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Archive for the ‘newcastle cycling’ Category

It’s nearly time for the Tweed Ride, Novocastrians ! It’s on August 28 this year – refer to the Bicycles in Newcastle blog for details – and attend if you can – we should be grateful that there are people prepared to put in the effort to keep this great event going !
I do tend to get a bit reflective at Tweed Ride time, and sometimes think of such pressing things as “Which bike to ride ?” or “What clothes will I wear ?” and although my Gazelle is a perfect bike for this event I still like to use an old Aussie bike if I can, and I prefer to use a different machine each year, for variety.

bracing myself for things to come ..

bracing myself for things to come ..

The 2011 Toer Populair has been covered in detail in one of my earliest blog posts, and that post has the longest comment thread of any on this blog – which has probably also helped sell a few for Royal Dutch Gazelle !

Today I had the feeling to take it out for a gentle 20 odd km. spin, to clear the head a little.

This bike would have to be my favourite for seeking out photos when I’m out and about, because of the commanding views it encourages me to take in when I’m perched upright, high on its sprung B66 saddle.

I don’t use it all the time, but when I do it’s like a breath of fresh air. There are a few differences compared with riding a road bike of course, and these include the following —  My “Toerpopulati” !  :

toer pop art

toer pop art

1)   It’s best to spin, not mash, the pedals – this bike weighs about as much as two steel road bikes and accelerates accordingly ! To save the knees, I don’t usually go above 5th or 6th of the 8 gears on the flat, and I change down as soon as my cadence drops a bit in a headwind or up a rise.  I pretend I am driving a truck, and gear change accordingly !  Probably good advice for any geared bike, really..

Once up to speed it will glide along beautifully on the flat.

Unless one has iron quads and knees, 7th and 8th gears are for soft pedalling down hills. On the flat, wind resistance at speed will stop you from using these gears with a proper cadence unless you are in a paceline (lol).

2)   One can’t really stand up on the pedals – firstly, balance is compromised and second, it doesn’t look right ! One can, however, only if no-one is looking, lean forward and hold the bars near the stem for a slight aerodynamic advantage …

3)   When doing slow sharp turns one may need to shift the inside knee out under and beyond the inside bar grip when the inside pedal is down, and back again once the turn is completed – this is actually easier than it sounds !

4)   Due to the rack and basket, I often mount the bike by first starting to roll standing sidesaddle on the left pedal, then lifting my right foot over the top tube – easy if you have good bike balance.

( Taking care not to scratch the lovely paintwork of course ! )

5)    Much as with a tandem, it’s good form not to curse when climbing long hills … it will help to imagine the fun and speed you’ll have when the long descent finally arrives.

Spin the lowest gear you can cadence up on and if necessary be prepared to walk it – that gives your quads a little recovery time as well !

6)   The bike does beautiful long slow turns at moderate speeds and encourages one to lean in line with it – and that feels great.

7)    The Nexus 8 hub is pretty much faultless as long as one remembers to ease off the pedals when changing –  Sturmey Archer 3sp. users will understand what I mean here.

8)   Roller brakes are a very gentle way of stopping – think well ahead and you’ll be fine !

9)   You will look silly on a “ToerPop” wearing any kind of lycra – don’t even think about it !

10)    You will be dropped by any moderately fit person on a good road bike – but if you’re like me, you most probably won’t care.  Just keep going, and imagine the reverse if you two were to swap bikes.

******************************************

I’ve had very few dramas with this bike : some broken spokes, some surface rust on the head fittings and a dicky switch and blown halogen on the Lumotec head lamp. Broken spokes are usually due to uneven tension, so I recently checked the front ones with my Park Tool tension meter and evened them out while truing.

The front roller brake is fairly easy to remove for spoke replacement, although the back wheel could be time consuming because of the chain case and Nexus cassette joint. Minor adjustment of spokes could be accomplished with the rear wheel in the frame.

Happy Tweed ‘n’ Toer-ing !!

