Sunday, May 22, 2016

Market Run

West Seattle Farmers market
When my schedule allows on Sundays I like to go to my local Farmers market and that means riding the bike.  Its a paltry 10 block round trip but it gets me turning the pedals and puts a smile on my face.  By turns I am embarrassed its the only riding I am doing  of late and happy that I am getting out at all.  Congrats to any of you who participated in bike to work day last week.  I have participated a number of times but not this year.

In addition to the usual assortment of fresh organic fruits and veggies I got a very pleasant surprise when I found strawberries today.  We had a fairly warm spring which has put the strawberries about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, I'm not complaining.

One of the many things I like about riding or walking around my neighborhood is getting to see so many vintage bikes.  I am not sure if my area has more old bikes riding around or if its just my finely tuned bike geek radar but I see them all over, especially when the sun comes out.

Today I saw a nice blue Nishiki in classic 10 speed configuration.

A few weeks I saw a lovely Peugeot mixte - a fairly common sight- with city bars

And a much less common Lotus Odyssey touring bike

I see alot of bikes, like the Peugeot mixte above that have been adapted for use as city bikes.

A nice Bridgestone with milk crate rear rack.

A Miyata adapted with city bars with gorgeous Ergon grips.

A Fuji Sports 10 with north-road riser bars.

And then of course like the Nishiki up top you get some classic 10 speeds relativity unchanged.

A mid 80s Raleigh sporting bamboo fenders, not sure of the model but based on the down tube shifters and drilled brake levers its probably a super course or above.

Univega Viva Sport.

A red  Trek 720 a mid 80s touring bike with 531 tubing and canti brakes.

And it is possible to park your bike for too long....

Well I am going to go juice some of that lovely produce.  As always.

Ride. Smile. Repeat.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

1970s Atala Giro D'Italia (2011) Amore!

Catalog shot mine was white
Manufacturer: Atatla
Model: Giro D'Italia
Found: On CL
Paid: $85
Acquired: August 2011
Sold: Frame only November 2011

I have always meant to write about this bike but could never find any pictures of the project.  I finally decided to just find some shots on the web and get on with it.  Back in 2011 when I was getting deep into vintage steel bicycles and after spending way too much time on bicycle blogs I was convinced I needed to find some cool vintage Italian steel. ( later I was convinced I needed something French and went after the Peugeot Course but that's another story).

right color wrong number of gears
So I started haunting Craigslist and eBay for a suitable candidate and stumbled across a 1970 something Atala Giro D'Italia.  It was about twice the amount I would normally spend but since I was getting it just for me I decided to fork over.  I let my lust for the idea of an Italian 10 speed blind me to the fact that it was a 25" frame and therefore too big for me.  I tried to make it work but the reality was it just didn't fit regardless of the Italian pedigree.  The catalog intro reads like so:

Seamless high tensile frame tubing combined with generous use of alloy components, including quick release hubs, center pull brakes (Weinmann), alloy handlebar and stem combine to make this a quality lightweight machine. Equipped with Simplex Prestige wide range derailleur system.

The late great Sheldon Brown had this to say:

Quality generally ranges from reasonable to downright scary. Importantly, these were among the few bikes to enter the U.S. before the early 70's bike boom that were of any quality. look for examples with nice chrome.

As a small word of caution, don't be terribly excited buy seemingly ornate lugs with cut outs on some Atala models. Such frames are very common and not terribly unique or desirable. In Italy, they are everywhere - even on the typical commuter bike.

I was so excited about this bike I even looked at a cool retro wool jersey..

Yeah I was a bit nuts.

I ended up using some of the parts on other projects; TTT stem, the afore mentioned Simplex Prestige drive train group, Sugino crankset and some cool details like 3 chromed top tube cable guides, and an "umbrella" clamp on frame pump stop.  They mostly went on the Tiger.
Simplex Prestige RD

Chrome top tube cable guides
That left me with a frame which I sold on Craigslist.  I realize now, in retrospect, that it's not about the country or the pedigree of the steed but if the bike fits and puts a smile on your face when you ride it which the lovely Motobecane Grand Touring certainly does.

bliss at 10 speeds
As always Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Restraint or Laziness? (1983 Raleigh Record)

This morning I was driving around my neighborhood in search of French Toast which I have been jonesing after for weeks, and for some reason the places I had intended to go were all full up- Happy Mothers Day btw.  I then remembered a local pub had started doing brunch and with no minors allowed I thought it was worth a shot (what about bikes when is he going to get to the bikes! ....wait for it).  So as I am getting close to my destination I come over a rise and see this..

