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Archive for July, 2013

at swansea

at swansea

Restoring an old bike  ( or several ) for practical use is as much of an ongoing journey as a finished work, as ideas present themselves from both riding and fixing that bike as well as from comparing it with the experience of other favourites from your (or other’s) stable. Can I swap those parts ? Is this stem the right length ? What about the grips ? Ride too harsh ? etc…

steering head & stem

steering head & stem

The added variable with lucky bicycle finds is the sizing — it is rare to find a cheap or free bike you love that is also your correct size. However, if you are fond enough of that bike there are a few things you can do to make it fit – to a point, of course.

An example is my beloved Cecil Walker early ’80s road bike which is only around 52cm frame size. This bike was obviously made for someone smaller than my average height which makes for some inherent difficulties. First is the ferocious toe overlap, caused by fitting 27 inch wheels to such a small frame. There’s little you can do to correct such a ‘design flaw’ other than fit smaller wheels, but even 700c gives plenty of overlap while losing originality. Particularly when I have effectively lengthened the toe clips with spacer washers to better fit my feet. Here then, it simply comes down to maintaining an awareness at slow speeds.

reynold's ghost

reynold’s ghost

The quill stem on this bike is a generous length and easily adjusted for height, but is problematic when it comes to forward extension adjustments – i.e. there are none.  Modern threadless stems allow easy removal of the bars and changing of the extension length via multiple bolts, but are not as easy to adjust for height. So, the stem stays as is. Otherwise I would also fit wider bars and more comfortable hoods, but again, the Cinelli / Modolo originals look so nice !

I am looking for some old style brown gel grips, but no luck yet.

The original 180mm seat post’s maximum safe extension was too short so I have invested in a new 27.2mm Dia Compe “Gran Compe” alloy post ( which almost cost as much as the original old bike ! ) it’s 250mm with twin bolts , a subtle classic look and works a treat with the B17 titanium. However as the head stem is at max. extension this also means that I will be leaning forward more …

neat-o

neat-o

180mm vs 250mm

180mm vs 250mm

head to head

head to head

Typically, if you are getting ‘front of knee’ pains on long rides, your seat post may be too short, or the seat may simply be too low – this longer post also allows a more powerful pedal stroke when correctly adjusted. Note that the older fluted seat posts need to have the flutes above the top of the seat tubes or they become little water traps to facilitate the welding together of these parts by corrosion – potentially causing headaches and damage at removal time.

a serious gear

a serious gear

The last recent alteration was fitting the original shimano ‘600’ threaded freewheel. As the 55cm Shogun is more comfortable and has now become the main commuter, the CW can be a bit more serious – though the loss of two bottom gears comes with some regret, even though it makes for a closer spread on flat terrain – bottom gear is now 42x18T – whew, that’s nearing low single speed territory !  The rear wheel is a non-original steel Ukairim/Shimano combo which adds weight, but it’s not easy finding quality traditional 27″ lightweight alloy 120 or 126mm hub width rear wheels these days.  “Patience, my son … ”

dura-ace levers

shimano dura-ace levers

So, I can’t say that I’m all finished yet, but it’s getting closer.

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Last Sunday’s tweed ride brought out some rarely seen ( by me at least ) classic bikes. I hope the “steel is real” bike enthusiasts out there get some enjoyment from these – I certainly did !

If I’ve missed your classic here, well you’ll just have to turn up again next year and give me another chance …

speedwell popular -  diamond frame

speedwell popular – diamond frame

This Speedwell had to be seen close up to really be appreciated – an original unrestored frame with modern running gear, possessing a wonderfully subtle and rusty patina. A credit to the restorer’s good taste, I thought.

conqueror loop frame

conqueror loop frame

A classic loop frame original, ridden by one of the younger participants.

carlton racer

carlton racer

The owner told me the frame was all chromed originally, it had some classy details.

carlton racer - rear derailleur

carlton racer – rear derailleur & hub

schwinn cruiser

schwinn cruiser

Although a later ‘reproduction’ model, this bike fitted in well with the ride theme.

another schwinn

another schwinn

sun-wasp path racer

sun-wasp path racer

What can I say ? Unique, rare, outstanding bike.

detail - sun-wasp

detail,  sun-wasp

the sun

the sun

Sister bike to the Sun-Wasp, with a “to-die-for” Sturmey Archer quadrant shifter …

detail - the sun

detail – the sun

detail - the sun

detail – the sun

blue mixte

blue mixte

Some gorgeous leather accents here :

blue mixte - detail

blue mixte – detail

gazelle toer populair

gazelle toer populair

Now I know I’m not the only person in town with one of these ! This one was fitted with a Brooks B33 saddle.

should be the smoothest ride in town !

should be the smoothest ride in town !

felt gridloc and velorbis

happy couple — felt gridloc and velorbis

nihola cargo 3-wheeler

nihola cargo 3-wheeler

Not exactly classic/vintage, but interesting,  practical and a great advertisement nonetheless …

Lets hope this becomes an ongoing event !

