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Sheldon Brown R.I.P (1944-2008)

Posted by on February 4th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Sheldon Brown
(1944-2008)

I just heard the news that Sheldon Brown passed away last night from a heart attack.

Brown was something of a living legend, known mostly for his website that was packed with vast amounts of bike information.

Back when I worked for Old Man Mountain racks in Santa Barbara, I connected with Brown via email and phone. I had sent him a pair of our pannier racks, and I was eager to hear his thoughts on them.

Brown was a fixture in the bike industry and known to millions of web surfers for his knowledgeable opinion on topics like fixed gears, gear ratios, vintage parts, and a myriad of other topics.

He was also a brilliant humorist whose April Fool’s Day articles were widely adored.

One of the first resources I would peruse when I started doing web research many years ago was his comprehensive list of bike-related links.

Here’s the message about his passing as posted to SheldonBrown.com:

“Dear…friends and customers,
It is with heavy hearts that we convey to you the news that Sheldon Brown has passed away. Our thoughts go out to his family at this time. The cycling community has lost one of it’s most passionate members.”

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Daniel (teknotus)
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Daniel (teknotus)

:\'(

wyatt
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wyatt

This is really sad news.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Sheldon was one of a kind, a giant in cycling. There will never be another Sheldon, generous beyond what anyone could expect with his knowledge, and a true character. I\’ve learned so much from him over the years. Just yesterday, I was on his website trying to figure out the answer to a braking question.

You will be sorely missed, Sheldon. Rest in Peace.

heather andrews
Guest
heather andrews

Oh, that\’s awful! His website was one of the first that I discovered, and was always the first place I would turn if I was trying to troubleshoot some bike-related problem.

binny bin
Guest

Sheldon seemed like such a great guy and family man. He contributed so much to our sport and was one of the most knowledable person about bikes. I am speechless just thinking about him. What an amazing guy…he will be missed by many, including those who had never met him but respected him to the fullest.

We will miss you always

Matt Picio
Guest

I remember first coming across his site when looking for information about gear ratios – his site has more information than anywhere I\’ve ever seen, and not ust technical, but real-world stuff. This is really a great loss to the community.

A nod in passing – fair skies and following winds, and keep the rubber side down!

Joe
Guest
Joe

wow, i used to read that dudes webpage it was like it never changed.. RIP bike bro.

I think its safe to say that he made and impact on the cycling world as a whole.

Joe

Mmann
Guest
Mmann

So sad. I had heard his health was poor, but this is a blow. His example as someone for whom the bicycle was both lifestyle and teacher was one I can only hope to emulate.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

man, this really sucks. RIP

Rick
Guest
Rick

Loved reading his articles. Truly nice guy. Wish Bicycling mag would do a story on him and his life.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

So very sad. Sheldon had produced such a wealth of information and made it all freely available to cyclists and amateur mechanics. I have spent hours and hours going through his writing and was always educated and entertained.

He will be dearly missed. My thoughts go out to his family….

Ted Diamond
Guest

Hats off to Sheldon, may his roads now be slightly downhill, with a slight tailwind.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I\’ve learned a lot from reading his articles on his website. RIP.

john
Guest
john

I\’ve exchanged a few bike teche emails with him over the years, and of course would visit his web pages all of the time. As I know did countless others! His simple and nicely organized web pages were the cat\’s meow. And of course the information contained was invaluable, and most of it not easily attained anywhere else. And I loved all the pictures of his various bicycles he made over the years. In my opinion, he is a cycling superstar. And yet it appears his involvement in life and contributions were far beyond just bicycles.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

I heard he was ill just a few weeks ago. How sad.

What a great guy with a great site devoted to details that makes cycling such a fascinating and unconquerable subject.

Ride on Sheldon. Perhaps where you are, Shimano, Suntour, and Campy will all get along.

SteelLover
Guest
SteelLover

RIP sheldon brown… the man is most of the \’how\’ and much of the \’why\’ I\’m a bike mechanic/enthusiast. huge loss.

Nelson Muntz
Guest
Nelson Muntz

This is a huge loss. Rest in peace, Sheldon.

