Something Old, Something New

In August I passed — without note — the fifth anniversary of the wheel-building class I took at the Bicycle Kitchen, an event which proved to be the catalyst that got me to create my first single-speed road bike, dubbed The Phoenix. I mention that not just because I’ve been riding one-gears since 2005, but more importantly because since The Phoenix’s untimely demise in January 2008, the Mercier bikes I’ve been riding have had their rear brake cables held to their top tubes by an old school BMX style wrap-around nard cushion.

This because apparently no one — and I’ve done some serious searching — made cable clamps for over-sized bike frame tubing. Such a prehistoric fastener is somewhat understandable, in part because rear brakes are pretty much useless on fixed-gear track bikes that are all the rage now, and most multi-speed road and mountain bikes have brake and derailleur cables threaded through attachments welded to their frames that keep them in place.

So the pad and zip ties on my single-speed track bike were pretty much my only option — at least until last May, when my buddy Hap rolled up to one of my Bike Every Saturday In May rides on a Mercier single-speeder practically identical to the one I ride — yet instead of a bulky top-tube pad his rear brake cable was held in place by a shiny trio of lovely old-school cable clamps.

The ensuing question to him may or may not have gone something like this:

“Good sir! Perchance might you bestoweth upon me the name of the master metalsmith who hath created your most excellent cable stays which I now do most extremely covet?”

And Hap’s answer was Wabi Cycles.


He repeated the name and much to my further amazement added that they weren’t located in Indiana or India, but rather in our very own downtown at 12th and Hope. I’d had no idea.

Now you’d think at the first opportunity I’d be either banging on Wabi’s door or at least all over the Wabi website ordering me up a set of my very own. Instead, I came home from that ride, wrote “Wabi Cycles – clamps” on a post-it note and stuck it to my desk, where it soon got covered up by other post-its and forgotten throughout the rest of May, all of June, July, August and on until the 23nd of September when I did some desk cleaning and excavated the note and slapped my forehead and went to the Wabi website and ordered me up a set.

Seeing as “local pickup” was an option, the next day biking back from the office I did just that, stopping off at the store and meeting owner Richard Snook. We recognized each other from past volunteer efforts with the LA County Bike Coalition’s Los Angeles River Ride. Anyway, I gushed about how awesome he is to run practically the only company in the world to recognize the need for oversized cable clamps, and then I fell in love with his bikes. We had a great conversation about the triumphs and travails of urban cycling. Dude knows his stuff — even pointing out a solid reason what the cause might be why I’ve been experiencing my semi-regular chain jumps off the freewheel.

For now, 8Ball’s shed its bulky pad in much favor of it new set of clamps. But when that time comes to get my next bike, you can bet I’ll be rolling a Wabi.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."