Thursday, April 10, 2014

1998 Cannondale Road bike Team Saeco Edition

My first real road bike as an adult was a Cannondale R800, my then wife (now Ex) gasped at how much I spent back in 1999 on this bike but I did end up riding the heck out of it,  including 3 Seattle to Portland rides.
My R800 road bike
As much as I liked my R800, in typical fashion (for me anyway) I soon lusted after a new bike - the cool Saeco team edition Cannondale road bike in viper red!
1998 Catalog shot
Saeco was, and is, an Italian manufacturer of espresso machines and they sponsored a pro cycling team with Cannondale in the late 90s/early 2000s.  Their most famous rider was (Super) Mario Cipollini, aka the "Lion King" and one of best pure power sprinters to ever grace the pelton, among other things he won 4 stages in a row in the 1999 Tour de France.  For a wannabe roadie like myself the team edition Cannondale was way cool.  I eventually grew out of my obsession with the pro style ride and discovered Steel and riding maintainable/enjoyable speeds but those Saeco Cannondales still have a soft spot in my cycling heart.

Super Mario in Yellow winning tour Stage - Killin' it!

Fast forward to about 2005 and my new neighbor turns out not only to be a fellow cyclist (Former CAT 5), he also rides a Cannondale R800 and he is a beer fridge in the garage kind of cool.  And the kicker is his wifes' bike is a Saeco team edition Cannondale in Viper red that I had so lusted after 5 years before!!... sadly it is a wee tiny 49cm bike with 650c wheels and tires (ISO 571) never to be ridden by this clydesdale LOL.

what I would look like on a 49cm bike

My buddies' wife never rode her Cannondale much, I don't think it was comfortable for her, and she moved on to a nice hybrid she rides with the kids.  So the Saeco has been hanging in the garage, collecting sawdust most of the last decade,  until today that is.  My buddy is clearing out his garage and talked about selling the Cannondale in our annual community wide garage sale in May- I once scored a sweet vintage Takara at the May event.  I quickly offered to to try and sell it for him on Craigslist for much more than he is thinking of asking at the garage sale in exchange for a small commission.  It's not like I don't have the time these days while I am looking for work.  Anyway after 14 years I finally got my hands on a Cannondale Saeco team edition road bike.....well one built for elves that is.
I was too impatient to take a before shot so just picture what a bike would look like after hanging in a garage for about 10 years while lots of carpentry projects take place in said garage.  And then I cleaned it up.  This didn't really even count as bike work; just a thorough wipe down with Armor-All wipes, pump up the tires, check the gearing and brakes, a little lube on the chain and Bobs your uncle.  Easy Peasy this bike is like brand new.

Feels a bit weird to be talking about a Aluminum frame/carbon fork bike on the blog but it is where I got my roadie start even if I am a fully converted lover of lugged Steel.   Cannondale is very proud of their computer aided design and this is an early example, as was my CAAD3 R800
I rode my own Cannondale for 8 years and loved it.  I didn't know any different from being jack hammered over the poorly maintained roads of West Seattle on a harsh too small frame (54cm) until I rode my Handsome devil with its smooth 4130 CroMo larger frame (57cm) and plusher tires over the same road and had an "Ah Ha!" moment.   For my pedal mashing, pro kit wearing, racer wannabe try and go fast self the Cannondale worked fine, for my throttle it back, fatter tires are better, who cares how fast enjoy the ride self -steel is the deal.  Still love that Viper red paint job though!
Like my R800 this bike sports the solid mid level Shimano 105 drive-train with the house brand Coda hubs, brakes and cockpit.
105 not too bling, not to blah just right
 Apparently I'm not the only one who likes a viper red Saeco Cannondale since putting the CL ad up this afternoon I've already had two inquires, this little roadie might not last until Saturday.

Anyway thanks for indulging me in a little trip down Aluminum...err..Memory lane.

