15 January, 2018

Stem Measurements

by Clint

Finding the right size stem is important to dial in the fit of your bike. This article is going to focus on defining dimensions of a stem, and not the fit.

Most of the important dimensions can be identified on a threadless stem, so let's start with those! Here's a neat infographic:


Length and angle are dimensions that affect fit, while steerer diameter, clamp diameter, and stack height are going to affect compatibility. Different combinations of length, angle, and position on the fork steerer can yield the same bar position, so do some trigonometry or trial and error to find the best fit for you!

Dimensions are mostly going to be the same for a quill stem. Height above minimum insertion is an important one specific to quill stems. That looks like this:

Our Cigne Stem is really what sparked this article. Due to its unusual look and function, dimensions are a little funky.  Here's a drawing that should clear things up:


Hopefully this answers a few questions about what to look for when deciding which stem will work for your needs.

11 January, 2018

Prepping an Old French Frame to Ride Once Again

by Igor

This is Gerard. He's 61(ish) years old and hails from St. Etienne, France.



From the late 1800s to the early 1960s, St. Etienne in the Southeast of France was a hive for frame, component, and accessory production. Some the biggest marques that we know today were once headquartered there: Mercier, Stronglight, Automoto, Simplex, Vitus, and Lyotard just to name few.


Many bikes and frames out of St. Etienne were mass produced and sold domestically as well as overseas. Once the frames were in the hands of the shops, they would apply their own transfer decals and any other ornamentation. This is why you'll see so many nearly identical looking frames with different marques on the down tube.


Not much is known about the Gerard Cycles shop from Rue la Fayette in Paris. Searching The Web for various permutations of Gerard along with Porteur, Randonneur, and all the rest of the '-eurs brings up a lot of Peugeot "Captain Gerard" folding bikes from WW1 - which are cool in their own right.


This frame and fork was built in a classic touring style. It features an integrated hanger for a wide-range Simplex Rigidex rear derailleur, braze-on for a rear bottle-dynamo lighting, downtube wire guides to the front, and double dropout eyelets for racks and fenders. Given the condition of the paint and wear-points, I'd say someone enjoyed the heck out of the bike. 


The construction is straight forward and very typical of French bikes at the time. 26.1mm top tube, 28.4mm down tube, and 28.4mm seat tube. The selected tubing is straight gauge which makes a sturdy and comfortable ride over long distances, especially over cobbles and unpaved roads. The fork has a lovely, traditional French bend. Pairing a 73.5° head tube angle with a 74mm raked fork, the trail is about 21mm on 38mm 650b wheels.


This is an old French bike, so everything just has to be different - which all becomes clear during the prep process:
  • the fork is ~94.4mm spaced - I suspect it should be 96mm, but who knows what happened over its 60 year life
  • 120mm rear spacing - pretty standard for the time
  • French threaded bottom bracket shell - good thing we have French Threaded Bottom Brackets!
  • 25.6mm seat post - because of course...
  • Narrow cantilever spacing - the frame came with period Mafac brakes, so that is handled
  • Luckily both dropouts accept normal 10mm and 9mm hubs for rear and front, respectively
  • Steerer is ~22.18 - so a normal quill will work with a tad of sanding. French is 22.0mm.

To get the frame and fork ready for Frame Saver, the headset has to come out. The upper cup was stuck in place, so we put it into a vice to give it a bit of persuasion. The reason the headset was so hard to turn became clear very quickly: the bottom cup was missing one bearing and the top was missing three, the grease has calcified, and the races pitted. No matter, I'll pop a new French Threaded Headset in.



So here is how he sits as spokes are coming in and the frame is being Saved. Ultimately, Gerard will get the Porteur treatment and ride once again!


05 January, 2018

What's Your Cut Off For Vintage?

By Scott



As another year begins, we're back in the office and working on projects, both new ones and ones that have followed us into the new year. One of the new projects for 2018 is building up a vintage bike and showing the process through the blog. Igor's been scouring ebay and has found a worthy candidate in a French frameset from the late 50s. But in starting down this road/path/trail, one thing that came to our mind: what is vintage and how is that defined vs an antique?


Webster's defines vintage as "of old, recognized and enduring interest, importance or quality. Of the best and most characteristic."  We've had folks call us about their vintage bike - a 1935 Schwinn. Other calls have been from folks asking about part for a "vintage" bike they own, a 2001 LeMond. So perhaps the date is in the eye of the beholder.


The L'Eroica folks currently use bikes from 1987 and before as the cut off for their events. They feel bikes of that era and earlier have a "vintage look and feel". They do allow aero brake levers, admitting that they started to appear in the mid 80's, but feel that they changed the look of traditional racing bikes.


Events like L'Eroica and French Fender Day provide a focal point for people who ride vintage bikes to meet up with other folks who also view these bikes as something to ride and enjoy.

In terms of vintage vs antique, Igor mentions that the difference was that he would have no problem using something everyday that was vintage, but felt that an antique should only be used sparingly to allow people in the future to experience it tangibly rather than seeing it in print or photos.

I think vintage is something 25 years and older. So in bike terms, that puts us around 1993 or so.  For me, that's a perfect time in my life. I was still working in bike shop then, so I have a tactile connection to that time frame and an appreciation for the style of the time.

Is vintage a perception? Is it related to one's own time frame of life? Where does your distinction between vintage and antique come into play?

03 January, 2018

We're Back From Break, Plus an Update on Lilac Polyvalents

by Igor

And we're back. Happy 2018! What are some bike goals you hope to accomplish this year? I've always been more of a tourist and day-tripper, but I'm looking forward to doing a few brevets this year.

In other news, fresh off the presses: Due to popular demand, Lilac Polyvalents are now available for pre-sale as a limited edition offering.

We wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous year for you and your families!