Posts Tagged ‘recycling an old bike’

Given the amount of crappy or otherwise ten speeders dumped out there it’s impossible for me to recycle them all as complete bikes, even if I wanted to :

not too crappy though - an apollo III waiting in line

not too crappy though – an apollo III waiting in line

The beauty of an ‘organic’ approach is that out of the many old sports bikes ( or even ladies’ roadsters ) the good bits that are left over from the ‘dismantle-a-thons’ will add up to a smaller number of improved quality bikes.

I may have to add a few brand new consumables here and there, but that’s mostly it, except for bikes that are special ‘keepers’.

This approach assumes that the bikes are worthwhile restoring but not collectable enough to justify keeping them all original. Everyone will have their own idea about what qualifies or doesn’t however, and as I’ve said many times before, as long as you know what the original componentry was, it’s always possible to reverse any changes as long as the frame and original paint stay intact.

Out of half a dozen rusty steel rims or gravelly hubs there may hide, for example, the makings of a ‘new/old’ 27 inch wheel that is in respectable condition.

nice lines .. a classique 3 speedwell

nice lines .. a classique 3 speedwell

The many surplus rusty or broken metal parts can be re-cycled as scrap steel, continuing the process originally intended for the complete bikes by the previous owners.

Here are three recent examples, one of which will be re-built as a working bike :

apollo geneva

The first is a ladies’ Apollo Geneva c.1986 6-speed – fitted with a Shimano Positron FH rear derailleur and a single front ring. This one has a straight frame with minimal rust and with the original slightly damaged fenders  and a chain guard.

the shimano positron r.d.

the shimano positron r.d.

The Positron FH was an early index system that had the click stops in the derailleur rather than the shifter, a solid push-pull shift cable and an unusual proprietary shifter. Neither of these latter two are present on this bike unfortunately, so it will need an alternative shift set-up and derailleur.

uniglide freehub

uniglide freehub

Also fitted is a Shimano Uniglide rear freehub, quite unusual for this type of bike in my experience. The Uniglide pre-dates Shimano Hyper-glide and instead of a lock ring the small cog threads on to the freehub end holding the splined cassette in place. Unlike Hyperglide, the splines are all equal width – and two chain whips are needed to remove the small cog and free the cassette. Because the bearings are outboard in the freehub the resulting wheel should be stronger than with the usual thread-on cluster.

this one is an earlier 5-speed shimano 600

this one is an earlier 5-speed shimano 600

Next is a Speedwell Classique 3 – c.1988 – which has been butchered by conversion into a ten-speed resulting in a bent rear frame. Sadly, really, because it has attractive lettering on the decals which are quite different to my earlier Classique 3.

classique 3

classique 3

It’s not a very good idea to try and fit a 126mm rear axle into a 110mm dropout meant for an older 3-speed internal hub gear !
The bike was originally a bright pink and the frame and painted guards have faded at different rates. The original colour of a ‘yard’ bike is best judged from the paint on the steerer tube.

It has been stored in the weather, and I took the finding of a large redback spider in the kickstand ( as well as the bent frame ) as an omen not to revive it. Nevertheless, useful parts include a Suntour Spirt front mech., a very clean set of tourist handle bars, a good Araya steel rear rim, a nice narrow steel rear rack and alloy brake levers. The pinkish guards will match the Apollo Geneva quite well and they have a vaguely opulent little nose trim on the front one that can be restored. The fork is straight and will be kept for parts.

a roamin' ruin ?

a roamin’ ruin ? – nice graphics ..

bennett super sports - not much of value here

bennett super sports – not much of value here

The last one was dumped on the footpath along side the Speedwell. It’s a Bennett Super Sports and is in very rusty shape but does have a couple of useful parts on it, particularly the Dia-Compe centre pull brakes and their associated cable hangers and stirrups, and a nice pair of Sugino wing nuts on the front wheel’s 5/16″ axle.

The steel hi-flange front hub is cosmetically too poor to rebuild – even though it was quite OK internally.

The frame is your typical heavy Hi-Tensile job, not worth the effort in this case, because of the rust which is starting to approach structural in places.

i now have a matching centre pull pair !

i now have a matching dia-compe centre pull pair !

close to it, but not yet dead

close to it, but not yet dead rear cable hanger

dia-compe alloy stem is too fretted on the bar-clamp to be safe

dia-compe alloy stem is too fretted on the bar-clamp to be safe

The Derailleurs are Shimano Thunderbird II front and Eagle II rear, also cosmetically poor.

i was very pleased with these wing-nuts

i was very pleased with these sugino wing-nuts

Although some of these parts do look a little tragic in the photos they should clean up respectably later on. I’m going to use some on my Oxford International project that is coming along slowly from the last chuck-out season.

c.1975 oxford has appeal

c.1975 oxford has appeal

See Ya !


