Archive for November, 2013

details, details

details, but only the important ones – pink mixte

A good recyclist needs to keeps the ball rolling, getting ready for future projects, cleaning, rebuilding components, organising. While I often have only limited time for bicycle recycling, I try to find small projects that will help me later on.

yep, 1/4"

yep, 1/4″

For example, here is the unusual bottom bracket assembly for the Malvern Star Sportstar. This is the crux of the project as the bike is useless without it, due to the threadless BB shell. I’ve stripped it down, thoroughly cleaned and rebuilt the bracket with a JIS square taper axle ( replacing the cottered original ) and 22 brand new 1/4″ ball bearings.

take out the seals for a good clean

take out the seals for a good clean

The little seals each end will roll out with careful finger pressure so the grooves and seals can be carefully cleaned of all grit.   I’m not taking any chances with this BB !

new grease

new grease

Properly serviced and maintained, the assembly should last a long, long time.

the new axle fits !

the new axle fits !

The overhaul seems to have been successful and the axle turns freely and smoothly, so I know I can continue with the project and not suffer the torture of cotter pins – or wasted time, hopefully !

This one will take a while, as I am going to repaint the frame, and also won’t refit the cheap original drive components ( the cruddy base level Shimano Skylark / T-bird II  derailleurs or the heavy steel crank set ).

the threadless BB shell

the threadless BB shell

The frame will suit single speed, as the cable stays were removable fittings rather than braze-ons,  leaving the frame lines clean. Also the diagonal rear dropouts are pretty close to 120mm which is track wheel locknut width.

headset bits ...

headset and bits …

The unbranded headset is rusty, but good internally, so I’m happy to keep it after a clean and tidy-up.   Really, the chrome fork crown cover is the detail that could make this bike “sing” visually at least, otherwise it’s a fairly ordinary looking plain-lugged frame.

In the above photo I’ve put the excess new bearings in a jar with a little oil, as ball bearings will rust if left exposed to the air too long – as in the rusty ( very old ) cigarette case.

The refurbished parts go into a container labelled “Sportstar” to keep them together for later on.

I like to string head sets etc. on thin wire to keep them in order too.

this chrome trim will look great

this chrome fork trim will look great

The chromed lower forks themselves are cosmetically poor, so I may need to get hold of a new set but this will depend on the wheelset locknut width and I haven’t decided on the wheels yet …

Moving on …

simple but fiddly

simple but fiddly

Another fairly simple ( but sometimes fiddly ) job is pedal recycling, and here are some examples of mine. De-rusting metal, cleaning, tyre blacking the rubber platforms, etc. can improve the appearance greatly. The biggest hassle is keeping the bearings together when dismantling, so I use lots of empty cat-food tins !

old platform pedals come apart

old platform pedals come apart simply

some completed pedals for future use

some completed pedals for future use

The MKS rat-traps lower left are smooth and free running in spite of their age. MKS is a brand I can rely on.

i can trust mks pedals

these mks are well made  …

I have a problem with “Project Haro BMX” at the moment and that relates to the 1/2″ threaded pedals for the one piece crank.

I will have to find quality replacements that aren’t too expensive. All my pedals are the 9/16″ thread type that most 3-piece cranks have, including my spare Mongoose BMX ones – sigh.

i got this far

i’ve got this far

New tyres and grips and a new seat post ( 25.4mm ) were essential purchases. The saddle is recycled.   Note – I haven’t height adjusted the post yet !

There’s not too much left to do, but Haro is on the back-burner for now.

ah yes, coffee ...

ah yes, coffee … and my fave 3-speed mixte

See Ya !


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Shearwaters :

Too wet to ride, too busy at work for recycling – it’s time to take a walk along the beach for some introspection and Sooty Shearwater migration time.

