Archive for August, 2012

In another life not so long ago, an unemployed recyclist would have been in bicycle heaven. Now with a full time workload and a choc-a-bloc shed, he has become much more selective…

another one bites the dust …

Thus, on a recent morning exercise ride I passed by this unloved Huffy almost without blinking an eye. Once it would have been straight back with the van to collect another stray …

One thing about riding though, it gets my thought train rolling – why else was this bike now so seemingly undesirable ?

don’t get me wrong, they’re not entirely useless !

Well, it’s a department store bike and new ones can be had for relatively little money. And yet, so was my road king bike once, and I was quite happy to make a respectable commuter out of that old Woolworths 10 speeder – and still would.

maybe it’s a fashion thing – ’70s and ’80s 10-speeds are “in” … ?

Secondly, these cheap suspension bikes are unnecessarily complicated and unpleasantly heavy with their uncomfortable flat bars and rigid seats. The sprung forks, rear shock and (possibly) disc brakes all have the potential to wear out and leak fluid, and replacement units would probably be a waste of money.

They are obviously targeted to consumers who may be convinced they will have almost everything for almost nothing.

The surface finishes on many areas of these cheap bikes will oxidise almost while you watch them, rapidly giving an end appearance of cheap and neglected “ugly-tech”. The low price and rustability means that they are approaching throwaway status so why not just buy another one using a high $AUD and cheap overseas labour ?

If this Huffy had been a simple, more  timelessly styled and designed bike with rigid frame and forks and perhaps a sprung saddle, how much more appealing would it have been to keep, sell or restore it, even if it wasn’t top quality in the first place, or was a little more expensive to begin with ?

timeless ?

But would people buy it ?


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darby street evening

This was a good opportunity to view some of Newcastle’s more interesting bikes and riders:

chained to a post …

they were a kona, a something and a repco

There were plenty of steel framed ten-speeds :

apollo ten speed

a basket … and an alley view

another apollo

a malvern star “triathlete”

a rusty apollo step-through

and again

some likely lads

a more modern jamis

an old ricardo mtb

twilight in darby street

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black swan dahon

Finding this bike was one of those unexpected events – It’s so handy I keep it in the car for other unexpected events …

swansea bike shop cruisers

Harleys with pedals ?

i did a double take here …

I thought this passenger above looked a bit creepy at first, but that’s just me …

red reidcycles step thru

This seems a simple low cost bike, but bright red is hard to ignore, especially with those panniers.

Happy Cycling !



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After rubbing back for what seemed an eternity I have removed most of the overpaint from the frame, fork and guards. I’ve perversely decided to leave a few tiny bits of this old paint as a reminder of its past life and my time used up – the bike does look better in its mostly original paint though !

… shiny green


It’s better to refit the bottom bracket first but I decided to do the steering head as I hadn’t cleaned the BB bearings yet …  so with head races and balls clean here we go :


in kero and rags


It’s a good idea to count both the ball sets first, as it’s so easy to misplace them. The balls should fill the races up, leaving a gap slightly less than one ball width when settled in and the number of balls should be the same top and bottom. So now I grease the two halves of both races and place the clean balls in the sticky grease of each lower race. These greased half races hold the balls quite securely, and they need to, not having any bearing retaining cage.


ready to roll … the lower crown race

I push the steerer stem up through the head, being careful to support the rear dropouts as the frame has a tendency to fall back and lift off the fork at this point. Then I screw down the top threaded race carefully on the steerer tube till the bearings are captive and safe. Then the lamp bracket and locknut go on.

don’t let it fall back out …

to the lower head race …

was it right ? – i had to recheck it upside down

traces of old


At this point check for play by pulling the fork up and down and front to back, at the same time turning the forks to check they are smooth and easy. You’ll soon feel it if something is wrong – they should spin freely with no side play. This will need to be re-checked after tightening the locknut and also after a ride when the bike is fully assembled.


tighten up …

My Aldi metric head spanner wouldn’t fit – I try to be careful with multi-grips, as they are a last resort tool, easily able to scratch chrome if used carelessly.

The chrome head fittings have cleaned up rust free, and at this point I can start to enjoy seeing things slowly come together – touch wood !

