Sunday, December 7, 2014

1987 Schwinn Cimarron

After a move across the country my first priority was not "Where are we going to live?" but, "What is my next bike project going to be?" So I picked up an old mountain bike frame and shuffled around it in the hotel room until I found a place to live.
Almost one year later here it is ready to ride. According to the serial number it is an 87' frame sold in 88'. The tubing is double butted 4130 CROMO and ovalized at the head tube. I retro fitted a new SRAM X7 group onto it and added a well worn Brooks Professional saddle. This is the cleanest it will ever be.


Brook Professional

Picture from the 88' Schwinn Catalog courtesy of MOMBAT

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saddle Recovery

When working on old bikes I often come across saddles like the one below. They look worn-out, cheap, and have been in a strangers nether region. Taking these things into consideration usually discard them.
However in general these saddles are decently comfortable and not too heavy. This time around I thought I would attempt a restoration instead of chucking it. This would include disassembly, cleaning, and recovering it to remove the yuck factor and make the saddle presentable.

 The old vinyl nightmare

Measuring and cutting the suede for the new cover 

 The finish product (won't be leaving this one out in the rain)

1. Removed the old cover and left the foam padding in tact
2. Measured the suede to the edge of the saddle and added a 10mm border for cementing
3. Cut out the pattern with pinking shears
4. Sprayed the backside of the suede and the foam with 3M Super77
5. Applied contact cement to inside edges of the saddle and the edges of the suede
6. Waited 15min for the cement to activate
7. Aligned the saddle stretched the suede cover from nose to rear
8. Stretched the sides down nice and tight
9. After insuring everything was aligned, folded the edges under the saddle, bonding them with the contact cement
10. Pushed out any wrinkles with a smooth handle of a screwdriver and evened out the folds with pliers
11. Let cure overnight

Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 Manhattan Beach Grand Prix and Vintage Bike Show

Spent the morning watching the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix and checking out the Vintage Bike Show on the infield. Snapped some action shots and some notable bikes below.

An extraordinary compact frame by Zunow

Shift lever placement

Red drive-side / White non-drive-side

Early cyclocross bicycle by Swiss manufacturer Mondia

Great paintwork to highlight the ornate lugs

Saddles you don't see everyday

Sunday, June 15, 2014

1984 Bianchi Alloro Part II

After a long battle with a stuck seat post and a slow wheel build, the Bianchi Alloro is complete. Originally it was painted celeste green but the custom pin-striping a previous owner applied is so unique I had to keep this paint job. I lifted the grime out of the paint with polishing compound and a little comet here and there.
Most of the components that came with it were usable. Everything just needed to be cleaned, rebuilt, and tuned-up. I did replace the saddle, seatpost, front rim, spokes/nipples, tires, and rear derailleur.

You can see it's original state here in Part I.

Specs :
Year - 1984
Make - Bianchi
Model - Alloro
Dropouts - Bianchi
Fork - Bianchi
Crank - 170 Strada 9/16X20F
Chain Rings - 52 X 42
Bottom Bracket - Strong Light 70mm Marsue Deposee
Pedals - Miche
Shift Levers - Down Tube Campagnolo
Front DR - Campagnolo Record
Rear DR - Campagnolo Record 73'Brake Levers - Modolo
Brake Calipers - Modolo Sporting
Quill Stem - 3ttt
Handle Bars - 3ttt Grand Prix
Headset - Ofmega
Saddle - Selle Italia Turbo
Seatpost - UNO
Rims - Weinnman 27"x1"
Hubs - Shimano
Tires - Panasonic Panaracer

Saturday, April 19, 2014

1984 Bianchi Alloro

After rummaging through the internets and old catalogs I've determined that the Bianchi I recently acquired is an 1984 Alloro.  It's one of the roughest bikes I've worked on.  It was repainted some time ago with a heavy enamel coat. It is cracking and gives it some character but the eye catching details are the elaborate pin-stripes. They are very well done and give it a 60's hotrod look. I plan to rebuild it with mostly original components (some are missing) and lift the grime out of the paint to make those stripes pop. This bike is  a bit small for me but will make a great "buddy bike" for any of my visiting friends or family that are shorter than myself. You can see how it turned out here in Part II.

Specs (acquired with):
Year - 1984
Make - Bianchi
Model - Alloro
Dropouts - Bianchi
Fork - Bianchi
Crank - 170 Strada 9/16X20F
Chain Rings - 52 X 42
Bottom Bracket - Strong Light 70mm Marsue Deposee
Pedals - Miche
Shift Levers - Down Tube Campagnolo
Front DR - Campagnolo Record
Rear DR - Missing (assume it was also Campagnolo Record)
Brake Levers - Modolo
Brake Calipers - Modolo Sporting
Quill Stem - 3ttt
Handle Bars - MOD Grand Prix
Headset - Ofmega
Saddle - Cheap vinyl replacement
Seatpost - Stuck (wrapped in inner-tube and hammered into the seat tube...WHY?!)
Rims - Weinnman 27"x1"
Hubs - Shimano
Tires - Duro 630/25

