Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

Sticker by Martin Emond

As you may have gathered from my numerous mentions, I'm honoured to be heading away next week to begin my brief Tour of Duty with Susy Pryde and Chris Drake's mighty Jazz Apples Cycling Team. Many of you have been inquiring whereabouts in the world I'm off to so I thought I'd better tell you that it's the glamorous international destination of Auckland! I head up to do some bike assembly for the Team, as well as help out at a training camp and attend the official Team launch function.

It will be great to catch up with the Team members I've worked with already - Chris and Susy, Malindi Maclean, Ruth Corset, Lauren Ellis and Rosara Joseph - as well as meeting new Team personnel, Dotsie Bausch (USA) and Canada's Steph Roorda.

I'm looking forward also to fettling the Team's Sram Red and Control Tech equipped Fuji Team bikes as well as the Fuji TT rigs, and helping the women get comfortable and fast on their ProTour level (Fuji-Servetto) bikes in preparation for what should be a long and successful season for the JA in New Zealand and abroad.

After the week in the Big Smoke I head back home for a day or two before rendezvousing with the Team again for the slightly erroneously named Tour of New Zealand, which this year is being held entirely in the Wairarapa. We will be looking to dominate the race this year with the awesome depth of talent we are fielding, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Ruth finish the Tour with the Yellow Jersey on her back. A day off is followed by a UCI 1.1 race (i.e. World ranking points), also in the Wairarapa. This was initially to be held around the Miramar Circuit we used in last years Tour, but has been shifted to the country to make the race organiser's life a bit easier.

I'm hoping that I am able to get a clear run at the Tour this year - no medical emergencies please kids!!! In case you didn't already pick this, I'm also super-psyched to be diving back into the world of Elite women's road racing, as well as the sheer pleasure of working with my beloved doubt I'll have a story or two to tell afterwards.

Meanwhile, back in the Batcave!

First cab off the rank this week was this Scott CR1 belonging to Coast to Coast competitor Blair. Due to some salt sea air induced corrosion one of his brake cable stops tore clear off his frame as he was blasting down the very steep Ohiro Road! Luckily he managed to come to a halt after a heart-stopping nose wheely moment or two, but less than a week before his Biggest Day he was wondering what he could do to get his bike back on the go...

The rivet that holds the stop onto the frame had simply corroded away, then under braking the glue that reinforces it had failed.

I didn't want to start drilling into his frame, and wasn't sure my gluing skills would make it reliable enough to make it through such a big event, so with no margin of error I figured a full length cable housing was the solution. I decided the best and safest thing to do was to add a cable joiner and an extra length of housing to the brake cable.

Then wrapped electrical tape around the join to protect the frame.

And finally ran the cable along the top tube using zip-ties and electrical tape to hold it into place. Not very elegant, but safe as houses and almost as functional as the original cable routing. I then tuned his bike one more time before the race, so hopefully Blair had a good time and went well at C2C. Good luck also to fellow competitor and Team Roadworks athlete Dave Livesey, whose Cervelo R3 featured last week...

Talking of big events, the inaugural Alpine Epic 4 day stage race is imminent so before I head away with the JA Pete wanted to bring his lovely Rocky Mountain Blizzard steel hardtail in for a thorough going over. I built him some Stans Olympic wheels a few months ago, and I was delighted to see that several laps of Karapoti along with many kilometres of hard-core riding later the wheels had held up perfectly. For how light and flimsy they feel, the Stans rims are proving to be among the most durable I've ever built with - I'm beginning to think it's the fact that they are so light they flex and give rather than go out of true. I'm a big fan.

Here's Pete's bike post-service. Best of luck to Pete at the AE...

Also, best of luck to my official Team Roadworks at this tough event - go hard Mark and Richard!

In 2002 I was priveleged to be given the job of building a beautiful bike. Andy had been browsing in the Pinarello shop that abuts their Treviso factory, when Andrea Pinarello (son of company founder Giovanni) wandered out and engaged Andy in conversation. Next thing Andy knew he'd signed up to buy a custom steel Pinarello Opera. He returned to NZ and before long a box containing his lovely new frame and a swag of Campagnolo parts arrived, which he duly brought to me to assemble. I loved doing it and marveled at the clean lines and expert construction of the frame, then gasped at the responsive ride as I took it up and down Holloway Road for what seemed like hours. Anyway, after 7 years of hard riding with only tyre replacements and minor tune-ups it was time for a major overhaul, so I replaced the chain, cassette, small chainring, bottom bracket, brake shoes, cables and gave it a full strip-down and rebuild, including the hubs and headset and a couple of paint touch-ups. Not a cheap fix, but the bike is as new again, ready for another 7 years of action...