Angels of independence

don’t care for fashionable opinion

as they trail forlorn horizons – lost –

upon the ghost maps of dominion



floating elegant and weightless

while beneath, the sea moves slow

wind shivered feathers rippling down

the rest of destiny – to know –



that in a dream, we grazed the white caps

for our hearts had craved the breeze

and crystal days were the currency

that was exchanged – for our release

group of shearwaters

group of shearwaters

some returned here many times

to landfall, weary, with their kin

whose bleaching bones lie scattered –

far beyond life’s raucous din.



the end




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retro thang

retro thang

Well, here it is finally – a sporty retro cruiser – and if that’s not an oxymoron, I don’t know what is !

It’s taken a while because I had to find the room to store it assembled.

It could be a poor person’s “Guv’nor”,  without the laid back frame angles, painted wheels or the front hub brake.

Or the price – but the Pashley “Guv’nor is a beautiful bike nonetheless … I’m not pretending this is as good.



Simple, lightweight and relatively low-cost – I know that some might not like the brazed on cable stays remaining, but you never know, I might want to convert it back to a ten speed one day !

There will be some further detailing to come – after some thoughtful test riding, as usual.

Anyhow, here are the parts I used ;

as found ...

as found …

Frame : Road Chief 10-speed steel – 54cm  —- ( O Ye of little faith ).

Headset:   A basic new  Dia-Compe gold alloy  – 1″ threaded

combined reflector and brake stay

combined reflector and brake stay

Bottom bracket / Chain set :       Miche Primato BB / Miche Xpress  forged alloy 170mm – 48x18T

The “X-press” chainset looks more traditional than the trendy “Advanced” model, as well as being significantly cheaper.  The resulting chain line worked out nicely though I had to use spacers to match the hub to the dropouts.

trad. chainset

trad. chainset

Pedals : Genetic gold alloy track with Wellgo clips and Urbanvelo brown leather straps

Seat post :   similar to original plain steel 25,8mm – ( up for revision later on ).

Saddle  :     Brooks B17N brown

Wheels :  Recycled – 36H Alesa 700c alloy rims, Hi-flange front steel hub, Falcon coaster rear.    My first recycled wheel rebuild ! Not perfectly true, but pretty close.

Stem :   Nitto Dynamic 10 cm quill

Bars  :  Inverted alloy ‘tourist” style with cardiff cork grips shellacked

inverted tourist generic bars

with inverted “tourist” bars

Front Brake  :  Dia comp DC750 long reach centre pull calliper, recycled Polygon alloy lever. The long reach calliper is for the change from 27″ (630mm) to 700c (622mm) wheels.

dc-750 calliper

useful dc-750 calliper

Tyres : Schwalbe Delta Cruiser 700x35c

Hub-shiners  :  made from a worn out leather belt ! I’m rather pleased with these.

the little bolt weighs it down on the hub

the little bolt weighs it down on the hub

and the rear with schwinn dome nuts

and the rear with schwinn domed wheel nuts

more fun to come !

more fun to come !

See Ya !

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the heavenly bath-chair

the heavenly bath-chair

Road bikes are great when you’re in a hurry, but you can’t beat the experience of taking your time – when you have that time. Time that passes more slowly, and speed that seems much lower because your head is higher above the ground, looking about and taking in all the sights.

takin' it slow - i was walking it here

takin’ it slow – i was walking it here

On a road bike you are focussed on yourself a great deal more – your pace, your control, hazards coming up fast. I would  recommend all road bike riders to have a second “slow bike” to appreciate the inner-self via the outer world, as much as by physical exertion.

I feel that the bicycle market here is similar to the motorcycle market, in that the mainstream is either fast-looking racing style bikes or grippy dirt bikes (if you go to most mainstream motorbike shops). My take on this is to ask myself why we should all be like each other in our riding needs ?

Who says I have to have one or the other – I mean road bike or MTB ? Find your own niche I say …  be it new, or second hand classic, and do your own thing …

to salts bay

to salts bay

Today I rode the Gazelle for the first time in a while, and feel the better for it. No stress on the upper body and I saw all the sights !


