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Archive for March, 2013

caprice, with new bars and stem

caprice, with new bars and stem

Due to the complete lack of carrying capacity on my wife’s refurbished Raleigh Caprice, I was asked to get a front basket for it. The Rixen Kaul seemed well made and reasonably priced, with a clever quick release stem fitting – but Oh ! – what an ugly chunk of black plastic that “Klickfix” stem bracket is !

Otherwise very practical, the bracket as it comes is an unsuitable style for a classic bike such as this.

the dreaded bracket

the dreaded bracket

Wicker baskets can be a bit of a cliche these days, I know, but they are also functional and useful things too.

Anyway, thinking there are ways and means, I decided to give it the twined treatment to visually break up the enormous black lump. First step was to wrap the arms in sticky double sided tape. This doesn’t have to be perfect as it only serves to hold the twine in place for shellacking.

twine and sticky

twine and sticky

There are two methods I use to fix the ends of the twine, one is to start the wrap so that the first length of twine goes onto the tape to lie perpendicular under the later windings of twine  – you can’t do this at the end of your string, of course !

in tis case i went from the ends to the centre

in this case i went from the ends to the centre

So in that case I will either wedge the twine tightly within the last turns of itself ( though the sticky can often ‘let go’ when wet shellacking ) or more usually, I use a tiny drop of cyanoacrylate (superglue) to fix it in place.

Once that’s done, I check that the twine windings ( twinedings ?! ) are all tight and fairly close together and, if not, I squeeze them together or may even rewind them. Then I “first coat”  them with shellac, allow to dry and repeat till satisfied with the colour.

first coat

first coat

Amber shellac is a good match for the honey coloured saddle on this bike, which now has its bars changed from riser to swept back, requiring a ‘new-old’ stem to take them, and new cork grips were added, these changes made to improve hand comfort.

the finished bracket installed

the finished bracket installed

I would note that with a decent classic bike like this, I carefully keep the old parts together so that it may be returned to original later on.

You’re never going to get a perfect appearance with a big bracket such as this, but I think it’s a definite visual improvement. The twine could be made to cover more but there would always be some plastic showing.

The job would then be much more messy and less enjoyable, also  giving a ‘forced’ look to things .

That red quick release button is clashing-ly bright. It would look much better on a red bike.

all done !

all done !

The wicker basket appears well made and strong, though the metal support ring woven into it is visually somewhat heavy-handed. It also sits quite high, potentially obscuring the ground view directly in front. There are handlebar and head tube bracket options if  these would be more appropriate to your bike.

it's quite large

Picnic ready !

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on a test ride

on a test ride

Repco is a long standing name in this country, mostly known nowadays for its automotive products, and as far as cycling goes they once had a range of 10-speed bikes ranging from this model right up to superlight and triathlete chro-moly racing bikes. Of course the exotic models are much more rare, though there are plenty of Travellers still getting around.  The Traveller was the basic “pressed steel everything” model, and exists today in name as a vastly different freewheeling single speed commuter – a cheap, aluminium framed, department store bike selling for around $100.

This bike was bought for twenty bucks with a straight 58cm frame, a lot of component rust, and without me initially knowing what I would do with it …

a nice touch

a nice touch

So then, thinking how to approach a rebuild, given that I already have both a ten speed light roadbike and a heavy-ish commuter that I’m reasonably happy with. Keeping things simple I have opted for a five speed by removing the front deraiileur and small ring, sacrificing low gear but retaining simplicity and some flexibility.

wall flower

wall flower

I have to confess, I like my gears, I can only ride single speed for so long before I start to pine for them. I’m not greedy about it, I mean, an uphill gear, a neutral gear, and a downhill / tailwind gear and I’m pretty happy. A few more than this is a bonus but only until overkill is reached …

With my resto’s,  a lot depends on the parts that I have on hand… and my ‘semi – conservation’ style may not appeal to the perfectionists … I like to keep some character or imperfection here and there.

These are roughly the steps involved in this case :

Frame : Basic lugged hi-tensile “1020” steel, some surface rust, some scrapes on the paint and decals though the overall condition is not bad. Finish is a slightly metallic black with silver lettering on the decals which have started going opaque. I personally dislike new paint jobs on original frames, as uniform “perfect” paintwork lacks character and the bike can easily become prettily anonymous.

another person's take on the humble traveller

another person’s take on the humble traveller – as a commuter

Removed all fittings and bearings for overhaul or replacement, and to access, clean and inspect the frame. Fish-oiled the inside of tubes, steel wool and phosphoric acid converter on the rust spots, lined the lugs gold (always nice on black) and touch-up the worst scratches by hand, including the silver decal lettering where scraped off.. Clear coat the paint areas to regain some lustre and conserve the finish.