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This is the rear wheel from my Jack Walsh step through – and while coaster hubs are all very similar inside, different brands are not exactly the same. The more of these I overhaul, the quicker and easier they become, and this one seems quite well designed. This hub should also be a sharp stopper, as it’s a Japanese ’80s (?) model. It has three smaller brake shoes unlike some other types that have only two larger ones.

what’s inside … minus the cog dust cover, splined cog and spring – that fit to the drive screw

Here’s  the exploded view, and while the hub disassembles further, I will leave it as is and force clean and grease the brake arm side bearings in situ to save some time – perhaps not best practice, but this hub was quite clean inside. As usual the little outside driver bearing was the driest, with the inner races still being reasonably greasy.

I’m not sure whether teflon grease is the best option for a brake hub, but it seemed OK on previous hubs I’ve done. This grease was purchased at an auto store as you get more for less than at the bike shops, I’m sorry to say.

stuck like glue … then grease over the top

The small shoes stuck to the grease on the expander wedge, then I greased over them and also all over the inner hub surfaces. This made for an easy re-assembly, pushing in from underneath the brake arm side while holding the shoes with one hand, after which the driver screw goes in from the drive side to mate with the screw thread inside the expander drum.

inserting the drive screw

After that, the little outer axle bearing and its cone and locknut go on the drive side axle, followed by a dust cover ring, the splined cog and its snap ring and you’re done – bar the cone adjustment – and that may need re-doing after fitting to the bike and/or riding.

the drive side cone with lock nut adjusts wheel play

Next job is to true the wheel and tighten the loose spokes…

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hi-rise frame



A current side project of mine is reworking my old Giant Boulder 550 ’90s model MTB. This bike was found as a dumped frameset a couple of years ago and has become the bike that gets all the cast-off bits from my other ones as they are upgraded, as well as various new bits and salvaged old parts .

I overcame my partial dislike of mountain bikes by fitting different handlebars to it as flat bars are really hard on my wrists. I really feel that a swept back bar “holds”  the same way your wrists relax when held at your side.

Other than that MTBs can make fine all-rounders, though I only like old steel ones with horizontal top tubes ( what a snob, you say ! ).

Especially purple ones!


v.o. “belleville” bars


These narrow Velo Orange Belleville “no-rise” bars should work for me because the large (61cm) frame size means that I can keep the bars high enough relative to the seat, and the swept back grips keep me a little more upright. They also give the bike a sort of old-fashioned “sporty” look along with the high frame and “small” 26 inch wheels.


fat serfas tyres


Thinking about what I don’t have in my collection of bikes, I decided to give this one a really low bottom gear of 1:1 for when I feel the need to easily climb the steep local grades. So, on went a Sakae triple front ring from a salvaged Apollo (48/38/28) along with a 5-speed cluster and a recycled front derailleur.

A fifteen speed triple is enough for a wide range, and close ratios are not really necessary here.


this f.d. required some cable re-routing

original rear mech. and my roughly hand painted “pie plate”


The original 7-speed rear derailleur was stop-adjusted to fit the 5-speed cluster and a new friction front/indexed rear  Shimano stem shifter from Vintage Bicycle Rebuilds added ( I have developed a fondness for stem shifters via my Road King rebuild ). It’s a 6-speed click so the first click (top) is a “dummy”

I also had to re-fit a cantilever front brake as the v-brake wouldn’t clear the front guard – a fiddly job …


nitto dynamic stem, shimano index (R) and friction (F) shifters


The wheels are from another chuck-out, and the guards another again, and so there are at least 4 or 5 bikes contributing here !  The art of recycling …


i like the graphics on this model, but only the seat tube is cro-mo, i think !


It’s not really rideable properly yet, and definitely cosmetically unfinished, but hopefully gives an idea of what you can do to customise that unloved old wreck in your garage.


kinda stylish ?


If I have enough time, I would like to make a home-made wooden front rack for it … hang on, did I say enough time …. ?

I’m dreaming, aren’t I  ?

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Ahh, the wonderful tone of this bell – and a sound that decays away so beautifully, getting softer over many seconds, yet seeming to continue to ring beyond the threshold of listening. And if you then put your ear closer – it is still ringing !

and good looking too

This brass bell sounds even nicer than the alloy lever-strike bell on my Dahon or my other V.O. brass spring bell, and I will confess that I like to ring it when no-one’s around, just to hear its clarity.

Happy Cycling !



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