Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Six-Speed Cassettes and Six-Speed SIS

The main reason I put all that effort into polishing my Deore DX rear hub was my discovery of the existence of 6-speed Uniglide cassettes. For some reason I didn't know about them; and I definitely didn't know they would fit on commonly available 7-speed freehub bodies.

The reason I was at all excited about them is friction shifting. It's easier to shift with friction between the widely-spaced 6-speed cogs than it is between the narrower 7-speed—not to mention increasingly narrow 8, 9, 10, 11. Also, Uniglide doesn't have ramps, so you get better feedback on your shifts. The advantages of cassettes over freewheels (which I did know came in 6-speed!) are numerous and well-covered by Sheldon Brown here.

I was lucky enough to find a NOS 13-28 6-speed Uniglide cassette, which is photographed above. You can see how it fits on to the universal Hyperglide/Uniglide 7-speed body: the smallest cog threads on to the freehub body, and the 6-speed one leaves a little gap, just like a 6-speed freewheel would. Useful for those of you who attach fenders with eyebolts!

Below is a brochure that doesn't interest me all that much beyond the historical significance: is this the first SIS setup manual? It came attached to a 6-speed Shimano 105 downtube shifter. It's called "Quick Adjust Information":

Even the logo is six-speed!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mike Barry and Greg Curnoe in The Star

There is a good article in The Toronto Star this morning about Greg Curnoe's bikes, told through Mike Barry. I can't wait to see the replica bikes Mike comes up with (actually, I have seen one of them, in an unpainted state, but I'm eager to see it all finished...). And I've got to get down to Cherry Bomb and see that CCM.

Update: I did indeed go and see the CCM Flyer this weekend. Lots of interesting details, like pencil-thin stays, a "single-plate" internally-lugged fork crown, and half-lugs. Olivier and I are both getting interested in making replicas of this most famous of Canadian bikes...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FH-M650, Part 2

In a previous post I extolled the virtues of the Shimano Deore DX rear hub, the FM-M650. It's spaced at 135mm, but set up for 7-speed; so it has low dish. It can take Hyperglide or Uniglide hubs, so you can have good friction shifting. For really excellent friction shifting, it will accept 6-speed Uniglide hubs. And as a value, it's incredible: I got a set including a front hub and really nice skewers for $25.

Of course I am a fierce enemy of anodizing. In some applications I have practical reasons. In parts where the anodized part is likely to be rubbed (like cranks), rubbed-off anodizing can spoil its look. Hubs aren't going to be rubbed. I stripped the anodizing on this hub for almost entirely aesthetic reasons. (The result is shown above; the anodized original, behind, is out of focus, unfortunately!)

But I think it looks really nice. It goes from being a very pedestrian part to looking as attractive as something from Mavic or Campagnolo. I did this while watching Canada play Norway in Olympic hockey last night. I sanded with 80/320/600/1500 grit sandpaper, and then polished and polished and polished.

The date-stamp engraved on the non-driveside flange is OK (November 1990). I would say this hub is now looking better than "OK"!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reinforcing a Stamped Seat Lug

Last year, in a fit of madness, I ordered five sets of Reynolds 531 tubing from Bicycle Classics. I had nowhere to build and no equipment, and very few prospects for finding either in the immediate future.

Luckily, when I ordered the tubing, Greg at Bicycle Classics had no way of knowing this. He was very slightly late shipping the order out, and went to the extraordinary length of throwing in as compensation an extra set of 531 as well as a fork crown and two sets of Prugnat "Type S" lugs.

Things have changed somewhat, and now I have a place to build, so I am finally able to put Greg's stuff to use. Including the lugs! The problem with stamped lugs is the binder: it's hollow and weak and needs to be reinforced. Since I was interested in using these lugs as a "learning experience" (lots of carving and shaping!) I was actually looking forward to this process.

I took my steps from Mitch Pryor's (MAP Cycles) sequence on his Flickr page. First I got my friend Olivier to machine a steel tube in the correct size (as it turned out, I provided the incorrect dimensions, but he faithfully followed them!) to fit inside the binder. You can see it in the image above. Then I went wild with brass and filled up everything in sight. Then I filed away all that extra brass into something resembling the desired shape. There are some gaps in there still, but they should fill in during the silver-brazing process of attaching the ST and the TT. It's a much sturdier lug now!

Here you can see where the reinforcement went, and how useful it will be! The little hole in the middle opened up when I reamed out the binder slot to the correct size. The gaps in the brass are my own fault!

Still some cleanup work to be done, but I'll do it once it's been brazed together...

What came out of the reinforced seat lug!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finished Seat Lug

Since the last photos, I've brazed in a reinforcement to my Prugnat "Type S" seat lug and completed my carving job. I think I've transformed this frumpy lug into something quite nice. And, with the reinforcing, it's also much stronger. Glamorously presented below:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shop Art

Sometimes you see some pretty sights in the "shop" (in this case, my bedroom.) Here, a seatlug soaking in hot water in a see-through plastic cup...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Prugnat Lugs Before and After

I've finally reached a shape I'm more or less happy with for my lugs. I've shown them side-by-side with an uncarved set of Prugnat "Type S" lugs, which is how mine started their life.

Seat Lug

Lower Head Lug

Upper Head Lug

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mariposa Bicycles: A Job Worth Doing

About this time last year, I was working on an article for Dandyhorse magazine about Mike Barry and Mariposa. Since the article has since appeared and had a chance to reach its readers that way, and since it appeared in an edited form my perfectionist self was not entirely pleased with, I have decided to post it here, where it will remain for posterity.

Mariposas are my favourite bicycles ever. I have seen Mariposas of all kinds: pure road racing bikes, TT bikes, track bikes, randonneurs, touring bikes, camping bikes, tandems, mixtes, fixed-gears with fenders and racks, and so on. They all share the same thing: they are perfect for what they do—functionally superb and aesthetically gorgeous.

There was a big debate about what to call this article. In the magazine it was called "Man of Steel." I wanted to call it "The Road to Mariposa," which is the name of a story from Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town. Mike and his friends wanted to call it "A Job Worth Doing," though, so that's what I'm calling it here.

I've spruced this up with some photographs from Mariposa's website. For the lovely photos that accompanied the article in Dandyhorse, you'll need to track down the original article.

Enjoy it! (It's long!—Click on the "Read More" below if you're reading this on the front page.)

Looking out their windows in the early months of 1970, the residents of Toronto's Davisville Avenue would have seen something strange. In this city of cars, subways, and streetcars—a city very slowly shedding its dreary image of “Toronto the Good” and metamorphosing into the diverse and cosmopolitan city of today—the scene was incongruous. Half-visible in the falling snow, two grown men were taking turns riding an unpainted, rusting, brakeless bicycle along the icy roadway. Looking as delicate and out of place as a butterfly in the winter scene, the bike was designed not for the Canadian January in which it found itself, but for the smooth and immaculate banked surfaces of an indoor velodrome. The men who rode the bike, seeming just as out of place, speaking with foreign accents, had built it in a nearby basement. They were Mike Barry and John Palmer. It was the first Mariposa.