Wheels : Original Femco steel rims, very rusty chrome on the front one, replaced with a Shimano/Araya overhauled steel 27″ Q.R. Nutted rear cleaned up nicely with some TLC and I fitted new gumwall tyres.

Stem : Heavy chromed steel stem swapped for Nitto Dynamic 10 alloy 100mm – a beautiful looking stem makes such a difference. I overhauled the original headset as it was reasonable.

synthetic cork is comfy but lacks the looks of leather

synthetic cork is comfy but lacks the looks of leather

Bars : Unappealing rusty chromed drop bars replaced by the unused steel drop bars from my Malvern 2-star coaster braked bike. These have an old-fashioned deep drop and an unusual dappled finish, courtesy of some brutal rust removal and clear coat. I had some Serfas brand spongy black bar tape which I twined on the inner end and fitted with home made “shellacked wine cork”  bar end plugs. These give a bit of character and don’t cost.

Luckily the frame is relatively large so the bar drop relative to the seat height is not too bad for me, though I am stretched out a bit.

Cranks and bottom bracket :  Removed the bolts holding on the small chain ring and guard, keeping the original 52T chain wheel and crank. Replaced the original square BB with a slightly shorter used square tapered to help with the chain line. Tried to get the chain wheel as close to the chain stay as possible so I could use first gear 28T cog with the large ring. It works well without chattering. New SunTour 5-speed chain fitted. MKS Sylvan pedals fitted to replace steel rat-traps.

hard, but a good pedalling shape

team pro – hard, but a free pedalling shape

Saddle and seatpost :  I kept the original chromed 25.6mm seatpost. I find the variation in seat post width really amazing on older bikes e.g. 25.4, 25.6, 25.8 then into 26’s and 27’s, unlike say, with 1″ quill stems, there are so many slight variations  … and you really need a snug fit with these. The saddle was a throwaway plastic  item on base model bikes of this vintage, and a Brooks is always called for, of course ! I happened to have a spare team pro model on hand. These are as hard as rock to begin with, but even then, they are still more comfortable than plastic…

Brakes :  As I have no suitable light replacements, the heavy steel callipers have been retained for the time being, fitted with new basic Jagwire road pads. New cable inners fitted. Recycled Dia-compe alloy road levers of a similar vintage with the “suicide” levers removed.

Derailleur :  Original Shimano “Skylark” rear derailleur replaced with a better quality used Shimano. (The models were all named after various birds at one time ).

living green

living green

A Quick Ride :

The bike is heavy-ish, but fairly comfortable, and much more stable than my smaller, lighter Cecil Walker.

Sure, it would be better if a little lighter – alloy cranks, brakes, wheels and bars would have helped here. The 5 gears work well on the flat, but are a little limiting on steeper hills.

The ride is rough, but I think softer tyres would help here. More testing to do … well, someone has to do it !

night ride

night ride

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a gathering of mamils

a small gathering of mamils

Riding past Speers Point Park on Sunday, wondering how come, if two thirds of our population are overweight or obese, there are so many Middle Aged Men In Lycra ( MAMILs) about on their road bikes ?

mawils ? too ...

some mawils ? too …

And women too – were they all attempting to reduce the burden of medical bills on our society by getting fit ? That’s got to be a good thing …

I would add, however, that some men just shouldn’t wear the clingy stuff until their tummies shrink a bit more …

Apparently, it was all in aid of “Loop the Lake” an annual cycling event for Lake Macquarie, the largest (I think) saltwater lake anywhere … ( is it 85km around? ). Not too many photo ops. for me though, as there weren’t many classic bikes to be seen on this day. All modern roadie stuff as you might expect.

typical mamil apparatus

your typical mamil apparatus

As we rolled on by, I wondered about those riders who ride everywhere on the road when there are perfectly good cycle paths in parallel. I suppose it’s faster ? Guess that makes me a MIMIC ( Mildly Indifferent Man In Cotton ) as I prefer relative peace to the cut-and-thrust of the main road, unless I have no other choice.

