Friday, December 17, 2010

Rainy days mean winter bike projects

Between a flurry of work winding down to the end of the year, a few other projects and the rain lately I've managed to squeak-in a few hours on some back burner projects. In the last few years it seems like it's been very difficult to find good vintage steel bike frames ripe for rebuilding, they can be overpriced, garage sale/thrift store turn-overs, and/or not worth the trouble. On ones that you might come across, that appear less than optimal, well if you have lemons, make lemonade!

Take French Peugeot bikes for example. Although Peugeot is an established name in France, unfortunately most of what they imported to the US during the bike boom in the 70s onward, with a few exceptions was pretty much standard production fair. Many with steel cottered cranks and other run-of-the-mill components with the possible exception of MAFAC racer center-pulls. The now obsolete French threading on these bikes makes them more of a challenge. But despite their quirks, old French production bikes are still usable.

One of the reasons why better vintage steel bikes and frames are harder to find these days is partly due the popularity of single speed and fixed gear track style bikes ridden on the street.

For roadies who happen to like more than one gear, this can be frustrating. Granted, older heavier steel frames being what they are, a single-speed or fixed gear conversion, if your riding mostly on flat terrain can make sense. I commute regularly by bike and CalTrain and single speed and fixed gear bikes are very popular. They're relatively light, simple, require less maintenance and look cool. They're like a lightweight streetfighter, when you just want to get to where your going on flat terrain with no frills,

Previously while working in SOMA SF for a small boutique design firm (translation: sweat shop), I commuted by bike and CalTrain on a metallic blue Fuji I'd rebuilt as a single speed. Needing to get to CalTrain in a somewhat timely manner, I geared it 50x16. Not great for starting out (knee torque) but this old steel bike would fly once you got going. I sold it to a guy in Portland. That was one sweet bike.

Back to the common French bike, with these bikes, you can get French cups for current sealed Bottom brackets and there are a few repro french headsets around. You can always change the fork so you can use a more current diameter quill stem—French stems are a few millimeters smaller, similar to older Schwinn or BMX.

So if you can find something in the way of French bikes for a good price. Go forth and make use of it! —© 2010 VeloTouriste

Monday, December 6, 2010

Totally wired.

Yesterday spent a few hours mounting a dynamo generator and lighting on my vintage commute bike. I mounted a Sanyo bottom bracket dynamo that mounts to the chainstays infront of the the rear fender. I mounted a front Lumotec halogen 2.4w headlight to a bracket that attaches to the fork crown/brake assembly. For the rear I mounted a Soubitez .4w light to a stainless tab that attaches to the rear fender. The rear light is now situated behind the rear rack. The Sanyo has less drag than sidewall dynamos. The halogen light isn't great but will do until I upgrade to an LED light. Having a generator lighting set-up on the bike makes it completely functional anytime which is great, without having to worry about batteries for lights.

© 2010 Velotouriste

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Under the wire bead.

I recently removed the tires on a vintage 650B wheelset from a vintage 1950s Pelissier randonneur bike I've been working on. The tires were "Dunlop Balon Leger" with sidewalls completely toast. The tires were difficult to remove, I ended up cutting the beads with a pair of brake cable cutters. Much to my surprise, tire beads had multi-strand wires, each about the size of one mondern wire bead. The rims had cloth rim strips woven in a tubular style. The rims also have a very interesting profile, but with non-hook bead rim edges making them only suitable for lower pressures.

© 2010 Velotouriste