I built Tim a wheel for his cool RIH fixie (December 08), and when Tim brought the bike around to grab it he asked me if there was anything I could do about his bike being unstable when riding no hands. I had a quick squizz and noticed that the forks appeared to be biased slightly over to the left, so figured maybe they'd been crashed at some point. I dropped the forks out of the frame then I chucked them into my VAR fork alignment checking tool which confirmed that they were about 6mm offset to the left. Next I coldset (bent using brute force!) the forks until they were aligned correctly...

The headset crown race had been sitting quite loosely on the fork steerer, so I pulled out my punch and peened a bunch of detents around the circumference of the crown to provide an interference fit for the race.

I reinstalled the forks then checked the dropout alignment. Again, Bicycle Village VAR tools to the rescue...

Tim picked the bike up that evening and later sent me a text saying that he was now able to ride no-hands with impunity, which was great to hear.

While on the subject of tools, I took advantage of Worralls latest specials list to get my hands on a new Campagnolo Derailleur Hanger Alignment tool - my old one has had hard shop use for over 15 years and is still going fine, so I thought I'd add it to my permanent race tool set and get a new one for the workshop. I love getting new tools, especially when they are Campy ones!

When Konrad brought me his Cannondale R800 before Christmas we started to discuss the merits of some hand built wheels to replace the stock Gipiemme's it came with to lighten up the bike and improve the ride somewhat, as well as preventing a simple broken spoke being a complete disaster!

A nice pair of Mavic Open Pro rims built onto Shimano Ultegra hubs using a mix of Sapim Race and DT Revolution spokes was what we decided was the best fit of spec level and budget, and they built into a 1700 gram set of lovely training/race use wheels.

Also tidying up the lines of his bike, in my opinion - I do love the look of a pair of classic 3 cross wheels...

I built up this lovely Lynskey TT/tri bike for Bike Fixation's demo fleet. Dave will be fitting the tyres and saddle himself.

Last week, Ben brought his Giant bike (he's a very large man!) in for me to attempt to locate an annoying creak. As I have said before, finding mystery noises is always a bit of a mission, but my well-honed detective skills nailed the source as soon as I listened to Ben ride up my path. I put the bike up in the stand and put a zip-tie around every spoke crossover on his well thrashed Crossmax wheels - voila, problem solved. Not quite tying and soldering, but I'm proud of this effort.

He brought the bike back in this week for me to do a fork service, unfortunately a bit too late. The wiper seals had worn, admitting water, mud and grit into the left-hand fork leg...

...meaning that sadly the stanchion had sustained some wear.

Despite the wear we decided that the forks should still work perfectly and probably not get any worse if we keep up a program of normal ongoing maintenance, so I whacked in some new wipers and oiled her up ready for Ben to thrash around the new Miramar Track Project.

Note the "Reknown" in the background of the shot - some time ago I entered into an email exchange with Mark regarding the possible history of this frame, which he then sent to the late Ross Bee for painting. Ross passing away meant that we had to cast around for a new painter, and Mark found Walter Thorburn in Auckland so I packaged the frame up (once Martin had got it back from the Bee family) and sent it off. I'll give you the full rundown when it returns to me for building, but I'm looking forward to another wicked project in a month or two...

Then (after a bit of a lengthy hub saga!) I rebuilt Craig's old Mavic 819 onto a Hope Pro 2 hub, so he can convert it to 20mm at will. The rim had had a hard life and required a few of the spoke beds drilled out, but once all that was sorted it built up perfectly to end up a great all-mountain wheel, which I sent back up to him in Mt Maunganui.

Next up was my old mate John's Intense 6.6. I built this up for him back in September 2007 (when my blog entries were ever so slightly shorter!) and it needed a bloody good going over - I serviced all the pivot bearings, as well as swapping an old Wide Open brake for a newer model one. The Mudzy built camo rim wheel that matches the Declan built camo wheel are cool new touches since we originally built it up.