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commuting - newcastle street art

commuting – newcastle street art

This is my one and only ‘road MTB’, a 1990s Giant Boulder 550. I’ll be frank, I like it mostly because it has a classic horizontal top tube, a nice purple single-colour paint job ( even if a little worse for wear now ), and while being too big for me as a mountain bike it’s an ideal size for the road with a 60cm C-C seat tube and a 59cm top tube.

the non-drive side

the non-drive side

The actual seat tube is almost 63cm C-T which means that I can run the saddle and bar tops almost level with each other for comfort, and I have a good reach with just an 80mm stem. The lack of stand-over height doesn’t concern me here, I can touch the ground with one toe from the saddle and I tend to ride cautiously in stop/start environments anyway.

From the previous rebuild I have retained the Panaracer Ribmo 26 x 1.75 tyres and Tektro RL520 V-Brake drop bar levers. The RiBMo tyres are tough and fairly heavy, being peaked in the centre with a thick layer to help against punctures, and so they ride on a narrower footprint when vertical and a wider one when leaned over.

After some riding, I felt that my last build wasn’t quite right, and it has taken a little time and the right parts to figure out the improvements. It might be noted again that this frame was found as hard rubbish, with no wheels or seat post. The only original bits are the frame, the fork, and ( now no longer ) the rear Acera-x derailleur. The original cantilever brakes I had long since replaced with the more efficient V-brakes and the riser stem and flat bars disappeared with them.

This latest version’s adds are :

suzue promax 36h

suzue promax 36h

A new Suzue Promax 36H front track hub – it has very smooth bearings, solid high flanges, and is really good looking with its opaline decoration. Rear hub is a recycled Joytech – it’s one of their better ones for thread-on freewheels, but they have made some junk also … Rims are Sun MC18, also recycled, with 2mm plain spokes.

Recycled Winpista alloy bars 41cm c-c with black KT leather tape and SR 80mm stem. Wider bars wouldn’t really suit here as there is plenty of leverage with this frame geometry.

sakae custom 52/36

sakae custom 52/36 double

The major change though has been the chain set – the triple ring 48-38-28 has been replaced by a recycled Sakae (SR) Custom 52/36 compact chainset. Although it only has swaged on cranks and a non-replaceable ‘big ring’ this is a much simpler and lighter rig. The old 48T big ring was too low for the 6-speed (14-16-18 -20-24-28T) freewheel cluster, at least for the lower overall ‘geared’ 26″ wheels . 52T is much better on the flat or down hill with the 14,16 or 18 cogs. The 36T small ring is a bit low when the going is easy, but great on slight inclines or strong headwinds at 36 x 16T or lower. I would like a 13T small cog on this, perhaps as a 7-speed, as the 52 x 14 is only just high enough for downhills, but I don’t want to lose the 28T low gear. ( Note – I have since fitted a 7-speed cluster 13-28T and changed to friction shifters and that has improved things greatly when in the small ring ).

Compact chainsets seem to do better with a large range of rear cogs to avoid having two nearly completely different sets of ratios. This avoids excessive shifting between the front rings which was happening here while running as a 6-speed.

For a moderately fit person the 36 x 28T will climb up a decent hill without trouble, while eliminating some of the weight and complexity of the triple.
Bottom bracket is now a Gist 110mm sealed square taper to suit the new chain set.

This model MTB originally came with a micro-drive triple chainset ( 38-32-24 – tiny rings ) and an unusual front derailleur that was integrated with the BB and cable operated from above. It did take some fiddling to fit replacements as the original chain set was worn out. At least the seat tube wasn’t oversize for a standard band-on derailleur but the cable had to be run in an outer, which is cable tied on to the down tube. The 16 tooth up-change from the 36 to 52 rings took a degree of care and was a bit clunky compared with, say, a 42/52T – as one would expect.

