Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bianchi Premio Redux

Over the winter while I was recovering from my Thanksgiving Day spill, I started collecting parts to redo Drew's Bianchi Premio. To be sure, it was already a very nice bike but I wanted to update it to STI levers and make some changes to create an even better bike.

A friend gave me a partial Cannondale bike that had been in a wreck and the frame had been damaged beyond repair. The seat tube was bent, the cranks were bent, the wheels were missing, but the stem, handle bars, and shifters were still in very good condition. The front derailleur was shot but the rear was still good. I was off to a good start.

From there it was a matter of methodically accumulating the rest of the needed parts as the opportunities presented themselves. I found a nice used Shimano 600 front crank, some decent used wheels that were a higher quality/lighter weight than the stock wheels, and a snazzy red/black seat to match the color scheme.

Then I added new tires/tubes, pedals, cables and housing, chain, bottom bracket, cable stops to replace the downtube shifters,and an 8 speed cassette. I guess I should mention that the bike orginally had a seven speed freewheel that was upgraded with the wheels to an 8 speed cassette to match the Shimano Sora 8 Speed STI shifters I had acquired. 

Here's the Cannondale stem and headset along with the handlebars and STI shifters. New red bar tape was added.

This used Shimano 600 double crankset replaced the triple that was on the used Cannondale donor bike. I also replaced the front derailleur with a new one. While the front shifter was for a triple crank, I was able to "adjust" the range to have it function as a double.

Here are the cable stops that replaced the downtube shifters previously on the bike. They are a standard order part made by Shimano and fit perfectly on the shifter braze-ons. I also didn't mention that I left the original brakes on the bike. They were Diacompe Blaze BRS models and there was no need to replace them.

Here's the drive train. The new pedals are Shimano M324 platform/clipless and add to the versatility of the bike. I also added the Celeste green water bottle holders to add a splash of color!

A head on view of the finished bike. Note the two color seat.

The new tires are 25mm Continental Ultra Sports. They're a nice tire for this bike providing both performance and comfort.

Here's the finished bike. No, it's not going down hill. I took the picture and didn't stand straight!

Drew really likes the bike. It is both lighter and faster. A result of the changes made. When I rode it, I was really quite surprised at the difference. It seemed much more responsive.

While we had the bike apart, we cleaned, touched up, polished, and waxed the paint.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Toledo Bikes!

My apologies for the extended absence from the blog. Two major events drew my attention in other directions.

First, last (2011) Thanksgiving morning I was out for a ride while the turkey was cooking and caught a strong gust of wind while riding close to the shoulder on a highway. The wind moved me just enough that my corrective action overcompensated and put my front tire over a 4-6 inch dropoff where the road had just been repaved. Long story short, I was thrown hard to the road on my left side with the entire force of the fall being borne by my left elbow. I needed a 3 hour surgery and several days in the hospital for repairs. I did manage one blog post but decided typing one handed was just not how I wanted to do things.

The elbow is coming along fine and my riding is back to where it used to be although I missed one of the better winters for riding.

The more important event was the incorporation of the old Toledo City Bike Co-op, now known as Toledo Bikes! . The co-op was operating as a committee under another 501c3 and we decided it was in our best interests to file for incorporation and become an independent non-profit.

As this was happening, the church where we had been housed for the last several years was closed and put up for sale due to declining membership. We had our work cut out for us!

1114 Washington St., Toledo, OH 43504

The first step was to find a new building. Very fortunately, we were sharing part of this building with someone who needed to move out. The landlord treated us very fairly and we signed a lease in early December. The building has fantastic access from I-75 coming from either direction. There is a large fenced parking lot for customers, lots of room (approx. 9000 sq. ft.), and it's located on the edge of the newly minted "Uptown" Toledo area where lots of exciting things are taking place.

Step 1 was to start getting organized!
We'd accumulated lots of "stuff" over the past few years and now we had somewhere where it all fit.

Step 2 was to build new work benches
Tires, tubes, parts, wheels all organized!
New signs courtesy of Profession Graffiti ltd.
Next, we needed a service counter
We were fortunate enough to have great volunteers who helped construct a phenomenal counter area.

The finished counter area - how may we help you?
The finished shop
We now have 10 workstations fully outfitted with the proper tools. We also have 6 truing stands. Most importantly, we now know where everything is and can readily access it.

Our Bike Showroom
As volunteer and students finish putting our donated bikes through our multi-step repair and inspection program, they are moved to our bike showroom and are available for sale.

