Archive for April, 2012

A few recent shots of Fernleigh Track folk :

downhill to adamstown

a head full of light

stopped for a moment

hey !

in pink

who's walking who ?

heading home



Read Full Post »

This post may only be of interest to those masochists of you who like pulling old bikes apart and putting them back together again better than they were, but it really is relevant to all cyclists.

My recent purchase of some new MKS pedals got me thinking about pedal quality and how much it can improve a ride.

Pedals, saddle and bars are the parts of a bike that we have first contact with, and since the pedals are “way down there” they are often ignored while collecting all sorts of mud and crud thrown up by the wheels.


mks 3000r - an unromantic name for a quality pedal that is serviceable


A pet gripe of mine is about pedals that can’t be disassembled or adjusted, and I have noticed the pedals on my beloved Gazelle becoming somewhat loose after only a year and a bit. They are mushroomed together by the maker rather than being bolted together like the nice MKS 3000R ones (above).


the gazelle's pedals - no way in ?


Gazelle didn’t make the pedals of course, merely chose the supplier, but the point is that it’s something to look out for if you are replacing pedals on your classic and want the new ones to last the life of the bike. These probably won’t, and that’s not sustainable manufacturing …

The MKS Sylvan pedals below have made my road king feel 20 years younger – though the old ones will be serviced, I will keep them for other bikes. The Sylvans have no safety reflectors but they do look clean and work really well, if a tiny bit slippery at first.


mks sylvan touring pedal, now gracing the road king - one piece with removable end caps


Platform pedals really should be bolted together and have an end cover that is removable in some way for re-greasing and reassembly (or merely re-adjustment).


fully serviceable if needed


The inside of a proper pedal is much like a front hub axle, but with a fixed inner cone and an an adjustable outer one plus locknut to hold the bearing adjustment in place. Without these things a pedal is a throwaway item.


throwaways - deforming the axle ends only holds them together


Plastic pedals may have an end cap that allows servicing too, but often the pedals become so scraped around and abused that a new ones are in order anyway … and they are often mushroom-bashed together rather than bolted up (above).


wellgo pedals on my old speedwell


These Wellgo pedals have lasted pretty well in spite of being unserviceable (I think?) They are compact and for a modern style pedal can look good on classic bikes.

Here are some other examples from my humble pedal collection :


left to right - speedwell ladies, mongoose menace, old road king rat traps


These three are all serviceable, the alloy Mongoose BMX pedals came up nicely with an overhaul and now run smoothly again. They are well made for a basic BMX bike, and probably need to be !


various cheap salvaged pedals


May your pedals spin smoothly…

see ya !

Read Full Post »

a new bike, old style

darby street footpath

The cool young person’s bicycle of choice in Darby Street, Newcastle (which is the closest place to a trendy cosmopolitan cafe precinct in this old steel town) now seems to be the ten-speed step-through.

They are seemingly becoming the new “practical classic” bike, perhaps because old three speeds are becoming more scarce. The Darby Street bikes seem to be typically well used and rusted, Newcastle being so close to the sea.

A little bit odd is that just around the corner in the now frightfully fig-less Laman Street it’s always MTBs parked outside the art gallery and cultural centre … go figure, as they say !

cobwebs included...

I’m not sure about the seat cover on this one above, maybe it’s to stop the spiders living in the fork crown from invading the saddle ?

can't i get closer ?

The above red bike is a (rare around here) Ricardo, a South Australian maker, now gone.

I liked the mudguard stars and the handy milk crate …

a ratty old raleigh

This Raleigh above is rather nice, but I hope someone saves it from complete ruin – I like the blue platform pedals, the previous blue milk crate would suit this bike !

Shame the painted back guard is missing though…

3-speed royal star - i like it !

Judging by the position of the shimano click shifter and the brake levers, this one has been converted to drop bars from uprights – exactly the reverse of what I would do – This isn’t about me though, is it ?

It’s about a three speed diamond frame with horizontal drop outs – yes !

