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The Vectre Mystery :

 

the vectre

the vectre

The young woman from my local antique shop tapped on the van window as I was parked nearby – “I think the boss wants to show you a bike” … “Uh oh”, I say to myself , ” Not another bike, I’m flat out re-cycling as it is. ”

“OK, I’ll have a look then, thanks”. It was nice they remembered me at least, though I have purchased a few bikes there previously, including the Malvern Star LA84 and Speedwell Classique 3.

So out the back of the shop I go.  He says ” I was going to keep this but don’t think I’ll ever get to ride it so I’m selling – asking $X for it. Thinks “Vectre, Vectre .. doesn’t ring a bell” so I googled it later, but with no result.

“The owner had it up on his wall, it’s from a deceased estate” . I was struck by how clear and clean the rich red paintwork was, surely this bike had hardly seen the Australian sun since the mid-80s when it was new. Well, unless it’s a repaint that is …

Also it’s a 59cm seat tube and 57cm top tube, a pretty good size for me ( meaning that I don’t have to stoop to the drops as with some smaller of my road bikes. So, I succumbed…

non-drive side

non-drive side

The Component List :

Frame and fork : Unidentified frame tubing, Columbus dropouts front and rear.

yumm

yumm

I haven’t fully dismantled the frame, so it’s hard to gauge it’s actual weight, but the quality of fittings and finish,  braze-ons and lugs suggest it’s pretty good tubing. No identifying stickers observed.

Head-set : Shimano – I can’t identify the model on Velobase, plastic covers in grey with no major lettering but definitely Shimano.

criterium 65 bars

criterium 65 bars

Stem and bars : Cinelli XA 80mm alloy quill, Cinelli “Criterium 65″ – 42cm c-c alloy drop bars.
The Cinelli Criterium bars are still made, though the current milky anodised finish is slightly more matte looking than these.

criterium 65

criterium 65

Seat post : Unidentified with black fluting and clamp, c. 27.0mm , Zeus seat post clamp pin.

Saddle : Iscaselle Tornado dark brown mottled leather covered. Now replaced by B17 Imperial Narrow due to my personal riding preferences.

golden arrow

‘golden arrow’ logo, some fine scratching

Crank set : Shimano FC-S125 ( i.e. 105 ‘Golden Arrow’ ) This early 105 version gives a visual nod to the more decorative 600EX Arabesque group, but is not as obvious by having a simpler motif. Fitted to it are Biopace 52/42T elliptical chainrings. I very much like the look of the “Golden Arrow” group, later named  “105” ( which is still Shimano’s current third level down from Dura-Ace and Ultegra (formerly “600” or “Ultegra 600″ in the 1980s ). I haven’t been aware of this early 105 group until now.

Hubs : Shimano HB6207 600 series Q.R. They’re running smoothly, though I’m sure a re-greasing will add to their longevity. ( Now done ! )

mavic ma40

mavic ma40

Rims : Mavic MA40 box section anodised grey, eyeletted, with the red diamond trademark ( pre 1988 ). Strong looking 700C clincher rims, and rather difficult to get tyres onto and off !

veloce callipers - a tight fit

veloce callipers – a tight fit

Brakes : Campagnolo Veloce side pull callipers, Shimano 600 levers — no Q.R. on either ( curses ! ). A nice looking ‘Campagnolo’ script graces these basic brakes. They have a respectable stopping ability on this bike, even with their original pads.

Front derailleur : Shimano 600EX Arabesque.

Rear derailleur & shifters : Shimano RX100 SIS with Z series freewheel cluster 13-23T – 6-speed SIS ( indexed ). SL-S434 indexed shifters.

The RX100 series is also roughly equivalent in level to Shimano’s 105 group which superseded it.

shimano 600 series pedals

swoopy – shimano 600 series pedals

Pedals : Shimano PD-6207 with toe clips.

Extras : Zefal fpX4 long frame pump ( presta valve ). Neat old school – Park Tool does a similar new version of this full frame pump.

And 2 x Duro IRC “triathlon” high pressure 27 x 1″ cotton gum wall ( ! ) tyres. New old stock. I’m wondering why not 700c ? Maybe the Mavic wheels are more recent ?

The tyres will come in handy for some other wheels I have.

