Posted on September 21st, 2008 fc No comments
I’ve been looking for something new to work on, since the single-speed conversion was so much fun and made a nice ride.
Yesterday, I picked up an older Jamis Exile. It’s not a great bike, but the frame is better than my other one. Even more important: Now I get to learn more about the workings of geared bikes.
It’ll be mostly for the road, though I’m holding out hope that I might eventually get strong enough to take it on trails. I’m not into stump-jumping or flying down rocky hillsides, but something more like the trails at Beaman Park.
The planning begins. Tomorrow: A trip to the bike shop. Tubes and tires, probably slicks or close to it. All cables, but the housing looks okay. Maybe replace the cassette, and tweak the derailleurs.
Posted on September 7th, 2008 fc No comments
Off to Peeler Park on one of those rare, cool, late-summer afternoons. The bike continues to work well, running almost silently. The park itself is a change from the urban/suburban area surrounding it, isolated enough that we saw deer and wild turkey on the trail.
It feels good to ride again. I’m slowly getting strength back, but not yet ready for extended riding in the drops. Still having trouble looking back, too, because of problems with the fusion. Progress is slow, but noticeable.
Posted on August 2nd, 2008 fc No comments
The conversion took far longer than it should have, though part of the blame goes to very hot weather –Â I work outside. But it’s finally, finally finished.
After getting a helmet — the old late-70s Bell just won’t do anymore — I rode about a mile today. TheÂ gearing at 42/17 is good, no spinning on the flats, and though I couldn’t make the hills today, that’s because of my lack of conditioning, not because of the gearing. The bike originally specked at 33 lbs, it’s down to about 25. Still on the heavy side, but pretty good for a steel pipe oldie.
It rolls so easily now, and is almost silent when pedaling. And there really is something almost transcendent about just pedaling, without thinking about shifting and tinkering.
The conversion was a good thing. It wasn’t worth spending a whole lot of money on, but I have my old bike back, and a new way of experiencing biking. This feels good. I’ll be thinking about it for a while.
Posted on July 21st, 2008 fc No comments
Bars and brake levers are on the way, so everything should be together before the weekend. The chain’s on — but too loose — and I’m not sure about gearing yet. But it’s recognizably a bike right now — the original handlebars are standing in for the replacement Nittos.
And I had my first biking dream about two nights ago.
I’ll be writing soon about why I’m obsessed with this rebuild, and why it’s important to start biking again. What I’ve been writing so far has been terse, dry, and technical, largely because I’m focused on problem solving and balancing tradeoffs. But that should change soon when building gives way to riding.
Posted on July 15th, 2008 fc No commentsa slideshow.
Posted on July 10th, 2008 fc No comments
The freewheel is dismantled so I’ll be able to try the two smallest cogs to find the right ratio. Then I might spring for a single cog freewheel, because I’ll know what I’m doing. The most difficult task: Getting the chainline straight. I may need to improvise some spacers, but other than that it’s just a matter of paying close attention while making adjustments.
The final touch will be a decal I bought today. It’ll be visible in the final pictures.
Meanwhile, here’s what the disassembled freewheel looks like now, before installation.
Posted on July 8th, 2008 fc No comments
I was a little disappointed yesterday in the wheel I chose — heavy steel, and a quarter inch too wide — so I went back today to return it. After some research, I’d decided to try a 700c because it’s a much more common size — 27″ wheels are in the process of going away — so there would be more options in materials and price, and I might be able to get something skinnier.
My hopes were crushed. A 700c will not work unless the brakes are replaced, as well — 700c’s are a tiny bit smaller — and there’s no guarantee new brakes would fit the frame without some rebrazing. I couldn’t go with 27″ track wheels because the frame spacing won’t accomodate them without risky adjustments. And there are no mid-price 27 inchers, either — they’re either very inexpensive or worth more than multiples of my bike.
But then . . .Ã‚Â a ray of light.
The same company that made the steel wheel I’d settled for also makes an alloy. They cost a little more, but still inexpensive enough to justify going on an old steel frame. The biggest difference: They’re beautiful. Rather than chintzy chrome with a hub that looks like pressed metal, the rims have a satin finish and the hub is machined. I can learn to love the extra 1/4″ width if it saves me $300.They’re on order, and might be here as soon as tomorrow! I’m feeling much happier with this project than I was yesterday.
What I learned today:
When replacing parts, the new stuff should be as good as the old. Don’t settle.
The next task: Getting the cogs off the old wheel. Picked up an extraction tool today — here’s hoping rust hasn’t bonded everything together.
What’s left to replace: chain, cables, and seat.
Posted on July 7th, 2008 fc No comments
Bike store stuff is sitting in my trunk right now — wheels, tubes, tires, chain tool — but I can’t do anything because of the rain. Without a garage, I work outside.
Not sure if I’m sticking with the wheel I bought, though. It didn’t cost much, but is a little wider than I’d wanted, and it might have been a little too inexpensive. I’m frugal, but not cheap — on the important stuff, anyway. And wheels definitely are important.
Good news: The rear cluster has thread-on cogs, which means I can use them one at a time on the new wheel, swapping out cogs as my strength builds. Bad news: Some rust, and the need for an extractor.
Posted on July 7th, 2008 fc No comments
Spent yesterday cleaning the frame — a few paint chips, some minor rust, but otherwise excellent condition.
So today I’m off to the bike shop.
Decisions to be made:
The biggest: wheels/tires. Single-speed or three-speed. I’m leaning back to a single-speed now. Though it might be difficult on hills at first, I might be able to grow into it as I ride more and get back strength and stamina. SS is cheaper, easier to maintain, and would need one less cable. Fixed is out. I’d been thinking of a flip-flop hub, but I’m just not into the fixed-gear universe.
Next biggest: The seat. I’m at a loss for choosing a new one and won’t know if it fits until at least a week of riding. Fortunately, I’m built like a fourteen year old boy, so there aren’t the complexities in fitting that most women face.
Issues that are now settled:
Keeping the drop down handlebars and old stem. Changing out won’t be a big deal, and the originals are still pristine.
No repainting. Though it’s not a color I would have picked (though I loved it in 1979), the paint’s in great shape. Spray paint’s not tough enough, and I can’t justify what it would cost to have it repainted and baked at a body shop.
Things that scare me:
Getting the chain line straight.
Why this has been a great project:
I don’t often get the chance to take things apart and put them together, though my brain is drawn to this kind of thing. Spatial reasoning, tactile sense, the beauty of functional design.
More problem solving, especially in working through tradeoffs. Trying to spend as little money as possible, but having something sturdy and useful at the end.
Knowing it will never end. Parts to swap out, adjustments to make, and maybe another conversion in the future. I have an old ten-speed mtb, too….
Posted on July 5th, 2008 fc No comments
The two things I was afraid of — the stems for seat and handlebars — came out perfectly. No rust at all. The pedals, though, are frozen.
Decisions to make soon: 1) Repaint the frame? Or just clean it and touch up the rust? 2) Single gear or 3-speed? 3) Drop handlebars? Townies? Bullhorns?
So far, though, no big frustrations. Since the new wheel assembly will be simpler than the old derailleur, maybe this will be easier than I thought it might be.
More pictures here.
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