Sunday, February 24, 2013

Moto Solo

Not that this is really news, or anything, given the last few posts, but this fuzzy iPhone picture is my Motobecane Grand Touring, now rideable in its latest incarnation.  I think of it as a town bike, but I'm not sure what the best categorization is.  It's pretty sporty, despite its upright bars and dated components and appearance -- not at all a sleepy city bike.

This weekend I re-dished the rear wheel by loosening the drive side spokes a turn, and tightening the non-drive side about two and a half turns.  It's just about properly dished, and laterally pretty true, from what I can tell without shop tools, but I don't really know how radially true it is, and I've no idea how even the spoke tension is.  At some point (likely in April), I'll get the bike into Cambridge (maybe even ride it in!) and over to Broadway Bicycle school to tension and true both wheels properly.

I also put a chain on it (an unused old Sachs chain, in brown, that matches the freewheel well), threw a tire and tube on the rear wheel, and bolted the 600/Mavic MA40 wheelset in, complete with its new XT axles, fancy spinning locknuts and chromed nuts with built-in washers.

All that stuff completed the drivetrain, but stopping is as important as going (as many have found out the hard way), and I encountered a small snag trying to adjust the rear brake (now that the wheel was properly dished).  The 600 brakes I bought for the bike have less reach than the old Suntour Superbe brakes I'd been using, despite both being advertised as 47-57mm, and the rear pads don't reach all the way to the rim.  Fortunately I still have the Superbe brakes kicking around, so I put the Suntour back onto the back.  The front brake is staying Shimano -- the reach is fine, and I suspect it will work better than the too-flexy Suntour caliper.  I also swapped the brake pads at both ends, having neglected to do so previously, and not wanting to find the limits of the ancient Shimano pads the 600 brakeset came with.

I took it outside yesterday for a few minutes, just as the first snowflakes were falling from the latest winter storm in Massachusetts (still going, as I write this, maybe 30 hours later).  Today I put 10 miles on this bike on my rollers, just to check everything out and settle everything in. A few tweaks post-ride were needed, but they were just tweaks, and were done about a half hour after my ride.  All that's left is to cut the kickstand down to size, and Le Mongre is ready to carry me around town, whether for flat-loop workouts or errands.

I'm excited!

All for now,


Monday, February 18, 2013

Wheel Progress

Well, wheel building class is over, and I managed to get three of four wheels finished.  The fourth (Juli's rear wheel -- 600 freewheel hub and Ambrosio Formula 20 rim) was built, and true, but when I sat down to dish it, I discovered that it was nowhere near centered.  Turns out I used the short spokes on the non-drive side.  Oops!  So now it's a pile of spokes and nipples and a rim and a hub, again.  I'll re-lace it this week and finish it up next Sunday at Broadway Bicycle School.

I've been making other wheel progress as well.  My Motobecane hubs have been fitted with bolt-on axles, and the rear was re-centered for a single speed freewheel at the same time.  I'll need to re-dish the rear wheel next weekend as well, and I'll take the opportunity to touch up the front wheel, too -- tension, true and tension balance it.  The other half of the parts swap that landed the Motobecane with nutted axles, the NOS XT hubs I bought are now set up with QR skewers, and the rear has an 8-speed Hyperglide freehub body on it, to boot.  The drive side profile of the freehub is a little different than other hubs I've seen, so the 8-speed cassette was rubbing against the hub itself, and I had to build up a freehub washer, spacer to make that work.  A nuisance, but not hard.

Looking beyond its wheels, the Motobecane is nearly ready to go.  The brake cables have been installed, I've gone through the headset, mounted a headlight and bell, swapped out the 39-tooth chainring for a 42, and installed a water bottle cage mount and cage.  I'm currently working on a new bag setup for the bike.  More on that later, but I'm pleased with how the project is coming together overall.  I'll post a pic when the bags are done, and the wheels installed, in a week or two.

With half of Juliana's tubular wheels complete, there is a Vittoria Rally tubular tire dry-mounted to her built front wheel.  It stretched onto the rim pretty easily, and I need to play with centering and the like.  I also need to dig up some Mastik to mount the tires for real.

