01 February, 2018

Gerard Rides Again

by Igor

Gerard (Gerry as we've been calling him at HQ) has turned out to be one spry 61 year old.

He has scrapes, bumps, and "that wasn't there yesterday"'s that not only show his age, but describe a life of use and care. Whoever used this bike before me, really enjoyed it.

While working on this bike, I was frequently reminded of the old Japanese pottery repair technique, Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is a philosophy that lets imperfections and breakages literally shine rather than attempt to disguise them. Gold or platinum dust is included in the lacquer used for repair work, creating beautiful, gleaming veins that allow the piece's history to be at the forefront of one's attention. Interestingly, this technique got so popular, collectors started smashing brand new pottery in order to replicate the style.

Gerard was rebuilt with simplicity in mind. The wheels are sturdy and built to last. The rear is a 32 hole Fixed Hub laced to a 650b Diagonale Rim while the front is a Grand Cru High Flange Front Hub laced to the same. The rear is spaced 120mm so the rear wheel's hub fits without any issues, while the front is 96mm (typical of old French bikes). No biggie, the front hub gets crammed in.

Gearing is midrange: 44 tooth 50.4 chaining paired to an 18 tooth rear cog. This setup makes around town jaunts with a load easy while minimizing spinning out on slightly longer rides. Tires are cushy Panaracer Pari-Motos in the 42mm sizeway.

The bottom bracket shell is French threaded (drive side and non-drive side both tighten clockwise) so I used our French Threaded Bottom Bracket with a 118mm spindle.

A proper French bike cannot be left without fenders. 52mm Zeppelins wrap perfectly and provide optimal coverage. A clever, little Spring Thing keeps a nice fenderline with the frame's long, horizontal dropouts.

The Porteur Rack is fitted close to the fender by trimming the lower tangs. The rack is further mounted to the fender in Constructeur fashion.

The Sabot Pedals are my go-to. They're chunky, spinny, grippy, elegant, and look right on this traditional build.

Handlebars are the 23.8mm Left Banks with NOS CLB city levers (what the Tektro FL750 levers are modeled after). Grips are the ever comfy and classic Rustines Constructeur in black. Brake cabling is our Stainless Steel Wound kit along with some Step-Down Housing Caps for the brake levers and frame cable stops.

The Grand Cru Quill Stem needed a tad bit of sanding to fit into the steerer. Clint did a nice write-up about fitting 22.2mm stems into 22.0mm French steerers. A few minutes worth of sanding allowed the quill to fit in and stay secure. A silver Brass Temple Bell adorns the stem in traditional constructeur fashion.

Atop the 25.4mm Dajia 1b Seatpost is an old Brooks perch. I got the saddle when we picked up our Santana Arriva Tandem. I believe it's from the mid-80s. I think it might be too far gone to be remolded, but it sure looks cool!

The brakes were disassembled, cleaned and new Kool Stop 4-dot Pads were fitted. How do they stop? They stop, more or less. Mostly less. They modulate speed, that's where I'll leave it.

The showstopper here is this vintage, gorgeous chainguard. We've had in it in our showroom's display case for years, waiting for just the right build. The original paint and patina is perfect for Gerard. The frame has a single mount on the downtube. For the seat tube, I used our Chainguard Mounting Hardware and a bit of cloth tape to protect the tube.

A Porteur Double Leg Kickstand keeps the bike upright and ready for loading.

Experiencing the history, care, and continued service of something so connected as a bicycle and its rider is a wonderful thing to behold: scuffed crankarms from miles and miles of tours, lived in bar tape, saddle with corner tears from taking a gravel laden corner too fast, scratched top tube from that darn sharp sign post I always forget about, and random paint chips from heck knows where. Having a beautifully new paint job is nice, but I don't think babying is the way to go. Embrace the scratches, scuffs, and imperfections, and enjoy your ride.


Unknown said...

I did the same a similar projects with an old sears bike using Velo Orange parts and Brooks to give it a pop. I get compliment all the time.

Anonymous said...

And not a single word about the baguette :D

Ray said...

Very nice work! But is "sizeway" really a word? Colorway is bad enough, but sizeway is just hideous. Hopefully, you were being funny. At least you didn't claim to have "curated" your bike.

VeloOrange said...

