Road Bike on the Road Again

After months of mountain biking together, my colleague dropped a bombshell; why don’t we do some road riding instead (because he’s a bit soft and wants an easy way to get through Winter).

So I literally dusted off my 25-year-old road bike, made sure that it was road-worthy and started riding it. Almost immediately its shortcomings were clear: heavy (14-15kg), huge (66cm!) and what was I thinking when I bought the Cinelli bullhorn handlebars.

But at the same time, its virtues shone through. The acceleration of the big 27″ (not 700C) wheels was surprisingly good after riding a mountain bike with heavy tyres and thorn-proof tubes. The simple 7-speed rear shifted sweetly, mostly.

The first tentative ride around the block quickly became a 25km loop to Civic to The Cyclery (closed). First lot of adjustments included replacing a wide gel saddle with the old narrow saddle taken from my mountain bike a few months ago. There was life in the old thing yet.

Saturdays rides were ok but bumpy. Gears were clicking and I had to disable SIS to friction shift. Friction was accurate enough with the Deore rear mech. Riding a few new bikes (more in a later post) and finding that shifting is not faster, just more convenient, made me appreciate my bike a bit more.


So Sunday started with an overhaul of the brakes, bottom bracket, shifters and derailleurs. I love old school bikes that I can fix.

The chainwheels flexed by about 10mm with every pedal stroke if I was really cranking, almost enough to drag on either side of the front derailleur as I pedalled.  So I considered replacing the bottom bracket with something stiffer.

Fortunately, when I extracted it with my Sugino tools the sealed bottom bracket was in good condition, if a little rusty on the outside. A quick clean with a scourer pad, lubed the seals and repositioned the cups.

I wanted to shift the chainwheels closer inboard to reduce flex. First problem: the granny ring wouldn’t clear the BB lock ring. Solution: file off excess alloy from the inside. Second problem: inboard granny ring now fouled against chain stay. Solution: get a hammer and bosh it till it fits! Got to love steel.

Result after many trial fittings and BB adjustments was flex reduced to a few mm. (Yes, it should be zero mm but, whatever!)

Rear derailleur needed resetting of the high and low limits. Changed to the smallest cog and shifted up 1, adjusting the tension until the shift was sweet. But as I shifted up, it only hit 6 of the 7 gears.  Yes, my old SIS down tube shifters were only 6-speed, which when I bought them was only exceeded by 7-speed Dura Ace or Campagnolo.  Selecting friction was the only option.

I also removed the rear rack.  That must be worth a few grams.

Now for a ride.

Bike ready for riding.
Bike ready for riding.

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