The city wheels I built for my friend Allyson are nearly complete and sitting at her apartment.  They need rim strips, but just to be fitted with tubes and tires and a cassette and mounted, otherwise.  At some point I need to get over there to move her tires over to those wheels, and get them onto her bike and everything adjusted to suit.

It feels like I've been wrist deep in grease for days, now, with all this activity.  I reek of grease as I sit here, writing this, in fact.  Good progress this weekend, though, on projects both short-term and long.

All for now,


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Motobecane Grand Touring City Bike

My Motobecane Grand Touring has been an ongoing project since it first fell into my hands about four years ago, during what can really only be described as a transformative time in my life.  It came to me as a frameset and a pile of parts I initially rebuilt into a decent-looking classic 12-speed road bike.  But the fair aesthetics fell by the wayside when I was forced to replace the Motobecane fork.  All I could find at the time is the pictured blue fork I was told is made of 531 tubing, and was originally from an-old Crescent (a Swedish brand) bike with 27" wheels.  Mixing frames and forks can be a risky proposition, but in this case there were no ill effects, and the bike works as well with its new fork as it did with the original.  It may even ride better, with its slender little legs, than it did with the original Motobecane fork.  But it's been ugly since -- really, really ugly.  Not just because of the mismatched color, but also because of the loss of chrome lower legs and a nice low-radius bend in favor of a relative dog-leg bend.

Le Mongre (non-French for mongrel), as I've often called it, has been built as a classic 12-speed, a sporty, fendered rain bike, and then later as a comparatively stripped-down "fast" bike.  In that last configuration, it served as my primary bike for two seasons, and it was even was my ride for the 2011 PMC.  It's not a pretty bike, and nor is it a terribly nice bike (the lugs and brazing work are crap, and on the PMC, its lower frame even filled with water, thanks to a kind-of-stupid chainstay bridge design), but it's a delight to ride, really -- stable, reasonably fast, and comfortable.  It has served not only as an enjoyable ride, but also as a great illustration for me that a bike can be humble, but still serve up goodness.  Even so, in the interest of simplification, I decommissioned it last year.

After hanging on a wall for for much of the past year, I've begun the process of rebuilding Le Mongre as a single-speed city bike.  It's still a work in progress, as can be seen from the photo above -- even more than your eyes would lead you to conclude, really.  But none of what's left to do is hard, and I have most of what I need to finish it on-hand.

To make it a single-speed, I have two candidate wheelsets in mind.  The first is a set of racing wheels I've had for a long time.  The hubs are 32-hole 105 (1050) hubs that came originally on my Shogun Katana -- the first bike I bought for myself, as an adult.  Along the way, I've refit these with a 7-speed Hyperglide freehub body, and had them relaced to Velocity AeroHead II's, in black.  I have a single-speed kit intended for Shimano cassette hubs, if I go with these.  They're a light, fast and sporty wheelset -- the same wheels that carried me on the PMC, and I certainly didn't feel disadvantaged by the bike.

The second is a set of old-school road bike wheels, which are installed in this picture.  These are Shimano 600 (6200) hubs with Mavic MA40 rims, with 36-spokes.  They are probably a better choice for city duty than the others, because of the increased spoke count.  But the thing is, they're perfectly matched to Juliana's Pinarello, and they're sort of my fall-back for that bike, if the tubular wheelset doesn't work out for her.  For me to use it, I'd have to re-lace the rear to space it properly for a single-speed freewheel, which would render the rear wheel useless as far as Juli is concerned, and these would make a nice training/rain wheel for her, if the tubulars work out just fine.  So I think it's likely I'll end up with the more modern wheelset on the Motobecane, even if it's not really the obvious choice.  But who knows - I change my mind every five minutes on stuff like this.

Either way, I'm going to rebuild the hubs around solid/nutted axles for anti-theft reasons.  The bike is going to stay in Cambridge at a friend's place, where it will see weekend duty around town.  So keeping it hard to steal or steal from is part of the plan.  I just picked up a set of lovely, lovely NOS Deore XT hubs with a Uniglide freehub body and nutted axles the other day, and these will donate their axles and nuts to the Motobecane.  The Uniglide freehub body will make its way onto eBay, and an 8-speed Hyperglide freehub body will take its place, along with a 140mm hollow axle and some QR skewers.  And those XT hubs will eventually be laced into FiR tubular rims as a set of road wheels.

