04 March 2008

Bike Makeover #1 - ten speed from the 70s

In speaking to other women at social gatherings like cocktail parties, I have discovered a trend. Women I talk to already have bicycles they want to ride, except that the bicycle has drop handlebars.

You have to enjoy the bicycle you're riding so I'm here to tell you ladies that you can change the handlebars! In fact, you can change almost every aspect of your bike (we'll get into those details later). In many cases it is definitely worthwhile to convert an older quality roadbike to a more upright riding position, resulting in a lightweight commuter. To show how a bike can be tailored I give you my bike's makeover:

I got my current commuter bike as a ten speed from the 70s. It is better than the average bike of the era because it was hand made of a high quality steel called Reynolds 531. That doesn't matter much, other than it makes it even lighter and faster, and perhaps it was better cared for in the past. You can know if a bike is made of this material because there will be a sticker on the tube the seat goes into.

As you can see in the photos, the first thing I did was change those drop handlebars. The new handlebars were inspired by my husband's Parisian city bike, and they're good for having multiple positions for my hands. I bought them from Velo Orange, they're called Belleri Porteur Bars. Here is another bike with the same handlebars and brake levers, you can see what a difference customization makes in the total look.

Next I added a rear rack. Backpacks are rarely chic, and can hurt your back if you cycle with them a lot. By adding the rack I was able to use my specialty bike bag to carry essentials for me and the bike.

The third major component of the makeover was the fenders. Again, they came from Velo Orange, they're the Honjo Hammered Fenders. Installing these fenders was no joke, but I'll post on how we did it later, and I know many bike shops have done it a lot. In the end, with all the compliments I get on them, they were definitely worth it. On my bike I just love the way they bring out the white and silver "Dawes" badge.

So now I think the bike is looking pretty sweet. Like most people, I'm on a budget so some up my upgrades will wait 'till next month, or the next.
On the list for upgrading I have:
  • a front rack
  • a wine box from a good vineyard for carrying groceries (we'll have to buy the wine too, this is an expensive upgrade)
  • better tires
  • chainguard
  • maybe go singlespeed
In the meantime I'm riding my bike and loving it.


joel39 said...

Really need this bike. Had all niof mine from the seventies stolen. Chinese-made bikes of today look good, but are (for me) heavy and unmanageable. Please advise.

Charlotte said...

Isn't it lovely? I found it on Craigslist, I'm sure you can find equally beautiful bikes on your local Craigslist. If not I'd advise checking garage sales and flea markets. There are so many beautiful old bikes out there. You're spoilt for choice!

ppolischuk said...

Not sure if you found your wine box yet, but a liquor store I live near leaves wooden wine crates outside after they're done with them. I use them as bookcases and planters in the garden. It might be worth asking around in liquor stores in your area. Good luck!

Charlotte said...

ppolischuk, I did find my wine box, our liquor store charges for the boxes, so it was a bit more complicated but I pulled it off! Next step I think is to cut it down, it's a little TOO generous a space.

Filigree said...

Charlotte, how upright vs leaned forward do these handlebars place you? I am looking for a handlebar that is versatile for both touring and city use an will keep me in a semi-aggressive leaned forward posture. Do you think this qualifies?

Charlotte said...

I'm in between an upright and a leaned position, some folks think too leaned, others think too upright.
I've done 20 or so miles with these bars, I was wishing for my drops by mile 12. I would not do what I consider touring on these bars. What do you think of when you say "touring"?

Filigree said...

Shoot, I was hoping you'd say the opposite! I have the VO Milan bars on my mixte, which also place me in a semi-leaned over posture while simulating a mountain bike hand position. They are great in the city and I have gone on 30 mile rides with them, which was okay. However, for longer rides, I can feel that I will need something different. By "touring" I guess my mean daylong trips at least. I do wish there was a way to try different bars, but sadly there isn't!

Charlotte said...

Filigree, these things are so personal, I'm not sure I should dissuade you. My actual bars are not available anymore which might be a good thing, they required a shim to interface with the Nitto stem.

By daylong trip do you mean riding all day? Or a hop-on hop-off adventure? These bars would be fine for the latter, for a full day of cycling without many breaks I can't imagine anything except my ergo drops. I have a pair made by 3T (better) and a pair made my Modolo (a bit large for me). I couldn't imagine doing brevets, for instance, without them.

I know you removed the initial drop bars so depending on your goals bars like these might be fine. It's so hard to say!

Xue said...

Charlotte, I know this is an old post, but I just realized that I have the exact same Belleri porteur bars on my bike! And I think we had established earlier that we had the same brake levers, ha!