No More 26″ MTBs ? :

Well, that’s what I had decided a while back, because even though they are the most common local chuck-outs by far, very few of them are worth the time and effort reviving, as so many of these are steel-wheeled department store cheapies.

the bushwhacker !   –   note the long top tube

However, occasionally, one finds a gem amongst them, such as this 22″ framed Nishiki Bushwhacker. This bike was designed and manufactured in Canada, and has some Norco components ( flat bar & seatpost ) – so I think it was made by Norco. The tubing is Tange MTB, a CroMo 4130 tubing which was, I think, a mid-range Tange, similar to the excellent ‘Infinity’ road tubing. The name “Bushwhacker” seems to be an Australian derivative too, maybe there were some Aussies working at Norco in the 90s !

yumm !

The bike came with a broken-spoked rear wheel and no front wheel, and is fitted with Shimano Alivio canti brakes, Deore XT and LX derailleurs and Gripshift 3 x 8-speed twist shifters. Also, a Sugino CSS2 micro-chainset ( 42/32/22 ) and threaded 1 & 1/8 inch fork steerer were on it.

i think the middle ring was default position

These chainwheels have an unusual PCD of 94mm with 58 for the triple’s granny ring, as opposed to the 110mm of current compact double road chain sets. TA have rings available in 94mm if required, though these Suginos seem in reasonable shape, and have all the ramps to aid shifting. I might use them, though a 46/34 double may be another simpler option, as the cassette I will use starts at 11T.

I’ve dated the bike to 1994, and the frame is straight, with decent condition of the paintwork and decals. One thing that puts me off MTBs a bit these days is that for road use they generally have heavy frames and sluggish wheels, thanks to the usual wide tyres and the perceived need for off road ruggedness, so there may be some weight reduction required. Starting with a relatively light frame like this will be a big help !  I am getting spoiled using lighter road wheels lately, so tyre width will need to be 1.35″ – 1.5″ at the most.

nishiki / norco ? — designed and manufactured in canada.

Looking at the larger on-line shops these days, it strikes me that parts for 26″ ( -559 ETRTO ) rim braked MTBs are becoming rare. Most hubs are now for disc brakes, and most rims no longer have machined ( or indeed any ) brake tracks. The change in size to 27.5 / 650B  ( -584 ETRTO ) and 700C / 29er ( -622 ETRTO )  hasn’t helped either.

While I understand the appeal of discs for off-road use, I don’t like the complexity of such things, though if one has to deal with servicing bicycle suspension systems as well, I guess hydraulic brakes are only a further slight inconvenience.

Unsprung ‘gravel road’ bikes seem to be the latest thing for a novelty hungry bicycle industry, well, hopefully this would be an economical way for some to get there – if they really need to, that is. I also wonder if any of these newer aluminium / carbon bikes will be easily restorable in 25, 35 or 50 years time – or will anyone care ?

A major appeal of bicycles for me is that they are, or were, or should be, so much simpler and cheaper than motorbikes to maintain…. so if this one even only had suspension forks, I would have said “forget about it !”

More to follow.


super patina !

I’ve been pondering this example for a while, which came to me as a frame and fork only, and in a heavily surface rusted condition. The rust is only skin deep, and I believe the frame may have been partly prepared for painting then forgotten about for some time. There are traces of black paint remaining, and at the head badge location there are multi-colours, too small in size to reveal the true original colours.

the “s” spot

There’s not much here to tell the story, yet the metal “S” headbadge ‘shadow’ and the single letter ‘S’ stamped on the fork steerer is enough to identify it as a Speedwell Special Sports model. Despite the name, this model wasn’t really that sporty, being just a step up from the “Popular” roadster, and having hand-brakes and a 3-speed hub, along with better fork ends and a rigid rear triangle. To get to the real period “sports” models one has to look further up the range to the “Flash”, which had lighter tubing and steeper geometry, though it seems there can be some crossover between components on individual models, at least sometimes.

I am ( roughly ) dating the frame as early 1960s, because of the lack of a drilled bottom bracket oiler hole and the facility for separate headset cups.

