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A ridding milestone

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With the nice weather we have been blessed with lately how is it possible to not ride? I decided last Sunday I was going to ride in to work on Tuesday. It’s about 12km from home to work. The weather was nice, not too windy but a little cold. The ride was nice and I made it in 30 minutes like expected.

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I rode my 2004 Eclipse hybrid. I like it’s stability that allow me to carry lots of stuff on the rear rack. I recently had to change the cassette and the chain so I picked a cassette better geared for the terrain I have to face around Cochrane, AB. This area is well known for it’s great hill. I went from the original 11-28 cassette that was perfect for the Ottawa region to a 11-34 mega range which is better suited for the climbs we have around here. I was lucky to have lots of B screw on my current derailleur to permit the Mega Range cassette. Otherwise I would have had to change the derailleur to accommodate it. I also added a set of fenders to it so I can ride on wet terrain. I don’t usually like being wet while ridding. Today, it helped with the gravel that’s still on the road this time of the year.

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As the day went by I almost chickened out and took a ride with one of my co-workers. Having being freezing at work all day almost made me go the easy way. I’ve been trying to achieve bigger goals lately to set me on the right path. The big one for today was to ride back home through the Glen Eagles alternate climb to avoid the “crazy” Cochrane Hill. Glen Eagles is an easier way to get back home on a slower incline with some flats but it runs longer than the actual hill. You have to ride the Hill for a few hundred meters to access the Glen Eagles route. I was committed to the alternate route when I decided that it wasn’t too bad and that I should try it. I was actually curious to find out about how much easier the new cassette was going to make it. My commuter’s weight must have been around 50 pounds with the saddles bags on. I shifted between the 34 and the 26 cogs. I have a triple at the front where the lowest must be in the 28 teeth range. I made it to the top with much more ease than I thought. That gear ration on my bike is great and quite effective. I made it home through the other hills with no problems.

The Cochrane Hill is a known hill by the cyclists that use it for training. It’s 3.5 km long, around 700 meters of elevation for a 7% incline. Beautiful and scary at the same time.

I had this hill in my 2016 ridding goal. The original plan was that I made it up with my 17 pounds carbon fiber road bike by June. Well, I guess I need to find another goal since I’ve already beat up my all the parameter of that one. I’m proud of myself for this achievement. I rode the alternate route twice prior to tonight hill climb. Once in the summer of 2014 and the next one in the summer of 2015. The first time was quite hard but the second year I had more millage under my belt so it was easier. I can even remember telling myself that I should have tried the actual hill. Tonight was the night I guess. I made it!

Roadies Goodies

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roadies1With the decent temperatures we had in the last few days I felt the itch to go for a ride. After the ride I remembered that I had promised my mother a picture of the single speed I just finished building which gave me the idea for a quick photo shoot of my main three roadies cycles. For the first time they are together in the same picture. It made me feel proud. There’s no Campagnolo involved but for me they are worth gold.

From right to left: 1992 Miele Alba LX, 1992 Bianchi Squadra and 1988 Fiore Piquante.

Bicycle comparaison

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A thing I have been wanting to do since a while is to show the difference between 2 bicycles of the same brand. When I say difference I mean quality difference. This might help to be able to shop with more confidence and get a better value for your money. Yesterday I happened to pick up another Bianchi road bike. I already had my Bianchi Squadra road and my Bianchi Ocelot “mountain”. Now having 2 roadie of the reputed italian maker I was able to bring this comparison to life.

Our rivals are a  white 1980’s Bianchi with no model name and a pink Bianchi Squadra from the early 1990’s. The white bike is a level entry and the pink a mid quality one.

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ImageThey both have 12 speeds and steel frame. The only notable difference is that the white one is on 27″ wheels and the pink one on 700c wheels. This will not affect the comparison.  First I’m looking at is the lug work. Some bikes are very basic where some others are more elaborate. The basic ones do not mean it’s of lesser quality. In this case they are pretty similar.
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There’s some slight differences but they might just be because of the age difference.

Then let’s look at the headsets.
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The white bike’s headset is made of chrome plated steel. They tend to peal with time and pit. I couldn’t identify the brand of it. Those type of headset are common on 10″ speeds bike of the period. On the pink one the chrome is nice and polished and made differently. We can read Ofmega on it which is a Bianchi home brand for their components.

Now the brakes.
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Both bikes feature a side pull caliper brake made by Dia-Compe. The white one got the 500 series and the pink the 5000 series. The 5000 is of better quality. The 500 got a mat finish to its metal it also doesn’t offer a “release” lever to make it easier when you remove the wheel. The quality of the brake pads is also different. The white one’s got average quality ones where the pink one’s got a longer breaking surface and better quality surface which makes it easier to stop your bike. This is a little detail as break pads are inexpensive to replace for better or lesser quality.

Let’s have a look at the derailleurs.

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The white bike is equipped with Suntour AR which is quite bottom of the line. I’m not saying they are not good but they are less expensive. The pink one is equipped with a Bianchi Premier rear and a Bianchi Ofmega front. Both bikes have similar looking derailleurs but the difference might be the quality of the material. Perhaps the Bianchi derailleurs might be lighter in weight than the Suntours.

The cranks and chainrings.

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The white bike chain rings and crank arms are Custom-A brand. The rings have a kind of chain guard and are made of a metal blend. The rings can’t be removed. The pink one got the Bianchi home brand. The rings re made of good steel and can be changed if needed. The arms are made of aluminum (I believe).

The brake levers.

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First thing I notice is the hoods present on the pink one and none on the white. It’s basically just the metal. There’s worst! The Dia-Compe levers are good but the fact that they don’t have hoods to ride on makes it less comfortable and eliminate a riding position. On the pink bike the levers are Shimano 105 which is a good starter lever. The hoods are made of flexible rubber that are comfortable to ride in. The rubber hoods can’t be put on the Dia-Compe as the levers model is not made to accommodate it.