I became a little blase the other morning on my early commute – having pre-checked my headlight to see the green “charged” light on. Didn’t worry about my spare battery …



About twenty minutes in the indicator suddenly went mostly red on a totally lightless track…

Thankfully, it took about half an hour for the battery to fully die, at which time it was getting faintly light…

hurry up, day !

hurry up, day !

some street lights

some street lights

I was given a valuable lesson – take that spare ( and consider a dynamo set ) !

dumaresq st

dumaresq st  

follow that bike !

follow that bike !

nearly there...

nearly there…

Lucky I wasn’t going home from an afternoon shift, it would have been a long one .

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honest, i slowed down to take a photo ...

honest, i slowed down to take a photo …

You know how it is – you’ve been riding reasonably regularly for a few years and have achieved some modest personal level of cycling fitness. Then while pootling along and enjoying the scenery, suddenly and without warning you are buzzed by a possibly-fully-sponsored  person on a bulgy-framed Carboniferous looking 2 x 11-speed thingy. You’ve probably all had this happen at some stage – even if you ride a similar 22-speed thingy yourself !

hmm, this one could be a sleeper

hmm, this one could be a sleeper …

Well, that sort of startle calls for some strategy, I mean, firstly, are they really the next Vincenzo Nibali  merely cruising along ? Or are they more your level and busting a gut trying to dust you off for an ego trip ? Obviously if they are the former, then if at age 55 like me, and feeling slightly less than superhuman, you are going to be cutting off your proverbial nose to attempt keeping up with them on your recycled 1990s 14-speed “Man of Steel” cro-moly framed bike … phew !

or a sleeper

or this one

Often though, I find the latter cyclists are only about as fit as you are, and for them it’s easy to pass someone else if they are in a sporty mood themselves and have the advantage of surprise. Sort of like doing a little sprint in the middle of a long distance event, or similar to the car drivers that have to tail-gate and pass at all costs – albeit with zero physical effort – and then hold you up, or turn off in front of you.

 you have to weigh things up

you have to weigh these things up

I sometimes ignore it, or I sometimes go through the process of catching up for a distance, if I can, to weigh up their cycling style.

One can pick up a bit from body and bike language, I mean things like – How strong do their legs look ?- Are they swaying from side to side up hills  ? Do they seem to be using the right gear ratios or not ? Is their bike making squeaky noises (teehee).

Or, are they vanishing into the distance in spite of your best efforts ?

Sometimes I even feel like saying something know-it-all, like ” Hey, your seat’s a bit too low, you know ! ” or some such, but then that might be giving away too much of your advantage, hey ?

These are some of the subtle clues as to whether you are able to keep up longer-term. I’m stressing here that this isn’t a race, but merely a dispassionate little head-game, i.e. that you are able to keep up with – and who knows – even have the potential to pass them ?

I mean it’s only a race if they know it is too !

getting away - for now

getting away – for now

It’s more a friendly test of your ability to go the distance, and to me it doesn’t matter if I actually pass them or not ( and if they are not holding me up, I normally don’t try ). It’s simply nice to know you can sometimes still be there after several kilometres of busy riding. That’s my story, anyhow … not cold revenge (lol).

watch out, the old guy is gaining

watch out, the old guy is gaining on you

There are a couple of simple strategies I use to compensate for any lack of physical ability I may have, and by this I mean thinking smarter, not working harder !

Obviously, all this goes out the window if there are pedestrians around – i mean there are enough people criticising irresponsible cyclists already, aren’t there ?

By pacing myself with my breathing going uphill, keeping in a straight line (!), being careful with the right gearing and cadence, staying aerodynamic – especially down long hills, coasting down (while often the other person is pedalling ) to save energy.

Of course, drafting a stranger is bad form and dangerous, unless you consider a couple of bike lengths behind as drafting ! And keeping the bike in good adjustment and lubed – as a good recyclist should – is definitely worth potential Brownie points in the chase.

