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love this bike ...

love this bike …

Ahhh, late autumn and a young person’s fancy turns to tweed …

So it’s time to dust off the old bike and make ready for the annual Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride on this Sunday 7th June ( the 3rd time, I think ). Which got me thinking about my 1956 Speedwell Popular, I mean what would it ride like with a more modern pair of wheels ?

I have temporarily fitted some 700C wheels with a Falcon coaster brake rear – not quite as classy as the BSA New Eadie original, but it definitely works better. The rims are Alesa alloys from Belgium, salvaged from an old Apollo hybrid, being about the most classic looking 700C alloy rims I have.

The front is radially spoked, which looks trendy but doesn’t have much vertical ‘give’ unfortunately ( short, stiff spokes ), a decision I made a while back for a different bike.

Fear not, classic bike purists, this is easily reversible back to the originals, unlike, for example, a respray of the frame ( no way ! ).

Anyway, what happens when you go from 700A – 28″ ( 37-642 tyres ) to 700C ?

Well, the bike sits lower, is much lighter, turns more quickly, and gives a rougher ride. Pros and Cons.

just the right amount of patina ?

just the right amount of patina ?

Although this change opens up a wider range of current tyres than the block patterned 28″ Vee Rubber oldies the problem is that most of them are too small. As the rims are now 20mm smaller diameter it helps to go for a bigger tyre, these being Continental SpeedRide 700 X 42C ( 42-622 ).

While there are still bigger gaps to your guards ( fenders ) than with 28″, these are larger than any commonly found 27″ wheel/tyre combo ( usually 32-630 ).

continental speedride

continental speedride

The Conti SpeedRide is very light and rolls well for a city tyre – it’s designed for hard surfaces mainly and the recommended pressure is up to 85psi, quite high for such a tyre.

Pretty impressive then … the bike still has stable geometry and is geared low – it’s probably best to keep it that way, with one rear coaster brake only I don’t want to be going too fast. You can tell this bike is a favourite as it sports my B17 special ‘titanium’ saddle …

It should be fun to play with for a while !

at swansea bridge

at swansea bridge

Will I take it to the tweed ride ? And what will you be riding, dear Newcastle reader ? Maybe it will make it into this blog …. 0900 hours, Islington Park , Sunday 7th June 2015.

See Ya there !

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Newcastle-Vintage-Tweed-Ride/648259718560810

I guess I’m something of a slave to the square taper bottom bracket – they’re almost ubiquitous on the bikes I work with apart from the dreaded pre 1980s (or so) cottered ones. I know there’s stuff that is lighter, faster, more aero ( etc., etc. ), but it all seems to get outdated so quickly nowadays … ( read splined ‘Octalink’, and we won’t mention that ‘Isis’ one here …  hmmm, nasty name .. ). We’re now into ‘hollowtechs’, ‘mega-exos’ and various pressfits, but none of the hard rubbish bikes I find seem to have these fitted  — funny, that.

You can even recycle used tapered ones sometimes, if they’ve been reasonably cared for, though the attrition rate is very high on your typically neglected ‘chuck-out’ bikes. Of course usability depends on the chain line of your intended build, so it helps to have a variety to choose from.

The re-cyclist’s motto – “If in doubt, chuck it out” — I mean, even a freebie re-cyclist must have standards you know … and there’s not much that’s worse than pedalling away on a grinding, grumbling BB.

Here then is a sample of my rejected parts from a recent cull of dismantle-a-thon BB components :

scrap !

scrap !

( The 3rd law of re-cycling states that for every dismantle-a-thon there is an equal and opposite need for a de-grease, clean and sort-out-fest …. ).

And some of the saves :

with no ball bearings

various square tapers, with no ball bearings

and some useful bits ...

and some useful bits …

These days it’s more common to buy a sealed cartridge, the advantage of which, of course, is no maintenance, but if anything does go wrong there’s little one can do. While I generally don’t have a problem with the old style BBs they can be vulnerable to grit and water ingress, and not just the cheap ones either. Sometimes the bearings can be good on one side and shot on the other. It seems the drive side fixed cups suffer the worst, in my humble experience. Murphy’s law …

Usually the ball bearings and axle races are first to go, suffering tiny pits on the rolling surfaces, and gradually the pits grow larger and deeper until the harder cups are also affected. I find that loose ball arrangements generally last better than caged ball bearings and are much, much easier to clean and degrease too. I may be the only person alive that sometimes recycles those cages – with a toothbrush and kero yet !
It’s probably a good idea to replace the balls when servicing, but if everything is shiny bright and smooth I reckon it should be OK to simply clean and regrease.

