Saturday, May 24, 2008

My 1999 Schwinn Peleton

In 1999 I bought a Schwinn Peleton. The bike is an 853 steel frame, very graceful S shaped stays, nice electric blue paint with “Schwinn” beautifully incorporated into a contrasting black on white down tube. The gruppo is almost all Shimano Ultegra except for the headset; this becomes an issue later in it’s life.

When I first bought the bike I was married to my ex-wife. The purchase of this bike was an unspoken sore spot in our relationship; added to the already mounting unspoken sore spots. Anyway, the beautiful paint started to chip off. I took it back to my LBS and they apparently had to go through 3 frames before they got a good one.

I then rode the bike for about 2 years until the single speed bug bit me and the bike sat for about 3 years. Then after I met my good friend Mike, I gave him the bike to see if his wife would become a bike spouse. Well that didn’t work and I got the bike back a couple months ago. No worse for wear, it had a Nitto stem and a new set of Conti Ultra Sports.

Now, since I parted with the Peleton my taste in geared bikes has matured. When I bought the bike I had the double crank changed to a triple. While the triple works the way it is supposed to, it is quite clunky needing two additional trim shifts to keep it quiet. Also after seeing the Nitto stem I decided it would look even better with a Nitto seat post and different seat.

First I decided to switch to a compact crank. I think it was the designers at Campagnolo that came up with the idea of a lowered gear crank. Instead of a 52-39 double or 52-42-30 triple, they came up with a 50-34. The 52 is only useful for 28 MPH plus, with a 50-34 you get most the gearing of a triple, without the chunkiness. The compact cranks also come in the new 2-piece with exterior bearings. I decided on the 105 level R600. Once I installed the crank, I found the triple derailleur worked, but not well. I scrounged up a double 9 speed 105 derailleur and after installing it I found that although Shimano says the triple derailleur works, I wouldn’t advise it. I also got two new tools in the process.

The OEM seatpost was a Titec and I changed the seat to a Specialized "Body Geometry" style. In 2008 this would not do. So, next I looked for a Nitto seatpost. The Peleton has a 27mm and I found that short of buying a double bolt NJS seatpost, the other Nitto posts only come in 27.2. Then as luck would have it I found a WEB Store, Peter Whit Cycles, that went to the trouble of ordering 50 Nitto Crystal seatposts so they could have them made on 27mm. SCORE! Now a seat. I first thought Selle Italia as I have the seat on most of my bikes. However, my wife is quite fond of the looks of Brooks saddles I have put on my last two projects. Certainly my wife will agree to fund most any seat, but if she actually likes the seat, well that’s uber cool. Anyway I found a black B-17 narrow that will do the trick.

The 1999 Peleton came with an aluminum fork. The popularity of aluminum forks was very short lived and although it looks nice, a carbon fork is certainly in order. Here I will have to admit I went uber cheap and bought a Nashbar Crabon fork, regularly $150.00, on sale for $80. When the fork came in I immedately pulled out the stem and removed the old fork. I tapped off the crown race and slipped it on the carbon fork; slipped it all the way down where it should have needed to be pressed on. The problem was obvious, the OEM fork is JIS. JIS is an older japanese standard that has been replaced with ISO, which is the now the industry  standard, but is still found on some inexpensive department store bikes. After I removed the head tube cups, I found that the head tube on the frame is ISO, which means the current headset is is half ISO and half JIS, so a JIS fork will work in an ISO head tube. I have seen these 50/50 headsets  for sale labeled a "30.2/27.0 headset." (30.2 for the ISO head tube cup ID; and 27.0 for the JIS crown race ID. If you then want to upgrade to an standard fork with an ISO, 26.4mm crown race, you can simply buy a compatible Tange ISO crown race (Tange sells them separately) or buy a new threaded ISO headset; I choose to do the latter. At this point I had a sudden realization of the obvious. I had wondered from the beginning why Schwinn has spec'd the cheaper Tange headset over an Ultegra headset that would have matched the spec on the rest of the bike. Well,  the reason suddenly became obvious; the Ultegra would not have worked with the JIS fork. So I picked one up and now the entire bike is finally Ultegra throughout.

