Thursday, 22 December 2011

Heart Rate on a time trial "out and back" course

I think this is a great chart of heart rate data against time. It compares my heart rate during an "out and back" time trial event, but 2 years apart. The red data is from earlier this year. Black is on the same course but 2 years ago in 2009.  This year I was faster by almost 2 minutes and set a personal best for this course. The data tells me at least three things:

1. I could have tried much harder this year. Especially during the second quarter and last quarter of the race.

2. On an out and back course, wind will usually reduce the overall time. (There's plenty of stuff online that explains why). This year there was more wind than in 2009, and it was a tailwind on the way out and head wind on the way back. This is clearly evident in the data, the dip in HR being the turn point. Indeed, in 2009, it seems I was actually quicker on the return leg, but slower overall.

3. Considering the above observations, it's great that I'm faster this year! This must be combination of training and equipment - but I like to think more to do with training than equipment :)

4. Older does not mean slower!

The data is very informative and makes me feel that I can improve further. It was gathered using Garmin FR60 heart rate monitor, which I think samples heart rate every 5s. Yes, I know this blog is about working on bikes, but working out on bikes has got to be included in that!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

How to service a bicycle

I'm about to sort out the Concept Excelsior hybrid bike, which let me gloat again, I bought for only £15 (see my previous post on that). I thought it may be useful to jot down a checklist of things to do. Now, there's no real need to do these all at once. Actually, I see this exercise as a fact finding mission, so as to understand every part of the bike. I then prioritise the areas to service first. In this particular case, I do not want the bike to look pretty, as it's going to be used for commuting and parked in various locations in town. So with that background, here's the full list:
  1. Frame - external: Inspect it all over, look for cracks, dents, corrosion, twists, bends, any defects really. Special care around the fork areas. It may be convenient to do this while washing the bike with a sponge and soapy water. Do ensure that it's rinsed well with clean water though, as most soaps contain salt that encourages corrosion. At worst, you may have to get something welded if steel, or end up chucking the frame because of a previously unseen crack.
  2. Frame - internal: Look inside, where ever possible - down seat tube, look at drain holes in the forks and stays, inside the head tube. When bike is completely dry, spray frame saver inside, or at least Waxoyl. Remove bottle cage bolts to get the spray tube into the down tube.
  3. Saddle and seatpost: Is the saddle tatty, comfortable, or hurty? Loosen the seat post bolt, take the post out. Hopefully, that will be easy, but sometimes it's jammed. In which case, spray some WD40 or Plus Gas around the top of the seat tube, allow to penetrate, then try again. Once out, clean the inside of the seat tube with a rag using a stick as a ram rod. Clean and grease the seat post, bolts and nuts, apply a bit of grease inside the top of the seat tube too, then re-assemble and adjust to the right height and angles. In a year's time, you'll be thankful you did this!
  4. Steering: For a quill stem, do as for the seat post, ensuring especially that you grease the long bolt. I also grease the faces of the stem and the expander wedge where they slide together and very sparingly around the post and in the tube. The idea is that it should not jam later, when you want to remove it, but also, should not slip when you tighten it up. For Aheadset type systems, you need to check that the bolts at both ends of the stem are tight - but rather than stripping them by overtightening, it's probably much better to loosen them all, grease and then tighten up. The bars should turn fully and freely in each direction.
  5. Headset: May well be fine. Stand over the top tube, bend over the handlebars, put the front brake on, and rock back and forth, with your weight on the bars, checking carefully for play in either top or bottom bearing. Turn and feel for roughness. It may be easy and perfectly sufficient to wind the lock rings up a few turns, squeeze some grease into top and bottom bearings and tighten it all up. A more thorough service may be fairly easy - dismantle it, clean, grease and rebuild, and you may have to change the ball bearings or races. It's up to you! At worst, you have to change the headset, which can be a pain if you can't seat the crown race or top and bottom cups easily, but in that event, your LBS should be able to help you out if it needs a full replacement.
