Loopy !

I’ve had this 1930’s step through in the back of my mind since I found it around 2015. Because it didn’t have the original paint work, I have absolutely no idea what it is. The serial number #165 is the only marking on it.

a lovely loopy !

The ‘lobster claw’ rear fork ends and keyhole front fork ends helped to indicate the era, as does the square-ish head tube flanges ( usually a pre-war feature ). Fittings were mostly Brampton, with a low flange Bayliss Wiley front hub. The rear coaster hub was not the original.

how it was rescued – loopy featured in a couple of older posts here.

While re-assembling, I realised that the fork threads are finer than the standard 24 t.p.i., so it’s lucky that the adjustable race, steerer, and top cap threads were still in good condition, as I then had no other real choice..  

I don’t have a lot of 1930s parts, so planned to use a mix of old and modern components, as there’s no point trying to be precise, when so little is known about it. 

Cranks are “Three Arrows” brand, made by Takagi, a Japanese company that started around 1897 and was later taken over by Shimano. These are not original, and I have no idea how old they are.

I used the 28” rims and guards from the previously abandoned 1943 Malvern Star, with a modern 2-speed SturmeyArcher S2C coaster hub, since that rear rim is a newer Japanese 36 hole. The rims are not in great condition cosmetically, however they will do for the time being.

One possible issue with using the S2C is the freewheeling noise in high gear, as these old bikes seem more pleasant with quiet coaster hubs fitted. I will have a backup coaster wheel for it, just in case it drives me bonkers, but so far it’s been fine.

sturmey archer s2c – and a well built frame in its day.

Normal gearing is 44 x 22T, which gives a high gear roughly equivalent to 44 x 16T. Basically, it’s headwind & tailwind gearing.

I’ve done a little simple floral hand-painting on it, which I enjoyed doing, but it can be difficult to achieve a successful result. As you may have noticed, it takes me a long time to get into a bike-painting frame of mind. Loopy has been an occasional project for me over a few months of the lock down, giving the paint a chance to dry before continuing on.

la la la loopy !

The overall theme is traditional black, with gold lug lines, but I’ve added some floral elements to cheer it up a bit.. 

To make the S2C hub properly fit the channel in the vintage rear fork ends I had to add a smaller 13/32” thread locknut from an old S-A hub to the large brake arm nut on the left side and dish the rim accordingly, to centre it. 

I chose the larger flange front hub to allow shorter spokes ( 299mm – 2 cross ) as the 305-312mm range 28” originals are hard to come by these days.

The geometry is a bit sporty for this kind of bicycle, i.e. there is less fork rake, and steeper head and seat tube angles than is usual for a classic step-through. It has the typical lateral flex of a step-through, but it’s a pleasant enough ride once accustomed to, so long as the hills are only moderate.

I call them “dainty” handle bars..

I’ve cut down and shellacked some cork grips to fit the dainty handle bar ends and shellacked a twined kick stand for it.

I would like to take this bike for a good long day ride some where, to show that it can be done without too much fuss..

Happy Re-Cycling ! 

Two Kats :

Two Kats :

the 57cm version

It’s unusual to see two identical models from the same ‘chuck-out’, but here are a couple of Shogun Katanas, both are the Shimano Exage 300 versions, which isn’t that much to brag about, being one of Shimano’s more basic road groups of the time ( mid 1990s ).

the 50cm version, closer to standard.

The derailleurs were Exage 300, with matching 7-speed index shifters, but also with heavy Tracer brand cranks, and cheapish looking Polygon nutted brakes, so they were obviously built to a price. 

Frame and fork are made of Templite ( ? ) Chro-moly, but this version is a very heavy ( plain gauge ? ) steel, rather than the butted Tange Infinity of many late 80s Shoguns. There is also an “Ultra” version of this tubing, but no information on it that I can find. Based on the steel forks salvaged from a later Ninja, the Ultra version is much lighter and thinner.  Incidentally, that particular Ninja was Aluminium framed and was stress cracked around the head tube, so I metal re-cycled it, while the steel frames will likely last forever, if kept reasonably rust free.

