Sunday, December 20, 2009

winter rides

It has been another long period between my updates. Sorry.

I have been busy building a special bike which, if all goes smooth, will be exhibited during the next NAHBS at the end of February in Richmond, VA. I am not quite ready to show any in process pictures, but check my Flickr for occasional updates.

Today has been an exceptionally nice day and Leigh and I had a short and nice bike ride. It has been a while since I last ride outside, it feels great! Here is today's bike ride.

This is not to rub it in to my buddies out east as I saw a picture yesterday from MD. Keep warm out there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Questions I got asked

Why do you name your bikes YiPsan?

Some customers had asked about my name - Renold Yip, and how I named my bikes YiPsan. YiPsan , rhymes with Mr. Yip in my native tongue – Cantonese, and I thought a two syllable name might be easier to read. Plus, the word yip really does not carry a particularly good meaning in the English language.

How about your first name, it sounds so western?

Well, yes. There is a story to it. My father named me Renold for a very important reason. My father had been a long time motorcycle enthusiast, especially Triumph, Norton and BSAs. During that era, a famous motorcycle chain was made by Renold (they made bicycle chains too). He believes that a motorcycle chain is small in size but very efficient and important to the operation of a motorbike. There you have it. I was named after a motorbike chain. And if I follow this custom, I may have to name my child Shimano, SRAM or Wippermann!

Are there any meanings to the logos and motifs?

Quite some customers had also asked me if there are any meanings in the logos. The circular one (my headtube badge) is a stylized version of my last name, Yip, in simplified Chinese. It is common to put ones last name on items that they are proud of, e.g. the front of red packets (a tradition during Chinese new year for married couples to give well wishes to singles, it usually contains cash in modern times). This is quite similar to the use of the coat of arms.

The square one simulates an approval stamp used by ancient kings to signify their approval of policies and legislature. The meaning of the 4 Chinese words is “Hand made in steel”.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Peter is riding strong

Wow, another lapse in updating this blog. Things are moving along fine in the past couple of months. A bit of relaxing after the Rocky Bike Show and some riding in the nice fall weather.

Fall is always too short and we already had our first snow a couple of weeks back. I am busy building bikes, fitting cyclists and planning ahead for 2010. Looks like I have to put my infra-red heater to use soon.

A recent update from my friend and YiPsan bike rider, Peter, makes me feel great for making bikes that get ridden and enjoyed. Here is a few pictures of Peter racing at the 2009 Collegiate MTB Nationals in Truckee, CA.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What a show!

The Rocky Mountain Bike Show had been a quick blur of activity and we enjoyed meeting many regional cycling enthusiasts and many exhibiting frame builders and other industry fellas.

I was very happy to have an Honorable Mention for Best in Show and feel the hard work has been rewarded.

Here are 2 of the bikes that I showed and I am very happy with how it turned out.

Please click over to Flickr to see a full set of pictures of each bike and also to my newly re-done website.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rocky Mountain Bike Show

The Rocky Mountain Bike Show is only 4 days away but I do not have any sneak peek of my show bikes for you at this time. I do feel confident it will all be ready by August 22, but there may be some late nights involved.

Other than my bikes, I will be bringing along a couple of lifestyle items to the show as a debut. A lot of you know that my heart is with the lug construction of a bike, and so I have designed this poster to celebrate it.

If you are interested to get yourself a copy, please come to the show or if you cannot be there, send me an email.

Other than the poster, T-shirts with the same design had just arrived, check out this new page on my website to order.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

29er review by Peter Haile

This just came in from Peter for the 29er I built him recently, here is a picture, click it to go to Flickr for more. Peter is on his way east back to his college for another season of education and bike racing. Good luck Peter.

The Fastest Bike in the World
Review of my Yipsan 29'er

To start I'll go over the numbers 71.5 degree headtube angle, 12.4 inch bottom bracket height, chainring clearance to run a road double, 24.7 inch top tube, 20 inch seatube (c-t), 4.5" headtube. This roughly translates into a slack angled, mid center of gravity, easily lofted bike. I am six feet tall and 170 lbs I've had trouble getting 29'ers to fly in the past, they seemed stuck to the ground and unwilling to change direction quickly or toss caution to the wind. They seemed timid and bulky, slow and weak. I can tell you that this bike has overcome all of those issues. Airtime is readily available, and the bike is the perfect combination of stability and flickablility for me. While this might not work for someone else, I believe that is one of the advantages of a custom bike; it is fit, designed, and built specifically for your body and for your needs.