I hope it doesn't catch on!


George A said...

I'd like to see more posts about how to update old, existing bikes and frames. There are hundreds of thousands of them quietly sleeping in garages and sheds but most of the racks, stems, pedals, improved gear sets, etc. on offer either don't fit or need brackets or mounts which those bikes don't have. So all those bikes continue to sleep.

Unknown said...

Most mechanics can do it, it just involves a lot of research and a mechanic willing to take the time to do the work. I had some issues with rebuilds and modernizing from a few shops that that told me it was impossible. I took it to a older shop or a professional mechanic and they were able to make it work with ease. Also it can get expensive. I had one shop tell me it wasn't worth it because the work was greater than the value of the bike and tried to sell me a bike instead. I find that some of the newer shops are about selling bikes. Get to know your bike shop and find a mechanic you trust. This is one of my projects from a bike I was told wasn't worth the work.

RoadieRyan said...

If you want to fix up an old bike there are blogs and you tube videos all over the internet to help, just takes a bit of searching, (Start with Sheldon Brown) I am not mechanically inclined but old 10 speeds are pretty simple and just take a bit of practice and patience and research.

Anonymous said...

Hey I thought Gerry was going to get a new headset. Does not look like that happened.

Kim Isaacson said...

Nice simple bike. To my eye, the chainguard would look better if moved slightly aft, so that the bottom of the arc is centered over the bottom bracket.

VeloOrange said...

Good eye! The lower cup and crown race were is super sorry shape so those were replaced. The upper race was also pitted, so it was replaced. All of the bearings in our French headset were the same size as the ones that came out, so all of u the internals are new! Due the short stack height of the steerer, I had to reuse the original top cap and locknut.


VeloOrange said...

Agreed, but the placement of the mount on the downtube would not have allowed this chainguard to work.


D Russ said...

Do you think the Mafac cantis work poorly because the modern rim is wider than the spacing allows for? It looks like the brake pads wouldn't contact the rim on parallel when the brakes are applied. I know this is an issue on other frames with narrow canti spacing I've encountered.

Love that blue!

VeloOrange said...

The rears sit more parallel to the rim than the fronts, but those still brake ok. I simply think we have come a very long way in brake design and pad compounds.


mike w. said...

A problem with many French forks is the short steerer & stack height. For some reason the French preferred short-stacked headsets.

When i was working in a shop selling French bikes (mainly Gitane, Peugeot, LeJeune, & Follis,) the makers skimped on costs at the headset, pedals, & seat posts; they used the cheapest of those they could get away with.

Josh said...

How did you handle the rust on the Bicycle? I am working on a rebuild of a 30-year-old Olmo that has some rust spots and I'm not sure what to do about them. I've considered trying to rub them out with tin foil or steel wool (rust may come back) or just repainting the whole bike and getting new decals (expensive). I'm worried if I just leave them, it will weaken the steel and cause problems down the road.

James said...

Josh, rust is a scab. Unless it's flaking, it's fine. If you want to get rid of it and keep the patina, use the tin foil and water trick, then repaint with clear model paint thinned with mineral spirits. A 2:1 ratio, and a few layers, with drying time, works well. Don't use the stock brush, get a nice round brush, (2 bucks or whatever at your local craft store) in a size bigger than ya thing would be wise. Do a few layers on the raw steel after using foil, and you're set.

Or just leave them. Scabs are fine.

Repainting bikes, IMO, unless the paint is in really bad shape, destroys the original character of the bike. As Grant Petersen once said, repaint when there is more raw steel than paint left.

James said...

On the Canti's: Wide profile canti's don't have the high mechanical advantage of low profile Canti's, like VO's Grand Cru Canti's, or the discontinued Paul Stoplites. They have the advantage of good mud clearance as the pads sit further from the rim, and the straddle wire is high, to achieve maximum mechanical advantage. That's what makes them good cross racing brakes: you don't need to stop during a cross race, you just need to scrub speed occasionally. All that said, stiff brake levers, good cables and housing, stiff machined brake hangers front and rear, good ferrules, broken in rim side walls, and high straddle wires all can combine to make this adequate stoppers for anything but larger riders and big hills. Hard to beat brass bushings, easy set up, and insane longevity. Also, they're elegant!