Perks of a nice bike

i have wanted to try a good old fashioned steel framed road bike fitted with more modern equipment than I am used to for a while, I have even thought about updating my Ian May with a set of sti’s and modern calipers and a few more gears to play with .

 

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Ian May

 

As soon as I saw this John Perks road bike advertised I thought that it hit all the buttons I was looking for , i.e. steel framed , modernish componentry , nice looking  and it was a great colour with the bonus of some good condition chromed features . The only downside was the fact that it was over an hour and half away from home .

 

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Perks

After a bit of thinking and contacting the owner with a couple of simple questions about the bike  , I decided I would make the effort to go and have a look .

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Perks

 

Once the bike was wheeled out of the garage and into the daylight , it became apparent  that the bike had not been used for a couple of years at least with the amount of dust and cobwebs hanging from the wheel spokes . A good look confirmed that a good wipe around with a baby wipe the dust and cobwebs would be gone and a bit of chrome cleaner would get the chromed rear stay and fork crown nice and shiny along with the chromed front and rear drop outs .

 

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Perks

 Once the saddle was lifted up to suit me I jumped on and coasted down the sellers driveway and went for a couple of laps of the cul de sac as I still believe a lot can be learnt from a short road test . A few flicks of the campagnolo sti units had both mechanisms moving the chain on to any of the 27 available gears which was nice to see and the a quick pull on the brake lever blades provided a degree of stopping power as well . A price was quickly agreed with the said bike loaded into the car and the return journey was made trouble free.

 

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Perks

 The next morning I checked the basics i.e. tyre pressures , saddle height , handlebar position , cable runs and brake operation then went for a trundle around the block a few times before returning home and getting the wet wipes out to start removing the dust and cobwebs . Once the layers of dust were removed the paintwork had a lot more sparkle to it as did the other components. I also took this opportunity to have a good look around it and take in some of the details that I hadn’t fully noticed when viewing the bike .

 

 

It’s framework is Reynolds 531 competition tubing and was made by John Perks approx. 15 years ago to the original owners specification and was to be his winter bike hence why it’s got guards fitted front and rear. It was also equipped with a  3 x 9 campagnolo gear set up with matching brake calipers and wheel hubs that were laced on a pair of nice Mavic sup rims . The paintwork is very tidy indeed with just a few little blemishes that look to have been touched up rather than left to the elements .Overall the bike seems to have been well looked after over the years , I just wish they could talk and tell stories about what they have done in the past .

 

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Perks

 

After a couple of days of gentle commuting I decided it was time for a few more miles so I did a couple of pre work 15 mile rides to make an assessment re fit and comfort level.  It soon became apparent that I needed to either swap the stem or move the saddle forward a small amount which seemed the easier option as I was due to fit one of my regular selle smp saddles to it before going further afield . Once the saddle was fitted and adjusted on the rails to give a nice line of sight through the front axle it was time for longer rides .

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Perks

So far I have covered over 200 miles on this great bike and have really enjoyed using it , and so far it has not let me down . It’s surprisingly agile at times and offers a very relaxed ride under normal conditions but I must admit to achieving 24 mph on the flat at one point whilst I was out on it Sunday and it all seemed to be very controlled and easily done

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Conquest Saddle

I am sure like me you have heard of the Norman Conquest that happened way back in the 11th century when Norman, Breton, and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy invaded England .

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However, I had never heard of the Brook’s Conquest saddle before last Sunday when I collected a second hand mid 90’s Giant Ladago mtb bike that the previous owner had fitted. By the look of the bike and saddle neither had seen a lot of use over the years .

 

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Giant Ladoga

 

Since getting the bike road ready on Monday I have used the bike every day as my main commuting machine racking up 35 miles in total , hardly earth shattering but enough to get an idea if a saddle is comfortable or not . I have found it very comfortable indeed and I intend to fit it on to one of my road bikes to see how it is with narrow road tyres compared to wider and softer all terrain tyres .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

As with most of the Brook’s saddles its made with a leather seating area on a metal sprung chassis with a front adjuster so you can keep the leather tensioned to suit your requirements . The one thing I did to it straight away was to apply a coating of leather treatment to the upper side and then a day later I applied another coating to the underside as well .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

It’s got the typical hand hammered rivets and name badge on the rear face that are synominous with the Brook’s range of saddle’s , it’s just a shame it hasn’t got saddle bag loops as well .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

I am sure there will be loads of cyclist’s out there that swear that Brook’s saddles are the best thing since slice bread , I must admit I am not a great user of their products as I prefer the more modern looking range of Selle smp saddle’s especially the lite 209 model which has the added bonus of being prostate friendly .

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All round Mercian joins the stable

When does an armchair become a racing car seat ?

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For my recently acquired Mercian it started to happen the moment I swapped the wide flat bars for a set of normal drop bars , this swap totally transformed this bike from being a very relaxed machine to one that has started to feel a bit more lively and responsive. The next stage would be to fit some narrower profile tyres of either 27” or 700c size . The actual geometry of the frame itself is more than likely the most limiting factor .