Having toyed with the idea of the unrestored frame in the past, it struck me that this might look good if I could keep the rusty patina by sealing it in, without quite losing all the red rustiness.  Perhaps Penetrol would do that, along with a clear overcoat.

There are two possible approaches I can see with the components – either modern, shiny, and functional, or traditional and roughly period, with patina. At this point I like the latter idea, though, for me, it still has to be enjoyably ride-able, and in safety, so I might just mix it up a little !

it goes here, but not yet !

To refit the head badges, I have seen the little spiral finned pins which can be hammered into the head tube locating holes, and I have also used pop rivets. The rivets or pins must be filed down on the inside of the head tube so that they don’t foul the steerer tube when the head set is assembled. I use either a half-round hand file or a Dremel with a grinding wheel ( if it will reach ). With these rivets, I had to drill the holes out very slightly with a 1/8″  bit, so that they would fit snugly.

The Penetrol takes a long time to dry as it stays somewhat tacky even in hot, dry weather, so I’ve left it a good while, which gave me time to sort out some of the potential components.

old school drops

A set of classic drop bars and steel stem show some promise – cloth tape, anyone ?

hmm…thinking, thinking

This heavily pre-aged Bell model 70 saddle is under serious consideration, now that I’ve pulled the sides in using a classic leather punch, and an old shoelace.

a nice old tool, this – and useful !

i like it !

To be continued …  

Here’s another freebie, from a fairly recent local hard rubbish extravaganza …

eek ! a very rusty rider ..

This Cyclops ‘Solitaire’ looked rather tragically rusted, and would be a ridiculous amount of work to completely de-rust.  However, a closer look shows that the frame paint is in very good nick, and that the bike has actually seen very little use…

but the frame shows promise .. i serviced the bb and steering head.

For someone like The Recyclist, who has plenty of alternatively collected parts, a bike like this can be refurbished without a lot of cost or drama. It’s not the sort of thing one can expect to sell for a fortune though, so it’s more a ‘project for a friend’ type of thing.  In this case, the friend didn’t want a bike with gears.

not sure i want to use this malvern star saddle here, but ..

Ten-speed step throughs, as with “sports bikes”, are typically heavy bikes, with ‘gas-pipe’ tubing and cheap steel accessories, however, they can be modernised and lightened like this one, by simplifying the gearing and/or by using alloy parts such as chain-sets, rims, stems, bars, brakes etc.  This Cyclops is intended for use in flat areas so has been converted to a coaster braked single speed.

a reliable shimano coaster, and alloy rims

The typically 110mm wide rear Shimano coaster hub has been fitted with spacers to slot centrally into the wider 10 speed drop-outs and the Sakae ‘custom’ chainset has had the large 52T ring removed by drilling out the rivets. I went a bit too far with the first drilling, so I drilled all five rivets right through the arms, and then countersunk the holes. ( oops … accidental pseudo-drillium ! ). Using the inner ring gives a pretty good chain-line with the original spindle fitted ( at least in this case ).

oops, i mean … nah, it’s drillium – no more big ring !


nearly there, needs a chain and some mudguard tweaking


ready to ride !

A 20T rear sprocket will give easy pedalling at modest speeds, when combined with the remaining 40T front ring.

the pink mixte, revisited

Some mixte style step-through bicycles, though not all, were made with better quality tubing. They tend to be more rigid than standard step-throughs, as well. This one shown is only 1020 Hi-Tensile, which is a very basic steel, yet as with many older basic bikes, when given lighter components and with generously sized tyres and a good saddle fitted, these can often ride quite well.

Happy Re-Cycling !     

as bought – “before”

as is now – “after”

I bought this one locally, but it turns out it’s come a long way – from North End bicycles in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada !  Well, it was sold there 30 years ago, at least. I wonder if the shop is still trading ?

Researching the model on the internet shows a couple of others that were listed in Canada, and I haven’t seen many Kuwaharas in Australia as it seems Apollo is the common ‘Kuwahara’ made brand here. I’d rather fancied a higher end Apollo ( IV or V ), so I guess this is sort of… ‘it’ !

sugino vp110

It’s a 57 x 57cm c.t.c. frame, a good size for me. Running gear is Sugino VP ( cranks and seatpost ), Suntour ( alpha-5000 derailleurs & shifters, 6-speed indexed ) and DiaCompe (brake levers and callipers ).  The Dia-Compe callipers are labelled to match the alpha-5000 Suntour gear.

yum ! ishiwata cro-mo..