As far as the cockpit goes I run flat Salsa 17 degree sweep 680mm bars on a 90mm stem, some old school cane creek direct curve levers attached to the light, cheap, and reliable Avid BB7 mechanical brakes. This setup saves my wrists when enjoying arduous 6 hour rides. In the rear I have a Thomson setback seatpost attached to a Fizik Gobi perch, coupled with a 2009 80mm Reba and this bike is C-O-M-F-Y. I may run my Pace carbon fork for some of the southeast races, especially for the short tracks.

I am running a single 36 tooth chainring on a set of compact road cranks with an MRP 1x chainguide to keep everything in order. Running these cranks delivers a Q factor that blows the doors off any mountain crank. Renold put in a sweet little cut out to allow heaps of chainring clearance. The 36 is not for slackers and I may change to a 34 for the winter when I am not in as good of shape. Running a 36 gives me a low gear of 1.05-1 and a high gear of 3-1, this provides all the range I need while shedding weight and cost, and improving reliability. In the back is a X.O twist shifter and a X.9 rear derailleur handling a 12-34 cassette; solid.

I equipped this bike with XTR/Revolution/Stan's wheels with Stan's Raven tires. These wheels are so light I have to carry weights or I'll lose them to the wind, actually that's not true, but they're plenty light. The tires are semi-slicks because you have gratuitous amounts of straight line traction with any 29'er tire and there is no point carrying all that extra weight, I have found that you need to be really aggressive and lean the bike way over to get the side nobs to bite when cornering, but that is the proper way to corner anyway so no problems there.

Get to the point Peter!! How does it ride?

It is unlike any bike I've ever had, it feels very natural and fluid. I only had the bike finished for 3 days before riding in the Laramie Enduro, and although the race was a large disappointment for me this was not due to the frame in any respect. I made some tactical errors and attacked off the front way to early, I decided to attack because I was feeling really really good and there was no wind. What I did not take into account was the mental strain of leading and putting myself in a high stress environment with 3.5 hours to go, coupled with a slow flat and a broken chain (the fault of my road triple conversion into a mtb double with bashguard, has since been removed) and I ended up in 11th overall AHHHHHH. I believed I had the fitness for a top 5, but the first and second placed guys were definitely stronger then I was. I guess its a good thing I don't make a living riding bikes yet, as I still have a whole lot to learn. I had a blast during the race and would love to keep racing there year after year.

Yesterday I raced in a Laramie Mtb. Series race to whet my appetite for short intense efforts as I have been taking the summer mostly free from competition and that sort of exertion in order to bottle enthusiasm for the upcoming collegiate seasons. The course was easy to ride ,but hard to ride fast; with loose granite over hardpack and lots of high speed corners. Half the course was really fast and fun, while the other half had a lot of punchy climbs punctuated with false flats. The first lap hurt, a lot; but then I was able to get in the groove and try and reel in Trek's Eli Krahlenbuhl(sp?). I didn't end up catching him, but I ended up second and pulled a few minutes ahead of third place and local uber hoss Pedar Enger (who was under geared on his single speed) he probably would've put the hurt on Eli and I had he been on a geared bike. This race was very encouraging to me because I still didn't really know where my fitness was with my lack of racing or any intensity at all for that matter. The bike was perfect, as it is now under 25 lbs and still handles like a champ without beating the tar out of me. I am extremely excited for the upcoming Collegiate season.

Thanks for the sweet bike Renold,

Peter Haile

Rocky Mountain Bike Show

Only 11 days to go, have you blocked your schedule?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's at Family Affair

In coordination with the Rocky Mountain Bike Show, ArtBike! is going on in Denver. A YiPsan Firecracker is now displayed at Family Affair, a hair salon with lifestyle goods. The Firecracker will be displayed until RMBS on August 22. Go check it out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Faster, Faster!

It has been a busy few weeks and as the Rocky Mountain Bike Show get closer, I think I will need to keep up the pace.

