Bianchi Bitsa-MLCB Post #435, November 10, 2019

Sometimes, British cyclists refer to a bicycle made up of components from more than one bike as a bitsa bike. The Bianchi has achieved that status. I took the fork from the Corso. It would fit with a few spacers. This is a temporary solution. Theoretically, I had the problem from the start. I wanted to confirm with a real world test or two. When I replaced the fork, the bike rode straight and true. Everything else was quite the same. I need to replace the chain on the Bianchi. I think the Corso will be happy to oblige. The Corso has become a giving bike. The Bianchi is all about needs.

The Bianchi rides really fine, I might add. It is still all Italian. The Corso was made in Italy, probably by Bottechia or Atala. Probably not to as high a standard as a branded bike. The ride is a little dead. But the fork is light, and tracks well. I may paint it black to show as a replacement fork. But I think it will be replaced, after I take the measurements to order a new one. Or I may just wait for something to come in to the co-op. I have a range of options. I would like something that lets me return the Universal brake to the front fork.

Still, even with the Dia Compe brake on the front now, I am pleased at how the bike has turned out. When everything gets all tuned up, I’m sure this bike will be great. It is light, but steady. I like the purplish blue color. I may try to match it . I am glad I stuck with this bike. It should have been an easy transfer of old parts. But sometimes things don’t work out that way. If everything was easy, there would be no challenge in this . I had hoped to straighten the Bianchi fork. The amount of distortion is beyond my comfort level with a cold set of the fork. The fork crown appears to be cast. It may be in the cards that I take this fork to a shop for straightening. But I still don’t know if I would trust it. If I’m going to worry about something, I’d rather replace.

Bianchi Forks-MLCB Post #433, November 7, 2019

When I tested the Bianchi this week, as it is finished, I found it has a distinct pull to the left, increasing with speed. A very dangerous situation in a bicycle, as I see it. One that would cut any ride short. It may result in a trip to the dentist. While I have nothing against dentists, and know quite a few, I have no interest in going through another serious spill. One broken jaw in life is quite enough. I was glad I detected this problem early enough to solve it easily. And I’m glad I detected it late enough so that I did not wash my hands of this bicycle. Because it’s worth fixing.

I knew there would be issues, I just thought they would be resolved with a new stem and bars. I was wrong. I found one leg of the forks angled out more than the other. This was causing a pull to the opposite side. So the right side fork being bent caused a pull to the left. Surprisingly, the other dimension is not affected. The forks are still in line with each other. It is just that one leg angles out more than the other. But that’ can be all that it takes to make a bad day on the bike. I would think this effect would be greater under load, as on a touring bike.

Other than that, the bike has a tremendous ride. It is light, quick, and maneuverable. It feels like it has some real speed in it. We’ll get it to steer straight before I make any more claims for it. It sure does ride like a bike that is more than the sum of its’ parts. I still have to get all the Shimano 600 groupset to play together nicely on the indexed shifting. But that comes with riding. Steering straight comes before riding and testing. But all else seems well with the frame and the riding characteristics. So I will have the Bianchi on the road before long. Hopefully before the road freezes!

More Brifters-MLCB Post #432, November 3, 2019

I have run across another set of brifters, brakes and shifters combined. These will get the Raleigh Sojourn project going again. Often, I wait until I get certain items before I proceed on a project. I can wait for them to show up. I’m in no hurry. As a matter of fact, I am taking a number of old frames in this week. I’m going to have to turn to more riding and less projects. This will help my health. I want to keep feeling younger as I age. Cycling helps me do that, when I can do it. Wrenching less and riding more will help me keep my weight down and spirits up.

I intend to use the Sojourn as a full on touring bicycle. This will be for heavy touring. I intend to have front and rear racks. The bicycle is specced for disc brakes. That will be new one on me. I also think it will be a welcome change. The greater strength of the system will aid in stopping and maneuver in all sorts of conditions and road surfaces. I don’t have anything against rim brakes. But I think it is a good time to try disc brakes with touring. These are wired disc brakes, as opposed to hydraulic. I think hydraulic disc brakes may be a bit of a challenge for me to maintain.