But we're talking about the Motobecane, here, so let's not go there just yet!

The bottom bracket will be a Shimano UN72 cartridge bearing unit, located by the same Phil Wood Swiss threaded stainless rings I've had in that bike sinc I bought it.  The crankset will be the same Shimano 105SC (1055) cranks that graced the Motobecane for its time as my primary ride, too, but fitted with a 42-tooth chainring.  The pedals will be the same MKS pedals that came with the Motobecane originally, and which I used mostly on my Schwinn Sports Tourer.  I've rebuilt them several times, and one of them keeps getting prematurely crunchy and stiff, so it may be time to relegate these to the trash heap.  Not yet.

The bars are cheap Wald  bars in the North Road style, and if they work for me, I may replace them with a chromoly Nitto bar at some point.  I don't have much experience with upright bars, and my intent is to use these Wald bars (and maybe others) to find a style that generally feels right.  Then if and when it makes sense to upgrade, I can do that later, without burning much cash experimenting.  The stem is a 120mm Salsa I put on the Kestrel years ago.  It's a TIG welded chromoly part, and not a cheapie by any means, but it doesn't look like anything fancy, and I'm not going to put it on anything else I have any time soon, so there it goes.  Mounted on the bars are a set of Dia-Compe MTB brake levers, which have big, old-school 4-finger levers and should be just dandy for city use.

The brakes are new to me.  I have previously run the Motobecane with the Suntour Superbe brakes that came with it.  But those are kind of flexy, and frankly they scared the crap out of me a couple of times on group rides.  So I found a set of Shimano 600 (6208) side-pulls to swap on in their place.  These aren't quite as pretty as the Suntours, but they have the same reach, and a very similar single-pivot, Campy-copycat design.

To their credit, just before moving their side-pull brakes to dual-pivot designs, Shimano pushed the Campagnolo side-pull design forward quite a bit, by beefing up the profile of the caliper arms, making them significantly more rigid, fore-aft.  So when the pads drag on the rim, the arms don't deflect as much, and stopping power improves.  Unfortunately, these aren't the even-later SLA light-action model (like the Exage Sport brakes on Juli's Pinarello), and they're a little stiff.  But they will work just fine, based on previous experience.

I'm not sure where I'm going to land with respect to a saddle, yet.  For the time being, I'm using my favorite saddle, an old Brooks Professional I rejuvenated with Neatsfoot oil around the same time I started the Motobecane's rebuild.  It's really comfortable, and I may ultimately decide to put it on the Colnago and get myself something wider for this bike, because the San Marco Regals I've long preferred on my fast bikes are feeling harsher on my aging tuckus with every passing year.  Like the Motobeane, the Brooks is no longer pretty (the Neatsfoot soaking softened it and is responsible for the feel, but unfortunately replaced the gorgeous wood-like shine with a dull patina), but it feels great for fast riding -- far better than a modern Brooks Team Professional.  The current model feels like sitting on a PVC pipe, by comparison.  The seatpost is a cheap Kalloy, and is new.

Bolted to the rear is an Avenir clone of the classic Pletscher rat-trap rack.  These can be noisy in the rattly sense, but the spring arm is handy for securing a jacket or sweatshirt, or some other random find from a trip about town.  I had to use P clamps on the seat stays to hold this on, since the frameset has no rack or fender eyelets at the rear.

The bike will be easy to finish up, and unfortunately it's going to be as ugly as ever when I'm done.  But the goal (for now) isn't to make it pretty, and in fact some ugliness may help in the anti-theft department.  No, for now I just want to extend the service of a bike that means a lot to me - because of what it taught me, how well it served me, and when it showed up in my life.  All good stuff, and I'm looking forward to this next chapter.

All for now,


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I started a post on Sunday about the build I've got underway with the Motobecane, but somehow I lost it.  No big deal -- was still pretty rough.  And in truth the build still has a ways to go, and I probably shouldn't rush that post anyway.  Later... later.