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Here are some general views of the event and some of its participants – I will show some other shots of notable bikes seen on the day, in a pending post :

arrival and the dismount - islington park

arrival and the dismount – islington park

who could resist ?

who could resist ?

an impressive outfit !

an impressive outfit !

the tv cameras were there at the start

the tv cameras were there at the start

ooh ! what threads !

ooh ! killer threads !

the group en route at the foreshore

the group en route at the foreshore

the sun wasp -- an outstanding bike !

the sun wasp — an outstanding ’30s “path racer” !

juggernaut

protour sports and the georgetown juggernaut – a DIY cargo bike !

peugeot in the park

a peugeot in the park

happy couple

happy couple

picnic time

picnic time

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Novocastrians  – don’t forget the tweed ride Sunday :

be there !

be there !

No tweed ? Nevermind … just old-fashioned should do.

keep trying ...

i keep trying …

Here are two potential tweed steeds – and there’s no need for speed :

roadmaster gx sports 10 speed (post-tweed era)

a nice roadmaster gx sports 10 speed 

bsa bermuda

bsa bermuda

The older, the better … See Ya There !

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So much wet winter weather since this June has left little chance for riding – it’s not the feel of getting wet itself as much as the unpleasant experience of riding with vision obscuring spectacles that keeps me at home.

how it was

how it was

well, it wasn't really..

well, it wasn’t really..

Nevertheless, there’s a chance to revive the Shogun freebie, except of course they never are freebies, always needing money and work to get them up to speed, but I’m excited to fix it up and take it for a spin. It’s funny how I’ve become interested in road bikes, if only older steel ones, I suppose it’s a natural combination of curiosity and the need to get places a little faster sometimes, though often what you gain in speed is what you lose in the time for contemplation.

It is certainly the era of the road bike, there are more new ones around here these days than MTBs ( can’t believe I am saying that ! ) and I’m wondering how long it will be before road bike spin-offs are seen in the department stores ( probably when the fad has changed again, it’s all 29ers, heavy hybrids and beach cruisers in the local BigW. at the moment  ).

I’ve sacrificed (for now) the “spare parts” Repco Traveller to get this one going, as it promises to be a much more practical long distance commuter, and I have a desperate lack of bike storage space. Recycle the recycled – I probably could buy something fancy with what I spend to revive all these oldies, but then I wouldn’t have had half as much fun as I did getting them running again.

one fine day...

one fine day…

As usual the bike was stripped to the bare frame except for the steering races, not to paint, but to treat for rust and check everything for wear. The frame itself is fine,  though the brazing has some overruns around the lugs from manufacture. The name “Shogun” is stamped into the seat stay ends but otherwise it’s all decals, no badges – a sign of the times . The pastel-like silvery purple colour shows its blemishes easily but as always, I have no intention of repainting an original bike such as this. I’m getting to appreciate character and history more and more.

at belmont 16s

at belmont 16s

Having 700C wheels means that any future replacements of tyres should be easy compared with some of my other 27″ ten speeders, and that’s got to be a bonus. However, the dropout spacing is the older 126mm, not 130mm, so replacing a rear wheel could be a challenge if ever needed. I haven’t yet managed to figure out its exact age, however, according to web sources the Biopace Chainrings were offered from ’83 to ’93 and the RX100 RD from 91-94.