As always

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Time Travel Tuesday; 2007 Converting a 1970s Azuki 10 speed to single speed

I have been wanting to post about this for some time but could not find any pictures...until now.  Back in late 2007 I had this idea to find an old 10 speed to convert to a single speed commuter.  I was working in downtown Seattle and from my house in West Seattle it was only about 6 miles.  I was in decent shape at the time and figured I could handle the one uphill I would need to tackle to get home.   So I found this free old Azuki "Prince" 10 speed on Craigslist and my odyssey with old steel began.

My first foray into vintage steel
 Now at this time I still thought the coolest bike I could ever have would be a carbon Specialized Tarmac road bike.  I only had basic bike maintenance tools and only a vague idea that I could turn a 10 speed into a single speed, heck I barely knew a freewheel from a cassette!  I notice in this picture that the Azuki must have been free because it had no saddle as the saddle pictured is an used Selle Italia gel saddle from my Cannondale R800.

According to the late great seer of old bicycles -Sheldon Brown- the Azuki was the "House brand of Louisville Cycle & Hobby, Louisville, Kentucky" According to wikipedia the Azuki line came from Japanese manufacturer Kawamura which was approached by West Coast Cycle Supply Company (WCC) to create two lines of bicycles and they asked the Kawamura workers to come up with names for the lines which resulted in them choosing Nishiki for WCC's primary, nationwide line of bikes (after Saga Nishiki and the gold Nishiki thread often woven into wedding kimonos) — and Azuki for the secondary bicycle line (after the sweetened, red Azuki bean), using the chrysanthemum as the Azuki logo.

Anyway I just wanted a cheap bike I could turn into a single speed and the Azuki is what I stumbled across. It was, as I now know, a pretty run of the mill low end bike boom 10 speed. It sported:a big ol pie plate rear wheel
Stem mounted shifters with "safety" brake levers
and Shimano Tourney level components throughout like these center pull brakes
You will also note that this bike had no brazed on or decent clamp on cable guides just some stamped steel bands that looked like hose clamps-

The only other bike I have worked on with such rinky dink cable arrangements was the Sears Free Spirit- not a ringing endorsement. I only planned to run a single brake cable so I wasn't too concerned. You'll notice, in the completed bike shots, that when I ran the rear brake cable I used zip ties - classy, didn't occur to me that running a front brake would have been much cleaner.  I may have been concerned that grabbing a handful of front brake could result in an endo.

Looking back its somewhat of a miracle I actually got this bike built into something useable. I got it stripped down and, before I found my love for patina, sanded down the frame and rattle canned a new paint job. First a coat of primer in my makeshift garage paint "booth"
I kept the blue color and added white "safety bands" to the fork and seat stays-I though they might make me easier to see in the dim light.
Even then I knew I wasn't cool enough to go fixed so went to Recycled Cycles and had them dish the rear wheel and add a single speed freewheel. I replaced the original handlebars with a nice set of Nitto B-115 handlebars with an inverse lever for the rear brake. The Nittos probably doubled the worth of the bike. I also swapped out the quill stem for an adapter to use a "modern" 1 1/8" stem as back then I didn't know any better.

This was also my first use of the Shimano PD M324 pedal which gives a classic pedal look with a platform on one side while offering the option of clipless SPD useage on the other side. I still use this pedal type today on my Handsome Devil, they are very handy; 80% of the time I just jump on the bike in regular clothes and normal shoes and go platform, but the other 20% I slip on bike specific gear including Keen commuter sandals and clip in to do serious cyclist stuff (yeah right).

I ended up commuting on this bike for about 8 months and got pretty strong from having to go single speed up a 6% grade on my way home but eventually I decided, or maybe that was my knees talking, that gears weren't such a bad idea. Still it was fun and I even gave some thought to swapping the "fat" 27x1 1/4 tires for some "skinny" 27x1 tires and riding this bike on the annual Seattle to Portland (STP) 200 mile ride (over 2 days). I eventually sobered up but I did give it serious consideration -LOL. I realize that in addition to being my first 10 speed rebuild this was also the first old steel bike I sold on craigslist.