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Post Christmas and New Year and I’m getting ready for the inevitable 2014 hard-rubbish chuck-outs, at the beginning of a brand new year of freebie-bike recycling !

Avoiding MTBs and BMXs, concentrating on the various ten-speed orphans ( K.I.S.S. ) and  I’m still waiting to find an old Tommasini or De Rosa on the footpath ( haha ) .

graecross pro-ten

graecross pro-ten

In this climate challenged country with long summer days, the midday period is ideal for finding a shady tree in the yard and working on an old bike in the prevailing sea-breeze.

Which is a kind of “working Siesta” for me  …

nice curves !

nice curves ! shame about the paint ..

This one has a 54cm  frame with “Tange High Quality Tubing” stickers, but too heavy to be anything exotic. Fitted with the basic “pressed steel everything”, it’s your typical underwhelming 10-speed sports bike. Redeeming features are – nicely curved lowers on the Tange steel fork, a Tange-Seiki head set in good working condition, and a neat “Win” alloy stem.

the only alloy bit !

the only alloy bit, bar the suicides !

It appears to have been in use up until recently, which is handy, because the rim brake tracks are relatively rust-free and so the steel wheels are re-useable, perhaps even on another bike.

Suicide brake levers are pretty much a dead give-away that it’s an 80s “wannabe” sporty.  Dia-Compe must have had the patent on these things as the normal levers are steel but the suicides are alloy.

 # don't try suicide ...

# don’t try suicide … they’re useless !

I think it would make a nice mid-weight ten speed cruiser with wider and shallower bars fitted.

Not beginning with a first class frame will always hold back a recycled bike’s desirability, but some benefit can be had by fitting more appropriate and lighter components. These old ten-speeders always seem to have their bars much too narrow for me, and their saddles are too plasticky, cheap and hard, as well as being far too heavy to be genuinely “sporty”.

My 90s Shogun Samurai has spoiled me in this regard, I’m sad to say !

my finest find so far ...

my finest find so far … ( plus many extras )

Graecross is a Victorian brand ( the state, not the era ! ) but there’s not much info on the web and you don’t see that many this far north of the border either. Probably it dates to the mid-80s, and it is fitted with Ukair steel rims, Tagaki 48-40T steel chain-set,  Shimano “Skylark” rear mech. ( same as the Malvern Sportstar ).

Typical are the c.95mm fork dropouts and the 126mm rear ones, 25.8mm steel seat post, the friction stem shifters, and the 1″ threaded headset. Hubs are “Chair” brand – the logo is actually a wooden chair  – made in Japan. The solid rat-trap pedals are also Chair brand.

a ridiculously heavy chain set ...

a ridiculously heavy chain set …

If you have to replace the headset on one of these, it’s best to remember that there are two main fork crown race inner diameters – ISO 26.4 mm and JIS 27.2 mm. Most bikes in Oz are the latter, but a lot of online-selling head sets are ISO, and that 0.8 mm is actually quite a lot of careful filing down – or it means getting another crown race altogether – if you buy the wrong size ! I’m keeping the Tange on this one, BTW.

yes, JIS 27.2 mm

yes, JIS 27.2 mm

During the usual process of dismantling it down to a frameset, I will also be pondering its future….

much better & smoother

overhauled – much better & smoother

While disassembled I found the remainder of a touch-up paint can that I used for the Road King bike a while back – it’s a near perfect match on this one ! Here is the frame-set reassembled with overhauled steering and bottom bracket bearings, and after touch-up paint application.

Thinking, thinking …

touch-up job

the touch-up job

gotta fly now !

gotta fly now !

See Ya !

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Ironically, I saw this bike thrown out on the footpath – together with an old iron gate – on my way to work the other afternoon. Making a recyclist’s mental note I returned at midnight after my shift to find it was still there !

pace citation

pace citation- love the chromed forks – lol

It’s called a Pace “Citation”, but try googling those key words and all sorts of irrelevance comes up. It was sold by Hadley’s Cycles, so someone at the bike shop may remember something of the brand’s history.

a mystery to me ...

a mystery to me …

It’s very neglected but was probably a decent enough bike in its day ..

or magic ?

or magic ?

