My SR as of 6/16/2012.
I bought this bike in the early-mid '90s from a local bike shop. It was un-ridden, basically NIB, but un-assembled. The headset and BB were original, but no other components were in the frame other than the seat-post. At the same time I got the bike, I purchased a number of NOS parts: Superbe-Pro High-Flange hubs, Superbe Derailleur, Gran Compe levers, etc.
This is the 7th or 8th revision of the bike since I built it up. Parts list as follows:
- Suntour XCD rear derailleur
- Suntour Mountech front derailleur
- Suntour stem-mount shifters
- 110mm crank (170mm arms) 34-44
- Suntour Winner freewheel (5-speed, 13-28, I think)
- V-O Porteur bar
- Nitto Technomic stem
- Brooks B-17 Standard saddle
- Shimano center-pull brakes
- Kenda 40-622 tires
A couple of reasons I've made the choices I made:
Frame: Old '80s Japanese frames are robust, attractive, hand-brazed steel. This frame was manufactured by Miyata for SR from 'good' quality Tange Champion seamless tubing. The geometry is conservative, plenty of room for the tires I like to ride. The finish quality is very good. It's not light, but it will last me a lifetime. The bike was a "Sport-Touring" model. Braze-ons for fenders and racks will eventually see some use as I continue to refine my set-up. This bike will hopefully see Randonneuring use beginning this summer.
Components: The old-fashioned components are correct vintage for the bike (mostly) and work very well. The freewheel for instance has the same range as your 10-speed Shimano cassette, just not as many steps. The bikes saddle and handle-bar set-up suits this old guy better than the original drop bars.
Tires: These Kenda 40-622 (don't know the model-name) 'tractor' tires are among my favorites. They're huge and robust, and they ride and handle comfortably and predictably. I have been using a smoother, lighter 38mm tire on this bike, but swapped these on for the weekend's mixed-surface camping trip. These tires have been bomb-proof.
The Army Surplus pack seems to work well as a frame-less and rack-less handlebar bag (time will tell...). I'll eventually add fenders and a V-O "Constructeur" rack on the front to support the bag and move the weight as low as possible. I may add a rear rack as well, and the pack may see service as a saddlebag after that.
- - ~:] | [ :~ - -
This is the latest set-up of the BIG BIKE. It's been painted my favorite color and I moved the brown saddle, grips and tires. I like the color-scheme now.
The tires are surprising. Pumped to their rated max of 65psi, they're very smooth-riding and seem grippier than they look on first appearance. When I put 'em on, I thought they'd be cosmetic only, and that I'd be pulling them off in favor of one of the other recent sets. Not the case, they are actually OK. I like the way they look on the BIG BIKE's dark anodized rims. (I just wish they were a little wider!) Anyway, I like the Cocoa/Black theme.
The BIG BIKE as a 'Junk-yard Porteur'...
I'm very enamored with useful bikes, especially Cargo bikes, Touring bikes, Randonneur bikes, and Porteurs. Today (Christmas '11), I put a basket on the BIG BIKE to see if I liked the idea of converting it to a 'junkyard porteur'.
The BIG BIKE first ride.
|I'd like to have an additional 'top' tube brazed in.|
The BIG BIKE handles very differently from my SR - a bit longer wheelbase, longer top tube, and a lot more trail - this thing rides no-hands like the old Schwinn Cruiser I had as a kid. The 40-622 tires are a good fit with the bike - not too heavy, but definitely not wimpy road-bike "O-rings".
One nice aspect of the s-l-o-w steering geometry is that the bike is super stable when climbing out of the saddle - and I spent a lot of time out of the saddle today. I'm glad I left the big "Bear Trap" BMX pedals on the bike - makes it a lot more comfortable for standing. In fact, the bike climbed pretty easily considering that I just had the one gear.
It sounds a little like the old joke about the guy being 'the tallest dwarf in town', but this is a pretty fast clunker-ish bike. The lightweight Cro-Mo frame makes it that way, and it rides very comfortably with the cushy rubber grips and Brooks B-17. The combination of heavy tires and 70-inch gearing is going to take some getting used to. I'd like to gear it up just a touch, when I'm strong enough to handle it.
Anyway, it's a pretty fun ride on flat terrain. I may even throw a 22T cog on it sometime and try it out on some dirt trails - that ought to be a gas!
|The BIG BIKE|
The BIG BIKE was built on the tightest budget you could imagine - this bike was nearly free, thanks to a garage of salvage parts (some I've had for literally decades), a gift from a stranger (the frame & fork), and stumbling onto some great deals. The wheels for instance, I've had for 15+ years, and I got them with a $200 Vitus Carbon bike (4 sets of wheels total). I consider them 'free'. Same for the stem and seatpost. The Brooks B-17 Standard saddle is the single most expensive component on the bike and I've had it a while. The tires, bars, bottom-bracket and headset are new, but low-end. Honestly, I've spent less than $200 on this build, including the $85 Brooks saddle. By the way, I will not ride anything but a B-17. I found a saddle that works for me and I'm sticking to it!
