Spoke length – How to calculate it!

Spoke length – How to calculate it!

Geplaatst door: op 1 Aug 2015 | Geen reacties

Get the right spoke length, it is easy as pie!

Spoke length and how to calculate it, is the very important first step in building your own bicycle wheel. A job that is not as difficult as some people want you to believe it is. True, it needs practice to get good at it. Almost like learning to play an instrument. But the steps to get there are simple and straightforward. If you stick to them you will make it work. And it gives great satisfaction to ride a bike whose wheels you build yourself. Also it gives you the freedom to choose your own combination of hub and rim.

Personally I learned the wheel building basics from many YouTube videos, like this funny one. But all of them seemed to lack something. As if they only scratch the surface, leaving the essence untouched. As a result my wheels worked, but only imperfectly. This changed when I came across a wheel building guide put together by Roger Musson. From his vast experience in wheel building he wrote down exactly what you need to know. Nothing less, and – to my delight – nothing more. All the BS is excluded and he focuses on the practical side of it. If you are serious about building, and I assume you are, I strongly recommend you get his manual (which he provides at a very affordable price). It was his guide that taught me to perfect my game, build wheels like playing an instrument and turn this work into art!

In the video I show how you calculate the required spoke length:

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Cleaning Bicycle Parts – It works wonders

Cleaning Bicycle Parts – It works wonders

Geplaatst door: op 25 Jul 2015 | Geen reacties

Cleaning bicycle parts brings out the best!

It’s a true statement, cleaning bicycle parts does work wonders. Often I get a bike whose derailleurs, hubs and other parts are covered in mud and smut. But I also know that in the old days they knew about producing quality. Chances are those grimy parts still are in good shape. Ready to be used for many more years to come. And shining in their vintage appeal. All they need is some proper care and attention. To me vintage is all about using original components and leaving as many as possible on the bicycle.

My first step in providing proper care is cleaning bicycle parts. I start off with dismantling the bike, taking out each and every component. In turn I disassemble those components into its constituent parts (as far as this can be done). Next I pile all parts into a plastic container, fill it up with petroleum and let it rest overnight.

If you are cleaning bicycle parts for the first time I recommend you do not mix too many of the disassembled parts in one container. Make sure you remember how to put them back together afterwards. Tip: for instance you can leave one brake intact while you disassemble and cleanse the other. Once clean you can use the intact brake as an example for re-assembling the other one.

The next day you can easily rub off the most tenacious fat, oil and dirt with a toothbrush. Once the dirt is removed I rinse the components in turpentin (white spirit) to remove any petroleum residue. This is to allow fresh grease to be applied later. You can leave the components to dry by itself and let the turpentin vaporise.

During the cleaning process I wear plastic gloves that are able to resist chemicals. I found the petroleum slowly eats away at normal ‘washing up’ gloves. And I don’t like this stuff on my skin.

In this video I demonstrate what cleaning bicycle parts looks like:

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Leather saddles – How you can break them in quickly

Geplaatst door: op 14 Jul 2015 | Geen reacties

Leather saddles need breaking in. Period!

If you ever bought a new leather saddle, you know that they start off being hard and tough. Not a pleasure to ride on by any means. It can take many miles of cycling and up to a year before the leather gets  a little flexible and starts to take your butt’s shape. Once you reach that point it will be your best friend. And, if you care for him a little, will be so for a very long time. Cause, on the upside, leather is very durable.

Especially its luxurious look, its craftsmanship and reputation for quality are what draws me to the Brooks collection of leather saddles. Although less so now, they also used to produce a large array of coloured saddles. Something I happily combined in my bike designs. However, I found the saddles too hard and I did not put them on my own bike. This changed when I came across a blogpost that mentioned Lon Haldeman’s method for breaking in a leather saddle WITHIN A WEEK. This sparked my curiosity and I started his method that same day. Btw, Lon himself claims he does it in a day!

In a nutshell – the full method is explained by himself – it involves soaking the new leather saddle in warm water, giving it a long massage, riding it and applying lots and lots of mink oil. So far I broke in three leather saddles – two Brooks Professionals and one Brooks B17 – and in each case I found his method to work really well. Not only do the leather saddles become very comfortable to ride on (especially the B17) they also get this nice vintage patina.  One point of criticism is that the coloured leather saddles loose their paint quite easily. Take care what trousers you wear while breaking these in.

So all you need to get going is some mink oil – I got a tin from Red Wing boots – a cloth and a towel.

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Remove Rust from Chrome – Four ways to do it

Geplaatst door: op 22 Dec 2014 | Geen reacties

Remove Rust from Chrome – Make it Shine Again

Chrome adds a sense of quality to a bicycle and it simply looks good. However, with time rust does tend to creep under and over your  chrome. Especially if the bike is left unattended for a long period of time. Consequently your once flashing chrome now lends your bike an illusion of dilapidation. Illusions are there to be spiked and in this case it is no different. To remove rust from chrome you don’t need to be Einstein. It can be done simply and effectively. There probably are uncountable ways to remove rust from chrome. In this post and video four ways are demonstrated.

In terms of simplicity I really like the Tinfoil Method. We all have a roll of aluminium foil lying in our kitchen cupboard. Rip of a nice big piece and keep folding it until you have a solid, small piece that you can easily hold in your hand. Dip the tip in some water and then start scraping the rust from your chrome surface. You will be surprised how well this works. Tinfoil is harder than rust but weaker than chrome. So out goes your rust while leaving your chrome scratchless.

