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Archive for the ‘bike accesssories’ Category

 

This is my ‘go-to’ bike, for when I am in a hurry to get somewhere, and it’s also one of the bikes I actually paid good money for ( ! ), due to it having an ideal personal frame size, the paintwork’s excellent condition for age, and its curious mix of components.

a previous incarnation

a very slightly previous incarnation

After spending some time on a bike, I like to think of ways to improve and / or personalise it, and so it was with this one, as follows :

600ex arabesque

600ex arabesque chainset & fd

I swapped the crank set from the lone Shimano 105 Golden Arrow 52/42 ‘Bio-pace to Shimano 600EX ‘Arabesque’ ( early 80s ). This required a change of bottom bracket from 119mm to 116mm for chain line, and so I fitted a new Shimano cartridge BB.

The Golden Arrow and Arabesque designs are two wonderfully decorative Shimano series. The Arabesque chain wheel retains it’s original “W-cut” 52T big ring but I had to replace the worn inner with a T.A. 39T.
I retained the Arabesque front derailleur and also the RX100 rear derailleur. I thought of fitting an Arabesque rear derailleur as well, but so far have retained the RX100 7-spd., and even though it isn’t as good a visual match, it works effectively. RX100 sat between the 500 Exage and 105 series from the late 1980s – for those who care about such things !

rx100rd

rx100rd

The down-tube shifters were changed to Dura-Ace 9 speed as I don’t have any indexed 7-speed ones. This may be temporary as the indexing is not correct in the larger cogs, though I can use them as friction shifters, if necessary, for hills.

is red faster ?

is red faster ?

I’ve tried a couple of sets of wheels as the original Mavic MA40s seemed a bit heavy so I tried Ambrosio Extra 19 Elites ( which were definitely lighter ), then finally ( ? ) the pair of greenish bronze 32H Arayas from the Shogun. The front is re-laced to a new Shimano 105 – 5700 hub while the rear is a Shimano RX100 – because it is the correct width ( 126mm ) and takes a 7-speed cassette which is the theoretical max. for 126mm dropouts. I fitted a 12-28T cassette to replace the 13-23T on the old 6-speed threaded hub. I prefer the look of silvery rims to the black/grey Mavics on this bike too.

The single pivot 1990s Campagnolo Veloce brakes were swapped with the RX100 dual pivots from the Shogun, and there’s no comparison – the RX100s are great stoppers with better modulation.

The older EX Arabesque levers with round drillings also feel better in the hand than the original ‘newer’ 600 slotted models, and are more reasonably comfortable without their gel hoods. This bike is easy for me to ride and brake in the ‘drops’.

swoopy b15

swoopy b15

The saddle is a beautiful Brooks B15 Swallow ‘select’ which is the ‘sportiest’ and least restrictive Brooks, yet it still has a decent amount of ‘give’ in the leather.

brooks & cinelli

brooks & cinelli

I replaced the Cinelli XA 80mm stem and ‘Criterium’ bars with the more comfortable ‘Giro d’Italia” bars and a Nitto 100mm stem for a better personal fit. The new red Jagwire cables are a spot on colour match ( i.m.h.o. ! ).

giro d' etc..

giro d’ etc..

The bar tape is thicker Cinelli Gel Cork in Natural finish – it’s easier on both the eye and on the wrists than the previous white tape.

moon comet rear

moon comet rear

With the little Brooks saddle bag fitted, I had trouble finding somewhere to fit the rear light so I went for a Moon ‘Comet” rear light that comes with a saddle rail bracket. It’s very discreet when off and very bright when on, and it has a nice permanently integrated appearance on this bike, albeit being a bit difficult to access.

I also had a brainwave to use the Soma bar end flashers for an extra bit of bling-y-ness ( pretend read : safety ! ).

Tufo ‘tubular clincher” tyres complete the build, and if you haven’t heard of these, they are a tubular style integrated tube / tyre that fit a normal clincher rim and therefore don’t require tub tape, or glue, or even rim tape !

c-hi tubular clincher

c-hi tubular clincher

when is a tub not a tub ?

when is a tub not a tub ?

I decided to try these because I was so impressed with the S33 24mm tubulars on my Shogun. Though maybe not quite as ‘floaty’ as the pure tubulars they are very supple for a 23mm tyre and, in common with other Tufos I have now tried, they change direction effortlessly and quickly, and are very fast rolling and confidence inspiring tyres. The ‘C Hi-Composite’ version has a higher casing thread count than the S33 which means it should be relatively more supple.

underneath

underneath

The restrictions being the recommended rim sizes ( these ‘C-Hi’ also come in 26mm for wider rims too ) and that you need ‘thumbs of steel’ to initially fit them. The only way to repair a puncture is with sealant so they may not be for everyone but I do recommend trying them. I’m running these at 90 psi rather than the recommended 115+ and they seem fine at this pressure…

Also with these tyres there is a rubber lip that sits atop the rim walls and this needs to be kept clear of brake pads.