Originally a 12 speed, the front wheel has a classy Mavic “Module E” 700C alloy rim, albeit in corroded condition, but the rear has been replaced by a heavy steel 27″ Femco.

The chromed fork is heavy-ish and very rusted, and the frame is described as “Cro-moly” but is not particularly light. in weight.

can you see what i mean - to be continued

can you see what i mean ? – to be continued

Partly cleaning the rusty fork has given me an idea – it was so evenly rusted that I will keep some of the rust as an alternative coating finish …

There are signs of minor frontal impact damage on the down tube. This frame is a step up from the very basic 10-speeders as it has decent rear dropouts and an independent derailleur hanger. Due to the fairly small frame size and the degree of neglect, this one might be best dismantled for parts. Rust and white paint aren’t such a good look !

with the rusty apollo II

after phosphoric acid rust remover and with the rusty apollo II

head tubes

a couple of head tubes

I was amused by the handlebar which is a steel Hsin Lung, but with a cosmetic alloy sleeve as the visible ( non-bar taped ) section – cute but rather dodgy dressing-up ! Still, and all, alloy components can have a more limited life due to the long term stress cracking that steel doesn’t suffer from.

sadly, i can't free the pedals

sadly, i can’t free the pedals

The chain set is a Sakae SX, and would be worth re-using if I could remove the pedals – and that’s not a given, due to the dissimilar metals welding together tightly …oh well – I suppose if it were too easy then people wouldn’t throw their old bikes out !

Derailleurs and downtube levers are Shimano SIS.

dia compe levers and vanguard callipers

dia compe levers and rough vanguard q.r. callipers

Dia-Compe alloy levers usually have the date of manufacture stamped on them, which is a very useful thing. These are from 1989 and the cables exit at the bar – worth re-using also, I think, as they don’t have the typical suicide levers and feel comfortable to the hand’s grip.

The missing bidon cage bolts indicate that the owner probably bought a new bike some time back and left this one to the elements …

Back to project Sportstar :

they came up ok

they came up ok

as found on the sportstar

as found on the sportstar

Above are the callipers from the Malvern Star Sportstar, they are Cherry brand  ( model 730 ? ) – Dia-Compe knock-offs, made in Japan. They look OK and are certainly useable, if not state-of-the-art. They were heavily oxidised with some nuts missing, so a few brake nuts were salvaged from the recyclist’s box of tricks. They should work well fitted back onto “Project Sportstar” with the above Dia-Compe levers….

top secret - every recyclist needs one of these !

a box of tricks – every recyclist needs one or more of these !

some vintage bits

some more vintage steel bits !

Another plus for them is that they will reach 700C rims if I decide to fit them to the Sportstar frame. It now looks as though I will be replacing most parts on this bike.

A brass wire brush and steel wool on the brake arms worked pretty well to remove the oxidation without too much collateral damage. I replaced the end copper washers, rubbed “dri-lube” on all the mating faces and fitted new pads.

Another little piece in the puzzle done !

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i think i'm going crazy...

i think i’m going crazy… check the mummified snake combination lock

Something about this frame I found at the local bike hoarder’s yard appealed to me — perhaps it was the rusty orange patina, chrome fork lowers, decent lugs and the traditional Apollo head badge, harking back to times when there was a little more prestige in bicycle making.

I think it’s of 1981 manufacture, but it does look older because of the horrendous condition. It isn’t anything exotic either, being your typical mid-range ten-speed ‘sports bike’, not particularly lightweight and having those trendy (at the time)  useless little cut off mudguards with no stays.

Some times I question my own sanity, but I do like the perverse freedom of a hopeless bicycle repair challenge.

in fact i'm sure ...

in fact i’m sure …

I inquired about the price – “Two dollars is OK, but it’s no good for anything but maybe parts … !”

sigh ...

sigh … that was chrome

Then – “Wait, just take it no charge, it’s been sitting in the yard for 15 years … ! ”

So I may make this an occasional project to illustrate some problems in getting an old ten-speed up and running, though not necessarily in it’s original form. As you can see, the stem, bars, brakes and gears are missing and the rear wheel is a very rusty non-original single speed coaster that has been bodgied into the rear dropouts.

