Friday, November 25, 2005

Getting Caught Up for Tri TT


I've updated the post of Oct 15. This was part one of a 2 part piece on Tri TT bike fitting and design. Reviewing it in preparation to completing part 2 - it was clear to me that a little editing was needed to make it friendly to the reader. Hopefully, today's update accomplishes that. In any case, part 2 should be available soon.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

A couple of pics

OK, here's my interpretation of a traditional Randonneur bike.

That's a Brooks Conquest (sprung) seat. The gearing is 34/50 X 13/26 for hill-climbing ability - courtesy of Campanolo-Centaur. The bag is a Berthoud size medium on a home-made stainless steel rack. Bar and stem are Nitto. Wheels are 3X straight gauge spokes to Velocity Aerohead rims. The color is wrong for the bike, and I'll soon switch to a set of Record Hubs, same spoking, to MA3 rims. The tires are Michelin 28X700c. Crankset is an FSA Gossamer MegaExo and the brakes are Mafac Competition. Oh, and the seat post is an old Trek housebrand piece which has a custom brushed finish. Don't ask the weight, it doesn't matter. This bike rolls great - wide tires and all. The ride is smooth. And, the handling is relaxed & secure but very able.

On to the next project (and finishing the piece on Tri/TT design).

Good night.

The view from the rear. They're hard to see in the picture, but there is a small cigar-band decal on the back of each fender - which look good in real life.

Waiting for a light, before leaving the pack - a couple of them were eyeing my bike hard. Maybe they were wondering about the combination of Mafac centerpulls, FSA compact crank, Fenders, and Look pedals.

Returning to Normal

Well, I'm trying to return to normal. During the last week or so, work, kids, and a cold have all kept me off the blog, off the bike, and out of the shop.

Over this weekend, I'm beginning the return to normal. Although the morning started very cold, the day warmed as the sun came up - so I began at three-hour ride at about 10AM.

It wasn't a fast ride, but that's OK, it was fun. Part of the way I headed off the pavement unto the Des Plaines River path. This is a nice cinder and packed dirt trail, apart from the occasional road apples. Frame 090105 handled the dirt fine. Riders coming from the opposite direction took their time eyeing my ride - but no one said anything. It's not clear if they were surprised by my narrow tires and drop handlebars (although this isn't anything like a technical trail), or maybe it was the fenders.

Turning back onto the road, there was a pack of 6 or 8 riders. Expecting to be passed, I made my way up the hill. Over the top and around the corner, I turned to see where they were - and they were gone. Maybe they turned onto the trail I just vacated. After making my way through Lake Bluff and into Lake Forest, I stopped for a coffee at Starbucks and made a minor adjustment to my seat position. Then back onto the bike and the trail towards Fort Sheridan, where I came upon the pack of riders again. Pacing myself against them, we made our way to the Fort, at which point I grew tired of their pace and took off. On my way south from Highland Park, I rejoined a cinder path. The ability to transition from on to off road is very nice indeed.

Everything seems to be working fine. There's still a clearance problem between the rack, front fender, and front tire (more aesthetic than functional). But, I think I'm done working on this bike. It's my main ride, and I'll start pulling parts off the Trek shortly.

By the way, today was a glorious sunny day, so I got a couple of pictures of the bike. I'll post them above.

'Til later,

Saturday, November 12, 2005

There's never enough time.

Where does the time go? This weekend it went to Ohio, at least for me.

I went to visit Joe Bringheli and pick up my new frame jig. Joe's a great fellow and a good host. Joe's home and shop are located on a lovely lot full of large trees, with a ravine on one side - very scenic.

What is it about old builders and chickens? Darrell McCulloch has chooks, then Freddy Parr get some chooks, and now I find that Joe had chooks. I have nothing against raising chickens, but hope that they aren't a requirement for becoming a great builder.

Joe had a client's frame hung from the rafters that was made of Reynolds "Record". I know that from the tubing decal. Anyhow, it was a pretty frame - nicely painted and kept simple. The tubing appeared to be paper thin. The owner had run it into a car - bent the top and down tubes at the head tube, and bent the top tube at the seat cluster (may have also bent the headtube itself). Joe was obviously disappointed. He had the commission to build a replacement, but he clearly loved that frame and regretted its demise. A sure sign of someone who cares about his work.

We spent some instructional time in his shop - and I learned how to use his tube-cutting jig. It's a very clever bit of work and I can't wait to get one. We spent some time discussing different cutters and the vogue for making copes with a belt-sander. I also got to learn some of Joe's background and his start in the business. All good fun.

While in his "warehouse" Joe showed me the Deda carbon frame building bits. He raised an interesting point. Carbon can be an easier sell these days. While a Deda kit is more expensive then steel, it can be assembled and ready for the painter quickly. Then it's easily possible to charge 2X the materials cost to net a good profit. I may try one of these to see what I think - it could help me recapture my jig investment, and maybe buy me an alignment table.