One interesting thing though is a few enquiries for a short turnaround for bikes. I sure appreciate the interest out there for my work, but in all honesty, a custom bike within a few weeks is close to impossible. For many other builders, it is absolutely impossible. Just getting the bike to paint and back can easily take up 2 weeks at the quickest, and in many occasions it takes 4 weeks plus.

I hope I do not sound like I am complaining, but in order to have a good experience for future customers, I would like to be open in communications. One thing that is crucial to customer satisfaction is what kind of expectation the customer has. Expectations can be shaped by the customer's previous research or experience, but is also promoted by the builder. I do not like to hype up my customer's expectation and run the risk of not delivering.

So, if you are considering a custom bike and you have to have it on the road by a certain time, please let me know a few months ahead and I am sure I can get that ready for you.

BTW, the Di2 stuff is dope and I have a good source for it! Here is a pic of a frame built with it in mind and you can see it painted at the Rocky Mountain Bike Show, August 22 - 23.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

mission accomplished

The MS150 weekend happened in a quick blur, Leigh had a good time and felt that she had helped a good cause and accomplished something meaningful. She wrote a few words to sum it up:

Just finished the MS150 Colorado Ride. It was a fabulous ride! Saturday’s route started in Westminster and took us through the scenery of Niwot and Hygiene with a challenging finish in Ft. Collins after the Masonville and Horsetooth Reservoir climbs. On Sunday, the 28th we headed back through Horsetooth and Masonville enjoying the scenery of Buckhorn Canyon after a well earned descent. The route continued through Berthoud, Longmont, and Lafayette with a steady climb back to Front Range Community College in Westminster via Lowell Blvd. Excellent weather both days was an added bonus.

Our training paid off – the last several months I have been getting in a combination of short sprint rides, hill climbing rides, and longer weekend rides. Overall, I am feeling pretty good at the end of the event. Thanks to Rose, Arica, Mary, Mike and my husband Renold for the last several months of training rides – we were ready!

I am sure over the next few days many moments of the ride will enter my thoughts and stand out as memories. I rode on Team Intrepid – a big thank you to Ken Heisel (Arica’s dad) and all of the family in the Heisel clan as well as the associates of Intrepid Potash for their support of our team. Congratulations to all Team Intrepid riders! All of the volunteers who supported the ride were wonderful – rest stops were well organized with plenty of food, drinks, and bike shop support. The folks along the route who cheered us on were also awesome – a ringing cowbell, someone misting water and the shouts of encouragement helped me to keep on pedaling. Hearing the words “thanks for riding” from those individuals who have MS truly made the effort worthwhile. Finally, thank you to all who made a donation and supported me as a rider.

Most importantly, a huge thank you to Renold (my husband a.k.a. Yipsan) for all that you have done – the custom bike you built for me rocks! Thanks to the custom fit I have absolutely no aches or pains! (Just tired muscles……). The new component group (more in another blog at another time) was a dream – smooth, responsive and easy shifting all day long. Thank you!!

This is an awesome ride and I look forward to next year!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My wife, Leigh, is riding the MS150 in a little more than a week. She has been training religiously and I feel she will do fine and enjoy the event. I am reminded everyday of what people with MS feels like after my spinal cord injury. I hope there will be a cure for nerve damages, and events like MS150 will help make this a reality.

Here is a message from Leigh:

On June 27-28, 2009 I will be cycling in the 24th Annual Colorado Bike MS Ride. This event attracts over 3000 riders for a memorable and challenging weekend ride from the Denver area to Ft. Collins and back.

It's a 150 mile ride and at some point along the way I am sure my legs will ache and I will feel tired. However, I think that is nothing compared to what people with MS go through on a daily basis. Completing the ride will be a personal achievement as well as a means to help the National MS Society fund research, advocate for change, and help people with MS and their families lead powerful and productive lives.

Currently there is no cure for MS. The money that is raised at this event will be used to find the cause, treatment, and ultimately the cure of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis affects people in the prime of their lives, between the ages of 20 and 50. Every hour someone is newly diagnosed and more than 2.5 million people worldwide live with this unpredictable disease.