Armed with a can of the excellent  “PB blaster” penetrating spray, and a few well chosen tools, it looked like this after a short period :

the nitty gritty

the nitty gritty

The Sugino double chain set has heavy steel rings with forged 165mm alloy cranks.  I still think it’s a lovely shape for such a basic model.

lovely shape with the guard ring ...

puller still in — a lovely shape to the guard ring …

Removing taper square alloy cranks should be done with care, as it’s really easy to strip out the threads that the puller engages. First disassemble the puller and screw the big thread in by hand first, and then by spanner once you are sure the threads aren’t crossed. it needs to go in as far as it can before the centre pin is screwed in. Make sure you have taken the crank nuts off first (with a 14mm socket spanner generally). In this case both cranks came off very easily – that’s not always the case ! The well greased bottom bracket came apart easily with a c-spanner, a pin spanner – and my Cyclus BB tool for the drive side cup.

there's the nut

there’s the nut – is that 1981 ? – probably

then the puller

then the puller

fork talk

pretty sad

I need to think about which wheels to use, as one of the problems with these old ten speed frames is that the forks are designed for front wheels with spindly axles and being around 95mm width over the locknuts as well – whereas most new wheels are 100mm – you can widen the drop-outs by hand and force them in, sure, but it isn’t good practice to do that.

The “U.V. free” fork stem paint gives the best look at an original colour :

stamped "tange - japan"

stamped “tange – japan”

Also, the rear dropouts on this are around 120mm across, which is too wide for coaster hubs and too narrow for modern derailleur wheels (130mm) – without some modification.

More on this later …

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Here’s my latest classic 27″ wheeled acquisition, for your enjoyment :

note the later huffy cheapo upright saddle

note the later huffy cheapo upright saddle


I love hard rubbish season – it’s full of surprises …… this is a typical converted “fisherman’s bike” of the ten speed era, before the ubiquitous MTB took over, lovingly equipped with zip tied and taped drain pipe rod holders, and with the drop bars up-ended no less, in that dawn of time style invented by the men who bought (or were sold) sports bikes when they should have had uprights.


pvc fishing rod holders - they are so practical you've gotta love them

PVC fishing rod holders – they are so practical you’ve gotta love them


Single speed, three speed, ten speed sporties — Hey, come to think of it, aren’t there lots of guys still doing that sporty image thing, buying today in carbon fibre 22-speed ?  (lol)


I don’t think many carbon frames will outlast this salt water special, at least not with the same amount of abuse and neglect…


features front sports fender and rear zefal MTB mud flapper

features rusty  front sports fender and rear zefal plastic MTB mud flapper


I’ve concluded that any road bike brand that sounds like a macho truck name and is fitted with ‘suicide’ brake levers is most likely a heavyweight clunker, e.g. Road Chief, Road King, Road Master, etc.  – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun riding (or messing around ) with it !


old style non-original platform pedals

these old style non-original platform pedals can be overhauled 


Probably use this one for parts, it’s so far gone, and of low quality components, but who knows ?

The bottom bracket is shot, but the old style pedals will be just about perfect for my classic ladies Speedwell once they have been de-rusted and overhauled – as they still have most of their yummy diamond tread intact.


Happy Cycling !

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decisions, decisions ...

decisions, decisions …

This rather anonymous looking grab shot of hard rubbish shows some remnants of a once loved Apollo 3-speed ladies bike (model Geneva?) that I came across on a recent ride. It was one of those solidly made steel frames with the attractive enamelled metal  Apollo head badge. I was able to save the wheels and guards but they were all I could safely carry in one go.  That’s the downside of finding such things while riding your bike. The upside, of course, is that you can cover a lot of ground this way without wasting petrol.


Sadly, when I returned not too long after, the garbage crushing pickup truck had only just beaten me to the frame, making me then wonder if I had made the right choice.  Well, you can’t argue with a council garbage engineer, so there was really no point further asking !

Hard rubbish days here really are a matter of luck and persistence, what with the amount of scrap metal trucks circulating well before the official pick-up, and I don’t often have free time for this kind of fun nowadays either. A bike with cargo trailer would be ideal for this activity, even if a little slower in the ‘search’ mode.


The frame was minus forks but the classy looking cotterless steel crank set had been neatly wrapped in plastic for storage and was rust free. Anyway, the rims are an interesting 27x 1 & 3/8″ size that will also take 1 &  1/4″ tyres.


Made me think that those wider 27 inch tyres could have been nice riders, were they still available, like the 26″ x and 28″ x 1 & 3/8″ still are. The rear hub is a good Shimano 3s that may yet come in handy, though the shift apparatus and selector rod are missing. The shiny steel guards will also be usefully recycled…


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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…

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