Do the Math
Well the Carbon fork has too short. The original steerer was 170 mm (I thought 165). But there was a 7mm spacer so I figured I was set. Not. Turns out the Ultegra headset had a 4mm higher stack height then the OEM Tioga; due the math and I'm 7mm short. So the 160 is in the mail back to Nashbar and the 175mm has been ordered in it's place....
Its about a week later and as you can see it all worked out. I even threw on the short cage rear derailleur to finish it off.

The Opinionated Cyclist Journals

The Opinioned Cyclist or “OC” as he likes to be called, is a new born roadie. I first saw my first OC video on YouTube via a link from NYC Bike Snob. OC appears to think that a passion for your sport and a daily bike ride is all you need to be worshipped professional rider; of course that only applies to him. He says in 2005 he watched the TdF (Tour De France) and decided he was going to be a professional rider. Of course, to OC, being a professional rider doesn’t mean you ride fast, or far or train, or enter races; no, it only means someone is going to pay him to ride.
OC made videos on You Tube; I’m talking usually 3 10 minute videos a day. His first videos where pretty entertaining. He would tell us about his trips to Walmart and how he would get his mom to buy things for him. He made a few videos on how he made a reflective vest and a few more on his lower leg protectors; this appeared after he was bit by a dog. He also made a number of "silent" videos, showing some of the rides he takes in North Carolina. These videos were really fun and I found myself liking this strange fellow. He also is trying to sell a car. A 2000 Ford Contour SE. The car has like 175,000 miles and a screwed up dashboard; for that he asking $3000. During this time I sent his $10 on Paypal (I believe I’m still the only person to send him any real money) OC also eats incessantly while he makes his videos. At first I ask him to stop eating, but then I realized that his eating set him apart, so I advised him to keep it up. One of my favorite OC videos is called “Reflections”. In this video he tries to explain how far a pro rider would ride in a week. Naturally he has no idea how pro riders train, and just assumes all they do is ride various distances. So he spends the middle 2 minutes of the video, trying figure how pro riders ride. It kind of went like this: “I usually ride 2 hours a day. I would think the pro-riders ride 4 hours a day, no 6 hours a day average, and maybe one 7-8 hour ride; no, five 4 hours days; no, four 4 hour days and one 2 hours day. Okay, four- 4 hours days, one- 6 hours day, 1 seven hour day and one- I hour rest day.” Toward the end of his video making and to be sure that no one can keep track of his videos he started labeling all of them simply as “v”. At that point I started skipping through the videos and then just stopped watching them altogether.
The reasons I started watching OC's videos are two fold. One is, I said before his videos were entertaining. The second was his bikes. He has 4 bikes; they are all old 70’s American road bikes with American bottom brackets, 26 and 27inch wheels and 21.15 stems and seatposts. Most these bikes are rebranded Huffy’s. The fact is I didn’t even know they made 26” road bikes until I started “working” on his bikes. OC, seems to have this love hate relationship with his bikes. He talks the “steel is real” line and how he despises carbon fiber, and the next moment he talks about how cool it would be to convert his aluminum mountain bike to a road bike. Three of his four bikes are in dis-repair and his “Pride and Joy” is nearing the end of its tire life. Well, me being a diehard mechanic and lover of bikes, could not watch these bikes just sit there un-used. OC may be a loser, but I know if these bikes were fixed up he would ride them. That’s all I needed to know. The result is I sent him three packages of bike parts totaling about $100.
Package #1
His Pride and Joy is probably a Huffy. It has 26x 1 3/8 tires and an American BB. This bike appears to be in relative good working order.
The next bike is a Kingston. I couldn’t find much information about this bike, but it has 27 inch tires and again an American bottom bracket. The only thing wrong with this bike is a blown front tire. Out of all his bikes, this one has index shifting in what Shimano called Positron II. Out of the over 300 videos he has made, he has not told the story of the Kingston and why he has not ridden the bike since the apparent tragedy of riding the bike some distance on a blown tire. For this bike I sent a set of 27” tires, 2 tubes and 1 tube of Slime (he has requested the Slime).
The 4th bike is a JC Penneys bike. This bike is a mess, but it seems this is the bike he wants to ride. The bike has a wielded front fork (“my brother fixed it for me”), a missing brake, a messed up saddle and of course no tires or tubes. For this bike I sent, 2 tubes, a tube of Slime, and an old Dia comp brake I took off my Nishiki. Also included in the Package #1 was a Solvang Century hat, and a some “I Listen to the Opinionated Cyclist” stickers I had made up by CafĂ© Press.
The next bike is another Huffy. It appears to be identical to his Pride and Joy, except it has no tires, a bent handlebar and he destroyed some of the spoke nipples on the front wheel using a pair of pliers to try and true the wheel. He has apparently replaced some of the nipples, but is begging for more and says he needs a truing stand. For this bike I sent Package #2, which contained a set of 26x 1 3/8 tires (to also be used on his Pride and Joy if needed), 4- 26 1 3/8” tubes and 2 tubes of Slime.