Other methods to remove rust from chrome depend on what your situation calls for. Fine specs of rust can be easily removed with a cloth and metal polish. I use Autosol Metal Polish. If you stumbe upon some harder bits of rust take a copper brush – a spark plug brush – to brush it off. A brush also works well to reach little nooks and crannies. For the most tenacious rust I resort to a fine grade steel wool! But only if no hope is left, because this may scratch your chrome.

Your old rotten bike may well turn out to be a rising Phoenix once you’re done. Shining like the old days. But, hay, don’t be dismayed if rust has defeated your bike. You can still have the parts rechromed again.

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Bicycle Headset – How to install it

Geplaatst door: op 21 Nov 2014 | Geen reacties

A bicycle headset gets a constant banging

On many of the vintage bikes I work on it appears to be the bicycle headset that has suffered most. Shown by little indentations in the cups caused by bearings that received too little care and got stuck. This means the end of your bicycle headset and it will need to be replaced. To prolong your headset’s life I recommend you clean and grease it once a year.  However it may already be too late for that and you need to put in a new one.

Let me explain how you do that in case you don’t have the appropriate tools. What you need to change your bicycle headset are a hammer, a flat tip screwdriver with a large tip and a piece of (hard)wood. First we remove the old headset. Take out the front fork, if you have not already done so. Place the tip of the screwdriver inside the head tube on the edge of the cup. Carefully give a few blows on the top the screwdriver. Now place the tip on the opposite edge of de cup and give a few more blows. Then put the tip back in the original position and hammer it. Keep repeating this until the cup comes out of the tube. Do the same for the other cup. Removing the fork crown is done likewise. Take the fork, turn it upside down, support the end on a piece of wood and place the tip of the screwdriver on the edge of the crown. Give it a few blows, move the tip to the other side, more blows, etc.

Now it is time to put in the bicycle headset. Grease the inside of your head tube where the cups will come. Support one end of the head tube on something solid, a table top for example. Place the cup – make sure you have the right one – on the other end. Put the piece of wood over it and carefully hammer it in. Do the same for the other cup. Now comes the new fork crown. Place the fork upright on a solid underground, drop the crown over the fork tube. Place the hardwood on one edge of the crown and hammer it down. Move the wood to the crown edge on the other side and hammer it give it a few gentle blows.. Keep going until it is fully in place. It may be that the fork tube is too wide for the crown to fit. In this case you need to file the tube until the crown fits.

Next the new bearings can be placed in the cups of the bicycle headset. Put a nice helping of bearing grease in the cups (I use Cyclus Lagerfett). Too much is better than too little. Any excess gets pushed out when you install the fork and can be wiped off. Nowadays bearings come in so called cages but loose ones work just as well. If you have a cage make sure the ‘teeth’ of the cage point towards the cup. This may seem logical as it makes a better fit, but some people get confused. In case of loose bearings, fill up the cup with ball bearings until they are tightly pressed against one another. Than take one out. Headset bearing sizes most frequently are 3/16″ or 5/32″.

Reassemble your front fork and your bicycle headset is ready for use. In the video I demonstrate what changing a bicycle headset looks like, using both ordinary and appropriate tools.

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De Stevige Standaard

Geplaatst door: op 20 Nov 2014 | Geen reacties

Op veel van mijn, voornamelijk racefiets, projecten past geen standaard. Ten eerste omdat er geen bevestigingspunt op het frame zit maar ook omdat het er slecht uitziet. In dit geval was ik een fiets aan het opbouwen waarbij de standaard niet op de bodemplaat paste. Eerst moest ik dus wat aanpassingen doen voordat ik de standaard kon bevestigen. In dit filmpje laat ik zien hoe.

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Koppige cups

Geplaatst door: op 18 Nov 2014 | Geen reacties

Soms komt er een fiets binnen die volledig door roest is veroverd. WD40 maakt gelukkig een hoop los. Maar een bracket cup is andere koek, die kan soms muurvast zitten. Dit overkwam mij met Jeunet, een Franse fiets. Om de cup toch te lossen, maak ik een hefboom. In onderstaande video toon ik hoe.

Let op welke draad je bracket heeft, voordat je begint met hameren. Is het Italiaanse (36x24F) of Franse draad, dan draai je de cup linksom los. Is het Engelse/BSA draad (1,37×24) dan draai je de cup er rechtsom uit. Dit verschil geldt alleen voor de cup aan de rechter, of aandrijfkant, van je fiets. De linkercup draait er in alle gevallen linksom uit.

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Tweaking Brooks kurken

Geplaatst door: op 12 Nov 2014 | Geen reacties

De kurken die Brooks meelevert met hun stuurlint hebben een nadeel. Ze zijn moeilijk de stuurbuis in te duwen, om zodoende het stuurlint te fixeren. Om die reden pas ik de kurken een beetje aan. In deze video laat ik zien wat ik doe.

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Snel een band verwisselen

Geplaatst door: op 9 Nov 2014 | Geen reacties

Het omleggen van een nieuwe band om de velg is een simpel karweitje. Als je weet hoe het moet, gaat het ook nog eens heel snel. In dit filmpje laat ik zien hoe ik dat doe.

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Spaken verwijderen

Geplaatst door: op 7 Nov 2014 | Geen reacties

Als je spaken aan gort zijn, maar de naaf en velgen zijn nog bruikbaar, dan wil je de spaken verwijderen. Je kunt ze er natuurlijk een voor een uitdraaien, maar dat duurt een eeuwigheid. Hier laat ik twee manieren zien waarop ik het doe.

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