Though the cycle paths can also be obstacle courses sometimes, the views are usually better ..

the slow lane ...

the slow lane …

 

And so it was then, that we joined the families on a day of slow cycling to the art gallery bazaar, and back again.

plenty of parking

plenty of parking at the gallery …

fellow commuters

fellow commuters

busking

busking

the path well travelled

See Ya then, on the path well travelled !

 

 

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crane suzu

the crane suzu

What a magical pair of bells – I won’t say too much about the Crane Suzu lever strike brass bell as I’ve covered it before, but the Crane Riten rotary brass bell is another beauty from Japan. When new it’s the queen of bling, as the finish is golden and shiny, but this soon mellows (unless polished every day! ).

crane riten

Perhaps not as loud as the Suzu, the Riten has that same magically crisp hovering decay on top of the traditional “Bring bring” bicycle sound – you can’t help but smile on hearing the queen of ‘brring’.

mmm ... just like mother used to make

mmm … just like mother used to make

Possibly the finest sounding currently made bike bells there are. The Riten has both halves in brass and an all metal mechanism, just like they used to make before plastic took over. Unless someone steals it, you’ll probably never need, or want, another bicycle bell.

flying saucers ?

flying saucers ?

Happy Cycling !

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Here’s my latest classic 27″ wheeled acquisition, for your enjoyment :

note the later huffy cheapo upright saddle

note the later huffy cheapo upright saddle

 

I love hard rubbish season – it’s full of surprises …… this is a typical converted “fisherman’s bike” of the ten speed era, before the ubiquitous MTB took over, lovingly equipped with zip tied and taped drain pipe rod holders, and with the drop bars up-ended no less, in that dawn of time style invented by the men who bought (or were sold) sports bikes when they should have had uprights.

 

pvc fishing rod holders - they are so practical you've gotta love them

PVC fishing rod holders – they are so practical you’ve gotta love them

 

Single speed, three speed, ten speed sporties — Hey, come to think of it, aren’t there lots of guys still doing that sporty image thing, buying today in carbon fibre 22-speed ?  (lol)

 

I don’t think many carbon frames will outlast this salt water special, at least not with the same amount of abuse and neglect…

 

features front sports fender and rear zefal MTB mud flapper

features rusty  front sports fender and rear zefal plastic MTB mud flapper

 

I’ve concluded that any road bike brand that sounds like a macho truck name and is fitted with ‘suicide’ brake levers is most likely a heavyweight clunker, e.g. Road Chief, Road King, Road Master, etc.  – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun riding (or messing around ) with it !

 

old style non-original platform pedals

these old style non-original platform pedals can be overhauled 

 

Probably use this one for parts, it’s so far gone, and of low quality components, but who knows ?

The bottom bracket is shot, but the old style pedals will be just about perfect for my classic ladies Speedwell once they have been de-rusted and overhauled – as they still have most of their yummy diamond tread intact.

 

Happy Cycling !

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decisions, decisions ...

decisions, decisions …

This rather anonymous looking grab shot of hard rubbish shows some remnants of a once loved Apollo 3-speed ladies bike (model Geneva?) that I came across on a recent ride. It was one of those solidly made steel frames with the attractive enamelled metal  Apollo head badge. I was able to save the wheels and guards but they were all I could safely carry in one go.  That’s the downside of finding such things while riding your bike. The upside, of course, is that you can cover a lot of ground this way without wasting petrol.

 

Sadly, when I returned not too long after, the garbage crushing pickup truck had only just beaten me to the frame, making me then wonder if I had made the right choice.  Well, you can’t argue with a council garbage engineer, so there was really no point further asking !

Hard rubbish days here really are a matter of luck and persistence, what with the amount of scrap metal trucks circulating well before the official pick-up, and I don’t often have free time for this kind of fun nowadays either. A bike with cargo trailer would be ideal for this activity, even if a little slower in the ‘search’ mode.

 

The frame was minus forks but the classy looking cotterless steel crank set had been neatly wrapped in plastic for storage and was rust free. Anyway, the rims are an interesting 27x 1 & 3/8″ size that will also take 1 &  1/4″ tyres.

 

Made me think that those wider 27 inch tyres could have been nice riders, were they still available, like the 26″ x and 28″ x 1 & 3/8″ still are. The rear hub is a good Shimano 3s that may yet come in handy, though the shift apparatus and selector rod are missing. The shiny steel guards will also be usefully recycled…

 

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