Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roland Hoffe

My old friend and boss at the famed Bicycle Village Roland Hoffe passed away suddenly on the 18th of May.

Please note that his service is being held in Wellington this Friday morning (29th May) at 11am at the Lychgate Chapel, on the corner of Aro and Willis Streets.

If you knew Roland, please come along - it would be great to see a good turn out to mark the life and the passing of this remarkable man.

Cheers, Oli

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blurry Vision

Bleurgh! It's entirely possible I'm dying - certainly I feel like I've been strangled by a Romulan renegade then had my head stuffed with mud. I'm going to take advantage of a sick day to whack out a quick update of what's been going on in the workshop.

I built up this lovely set of wheels for my man Jono. Stans Arch rims on Hadley hubs with DT Competition spokes make for a light (750 f and 960 r) but strong wheelset for his new Turner DW 5-Spot.

I gave Alex's old steel KHS a ruddy good going over. Like Grandad's axe there's little of the original bike left, but it's all good retro fare and, while his steamer bike is on the slip, it's a great weapon of choice for Al. Certainly the retro tech doesn't seem to be slowing him down any!

After giving Colin's Serotta TiMax a going over a couple of weeks ago it was the turn of his cool 20th anniversary Rocky Mountain Element. This bike has seen adventure racing action all over the world!

I gave this EMC2 Team Equipe a service, as well as giving the Dura-Ace wheels a 1000km check.

Regular readers of this blog (hi sis!) may recall Mark's RIH frame I have been slowly building up after Walter Thorburn gave it a lick of paint. Last week I received a parcel from NZ Ambrosio distributor Cycle Sport that contained these cool NOS Ambrosio Synthesis tubular rims in 36 hole.

So I grabbed my Autosol and polished up the Campagnolo Record Pista hubs. Note the difference between the polished and unpolished hubs.

Once they were both polished to a high sheen then given a coat of Turtle Wax...

It was time to build them up. Nothing fancy, just good old sturdy three-cross DT Comp with brass nipples.

Once the wheels were constructed I fitted the tyres to the rims without glue, blew them up and left them overnight. This is to ensure the tyre is sound, as you don't get warranty on faulty ones with glue on them, as well as to stretch the tyre a bit making it easier to install.

Then it was time to glue the tubs on. Unlike the Mavic GEL280 I showed last week, the Ambrosios are pre-roughened to help the glue adhere - this saved some sore forearms!
First, I wipe the rim surface with isopropyl alcohol to prevent any grease or oily residue corrupting the bond between glue and rim. Then it's an even coat of tubular cement on the rim, as well as the base tape of the tyre. I let this dry fully overnight.

The next day I put another coat on the rim and let that one dry too. That evening I added the fourth coat, which I let dry until it's tacky before carefully installing the tyre. Once the tyre is on the rim I take some time to make sure it's as straight on the rim as possible, then blow it up to about two-thirds max pressure and kind of roll the wheels around with my body weight on the axles to compress the tyre onto the rim as much as I can. Then we're sorted!

Once the wheels were ready, it was time to fit them to the bike. I'd already fitted the forks, bars, cranks and saddle so once the wheels were on it would just be a matter of joining the chain and all done!

Or so I thought - once the wheels were in it became quickly apparent that what I thought was just a slightly rough headset was actually binding yet still with play. This is where the true beauty of the track bike came into play; because there are no brake or gear lever cables on the bars it's a five minute job to strip the forks back out - I wish it had taken me five minutes to discover what the problem was!

After not finding anything immediately obvious, and going as far as removing the cups from the frame and checking my headtube prep, I was mystified - the bearing surfaces on the 1960's Campagnolo headset were pristine, the headtube was clean and faced, the crown was good, and everything seemed to line up perfectly. It wasn't until I began reinstalling the headset I found that a loose ball had somehow come adrift in the steerer tube and was causing the problems. I had checked inside the steerer, but obviously a bit too casually...

I fitted the front wheel and the bike was ready. Another very cool bike I've been fortunate enough to work on - cheers, Mark.

On Thursday evening I had a quick visit from my great friend Paul Larkin. In town for a conference, he dropped me two more very cool bikes to work on. I got my first glimpse of the stunning Santa Cruz Blur Carbon XC frame, which belongs to another one of my good buddies, National Singlespeed Champion Tim Wilding.

I like the asymmetrical paintjob, and no pic can do justice to the beautiful carbon weave under the thick coat of clear lacquer...

The other bike was one that I've blogged before but never actually touched (I did build the wheels however) - Pete's lovely Eddy Merckx Corsa 01, expertly built up by Paul at Roadworks Rotorua Service Course.

The next morning I built up the Blur - with Tim's bike sponsor being the delightful Mike Stylianou of Santa Cruz and Ibis importer Hyperformance Hardware I am blessed to be able to fettle fine frames like this on a fairly regular basis. Choice.

The carbon linkages were stunningly wrought...

And the bike turned out great. Sans grips but including pedals it weighed in at an honest 22.97lb/10.42kg - not bad for an L size 100/105mm travel bike!

