A Bozo and his bus

Come closer, folks; don't crowd the wheels. ...

Come closer, folks; don’t crowd the wheels. …

I can’t hear the name “Clem” without thinking of The Firesign Theatre classic, “I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus.”

This is not to disrespect the Clem Smith Jr. from Rivendell Bicycle Works. The Firesigns’ Clem didn’t have much Bozo in him, and neither does this one.

In “Bozos,” Clem wasn’t clowning around when he took on a Disneyesque Audio-Animatronics President Nixon at the Future Fair. Half computer hacker, half Zen master giving koan instruction, Clem — a.k.a. Worker — demonstrated conclusively that reality has more than a little plasticity to it.

And Rivendell’s Clem is likewise on a mission — to get you out of your car, and your Lycra, too, and at a reasonable price.

I don’t have a ton of miles on it yet. Shucks, I haven’t even ridden it to Hideo Nutt’s Bolt-a-Drome yet. But it sure is a pleasant distraction from Il Douche and his prime-time infomercials.




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24 Responses to “A Bozo and his bus”

  1. Jay Says:

    More like Clem Kadiddlehopper.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    For the proper effect with street shoes and jeans, you need to let some of the air out of the tires to give it the proper semi-maintained look.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Looks like a man hunting for good coffee and bagels.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Total hipster. I was fresh back from an Americano at the java shop, where I tapped away at the iPad Mini, working on a column.

      Funny, I look more like a homeless janitor than a hipster. Got to work on that.

      • psobrien Says:

        I forgot to tell you. I took your suggestion and got a iPad Mini. Sweet is what it is. Plus the iPod touch is the new music machine for the truck. Bluetooth and USB connection to the radio system in this newfangled vehicle.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I like that Mini, Pat. It’s the perfect size for me. The keyboard case I bought to use with it is a little cramped for my (ahem) mad typing skillz, but the on-screen keyboard suits me to a T. I use the thing every day.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Look on the positive side. For bicycling in Albuquerque, you can easily slip a pocket 9mm under that baggy sweatshirt. Its probably more important as bicycling safety equipment than a helmet…

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Hell, in that getup, I could have a 60mm mortar as a sidearm. You’d never know it until I fired one for effect.

  4. doug moore Says:

    I must say, that is theee way to ride. I support Riv’s mission. Although lycra has it’s place sometimes, regular clothes and shoes are a no brainer.

    You look pretty comfy in your jeans and sneakers with that upright position. And is that a JANDD pannier? I have a set for my SOMA, they are fantastic. So is that Clem, I’ll bet.

    Now, it doesn’t really ride like a bus, does it?

    -Doug Moore

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’d feel like a sap riding the Clem in Lycra, Doug. It seems made for the type of cycling I did as a sprout — all-purpose, all-road transportation in street clothes.

      The upright ride is beaucoup comfy. It encourages you to settle back and enjoy yourself. No rush, no hurry, look around, enjoy the scenery,

      I will say that the flat pedals take some getting used to. I have an old set of beartraps with toestraps that I may add to the bike.

      And yep, those are Jandd Economy Panniers. Great bags.

  5. JD Dallager Says:

    Wow PO’G: Reminds me of the Schwinn Hornet I had “back in the day” as a 10-year old paper boy in Florida. You just need some front spring suspension and a front handlebar bag for carrying papers/Whole Paycheck groceries/other vittles/beverages.

    Classy wheels and cycling garb you have there…….ENJOY!!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I wish my parents had been more interested in taking pictures. I seem to remember getting a Schwinn Varsity at some point (ninth grade, maybe), but thinking the drop bars looked uncomfortable and insisting that Central Cycle in Bibleburg replace them with some Sting-Ray bars, or something very much like them.

      See, I was smart once, before the drugs got me.

      I would’ve delivered papers on that bad boy, too. That’s how I got my start in the bidness.

  6. Patrick Finley (@patrickdfinley) Says:

    Big proponent of the Bosco bars and what I call the ‘flower-sniffing’ posture. It’s as good an advertisement for bicycling as anything and counters the notion that we’re all Lance-in-training. Also, my lower back is toast. Also, that’s how most of the world rides.

    • khal spencer Says:


    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Funny, iddn’t it? As an adult, I’ve never been messed with when riding a bicycle in street clothes, sans helmet. Wearing the skintights and skid-lid on a racing bike, now, that’s when the harassment kicks in.