  6. Wheels: Loose, or much worse, broken spokes should be sorted out sooner rather than later. Check condition of the rims - how worn are they, how much life is left in them? Never risk running rims that are wearing out - look for wear lines or other indicators. Examine the hubs carefully, especially around the spoke holes. Any cracks or signs of imminent breakage? Are the bearings ok? Waggle the wheels - is there any play in the hub bearings? Again, you may need to strip and rebuild, but a quick tighten up of the axle nuts may be enough for now, the full service not being urgent. Next time you get the tyres off, check the rim tape and the spoke heads too. It may be worth oiling them, to make tension adjustments easier in future. Is it too obvious to say that you must check that the wheels are firmly fixed to the forks?! Track nuts, quick releases, whatever. Grease and lube wherever you see fit!
  7. Tyres: Check for cracks, splits, holes and general wear and tear. Nowadays, I tend to make a washer out of an old inner tube, and put that on the valve before fitting it in the tyre. This stops the edges of the valve hole in the rim cutting into the valve base. But these things can wait until the next time you take the tyres off.
  8. Brakes: Very important area this. Pads must have some decent thickness to them. Old pads can be revived with a file, or just rub the face on a cement floor or brick side. Need to get any bits of metal that may be embedded in them out! Oil everything that has a pivot - including the brake levers. I also oil cable entry points. Adjusting angle of the pads and ensuring that they move uniformly and hit the rims evenly can take time, especially with cantilevers, but it's well worth it. Toe in if you have to eliminate squealing. I use a bit of card at the back of the pad while tightening it up.
  9. Pedals: Ensure they spin freely and aren't mangled up. Angle them and try to dribble some oil in the bearings. Do they suit your shoes!?
  10. Bottom bracket: Grab hold of the crank arms and wobble them, holding the frame still. Do it while riding the bike too, with your feet on the pedals. Examine rings and cups to check they are tight. At best, it'll be fine, especially if it's a cartridge type. If not, either change the cartridge or service the axle and bearings.
  11. Chainset: Clean, inspect the teeth for wear. Are rings bolted on securely? Check the cranks for cracks, especially around the pedal axle area. Are the cranks well secured to the bottom bracket axle? It's worth releasing them, cleaning, and re-fitting them securely. This will stop you cursing later when you want to get them off but can't.
  12. Chain: Clean, inspect, lubricate (see my earlier post for full details).
  13. Front and rear mechs: Clean and oil, ensure they move back and forth smoothly. It's very important to ensure that the L and H settings are adjusted properly, for safety. Otherwise the chain can come off and jam somewhere, causing injury possibly.
  14. Shifters: Clean, and lubricate, but with care! Putting oil in the wrong places on some shifters can cause problems - e.g. slipping. Seek expert help for tricky things like STIs or Ergos. Check condition of cables, replace if necessary, and lube or grease cables at entry points. An easy one is the under bottom bracket cable guide - clean it and oil it.
  15. Freewheel/Cassette: Remove debris, clean up, inspect for wear. Are teeth worn down or fresh looking? Try to lubricate freewheels with a good quality oil - need to exercise some gymnastics to make it dribble around inside to get to the moving parts.
  16. Make notes: I think this is worth doing, and easy as you go over the above items. Frame number, dimensions, gear teeth numbers, all useful information that you may need to refer to later. A few years ago, I started to log my maintenance work in a spreadsheet document on a pc. I've found it more useful than expected - like informing me as to spoke breakages on a particular wheel, and creaking noises - information that gave me clues about other matters that needed to be fixed. 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Peugeot Lautaret and Hybrid commuter projects

Found a couple of bargains on eBay. Here is a lovely Peugeot Lautaret frame (£13.10):

After studying it carefully, I'm pretty sure it's from 1987, as this is the date stamped on the Sachs Huret down tube shifters, and according to brochures online, the rainbow paint scheme is from that era. It's marked 12 vitesses, and the tubing is Peugeot own brand HLE, neatly internally brazed (no lugs). Paint is in great condition. The BB seems to be English 68mm, the seat tube is weird size, probably a 24mm diameter, and the stem is a 22.0 French jobbie. Rear dropout spacing was 120mm, but it was pretty clear that someone had cold set it unevenly. By sighting down the seatstays, one could see that the right hand stay had been pushed in. I gently pulled it back to its original 126mm spacing. Now to figure out how to build it up - single speed or 6 speed? I'm certainly going for a single chainwheel up front. Options, options...