Early 90s sounds close enough for me !

shadow-play

shadow-play

Seems I’ve had some recent bad luck with alloy crank removal, the non-drive side threads were ruined by the puller, despite the cautious attempt to remove it by carefully checking the threads fully engaged, etc. – curses ! I will have to decide what to do with the chainset but not ’til I’ve had a good play with the bike. Sheldon Brown, for one, was a fan of the ovoid Biopace rings while others don’t feel they are much different to round ones. I did notice a bike with very oval rings while watching a stage of the 2013 Tour de France, so some people clearly believe in them !

mks pedals and clips, zefal christophe straps

mks pedals and clips, zefal christophe straps

I’ve temporarily used a substitute Shimano Altus crank as the closest non-drive match I have handy in size and appearance to the RX100 “biopace” right hand side. Also the plain BB races, axle and bearings were pitted so a new sealed bearing Genetic 68 x 113 mm  BB had to be be fitted. Luckily I already had the 20 tooth splined tool to fit and remove it, which has saved a little cost.

pitted crank,races & bearings needed replacement

pitted crank axle , races & bearings needed replacement

a rep;acement sealed BB with splined tool

a replacement sealed BB with splined tool

take care not to slip when tightening/loosening

take care not to slip the tool when tightening/loosening

The Genetic ( the brand, I mean, not “generic” ) 80mm stem and drop bars from the Repco rebuild – with the Cane Creek SCR-5 road brake levers – all went straight on. These lever hoods are comfortable to grip and good looking, with a built in quick release button for brakes without those, I would recommend them highly for upgrades to older road bikes. The old MTB style welded stem, riser bars and revoshifters / brake levers really spoiled the appearance – so … off to the spares bin – and good riddance !

love these cane creek levers

love these cane creek levers

Due to the high price of “brand name” thin leather bar tape, I have experimented with making my own with some leftover “vintage” white leather that I inherited many years back. This was fixed on with double sided ( thin & clear ) adhesive tape. It works rather well and is thicker than brand name tape and therefore more comfortable if a little less professional looking. Practice will make perfect so I will be trying more of this … shellacked wine cork and twine plugs are used on the bar ends. I was also thinking “moustache bars” for a while, but will probably stick with the road drops.

the B17 select

the B17 “select”

I’ve used a B17 “Select” saddle, these are made of selected organic leather for high mileage use and come boxed with a jar of Proofide, a tensioning spanner, polishing cloth and cover, I think it’s well worth the premium over the standard B17. Black steel rails with hammered copper rivets give it a distinctive appearance, and the leather has a subtle and natural looking light coloured finish to it. Give me comfort anytime !

The select B17 is much stiffer leather than standard B17 leather and is going to take longer to break in. I find normal B17s comfortable from the get-go. No pain, no gain, as the old cliche goes.

I am not normally attracted to things given such names as “Gatorskins” but the Continental 700C x 25 tyres have a good reputation, so I’m told. Grip seemed excellent on a short test ride, which was confirmed on longer rides – they are very confidence inspiring.

A new SRAM 8-speed chain completes the overhaul, and I must say that the RX100 derailleur systems are slick and quiet in their shifts, even with friction shifters. I put that down to the “hyperglide” rear cassette cog design.

surely 7 is enough ?

surely seven is enough ?

They are easily smoother than the older 600 Arabesque set-up with plain cogs on my Cecil Walker.  Speaking of which, these Dia-compe (new) downtube  shifters have a friction forward / fine ratchet back arrangement that works very well – though they are not parallel to the tube when at rest, one gets used to them quite quickly.

dia-compe downtube shifters ( viewed from front )

dia-compe downtube shifters sans cables( viewed from front )

Gearing is 52/42T front and 13-23T, 7-speed rear, which should be adequate for most local hills thanks to the relatively light weight ( by the standards of most of my bikes anyway ! ).

So, it wasn’t cheap in the end, but it is a good sized frame for me and should be a well used ride in dry weather.

pre-dawn at the ferry wharf

pre-dawn at the ferry wharf

On my first long commute, I was impressed by how fast it feels, and it’s a great bike for the Fernleigh Track, able to keep up with the majority of other road bike riders and more stable than I expected from its shortish wheelbase. Uphill is where the light weight is really helpful, and the biopace chain wheels do seem to smooth out the rotation in a subtle way.

keeping up with the lycra-clad

i’m keeping up with the lycra-claddies

I now await more fine weather ….

a window on sunset

a window on sunset

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Just a reminder to any Newcastle, NSW readers of this blog that there will be a tweed ride on 28th of July that shouldn’t be missed. For more details check Vicki’s blog “Bicycles In Newcastle” (see Blogroll R.H.S. of page ) and check out her cool red Speedwell Oma too ! Starts 10 a.m. from Islington Park.

You may even get to see the legendary Recyclist and his fabuloso “Aussie Oma” Speedwell too …. teehee ! Here’s a sneaky preview :

Grandma's going to party !

Grandma’s going to party !

Don’t be shy, bring whatever bike you can and come along …. hmmm, now can I find me some tweed ?

Happy Cycling !

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