Frame tubing is Ishiwata EX triple-butted cro-moly and the frame is quite light and has an appealing ring when tapped. The Tange fork sings like a tuning fork, in the same way, so I’m hoping it’s a really nice ride. The wheels were Araya 700c with Suzue hubs and a not-so-flash Selle Anatomica saddle was fitted.

i couldn’t help a little bit of lug-lining

The head tube paint was chipped on one side as though it’s been given a rough ride in the back of a ute, but the frame is straight and looks in good nick otherwise.

On dismantling, the bottom bracket is in great condition for a 30 year old, and the reason is that the cups have rubber seals for the spindle and there is a plastic seal between the cups – brilliant !  So it’s a clean and regrease only, plus ‘routine’ new 1/4″ ball bearings – yay.

I did myself a favour and reassembled the BB with copa-slip for next time. There was one crank spindle nut cover which I had to drill out, as the metal cap had fused to the crank, and the allen key hole rounded off. At least you can break the chromo-plastic ones and chip them out…    It’s a good idea to re-fit these covers’ threads with a little anti-seize as well.

The steering bearings were also straightforward, cleaned and re-greased.

A few mods. seemed in order, starting with the cranks – I happened to have a similar crank set in 110mm, so I swapped it for the existing 130mm Sugino VP so I could fit smaller rings. The 52/40T has become a 46/34T. This sounds drastic but it’s not as severe as one might think.

I first fitted a set of old Campagnolo record hubs with Nisi rims, but the notched braking surface on the rims does not make a happy noise when stopping, and also, I sadly couldn’t get a small ‘hop’ out of the rear rim. Hops can be quite annoying when noticeable.

sadly, these nisi rims didn’t work for me — note the nicely brazed-on brace for the seat stays

So I decided to use a set of 32H new Mavic Reflex rims on a Shimano RX100 7-speed hub rear and 105/5700 on the front, and these wheels ride nicely and brake quietly.

Tyres are Tufo S33 tubulars in 23mm.

105 front hub, with RX100 skewers & mavic reflex rims

I kept the original callipers, front derailleur, shifters, and seatpost and changed the levers to a set of drilled TRPs. These levers are modern non-brifters and ‘aero’ cabled with a dog-leg partway down the lever. They look good and work pretty well, but I really think that while the ‘dog-leg’ levers may be better suited to braking from the hoods than traditional levers, perhaps they’re not as easy when braking from the drops.

drilled TRP levers

I was told by the previous owner that this bike was once used by a female triathlete for training, which could explain the short 60mm ‘Win’ stem. I replaced it with an 80mm Genetic stem, and 44cm Cinelli ‘Giro d’Italia bars replaced the Win Kusuki bars that were on it. The Cardiff leather tape seems more comfortable than the Brooks equivalent, but I think that all leather tapes come in too-short-a-lengths !

hot summer = a sweaty rolls

New brake and gear cables, and chain fitted, and the rear derailleur has been changed to a Shimano tricolour 600, now working friction mode on a 7sp. 12-28T cassette.

i decided to go with this better condition r.d.

One might think that 46 x 12T is a low top gear, but I rarely find myself above 40km/h, so I really think it’s plenty. The 34 x 28T bottom gear, however, will be very useful.

how she rolls – just don’t sweat it !

Though I’m normally a confirmed Brooks person, I fitted a San Marco ‘Rolls’ saddle, though I find the suede finish is prone to getting very wet with perspiration in hot weather-  ( today’s ride temp was at 35C degrees, for example, according to the Garmin – somewhat different to that of Winnipeg ! ). The Rolls is pretty comfortable, and a great looking saddle too, but in the end I may still go back to a Brooks.

Happy Re-Cycling !

Chuck-out season continues relentlessly, and up until now, the streets have been a bit bare … but here’s an odd find. A Roadmaster 3-Speed step-through, simply labelled “Three Speed”, which is borderline as to what I would normally pick up, but I just couldn’t resist the 3-speed derailleur set up.

pretty unexciting, but barely used ..