OC has (or had) a number of web cites, all with the purpose of generating revenue. On of these sites is The was setup so fans of OC could pay him to ride; his goal is 1,000,000 miles. When I first sent these packages to OC, he was shocked that I would require something in return. Apparently he is so deserving, that “No strings attached” should be part of his motto. However, in anticipation of receiving these packages I told OC I wanted the value of the packages in miles; @ $1 @ mile and OC agreed willingly. I gave him a deal, not counting the ridiculously expense cafepress stickers @ $50. He apparently made the 50mile ride (complete with riding on a flat tire again) and posted the event on
Package #2 and The Throw Away Letter
Package #2 contained the “Throw Away Letter”. Package #2 also contained the following the following parts for the Penneys bike, a second set of 27x 1 ¼ “ tires, a pair of ½” spindle steel pedals. Included in the post was a letter. The letter simply told him I was done watching his videos and he should hopefully find joy in the process (something he once said then later denounced the concept) and finally to find solace in the path set out for him by God. OC is really all over the board on the subject of God. If you had to summarize his beliefs it would be that only he is allowed to bring up the subject and woe be it to anyone who tries to bring up the subject or comment on it. So, as not to offend OC, I told him it would be better that he not read the letter.
OC, made a few more videos toward the 4 th week of April, which gave me the greater insight in him. The first was a pathetic call for fans. He carried on for 10 minutes in how he had no need for friends, how all he wanted to do was make money and be looked up to as a pro; remembering that the only definition of a pro is you get paid to ride. I’m getting the feeling OC has not done well will friends either. When he made his first Goodies video, you could see that he was very touched that someone would actually send him something. I thought perhaps this scared OC, as he immediately started to look for a way out. The Throw Away Letter was exactly what OC what looking for; a way to keep receiving packages from me, but still keep some emotional balance and distance. However it may have been simpler than that (I tend to over analyze everything). The second was at the end of a video where he explained that he wanted to look good in front of his wife, that it was a fan that sent his the parts I sent him, not just a friend. I can totally understand the wife thing, so I followed this up with a letter to OC that said the following;
OC, As you know, someone hijacked the second care package I sent to you and replaced the letter. The counterfeit letter was by some crazed Christian who thought you needed God explained to you. Sorry about that. This mad man was found hiding in the Santa Cruz Post Office and has been sentenced to 30 days of navel contemplation. He also had the gall to call you his friend. OC, I have very few friends, and I can't imagine such a thing with someone of your stature and accomplishments. I am of course just one of your many fans. So please shred that letter and place this in the package as it's true replacement. OC, Here it is, the second Cycling Care package. Included are more tires, tubes and Slime. As you know I only do this because I am a fan and really like old steel bikes. I expect to see these on your bikes soon so OC Can Ride! There will be one more package that will include a fork, stem extender, longer seat post and a few extras. Good luck on all your projects and maybe someday you tell the story of the last Kingston ride. Remember OC, it's all about you so keep it up. Your fan, Brad
April 24, 2008
The latest videos and email I have seen from OC, he is wanting a handlebar for his Huffy. He complained earlier about it being bent but now it has become the subject of several more videos. So, on a whim I rode over the Amsterdam cycles and told Tom Sullivan about OC. He has a friend who watches the shop and I turned him on to OC yesterday. Both of them thought it would be hoot so they chipped in a handlebar for the OC cause. Below is the letter I sent him.
OC, As one of your devoted fans, I went to my LBS (Local Bike Shop) and told them of your need of a handlebar. Dan Sullivan of Amsterdam Cycles graciously donated a very nice handlebar. There is a string attached, he would like you to name one of your videos after his shop and of course mention the shop in the video. I will send you the handlebar in my next package and you can decide. It is a used Sakae Custom, which was the top end Japanese handlebar bar of it's time. It's aluminum, with a classic bend, 41cm wide, with a integral chrome shim. Very Nice New it was a $50 and you can find them sometimes on ebay for about $30. . The bar is bare, so you will need to new bare tap or foam. Also, I saw one of your videos were you said you needed more 27" tubes. I sent you 4, do you need more than that? Remember, the 700's work on 27 inch wheels (the tubes work, not tires!). Since 27" wheels are old school and cheap, the tubes tend to be overpriced; the 700 tubes are 1 inch smaller, work without any problems on 27 inch rims and are cheaper. If for some reason you need more let me know; someone just gave me some tubes that are right up your alley. Brad
Goodie Video #2
