Tourist in Detroit

Tourist in Detroit

Despite what you’ve heard, the street lights are on and the fire trucks are responding in Detroit*.

Bridgestone + Nitto + Brooks + more

Posted by: on Jun 14, 2010 | No Comments

Firstly, if anyone is restoring one of these bikes from scratch you might want to check out the old catalogues on the Sheldon Brown site.

While at Citizen Chain I collected a few random pieces for the bike. The Brooks standard B17 saddle (honey and men’s…. couldn’t see that I needed a specific women’s one), the MKS GR-9 platform pedals and MKS toe clips with brown leather trim.

So that still left a surprising number of parts to order online from Australia. With the generous help of Nick and Naomi I ordered the majority of the parts from Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles, Rivendell and Velo Orange.

The parts that didn’t fit…

Shimano BR-550 cantilever brakes. The original bike had cantis so I thought these would work. Turns out none of the newly made cantis will fit old bikes.

The beautiful Dia Compe brake levers from Velo Orange. The change in brakes meant that I had to change the brake levers too.

VO headset. I can’t remember why, but there was something non-standard about what the frame required. The frame is particularly short at the front so it may have been to do with the thread length.

The bits that did work…

The Nitto Randonneur drop bars, bought from Nick as they weren’t the right size for him.

The Nitto tall stem (26/70mm). A hard one to track down but worth it so that I didn’t go from a standard hybrid height to a super-low drop bar height. Also needed a shim to make the stem fit the 25.4mm bars.

The seat post is new-old-stock of the original Kalloy brand and was found on eBay. It’s 27mm rather than the more standard 26.2mm.

Dura Ace 9-speed bar end shifters. These are so nice to use. Indexed to click on the right but not for the three on the left.

Stronglight crankset (Impact Triple chainset 28/38/48 170mm). I was deciding between a double and triple. I rarely use the three cogs in my city commuting but I figured there was no harm in having the triple for the occasional country ride I might do. I was also looking at Sugino cranksets but this one is now discontinued so I got it for the super-cheap price of $45.

I ended up going for v-brakes when the cantilevers weren’t going to work. That meant the Cane Creek brake levers were my only option. At first this was a little disappointing, but now I appreciate that I have top quality brakes which stop really well. They give the bike a sportier look than I was originally going for with the brown but it works nicely.

The brakes I have are Avid Single Digit SL V Brakes with Kool Stop salmon pads.

SRAM 9-speed cassette. Went for the 9-speed to fit the bar end shifters. 11-32 was the spec… for reasons I can’t remember.

Jack Brown (green) tyres. These feel amazing. Well, it’s probably the combination of rims and hubs too, but they bounce so nicely.

Mavic Open Sport Pros spoked at Cheeky Monkey in Newtown (the people who also assembled the bike).

Ultegra front and rear hubs 32 hole

Tiagra front derailleur.

Shimano rear derailleur.

SRAM 9 chain.

Chromoplastic fenders. Despite being plastic, these look great. They also have the advantage of being lighter, cheaper and quieter than the very nice looking Honjos.

After all that I also bought a New York Kryptonite lock but it’s heavier than I anticipated so I only use it when leaving the bike in dodgy areas.

Bridgestone RB-T build

Posted by: on Mar 2, 2010 | One Comment

Last November when we were in the states I had a plan to bring home a bike. This grand idea came to me last October when I saw a nice bike at the traffic lights on Broadway and Jones St in Sydney after following her from my work. A few corners later we were still neck and neck and so got talking about the subject of her nice bike. Turns out the bike was bought from Citizen Chain in San Francisco, the city I was flying to only a few weeks later. Recounting this story to Sasha in the shop he told me how the bike was snapped up the day after it went into the window display so there was hardly time to show off his work.

I didn’t find my perfect bike that day but I instead found a frame – a Bridgestone RB-T. At the time I wasn’t aware of its historical significance, but I liked the look of it, how it could work for me and it was my size so I bought it. “Much easier to take a frame to Australia than a bike,” as a visitor hanging out in the shop told me.

Since then I’ve been learning what all the parts are called and what bits would be best for me, all thanks to the generous help of some clued in friends. I’m only just at the stage of understanding how all the parts work together so I definitely won’t be building it myself, no, that task will be left to Cheeky Transport in Newtown.

So here’s a photo of the frame, and next will be a list of all the parts followed by the built bike itself. Exciting stuff… for bike nerds at least.

Into the Oregon woods

Posted by: on Dec 3, 2009 | No Comments

Driving through the Oregon woods is the scary stuff of fairy tales. Scary in a good way. It’s damp, dark and misty. Slimey, slippery and quiet. Tread carefully for Mulder or Scully might be hiding behind a tree. On the road west from Eugene to Florence there’s a forest of young fir trees (Siuslaw National Park) with moss so thick it drips from the branches. The damp roads must never have a chance to dry and the fog hangs in the tree tops like carefully placed Halloween decorations.

Growing up with a small patch of Australian bush up the road I never understood why the woods were supposed to be scary. The bush has always been a place of adventure, discovery and good times. Warm, dry and bright with a strong eucalypt scent and the comforting buzz of insects. I never once found a trail of breadcrumbs or scary bears looking for porridge.

Back in Siuslaw, the road through the forest curved on and on – even tunnelling through a mountain – before ending up by streams, rivers and finally the coast. We drove through small towns which were variations on a theme with a few quirks thrown in. One town had an eBay shopfront where a power seller (TM) was dispersing to the world the goods of computer-illiterate locals.

We spent our first night of the road trip in the seaside town of Port Orford. It was remarkably smaller and darker than Google Maps told us (things always look bright and easy on Google Maps). Despite arriving at our B&B at 5.15pm it was well and truly pitch black. Being from the city, I can’t remember the last time I saw this much darkness, however it fitted in nicely with the wood fire and the home-made cookies at the beautiful Compass Rose B&B.

We headed straight out to dinner (“restaurants close at 8pm around here”) at Griff’s On The Dock, a slightly kooky place recommended on the Thorntree forum (“ask them what’s fresh and order it”), and by the B&B owner. The place reminded me of a tiny truck-stop – all red and white tablecloths, busy walls and a waitress with all the charm of your no-nonsense school canteen lady. Our table quickly filled with clam chowder, salads, calamari, halibut, steamed clams, garlic bread and beer from nearby city of Bend. The place really was right on the dock, a shack amongst boats, although we were oblivious to them as we curved down the ramp towards the sea. Like going through digital camera photos the morning after a party, we drove back to the dock to see just what we had done the night before.

Arriving to a town in darkness – especially one too small for a walkable strip or streetlights – means you need to wait til morning for it to reveal itself. We woke to see sunshine streaming through the forest and a view through to the marshes and a lake. It was a beautiful and secluded spot. Walking around the forest on a sunny day was nothing like the scary misty forest of the previous day. The ground felt like thick Persian carpet and there were soft textures in all directions. There were birds, salamanders, and deer hoof prints, although it wasn’t until we were leaving that we saw actual deer frolicking by the side of the road.

The dramatic coast of Oregon and the beaches of Port Orford are best left to photos – even my amateur ones.