The Roadmaster appears hardly used, but has suffered the ravages of idleness in a salty environment, albeit in someone’s shed. A good candidate for spare part hub internals, etc.

I find it unusual that a cheap bike from this era has a square taper crank set ( no cotters ) and yet a backward looking three speed derailleur system.  Of course this would have cost less than a 3-speed geared hub to the maker, ( and appeared more trendy ), but why not a five speed in the 1980s, even on such a cheapie ?

shimano tourney copy ..

The rear derailleur and shifter are the DNP brand, which I hadn’t heard of before … they are Taiwanese, and still making gear systems, it seems. The R.D. is very similar to an old Shimano Tourney and the crude-looking shifter has a fine ratchet movement, rather like the nicely ratcheted Dia-Compe shifters.

ratcheted thumb shifter – note the full length cable outer

Then again, this would have been a very simple system to use in the pre-indexing days, and really, for round town use, most people wouldn’t need more than three gears – so there ! 

Also, strangely, it was running a 1/8″ chain ( single speed / track ) with a master link … so it should also last forever with reasonable care ! In a dry climate such as here, it made a kind of sense, I suppose.

three speeds only, and the obligatory pie-plate spoke protector

It would seem that the three cogs were screwed onto a wider Long Yih – ( Taiwan ) freewheel with some threads left over, and with cog spacing for the wider 1/8″ chain.

I have some better and more interesting 120/126mm spaced frames than the Roadmaster for accepting this gear train, and my curiosity has been aroused to try and make it work again.

Speaking of three speeds, I also had the very good luck to find a 1972 Sturmey Archer 36 hole AW hub.  Why so good ? Because almost all my S-A hubs are older 40 hole ones, and I have many more good 36H rims than 40H !  So I can see another planetary overhaul coming up, some time soon …

Happy Re-cycling !

some rain here would be nice..

Initially I was thinking single speed, but I have quite a few of those now, and I already had a 40H Sturmey Archer FW 4-speed hub in a good 27″ wheel. The hub is dated to 1966, which is pretty close to the 1965 of the AW 3-speed that I think was on it originally. The front wheel is a 32H steel rim on an S.J.W. hub.

sturmey archer FW 4-speed hub

As mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to keep the original paint intact, so the only thing I did here was to retouch the “Holland” lettering on both sides of the down tube. This was done by hand, following the original outlines as much as possible. It seemed a bit pointless to leave them so worn, as it so obscured the brand name and thus lost some historical interest.

i think it’s subtle ..

I tried to maintain a matching  ‘patina’ effect on the new segments of the letters. You can see the difference by looking at the previous post.

4 gears .. cool bananas !

I had a 4-speed trigger too, to go with the rear wheel, though I can’t vouch for it being period correct. The 4-speed FW Sturmey hub is new to me, and requires a lot of pressure to engage bottom gear.  The extra gear is quite useful though, and on these hubs the series goes : 4-high, 3-normal, 2-low, 1-bottom.  Adjustment is made in 2-low where the indicator rod should be flush with the axle end when looking into the round window on the left hand wheel nut ( or at least that’s the starting point ! ).  I had a few dramas trying to get it to work correctly and soon learned that the fixings must be quite tight, so as to withstand the strong tension of 1-bottom gear compared with the 3-speed models.

you can see the end of the indicator rod. it is a 2-piece unit on the FW. seen here in “3-normal” gear.

I used a Jagwire outer and a new Sturmey inner gear cable, though it doesn’t have the thin plastic wrap on it that goes over the jockey pulley wheel. Unfortunately, while Sturmey Archer hubs can last almost forever, some of the matching fittings and cables are getting harder to find in good condition. Interestingly, this hub is faintly stamped “USA” with a number, as well as the usual (3/66) date stamp and brand/model.

