house of the rising sun

 

When the world gets me down (which it does on a disturbingly regular basis), I normally jump on a bike, point it towards the horizon and not come back again until I’m feeling better… I’m sorry to say the world got to me this week and I was very much in need of some cycle therapy; only problem was, I’ve been so busy recently that I was so tired I couldn’t face going for a ride.

So, I did the only thing I could do. I headed out to the shed and built myself a new bike instead.

I suppose it’s a little bit worrying that I have the makings of a new bike just lying around the place… I think what’s more worrying is that I actually have the makings of several… ssshhh… don’t tell Karen, she’d kill me dead.

Anyway, onto the build. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me take any ‘before’ or ‘during’ pictures so you’ll just have to settle for these few ‘after’ shots:

45295_10151298532389863_480047877_nIt’s a Sun GT10 from the 1980s, originally built by Raleigh and quite literally bristling with parts branded as Raleigh and / or Sturmey Archer which (according to the internet) were effectively one and the same company around that time.

Essentially, it’s your traditional 27″ wheeled, steel framed 10 speed road bike which came to me with the original vinyl saddle, foam wrapped drop bars and awful ‘safety’ brake levers. The amber wall Schwalbe tyres you see here are modern replacements and really aren’t my favourite thing in the world but they have good tread, puncture protection and I suppose they suit the age of the bike well.

261409_10151298532684863_1337481825_nThe drivetrain is the original 10 speed with Raleigh branded chainset and derailleurs; I’ve got a feeling they’re actually made by Huret because they look exactly like the ones on my Falcon, only with different engraving on the derailleurs themselves and the downtube shifters. All I needed to do was throw a brand new KMC chain on, replace all the cables and make a few adjustments to get it purring again.

312836_10151298532509863_1800075579_nThe modern twist I decided to put on this bike was a set of Charge Slice bullhorn bars in dazzling cyan. The blue compliments the decals on the frame and the underside of the saddle (albeit a slight mismatch). The brake levers are the real extravagance on this bike though; they’re Cane Creek 200TT and yes, they are made of carbon fibre! I used these levers once before on a Coventry Eagle single speed and I can report they’re super light and really comfortable to use even if they were a little tight fitting into the bar ends.

484274_10151298532479863_1557117448_nThe final modern touch comes in the shape of a special edition Charge Griffin Bucket saddle with an odd camouflage design.

Normally, I like to match the colour of the saddle with the bars and / or bar tape but with the blue bars and the silver frame and the… whatever colour that saddle is, the only thing I could do was put black bar tape on.

Well, it’s not my favourite bike of all time and as similar as it may be to my Falcon, I don’t think it’s anything like as nice but that’s probably a good thing; if I don’t fall in love with it, it’s so much easier to sell!

in my hands

 

A tenuous musical link, I’ll admit; I just couldn’t resist a bit of angst ridden grunge from the 90s.

How does one measure the success of a blog? Is it by the number of hits every day? How many likes each post gets? Maybe the number of comments received? I don’t know and I suspect it’s different for everyone…

When I started this blog, the aim was to share some of my knowledge with the people out there in the blog-o-sphere and, hopefully, save them from making some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. In the early days, I was lucky to get more than a few hits each day and now, as I approach 5000 all time views, I’m getting anywhere between 40 and 80 views every day; the majority of which come from Google.

So, I thought it was high time I started answering some of the questions I’ve been (indirectly) asked. This week, we’ll explore such mysteries as “Why do people hate bullhorn bars so much” and “Will bullhorns work on my MTB?” and “bullhorn handlebars gear shifter”. Unfortunately, we don’t have time today for “miley cyrus white wicker basket” or “barendi porn tube”… *slow, sad headshake*

If you’ve ever clicked around this site, you’ll know I’m the proud owner of a vintage Falcon Panther 10 speed road bike which I rescued from the scrapheap; regular readers will also know I’m no fair weather cyclist and I don’t shy away from taking my bikes over challenging terrain. However, when it comes to wheeling the Falcon out, all of this goes out the window.

The 40 year old centre pull Dia Compe caliper brakes do work but they’re hardly the most effective thing and, even the mention of moisture in the air turns stopping into a mere aspiration.

The 1 1/8″ wide Continental Ultra Sport slick tyres are fast yet sticky on smooth, warm tarmac but, again, the very mention of any kind of rain / oil spots / wet painted lines / shiny manhole covers and it becomes skittish and grumpy, threatening to throw its younger passenger off at a moment’s notice.

Give it 80psi in those 27″ tyres, point it towards the epic scenery only t’ North can provide on a crisp, clear, breathless Autumn day and the grumpy old bugger turns into a feisty teenager again; champing at the bit, wanting to go faster and faster, urging you to fiddle with the (less than precise) Huret downtube shifters and stick it in the big ring. What was I going to do, say no?

Exhausted as I may be today, I forced myself to throw some baggy shorts and a baggy jersey on (you can’t wear lycra on an old bike), grab my hipster style shoulder bag and, with no idea where I might end up, the front wheel turned left and up the nearest hill I went. The ride was as beautiful as the weather and, heading north from Middleton, I somehow ended up at Hollingworth Lake before looping back again through Royton and Shaw; a fine way to spend a couple of hours, despite the throngs of fat people queuing for fish and chips at t’ lake.

Anyway, back t’ t’ bars. When I restored the bike, I decided to remove the old drop bars and safety [suicide] levers in favour of fitting a pair of Charge’s excellent Slice bullhorn bars. Primarily, this was a bit of an experiment as I’ve often admired the look these bars give but I’d never ridden with them before.

Essentially, the riding position is the same as you get with traditional road (or drop) handlebars in that you can ride on the flats or on the ‘hoods’ by the brake levers and there’s always the relaxed holding-the-curved-bit-in-between-position which I favour. What you don’t get, of course, is the option to ride in the drops or the hooks (favoured by roadies) which helps cut down wind resistance and is arguably more comfortable.

You’ll notice here that my Charge bars clamp quite happily into the original stem thanks to the 25.4mm clamp; this means that yes, they’ll also clamp into standard 25.4mm mountain bike stems. But no, this doesn’t mean that would be a good idea. You see, the brake levers and gear shifters you find on mountain bikes generally have a 22.2mm (I think) clamp size and the diameter of these bars is much larger so they simply won’t slide on. I chose to go with Dia Compe time trial style levers which fit very nicely into the bar ends; now, here’s the other problem with using these bars on MTBs, the cable pull from these levers is designed for road style brakes so, unless you have cantilevers on your bike, they ain’t gonna work.

The final problem, should you overcome the stem & brake issues is gear levers. As I’ve already said, standard MTB style shifters simply won’t work on these bars so you’re down to fitting your shifters elsewhere; this really only leaves you with downtube shifters. And, of course, downtube shifters (unless they’re full friction) are designed to work with road style derailleurs which you wouldn’t have on your mountain bike…

…unless…

…are you thinking of using an old, steel, rigid mountain bike as a commuter with road tyres? And you like the idea of road bars but can’t get on with riding in the drops? Alas, bullhorns are still not for you. What you want is a pair of butterfly bars. But, that’s a topic for another day.

Bullhorns are great for me on my Falcon but they certainly aren’t for everyone; they also work great on single speeds and fixed gear bikes but I have to say, I think fitting them on a mountain bike would be a mistake.