Sunday, August 28, 2011

thruster handlebars

obviously there are a few handlebar set-ups
I'm yet to try.

HooKooKechoo parlez vous?

gary has gone decidedly french
his frame geometry and cantilever brake braze-ons
allowing me to experiment with a 650b wheel set-up
and the lovely grand bois hétre tyres.

1990 Hoo Koo E Koo converted to 650b

something about those ochre tyres... 
they just make you want to ride the bike
all the time.
actually they look strange without mudguards.
old shimano altus canti brakes give some more up-down adjustment
for the brake pads, as the new 650b's are bigger than the old 26" mtb wheels.

are they the shite?
well being bigger than the old wheels, there's definitely more roll to them.
only done about 30kms on them so too soon to tell.
the stronglight 49d cranks are working beautifully
with the deore mechs.

for the record
here is a very informative page about this bike in its original glory
maybe one of the last Gary Fishers before he sold the company

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Know your bike shop - the boutique

if you like old bikes like me
you'll occasionally have to buy old stuff for them.
there's not much that a boutique bike shop can provide other than
over-enthusiatic remarks about your bike
how it's really like one
they own
or their mate owns
and perhaps some unnecessarily high prices

but you can usually get:
if you 
want it.

but how do you know if you are in a boutique bike shop?
very few bikes for a start
if any
maybe some frames.
clothing as far as the eye can see
that looks like the stuff you always leave at the op shop
but made new by university-educated white folk
so its expensive and they made

staff are between 25 and 27 years of age
and either male
men or
of the masculine gender.
check closely if any staff look like they are of the feminine gender
ask yourself
does she look like she could beat you up quite easily?
if yes
you're in pony.

lots of cool phrases pepper their pitch for your business like
good times
and dude.

some ride to work in their work shoes
which is lucky because their work shoes are clipless.
which is a strange term
since they are neither clipless nor clopless when
walking around on polished floorboards.

but the litmus test:
when they ask what year was your bike made
and you say
and they say
that's so cool 
then you know you're in a boutique bike shop.
if you don't need anything on the list
then leave quickly
your lack of obvious tattooing 
or at the very least
curated hair is offensive to their eyes
and you have brought mainstream unto their house.

Know your bike shop - the modern

if you like old bikes like me
you'll occasionally have to buy new stuff for them.
there's not much that a modern bike shop can provide other than
disdainful remarks about your bike
how it's even older than last year
and perhaps some unnecessarily high prices

but you can usually get:
tyre repair kits
some of the more common tools
gear and brake cable
brake pads
I think that's about it.

but how do you know if you are in a modern bike shop?
lots of bikes for a start
as far as your eyes can see.
usually all the same brand.
staff are between 35 and 37 years of age
unless they're younger
and either male
men or
of the masculine gender.
check closely if any staff look like they are of the feminine gender
ask yourself
has she moved in the last five minutes
is she 3 dimensional.
if no to the first she is most likely a mannequin (see pic above)
if no to the second question
she is a promotional cut-out
or a poster.
talking to her will be slightly less helpful than talking to her colleagues.

lots of cool phrases pepper their pitch for your business like
good times
and dude.

some ride to work in their work shoes
which is lucky because their work shoes are clipless.
which is a strange term
since they are neither clipless nor clopless when
walking around on polished concrete.

but the litmus test:
when they ask what year was your bike made
and you say
and they say
that's really old
then you know you're in a modern bike shop.
if you don't need anything on the list
then leave quickly
your bike is offensive to their eyes
and you have brought violence unto their house.

Monday, August 22, 2011

For Nick and Vito

1987 Raleigh Randonner with long cage Sachs-Huret rear derailleur
more pics here and another chap's RR here.
Sachs-Huret are now Sram.

1981 looks like the date for this one, more pics of the same bike here
can't find out the model name though: Criterium? Olympic?
Super Vitus 971 tubing is apparently butted, high-strength low alloy medium carbon steel 
either XC35 or XC38, 0.9mm to 0.6mm wall thickness, or so I am told

there was something else I was going to look for as well but I can't think what it was...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

5 speed bikes are better because

even thought the Sport will have 10
because that was the way she was made
i prefer 5 speeds.
too many speeds means too many gear changes.
think of your bike as being a single speed
then when things really get tough you can suddenly remember
you've got other options.

this Ebisu probably has 10 speeds actually, but still the same idea: single front ring

