Monday, July 31, 2006

Okoroire Fun Ride Report

A small but enthusiastic retro grupetto gathered at the Okoroire Funride last Sunday.

The Pedaltours van, containing Pippa & Richard Oddy, Richard's friends Dan & Bill, Janelle Porter, Glenn Selwyn and myself, towed trailer with five righteous steel road bikes and one lonely aluminium Giant.

Rumours of Symon Coles' presence were confirmed after the ride.
Choosing to go with the front runners on his late '80s Bridgestone
RB-2, he was in the lead bunch until the last hill.

Vaughan Yarwood joined us on the start line, riding his lurid Colnago Master Olympic, to make up a group of four with Richard (on his '69 Ron Cooper),Glenn & me (both on 50's Holdworth fixies), which stayed together until we lost Richard a few k's before Arapuni.

Janelle put in a sterling effort in her first ever fun ride, completing the 40k ride in 1:32.

Click here for results.

The Okoroire Mid Winter Fun Ride is always a great day out.
While the the Okoroire Hall is too small to accomodate the whole field at prizegiving, the organisation is faultless, and friendly. The course is fun to ride, without being overly challenging for those who have succumbed to winter lethargy.

The organisers, Sandy & Cliff Kingston also run the Tokoroa Forest Charity Fun Ride every March, which is mainly on closed, tar sealed forestry roads.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Get 'em before they're hot!

Back when I was misspending my youth, I knew a geezer who had recently bought an AJS 7R, out of a barn, for $400.
At the time, 1978, this was a great score, and my guess is that it appreciated in price tenfold in the next five years. This coincided with a worldwide groundswell of interest in classic motorcycle racing and collecting, which rapidly put the sport out of the financial reach of most of the gentleman losers and proto-bogans who had been fooling with old motorbikes during the 70s.

Overseas, there are parallels with the current state of vintage lightweight bicycle collecting. Events like le Cirque du Cyclisme, Velo Rendezvous and L'Eroica nowadays draw entrants from round the world.
The internet has internationalised the market for vintage parts and high-end vintage bikes, and punters are willing to pay serious coin for the right item.
But the local market is lagging, maybe years behind, and I suspect that Trademe is partly to blame.
Trademe is a great medium for buying and selling commonplace items, but the New Zealand market is not big enough or rich enough to get top dollar for your old bike junque. In contrast, an Australian vendor on is effectively selling into the international market.

The cost of international shipping is also a factor.
A bike like this Masi Special, which sold via Trademe to a Japanese collector for NZ$2560 last year, has the mojo to justify the cost of international freight and extensive restoration. However, in three years of Trademe membership, this may be the only bike I have seen that was worthy of export.

Most Trademe vendors don't deserve to get a good price for their old bikes- photographs are typically of the wrong side of the bike, out of focus and devoid of detail. Descriptions are hyperbolic, and just as equally devoid of detail.
Obviously, some vendors simply want to be rid of an old bike they no longer use, like my Condor, and their investment of effort reflects their expectation of the transaction.
Others seem to think that merely using the words 'rare' and/or 'collectible' will invest their bike with the sort of mojo that makes bidders go wild, and compensate for their inability to photograph or honestly and accurately describe a bicycle. In reality, such auctions rarely reach reserve, and are relisted week after week.

Whatever the reason, I reckon that very few vendors who have high price expectations based on perceived collectibility are getting the prices they want.
Right now, this is small, poor, buyers market, which, in my opinion is no bad thing for enthusiasts.
Chances are, if you've got a old bike to sell it doesn't owe you much, and if you're buying, gems like this Roberts (right), which sold recently on Trademe for $356, will never be cheaper.
Though the bike is probably twice as old as claimed, and the auction text is typically over the top , at least this vendor provided detailed photos and was not delusional about the bike's value.

If overseas trends are a guide, it is only a matter of time before vintage lightweight bicycles start to attract the undiscerning rich.
My advice? Snap them up while they are cheap, and ride the ass off them.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

This is sharp...

This Cycles Tournesol Legere sportif from Hampsten Cycles is the best road bike I've seen on the interweb for quite a while.
I would like it even more with a steel fork, but at least this Wound Up fork has clearance for mudguards and eyelets to fit them to.

The spec looks like a Campagnolo Centaur CT drivetrain, Shimano BR-R600 brakes, Nitto Noodle Bar, Fizik Aliante titanium saddle, Honjo mudguards.
That Berthoud saddlebag will carry everything you need for a day ride.

More Cycles Tournesol, including a full carbon sportif weapon here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

1969 Ron Cooper-built Gillott

This bike was advertised on the Classic Rendezvous website in early 2005.
I emailed the vendor for photos (above), hoping that it would be truly awful and that my temptation would be ended there & then, but it was not to be.
Somehow, the the fleur-de-lys lugwork and the curve of the forkblades eclipsed the dents and manky chrome. When the Grand High Lama of Gillott Mark Stevens told me that he would buy it if I didn't, I could resist no longer.
Mark confirmed that the frame was built by Ron Cooper in 1969, after he had left Gillotts to work for himself.
The Titan bar & stem and Universal centrepull brakes suggest that original owner had retrograde tastes for the time, perhaps an older clubman rather than a fashionable young racer.
He was probably a well-moneyed gent- with fancy lugs and chrome plating, I expect it cost a fair bit more than the exorbitant ₤37 Richard Oddy paid for his '69 Ron Cooper.