Second bargain is a Concept Excelsior 15 speed hybridy mtb type thing (£15):

Judging by the condition of the chainset, sprocket teeth, tyres, rims and brake pads, it's HARDLY EVER been ridden! A label on it says "Designed in England by Concept Cycling Ltd" and another "Mega Carbon Steel". The frame feels bomb proof. I know nothing of Concept Cycling Ltd, but a quick Google search tells me that it went bust in around 2005 and is now part of the Avocet Group, with Viking and other brands. The chain was rusted and wrapped round the 5 speed block. But it was simple to unwind it, lube it and in 10 minutes, it was back in rideable shape. It rides fairly well actually. Front twist grip changer is knackered completely. I adjusted the L set screw on the front mech to put the chain in the middle ring (38T) for now. Rear twist grip shifter is ropey, but seems to work in a fashion. There's a straight chainline with the middle ring at the front and the second smallest sprocket at the back (17T), which is ~58". I'm wondering whether to lose the rear mech completely, fit mudguards and make this a single speed commuting hack using existing cogs and rings (it has sloping dropouts). But I'll need a longer seatpost first. At least it's a standard ish size: 25.4mm.

Will post more photos as I sort these out. But first, allow me to revel in getting a frame and a functioning bike for a grand total of ~£28. I feel smug! Marvellous. Thanks eBay!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Cyclocross bike build: Graham Weigh Frame

Last year I tried cyclocross for the first time. I adapted my wife's hybrid for that, but she wants her bike back (iow, I want a real CX bike!) so I decided to build one up for this year. Below, the frame and forks. Graham Weigh 60cm alloy, which seems to be very similar to a Dolan cross frame. Kinesis Crosslight alloy forks. I was a bit worried about harshness of ride, but we'll see.
Below are the headset parts. It'a an Alpina integrated, I realise all the hullaballoo about integrated headsets versus external bearing ones, but as the frame is designed for this kind of headset, I thought I'd give it a go. It assembles, from bottoms up: crown race (silver ring), lower bearing (which drops straight into the bottom housing of the head tube), upper bearing (identical to the lower one and drops into the top head tube bearing housing), red compression ring, silver washer, top cover (black alloy, it has an o-ring inside it, and the black rubber washer/gasket goes under it), cap and star-fangled nut.

Below, a close up of the top bearing housing in the head tube, and the mount for the crown race. It's all incredibly simple and quick to assemble, dead easy I'd say.
Bumble-bee style headset spacer arrangement. Actually, I didn't want to chop the steerer, so decided to leave it full size for now. Hmm, that's a good name for the bike: BUMBLE-BEE, because I'll be bumbling about on it!
A little while later, Bumble-Bee is finished:
The wheels are Shimano 105 hubs on Mavic Bog Standard rims (32h MA3). Below, a cheepo Vitus saddle. That'll do for now, but I WILL experiment later - for the sake of my behind! One day I'll get the hang of those flying remounts... Maxxis Raze 700x35 tyres (wired). Not the best, but hey, neither is the engine!
Rear derailleur is a Sora. It's a really nice changer in my view, works very crisply with the Tiagra shifters.
Rear view of Tektro CR720 cantilever brakes. So much nicer than my old touring bike (which I sold a long time ago). The cable hanger is part of the seat clamp (Alpina). You can see that the cable is not perfectly straight and vertical, so there's room for improvement here.
Front view of Bumble-Bee below, showing the Tiagra shifters mounted on 44cm (c-c) Ritchey Comp bars. I found the shifters surprisingly easy to rig up and cable.
Close up of the front brakes below. Initially, I had the Mother of all Judders. This was easily rectified by a few mins with an allen key and a bit of card, getting the blocks nicely lined up to the rim, and with a slight toe in.
Bottom Bracket is a Shimano UN54 square taper. Cheap, reliable and simple. Front changer Sora triple, working a Stronglight 46-36-26 chainset. Although rated for a bigger road chainwheel, I encountered no problems at all encouraging it to work for the three MTB size rings here. Bottom gear is an amazing 26T front-27T rear! Now that's 26 inches! If I'm gonna have granny gears, then I may as well have ridiculously low ones. Yeah, I'm unlikely to use them in racing, but may do so if I take Bumble-Bee touring later.
Final photo below showing off Bumble-Bee's backside. Is that a sting in her tail?
All in all, I'm very pleased. She handles really well on grass and compared to the old hybrid, I'm loving the riding position, and no qualms at all about the alloy forks - they're great. Having only ever ridden cross with straight handlebars, I was worried about the change to drop bars. Would they give me enough steering control for tight corners? In practice, the 90mm stem and 44cm bars turned out to be absolutely fine. Indeed, I prefer the drop handlebars.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Bike chains: how to inspect, replace, fit, clean and lubricate