On another front, a local shop (and mailorder house) had a NOS (2003) record carbon long-cage rear derailer on sale for $138, which has to be less than their cost. So, now I'm scanning ebay looking for some Chorus or Record levers to go with. These'll make a nice bike.

More later.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hurry hurry slow slow

My apologies - the post on TT & TRI is taking longer than anticipated. It'll be here soon.

Meanwhile, I've been busy on several fronts - all of which are related to the front end of the bike. You may recall that the fork was replaced with one that has curved legs - esthetics are important. Along with this I mounted the fender and front rack. When I got done, the fork was loose in the headsets unless I tightened it down to the point where it was binding. URGH!!

I've taken the front end apart - suspecting an unstraight crown race. Looking at the land very carefully, it did appear to be less than square with the steerer. A few careful turns of the crown race cutter and things looked much better. After buttoning up the fork again, the problem returned, although it was somewhat more subtle. Some of the movement appeared to be between the steerer and the upper race. After digging out the instructions - it was clear that the upper compression cone was missing.

Its not clear how this happened. The prior fork worked fine - suggesting that it had its compression cone - but where did this one go? Fortunately, there were two matching headsets, so that each fork could have its own crown race. So, compression cone number two went into the stack and all was well. The milling on the crown definitely was part of the problem, but the core of it was the compression cone.

Then I worked to keep the rack higher off the fender. It looks like some improvement has been made. First the hole for the brake bolt was elongated some. Second, the brace coming out from under the brake was bent. The combination looks promising - I'll have to put the fender on to be sure. In any case, I can ride tomorrow morning even if the fender isn't yet in place.

Once the fender and computer are installed, this frame should be done and I can get back to Sarah's bike. But, not before finishing the piece on TRI & TT


Friday, November 04, 2005

It's been a long time

Where have you been? Where have I been...? Oh yeah,

I've been busy with family, work and bike. It's been a long time since I posted. Sorry.

I need to catch up on some bike work, then tomorrow I can finish my thoughts on TT Tri bike design.

I looked at my paint and knew I had to do something. There were too many chips etc. to ride through the winter. Masking decals doesn't work in my experience. So, anything other than isolated spots would involve new decals. Without an airbrush, it didn't seem likely that the paint could be controlled sufficiently to do isolated spots. So, it was time for a major respray.

There seemed to be three options:
1) Get it done professionally. Have a bead blast and then professional wet paint and clear coat. Nice plan, but I don't want to do without for an extended period of time. I rode my old bike last weekend and got back spasms. (Hell to be old).
2) Strip it all down myself and try to achieve a good paint job from a can. Again, there's the extended downtime problem, plus removing the old paint seemed like a noxious and unpleasant duty.
3) Sand down the bad spots. and spray over what I have. Downside: ugly. Upside, I'll be back on the bike quickly.

I chose number 3. In the winter, a pro can do the repaint. Meanwhile, I'm putting on miles. 090105 is now all green/blue - no panels. The French motif decals are in place. It looks pretty good. Let me expand - up-close one sees all sorts of little errors. From 10 feet away it looks awesome. Either way, its fine by me for a test mule.

The last ride was in the rain - enough to ensure I got fenders. Bought some Planet Bike Freddy Fenders. It's what was available locally. They're ok. They're short. While easy to install and adjust, they concern me regarding their durability. Anyhow, scuffed them, primed them and shot them to match the frame. There's one small decal on each - and it looks pretty good.

I hate fenders that aren't concentric with the wheels. Mostly, this is an issue of where the mountings are located on the frame - put them in the wrong place and the fender won't fit correctly. It looks like my chainstay bridge is just a bit too far forward. I'll have to get a longer 4mm bolt so I can fit a brake washer between the fender and bridge. It was easier than expected to to locate a hole for mounting to the brake bridge. The Henry James DOs don't come with eyelets. Some folks recommend mounting them to the seat stays - so as not to have to braze them to stainless. So naturally, I took the other course. After filing a little concave into the back of the DO, I fluxed with a combo of Freddy's black and white fluxes, mounted the eyelets, and set a steel rod through them to ensure that: 1) they didn't move; 2) they were located equally.

I used little bit of Freddy's 50+t silver under the eyelet, then some of his 45+t to build up a filet above and below the eyelet. After it cooled off and was cleaned, a few strokes of the file made it look nice. Only time will tell how this holds up against fatigue, but they're on solidly now and only have to handle a very light load.

The Freddy Fenders have an easy (if less than elegant looking) adjustment mechanism for the stays. While the stays can be trimmed, they don't need to be unless they're truly too long. The stay ends hide in the adjuster near to the mounting to the frame, rather than sticking out past the fender as with other brands. In my case, I had to cut an inch off in the front, and nothing off of the back.