Torfinn
Guest
Torfinn

Oh man, RIP.

michael downes
Guest
michael downes

I had the pleasure of meeting Sheldon many years ago while conducting research for Giant Bicycles. His basement headquarters was an Alladin\’s cave of obscure and hard to get gear and Sheldon was a gentleman and a great host. We played a game for a couple hours with me trying to come up with really obscure components and him locating the said part. Sach\’s Duopar long cage rear mech? Third row, bottom shelf on the right. French threaded Stronglight alloy headset? Sixth row, second shelf down on the left and so on and until I ran out of ideas. I particularly remember him proudly showing us his 1910 track bike with wooden tubular rims, \”for riding on dry days only\’ he said. He will be greatly missed.

Russell
Guest
Russell

Terrible news, I am an avid user of his website. My sympathy goes out to his family.

Zaphod
Guest

Great fellow cyclist indeed. I\’ve read so many of his articles and turned to his web site on more occasions that I can count. One of the most respected voices in cycling.

Keep on rolling

Brian E
Guest

Bicycling web-pioneer. RIP

trackback

[…] Here is the announcement on Harris Cyclery, and an article on Bike Portland […]

Jason
Guest
Jason

A great loss. One of the true unsung heros of the modern cycling era. I\’m grateful for all that he has contributed through his online instruction guides. I too will remember him for evoking the passion through his web-based how-to\’s and the Bicycle Science forum.

Steven J.
Guest
Steven J.

Rip Sheldon.

Opus the Poet
Guest

I greatly admired Sheldon (it still seems so disrespectful to refer to him by his first name) and his web site. I built my first wheel following a printout from his site, and kept that page handy for the next several sets of wheels (when you build 20\” wheel recumbents you learn how to build good road wheels from parts). I used knowledge gleaned from his web site to keep friends\’ and neighbors\’ bike alive, and also save them money.

May your trip to the Summerlands be swift and smooth Sheldon Brown.

Opus

joe adamski
Guest
joe adamski

Well, he certainly will be remembered and was admired in life as well as in death.Few of we mere mortals will be able to say that..! He looks like he had a great ride and a grand time.

Maybe we ought to take a little inspiration from him?

go get some fresh air, eh?

Fritz
Guest
Fritz

Godspeed Sheldon…what a loss.

Grimm
Guest

Wow.

What terrible news. His tireless effort has given the cycling community more than enough. Im sure most everyone here has found valuable information from his site.

RIP Sheldon.

Qwendolyn
Guest
Qwendolyn

so sad

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…

What a loss. I took the train out to East Newton last time I was in Boston to visit the shop and hopefully meet the great man himself. Sadly, he wasn\’t there that day. I\’ve learned so much about bicycles…and life…from reading his writings.

He\’ll be missed a great deal. Ride In Peace, Sheldon.

Tomascosauce
Guest

I hope his legend will live on…

Hollie
Guest
Hollie

It strikes me, reading about his death here and other places online today, how folks seem to feel a personal connection with Sheldon Brown beyond just his voluminous collection of bike websites. Something about him was so personable and folksy– I never met him, but I feel as deeply sad at the news of his death as if he were an old friend.

Go in peace, Sheldon.

ericbuilds
Guest

legend indeed. RIP sheldon brown. best wishes to his family.

John Russell
Guest

His website was one of the main things that turned me on to cycling in the first place.
He will be missed by all. I just hope that his site can be maintained.

Guy Bouchard
Guest
Guy Bouchard

It is a sad news. I was really lucky to meet him at interbike 2004 after exchanging email over almost 10 years. Really sad.

trackback

[…] The news is out this afternoon that Sheldon Brown has passed away. […]

Metal Cowboy
Guest

I had the great fortune to have Sheldon as a resource for some of my work as a columnist in Bicycling… he was an original. When I did one of my performances in Boston – Jamacia Plains bookstore and funk cafe, there was Sheldon and some of his friends sitting in the front row, he had that budha-like smile on his face and what surprised me was how much he appreciated the actual riding and touring and adventure side of biking – because his site and the man himself was so connected to the mechanic/tech side of things, it was easy to forget that he loved not just the bike as graceful machine but where the sum of those parts could take a person.