Now that we have the space, time for classes
Students learning how to "true" a wheel
Some recent graduates
The move has turned out to be a big success. We've become a Park Tool School. Park Tool is the premier provider of bicycle tools and has developed a number of class curriculums (curriculi?) that help us teach at different levels depending upon the students current knowledge level. We are filling up our class schedules as we advertise them.

I did find the time to also work on a number of bikes and those posts will be forthcoming. Now that I've broken the drought, expect more very soon.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

St. Tropez La Mirage

Quite a mouthful, but also quite a bike! While the name sounds unmistakably French, there's nothing I can find online to confirm that. In fact, there's not a whole lot of information available other than mostly anecdotal evidence from various forums. 

As a consequence, I can't tell you the date of manufacture with any assurance. The structure of the serial number suggests 1989. The Shimano 105 components also suggest that time period, so maybe that's it. If anyone can offer any guidance, I'd appreciate it.

The head "sticker" which is reminiscent of some Gitane bikes of an earlier era that also used stickers. Notice the white sparkle paint with clear coat.

The components of the bike are Shimano 105 and just about nothing but. This is the top of the headset.

As you can see the frame is 4130 triple butted chrome moly tubing. It's light weight and I suspect of Japanese heritage.

As I mentioned above, this bike is loaded with Shimano 105 components - front and rear derailleurs, biopace crankset, bottom bracket, front and rear hubs (with Mavic rims), pedals, brakes, shifters, and brake levers. 

I was faced with a unique situation with this bike regarding the rear cassette. The bike had originally - according to online forums - been outfitted with a 6 cog cassette and 6 speed indexed Shimano 105 down tube shifters. The cassette was missing and the only replacements I could find were NOS on eBay for a pretty healthy price. If I went to a 7 cog cassette then the shifters would not index properly. 

After much cogitating, I ordered a new 7 cog cassette that is currently available and got a set of Sunrace 7 speed indexed down tube shifters, hoping that I could make them work.

The cassette presented no problems. The Sunrace shifters did. I removed them from their mounting bracket and studied how they were constructed and they looked very similar to the Shimano 105's that were on the bike. I removed the 105's and attempted to mount the Sunrace shifters but they would not fit properly - close but no cigar. 

It turned out that both sets of shifters had notches in them used for alignment and fixing the position of the shifter housing so that the stem could be moved without moving the indexing mechanism. The problem for me was that the Sunrace notch was smaller than the 105 notch causing the shifter to not seat properly. 

Luckily, I had a Dremel tool and was able to grind the Sunrace notch bigger until it fit properly. I remounted them and "voila", as the french would say, it worked perfectly.  

Here's the new 7 speed cassette along with the 105 derailleur.

Note the aero brakes and the seat, which I believe to be original - Selle Italia with a sort of suede finish.

The complete bike above. While not a particularly well known brand, at least to me, this had to be a very desirable bike in it's time because of it's sexy appearance, light weight chrome moly frame, and 105 component group. It's a bike I could be perfectly happy with even by today's standards.

If anyone has more info, I'd sure like to hear from you! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

1979 Fuji S12-S

A while back I received a frame and some components for a 1979 Fuji S12-S road bike. It sat in the back of the garage for quite a while because I wasn't sure what to do with it. With some time and effort I probably could have brought it back to close to original specs but wasn't sure if I wanted to do that or not.

Original catalog page 

One day, while working in the garage, my neighbor, Rick, came by looking for a bike for his son who was getting ready to start college. I really had no frames that would work for him other than the Fuji because of size requirements. 

Fuji S12-S as I received it

Above is the Fuji in the state that I received it - no wheels, no seat, upright handlebars. This left me with some choices to make. Since this was for a specific use, riding around campus, I decided to make the bike more rider friendly for that application. 

I came up with some decent wheels, including a new rear wheel I had been saving and a 6 speed freewheel. I also had a period correct seat that I could use but no seat post. Try as I might I just couldn't come up with a seat post that would fit. Finally, I ordered a shim and used a slightly smaller seat post to solve that problem. 

Classic Fuji Head Badge

As I began the tear down I saw the usual signs of a bike that had not been serviced in many years.


The head set wasn't much better. No caged bearings here.

These were replaced with caged bearings

The whole bike required a thorough cleaning.

No surprises - just really dirty

The frame itself was chro-moly and, at 28 pounds per the specifications, was reasonably light weight.