One of the problems with choosing brake callipers for these older Australian bikes is that the required drop to the rear rim is often greater than that to the front. In this case, I used a Weinmann Carrera for the front and a Weinmann Model 730 at the rear. The idea was to have the ‘best’ brake on the front – the 730 is a bit ordinary in its stopping power…

the weinmann ‘carrera’

The short steel stem, the Tange moustache bars, and Dia-Compe reversed levers seemed to suit this bike, so I pilfered them from another steed. They were already wrapped with the Berthoud leather bar tape over the white cables, which I didn’t want to disturb, though I do think I’ll change the cables for gold coloured ones, eventually.

The cranks are Sakae Silstar 165mm and come from a junked coaster-braked 1982 Malvern Star Roadstar, again, not period correct, but effective.

165mm cranks are good for spinning, which is sometimes useful with the fairly large jumps in the ratios of hub gears. This bike probably had cottered Williams cranks, but this will be a user, and these will be much more practical. At this point, gearing is 46 x 20T, ( i.e. in ‘3-normal’ ) and we’ll see how that goes for now.

With 27″ wheels and 165 cranks, gearing on the low-ish side is in order, relative to the usual 700c and 170mm.

now that’s a nice patina !

The saddle is a Brooks B17, and though I can’t find a date code on it, I think it’s 1970s. I used the stainless mudguards that I took off the Road King before I sold it, with the Gilles Berthoud leather mud-flap intact on the front one, topped off with the PDW Fender-bot ( such a cool name ) tail lamp / reflector, at the rear. 

the elegant fender-bot

I think that the Brooks “Isle of Wight” saddlebag is the most useful and good looking small tool holder in their range, the only down-side I find with them is not being able to use a modern rear light on the seatpost, but that’s not a problem here. The attachment method is so easy, and in the non-black versions they are nice looking. This one is a medium, in green.

with brooks bag ..

Tyres are Cheng Shin white walls in 27″ ( 32-630 ). It’s sad that good 27″ tyres are becoming more and more scarce as 700c becomes ubiquitous … ah well !  After riding 700c Tufos it takes a while to get used to the block tread’s  squirminess in corners, but they do suit this ride, I suppose.

Although the top tube is a bit cluttered with cables now, they at least hide the extremely worn surface somewhat.  I think this bike is an eye-catcher because of the unusual paint scheme and patina, and the 4-speed set up, along with the plush extras fitted.

And I’m rather enjoying hearing the serene tick-tick-tick ( in normal & high gears ) of a well oiled planetary hub once again !

Happy Re-Cycling !      

No, sorry, it’s not about Dutch bikes ( even though I do have one ) – I’m referring to this Australian made ‘Holland’ frame. 

holland c.1965

Hollands were apparently built by R.L. Bates, a company that made many bicycles for the trade – and also refurbished them – in Melbourne, Victoria.  I’ve even seen a photo of a Malvern Star 5-Star that has been re-painted as a Bates !

a swingin’ 6os paint job … !

The bike came to me as only a frame, with a pair of 32 and 40 hole 27″ wheels, including a 1965 Sturmey Archer AW 3-speed hub and steel rims, so there isn’t very much to go on.

Looking at the construction, it appears well made, with its solid fork ends and slender seat stays, although the lugs are quite plain. Perhaps the most unusual features are the orange-over-silver base colour and the sprayed pink, gold, and green colour patches toward the front end.

nice thick fork ends

Typically Australian is the fine hand lining work on all the tubes and forks. With all this decoration going on, I suppose that fancy lugs might have seemed overkill.

smooth seat stay tops

Hub widths are 90mm front and 110mm rear, so the options are single speed ( fixed, free or coaster ), or 3-speed internal. I’m not sure yet, but let’s  just say I’m leaning toward simplicity.

Top tube is 58 c-c , seat tube 55 c-c. It takes a 26.6 mm seat post.

100% bulldog !

I assume the “100% British” refers to the frame materials ( and perhaps gears ? ), but that’s only a guess, because it was incomplete … and there’s not much I can find on the web – a lot of irrelevant ‘Dutch bike’ related subjects pop up when a search is made. I’m still looking.

down tube decal

Unlike the solid coloured BSA, this wouldn’t be an easy finish to try and touch up, and it has a lot of patina, as well as some missing bits of decal, so a little contemplation is in order, before starting anything !

I don’t wish to ruin it….

To Be Continued.