      The Clem reminds me a little bit of an early Ross mountain bike that my buddy Hal owned Back In the Day®. I’m pretty sure it was a Mt. Whitney; could’ve been a Mt. Rainier.*

      * Hal confirms a Mt. Rainier, most likely a 1984 edition.

  7. Larry T. Says:

    I call these “shopping bikes” http://cycleitalia.blogspot.it/2016/02/shopping-bike.html
    though I guess the “self appointed guru*” at Rivendell wants you to purchase a specially-built one from him?
    *as designated years ago by SOPWAMTOS with a Golden Toiddy Award.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I got one of those Golden Toiddys myself back in the day, Lorenzo, for “Excellence In Bad Taste.” Might have even been the same Interbike where Grant Petersen got his.

      Yep, shopping bike. Also commuter, touring and trail, according to the Rivendellers. So far I’ve just ridden it around and about in the ‘hood, and to the java shop, fiddling with position and remembering how to function in the more relaxed style the Clem demands.

      Being something of a retro-grouch, I have a soft spot for Grant P. and the Rivendellers, and buy items from them a few times per annum. My old pal Mark Nobilette builds frames for them, and even the ones he doesn’t build are easy on the eyes. They have a passion for the bike, and I think it shows.

      The Clem is a starter drug, bikewise. At $1,500 it’s affordable for a Rivendell, and it gets you into The Cult. Eight-speed drivetrain, V-brakes instead of discs, bombproof wheels … just the thing for the Apocalypse, which seems to be upon us, or at least somewhere in the vicinity.

      So far the only items giving me any trouble are the thumbshifters, which ratchet but do not index. The mind hears the click and thinks it’s achieved a new gear, but the Clem often thinks otherwise. This is more a question of cranial rust than spec choice, and Grant was trying to keep costs down, so I’m not inclined to be critical.

      I still have a couple sets of eight-speed Shimano bar-cons around here somewhere, though, and a useful upgrade might involve them and a pair of Paul’s Thumbies. I have one on my own townie, a flat-bar, single-ring Voodoo Wazoo, and it works like a champ.

      The Wazoo with Paul’s Thumbie and Shimano bar-con.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I would sure like to take a look at your parts stash. Eight speed bar-cons lying around somewhere? I think that’s wonderful. Wouldn’t happen around here through. I am a dyed in the wool neat nut. Haven’t used it in six months? Get rid of it. I could live in a tiny house for sure, but it would need a garage for a truck and bikes.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’m not exactly a pack rat or hoarder … more of a slob, actually. But sometimes this disorder pays off, saving me a trip to the bike shop.

        Right now I can lay my hands on at least two sets of handlebar tape, a still-in-the-box set of TRP cantis (as well as a few others less fancy), some Shimano 600 downtube shifters, a nine-speed 105 rear derailleur (and possibly an Ultegra, too). Anyway, you get the idea. Oink oink.

      • khal spencer Says:

        O’g–I had some Shimano bar cons, either seven or eight speed, from our old Trek tandem. If they are still In The Large Plastic Box In The Garage That Time Forgot, you are welcome to them if they work for you.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        I fondly remember Grant from the B-stone daze, especially at the old BDS show in Long Beach, CA. He debuted what I think was the MB-0 just after I’d chased down and installed the parts to make my previous year’s MB-1 into a drop-bar, fire-road special. I could have just waited a year if only I’d known!
        But he lost me when he went off into claiming the pros should be wearing seersucker and how flat pedals were superior, though I’m probably as retro-grouchy as you.
        I’ll probably never get that Umberto Dei as taking it shopping would be a constant worry about it being stolen – taking the “appliance value” out of the equation. I like the theft issue to be more about the pain in the a__ of having to walk home rather than the cost of replacing the stolen bike.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Yeah, Larry, I hear ya … that’s why my townie is that old Voodoo Wazoo. Frame and fork were totally cheap, and it’s wearing nothing but old bits from the box: mismatched cantis, some Real brake levers, seven-speed 105, etc. I had a pal build wheels around some old Shimano 600 hubs, and bought the Paul’s Thumbies and some cork grips for the flat bar, but that’s about it.

        If it got swiped I’d be bummed, but not brokenhearted. And I’d probably get it back, too, ’cause I guaran-fuckin’-tee there ain’t another bike like it in the Land of Enchantment.

        K, I’ll take you up on the bar-con offer. I can always use another set of those. The STI on the Steelman is bound to fail one of these days and then it’s bar-cons for that bad boy.

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