Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busy old business...

Last weeks Litespeed singlespeed in Vogue mode

The last couple of weeks have been flat out. Due to this busyness I haven't had a chance to post so I will have to compress two weeks of action into one silly long post - grab a cup of coffee and go for it. I'll try to make it more pictures than waffle, but I'm not guaranteeing anything...

It looks like Taupo season is well and truly here, as everyone dusts off the road bikes they haven't used for the winter, or build themselves up a new bike, or simply take advantage of the (theoretically) better weather of spring.
My first project for the week was to get Asher's early 90s Guerciotti up to scratch. Bought off TradeMe it needed a new drive and stem, along with hub rebuilds and some other bits and pieces. Started rough and ended up smooth as silk tubulars.

It must have been TradeMe week, as I won this cool retro wool jersey in my first ever attempt at participating in an auction. My mate Paul has a beautiful Gazelle AA Special steel road bike that comes from the same era as this jersey, so I passed it on to him once it arrived, after first taking a myriad of posey photos of it!

Next up was this Scott I sorted out for my good friend Derek. Derek was a father-figure to me through my teens, and was instrumental in setting me upon my chosen path as a bike fixing type guy when he and I spent many hours trying to decipher the mysteries of dérailleur set-up on my old Raleigh Arena when I must have been about 13 or 14. We got it in the end and I was hooked. The rest, as they say, is history...

Next I had to build up this lovely Lynskey 29er Helix for Dave at Bike Fixation. The Helix is clearly visible in the shot of the down-tube - it's a very interesting design which is supposed to counter torsional forces, making for a stiffer frame at a given weight.

Here's a detail from another Lynskey - this time a road bike Level 4 Helix like I built a couple of weeks ago. I meant at the time to post a dropout shot to show the level of craftsmanship that goes into these lovely titanium framesets, so here one is.

I have built several bikes up with Campagnolo Ultra-Torque cranks now and I keep getting asked how they work. In this shot you can clearly see the Hirth Joint that joins the two halves of the bottom bracket axle together. It's pulled together by a munty steel bolt torqued to an infeasible level of tightness. The left hand cup is proud of the bearing that sits within it, to show how that works too. So far I'm a big fan of this set-up, and I thought I'd post a pic of a set while they're out of a frame.

I mentioned Paul earlier, and he has tasked me with building him a set of wheels for his soon to arrive new bike - a great honour, as he's a mean wheelbuilder in his own right, but he's just too busy doing lawyery stuff. I ordered in some Stans NoTubes Arch rims which I'm going to be wrapping around a pair of Hadley hubs. The rears are out of stock but the front on arrived the other day and, because it's a new format 15mm through-axle version, I thought it was worth posting here. I'm looking forward to building them up!

Talking of wheels, I had a very cool time sorting out a wheel for Tom of the Saronni Colnago I've blogged previously. He had purchased a PowerTap rear hub for me to lace into a Fulcrum R3 rim. This was a tricky build for various reasons but it turned out superbly in the end. In the second shot you can see the unusual spoke pattern that Fulcrum (a Campagnolo subsidiary) use - it's 14 DT Aerolite spokes crossed twice on the drive-side, and only 7 radial spokes on the non-drive side. I really, really enjoyed this project.

Then the weekend came along. I was supposed to have been in Taupo riding the Jamis Day/Night Thriller with the Delmaine sifty team, but was unable to make it. Mark "Cabin" Leishman and the Delmaine A team took out the Mixed 4/5 team with Sam King Turner, Nic Leary & Sonia Foote, and the other 2 teams in the Delmaine green acquitted themselves very well indeed...Other results seem to be harder to find, sorry, although I know my good man Tim Wilding got a fine second in the individual as he climbs back into terrifying form. .

Delmaine sifter Steve Butland looking sharp

I was disappointed not to be there, but also kind of relieved to be honest. No riding to speak of, combined with the deleterious effects of my unfortunate contretemps with a nasty hairpin on Ridgeline, meant that I was struggling to string together a 40 minute road ride at 25kph, so I think I would have just been an embarrassment to all concerned! :D

Luckily, I had an excellent Plan B to fall back on, as my friend John Randal was leading a workparty on Makara Peak's Sally Alley trail which I was determined to attend. It was a glorious and spring-warm day as my 14 year old son Kester and I loaded our bikes onto the Flying Wedge, then swung by Alex's place to load him and his bike on as well.

We rolled into the Makara Peak carpark later than we'd have initially liked, but moseyed (or in my case nauseatedly grovelled) up Koru, onto the Snakecharmer and cunningly arrived as lunch was being served.

Ket took full advantage as I managed to restrain myself to one solitary pink lamington.