Once I'd knocked this build off, and while I waited to catch up with Paul, Tim and Dave, I gave Pete's Eddy Merckx a look over. Since Paul built it up it's had a few k's so I spent some time tweaking it before stepping back and simply admiring it. Built up with 10 speed Campag Centaur with the new shaped levers and the Record/Open Pro wheels I built for it last year it has a classic yet current look about it...

I handed the Blur over to Tim after we'd all rendezvoused at Satay Village for dinner, and said goodnight expecting to meet him and the rest of the crew for a ride the next day up Makara Peak. Unfortunately, my total dread of riding Deliverance and Ridgeline in the wet with a bunch of hard-outs brought on a convenient yet no less unwelcome sore throat and pounding head the following morning. No, there wasn't rum involved! I got as far as getting dressed and pumping my tyres up before realising I was not going anywhere.

Caleb from Spoke Magazine was going along to take some pics of Timmy for the mag too. It sounded like they had a great time catching up with the awesomeness that is Wellitrack, so I'm quite happy for all our sakes that I wasn't there to slow them down! Great to catch up with both Tim and Paul anyway...

Talking of Spoke Magazine, issue 32 has just hit the newsstands, and I am proud to have an article in there. Please grab a copy and check it out.

Despite feeling pretty grim, I worked on Monday. I had several things to do, the first of which was set up Grant's new singlespeed taster. He'd picked the bike up for $16 at the recycling centre. The forks it was fitted with were 1" with a mis-matched headset sort of holding them into the 1 1/8" frame. I decided to donate some old Marin rigid forks I had lying around, along with a used but serviceable headset and Jacq's old Amoeba stem. I also provided the new Tektro brake levers and an old Dura-Ace 16t sprocket, while Grant supplied the rest of the kit. After swapping chainsets and fitting the v-brakes, repairing the broken spoke in the rear wheel and spacing the DA cog, this is how it turned out.

Detail of the chain tensioner - I played with all different combinations of chain length and pulley configuration before settling on this set-up. After his first outing Grant tells me the bike rides sweet in a 44 x 16 gear.

This brings me up to yesterday, where I built a bunch of wheels and tweaked 152 nipples! Martin tasked me with building him two sets of wheels for his late 90s 853 Schwinn Peloton - a decent set of training wheels and a nice set of lighter race wheels. To keep in character with the frame Martin didn't want deeps or built up wheelsets, so after some discussion we opted for Mavic Open Pro rims for both sets.

The training wheels would be laced up on 32 hole Ultegra hubs using the standard 3 cross pattern with DT Competition spokes and brass nipples for all-weather reliability, and ease of service and parts. These wheels came out at 1880 grams.

Whereas the race wheels would be constructed using 28 hole Dura-Ace 7900 hubs. I laced them both with DT Revolution spokes - radial for the front wheel and 2 cross for the rear. Laterally and rotationally stiffer than the training wheels, and at 1560g quite a lot lighter too. Very nice, and both pairs together cost less than the price of many aftermarket wheelsets.

I only managed one ride last week. In training mode for the imminent visit of T-Rex and Warrant Officer Larkin, I took advantage of a spare mid-week morning to have a lovely scoot up Koru and Sally Alley to the start of Missing Link, then a great run down Ridgeline Extension and old favourite SWIGG and Starfish. A cold but fine day all too rare, but amazing to see how well the Makara trails were holding up in the middle of a sustained wet spell...

That's all I've got this week, so I'll now retire to bed with my hot lemon and honey. CU soon, Oli

Late edit: I had some very sad news this afternoon. My first boss and mentor in the cycling trade, and one of the seminal male figures in my life, Roland Hoffe passed away this morning. While we weren't really in regular touch my world was a better place with Roland in it. I'll miss him.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I didn't ride today...

I didn't spend all week working my arse off and busting for a day that wasn't too busy or too climatically challenging or both, and I didn't take advantage of a cold but gorgeous Wellington Saturday by chucking my bike on my rack and rendezvousing with my good buddies Alex and Matt.

We didn't saddle up and ride up the delightful Cemetery Trail, and we didn't marvel at the constantly changing character of this sweet singletrack.

I didn't start out with a hiss and a roar before tapping the depths of my climbing fitness after the first five minutes...Matty didn't take over point, and Al didn't clear the entire climb despite this only just coming back from a pair of nasty injuries.

I didn't go anaerobic trying to wrestle my camera out of my shorts pocket as I wasn't riding to take shaky photos of Matt and Al climbing away from me as I went deeper and deeper into oxygen debt...

We didn't collect ourselves at the gates and we didn't decide to carry on and ride Johnson's Hill back down to the Cemetery. Our cheery greetings also weren't ignored by an ignoramus heading past us back down to the Cemetery. HEY WE DIDN'T WANT TO TALK TO YOU ANYWAY, BUDDY!

Next we didn't ride up to Skyline.

By now you're probably getting as tired of this lame schtick as I am, so when I tell you that we didn't run into some old MTB friends out for a walk who didn't pull out some inane calls on me then you won't understand?!?