While the Sojourn is a bit small for me, I think the features will make it worth the size differential. I also like a tourer to be a bit on the small side. That way I can still get on and off easily when it is fully loaded. I have collected some nice disc wheels, as well as some Avid disc brakes. Also some Sora Brifters, and some Deore Derailleurs by Shimano. Preliminary testing of this frame, after it was straightened, shows that while it is not the lightest bicycle, it tracks well and has good handling. Lightness of such a frame is secondary when I am going to load it down with things necessary and beneficial to a tour by bicycle.

Panasonic Roundabout-MLCB Post 431, October 31, 2019

I got the Panasonic going again over the weekend. There was a short period of good weather. I wanted to see some current improvements to the local railroad station. I set off for the station in Normal, in the center of town. It is a very busy station. That is why our older station was replaced with a larger one. The older station is still used. The platforms are for northbound passengers. The platform has been recently expanded, with more outdoor seating. This seems a bit optimistic. The climate around here doesn’t really encourage outdoor waiting areas.

But it looks nice, and the 4-6 months out of the year that this area sees use will be busy. The Panasonic did well on this ride. It showed its’ versatility well. The MC2500 has good geometry for longer rides, if not for mountain bike racing. It does well off road. I was able to test it on a couple of short stretches. I was going to try for an actual trail test. The weather was uncooperative, to say the least. I’ll try again this weekend. I think there will be less likelihood of rain making the trails soggy. I don’t want to tear up local trails with riding when the weather is this wet.

I also found the Hidden Creek Nature Preserve has been preserved from the attentions of the local kids on their bicycles, who used to ride a lot of BMX and MTB back before they closed off the area for preservation of the local weed and grass population. Or whatever is being preserved there. While I admire preserving the environment, it may be nice to replace this area with another area for kids to ride around and have wilderness adventures. In the same neighborhood. Too often I see park areas changed, with the promise of new park areas. These are then built in areas with newer homes and greater economic advantages.

I have also added some fine mountain biking boots to my equipment. I see them as mountain biking boots because they have stiff soles, are sturdy, and have good pedal surface contact. They are also very heavy. This means I will prefer to cart them around on a bike. Walking in them would be pretty tiring. When hiking, I was an early convert to using athletic shoes, and later trail shoes, for forays into the woods. Everything is working out well for the wintry side of my cycling. And the Bianchi is ready for cabling and road tests. We’ll try and get that going before the snow comes and stays. By then, Dawes modifications should be complete.

Listening to the Bicycle-MLCB Post #430, October 27, 2019

While I had a few problems with the Panasonic, I averted real problems by listening to the bicycle. Most of my bicycles are quite silent . When shifting, they make a bit of noise, but mostly they are quiet in their passage across the prairies. When they are making noise, I figure there is a problem. The Panasonic was making a rhythmic noise when I got it. I traced it to the sprocket, and that on one side, the sprocket had a tendency to rub the front derailleur. I figured either the chainring was loose, (which it was) or that the ovalized chainrings were causing problems (which they weren’t)

That didn’t keep me from going to a regular round chainring, as I had a Sugino VP from that era available to replace the Shimano Biopace chainrings that were early ones, and quite oval. I prefer just round chainrings, so I don’t have much use for the Biopace. I was able to set everything up quite easily, and get the Mountain Cat 2500 back on the trails. It’s doing well, although I haven’t been able to do much with off road riding this year, as the trails are quite soggy, and we just got a lot of rain today.

But at least everything is ready for when it does clear up. Bicycle noises can be irritating, hard to find, and even harder to explain. But they serve a purpose in the great scheme of things, in that they point out trouble. Hopefully some time before it happens. I always try to figure out what causes any noise beyond what is normally made by that bicycle. It is a good idea to clean a bicycle often, so you run across problems before you are on the bike, and wanting to go somewhere. That’s the last thing you need, as a cyclist.

