Saturday, 4 August 2012

Project Birthday Bike - next stage

Becky is still delighted with her new bike - the c1980s Argos fast tourer.  She had it on 25th July in the full knowledge that it needed some updating and a little TLC.  So far we've replaced the tyres and tubes, having some really nice folding Continental 4 Season tyres which promise an excellent all-round performance with real puncture resistance.

The brakes have been a bit of a problem.  The original Shimano 600 callipers and levers were good in their day but for a 14 year old girl the levers were too big for her to easily grab and too stiff to pull.  The brakes themselves were not too effective as a result.  Of course, knowing the brake blocks were equally as old, it is possible they have become hardened.

While I know there is a case for keeping things authentic and faithful to the original specification, we have to be pragmatic here.  This is a bike for a 14 year old girl to enjoy riding (safely) and not be ruled by the eccentricities of a vintage bike in which she has no understanding or interest in the heritage.  It's simlpy a good light frame that needs riding with enthusiasm.  And so she does; and because of this I believe it is worth doing well for her.

So the brakes.  I suspect the bike is going to need some new callipers but in the mean time we have invested in some really nice Sram levers.  We tried out a couple of different ones for size and these seemed good.  You can't see them too easily in the photo but believe me they are good.  She can ride with her hands stitting on the hoods and looking comfortable and pull the levers fairly well.  We still have the problem of the brakes not being too effective and I suspect that some new Sram callipers will do the trick in hopefully being well balanced for the levers through being designed with each other in mind.  This means a pull of the lever being translated into the right amount of cable being pulled and closing the brake pads onto the rim in the right way.  So that continues to be a work in progress.

Another little challenge has been dealing with the LBS. I know I have been waxing lyrical (click here) about the merits of dealing with a LBS but I have felt a little let down.  I asked them to regrease the bottom bracket and hub bearings which they happily did although the usual mechanic was going to be on holiday.  I had a faint warning bell ringing in my mind about this.

Campag Record hubs are good no matter how old
On looking at the hubs at home I'm not convinced there's any fresh grease in there at all.  Turn the axle and it was stiff, graunchy and rough.  As a matter of principle I took it back in for it to be readjusted, knowing the full time mechanic was back.  Then it was done properly.  Those Campagnolo Record hubs were about as good as you could get in the 1980s and were known for their good quality.  Now they should last.

The bottom bracket is worn and in all fairness to the KBS it is difficult to adjust so we'll have that replaced in due course.

Not too worn but not the right make

The freewheel is puzzling me a little and I must query this with Wallie and Angela sometime.  It is a French Maillard type running with Shimano early indexed gears.  Unsurprisingly the spacing between the sprockets isn't quite right and therefore the gear lever's clicks don't quite match up.  Becky doesn't seem too bothered and manages to ride well with the minimum of gear changes, which is probably not a bad thing.

We've had a few rides with each other and Becky seems really at home on the bike.  The size and dimensions seem exactly right for her and seeing her ride she appears very much at home on that bike.  I did remark that it was Victoria Pendleton (Team GB Olympic cyclist) who said her father recognised she had some potential when she was at the same age.  Who knows?  God certainly does!

I'm sure I'll blog about this further another time but Rachel and I have noticed how Becky enjoys the sense of freedom and independence from being able to cycle around, either on her own or with me.  She's even started a voluntary holiday job in the public library and it was a lovely sight seeing her pedal off for that on her first day.  A very special moment.

Taking off the original odd size tyres

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