I am inching indirectly forward on that build, though, by making progress lacing wheels for two other bikes!  I have laced Juliana's tubular wheelset (above), and the front wheel for Allyson's Puch, and I'll lace the rear in a demo for both Allyson and my kids on Thursday night.  So when I next step into class on Sunday night, I'll have two 3-cross laced wheelsets to begin tensioning, truing and stress-relieving.  Most exciting is that I laced the front wheel for Allyson here at home, and I pretty much remembered what to do.  I did peek at Jobst Brandt's book here and there, for reassurance, but didn't have to undo anything along the way.

One of the wheelsets these will land on the Motobecane.  I'm growing more and more convinced it will be the more modern wheelset (105 hubs, Velocity rims), and that I won't swap them out over time.  But time will tell.

I also repacked the coaster brake hub the other morning, which was easy and fun.  That hub will ultimately be laced into an alternate rear wheel for the Motobecane, as well.  I even found online a close match in a Velocity rim to the ones on the 105 hubs, for a reasonable cost.  Fun!

So:  Indirect progress on the Motobecane, apparent wheel-building knowledge retention, a (surprisingly gritty and stiff) repacked Bendix 76 coaster brake hub, and eyeballs on a Velocity rim to lace it into.  Not a bad set of achievements, without actually working at all on the Motobecane itself.

Next time I'll remember to save the post more often, though.

All for now,


Update, 2/1:  I laced the rear wheel last night, as I mentioned I would.  And it became less of a demo than a group effort.  My younger daughter, Ava, was eager to try lacing some spokes, and seemed to really enjoy the process.  Allyson also participated, lacing a bunch of the spokes up.  Even Juliana, who started out paying no attention at all, focused instead on her iPod, eventually asked to lace a few spokes.  OK, so I'm a bike geek, sure, but I have to say it was a lot of fun to share the experience with all.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Building New Wheels

Tonight I'm starting another wheel building class at Broadway Bicycle School!

I took the class 2 1/2 years ago or so, and built a set of 650B wheels for Juliana's last bike.  It was a great experience, and it resulted in a great set of wheels for that bike.  But now I find myself in need of multiple sets of wheels, and unfortunately I don't really remember the details of how to build them well enough to get the job done.  For that matter, neither do I have the handful of specialized tools I should have to do so -- nipple driver, dishing tool, tension meter and wheel truing stand.  So I'm taking the class again, and am hoping to sneak two sets through the build process.  I'll augment that time renting a bench at Broadway to get the remaining wheels built.

Let me explain...

Juli's Tubulars
This is way overkill, I'll admit.  I mentioned that Juli seems to like going fast, and she loves that new Pinarello of hers.  I've initially set it up with a wheelset built from a set of Shimano 600 (6200) hubs (freewheel rear) and Matrix MA40 rims.  These are great wheels -- virtually unused.  But they're a little old, almost certainly machine built, and could probably use a re-lacing.  They're pretty stout, too, with 36 spokes, and those Mavic rims aren't the lightest things around.  Juli is pretty light, and being only 12, her leg strength isn't tremendous.  So I've been thinking that she would benefit from a lighter wheel/tire combination.  And by sheer coincidence, I've had this desire to play with tubulars sometime before I die (no announcement there, just a statement).  You know where this is headed.

I have a set of once-laced 6207 hubs on-hand from another bike, and found a set of unused old Ambrosio Formula 20 Chrono's on eBay for short money.  The rims are scary airy-light, and I'm going to build the wheels with butted spokes, to keep them light and quick.  With 36 spokes, they should be strong enough to deal with the weight and strength Juliana brings to the table, and they'll give me the opportunity to play with tubular wheels and tires on the cheap.  I'm excited!

Allyson's City Wheels
I haven't spent much time writing about the Puch I built for my friend Allyson to use around Cambridge, but I will at some point.  I built that bike with a 7-speed clincher wheelset, with the 105 (1050) hubs that came on my Shogun (upgraded a while ago with a Hyperglide freewheel body), and 32-hole Velocity Aerohead II rims.  Now, as old and obsolete as the hubs are (mid-1980's), these are a relatively light and fast wheelset, and they have no doubt contributed to the spritely feel of Allyson's new-to-her Puch mixte.  The thing is, though, that I don't really feel like I've given her a wheelset well-suited to the role that bike is intended to serve.  With 32 spokes and sporty rims, this wheelset doesn't seem at appropriate for city riding, trips to the grocery store, or things like that.