After I sent him the email, he posted the second Goodies video and made a video for Dan. This Goodies video was not as good as the first. First was his near psychotic reaction to the Throw Away Letter. A belief that he already knew what was in the letter and it had tainted out relationship forever; I'm sad to say there will be no friendship with OC. In the second Goodies video he forgot I had sent him 4- 700 tubes in the first package; so he started a melt down, thinking he was lacking enough tubes for 4 tires, which gave the remainder of the video a taint of disappointment. He had already received the above email and responded that he was mistaken about the tubes, but apparently he had already made the second Goodies video, so never wanting to miss a chance to make a fool out of himself he posted the video anyway. Regardless, it should keep him going for a few weeks more until he gets the last package. I have a few pre-Slimed 700 Presta tubes I think I throw in just to get rid of them.
My wife heard the story of the welded fork on OC’s JC Penney bike and wants me to do something about it. So I checked out a nearby LBS that has a lot of old stuff and found a nice NOS chromed fork for $20. So I’m making up a third and last package (I’ve already told OC I’m going to take his advice that only non-cyclist and losers watch his videos). Initially when I brought up the new fork he thought it would come with a longer steerer. Although one can do this, it is not the advisable way to add 2-3 inches. I have ordered up a 21.15 stem extender and a longer seat post. This should give him room he needs without having to spend an arm and a leg.
OC receives Package #3
Of course there were some problems. First his brake hanger has a tab that centers the hanger on the steerer. His original fork was drilled rather than notched, so the notch on the hanger is too big. Second, the handle bar I sent is a bit larger then his old one. The clamp size is the same, but the brake levers won’t fit have a 22mm band. Fortunately, there are larger bands (23.2) for the levers readily available. I found them @ a web store for about $2 @ and had them mailed directly to OC. I also threw in another brake hanger.
Package 3.5
Well the brake hanger was a perfect fit but the bands were problematic. There were two bands on the web store site and I mistakenly chose the one without nuts. OC even tried to use some nuts he had lying around, but they wouldn’t fit. I went to Amsterdam Cycles and bought a pair of Diacomp brake levers for $4. The levers have the band and nut OC needs for his brakes. Either way he will have brakes for his bike and this is the last package.
One of the most glaring issues with OC, is he really knows nothing about the cycling culture; every dedicated rider out there is doing what OC is trying to do (that is getting in the best riding shape possible, not trying to get paid for riding). That fact that he takes a 30-mile ride everyday is pretty much meaningless to most cyclists. A truism is the qualities we most despise in others are the qualities we most despise in ourselves. Regardless, OC is either growing, morphing, melting down or a combination.
Bike Snob NYC even talked about the change.
It is for this reason that I was simultaneously concerned and entertained to learn that beloved cyclist personality Opinionated Cyclist has apparently lost his mind. Here he is showing off an artificial kidney he has fashioned from a potato * (All of OC vidoes have dropped off of Youtube). This is but one example of what seems to be the new OC. The rules of decency to which I do my best to adhere prohibit me from sharing with you the subject matter of his many latest posts, though if you visit his Youtube page you can find out for yourself (OC has since moved his entire show to I will say that the word "dildo" comes up with alarming frequency, and that it is also used in conjunction with the word "mother." There is also much talk of colons. (Anatomical, not punctuative.)
So its time to unsubscribe my friend.
The only videos that really showed any real passion of understanding of an athletic lifestyle were his videos on running. I would recommend he change his byline to the Opinionated Runner; at least his opinion would be grounded in reality. What’s really sad is he could make money at this. The fact that you he is so opinionated about something he dosen’t understand can be hysterically funny. The problem is, it’s not an act; but it could be. OC has now been reduced to reading letters he has written to himself, saying how great he is. The idea that anyone would think he has accomplished anything in cycling could be hysterical if he didn't seem to take it so seriously. There is also a saying that obscenities are a crutch of the ignorant. Still in all this there is something to OC; a spark of something different. But now I doubt there is any one who is willing to weed through all his BS to find something of value.
And what is he doing now? First he was reading self written letters talking about was a great cyclist he is and that morphed into a Blog that is mostly connections to porn sites. You really can't get lower than that. And yet there was one video that sounded like an earnest new-born Christian. What's with that? OC you are undefinable; and I like that in a person.
OC, if you read this, I'm sorry if it offends you. There have been many versions of this post (as there have been many versions of OC), I have tried remove most of my opinions that would seem mean spirited. I told you at the very beginning that I like watching your videos, without really knowing why. These are my thoughts and ideas and they carry about as much weight as yours do in your blog. Still I wouldn't have spent so much time (and money) with you if I didn't want you to succeed in what ever you are doing (except for the porn). And I give you credit for hanging it all out; something I could never do. I don't have the time, energy or ability to do what you do. Like so many journalist, I go into the battlefield at the end of the battle and kill the survivors.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Teresa-Ann's new (to her) bike