Mercian

As far as I was told by the original owner of this bike it was built to his specification by Mercian cycles of Derby at some point in the 1970’s . The things he specified were Prugnant professional lugs , a higher bottom bracket , increased brake drop , pump pegs on the drive side rear stay , top tube brake cable braze on’s are also offset to the drive side rather than being central , full rear stay wrap over , front wheel dynamo mount bracket and the fairly standard for the era lamp bracket boss on the drive side front fork blade .

Mercian Lucifer Baby Dynamo

Mercian Wrap over stay

His explanation for all these modifications was that he wanted a bike that he could use on weekend club rides , touring duties , road races and when need be any off roading that was required when out cycling . His reason for the pump pegs and top tube cable guides being offset to the drive side were so that when he carried the bike on his right shoulder he would not knock the pump of when lifting it up and the cable guides would not cause any cuts and lacerations to his hands when he was steadying the bike on his shoulder .

Mercian Rear Lamp

All the above modifications show how thoroughly this bike was thought about before any riding started and by listening to the previous owner it was used for loads of cycling and covered many a happy mile with him . At some point as far as I can tell the bike has been refinished as the Reynolds 531 decal clearly states renovated. When questioned the old boy had no recollection of this but when you get to 76 I feel you are allowed to forget some things . The condition of the paintwork is clearly a lot fresher than a 40+ year old bike would be if it had been used for most of its time .

Mercian 531 decal

A lot of the components date from the mid 1980’s i.e. the rear Suntour vx rear mechanism , Stronglight crankset and the lovely miche wheel hubs and the use of stainless spokes in both of the 27” wheels. A lot of the other added on bits are a lot earlier like the Simplex bottle cage , springring bell and the classically shaped Lucifer Baby dynamo and lighting set . The elderly gent told me how these were fitted to his previous bike a Maclean which sadly got destroyed when it was involved in a collision .

Mercian Spring Ring

So far the only work I have done is to swap the damaged and broken mudguards with a pair of much newer and better condition ones I had lying around in the garage. I then replaced the flat handlebar and stem set up for a set of alloy drops with a slightly shorter stem and a set of early Shimano 600 drilled brake levers and some new brake cables, some new pads are on order to be fitted once they arrive .

Mercian

At present I have covered just over 10 slow gentle commuting miles and once the brake pads have arrived and been fitted I will start using this bike on some longer and more arduous rides , then once I am happy with positioning of the bars I will be applying some black bar tape .

A memorable ride

It’s not every day I cycle past an ex nuclear weapon site , but I did on Saturday 18th March 2017. The best thing about it is I knew there was a disused World War 2 American aerodrome near to the village of Harrington , but what I didn’t know was until the early 1960’s it was an active base that housed Thor nuclear weapons that were the UK’s main nuclear deterrent at the time. I have cycled past the Harrington Airfield Memorial site on the Lamport to Harrington road many times but have never taken the time to actually stop and have a look at it like I did on this ride .

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I also added an extra 7 mile loop to one of my normal routes by turning right just as I entered the little hamlet of Orton that took me down to the A6 turning on the A14 by Rothwell once over the A14 I turned towards Harrington straight into a head wind and with a slight gradient the next couple of miles were a bit slower than the previous 15 miles had been .

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Harrington was still asleep as I rode through but then most villages are at 6.45am on a Saturday morning. Once clear of the village I noticed a turning right to Kelmarsh and noted that as a loop for another day . I carried on across the A14 and noticed the turning off that would take you directly to the Carpetbagger Aviation Museum which is open between Easter and October according to the little sign outside .

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I carried on and joined my normal route just before the war memorial site where I stopped to have a look and take some pictures . Once back on the Terry Dolan bike I headed off towards Draughton and then Lamport , Scaldwell , Holcot , Moulton ,Overstone,Sywell ,Mears Ashby ,Earls Barton ,Great Doddington and back into Wellingborough .

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As mentioned earlier this ride was done on my recently acquired Kinesis tubed Terry Dolan from around the year 2000.  It looks like it has had an easyish life prior to me getting hold of it . It’s finished in a nice wine shade of red with a fantastic looking set of chunky alloy forks and a very free rolling set of Gipiemme Quattro wheels that have just been fitted with a new set of Vittorio Rubino tyres .

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Dolan

 

The longest ride I have done on this bike previously was just over 30 miles and I wanted to cover a minimum of 40 miles on this ride so I could get a true feeling of the bike and all of its components before deciding what its future will be . So far I feel it’s a very nice bike to ride and all its mixture of shimano components work well together to provide a very capable bike indeed . It’s a shame it hasn’t got proper mudguard mounting points but a set of clip ons do the job when its being used in dry to slightly damp conditions as I have enough other bikes fitted with full guards .

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Over the next couple of weeks weather permitting I would like to do at least one more 40+ mile ride on this machine then I will make decision on its future .

Ribble 7005 Audax

have been using this Ribble Audax framed bike for the last week and a bit .

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It’s an alloy 56cm frame with a set of ITM Spider carbon forks and over the last week I have done quite a bit of work on it to get it running smoothly , whilst I have been doing the work I have also done a few rides on it .