As it stands now, the Vectre is my best ‘long distance’ steel road bike, along with the smaller, slightly lighter Shogun Samurai and it’s quicker than my larger and heavier ( but comfortable ) ProTour. I just wish I knew more of its previous history…

See Ya !

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the 'black and white TV' of  cycle computers ?

not exactly an ‘SRM’ — more the ‘black and white TV’ of cycle computers..

Heavy, bulky, and not very accurate were my first impressions from this recent find, but perhaps in the 1980s it was state of the art ? The device runs on 2 x AA batteries ( which were thankfully not too corrosive to have destroyed it – despite it having being unused for over 10 years ).

cateye velo & road king ( new version ! )

cateye velo & road king ( preview of new version ! )

The CC-1000 lacks a clock display, though it does have a stopwatch function. There is an SCN setting that cycles through all the displays – far too quickly for me – plus ODO, DST, SPD, Time, AVS & MXS readings. Speed is indicated by an LCD bar graph at the top of the display just below the coloured speed line, as well as numerically when set on the ‘SPD’ setting. LCD icons appear above each function’s abbreviation to indicate which display is operating.

rear of unit

rear of unit

In use, the speedo’s response is very slow, and somewhat pessimistic on speed and distance – compared with my modern computers. The sender is a ring attached at 3 points to the front wheel spokes, with different screw holes supplied for 36 spoke and 28 spoke wheels.

computer ring and sensor

computer ring and sensor

The 3 buttons are ‘MODE’ “RESET” and “START/STOP”. An adjuster on the back has presets for 20, 22, 24, 26, 27 and 28 inch wheels ( no 700c ! ). According to Velobase it came with an adjusting tool for the wheel size presets, and a carry pouch !

the wheel size adjuster

the wheel size adjuster

I find the stopwatch function useful for trip times, but really, the best use of this classic computer is to make an 80s rebuild like my 59cm Road King look and feel a little more period authentic ! More about this bike later ..

road king 'semi-tourist'

road king ‘semi-tourist’

Happy Re-cycling !

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Nah, that’s too much of a mouthful for me, thanks…and there’s others doing politics better than I could anyway. How about :

nikon j1 shot

nikon j1 shot

Pink Mixte Revisited :

It’s been a while, so what do I like about this refurbished and modified ex-ten-speed mixte ?

i use the small ring with derailleur remowed

i use the small ring with derailleur removed

165mm cranks : These originals are rather good for basic swaged alloy cranks plus steel chain rings, and I was reading a while ago how shorter cranks can be more comfortable on a road bike ( i.e. leaning forward ) as your legs are not pushing on your chest  ( or chin ! ) at the top of the stroke.

I think it’s true – motorcycle and car engines designed to rev freely tend to have a shorter stroke too. Any loss of leverage from the shorter crank can be offset with lower gearing. While this isn’t a fast bike it has made me think about using shorter cranks more often.

3s

3s

Hub Gears : The old Shimano “3s” is a good hub in my opinion. Note – this is not quite the same hub as the old “333” model. The Shimano freewheel click doesn’t sound as nice as the Sturmey Archer AW, but it is a lot less clunky in operation and is easier to change gears without back pedalling. My tip for 3-speed gearing is to use an approximately 2:1 drive ratio, e.g. – 40T or 42T x 20T, as this gives a decent low gear while top is still high enough for this cruisey style of bike. Second is on the low side of neutral and handy for small inclines and headwinds. Some might prefer the original derailleurs, but the internal gears make for a more relaxed ride.

union bottle

union bottle

& bright

& bright

Dynamo Lighting : The Union bottle set works well, except that the low position of the headlight above the guard means that the beam is angled too high to be really useful. I prefer a dynohub, but these work fine, if a little noisier.

curvy mo'

curvy mo’

Moustache Bars : These are great, particularly with the reverse levers. You can sit up with your hands right back on the bars for cruising, or lean further forward and still reach the brakes  with your little fingers. You can use the “hooks” for a further lean forward and slide hands back to brake. Very comfortable ! The originals were narrow steel randonneur style bars.

b17 flyer & alloy post

b17 flyer & alloy post

Micro-adjust alloy seat post :  I much prefer these to the seat pin and clip style, but the range of diameters on old bikes is enormous, from 25.4 to 27.2 and beyond with 0.2mm steps, so the one you want is not always readily available. This one is 25.8, and 25.6 is common also. You need the exact diameter for these ( unless you want to try a frustrating shimming exercise – highly-not-recommended ! )

Sprung Saddle : Hi-tensile ( 1020 & 1021 ) steel frames like this one have a reputation for harshness in the ride. Better quality steels like Reynolds, Columbus, Tange etc. tend to have a “springiness” that gives a lively yet comfortable ride.  A sprung saddle is a good antidote for hi-tensile, and the Brooks Flyer on this bike is a good match for the range of “moderate” ride position here –  i.e. not too upright and not too much forward lean either.

