Sunday, October 30, 2011

M's 1982 Trek 720

Brown head tube and matching panel on seat tube
My wife M has been riding a 1984 Trek 620 touring bike as her daily commuter and errand-doer since late 2007. She has a special fondness for older Trek from that era, especially those with with a panel decal on the seat tube. I saw a 1982 version of a 720 for sale on the Internet forum recently that was her size (56cm) and snagged it up. It didn't have any decal that indicated that it was a 720, but the frameset looks identical to the picture in the 1982 Trek brochure, and the serial number under the bottom bracket shell (03081x) confirmed that the frameset indeed is a 82' 720.

The paint is in mostly good conditions. The taup paint on main triangle and most of the stays and forks still sparkle but significant paint chips can be found on the chain stays, especially at the kickstand area and the drive-side. I sprayed these areas with a satin-finish clear coat before assembling the bike. The frameset itself has some very nice details. The tubings (main triangle, stays, and fork blades) are Reynolds 531, with these following thicknesses and diameters (see this page in the brochure):

seat tube 8/5 1 1/8"
top tube 8/5/8 1"
down tube 10/7/10 1 1/8"

Unfendered here in a front 3/4 portrait
Both the top tube and the seat tube are 56cm (center-to-center) and the angles are 73.5 (seat) and 72 (head), which brings the handlebar and the seat closer to each other compared to M's other bike (the Ebisu Road), which has 73 degree for both angles. Other nice details of the frameset include integrated (and subtle) under-bottom-bracket cable guide, stamped "TREK" logo on the top non-drive side of the bottom bracket shell, a chain hanger, Campagnolo drop outs (front and rear) with double eyelets, Andrew Hague brake bridge with fender tap, and investment cast fork crown and bottom bracket shell. The chainstays are especially long (47cm) to provide a stable ride.

I had planned on building this bike to be a 650b conversion to allow use of metal fenders and wide tires. We sold M's 620 to a friend as a near complete bike (sans crankset, seatpost, front rack, and saddle), so I have to gather parts for the build. The most significant addition is a pair of wheels built by Charlie at Lakeview Bicycle, a new bike shop on the Lake in Oakland that stocks many BOBish parts. Other new parts include metal fenders, and chain and cassette. Most parts came from my parts bin. Here is the complete parts list:

The Tubus rack on VO fenders
- 1982 Trek 720 frameset (Taup with brown panel and head tube)
- original headset (overhauled)
- Origin8 quill stem; 1"; 26mm clamp; 8cm reach
- Deda Newton 42mm handlebar; black; a gift from a friend
- Tektro R200 brake levers
- Shimano 9-speed bar-end shifters
- Soma tan bar tape
- Sugino XD2 165mm crankset 46/36/26T
- Shimano HG50 9-speed cassette 12-32T
- SRAM 9-speed 971 chain
- Tektro R556 long reach (55-73mm) sidepull brakes
- Shimano LX mega-range rear derailleur
- Shimano XT front derailleur
- Shimano Tiagra hubs laced to Weinmann ZAC19c rims; 32 spoke holes
- Panaracer Col de la Vie tires (measured 36mm on these rims)
- Shimano Ultegra seatpost
- Terry Liberator Ti saddle
- Tubus Logo rear rack
- Velo Orange hammered 45mm fenders for 650b wheels
- generic water bottle cage

The build is mostly pretty straight forward, but I did have to stumble through a couple of places:

1. the rear brake caliper barely reach the rim. Turning the adjustment screw helped some
2. similar to the 620, the chainstay bridge is placed too far forward to create a decent fender line. I used a 1/2" "spacer" to bring it closer.
3. Weinmann rims are a little oversized, so to mount the tires evenly I use soap water along the tire bead and inflate them to 110 psi before deflating it to the proper pressure. This seems to work OK; Charlie warned me about this before building the wheels up
4. I have to mount the rear fender stays on the Tubus rack (which has a pair of non-threaded eyelets on it) because otherwise the bolt will interfere with the chain when the chain is on the smallest cog.

M has enjoyed riding it so far and took it on a 12-mile ride last weekend. She doesn't notice a vast difference between the 720 and her old 620 (how can that be? the tires are much wider). I think the real test will come when we go on touring and when she has to ride through long stretches of bad pavement). It's really a nice bike. I am envious actually.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Andrew's VO Polyvalent Build

Earlier in the year I worked with my friend Andrew to build his city bike. I met Andrew at a local weekly social ride called the butterlap. He was riding his nice Moustasched Rivendell Sam Hillborne. We chatted up and found that we live pretty close to each other in Berkeley and his wife and I went to the same middle school in Taiwan! Andrew is happy with the Rivendell, but wants something more functional for his city-riding, especially since his last urban bike was stolen.