I have two beautiful step daughters, Luisa and Teresa Ann. Recently, both have showed interest in cycling, so I have obtained bikes for both. This post is about Teresa Ann's new bike. My wife approached me, and knowing I was in need of a spring project, she suggested I put together a bike for Teresa Ann. My first thought was to strip the Ultegra components of a 1999 Schwinn Peleton I have and put it on a smaller frame. However, by the time I figured the price of a new frame and fork, I discovered for a few dollars more I could have a bike put together by a LBS that specializes in putting together bikes. There I saw a complete bike put together for my price for the frame and fork alone. My wife was a little peeved, but she had to succumb to my logic and we bought the bike.

I would mention the bike shop, as the owners and I are on a first name basis, but one of this points of this blog is the problems with the bike. What really cemented the deal was the owner offered to buy a smaller frame, so the bike would better fit Teresa-Ann. I was first concerned that the owner would be losing money on the deal, until he told me some other customer came in a short time later and wanted a bike built up on the first frame. The bike we ended up with is gorgeous. It starts with a Soma frame. Soma is a San Francisco company that has some really nice frames made up in Tiawan. There are a lot of Tiawan frames out there made under the names of Surly, Zion and even Rivendale; you pretty much get what you pay for and the Soma's are on the higher end. The gruppo is pretty much used Ultegra with a TruVativ triple crank. The wheeset is Shimano's lower end SH-2200. The fork is a carbon Bontrager 110.

