the dream
rockin' and rollin' on two wheels by pedal power

Refurbing WTB brake pads + some neat stuff

Posted: July 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | 5 Comments »

Like everything that the old WTB did, their brake pads set the bar well above any conceivable peer. The pads were available in three different compounds – salmon, which was for rim conditioning only, was coarse and removed anodizing and smoothed the braking surface; black, was a high-quality compound manufactured by Kool Stop; and mixed had both salmon and black compound, but the salmon appeared to be much less harsh than the full salmon pads. The holders were a three part affair machined from aluminum. The post was epoxied and bolted on to the pad holder. Pad holders were available in a number of colors, including black, gray, blue, silver electric blue, purple and red.

The design permitted users to replace the pads after they had worn out. The other day I did just that. I had been lucky to be able to source a lot of pads – and the WTB tool used for setting them. I have a bunch of pads in various stages of wear, but a few really needed to be fixed. One pair had been worn down nearly to the pad holder. The other had been installed backwards (so the salmon and black parts wouldn’t match up on a bike).

The adhesive that came with the WTB tool had long since dried out. First step was to find a replacement. Turns out that industrial super glue does the trick.

This stuff is pretty nasty. I got a little on my fingers and it burns. Doesn’t really come off either.

The pad installation tool is a pretty simple clamp – its main purpose is to apply even pressure to the pad inserts.

Pulling the old pad inserts out required a lot of prying with screwdrivers. After prying the pads out, I removed old dried adhesive with a screwdriver and an X-acto knife. I should have used some industrial solvent as well but didn’t have any. The amount of adhesive originally applied caused the differences in anodizing that came off.

0.01 or 0.02 fluid ounces of adhesive should be applied into each pad holder. If there is too much it can get messy. I put a bit too much, having no real idea how much 0.01 or 0.02 ounces looks like. After applying the adhesive, I clamped down the pads to let them set.

After letting the pads under pressure for a little more than a minute, I took the pads out and let the adhesive cure overnight. Next time I will use less adhesive.

I am finishing up work on a steel phoenix that has been a delight for me. I had a logo’ed Chris King headset on it, but was happy to pick up a classier no-logo headset.

While bikes and parts are my main thing, I do like soft goods too. This nicely used Mantis cap was a cool find.

WTB Ti bars are always nice to have, particularly in a decent width (23 inches) and with the Steve Potts tapered shim.

Last, but certainly not least, very happy to get this Willits titanium road bike. It is a little smaller and so I plan to set it up to fit with a steel bar and stem.

Mantis, Ritchey and some parts

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | No Comments »

The Mantis Pro Floater is one early suspension mountain bike that I kind of like. The aggressive lines carry over from the Mantis rigid bikes. I am given to understand that the suspension wasn’t terrible for the time either. The Pro Floater is also a perfect canvass to hang early/mid 90s bike jewelry. This model is from 1993.

Ten years earlier, this is what the state of the art looked like (unless of course you were peeping a timeless Cunningham). Ritchey Mountain Bikes (the “R” series) were only made for one year and after that year Tom and Gary parted ways, crystallizing into the Fisher and Ritchey brands. This bike is nearly bone stock and will likely be used for parts – I’ve got a mint Ritchey Moutain Bikes frame with the nicer biplane fork that is in need of period parts.

In the early days of mountain bikes, pioneers would cut down Campagnolo road wheel quick releases to make seat quick releases. I was pretty psyched to find one of these little beasts.

Black NOS (NIB indeed) Shimano 600 EX 110 BCD cranks are … tasty. Tasty dirty.

Finally, I am going to find out if a 180mm rotor brakes better on the front of my Turner Sultan than the 160mm I had.

Maintenance parts and accessories

Posted: April 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles, general | No Comments »

New York has been enduring a cool and wet spring. This doesn’t seem to phase many of the people I see riding. I suppose they don’t mind dealing with the aftermath of a wed and muddy ride. Many have a preference for indoor training which allows a more focused work-out, particularly when training with a coach and/or with power.

As I have previously written, I ride for fun and train to be less fat, so doubling my riding time by adding cleaning time and grinding out miles on the trainer are not for me. Consequently, I am not quite as fit as I’d like to be. Still, May is nearly upon us and I have big things in May. May hosts two of the H2H series races, the Stewart 6 Pack (a 6 hour mountain bike race), and the Gran Fondo NY (160km on the road). For better or worse, my fitness in May will be tested.

While I am not doing everything I can for the engine, the rest of the machinery is getting the treatment.

For the Gran Fondo, I am planning to run compact gearing. The ride will have nearly 7,000 ft of climbing, a large percentage in the final third of the event. With an 11-25 on the back of my Moots, I am thinking that the 34t fallback will be appreciated.

