Monday, March 16, 2015

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Flat bar Conversion

A while ago I picked up a Soma Smoothie ES that had been put together with drop bars and  Ultegra components. The recipient decided they weren’t going to be riding the bike and gave the bike back. My wife had the opportunity to ride the bike and liked it but she did not like the drop bars. So this gave me the opportunity to do a flat bar conversion; this is basically a replacement conversion. To do a flat bar conversion you are basically turning your road bike into a mountain bike. The shifters are mountain bike shifters with a different model number. Like a mountain bike, the rear shifting is the same so you can use your old road derailleur, but the front shifting is different and even if you were to use a mountain bike front derailleur, the arc of the cage would comprise the shifting.  So it’s off to buy some bike parts. Below you see the following*.

Shimano BL-R550 Flat Bar Road Brake Lever, pair 
Shimano SL- R440+R441 (2/3X9)Shifters For Flat Bar Road Bike
Shimano FD-R443 Flat Bar Triple Front Derailleur (If you have a double crank the part number is FD-440)
And a Bontrager Crow bar from the parts bin.

* be advised that like everything else Shimano, there are different levels. These are the "4" or Tiagra level components; there is also the "5" or 105  level which seems to exist only for brake levers, the "6" or SLX (9 speed) level and the "7" or 10 speed Ultegra level. This web site spells out the Shimano flat bar components .


 Now it's time to take the old stuff off. Below are the drop bars (with a Shimano Flight Deck), Ultegra Brake/Shifter, and front Ultegra triple derailleur. The amount of cable pulled and needed for Shimano road front shifter and derailleur, needed for indexing, differs from mountain bike front shifters and derailleurs. Further mountain bike front derailleurs have an arc to the cage for shifting from/to a 44-48T chainring, which would comprise the shifting from/to a 50-53T chainring. The Shimano FD R443 is a cross between mountain mike cable pull with a wider cage arc for larger road chainrings.

First I installed the bar, brake and shifters. As I said before the shifters are mountain bike shifters, so if you have some lying around, you won't need to buy any for a conversion.  These flat bar brakes are simply cantilever brake levers, which work very well with side pull calipers, but will not work with V-brakes.

Next I installed the front derailleur and connected the derailleurs and brakes with housings and cables.

And here is the end result; hopefully mama like!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A New Campagnolo Blog

Due to my numerous Campagnolo posts I have started a new Vintage Campagnolo Forum blog; I have also directed my last few posts to the new blog. I will be posting in the near future so come on over and take a look.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Restoring a Bike to its Old Glory

I have been spending so much time talking about Campagnolo components I am tempted to start another blog in that name; this is another one. A while back I identified all the Campagnolo components on my Specialized Allez. All the components were Nuovo Record, except the shifters and derailleurs that had been "upgraded" to the C-Record shifters and C-Record era Chorus Derailleurs below.

While these are very nice components, I just felt they did not belong with the Nuovo Record parts so I endeavored to restore the old style drivetrain components to their old glory.

Here is the new side view.

The classic Nuovo Record Shifters

The front Derailleur with the very classy clamp.

And the pièce de résistance, the Nuovo Record rear derailleur.

This little gem was lasted almost unchanged for 16 years as the must have racing derailleur. There were some incremental changes however, each getting it's own yearly patent number. I looked to find a late model; this being a Pat 84. There are simply a jillion of these derailleurs out there but they are still quite pricey. I actually found this one in Poland. Turns out the pulley back plate was bent (a very easy fix) and the pulleys are Shimano. The OEM pulleys for these are quite pricey and hard to find, but there are some high quality replicas for about $30, which I will be purchasing in the near future. The NR derailleur was rated for 6 speed, but handle pretty much any tooth count about up to 8 speed. I have retained the 7 speed 13-23 freewheel for now, but I have a 5 speed in reserve. My reasoning for the 5 speed instead of the 6 speed, is because there is something still classic about a 10 speed race bike.

I have the Regina Extra chain that came with the other components but it is a couple of links too short. I have still run the chain through the derailleurs and it works great. But I continue to use a SRAM 8 speed chain, as it works great and is easily replaceable.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Don't Know Campy

Recently I came across someone in the Netherlands selling a "Gazelle AB-frame, Reynolds 531c, Campa Thriomphe rare" on ebay.
The seller believed or at least advertised a Gazelle
Gazelle AB-frame, Reynolds 531c, Campa Thriomphe; or a Gazelle AB frame made from Reynolds 531 cromoly with a Campagnolo Triomphe gruppo. The Triomphe is certainly not top of the line, just a step above Gran Sport, but one rarely sees the gruppo in the United States and they work very well, so it might be worth buying. The issue is this bike does not have a Triomphe gruppo. Above is the bike and below are the components and the real model.

