and curved chainstays I chose. That's not a fault of the shell... it's just a reflection of the challenges inherent in what I was trying to achieve.

Now, once it came time to turn this all into a whole bike, I picked out a combination of components that I have used before and found reliable and suited to the uses I planned for the bike. As I've said before, one of the ideas behind this bike was to create a solid, stable, comfortable bike for loaded touring on and off road. By "off road" I simply mean dirt roads and moderate dirt paths, along the line of canal towpaths and such, not serious singletrack better suited to a true mountain bike.

With this in mind, I started with the idea that I wanted some very solid, reliable wheels. I've really grown to appreciate the Velocity Dyad rim from Australia as a touring rim. I first saw them on a visit to Co-Motion Cycles in Oregon, a maker of tandem and touring bikes, and I was quite impressed at the time. I have since had the opportunity to build a number of wheels with them, and very much like the results. It's a solid, strong rim, that builds up nice and straight and round without a lot of effort. And it seems to result in a very reliable wheel. The hubs on both wheels are Shimano XT mountain bike hubs, which I like for their excellent seals. There are certainly more expensive hubs out there, but I'm not convinced I'd have gained that much, if anything, by opting for something else. The spokes are tried and true DT Competition double butted spokes, 2.0mm/1.8mm/2.omm, stainless steel with brass nipples. Not exotic, but strong and reliable. The cassette on the rear is an eight cog, 12-32 tooth cassette from Nashbar... I don't really need an 11 tooth cog, and there aren't a lot of other options out there. It's a good combination with the Sugino XD600 crankset, which has 26/36/46 tooth chain rings. I've used the same tooth counts on my Miyata 1000, and it seems pretty much ideal for loaded touring for me. The pedals are the new Shimano M530, a really nice design that features an SPD fitting on one side and a very comfortable flat platform on the other, so I can use either special cycling shoes (or sandals, for me) or any old shoes I have on.

The derailleurs are Shimano LX series. The rear is pretty much a current model, but the front is a couple of generations back. At the moment, the shifters are Shimano Rapidfire thumb shifters, but when I swap the handlebars out, I will go to Shimano bar end shifters instead. One disappointment with the shifters is that they don't have a "trim" function to prevent chain rub on the front derailleur, but other than that, they work just fine. The bars on the other hand, aren't really working for me. I designed the bike based on my Miyata, and how it fits me, but it has drop handlebars, and a short top tube. This bike, with the same short top tube, but with bars that sweep further back and don't sweep as far forward as drops, feels too "upright" in position. So it's drop bars next. I'm not sure if I'll just use my tried and true Nitto 115 bars, a pretty classic "Maes bend", or if I'll branch out and try something else. Lots of folks seem to love the slightly upswept "randonneur" bars, but when I tried them briefly years ago, they felt a little odd. Chances are I'll start with the 115s, since I have a set handy.

The brakes are older Shimano XT II cantilever brakes, which work really well, and look pretty to boot. I managed to buy a set of new old stock brakes a couple of years ago, and that was what I had in mind when I built the frame. Unfortunately, after building the frame, I changed my mind and bought a set of modern Shimano cantilevers... but spacing on the brake bosses is different with modern brakes, so they didn't really work. That's ok, the XTs are really great, and I'm sure I'll find a use for the newer brakes another time.

Finally, the accessories! I toyed with several options for fenders, but settled on the Zeppelin style from Velo Orange, a small importer of classically styled bicycle parts in Annapolis, MD. I wrote about a visit to their showroom with a friend a while back. Very cool stuff, and a very neat company. And the fenders are great! A very pretty shape, and a very useful profile and sturdy construction, while still lightweight. They were a little trickier to install than my usual SKS plastic fenders, but worth it. And the retail cost on the two is very nearly the same.