Now I do actually see bikes on the sidewalk for free occasionally but 98% of the time they are either kids bikes or rusty Mongoose  mountain bikes, I very rarely see bike boom ten speeds.  The one time I literally lugged one home (Curb find) I discovered on closer inspection that it had serious issues.

But hey its me and its obviously an old 10 speed so of course I have to stop.  My first thought is what is it? Yeah I am a bit of a label snob and I probably wouldn't give a Sears free spirit a second glance but as it turns out I am in luck- its a Raleigh.

Now the sharp eyed amongst you probably already noticed one glaring deficiency - no front wheel, that isn't much of a detriment as I have at least a couple floating around.   The first thing I noticed when I got closer was that the frame had been painted with primer so I couldn't for sure identify the model and the clues were somewhat contradictory.  The fork crowns had the engraved Raleigh crest indicating a mid to upper end frame but the suicide brakes and stem mounted shifters suggest something entry level like a Raleigh Record or Gran Prix.
nice power ratchets

The non cottered crank

And single pivot brakes, rather than center-pulls, seem to suggest late 70 or early 80s vintage.

And it also has Sun Tour throughout which also seems to suggest the later 1970s to 80s time frame, including this rear derailleur.

Now if I was a better flipper I would probably have picked up the bike without hesitation and stuffed in my trunk thinking I could spend an hour with it and slap it on CL for $100.  I am not that guy and I would probably need to strip down to the frame and rebuild it even it was just going to be a beater bike and  I really have no place to do a paint job anymore either.  And by "paint job" I mean Rustoleum in a spray can.  More importantly I started thinking about what awaited me at home:

  • A rebuild in progress in the bike stand - Raleigh Super Course
  • A Mixte in need of some TLC on my balcony- Raleigh Rapide
  • A possible clean and flip project also on the balcony -Motobecane Mirage 
  • A frame that I have 75% of the Parts to build up - Motobecane Mirage (Yellow)
  • A frame that I am "probably" going give back to bike works as I have too much to work on! -Schwinn Traveller III
  • And my own beloved Motobecane Grand Touring which sits in my bedroom with lots of new parts waiting to be hung from it.
Just thinking through the queue, and the siren call of French toast, wised me up and made it easier to walk away from this "freebie".
goodbye little fella

Then again I could drive by it in two hours and load it there room behind the couch?  Until next time. 

Ride. Smile.Repeat.

PS the French Toast at the Bridge was awesome.

PPS  I am an idiot at least when it comes to old 10 speeds....I went back...
brought home another stray
There was room on the balcony....It occurred to me I could swap the drive train over to the Schwinn Tourist and have a mostly complete bike for zero dollars, although if I had a garage this frame shows some promise but most likely I will probably just donate it to the local bike kitchen....
seat cluster detail

pantographed fork crown
forged fork drop outs
At least I don't need to worry about a stuck seat post - it practically jumped out and then I noticed the jacked up hardware store seat clamp fix, wonder if the seat post was too small?

Well soon I will probably either drop my moonlighting gig (REI) for more time or my main contract gig will end at the end of the fiscal year  (less likely) and I will only have the moonlighting gig in either case I will have more time in which to clear my bike project queue...yeah that's the ticket.


A bit more research and I believe this is a 1983 when all levels of Raleigh frames had nice details like the ones above.  And based on the little paint I can see and all the other items - brake levers, stem shifters, etc. I believe its an entry level Record like the one below.

1983 Raleigh Record

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What's that in your Hand? (Raleigh Super Course Part II)

Dude is that a (gasp) bike wrench in your hand? Are you actually working on a bike? Do you even remember how?

