Posts Tagged ‘classic australian road bikes’


cecil today

cecil today

With the imminent closure of a local bike shop there has been the opportunity to gather some cut-priced parts, and with some careful thinking there have been a few opportunities to upgrade some of my fleet.

some serious shoe-horning going on here ...

some serious shoe-horning going on here …

With the purchase of this 700C Bontrager alloy rear wheel I had a possible candidate for the rear of my Cecil Walker, currently sporting a heavy steel 27″ rim out of sheer desperation. The original plan was to find a quality 27″ wheel that would take the Shimano 600 series 5-speed screw-on cluster, but that has proved difficult.

last time we met ..

the last time we met ..

The story of Cecil so far had been to compromise for his slightly small size with some minor modifications, while retaining most of the original parts, or closely similar. But the handling was stiff and slow compared with my 90s Shogun.

I hadn’t previously thought about adding more speeds, but I have now taken the plunge and converted to an 8-speed hub and a close ratio 12-21T hyperglide cassette, in the spirit of the original “corn-cob” close ratio 14-18T cluster.

I’m not sorry to see the 27″ wheels go though, as I feel this bike handles much more responsively with 700C wheels. Not only that, with new 25C tyres fitted as well, the dreaded toe overlap has almost completely disappeared !

and with new mods.

and with new mods. – spot the differences !

The biggest problem with this sort of mod. is Cecil’s narrow dropout width, around 120mm and a bit which will require some serious shoe-horning ( I originally thought the freehub was 7-speed, it turned out to be 8-speed ! ).

There are only two ways to make a modern 130mm wheel fit old 120 or 126mm dropouts – ( well, three ways, but I don’t want to widen this frame as I may find vintage wheel parts for it later on ).

First – if the axle spacers allow it on both sides – an equal amount can be removed left and right then the axle shortened by hacksaw. This keeps the wheel central in the frame, but with the space requirements of an 8-speed or greater cassette there isn’t any spare space on the drive side between the freehub cassette and the dropout. The only solution then is to take all the excess width off the non-drive side spacer and increase the dish of the wheel by tightening the drive side spokes and loosening the non-drive side spokes.

This pulls the rim to the centre of the narrower dropouts and then finally the excess hollow axle is sawn off to fit the quick releases. A lot more fiddly, and it requires wheel truing as well.

a tight fit

a tight fit

I hope the extra tension on the drive side spokes that I had to apply to do this is not going to weaken the new wheel long term, but it seems to have worked well so far. With relaxing of the High and Low limit-stop screws, the Shimano 600 Arabesque rear derailleur copes with the extra 3 speeds admirably. The front 600 derailleur requires more trimming adjustments on the go, to avoid it rubbing the ( new ) 8-speed chain on larger chain angles, that’s all.

Considering the reduced width, the wheel dish is probably more like that of a 10 or 11-speed cassette on a 130mm wide hub – pretty severe.

The Dura-Ace down-tube shifters cope well with the 8-speeds ( being friction types — this mod. would have been more difficult and costly with indexed shifting ).

the friction shifters

the friction shifters

I fitted better brake pads for the alloy rims, in this case Jagwire ‘Pro’ with adjustability for toe-in. These are rather good pads and braking is now smoother, lighter and better modulated. Tyres are Bontrager ‘race’ all-weather 25C

jagwire pro pads

jagwire pro pads

The very narrow Cinelli “Campione del Mondo” handle bars have been swapped for wider Cinelli “Giro d’Italia 64” and at 44mm wide there is more steering control and I can breathe better when in the ‘drops’. I’ve kept the bar tape more toward the ends to increase the comfort and thickness there.

The Modolo levers are difficult to reach from the drops – they are a long way out from the bar and a very old fashioned shape. To be honest, modern levers like the Cane creek SCR-5 would be much more comfortable, but I still want to keep the originals there. I could do with some soft gel hoods for them though …

The stem is a longer Nitto 100mm ‘Dynamic 10’ and helps me stretch out a little more than the 60mm original did.

the b17 narrow is a real classic

the b17 narrow is a real classic

The saddle is now a Brooks B17 narrow – and this is the best fitting saddle I’ve tried so far on this bike – a keeper.

I don’t mind the black and white rims as the white Halo ‘track’ front highlights the lettering on the downtube and the black tyres and white letters seem to hold the look together at both ends. Not exactly traditional, I know, but it works well.

All in all, a big improvement, and yet this may not be the end-all for Cecil’s alterations.

ofmega cx chainset - no complaints here

ofmega cx chainset – no complaints here

He’s always been a work in progress.