So I've been thinking for a while about a swap.  I picked up a 600 front hub (same as the other 600 hubs I have kicking around), and a Shimano Sante rear hub.  Sante was a short-lived groupset that slotted between 600 and Dura-Ace for a couple of years in the mid/late 1980's.  They were nice parts saddled with a poor/trendy choice of finish (pearl white), and they were not embraced by the market.  But the designs essentially evolved into Ultegra, which ultimately replaced both 600 and Sante.  Both of these hubs are 36-spoke, so they have the potential to be stronger than the otherwise similar 1050 parts already in place on that bike.  I'll be swapping the 7-speed Uniglide freehub body on the Sante hub for an unused Hyperglide body I've had on-hand for a few years, and lacing these to a set of sturdy Sun M13-II rims with butted spokes.  The rims have a nice polish, and a classic box shape, and will look better on the Puch than the v-profile black Aeroheads on there now.  They will likely have a bit more heft than the other set, but they'll be stronger, and that's the primary goal.  The bike wears 32mm Panaracers now, but if the spritely feel is diminished too much with these new wheels, I can mount a set of lighter tires to help offset that.

So those are the two wheelsets I'll be trying to build in class, or shortly thereafter.  The two wheelsets being replaced are slated to land on other bikes, at least temporarily, and possibly for longer.  So what's next?  Read on!

Tubulars for my Colnago
I don't have hubs for this project yet, but I do have a set of FiR tubular rims (36 hole) and my eyes on a set of nutted Shimano XT hubs from the late 1980's that would make a fabulous set of road hubs.  I'm pretty sure I could swap the Uniglide freehub body for an 8-speed Hyperglide, and the nutted axles for QR skewers.  In any case, I have the rims, and need to find some hubs, and will build myself a set of tubular wheels to play with on my Colnago.  There's no real rush, but I'm looking forward to playing with tubulars on my own bike, not just Juliana's.  I'll keep the clinchers I have on that bike around, just in case I'm not fond of the feel and upkeep for the tubulars.

Coaster Brake Wheel for my Motobecane
I'm in the process of rebuilding my retired Motobecane as a single-speed bike with a more upright posture than it had before.  It'll still be a mongrel, but it'll be a different mongrel than it's been to date.  I'll eventually need to settle on a wheelset for it, but I'll start with a 105SC/Mavic wheelset that once served on my retired Kestrel, fitted with a single-speed hub converter kit.  Later, once Juli has some experience with her tubulars, it may make sense for me to commandeer the 600/MA40 clinchers I mentioned above, and relace/respace the rear for a single speed freewheel.  But I don't want to do that until I'm sure tubulars are a good idea in her case, so I'll make do with the 105/Mavic wheels for now.

Whichever the wheelset, the Motobecane should be fast and fun as a single-speed.  To add to that fun, I'm planning to build a coaster brake rear wheel for it, too.  Coaster brakes aren't terribly efficient, but they're an absolute hoot to ride.  The last time I had one, I almost immediately put the bike into a pallet of cinderblocks, crushing the front fork.  But once the bike was fixed, I could be found regularly snapping the brake on at speed, leaving lengthy stripes on whichever street I happened to be on at the time.  Clearly, I need to have another.  So I've picked up a Bendix 76 rear hub with 36 spokes, and when I settle on a wheelset for the Motobecane, I'll look for a matching rim (Mavic MA40 or Matrix Open Pro) to lace the coaster brake hub into.  I'll keep the front and rear caliper brakes in place, regardless, but will have a second configuration to play with when the mood strikes.  The prospect of all this quite frankly makes me giggle!

There's a lot to do, here, but I'm looking forward to it -- hands-on work and experimentation alike!

All for now,


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Juli's Pinarello Treviso

Nearly two years ago, I built an old Schwinn World Sport frame into a 650B, step-through all-arounder for my (now 12 y/o) daughter Juliana.  The result is a neat little bike, and the build kept me entertained, with a couple of challenges requiring unorthodox solutions.