The wheels.

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The 2 first pictures belong to the white bike and the last one to the pink (both wheels are the same). On the first picture we can read Ambrosio which is a good name to have on wheels. They are made of hardened metal (maybe alloy) and are quite durable. To find this on a 27″ wheel is great. The front wheel on the other hand is a basic chromed 27″ steel. They are easier to bend and require more straightening than the Ambrosio wheel. In this case the Ambrosio was fairly straight and the chromed one wobbly to the point where I’m not sure I can bring it back. The pink bike’s got nice Ambrosio Elite Durex. A good quality wheel made of alloy. I’ve owned and rode this bike for a while and they don’t seem to want to go out of true. Quite durable. Both Ambrosio wheels are made in Italy which is a good sign of quality. The chrome one is probably a china one.

The quills or stems.

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Here both quills have a similar shape both are also made of alloy. The difference lay in the finish the quality of the material. The white bike quill doesn’t show any brand but still seems to be of an ok quality. On the pink bike you can read Cinelli and you can note the nice satin finish. Knowing Cinelli it’s a brand you can trust. This quill is a 2013 one bought to replace the old Nito (another good brand) that had some previous owner issues.

The bars

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The white bike got a KUSUKI (Japan) brand drop bars. The drop is qualified of “vintage” and is made of chromed steel. Not a bad bar but can be heavy. The pink one got a Deda Elementi Piege (Italian) alloy bar with a ergo drop. Again this bar date from 2013 as I needed a wider bar. Note that both the quills and bars are replaceable. In my case I had to invest about $100 to replace the ones that were not fitting me right.

And the last part is a comparison between the two bikes head badges.

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They are the same, only the color change. Some brands have different badges depending on the quality. A good example would be Sekine.

More things you can note to find out about a bike’s quality.
The decals for the Columbus tubing is good to see. Note that sometimes the Colombus decals can be located on the frame, on the fork or both. On the fork means only the fork is Columbus steel, on the frame read the label to know if it’s only the middle frame (top tube, down tube and seat tube) or the whole frame set. There’s also many levels of Colombus tubing quality. It can be confusing but either way Columbus steel is good. Look for the bird.
For an example the pink bike got a nice fork and a lesser quality for the frame (Tri-Tubi).

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Some undesirable things in my opinion would be rust where it can cause problems long term. I’m thinking about the seat post area. You don’t want it to snap one day. Rust is not desirable anyways. It shows a bike that have been in the elements and not well maintained. You can check the chain and other components for signs. A bike that is not well maintain will have the tendency to break often and will cost you more money on the long run than a little bit more expensive bike that have been babied.

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I hope this post was informative.

Cheers!

Beat up

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Apparently if you can put things together you can find ways to make something  go a few more miles. This time I have the case of a Falcon Sherpa bicycle I brought home today. It was a few weeks I was seeing it standing with other bicycles in dire need of repair or beyond repair. This guy stood in the same place for weeks. Almost no parts were disappearing of it.

The Falcon Sherpa

This bike was made in England. I believe from the 80’s. The tubing seems to be decent (804) forks included. This bike as been badly neglected and have more than one owie. First thing is all the grime caked on the rear derailleur, free wheel, rear hub and chainring. Then the right side pedal have been replaced by a hook rod some washer and nut, the left crank is of an earlier bike and doesn’t fit so it wiggles, last the left pedal is now one from a older road bike. This is a sad looking bike.

Grime on the free wheel

 

Grime on the rear hub

 

Grime on the chainring

Ill fitting crank arm and wrong pedal

Rod pedal

I don’t know much about that brand of bikes. I’ve made a quick research on the web which led to nothing. If someone knows about the English Falcons please leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

Book: Bicycle technology

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This is another book I liked and that is really complete. Bicycle Technology: Understanding, Selecting and Maintaining the Modern Bicycle and its Components”  by Rob Van der Plas was published in 1991. The author is a professional engineer that as a passion for bicycles. What to expect is a very detailed book with lots of exploded views, graphics, illustrations and pictures. It’s easy to read and I enjoyed all the details I didn’t know about parts and frames and construction of a bicycle. Don’t expect an high colored book. This one is black and white only. This doesn’t remove anything from the quality. Who needs to know the color of the little bit of frame you see in the picture anyways?

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A book a will most likely ad to my cycling library as the one I read was from my amazing library system.

Another broken bike

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I knew I had another broken bike laying around the yard. I found it today. It’s a 10 speeds Super Cycle Grand Touring. This time I can’t say what happened to it. It’s sad because the bicycle was complete when I found it and in close to working shape. Oh well. It got stripped down of it’s good parts.

The Super Cycle Grand Touring frame

 

The outchie

 

If anyone as an idea of the cause of the booboo on this bike, don’t hesitate to pot a comment.

Cheers and don’t forget to pamper your two wheeler(s).

Seat post judgement mistake

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I love repairing bikes for multiple reasons. One is being able to see what people do to their bikes that could have been prevented. Those bikes usually end up in the garbage and I’m often there to salvage what I can from the what’s left.

Recently I pick up this nice Renegade. Very nice in appearance but someone didn’t understand seat post adjustment. So next time someone asks you “Why can’t I raise my seat post that high?” show the following pictures.  The bike is basically scrapped unless some extensive welding work is involved. I wouldn’t trust this week point in the bike to perform right anymore. Even straightening the collar and inserting the seat post further down would put too much strain on the rest the the seat tube and the seat post in my opinion.

The damage

 

 

I have other bikes with different broken bones too post. Stay tuned!