Sorry, it’s been a while – and it’s been a while too since I’ve ridden the Shogun Samurai. The discipline of recycling gives me more and more ideas as I go along, and I’m always striving to make a bike fit some niche that none of my others quite will.
The thought behind this one is for a bike that helps me out on the Fernleigh Track, i.e. that is fairly small, light and moderately low geared for the mix of steady uphills and mild downhills. Of course it’s only a game for me really, as a steel framed bike is never going to be as light as a modern carbon wonder, but you already know that I don’t want to go there.
The inspiration to re-do this bike came from two sets of wheels that I acquired a while back, consisting of four alloy tubular rims and including a pair of Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs. These hubs are not considered as desirable as the Record models – but who cares ? They are a very well made hub and the internals proved to have been in good shape despite being unused for many years. The hubs were dated as being made in 1980, from the tiny ’80’ stamped into the locknuts.
As you can see, a bit of work was needed to get them looking good, but I think it was worth It. Unfortunately while there were four rims only two of them were good enough to use – a Mavic Monthelerey Route and a Fiamme red label… they all had dried red tub glue that took a long time to carefully scrape off with an old table knife. The wheels were de-spoked, cleaned and re-built in my spare moments.
This is my first try with tubulars – those tyres where the tube is factory sewn inside the tyre and then the whole thing is glued to the rim by the user. I bought a pair of Schwalbe 28mm and a pair of Tufo 24mm. Sadly this project did not have the clearance for the 28mm ! The Tufos are designed to be used with their proprietary gluing tape rather than actual glue. This taping system has some critics but with my age and riding style I don’t think I’m going to stress the tyres enough to roll them off the rim !
The plus side is that they were very easy to fit – once the tyres had been pre-stretched by fitting them over the two rims i had spare and keeping them inflated a few months while I worked out how and where to use them. The tyres can be aligned on the rim before removing the protective strip between the sticky rim tape and the tyre’s base tape — bingo !
A five minute gentle ride and they’re ready to go.
The early 90s Shogun now has a lot of retro 1980s gear on it, including 600 Arabesque front and rear mechs. A new headset was needed and the Sakae SX chainset from the discarded Pace was fitted with T.A. 50/38T rings.
The Sakae cranks have a 110mm pcd for compact rings, but with limited small cogs on the rear I can’t go too tiny. A 34 or 36 ring would have been too small here and the Fernleigh Track doesn’t need super low gears anyway, as it was a railway line once.
The freewheel is a Suntour ‘Perfect’ 14-28T. Under the circumstances, I thought it might be more appropriate than the 13-18T and 13-17T racing blocks that came with the wheels !!
The Samurai is now my lightest working bike, especially because of the light wheels, which let it pick up step in a lively fashion, and while it would be even lighter with a plastic saddle, I’m prepared to make that sacrifice for comfort’s sake…
The Tange Infinity frame is of fairly steep ‘modern’ geometry and thus a quick steerer. The Shogun was a hard rubbish find that would have originally come with a full RX100 group set, except that the brake levers had been replaced to accommodate a flat bar ( horrors ! ), the gear levers were missing, and i couldn’t properly salvage the crank set either.
The bars and brake levers are borrowed from another bike, as I needed levers with quick releases for the Campag. brakes. The down tube levers are Dia-Compe friction shifters and have a smooth ratchet mechanism inside that gives them a lovely feel in use.
The 3T ‘Competizione’ bars aren’t my favourite shape – they are like the Cinelli Criterium 65s in that they have forward curving outer tops ( = room for sprinting on the drops ) and not much hand room there – ah well, we make do.
The Tufo tyres’ file tread rolls well, with a pleasant hum on smooth asphalt and they give a pretty decent ride for a nominally 24mm tyre as well as good grip, though I bet the Schwalbes would have ridden more comfortably, had they fitted. I also purchased some of Tufo’s sealant, as tubs are unable to be patched on the road. Hopefully I won’t need it ! There’s not much rim-room there for brake pads and the braking surface is slightly curved, so stopping is a bit ordinary. Hopefully the pads will bed in over time.
Fernleigh Track, here I come again …