Crankset: Campagnolo Triomphe; I think they got this one right
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Triomphe; not Triomphe, most likely Victory

Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Triomphe (very rare, take a good look); the rear derailleur is a Croce d’ Aune. As strange as this derailleur looks, they are about as rare as C-Record and usually sell for less.

Brakes: Campagnolo Triomphe; these are old style Veloce.
Brakelevers: \Campagnolo Triomphe; these are old (C-Record era) Chorus.

Hubs: Campagnolo Triomphe; not Triomphe, probably Nuovo Tipo. These were the bottom of the line Campy hubs with stamped steel races.

Seatpost: Campagnolo Record; not Record, these are (C-Record era) Chorus again.

Headset: Campagnolo Mirage; This looks like a winner, of course the model is on the headset, so it makes it earlier to figure out.

And just for fun I'm including the shifters which appear to be (Record era) Chorus friction.

My issue here is not that this seller is trying to pull the wool over someones eyes; I'm sure he really thinks these components are what they think they are. But if you are in the market for vintage Campagnolo, do some homework or find someone who knows; or you may end up with this mismatched gruppo, while it may work, has no real value as a collector's piece.

Take care.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meet the New Saddle, Just Like the old Saddle (Hopefully)

I recently asked the question What is your go to saddle? on the MTBR Singlespeed board and showed my Sella Italia saddle below. A problem arouse, when I started to do longer rides and really put the black Flite saddle to the test, it turns out I am they are not as good a fit as I thought. The black Flite I below has I believe aluminum rails and probably a leather cover. My first Sella Italia Flite saddle came on my green fixed gear. It was the most comfortable saddle I had ever ridden, so I figured I was set; the Sella Italia Flite is probably the most popular race saddle on the planet so there would be an endless supply if I ever needed another. A short time later I found a web store selling NOS yellow/black Flite Ti Alpes, so I bought two and mounted one on my Rocklobster and it worked as a very comfortable MTB saddle. Interestingly the "Alpes Ti saddles" are not your run of the mill Flite saddles (more on this later). I later found a similar yellow/black Flite Ti on ebay, but is was not an Alpes.

The hot spots with the black Flite convinced me that all Flite's are not the same. I checked the padding and discovered that the padding on all three yellow/black Flite Ti's is noticeably softer. I thought perhaps the issue might be the combination of a leather cover with a Titanium rail, but I found I had a well worn Flite Ti on my Specialized Allez. When I checked the padding it was the firm padding like the black Flite. Hmmm. I sent an email Sella Italia with photos of the saddles I had was wondering what the differences was between the saddles. Sella Italia got back to me and basically siad there was no difference between any of the saddles; that the padding and shell are identical on all the saddles; he theorized that the padding of some of the saddles may have broken down over time, leaving some of the padding softer. There might be something to this, the black Flite is dated 2001, the white Flite Ti is dated 2000, all three of the yellow/black saddles are dated 1996; maybe in 4-5 years these saddles will be rideable but that doesn't help me now.

What's really got me going with this is I thought I had the whole saddle thing figured out; if I needed another saddle I'd just get another Flite. Well now I know I need to find another saddle that works.

The black Flite

The yellow/black Flite Ti

A yellow/black Flite Alpes Ti

The Alpes Ti was a saddle primarily sold in Europe as a mountain bike saddle (the edges were trimmed ala the early Bontragers (below).

So I guess it was no surprise that I went from a Bonty to the Alpes. This would also explain why I didn't think a regular Flite was as comfortable as the Alpes. However I also found that the yellow/black Flite Ti was as comfortable as the Alpes; the padding is thinner and less dense. Of course there are no more of the yellow and black Flites regular or Alpes being made so I'm looking for something new. I trimmed the list down to a Selle Italia SLR XC.

I'm leaning toward the Selle Italia (okay I bought one) as it has a similar trimming as the Alpes.

I also find it interesting that after over a 100 years of Italian road saddle styling, Selle Italia used the old Bontrager trick to design a mountain bike saddle. Also, it turned out there was a lot more difference between the standard old style Flite Ti, the black/yellow Flite and the Alpes Ti, and I find this kind of trivia fascinating.

Update 02.26.2011

Well the Selle Italia SLR XC hasn't quite worked out. It stayed comfortable for about 25 miles then developed some hot spots outside and adjacent to my sit bones; it may need some breaking in or it may just make for a good mountain bike saddle. But that has left me on a renewed search for a new replacement road saddle. My next saddle was a Ritchey Streem (Comp).