Please join me in the movement to do something about multiple sclerosis. I have set a goal of raising $500.00 for this cause. It is easy and convenient to make a donation. If you prefer to donate on-line, follow these links:
Select "sponsor a rider"

Select "search for a team" and enter team name INTREPID. Click on the blue button “Find A Participant”

Select Team Intrepid (make sure you select the first Team Intrepid that is listed – Team Leader is Ken Heisel)

Select Leigh Janko on the team roster and make your donation!! Thanks.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Black Lightning

Another recent build in cooperation with TBE was for Colm. He made my day by sending me this message:

I'm just in from my first 50mile ride on my new bike. I wanted to mail you and Tom and let you know its absolutely great! You did a fantastic job with the frame. I think its the best handling bike I've ridden - it goes around corners like its on rails.

I did not have time to picture the frame before shipping it out, but here is some pictures when the bike was finished at TBE.

Thank you Colm.

Catherine's All road

Being a framebuilder is interesting. I get to work with my customers to build something that they would enjoy for a long time in the future. While I try to incorporate their personal preferences and desires, I am also responsible to provide the technical details that will allow them to be at one with the bike.

The wait for a custom is never easy for the customer, but sometime it can be stressful for the builder too. Case in point, Catherine's bike. This bike was built for Catherine in cooperation with TBE and so I did not complete the build of the bike with components. Seeing the bike finished with paint gave me satisfaction that it will be wonderful, but not being able to see the bike fully built up can be a torture. However, I am confident to leave the final finishing work with TBE. Check the complete bike here.

I hope Catherine enjoys the bike.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seat Binder

A recent repair on an old Raleigh really got me thinking of how many of these old frames have this same problem.

It was not difficult to repair and I am sure it would last a lot longer than the original pressed ears.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dirt Rag

Just want to let you all know that one of my NAHBS bikes made it to the current issue of Dirt Rag. Get a copy to check it out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Country of Origin

During the show, I get to meet a lot of people from many different backgrounds and it is interesting to see how we all only focus on the handmade theme of the show and the bikes. There was never any sentiment that I could feel that being a Chinese is any issue or disadvantage.

The reason I mention this is that a lot of times in various forums on the internet, people would mention "sh*t build in China" and it became a common phrase to mention or label something poorly made. However, not everything made in China is bad in quality. This kind of phrasing sometimes would get to me personally, feeling that everything made by a Chinese is poor in quality. Because of this, I had at one time thought of making a decal that says “ handmade by a Chinese”. But not wanting to alienate potential customers and making a combative intention, I had abandoned the idea.

With some of the consumer magazines that I collected during the show, I read an advertisement from Rivendell, a company that is well regarded by a lot of cyclists and people in the bike industry, the ad mentioned about a lot of the features of Rivendell's offering, and the last line says “nothing here's made in China”. It is amazing to see a company who sells products that are mostly made outside of the US to single out China. A country is made up of its people, does it mean Chinese made bad quality? Is it true that Japanese made product is always high in quality? Is it true that European made product is for sure perfect and of high value? How about Taiwan Chinese? Do they make quality products?

This truly befuddles me. China may not be up to the western standards in many front, but products made by China / Chinese are not inherently bad or low in quality. A lot of the companies in China which manufactures a lot of goods that is imported to the US are actually part owned by non-Chinese. What does it say about these business owners? If I were to move back to China, and keep on building frames, would it suddenly mean all my frames are rubbish?

I would really like to question Rivendell if their operation uses or consume anything made in China. I only hope that people can understand that broad stroke labeling can only hurt us. I am also disappointed that a company that so many respected can publicly advertise with such statements.

Well, enough of my rant, I better get back to my workshop and prove that Chinese / China made product can be of high quality. Rose's bike is just done and will be off to paint shortly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NAHBS withdrawal

I am officially suffering from NAHBS withdrawal. Work happens slowly, distraction from emails and already thinking about what I should have ready for the Rocky Mountain Bike show and the next NAHBS, wherever it may be.

I realized the cost for driving vs. flying is very similar. And of course exhibiting at NAHBS is a high expense for a micro operation like mine. However, working alone everyday can be like a caveman. And this is how my wife sees it too. The event not just let me see the world more by traveling to places I have not been to, but also to speak with fellow cyclists and fellow bike builders. There is a lot to learn and a lot to absorb. 