Sunday, January 5, 2014

SRAM Automatix 2 Speed Hack

A couple of months ago I purchased a SRAM Automatix 2 Speed hub to replace my old 3 Speed Sturmey Archer on a '74 Raleigh Sports.
I loved the idea behind the design. Simplify the function and style of the bike by eliminating the shifters, brakes, and cables, while still allowing for a gear change.
After installing it on my Sports I noticed a problem right away. It shifted way too early, before you could get up to speed it would kick into high gear, robbing you of all momentum. Hill climbing was nearly impossible and it made the bike feel sluggish.
I went online to see if others had the same problem and found this article: Someone else had the same issue and was able to modify the timing and correct the problem. After reading the article I was interested in attempting to modify the hub but I was hesitant due to not fully comprehending the instructions and the fact that this was a brand new purchase, vs. some old junk I had laying around.
Once I got started it turned out to be pretty easy to do. The whole operation took about 30min.
I included some pictures of the disassembly and created a couple diagrams to help answer some of the questions that I had before attempting this modification.

This fix can be done with the hub still laced to the wheel. Just remove the wheel from the bike and start by removing the nuts on the non-drive/sprocket side of the hub.
Once the nuts are removed the coaster brake arm will slide straight out. Make sure your work area is clean there are a lot of greased moving parts in here that would be a pain to dig cat hair and dust out of.
Now that the brake arm is removed it should look like this. You should now be able to slide the entire unit out of the shell.
The hub shifts by centrifugal force. The weights labeled "1 & 2" are held down (towards the spindle/center) lightly by a spring labeled "4". When the wheel is spinning fast enough the weights are forced outward (pushing against the spring) by the centrifugal force engaging them into the higher gear.
So the goal is now to bend the spring to give a little more resistance against the weights so the the wheel has to be going faster to engage the higher gear. Only one weight has the spring on it. It is held together by a small clip labeled "3".
Remove the clip "3" by sliding it out sideways with a very small flathead screwdriver. Then you can slide the weight upwards to remove it and the spring with it. Then slide off the spring (highlighted in green) and unwind it slightly at about a 45° angle as the image below. You want to bend it enough that it stays in the 45° position before you reinstall it. Remember unwind it to push the weight toward the spindle/center. Do not unwind it over the 45° or you will not be able to shift into the higher gear.
Now reassemble the hub and reinstall the wheel. You should notice a significant difference. The potential this hub had is now realized. Great design and manufacturing overall just needed a slight adjustment on one spring. Not too bad.

Cheers to Dave McCraw for pioneering this method and sharing it on his blog!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

30 Essential Bike Tools

These are thirty bike tools I use on a regular basis and what I use them for. Keep in mind the type of bikes I work on are generally older. If you work on newer bikes (post 1980's) your needs may differ slightly.
Warning: Some of these items may be obvious.

1. Pliers - uses vary
2. Vise Grips - for when I don't have the correct tool (also great at mangling nice parts)
3. Digital Calipers - when it comes to bike parts .01mm is the difference between fitting or not
4. Adjustable Wrench - for when it's not metric or standard
5. Chain Cleaner - a clean chain is just behind inflated tires when it comes to essential maintenance
6. Gloves - have saved pounds of skin from being lost
7. Spoke Wrenches - for truing wheels and replacing spoke nipples
8. Box End Bottom Bracket Tool - for removing older cup and cone style bottom brackets
9. Tire Levers - the more of these, the easier it is to pry the tire off a rim (super inexpensive)
10. Chain Break Tool - for removing links or removing a chain that does not have a master link
11. Chain Whip - for holding sprockets in place or tightening a threaded freewheel (best named tool)
12. Crank Puller - great invention, threads into the crank and pushes it off of the spindle
13. Allen Key Sets (metric & standard) - the newer the bike the more you'll need these v.s. wrenches
14. Combination Headset & Pedal Wrench - for pedal and headset removal and installation
15. Small/Flat Combination Wrench - great for getting into tight areas
16. Bottom Bracket Remover - removes most sealed bottom brackets
17. Freewheel Removers - come in a variety of sizes and shapes for removing non-cassette type freewheels
18. #10 Allen Key - for removing cassette type freewheel hub bodies
19. File - I use mine mostly for making chain ring nuts shorter
20. Spanner Wrench - for adjusting cup and cone bearings
21. Saddle Wrench - for adjusting the tension on leather saddles
22. Large C-Clamp - I use it for removing the cotter pins on older cranksets
23. Lockring Wrench - for removing and installing lockrings on Bottom Brackets or Sprockets
24. Large/Flat Combination Wrenches - must have to get proper tension on cup and cone bearings
25. Chainring Tool - for tightening chainring bolts
26. Adjustable Spanners - for holding cups in place when installing a lockring
27. Exacto Knife - uses vary
28. Toothbrush - to scrub where you can't
29. Assorted Screwdrivers - great for older bikes in general and for adjusting derailluers on new and old bikes
30. Metric Wrench Set - 15mm through 7mm should get you through most projects