From what I can gather, the Katana at the time was next up from the base model road Shogun ( Selectra ?), then came the Samurai, then the Ninja. The most desirable would have been the Team Issue, likely made in Tange Prestige high grade lightweight tubing.

The heavy top tube on these Katanas is the same diameter as the down tube, and the frame probably has Hi-ten stays too, though being a bit heavy doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t ride well.

think pink…

As mentioned in a previous post, I was unable to remove the non drive side crank from the larger frame, because it lacked any threads from new … but I can be persistent when I start something.

Finally, after some butchery with a hacksaw and drill, I managed to save the sealed BB at least, if not the crank. These latest bikes all came from a town surrounded on three sides by salt water, and it shows, especially anywhere steel and aluminium touch, with rusting, fretting, and a ferocious chemical welding.

the smaller frame, post re-build – now sold.

The larger frame ( 57 x 56 ) came more or less complete, apart from a flat bar conversion and mis-matched wheels, but the smaller frame ( 50 x 54 ) didn’t have much on it. The plan was to fit the surviving original parts to the small one for sale and to keep the larger one, using different parts.

The first jobs after dismantling were to chase all the frame threads, neutralise rust and apply touch-up paint.

Drop-out wheel adjusters are often bent, but if you can save the little springs and end caps, then M3 x 0.5mm threaded hardware store bolts will work. I had to cut them a bit shorter with the rotary tool’s thin cutting wheel. 

Dia-Compe 500G brakes and silver shifters (57cm)

Although metallic candy paint suffers badly when left standing in the Australian sunlight, at least there is a good variety of cheap nail polishes in the pink through purple colours. I found a bottle that was an almost perfect match for this red-purple at $3-00 to touch-up paint chips on both frames !

The rear spacing is 130mm ( 8-speed plus ) but the shifters are 7-speed. I had a spare 130mm hub for the 50cm frame, with an 8sp. cassette that fitted, and with an adjustment to the derailleur H-stop screw it could be used either as 7-speed indexed ( sacrificing the small sprocket ), or 8-speed friction ( as the shifters can be switched between index and friction ). Given the 52/42 chain set, I personally wouldn’t bother, as the gearing is plenty high enough on the 2nd smallest cog.

On the larger frame, I used a compact chain-set and long cage R.D. which makes it much more hill friendly for me. The good old days maybe weren’t so good, as far as over-geared drive trains go…

the new drive train – 57cm

The mostly re-cycled components now fitted to the larger frame are :

Sakae SA 110mm BCD double crank with T.A. rings 46/36T & sealed BB, UN-55

SRAM 7speed 12-32T cassette

Genetic 44cm bars and 80mm stem

Cane Creek SCR-5 aero brake levers

‘Silver’ Dia-Compe down tube ratcheted friction shifters

Shimano Z-series F.D. and an early Deore RD-MT-62 long cage R.D.

Dia-Compe 500G nutted QR brakes

Mavic Open 4CD 36H rims, Suzue front hub, Shimano rear hub 130mm 7sp.

Schwalbe Durano cream 25mm tyres

Velo Orange hammered guards

I find that 50/34T cranks don’t suit older drive trains as well as this 46/36T with a 12-32T or 13-34T 7-speed rear because, in my view, the most regularly used gears should have the straightest chain line, and a 34T ring needs the smaller rear cogs a lot more . 

The geometry only allows a 25mm or so tyre with the V.O. guards, and the Mavic rims are best suited to this size also.

A fairly heavy bicycle, as mentioned, but otherwise nice to ride.

The SMP saddles are now my saddle of choice for drop bar bikes. I am now free of any of the perineal pain or numbness I used to get on longer rides when in the drops.

See Ya !

1935 Malvern Star, 28” Roadster – Part 2 :

An old 28” wheeled roadster that has been sitting around since its house paint was stripped, I’ve had a general idea of what I wanted to do with it, but haven’t got to do it ’til now. Painting is time consuming, yet the end result can be worth it, ( but for me, only if the original finish is all gone ).

rust-o-mod ..

