Sunday, January 3, 2010

winter building


A good new year to you, loyal and inscrutable reader.

Bikes are on the move again. I am in a mad scramble to sort out a new bike situation for Austin, as we are headed there in about 10 days. My wife's bike that is down there has a number of issues.

1) It's really a bit too small
2) The rear wheel is biting the dust in a big way (have had numerous spokes replaced numerous times now and new ones just keep breaking) every couple of days of riding
3) It's a friction shifting 12 speed in a town where it's not a terrible idea to have a triple chainring.

SO, I resolved after our last trip all the way back in early Sept. to sort out some modern-ish parts and to convert the Trek 500 that has of late been mothballed here in Chicago in favor of the (admittedly much nicer) Look 194 that she's been riding for the last year.

Here's a shot of the Trek in it's hodge-podge-ish previous state. It has pretty ancien brakes, original Suntour 12 speed stuff, some nice 36-spoke Deep Vs but built on pretty "vintage" Malliard 500 hubs. Just kind of a grab bag of stuff.

and here it is in it's nearly complete new "Stealth bomber" incarnation. I think it's looking rather nice (iPhone pic notwithstanding)!

It is now sporting a Shimano Sora 8-speed triple setup with a Sugino XD300 crankset all culled from some good bargain hunting on CL and eBay. All that is rolling on a Mavic Cosmic wheelset with decals removed and Panaracer Messenger tires from the previous setup. A much more flattering setup for a pretty quality frame. I'm just waiting on some interrupter levers to cable up the brakes and she'll be all set.

As for myself, having sold my Felt 85 back in the late summer to finance other obsessions of the moment, I am currently bikeless in Austin. My brother likes this state of affairs just fine as he has moved into a considerably less-cavernous domicile since my last trip, but I'm going to have to try and stuff a bike in the guest room as I can't be bikeless!

This bike will be the trusty old Paramount. I picked it up from UV Metal Arts today and it really just looks incredible. I had to forgo decals as they supposedly would not deal with powdercoating temps well and would yellow, but after seeing it in it's naked monochrome glory, I'm not missing the decals anyway. I took it straight over to Boulevard Bikes and got a new headset put in as the Shimano 600 that was on there showed some pitting and you could feel it too. They had a nice Tange headset there for me and all seemed to enjoy the new paint job, which Kevin described as "root beer." I like that. It's a dark graphite-ish color with an undercoating of copper flakes, so it's got a very subtle orange-ish tint in the sunlight, kind of looks like a coffee-ish/stout-ish tone to my somewhat colorblind self.

Here are some pics of it.

Here it is swaddled in the basement.

I am lacking wheels (on the way) and an adapter clamp for my front derailleur (scavenged for the Trek, hopefully will pick one up tomorrow) and that's about all that's stopping me. Hopefully I'll have this thing built by the end of the week. Not sure yet about transportation logistics. It'd be cheapest to fly both of these down, but I may ship the Trek. Better figure it out pretty soon!

Perhaps you are wondering where all the other parts for the Paramount are coming from? (Probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway as you must be a glutton for punishment getting this far anyway.) Well, they are being mostly reclaimed from the Surly Pacer that has been my trusty steed for the last year plus. I have also been squirreling away enough parts to convert this over to a decent setup and am going to pass this along to a friend and will shortly (cash allowing) fill this hole with a bonafide touring bike setup. I'm thinking Long Haul Trucker. More on that soon. Here is the almost totally converted Pacer. I rode it in the blistering cold yesterday and it performed well save for the vintage brakes on it. Riding on the hoods especially and really just generally (I had been squeezing DuraAce 7700s for the last year on it), the single pivot older Shimano brakes I had on there just didn't seem to be doing the trick. So, once I source some reasonable brakes and wrap the bars for real, this thing will be taking it's leave. Thanks a bunch Surly Pacer, that was an enjoyable couple thousand miles.

Finally, all the old parts off of the Trek 500 especially the pretty nice wheelset seemed like a shame to not put to use and since I'm kind of blowing through a bit of money with all this, I realized it'd be a splendid pairing with the reasonably decent old Raleigh Marathon frame/fork I've had kicking around in the garage for about the last 2-ish years. I kind of figured it'd never ride again, but that was mostly because it just didn't seem worth the trouble to sort out a decent setup for it. Turns out it should make a pretty decent bike for someone and will at least put a modest dent in the parts budget for all this other nonsense above.

Any pretty tall dudes (5'11" to 6'3") looking for a hardy city bike for a pretty reasonable price, drop me a line!

Here is my impromptu winter shop. I didn't cannibalize the piano this year, just doing it in a more temporary fashion. One old rug and a Rhodes 73 to lean things against and wrenching can happen. This weekend in the shop was sponsored by the delicious bottle of Half-Acre Daisy Cutter and a bunch of episodes of Radiolab.

I leave you now with this great sizing article from Peter White Cycles. I think it puts the lie to some of the voodoo sizing information that is being purveyed all over creation. Bikes are pretty simple and they are one case where I think an inquisitive mind and a bit of common sense and trial and error is the best prescription for a quality bike fit.

Stay warm!