Thursday, February 20, 2014

One bike leaves the herd...

 Yes, I've actually decided to part with one of my bikes.  Readers of this blog might think "wait, I don't think he's ever written anything about this bike before"... and you're right... aside from a passing mention or two, I haven't really said much about it. Which goes a long way to explain why I'm passing it on to my best friend (who also has the Fuji Allegro that used to be mine).  I've had the bike for a number of years, but honestly wasn't riding it all that much, so when my best friend said he was looking for a lighter, faster bike than the ones he has, I suggested he give some thought to this one.

The bike is a 1978 Raleigh Professional, a bike that I had eyed a lot when I was a teenager in the late 70s.  I never had that kind of money back then though, so it wasn't until a few years ago I finally got my hands on one.  It's a handsome bike, and a very nice riding one, but over the years I found I was riding it less and less.  Part of the reason was the "sewup" tires which are trickier to mount and repair than conventional tires, but I also found the "race" orientation of the bike just made it one that I rode less often than my more "general purpose" bikes.

Like most better racing bikes of its era, the Pro was equipped with Campagnolo components, the Nuovo Record group to be exact. Very nice stuff, just about top of the line back then... the only thing "better" was Super Record, with some titanium bits in the mix.  Solid, reliable, and beautiful, these old Campy parts were beyond my reach in '78, but I've since owned several bikes set up with them, and I have to say, while folks used to modern indexed shifting systems and integrated shift/brake levers might not appreciate them, they work great and hold up for years.




That being said, my buddy had said he was looking for something a bit more modern, so after some thought and consultation, I put together a more modern mix of components to suit his needs.  First, we decided on indexed bar end shifters, as he was accustomed to that shifter position from his other bikes. Shimano derailleurs and an eight speed cassette sprocket cluster on the rear coupled with a Velo Orange "compact double" crankset on the front gives a nice, practical range of gears and smooth, easy shifting. 

Brakes are a nice set of Tektro dual pivot sidepulls... much more powerful than the original Campy Record brakes.  Finally, the wheels were built up on Shimano Tiagra hubs, using double butted stainless steel spokes and Mavic Open Sport rims, for solid but light wheels.  Last but not least, we mounted Panaracer Pasela tires, a favorite of mine, in 28mm width, for a nice balance of speed and comfort.

My friend has only had a chance to take a short ride on it so far... we got a major snow storm a few days after he picked it up... but based on his first impressions, he's going to like this bike a lot.  Light and nimble, classically styled but with modern updates, I think it's a winner.  I'll let you know how it works out in the long run as he gets more opportunities to ride the bike this spring.






Thursday, February 13, 2014

Real Snow!

 The last couple of winters here in the DC area have been non-events as far as snow is concerned... a flurry here, a dusting there, and all of it gone too soon for my tastes.

But last night through tonight, we've finally gotten some real snowfall!  Not sure exactly how much right here, but around 10-12" would be my guess.  It's a pretty wet snow, and we had a spell of rain during the day today, so it's heavy and soggy, but still pretty.  It's changed back to snow now in the evening, so who knows how  much we'll ultimately have.

It's not quite up the levels of Snowmageddon a few years back, but it sure is nice to finally get some real snow.

Some more photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/43828356@N00/sets/72157640947108664/

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New kitty!

That's right, there's a new kitten in my life!  Folks may know I've had my little buddy Tybalt (who just jumped on the track pad and did a little editing I had to undo) since 2005, when I adopted him from a shelter as a kitten.  I'd been thinking of getting him a sidekick for some time now, as he spends a fair amount of time alone. Just before Christmas, my girlfriend and I stopped at a shelter in Maryland, in search of a companion for her parakeet... and while we were there, we checked the cat room.  Lo and behold, there was a very handsome little tabby, similar to Tybalt, but with distinctive markings. He'd just come in that morning, and they'd named him Tiny Tim, in honor of the holidays.  A few minutes spent getting acquainted, and next thing you know I'm filling out an adoption application!

The application was approved pretty quickly, given the holidays... but then trouble reared it's head.  The poor little guy had come down with an upper respiratory infection and had been moved into the "sneeze room" at the shelter.  The next several weeks were a bit of a nail biting time, waiting to hear he was well enough to be neutered and leave the shelter... and every week being told "maybe next week." At one point the shelter staff even brought up the possibility of euthanizing the little guy if they couldn't get him better!  Luckily after a trip to a vet's office and yet another round of meds, he was deemed well enough to get neutered and leave, so we headed to the shelter as early in the day as we could get there and scooped him up and took him to my girlfriend's place.  She offered to foster him while he finished getting well, as my vet said I shouldn't introduce him to Tybalt and my apartment until he was better.

