Friday, May 1, 2015

An ode to the Trailer Park Cyclist

I discovered today, that my virtual friend the Trailer Park Cyclist is hanging up his shingle on the 'ol internets citing among other things the time and toil required in being a grown up isn't leaving much time for being the TPC.  If you have never read the TPC I urge you to do so at his writing is a real treat and in the 4 years I have been reading him I have learned a little and laughed a hell of a lot.

Like my friend, I have been "on the beach" (unemployed) as often as not over the last 3 years.  I think Tim Joe got alot more out of being unemployed than I did.  I did a little blogging and some working on bikes but mostly I worried over getting the next job.  Tim Joe on the other hand wrote alot on his  blog and more often than not made me laugh and always made me eager for more.  Since he hasn't blogged much in the last year I wasn't shocked that he was closing things down but still saddened a bit that (selfishly) I wouldn't have a TPC post to look forward to.  I can, however, attest to the fact that being a grown up and being responsible tends to put a gigantic hole in your day and there often isn't much left to spend on pursuits like a blog.

If I recall correctly I first came across Tim Joe's work in the brief time I read the "Fat Cyclist" blog, he had written and excellent piece called "Trailer Park Cyclist vs Cervelo Guy" and I was hooked.  This was also a time when I was transitioning from a Roadie who craved carbon and going fast to a steel is real, ride fat tires and go off pavement and screw the HRM kind of guy.  Most of my cycling friends were of the former, pro kit wearing, variety and so I went down the old school steel path alone and ended up finding friends with a similar  bent, like Tim Joe, online.  Since I live in Seattle and Tim Joe is in Florida that means we don't do actual rides together but I do hope that one day we'll meet up somewhere with our trusty Steel Steeds and take a meandering ride down some back road and end it at a pub over a cold one.

Thanks for the Ride TPC.

In Honor of TPC's Le Tour "Little Miss Dangerous"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Its like.....well...riding a bike (and working Steel)

Its a bit embarrassing that it took until nearly the end of March but I finally got my first ride of the year in on Thursday the 26th.  It had been so long I wasn't sure I would remember how but I was pedaling along in no time, I actually think I got more winded pumping up the tires than pedaling.  Although to be honest it wasn't an epic ride, I was just taking advantage of the first 70 degree day of the year to do a short ride up to the pub with a friend.
28 micro-brews on tap
My buddy rode his cool old school Guerciotti with its unique lugged aluminum frame.
I went a little crazy locking up with both a heavy cable and U-Lock,

One of the many things I like about my urban home, in addition; to a bus line right outside the door, a coffee shop next door and a hub of shops and eateries five blocks away, is that I get to see alot of working steel in my daily life.  

It might be a lovely Celeste Bianchi Eros.
unicrown fork

Or a nice lugged Miyata Triplecross. 
city workhorse

Lovely Japanese Lugs
A sweet red  Fuji

Or an old Peugeot UO-8 made into a city single speed.
love the no nonsense chain lock
basking in some spring sun

As a sucker for old 10 speeds I really love to see old steel bikes getting used and being useful rather than mouldering away in basements and garages.  I hope wherever you are that you are treated to a nice spring for riding.

Until next time Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Le Mixte Fran├žais

Lately I have been visiting Mixte Heaven on Facebook way too often and it has put Mixtes on my brain, especially the cool split tube european kind.  So there I was looking through Craigslist at Mixtes I didn't really need, and I came across a lovely blue Peugeot at a reasonable price.

Even at a good price it survived the weekend and I was able to pick it up during the week.  Turns out this bike is not just a Peugeot but a made for the french market one that came to Seattle with a French family who is going back to France and didn't want to lug a 30 lb. Mixte with them.

I haven't nailed down the exact model or year but its similar to the "all weather" UE-18 style bike.  Peugeot had different components for bikes in different markets.  This bike has 700c wheels rather than 27 inch and presta value tubes rather than schrader for instance.  Instead of center-pull brakes it has some entry level side pull brakes.  And I guess instead of north road handlebars these are Le Rue Nord.

I really like that this bike came standard with fenders and a cool integrated rear rack painted to match the frame,

unfortunately the bike didn't come with a front lamp although based on the bracket holes in the front fender it had one originally.  Another cool feature is the Peugeot branded bell which I understand are rare and expensive, I looked on ebay and one was for sale in the UK for $60, which is about what I paid for the entire bike.

The bike does have the standard 70s Peugeot drive-train, Simplex of course.
downtube Derlin simplex shifters

And now I really need to stop acquiring project bikes! although for this one I could probably do a "flip" if I really wanted to as its in nice shape to start.  I would like to give it the full treatment, however, and with spring coming and perhaps the addition of a basket I think it will fetch a good price.  On the other hand my daughter continues to sprout up and has outgrown her last bike and she likes the look of this one so maybe I will build it up for her.