This bike has very little in the way of patina, it looks so new. Cared for and ridden little. Dare I say that it’s lacking in visual character ? Red isn’t my fave colour either … ah, well.

A stored bike that is nearly 30 years old is bound to have dry bearings, and so it was that the steering failed the “no hands” test miserably. A closer look revealed that there was no seal on the fork crown race and tacky dry looking grease in there. A closer inspection showed brinelling of the races. The crown race was ISO 26.4mm so I had to wait for a headset to be ordered.

the bb shell

the bb shell

While waiting for some better tyres and the headset I decided to have a look at the bottom bracket. The slotted shell isn’t something you see on cheap bikes, and requires a seal of some sort be fitted for the vulnerable bearings. The BB is in good shape, a traditional cup and loose bearing with a protective plastic sleeve to counter the open shell.

the bb

the bb

On any old bike it will pay to service all the main bearings ( steering, BB & hubs ) unless you can be sure they have already been very recently serviced, and, ( at least in my experience } that’s generally something only real enthusiasts will have done.

The new tyres are Challenge Strada Bianca ‘open tubulars’ and they roll beautifully and steer very well. They come packed as flat ribbons much like tubulars.

However, being 30mm tyres they push the very limits of this frame’s clearances. Sadly, I think I will have to change them for 28s or 25s on this bike.

flat ! -- strada biancas

flat ! — strada biancas

The Veloce brakes have no quick releases and neither do the 600 levers so most of the air needs to go before the wheels can be removed – or by removal and refit of one brake shoe !

I may have to reconsider them too.

The headset is a now a Dia Compe – not my first choice, but the best fitting I could find with its low stack height.

The components seem to come from slightly different eras, and I think the brake callipers are 1990s where the rest are 1980s.

pelican marina

pelican marina

This bike is a definite keeper, and worthy of considered component upgrades .

See Ya !

 

the final version ?

the final version ?

the sturmey s2 hub

the sturmey s2 hub

A while back I converted my Road King ten-speed into a two-speed by using the Sturmey Archer S2 kickback hub. I really liked this hub, but disliked the “deep V” rim it came fitted with, firstly because I find aero rims ugly and secondly, the rim was very heavy, and the depth and short spokes made for very rough riding on the already non-compliant Road King frame.
So I dismantled it and found another reason for disliking deep-Vs , i.e. the spokes are a pain to work on…

s2 road king

s2 road king – one version

Having 32 spoke holes, upgrading the S2 hub required me to order some new rims and a new front hub. I settled on H Plus Son ‘Archetypes’ from Wiggle, in a bold black anodised finish with classy upper case white lettering, which really suited the frame I had chosen. The front hub is a Miche Primato 32H low-flange track model. These rims were a relative pleasure to fit to the chosen hubs  and they ran true without too much fiddling.

the mystery bike

the mystery bike

This frame is a mystery, and the previous owner could not throw any light on it. The cast rear dropouts are Gipiemme (suggesting 1970s at the earliest) , the original fixed BB cup was an older Brampton but the bike had been fitted up with a Shimano 600EX Arabesque group. I wanted this group for another project though, so I had to begin anew with this frameset.

tapping the bb

great care is needed – tapping the bb

No wheels were fitted as found. The BB is stamped “V26272″

The frame decals are “Speedwell” but have been added after some repainting – I don’t believe that Speedwell is the original brand as there are no indications of the Speedwell head badge having been fitted.

There are brazed on guides under the BB for front and rear derailleurs and for shifters on the down-tube. No eyelets or bottle cage threads fitted though.
I had to use a Tange fork from another frameset as the old ones had corroded dropouts. Coincidentally the tange fitted well, and is the right colour red also.

To up the gearing a little from the Road King’s 42 x 22T, I used a Token TK2051 crank with a 44T ring and the 22T rear cog. This gives a moderate 2:1  ( c.54 inch ) bottom gear and a good all round ‘urban’ top gear ( 1.4x – my guess is roughly 44x16T equivalent ).

I retained the original fluted SR Laprade seatpost and the 3T “Competizione” drop bars and fitted a new VP head-set and a Genetic 100mm road stem. Brakes are new Tektro R559 long throw with Dia-Compe Q.R. levers. I used Cinelli “Mike Giant” arty bar tape in black & white for some more character.

