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back to nearly original

back to nearly original

The time has come to part with my 1984 Road King which was one of my first hard rubbish salvages featured early in the life of this blog.

Though I now have many more bikes to choose from, I’ve revived, experimented on, and travelled many fun miles on this Woolworths Ltd. ten speeder. Lack of storage space had me disassemble it a while back and really, an old bike needs to be used and appreciated at least occasionally …

it just needs bar tape & maybe cables ..

it just needs bar tape & maybe cables ..

The new owner and his brother had each owned one in their youth, and would like to indulge in a little nostalgia, so I’ve converted this red one back to as close as I could to original, with a couple of changes – mainly a better cluster and a square taper ( but still period ) crank set.

Hopefully he will have many similar fun miles pootle-ing along all over again on this now 32 year old blast from the past.

P.S. As the new owners are also looking for a ‘brother’ bike in silver finish with the blue trim I would invite any reader, preferably local to Newcastle/Maitland /Central Coast areas, who has a silver ‘gents’ model Road King for sale to post a reply here so I can pass it on.
The main requirement is that the frame and fork themselves be in reasonable to excellent condition, and with the original silver paintwork and decals intact.

Thanks in Advance – and Happy Re-Cycling !


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1984 apollo capri -hard rubbish rescue.

1984 apollo capri -hard rubbish rescue.

This one featured in the post ‘Apollo Capri Part 1′ a while back, and in the end I decided to make it a simple flatland city run-around with nice wide bars for easy low speed steering. I’m coming to the view that any basic bike with pressed rear drop-outs and no proper built-in derailleur hanger is probably better off as a single speed or hub geared conversion anyway.

The single 46T chainset was borrowed from another salvaged Apollo ladies’, and the 27″ wheelset swapped from “Grandfather’s Axe” ( another story ! ). The Hi-Stop coaster hub and alloy Weinmann branded rims were bought new a few years back.

One of the problems often encountered doing this sort of conversion is the 95mm fork width and 5/16th” axle sizing on the Apollo front drop-outs. The newer front wheel had 100mm spacing and a thicker axle.

While some might not consider these ‘sports-roadster’ style bikes to have much value, they happen to be what I mostly find as local throwaways and if I only accepted 100mm wide forks I’d be missing out on a lot of good rebuilding opportunities !

reconditioned front hub & new spokes.

reconditioned 95mm front hub & new spokes.

The favoured method I used here was to de-lace the front rim from its original Quando 100mm hub and re-lace it to a restored salvaged 95mm hub – more wheel therapy for me !

To deal with the 110mm rear coaster hub I merely put spacers between the cones and locknuts to widen it out to the approx. 126mm of the previous thread-on 5 speed hub, taking care to maintain chain line and centring. Luckily the axles were easily wide enough to cope with the extra spacers. This negated having to bend the frame and thus kept the drop-out alignment as it was.

110mm ---> 126mm with spacers

110mm —> 126mm with spacers

I’ve used a 22T sprocket for easy pedalling around town and the offset of these larger cogs gives a little adjustability for chain line by flipping it either way as required.

That’s about it for such a relatively simple conversion, and the fact that modern ‘retro’ versions look remarkably similar to this step-through is an indication of the practicality of such a straight forward design.

Perhaps the only disadvantage with this conversion was that derailleur bikes don’t usually come with chain-guards, as one of those would have been perfect for this single speed .

Now, I did have an ideal rear rack for this somewhere … or perhaps a basket ?

P.S. — Don’t forget ‘Wheels on Wheeler’ 4th March 2016 — see previous post for details.

See Ya There !

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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 !



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.



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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This one is a bit of a mystery… I bought it from a local corner antique shop and may have overpaid just a little, but there are some interesting parts on it.

does anyone know ?

s s – does anyone know ?

I believe it was once a single speed road bike but the original wheels are long gone – it’s not a track frame, as there would be no need for the seat tube pump braze-ons on such machines.

drop-out and bodged derailleur

drop-out and bodged derailleur

There are no drillings for a front brake, however, and the tapered chainstays, the pencil thin seat stays and rear-facing dropouts suggest a single speed frame built for lightness and speed rather than for rough road “roadster” durability.

damned electrical tape !

that damned electrical tape !

The now very bent handlebars look like old track bars with their big curves and a deep drop (I love the tattered cloth bar tape). The bars are possibly original but I can’t find a brand. The patent numbers indicate dates of approximately late ww2 to post-war period but that isn’t  much of a clue.

i like this style of stem ..

i like this style of stem ..

