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Archive for the ‘About me’ Category

Sorry, it’s been a while – and it’s been a while too since I’ve ridden the Shogun Samurai. The discipline of recycling gives me more and more ideas as I go along, and I’m always striving to make a bike fit some niche that none of my others quite will.

re-worked ..

re-worked ..

The thought behind this one is for a bike that helps me out on the Fernleigh Track, i.e. that is fairly small, light and moderately low geared for the mix of steady uphills and mild downhills. Of course it’s only a game for me really, as a steel framed bike is never going to be as light as a modern carbon wonder, but you already know that I don’t want to go there.

been lyin' around a while

been lyin’ around a while

The inspiration to re-do this bike came from two sets of wheels that I acquired a while back, consisting of four alloy tubular rims and including a pair of Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs. These hubs are not considered as desirable as the Record models – but who cares ? They are a very well made hub and the internals proved to have been in good shape despite being unused for many years. The hubs were dated as being made in 1980, from the tiny ’80’ stamped into the locknuts.

english threads - yay

english threads – yay

well made hubs ..

they are well made hubs ..

one of the old tubs with dried glue ..

one of the old tubs with dried glue ..

As you can see, a bit of work was needed to get them looking good, but I think it was worth It. Unfortunately while there were four rims only two of them were good enough to use – a Mavic Monthelerey Route and a Fiamme red label… they all had dried red tub glue that took a long time to carefully scrape off with an old table knife. The wheels were de-spoked, cleaned and re-built in my spare moments.

the rear mavic

the rear mavic

This is my first try with tubulars – those tyres where the tube is factory sewn inside the tyre and then the whole thing is glued to the rim by the user. I bought a pair of Schwalbe 28mm and a pair of Tufo 24mm. Sadly this project did not have the clearance for the 28mm ! The Tufos are designed to be used with their proprietary gluing tape rather than actual glue. This taping system has some critics but with my age and riding style I don’t think I’m going to stress the tyres enough to roll them off the rim !

tufo s33 tub

tufo s33 tub

The plus side is that they were very easy to fit – once the tyres had been pre-stretched by fitting them over the two rims i had spare and keeping them inflated a few months while I worked out how and where to use them. The tyres can be aligned on the rim before removing the protective strip between the sticky rim tape and the tyre’s base tape — bingo !

A five minute gentle ride and they’re ready to go.

mixed colour chain rings !

50/38T – and mixed colour chain rings !

The early 90s Shogun now has a lot of retro 1980s gear on it, including 600 Arabesque front and rear mechs. A new headset was needed and the Sakae SX chainset from the discarded Pace was fitted with T.A. 50/38T rings.

The Sakae cranks have a 110mm pcd for compact rings, but with limited small cogs on the rear I can’t go too tiny. A 34 or 36 ring would have been too small here and the Fernleigh Track doesn’t need super low gears anyway, as it was a railway line once.

The freewheel is a Suntour ‘Perfect’ 14-28T. Under the circumstances, I thought it might be more appropriate than the 13-18T and 13-17T racing blocks that came with the wheels !!

shimano 600 arabesque r.d.

shimano 600 arabesque r.d.

campag nuovo tipo hubs

campag nuovo tipo hubs

The Samurai is now my lightest working bike, especially because of the light wheels, which let it pick up step in a lively fashion, and while it would be even lighter with a plastic saddle, I’m prepared to make that sacrifice for comfort’s sake…

b17n - imperial

b17n – imperial

The Tange Infinity frame is of fairly steep ‘modern’ geometry and thus a quick steerer. The Shogun was a hard rubbish find that would have originally come with a full RX100 group set, except that the brake levers had been replaced to accommodate a flat bar ( horrors ! ), the gear levers were missing, and i couldn’t properly salvage the crank set either.

veloce is entry level campagnolo

veloce is entry level campagnolo

The bars and brake levers are borrowed from another bike, as I needed levers with quick releases for the Campag. brakes. The down tube levers are Dia-Compe friction shifters and have a smooth ratchet mechanism inside that gives them a lovely feel in use.

dia compe shifters

classy dia compe shifters

The 3T ‘Competizione’ bars aren’t my favourite shape – they are like the Cinelli Criterium 65s in that they have forward curving outer tops ( = room for sprinting on the drops ) and not much hand room there – ah well, we make do.

