Friday, 3 March 2017

There's life in those old bikes...

Our bike collections have been building steadily over the past 12 months or so - some exciting additions have been made - I'll go into more detail in later posts - but I wanted to start with my old Dawes Kick-Back.

I've had this bike since the mid 1980s - a steel framed mountain bike, purchased just as mountain biking had become the new craze! It was used sparingly over the next 10 years or so, I rode to work on it a few times: along canal towpaths from Rushall to work in Birmingham, and to work in Lichfield when i had offices there. But then it languished in the shed for 10 years, until we started cycling again around 2008.

This bike cost around £350 back in the day, so not particularly cheap - built from Reynolds steel tube and with Shimano components it was a reasonable set up. Over the years various bits have been replaced of course; it's had a new crankset, new back wheel, various tyre configurations etc, etc. Anyway, the frame was looking particularly tatty, the paint was scratched, flaking or gone. The front and rear derailleur were on their last legs and, generally the bike was tired. With new bikes arriving to populate my bike cave, I did think about throwing this one out or trying to sell it on eBay - but then I decided that I had some time on my hands, I could refurbish the bike, it would be a good exercise in finding parts and doing a total rebuild from the bare frame upwards.

I stripped the bike down, removing all components and carefully labelling them in case they were needed later. Here's the frame - naked!

Next I prepared a sketch of what I wanted, simple, flat colour - green with new decals applied.

I decided to get the frame refinished by Mike Spratt at Vintage Cycle Sport (more about him on later post!) - so the frame was duly packed up and couriered. I also sent the sketch and  a couple of Reynolds tube frame decals that I'd managed to source - Mike would strip the frame entirely, sort out any dings/dents, prime, undercoat and top coat, apply the decals then finish with a top coat of clear lacquer. Here's the sketch of what i wanted.

Meantime I started searching for new parts to rebuild the bike - I decided I may as well replace everything - the bike would be like new and would be good for a few years to come.
I trawled the internet looking for cheap but reliable components - I was amazed at the bargains to be found if you take time to search. I picked up new Shimano rear derailleur, front derailleur, front and back Shimano V-Brakes and 9 speed Shimano rapid-fire shifters. I found green coloured outer cable covers, a new alloy quill stem, new chain and rear cassette - all very cheap. The only things I felt I needed to invest more cash on were wheels and saddle. I decided on a pair of handbill wheels - utilising Ryde Sputnik rims for proven strength and reliability, coupled with Novatec hubs and Sapim spokes - these wheels complete with 9 speed Shimano cassette housing and QR skewers - £140 hand built! - It's amazing the cost of stuff once you step out of that whole carbon/racing/weight arena.

Once I'd got the frame back the build went relatively easily, I spent a pleasurable day setting up the whole thing, cabling up and installing the new V-brakes, installing and configuring the drivetrain and finally taking the bike out for a road test - I've put Marathon Plus tyres on, supposedly puncture-proof - we'll see! - amazingly everything worked just fine. The bike rolls along quietly - in fact it's about the quietest of all my bikes i think?

All-in-all this has been a fantastic exercise - I've effectively got a new bike and I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Total outlay is probably less than £400. In future, when I'm looking for a new bike, I would definitely explore the idea of building one from scratch!

Here's the finished bike... christened 'Kermit' (thanks Gary)

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