One more thing that I haven\’t seen mentioned in these email remembrances: Sheldon had a dry but very solid sense of humor – this was evident in his annual April Fool\’s Day emails: he was great at hiding the name and sender so I was fooled every time I think last year he showed a step by step ridiculously detailed primer about how to break down and clean a chain – it went on and on and showed the dipping of individual parts into various liquids, polishing with toothbrushes etc. I got to the bottom and there was the smiling image of Sheldon, one eyebrow raised riminding me what day it was.

My best to his family. He spoke of his days touring on a tandem when I started pedaling my brood around the country.

You left us too soon, but your efforts and work will live on.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

I never knew him… and yet he made my life better. His clear web site explanations washed away mechanical frustrations.

May he have eternal heavenly rides.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

last year he showed a step by step ridiculously detailed primer about how to break down and clean a chain – it went on and on and showed the dipping of individual parts into various liquids, polishing with toothbrushes etc.

http://sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html

chelsea
Guest
chelsea

rixtir, i think that was part of an april fools thing or some such joke.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Over the last year, I had the great privilege of interacting with Sheldon Brown in the course of my moderation work on Bikeforums.net. I have never encountered a more gracious, patient, and good-humored soul. Sheldon would help people new to bicycle mechanics and experienced folk alike. He deflected insults and flames with grace and style. He would answer some of the most obscure questions one could possibly imagine. All one would have to do is send up the “Sheldon Brown Bat Signal”. Just mention his name in a post, and you could expect him to fly in after about 24-48 hours to save the day. I understand he did this at many bicycle related sites and message boards. What an incredible man. It’s sad to think that his Bat Signal is gone to this world now.

My condolences to his wife and children. Ride on, Sheldon.

bikerinNE
Guest
bikerinNE

RIP. Sad day.

Metal Cowboy
Guest

Rixtir – as mentioned in my post, that chain breakdown and cleaning primer was an April Fool\’s joke. Every April 1st, Sheldon would send these out – priceless.

It was one of Sheldon\’s website videos that taught me once and for all time how to fold a tire properly to stow away on a bike tour. Before that I resembled the Sanford and Son junk truck.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Yes, I know it was a joke, MC and Chelsea. I was just providing a link for those who hadn\’t seen it.

There are some other \”ShelBroCo\” links at the bottom of that page, by the way, that people might also enjoy visiting.

Hollie
Guest
Hollie

Perhaps in honor of his April Fools tradition, on April 1st cyclists across the country/world could all gather at the same time and all go for a ride in his honor.

I\’d love to have participate in something like this– The Sheldon Brown Memorial Chain Cleaning Ride or some such thing.

Meg
Guest
Meg

🙁

I too got a lot of my bike insight from reading his site, and I felt that connection with his folksyness even though I\’ve never met or written to him. 🙂 He just seemed like the kind of person you\’d want to meet and be friends with. RIP, Sheldon!

Clark
Guest
Clark

I\’m shocked. He was truly a legend in our own time. I\’m grateful for the odd bits of wisdom he shared with me over the years.

Sunny skies and warm days, Sheldon; ride in peace.

Metal Cowboy
Guest

Hollie,

That\’s too good an idea to pass up. No joke, we should start a Sheldon Brown April First Memorial Chain Cleaning Ride – My suggestion would be that we make stops at half a dozen bike shops along the route and end up at OMSI wear we could demo/do a program of some of Sheldon\’s science of the bike. Make if fun and educational. Course it would have to include loud jersey\’s, funny headgear and every rider bringing at least one piece of obsecure bike equipment to share and laugh about- the man knew every bike related product ever hoisted on the world.

My speaking and travel scheule is still open for April 1 – anyone want to step up and co-lead this ride with me?

Donna
Guest
Donna

Harris Cyclery has set up a Guestbook so that all may pay their respects.

http://htmlgear.tripod.com/guest/control.guest?u=captbike