Friday, December 08, 2006

From the RBR newsletter...

I've said this before about the RBR newsletter. It's certainly worth
reading even if you're not into competitive cycling. There's a wealth of
information. The bit at the end - "Ride like a Flahute" - hit me right
between the eyes! I've been dee lazy mon recently. Driving the car to work
in the snow and ice set a bad precedent and even worse, made me far too
comfortable. The ice receded about Wednesday but I still haven't been on
the bike. "It's too cold!" I whined to my wife. I'm such a baby.

There's a little voice in my head yelling, "On yer bike ya lazy scut!"

I do like the tip on wiping the frame down with WD40 to prevent rust. If I
can get the mud and grime off the commuter bike, I'll try it.

Excerpt from the Road Bike Rider newsletter:

3. Uncle Al: The Winter Bike o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o

In the backroom of your local bike shop or perhaps in a neighbor's shed,
there's a bike perfect for your winter riding.

I'm not talking about a bike that's wrecked or rusted. This is about bikes
that simply have been abandoned. They've suffered nothing more than dust,
cobwebs and passing time. To my mind, they are diamonds in the rough and the
foundation of the ideal winter bike.

Nearly all of these gems will be made of steel. The 25-year-old Motobecane I
use for my winter bike has French-made Vitus butted chromoly tubing. My
wife's 27-year-old Trek is made of really nice Ishiwata tubing from Japan.
These bikes were once considered "lightweights" but they now pale in
comparison to the 18-pound wonderbikes we ride during the season. But who
cares in winter?

If the bike you find is complete, you're lucky. Most oldies will have a
couple of missing parts or something that needs to be replaced. If the hubs
are still good but the wheels are 27-inch, have them rebuilt with 700C rims.
This will make your life far simpler as there's not much tire selection for
27-inchers anymore. Most old bikes have brakes with a reach long enough for
slightly smaller 700C wheels.

Most old frames also have enough clearance around the wheels for fenders. I
consider fenders essential for a bike that's going to be ridden in nasty,
wet conditions. They keep road spray off you and the machinery. That means
less time cleaning the bike and yourself, and more riding time.

Here are my eight essential tips for turning an old bike into your winter

---Tell the shop what you're up to. They may surprise you with something
out of the basement, particularly if they've been in business for many

---Make sure the frame size will work for you. No old bike is a bargain if
it can't fit you like your summer machine. It's smart to have your key
dimensions written down when you go hunting so there's no guesswork. If the
bike you find is a tad small or big, you can probably compensate by changing
stems, using a longer- or shorter-reach handlebar, or replacing the
seatpost. It's okay if the handlebar is higher than normal because winter
clothes make it harder to bend over anyway.

---Overhaul the whole shebang. Do it yourself if you have the tools and
know-how. If not, make an appointment with your shop mechanic. If you have
good rapport with him or her, ask if it's okay to watch and learn. It takes
time to do a "project bike" because there's likely to be some glitches. Be
mellow and keep it fun. Bring 'em a nice sixer.

---Don't try to "modernize" the bike. It'll only frustrate you when you
discover a lot of new stuff won't fit older frames. Try to stay with the
vintage of the bike as much as you can. But there's no problem using your
current saddle and pedal system.

---Spray inside the tubes with a rust preventive. A good one is J.P.
Weigle's Frame Saver ($15). No sense letting internal corrosion start eating
a steel frame that's survived this long.

---Don't worry about a beat-up paint job. Surface rust is rarely a problem,
but bubbles under the paint could mean serious corrosion. Touch up any deep
nicks and scratches but don't get too Type-A about it. This is your winter
bike. It shouldn't be so pretty that you're reluctant to ride it on sloppy
roads. After you do, wipe down the frame with a rag sprayed with WD-40.
That'll keep it looking fine and the rust at bay.

---Do not weigh the finished bike! It doesn't matter. What matters is that
you have a bike that allows you to enjoy riding in wet conditions and not
hate yourself for getting it dirty.

---Ride like a flahute. In Belgium the hardmen train no matter what the
weather. You've got the bike now, so get out there.

While you're doing that I'll be in the shop, building a winter bike for
another dedicated roadie. Oh yeah, and thanks for the beer!


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