The final job of my week prior to a couple of quick cameo jobs up at Revolution Bicycles over an ale or two was a labour of love. My best man Jim's son Max has been putting together his own road singlespeed for months based around an old Avanti Sprint, which he brought to me to rejoin the chain after it had snapped. I figured the best thing to do was to pull all the parts off the too small Sprint and chuck them on an old 61cm Raleigh Competition frame that I've had earmarked for Max for months. A bit of lube in the cables and a new Sram PC-1 chain were all it needed to end up a sweet riding scenester machine for Max to rock...

Before I hit the workshop on Friday afternoon though, I cunningly combined several missions to give me a quick ride up Makara Peak in the morning, as I hadn't had a chance to get out all week. First I had to drop two of my sons at their respective schools (NOT a euphemism!), followed by dropping a pair of wheels off in Karori (actual wheels wtf!), so this left me about an hour spare before I had to hit the bank and the hardware store on the way back to meeting a client at the shop at midday. Before I left home I chucked my bike on the back of the Sex Wagon and made my way eventually to the MTB Park.

Now, as all Real Mountainbikers will tell you, a clean bike is a non-ridden bike, so after a few days of solid rain in Wellington I was desperately hoping for a decent bit of mud to liberally splatter my too clean bike with cred...

Pre-ride pathetically minimal amount of dust.

As I made my way up Koru I was extremely disappointed to discover that Wellington's legion of trail pixies have done far too good a job of weather-proofing these tracks - the drainage and well thought out use of the terrain meant that my bike was actually getting cleaner from the rain!

In the mist and total lack of wind I made my way up the Snakecharmer to Ridgeline Extension and had a superb and error-free run down (big air by the picnic table) and onto Big Tom's Wheelie, before scorching down Lazy Fern popping off every little rise I could. I'm really feeling more and more at home on the Meta every ride, and I think going to 140mm forks has made a really positive change to the handling of what was already a great handling bicycle - they also help me safely negotiate every puddle I can see, to assist in the splattering of mud.

I ended back up in the carpark after only about 40 minutes, so took some time to take a picture or two of what little filth I had managed to collect on the way down in this ridiculous attempt to curry favour with the Real Mountainbiker fraternity. But after this poor effort I'm really starting to think my bike won't look dirty no matter what I do - as my friend Paul might put it, it's still as white as Jesus' robes.

Then I blew it - a complete brain explosion made me totally forgot my whole reason for even riding my bike today, and undid all of the hard yards I'd put towards dirty bike Nirvana - I stupidly used the superb bike wash facilities built into the Makara Peak carpark to clean my bike. When I realised what I had done I almost wept with the sheer horror of it all! I really think I'm doomed to be forever thought of as the buff ex-roadie with the way too bling for him Oriental Bay cruiser MTB...

Depressed as hell at my appalling lapse in judgement, I flagellated myself further when I got back to my workshop by going against everything Real Mountainbikers believe and actually fully cleaning and servicing my bike. The unfortunate and tragic consequences of this are a bike that gleams and shines and won't suffer any mechanical failures, but of course also won't lend me the acceptance I so longingly crave...maybe one day I'll finally get it right and be worthy of being called a Real Mountainbiker.

I'll be back in a few weeks, so until then thanks for reading. Cheers, Oli

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Team Raleigh Build

1979 World Champion, Jan Raas

I do get to work on some pretty cool bikes at times, but every so often a project comes in that really taps into what I'd like to think I'm all about. A project that I can really take my time with and attend to the myriad details that make a restoration job so different to the usual stuff a "bike mechanic" deals with. This is one of those projects so I hope you'll bear with me for this lengthy step-by-step build (b)log...

In the 1970s and 80s one cycling team dominated the European professional road racing scene, the T.I. Raleigh squad. Packed to the gunnels with World Champions, Classics winners and even a Tour de France victor in Joop Zoetemelk, this Team was easily the strongest in all spheres of racing in their era, and won many, many races with Teams Classifications and Team Time Trials being a particular speciality for the legendary Peter Post-run Team.