Unfortunately. the bike was in Brisbane, Australia, about 1500 miles of water away .
A complex strategy evolved using up many favours, to get the bike sent to Sydney where friend Gaz would collect it on his next business trip. This took a couple of months, giving me time to redish a nice pair of plausible-looking tubular wheels, and amass a box of sound components in anticipation of the Gillott's original hardware being worse for wear.

When the bike arrived, I didn't even need to stay up late to get it rideable (left) for the next day's Breakfast Ride, though I still had a couple of worrying moments.
The headset tightened as I turned the fork, suggesting a bent steerer, but the problem was cured by facing the headtube & fork crown with the appropriate Campag tools.
About an hour later, I discovered that the rear Universal 61 caliper was too short to reach the tubular rim. Sliding the wheel to the back of the dropout provided a short term solution, and an appeal to the CR list brought a long reach mod.61 caliper from Scott Davis, who had already provided a fresh set of Universal brake hoods.

Overnight, the Gillott became my favourite bike.
The first time I took my hands off the bars, it ran straight unlike most of my vintage junkers.
The seat tube angle is shallow enough to let me put a Brooks Pro in my accustomed wayback position.

Since it’s obviously not a racing bike, it is the ideal recipient for the Berthoud stainless mudguards that were looking out of place on my Cecil Walker.

The Titan bar & stem, respectively too narrow and too short, had to go. I replaced them with a Cinelli 1a stem and 66/44 bar.

The sweeping fork rake, one of the initial visual hooks, results in only about 25mm of trail. This does not affect straightline stability, but the steering is light and almost feedback-free, especially with 25mm tyres. Fitting 700 x 28 Rivendell Ruffy-Tuffies seems to have made a difference.

to be continued...

Stephen Sheffield's Ron Cooper site
Classic Rendezvous Gillott page
More Photos

Headset________________Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Bottom bracket__________Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Crankset_______________Campagnolo Nuovo Record 175 mm 41/52
Brakes_________________Universal mod.61
Brake levers____________Universal
Shift levers_____________Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Front derailler___________Campagnolo Nuovo Record with cable stop
Rear derailler____________Campagnolo Nuovo Record PATENT, no date
Hubs__________________Campagnolo Nuovo Record 32/40
Freewheel______________Suntour Winner Ultra 6 14-24
Rims__________________Mavic MA2
Saddle_________________Brooks Swallow restored by Tony Colegrave
Seatpost_______________Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Stem__________________Cinelli 1a
Handlebars_____________Cinelli 66/44 (now 64/42)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Wasting time with old bikes, part 1

The recent city-wide powercut gave me an unscheduled half day off in which to goof around, so I retaped the bars of my Gillott in this harlequin or diamond pattern.
To maximise my use of the bonus spare time, I also wrapped the tape 'Alex Singer style', with the ends of the tape tucked under the brake lever hoods.
As far as I know, cotton bar tape is not readily available here in New Zealand. Mine came from Bicycle Classics.

At the moment the tape looks a bit bright, but with time it will acquire beausage to match the rest of the machine.

The best instructions that I have seen for wrapping tape in this way are at:

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bianchi Retro Ride report

The day dawned dismally, with frequent showers that belied the few small blue blotches on the Metservice rain radar.
As I headed out the door to forage for doughnuts, Matt Sinton called, demanding a cast iron guarantee of fine weather. Donna assured him of blue skies in Otahuhu, which was only true if you were looking in one direction.

Returning from the doughnut run, I found Simon Foster-Moan, parked in the street with his Gianni Bugno-era Bianchi atop his equally-beloved Holden Kingswood. He was already levitating with excitement, so being a responsible and caring host I gave him more coffee.

I put out a few interesting knick-knacks to keep the multitudes distracted (a Nakagawa road frame and some grubby Campagnolo pedali con denti, but Kim Sinclair upstaged all of my Show & Tell items with his set of 1974 Bianchi Campagnolo team cards.
Russell Milliken, wearing Liquigas-Bianchi team jersey and shorts, but riding the first ever Benson frame, won the draw for the celeste bike ribbon.

Matt Sinton finally arrived at 9:30, complaining about early morning churchgoers clogging Spaghetti Junction, so we got off to a late start, compounded by me leaving the front door open. While we waited for Donna to deal with that problem, Allister Worrall made some last minute adjustments to his mint '83 Specialissima that was probably being ridden in the rain for the first time ever.
Given the weather and delays I decided that a loop around the flats near Ardmore would be sufficient, but coming out of Alfriston it started raining in earnest.
With Matt bemoaning the wet stripe on his nifty Zieleman jersey, we headed straight for the cafe at Ardmore, where a quantity of pies and cake was consumed.

After the ride, we had a weigh-off, proving to Kim's satisfaction that Bianchi's have got heavier in modern times:

Kim Sinclair____________ 1975 Specialissima 18 1/4 pounds
Allister Worrall__________ 1983 Specialissima 19 1/2 pounds
David Benson ___________ late 80's 20 1/2 pounds
Simon Foster ____________1992-ish 22 pounds