Strictly speaking, it isn’t a 2-star, as the ‘star’ series didn’t start officially until 1939, but it’s easy to get into the habit of calling it that..

a certain charm..

As I’ve said before, if the original finish isn’t salvageable, and the bike has little collector value, I don’t see the need to spend a fortune on it trying to replicate the exact factory finish and parts. Rather, there’s a chance to do something different, hopefully without making it look like some garish ‘fixie’ project !

This was a good quality machine in its day, with BSA fittings all round. Unfortunately, the chainwheel teeth were badly ‘shark-toothed’, so I had to use a Williams B100, perhaps until a good BSA turns up.

this particular bsa / eadie coaster was not from this bike, though it may have been what was once fitted.

The painting has taken a while because I wasn’t sure how much to leave bare, as I wanted the rustic ( rusty ! ) look, rather than an all shiny finish. I used Langridge Rust Base paint for the rusty bits and left the top tube and chain stays bare and satin clear coated. The Indian Red colour was used to match the painted guards ( that came from another bike ) to this frame. Stars on the steering head and fork crown are a highlight of these frames, so they have been emphasised in white and red. The textured rust paint uses an activator, which is applied after drying, to give the effect of heavy surface rust.

seat stay detail

The front hub is a Bayliss Wiley 32H and the rear is an Eadie Coaster 40H. Rims are from Vicki’s old 60s Speedwell, donated when she fitted a 3-speed 700c set. The original rims would likely have been Westwood style, but these at least have their original paint and patina.  

I think I prefer these forks..

I also had to swap the forks for ones from a younger bike because the fork threads were too worn, causing the head set to continually loosen. This can sometimes be solved by having a frame builder apply a thin layer of brazing to the steerer, then re-cutting the threads.

I had to change these forks to the painted ones above.

I used the Indian red colour, so I could mix parts salvaged from a later Malvern Star, e.g. the mudguards. These bikes changed very little over the decades, and the newer forks, guards, etc. are more or less identical to the older ones.

The upturned drop handle bars are typical of the ‘all purpose’ roadsters of the time – some were sold this way, others aligned so by their owners.

The Eadie coaster hub brakes only gently, but is generally adequate for the speeds at which this bike will be ridden. The 44 x 18T gearing is good for the flat, but not on steeper hills, especially given the large diameter wheels and the overall weight.

14 more years and the frame will be an antique..

The bike rides smoothly, turns slowly, and handles rough roads with stability, as would be expected from a roadster design. It’s very different from what I usually ride, and is all the more fun for being so.

Happy Re-cycling !    

Loop Frame Speedwell Popular – 1969 :

This bike had some rusty components, but was otherwise in good condition. I needed to find some replacement chromed steel rims and less corroded handle bars, but most other parts were recoverable. The bottom bracket was excellent and the steering head needed a new crown race and lower bearings only.

ex-hard rubbish, and worth saving.

I love the simplicity of the old Populars, with no cables to clutter the lines they are a comfortable and good looking upright ride, so long as there are no steep hills to be climbed.

the classic logo, used for many years

For most of their era they had 28 x 1 & 3/8” wheels, and as far as I know, there is only one currently ( 37-642 ) available all black tyre, made by Vee Rubber in Thailand. However, this one has 27” wheels, yet retains most features of the older populars.

36H + letter M ( Sachs code for 1969 ).

The cottered cranks are Austral brand, made in Japan, and the rear hub is a Sachs Komet Super 161. The front wheel was not original, having a later JoyTech hub, and has been replaced by an Araya with Sturmey Archer hub.

The code on the Sachs hub shell 36M indicates 36 spoke holes and the ‘M’ dates it to 1969. I re-laced it to a better rim and new spokes, following overhaul. The Sachs coaster can lock the wheel if stamped on, but is only a gentle stopper with normal use.

note the hook for a skirt guard, but there are no holes in the mud guards..

The serial number layout has changed since the mid ‘60s, so it’s hard to date from the frame number on the rear of the chain stay. On the fork, however, there is a faint E9 code that I’m guessing also confirms a 1969 build.

I satin clear-coated the decals as they will deteriorate badly otherwise.