5 speeds also means
half the number of gear levers and gear cables
if you like thumb shifters
it means you have the other side of your bars for 
a bell or light or cupholder or whatever

on a bike like Victor you don't need a small ring
or a granny gear because he's so light you can get up any hill
just by using your legs.

gary is a bit different
because he's so ckufing heavy it's just no fun riding him
without some pretty low gears
but he's still only got 10
not 21.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Phoenix 1027 tubing

currently the interwebs' best repository of Viscount wisdom is a single thread on the cycle touring club forum, based in the UK.
the thread itself is the longest on the forum and at (currently) 24 pages,
is a bit tricky to sort through.
doing a search for something else I came across this great exchange
on page 9,
fascinating info on the tubing that Aerospace frames were made from,
Phoenix 1027

cyclingthelakes wrote:Can't help but add in some resources in case Busaste was not aware, the Classic Rendezvous discussion email forum, , not that easy to sift through, honestly, I think the discussion here is better but something still for everybody.

Also, Viscount catalog here: ... 577/detail I think most of us have seen these.

The Viscount is whippy but highly manoeuvrable and agile, I rode it in the maze of a storage area the other day and could make all the corners with no sweat, I still had to get out my trusty Motobecane 'steel is real' bike out, there's also something nice about a bike that absorbs for a change of pace and is very sturdy.


If Busaste sees this or anyone else, here is an interesting historical post:

"Archive-URL: ... 6.0155.eml
From: "Norris Lockley" <norris(AT)>
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2005 23:53:56 +0100
Subject: [CR]Viscount frames and cycles

A great deal had been written about the cast aluminium fork that appears
to have caused so much grief to the riders of the early Lambert
bikes,and although I have been in the cycle industry actively in the UK
for nearly 40 years after having taken a short break away from it in the
60s, I was never aware of the problems with the fork.
When I started retailing again in the 70s the Viscount range was very
well known and respected, with the top-of-the range "Aerospace" model
being very popular in that tier of sales below the genuine hand-built
frames.The bronze-welded frames were known to be very light, and as I
recall, bore a decal testifying to the nature of the tubing. The company
even supported a team of Pro riders for a while.

In England at that time it was assumed that all lightwieghrt frames were
built from one of the range of Reynolds 531 tube sets..although I
remember that the 531SL version was launched in the mid-70s and Raliegh
were using the 753 tubes sets.
Accles and Pollock's "Kromo" had ceased to be produced, but frames were
coming in from France built from Durifort, Vitus, Jex, and from Italy
using Columbus and one or two less known brands.

No one in the trade seemed to know what non-lightweight tubing was
being used, apart from TI's "Tru-Wel". Apparently many reasonable
quality frames, ie good quality sports frames were using Mazzucato tubes
from Italy.

Viscount however in their search for "home-grown" materials and products 
sourced their "Aerospace" tubing from a company called Phoenix, a 
manufacturer based in Wednesbury not far from Birmingham. Not much is 
known about Phoenix tubing except that it was thought to be a plain 
gauge seamed , rather than a double-butted drawn and seamless tubing. 
Additionally it was a Chrome-Moly rather than a Chrome-Manganese. It 
might have been used by other builders but I cannot remember any 
references to it.

It did however surface again some years after the Viscount Company 
finally closed its doors, and was used by Falcon Cycles as the three 
main tubes in the companies top-of-the-range frame of that time. I can't 
remember the model, but in the UK it was finished
in a flam. burgundy with some chrome somewhere in the rear triangle. The 
front forks were sourced from Tange, the lugs were long point Prugnat 
with windows. The frame when built into a bike used the Campag Gran 
Sport groupset. Maybe it was exported to the States. I recall seeing the 
new model in the office of Billie Holmes, the former ace time-triallist 
and roadman, who was at that time - early 80s - the Sales Manager for 
Falcon. Billy claimed that there was a weight-saving in the main 
triangle of 4 ozs when compared with 531DB.. and of course it was much 

The tubing also found its way into the workshops of a number of
lightweight frame-builders who rather unscrupulously substituted the
tubing for reynolds 531 DB, but the frame decals never told the truth,
Slightly later on Falcon suffered a very bad fire in its paint plant,
the reult of which is that several thousand "fire-damaged" frames were
sold off as salvage, only to enter the retail supply chain carrying all
manner of makers' names.. including some well-known ones.

So if you have a frame answering this description.. look closely at the
rear drop-outs and if they are Shimano's long road version of the
well-known Campagnolo ones.. start wondering.