With its step-through frame, a 48cm seat tube, smaller wheels, a short-reach stem and narrow bars, it was easy for Juli transition from her little 24" Fuji to the Schwinn, and she seemed to enjoy most everything about it, save for the color.  But I noticed two things over the two seasons she rode the bike.  First, it seemed to keep getting smaller and smaller, as Juli's limbs and torso stretched out (eh... it happens).  And second, when we were out riding, if another cyclist passed us, her natural reaction was to give chase.  For that matter, if we crested a hill and saw another cyclist off in the distance, she tended to want to chase them down, too.  She's a little competitive, it seems.

Now, my elder daughter is artistic and bright, but also disorganized and argumentative.  She plays soccer, but she's like me in that cycling seems to be the sport she's best at, and it's not clear to me that team sports or ball sports are her thing.  So... despite the very good advice Grant Peterson gives to parents not to make cycling a 'sport' for kids, I decided to get Juliana onto something more aggressive than she was riding, to see if I could nurture the road cycling bug just a bit.

At the time, a friend had a bike in storage that we'd rebuilt together a few years ago - a Bertoni Corsa Mondial which seemed it might fit the bill.  She was planning her return to the states, and we'd talked about her cycling needs going forward.  She agreed a city bike would be a better fit for her needs than the Bertoni, so we arranged a swap -- I would rebuild a Puch mixte I had salvaged from my family's homestead as a city bike, and take the Bertoni in trade.  More on the Puch another time, but it's a truly lovely bike to ride.  Not light to carry, but with a spritely and nimble feel just the same, and much more useful than the Bertoni.

Unfortunately, that Bertoni was too small for Juli.  It was sportier and faster than her Schwinn, and she loved riding it, the handful of rides she took on it.  But it's a 46 (I thought 48), so it was a step in the wrong direction, size-wise.  So it now sits in storage, again, waiting for Ava to stretch out a bit.  Which is fine -- it's a nice bike for her to graduate to in the coming years.

With probably three bikes worth of components sitting in my parts closet, I was perfectly well equipped to build a bike up for Juliana, so as last season drew to a close, I started looking for a frameset.  I made the call that Juli should get a 53, after measuring the Schwinn and Bertoni, and studying her fit.  That seems like a big number for her, but on the other hand, I've been riding undersized frames my whole life, with posts at their max and long reach stems -- I should have been riding frames 5cm larger (and am today).  So 53 it would be!

After bidding on a couple of Colnagos on eBay, I happened upon a 53 Pinarello Treviso frameset.  It has Columbus tubing and a nice complement of braze-ons (including bottle cage braze-ons inside the seat tube, which I initially mistook for a hack job).  It  came with two forks -- the original with some deep scratches, and the newer chrome Pinarello fork you see here.  And let me tell you - the paint is simply gorgeous.  It's not pristine, but it is a deep red metallic with an almost luminescent quality.  The rear triangle has chroming on the right chainstay and  at the tops of the seatstays, and the decals are large and white.  Juli fell in love with it, and insisted that I build it with a period Dura-Ace groupset I was also watching at the time, in fact.  But I talked her down to a 600 (6207) group I had on-hand.

The cranks are 600, in 170, and the bottom bracket a Phil Wood with Italian stainless rings.  The hubs are 6207 (freewheel rear), laced with 36 spokes to Mavic MA2 rims.  The rest of the drivetrain is all 12-speed 6207, with a SRAM chain.  The headset is 600 from the 6207 line, which means it has one of those cool star nuts up top.  The seatpost is an inexpensive but nice Kalloy Uno part (the forged one that looks like a Ritchey), because the other 27.2 posts I had on hand all had aero shaping or fluting up top, and I didn't want water getting into the frame (the post sits way down in the frame for Juliana's needs).

I also departed from 600 when it came to the brakes, bars and stem.  I have been impressed by the first generation Shimano SLR brakes that came on my Shogun.  They don't center as cleanly as current dual pivot brakes, and they're not quite as powerful, but they still work way better than most I've tried, and require only a light touch.  The ones I have are Exage Sport, which was the trickle-down group under 105 in the late 1980's.  Not a fancy label, but a good cosmetic match with the 600 groupset, and they work much better than the older 600 brakes I had on hand with the rest of the groupset.  I upgraded the plated anchor bolts to stainless with allen-heads, and paired them with the matching SLR levers and Tektro cross levers.  The bars are old Olympics (I think) and the stem is a Nitto Dynamic II in 90mm.  Juli isn't used to leaning way over her bars, so the 90-degree bend and short-ish reach will make her happier than something more traditional.

