This is only a partial report. I learned so much I haven't been able to process it all yet.
I arrived at Chris Kvale Cycles early Thursday afternoon, with my McLean bicycle, a t-shirt for Chris from Jon Guinea (Chris says thanks), and a folded 8 1/2 x 11" piece of paper. I tend to forget things and the paper was a record of my thoughts for a bicycle - a sketch on one side and scribbled notes on the back. We talked for quite awhile, a little about bicycles, more about the Michigan U.P., his family, but mostly about his knees. He has worn them out with a lifetime of riding and he had another appointment in the morning with specialists discussing his options. They are not good. The surgeon can replace or repair his knees, with bone or man-made materials, and give him good mobility for walking or even casual riding. Unfortunately they really can't give him the range of motion he requires to ride a bicycle as hard as he does. He has more hope after he talking to a cartilage specialist.
I partially disassembled my McLean and Chris clamped it to a flat table and we spent quite a lot of time measuring it as a baseline for a new frame. I felt I wanted a slightly larger frame. He was hesitant because he felt the McLean "looked right" with the present seat and bar setup, and when bikes look right they usually are. The McLean is 59.5 cm center of BB to top of top tube. The two things he is most concerned with on his bikes is the bottom bracket height and the fork rake and offset - trail - far too complicated to discuss here. He maintains that straightness and very small tweaks of these, more than anything, determine how sweet a bike will ride. Eventually he decided he wanted to drop the BB .5 cm and would add 1.5 cm to the tube length which will give me 2 cm less seat tube showing. He was also suspicious that the fork trail was a few millimeters too long. As he said, because the total distance is so small, a few millimeters is a large percentage and can really jack things around.
He said we had had enough shop theater and it was time for some road theater. We went out for a ride to critique my riding position. Two blocks from his shop we turned left on the Greenway bike path and took it east to a right on the West River Road bike path. He continually asked questions and critiqued the hell out of me. Basically, I look pretty comfortable, ride pretty well for a big fat ol' boy, I'm a masher and my left knee kicks out with every stroke (a skiing 'mishap'). We switched bikes for a while and then returned after about 5 miles of riding, just enough to get me sweating pretty good.
Back at the shop he measured me, - height, weight, wingspan, inseam, foot size, verified both legs are the same length, because my left shoulder is lower than the right. An interesting aside, I am 6' 3/4". I have lost over 2" of height since I was young, which means I'm even more overweight than I thought I was. I left fatter than when I arrived. Chris had a medical phone call so I slipped down the hall to Peacock Groove, where Eric Noren regaled me with his tales. He's really cranked up, loud talking a mile a minute, turning the music up, turning it down, back up again, jumping from bike to bike pointing out features. With his tattoos and big personality, he's the antithesis of Chris, but Chris assures me he's a great guy. Eric builds nice bikes, more in the hipster fashion, but he has a suck website. He showed me a little 12 pound steel fixed gear bike he built. Take that you carbon sons a bitches! Ha! Of course everything hanging on it is carbon. 12 pounds- not the frame, the whole damned bike!
Old French chainguard. It just needs a little TLC and it will look new. The lug set is the Richard Sachs Rene Singer set. The double plate fork crown is a new one from Kirk Pacenti - very traditional.The lugs are just a starting point. For instance on the seat lug, he cuts the top off and welds on his own thin extension and then cuts new flared points from it. He cuts off the threaded clamp extension on the back and welds on his own simple threaded cylinder. I asked him why he does it? "Just because I think it looks better." And, it does.
New dropouts from Keith Anderson with stainless inserts. Mine would be similar except are vertical. Chris is pretty excited about these. They free him from nickel plating the dropouts, and mostly, because they're just better.