If you really want to psych someone out you might want to casually ring your bell behind them to alert those pedestrians way up ahead, and nonchalantly say “hi” when you reach them – just to be courteous, of course …

Don’t take all this stuff too seriously folks, as even if I did have a racer’s physical ability, I certainly don’t have the killer instinct – I mean ( in another life ) in the Tour I’m sure I would be promptly hoovered up by the “sag wagon” after stopping to take lots of photos of the glorious scenery (and smelling the alpine flowers) !  I just think it’s fun to test yourself sometimes …  and if you mostly ride on your own like me it’s a great way of improving fitness, if you aren’t into time trialling by yourself.

i kid you not

but could a cat’s eye lie ?

I’m not having myself on here, but after today’s ride, I checked my cycle computer – which I really mostly use for its clock – and it says I maxxed speed at 87.2 km/hr on the Fernleigh Track.

Hmm, I don’t think so ?! ?

the "select" colour looks like "honey" now

the pale “select” colour looks like new “honey” now…

Anyhow, regardless of the outcome of all this, you know you’ve been working hard when the rivets look like new copper, and the leather sweats … Thanks, Mr Brooks.

Happy Cycling !

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28 inch speedwell popular

28 inch speedwell popular

What size wheel does a 28 inch tyre fit ? Well, it seems that all depends, as the old “inch” designations roughly referred to the overall tyre diameter and are not particularly accurate because of variations in tyre widths. Not only that, there is more than one wheel size referred to as “28 inch”.

The best way to avoid confusing tyre sizes is via the ETRTO numbering system – especially the 3 digit (second) number on the tyre sidewall that actually refers to the diameter of the tyre bead seat on the wheel (B.S.D.) , roughly the the inside diameter of the tyre. This is e.g. 622mm for the common 700c wheel size.

It makes sense that this is the most important dimension to determine whether a particular tyre will fit a certain wheel as any tyre needs to be a snug fit on the rim. The other important number is the (first) 2 digit one that refers to the tyre width. From a safety point of view you can’t always match every available width of the correct diameter tyre to a particular rim width, e.g. a wide 29er MTB tyre will not be very safe on a narrow road 700c rim even though they are both 622mm bead seat diameter.


what i call 28 ...

what i call 28 inch … speedwell popular

The 28 inch tyre that I know from my youth was pretty standard on all full size Aussie bikes up to around the 1960’s. Doing some research on the Sheldon Brown site I see that it’s referred to as 700A, an obsolete French size. Strange that this is in a country with a  British colonial history.

37-642 mm, to be precise

700A or 37-642 mm, to be precise

The B.S.D. size is 642mm and they are referred to as 1 & 3/8 inch width The ones on my blue Speedwell don’t have an ETRTO number printed on them but 37-642 sounds right. They are still available, but in only very limited square pattern tread by Vee-Rubber in Thailand, or at least that’s all I can find locally.

Interestingly, my Gazelle is fitted with 28x 1 & 1/2 tyres made by Vredestein. This size is referred to as 700B and was used worldwide by many rod braked roadsters. As you can see its ETRTO size is 40-635 mm so it’s 7mm too small to fit my Speedwell. These 28″ tyres are uncommon in Australia.

40-635 mm

40-635 mm

Now I find there is another size called “28 inch” –  and I really  think that this is cheating, as they are 700x35c – i.e. ETRTO 35-622 mm, a full 20mm less wheel diameter than my Speedwell, and even 8mm less than a 27″ wheel ( excluding the tyre ). These ones are Schwalbe Delta Cruisers and also described as 28 x 1.4″  on the sidewall. Nice tyre but a poor relation in name. These are destined for “Project Road Chief”

the upstart

the upstart … 37-622

As far as I know though, all 27 inch wheels are 630mm B.S.D. – but there are a few variants in width above and below the standard 1 & 1/4″ wide. ( 32-630 mm )

To get a little off track, here are a couple of colourful cycles I spotted at Long  Jetty acting as shop adverts. I always feel a little sad for these non-working bikes — that’s the recyclist’s curse I guess, even though I know some really may not be worth restoring.

macrame mtb

tangled web mtb

doily seat cover ...

with doily seat cover …

hmmm ..

hmmm ..

See Ya !




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