I’ve rubbed back the chain guard which had been over painted by a previous owner, showing some original colour underneath. I like to leave some of the old paint in these cases as it adds to the history. 

note ‘speedwell’ on adjustable race.

Step through bikes don’t seem to be valued much from a collector’s viewpoint, which is a shame, as they are surely as valid as any other type of roadster, and the loop frame models do have a dignity all of their own.  

why not a classic ?

I’ve also been informed by a Malvern Star expert that this cycle would likely have been made in their factory by this time ( as Speedwell had been sold in 1965 to the owner of Malvern Star – General Accessories – from the 1958 sale of M.S. by Bruce Small ). If it was Australian made it must have been one of the last of the home built roadsters.

Weinmann 730 fits well – no front brake originally.

I’ve added a Weinmann 730 front brake and Weinmann lever for a bit more safety in modern traffic. The white saddle is not original, but suits the bike, I think. Better would be a Brooks B18, but this bike will likely be sold, so that’s one for the next owner.

decal details…

Happy Re-Cycling !  

After the Chuck-Out :

There comes a period of consolidation, to reduce clutter and work out what we have. Hard rubbish days can yield everything from wheels to complete bikes, and sometimes to get a bike going again it’s necessary to mix and match. This is not so much about perfect originality, more about just keeping an old banger functional and useful.

this one was recently built up from a discarded frame-set and mostly re-cycled parts.

If a wheel is complete and fairly straight, it can be enough to overhaul the hub and perhaps true it, but this is usually the exception. Mostly there are corroded rims, rusty spokes, old dry grease, and pitted cones to deal with. It can be a dirty job, but the price is right..

some of the usual mess…sigh.

Here are some recently acquired hubs following overhaul : Sansin,  Shimano, Suzue, JoyTech ( Jou Yu ) and a couple of SunTours, made by Sansin ( Sunshine ).

sansin, shimano 7sp, suzue, joytech, suntour pair ( sansin )

Interestingly, the ’84 JoyTech rear hub has sealed bearings, something I haven’t seen in this vintage before. It needed a good flush out, made difficult by the enclosed design, but seems to be in useable condition.

this cleaned up F & S Komet Super 161 coaster hub belongs to the gold speedwell popular in the previous post

Some of the hubs will need replacement cones – I use either new generic or second hand cones, but only the latter if they have absolutely no pitting.

Bear in mind that many original cones for basic hubs won’t be easily available now. In the pic below, I’ve turned any worn cones inside out on the axle, to remind me they need replacing, now that the hubs are cleaned.

left : velo 32H, joy tech 36H, speedwell 32H – right : velo fixed/free 40H, dhb hi-flange 32H

New ball bearings are also a must, unless everything inside is still shiny bright after cleaning. If the cone was pitted, then likely the bearings will be too. 

If the hub shell races are pitted, I don’t bother with the hub, but it can still be worth keeping the axle, seals, washers, and nuts.

Because the width of cones can vary a lot, different width locknuts can be used to tailor the “ over locknut dimension “ to better fit the fork or dropout width, when non-original cones are used. I always salvage any hub parts in good condition, and keep them organised, ready for use, in separate containers for 5/16” nutted fronts, 3/8” nutted rears, M9 Q.R. fronts, M10 Q.R. rears, 3-speeds, etc.. 

this is my ‘old bike’ 5/16″ nutted front hub ‘box-of-tricks’..

When the substitute cones are smaller in outside diameter than the originals, there can be a gap to the seal that may let in grit. Sometimes using a different seal can work, but they can vary in outside diameter too, and often won’t fit the hub. If there’s no alternative, I might use rubber o-rings around the outer cone, to help seal the gap.  

an absolutely brilliant bike part recycling tool !

This Ryobi cordless rotary tool (above) is great for hubs and skewers, when used with the tiny Dremel wire brushes ( and later the soft polishing wheels, with Autosol ). It will reach into most tight spots and is also useful when reviving brake callipers, down-tube shifters, derailleurs, headsets, etc., to selectively remove surface oxidation. 

The little cutting wheels are useful for shortening small replacement bolts, e.g. mudguard stay bolts, that are too long.

