Posted by: Brendan | May 12, 2008

Making stuff- introducing the Fred Bar!

It was a great weekend for tinkering.

Song parts- check. Thanks to Phil for taking the lion’s share of this run of CS & BB mounts.

more Song parts- check. I made some yokes, plug mounts, and shock mounts today.

a custom-length head tube- check. I’ve got a KDK tool holder dedicated to head tubes now. It’s a snap.

Tooling for shock mounts- check. It pivots on a sealed bearing, and uses a toggle clamp. Fast & fun to use!

Most interestingly are the “Fred Bars” I made today for Mary’s Divide Bike. What are Fred bars you ask? Well, first you need the definition of “Fred,” from Bicycle Source dot com: actually, it’s their second definition that I had in mind:

2) n. a person who has a mishmash of old gear, does’t care at all about technology or fashion, didn’t race or follow racing, etc. Often identified by chainring marks on white calf socks. Used by “serious” roadies to disparage utility cyclists and touring riders, especially after these totally unfashionable “freds” drop the “serious” roadies on hills because the “serious” guys were really posers. This term is from road touring and, according to popular myth, “Fred” was a well-known grumpy old touring rider, who really was named Fred.

The idea for a more upright, totally Fredular hand position came to me during a ride with Mary that had extended waaay past my comfort zone. I’ve seen some setups with a short, DH stem mounted above the primary handlebar setup- a comfortable way to keep it real after a long day in the saddle. Trouble is, these setups are heavy & ugly. A real Fred wouldn’t mind heavy & ugly, but I figured all the non-Freds out there might prefer light & slender…

Mary will run either this pair, or perhaps a Fred V 2.0 in the 2,711 mile Tour Divide, coming up in about a month. They will mount above her normal Mary bars on a long steerer tube.

Introducing the Fred Bar- aero bar and accessory ready. Amazingly, this setup with a 14.5″ bar, stubby stem, and hardware weighs only 170 grams.

In the Apple-Pie department-

We’ve been listed
The site’s content is pretty self-explanatory, and good to see stuff like this out there. They list all manner of items made in the US. I like the idea.

Coincidentally, I had a walk-by visitor today. A retired woodworker, 83 years of age, stopped in to say hi. He went out of his way to do it, as most walk-by tourists up here keep a safe distance from the metal shavings & weld arcs. He said he came to see what I was up to, because he “doesn’t see a lot of young guys working these days.” Whoa. What he said to me resonates today, though. There aren’t a lot of “young guys” working on their own, at least not in my immediate peer group. I will stop there, short of a hypocritical rant about “work;” what goes on in our shop is nothing like the hand work this gentleman produced in his days anyhow- my tools & fixtures do most of the work for me. With domestic manufacturing on the decline, we might even see fewer young guys working with their hands in coming years. I don’t know if this is good, bad, or neither… but I do wonder what the implications will be, if any.



  1. Love the blog.

    Re: your last paragraph, I have been asking some similar questions on my blog for a while. The most interesting article I’ve found on this general subject is “Shop Class as Soulcraft” by Matthew Crawford. See link at

  2. Ethan: first, nice to “meet” you. Second, the article you linked was excellent. I’ll link it here directly:

    The article took me a while to read through, but was worth it. The last paragraph’s advice to young people was particularly interesting: Liberal arts blended with the sciences + summers of manual work. My experience fit that description perfectly- a brief foray into some hardcore quantitative methodology research gave way to aircraft maintenance & materials salvage from a 150 year old barn.

    Thanks for the contribution!

  3. With fewer “young guys” doing what you do, you will soon become a true artisan of your trade. People will be banging down your doors begging for your work. 🙂

  4. Aw shucks, Jeni… thanks, but we’ll see how soon we need to reinforce the door!

  5. Fred Bars? Cool! I like it, but that is a seriously short bar and stem combo. Of course, it’s a size specific design, I know. 😉

    Anywho, great post. One thing I’d add. There are hard working young folks out there, it’s just not fashionable to “report” on them, or heck, even talk about ’em. Boring and all, they say.

    Hmm……whatever! 🙂

  6. GT- the Fred bar mounts above the normal bar/stem combo- it’s short & stubby so you have an upright, fredular position. And it’s made for clip-on aero bars, which you’ll want to have closer in on the mountain bike.


  7. I like it Brendan. Now when you develop the Geezer bar, I may have some input 🙂


  8. Mary: Ahh! The light just went on. 😉 You know, I use drop bars for similar reasons. 🙂

  9. just wandered over here from Mary’s blog. good stuff.

  10. Hi Brendan- I just ran across this old post when looking for different ways to mount aero bars on my mountain bike. This is almost exactly what I was imagining, only far better than anything I could ever rig up on my own. Could I get you to make a Fred Bar for me?

  11. Hi Kurt- and anyone else interested in Fred Bars;
    We’ll make ’em. In fact, going into the 2009 season now we have a couple ideas for improvement over Mary’s ’08 setup that we’ll put into metal.
    Drop a line to info at sirenbicycles and we’ll get a pair going for ya.

  12. […] an endurance bike, she’s pretty fredular. In looking for a name, I started throwing around feminine names – my bikes are too pretty to […]

  13. Anyone have a Fred Bar they are willing to part with?

  14. How can I order fred bars.

  15. Hey guys,
    We’re out of stock and not planning any new runs of Fred Bars right now.

  16. […] am also getting some quotes for a Fred Bar via grip sport since the siren bikes version is no longer made This is going to be a fred-tastic […]

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