17 August, 2006

Another City Bike


Okay, all this city bike talk has got me thinking. And I have a plan, sort of. How about having a few frames built here in the US based on a classic Herse city bike. Like the Rando frame, they would be built by a very good builder and cost about the same. there might be a both a regular and a mixte version. If five or so folks would commit to buying them I'd get started. Later I would try to get a run of them made in Asia.

I am thinking that they should be 26" wheeled in smaller sizes and 700c in larger. They could use either in-hub or sidepull brakes. They would have a larger version of the front rack. Gearing would be internal and a chain guard would be included. A chaincase, assuming I can make one, would be optional. The tubing might be less expensive that that used in the rando frame and the color would be limited to black or tan.

As for lugs, are the crazy lugs on the left completely over the top. I usually don't like fancy lugs, but these are somehow amusing.

The other photos are of a lovely city bike built by Curt Goodrich for a gentleman who been in the bike business for a long time. The bike's owner has graciously allowed me to post these photos. Of course this begs the question: What about fillet brazing?

17 comments:

david_nj said...

Jeeeeeeeeez that's gorgeous bike. I don't care too too much for fillet brazing but maybe that's just me. The box lining looks incredible. And those doggone GB reverse levers -- dunno where to find 'em -- look super. I know I found a place that sells those Vredestein Classic white tires but I can't remember where ... anyone know?

The larger front rack idea is simply killer. If you look at the porteur-ish bike Mike Barry built for his son, that rack's probably pretty much right over the plate.

This is all really interesting. Quite a few places sell randonneuse machines of some sort or other. But vanishingly few sources exist for these types of stem-to-stern integrated city bikes.

Anonymous said...

Maybe short point lugs, like in Phil Brown's version of a French tourer here: http://www.paulstubblebine.com/philbrown/French.htm

Nexus 8-speed, polished stainless horizontal dropouts or an eccentric BB
high-gloss Black powdercoat, dark green (RAL 6006 or 6020) or maybe tan or dove gray. (This looks nice:http://www.jitensha.com/eng/flaming_ebisu.html

also this:http://www.jitensha.com/eng/histpht4_e.html )

Anonymous said...

Fillet brazing is very nice when done well. Costly, because of the labor expense, but on the right frame looks luxurious. Would you have prototypes made both with fillets and lugs?

(I saw a Toyo road frame with the seat "lug" having a TIG weld to the toptube, a brazed joint at the seat-tube and a fillet to the seatstays.)

Chris Kulczycki said...

I don't think we could afford to have both lugged and fillet brazed frames built. But there is a builder who specializes in fillet brazing who was interested in working with us. He has a lot of experience and makes very nice frames. It's something to think about.

I also think that it's easy to appreciate both fillet brazing and lugs. It's like water colors versus acrylic or oils; you can't say one is better or even prettier.

Andy said...

I vote for black and green, like the Phil Brown Frenchie. Classic. Elegant, but not expected.

David, I don't know about GB, but I've seen a handful of reverse brake levers on eBay recently.

I like the spirit of the Paul 'Flatbed' front rack with wooden-slatted bottom. It's not very elegant, but perhaps with a lovely VO rack with hard maple slats it could be? Chris, with your boat-building history, I'm sure you could come up with something beautiful.

Are you planning to offer a fully-built bike? Or just a frame/rack/guard combo? I know enough to know what I like, but not enough to build up my own ride.

The box-lining is beautiful.

Finally, everything you've offered at VO has been spot on, so whatever you decide to do with the city bike, I'm sure it will be stunning.

david_nj said...

Andy, I don't really follow Ebay; if you happen to see a pair of levers like that why it would be awesome if you could push me an email.

(The modern kind of reverse levers, like you use on TT bikes, isn't really what you want: the old porteur rigs had the cable routed back inside the handlebar, rather than next to it.)

Anyhow. I think the hardest thing about city bikes is the choice of handlebars. I built up my PX-10/Nexus city bike with straight bars, and it occurs to me they aren't terribly elegant. You can't really rig the Nexus rapidfire setup -- which is as tidy as can be -- with drop bars though. Anyhow I once saw a Toei with straight bars and if they don't go to hell for it, presumably I won't.

leightonwalter said...

Fillet brazing? Please. Traditional all the way, and that means lugs.

The idea of the fleur-de-lis ones is amusing, but the reality should be much simpler. Functionality is beauty.

Anonymous said...

Fillet brazing is traditional. Many, many Jack Taylor frames were done that way - and doing mixtes and tandems with lugs rather than fillet brazing seems kind of silly to me.

Apropos of tire size: these should be 650B. If the inspiration is French city bikes, 650B was the size; and if you're looking for a great riding "mid-size" tire, that's 650B as well.