Until next time ride, smile and repeat.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

1985 Schwinn Ladies Mesa Runner -Reborn

Make: Schwinn
Model: Mesa Runner
Year:  1985
Obtained: Aug 2009
Found: Someones Yard
Paid: The sign said FREE....

This is a throw back post.  I was going through some photos and came across a bike Project that I had not yet posted.  A number of years ago when I was; A) still a speed play using-lycra wearing-Aluminum frame riding-roadie and B) still married, I was out for a nice summer ride when I broke my chain.  I didn't have the right tools for a fix so I was clip clopping home in my roadie shoes when I came across an 80's vintage mountain bike in someones front yard with a free sign on it.
Free - "as is"
And I think to myself appears rideable and since its free I could ride it home and ghost ride the road bike...and with home only about a mile away I figure I can pull it off.  I take off my roadie shoes and use their velcro straps to tie them onto the rear rack and then set off pedaling in my stocking feet.  I could see the chain and freewheel  were pretty rusty so I expected the gravelly sound they made but I hadn't anticipated the ghost shifting which made life interesting on the short slightly uphill ride home.
El Rusto Primo
After getting safely home I did a bit of research and realized I had a 1985 Schwinn Mesa Runner, I knew it was an '85 as that was the only year of the two year run where they made a ladies version.  It had a few issues, the chain and FW as mentioned were rusty, and the shifters weren't exactly show quality.
seen better days

Some of the chrome wasn't in the best nick either.

And it also had cantilever brakes which I have never been the best at adjusting.

I realized my wife (now Ex) had a milestone birthday coming up and this might be a nice present, with a bit of TLC that is.  This project was unique in a lot of ways, its the only ladies mountain bike I have rebuilt and its the only the second bike where I have ever repainted the frame (the first was an old Azuki).  At this point in time I hadn't done much refurbing of bikes so I didn't really have a parts bin, nor was I as well acquainted with bike parts on the internet as I am now.  I did, however, have a Motiv Mt. bike (Costco purchase) laying around not getting any use that I could cannibalize.
not really motiv-ating
I bought the Motiv in late 1999 when I was just getting back into biking and didn't really know any better.  The irony is that at the time my (then) father in law offered an old Hybrid he had mouldering away in his basement.  Unfortunately  I lacked the; knowledge, skills and interest then to tackle a rebuilding project so I bought a cheap Costco bike instead.  Face palm.  Anyway it ended up being a great source of parts for bringing the Mesa Runner back to life.  The first thing I replaced was the rear derailleur.

I also took the combo brake and shift levers to go with V-Brakes which I also stole from the Motiv.

And as you can see I also though slick tires would be a good choice for some reason, well they were more practical for city riding than the knobbies at any rate. And I did splurge on some new parts like some swanky new pedals, a major improvement over the POS "resin" pedals it had before.

And what I discovered later was my most important purchase, a wicker front basket.

It was with this rebuild that I discovered that Ladies love the basket, when I presented the bike to her the very first thing she said was "oh I love the basket", not "Wow you did a lot of work", or "is that even the same bike!".... LOL.  So now when I build a ladies bike I always try to put a basket on it.

My paint philosophy with the 10 speeds I refurbish is to leave it original and use a 3 step wax process to get it in the best shape possible.  If the purchaser wants new paint I leave that to them but once you replace the original paint job you can't go back.  With this bike I decided on painting the frame because A) the paint wasn't in very good shape B) the bike is not a "collectable" and C) I had a vision for this project of a blue frame.  I was fortunate that on the day I was at the hardware store to get the spray paint for this project I had my, then 6 year old, daughter along as my advisor.  I had a steel blue in mind but when I picked it up my little fashionista piped up with "no daddy, not that one" so I asked her what blue she thought mom would like and that is what went on the bike, and of course her mom loved it.

Although the marriage didn't last things are good,  I live 3 blocks away, we get along better now than when married and she still has the bike and takes it  for rides with our daughter so I think this project ended up being worthwhile.  You may have noticed that in addition to cleaning up nicely I was able to the rear rack leveled (OCD) I think it makes things look much nicer.

Until next time. Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

1968 (?) Raleigh Super Course Part I -the before

I corresponded with my friend Joe last year and it turns out he had a vintage Raleigh Super Course hanging in his basement that he was interested in having refurbished.  Having never worked on a Super Course before I was of course(pun intended) interested.   I was in Portland recently to visit my Mom and stopped by Joe's to pick up the Super Course project and bring it back to the workshop.