The stem is “Hi-Speed” branded – made in Japan (steel) and also possibly a later addition.

sanyo bottle, malvern star decals

sanyo bottle, malvern star (?) decals

There are two “S” badges integral to the head tube and if anyone out there knows what they mean, I’d love to hear.

malvern star ? - no cigar !

malvern star ? – no cigar !

I’m not at all convinced that it is a Malvern Star as the down tube decal says – the bike has been reworked into a ten speed around the late 60s or early 70s when MS decals were readily available and may have been added then. It may not even be Australian.

Also there is no pin lining anywhere on it and signs of at least partial re-painting. Top tube is 57cm, and seat tube 54cm – and it’s a shame the head tube doesn’t have five stars on it instead of the two esses !

you're joking - 50/48 ?

you’re joking – 50/48 ?

The heavy steel Williams cottered double chainset is unusual – but with 50T & 48T rings I wonder why any one would bother with a double – a mere 2 teeth difference makes 52-42 seem dramatic !

the inside story ..

the inside story ..

The inner ring is fixed to the outer with six hex bolts while the outer ring has the traditional Williams 5-pin square bolts to fix it to the crank. The letter code “ZF” on the crank dates it to 1965 but it was possibly second-hand when fitted.

The bike might now have ten times the original speeds but it was made horrendously heavy by this conversion. I suppose that’s the worst aspect of the 70s 10-speed craze where steel components rather than alloy were used .

nice lugs though - decorative, but not too fussy

nice lugs though – decorative, but not too fussy

Although it’s not in “valuable” condition it would be nice to ride it with lightweight single speed components fitted, even if just temporarily, as the frame is remarkably light for the era, compared with the usual roadster frame, and obviously was not cheap when new. The seat tube top lug and tapered seat stay ends are very classy and modern looking for such an old bike. There is a serial number on the left rear dropout (possibly K22204), and the bottom bracket shell was cast with “BSA A88” on it.

neat 888's

neat 888’s in the wrong place …

The later derailleurs are the mid-range but apparently reliable steel SunTour Honor rear and Spirit front, with a Suntour “Perfect” freewheel. Shifters are SunTour 888 clip-on downtube with cables roughly taped in place. The electrical tape can do a lot of damage on removal as it hardens and bonds to the paint and decals over many years.

The c.126mm rear hub  had been brutally forced into the track dropouts which breathed a sigh of relief back to c.120mm track width when released ! The paintwork has been abused somewhat, and the frame marked and dimpled by the accessory fittings. There is also more bare metal and surface rust than actual paint on the frame !

Front hub is a “Velo” brand small flange 32H c. 93mm O.L.D., the rear has track threads on the current non-drive side and a threaded 5 speed gear freewheel on the other ??? A derailleur flip flop … who knows?

fixed/free -- please explain ?

fixed/free-gears — please explain ?

It’s Japanese and I can just make out the letters  — L.W. – Rims are Araya 27 x 1 & 3/8″ . Interestingly, with the loose drive-side spacer removed, the wheel seems to fit the track dropouts centrally in spite of the dishing…but I could have been hallucinating !

There is a working Sanyo bottle dynamo and a pair of old National lights on it – ideal for a future classic bike project ! Even the red reflector can be recycled.

rather nice badging, methinks

rather nice old badging, methinks

The seat post is 26.4mm and topped with a Dunlop CL7 Narrow saddle (steel frame  & rubber top) in reasonably rideable condition, with the badge still intact. I read somewhere that these were made by Brooks, but can’t be sure. Could be another age clue if I can date this, but who would know if it was original ?

the racing style is apparently unusual for dunlop

the racing style is apparently unusual for dunlop

And finally to something a little prettier – my blue Speedwell has borrowed the Cinelli bars from Cecil W. , a temporary B18 saddle, and a Millbrook saddle bag – for now :

baby blue, baby

baby blue, baby

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I find that as time goes on I am becoming fussier about the workings of my bicycles. Whereas I used to be happy recycling existing bits unless they were really trashed, I can now much more appreciate the smooth workings of new modern components, in particular hubs, bottom brackets and sometimes steering headsets.

I am going to try consolidate and improve some of my existing bikes to this end, but keep the aged appearances where I can.

Take for example this Miche Primato 32H front track hub that I ordered for the 28″ Speedwell wheel. It spins like butter – so why then lace it to an ancient steel rim ?

smoooth !

silky smoooth !