i like these rubber seals ...

i like these rubber seals …

Although the inner plastic sleeved bearings should last longest, the contaminants can get in via the outer gap between axle and cup. Some cups, typically the better ones e.g. some Shimano came with rubber seals at this point ( above ) and all the cartridges seem to have these as well, for longevity – a necessity when they can’t be serviced.

some cartridges

some cartridges

Removing the dreaded neglected BB can be a total nightmare, even with the recyclist’s essential tools.

If you’ve ever had a truly stubborn one you’ll know that the moral of the story is to either grease all surfaces on re-assembly ( for steel to steel ), or preferably use copper anti-seize ( on steel to alloy interfaces ). You’ll thank yourself profusely ( or the new owner will ) when overhaul time comes !

My Essential BB Removers :

1) The Cyclus fixed cup remover – if you can find one ( or a large flat spanner if you can’t – good luck with this ! ). The problem with spanners is – they slip !

the magic cyclus fixed cup remover !!!

lower — the magic cyclus fixed cup remover !!! and a poor backup, top.

the tool's flats match the cup flats and the hex clamp holds it in place

the tool’s flats match the cup flats and the hex clamp then screws in to hold it all in place

2) The handy C-spanner for lock rings :

lhs adjustable cup and lockring tools

2) & 3) —left hand side adjustable cup and lockring tools …. and a rather heavy handed hammer !!

3) The Adjustable 2-pin spanner for adjustable L.H. cups ( above ).

splined tools - these are for cartridges

splined tools – these are for cartridges

4) For Cartridges – either the freewheel spline tool ( e.g. for Miche brand ) or the ‘Shimano’ spline tool – preferably one that can be bolted onto the axle for safety.

There are a few fixed cups around that don’t have flats on them, which means the Cyclus won’t work … curses.

You’re on your own here, generally with a pin spanner ( or the hammer & punch ) – so good luck !

a couple of fixed cups - the left is more common

a couple of fixed cups – the left is more common

these tools are good for adjusting but not so for removal

these tools are good for adjusting but not so great for removal – refer to hammer and punch !

Applying a penetrating or releasing agent around the cups beforehand may help, but it’s often unable to reach the worst affected threads because of the cup’s depth and tightness.

Of course there are also a couple of related issues to getting the BB out, and they are – removing the pedals (optional), and removing the cranks ( semi ).

On a really stubborn cotter pin or square taper axle it is sometimes possible to remove the axle together with the crank and pedal as a last resort IF you can get the drive side crank and chain wheel off. This is done by loosening the lock ring, then using a hammer and thin nail punch sideways on the pin holes of the adjustable cup to turn it slowly anti-clockwise and off, along with the axle and L.H. bearing still stuck together. This works well if you aren’t planning to keep the bottom end anyway.

Doesn’t do much for your prized punches though, or indeed the cup and lock ring, but, if it works ….

Often it’s the non drive side that is really stuck, so this can be a useful thing to know.

cottered crank set from the oxford international

cottered crank set removed from the oxford international -using the above technique

Recently, I had to remove a seized cartridge BB from an Apollo Kosciusko MTB. As a last resort I used a socket spanner on the spline tool with a long length of 2″ pipe as a lever. I don’t exactly recommend this, but it worked !

I won’t mention that the air was kind of purple coloured with profanities, and probably the previous owner’s ears were burning as well, during this procedure …

And you thought i was a sensitive new age recyclist, dear reader …

the heavy handed approach ...

the heavy handed approach … grrrr !

no wonder !!!

rust … no wonder !!!   (N.B. washers de-centred after i loosened the bolt )

if you’re going to use this subtle technique, the tool must be fixed to the axle as shown with large washers or similar, using the axle end bolts, for safety. ( Those of you with eagle eyes may notice that the above shot shows the cartridge mistakenly posing on the incorrect side – lol )

Of course it always helps to remember that the drive side fixed cartridge or cup loosens clockwise … that can be tricky to figure out if the bike’s upside down — Uh-oh !

spotted while riding

spotted while out riding

Happy Re-cycling …

some great street art ...

some great street art …

This bike was briefly featured in my recent ‘chuck-out-a-thon’ post having been unceremoniously cast out minus the wheels, all oily-gritty and rusty.

protour crx100 62cm

protour crx100 62cm – as found

I was intrigued, as it has an “Australian Made Frame” decal on the seat stays. It is a large framed hybrid, ( 62cm seat tube C-C, 60cm top tube C-C ), and I haven’t found much on the web about ProTour except that they seem to have been made late 80s to early 90s by Southcotts in Adelaide.