Figure 1. The Shimano Length Check (see 2(a) below).

Fitting a new chain should be easy and satisfying. Yet, it's possible to make a miserable, muddlesome meal out of it. I know, I've been there! Generally, the objective is to ensure that the chain is as short as possible and suits the gearing system on the bike. So, after all my trials and tribulations on the subject, here's how I've learned to go about it:

Derailleur equipped bikes

1. Assess the chain's condition. Is it enough to merely clean it up, or should it be replaced? Is there a special joining link? What kind of chain is it? Buckled links, damaged plates, or severe rust point to changing it. I measure the wear, or "stretch" as its sometimes called, using a steel foot ruler. I put the zero mark on the centre of a rivet pin. Measure 12" and if the chain is not worn, there should be the centre of a rivet pin at the 12 inch mark exactly. I put a bit of pressure on the pedal with my free hand while I do this, to ensure that slack in the chain is taken up. If the centre of the pin is more than ~1mm past the 12" mark, then I replace the chain. If it's greater than ~1.5mm past the 12" mark, then I'd replace the cassette too. Otherwise, the chain may slip on the old worn cassette. It can get expensive if the chainring teeth are worn as a result of a knackered chain, so it's wise to assess chain stretch regularly.

2. Is the current chain the correct length? On a bike I'm not familiar with, I do all three of the following length checks:

(a) The Shimano length check. With bike on level ground, shift the chain on to the biggest chainwheel and smallest rear sprocket. The axes of the jockey wheels on the rear derailleur should line up vertically (or close to vertical), one above the other, with the line perpendicular to the ground. See Figure 1 above.
Figure 2. Tautest Setting Check.

(b) Tautest setting check. Change shift levers so that the chain is in its most taut setting, that is on the biggest chainwheel and also the biggest sprocket. If the chain is too short, this setting cannot be achieved without something breaking! Although the big-big combo should not be used in practice, I think it's very important that it can be engaged, or damage could occur when shifting into that setting accidentally. The rear derailleur will be angled forward and the chain should show at least a slight S bend as it goes around the jockey wheels. The chain should not be too stretched out through the wheels. See Figure 2 above.

(c) Slackest setting check.
Change shift levers to put the chain on the smallest front ring and smallest back sprocket. The rear derailleur should be coiled up, the chain should Z bend round the jockey wheels. There should be minimal slackness in the bottom run of the chain and no interference between jockey wheels, derailleur arms and the free runs of the chain. Again, the small-small combo should not be used, but it needs to work without fouling or excessive chain slackness. (Figure 3)
Figure 3. Slackest Setting Check.

Ideally, the chain should pass all three length checks, but the Tautest and Slackest ((b) and (c) above) are the most important ones! Doing them all gives me a clear idea as to whether the current chain is the right length, too long or too short.