This halcyon era also happened to coincide with the beginning of my nascent road racing career and like all cyclists of the day I was well aware of their successes; so much so that my first real road bike was a Hope Gibbons bought Reynolds 531 replica of the ubiquitous red, yellow and black machines, which I'm pictured here racing in 1982 in a Balfour-Pennington race around Pauatahanui Inlet...

Loving this bike immensely meant that in 1983 I ordered myself a beautiful custom Ilkeston built (Gerald O'Donovan built it himself, for those in the know!) 753 Team Professional with full Campag Super Record that unfortunately I can't find any pictures of, dammit. Suffice it to say, I have a huge emotional and nostalgic tie to these classic road bikes!

When I was contacted by James with the initial query as to my availability, I jumped at the chance. James too used to race in the Raleigh Epoch, so has a similar empathy towards these particular bicycles. You may remember I initially built the wheels up last year, then he teased me with a pic of the superbly painted and cleaned up frame once he'd picked it up from the late Master Painter, Ross Bee. Finally he put me out of my misery and brought it to me, with a large pile of sexy NOS and barely used parts, some still boxed.

As the usual shop work was keeping me very busy during the days, I decided the concentration and care that building this bicycle required would make it better if it was an after-hours job, so I had to wait until a spare evening became available. In the meantime, I took a spare hour to begin prepping the frame by filling the inside of the tubes with J.P. Weigle's Frame Saver - a spray-on treatment from the USA designed to prevent internal corrosion due to moisture.

Another job I could do while working around other business was repacking the beautiful Campagnolo Super Record hubs with my precious early 80s Campag grease. To be honest, it's not certain the grease is better than the modern stuff they were packed with, but the hubs definitely felt smoother to me afterwards! Using my Campag cone spanners natch...

While I had the hub apart I also checked the tightness and fitting of the Regina cogs, as well as dripping in a bit of ProGold oil.

A couple of humdrum days passed filled with work on lesser class carbon-fibre and titanium punter bikes, then the evening arrived for me to really get to grips with the job. I began by pulling out my last bottle of period-correct Rawleigh Bicycle Wax (cheers, Linda!) and giving the frame and fork a good coat of polish to protect it from my grubby hands as I worked on it.

Then I checked the facing and threads of the bottom bracket. I needn't have bothered, as Ross had already done a great job of this and the head tube facing. Yet another chance for me to regret the very great loss to bike restoration his untimely passing caused, quite apart from the tragedy itself...

Next I fitted the Record gear levers - just because they look so good. Note the blurry Teams Classification Tour de France 1977 Winner transfer that Ross added to his fine paintjob.

Then I had to draw on my rapidly failing memory and remember how to fit a classic cup and axle bottom bracket.

I pack the cups with Campag grease then fit the ball races, install the fixed (drive-side) cup as tight as possible using a tool that's perfectly designed to slip and remove paint (luckily not this time!), run the plastic weather seal in, then the axle.

Then the tricky part; getting the adjustable cup and lockring tight without causing the axle to have play or bind, causing premature wear. Having the shell faced made this step much easier than back in the day. The modern bottom bracket formats certainly make life much easier for mechanics but they definitely don't have this kind of soul, sho 'nuff.

Now came the only glitch with this whole build; the b/b James had obtained had been sold to him as a Strada (road) one, but as soon as I tried to install the cranks it became apparent that we had ended up with a Pista (track) one - I'd never thought to measure it in advance, as we had both simply assumed that we had been given what James had been sold. While I continued to as much of the other work as I could, James got busy on the interweb to locate a correct replacement - a process that took some weeks.

I continued in the meantime by installing the headset cups using my old Bicycle Village VAR headset press, which dates from the 1960s I believe.

I chucked the rear wheel in, then played with the cool dropout adjusters to make it sit right.

I fitted the Super Record 1983 rear derailleur - despite having had the jockey wheels replaced at some stage, this derailleur is in mint condition.

Then more of the Ancient Arts came into play, as I fitted the forks and wrestled with the fine adjustment of an old threaded headset - again, the modern ahead and integrated headsets make things simpler, but getting a Campag headset adjusted just right is SOOOO satisfying...

The front wheel went in next.