Protour is one of those names that turn up a lot of unrelated rubbish when googled, as you can imagine ! Most of the information came from the cycling forums, with someone suggesting there was a tie in with Ricardo somewhere. South Australia seems to have had a lot of bicycle history happening in the 80s and 90s !

Being a hybrid it had flat bars, a riser stem, and I would assume once wore 27″ wheels, from the brake pad locations. The Suntour Accushift 6sp. thumb shifters are rather plasticky and won’t be re-used. Some band-on Suntour down tube shifters are shown below. Crankset was a fairly heavy steel ringed, alloy cranked ( and worn out ) Sugino “Proto” c.52/40T.

some of the yucky bits from the dismantle-a-thon

some of the yucky bits from the dismantle-a-thon ( and the ‘new’ shifters ).

Front Derailleur is a nondescript Suntour, the rear a medium / long cage Suntour XCM ( MTB ). Brake callipers are recessed ProStars in black. Seat pin is 26.4mm dia. and an italian Vetta saddle was fitted. None of this is of much consequence, as it’s the frame I’m most interested in, for it has the ‘feel’ of decent quality about it.

The tubing decal is missing from the seat tube, but I’m guessing from forum comments it may be Tange 5 plain gauge cr-mo or a higher grade Tange chromo steel. Some forums say Protour used Mangalloy steel, similar make-up to Reynolds 531, (?) I am only guessing here …

The frame would definitely benefit from better components. I see it as a comfortable longer distance ride, and will also set it up with some hill climbing ability in mind. The large frame on a bike like this means ( for me ) a comfortable riding position with higher bars due to a low relative saddle height. ‘Experts’ might tell me it’s too big, but from my experience with the refurbished Giant Boulder 550, I think it will be just fine even with the flat-footed stand-over residual height at zero.

Frame angles look on the steepish side so it should be responsive and yet it will have no toe overlap ( I checked ! ). Large frames like these don’t always make the most graceful looking bikes though.

ready and rolling !

ready and rolling !

Typically for a chuck-out it has 126mm rear dropouts (5/6/7 speed) and a 95mm front dropout width (damn that 5mm). At least they are forged/cast dropouts. The fork had the word ‘Falter’ stamped faintly on the stem. The serial number on the BB shell begins with ’90’ so I assume that’s its year of birth.

super vivid scene...

super vivid scene…

I fitted a new VP head set, re-tapped the BB threads and put in a Shimano UN-55 113mm cartridge BB. Cranks are now recycled Shimano – early105, ( FC-1050 ) 170mm. Chain rings are new, T.A. 49T + 38T, from Wiggle UK.

These are marked 9/10 speed and I wasn’t sure how they would go with a 7sp. Cluster and an 8sp. chain … luckily it’s friction shifting ! I had to fit thin spacers between the spider and the inner ring to stop the wider chain scraping on the outer ring. They now work well, but I won’t try this trick with index shifters !

34T on the back - that's mega alright !

34T on the back – that’s mega alright !

The freewheel cluster is a 14-34T Shimano 7sp. ‘Megarange’ but I can’t use the 14T at the moment, because it won’t let the chain clear the chainstay. To prevent this happening I adjusted the ‘H’ stop screw on the rear derailleur to end its travel at 16T, but this needs further investigation.

The 38T is about the smallest front ring that will fit a standard Shimano road 130mm BCD spider and combined with the 34T megarange rear gives a pretty low bottom gear ( at least for a double chain wheel ), albeit with the next lowest rear cog being 10T smaller at 24T. Shifters are Suntour band-on down tube, and sit on the little ‘heart’ where the cable stops once were.

49×16 is not a high top gear for a road bike, but they are 27″ wheels at least, so i’ll wait for a test ride to see whether it will spin out too easily down hills, etc.

I fitted some new Jagwire cables and borrowed the Genetic bar/stem from the Shogun Samurai with the Cane Creek levers – as that bike is due for a re-assessment. The two-tone paintwork had a lot of rust spots which I neutralised, and I did a bit of touch up spraying.

