15 December 2009

Rode a pretty black bike to work today

Raleigh Competition city bike
Zeus is mostly done! All the rest of the work will be customizing it for Dad.

This bike is SO MUCH FUN to ride. It's a little tall for me, so I feel like I see forever. I haven't loaded it down with racks and bags so it's light and quick and it really does Zoooom!

modern city bike Raleigh Competition
I took these photos at a playground because Dad is telling everyone about how he's getting a bicycle for Christmas. He sounds so happy when he says it, and he also sounds like he's about 6 years old. It's adorable. Aren't bikes great?

drive side photos of the Raleigh Competition
The bike shifts well. The stem shifters work great (10 on the tree, instead of 3!) and I think we have the derailleurs adjusted so he can't throw the chain.

I'm not sure the gearing will be perfect for Dad, but that's the work of time. I'm happy we'll get to ride around together while he's here and work out these details. I look forward to sharing what I know about bikes, just as he once did about vintage cars. And just as I learned all the tricks I needed to get the old machines he gave me running, he's going to have to learn the delicacy of shifting this old friction system. The thing is, unlike the pink and grey wedding cake Edsel he wanted to give me when I turned 16, these old vintage machines are a bit cheaper to keep running! But I do think he will have an appreciation for it.

heart locket on a bikeAll this started when Dad had his heart attack and bypass surgery so I got a gold-plated locket on Etsy and went down to our local bead store for a gold-plated split ring that was large enough to slip over cable housing. Inside I've left a message for Dad.

cockpit of bike build
As suggested, I may switch the water bottle to his non-dominant hand. I know he's going to love the cork grips, they feel really nice. The cheap Wald handlebars are wide for my slender lady shoulders but I highly recommend them for men.

See Next Installment


Astroluc said...

beautiful! It really looks gorgeous... I have always felt that a bike is one of the most wonderful gifts to both give and receive! I hope that your father has many happy miles on it.

Eric said...

Looks good, but I would have done bar end or thumb shifters instead of stem shifters.

Charlotte said...

Thanks Astroluc!

Thanks also Eric, but I wish you'd explained further. I can't do bar end with those grips (and how I wish I had grips like these on my bike!) so tell me about the thumb shifters. They'd be more modern, and he wouldn't need to move his hand as far to shift, and they do come in friction (though I think those are harder to find), and they might be better if he were to wreck... is that it? Am I missing a benefit?

MamaVee said...

it's beautiful.

Johnny said...

Check these out:


You could do some thumbies! :)

Charlotte said...

Thanks for the link. I guess I should clarify in my text (and I will) that the shifters work fine, it's the derailleur that may contemplate shifting off the cogs. I could be wrong but I don't think Thumbies would help with that.

We have the limit screws set conservatively, but Dad's going to have to learn that this could be an issue. It wasn't for me on this morning's ride so maybe I'm being nervous for nothing.

JPTwins said...

Looks fantastic! Pretty awesome gift!

Regarding shifting, i would try to make sure that the screws are set properly, because nothing stinks more than to derail the chain off the cassette!

As for thumb shifters, here are some cheapies that you could try out just to see. I had read once that having the shifters off the stem do make riding safer. That said, i have some bar end holes in my grips to allow bar-end shifters and I love them!

I also think you should get a nice bell as there are plenty of crazies in Santa Cruz who just need a little ding to get out of the way! :)

Charlotte said...

Ah! That answers my question! You run the cable outside the grips.

Can anyone tell me how the stem shifters are a hazard? I really don't like the idea of thumb shifters for this bike. I really just don't. If the stem shifters will kill my dad then of course I will change them, but it just seems wrong to me - a bit like putting modern bucket seats in that Edsel. Kinda begs the question of going with a vintage bike in the first place. :(

Bell is under the tree - he has to unwrap something!

Johnny said...

There's probably nothing seriously wrong with stem shifters. They do look freakin sweet.

The only thing I can think of is that they do make you take your hand off of the bars when you downshift before a stop sometimes, and stopping with one hand could be wobbly.

But than again, with those sweet bars, he wouldn't be putting that much weight on his hands anyway.

Charlotte said...

I went back and re-read what I'd been reading before choosing to go stem shifter and I'm going to stand by my decision. Dad is not looking to compete on this bike, and I kept the downtube clamp in case he changes his mind. They are short downtube shifters anyway, not even peeking over the stem.

The BikeForums discussion on the topic has this exchange:
Of course, if you ask a "roadie" they'll tell you you'll impale yourself on them in a crash, but if you're flying hard enough into the stem to impale yourself on a shifter, you're going to get hurt by something anyway.
that's why i didn't post this in the roadie forum!

That pretty much sums up my position on these shifters.

Charlotte said...

Thanks Johnny.
Dad's been using three gears - one for normal riding, one for going up the mountain, and one for coming down. There isn't much traffic where he lives. He hadn't worked out how to shift in back out of the large cog so he was doing all this with his triple (yes, that means being in big-big to come down the mountain).

I think this system will help him get the feel for shifting in a way he wasn't getting previously. We have 10 days to get it dialed!

SK said...

Wow this is probably one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever seen! The locket made me smile. It's such a perfect touch to a gorgeous, sleek, black bicycle.

Thank you for always teaching me new things about bikes!

Johnny said...

The bike looks FANTASTIC! If they work, I'd go with it.

Education Chancellor Joel Klein said...

I love reading about your gift to your father. This fall, I picked up a beat-up frame with no wheels with the intention of building a machine for my sister who, coincidentally, lives in Boston. I decided to repaint it blue and white and went the extra step with Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in white. They class up the bike quite a bit. Keep your eye out for it this spring!

kfg said...

Well this did indeed turn out lovely. The 600 Arabesques were a find and the locket is a really sweet detail.

I might have gone with more stem and less bar rise for a more classic English look, but to each their own.

Here's to the bike and here's to dad. Long may they ride.

RidingPretty said...

What a beautiful gift!!...the heart locket is so just so very special, and such a sweet touch.

somervillain said...

your raleigh build came out quite nice, you should be proud! and your dad is gonna love it! nice touch with the locket.

Mark said...

Nice job. What handlebars are those?

As to the grips, you can also cut cork grips to allow for cabling. For bar end shifters or reverse brake levers, cut of the end end of the grip and cut a slit down the length of the grip, and use some twine to make them secure. For an example, see here. The shellac part is optional.

Another grip option with bar end shifters or reverse brake levers is to use cork handlebar tape. The trick is to use more then one layer, so the cork is a thick as you want.

If it were my bike, I would keep the stem shifters, but switch to reverse brake levers. The resulting cabling is cleaner to my eye.

Mimbres Man said...

Beautiful Raleigh! Hope your dad enjoys every moment on it.