The bike has a shortish wheelbase and turns well, but there is toe overlap on the V.O. guards, partly due to the extended stay bolt right where the toe crosses the guard on slow turns – ah, well. The Velo Orange hammered alloy guards are light and look great, but will damage fairly easily if the bike is knocked over. It’s not the lightest bike around either – it has steel rims and stem – but is still only moderately heavy.

The original pink paint is thankfully kind of tatty and slightly dull – and so far I haven’t copped any flack for riding a pink bike – maybe it’s the night riding…

belmont by night

belmont by night

Happy Person-who-rides-a-bikeling !

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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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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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The darker the shadow …

….  or so goes the melancholy song sung by the Australian singer Stephen Cummings.

city street

 

When one lives in a mostly hot place, as I do in summer, sometimes the only time to have a pleasant long ride is at night.

I use both dynamo and battery lights and mostly ride in suburban back streets with patchy lighting, in well lit city streets for short distances and for long distances on unlit bush cycle paths. One would think that the unlit areas need the brightest lighting, but in reality I find that less light is needed, for example, on the very dark Fernleigh Track than for areas with patchy street lighting or city streets with car traffic.

 

swansea rsl

swansea rsl from the bridge

The reason why appears to be that the eyes become adjusted to the relative darkness and can perceive the headlight’s beam faintly enough to see at a further distance than when it is washed out by patchy light/dark ambient lighting in the suburbs or by dazzling distractions in the city. Rabbits, small tree branches, the occasional dangling spider web and light-less walkers (rare) are the only likely dark obstacles to passage on the track at night, and there aren’t many sharp corners either.

 

two horizons, swansea

two horizons, swansea channel

I recently tried an experiment with a helmet mounted headlight to see if that would improve my city and suburban riding ease, and it did work well there, however in uniformly dark areas like the Fernleigh Track, I found myself wanting to turn it off. Why ?

 

dark maybe, but not as dark as it looks !

fernleigh – dark maybe, but not as dark as it looks !

The beauty of riding the Fernleigh Track at night is the sense of peace, quietness and alone-ness, with just  an adequate envelope of light around yourself and the bike, in my case adjusted for speed variation via the 3 brightness levels on the Cygolite 170 lumen that I use on my Road King bike for night commuting ). Oncoming riders with super bright LEDs in your face can be extremely disorienting and I don’t want to be another of those. For the same reason I don’t ever use the “epileptic” fast flicker modes (if I may be so unkind), as they are that annoying to me it’s like asking to be run over ( lol ).

 

with bar clamp on the cecil walker

the lezyne with bar clamp on the cecil walker

Listening to frogs and crickets  in the dark while the wind rustles by is one of the joys of this ride that can be spoiled by visual overload. With the helmet mounted Lezyne Power Drive (400 lumen – usb) light running as well, I felt as though I was ‘roo spotting or something !  Also, the particles of moisture in the air were lighting up in the beam causing an obscuring and unpleasant bright fog in front …. sigh.

 

stockton shared path - a beautiful ride, but tricky at night

stockton shared path – a beautiful ride, but tricky at night

Where the helmet mount does excel though, is on winding paths like the Stockton Hunter River side where one can then see around dark corners before taking them, avoiding the need to quickly wriggle the bars to get a peek around, as well as for pot-hole spotting on suburban streets in the darkness between street lights.

 

lezyne helmet mount with velcro strap

lezyne helmet mount with velcro strap is in the “loaded” kit

As an aside, there is a certain poetry in the dynamo lighting systems that automatically brighten up as one travels faster, and modern dynamo hubs like the one on my Gazelle have very little pedalling resistance compared with my 1950’s Millers for example. And, of course, they are virtually maintenance free. I merely take a good head torch on long dark rides on this bike in case e.g. puncture repairs are needed.

 

dyno-power!

dyno-power!

Also, while the modern single LEDs are very bright they often seem to concentrate in a narrow beam, perhaps by design and perhaps because of the tiny reflector area and the pinpoint LED source. My halogen B&M Lumotec gives much more light spread to the sides. Sadly you can’t easily swap bikes with these, but if you have only one “night bike”, it may be the way to go.