3. Decide which chain to buy. This means thinking about its size, type, brand, quality and joining method. If I know the bike is going to be muddy and wet frequently then I would go for one with corrosion resistance - e.g stainless steel, or at least nickel or brass coated. I choose the speed and the brand, the big boys are Campagnolo, KMC, Shimano, SRAM and Wippermann, and then there are a whole host of smaller suppliers. I've tried all of the big brands and have found something to like in each of them. How do I choose the type? Well, past experience is a good guide, as are the views of others, although I don't always agree with them! Generally, I find that very cheap chains tend to be poor quality, deform easily and wear out quickly. Price is a big factor. Another is the joining method - personally I like SRAM powerlink/powerlock connectors (you pinch them), but they are not the only option for quick links. Joining with rivets is not a problem, but is less convenient for taking the chain occasionally for cleaning or access.

4. Remove the old chain. In step 1 above, I checked whether there was a joining link, right? If there's no quick link joining mechanism, I'd resort to a chain tool. It needs to be a suitable size (and speed) for the chain - it's basically a rivet extractor that uses a screw mechanism. Clean up the derailleurs, chainwheel teeth, cassette and any other bits that need sprucing up. I lube the derailleurs at this point because access is easy.

5. Cut the new chain to the right length. Measure, measure and measure again before cutting! If the original passed all three length checks, then count its links (do it a few times to check!) and cut the new chain to the same length. Otherwise, I use the Shimano length check (see 2(a) above) and/or the following easy one:

(a) SRAM length check. Put the chain on the biggest chainwheel and biggest sprocket. Do not run it through the rear derailleur. Take up all the slack and bring the ends together tight. From where the ends would join up, add a further 2 links and the powerlink. This usually works, but it may depend on the on the derailleur design, so be careful - I use the SRAM length check and/or the Shimano length check just to establish an initial guestimate (see Figures 1 and 4).

Figure 4. SRAM Length Check.

6. Join ends and do the three length checks. This is where a quick link is great, because I can connect the chain, test it using the Tautest setting and Slackest setting length checks above, and if necessary change its length, taking apart and re-joining easily. Note that 10 speed SRAM powerlock connectors are one time only, whereas 9 and lower speed powerlink ones can be re-used. When joining Shimano chains use their special joining rivet and remember to check the manual to ensure it goes in the correct orientation in the link. Whatever the manufacturer, read their instructions for connecting and adhere to them.

7. Lubrication and cleaning. I leave the manufacturer's lubricant on the chain for as long as I dare. Keep the chain clean and lube it only when it's clean and dry - because dirt can act as a grinding paste in the oil. If you clean with soapy water, then make sure you wash it off thoroughly with clean water, because many soaps (e.g. washing up liquid) contain salt, which stimulates corrosion! Degreaser, paraffin, white spirits are all possible cleaners depending on the state of the chain. I use one of "the boss's" discarded baking trays as a washing pan for the chain. Let it dry off well.

Chain cleaning and lubrication is a subject that can generate much discussion and spark heat among cyclists! There are many different schools of thought on it. I find that astonishing for an invention that's well over a century old! Personally, I oil each link joint on the inside of the chain (that's the side closest to the chainwheel teeth) along the bottom run of the chain. That way it does not go all over the place, only to where it's needed. Then rotate the pedals backwards a number of times to work the oil in. Wipe off excess oil along the chain using a clean cloth - I put my hand in an old soft sock and hold the chain while pedalling backwards. I agree with the experienced time triallists who tell me that a clean, oiled and unworn chain is worth many seconds in the race of truth!

Single speed or hub gear bikes

The general objective and thought process is very similar to that described above, but since there is no sprung derailleur and only one sprocket and chainwheel, setting chain tension can be tricky. So note the following additional point:

8. Look for tension adjustment. When assessing the chain's condition - along the lines described at 1. above - I would also inspect the bike for methods of chain tension adjustment. For example, by sliding the wheel axle back and forth in the rear dropouts, an eccentric bottom bracket system, a chain tensioner or even a jogged link (half link). Indeed, it may be worth considering a half link chain (that's one made entirely of jogged links). This could be handy where there is little other provision for chain tension adjustment. They also look dead cool!