Sticker on seat tube

After disassembling and cleaning and polishing all the components, I also used Meguiar's Clear Coat Body Scrub on the paint. It does a great job of removing the surface crud built up over time without damaging the paint. After that a coat or two of Turtle Wax and the Fuji looked years younger.

The next step is reassembling and tuning the bike. This is where the hidden problems show up and in this case it was the down tube shifters. They were not functional. 

Replacement down tube shifters

I found some new replacement down tube shifters by Sun Race that were indexed and worked perfectly. I know there are those who still don't like indexing but for this application I think it is the best solution. 

I also added new tires, chain, cables, and brake pads to make sure that the bike would be serviceable for the foreseeable future.

The Fuji S12-S Crankset

Finally, the bike was ready to go. A few test rides, a few adjustments here and there and showtime!

Ready for campus

This old frame ended up making a great platform for a modern day hybrid/city bike.

The obligatory profile picture!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Shimano Positron Indexed Shifting

In my last post I promised some information on the Shimano Positron Indexed Shifting System that came with my recently refurbished Open Road Mixte. This is purportedly Shimano's first attempt at indexed shifting and was developed in several iterations, all of which operated in a similar fashion. 

The Open Road Mixte came with the Positron FH rear derailleur as pictured below: (click to enlarge)

Note metal cable between jockey wheel and body

This system worked opposite of later versions of Shimano indexed systems in that the indexing was built into the derailleur rather than the shifters. If you follow the cable housing to the derailleur in the picture above you'll see that it is actually a fairly heavy gauge metal wire as opposed to a woven cable. You can see the small black cap that covers the bent end of the wire. When the shift lever is moved the wire pushes or pulls the derailleur to it's next click stop.

Adjusting the derailleur is very simple. Simply align your derailleur with a single adjusting screw, when in high gear, exactly as you would a normal derailleur. Once that is aligned, the fixed click stops correspond to each cog in the freewheel and move back and forth when the shifter is actuated. 

Note opening in face to access adjusting screw

The front derailleur on this bike was a standard two position Shimano. Control is through the normal woven cable still used today and works exactly as any normal non-indexed version you'll come across.

The shifters on this bike were stem mounted. Actuation was kind of sluggish but did result in positive shifts, but it had a totally different feel than something like SIS or Suntour Accushift.

Stem Mounted Shifter

As you can see in the picture above (click to enlarge), with the gear selector in 4 you can see the heavy gauge wire that runs to the rear derailleur. 

Overall, I thought the shifting system added to the bike and made it more "friendly" than straight friction shifting. It wasn't a bad first effort but we've come a long, long way since.

A different view

Below is a page from Shimano's 1983 catalog regarding the Positron FH

Here's another picture of the finished bike.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Open Road Mixte

Open Road was the store brand for Montgomery Ward back in the days when many stores sold bikes under their own brand name. A search of the web finds a dearth of information so there is little history available for this bike.

Head Badge on Open Road Mixte

"Made in Korea" at bottom of seat tube

Stamping on Bottom Bracket

The pictures above show all the identifying marks I could find. Does anyone have any clues?

The bike when I brought it home last winter

I found the bike in a thrift store and had wanted a mixte framed bike to work on. I thought this would make an interesting bike for my daughter - the one who eventually ended up with the Paramount Series 3 OS. It sat in my garage over the winter and finally got some attention only in early August. 

The frame stripped and ready for cleaning

It came with steel wheels and shod with 26 x 1 3/8 gumwall tires which were replaced with new black wall tires. I think the all black tires keep the bike from looking so bland. 

The drive train components were Shimano using the newly developed (released in 1982) Shimano Positron 12 speed gearing with stem mounted shifters. The front derailleur was also Shimano but was not identified as specifically Positron. More on this later.

The brakes were Star and the crankset was Custom A. The seat was not original and the handlebars looked to be generic steel drop bars.

Custom A crankset

Custom A crankset was nothing special but cleaned up very nicely.

Star brakes before removal and cleaning

The star brakes were steel as opposed to aluminum and were used, I'm sure, for cost purposes. They also cleaned up quite nicely.

The finished product

I also added a longer seat post to make the bike able to accommodate a wider size range of riders. Also added were the red bar tape replacing the dirty white foam covering that came on the bike and a snazzier looking seat.

Ready for the Open Road

I decided to do a separate post with photos on the Shimano Positron system that came on this bike. Stay tuned.

Keep riding!