Anyway, here's an approximation of the details of the BIG BIKE :
- Head Tube Angle: 72 deg +/-
- Seat Tube Angle: 73 deg +/-
- Trail: 80cm
- Seat Tube C-T: 61cm
- Top Tube C-C: 57cm
- Chainstays: 42.5cm
- BB Drop: 7cm
- Crank - Alloy Dyno BMX
- Pedals - Beartrap BMX
- Rear Hub - Steel, Coaster
- Front Hub - Alloy, Maillard
- Stem - Steel
- Bars - Alloy, Porter-style
- Front Brake - Long reach
- Seat post - SR Alloy
- Rims - Matrix 700c hard annodized
- Tires - 40-622 Kenda all-terrain/city tread
- Tubes - presta
I may use a frame-bag for incidentals or shorter than 'big distance' trips, or supplementary carrying space.
PS, I painted The BIG BIKE too hastily, and assembled it so I could ride it while the weather permits. I'm going to have to strip it & re-paint (black, to look more like an antique bike) and do it right, but that'll have to wait for funding - maybe as a birthday present?
BIG BIKE prep...
I've been working on the BIG BIKE frame.
|fillet-brazed seat cluster|
|fillet-brazed BB (not a cast BB)|
|right chainstay, post-surgery|
|frame is about 59-61cm|
I also want to get a full set of detailed measurements (and the same for the SR, as well) just for the record and comparison purposes.
Just for fun, I faked this shot depicting Big Bike as having a double top-tube.
I think I like this look! Wish it was as easy as messing with the picture was...
The Relic is beyond salvage. Since I first reassembled it, it's felt...weird. Kinda fights your input, the wheels don't look like they're aligned right, drifts on dirt...
So the other day, I tried to straighten in out. Carefully measured the rear triangle and attempted to align it and the fork. Man, did I ever get that wrong! The poor thing is twisted worse than ever now & pulls hard to the right.
I ended up removing the saddle to put on the MTB so I have something to ride when my son & I go single-speeding, 'cause the Relic just ain't cutting it right now. It's too bad, too, 'cause I don't mind most of it's faults - I just am not OK with the really weird handling and misalignment. I doubt it's worth the money (as scarce as THAT stuff is lately) to have it properly aligned by a mechanic - the bike WAS a freebee.
So I stripped it completely thinking that if I really try hard, I might get it aligned properly. Well, it might be possible, but what I was able to learn from that exercise is that both fork legs and the rear stays are not straight. I don't mean not aligned - I mean they're about as straight as a snake! If you hold a stright edge up to them, they duck and weave and wander this way and that. They're also very soft, so I'm thinking even if I could straighten them, I'd still feel unsure of myself riding the beast.
So, a couple hours fiddling and measuring the other night to no avail. Finally, I decided to take it to a relative's place to use the table saw as an alignment table. I was able to find out on the table saw that the head tube and seat tube were 2-3 degrees out of alignment with one another.
So, I clamped it down to the table and started twisting on the frame, attempting to correct the problem. First attempt - no luck. Second attempt - no luck again - still out of plane 2-3 degrees. Third attempt, not only did I not get it re-aligned, I deformed the head tube.
I completely cleared the rim of the dumpster from over 20 feet away when I pitched it.
I'm looking for another frame I can convert to a relic-ish coaster bike. This time, I'll try to start a little higher up the food chain, and get something I can ride.
Background on my SR Semi-Pro...
I bought my SR frame over 10 years ago from Pedal Pushing Bike Shop in San Diego (I can't remember exactly - it seems like maybe 10-15 years back). I had just learned about the shop and found that they had a ton of old SunTour stuff that was never installed, New Old Stock and New In the Box. In fact, the frame I bought had never been ridden - it had been stripped and stored. When I bought the frame, I also bought some of those Suntour NIB components.
I've always preferred SunTour to Shimano and when a recent windfall enabled me to go shopping for a couple more parts to set the SR up as a geared road bike again (it's been ridden pretty much been a single speed or fixie since I got it), I decided to put those old SunTour parts to use and make my bike sort of a 'retro-tribute' bike. SR and SunTour have a shared history and a San Diego connection in their history.
Ask cyclists that have used the old SunTour components - in the 70s and early 80s SunTour components were at least equal, if not superior to anything on the market - in fact they invented the Slant Parallelogram derailleur.
Anyway, while researching the build, I found some good pics of an original Semi-Pro in really nice shape. I'll show them here for contrast.
My bike sports a Brooks B-17, Porteur bars and fatty 38-622 tires.
Mine didn't look anywhere near that nice, so I was forced to remove them.
On my bike, only the head badge and Champion tubing decal survived.
My set-up is less conventional, but more comfortable, and looks more 'vintage'. I've always favored cloth handlebar tape. This brown Newbaum was as close as I could find to a match for the saddle, but I've seen some vinyl since then that's a bit closer.
Shimano Tourney center-pulls I equipped it with.
I was trying to stay away from Shimano, but I like the way these Tourney's look with the quick-release lever built into the straddle link. The center-pulls have TONs of stopping power with Kool Stop pads and a really light pull.
So I obviously am not doing an original restoration here.
My goal was to stick to about the same period for the equipment, use as much Suntour as I could find, and make the bike look if possible even older than it is, while keeping it as rideable as possible. This is definitely the most comfortable road-bike I've ever owned.
|The Schwinn Tempo and SR Semi-Pro|
So far the bike hasn't failed to draw comments from cyclists who recognize the retro look of the machine.