C said...

Fillet brazing is as traditional as lugs. As for time and labor it can be the same. Complicated lugs take a lot of time to clean-up - sometimes more than a fillet. Personally, for a city bike fillet brazing makes more sense. It's simple bike serving a simple purpose and in that sense the simplicity of a fillet joint makes sense.

Aaron said...

The idea of an “elegant city bike” is worth developing, especially if you could produce one at a reasonable price in order to present a feasible alternative to the ubiquitous beach cruisers and the space-age “hybrids” which seem to be the only options these days.

Be that as it may, I would like to put in a plug for 650B sizing. A friend of mine who has been riding a Kronan for years recently turned me on to this bike, which is great for city riding and employs 650Bs.

See: http://www.kronancycle.com/

While the bike itself is a tank and “elegant” only in the most rugged of conceptions (it was designed for the Swedish army), the 650B tires are a pleasure to ride. Despite the fact that they are balloon-like, they also are firm enough that they don't feel too squishy or bouncy, and they certainly don’t look clown-like or juvenile.

On Los Angeles' pockmarked city streets, these tires are kidney savers, cushioning the ride in ways that a 700c could only hope to do in its fatter versions that allow for a lower psi. And the tires' high profile relative to 700c tires makes the overall height of the bike comparable to a 700c frame outfitted with lower profile tires. Thus the 650B sizing would not necessarily force you to compromise on the notion of obtaining a bird's-eye view from which to survey traffic situations.

In any case, should you decide on the 700c schema, you should try to allow enough tire and fender clearance, in the event that someone who must contend with rough city streets wanted to put on a fatter, more shock-absorbing tire.

Regarding the fleur-de-lis sample lugs: they are a bit too precious for my taste. I'd favor a simpler, more minimalist lug—something that is not so aristocratic or fussy.

david_nj said...

You know, you guys are probably right. The fillet thing is really not at all out of whack for city bikes. Plus I suppose it would attract a little less grunge.

I guess I was thinking of circa 1975 Schwinns or something.

Anyhow, personally I'd far rather have a 700c bike. I'm probably showing my beer-swilling, NASCAR fan, washer-and-dryer-on-the-porch redneck side by saying that.

Kris Green said...

God, but that's a beautiful machine. I'm not usually a fan of filet brazing either, but if you could get it as good as Curt has, then bring it on. Those lugs look too frou-frou for the purpose, though.

What sort of geometry should a city bike have? To my surprise I've found that a 1980s-era crit frame works well; the high bb and quick reflexes are handy when bopping around double-parked cars. How this would fit with 650b (which would be my preference) would be anyone's guess.

I always like internal gears, and that or a single speed would be my vote.

Kris Green said...

May I take this opportunity to share some photos of a terrific city bike conversion? It features a Breezer frame that I think was Schwinn (Match?) built. It uses an eight-speed cassette and a single chainring, which isn't a bad way to go.

http://tinyurl.com/m27b9

crawley said...

I have a couple of pennies to pitch here. Fillet brazing is what I would like to see. The whole 650b, porteur, randonneuse, all-rounder, camping bike things are obviously becoming more popular and 'hip' I dare say. However the majority of these new purpose built bikes are lugged. I agree, lugged frames are great on many levels. However, fillet brazing is rarely seen nowadays. If you look at frames built by smaller French makers like Dardenne, Routens, Goeland, Dujardin and many others you will see fillet brazing quite a bit. Even on the tandems. In fact, Toei and some of the great Japanese bikes too.
If you want to do something different, and maybe you don't, then try fillet brazing. The bikes would have the same amount of functional, classic beauty as lugged ones. Maybe a little more.
-Aaron

neil m berg said...

As Chris says, the difference between lugs and fillet brazing is like the difference between watercolors and acrylics. Lugs are the watercolors. I like watercolors best. I believe that Scott Davis at www.sdbicyclegarage.com has a few white tires. Michelins.

Anonymous said...

Internal Hub. Chainguard. Fenders. Holes in the dropouts for baskets or racks fore and aft. Springs in the seat (I have issues with suspension seatposts). Wide cushy tires. OK, the electroforged Schwinn Collegiate of my youth doesn't meet lightweight criteria, but it sure had the STYLE down right. There's a pretty clean Batavius city bike I see around and about. Or, perhaps, someone in the Orient or Europe is already lugging away on butted imitation Reynolds 531 or straight-guage chromo....

Andy said...

David, Here are the reverse-mount brake levers I was thinking of. They're already sold, but as you can see, the seller has quite a collection.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Flat-porteur-bars-alloy-RARE_W0QQitemZ220017269902QQihZ012QQcategoryZ56197QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Best, Andy