Read Full Post »

stage 2 – ten speeds

Ahhh,  hindsight’s a wonderful thing … I’ve now fitted the overhauled steel wheels from the pink mixte onto Cecil to change him back to a ten speed. As mentioned before the rear is a 120mm wide 27″ that slots straight in. Braking feel isn’t as good, they are much heavier and the tyre treads don’t really suit, but I am working on the old rear hub, aiming to get a new alloy rim fitted later, as I also want the mixte running on it’s own wheels again.

The Reynolds tubing and many alloy fittings mean that it is still relatively light, at least.

lezyne micro-drive light

I also had the recent opportunity to buy a Brooks B17 Titanium saddle at a great price, and while I’m yet to do a long ride on it, it looks wonderful and feels fantastic to sit on. The titanium is a very light saddle too.  Now I can’t wait to get lost on it somewhere !

the brown is the nicest standard brooks colour, i think

Two more additions – a Soma “Torpedo” retro style AA battery LED head light and a Lezyne micro-drive USB tail light both of which I will review at some later date.

retro torpedo

led + reflector

My feeling is that this bike will be a great ride when all is properly finished…

the suntour freewheel and shimano mech.

I think that the freewheel’s sound has a big part to play in the enjoyment of coasting downhill – some have a raspy, abrasive sound, but this old Suntour “Perfect” sounds relaxed and easy. The cluster is 28T-14T, not as gung-ho as the original 18T-14T, but much more practical for my location on a hill.

Happy Cycling !

Read Full Post »

the seat post freed

The imperfection and impermanence of older weathered bicycles has nostalgic appeal for me and so I like to keep some of the markings of use, but at the same time I like bikes to be well maintained and safe , and that can give me tiny dilemmas at times…

the non-adjustable cup — if it ain’t broke, don’t force it …

Having had a chance to look more closely at this bicycle, it’s obvious now that the big stumbling block is the rear wheel. Repair or replacement will be difficult for a few reasons. For a start, I don’t have the two prong “Suntour” freewheel remover and it’s probably not worth buying it for a hub that may be ruined inside anyway, as the axle is visibly slightly bent. I’ve been advised that the tool may break because of possible electrolytic corrosion between the steel cluster and alloy hub. Given the other bits that were “welded” together e.g. the seat post and tube and the headset nut and fork tube I don’t doubt this !

a little preserving clear coating

Also, the bike’s rear dropout spacing is an old 70’s width of 120mm and most recent bikes have 130mm dropouts. Most new road wheels are 130mm width and have wider gear cassettes (more speeds) as well. I’m not that keen on buying old wheels on the web either, sight unseen…

overhauled nice SR pedals, cleaned up straps

Perversely,120mm is the width of most rear track hubs and this bike has semi-horizontal dropouts, suggesting that single speed is an option, although I rather wanted to keep it as a ten speed. Also the downtube shifter bosses will not look good with the shifters removed, but I won’t be grinding them off in case I do find the correct rear wheel and cluster one day.

the story so far …

However, as long as the frame is kept original and I keep all the gear parts together, it wouldn’t be a drama for me to convert to single speed on a temporary basis and the shifter bosses could be neatened up a little with a couple of small bolts and washers.

er, yes boss …

Also, I have since found out that Sturmey Archer make the S2 Duomatic two-speed kickback non-coaster brake version hub in a 120mm O.L.D. ( over the locknut width ). With the right choice of sprocket this would be more flexible than single speed for where I live and also allow the original brakes to be used as designed.This hub could be fitted to a new “plain” 27 inch 36 hole rim, e.g. a Velocity “twin hollow” or even a trad. style 700c rim.

testing —— oh, crap — toe overlap

It’s a good idea to check for toe overlap when inspecting this kind of sporty bike, and sure enough it’s there – this is with a 27 x 1 & 1/4″ tyre (above), but it does the same thing with a 700c x 35 that I tried. It’s an annoying trait that can really catch you out at slow speeds, though becoming irrelevant as speed increases and the front wheel is stabilised.

show stoppers

Going 700c would mean a much better range of tyres and rims available and I know the existing brakes will reach. Incidentally, the Modolo brakes look very well made and have cleaned up nicely.