I swapped a to a better ‘recycled’ Shimano front derailleur and fitted a new Tourney ( basic ) rear derailleur and some new Jagwire gear cables to try and improve the shift. Along with the smoother friction shifters this has been successful.

great levers

great levers

I have settled on stem shifters as I’m not fond of the original revo-shifters which don’t fit on drop bars anyway. Down tube shifters would be miles away on this frame, and there are no bosses either. Band on fittings would not even fit on the thick tapering down tube.

Only bar-end or stem shifters would work for me here so I have gone with the easy option – and I have plenty of salvaged friction stem shifters to choose from. I find the subtle fine tuning of friction shifters can be an enjoyable challenge, mostly !

The Tektro RL520 levers work really well and are very cosy in the hands. Saddle is a Brooks B17 special “copper” on a 25.8mm Kalloy post. If the bars were lower I would use a narrower model saddle as the B17 really is a touring saddle – naturally, it works fine here.

B17 special - 'copper'

B17 special –
‘copper’

The Brooks small ‘Isle of Wight’ saddle bag  ( above ) is quite discreet and well thought out. My only minor niggle is that it’s possible that the neat toe strap front fitting could scratch an alloy seat post.

The Giant’s small wheels give it a light and quick low speed steering, yet the laid back geometry and longish wheelbase mean that overall direction changes are fairly slow.

It’s arguably the most comfortable of all my bikes ( except the Gazelle Toer Populair ) and it is very versatile. The main frame is 4130 cro-mo but it is still pretty heavy, partly I guess because it’s such a large frame – along with the weight of the wide tyres etc. I notice the weight on hills and when accelerating out of corners, mostly. The small wheels allow a very gentle side to side rocking motion when pressing on ( compared to 700C ) but are quite stable at speed, and very much so through rough corners.

Also, for such a large frame it is very flex free at the front end compared with my road bikes, perhaps because of the wider top and down tubes. These tubes appear to be ‘butted’ on the outside as they are quite noticeably thicker on each end where they form a frame joint.

I can’t exactly tell you what it weighs but it compares reasonably to some modern ‘retro’ steel framed tourers I have lifted up in the shops, though it’s very much heavier than a good steel road bike. To make it significantly lighter than it is now however would cost too much, or possibly reduce the ride quality.

one of my fave 'bike shot' trees

one of my fave ‘bike shot’ trees

I present it here again as an improved example of converting an MTB to a touring style bike, though for my taste only the classic ‘rigid’ mountain bikes have the appropriate good looks to be worth putting this much effort into. Modern MTBs with suspension forks and crazy graphics wouldn’t work as well aesthetically, at least in my opinion.

I guess this bike is nothing special either in appearance or rarity, but it does do many things very well.

Not as quick as a road bike, but its stability, rough road ability and sure-footedness are a joy. On a recent dark and rainy commute home I was only 8 minutes slower over the c.26km than on the previous dry night in spite of taking things much easier, and that surprised me !

Steady as she goes —- and happy Re-cycling !

shot on the morning commute

shot on the morning commute

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Novocastrians, don’t forget the Spring Ride this Sunday commencing from Nobbys. A very safe and easy route followed by breakfast . Check out “Bicycles in Newcastle” – ( see blogroll right hand side ) for details.

This little red bike won’t be ready in time though, it’s a Wooly’s Wheels mixte ( apparently there is still a Wooly’s Wheels bike shop in Paddington ). It was a very cheap buy that I considered worth the price just for the anodised alloy 27″ Araya rims, the Suzue “sealed tech” hubs in good nick, the 52/36T “Custom” compact chainset and long cage Shimano rear derailleur. I will use them to convert one of my other bikes to a ‘semi-tourer’ and fit a simpler gear to this one.

The KKT pro vic II pedals will be worth servicing too. The chain set has a fixed big ring, so it isn’t great, but it looks reasonably light .