He chose the first-generation Velo Orange Polyvalent. He got a 54cm version from Box Dog Bikes in San Francisco. We talked over in length about his use of the bike and the parts suitable for those purposes. Here is a rough parts list:

-- VO Polyvalent frameset; 54cm (top tube 56cm)
-- VO porteur front rack
-- 650b Dyad/Shimano LX Dynamo (equivalent to 3N80) front wheel built by Handspun
-- Dyad Shimano LX rear wheel (both wheels 32 spoke holes)
-- Busch and Muller nearfield IQ Cyo front light mounted below the rack
-- Velo Orange Zeplin 52mm 650b fenders
-- Soma B-line 650bx38mm tires (they measured 37mm on the Dyad rims)
-- Shimano LX rapid rise derailleur
-- Shimano HG-61 12-36T cassette
-- Shimano LX crank with single 40T ring (and no front derailleur)
-- VO Grand Cru setback seatpost
-- Brooks sprung saddle
-- Shimano LX V-brakes and mountain bike brake levers
-- Soma Oxford sweep-back handlebar
-- Raleigh old grey rubber grips
-- Single falcon thumb shifters mounted on the right side
-- Nitto technomic tall stem

More pictures here:

The build was pretty straight forward. The fenders and the V-brakes took the most time, the latter because it was the first time I installed V-brakes. I mounted the VO porteur rack to the rear-facing eyelets on the fork because it was designed to be mounted there and this way it allows the rack to be parallel to the ground and staying close to the head tube to reduce straining on the rack tab.

The finish product looks great, and Andrew has been riding it for 9 months and seems to be enjoying the bike. The 40T/36T combination is low enough for his purposes, and the light, rack, and fenders make it a very practical bike, especially in rainy Bay Area winters and springs.

Rosalie's Univega Mixte Update

(Pictures taken by Larissa)
My friend Andrew introduced me to Rosalie, who worked with him, and used to be manage the Berkeley Farmers' Market. She bought a bike as an upgrade from her mountain-ish hybrid bike. The bone of it--early 1980's Univega Mixte--is very good, and we were able to keep several key parts, but significant upgrades were required and demanded. The parts we kept are:

Suntour derailleurs, Sugino double crankset (and the bottom bracket), the original headset, the Weinmann brake levers, and the beautiful metal coil cable housings for the front and rear derailleurs.

We bought 700c wheels--front is a Shimano LX (equivalent to DH-3N80) dynamo hub laced to Mavic A319 rim, and the rear is a (black) Shimano 105 hub laced to a Mavic Open Sport rim. We got an 8-speed cassette and two brick-red Soma Express tires (with Pasela tread). The quill stem is old, but wasn't installed on the frameset, and the handlebar is Soma Oxford.

The difficult part of the built was the shifters. Originally I thought about reusing the clamp-on downtube Suntour shifters that were already on the bike. However, these shifters are keyed to the clamp and can't be used independently. I found a pair of suntour friction downtube shifters that can serve the purpose to go with the bar-end pods. To use bar-end shifters with Oxford/Albatross bars one needs to have a way to recess the derailleur cable housings. We bought a pair of pre-grooved cork grips from Rivendell, which is glued to the handlebar and the housings recessed and tied with twine.

The drivetrain otherwise works well. The crankset has 52/42T rings, but the cassettes goes all the way to 32T, and the 42/32T combination should be low enough for most purposes.

We bought a pair of Tektro long-reach brakes (47-57mm) for the build and were almost foiled. The bike takes 27" wheels originally, and we created more clearance and tapped into better and more standard tire selection by going to 700c. However, the shrinking of wheel diameter by a mere 8mm almost made the rear rim not reachable by the Tektro brakes. I mounted the brakes on the lower seatstay, and facing the front. I then use Koolstop thin-line brake pads for V-brakes in place of the stock road cartridge brakes. The thin-line pads made it work. I could probably play with the adjustment screw on the caliper to give it a little more breathing room, but it works for now.

The Busch and Muller IQ Cyo head lamp, which is driven by the Shimano generator wheel, is mounted on the brake hole. Rosalie bought the near-field version to illuminate the area in front of the bike more.

The final touch came in the form of a old Terry saddle, with a long-haired woman wearing a dome helmet as the logo on the side. These old Terry liberator-type saddles are very comfortable, and my wife swears by them.

Unlike bikes I built for myself, I didn't try to ride the bike too much (it was too small), but hopefully I will get a more detailed report from Rosalie once she is settled and has more chance to ride it in San Diego.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Old Specialized--the build

I had an old Specialized Expedition Deluxe touring bike from the 80's for a while. I trained for and then rode the 2007 Seattle-to-Portland ride on it. It was my main ride for a while, even edging a Romulus I had at the time. I didn't know as much about bikes as I do now, but the standard-sized diameter tubes it has probably contribute to the responsive yet supple ride quality it has. In Fall 2008, I sold it to fund the down payment of my Ebisu All Purpose, thinking that I would keep the Romulus alongside the Ebisu. I ended up selling the Romulus later also, and learned and changed somewhat my preference of bikes--toward bigger tires mostly on 650b wheel size, standard-diameter tubing, and higher offset at the fork. I am really happy with 2 out of 3 in my stable--the Ebisu and my Kogswell P/R, but have moved through several bikes as the third--my Romulus, a Raleigh One-Way, a Rawland cSogn, and most recently a Rivendell Bleriot.

