Friday, September 6, 2013

Fitting fenders and lights to a sweet bike I picked up for $50

Old steel Shogun Metro frames are well made and very versatile. They don't have a lot of style, but you can pick them up cheaply and make great commuters/tourers/ghettocross bikes out of them. So when one popped up on my favourite cycling forum for $20 in my size I took it. When I went to pick it up, the guy was offloading a whole heap of frames and bikes, so, inevitably, I came home with a lot more than just the Metro frame. One of the bikes I picked up is a Shogun Trailbreaker 3. These bikes are often for sale cheaply, but this one is in excellent condition with a full Exage Trail groupset that shifts and brakes beautifully. It felt great on a test ride, so I gave him $50 and took it home.

Shaky phone photo down at the park with Goose

I have a Bike Tow Leash so that I can ride our dog Goose down to the park, meaning he gets a proper run. He loves it! Because we do this all year round, and because we sometimes get home at dusk, it's practical for the bike I use to have fenders and lights built in, so that's what I've done to this bike. I had some SKS fenders that weren't used on another project. They're superwide at 60mm, so perfect for this job. I also picked up some used Reelights on Gumtree from a person down the road. These lights are great for being seen (but not much good for lighting your way in the dark) and because they're permanently attached and batteryless, you can forget about them.

Roughly mounted front fender. I managed to get it mounted a bit higher on the fork crown to get a more consistent line, as well as sorting out that bowing at the back once the stays were trimmed. 

This attaches to a bridge between the chainstays. Sometimes, the bridge is too far forward, creating a big gap between the fender and the tyre. It will still keep you dry, but it doesn't look that good. You can use a bolt and a few washers (or make up a Spring Thing) to improve the fender line if you need to. In this case, it was fine with the clip. Notice also, the trimmed part on the right hand side of the fender. These come pre-cut on the 60mm fenders to make sure there's plenty of space for the chain.


This bridge just clips on. They work well, but I've got a broken one on another bike at the moment, I think because it was under constant tension, which I tried to make ensure was not present when this was all tightened up. 

SKS stays need to be setup and then trimmed. 

And then this funky plastic cap gets fitted. 

I used my Dremel to mark the cut, but don't cut it in place because the heat melts the fender. I learnt this on my first set of these fenders. 

How the cap fits.

All done up to ensure the fender line is clean and balanced. 


Reelight on the front

And back. You need the ones with the long arms to clear the cassette/freewheel if you're going to fit it on the right hand side (traffic side).  These come from a country where they drive on the right hand side of the road, so their base model has shorter arms for mounting on the left of the bike. 

I've raised the idea of a $250 touring bike challenge with a few friends. The idea is to build a touring bike for under $250 (not including luggage and camping gear) and go on a tour with it. I reckon I could almost do it for under $100 on this bike.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Butchering a Brooks - adding an Imperial cutout to a Brooks saddle

Here's a project I did last year when I was living in Darwin:

I have quite a few Brooks saddles. My first was a Brooks Flyer, which is like a B17 but sprung. It became very comfortable very quickly, and I was in love. When I was touring on it though, I developed a bit of chafing. I thought this was all part of touring and didn't put it down to the saddle. That was until I got my Brooks B17 Imperial. I love this saddle. I found myself swapping it from bike to bike, depending on what was going to be ridden most. On my last tour, I took the Imperial, and it got me thinking; what's the point in having this lovely sprung saddle if I'm just going to swap it out?

So I decided to cut it; to add the Imperial cutout to the Flyer. It could end in disaster and the ruining of a very good saddle, but the saddle wasn't perfect. I wouldn't use it as it was intended to be used unless I cut it.

It turned out to be really easy. I took a template from my Imperial and used a sharp Stanley knife to make the cut. Neither of the saddles are symmetrical now that they're warn in, so neither is the cut. It's pretty bloody close though.

Whoa, what am I thinking?!?

This front of the cut was the hardest bit, but it turned out well with a bit of a shaving motion.

To prevent the saddle from flaring due to the reduced lateral tension, the Imperial is supposed to be laced. I've actually taken the laces out of my Imperial now that it has adopted the appropriate bowed shape laterally, but I need to make sure this Flyer doesn't flare out. I was hoping to get some proper leather punches for this, but they were hard to find in Darwin and I was impatient, so I got one of those cheap rotary ones. It did the job cleanly enough, but it was hard work.

And the verdict? Well, the first little ride down the street was really comfortable. It'll need a few long rides to determine if it's fixed the chafing problem, but I haven't killed the saddle. The cut looks good, nothing digs or pinches, it flexes differently, and it looks good. I'd certainly feel confident doing this again...