Incidentally, the main reason that I bought the Lezyne was because the retro Soma “Torpedo” that I fitted is not sufficiently bright for a potentially faster bike like my Cecil Walker, although it does look beautiful. It’s more suited to lower speeds, as one might have guessed !

 

the soma torpedo is beautiful and clever - but not at speed

the soma torpedo AA headlamp is beautiful and clever – but not at speed – the lezyne micro drive usb rear is on the seat post

 

If you buy one of the Lezyne lights, try and get it with the “loaded” kit that comes in a padded hard case with the light, q.r. bar mount, helmet mount, usb cable and an extra battery – and also lash out on a couple of extra quick release bar mounts for your other bikes. Almost essential, if you have several bikes as I do. The bar clamp allows a small amount of side to side “parallax” type adjustment that is very handy too.  This should be the last light that I buy for a long time.

 

the excellent "loaded" kit, with spare battery and protective cylinder

the excellent “loaded” kit, with the spare battery and its protective cylinder

I also have the Lezyne “micro drive” USB rechargeable tail lamp, its brightness is excellent, and I really like the slow pulsing mode that has no flicker. The mount is a simple silicone strap that so far has caused no problems, but it would be worthwhile getting spares of these too, methinks !

 

There are plenty of customer reviews for the Lezyne on the Wiggle UK site.

 

bench seat, swansea channel

bench seat, swansea channel

Happy Riding !

 

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it's built for comfort

it’s built for comfort

The review I wrote on this bike a while back has been one of my most viewed blog posts and continues to be read almost daily. I am pleased that it has been helpful to some, as I more or less bought the bike off the catalogue without much independent advice.

While there’s really not much that needs adding to this bike ( as it’s quite comprehensively fitted out as standard ) here’s a few suggested additions and improvements I have made or considered over the last two years :

Brooks Leather Washer Grips :

the short side

the short side

This was the first alteration and has been mentioned in the original review. The grips are great, though you will need gloves in cold weather due to the metal end caps conducting heat away. After a while the leather washers shrink a little and the grips need re-tightening, an easy job ! The padded leather originals were my least liked aspect of this bike.

MKS3000R Platform Pedals:

oops - wide angle distortion

oops – wide angle distortion

The original Union pedals were starting to get some play in the bearings and they are not adjustable – while they were still quite useable, these serviceable MKS pedals are a definite improvement.

Basil Catania Collapsable Mesh Basket:

that bottom piece holds it all together

that bottom piece holds it all together

I like the look and foldaway feature of this basket. Has a tendency to slight surface rust, which is easily cured with rust converter or fish-oil sparingly dabbed on the spots with a paint brush. When lightly loaded this basket on only one occasion dis-assembled itself, losing the contents on the road after I hit a large bump. The basket is attached with zip ties and adhesive foam rubber to protect the frame paint. I use this basket almost every ride.

Brooks B66 Black Saddle and Millbrook Saddle Bag:

me likee

me likee

I think that the black B66 looks much better on this bike than the aged brown B67 original, though they are almost the same saddle in riding terms. If you have another bike that needs a Brooks ( and who doesn’t  ? ) It’s a great excuse to do a swap. Of course the other advantage is that the black B66 perfectly matches the Millbrook saddle bag.

The Milbrook is a vinyl bag with leather trim and is a very useful size for small items, valuables and tools. The bag rests on the Gazelle’s rack, and as I rarely use this rack I don’t miss the lost space. It’s well made too, and nicely padded inside. There’s a larger “Glenbrook” bag, also modelled on a traditional brooks bag that is a little wider. I believe that “all leather” versions of these bags were – or are – available in limited edition, but the price is very high. I love this bag and it’s reasonably priced for a Brooks.

A word of caution with the original “aged” saddle – use any leather dressing very, very sparingly, as the aged saddles will sag quite easily if it’s overdone.

carry combo

the original, for comparison

the original, for comparison

Zefal Spy Mirror:

at least partially useful

at least partially useful

I like this little mirror because it visually balances the large bell when mounted on the right side, however to get a good view requires taking the right hand off the bars. Not exactly a safety feature !

Nevertheless the idea of a motorbike style stalk mounted mirror doesn’t appeal to me either…

Wireless Cycle Computer:

0-15 km/h ?- not sure what's going on here ..

0-15 km/h ?- not sure what’s going on here ..

This computer’s speedo/odo doesn’t work under 15km/h … go figure ! The most expensive bike clock I have purchased to date – but it does have a nice look about it. I would buy a wired one next time !

Lastly, if you do a lot of night riding in unlit areas, an additional battery light could be a worthwhile thing – or at least a torch for use when you are stopped. Otherwise the standard lights are fine.

Happy Cycling !

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