blog

Dirty Words: Brother, can you lend me a Hand Job?

By:

| Blogs


By Sal Ruibal

Friends, riders and countrymen, lend me your eyes. I come to praise the Ibis Hakkalügi Hand Job, not to bury it.

But in the very near future, when humans no longer require cantilever brakes on their cyclocross bikes and demand the demonic screeching device that is the disc-brake, the Handjob will disappear into the bowels of eBay and the memories of those who rode the mighty Ibis Hakkalügi.

For those cyclists who have never seen the rare and fleeting Hakkalügi Hand Job cable guide, feast upon the photograph below. How clever is the hand that made this hand.

The original Ibis Hand Job cable guide. Form meets function.

Yes, there are some erotic overtones to the way the fingers curl around the brake cable, but the Hand Job does have a real job. It is a function that any experienced builder could solve easily with a made-in-Taiwan doo-dad, but the Hand Job gives the Hakkalügi a human touch.

Times change and so do the materials we use to build bikes. The steel Hakkalügis are no more. The bikes are now carbon fiber and much lighter and faster than the two Hakki’s sitting in my basement bike room.

Here’s what Scot Nicol, from whose wicked brain the Ibis brand and its unique brand of exquisite frames and absurd humor escaped for our delight, says about the origins of the Hand Job:

“The Hand Job appeared somewhere around 1991. It was my idea, inspired by a nice one-sided cable stop I saw on one of Ross Shafer’s Salsas. For some reason when I looked at it, I saw a hand rather than a cylindrical piece of steel. So I hired a local jeweler to lost-wax cast the shape, and the hand job was born.

“It came on our bikes in ‘92 but not in ‘90. We had a good run with the Hand Job, up to about ‘96 or so, then Shimano had to go and invent the v-brake, rendering the cable stop unnecessary. Crap.

“The Hand Job stayed on the Hakkalügi, but eventually disappeared from the Mojo. Not wanting to let the legacy die, we came up with the Hand Job bottle lever.

And of course, my friend Scott Yu at Gingko Design came up with the Hand Job Frame. That never made it to market, because we haven’t figured out how to do bitchin’ thermoplastic composites yet.”

The Hand Job Frame--may it one day become a reality.

Nicol says the arrival of the Shimano V-brake put a damper on the Hand Job, but some riders found a way to make the best of the situation. Pro tennis star Martina Navratilova bought two Mojos from Ibis, but since she was running Vs, filled the Hand Job’s palm with a tiny metal tennis racket. Game. Set. Love.

Not wanting to let the legacy die, Ibis came up with the hand job bottle lever. Even a decade later, you may find more collectors looking for the very rare Hand Job bottle lever than seeking older Hakkalügi bikes. Perhaps it is a cheaper way to share in the history and lore of the company.

Nicol is not sure how many steel Hakkalügis were made, but he’s sure “less than 1,000 overall. As for the Hakkalügi name, that was another non-connected set of brain farts that set that name into motion. My memory is fuzzy on this, but I think it was a friend’s Ultimate frisbee team that was named Team Hock a Loogie.

“Around the same time, Bruce Gordon was doing his 29ers, er, I mean Rock n Road bikes with these huge 700 x 43C Hakkapelita tires. Somehow, a couple of hakka synapses connected in my brain and we had a name for our new CX bike. The umlaut is totally made up. Hakkapelita tires are Finnish and there’s no umlaut in Finnish. “

I’m personally psyched to know I own .02% of all the steel Hakkalügis made. And If I ever need a Hand Job, there are two of them in the basement and a bottle opener in the kitchen.

Share this story