There's a bit of a devilish look in this shot...
So for now he's recuperating under her care, and is getting to know her two dogs, Rumba and Pogo, a little bit.  The dogs have been really good with him, more curious than aggressive, and he seems to not be intimidated by these very large creatures he's now among.  He's definitely feeling better, and eating better.  And showing all the typical kitten behaviors I had forgotten since Tybs was little.  The other night I was slowly drifting off to sleep, when I felt him leap from the foot of the bed to near my chest... then next thing I knew I was looking at the underside of a flying kitten, moments before he landed on my face!  Too funny, and too cute.  I can't wait to bring the little guy home to meet Tybalt... here's hoping they hit it off well!

Handsome boy!




Monday, October 21, 2013

Fuji Finished and Fun!

I've been meaning to post about this for a while now, but time seems to slip away faster these days.

A few days after my last post about my old Fuji, it was finished, ready to ride, and on its way with us to the Outer Banks, where we spent a week relaxing, walking, swimming, flying kites and biking.  It was a wonderful time, and I plan to write a bit more about that and post some photos soon.  No, really... soon!  :-)

For now though, I wanted to bring the Fuji tale up to date.   Here's a photo of it on the Outer Banks:

Finished and on vacation on the Outer Banks!

Turned our pretty sharp-looking, better than I had expected for a 36 year old bike that had sat neglected in a shed for many years.  Of course, it took some work to get her looking this good, but under the grime and dust the paint and chrome were in surprisingly good shape.

So, how is she set up? What are the parts?

First, you have a 1977, 25" Fuji S-10S frameset, lugged and brazed from double butted high tensile steel tubing. For the true geeks out there, it's got seat and head tube angles of 73 degrees, long chain stays, and a healthy amount of fork rake. I haven't measured everything, so I can't nail down truly accurate numbers, but it's got a front end geometry known as "low trail", which should make it handle front loads better than many bikes.

The other original bits and pieces are the crankset (with rings changed to 34x46 to better match a modern rear sprocket cluster and the more mellow riding I plan to do on it), both derailleurs, and the brake calipers. They all took some work to clean up and get working smoothly, but they're certainly good enough parts to use.  Crankset is a Sugino Maxy, which was an entry level alloy crank with "swaged" spider instead of a once piece forging, and I might swap it out for something fancier at some point. The derailleurs are typical SunTour of the era... VxGT rear, and SL front (with SunTour's "backwards" spring action, which takes some getting used to again), and the brakes are the classic DiaCompe centerpulls, which have always worked great, and have even been re-introduced in the last few years.

I was originally planning to keep the original 27" wheels, figuring they were good quality wheels, but the amount of corrosion on the spokes and nipples made me leery. So we went with a 700c set I had around with a 7 speed cassette hub, with a 13 - 30 tooth cassette to give me plenty of range. Tires are my favorite Panaracer Paselas in 32mm width (might put 35s on there eventually). At the front end I've got Velo Orange Porteur handlebars, Nitto Technomic stem, Dia Compe Guidonnet brake levers, and SunTour Power Ratchet Bar Con shifters, long a favorite of mine. For a saddle, I decided to try out a Brooks Champion Flyer that a customer graciously gave me when he found it didn't work for him.  It's sitting on a basic Kalloy Laprade seat post... inexpensive and reliable.  Oh, and the pedals are MKS Touring pedals, a nice wide pedal that works well with or without toe clips.

Accessories are minimal at this point.  SKS Chromoplastic fenders...again, inexpensive and reliable, and they look good too.  A Carradice Nelson Longflap saddlebag to carry my "stuff"... it's amazing how much you can cram in those.  I've hooked a couple of Planet Bike blinky lights on the bag, and mounted a CygoLite Expilion 700 on an Origin8 light mount that screws into the dropout eye and provides a short tube to take the light's handlebar mounting clamp.

All in all, I'm very happy with how the bike has turned out.  Thoughts about changes or additions?  Sure, but isn't that true with most bikes? I'm planning to add a Velo Orange Porteur rack to the front for hauling groceries, etc, and maybe a rear rack or saddlebag support of some kind.  Maybe a kickstand, as they can be handy sometimes, though I generally don't use them. I'd like to put something other than black bar tape on at some point, but it's not pressing. I MIGHT try swapping the wheels out for 650B size (smaller diameter rim, which would allow a fatter, cushier tire), but that would also mean changing the brakes and the fenders, and I'm not sure I want to do that.  We'll see... it's partly a matter of curiosity to try that wheel size on one of my bikes.  For now, it rides great as it is.
Here it is again, parked next to Christy's Velo Orange Mixte. Note the similar setup!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fuji - cleaned up, coming together!

Bare frame and fork, after cleaning.
Well, it's taking some time, but the Fuji is starting to shape up.  I took it completely apart, down to the frame, and gave it a good cleaning.  I used QuickGlo on the chrome bits, which cleaned up better than you might have expected.  Even the paint looked better than I feared.  Sure, it's got some nicks and scrapes, and places where it's gone kind of dull, but for a 36 year old bike, I can't complain!

With wheels, bars, brake levers, etc, installed.
Now it's time to start putting her back together again.  I'd initially thought I'd just build her back up just as she was originally, to really complete the trip down memory lane. The more I thought about it, though, it made more sense to do something different. I have a number of old steel road bikes with drop bars and such... maybe what I need is more of a "city" bike. As some of you probably know, there's been a surge in interest in practical bikes similar to older French "porteur" bikes, so I thought I might try something in that vein.

It's coming together now... I hope to have it finished this week...


Pictures are here: 1977 Fuji S-10S

For Fuji fans, there's a great website that has many older catalogs scanned and posted.  Here's the page from the 1977 catalog that describes the S-10S:  http://www.classicfuji.com/1977_08_S10-S_&_S10-SL(Mixte)_Page.htm

And here's a link to the more detailed specifications for the model, from the same catalog: http://www.classicfuji.com/1977_15_Specifications2_Page.htm

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unexpected Bird Sighting...

... and capture!

My girlfriend and I were exploring Seneca Creek State Park yesterday, when she commented that it seemed like a great place to see birds. The next thing she says is "What's that call? I've never heard that before.  Hey! It's a parakeet!"

Sure enough, there on the ground in front of us is a bright yellow parakeet! The little guy was just sort of hopping around the path. We made some attempts to lure him to our fingers, to know avail, and then finally I nabbed him by dropping my t-shirt on him and scooping him up. We ended up having to repeat this two more times, when he managed to wriggle free, but he never went all that far away, so we did finally manage to get him securely captured and back to the car. The only thing we had to put him in was a medium sized paper bag, so in he went.

Here's the little guy back at home. Cute, huh?
Of course, our next stop was to find a pet store, so we could get at least a basic cage for him. Thanks to GPS, we found a PetSmart just a few miles away from where we found him. They had just closed, but once they heard our story, the staff was very nice and let us in and were very helpful with information and selecting the basics for him.  He's now settled in at Christy's place and seems pretty happy. Now we have to decide... keep him? If so, where? Christy's apartment? My apartment? The bike shop? The last choice seems like it could be fun, but anyone who knows our shop knows the temperature can often be far from ideal.  We'll see.

And if we do keep him... a name!  Right now the the front runners are Livingston(e) (for the English explorer), Seneca (for the park) or Schwinn (because he's remarkably like the color of some of the bikes we saw in a recently acquired 1972 Schwinn catalog).

Stay tuned for further news.

Monday, August 26, 2013

You learn something new...

... okay, maybe not every day, but often enough that the expression carries weight.

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I went to Gathland State Park, near Burkittsville, Maryland. It's on South Mountain, the site of a Civil War battle that was a precursor to Antietam.. and the site of the finding of the famous "lost orders" of Robert E. Lee.  I knew all of that part of the history... but I had no idea it was also once the home of George Alfred Townsend, or that he was a renowned war correspondent during the Civil War.  He built a rather amazing estate there, as well as a giant arch as a memorial to his fellow war correspondents. Quite a remarkable man and a great story.  If you get a chance, visit the park, or at least look him up in Wikipedia - George Alfred Townsend.

Funny thing is, I'd been to this park before... back in college. But that was at the end of a 42 mile hike along the entire Maryland stretch of the Appalachian Trail. It was about 11:00pm and we were bleary eyed with exhaustion, so I can't really feel badly about not noticing all the structures in the park.