The rack is a Tubus Cargo, a very nice tubular cro-moly steel rack from Germany. I've not owned one before, but have seen and installed some on bikes at our shop, and they're really excellent racks. My only regret is that the silver version isn't imported to the US. Ah well. For future tours, I plan to install a "low-rider" style rack from Tubus, the Tara. I didn't get the chance to braze on the mid-fork mounts for that rack, but they make a very nice adapter clamp that will work just fine. With that combination I should be able to carry anything I could possibly need in front and rear panniers and on top of the rear rack if need be. For day to day use, I have the Carradice Nelson Longflap saddlebag. Plenty big enough for the stuff I carry to and from work or on day rides, and there's even room for a few groceries, if need be. That's where the "Longflap" comes in... the top flap on the bag actually has an extended panel that folds back on itself for normal use, but unfolds to give you a bit more capacity if you need it. It's kind of like the expansion feature of a nice piece of luggage, and very handy.

In the smaller accesories, I fell back on what I've used and liked before, with one exception. The tail light is the same Planet Bike Blinky 7 I have on most of my other bikes... it's bright, easy to mount, and has a very wide field of view. Plus, the company contributes lots of money to bicycle advocacy programs. On top of all this, it's a very affordable light for all of it's qualities, at about $18 retail. For the headlight, I opted to try something new... that's a Cateye EL530 on there, a single LED with a very well designed reflector that casts a very bright beam of light at the center, with a good amount of "spill" around the main beam so you can see things at the periphery and motorists can see you from the sides. So far, I'm really impressed with it. I'm not as fond of Cateye's mounting hardware as I am of Planet Bike's, but currently this light is the brightest I've seen of the self-contained battery powered lights. For warning fellow path users, I have an Incredibell Brass Duet, which lets out a very nice double-ding tone, which seems to get folks' attention without startling them too badly. And to track my mileage and such, I've just installed a Sigma BC1106 computer. I'm not really Mr. Cyclecomputer, but I do like to know how far I've gone on a ride. I record the information on a spreadsheet pretty consistently, but never really do anything beyond enter it. It's not a "training tool" or anything... just a curiousity I guess.

So what's left? At the moment I need to figure out the handlebar situation, which will also mean new brake levers and shifters, as I noted above. I have a set of wider tires on order as well. The current tires are a favorite of mine, the Panaracer Pasela 700x35, but since I designed the bike to take wider tires, I will be getting a pair of Schwalbe's Marathon Supremes in 700x40mm, which should be great for rougher surfaces like the C&O Canal. Other than that, the bike's basically done, and now it's all about riding it and enjoying it!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

In Like a Lion...

You know how they say March "comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb"?

( Any of you remember the SNL Weekend Update bit, early on with variations on that theme:

Well, it's nowhere near going out yet, but it sure came in roaring and quickly changed its tone this year! Sunday night and Monday morning, we got about 6" of snow here in Northern VA, and folks east and north of us got more. I went for a walk Tuesday, and it was still pretty darned cold and there was lots of snow on the ground, as you can see here.

But in the last few days it's been steadily getting warmer, with the highs this weekend slated to be in the 70s! And this morning, as I was just heading into the woods for my ride to work, I saw these flowers... the first wildflowers of spring I've seen this year! Not sure what they are... flora identification has never been my strong suit. Anyone? Anyone?

Tonight after work, I decided to extend my ride home by a few miles, just cruising along the W&OD rail trail a ways. Not far from here there's a little wetlands area, and tonight it was alive with frogs... the songs of spring peepers and wood frogs filling the air. An amazing sound, and one of my favorites since I was a child. Frogs have always been special to me, and their song has always made my heart smile. I tried to figure out how to load them here, but to no avail.

It was a lovely night and a wonderful ride. The air was just cool enough that I was glad to have a light, long sleeve wool jersey on over my t shirt, but warm enough to feel like the first blush of spring. The deer were out in force tonight, and I even heard a lone goose honking by a stream... I have no idea why, but there he was, honking away. The moon was bright, though not yet full... all in all a gorgeous night... the kind of night that makes you glad to be out in it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

First Frame Update

Well, our "last gasp of winter" (maybe) snowstorm this past weekend, put a crimp in my riding plans, but the weather made an abrupt turnaround and we had sun and 60s today! Since our shop is still in "winter hours", I have a longish break in the afternoon, so I got out for about an hour's ride on the new bike.

