Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Nishiki conversion; it lives!

This is part 2 of the  The Nishiki Conversion

A more intelligent person probably would have kept the frame and thrown the rest away. I still think that would have been easier. There are also some badly rusted chrome parts that did not clean up well. Still I really like the old Dia Comp parts. As usual as the build took shape some of my plans changed.

I discussed the wheels earlier, which are the original Araya 27” hoops and one Shimano 333 hub (front). The rear is a Formula loose ball fixed/fixed hub. Further I bought a Surly 22T cog and lockring. I also replaced all the spokes; the front spokes were extras from another build and the rear spokes came (along with some extra long nipples).

Frame wise, I ended up stripping off the my rattle can copper paint, which was an awful looking color for the frame anyway. I entertained trying the rattle can approach again with a different color and then came to my senses and took the frame to the powder coater. Okay, $100 is a bit much for this project, but I won't have to deal with it again and it will look really nice. My first choice was a burnished brass, but gold metallics require a clear coat and that’s another $60. Turns out my son got his first choice, with a dark green metallic (my other green bike is an emerald green).

Second there were these pedals. I actually threw away these OEM pedals (twice!) before I took a wire wheel to them and knocked off all the rust. Mechanically they work as a well as new, but the rust really did a job on the chrome. I was left obsessing over a set of Kyokuto pedals. I have seen them in several incarnations. The first is the all steel version I was dealing with, which include a strap guide on the outer edge of the cage. I tried using theses guides but they did not put strap in a postion that seemed shoe friendly. There is also NJS style, which have an abreviated aluminum cages. The NJS style also have rivets that hold on the cage on the body, all the other versions use a tab on the body through a slit in the cage. There is an aluminum caged version with no flip tab and another that does. I checked eaby for a better set, but had trouble finding a pair for less than $50. Then lo and behold I finally managed to find the above pair for $16.50. These have an aluminum cage with a flip tap.

The Nishiki also has a Suntour Sakae steel chromed headset. While in better condition than the pedals, the chrome on top lockring took the brunt of the corrosion. The lockring is also made for a 21.1 stem? The stem steps down from 22.1. After a little investigation I discovered this the use of a 21.1 stem is common on BMX and crusier. If I wanted a replacement, I would best look for a Crusier style headset. In the mena time I bought a similar style JIS Bottom bracket that tuned out to be mismarked (this was before I realized the need for a 21.1 top lock ring. I was able to send that back, but I replaced it with a much cheaper BMX headset, where the top lockring fit, but was a might puny. I may just stay with what I have (it's not THAT bad). The bottom bracket was in questionable condition with the spindle races being pretty shot, but the cups were pretty smooth. The owner of one of the LBS(s) in town, is a friend who lets me rummage around through most his old parts bins. He used to charge me a nominal fee, now he just lets me have them gratis. The original spindle had threaded studs at the ends and was asymmetrical. I found a replacement spindle and the short side fit pretty close, but I was hoping for perfection.

The Maxy crank has a pressed on 52 tooth chain ring and is therefore flat on the mounting side. To get a perfect chain line, I needed a spindle a few millimeters smaller. I poked around in the LBS and after trying about 8 spindles, I finally found one that gave me a 1mm gap. The Bottom Bracket itself was Tange, but there was something I didn’t like how the bearings (or the bearing cage) fit into the cups. I had some Sakae cups that seemed to like the bearing cages much better so I used them.

The chain was just an NOS Parts bin 3/32 KMC. The handle bar was a chromed Champion drop bar (this bike originally had a much narrower aluminum bar; but I happened upon this bar as a replacement) that is OEM on Nishiki(s) along with the Dia Compe center pull (770) brake caliper and the classic Dia Compe lever with the "safety" bar. The 770 brakes are still available and a good compromise for those who want cantilevers but don't have the bosses. The OEM seat was shot and I temporarily replaced it from the old parts bin seat.

I really like the look of the Dia Compe brake hanger and release. Rust really hurt the aesthetics of these parts, but I managed to find similar replacements on Ebay. OEM Replacements. The difference may not seem like much, but in real life it was worth the $20 extra dollars. The original budget was estimated @ $100. The was pretty much dashed when it turned out both hubs need to be replaced; fortunately a friend supplied me with a front hub gratis. Also the original paint job was supposed to be rattle can. When that didn't work out the budget was blown out of the water when I deceided to powder coat the frame.