Yeah its been a while but I am finally getting to my bike queue and in specific the Super Course of my friend Joe which has been languishing for an embarrassingly long time.  I figured it was finally time to strip the Raleigh down to the frame.
My bike stand had been a bit lonely and was happy to accomodate the Super Course.  Here goes....First off come the wheels.
I really hope neither the seat-post or stem is stuck..
Whew! I wonder what the frame looks like under the layers of dust and grime?
Left side treated with some armor-all wipes the right side left alone.  Hmm there is hope.  Wonder if those pedals are going to fight me?

Ok pedals are off now lets see about the fork and headset.

Ok finally down to the frame, the cranks were no problem with my trusty cottered crank tool,  so now only a few pieces to go the bottom bracket and headset cups...

and oh yeah you noticed that rear brake is still on, not sure why but it doesn't want to come out and I don't feel like brute forcing it, and its in a bit of an awkward place for a hammer tap anyway.  So the plan for now is to clean it up in place.
I had to review a few resources before tackling the bottom bracket but was able to successfully get it out- its gonna need a little cleaning

With the help of another bike specific tool I was able to make short work of the headset cups- they need a good soaking.

So having been lucky enough to avoid the dread of stuck; seat posts, stems, pedals etc, its now time for the real work. Lots of cleaning, polishing, lubing, adjusting and updating all the consumables -rubber, chain, bar tape etc. 

Until next time- Ride. Smile.Repeat.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A new bike for the Trailer Park Cyclist - Nashbar SS 29er disc

Happy 2016 Friends!

I have been working 1.5 jobs since October 1st with just a handful of days off in that time so my posting has been non-existent.  My Velo Brother the TPC has been even busier as a vampire carpenter, rebuilding steak houses by night and sleeping by day and pretending he doesn't blog anymore.  He has had time, however, to get a sweet new ride and asked me to post it for him last month and I am finally getting to it, so I will let him take it away.

Woke Up This Morning and I Grabbed Myself A Beer
Hey Ryan!  Man!  Apparently (and much to my dismay) I seem to have been born into a life of hard labor and travail; it is inescapable, it seems, that I must toil mightily from time to time to keep my shelves stocked with chain lube and inner tubes and rum and raw peanuts in the shell (trailer park trail mix) and also kibble for Miss Daisy and her wacky sidekick, Toby the Trouble Puppy.
we are innocent

How Long, O Lord?
I don’t get it.  I turned sixty last July and then, as though on schedule, I had some kind of half-assed heart attack on Labor Day weekend and spent three days in hospital finding out that I wasn’t going to die anytime soon as long as I quit drinking rum and beer and eating pizza and barbeque ribs and buckets of fire-house chili.  Right.  Like that’s gonna happen.

But I will admit (cue humble voice) it got my attention.  So I have moderated things a bit.  No rum on work nights and no more than four tall boys a night. I read the nutrition labels of the food I buy to check sodium content.  But when you live on the Road and seek sustenance mostly at 7-Eleven and saloons near the motel...well, you know.

Whatever the case,  I jumped back out there and like I said, I am working my ass off.  All this slavery has its rewards, though.  One such reward is a new bicycle.

Too Many Choices
I searched and pondered and dreamed and it went on and on and finally the Blonde said “Get off yer ass and buy a bicycle.  You deserve it.”  Now, having studied the merits off all things Surly and Salsa (really the only two brands I considered)  it dawned on me that, cheap bastard that I am, maybe something off-Broadway would suffice.  I was already all too familiar with Bikes Direct and after putting together Cromwell’s hybrid I was suitably impressed with BD’s quality.  But somehow I had stumbled across this single speed mountain bike over at Nashbar and I just couldn’t get it out of my head.  No matter where my dreams roamed, (and they roamed mightily over at the Salsa Fargo) I kept returning to this Nashbar…

It Ain’t A Story Without A Back Story
It all started a few years ago when my erstwhile son Beau left my vintage Marin Redwood unlocked behind a saloon on Flagler Avenue, our local pub crawl street.  Un-biked, I immediately went down to my friend Surfer Eddie’s pawn shop.  There was a pretty likely-looking little ‘91 Mongoose Alta sitting there and after a brief haggle she was mine.  In those days I still took my bicycles to the LBS for tire repair and I knew that the thing dangling off the rear wheel had something to do with changing gears, but my way was to find one comfortable gear and then leave it there.  I didn’t trust that dangling thing and I was quite content to leave well enough alone.  Then, later, thanks to the cacophony of all things internet,  I started learning a little about bicycles and through some mischance found myself lost in a weird neighborhood of bicycles with no gears or brakes that you could ride backwards and forwards and become one with your bicycle, whatever THAT means.

