Monday, April 19, 2010

Tips for being bike OCD like me

So I've just finally recovered from all the sweat and tears that went in to my Lemond Paris-Roubaix build. Totally knocked the bike geek out of me for a few days. I'm back now, though, and raring to go on new projects!

First, though, some things I learned/relearned when working on this latest project.

  • Researching Bikes
  • I've mentioned them before, but there are some incredibly valuable websites out there for anyone research about team bikes. I leaned on them while documenting Merckx team bikes, and I continued that trend while working on the Lemond. My usual tactic is to look up a team, load up the picture pages for each of the riders on that team, and see what turns up for pictures. Here's the list: is particularly awesome - its got an english interface, and their search facilities are really excellent.

    Google searches won't help find a picture of a specific bike unless its captioned. So get creative. If you're looking for pictures of a bike from a specific year, search for events that bike would have been used in - in this case, "Paris-Roubaix 1994" and the like.

    Period magazines are key! I had a whole slew of 1993/1994 magazines already, but eBay is a great place to keep an eye on as well. There's bound to be pictures of the bike you're looking for if you look hard enough.

    Here's a trick I recently started employing. When you DO find pictures of the bike you're looking for, or even pictures of events you think will have pics of your bike, Google the photographers name. This will usually show up on the side or bottom of any picture - both the photog's name, and the agency they were working for. I found a picture in a magazine by Stefano Serotti. Googling him turned up his website, and a ton of pictures of riders on the frame in question at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

  • Building Wheels
  • About 10 years ago, I used to build wheels regularly, but hadn't built any since maybe 2004. This build called for a somewhat special wheel set, and I decided I'd do it myself.

    First - tensiometers are awesome. I had never built with one before, but I'm older and wiser these days. I highly recommend using one. It took a lot of guesswork out of building my wheels. Recommended tensions are available from most vendors. Keep all of your spokes in the same ballpark, and you'll end up with strong, straight wheels that can stand up to anything - including the horrible cobbles of Brooklyn. My 571/2 wheelset stayed straight and properly tensioned. They may even be straighter now than before they were ridden!

    While I'm older and wiser, I still like to save some money when I get a chance. I've used Wheelsmith Spoke Prep in the past to good results. This go around, though, I really didn't want to buy a $20 jar that'd end up going dry before I used it again. So I did a little research, and made a little bet with myself that PTFE plumber's pipe thread compound isn't radically different than the Wheelsmith stuff. Same general design goals - lubricate the threads, act as a quasi-thread locker, without hardening. The PTFE versions contain teflon, just like the Wheelsmith stuff. Regardless of whether its EXACTLY the same, it works great, can be obtained at a decent hardware store, and is dirt cheap - I paid $3 for a tube that'll last me through at least a dozen pairs of wheels. Don't use too much though, it can be a little messy.

    Finally, the Wheel Fanatyk blog is awesome, and this tip of theirs is brilliant. In a nutshell, you build and partially tension the drive side of the rear wheel first, adjust for roundness, and then tension the non-drive side to bring the wheel in to dish and trueness. Done correctly, the spoke tension will be perfect on the drive side just as the wheel becomes properly dished. Touch up trueness, make sure its still round, and you're done - in less time that it takes to build a front wheel. I found myself needing to lower the tension on the drive side as I was pulling the rim to the center, and would probably initially tension the drive side to 60% when building an 8 speed whel in the future (at least, that same hub + rim combo). Even still, it was a far, far easier method for building a rear wheel than I had ever employed before.

    None of my pictures show them off, but I made custom Mavic team-style decals for my rims, like you'd see on a set of Paris-Roubaix tubulars. You know, the individual letter decals M A V I C that show up just over to the right of the valve stem. There are tons of custom vinyl decal cutters on the Internet. I used this guy, and they came out great. I think it was a nice little touch on my part, that I entirely managed to not photograph. Oops!

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Tomorrow: Paris-Roubaix! Brooklyn Pavé reminder

    I don't know about you, but in order to get a whole Sunday for watching a race and going for a ride, I have to put in some family time the day before. So just a quick reminder for you New Yorkers about tomorrow's ride:

    1pm: Meet up at Old Stone House
    2pm: roll out
    5ish: return

    Beers/foods in the general area. Either The Gate, Park Slope Ale House, or location TBD.

    Same caveats as before - this is a friendly little ride not affiliated with any responsible entity. If the rider has a flat or breaks a fork or gets socked by Bernard Hinault, we'll help out but we're not culpable.