The Tufo tyres’ file tread rolls well, with a pleasant hum on smooth asphalt and they give a pretty decent ride for a nominally 24mm tyre as well as good grip, though I bet the Schwalbes would have ridden more comfortably, had they fitted. I also purchased some of Tufo’s sealant, as tubs are unable to be patched on the road. Hopefully I won’t need it ! There’s not much rim-room there for brake pads and the braking surface is slightly curved, so stopping is a bit ordinary. Hopefully the pads will bed in over time.

lovely curved q.r. levers

the lovely curved q.r. levers

cinelli clips and straps

cinelli clips and straps, mks sylvan quill pedals

Fernleigh Track, here I come again …

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love this bike ...

love this bike …

Ahhh, late autumn and a young person’s fancy turns to tweed …

So it’s time to dust off the old bike and make ready for the annual Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride on this Sunday 7th June ( the 3rd time, I think ). Which got me thinking about my 1956 Speedwell Popular, I mean what would it ride like with a more modern pair of wheels ?

I have temporarily fitted some 700C wheels with a Falcon coaster brake rear – not quite as classy as the BSA New Eadie original, but it definitely works better. The rims are Alesa alloys from Belgium, salvaged from an old Apollo hybrid, being about the most classic looking 700C alloy rims I have.

The front is radially spoked, which looks trendy but doesn’t have much vertical ‘give’ unfortunately ( short, stiff spokes ), a decision I made a while back for a different bike.

Fear not, classic bike purists, this is easily reversible back to the originals, unlike, for example, a respray of the frame ( no way ! ).

Anyway, what happens when you go from 700A – 28″ ( 37-642 tyres ) to 700C ?

Well, the bike sits lower, is much lighter, turns more quickly, and gives a rougher ride. Pros and Cons.

just the right amount of patina ?

just the right amount of patina ?

Although this change opens up a wider range of current tyres than the block patterned 28″ Vee Rubber oldies the problem is that most of them are too small. As the rims are now 20mm smaller diameter it helps to go for a bigger tyre, these being Continental SpeedRide 700 X 42C ( 42-622 ).

While there are still bigger gaps to your guards ( fenders ) than with 28″, these are larger than any commonly found 27″ wheel/tyre combo ( usually 32-630 ).

continental speedride

continental speedride

The Conti SpeedRide is very light and rolls well for a city tyre – it’s designed for hard surfaces mainly and the recommended pressure is up to 85psi, quite high for such a tyre.

Pretty impressive then … the bike still has stable geometry and is geared low – it’s probably best to keep it that way, with one rear coaster brake only I don’t want to be going too fast. You can tell this bike is a favourite as it sports my B17 special ‘titanium’ saddle …

It should be fun to play with for a while !

at swansea bridge

at swansea bridge

Will I take it to the tweed ride ? And what will you be riding, dear Newcastle reader ? Maybe it will make it into this blog …. 0900 hours, Islington Park , Sunday 7th June 2015.

See Ya there !

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Newcastle-Vintage-Tweed-Ride/648259718560810

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some great street art ...

some great street art …

This bike was briefly featured in my recent ‘chuck-out-a-thon’ post having been unceremoniously cast out minus the wheels, all oily-gritty and rusty.

protour crx100 62cm

protour crx100 62cm – as found

I was intrigued, as it has an “Australian Made Frame” decal on the seat stays. It is a large framed hybrid, ( 62cm seat tube C-C, 60cm top tube C-C ), and I haven’t found much on the web about ProTour except that they seem to have been made late 80s to early 90s by Southcotts in Adelaide.

Protour is one of those names that turn up a lot of unrelated rubbish when googled, as you can imagine ! Most of the information came from the cycling forums, with someone suggesting there was a tie in with Ricardo somewhere. South Australia seems to have had a lot of bicycle history happening in the 80s and 90s !

Being a hybrid it had flat bars, a riser stem, and I would assume once wore 27″ wheels, from the brake pad locations. The Suntour Accushift 6sp. thumb shifters are rather plasticky and won’t be re-used. Some band-on Suntour down tube shifters are shown below. Crankset was a fairly heavy steel ringed, alloy cranked ( and worn out ) Sugino “Proto” c.52/40T.

some of the yucky bits from the dismantle-a-thon

some of the yucky bits from the dismantle-a-thon ( and the ‘new’ shifters ).