There's something therapeutic about a new, or freshly cleaned, chain. It feels cathartic to ride off on the bike afterwards - not to mention a little nippier!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Time Trial on a Raleigh Twenty and a steel Iceni

I decided to revamp the Iceni into a dedicated TT bike. I enlisted the assistance of AWCycles who did a great job (I can highly recommend them). It cost me around £200 to do that - see photo above - whereas a new TT bike would've cost ten times that price. She weighs in around 10.4kg and my best 10mile TT so far on her is 25:51. Whereas the TT mean machine below weighs 16.0kg!!

I fitted basic new tyres to the £25 Raleigh 20 (Stowaway model), an alloy seatpost, modern saddle, but everything else is as original. I rode this bike, exactly as shown in the photo above, in a 10 mile TT, clocking 31:28. Great thing about riding a shopper at an evening club TT is that it seems to cheer everyone up! Afterwards, I did catch myself thinking "Sub 30 min is possible if I lower the bars to get more aero, fitted alloy rims, slicks, service the bb and hubs, new chain, lose the rack, mudguards and kick stand, etc... :)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Raleigh Twenty: Sturmey Archer Hub Gear Cable Adjustment - Indicator or Toggle Chain

People have asked me how to adjust the gear cable on a 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub. Indeed, some folks are a bit perplexed by the dangly chain bit, knurled parts, and the somewhat "mystical" operation of the whole affair. This sequence of photos attempts to explain cable adjustment in easy steps. So, assume you've picked up a Raleigh 20 or other bike with a 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub gear. This one is from 1980 (pictures in a previous blog). I'm also going to assume that the short chain part shown below, called the "indicator", is the right type for the particular hub. Why it's called an indicator will become apparent later.
First step is to loosen the knurled nut at left in the photo above (untwist it a few turns). Then undo the knurled tube connector (far left in the photo above). Once disconnected, carefully take the plastic cap off the axle nut, to leave what's shown below:
Now, the dangly chain part is the indicator. The part on the left still attached to the cable is what I'm calling the knurled tube connector - it's also called a "barrel nut". Grab the indicator by the chain, lift it gently (upwards in the photo) and untwist it carefully from the hub. Hopefully, it will be free to turn. Take it out and clean it up using, degreaser or whatever you like really.

It's worth looking at it carefully - see below. The tip (top right) is shaped into a cone - this is to assist when screwing it back in. Then there is a uniform rod, the chain, the threaded part on which runs the knurled nut and the knurled tube connector (not shown in the photo below):
Grease both threads. Oil the chain links. Put the gear thumb lever in 3rd (top gear) in order to slacken the cable. Then insert the tip back into the hub and tighten it very slowly and gently. When you feel it become just hand tight, then unscrew it by half a turn - no more. Put the plastic cap back on and tighten the knurled tube connector back on to the threaded rod of the indicator. A few turns is fine initially. Now put the thumbshift lever into 2nd gear. It looks like this:
Look through the viewing hole in the axle nut and you can see that part of the uniform rod is showing. Meaning that the rod is jutting out from the end of the axle tube. Now, the aim is to get that uniform rod end LEVEL with the end of the axle tube. Turn the knurled tube connector one way, and see what happens:
In this case, the rod has come out even more - see the yellow arrow above. Now you can see why it's called an indicator, and what the viewing hole in the axle nut is for. So, turn the knurled tube connector the other way...
In the photo above, the rod has gone inside the axle tube. Remember, you want it level with the end of the axle tube. Just to reiterate, the thumb shifter must be in 2nd gear while you do this adjustment - which is in essence cable length/tension. Keep twiddling the knurled tube on the threaded rod until it is level, like this:

Now spin the pedals a few times, change gear up and down and back to 2nd, and re-check that the indicator rod is level with the axle end. Then tighten the knurled nut against the knurled tube connector, to lock down the cable length and replace the plastic cap, thus:

Go ride! It should all be hunky dory now, and shifting should be fine. If not, it probably means that the indicator is not the right one for the hub. You can sort that out by getting the right one from a good supplier, like Oldbiketrader, or if not, then you have to adjust it by careful and gentle testing. If you end up having to go through the testing route, remember that the cable should not be too tight in first gear - you may feel too much tension at the thumbshift lever - and gears should change smoothly, with no free-spinning in second. You should be able to see the uniform rod on the indicator moving in and out as you change gears. That indicator is also known as a TOGGLE CHAIN, and here's a great site for cycle touring and hub gear afficianados:
The planetary hub gear was a wonderful invention!