I also see from these shots that I wasn't very patient when it came time to document my final build as you will see that I only did half the bar wrap and only got the rear fender on before I had to take some snaps.

Kind of fun to look back on this and realize how little I knew about working on old 10 speeds back then but you have to start somewhere right? As always

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A guest post from Himself; the Trailer Park Cyclist

My friend Tim Joe writes so well I couldn't resist hijacking his comments from my post about the Raleigh Sports and turning them into a guest post.  If you haven't read him then I suggest you  immediately remedy that situation and go to the trailer park cyclist.  If you have here is a little treat I couldn't let languish in the comments section.  The pictures are mine but the prose is pure TPC.

Dang, dude, those "after" shots look like they could be in the original catalog. It is an art, I think. Too bad it doesn't pay better.
An actual Raleigh Catalog shot DL22L at the left
I've been out of work for a week now, after an intense two months of almost daily labor. It looks like there will be another month before things pick back up so I have to either go look for a new job or ride my bike. I'm going to ride my bike, the Le Tour in particular. It has been a long time coming. Work (and trouble) always seems to find me sooner or later whether I want it or not.

The Le Tour in Original form

I'm running the original 27" front wheel with one of the new gumwall tires you sent me awhile back. I have a pretty good 700c wheel I bought two years ago, a Dimension product, but I don't know...I just love that 27" front end and don't want to change. The spokes are almost rusted through, however, and sooner or later it's gonna cost me some teeth if I don't replace them, or the rim. 
Le Tour in current form aka Little Miss Dangerous
But I'm planning on buying a big-ass 29er tire to put on the 700c rim and stick it on the Mongoose, making her into a sixty-niner, pardon the expression. So I gotta come up with a new front wheel for the Schwinn. 
A 69er like this Trek has a 29er front wheel and 26" rear wheel 

Oddly enough, while I was pondering all this and reading your latest post I noticed in your "Popular Posts" sidebar your piece about 27 inch rubber and re-read it. Imagine my surprise when I saw a comment by my friend Chris (three-speed) stating with no uncertainty that Sun CR 18 rims were the only choice for a 27 inch replacement rim. I am putting together my yearly $100 (free shipping) order of parts (Niagara Cycles) and they have the rims but no wheels...I would have to build the wheel, something I have never done but because I am crazy I am sure I can do it.
The Polished Sun CR18 36H beautiful and bullet proof
But the final product will cost...well, a lot. Because of my penchant for overkill, while perusing possible hubs (starting with Tiagra) I noticed the Son hubs and that started me down a whole other path. Now I am looking at lighting systems and phone chargers and hey! I'm unemployed and the truck needs tires and we are talking about a bicycle that I bought for $25 and a half pint of rum.
The Son dynamo hub is the cadillac..err. Mercedes of dynamos 
I have not rode (ridden? biked? pedaled?) more than ten miles at a time in the last...the last...I don't know. Randonneuring sounds like a great thing to me, as long as I am not doing it...but those rando bicycles, on the other hand, seem to me to be the best set up for a just in case scenario. No not zombie apocalypse, I'm not that crazy, yet, (but stick around the fridge is full of beer and I still have a little rum left) what I mean is I like the racks and the lights and so on...
Full on Rando with Racks the VO Campeur note 3rd bottle cage for Rum
Whatever. This started as a tech question but now I realize it is actually a cry for help. How did I get this way? I should be looking at porn, not bicycle parts. I should be out somewhere snorting coke and dancing with skanky women. As I type this, Little Miss Dangerous is leaning against the table next to me. I pause to pat her top tube. 

This can't end well...


Raleigh Sports DL22L 3 speed Ladies bicycle (1974?)