Well, nostalgia for one thing – I was going to strip the old paint off to respray this wheel black, as I’m thinking of fitting it to my “heritage” Grandfather’s Speedwell, along with the matchng rear. There’s nothing wrong with these rims apart from the extra weight over aluminium ones and a limited 642mm tyre choice – but for a “slow bike” like the Speedwell, this won’t really matter.

white lines appeared

the white lines appeared

However, as the worn but original pin lining magically appeared under the wet and dry rubbing I didn’t have the heart to proceed further. I’m a sucker for hand lining, you see.

So, I put a little paint inside the rim once the rust was removed, fish-oil sprayed into the little rim ‘breather’ holes, and sprayed clear coat over the outside rim.

A few days later, in a couple of hours of quiet therapy, the wheel was re-laced as a 2-cross with 32 x 299mm spokes, and trued.

tell me truly ...

tell me, truly

The large flange hub was used to shorten the required spoke length, as was the 2-cross pattern.

I used spokecalc as the calculator and it worked very well and was easy to use – recommended ! Spokes aren’t cheap, and I already had these new 299mm ones. The originals were 3-cross and 312mm on a small flange “Durex” brand German hub.

in the jig

in the jig

For a front wheel without hub brakes even radial spoking would have been OK.

Also recommended is Lennard Zinn’s book “The Art of Road Bike Maintenance” for its step-by-step wheel lacing guide. This is only my third wheel re-build to date following the recent two Road Chief wheels.

The one minor issue is that this rim’s spoke offets were apparently mis-drilled in manufacture and I had to sacrifice the spoke symmetry around the valve to correctly offset the spokes each side by shifting them all by one hole around from ideal placement – ( Thanks again, Mr Zinn ).

I know it seems a little like putting tractor tyres on a Ferrari, but here is the free rolling result :

round like a gerbera !

round and red, like a gerbera !

I probably don’t need to say this again, but if you are re-wheeling an old bike, pay attention to the dropout widths. I can use this modern 100mm hub only because it’s going into a newish 100mm fork, but many old forks are 95mm or less, which will put stress on – and maybe bend – the new spindle, if a 100mm axle is forced in and tightened.

Bikespotting :

oh, wow - i like this one !

oh, wow – i really like this one !

Have a look at this “To die for” Saracen that I saw in Kotara today.

Reynolds frame, modern brake hoods and shifters, canti brakes, triple ring front mech ( though a compact double would do for me ).

The only thing that spoils the looks a bit is the rearward slope of the rack, but I would love this bike in a slightly larger size !

ho ho ho

ho ho ho

And in Blacksmiths you can now hire a beach cruiser Xmas tandem – cool !

Happy Cycling !

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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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looks like a normal BB ...

looks like a normal cottered set-up …

Though hardly a classic, there is one thing that I found thought  provoking while disassembling this bicycle, and that is the mysterious bottom bracket. It’s a proprietary unit, I think, with standard BSA right hand threads on the non-drive left side cup, but the drive side is an extended cylinder that mates with the left cup to form a sealed unit that can be disassembled, complete with standard 1/4″ plain ball bearings and a cottered crank axle. The whole setup is wedged into a threadless oversized bottom bracket shell by tightening the assembly, fitting the wedged lock ring, first matching a keyway in the shell to a notch cast on the large cup, much the same way as some old seatpost pins and quill stem pinch-bolts slot in to stop them rotating. Rubber seals on the axle holes help stop outside entry of water and grit. Perhaps modern sealed BBs have evolved from this idea ?



Why make such a big deal about an old non-standard BB ? Well, this is an old bike blog, so you won’t be seeing octalinks, hollowtech IIs, BB30, BB90, or that sort of newer thing, but this one made me take notice because the bearings and surfaces inside were in truly excellent condition considering the bike’s age and assumed usage. This is because the rust, grit and water build-up inside the frame remains outside the casing as you can see from the corroded exterior. Often this accumulated gritty gunk finds its way into the bearings and a completely new BB is required, but not here !

minus the standard cottered axle

minus the standard cottered axle

As well as that, they are user serviceable unlike the modern sealed bearing square taper replacement BBs that are long term throwaways. And they need to be in this case because if this fixed cup had worn out 30 years later it would be very difficult to replace, perhaps then making the bike useless ! What else would one fit – with no threads ? Of course, that’s true only because this system didn’t become a standard arrangement…

I am going to experiment with converting it to a square taper axle, as I have said before I’m not a fan of cotter pins unless on a ‘valuable classic’  and even then that’s only for originality… if that works the bike can be modernised with a  lighter chainset, with the hope that this bracket will stay put.

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