Happy Re-Cycling ! 

Some More Re-Cycling :

Ahh, chuck-out season again, and lots of little surprises – like the old flared head tube of a Malvern Star that’s been hacksawed badly to fit newer removable cups … a pity it wasn’t cut straight ! The top cup is seriously loose and as there is no dirt under the repainted guards, I’m thinking that the refurb. was a total failure and the bike unridden since. 

So long, 1943..

That’s a bit sad really, because the 3M prefix serial number dates it to Melbourne, 1943 …

Nevertheless, there is a good chrome ( later ) 28” front wheel here with 32 spokes, and some spare mud-guards at least .. it’s a shame about the bodged overhaul though, as I would have had the steering parts for the original headset style. The rear hub has a Perry brake arm on a Favourit hub, suggesting a change over from a 40H to 36H hub shell at the time of ‘renovation’. A lot of trouble, for naught…

Completely ruined …

A Shogun, a 26” Trail Breaker I think, where the previous owner has put adhesive tape over the decals, perhaps to prevent theft ? Now it is almost impossible to remove without damage – sheesh ! … 

No sticky stuff on bikes, please !

Another problem with a Shogun Katana Exage 300 model was the left Tracer brand crank having not a single thread to remove it with – and, it appears to have been fitted this way at the factory !!These early 90s Shogun ‘Templite’ 4130 frames are heavy, they don’t have the nice pantographed seat stay caps and, to this re-cyclist, they aren’t a patch on the older 80s Tange Infinity frames. 

Factory fitted crank, with no removal thread ?? Shame, Shogun, shame.

I’m contemplating whether getting a small automotive gear puller would be worthwhile to try and remove the crank. Possibly – but only if it were an Infinity frame. Never mind, I have a smaller brother frame that came with it, and that one may take the other parts.

This one shows promise…

On the positive side, an unrestored gold Speedwell Popular loop frame shows promise, but it needs a lot of rust removal and/or some better chrome replacement parts. I’m not normally that keen on the post mid 60s Speedwells, but something about this one really appeals, as it still has the box lining and the typical cut-aways in the head and fork lugs.

Not in too bad a shape

This model seems to mark the change from 37-642  (28”)  to  32-630 (27”) wheels, which allows for a better choice of rims and tyres, at this point in time.

What’s not to like ? Some rust attended to..

It came with a 36H Sachs Komet Super 161 coaster. I’m thinking around very late 60s or very early 70s. I will post some more of this one, as the work proceeds.

See Ya !

A 1987 Raleigh Granada 10 :

It’s always a bit disappointing to see a decent bike let down this much .. but the best side of it being unloved is the good value, as the frame and fork are intact and straight, and everything else can be either cleaned, repaired or replaced. The original guards and rack weren’t on it when acquired.

pretty tragic…note the brake levers !

The Raleigh Granada 10 was something of a throwback for a 1987 model, with ‘only’ ten speeds ( 2 x 5 ) and centre pull brakes, also, the Sachs-Huret ‘Rival’ derailleurs were hardly state of the art, even back then. However, a Reynolds 531 main frame and fork still make it a very worthwhile project. The rear dropout width is 125mm, and would have accepted a 6 or 7 speed freewheel, so I’m not sure why only 5 speeds were fitted, other than for cost reasons..

ugly plastic shifters, and some weather exposure all round..

The Granada was middle of the range of the touring models from the ‘lightweight’ department of Raleigh in Nottingham, a separate division from their main factory.

Here are the relevant details from their ’87 catalogue :

a good reference.
the royal and randonneur were the truer tourers..

The main issues with this particular example were mismatched and non-original parts – i.e. both the wheels, a missing front centre-pull caliper, non-original rear derailleur ( but that Suntour short cage Sprint R.D. was their second top road model ! ), slight damage to the seat tube top from fitting the incorrect seat post, and plenty of surface rust. For some unknown reason, the better quality steel tubes seem to rust like blazes when neglected.

The double chain set, bars, and stem were the original Sakae equipment, but I wanted to fit wider bars, and also a triple chain set to gear it lower than just 36 x 28T. I had a spare Weinmann-Raleigh 610 centre pull caliper that I used to match the rear one.  