One of the people I met this time was the people from Nova. I have used their product / service since the beginning, but had never met them (though they were in Portland last year, we did not get to speak with each other). Lon is the big cheese at Nova, a very nice person and understand the needs of us framebuilders. He was kind to my work on display and encouraged me about the ups and downs of a small niche business. Lon’s wife, Lisa, was equally nice and kept my wife in saner conversations. They are both not involved in the bicycle industry and have their proper profession. I believe their conversation was way more contemporary and way less geeky.

I was surprised how much of the small details on the bikes were noticed, not everyone, but a good portion of people who stopped in my booth. I try to personalize each bike with small subtle bits when the situation allows, but they are not always noticed or even appreciated. These little subtlety is in fact the things that I spend more time on to try and blend in without it sticking out like a sore thumb. It is very satisfying to know that there are a lot of people who appreciate my work. Another interesting thing that I learned is there are a lot of Americans who had been to Hong Kong and China and this kind of cultural exchange is always intriguing. 

The small interview I did with Urban Velo was fun. I get to talk up Fort Collins a bit and interact with the public not just through pictures of my work. If you are interested to hear it, here is a link. I appear at about 10:50.

It is good to see the weather being warmer this week, and the clock had just sprung forward last night. Spring is truly in the air, although the Colorado front range is extremely dry and wild fire is on the verge of breaking out any time. I have a few road frames upcoming and a 29er. All of them I am very excited to build because the customers are all very appreciative of us small framebuilders. The economy may be sucking the wind out of everyone, but I hope the change allows us to think and ride a bit and remember that it will all be fine in the long run.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The show of the year

Wow, the Indy show was great. The showgoers, the volunteers, the exhibiting builders and vendors, they have all been wonderful. I met some new people and also caught up with others that I pretty much only see during this show.

It has been quite a week, driving 1200 miles one way to Indy, spent 4 days there and drive back. One of the cool thing was meeting Tom there, where he sees his new bike live for the first time.

If you have not seen the bikes I exhibited, check it here. Urban Velo also took some nice pictures as well. And they did a short interview with many builders and just uploaded it as a podcast. I appear around 10:50 if you do not want to listen to everything.

We got back home on Tuesday, but I am only just getting back to my routine. I guess I am getting old. I will have more to write about the show and what is happening in the shop soon.

Cheers for now.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Check out the full set of pictures on my flickr here.

The first day has been great with a steady flow of showgoers coming in throughout the whole day. I am having a good time speaking with bike lovers and now am tired and ready to sleep.

Thank you for everyone who stopped by today. I hope to meet more of you this weekend.


Monday, February 23, 2009

NAHBS '09 Preview

Time flies, and it is time for NAHBS again.

My wife and I are leaving for Indianapolis tomorrow. We have our subaru loaded up already and we are hoping for a relaxed 1200 miles of driving.

Hope to see you there. We are at booth 214. Come by to see these bikes. Here is a sample.

If you are not attending the show, please visit my flickr pictures for a complete set of pictures this weekend.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Well, Tom's bike is back and built. I am happy with the result and if you are interested to see it, visit the upcoming NAHBS at Indianapolis where it will be displayed.

Here is a picture to whet your appetite. More will be loaded on flickr next week. I hope to see you at Indi.


Friday, January 23, 2009

A randoneuse

Just finished another randonneuring bike. It is very similar to Tom's commuter in geometric design, but it runs gears and canti brakes. The lugs are tubes were different but it only added to the fun in making them. This one involved a little bit of lug cutting and it is still simple yet different.

Tom's commuter is with the painter and I cannot wait to see it finished, it will be stunning. 

Next up would be an mtb, I am not sure if I can make it in time for NAHBS, it is approaching fast.

I hope to see some of you there.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Tom's commuter

Happy new year.

I have just finished a bike that started in 08' and was finished today. The holiday season has slowed the progress a bit but it is now done and heading to paint soon. Other than the frameset, a custom stem and seatpost were commissioned.

A very nice parts list was drawn for this bike and it is heading to Indianapolis for NAHBS 09'.

I will be building another bike very similar to this in the next couple of weeks, this one is not going to NAHBS though.

If you are interested in custom bicycles, plan ahead to visit the show, it will be a big one.