Falcon Revenge Boy's Bike

Photos of my son's Falcon Revenge bike, now for sale on eBay here. Specs below.

Purchased new in 2008 this bike has served my son well. Details:

- 11" steel frame and steel forks
- Shimano Capreo Alloy brake levers (I upgraded the original plasticky ones)
- Original pedals have been replaced by better quality ones
- KAlloy long seat post (adjustable height of course)
- single speed
- Alloy wheels 18"
- Tyres 18 x 1.95" knobbly tread

This bike has been well looked after and has plenty more life left in it. He's just outgrown it. Original paperwork included.

eBay auction here.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

How to Shimergo your bike

Campagnolo ERGO levers can work with a SHIMano drivetrain, mechs and cassette. In an earlier post here, I showed some photos of a bike that I had converted to Shimergo. Now I'm going to explain how I did it. Here's a photo of the bike as it was originally. The brake levers are cheap and nasty.

The plan was to replace the brake levers and down tube shifters with Campagnolo Ergo levers (Veloce 10 QS Ergo Levers, from around 2009 vintage). The following links are essential reading:

The CTC's Chris Juden on the subject:
CX Magazine on it: ... patibility
10spd, 8spd success story: ... onversion/

Original set up was as follows:

Cassette: Shimano 9 speed, 12-23
Rear mech: Shimano Tiagra
Front mech: Campag Mirage
D/T Levers: Shimano Dura ace
Chainset: Stronglight Impact Triple 28-38-48

According to the above links, the lever swap should work with a little trick to play on the rear mech, namely, the cable attachment bolt washer to be spun round - or "hubbubed".

There's a lot more writing out there, but the above three really convinced me. Plus I saw a forum posting somewhere in which a cyclocross racer reported a season's worth of racing using 10spd Campy shifters on 9spd Shimano with hubbub. That clinched it for me!

Old faithful Shimano Dura Ace down tube levers (9 speed indexed). I'll end up removing these (gulp!)

These cheepo brake levers are going to go too. I'll be happy about that!

First step is to take the old bar tape and levers off.

New 10 Speed Campy levers on. I needed to buy a Torx T25 tool for the main lever clamp bolt. The Veloce levers feel superb in the hand, almost perfectly shaped hoods.

Cable housing fitted for brake and gears, taped down ready for handlebar tape.

The old down tube levers were replaced with Campagnolo resin cable stops. Although inexpensive, these turned out to be simply brilliant. So easy to adjust, even while riding.

This is the hubbub clamping arrangement. All you do is rotate the clamp hook, run the cable over the hook, and tighten the bolt as shown. Dead easy.

Swanky new bar tape. Now, to my total amazement, both the new levers worked beautifully with NO adjustment needed at all. After a few days riding, I had to adjust some cable tension from the down tube cable stops, but that was it. I believe in Shimergo now!

Campagnolo levers added a touch of modern class to a good ol' Reynolds 531C road bike. Apart from being able to change gear without moving hands from the bars, another benefit was improved braking performance.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Cyclocross on a Hybrid Bike

Wanting to try cyclocross, I adapted my wife's hybrid bike. It is a Ridgeback Velocity that we bought in 2009. Here it is after being turned into a beginner's crosser. In the process, it lost 0.6kg, from 12.6 to 12.0kg. This is what I did to it:

-100g : Removed reflectors, bottle cage, bell
+100g : Replaced plastic cage pedals with metal Shimano MTBs
-300g : Replaced cushion saddle with a racier one, Vitus brand
-300g : Replaced Continental Contact tyres with Maxxis Raze 700x35C
+/-0g: New Clarks brake blocks

TOTAL : -600g

More photos below.

Heavy mud soon collects on the bike and on your shoes! Actually, I had scraped the worst of the mud off before taking these photos. It's a messy, but fantastic fun and a great workout.