January 29, 2012

The Tubes and Lugs have arrived!

I had a knock on the door Friday morning and was greeted by the FedEx man with a long slender cardboard package for me.  My tubes and lugs had arrived from the UK.  Many thanks to Peter from Ceeway for processing the order so quickly.  I had confirmed my order on Monday morning and the package arrived Friday morning the same week.  I have since opened up the package and inspected the tubes and lugs that I ordered.  All seems well, everything is there and in good condition.  Herer is what I ordered from Ceeway:

STAINLESS STEM LUG 'A' STANDARD                                    

STAINLESS STEM LUG 'B' STANDARD                                    
LC302R FORK CROWN. FLEUR DE LYS                                 
LT302R FLEUR DE LYS TOP HEAD LUG                                 
LD302R FLEUR DE LYS BOTTOM HEAD LUG                          
LS302R FLEUR DE LYS SEAT LUG                                       
LB302R CAST FLEUR DE LYS SHELL BSC                              
LR302R CAST FLEUR DE LYS REAR ENDS                             
LE302R CAST FLEUR DE LYS FRONT END                              
189 CONICAL BRAKE BRIDGE - 80MM                                     
244 CONCAVE C/STAY BRIDGE. 26MM                                    
ST-01 PUMP PEG                                                                   
362 DIAMOND FOR SEAT STAY BR.                                         
286B CAST FRONT MECH BOSS. LONG SLOT                         
477 BOTTLE BOSS                                                                  
581 BRAZE ON MUDGUARD EYE                                            
142 TERMINAL INNER GUIDE                                               
453 STOP. LARGE                                                                  
313C OVERBRACKET GUIDE SET                                            
367 INTERNAL WIRE RE-INFORCEMENT                                 
SL NIOBIUM TOP TUBE 25.4                                                    
SL NIOBIUM DOWN TUBE SL2I12                                             
SL NIOBIUM SEAT TUBE SL2I13                                              
SL CHAIN STAY SL0I14OV                                                       
SL SEAT STAY 14MM SL0415                                                   
SL0I18600 SL HEAD TUBE 600MM                                           
NIVACROM STEERER 25.4MM X 320 NO THREAD                    
SL FORK BLADES. SL0I16V1                                                   
SIF BRONZE 2 1.6MM 150 G

The raw lugs are beautiful as they are.  I can't wait to see what they will look like when I put a little elbow grease on them and polish them up.  I had a thought when I inspected the tubes.  I have more than enough length with the steerer tube and head tube for for an additional frame.  I suspect this will lead me to temptation.  There is a good possibility that I will have to put the extra length to good use as I hate to waste anything.

I will be setting up my work shop in the basement and building some simple jigs for the fork and frame in the coming months.  I will also layout all the tubes and mitres as I decide on the final measurements for the frame.  I am planning to build this frame with a classic geometry.  I don't think I will set it up as a 'Crit' bike, more like a race bike for longer distances.  I will allow enough clearance for fenders as I plan on using this bike on unpaved as well as paved roads.  I have yet to figure out if I will need to go with long reach brakes or If regular dual pivot brakes will work.  I have ruled out installing bosses for Mafac styled center-pull brakes as this would add a level of complexity to my first frame that I am not yet comfortable with.  I have, however not ruled out fabricating my own custom rack similar to the one Mike Barry has built for his 'Mountain Bike'.

I will be taking my time with this build as I am currently taking a full course load at school.  For the next few months my priorities will be on finishing up the semester and setting up the shop.  I don't anticipate I will get around to brazing until early summer.  Until then I will try and post a few tidbits of my thoughts and plans for this frame and other bike related ideas I have.

January 25, 2012

On order.