Happy Cycling …

Read Full Post »

as it was - abandoned


Having just added some new MKS Sylvan touring pedals and a new brass bell to the Road King, I may have to agree that it’s becoming somewhat like Ted Bullpit’s Holden Kingswood (as suggested by Steven Fleming of Cycle-Space recently). For those unfamiliar with the old Australian TV sitcom “Kingswood Country”, it featured a very basic model Aussie car that was polished, accessorised, and worshipped to an obsessive level as a suburban icon.


smoooth! --- mks sylvan


It’s true that the Road King began life as a humdrum ten speed Woolworths bike, made in Taiwan in 1984. Yet when I look at it now I think of it as a practical long distance semi-upright occasional commuter (c.25kms one way for me) that is relatively fast, non-lycra and fun, yet can carry a reasonable amount of luggage and still stump up as a kind of off-beat classic with clean, straight lines.


after the rain


Excluding my own labour and the expensive Li-ion headlight (that I can use on other bikes as well), this bike has cost me less than $AUD400 to get to this stage – about the price of a cheaply made entry level bike shop “broken-backed” looking hybrid beginning with “G”, that doesn’t even have proper mudguards let alone a Brooks saddle…


not the road king !! - i just polished the brass bell ... teehee


A young skater on Fernleigh Track  recently commented “Nice bike – is it new?”


in passing..


1984 wasn’t the end of the world … and I haven’t finished yet!


at swansea yesterday

and yes, the birds are real !

Read Full Post »

a lady of leisure


I think that my old Ladies’ Speedwell Popular is the perfect shape of bike for this new saddle, as the bars are quite high relative to the seat and all of the rider’s weight is on the sit bones. As an upright single speed with coaster brake only, the Speedwell is most suited to comfortable shorter distance rides on flattish terrain.



The broader saddles from Brooks have been designed for this upright seating position. The lower the bars relative to the seat and the more the rider’s weight is on hands and feet the narrower the saddle that is required, at least in my experience, because broad saddles may interfere with the free movement of the legs on longer, faster, “leaning forward” rides – so it’s worth thinking about what your bike will be used for when buying a Brooks (or any saddle), as well as considering your riding position. Narrow saddles are generally less comfortable on upright bikes, as I noticed after converting my Road King bars to “North Road” style.





In the true spirit of the Speedwell Popular, the B18 “Lady” saddle or the unsprung B68 would perhaps have been the right aesthetic choice for “Her Ladyship” as I think the Popular models may have originally been fitted with an embossed unsprung or semi-sprung broad leather saddle. Never mind, I have been anxious to replace the old white “Royal” Italian white vinyl saddle, as it was out of character with the rest of the bike, and much too softly sprung (worn?).


a non-original saddle came with this bike


Incidentally, the “S” on a Brooks saddle number like B66S refers to a shorter version of the (e.g.) B66 that is said to be more suited to the female build. This “S” is only around 20mm shorter than the standard B66 on the road king.


the b18 "lady" saddle


I did also want a black saddle for this bike so as not to clash with the bright colours and black grips, and as far as I know the B18 only comes in brown.


it's coming together now - b66s and mks pedals


On a recent ride I became aware that the gearing is too high for grades at 48x18T, and have ordered a larger rear track cog for it to improve low speed flexibility. A 2-speed hub would have been perfect with this current gearing as the second one – ah, well.


a classy platform - mks3000r


Problems with the substitute used left hand pedal have also led me to order some new MKS3000R rubber platform pedals – although larger than the original pedals and not-quite-right aesthetically for this bike, they are at least very well made replacements for classic bikes, the best I’ve seen recently of this “hard to find” pedal style.


the winged wheel ...


Here is a close up detail on this bike – and can you see why I would not re-paint this frame ?

Read Full Post »

The Speedwell Popular at Swansea dual lift span bridge today :

don't waste the day ...

Mudguards, hub brake, relaxed steering angles, a new Brooks and new pedals … what more could I want on a rainy day?

Read Full Post »

Now I’m not an activist by any stretch, and would not like to have my car stolen either,  but could Lake Macquarie council please stop wasting our rates money on backhandedly advertising cycling as inconvenient, uncomfortable and a poor alternative to driving?

Or is it me just reading something into this ? At the very least they should hire an advertising agency that knows what they are doing ….


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »