Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bianchi Buddy Bike

I'm still determining what exactly I have acquired here. I picked up an unidentified vintage Bianchi in pretty rough shape. It's very grimy and has been repainted some time ago with a heavy enamel coat. It is cracking nicely and gives it some patina and 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.

Year - ????
Make - Bianchi
Model - ????
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 - ????
Headset - Ofmega
Saddle - Terrible
Seatpost - Stuck

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

1974 Raleigh Gran Prix Part II

This week the Raleigh Gran Prix Project was completed. Each component was carefully disassembled and rebuilt or replaced. The friction has been noticeably lowered with a combination of fresh grease and new bearings. With these upgrades the Gran Prix dropped a stunning 4lbs without losing the original character of this popular mid 70's bike. The extra gears now allow one to climb ridiculous inclines with the ability to run all the way down to a 28T x 30T ratio. You can see how the bike looked before it was revamped here. Below is a list of the key parts that were added.

- Vintage Brooks Standard B15 Saddle
- Cork and EVA Bar Tape
- Aluminum Rear Rack
- Campagnolo Racing-T Triple Crankset
- Shimano Deore Front and Rear Derailleurs
- Sealed Bottom Bottom Bracket
- Weinmann 27"x1"Alloy Rims
- Suntour 5 Speed Freewheel
- Presta Valve Tubes

Sunday, November 3, 2013

1974 Raleigh Grand Prix

With a great amount of pestering I have convinced my friend to let me update his Raleigh Grand Prix. He picked it up a few years ago from his father who had purchased it new. The serial number dates this bike at 1974 and a label indicates that it was built in Holland. The original components have seen much use. For sentimental reasons each part that is being replaced will be cleaned and kept in case that he would like to make the bike original again.
This bike has so much character. The lugs are shaped to resemble the profile of the Raleigh Heron's head. The seat-stays wrap around at the cluster and there is a slender bridge that runs between them to hold the rear brake cable. These pictures show the bike prior to being updated.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

1975 Fuji Special Tourer Part II

This bike started out as a total wreck but underneath the grime and broken components there was a pretty decent bike waiting to get back on the road. The heavy cotter pin cranks have been upgraded to a  3-piece crank with a sealed bottom bracket. The bars were flipped and chopped. The disgusting neoprene was stripped of the saddle and replaced with black suede. The steel rims were bent and uselessly heavy so they had to be recycled and were switched out with some much lighter aluminum 700c wheels. Aside from the frame, pretty much all that remains of the original bike is the saddle, seat post, nitto quill stem and the headset. You can see the before pictures here 1975 Fuji Special Tourer Part 1

Frame: 56cm 1975 Fuji Special Tourer
Fork: Steel
Hubs: Xero
Rims: 700c Xero
Tires: 700 x 25c Michelin Lithion
Crank: Sakae SE
Pedals: Ofmega
Brake Calipers: Dia-Compe Center Pull
Brake Lever: Shimano Deore XT
Quill Stem: Nitto
Saddle: Viscount Cloud-9 Suede Cover
Handlebars: Flipped & Chopped
Gear Ratio: 43x16
Weight: 22lbs

Sunday, October 13, 2013

1975 Fuji Special Tourer Part I

When acquiring an older bicycle, I always try and get as much history on the bike's life as possible. Seldom is the complete story known, which leaves me to wonder where has it been and what has it witnessed throughout its existence. Sadly, this Fuji too has a vague and incomplete story. Apparently this bike was crashed long ago destroying much of the drivetrain but leaving the frame intact. It was then was left to rot in an abandoned house in the city for a couple decades. Now that it has been unearthed it can start a new life and be briefly documented here.
I can't wait to get started on this one. The plan is a bare bones single speed conversion with chopped bars, suede saddle with a black on magenta color scheme. It should make a good distance commuter with the touring geometry. You can see how it turned out here Fuji Special Tourer Part II