I am comitted!  I have placed an order through Ceeway B B S Limited in the UK for a set of Columbus SL Niobium tubes and Fleur-de-lys lugs.  My plans for this frame are to keep things simple in terms of the build, as this will be my first attempt at frame building.  I have chosen the fleur-de-lys lugs and SL Niobium tubes in the standard size, 31.7mm head tube, 25.4mm top tube, 28.6mm down tube and seat tube, 14mm seat stay and 22.2mm chain stays.  I chose a hollow, light-weight fork crown also in the fleur-de-lys motif with a 7 degree rake.  Front and rear dropouts are by Llewelyn.  I have deviated slightly from a true classic design in that the fork crown with the 7 degree built-in rake is designed for straight bladed forks.  I have done this for a reason as this will make the alignment of the fork much easier for my first attempt.  I have also stepped outside the box somewhat with my steerer tube selection.  I am going with a 1" threadless steerer tube as I plan on brazing a Llewellyn lugged stem for this attempt as well.

Before anyone is put-off  continuing to read this blog from a 'questionable' choice in stem selection, let me say this:  I absolutely love the classic lines of a quill stem.  The convienience of being able to adjust stem height with simple tools without adding a bunch of 'ugly' stem spacers (not to mention the superflous weight of said spacers) is priceless. I have decided to fabricate a clamped stem for two reasons.  First, as stated before I am trying to keep things simple (and cost-effetive), and second the Llewelyn luged stem kit (in the fleur-de-lys motiv) is absolutely stunning and is probably the most attractive non-quill stem available!  I admit, I could have chosen to adapt a lugged stem to a quill system as many other fine constructeurs have done, but for my first attempt I will keep with a simple modular system.  I am sure that many of you are already questioning this decision. Perhaps these photo's of the stem and the fact that I will be continuing the lug motif throuought the bike will distract from the lack of quill and instead impart a bit of contemporary beauty to this machine.  Besides a straight bladed fork is more of a faux pas than the stem.  The only trick is in finding a 1" threadless headset.  I was rather fond of the idea of using a Grand Cru headset but it is only available in a threaded version.  Perhaps I will settle on a Chris King instead.

A thing of beauty!

The things I always wanted on a road frame as a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's were: a pump peg, dual water bottle cage mounts, chromed  lugs and dropouts and internally routed cables.  For this frame I will install all of these goodies including fender eyelets, front derailleur boss as well as cable stops on the head tube for bar mounted shifters.  I will (at this point) for-go down tube shifter bosses as much as I think I might regret this.  I love the look of down tube shifters, but I have never riden a bike with brifters.  This is the perfect opportunity to treat myself to some modern convieniences.  Besides, growing up in my generation, internally routed cables and aero brake levers were totally awesome.  Brifters you say? Aero levers are awesome?  I realize this is a bit of a contradiction.  I have been contemplating installing the Tektro levers that Retroshift has modified.  This will blend the asthetics and the function in one tidy package as well as giving me some 'street cred' with the no-click club members.  Only budget will decide which shifting option I choose.

Maybe? Who knows?

I have a feeling that this first frame has the potential to lead to many others in the future.  Most likely as soon as I have started to mitre these tubes I will be back on the internet placing an order for another tube set.  By that time I will hopefully have graduated to Reynolds 531, Pancetti artisan lugs and a fork with an english rake (I'm sure this would please Mike Barry).  But for now I will focus on this project and walk readers through my journey of frame building.

January 23, 2012

Project for the 2012 new year

This year I have decided to take on a much more complex and rewarding bicycle related project.  I have finally decided that now is the time to construct my first lugged steel road frame.  I have been obsessing over the beauty of a well built steel bicycle, with classic lines and exquisite craftmanship, for a very long time.  Sadly, the type of custom bicycle that I have been coveting since a young boy, the classic Mariposa bikes built by Mike Barry,  are no longer available as Mr. Barry has closed-up shop and retired.  There are other custom builders, and some very fine constructeurs close by, but none can compare with a Mariposa.  So, It's all up to me to build a frame that I can admire (and afford),and eventually ride.  I'm glad that I am handy, or so I think.

My first exposure to frame building was when I began road riding in High School.  I had a glimpse of the construction process that is involved in creating a Mariposa for a school project.  Mr. Barry had allowed me and two of my classmates to bring a VHS recorder into the back shop at Bicyclesport on King Street East for personal tour and explanation.  I wish I still had that video.  Mr. Barry took the time to allow us into his workshop and learn about his craft.  I wonder if he realized the indellible mark it would leave with me? 