After a feed John Randal made a lovely speech and gave away a couple of spot prizes, then we got into it.

The bulk of the toil had been done when we got there, but there were a few bits of Sally Alley still needing attention so Ket, Al and I made our way down with a few others to chip away at a few areas at the direction of MPS stalwart, Dave Fowler. Great fun and it was incredible to see how much could get done in such a short space of time - quite different maintaining an existing (and very well built!) trail to my previous experiences helping build Lazy Fern from scratch...After a bit of digging and completing two bits of the job we were out of time, so we walked back up to our bikes and headed home via Ridgeline Extension and Lazy Fern.

Kester hasn't been riding with me much lately, as teenagers always have somewhere else to be but despite having all but grown out of his old GT Avalanche he still rode superbly, taking us down Lazy Fern at the pace of a rider much more experienced. He worked hard at the dig too - he makes me proud of him every day, and it was awesome to be sharing some seriously fun quality time with him up Makara Peak.

Monday arrived - as it always does, dammit - with another mad influx of work. Of interest to me was an odd confluence of Avanti bikes - interesting especially in light of my cool time at Sheppards riding the latest carbon Cadent and Quantum road bikes recently.

I sorted this venerable old aluminium mid 90s Kona for ex-Cycle Services DHer Earthquake Jake. In amazingly good shape still after the best part of 15 years.

To compare, here is a later (maybe 2001?) Kona belonging to Joel. He was getting me to strip it down for a job that will come later in the blog, but I thought I'd grab a shot of it still built up.

Then there was Brent's Corsa Carbonio that I've been looking after for years. I think this is a 2003 model, and is representative of Avanti's first real crack at using carbon in their road bikes - in this case Deda Black Stick forks and seat-stays.

Brent's is still a fine bike, but it's amazing to see how well Avanti have truly embraced carbon technology nowadays.

No week would be complete without me building some wheels, so I was charged with knocking up some cyclo-cross wheels. Mavic Open Sport rims on Shimano XT disc hubs built with DT Competition spokes should be tough enough...

Then was this Dura-Ace hub being rebuilt into a 28 hole Mavic Open Pro (do you get the feeling I'm a Mavic fan?) rim after it's previous (non-Mavic and not built by me...) rim suffered from bad cracking. This time the rider will definitely get the sort of lifespan one should expect out of a premium wheelbuild.

I have been given this cool old Rocky Mountain Altitude steel frame which I'm going to turn into a singlespeed for Kriston. We're still pulling all the parts for it together but I'll be building it up very soon.

Speaking of old school mountainbikes, I had this dropped off for me to build a new wheel. I think this is a 1990 GT Karakoram, although I'm open to correction on the year. Still in okay shape apart from the exploded front rim, at least at first glance.

Also imminent is a restoration of my aunt's classic Raleigh, which is just visible in that last shot. It's been all over the world yet is still in great shape but she wants to sell it. Once she knows what she wants for it I'll put a notice up about it.

My Friday was mainly reserved for building up Joel's new training bike using the parts from the aforementioned Avanti Kona and this cool Surly Pacer frame.

It should make a great winter training bike with a more forgiving ride than the old Kona with it's stiff aluminium tubes, plus Joel will have the ability to get lower at the front than the Avanti was allowing him.

The week ended with a wee gift I bought myself. Eight years of Roadworks have meant I get to work on some of the latest and blingiest bicycles imaginable, but my own technology is on the whole seriously dated. I'm not one to worry about keeping up with fads but a big part of me (and there's a lot of big parts of me!) always wishes I owned some modern - i.e. 21st century - bikes. My beautiful steel road bike collection could only be enhanced with my own Avanti Cadent (hint hint!), and my mountainbike is a collection of parts I've slowly and painstakingly assembled over time that are hung on a discarded and flogged-out GT I-Drive which I inherited through someone else upgrading.

I was making some inquiries on behalf of a customer to my old friend Al Heine at Blue Shark when he made me an offer I couldn't refuse, so after consultation and negotiation with my beautiful wife I ponied up and bought myself my first ever state of the art mountainbike frame.

Thanks to Al for his generosity and also for swiftly sending me my stunning 2008 Commençal Meta 5.5 frameset with Fox RP23 shock, all lushly painted in a Cedric Gracia colour scheme - the same colour way as the 4X bike he was riding when I briefly met Monsieur Gracia at the 2006 Rotorua MTB Worlds.

I'm so in love with my new baby, but I'll save the build log (oh yes, there's a build log!) and first ride impressions until my next blog entry in the next day or two. Until then, thanks for working your way through yet another of these ridiculously and unnecessarily long posts.

Cheers, Oli

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