I confess, it’s a bit rough in places !

head tube & protour logo

head tube & protour logo

Instead of recycling and fitting the black Pro Star original callipers, I used some Tektro R539 dual pivot recessed that I happened to have – for a bit of shine ( and better stopping ). Wheels are the Araya 27″ anodised front one from the L.A. 84 and a Suzue sealed tech 126mm on the same type of Araya rim rear.

It’s getting harder to find decent 27″ tyres and at the moment these are reasonable Kendas, but I would prefer something like a 27″ Gatorskin pair ( I only have one of these right now ). If this bike goes really well then a lighter pair of wheels/tyres may be in order ! Lastly, I fitted some Metallic Blue fizik bar tape, before taking it for a spin …

yee-ha !

yee-ha !

I think it rides more smoothly than the Giant 550, and it’s very comfortable. Reckon I could ride this one all day with the B-17 under my bum !

Happy Retro Re-Cycling !

as found

as found

This bike is an ideal candidate for refurbishment, showing clues to having been used little and parked carefully. The decals are in good condition and there is little paint scratching. It’s original and complete except for the missing seat post and saddle, and I’ve already dated it from the number ’84’ stamped onto the Sakae Custom-A crank set. Sadly by 1984 some nice Apollo details had been dropped, like the alloy head badge, which has been replaced by a metallic decal. The rims too are cheapish Kin Lins on Joytech hubs – Araya on Shimano would have been more likely a few years previous.

rims gone..

the rims & spokes are pretty well gone..

The main issue for the recyclist is the rust – which is to only be expected from the bike’s location. Swansea is low-lying and surrounded by salt water so the chromed steel rims have gone, the spokes and transmission are rusted up and the paintwork is affected by a few ugly rust spots – though they’re not terminal. The mudguard ( fender ) stays are very surface rust-y although the stainless guards themselves are almost unmarked. I don’t think the wheels had ever been removed, judging by the lack of burrs on the nuts.

crank extractor

the crank extractor

When dismantling a bike for overhaul I like to start with a releasing agent on all accessible threads before removing the pedals, followed by the taking off of vulnerable or clumsy parts like chain sets, rear derailleurs and guards. The guards are better removed after the wheels, and it’s also a good idea to slightly loosen the headset, bar clamp and head stem nuts before removing the wheels, to test that they’re not frozen up.

intersting shifter mount - suntour

interesting shifter mount – suntour friction

Often one of the worst trouble spots is the fixed bottom bracket cup, but that takes longer to get to and is probably best removed from a fairly bare frame to avoid damage to other components. Plastic crank axle bolt covers and steel pedal axles in alloy cranks are possible nightmares too. If the plastic cover breaks rather than unscrews, pick it out bit by bit with a small flat screwdriver. if a fixing has both a hex head and screw slots use the hex head if possible. Socket or ring spanners are preferable to open ended or shifting spanners for releasing tough bolts.

the suntour honor rear derailleur is heavy but reliable..

the suntour honor rear derailleur is heavy but reliable..

If you’re new to this, take photos as you go and keep related components together in separate containers. Replacing nuts and bolts back on removed assemblies can help identify where they go later. For paired components such as brake and shift levers. pedals, brake callipers etc. it’s a good idea to dismantle and overhaul one at a time so that there is always an assembled one on hand for cross reference. Concentric assemblies such as headsets can be kept together by threading onto thin wire and tying together in their order of assembly.
Even though i’ve done quite a few of these jobs it’s amazing how easy it is to lose things or to forget part sequences and more so if I am only working sporadically on a project which is why I like to keep organised.

When the chain is this rusty it’s perhaps easier to cut it off with bolt cutters and shout the poor steed a new one. The freewheel here is a classic Suntour 5-speed ‘Perfect’ 14-28T which has a lovely click to it when coasting. This one was frozen up, but it will free up with some oil. The surface rust is typical from lack of use and is relatively easily neutralised. More importantly, I check that the teeth are not chewed up by the chain. This freewheel is unworn on all cogs but a well used one with no rust could easily be worn out, typically on the middle or small cogs depending on the type of use it has had.

pie-plate and 2-prong suntour 'perfect' 5sp.

pie-plate and 2-prong suntour ‘perfect’ 5-spd.