Since those years as a High School Student, and a novice road racer with the Bicyclesport junior team (for one season), I have come full circle with my bicycle habits.  I began with a fascination for road bicycles, racing bikes in particular. When the cost of racing became to expensive for me to manage on my part-time salary, I gave in to the temptation of mountain biking in the Don Valley in the mid 80's (before front suspension was cool).  I ruined a poorly constructed cromoly Kuwahara which I bought used. I slowly upgraded the parts on it as I continued to improve my bike handling technique in the Don, until one day the rear triangle gave way.  I caved-in and replaced that bike with a Giant Cadex CFM3, purchased on pro-deal through my part-time employer. Even with the pro-deal it was a big investment for me at the time.  I was the shit!  Carbon fibre. The allure of carbon fibre as a frame material quickly wore off.  As the years went on I became less fond of the carbon feel on the trails and later sold that bike as I pieced together one of my favourite mountain bikes.  I had found a KHS team mountain frame (True temper OX platinum) and slowly assembled a complete bike from sensible yet wonderful components.  I was ecstatic when I found a Judy 2000 XC fork on a blow out deal.  I only had a handful of rides on that machine when, with my girlfriend one day, I broke my cardinal rule.  Never lock your good bike up in Toronto unattended!!!  It was nicked! 

 I have since replaced that bike with a single-speed, fully-ridgid, Rocky Mountain Hammer (Reynolds 725) trail rider.  I have come full circle with mountain biking, back to rigid and back to riding the Don.  I also have in my quiver of bicycles a mid 90's Specialized Sirrus (of unknown tubing, but traditional diametre) that I have prettied up a bit.  It is the type of road bike some of my friends were riding back in the day with the smart and sensible Shimano 600 tri-colour gruppo .  It rides well enough, but I have always wondered what a Mariposa would be like in comparison.

I needed a decen bike (not a good bike) to ride in the city that I could afford to loose if it was stolen. I was about to find a good craigslist project when I remembered a bike hanging in the rafters in my Mom's garrage, my Dad's old bike. I commute to school (Yes, I'm back in school, full circle) on an older mountain bike without a sloping top tube (a Jazz by Trek) that my Dad used to commute down town on.  I had installed drop bars on it at some point in the late 1990's, but found the reach a bit too long with that set up.  It hung in my Mom's garrage for years until I finally took it down from the rafters in 2011.  I took the opportunity to use the shop at work one last time the summer I left my position as a Prosthetic Technican, before heading back to Uni.  I stuck the ugly teal green frame into the sand blaster and came out with a svelt raw steel frame.  Gone with the horrible colour as now the finished product  looks quietly unassuming, perfect for a commuter. I gave the bike frame a clear coat and configured the bike with dual racks and fenders for hauling books, and replaced the drop bars with a Bontrager bar with a shallow rise and slight bit of rear sweep.

  The second last project I completed was finding a 1980 Nishiki International for the grand sum of $0.00 at the tail end of a garrage sale.  The bike was far too big for me but I had wanted to restore a  bike for a long time and thought this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.  I later sold that bike at a handsom profit.  Here are a few pics I posted on Craigslist.

The Bar and Stem

Single-speed beater goodness.

I have one other bike project awaiting completion.  I found a deal on a Kona Smoke 26" that was missing its wheels that I picked up for next to nothing.  I purchased a set of wheels and went about overhauling the rest of the bike.  I discovered the rear triangle is a bit out of whack when installing the rear wheel.  The previous owner left the bike outside over the winter before selling it to me.  I believe that the frame was bent as it sat in the court yard of her apartment building.  Not to worry, the beauty of a stteel bike is that it can easily be straightened.  I have since decided that at some point I will install an Xtracycle FreeRadical long tail cargo extension on it and use it as an all-round city bike and grocery getter. 

For now my attention has been focused on school and anticipating starting the new frame construction.  I have a lot of work ahead of me, but somehow I miss not building things.  I spent the past 12 years building prosthetic devices every day, and somewhat miss the satisfaction of producing something tangible.  I hope the new bike will feel like an extension of my body, not that I'm 'missing' anything, but a custom bike will definatly feel like mine.