The trickiest part of this rebuild was the bottom bracket, as the threads would not allow me to fit a new sealed square tapered BB. I’ve had this problem before on old bikes, and I guess it’s because the sealed cartridges have a wider threaded area on the fixed cup than the old non-sealed ones which, over many years, allow grit and moisture to clog and corrode the inner shell threads preventing further inward travel.

heaps of swarf

wow – heaps of swarf

I decided to bite the bullet and buy a BB thread tap and shell refacing kit. The Park Tool kit was too expensive to justify for this hobbyist mechanic, so I went for a ‘Lifeline’ kit. This worked quite well but the instructions are poor – and one needs to be absolutely certain that the correct tools for each side are used ( as there are both left and right handed threads on an English threaded BB ). Luckily the Park Tool site has a useful ‘help and repair’ section and their kit functions in quite a similar way. The new sealed BB now threaded in smoothly and easily.

 

a shiny result !

a shiny result !

Tyres chosen were Schwalbe Delta Cruiser in cream, and these 35C jobs give a smooth ride and roll reasonably well at the recommended 65psi ( for such ‘semi-balloons’ at least ! )

I wanted the tyres to contrast with the black rims and I am rather pleased with the look. Tyre clearance is close at the rear and the nutted Tektro brakes work very well. They were the best I could find for the large drop and wide tyres.
With these tyres, the laid back seat tube, the longish wheelbase and thick bar tape, the bike gives a comfortable ride on the rough urban and suburban roads I often use.

isca-selle tornado

isca-selle tornado

The frame has a 56cm seat tube and 58cm top tube ( C-C ). These old style ‘over-square’ frames often give an unfashionably slow and yet lovely stable steering. To my mind it depends as much as anything on one’s riding ‘mood’ and environment as to which is preferable.

And there’s no toe overlap here, even with large toe clips.

"toy camera" effect

“toy camera” effect

I originally tried an Iscaselle “Tornado” classic saddle that I acquired with another bike, but while it looked great, it’s not as comfortable as any of my regular Brooks, so I am now trying my ‘Team Pro’ instead. Although the Italian ‘leather over foam and plastic’ saddies feel initially softer than Brooks I find that over a distance my bum somehow partially settles somewhere on the hard chassis, whereas the Brooks ‘hammock’ style keeps the pressure points more evenly supported.

now with "team pro" saddle

now with “team pro” saddle

I’ve learned a little technique after using this hub for some time, especially for the tricky down changes. The rattly freewheel sound while coasting in high can be quietened by back-pedalling very slightly, then, if necessary a small quick back kick from there will shift it to low. Still catches me out sometimes though …

I left the frame pretty much as it was, just a rough de-rust and paint touch-up.

hmmm ?

hmmm ?

I added the hand painting of the head tube inset – black with a white question mark – as being appropriate to this mystery frame and I kept the Speedwell decals as they’re part of its history now.   The lugs have been lined in white and — hey presto !

A new-old rough ‘city fun bike’.… and was it worth the trouble ? Well, I think the heavy and harder riding Road King now has to go anyway.

Happy Re-cycling !

 

 

cinelli stem badge

cinelli stem badge

The Recyclist’s bikey-nose sniffed out this beautiful steel Cinelli stem in a dusty Lambton garage – and on a tipoff.

Apparently Cinelli originally coloured their brass badges with fired glass enamelling ( cloisonne ), then later stem badges such as this ( and the head badges ) were painted, probably because of cost, again later finally moving to aluminium head badges, decals, simple engraving etc. in more modern times.

It is a miniature of the early Cinelli head badge “knight and shield” crest.
Current Cinelli products use the newer familiar graphic “winged C” motif.

as found - shame about the 'bars

as found – shame about the ‘bars

This long reach stem was connected to some Cinelli steel drop bars ( possibly Giro d’Italia model ) though these aren’t in useable condition having rusted through in the drops area. I’m guessing 1950s to 1960s, but can’t be sure.

many years of neglect ...

many years of neglect …

I think this is the 65 degree track stem – they also made a 73deg road stem and a drooping 58deg more extreme track version as well. Condition is not great and the stem bolt is somewhat rounded off – nevertheless, these are highly collectable items.

on the popular

on the popular

It now graces my ’56 Speedwell Popular, a somewhat mundane (but faithful) steed for such a regal stem.  At least the vintage is about right !