Take the freewheel off before disassembling the back wheel – if you’re going that far that is ! The wheel rim is used as a lever with a 2-prong Suntour tool held in a bench vice and the wheel nut ( or Q.R. skewer ) tightened onto it. Like a steering wheel the rim is turned anti-clockwise until the threads just let go, then remove the nut ( or Q.R. ) and wind the tool and freewheel off by hand. I then disassembled these wheels by cutting the spokes with a bolt cutter for speed – though I usually remove good spokes carefully with a key for re-use if I am keeping the rims.

joytech hubs - the front is worth overhauling

joytech hubs – the front is worth overhauling

These are all the parts of these wheels that I will keep – the 95mm Joytech front hub, the freewheel and the 126mm rear Joytech hub.( I have better rear hubs so I may not be using this one ). The front will be overhauled and re-used as I have many needy sets of typically 95mm wide ‘ten-speed’ forks not to mention this bike’s !

crank axle complete & in good nick

crank axle assembly in reasonable nick

I was pleased to find a plastic shroud over the crank axle. How many old bikes don’t have these and then need a new BB because crud has fallen down the tubes and contaminated the bearings – OK, so no one services BBs, right ?

I’ve lost count … I mean, how much would it cost any maker to have fitted one of these sleeves ?

i'm still working...

i’m still working…now’s a good time to remove the BB.

P.S.  I’ve been enjoying the L.A. 84 single speed conversion lately – it’s so simple to ride !

yummm !

yummm !

To be continued …

the L.A. 84

the L.A. 84 originally

as converted - version 1

as partly converted – version 1 – three speed

You may remember a while back, dear reader, that I converted a Malvern Star L.A.84 into a three-speed. Well, there were a couple of issues that have caused me to re-think it.

the new version

the new version

Firstly I might say that the L.A.84 has a rather good frame in springy Chro-Moly steel that is a pleasure to use because of its reasonable lightness and good ride quality. It’s much better if one gets rid of the heavy Takagi crank-set ( see top pic. ) and replaces it with an all alloy model. The Dia Compe model 500 brakes are decent, as are the wheels with their Shimano hubs and anodised Araya rims.The original levers are only so-so, as were derailleurs.

a grey ghost

the grey ghost

What caused me to change it again was the Revo-shifter for the 3-speed Nexus, not because it didn’t work but that it restricted the type of handlebars I could use as it won’t go around bar bends and also reduces the right-hand-grip space which can be annoying over a long period. They really are designed for flat or ‘north-road’ style bars that sit high, and I lament the disappearance of the old trigger shifters. While the Revo-shifter worked with the Tange moustache bars i decided i wanted to refit drop bars again.

sturmey-archer single speed

sturmey-archer single speed

Plus, the coaster version of the Nexus was not ideal for a ‘sports bike’ being a bit hard to deal with in combination with a front hand brake. A non-coaster version would have been better for this bike and i could have done that, but instead of fitting a standard freewheeling 3-speed,  I decided to convert it to single speed using a Sturmey Archer flip-flop hub with only an 18T freewheel fitted. This hub was new and reasonably priced and I matched it up with a 95mm Normandy high flange front hub ( 1975 vintage ) salvaged from the Oxford in the previous post. i love the look of hi-flange hubs and like to combine old and new components too. This French made Normandy now has new cones and bearings and polished up well.

restored '75 normandy hi-flange

restored ’75 normandy hi-flange and classic 50s wing nuts

The rims I used were unloved orphans – the front is a Ukai and the rear an Araya, both 27″ alloy with very similar profiles. i can now keep the other wheels with their original rims for a different project. The new wheels are 3-cross with new 296mm spokes, good practice for my truing jig. The Bontrager Select K tyres were re-fitted. I am sorry I didn’t get more of these at the time as I can’t find any now, they are a nice light and fast rolling 27 x 1 & 1/4″. These rims are also both Schrader Valve holed so i re-fitted the Electra rocket ship valve caps. Ka-bling !

giro, fizik, SCR-5

giro, fizik, SCR-5

The brake levers are Cane Creek SCR-5, these are comfortable and have quick releases ( which the callipers do not ). I don’t mind that they are modern pre-brifter style as they work so well. Cables are Jagwire teflon coated and the bar tape is fizik super light in blue, as it was the best colour i could find to suit. Bars are Cinelli Giro d’Italia 42cm with blue Cinelli end caps. i lengthened the stem to 100mm by fitting a Genetic from my collection. Though this bike has a 59cm seat tube, the top tube is only 56cm, so 80mm was a little too short.

b-17 imperial narrow, SR laprade post

b-17 imperial narrow, SR laprade post

The rest of the bike remains as it was. Gearing is 48x18T which is higher than I would normally use but suits the relative lightness of the L.A.84. The gearing is good between about 20-35 km/h which is where I spend most of my time on the flat. Building up speed is gradual at first so as not to stress the knees, and then it comes into its own at sensible middle speeds. The frame probably wouldn’t suit serious fixed gear use because of the front facing pressed rear drop-outs.

luxury for your chain - a hot bath !

luxury for your chain – a hot bath !