    Friday, April 09, 2010

    2 days! Who's ready for Paris-Roubaix? This guy right here

    Just in case you hadn't noticed, I have a couple of topics I seem to write about. I'm clearly a Mavic junkie, a super-fan of late 80's/early 90's racing, and a pave obsessive. Most roadies cringe when you say Rock Shox, but I get all excited at the thought of suspension on cobbles.

    So when an insane opportunity arose to merge all of those in to one project emerged, I couldn't say no.

    What we have here is the nexus of all the things that get me excited in a bike. Lemond Team GAN, decked out about as close as possible to the bike Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle rode the latter portion of 1994's edition of Paris-Roubaix.

    In 1994, GAN was sponsored by Mavic, and rode the Zap electronic shifters in some events - or at least, tried to. As you can see here, Lemond was riding Zap at least a little during the spring classics.

    I'm not going to make any assumptions about why, but they did NOT ride Zap in Paris-Roubaix (and, in fact, in a lot of other races as well...but thats a different topic). Instead they rode a mixed drivetrain - the crank was a Mavic 631/2, the 862 front derailleur, and 571/2 front and rear hubs. For shifters, they used Campagnolo's Record Ergopower shifters, along with a Record rear derailleur. The 571/2 would likely have had a Campagnolo Exa Drive body on it, though it could also have been a custom spaced Mavic proprietary cassette.

    Up front, they were riding Rock Shox Paris-Roubaix SL forks. Mavic 451 brakes. Cinelli bars and stems - Duclos-Lassalle rode Criterium bars (yes, with Ergopower). They used a variety of stems on the bikes, including the Oyster and the 101.

    Selle San Marco saddles - some Rolls, some Regals, and some Titanios. Selcof posts.

    Obviously, a few liberties were taken in building the bike. I'm in no way scared of tubulars, but I AM scared of the price tag associated with Mavic Paris-Roubaix rims. Tracking down the 1994 version of the Record Ergopowers proved something of a pain, so I acquiesced and went with a set of 1995 Chorus levers - identical to the Records of the prior year, save some cutouts in the lever. There are a few other things I know are wrong, but I'll leave it to the astute - and annoying - reader to nitpick on my project.

    I'll be riding this bike Sunday, April 11 in the Brooklyn Pavé ride. It's a ride around Brooklyn, hitting some of the handful of cobbled streets that still remain. It starts at the Old Stone House in Park Slope (4th St. + 5th Ave) at 1pm - we roll out at 2. Please note - this is a friendly little ride not affiliated with any responsible entity. If the rider has a flat or breaks a fork or gets socked by Bernard Hinault, we'll help out but we're not culpable. Moderate pace over some pretty bumpy roads - you'll feel 'em way more than I will, what with my suspension fork - so nerves, or at least an ass of steel recommended. Email me (upper right corner of this page!) for additional info.

    Wednesday, April 07, 2010

    Still 4 days until Paris-Roubaix

    I'm only scratching the surface! More cobbled mayhem all week!

    VeloNews, April 26, 1993

    4 days to Roubaix: The correct answer is "elastomer"

    A few months ago, I wrote about the full suspension bikes that some Team Gan members were riding in 1994 at Paris-Roubaix. At the time, I wasn't sure what the deal with the rear suspension was - was it air/oil, or elastomer. The article below solves that mystery. (it was elastomer)

    That's a whole lotta technology on Greg's bike in the above scan. Early SRM power meter, Mavic Zap shifters. Most riders don't care what they ride, but Lemond definitely was the bike geek's racer - he was more willing to try out some of the new technologies that were beginning to emerge, even if some of those technologies, like electronic shifting, are only just becoming viable today.

    MERCKX TEAM COLOR SCHEME ALERT: The Lotto rider between Lemond and Cipo is riding a Caloi - which is really an relabeled Merckx. Different color scheme that I'd previously documented - guess I was right when I said there was a Lotto scheme I was missing.

    Tuesday, April 06, 2010

    5 days until Paris-Roubaix

    Cycle Sport, April 1994

    Monday, April 05, 2010

    Strong Backs and Weak Minds

    Harry's exhibit about the Coney Island Velodrome, Strong Backs and Weak Minds: The Saga of the Coney Island Velodrome opens this week at the Old Stone House in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. If you find yourself in the area, make sure to stop in for a visit!

    HIncapie's rookie year Paris-Roubaix

    This'll be George Hincapie's 14th try at Paris-Roubaix, I believe. He's come close to winning, finishing 2nd in 2005, with a handful of other top ten finishes. He's got the experience, but it seems to take a liberal dose of luck to succeed.

    Here's a little one pager from 1994 about him, from the June issue of Winning magazine. I wonder what 20 year old George Hincapie would have said had they asked him whether he would be racing Paris-Roubaix 16 years later - let alone whether he'd be considered a contender.

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