This is a photo of the WCS but it looks identical to the Comp; it even has the identical shell(which of course you can't see). The primary difference is the Comp has steel rails and a vinyl cover; the WCS has Titanium rails and a leather cover. I picked up the Comp as a test saddle. Being a bit of a bike snob, if the Comp works out I will go for the WCS. I went for a short 25 mile ride and no hot spots. On Monday (2/28) I'll do a longer ride and see if it is truly going to pan out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

You Can't Keep a Good Bonty Down

Back in August 2020 I talked about my Bontrager Privateer S and My Road to Singlespeed
“Although I bought the “S” Sport level, I upgraded the hubs, shifters and cranks to XT, resulting in a XT gruppo with Avid brakes. The original shock was a Rock Shox T2; an elastomer version of a Judy XC, that is upgradeable with cartridge kit to the equivalent of the Judy. After attempting such an upgrade, I blew out the cartridges at a rate of 1 a month, so I replaced it with a Marzocchi Super Fly”.

The Bontrager with the Judy was a good race bike (with a crappy fork). The upgrade to the Marzocchi resulted in a bike to die for; in my mind the two are inseparable. As I mentioned in my previous blog, after riding the bike for about three years I converted it to a Singlespeed. After I had a custom Singlespeed made by Rocklobster, I reassembled the bike as original as I could; the primary missing components are the OEM shock (of course) and the OEM "Comp" seatpost I used when I built another bike and then sold it. I have since replaced it with a similar "Select" seatpost. You can imagine then my dismay when I sent the shock to Marzocchi and they told me a corroded stanchion made the shock un-rideable and new stanchions are no longer available. I immediately started going through the stages of grief. 1) Shock and Denial; well maybe it’s not as bad as they say. Yes, that’s it Marzocchi simply has super high standards on what they will rebuild due to liability issues. There was actually some validity to this, as the corrosion was a single pit on one stanchion. Unfortunately my wife picked up the fork and they put the fear of god in her that I should not try and re-build the shock as it surely would catastrophically fail. This of course led to pain and guilt. It was all my fault for not rinding the bike and keeping an eye on it. I just let it hang there in the garage for years as the corroded pit became deeper and deeper.

Next came anger and bargaining. I went back and forth between retiring the Bontrager and buying a new fork. Marzocchi had offered by $150 off a new fork, meaning for about $220 I could have a new middle level fork to replace the Superfly. Replace the Superfly? What am I saying? I can’t replace the Superfly, it’s what makes the bike “the" bike. One issue regarding the buying of a new shock is the travel limitation. One consideration in the geometry design of mountain bikes frames have a to do with the length of the fork. The first mountain bikes did not have suspension forks, so the frames were built around a fairly standard size fork; the first shocks were designed around this standard size. As forks developed more travel, bike frames were designed around them. My Bontrager Privateer was designed around a 63-80mm or 2.5-3 inches of travel, anymore could degrade the handling of the bike; also the fork needs to have brake bosses Most of the used shocks on ebay are around 4 inches or 100mm. However I did some bargaining in my head and picked up a Marzocchi EXR Pro for $40 (the price was actually $5, but the shipping from Canada was $35; shipping, the bain of ebay. The shock is a dreaded 100mm and I when it arrived the steerer looked very beat-up and I suspected it was bent. Indeed it was bent, the beat-up condition appeared to be the result of someone trying to straighten it.

Oh well, back to the bargaining board. I checked ebay again and saw a Marzocchi Z5 X-Fly. While it was quite a bit down the food chain from a Superfly, it was available in 80mm and according to the seller had been expertly rebuilt, so I bid a “buy it now” for $130 ($115 plus $15 shipping). After I bought the shock I suddenly has an epiphany, what if this guy can rebuild my Superfly. I sent the fellow, Mark an email and I jumped over 3) Depression right to 4) the upward turn; Mark said he had a stanchion and could rebuild my Superfly. Mark explained that he has a passion for Marzocchi forks, especially the older Bombers, and makes it his hobby buying up forks, rebuilding and selling them. He also agreed to cancel my purchase and put the X-fly back on ebay. So much for grieving!

I sent the fork off to Mark and about a week and a half later it came back. Now, granted the exterior of the shock was still in good shape, but Mark did a remarkable job; he didn’t just rebuild it, he re-manufactured it. Here is the work order;
it came back at least as good as new. I took the bike out for a ride, the first time I have ridden the bike in over 5 years and it was a pleasure. I had forgotten what a ride to die for the bike is with the Superfly fork. Unlike other forks I’ve rode with, you can’t really feel the Superfly working, it just does. It eats up small bumps and washboard like it isn’t there and takes a good part of the edge off bigger bumps. While the bike will remain an 8 speed, it will be ridden and hopefully passed on to my 12 year old son. Regardless I am really happy that the shock and bike are working together again; really stoked!