Additionally, after trying some of the old school Specialized carbon(ish) road cages, I am switching to the King Ti cages for the ride. I don’t want to be losing bottles.

For the off-road events there is a lot of change. I sold my 2008 Intense Spider XVP and am moving most of the parts over to a similar vintage Turner Sultan – 29er sussy, yo! In the spirit of overkill, I am also working on a modded Ti Phoenix (26er), a full rigid Potts Ti 29er and a Moots Mooto-X hardtail. For the May races, however, the Turner will be the bike. Sids Bikes is building up wheels with Stan’s Crest rims and a mismatched XTR DT Swiss hubset. I discovered that my rear brake hose was going to be too short as well. Brake stuff was needed. First I picked up an XTR Centerlock rotor (classic Shimano smart but proprietary).

More optimistically, I picked up replacement hose and a bleed kit…

Finally, I still have too many classic bikes and so couldn’t pass up this 1 inch threadless Answer ATAC stem. Handy when you need it!

Racing and Riding Bikes

Posted: April 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | No Comments »

After being shelled (for no good reason) early in this morning’s power sprints 60km race I have been feeling philosophical about bike riding. The fact that the day has been cold, gray and threatening from the crack of dawn through now, with the additions of the the skies opening up from time to time and flashes of lightening and thunderclaps. I mean, c’mon, I’m fat and out of shape, its early and the weather … is … not … cooperating. More than that, how much do/can I care?!

My first bike race was many many moons ago. My bike wasn’t even close to fitting me. In a bizarre attempt at planned optimization I “repacked” all my bearings with Phil Woods Tenacious oil. Light weight necessitated the absence of a water bottle. Although objectively a disastrous outing, I had a great time.

There was a time when I was a serious racer in that I could legitimately contend at the amateur locals races I entered. Heck, I even won some. Fast forward to now and my primary goals are to avoid (i) injury and (ii) humiliation. As has been the case too often lately, this morning saw a failure on the second goal. But still I am chomping at the bit for more riding and more racing.

Over the course of my racing life the business of training has become much more serious with heart rate monitors, now power meters, coaches and periodization. I fondly remember when serious training involved “riding lots” and frequent riding miserable. We had a slogan about the benefits of long rides in the cold and rain – it made you tough and lean – and oh, both were so desirable (and indeed still are).

However, although training has become more serious and regimented, I have become less, at least as relates to my hobbies. Over a period of time where training opportunities went from bad to worse to down right dangerous (I don’t recommend racing on 4 hours of sleep as a general matter) I kept my toes in the racing waters. There is a profound humility that comes from lining up with guys who are fit and focused when you are neither.

Happily, life has a adjusted enough so that the squeeze on riding has relented significantly. Problem is that riding in the cold and wet has much less appeal to me. Consequently, both the Young Turks and the Old (but focused) Turks have been putting boots to me. And its actually fine with me.

No doubt bikes are a passion for me – but in order of passion my bike-related interests go from riding, to bikes and tech and finally to racing. I am happy with that too, thought I continue to hope that the first will increase proficiency with the last. Time will tell.

Ibis Ti stem

Posted: March 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | No Comments »

When Ibis started fabricating titanium, they went all out. Their work was amazing and at the time pushed the envelope for butting, tube shaping, etc. You can’t go wrong with classic Ibis Ti.

Last week when I was on a ride I saw an older couple on  an Ibis Ti Tandem. Sweet. No time for a pic sadly.

I do have some pics to offer of the Ibis Ti stem that is slated to go on my Ti Fat Chance. I received the replacement headset for it, so once I get some time this weekend, I’ll get some work done on that bike.

Assorted Stuff – Grundig, Campagnolo, Alan, Andy and the CCCP

Posted: February 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | 1 Comment »

I am a big fan of bike related … stuff. So, from time to time I will highlight items that I think are neat and provide some color on why I think that to be the case. I’ll start off with a potpurri.

First up is a Soviet-era sports athletic warm-up/cool down suit. This is is the quintessential eBay find – it wasn’t too expensive and it is almost completely useless (and as a plus it looks bad too). The seller had received it in trade for his Team USA jumpsuit at a world championships sometime in the late-80s. The suit is very comfortable with a soft fleecy interior to soften the harsh Soviet graphics.

And on the front:

Next up is a 19990 Grundig World Cup sticker. Recall that in 1990 there was an American MTB series under the auspices of Norba and a European MTB series under Grundig. Now everything is under the UCI and the rules are stacked against North Americans and in any case we lose at all the events anyway.