Norris Lockley...Settle, Uk


So Falcon cycles used that same sort of tubing (Aerospace) at a later date?


Thanks for that. I have read this information before and it is all very true.

Phoenix Tube Co. Ltd. made steel tubing mostly for aerospace applications e.g. parts of the struts on Boeing 747s, fuselages on stunt aircraft. Originally it was used by Lambert for their frames. This was for - allegedly - three main reasons:

a) Raleigh would not allow them to use Reynolds as they were really worried about this new 'upstart' Lambert company who were claiming that they would soon be making 50,000 bikes per year.
b) Great price.
c) Performance.

So what of this mythical Phoenix tubing? It came in two grades, '101' and '1027'. When Lambert went bust in 1974 (an amazing story in itself by the way...) Viscount was born out of the ashes of this mess. Viscount's 'Aerospace' frames were made to the same specification, in the same factory and on the same jigs as Lambert's lugless frames. The grade of tubing used was also Phoenix '1027'. In other words Viscount frames were basically the same as Lamberts albeit built to more rigorous standards. If it aint broke, etc...
It is only my opinion but, and this is backed up by other frame builders I have spoken to, that the Phoenix tube was amazing! Viscount greatly increased their quality control compared to Lambert and amongst other things, conducted a number of tests on the Phoenix tube.Allegedly, despite being markedly thinner walled, the Phoenix tube in these tests out performed Reynolds 531 double butted (that statement is bound to enrage the purists but there you go!). At the time Viscount backed this claim up with a report - which was available to any one - of the testing carried out by an independent company. I am desperate to see that report by the way so I can add it to my very nerdy Viscount database/records.
The official spec of Phoenix '1027' tubing was as follows:
Cold drawn seamless chrome molybdenum alloy steel
Exceeds the performance required from the following aircraft specification:
American Aircraft Specification MIL-T-6736A
British Aircraft Specification NR 3T50
Minimum physical properties:
Yield stress tons/square inch = 45 tons
Tensile strength tons/square inch = 50 tons
Elongation percentages on 2 inch gauge length = 12.5%
The Viscount Aerospace frames were also subject to a variety of 'to destruction' tests required by American consumer regulations. In addition other unique to Viscount brutal frame/tube tests were also added. One of my favourites was where 12000lbs in weight was hung off one of the frame tubes to measure deflection/lugless joint strength.
I have quite a few Aerospace frames, one of which has done over 60,000 miles. All of them are fine even after 30+ years of (ab?)use. Also, I am, ahem, not the lightest of people either so carrying my carcas is a tough test for any frame! It is very impressive how such thin walled steel can survive such a battering for so long. What is not widely known is that the Aerospace frames were used extensively by the Coventry Olympic Viscount team in the 1970s. The team won many championships on these frames including those in the grueling sport of Cyclocross.
Cyclists can be a surprisingly set in their ways lot when it comes to their bicycles (a bit rich coming from me?). I think this partly explained why their was always a degree of resistance to Phoenix tube. I mean, how could a noticeably thinner tube be so much stronger than Reynolds 531 DB? Still, aside from Viscount, quite a few frame builders used it in the 1970's for their frames. Their is more of it around than you may think! There are also quite a few Lambert frames running around speedway circuits even to this day. Some of the racers are not even aware of this...
It saddens me a bit that the engineers who created Phoenix 1027 and 101 cycle tubing have never got the recognition they deserved.
Hope this is all food for thought!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Comparing the Supabike and the Sport resto

ever since I discovered the Viscount Dura Ace race bike
I've felt it was a direction the VA Sport resto should go in.
for fun here's a comparison.

below is the "Supabike's" spec sheet.

here's a side by side list of what was on the Supabike
and what will be on the Sport when it's done.

                              Supabike                            Aerospace Sport Restoration

FRAME:             fillet-brazed, lugless              fillet-brazed, lugless cro-mo with
                            cro-mo with sealed                Italian threaded bottom-bracket,
                            bottom-bracket bearings        Shimano Dura Ace* bottom
                            Shimano dropouts with         bracket set, Shimano dropouts.