A couple years ago a friend was clearing out his garage in anticipation of a remodel.  Knowing I was a bike nut he offered me a pair of 3 speeds that he and his wife had once ridden while living in Boston.  I was looking for a project I could quickly turn around and sell and thought one of the 3 speeds would fit the bill.  The men's 3 speed (DL22) had a broken shift cable so I went with the Ladies version.  My mistake was thinking aloud the term "quick turn around" the bike gods ears must have perked up at that and thought "oh really....(cue maniacal laughter)".
According to the late, great Sheldon Brown the Sports models;

"were the basic transportation of the urban working class. They feature 590 mm (26 x 1 3/8) wheels with Endrick or Raleigh-pattern rims, full steel fenders (or "mudguards" to the British) "North Road" upright handlebars, and cable-operated brakes. Sports bicycles had rather more nimble frame geometry, typically with 72 degree frame angles. These bicycles were faster and lighter than roadsters. The vast majority of English bicycles that made it to the United States fall into this category."

I should note that 26" x 1 3/8 wheels are not the same as 26 " mountain bike tires, I made that mistake ordering tires once and it taught me the importance of ISO numbers.  An English 3 speed 26" wheel has an ISO of 590, a mountain bike 26" tire has an ISO of 559, the two are NOT interchangeable! 

My normal approach is to take a bike down to the frame, clean up all the parts and reassemble with new "consumables" (rubber, cables, bar wrap etc) and then tune it up.  With the Raleigh Sports I was hoping to take a shorter path due to time and money constraints.  I am not a "flipper" but I was hoping to get this bike road worthy short of my usual complete disassembly, in part because a 3 speed internally geared hub is foreign to me  and compared to working on a old 10 speed drive train it would be like speaking Zulu.  Again my thinking I could do this quickly doomed me from the start.

I knew the tires were going to have to go, first because they said "Raleigh" on them making them original equipment -i.e. 40 years old.
Secondly because, even though they held air, the front tire had a large abscess where the tube bulged and didn't allow the wheel to spin freely.
So I ordered up new tires, tubes and rim strips going with the Kenda K40 gum walls,  I love their 27" tires so I figured the 26 x 1 3/8 were a good bet.  The next stop was checking on the two places I am always concerned about with any old bike; the stem and seat post, if anything is going to be stuck or seized on an old bike these are the likely suspects.
I got both out (whew) but I am not sure they would have gone many more years before seizing up.
With this project I decided to use a trick I had first seen in one of those classic Jorgen Leth cycling race films of the early 1970s, where a mechanic uses a brush to apply grease.  I noticed a mechanic doing this at a local bike shop recently and thought "hey I should try that" - it works pretty well and is definitely cleaner than using my finger to apply grease.  A well spent buck fifty-seven.
It worked especially well with seat post and seat-tube.
And the stem and head tube.

One pervasive theme to this project was rust.  Just about any 40 year old bicycle is going to have some rust issues but I am not sure I would have survived this project without my dremel and brass wire brushes.
The worst of it was the front wheel, which I suspect was stored in a puddle, and the handle bar.  If money were not object I would have just replaced those parts but instead I attacked the rust as best I could and was up front in my craigslist description.  
One misguided short cut I tried was to loosen the headset up enough to get fresh grease on the bearings without actually removing them.  This Raleigh Sports is from the time before caged bearings so of course when I got the headset loosened and started in with the grease all those little bearing wanted to try and escape..  I reconsidered my ill planned approach and went back to removing the fork, carefully corralling the bearings, cleaning up the races and applying lots of fresh grease and then putting it all back together.  The once stiff headset is now relatively smooth.

Another favorite tool on this job was the $10 grease gun I got on Amazon.
Packed full of park bicycle grease this came in handy as both front and rear hubs had grease ports that allowed me to pump in the fresh grease.
before clean up

After a little super fine steel wool massage
I also opened up the bearing cups to get fresh grease on the bearing of both wheels.

While this bike did not get the usual ground up treatment it did get some serious love in addition to the fresh grease and new rubber.

  • New handle bar grips
  • New rear brake cable and housing
  • Brake and shifting adjustment
  • Cleaned and lubed chain
  • Lot of rust removal
  • Cleaned Frame with Armor-All wipes
  • New brake pads front and rear
The old brake pads weren't going to cut it- another original part
Although more draft horse than show horse this 3 speed should provide some-one with reliable, and fully fendered, transport.

