Monday, March 21, 2005

Another bike...

Lucky me. I’m on vacation this week. My kids are having Spring Break – an unheard of concept in the snow bound north where I grew up – and I’m taking the week off too. We don’t have any plans since No. 1 Daughter has work scheduled most of the week. We’re staying close to home.

I was bored Saturday, so I ended up in the garage, putting another fixed gear together from stuff that was just lying around. Actually, I’d built this bike up for time trials a couple of years ago and it was disassembled for some unknown reason. The frame is an old Pennine Re della Corsa. Reynolds 531 double-butted tubing throughout. A Campy Nouvo Record bottom bracket and Super Record headset. I used an old no-name front wheel and a cheap track hub in the rear. Gearing is presently a 47x18 using Sugino crankarms and Campy ring. That’ll be changed to a 52x18 for time trials. The Handlebars and stem are ancient TTT. This thing SCREAMS 1970s!

One appealing aspect of riding fixed gear conversions is that they’re a way to use some of the old steel frame gathering dust in so many garages. I don’t think that a good use of a collectible old bike like a full Campy Raleigh Professional or a Schwinn Paramount, for example, but it’s a great way to re-use a good quality frame like my Centurion. It’s surprising how light one of these old bikes can be when all the ‘extraneous’ stuff is removed.

There’s one sore point – the saddle – a worn Brooks Professional. What else? This one came off one of the bikes donated for the Community Cycling Project. It looked really rough. The surface was badly cracked and dry. I applied 6 or 7 coats of Mink Oil. It looked better, but I wasn’t entirely sure the saddle would stay together with weight on it. This will eventually end up on a client’s bike, so I talked with Sandra about testing it on one of my bikes. The saddle originally belonged to a woman considerably smaller and lighter than me, so it had never been subjected to the Wagner Vertical Crush Test.

I rode it yesterday. Despite all the cracks and wear, it feels like sitting on a board. Not a hard board like a piece of maple, but rather more like a soft board like pine or cedar. Not that there’s a considerable difference.

I’ll ride this a few more times and then re-install the Sella Italia.

A quick word about time trials and fixed gears: I use a ‘medium’ gear for TTs because I know that I’ll never be competitive with the truly fast guys around here, even the fast guys in my age group. My intent is to gauge my own performance over time, and a fixed gear helps to eliminate variables. Besides, it’s easier on my knees. I’m much better off spinning like mad than pushing hard on too big a gear.

There’s British site devoted to medium gear time trailing - Check it out!


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