Then I dropped it out of the stand and properly re-installed the seat post, which had been fitted only so I didn't have to clamp the frame in my stand, followed by adding the lovely Brooks Swift saddle. I never got on with leather saddles, but I know many riders who swear by them and this one certainly looks the part.

Gorgeous Cinelli stem and bars were next, along with the drilled out Record brake levers.

Jewel-like front Record brake caliper - they don't make 'em like this any more!

Then the rear caliper, adjusting both sets of pads as well as I could before fitting the cables.

I'd hit the wall for that evening, and the last thing I wanted to do was make any stuff-ups because I was too tired. I stopped work and took a picture of my progress for James to examine over his morning coffee, then headed home for the night feeling very satisfied with my work despite the b/b problem.

A few days passed, then one Saturday after a couple of clients had picked up their rides I was able to get back into it. A new b/b still hadn't been found, but I could certainly tape the bars and cable it up...

The right side taped. We chose Fizik tape for the perforated look, as well as for the provided gel pads to ease road shock.

Both sides taped now, including the red trim tape. Grouse!

Running the cable housing through the cable stops and checking the length before trimming.

Once cut, I use the angle grinder my Dad-in-Law got me a few Christmases ago to swiftly and easily de-burr the end of the housing, preventing any possible cable friction or fraying. Yes, another out of focus Oli special pic sorry - a few more jobs like this and maybe I'll be able to afford a decent camera! :D

Then I used my Park Tools third-hand to clamp the calipers while I ran the Campag brake inner wires to their respective anchor bolts and tightened them up, then I whipped the tool away and finished off the final brake adjustments.

Next I cabled up the rear derailleur. The correct Campag coiled wire housing looks great. Before I actually connected the cable, I did my best to set the limit screws to set the travel of the gear mechanism.

Then snicked up the cable and crimped an end-cap on.

Once I got home I sent another progress report for James to salivate over...

Another week or two passed then last night I got an email from James saying that an axle had finally arrived, so he brought it in at lunchtime today. Once I had the wheelbuilds and fork services of the day out of the way I headed home to wolf down the lovely fish and chips my boy Kester had cooked us, then I turned around and headed straight back to the Batcave to finish off the job at last.

First, I whipped out the redundant bottom bracket assembly, then I repeated the initial installation finding the adjustment even easier this time.

The stunning right-hand crank and chainwheel slid smoothly onto the axle with the perfect alignment and frame clearance - phew! This is apparently the final ever iteration of the classic Super Record crank, with a reinforced spider and the noticeable lack of fluting on the crankarm itself. Just beautiful.

The left-hand crank went on just as well, and gave me a chance to show off the crankbolt spanner I got with the SR cranks I bought for my Raleigh 753 back in 1983. The Americans call it a Peanut Butter Wrench, as it's ideal for itinerant roadies to use as an eating utensil.

Clamping on the front derailleur was always a bit fraught - you knew it was going to mar the paint when you tightened it up, so perfect placement the very first time was essential to prevent obvious garks - as was ensuring it was tight enough to prevent it slipping down the seatpost the first time you shifted to the big ring!

Next I pulled the chain out of it's original packaging. The Regina Extra Oro was always highly prized for it's durability, but also it's gold side links which were an early presage of the bling phenomenon.

My puny chain tools didn't seem to be manly enough to deal with this chunky old-school chain but somehow I managed to connect it up okay.

Then it was time for the boxed (but used) Super Record pedals, still silky-smooth after 25-odd years...

Finally, I connected up the front gear cable and ran through the gears - ah, the old Campag over-shift then slight backshift to line it up brought back memories of many a fluffed sprint/hillclimb/attack as the chain agriculturally slammed from one cog to the next! The stark contrast to the snappy perfection of the latest 10 and 11 speed indexed drivetrains couldn't be more pronounced, yet there's magic in the old down-tube shifters yet...

Time for the last pictures of James' stunning bicycle in my shop before he comes in tomorrow to take it away and ride it like it should be ridden.

It's not often a build takes me several weeks, but I enjoyed every minute of this great job. I'm totally buzzed out about how well it turned out, and I think you'll agree it looks Fantastic! Thanks James for letting me take on this job, and thanks to any of you who've had the endurance to read this Gargantuan Epic of a build log.

Cheers, Oli