And now I have a Peugeot course to put back together.  As always;


Monday, March 17, 2014

Hybrid Encounter; 1995 Diamond Back Approach

As you probably know if you have looked at more than two of my posts I have a thing for bike boom era 10 speeds and I rarely get out of that "wheelhouse".  Last week, however, my buddy Charlie asked me to take a look at his bike.  Charlie knows I am a bike geek and also knows I am looking for employment so I traded some bike tune up time for a few coffee cards to our mutually favorite coffee shop.

Charlie has a 20 year-old Hybrid Diamond Back Approach, near as I can tell its a 1995 model -thanks in Teal.  The bike has been under some cover but stored outside so it was in need of a dose of TLC.  First some clean up.
bath time
I had noticed upon pumping up the tires that the front wheel had the distinctive hiss of a punctured tube.  After washing the bike down I discovered the "all original" tires needed to go.
Factory Original 700x41c Avenir Lakeside tires
Sure, you could ride on them...

But not a good idea
In this part of the world even chromed steel doesn't take long to get rusty when stored outside.

But a little time with the brass wire brush equipped dremel does wonders

Taking care of the bike was pretty straight forward as I was looking to do some weather proofing and basic maintenance not a frame up rehab.  I gave it following TLC:

  • Washed the grime of the bike and then wiped it down with armor all wipes.
  • Attacked rust where I found it and then applied a light coat of 3 in 1 oil on the affected parts, not a perfect fix but it will delay the rust process.
  • Replaced the worn out tires and tubes with a new set of tubes and some used but in good shape Panaracer Pasela tourguard 700x35c tires I had in the parts bin.  
  • Since the front tire had been flat water had gotten into the rim and caused some rust and corrosion on the aluminum so I went to work on that with the dremel and brass wire brush
  • Removed and regreased the seatpost and stem, the two areas I always worry about seizing on old 10 speeds.
  • Cleaned and lubed the chain and rear cassette - yep its a 7 speed cassette hub, probably one of the first years they used a cassette instead of a freewheel hub.
  • Checked the SIS shifting which was fine -not a fan of grip shifters but these worked well.
  • Lightly sanded the brake pads and checked the brakes for proper alignment - had to make some small changes to the rear brake to get it not to rub.  I am also not a fan of cantis but these were pretty easy to dial in.
Since this bike doesn't get much use I was going for serviceable rather than doing a total refurb for a bike that was just going to go back out the porch for storage.  My friend, however, has just lost 40 pounds and started running again so the bike might figure into his activity now.  I made some suggestions about potential upgrades/replacements if he decides to do some riding.  And that process got me thinking....

The Hybrid bike is an odd "neither fish nor fowl" product of the 1990's, not really a road bike and not really a mountain bike but something of a mix, well Hybrid of the two.  Since they are not lugged they weren't really on my bike radar but getting up close and personal with one I realized they could make an awesome commuter and I know alot folks use them as such.  This example is a no-nonsense mix of CroMo, Tange and "High Ten" (aka gas pipe) steel tubing.

Also since they probably spent 30 seconds putting the frame design in a envelope to send to China they can put "designed in the USA" on it.
But I digress, back the commuting idea.  You have a serviceable steel frame, curved front fork and a TON of room for tires which equals a great commuter platform IMHO.  It also has 130mm rear dropout spacing so you could upgrade to 8 or 9 speeds if you were so inclined.  The nice thing about 7 speed stuff is you can get a new SRAM cassette and chain combo for about $25 bucks before tax and shipping.  As you can see below the 700x35c tires I put on the bike barely make a dent in the available room, I think this bike could accommodate 700x50s without fenders and 700x40s (or bigger) with fenders.  

I have plenty of other projects in the queue but "find a mid 90's hybrid to create monster commuter" has just found a way onto the list of future projects.  I hope you enjoyed this diversion from the norm, should have some progress on the Peugeot Course soon.  Until then please and repeat.
All cleaned up and ready to go