When I was in Japan riding my Look 753 Hinault machine, I was distressed to find that the non-driveside crank tapers were messed up. As a result, the crank creaks (no big deal) and loosens up every 60 miles or so (big deal) so I will be replacing the C Record cranks on the bike with these 1987 Chorus cranks. These are a little longer too – 172.5mm compared to 170mm so should do better from a leverage point of view as I am grinding up the mountains around Kansai. I will write more about 1987 Chorus later. I dig the group (or gruppo if you prefer).

In the 70s, Alan made somewhat sketchy bonded aluminum road bikes. Very light, very … um, compliant. These Olympic has ultra-light Hi-E wheels (which are cracking at the spoke holes, but so it goes). Picture is kind of crap.

One of my projects, which I will detail later, is a Fat Chance Titanium from 1992 or 1993. It is outfitted with Campagnolo Record OR, which used a micro-drive type gearing system. I figured it would be cool to make a more modern gear spread but using period correct bits, so I got this 8 speed Campy cassette to cannibalize – I put together my own ratios using some of these cogs and some cogs from a 12-23 road block.

Finally, Andy Hampsten’s old Moots was available and I went for it. Wow. So sweet. More on this one obviously.

Here is a pic of Andy riding the bike back in the day.

Going HVLP

Posted: February 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | No Comments »

I have been following the discussion regarding the performance benefits, which include ride quality, of using fatter tires with lower pressure, which I call Higher Volume Lower Pressure or HVLP (and which I am preparing large decals for my bike). This post by Mike at the Black Mountain Cycle blog provides a good summary and a list of techie articles on the subject.

To test out HVLP I installed some Continental Four Seasons 700x28c tires on my Masi Prestige and started with 80 psi front and rear. (At the same time I put some Zefal fenders on the bike to take away some of the fretting associated with riding a bike of this ferousity in this wet and grubby winter/spring season). The setup isn’t optimal because the Ambrosia rims are probably a little on the narrow side. Consequently, it is possible for them to roll/flop a little under high cornering. That said, my fat ass didn’t notice this happening.

It was hard to say if the tires were as fast as the Continental Grand Prix tires on my race bike which are 700x22C and inflated to Hinault-approved 100 psi. They were, however, much surer and plusher. After the big freeze and thaw cycles we have been having the roads are a mess, pocked with pot holes of varying sizes and strewn with debris. These monster tires glided over everything (and the fenders removed the irritating ass chill that typically follows riding through water on the road.

So far, I am digging the experiment and plan to experiment with +/- 5 psi to see if I can dial in the ride.

Fall Cunningham ride

Posted: November 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | 1 Comment »

It was a beautiful day today in NYC and I took the opportunity to take my Cunningham Expedition out for a ride.  I continue to tweak the bike to get it dialed and the bike is one of my favorites.

Charlie conceived of the Expedition as a bike to do everything.  The bike gives you enough mountainbike to enjoy some singletrack, but the bike is at home on the road too.  A neat, subtle detail is that the front wheel is larger than the rear wheel – 27″ and 700C respectively.  The idea is to provide a better balance for the rotating mass.

I enjoyed a little over three hours in the saddle today, mixing up the ride with segments on 9W, River Road and the dirt paths and rocky trails that are accessible from both.

What the Pros ride

Posted: October 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | No Comments »

Over the past racing season I’ve noticed two equipment choices that must drive the sponsors made.  First, the Pros seem to prefer the Sidi Genius (with three velcro straps) to the top end Sidi Ergo 2 (which uses the fishing line winch and two velcro straps).  Second, and more interestingly, a  lot of the pro tour teams are using at least the Record and not top-end Super Record rear derailleur.  Why? I wonder.

As an example, check the Quickstep and Lampre riders in the picture.


Posted: October 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | No Comments »

This picture, originally from the late and great Bicycle Guide magazine and now archived and provided by the good folks at Mombat, captures some of the best upgrades available in the late 1980s.

Cook Bros and WTB were two names that it was hard to go wrong with, and the picture shows a number of the neat offerings.

Cook Bros had BMX roots but its cranks were also iconic for mountain bikes.  Its bars were far less so, but in ’88 or so when I was speccing out my “ulti” ride, I went with the aluminum Cook Bros bars.  They were black anodized and had the groovy Cook Bros Racing logo etched in.  In those days we would cut our bars down as narrow as we could and in fact, I have that uselessly short set of bars up in the parts bin.

I also jumped on a set of Cook Bros cranks but was disappointed to get them in silver.  Since my riding stance is funny, it turns out that the color choice was fine.  That generation of Cook Bros cranks had its own, longer taper, so you needed to get the Cook Bros bottom bracket. When I came across this incompatibility, it was a big surprise which required more weeks of waiting for the right bb to come.