Rear hub- $ 40
spokes/nipples $ 20
cog and lockring $ 50
Powder coat $100
Brake hanger $20
Pedals $25

So we're looking @ $235.

Still not done.
Nope. Since these photos were taken I have already added a grip to the handle bars and will soon add the new pedals. Also the old tires are trash. Fortunately 27" tires are dirt cheap. Finally I took the bike by an LBS that has helped me with some parts. After much appreciated praise, he had a question of criticism; where's the leather saddle? And of course he's right. A true hipster bike needs a leather (aka brooks/ ) saddle. For a while I have had my eye on a brooks B-17 Special; green w/copper rivets in mind. While you may see them for $80, they are back ordered. A search found the best one in stock for about $100. So;

Brooks seat- $100.00

All the above items are on order. So I am probably looking at about $370 after tax and license. I will add more photos when it's together.

And here they are! As finished as it's likely to get.

My first ride on these tires show this bike to be a pig. That's right, at only 63 gear inches (52/22) it's like riding through the mud on smooth pavement. Of course, that doesn't really matter, it's all about the joy of riding it. OTOH the Brooks saddle is surprizingly comfortable. I didn't really expect much, so I am quite pleased.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It was a bike to die for

On 01.09.08 a young man by the name of Lucian Gregg crashed his fixie bike and died. The location of the crash was E.Cliff and Jessie, which is only about 80 yards from where I crashed my bike a year ago. The local rag ran a few articles about fixies. This was a response I considered. Prior to submitting a response, some fool sent a letter to the editor claiming the crash was the fault of the trucker, who probably passed the biker and turned right in front of him. All the evidence points to the probability that the truck driver was well ahead of the biker prior to the crash. A witness saw the truck's brake lights come on along with it's turn signal, giving the bicyclist more than enough time to stop. Unfortunately the biker seemed to not notice the actions of the truck until it was too late. Hear is my reply:

After reading your article on the “fixie fad”, I thought I might clarify a few points over looked by I.A.Stewart. I am a League of American Cyclist certified instructor. I'm an avid cyclist and bike mechanic for over 30 years; for last 7 years I have been riding a fixed gear bike. I also have commuted to work for the last 5 years on the same stretch of road where this accident happened and a year ago (before it was re-surfaced), I crashed breaking 5 ribs. Having a brake made no difference (I hit a newly formed pot hole); wearing a helmet probably saved my life.

In IA Stewart's article he says “Fixies originally developed for racing indoor velodromes". The truth is closer to Josh Long’s comment that fied gear bikes are, “what people have been riding for 150 years". The first bicycles did not have freewheels (the part of the hub that lets you coast), which have only been around for about 100 years. Riding a fixed gear gives one the same pleasure as driving a Model A down the street. It is the riding without brakes that came from the velodromes, and that’s truly where it belongs. To rely on skidding the rear tire for emergency stopping is the realm of the young and stupid (stupid meaning without life experience). A brake on the front wheel, allow the front tire to do about 80% of the stopping. Stopping with just a rear “brake” reduces your stopping ability by the same amount. When I was a kid, most bikes ridden by children my age, had coaster brakes. These brakes are most like stopping a brakeless fixie, as it relies on the chain, pedals and rear tire to stop, but has the added advantage of letting you coast. But as anyone who ever tried to stop a pedal brake knows, they also were very inefficient, as you could skid the rear tire with no effort at all; and when the tire is skidding it is not stopping. What happens in a skid is the tire material is ground off the tire and becomes little balls between the road and the tire. Add to that that a fixie road tire has half the tire patch (the part of the tire that is in contact with the road) and twice the rolling energy (caused by a larger wheel diameter) as your average Stin ray or BMX tire, and you are not going to stop very efficiently.

The bike had *Velocity rims, *Formula hubs and *Sugino cranks (* high end parts popular with fixie riders) but no brakes; it was a bike to die for. Today the bike community mourns the loss of another one of it’s own; his youth makes the loss even more painful. Make no mistake, that the lack of a brake caused this accident and most likely Lucian’s death. Much had already been said within the biking community about the foolishness of riding without brakes on a fixed gear bike, hopefully this will start a meaningful dialog that will prevent another loss of life.*