1996 Marin Redwood catalog shot

Simple Is As Simple Does
So I dove headfirst into all things single speed.  Florida, as I have been known to mention, is flat.  Who needs gears?  The fixed gear thing seemed a little spooky, but I couldn’t take my eyes off those converted bicycles.  They were sleek and clean and had chains that were different colors and every time I looked at my Mongoose I couldn’t help but notice that dangling thing, hanging there, dirty, greasy...the whole area around the rear, uh, sprockets(?) was dirty and greasy and I wanted it all to go away.  But how?

I won’t burden you with the dreadful process of the early days of my education of All Things Cycling.  It is a tale of woe and joy, wasted money and long, painful rides while I figured it out. It all took place during one of the most impoverished periods of my life and really, it seems like a lifetime ago.  In fact, it WAS a lifetime ago.  Because having emerged on the other side of all that ignorance was born a new old man who could ride like the wind and strip a bike blindfolded and put it back together so that it worked better than ever, most of the time.  I have tools and a work stand and an inventory of new and used bicycle parts that takes up more space than I can afford.

Chop Shop
What I did was take the little aluminum body Mongoose down to English Peter’s machine shop.  I brought along a piece of ¼ inch aluminum plate I had been toting around for years and I talked him into cutting off the dropouts on the back of the ‘goose and replacing them with ¼ inch track mounts. He was absolutely reluctant to do the job and made me promise not to kill him if everything went wrong and we were to lose the patient during the operation.  I did and he did and the bicycle lived.  I rode that new-old-bike all over the place and the converted ‘goose became my fun bike, my slow beer fetcher, my curb-hopping, alley-blasting kid’s bike.  I still have her.

Track dropouts

And Finally!
But I wanted disc brakes and I wanted a twenty-niner.

Nashbar 29er in Stock form

So, following the Blonde’s advice, I broke down and bought a new bike.  Not Surly and not Salsa, those dreams can wait for another day.  I bought that Nashbar single speed that I could not stop looking at online.  I craftily waited for a sale and got her for way under retail.  I pushed a “Place Order” key and just a few days later, there she was.  I put her together fast, not worrying about the re-lube process or any wheel truing issues.  I was after quick first impressions to confirm my suspicions and the need for new parts that I already had on standby in my Amazon Wish-list and other parts, originally purchased for Little Miss Dangerous, that I had in my parts stash.

A quick ride to the river showed that I was in fact correct about some things I had already surmised.  The (damned good) WTB knobbies had to go.  They were replaced with a set of two-inch Rubena street tires.  They look like Schwalbes and ride like Schwalbes (I guess) and cost a third of the price.  I chose the gray color after a lot of vacillation and finally just said “what the hell” and bought the colored tires.  I’m glad I did, although I think black would have looked pretty cool, too.
City slickers

The Bars
I don’t know why, but the steerer tube was pre-cut and pre-cut too short, at least for me.  Why?  I don’t know.  When I put together Cromwell’s Bikes Direct Motobecane, the steerer tube was cut on it also.  These bikes come almost fully assembled, and I suppose that the seller figures cutting a steerer tube is a little more mechanical than most casual riders are ready for.  But they cut it too short.  I could not get the handlebars level with the seat, needless to say my goal of slightly (one inch) above seat level.  So I went to Amazon and transferred the Origin 8 six inch (5 ½) riser bars, black alloy, from the wish list to the cart.  A pair of Ergon GP grips were the cherry on top.

I used a Ritchey stubby high-rise stem to get the bars a little higher;  the stubby factor makes her a bit more nimble and quick in the handling department.  It is noticeable.