When I walked into the shop to pick up the bike I noticed the rear brake pads were mounted too high, and rubbing on the bead. The problem became immediately obvious; the frame required a long reach brake. Now, although both frames were made by Soma, the geometry of the two frames are different. The issue was, the owner was ready to hand the bike over as is, and he had to know of the problem.... Okay, maybe he didn't. Maybe he was so busy it just didn't register. He first offered to machine the brake arms so the bike could be ridden until a new caliper could be found. This was on Friday, so he said the brake would be ready on Monday.

Well Tuesday came and went and the brake was not fixed. The owner said he was having problems getting the long reach caliper. Further it was being ordered from Shimano and would be in in a couple of days. Well it didn't come in Wednesday, Thursday of Friday. And it didn't come in Monday-Thursday. I called again on Friday and was first told it was still not in, then the owner called back, saying the brake had came in the the bike was finally ready. My wife and I went in to pick up the bike, new long reach braked caliper and all.

As usual my first thing was to clean the bike from front to back. The drive train was fairly dirty and the chain just seemed off. Here's the reader digest on chains. First, to remove a chain you usually need a chain breaker or press to push out one of the pins. There are basically 4 muti-speed chain pin sizes; 7.3mm for 5-7 speed chains; 7.2 mm for 7-8 speed chains and 6.6 mm for 9 speed chains; and 6.1 mm for 10 speed chains.
Theses numbers are for KMC chains, model Z 50 (7.3), Z.51 (7.2), Z9 (6.6) and Z10 (6.1). There are a few variations, i.e the SRAM 8 speed chain is 7.0. Multi-speed chains are generally riveted together and unless you have a "connector" of sorts, you will weaken the chain by pressing out a pin and re-using the pin to put the chain back together. SRAM makes a re-usable connector called a Power-link, KMC makes a one time a connector called a Missing Link, and Shimano uses replaceable pins.

Saying all that, the chain was a KMC. I cleaned the chain and planned on using a SRAM Missing Link to put it back together. First I tried the the SRAM 9 spd; hmmm the chain is too fat. Then a tried the SRAM 8 spd; still, the chain is too fat. Okay, the KMC 8 spd is 7.2mm, the SRAM 8sp is 7mm, but this is for a 9 spd system; out comes the the caliper, 7.3! The difference in price is not lost on me. A KMC 9 speed chain runs about $14, the 8 speed is $9 and the 7 speed is $7. Hey, I admit the fat chain seemed to be working. Still, no one has actually put any time on the bike, so I'm sure the mismatch would have showed up sooner than later (It's amazing how well drivetrains work on a stand). When it come to multi-speed drivetrains I like to stay brand specific.

This bike has Shimano 9 speed shifters, Shimano 9 speed derailleurs, a Shimano 9 speed rear cluster and a Truvativ crankset. The best chain for this system would obviously be a Shimano 9 speed chain. The best prices I have seen are almost always the top of the line Dura Ace/XTR for about $25. That's what I had and that's what I used. I don't think the owner of my LBS purposely used a 7 speed chain (you can't tell the difference without a caliper), but the price difference is at least $7 and in my case, $19. What are you going to do? As usual the bike is not finished yet. The idea hit me that I could switch the Ultegra triple off the Schwinn and install a new compact double on the Schwinn. I found the crank on sale for $130 so it's a done deal.