Monday, September 13, 2010

Vintage Road Bike Project

Here is a quick review of my recent project bike. In early August, I picked up a Craigslist bike from a small town outside of Indy. It's an early 1980's Puch Alpina. It's about a 58 cm frame and fits great. It's got Suntour V-GT front and rear derailleurs, Suntour bar-end shifters, Weinmann brakes, brake levers and 700c rims, Sakae SR chainwheel, Silstar cranks, Shimano Adamas Fullfit pedals, and Sakae Road Champion bars. I've always wanted an old bike to tinker with and learn a bit about bottom brackets, headsets, derailleurs, etc. so this bike fulfilled that need. After getting some help from the LBS loosening the bottom bracket, I began to disassemble.

The bike looked to have been transported more than actually ridden, but 30 year old grease is still gross. After removing all the components, I cleaned the frame and worked some Turtle Wax into the paint to bring the paint back to life. I cleaned and regreased the bottom bracket and headset, and I put everything back together. I was surprised how much I got done in one evening.

I spent another evening on finishing up. I installed new Cane Creek brake hoods and started the job of installing new blue VO cables. This is where I got into trouble. After severely mangling several cable housings, I called it quits. I had the LBS fix my cable job and finish tightening the bottom bracket, and I picked up a set of cheap (but smoother rolling) closed-bearing wheels to finish things off. For a final touch, I wrapped the bars in Newbaum's "grass green" tape, finished with hemp twine and shellac. Here's the result!

By the way, if you zoom in on the finished product, can you tell that I retouched the seat tube decals with fingernail polish? There were originally about three inches of the stripes rubbed off from a water bottle holder. I managed to find a pack of fingernail polish with both the green and the blue, plus a pink and some acrylic nails that I let the girl at Walgreens keep. I smoothed it over with clear lacquer and haven't had a problem yet.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why I love cantakerous old men

The benefits of bicycle and pedestrian travel go beyond the commuter’s carbon footprint and physical health. There is a social aspect that the entire society leaves behind once we enter our cars. During my usual commute, I make a turn onto three or so blocks of cobblestone through downtown. There are three stop signs, no lights. There’s rarely traffic crossing, so I typically blow through all three. The past commute, an old guy on a moped stopped me. He reminded-perhaps he harassed me-that I should stop. “You don’t believe in stop signs do you? You know a cop’s gonna get you. You’re stupid.” My girlfriend got a similar “suggestion” to wear a helmet. All right, this isn’t so pleasant, but at least it’s productive. Take this instance. A caller on the most recent episode of Car Talk inquired about installing multiple horns. Why? So he could make it sound like multiple cars were honking at the subjects of his impatience. The Tappet Brothers’ response, “do you push someone over when you’re on the sidewalk and someone is walking slowly?” What I mean to say is that when you commute in the free air, there is no road rage. The people that share the road can clearly communicate to one another, that is something much more human and civilized that simply blaring the horn.

Monday, June 14, 2010

You don't have to be Chinese!

You don't have to be Chinese to understand that it makes sense to wear a bicycle helmet.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Increasing my online presence: @mylifeonwheels