Good Shop Practice #14: Steady On

You imagine that your work should be a smooth flow of operations: confident, swift, and deft. At the least, you feel like you should always be moving toward that adept ideal. In reality, although you are learning and improving, you are also expanding your range of operations and challenges. You are still making mistakes. You are still re-doing things, getting frustrated with yourself. Sometimes even in simple operations you have done many times, you might skip a step or mix up some bolts. You might even break something. Steady on. This, too, is part of it, but it only becomes a deterrent and frustration if you allow it. By focusing on the kind of mechanic you artificially think you “should” be instead of being the imperfect ape you are, you create a conflict between desire and reality and thereby suffer. Steady on.

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Cleveland Cyclewerks Unveils New Misfit

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In the heart of Cleveland’s rough-but-hip Near West Side is the headquarters of the pan-global motorcycle empire that is Cleveland Cyclewerks. It’s an empire built on the idea that people might want to own fun, well-designed, reliable transportation that is extremely affordable – the Schreckengostian idea that good design can be for everyone.

DSC_0079Like in a lot of cities, Cleveland’s old industrial spaces are being repurposed as lofts, boutiques, foodie pop-up venues, and hipster happenings, but CCW has repurposed an old industrial space as. . .  a new industrial space. It’s a bare-bones factory yard that reflects their hands-on, entrepreneurial approach to design. This is where Ace, Heist, and Misfit owners gathered this weekend for a Cyclewerks Homecoming. It says a lot about the company and the rapidly growing loyalty of their riders that this event was rider-initiated, not invented by the marketing department. The crowd was fun, unpretentious, and serious about bikes – very Cleveland. Their loyalty was rewarded Saturday with the unveiling of the new Misfit.

Probably the most recognizable CCW bike is the retro-bobber Heist, but the the sleeper fun-bomb is the little cafe racer Misfit. The original Misfit was styled in homage to the mid-60s Ducati 250 GP, particularly the tank shape. This is a very ‘inside’ styling reference, probably lost on 90% of buyers, and it is especially subtle in the stock black paint. Still, the design stands on its own even if it was upstaged a bit by its showier brothers the Heist and the Ace (sorry – I can’t bring myself to write “tha”).

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No more. The new Misfit has come into its own and looks more forward than back.

DSC_0114While still true to its cafe forebears, the lines are tighter, keener, and more aggressive. The same basic bike form has an entirely new impression and attitude.

DSC_0118The model unveiled Saturday was Hot-Wheels green, which will be a standard color (perhaps taking a swipe at Moto Guzzi?).

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The attention to detail in things like the taillight, turn signals, and instruments give the impression of a much more expensive bike.

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But the styling is only the introduction. Improved front suspension, a stiffer frame, better brakes, and bigger wheels all promise a bigger riding envelope and better feel. Maybe most exciting thing is that club racing is planned for next year. What could be more fun than barnstorming a track on a solid little 250 zoomer?

They kept the seat height low, and of course the weight is light. This is a low barrier-to-entry bike. This would be a perfect first bike that you don’t get rid of even if you get another bike. In fact, I think this will be my official go-to recommendation for the legions of earnest fledglings coming to me for advice on a first new bike.

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One look at the parking lot outside the factory on Friday would tell you that CCW owners tend to be tweakers, tuners, and modders, and all their bikes lend themselves to easy personalization.

DSC_0100I know they are going to have a lot of fun with the new Misfit.

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Good Shop Practice #13: Tight Enough is Tight Enough

Young mechanics, especially men, are prone to overtightening everything. Too much torque is dangerous, as everyone learns sooner or later. The snapped-off bolt or stripped-out screw head is a real motherfucker, and you have no-one to blame but yourself. Now you learn the art of extraction, which is an opportunity to do some real damage if you’re not careful. Some fittings need to be tightened to specified torque and need a torque wrench, but for most of the bolts and screws you’re installing, you need to develop the feel for getting your fasteners mechanically tight. Not Grape-Ape tight. It is a feel, and it takes practice to develop. You will screw it up sometimes, so, yes, extracting broken fasteners is another skill you need.