The chain was shortened from the 3-speed version as it had a 22T rear cog, and I treated it in a hot bath of ‘Linklyfe’ after cleaning it. It is now thanking me as i ride ! I may change the pedals to classic cages with straps, but I do like the Speedplay Drilliums…

3/4 rear view

3/4 rear view

i am pleased with both the appearance and the ride, and when i think of some of those multi-coloured urban fixed gear conversions i feel that this is a better way to use an older classic frame without destroying all its history in the process.

noice...

noice…

Happy Re-cycling !

Life is short, as we know – but the re-cycle-athon goes on forever …

Welcome to ‘Re-Cyclocross’, a fun outdoor event for amateur re-cyclists. Here is a typical re-cyclocross bike :

oxford international

oxford international

This event traditionally begins at “Chuck-Out Time”, the twice yearly hard waste council pick-up event that’s coming to a suburb near you …. ( OK, so some councils have sadly done away with this tradition but it’s still going strong around these parts ).

This is basically how it goes :

A provincial sport based around finding as many classic ten-speed bikes as possible in a given time, hoisting them over one’s shoulder and carrying said ten-speeds to a waiting ute or van, to then be whisked off to the re-cyclist’s grotto for assessment and / or repair.

I would note here that unlike regular cyclocross where the bike is shouldered to surmount steep hills or obstacles, in re-cyclocross this is usually done because the found bike has no wheels… and I’ve noticed this de-wheeling happening a lot lately. In some ways this is good because the average tyre-kicking citizen is less likely to pick up and keep an incomplete bike.

protour crx100 62cm

protour crx100 62cm – a decent frame

One begins by parking at an appropriate location considering carefully the age demographic of the chosen suburb. For example, new estates are generally a waste of time as the residents tend to only chuck out outgrown kids’ bikes.

no-one wanted this - not even me !

no-one wanted this cheap hybrid – not even me !

Hmmm, then again, the humble kids bike need not always be overlooked as they can be a useful supply of 110mm coaster brakes and 95mm front hubs, often only lightly used. These can be  laced into classic 27″ rims if 36 hole. However I don’t always pick these up as it’s a shame when the bike is complete, as these 16-20 inchers usually are.

hi-stop 110mm coaster from child's bike

hi-stop 110mm coaster from child’s bike

Nevertheless, it’s the classic ten speeds that are the main appeal, like this just found beauty, an Apollo ‘Capri’ ladies 27″ —- cool bananas !

bike find of the week - rusty but straight, paint is reasonable

Often to be found in the older areas where they have had plenty of time to age and rust quietly unused in the garage for a few decades while their owners are otherwise occupied with life. I say ten speeds because one is lucky to ever find a three speed anymore, they are quite rare.

apollo capri

apollo capri – classic !

Anyway, after parking the van the sporting method is to mount one’s bicycle and set off on a block by block time trial around the suburb, carefully balancing the need for speed with the subtle skill of picking out a handlebar or other clue whilst whizzing past countless piles of the once loved leftovers from our culture of materialism.

aha-there's one -- and no, i left it there

aha-there’s one — and no, i left it there

20km/h is plenty fast enough for this section, unless one is being pursued by scrappies or the council truck…this time though, I see less scrap merchants around. Falling iron ore prices, perhaps ?

At least one need not be concerned about other cyclists, they are generally in a different race, busy minding their own business or strava-ing away.

roadmaster gx10 k-mart -  too heavy !

roadmaster gx10 (k-mart) sports – too heavy !

The usual opposition are those scrappies and tyre-kickers driving around in their trucks, utes, 4WDs etc. They will think nothing of snaffling one’s ‘new pride and joy’ while one is engaged in a sprint back to one’s van … ( whew, that was lucky ! ).