I fitted a steel Kusuki ‘Win’ Randonneur bar, as its shape and finish are about the best match I have for this stem.

love it !

love it !

A set of curly rams-horn style steel drop bars would look great – if I can find some !

a laid back frame

a laid back frame

The laid back angles of this bike mean that the stem drop is not so pronounced, and the rando bars give back a little height.

some traces of original paint remain

some traces of original paint remain

In spite of ( or partly because of ) its worn paint condition and less than perfect chrome, it is still a thing of beauty to behold …

the 'black and white TV' of  cycle computers ?

not exactly an ‘SRM’ — more the ‘black and white TV’ of cycle computers..

Heavy, bulky, and not very accurate were my first impressions from this recent find, but perhaps in the 1980s it was state of the art ? The device runs on 2 x AA batteries ( which were thankfully not too corrosive to have destroyed it – despite it having being unused for over 10 years ).

cateye velo & road king ( new version ! )

cateye velo & road king ( preview of new version ! )

The CC-1000 lacks a clock display, though it does have a stopwatch function. There is an SCN setting that cycles through all the displays – far too quickly for me – plus ODO, DST, SPD, Time, AVS & MXS readings. Speed is indicated by an LCD bar graph at the top of the display just below the coloured speed line, as well as numerically when set on the ‘SPD’ setting. LCD icons appear above each function’s abbreviation to indicate which display is operating.

rear of unit

rear of unit

In use, the speedo’s response is very slow, and somewhat pessimistic on speed and distance – compared with my modern computers. The sender is a ring attached at 3 points to the front wheel spokes, with different screw holes supplied for 36 spoke and 28 spoke wheels.

computer ring and sensor

computer ring and sensor

The 3 buttons are ‘MODE’ “RESET” and “START/STOP”. An adjuster on the back has presets for 20, 22, 24, 26, 27 and 28 inch wheels ( no 700c ! ). According to Velobase it came with an adjusting tool for the wheel size presets, and a carry pouch !

the wheel size adjuster

the wheel size adjuster

I find the stopwatch function useful for trip times, but really, the best use of this classic computer is to make an 80s rebuild like my 59cm Road King look and feel a little more period authentic ! More about this bike later ..

road king 'semi-tourist'

road king ‘semi-tourist’

Happy Re-cycling !

Novocastrians, don’t forget the Spring Ride this Sunday commencing from Nobbys. A very safe and easy route followed by breakfast . Check out “Bicycles in Newcastle” – ( see blogroll right hand side ) for details.

This little red bike won’t be ready in time though, it’s a Wooly’s Wheels mixte ( apparently there is still a Wooly’s Wheels bike shop in Paddington ). It was a very cheap buy that I considered worth the price just for the anodised alloy 27″ Araya rims, the Suzue “sealed tech” hubs in good nick, the 52/36T “Custom” compact chainset and long cage Shimano rear derailleur. I will use them to convert one of my other bikes to a ‘semi-tourer’ and fit a simpler gear to this one.

The KKT pro vic II pedals will be worth servicing too. The chain set has a fixed big ring, so it isn’t great, but it looks reasonably light .

56cm seat tube but short head tube means smaller riders than i will fit well

56cm seat tube but short head tube means a long stem or forward lean…

The tubing is Tange 5 – which is a plain gauge  (PG)  Cr-Mo by the looks of it. At least it has 100mm wide fork dropouts though the rear are 126mm not 130mm.

seamless cromo ... not butted

seamless cromo … not butted

still the address ?

still the address ?

also some nice kkt pro vic II alloy pedals in good condition

 some nice kkt pro vic II alloy pedals in good serviceable condition

a reasonable and  practical compact 52/36T chain set

a reasonable and practical compact 52/36T chain set

See you Newcastle folk on Sunday !