New Handlebars with Sweet Ergon grips

Feets, Get Me Oughta Here
I didn’t even consider the stock pedals.  I never put them on.  I had a pair of low-end Wellgo platform pedals I had purchased for who-knows-what project (probably to boost a purchase package up to the $100 free shipping deal) and they went on right away.  I spend a lot of time standing on the pedals and this is a single speed, remember.  Pedal pressure is real and strong.  I’ll probably upgrade the pedals again...Velo Orange, for my birthday, maybe.  The Wellgo’s go well but what the hell?  A little bling is good for the soul, sometimes.

A fella can dream

Speaking of Bling…
Brooks B-17.  Again, the stock saddle never got mounted.  I knew without looking that whatever was on the bike straight from the seller would be crap.  Even if it wasn’t, there was never any doubt that the B-17 Imperial would go on the new bike. I have had this saddle for over a year, but due to work pressure and some damnable fear of trying to mount the NOS Sachs front derailleur and the NOS Shimano bar-end shifters onto Little Miss Dangerous (my famous ‘81 Schwinn SLT),
because of my unfathomable paranoia, Little Miss is entering her third (!) year of suspended animation and it is a source of nagging guilt made only worse by how much fun I have blasting around on the New Lady.
Brooks B.17 Imperial with custom lacing

But listen:   I recently did a Trailer Park Special lacing on the Brooks.  I was noticing, along about 500 miles, that the saddle seemed to be breaking in.  I looked into this, because I now have a coveted B-17 which makes me privy to the arcane and esoteric cabal that is all things Brooks, as in special ointments and weird practices involving mysterious methods of “getting it right” or expediting the “painful break-in period” which apparently takes anywhere from one to one-thousand miles to achieve.

Not me.  Like I said, at about the five hundred mile mark I started thinking about whether my saddle was breaking in or not and decided that yeah, I could feel some difference.  So I got off, mid-ride, and started pushing and prodding and flexing the sit-bones area and was mildly startled to see that strong pressure where the ischial tuberosities landed would cause the sides of the saddle to flare out considerably.  I didn’t like this.  It was my understanding that the leather seat would gradually soften and mold to fit the pointy parts of my ass, not that the saddle would deform and pancake and otherwise flatten into some amorphous shape that, while perhaps comfortable, would be cause for its early demise.  I want this saddle to last forever

So, after a hundred hours perusing saddle lacing stories on the forums and finding a hundred different opinions (and surprisingly little info from Brooks) I decided to Figure It Out Myself.
I bought a pair of 72” leather boot laces from the Winn Dixie hardware aisle and cross laced the saddle.  I was VERY careful not to pull the laces so tight that they deformed the original (unseated) shape of the saddle.  It was a lot like wheel tuning:  maintaining an even pressure across the lacing and leaving no slack.  It is my thinking that the leather laces will cause the saddle to retain its original shape while it molds to fit my butt, while at the same time, being leather just like the seat, they will offer still further suspension and flex.

It works.

The Future and Dreams of the Future
While dreaming about this bike it was always my plan to install an internal gear hub.  Which internal gear hub was not clear, but I knew that I wanted at least minimal gears while retaining the clean lines of the single speed.  Florida is flat, too be sure, but the wind does blow, ya know, in directions not always in the best interest of the cyclist.  As a spoiled American Male in the Land of Plenty I naturally took for granted that finding the wheel I wanted would be of little consequence.  I figured the hard part would be deciding WHICH internal gear wheel I wanted.
SA 3 speed hub cutaway courtesy of St. Sheldon the Brown

So imagine my surprise when, after getting all the other details dialed in, I went in search of a 29 inch disc-ready black internal gear wheel.  Apparently, they don’t exist.  Oh, there are HUBS aplenty, to be sure, but even these have questionable application and some come with shifters and some without shifters and some shifters work on this hub and some shifters work on that hub but it is, at least to me, something of a morass of doubt and fear.  I already got all the doubt and fear I need in life so for now, the New Bike will be single speed.  But those fat 29 inch tires (and the wind) cry out for at least one speed above the line and one speed below.  There must be some way out of this conundrum and I am happy in my search;  it is a source of joy to pursue the grail, to seek the One Bike and I will forever dedicate myself to the Riddle of the Wheels and the Holy Grail of the One Bicycle to Rule Them All.
It keeps me going, it does.  
Nashbar 29er TPC custom job

about town

29er vs 26er

yer pal, tj
Whispering Pines Trailer Park
December 2015