Bleriot racked and baggedI actually like the Bleriot quite a bit. It's an attractive bike that fits 40mm tires with fenders, and rides fairly well. It feels different from my Ebisu and Kogswell in that it had oversize tubes and lower fork offset, and I sit somewhat differently on it than my other two bikes even though they are the same size. The Bleriot was a capable climber that at times felt spriter than my Kogswell during off-the-saddle spirited climbs, and definitely more edgy on the descent. I had suited it up well, and had plans to keep it for a long time.
Sequoia, Red Bottle, Soy Latte
I changed my mind recently when I came across a Specialized Sequoia from the same era as my old Expedition. The previous owner had powdercoated the frameset (including a blackburn rear rack) but didn't go through with the build. I moved most of the parts from the Bleriot (except the wheels) to the Sequoia. And it is fitted with a pair of 650b Dyad/LX wheels, with the front a dynamo hub (DH-T660-3N, which doesn't seem different from DH-3N80, according to Peter White). The rear wheel has seen use on my Kogswell, but it became available when I built a 36h-Synergy/LX wheel to match up with the Kogswell's 36h-Synergy/SON20 front wheel. The Dyad dynamo wheel came from eBay with a near new Col de la Vie tire. A couple things stand out about these Dyad rims, 1) they are symmetrical both front and rear, and 2) tires measured wider on them. For example, the Col de la Vie tire, which is often measured to be 35.5mm on Synergy rims, measures 37mm on the Dyad.

The clearance on the frameset allows me to use 650bx37mm tires on it with 49mm Honjo Fenders. However, both the fork crown and the chainstays were too narrow for the fenders. instead of cutting the fenders to fit, I pressed the fenders to fit by fastening the 5mm bolts to the frameset. I put some rim tape to dampen the vibration that manifested as creaking noises during rides.

Front cable hanger hack
One of the quirks I had to deal with when building the bike is the tall original Specialized headset. The stack height is so large that I can't fit a steerer-mounted, spacer-based cable hanger for the center-pull brakes i intended to use on this bike. So instead, I rigged up this cable stop using a rear cable hanger attached to a stem-based bell-clamp. since I want to have a bell anyway, the clamp is actually functional there besides serving as the attachment mechanism for the cable hanger.

The bike rides great! I put about 200 miles in the first month since I built it up. The 650b fat tires plus the more flexy standard-sized tubes make for a comfortable ride, and the short and shallow but flared drops of on-one Midge keeps me pretty comfortable for long stretches of road. After testing it for a while, I will bring the bike to Ukiah where I work part of the week. It will be capable of going on paved or unpaved roads and let me get out even at night with its dynamo lighting.

Here is the part list:

Sequoia at Island Camp Site
-- Specialized Sequoia frameset with original headset; powdercoated by previous owner
-- matching color blackburn rear rack
-- Velocity Dyad/Shimano LX wheelset 650b 32h; front hub is a dynahub, similar to the DH-3n80
-- Panaracers Col de la Vie tires; measured 37mm on the Dyads
-- 8-speed sram cassette 11-32T
-- Velo Orange Chrome crankset 50/36T
--Shimano XT low normal rear derailleur
-- Shimano 105 double front derailleur
-- Laprade 26.6mm seatpost
-- Terry saddle
-- On-One midge handlebar, with 3 layers of cloth bar tapes
-- Tektro brake levers
-- Dia Compe Mod 750 center-pull brakes with modern brake shoe/pads
-- Suntour non-ratchet shifter on the right and silver shifter on the left; shifter housing under the bar tape
-- B&M IQ Cyo senso front LED lamp
-- Plant Bike Blinkie
-- Honjo 48mm fluted fenders
-- Velo Orange Front Constructeur Rack
-- Velo Orange Campangne boxy front bag
-- Rivendell Banana saddle bag
-- Velo Orange threadless stem 9cm 6 degree with VO stem adapter
-- Brass bell

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ebisu Update Jan 2011

January 2011 Set Up
Now that I have owned and ridden the Ebisu All Purpose for a year and half on several brevets and long rides, I can really appreciate the attention to detail that went into the design of the bike. Besides the difficulty with fenders plus grand bois hetres tires (which was by design), everything else is pretty perfect. I saw recently that Rene Herse Bicycles began selling a model of Honjo fenders that are slightly shallower in profile and slightly wider at 51mm, so I decided to pick up a pair to see if I can improve the infinitesimal clearance I have on the combination of hetres and fenders on this bike.

clearance w/ old fenders
Clearance w/ new fenders
The fenders have Honjo's usual shine, and are visibly shallower. The installation wasn't so hard now that I have few times to practice. The clearance with them, still slight, is definitely an improvement over the 49mm fluted version (I passed that pair to the Kogswell, and now the Bleriot has the VO Zeplin). While I was at it, I also changed the bar tape from tan Soma tape to red Fizik perforated tape. Now it's ready again for the 2011 brevet season.