My somewhat bitter "humour" is directed at the two things people I bump into when I'm out riding seem to say the most; "I didn't know you rode off-road?", and one I've unfortunately had cause to mention once or twice before which is, "Your bike is so clean - you must never ride!" Both of these calls were pulled out on me in quick succession, and the best I could come up with in return was to hassle them for losing their bikes...why do the best comebacks always occur 10 minutes after you need them?

Firstly, anyone who actually knows me knows that when I do have a chance to get out I ride my MTB far more than my road bike these days, not to mention that I've ridden mountainbikes (poorly, I'll admit!) since 1992. Secondly, I find the utter inanity of hassling someone about not riding when they're out for a ride very odd indeed, not to mention extremely impolite.

After this frustrating encounter we set off again south along Skyline, around the clever cyclist-friendly stiles, until we hit the turn off to Johnson's Hill. The climb up to the trig is a toughie and we all walked a fair bit of it.

Unfortunately my camera doesn't do it justice, but the view south was spectacular with the Kaikoura Mountains crystal clear in the distance framed by Makara Peak and the hills out towards Cook Strait.

Al was riding on his classic old steel KHS hardtail with v-brakes and early Marzocchi Bombers, but he out-rode Matty and I with our 5 inch travel trail bikes on most of the steepest technical stuff we'd encounter on our way back down the Hill.

The view out west has been irrevocably altered by the windfarm that's being erected. I have no problem with the site or the intent of the thing, but I can't say I prefer the sight of the windmills over the bare hills.

Matty flowed down the stairs while Alex and I followed carefully.

We took a turn-off that Al and I had regretted passing the last time we were up here - this trail started out with some rooty, slippery goodness, before taking us down some steep pine-needle covered zig-zag action, where Al expertly slalomed us through the trees - it wasn't until later that it was revealed it was because he simply couldn't stop! Lucky for us he carried it off so well...

This was much steeper than it looks!

Matt in a techy steez.

After much slithering and sliding and some mad skidzzz, and only a couple of minor offs for me, the trail took us eventually down to the Cemetery. We got back to the cars buzzing but, as we still had some daylight and didn't feel like the ride should end, we decided to give them the swerve and keep rolling - Matt hadn't seen the new Karori Park pump track, so we headed along the Main Road.

After a wicked blast through the traffic I hit the Park but somehow I managed to take the wrong way up not once but twice! I arrived in time to watch Matt roll adroitly around the pump track...

...before we ped-surfed back around the Park and fanged hard back through Karori, finishing up with some awesome judder bar air.

After reaching our vehicles and farewelling Matt, Al and I drove back to the Bay where I couldn't resist taking a couple of shots of the full moon rising above Tapu Te Ranga Motu.

Then from up on the ridge...amazingly, it was raining heavily about 20 minutes after I took this last shot.

Home in the bosom of my family, with the rain starting to fall. I love my bike and, despite the scepticism I seem to face from some people with no idea how I live my life, I really, really love riding it...

Another great ride with great friends - cheers Al and Matt!

Of course, if there is a reason that I don't ride bikes as much as I should, it's because fixing them dominates a huge chunk of my week. As that is actually the real reason for these long-winded diatribes I call a blog, I thought I'd better show you a couple of the bikes I saw this week.

Before I do though, here's a shot of Grant's sweet new Cotic Soul. You may recall I built up some wheels for Grant a couple of weeks ago for his Great Divide ride from Canada to Mexico, so here they are fitted on his weapon of choice by the guys at Taupo's best bike shop, Top Gear Cycles.

As the week began I had a couple of jobs to finish off, the first of which was Blair's Scott. I tubelessed the tyres and fitted the rotors and cassette to the wheels I built him last week, before installing them and giving the bike a service.

Next up I cannibalised the chain, front derailleur and cable set off this lovely old Raleigh...

...with cool 50s transfers... enable me to complete Dan's lovely Colnago Technos. I think it turned out very nicely indeed.

Check these pics out of some more of Dan's impressive quiver of retro steel rides, which I haven't had the privilege of fettling yet but definitely hope to get my hands on over the course of time!


Roberts TT bike.

And his brilliantly restored Mercian...

Links to more pics of these fine machines here: Raleigh, Roberts and the Mercian.

I next worked on a slightly more modern rig. Matt's (a different Matt!) Opera (a Pinarello subsidiary) was having a chainset transplant. The recent advent of the first ever Dura-Ace compact chainset meant Matt's old 7800 53/39 DA was being ditched in favour of more knee-friendly gearing.

7900 Dura-Ace chainset.

The Opera before removal of the 7800 chainset.

Matt has fitted some interesting and very light Zero Gravity brakes to his bike.

As well as doing this, the Opera required some tender ministrations - as did the AC420 wheels. Soon enough Matt's race bike was ready to rock.

Lastly, I'll show you Andrew's lovely titanium Everti hardtail MTB. Bought for a relative song off Everti's designer/builder Kurt Knock, this sweet rig is a 24lb XC race machine. It just needed a good going over after a few months of riding since new.

The welding of this Canadian designed/Taiwanese built frame is faultless, and the ride apparently smooth and fast.

That's all I have for this week. The upcoming week holds some more interesting projects I will be getting on with. Until then, thanks for reading. Cheers, Oli