I haven't pinpointed the exact year yet but I know Joe got the bike in 1970 from the original owner so I figure late 1960's.  Like most project bikes; its grimy, its got some pitted chrome on the front forks and its in need of alot of TLC, so pretty much SOP.  The Super Course came with Reynolds 531 main tubes, quick release hubs (many 10 speeds of the late 60s still had bolt ons), chromed rear stays and a Brooks saddle.  This one came in Coffee Brown, so I guess Raleigh knew it would eventually end up in the coffee crazy Pacific Northwest.
Pitted chrome on front fork with QR
Model B.15

While discolored the leather isn't cracked and doesn't appear too dried out.  One of the things I like about this era of Raleigh are the ornate lugs.
Fork crown

seat cluster

Head tube
This Super Course  also has a different (earlier) head badge than the other Raleigh's I have worked on.  It still has the regal Heron motif but as a solid badge, rather than  one with cut outs.
Cool pre 70's head badge

Another first for me will be working on Huret derailleurs, this bike is equipped with the Huret Svelto rear which has a unique design compared to the SunTour, Shimano and Campagnolo's of the 10 speed era.
Huret Rear

Huret Front
And this vintage 10 speed has my old friend the cottered crank. Which through long experience and a great tool I can handle.

A few things I have learned in working on old 10 speeds will come in handy working on this project.  First of all this Super Course has an AVA stem so I will need to look it over carefully to be sure its not a dreaded "death stem" model.
AVA stem

There is also a tiny brake cable end that fits into the brake bridge, you don't want to misplace this part - believe me.

Don't misplace the tiny parts!
I also have some shifter challenges to overcome although this bike might get configured as a city bike so I would be moving the shifters anyway - we'll see.
So I have added a new project to the queue, I need to get back to work on the Torpado Alpha and I need to revamp the Motobecane Grand Touring but I look forward to getting this Super Course back on the road in style.

Until next time Ride. Smile. Repeat.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A few 2015 upgrades for the Motobecane Grand Touring

I am not one for resolutions but I would like to ride more in 2015.  To that end I did some thinking, and some shopping, about what would make riding easier in 2015.  Last year I finally found a bike I had spent a number of years looking for.  In rebuilding old 10 speeds I had developed a fondness for Motobecanes.  About 4 years ago I built up a Motobecane Nomade II, this was an nice bike but an entry level 10 speed I had every intention of selling.  When I test rode it, however, I was amazed at how well it fit, so I measured it very carefully with the thought that I would find a higher end MB someday to fix up for myself.  That day finally came last may when I came across this 1978 Motobecane Grand Touring on craigslist.

My reality for 2015 is that I am older, not very fit and live in a very hilly place so going with a completely stock 1978 Motobecane isn't going to work for me.  My first priority was to get gears that would make riding in my hilly neighborhood easier.  I had been eyeing the Velo Orange 46/30 Grand Cru crankset which I like not only for its hill friendly gears but also for its style, so that was the first thing in the shopping cart once I found a deal online.

To complement this new crank I figured I would go with a new bottom bracket, which is a bit tricky because for this year of Motobecane it's possible that the BB is;  French threaded, Swiss threaded or even English!  To avoid the potential problem of choosing the wrong BB I decided  to go with a  VO Grand Cru threadless BB.  I will let you know how that turns out when I install it but one thing that convinced me to go this route was that the existing threads can still be used after the threadless BB is removed, so I can also go back to the stock set up if I want.
no threads no dread of choosing wrong

To complete the new crank set up I picked up a pair of my favorite pedals the Shimano PD 324's, which gives me the ability to jump on the bike in sneakers or clip in for a "serious" ride while retaining a classic look.
I go both ways...

One thing I did not like about the bike when I got it were the brake levers.  They are obviously modified "safety lever" controls and I don't like the look.

cruelly cut down in a back alley somewhere

So I went with some nice Origin8 levers that are kind of a poor mans version of the TRP levers I put on my Velo Orange Rando  build.

Love that drilled look

I also have a Carradice Barley bag on order from the UK, this bike is called a Grand Touring after all. I don't know about the "Grand" part but I would like to get out and do some B&B overnights with this bike.
Mine is green with brown straps
I also have a few ideas about the cable housing and bar wrap combination but I will save that until I actually get it done.  In the meantime I have a Torpado Alpha to finish up but this gives me something to dream about and strive for in 2015,  a nice day long ride in say Portland Or, to a McMenamins pub for a well earned burger and a pint and a place to lay my head.

Happy riding in 2015.