There are some other non-standard parts added, to make it a nicer all-round rider. The wheels and rear derailleur were past swaps from a race-style bike so these were replaced, and the removed Suntour R.D. and hubs will be overhauled for future use. 

Originality wasn’t critical, as this bike will be a user, ( it’s a bit rough ), and I’ve salvaged some parts from elsewhere, while some others are new.

I did fit a newer lower headset assembly, with better sealing.

Some of these parts are :

-Suntour ( ratcheted friction ) power shifters to replace the ugly looking plastic Sachs-Huret ones  ( though those probably would have worked just as well, and were also ratcheted ).

-Weinmann Provence, 36H double wall eyeleted rims, salvaged from an Avanti hybrid ( to suit 28-38mm tyres ).

-Shimano FH/HB-1050, recycled 105 hubset, with Sunrace 7speed 13-28T ‘hyper glide copy’ freewheel. 

these shifters look much nicer to me..

-Suntour VxGT rear derailleur, brought back from the dead ( the previously fitted Sprint is only rated for a 24T cluster, the VxGT for 34T  ).

-Salvaged 3TTT Forma ergo bars and Syntace threadless stem with Deda 1” quill adapter. 

-Used Sugino VP130 triple chainset with 46/38/26T T.A. rings.

..the Sachs-Huret f.d. works very well on these 3 rings

-Shimano BB UN-55 cartridge bottom bracket ( new ).

-Dia-Compe non-aero Q.R. brake levers (new).

-New SRAM PC830 chain

-Re-used Fizik Superlight bar tape.

-Soma cable stay support ( for the damaged rear braze-on hanger ).

the cable hanger stop was split, so I used this Soma hanger with it, just in case.

-SMP Composit saddle.

-Continental GranSport Extra 32mm tyres ( new ). These ride well, and are affordable too. 

The existing Sachs-Huret front derailleur works quite well on a triple, even though it doesn’t have the deep inner cage of full-on triple changers. Probably the mild 20T range helps here.

The old 80s VxGT rear derailleur changes so smoothly, it is an excellent non-index derailleur.

The frame accepts 32mm tyres without much fuss, and it is a supple frame, rather than a stiff one.

a silky drivetrain..I need to find a step-down ferrule for the rear derailleur cable though.

This drivetrain is very smooth, and so is the overall ride, even with the un-padded SMP Composit saddle ! 

Taa-daa ! I’m very pleased with how it rides.

And, for those that disagree with the threadless  stem and ergo bars, well, I can change them back anytime – if I want to ..

Happy Re-Cycling !

A Recycled Miyata Sportrunner – early 1990s :

As far as my recycling goes, I would say that not every old bike is worth fixing, and some are only useful for a few of their parts, perhaps in order to keep a better machine on the road.

So called ‘women’s bikes’ have little value in collector’s markets, but as far as practical riders go, they can be very useful. Another bonus is that they often have very little wear, or abuse, when compared with diamond framed so-called ‘mens’ models.

Such was this Miyata, around 30 years old, a basic but decent runabout, with a solid Cro-moly frame, forged dropouts, 3 x 7-speed Shimano 200GS drive train and 26” (559) alloy Araya wheels. It is easy to ride and has a typically low seat height, which is great for smaller riders.

bread-and-butter, yes, but well made. 

It cost me only $15, and, with at least a good full day’s work all up, including a couple of decent used tyres, a broken spoke replaced, wheels trued, a full bearing service, new brake pads, and a tidy up ( de-rust, lube, clean and polish ) it will ride almost as a new bike.

the shifters are basic, but they still had the original protective plastic wrap on the faceplates !

Though it came with a reasonable aftermarket Serfas saddle, I’ve added the wider sprung Brooks B66 used saddle for my wife to test ride the bike with, and she will see if she wants to keep it.

When buying used bikes like this, one doesn’t always know what hidden mechanical surprises one might find, but it certainly helps to try and quickly assess what the likely issues will be, to have an idea what expenses may lie ahead.