Front Derailleur is a nondescript Suntour, the rear a medium / long cage Suntour XCM ( MTB ). Brake callipers are recessed ProStars in black. Seat pin is 26.4mm dia. and an italian Vetta saddle was fitted. None of this is of much consequence, as it’s the frame I’m most interested in, for it has the ‘feel’ of decent quality about it.

The tubing decal is missing from the seat tube, but I’m guessing from forum comments it may be Tange 5 plain gauge cr-mo or a higher grade Tange chromo steel. Some forums say Protour used Mangalloy steel, similar make-up to Reynolds 531, (?) I am only guessing here …

The frame would definitely benefit from better components. I see it as a comfortable longer distance ride, and will also set it up with some hill climbing ability in mind. The large frame on a bike like this means ( for me ) a comfortable riding position with higher bars due to a low relative saddle height. ‘Experts’ might tell me it’s too big, but from my experience with the refurbished Giant Boulder 550, I think it will be just fine even with the flat-footed stand-over residual height at zero.

Frame angles look on the steepish side so it should be responsive and yet it will have no toe overlap ( I checked ! ). Large frames like these don’t always make the most graceful looking bikes though.

ready and rolling !

ready and rolling !

Typically for a chuck-out it has 126mm rear dropouts (5/6/7 speed) and a 95mm front dropout width (damn that 5mm). At least they are forged/cast dropouts. The fork had the word ‘Falter’ stamped faintly on the stem. The serial number on the BB shell begins with ’90’ so I assume that’s its year of birth.

super vivid scene...

super vivid scene…

I fitted a new VP head set, re-tapped the BB threads and put in a Shimano UN-55 113mm cartridge BB. Cranks are now recycled Shimano – early105, ( FC-1050 ) 170mm. Chain rings are new, T.A. 49T + 38T, from Wiggle UK.

These are marked 9/10 speed and I wasn’t sure how they would go with a 7sp. Cluster and an 8sp. chain … luckily it’s friction shifting ! I had to fit thin spacers between the spider and the inner ring to stop the wider chain scraping on the outer ring. They now work well, but I won’t try this trick with index shifters !

34T on the back - that's mega alright !

34T on the back – that’s mega alright !

The freewheel cluster is a 14-34T Shimano 7sp. ‘Megarange’ but I can’t use the 14T at the moment, because it won’t let the chain clear the chainstay. To prevent this happening I adjusted the ‘H’ stop screw on the rear derailleur to end its travel at 16T, but this needs further investigation.

The 38T is about the smallest front ring that will fit a standard Shimano road 130mm BCD spider and combined with the 34T megarange rear gives a pretty low bottom gear ( at least for a double chain wheel ), albeit with the next lowest rear cog being 10T smaller at 24T. Shifters are Suntour band-on down tube, and sit on the little ‘heart’ where the cable stops once were.

49×16 is not a high top gear for a road bike, but they are 27″ wheels at least, so i’ll wait for a test ride to see whether it will spin out too easily down hills, etc.

I fitted some new Jagwire cables and borrowed the Genetic bar/stem from the Shogun Samurai with the Cane Creek levers – as that bike is due for a re-assessment. The two-tone paintwork had a lot of rust spots which I neutralised, and I did a bit of touch up spraying.

I confess, it’s a bit rough in places !

head tube & protour logo

head tube & protour logo

Instead of recycling and fitting the black Pro Star original callipers, I used some Tektro R539 dual pivot recessed that I happened to have – for a bit of shine ( and better stopping ). Wheels are the Araya 27″ anodised front one from the L.A. 84 and a Suzue sealed tech 126mm on the same type of Araya rim rear.

It’s getting harder to find decent 27″ tyres and at the moment these are reasonable Kendas, but I would prefer something like a 27″ Gatorskin pair ( I only have one of these right now ). If this bike goes really well then a lighter pair of wheels/tyres may be in order ! Lastly, I fitted some Metallic Blue fizik bar tape, before taking it for a spin …

yee-ha !

yee-ha !

I think it rides more smoothly than the Giant 550, and it’s very comfortable. Reckon I could ride this one all day with the B-17 under my bum !