The current saddle is a Brooks Team Pro S, which she is tolerating but not altogether fond of.  The build has progressed from the state shown above, and I've since bolted on a full complement of accessories.  A Zefal frame pump -- the last accessory needed) is on order.  I'm also planning to build a tubular wheelset for her, around an identical set of hubs, using Ambrosio rims.  More on that another time.

The resulting bike is a great ride.  I took it for a spin after I finished the build, and all I could say is wow.  It feels light, fast and nimble -- definitely the nicest bike in the family, including my Colnago, which is pretty nice.  No, the drivetrain doesn't shift as crisply as a new one, and no it doesn't have brifters.  But it's still a Pinarello with a 600 drivetrain!  It'll carry her through her teens, I expect, and if she wants something more contemporary, we can have that conversation when the time comes.  In the mean time, she has a delightful old-school racing bike, far better than anything I rode before I was twice her age.

All for now,


Friday, December 21, 2012

Catching up on 2012

I decided in January to set Bronze Gears aside for a bit.  My bike habits had somewhat stabilized, and I wasn't feeling the need to share what little I was actually doing with my bikes.

But I have had some projects -- mostly focused on dismantling my fleet.  Most of my bikes are gone, and I have only one remaining in service today -- the Colnago I built about a year ago, which is more or less as it was after I finished the build, apart from a change in stem to raise and stretch forward the bars, just a bit.

My beloved Motobecane Grand Touring was retired early in the summer and hung on a wall, after a single commute proved that it really wasn't well-suited to that role.  Apart from not having proper provisions for racks, with a loaded bag at either end, the bike felt really soft and flexible.  I had the sense I was overtaxing it, not doing either of us any favors.  So I pulled it apart, and hung it on a wall for the rest of the season, but I have plans to put it to better use soon.

The fillet-brazed Schwinn Sports Tourer that carried me around a small slice of Tuscany is also gone.  A good bike, but I worried about the creaky stem and was ready for something different, though that something different hasn't yet appeared.  Again, parts removed and repurposed, and the frame sent off into others' passionate hands.

The Shogun Katana I bought when I was 23 or so met the same fate -- parted out and mostly gone.  And my old Paramount MTB has replaced it as the bike my dad has in his hands.  It's not being used any more than the Shogun was, unfortunately.

So that's a lot of parting out and selling off!  But not everything has flowed outward -- there's been a fair bit of building and inbound traffic going on as well.  I'll tackle those stories here in the coming weeks.

There's a Puch mixte that was salvaged from my family's ancestral farm and is now in the hands of a friend, complete with many parts that have graced my bikes over the years.  I figured my older sister would want this, but she declined.  But it's a lovely bike, in its rebuilt state -- really a joy to ride.  Its new owner seems to appreciate it, too.

There's a Pinarello Treviso now in the hands of my 12 year-old daughter, built up mostly with a Shimano 600 (6207) groupset taken from a Bertoni I bought to replace the Motobecane.  After I realized it wasn't any better up to the commuting task, it was dismantled as a source for Pinarello parts, and sold off.  The Pinarello is a beautiful bike, and Juliana seems to love it.  She's pretty fast, and this will help her keep up with me much better than the 650B Schwinn does.  That bike is still part of the family -- a loaner bike of sorts -- but it's in storage right now.  The Pinarello deserves some time up here, for sure.

Also in storage is a smaller version of the same Bertoni I mentioned above.  This little bike needs a little work, but it will serve Ava well in a year or 18 months.  She has only about a year left on the Fuji, I think; her legs shooting out seemingly every day.  She doesn't have the speed bug like her sister, but she seems enjoy riding (not climbing).  And the Bertoni will be a super little bike for her, equipped with a mix of 105 (1055) and 600 (6207) parts.

So -- lots of projects under my belt in 2012, and several more to come in 2013, including building up some wheels (three pairs planned), experimenting with tubulars, creating a single-speed for the city, and finding a better commuting solution than the Motobecane was.

2013 should be a good year for bikes around here.  I'm looking forward to the projects, and I'm looking forward to sharing.

All for now,