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I have swapped the previous wheels out for a set of quando hubbed units that spin a bit more freely and don’t wobble like the original set, whilst doing this I also replaced the original 12 – 24 rear cassette for one that gives me a better spread of ratio’s i.e. 12 – 30 and a new sram chain to match. I have also replaced the rear gear mechanism cable as the original one had signs of fraying within the sti unit head and finally I tidied up the bar tape by unwinding and re fitting .

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The first few rides were only short commuting rides and then as I gained confidence I increased the miles to the point of doing a couple of 40 mile rides on the last 2 weekends, I am looking forward to doing a few more miles on it . It’s a very smooth riding machine and I also think it’s a rather nice looking bike , the red paintwork is nice and bright, however it does have a few signs of cable rub and general storage marks that the vast majority of bikes pick up as they go along .

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Its nicely specified with a mix of Shimano components i.e. “Yellow” 105 sti units and front mechanism with a Sora double chain set and rear mechanism and it has the handy benefit of being fitted with full length SKS guards to help keep me dry whilst riding in the rain which is always a bonus when riding bikes in the UK .

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The previous owner told me he had owned it from new but it had seen little use in the last 8 years due to one reason or another and as he needed to thin out his collection the ones that were not getting much use were first in the line to go , so once a price was agreed the bike was collected before he changed his mind . I got the impression It was initially his do it all winter / wet weather bike .

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I have heard and seen loads of comments from other riders about how nice these Ribble Audax / Winter frames are to ride so it was with great interest that I looked forward to doing some miles on it and so far I have not been disappointed at all . What are my long term plans for it?  Well I don’t really know yet as I am happy  riding and covering miles on this machine .

A tale of 2 Viscounts Aerospace 600 ex’s

Earlier this week I placed a picture of my Viscount Aerospace 600ex on a Facebook thread where another owner had posted a picture of his 600ex .

 

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Adrian McCarthy’s 600ex

 

The eagle eyed other owner was soon messaging me with a list of questions to answer , starting off with asking me ” What size is the biggest rear sprocket?” , then came “Yours has mudguard eyes and does it have any cut outs in the bottom bracket shell ?”

 

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Viscount 600ex

As I was counting the teeth on the sprocket I had a closer look at the wheels as I presumed it had 700c wheels as per the brochure I found on line but they are actually 27” rimmed wheels and looking at the brake calipers there is not enough drop for them to reach 700c sized wheels like the other owner has . When I turned the bike over there were no cut outs in the bottom bracket shell to be seen .

 

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Viscount 600ex

 

I also noticed that mine has half chromed front forks whilst his don’t , so there are quite a few variations between 2 ” identical” bikes . It would be interesting to see what his frame number is to see which one was built first. My frame number looks to be 6024 or 9, now what that actually means who knows as the top tube decal proudly tells anybody looking it was bike of the year in 1981 so I would expect somewhere between 1982 and 1984 as a build date but who knows .

 

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Viscount 600ex

 

I suppose a harder look for some production dates on some of the components fitted to the bike might give more of a clue to the production year area .

 

It’s strange that so many variations can exist between two versions of the same bike , I am not that bothered about the differences as I  much prefer the way 27” wheeled bikes ride over the narrower 700c wheels which can lead to a bit of a harsh ride at times . Mudguard mounts are always handy as they give you the option of fitting guards or carriers without having to use “P” clips  . I like chrome, so the addition of chromed forks be they half or fully chromed is a real bonus to me .

 

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Viscount 600ex

 

Of course both bikes are at least 30 years old so they might well have had loads of modifications made over the years as it has passed through the chain of previous owners . I was told by the seller of mine that he was the 2nd owner and all he had replaced were consumables and no major components during his 7 – 8 years of ownership .

The Perils of commuting in the rain

I have used my local council’s on line street doctor quite a few times over the years reporting  various things from burnt out cars restricting the cycleway to a flooded underpass . It’s a system that seems to work to a degree .

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The latest reason for contacting them was the flooded underpass, as yet again the water had overflowed from the nearby stream due to a restricted grid where it disappears underground for a short distance. As the water overflows it heads across the grass and down the pathway into the under pass where it collects, it has no where to go as the access each side is ramped , I do believe there is a strip of drainage channels on the one side but these are only there to allow a small amount of water to drain away .

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The water seems to get up to 4 – 5 ft deep in the underpass area before it’s high enough on the one side for it to start overflowing back into the stream. In the meantime the underpass is rendered no go to all users apart from any that might fancy swimming through it !!! Luckily it’s not much of a detour to get from one side to the other if it is restricted .

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The reply I had back this time stated no actions required which I found strange so I made the decision to contact them via phone to hear why. After speaking to 3 or 4 automated messages I got through to a fellow human being who seemed to be reading a report filed by one of her colleagues saying that when the underpass was inspected a few days later no fault was found. So I asked did she know if he had looked at the stream at all , to which I was told no . I asked her to reopen the case and for the stream to be inspected .

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But looking at my e mails last Friday I had another case closed no action required e mail . So seeing as its been raining for a few hours this morning I decided to take a few before and after pictures and this is what this blog is based on.

I noticed this afternoon that the grills look to have been cleared of debris , so it will interesting to see if the flooding continues next time we get some rain.