Being able to judge bike quality quickly is a skill I’m still working on, because I prefer to swoop quickly and then examine the spoils afterward, at leisure.

speed star single speed - interesting, but poor quality

speed star single speed – interesting, but poor quality frame

Sometimes one sees a lot, sometimes little. Even a single wheel can be useful if it’s the right kind. People don’t generally throw out perfectly useful bikes though, there is always something wrong, however minor.

My best find was a nice silver Shogun Samurai a while back.

a nice find if i do say so ... shogun trail breaker

a nice find if i do say so … shogun trail breaker

This time the best find was probably this Shogun Trail Breaker MTB with Shimano Exage 400 LX components. Many parts will need to be improvised though.

yay, replaceable chain rings and a quality frame !

yay, replaceable chain rings and a quality frame !

All in all I guess the event is a combination of orienteering, time trialling, sprinting, cyclocross, and ‘couch potato in the auto’. ( The truly dedicated would probably use a bike trailer or bakfiets to do the pick-up, adding to the difficulty and immediacy ).

And remember, if that neglected Tommasini or DeRosa has been gazzumped when one returns, it’s only a game … and one should have carried something that good away on the bike immediately … sigh.

off track

But wait – don’t relax yet, the event isn’t over !

The final stage of re-cyclocross is the ‘dismantle-athon’. There are a couple of reasons for this, one being the need to store the useful bits away in as little of one’s limited space as possible. The second reason is the ‘partner factor’ i.e. ” Where did that come from ? You have enough bikes already !!!! Grrr !
Needless to say, the speed of the dismantle is paramount, adding haste to the re-cyclists spanner-work skills !

In this way one can chuck out one’s unwanted bits at one’s very own chuck-out a few weeks later, while appearing as a non-hoarder by actually getting rid of stuff and re-cycling useful scrap metal. Ahh, such subterfuge – I love it !

Happy Re-Cyclocrossing ! ( and don’t forget to smell the flowers when it’s over ).

serenity

serenity

A Giant Revisited :

 

commuting - newcastle street art

commuting – newcastle street art

This is my one and only ‘road MTB’, a 1990s Giant Boulder 550. I’ll be frank, I like it mostly because it has a classic horizontal top tube, a nice purple single-colour paint job ( even if a little worse for wear now ), and while being too big for me as a mountain bike it’s an ideal size for the road with a 60cm C-C seat tube and a 59cm top tube.

the non-drive side

the non-drive side

The actual seat tube is almost 63cm C-T which means that I can run the saddle and bar tops almost level with each other for comfort, and I have a good reach with just an 80mm stem. The lack of stand-over height doesn’t concern me here, I can touch the ground with one toe from the saddle and I tend to ride cautiously in stop/start environments anyway.

From the previous rebuild I have retained the Panaracer Ribmo 26 x 1.75 tyres and Tektro RL520 V-Brake drop bar levers. The RiBMo tyres are tough and fairly heavy, being peaked in the centre with a thick layer to help against punctures, and so they ride on a narrower footprint when vertical and a wider one when leaned over.

After some riding, I felt that my last build wasn’t quite right, and it has taken a little time and the right parts to figure out the improvements. It might be noted again that this frame was found as hard rubbish, with no wheels or seat post. The only original bits are the frame, the fork, and ( now no longer ) the rear Acera-x derailleur. The original cantilever brakes I had long since replaced with the more efficient V-brakes and the riser stem and flat bars disappeared with them.

This latest version’s adds are :

suzue promax 36h

suzue promax 36h

A new Suzue Promax 36H front track hub – it has very smooth bearings, solid high flanges, and is really good looking with its opaline decoration. Rear hub is a recycled Joytech – it’s one of their better ones for thread-on freewheels, but they have made some junk also … Rims are Sun MC18, also recycled, with 2mm plain spokes.

Recycled Winpista alloy bars 41cm c-c with black KT leather tape and SR 80mm stem. Wider bars wouldn’t really suit here as there is plenty of leverage with this frame geometry.

sakae custom 52/36

sakae custom 52/36 double

The major change though has been the chain set – the triple ring 48-38-28 has been replaced by a recycled Sakae (SR) Custom 52/36 compact chainset. Although it only has swaged on cranks and a non-replaceable ‘big ring’ this is a much simpler and lighter rig. The old 48T big ring was too low for the 6-speed (14-16-18 -20-24-28T) freewheel cluster, at least for the lower overall ‘geared’ 26″ wheels . 52T is much better on the flat or down hill with the 14,16 or 18 cogs. The 36T small ring is a bit low when the going is easy, but great on slight inclines or strong headwinds at 36 x 16T or lower. I would like a 13T small cog on this, perhaps as a 7-speed, as the 52 x 14 is only just high enough for downhills, but I don’t want to lose the 28T low gear. ( Note – I have since fitted a 7-speed cluster 13-28T and changed to friction shifters and that has improved things greatly when in the small ring ).