 

speedwell rebuild. swansea

speedwell rebuild. swansea

Being someome who loves to photograph bicycles, I often ride around looking for interesting backdrops while imagining how my bike will look in front of them. This doesn’t always do wonders for my point to point times – but who’s counting anyway ?

road chief - swansea

tunnel lighting, road chief – swansea

Graffiti sometimes catches the eye, but doesn’t always make for a good bike photo because it can compete strongly for attention and  lead that eye on a merry journey away from the bike.

this one is a bit lost - speedwell popular, swansea

this one is a bit messy and lost – speedwell popular, swansea

Sometimes this can work well as long as you aren’t trying to show the bike’s details. The overall impression could be one of the bicycle being at one with the urban lifestyle, as of course it is …

where's the bike ? - repco traveller

where’s the bike ? – repco traveller

Graffiti varies in its intensity  and the simpler or more calm varieties with larger flat areas will sometimes work quite well to complement detail and add interest to the picture.

shogun samurai

shogun samurai

It can help to re-position the bike a few times checking that areas of similar tone and colour aren’t super imposed and the details lost ( a good idea for bike photography in general ).

I try but don’t always find time.

malvern star L.A.84 - newcastle

malvern star L.A.84 – newcastle

If you have the time, also try re-positioning  the bike to see how merging the  rhythm and lines of the bike and the graffiti can enhance the photo.

grandfather's speedwell popular - belmont

grandfather’s speedwell popular – belmont

Rules in photography are only guidelines that may beg to be broken.

at marks point

at marks point

Unfortunately I have no photographs or precise memories of how this bike originally looked. That’s not a bad thing as it allows me some free rein, and I’m not averse to modernising components to make it a better ride, unlike my blue Speedwell that I want to keep fairly original. I might mention that  ( in near faithful ‘Grandfather’s axe’ fashion ) only the steel frame itself – without the paintwork – is really original.

e-thirteen lg1+ pedals

e-thirteen lg1+ pedals

These flat pedals have good grip thanks to the many threaded studs, though I think I prefer the feel of Speedplay Drilliums. To me, the white finish suits this bike though some may see them as garish. It seems they run on bushes rather than ball bearings and have spin adjustability  for your personal pedalling preference.

some basic stencils

some basic stencils

I cut these stencils with a craft knife based on the blue bike’s stencilled lettering. It was hard to get a clean finish – if the foil is too thin it won’t stay put when you curve it around the tubes. If too thick, it is hard to cut cleanly. Nevertheless a little later repainting of the  area around it should solve the overspray and run problems. I stuck the fiddly bits down with tiny spots of blu-tack before spraying.

I took a lot of liberty with the seat tube decoration, making it a ‘modernised’  and simplified version, using the same letter “S” and some gold lines and trim with red and indian red.

after some tidying up

after some tidying up

The head tube was infilled with Indian Red enamel by hand ( without being too particular ), and I left some black around the home-made head badge to add visual depth. This head tube colour infill makes a big visual improvement over the previous all black finish.

infill headset

infill headset & rework lining

I accentuated the gold hand lining as well. I find that it’s best to use a slightly thinned gold enamel with a good quality pointed artist’s brush and to try for a continuous and confident brush stroke. A turps-y rag will wipe off mistakes.

getting close now

getting close now

It’s the best I think I can do without repainting all one colour, though I am still open to more  lightbulb moments regarding the decoration …

imperial narrow, with cut-out

imperial narrow, with cut-out & laces

From my humble collection of Brooks saddles I decided to use the B17 Imperial narrow – so far, so good. The B17 narrow is becoming a favourite saddle of mine on bikes with drop bars. I’m not yet certain if the cut-away is of benefit over the standard B17 narrow, but it’s comfortable anyway.

kt leather bar tape

kt leather bar tape & soma flares

The Soma Road Flares are a rather bling-y kind of safety feature. Just don’t drop the bike or lean it on a wall, and make sure they can’t hit the top tube on full lock … any bars with rear facing ends should be fine – albatross, gull-wing, drop, porteur etc. I guess they would also work as bar end caps using lock-on grips on upright bars, as well as with the bar tape used here.

soma road flare

soma road flare – what bling !

constant or flicker on AAA batteries

constant or flicker on AAA batteries

The switches underneath are hard to locate ( hence unobtrusive ). AAA batteries are a good idea. The flares fit firmly yet are easy to remove. The little top windows are a nice touch.

another view

another view

I didn’t really want reproduction decals on this, so why not D.I.Y. ? It’s fun, if a little time consuming, and a pleasant task in the winter sun. Decorating it was enjoyable, but best of all is taking it for a cruise-y ride on a sunny-cool winter morning off  …

at blacksmiths

mangroves at blacksmiths

Remember though, once any bike is re-painted you will have to wait a long time for that nice patina to re-develop.

Happy Re-cycling !

 

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