…and not too shabby

Hmmm – I’m still thinking about all this — should I simply remain in a patient wait for an old 5-speed wheel that may never appear ?

in another life, i could have been…

Read Full Post »

the cw – virtually as found

Normally when I hear the words “Road Bike” or “Lycra”, I reach for my gun (lol), but something about this particular classic has won me over – for the moment. It’s a steel framed Cecil Walker ten speed, found in an interesting central coast clearing shed for “old stuff”.  As I passed this shed, my recyclist’s nose began to sniff – I just had to stop and look !

no decals here – it’s all hand brushed

There were two bikes inside, a petrol motorised beach cruiser and this one.

how cool is that ?

The first thing that caught my eye was the classy hand painted “Cecil Walker” lettering on the downtube – I had vaguely heard of the name before, but where ? Anyway, a quick 80 bucks later, it was all mine, and I have since done some research to find that there is still a Cecil Walker Cycles in Fitzroy Melbourne, and that this was an Australian bike of obviously decent specification. It’s fitted with Shimano 600 derailleurs and 600 “starfish” headset, Italian Modolo “Speedy” brakes, Cinelli “Campione del Mondo” drop bars, Ofmega CX cranks and chainwheel,  . The wheels are 27 inch with narrow alloy rims and 27×1″ tyres.

Sadly the rim decals are almost unreadable and the Reynolds frame tubing stickers have frustratingly decayed away too.

hmm – what is this for – a generator bracket, I guess ?

The gearing looks pretty serious with only one tooth difference between each rear cog – fourteen through eighteen teeth – and at 42x18T first gear, this is surely not a hill-climbing special !

my poor hill bound knees – 52/42  x 14-15-16-17-18T

Although I didn’t buy it to ride (as I thought it too small) I have since found that the seat post and quill stem have reasonable extension, so I may get away with riding it if I can sort the other messes out.

dropouts stamped “brev. campagnolo”

Apart from some very tight bolts and a seized alloy seat post (steel and aluminium together have some real issues when left out in the weather), the biggest problem is the rear wheel. The rim is buckled and there are cracks around some of the spoke nipples (though the front wheel seems fine). A visit to the LBS to discuss rear wheel options is therefore needed, with fingers crossed. I’m not keen on putting “deep-V’s” on it , though I really have no idea what’s available, me being a complete road bike novice.

seat tube and 27×1″ tyre

The bike has had some exposure to the elements perhaps under eaves or in an open shed, the rich red paintwork crinkling and lifting from a gold underlay in places and with some surface rust on upward facing frame sections. Having looked on the web and seen some old CW frames stripped, powder coated and all  “fixied” up (yuk), I know I am NOT going to do that as their uniqueness had clearly been lost. This one is truly beautiful just as is, and the simple gold inlays in the lugs are quite a striking addition to the red top coat.

cool bananas !

Serial number on the frame is 82017, and I am naively guessing that it was the 17th bike made in 1982 – could it be that simple ? The Modolo Speedy brake was first introduced in 1979 at any rate and I also believe this bike is pretty much all original as found, apart from a reflective tape fetish of the previous owner that is now stuck on like superglue in places ….

Here is a list of parts then, for anyone interested in these classic Australian bicycles  :

Frame – unidentified grade of Reynolds steel tubing – lugged, 51cm from BB centre to seat tube top – S/no 82017 on downtube near BB

semi-arabesque ?

Headset, dérailleurs and freewheel – Shimano 600

Shifters – Shimano Dura-Ace friction levers, downtube mounted

drilled modolo “speedy” levers

Brakes – Modolo “speedy”, alloy side pull calipers, drilled alloy levers

Stem – Win? – stamped 9886DF Japan 22.2

Seatpost – micro adjust – 179 – roto – Italy 27.2 with San Marco Concor Supercorsa saddle – plastic base, padded brown suede top

cinelli bars

Bars – Cinelli  stamped 63 or 66 ? “Campione del Mondo”

Hubs and skewers – Ofmega

Cranks – Ofmega CX alloy 170mm, w52/42T chainwheel

ofmega cx – very light weight

BB – Ofmega 68.C axle, cups marked “Ofmega 34,8 x 24 FS”

Rims – alloy made in Italy – unidentified, with IRC 27×1″ whitewall tyres as found

Pedals – SR model SP-100BL

these should clean up nicely

Toe-clips – Christophe D – marked “Brevete made in France, with KKT leather straps

It does beg the question – should I even try to get it going or merely hang it up somewhere as is –  i.e  would the ultimate sensitive restoration be non-restoration ?

But then, I just can’t help myself, can I ?

pretty swanky, huh ?

Happy Cycling !

Read Full Post »