56cm seat tube but short head tube means smaller riders than i will fit well

56cm seat tube but short head tube means a long stem or forward lean…

The tubing is Tange 5 – which is a plain gauge  (PG)  Cr-Mo by the looks of it. At least it has 100mm wide fork dropouts though the rear are 126mm not 130mm.

seamless cromo ... not butted

seamless cromo … not butted

still the address ?

still the address ?

also some nice kkt pro vic II alloy pedals in good condition

 some nice kkt pro vic II alloy pedals in good serviceable condition

a reasonable and  practical compact 52/36T chain set

a reasonable and practical compact 52/36T chain set

See you Newcastle folk on Sunday !

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It was great to see some of the classic bikes of Newcastle gathered together again for this second-time-around Newcastle Tweed Ride.

Some overall views can be seen on the Facebook site “Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride”, and on Vicki’s blog “Bicycles in Newcastle” (see blogroll), but here I will concentrate on a few favourite bikes seen there.

Firstly, some details of the only “Ordinary Bicycle” ( a.k.a penny farthing ) at the event – though hopefully there will be more next year. This one is a beautiful modern reproduction :

DSC_0521

I don’t believe I’m the only one who thinks that modern performance bikes are becoming excessively complex and fussy, with manufacturers pushing minimal spoke counts, electronic gears, hydraulic brakes and such, but I wonder how many of these components or carbon frames would be easily recyclable AND look better than ever after sitting for a decade or two in a shed or beside the house ?
Hence the appeal of steel frames, coaster brakes, dynamo lights, and the other practically simple mechanicals of cycling.

a classy trek 520 tourer

a classy trek 520 tourer

And while I can drool as well as anyone over Reynolds, Campagnolo and Columbus, I have a real soft spot for the plain, everyday “bread-and-butter” bicycles of decades past :

malvern star touristar

malvern star touristar

This simply furnished Malvern Star “Touristar” is a great example. Removing anything further from it would be a visually backward step, yet adding accessories to it would also.

Therefore, it must surely be near perfect as it is..

Perhaps just losing the wheel reflectors and adding a classic pump and some metal rat-trap pedals ….?

There is just enough subtle patina to be charming, yet it’s in good enough original condition to have obviously been well loved.

Another favourite was this 26 inch wheeled Ladies’ Speedwell Roadster which has been lovingly – and practically – accessorised with “Brooks England” style and fitted with cream tyres and a red skirt guard.

And check out the beautiful Bell ladies’ model leather saddle !

How much nicer is this than the majority of modern “retro” bland step-through offerings ?

no, not a brooks !

no, not a brooks !

on the street

on the street

Another thing that I’m a known sucker for is the unrestored frame. In these two close-ups of a Speedwell and a Cyclops (?) roadster you can see the charm of rust and colourful scratches set against “modern classic” Sturmey Archer running gear in the form of their S2C hub.

cyclops

cyclops

cyclops

cyclops

The two-speed coaster brake kickback hubs being perhaps the closest thing ever to a “thinking person’s cable free non-fixed-gear bike”. Of course it would have been nice to see these bikes “all original”, but that’s difficult if their running gear was typically worn out, clunky, or rusted.

speedwell

speedwell

By keeping your classic frame original, many possibilities then remain for yourself or a future owner.

This desirable white Carlton road bike was at last year’s event. This year it came equipped with race wheels and fork mounted carry brackets, as if intended to be ridden to an event then raced. Wonderfully presented !

impressive carlton

impressive carlton

Finally, a Brompton with provenance – as the owner informed me that it was previously owned by the Blue Wiggle !

I

To see more, you will need to come to the event next year…

Happy Re-Cycling !

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It’s on again – the Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride 2014 and this Sunday 22nd June looks to be shaping up perfectly weather wise. If you live in the Newcastle area and have a bike and a nice set of old threads (tweed or not) then here’s your excuse to indulge in some dressing up.

The ride is free – register from 9am in Islington Park and ride from 10am – destination Nobbys !

The route is almost all shared cycle path and the event proceeds at a stately (easy) pace. There will be lots of things to see, photos to take, and catering and entertainment at the end.

See You There, Novocastrians !

the recyclist's magic carpet ...

the recyclist’s magic carpet …

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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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