Not Much Cycling-MLCB Post #429, October 24, 2019

The Dawes will be getting trekking bars and wider tires for the winter.

I haven’t been able to do as much cycling this year as I had previously hoped. A lot of life has gotten in the way, as have quite a few projects that have proven helpful and useful. But bike wrenching is not bike riding. I’m hoping to get more out of my autumn, and maybe even carry into winter. I’m not going to let things get out of hand like last winter, I’m hoping this one will be better for riding. Projects, beside the Raleigh Sojourn, are going to be fewer. I’m getting to the stage in my life where I have to streamline things. Less clutter, more clever.

Organizing what I need to keep will be a project, luckily I have not had to get rid of bikes, as my fitness has been good enough to still be able to ride my drop bar bikes. Over winter, I’ll be using the Dawes a lot more. It’s an aluminum, low spec bike that has been more or less made for winter riding. I’ve done some upgrades, and I’ve given it a good coat of wax as well. Just because it may have cost less doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get careful maintenance. All the better reason, really, because it has to stand up to the rigors of greater weather.

And then there’s the stationary options, for that last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February when much of the Midwest resembles Antarctica. Sometimes this extends a bit. Some times of the year are good only for upgrading your computer on your days off. And indoor cycling. I have a nice Nashbar cycling trainer. Some of the summer bikes get ridden on that over the winter, so they don’t have their grease get all petrified. There’s also snow shoveling. Lots of snow shoveling. And the photography, the videography, and other hobbies.

Cycling Slightly Ahead of Our Time-MLCB Post #428, October 20,2019

Well, that sure didn’t last long. The Giant has already bid goodbye. I donated it to the bike co-op because I needed the room. What I needed room for was something slightly ahead of our time. A Panasonic Mountain Bike. People don’t think much of Panasonic with bikes, but they made a full line of bicycles in the 1980’s under their own name. They also produced bikes for Schwinn at different times, including the foreign made Paramount PDG bikes, and the Paramount Mountain Bike Series. I tend to put them on a par with Miyata/Univega bicycles of that time.

This bike is Cr-Mo steel . The Giant was high tensile steel. The Paramount is much lighter. It is also a bit larger. This means it can’t get the touring bike treatment, because even though it is lighter and larger, it would be impossible for me to swing a leg over a laden rack on this. I’ve used it for grocery getting, and it doesn’t work out too bad at that. But that is it’s limit. This is why the Trek 950 does what it does so well. It is a slightly smaller frame, with clearance for bags. But the Panasonic is truly great at tackling uneven ground, gravel, and sharp angles encountered on mountain bike trails.

The Panasonic has its limits, though. It cannot race. Technical maneuvers are out as well, due to that long wheelbase and fork trail. The frame itself is long too. But that all fits my demographic to a T. I want to use it mainly for trips into the woods to do photography and just plain trips into the woods. Maybe some fishing. Simple stuff for a rigid mountain bike, I should think. The MC 2500(Mountain Cat, in case you were wondering) is a nice bicycle in many ways. It is light. It is made of steel. It is lugged and brazed. It has 80’s graphics, and that silvery white paint that was so popular in the 80’s.

It has 6 speed Shimano Exage derailleurs and cantilever brakes. The bottom bracket and crank set have a problem, so they may get changed out, depending on what is wrong. It could be bent chain rings, or a bent BB axle. I’m not surprised that a mountain bike that has survived since 1988 would have a few scars to show for it. This bike has already shown itself to be worth the trouble. It is sure footed, climbs well, and handles terrain changes with aplomb. So I don’t mind changing this bike for the Giant. It’s lighter, has more finesse, and is easier to get up hills. It fills in the gaps in my MTB skills.