You can see it here, as currently set up. It's still a work in progress, which doesn't really surprise me. Since my last post, I got the fenders and rack and saddlebag on, which makes it look really "complete" to me. I built the bike to be practical.. for touring, for commuting, for shopping, for all weather and many surface conditions. So the fenders are an essential element, as is the rack. The saddlebag, a Carradice Nelson Longflap from England, is what I carry my small daily commute load in, and its' also suitable for a quick trip to the grocery store if I need one or two items. The rack will support panniers for touring or heavier shopping loads.

At the moment, the only things "missing" from what I had originally planned for the bike are a front rack for panniers (for touring) and a cyclecomputer. Oh, and since the bike was designed to handle 42mm wide tires with fenders, I've ordered a set of Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires in that size. I've heard good things about them, and they're one of the few high quality tires made in that size.

Now, one thing that seems clear after the first few rides is that the "trekking" style bars just don't feel right on this bike. I've used them before on an old mountain bike that I used as a commuter and general knocking around bike, but they just feel awkward on this bike. Basically, they feel too upright and too wide for the uses I imagine for this bike. Some of that is because I'm most accustomed to "drop" style handlebars, so that's what feels most natural. But I think part of it is also due to the relatively short top tube of the frame. I designed it based on my old Miyata 1000, which has a short top tube compared to most modern bikes, but it fits me just fine... with drop handlebars. I could try a different stem with more reach, but I also don't really like the width of these bars, particularly in a headwind... it just feels like I really catch the wind with these bars. So once I get a new set of road brake levers, I'll put on a set of Nitto drop bars I have already.

It's not a big deal... I had actually had in mind the idea that I might swap the bars around based on how I was using the bike at a particular time. For example, if I knew I were going to do a long off-road tour, I might opt for the trekking bars, but switch back to drops for normal road use. However, I have a feeling I'm just going to settle into drop bars on this bike and be happy with them.

Keep watching this space for updates! As I said, it's a work in progress. And for you serious bike geeks out there, soon I'll spell out exactly what parts I built the bike up with.

More pictures at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Strange Bike

Recently a rather odd bike came into the shop. Odd for two reasons... first because it bore the name of a famous automobile line... Lamborghini! Now that's actually not so odd.. there have been plenty of other cases where a name famous for some other sort of product is applied to a bicycle, in hopes of imparting some of the cachet of that brand on the bike, I guess. In rare cases, like a "Smith & Wesson" bike we had in some time ago, or the "Maserati" racing bikes of the 70s, they're actually good quality bikes that the owner of both the bike and the brand could be proud of.

This bike, however, and most other such bikes, basically rely on the name to cast a sense of value and exclusivity onto an otherwise pretty mundane bike. This one isn't a BAD bike... it's just a mass-produced bike from China with low end parts that wouldn't be out of place on some bikes from mass merchants, aka "big box stores", or perhaps a sporting goods shop like Dick's or Sports Authority. It's just a little weird to see the name of a very high end Italian automaker on such a bike.

While working on the bike, I noticed something even stranger. Take a look at the decal on the chain stay there in the photo. If you click on the photo to see it full size, you can see it says "Powered by Shimano". Now that in and of itself isn't that unusual... many bikes, especially lower end ones, are emblazoned with decals that bear the name of a famous component maker, and arguably Shimano is the most widely known these days, so it makes sense that the bike maker would do some "name dropping".

What makes this one strange, is that I looked over the whole bike, thoroughly, and found the derailleurs were made by SRAM, the hubs by Quando, the brakes by ProMax, the cranks by SR SunTour... but not a single part from Shimano! Very odd. I've honestly never seen this before... always before if the bike proudly proclaimed something like "Powered by... " there's been at least SOME part made by that maker. Maybe it was a simple mixup at the factory. Maybe they had a bunch of leftover decals. Maybe the specifications changed after the graphics package was designed and printed. Whatever the reason, it's just kind of bizarre. And I have to wonder how Shimano would feel about it!