For example, the caged bottom bracket bearings were later found to need replacement due to water ingress ( as is often the case ), but luckily the cups and spindle were not pitted, and all the other bearings were good.

7-speed free-hub, and a decent range

It could now be sold at a profit ( excluding the Brooks ), but I still wouldn’t be making a fortune on it, and it’s worth considering that I have the appropriate tools and spares on hand to make the job easier, and all those things cost money too !

canti brakes work well, but can be fiddly to adjust..

Nevertheless, it’s still satisfying to save a decent bike like this from the scrap heap and make it presentable again, which is a big part of the reason I like to re-cycle bikes !

See Ya !

The Speedwell Diaries – Project … Next :

It’s another Special Sports 3-speed, the green frame late 50s, with the ‘fancier than usual’ head lugs. 

I have added the steel mudguards, as the bike came to me came as a frame-set without them, and I think these bikes look best in their full regalia.  It’s getting harder to find decent guards though. Back in the day, some of them would have been scrapped because they didn’t look ‘sporty’ enough for their owners. Others might have simply deteriorated and been removed in a so-called ‘spruce-up’, along with the dreaded house paint ‘refurb’ job…

Also, I’m not sure if all Special Sports came fitted with guards. These spare guards were white, so I painted them the matt cream colour to better blend with the cream coloured decorative ‘wing’ details on the frame. 

I assume the cream colour on the frame was originally white, but the varnish has yellowed, and the faded green would have been a bright metallic emerald as well. Unlike the previous blue bike, I think this one looks better with the yellowing varnish intact. To my eyes, the addition of the mud guards give the bike more of an all-weather English-style  ‘sports roadster’ look.

Also getting harder to find are the 32 hole steel front rims in good condition, so for the moment I’ve used a 36 hole, with a good looking but slightly ‘period incorrect’ steel Shimano hub. The rear is a 40H Sturmey Archer AW, that I recently overhauled and fitted to a good rim. Both rims take either 27” x  1 & 1/4” ( 32-630 ) or 1 & 3/8” ( 37-630 ) tyres. I’ve decided on the larger size for a more comfortable ride. The tyres are new Duro, and seem quite suited to a cruiser such as this.

I try and aim for ride comfort for my Speedwells, so I sometimes have to compromise a little from what would be  the exact original specs. A case in point are the narrow steel deep-drop handle bars of the period, that I find uncomfortable on longer rides. 

The wider steel randonneur style bars don’t look too out of place and have gained me a little height. I’ve also fitted a taller and shorter stem than normal, for the same reason.

I find the usual 54cm seat tubed Speedwells can be a bit uncomfortable with drop bars, unless I use a tall stem. This is simply because they are on the small side, height-wise, for myself. The long top tubes are usually around 59cm and perhaps the special sports were more designed for upright riding, despite some having been fitted with drop bars. 

Apart from the front wheel and brake levers, the parts are as period correct ( or correct looking ) as I could reasonably get them, including the Williams B100 chain set, though I’ve downsized from the usual 46T to 44T, running a 19T rear sprocket rather than 18T to slightly gear down to about a 63 inch normal gear. This will help a bit, given the overall weight of the nearly ‘all-steel’ bike. 

Brakes are Monitor Venturas and pedals are Phillips ‘Apollo’.

Finally, I added some ( not strictly period ) re-cycled Brooks leather bar tape, wrapped short for extra thickness.

Happy Re-Cycling ! 

Something Different – A Merida Road 909 Magnesium :

Sometimes a project comes along that begs to be followed through, while some others sit around waiting. This striking acid green vs. midnight blue c. 2003 beast had me intrigued – as I’d never seen one, before now. 

the beast, as finished..

There was a cast magnesium frame being made by Kirk Precision some time ago, at least until some magnesium dust ignited and the resulting fire destroyed the factory…

c. 1987 Kirk Precision Magnesium .. die cast, not tubing. ( not my photo ).