Compact chainsets seem to do better with a large range of rear cogs to avoid having two nearly completely different sets of ratios. This avoids excessive shifting between the front rings which was happening here while running as a 6-speed.

For a moderately fit person the 36 x 28T will climb up a decent hill without trouble, while eliminating some of the weight and complexity of the triple.
Bottom bracket is now a Gist 110mm sealed square taper to suit the new chain set.

This model MTB originally came with a micro-drive triple chainset ( 38-32-24 – tiny rings ) and an unusual front derailleur that was integrated with the BB and cable operated from above. It did take some fiddling to fit replacements as the original chain set was worn out. At least the seat tube wasn’t oversize for a standard band-on derailleur but the cable had to be run in an outer, which is cable tied on to the down tube. The 16 tooth up-change from the 36 to 52 rings took a degree of care and was a bit clunky compared with, say, a 42/52T – as one would expect.

I swapped a to a better ‘recycled’ Shimano front derailleur and fitted a new Tourney ( basic ) rear derailleur and some new Jagwire gear cables to try and improve the shift. Along with the smoother friction shifters this has been successful.

great levers

great levers

I have settled on stem shifters as I’m not fond of the original revo-shifters which don’t fit on drop bars anyway. Down tube shifters would be miles away on this frame, and there are no bosses either. Band on fittings would not even fit on the thick tapering down tube.

Only bar-end or stem shifters would work for me here so I have gone with the easy option – and I have plenty of salvaged friction stem shifters to choose from. I find the subtle fine tuning of friction shifters can be an enjoyable challenge, mostly !

The Tektro RL520 levers work really well and are very cosy in the hands. Saddle is a Brooks B17 special “copper” on a 25.8mm Kalloy post. If the bars were lower I would use a narrower model saddle as the B17 really is a touring saddle – naturally, it works fine here.

B17 special - 'copper'

B17 special –
‘copper’

The Brooks small ‘Isle of Wight’ saddle bag  ( above ) is quite discreet and well thought out. My only minor niggle is that it’s possible that the neat toe strap front fitting could scratch an alloy seat post.

The Giant’s small wheels give it a light and quick low speed steering, yet the laid back geometry and longish wheelbase mean that overall direction changes are fairly slow.

It’s arguably the most comfortable of all my bikes ( except the Gazelle Toer Populair ) and it is very versatile. The main frame is 4130 cro-mo but it is still pretty heavy, partly I guess because it’s such a large frame – along with the weight of the wide tyres etc. I notice the weight on hills and when accelerating out of corners, mostly. The small wheels allow a very gentle side to side rocking motion when pressing on ( compared to 700C ) but are quite stable at speed, and very much so through rough corners.

Also, for such a large frame it is very flex free at the front end compared with my road bikes, perhaps because of the wider top and down tubes. These tubes appear to be ‘butted’ on the outside as they are quite noticeably thicker on each end where they form a frame joint.

I can’t exactly tell you what it weighs but it compares reasonably to some modern ‘retro’ steel framed tourers I have lifted up in the shops, though it’s very much heavier than a good steel road bike. To make it significantly lighter than it is now however would cost too much, or possibly reduce the ride quality.

one of my fave 'bike shot' trees

one of my fave ‘bike shot’ trees

I present it here again as an improved example of converting an MTB to a touring style bike, though for my taste only the classic ‘rigid’ mountain bikes have the appropriate good looks to be worth putting this much effort into. Modern MTBs with suspension forks and crazy graphics wouldn’t work as well aesthetically, at least in my opinion.

I guess this bike is nothing special either in appearance or rarity, but it does do many things very well.

Not as quick as a road bike, but its stability, rough road ability and sure-footedness are a joy. On a recent dark and rainy commute home I was only 8 minutes slower over the c.26km than on the previous dry night in spite of taking things much easier, and that surprised me !

Steady as she goes —- and happy Re-cycling !

shot on the morning commute

shot on the morning commute

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