After mounting the fenders and wheels, things looked great except for the aforementioned chainstay bridge issue. I have a miniature version of my cigar band decal for use on seat stays - but the stays were remaining unadorned on this bike. So, I took these and mounted them across the back of each fender part way up. They turned out to be just the right length to span the fender and add a nice, discreet, little finishing touch.

I should mention that the new fork was mounted ahead of the fenders. With it, I put on a new steerer clamp which is better finished, a tighter fit, and painted to match the frame. After trimming the steerer to length, everything looks good in front even with the stem sticking way up.

So, then I tried mounting the front rack along with the fork, brakes, and fender. All was good except that the rack turns out to be crooked, pointing distinctly off to the right. I'm somewhat confused by this (after all it was fitted to the fork all through it's build process) and wonder if it has something to do with the fit between the rack and fender. This seems unlikely given the relative strength of these two components - but the rack definitely pushes the front of the fender down (ruining its perfect concentricity to the wheel).

It does appear that: 1) adjusting the mounting hole for one stay will straighten out the rack; 2) that it may be possible to get it to sit a little higher, thus relieving pressure on the fender. I'll start by trying to drill out the new hole in the morning.

Meanwhile, the rack still needed two things added: 1) Cable protector/bag support at the back; 2) A mounting for the front brake cable stop. It seemed to me that the easiest way to hold everything together and make sure that it was positioned correctly involved brazing while installed on the bike (lesson - next time do this prior to painting). So I draped a rag over the front fender and wheel and went to work.

The cable protector/bag support went on nicely and looks good. It feels well mounted - and has nice filets built up from Freddy's 45+t silver. The single strap on the back of the bag loops around this. At first I was concerned that this would be a wobbly arrangement. Surprisingly, it seems pretty secure. I'm still going to figure out some kind of quick-connect loops to the handle bars. But, the key thing is that I can now carry stuff with me (some will recall that my little under-seat bag won't mount on the sprung Brooks seat). While the front bag isn't limitless - it does allow one to carry one or more spare layers of clothing, basic tools, some food, a camera, etc, without beginning to overload it. In fact, I think I'll start carrying the battery for my halogen headlight in the bag. This will free up the underside of the toptube for a pump (a, now correctly sized, Blackburn).

With the bag out of the way, I went after the brake cable stop. Again, 45+t silver was used to build solid filets. When all is said and done, it feels very secure, even though it is cantilevered off the back of the rack.

After adjusting the brakes, it was clear that there is give in the system. It appears to be the rack, not the cable stop. This give doesn't seem enough to interfere with braking (I'll know better tomorrow) - but I plan to eliminate it by putting a small stay from the main stay to the back of the rack platform. This should sort things out. I may also put a little stay up from the tube that mounts to the brake to the cable stop tube. But, all of this will have to wait until I have the rack straight. So much to do, so little time.

With the bag in place, I can no longer mount lights to the quill of the stem. So, the Cateye LED flasher is now down on the fork leg (very continental, you know). The Halogen will remain on the top of the bars. Anyhow, the LED looks very neat in its new position and may actually make me more visible from the side as it shines on the front wheel.

The bell remains on the stem, and is now better secured with a little rubber shim to prevent it from moving when I'm wearing gloves and acting clumsy. With the neater stem arrangement - it look very proper in its location.

In case you're wondering, the bag is a Berthoud. It's very nicely put together - and handsome. It came from Wallingford ( who are nice folks. The bag has a nice shoulder strap which can be tucked under the lid (which has a map case on top). The lid has a quick-acting catch so its almost one motion to remove the bag from the bike and mount it on ones shoulder- very handy. Naturally, there are a variety of useful pockets - inside and out. Recommended.

The seatpost was re-installed, this time with a vary liberal coating of grease. I also polished the surface of the portion which resides in the frame. It shouldn't seize again. In cleaning up the post, the scorpion decal was lost, so I have to make another and mount it (for good luck).

So, what's left? 1) Reinstall the BB (this time with the sleeve between the bearings. 2) Adjust the left brake lever position. 3) Mount the remaining cables and housings (I'm still waiting for some more blue housing to arrive). 4) Re-tape the bars. 5) Straighten the rack. 6) Mount the chain. 7) Dial-in seat height. And then get some big miles on the bike. Yipee - the miles should start tomorrow.

Random notes. I'm starting to collect parts for Sarah's bike. I've got just about everything but the rims - which are on back-order. Also, been shopping eBay for parts for future bikes. Got a Nuovo Record rear derailer. I knew the idler sprockets were non-standard (Red sealed bearing - fine by me), but somehow didn't catch onto the fact that the rear cage plate was apparently stripped out. There are small hex-headed bolts that look normal on the front but go through the rear cage to small nuts on the back. Probably not a problem, the derailer didn't cost that much, but still a bit of a disappointment. I'm getting some SunTour Superbe bits too. They're better priced, perform better than their Campy contemporaries, and generally are better finished. Fun, fun, fun.

OK.... I promise, tomorrow the finish of TT and Tri Design.