It’s quite light for a metal frame, and also seems very rigid. Corrosion was limited to a few surface bubbles here and there, and some snail-trails under the down tube, while there are no visible cracks anywhere. I assumed that fatigue and corrosion would have been the two issues with a 17 year old magnesium frame, so I decided to chance a refurbishment, though the forums say this model can often crack around the seat cluster – so we shall see !

it’s different to my usual rides, that’s for sure.

From research, the Road 909 was fitted with OE Shimano Dura-Ace components, although this example was fitted with a 9-speed Ultegra 6500 series group set. Fine, I’d always thought the 6500 crankset was one of the best looking modern cranks made. The splined Octalink 109.5mm bottom bracket was a Dura-Ace 7700, however, and while it initially appeared to be a sealed unit, it is actually adjustable and serviceable. 

 Is it Campagmano, or Shimolo ? These are the only cranks I have that aren’t either, cottered or square taper !!

The bottom bracket shell itself has some kind of metal ( aluminium ? ) sleeve insert, presumably to protect the magnesium.

However, while the BB was still in the frame, it had spun very roughly, so I had ordered a sealed 105 replacement before realising the original was merely adjusted too tight. Should have done my research, but I now have a spare !

Also included with the acquisition was a lone Mavic Cosmos front wheel, a broken front derailleur, Ultegra 6500 callipers, a Kalloy 27.2mm aero seat post, and 3T ergo bars on a BBB stem.The STI shifters seemed to work but were really tatty. The seat tube has a plastic liner for the 27.2mm post, again, I assume, to keep the post from damaging or corroding the magnesium seat tube.


a problem solved ..

Problem number one was a broken derailleur hanger, and being somewhat unfamiliar with these new-fangled 21st century machines, I had no previous idea how many different types of hanger there are, seemingly one for every model of bicycle. After some considerable searching, I came across one for a Merida Magnesium MTB, which looked identical to the remnants of the Road 909’s, except it was black.

Better made than the original .. for a price ! Hanger did not include the outer plate bit. 

I assumed the dropouts would be the same between the road and MTB Merida models, to save cost, and no-one seemed to sell a silver version. I think I was lucky to find one at all for a bike this ‘old’ !

Pilo Machining in Israel make the model D106 hanger, and all up, I had to pay a fair bit to import one from the UK – and the postage cost more than the part ! Nevertheless, the bike won’t work without it, even as a single speed, so I bit the bullet. 

Although the hanger appeared a good match, it was an anxious wait for the ‘express post’ to arrive two weeks later – well, that’s Covid 19 for you. Not too bad, under the circumstances…the hanger is very well made, and it fitted !

Problem number two was the aluminium and carbon fork, where the clear coat was peeling and yellowing from UV exposure, however a very careful inspection showed no structural damage, so I gently wet sanded off the surface coat and re-applied a clear coat. Not a perfect job aesthetically, but it looks much better.

New bikes now tend to have have a more integrated look between the fork and head tube than the bikes of this era did though.

sharing the wheels with my only other early 2000’s non-ferrous framed bike..

This frame also has a reputation for ride stiffness, according to the forums, so it will be interesting to compare the ride to the aluminium and carbon Scattante ( above ) from a few posts back. It’s not too jarring, but as with aluminium, it is chattery on rough surfaces compared with good steel. Thick bar tape helps on the front, along with the carbon fork. The tyres are 25mm, and I run them only at around 80psi or so.

veloce 10v r.d. medium cage = 30T max. – this is only 26T at the moment though.

I decided to fit Campagnolo 10 speed Veloce shifters and derailleurs so that I could share the same wheels with the Scattante, and also because they seem very well priced, and roughly suit the period of this frame. I kept the cranks and fitted new rings ( 49 / 39T ) as the Ultegra rings were worn. I had a set of Potenza brakes on another bike which I’ve swapped over to this one, they are very fine brakes and also well priced for their level of performance.

and potenza calipers.

This Merida is 8.5kg complete, without pedals, pretty good for an older metal framed bike with a lower priced group set. I weighed the frame alone at around 1.5kg which seems reasonable for a non-carbon frame, though it’s not at all ground-breaking these days. The Dura-Ace versions were less than 8kg complete, but that’s well beyond my budget, or my needs.

raring to go..

Happy Re-Cycling !