Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Reduce, replace, recycle.

I bought my first bike in 1986.  It was a black Peugeot Premiere, just like the one above, and it was my pride and joy.   I got it at an LBS in Otley, Chevin Cycles.  I learned a lot on that bike; how to ride, how to crash and how to look after it.  Basic wrenching in other words.

I do remember it was a bit of a pain to look after.  I'm not sure if this was because it was a genuine pain or of it was because I was doing this with a bone-ended wrench, a strange flat wrench with many bizarre shapes stamped into it (see below; what is that square hole used for?  I still don't know) and a flat-head screw-driver I permanently borrowed from my step-father.  He wasn't going to miss it; me makes me look like Mike Holmes.

Funnily, the mechanics tell me each Kona we get comes with one of these in the box.

As I got more into cycling my range of tools would increase, there wasn't a single Allen bolt on that Peugeot for example,  but at the end of the day after twenty-plus years I was still essentially doing my wrenching on the kitchen table, crawling on my hands and knees under the bottom bracket, losing important screws under the cooker and trying not to get oil on the landlady's carpet.  

One of the nice things about working at Cyclesmith is that after twenty-six years (gulp) of cycling I finally have access to a real workshop, one with work-stands and real tools; big, fuck-off, shiny ones with three-foot handles and the scars to prove it.  Not to mention there's nearly always a guy to pull your proverbial and literal nuts out of the fire when you get in over your head.  

My first project was breathing new life into an old frame.  I'm sure you remember the Kona Kapu.  Dedacciai steel frame and forks, chromed lugs.  After getting a crabon frame from one of the mechanics it was time for a switcharoo.  The Ultegra 6600 came off the Kapu and I turned it into a fixie.

Yeah baby, yeah,

The beast's heart is the steel frame.  It's almost the same colour as one of Eddy Merckx's Molteni orange bikes and that's good enough for me.  Plus the Kona logo on the downtube is quite classic-looking.  I could look like Merckx; granted a 1985 frites-eating, Duvel-drinking Merckx rather than a in the maillot jaune but will attack over three cols just to teach a teammate a lesson and win by 15 minutes Merckx but a Merckx nevertheless.

The second heart (if you will), is the rear wheel.  A White Industries ENO eccentric hub so a vertical drop-out bike can be used as a fixie.

It's not as secure as a wheel with track-nuts so the chain has to be constantly tightened, but as a solution to keeping a frame on the road, it's quite elegant.  It's laced, naturally, to a Mavic, an Open Sport.  Maybe change to an Open Pro in the near future.

ENO uses a proprietary cog design, quite beautiful really, but if you want to change gear you have to plan in advance as these are special order from the States only.

The rest of the drive-train are 175mm Ultegra 6500 cranks and 105 BB from the old '02 Lemond Buenos Aires with a 42T Blackspire chainring for a 69" gear.  Made in Canada eh! 

The front wheel is something I rescued from a landfill recently; the guy was going to bin it and wanted to know if I could give it a good home.  Ambrosio Elite 19 rim and Campagnolo hub.  The spokes are a bit rusty, a good candidate for a quick rebuild I hope.

Up front a 1" Gold Soto Voce Chris King headset.  

They say the first thing any staffer does upon getting a job at Cyclesmith is buy a Chris King.  I think we've sold three Chris King headsets in the last twelve months; two to me, so I'm no different.  Perhaps on second thoughts, I should have got a silver or pewter one to match the lugs and on third thoughts, I think it looks good with the gold. 

There's a gold Chris King road BB in the bling cabinet at C'smith.  It's pretty much dead inventory.  I've been looking at it, maybe I can bling this baby up some more.

The King was a pain to install.  The blogosphere said the Kapu used a JIS 1" headset rather than the standard ISO 1" headset.  Even though the crown-race diameter is supposedly smaller on the ISO than the JIS, I still had to file away at the steerer to get the crown-race to fit.  What do I know about metalwork: I'm a biologist!  I'm not trained for this.  So, a twenty minute job took nearly four times as long.  I was glad to be in a bike-shop with all the tools, not to mention a mechanic who didn't mind my silly questions and wasn't adverse to twatting a $220 headset with a hammer.  Repeatedly.

Stopping power courtesy of some shiny new Tektros.  Nothing special here, but I needed something with a longer reach than the Sora dual-pivots I had.  Funny old frame that Kapu.  Yes, it's a fixie.  Yes, it has two brakes.  I'm not stupid you know.  Many of our customers at C'smith are MaxFacs surgeons; I'd rather continue to meet them professionally on our terms, not theirs!

Finally, a Brooks Swallow saddle, direct from Birmingham.  This was the roadies saddle of choice back in the day, the day being the 1950s.  

It adds a nice, classic finishing touch to the bike I think.

It's sitting on a swan-necked Campagnolo seat-post that I've been carrying around for twenty years waiting to put on a bike.  It looks really good with those lugs too.  I wasn't expecting that! 

You hear a lot nowadays about the gimme-gimme culture and how when people want something they want it now; instant gratification.  I like to think I'm a little more traditional, what they called delayed gratification.  I've been waiting nigh-on two decades to use this seat-post.  I wonder if that's why la belle thinks I look so happy to have put this thing together.

Cue bizzarre, Brooks-porn, up-skirt money shot.  You know I had to.  

Speaking of Brooks-porn, I'm Proofiding the hell out of it.  

Of course, a Brooks is the epitome of delayed gratification.  In the succinct words of my boss (who has 14 Brooks, mostly Pros) 

"Two applications of Proofide. Ride it for two thousand kilometers and it should be fine"

You know I only did 5000 kms last year, right?  Guess I should stop running then.

I'm not quite finished.  I'd like to put Vittoria Open Corsas on, the ones with the tan side-walls.  That would like pretty awsome.  The pedals too.  I know I should go for some quill-pedals with stainless baskets and brown Christophe straps, but I also want to ride it.  It has Shimano M520s now, I think I might get something along the same line, maybe with nicer bearings.  Or maybe some Looks.

Now, all I want it to do is to stop raining so I can take it for a ride.  Never get a Brooks wet, they're a bit like Gremlins in this respect.  Quit raining already!