FINISH:             brushed satin chrome              zinc base powder coated
                                                                          "flame red"

HEADSET:       Steel, unknown make             Shimano Dura Ace Cro-mo steel

FORKS:             polished aluminium                lugged crown cro-mo steel**
                           with sloping crown                 fully nickel-chrome plated
STEM:               polished alloy with allen         polished alloy Viscount stem
                           key adjustment with black      with allen key adjustment, Nitto
                           cloth tape and black plastic     alloy Dove bars in reverse position,
                           plugs                                            tape and plugs TBD.
PILLAR:           machined aluminium alloy     integrated Shimano Dura Ace aluminium
                          micro adjustable                         alloy seat clamp and seat pillar
                          26.8mm dia.                                26.8mm dia.

SADDLE:          black suede                            Ideale 70 Competition leather saddle
                                                                             with cro-mo rails
CONTROLS:     Shimano Dura Ace               Shimano Dura Ace twin d/tube. Satin
                            twin d/tube. Satin black        silver finish with fingertip
                            finish with fingertip              adjustment
SHIFTER:          Shimano Dura Ace,              Shimano Dura Ace, silver finish
                           satin black finish
DERAILLEUR: Shimano Crane, satin            Shimano Crane, silver finish
                           black finish

CHAINSET:      Shimano Dura Ace.              Shimano Dura Ace. Black series crankset
                           Satin black finish.                 with silver finish chainrings. 42/52T

FREEWHEEL:  5 speed, close ratio.               Shimano Dura Ace Oro 5 speed, medium
                           14, 15, 16, 17, 18.                    ratio, 14-24.

BRAKES:          Shimano Dura Ace side-       Shimano Dura Ace side-pull. Silver with
                           pull. Satin black with             Dura Ace top tube clips.
                           top tube clips.                      
                                                                              Shimano Dura Ace levers and gum hoods.

                                                                              Kool Stop brake blocks.

RIMS:               Alloy tubular sprint rims       Sun CR18 alloy box wall clincher rims

SPOKES:          Double butted                       Double butted

HUBS:                Quick release large flange     Shimano Dura Ace quick release
                            aluminium alloy, sealed         large flange aluminium alloy,
                            bearings. Satin black             free bearings. Silver finish, 36/36 spoke.
                            finish. 36/36 spoke.

TYRES:              Tubular road racing               Panracer Pasela Tour Guard
                                                                          Kevlar-reinforced wire-beaded tyres,
                                                                          27 x 1" (ISO 630 x 25)

PEDALS:            One piece alloy/ satin            MKS Sylvan alloy road pedals,
                             black finish, needle               all silver finish

TOE CLIPS:        "Cato's"                                 MKS

TOE STRAPS:    Quick release, black            MKS quick release, brown.

CHAIN:               Nickel-plated chain              Regina "Superleggiera"
                                                                              nickel-plated chain

                             Brazed-on TA bottle            Brazed-on seat tube clamp collar
                             fittings and bottle carrier,
                             separate seat pillar clip         Brazed-on head tube
                                                                               reinforcing collar

MUDGUARDS:  none                                     Honjo smooth finish 35mm
                                                                          aluminium alloy mudguards and
                                                                          lightweight mounting hardware

*wherever Dura Ace is listed for the Sport restoration, it is first generation
same as the Supabike.

** a future addition will be the same sloping-crown cast aluminium forks as Supabike.

the only specs that are higher on the Supabikes are the tubular rims with sew-up racing tyres
which are totally inappropriate for my needs anyway
and the axle adjusters on the drop-outs.

the chrome finish on the Supabike is a bit of an unnecessary weight gain.

the Sport's frame will have been considerably better finished than any production frame that came out of the Potter's Bar factory:

  • the anti-rust treatment inside all frame tubes.
  • the zinc base coat before the main powder coating
  • the supporting collars for the head tube base and seat tube clamp
  • the careful reaming and chasing of the bottom bracket
  • the resetting of the frame stays and fork blades for the DA hubs' narrower 120mm width
  • the higher tolerances on all parts fittings such as bottom bracket shell spacers

and now, just for fun, a recap of what all the resto parts look like separately...

Dura Ace seat clamp is happy

sometimes, though, it all gets a bit much for him.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Viscount fork

finally got my hands on a Viscount aluminium fork, version three.
this is the one you can ride with confidence.
it won't be going on the VA Sport straight away as the steerer tube is too short.
interestingly it weighs about the same as the original chromoly fork
it's solid aluminium.
so curious to know how it rides
and how well it will polish up.

this is the end of the steel pin that passes through the fork crown
a sign that it is version three.

Treadlie Bike Show

the punters' bikes all left artlessly outside