Happy Retro Re-Cycling !

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the L.A. 84

the L.A. 84 originally

as converted - version 1

as partly converted – version 1 – three speed

You may remember a while back, dear reader, that I converted a Malvern Star L.A.84 into a three-speed. Well, there were a couple of issues that have caused me to re-think it.

the new version

the new version

Firstly I might say that the L.A.84 has a rather good frame in springy Chro-Moly steel that is a pleasure to use because of its reasonable lightness and good ride quality. It’s much better if one gets rid of the heavy Takagi crank-set ( see top pic. ) and replaces it with an all alloy model. The Dia Compe model 500 brakes are decent, as are the wheels with their Shimano hubs and anodised Araya rims.The original levers are only so-so, as were derailleurs.

a grey ghost

the grey ghost

What caused me to change it again was the Revo-shifter for the 3-speed Nexus, not because it didn’t work but that it restricted the type of handlebars I could use as it won’t go around bar bends and also reduces the right-hand-grip space which can be annoying over a long period. They really are designed for flat or ‘north-road’ style bars that sit high, and I lament the disappearance of the old trigger shifters. While the Revo-shifter worked with the Tange moustache bars i decided i wanted to refit drop bars again.

sturmey-archer single speed

sturmey-archer single speed

Plus, the coaster version of the Nexus was not ideal for a ‘sports bike’ being a bit hard to deal with in combination with a front hand brake. A non-coaster version would have been better for this bike and i could have done that, but instead of fitting a standard freewheeling 3-speed,  I decided to convert it to single speed using a Sturmey Archer flip-flop hub with only an 18T freewheel fitted. This hub was new and reasonably priced and I matched it up with a 95mm Normandy high flange front hub ( 1975 vintage ) salvaged from the Oxford in the previous post. i love the look of hi-flange hubs and like to combine old and new components too. This French made Normandy now has new cones and bearings and polished up well.

restored '75 normandy hi-flange

restored ’75 normandy hi-flange and classic 50s wing nuts

The rims I used were unloved orphans – the front is a Ukai and the rear an Araya, both 27″ alloy with very similar profiles. i can now keep the other wheels with their original rims for a different project. The new wheels are 3-cross with new 296mm spokes, good practice for my truing jig. The Bontrager Select K tyres were re-fitted. I am sorry I didn’t get more of these at the time as I can’t find any now, they are a nice light and fast rolling 27 x 1 & 1/4″. These rims are also both Schrader Valve holed so i re-fitted the Electra rocket ship valve caps. Ka-bling !

giro, fizik, SCR-5

giro, fizik, SCR-5

The brake levers are Cane Creek SCR-5, these are comfortable and have quick releases ( which the callipers do not ). I don’t mind that they are modern pre-brifter style as they work so well. Cables are Jagwire teflon coated and the bar tape is fizik super light in blue, as it was the best colour i could find to suit. Bars are Cinelli Giro d’Italia 42cm with blue Cinelli end caps. i lengthened the stem to 100mm by fitting a Genetic from my collection. Though this bike has a 59cm seat tube, the top tube is only 56cm, so 80mm was a little too short.

b-17 imperial narrow, SR laprade post

b-17 imperial narrow, SR laprade post

The rest of the bike remains as it was. Gearing is 48x18T which is higher than I would normally use but suits the relative lightness of the L.A.84. The gearing is good between about 20-35 km/h which is where I spend most of my time on the flat. Building up speed is gradual at first so as not to stress the knees, and then it comes into its own at sensible middle speeds. The frame probably wouldn’t suit serious fixed gear use because of the front facing pressed rear drop-outs.

luxury for your chain - a hot bath !

luxury for your chain – a hot bath !

The chain was shortened from the 3-speed version as it had a 22T rear cog, and I treated it in a hot bath of ‘Linklyfe’ after cleaning it. It is now thanking me as i ride ! I may change the pedals to classic cages with straps, but I do like the Speedplay Drilliums…

3/4 rear view

3/4 rear view

i am pleased with both the appearance and the ride, and when i think of some of those multi-coloured urban fixed gear conversions i feel that this is a better way to use an older classic frame without destroying all its history in the process.

noice...

noice…

Happy Re-cycling !

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