Monday, October 30

Beater Recipe

Sicne moving to a new position at work that requires me to have lots of meetings across the campus from where I sit, I have had occasion to use a beater. Right now I am riding the coaster braked Univega from a couple posts ago, with a shiny new Wald basket. But I would like to have somehting with real brakes for the winter.

So here is my beater recipe:

Get an old road bike from the dump, local thrift store, yard sale, wherever. Look for something with horizontal dropouts, and a pre-cassette freewheel.

Strip everything down and rebuild the BB, headset, and hubs if they need it. While you are working on the hubs, remove the freewheel cluster. If you don't have the right tool, don;t worry. Just use a hammer and awl/punch to spin off the lockring (this is left-hand-threaded!). Teensy bearings will go everywhere. Now clamp what remains of the freewheel in a bench vise - tight - and use the wheel as a full body wrench to remove the freewheel. Et voila!

Now go to your favorite online shop and order some parts to populate this thing. I got a pair of Nitto Northroad bars becuas eI like upright bars and wanted something porteur-esque. I got a "Large Standard" Wald basket. A BMX/SS freewheel of course. A new chain if you want (a cheap one). New tires if the ones on there are rotten. And of course a solid nutted axle.

The axle is for respacing the rear hub to fit your new simplified chainline. I like to measure the distance from the center of the frame to the chainring, and then make sure the distance from the center of the hub to the freewheel is the same. Now redish the wheel so that the rim is centered. You can do this without being a wheelbuilding sorcerer. Just go slow. Loosen the left side spokes half a turn, tighten the right side half a turn repreat spoke by spoke until it works.

Brakes. This whole caliper brake reach thing really is tiresome isn't it? Hopefully your bike came with brakes you like and you are keeping them. If you are using upright bars, you will want new levers though. Look for something designed for cantilever brakes, not V brakes, as they are closer to road levers and you will like them way better. Dia Compe makes the PC-800 which is cheap and looks like it will be great. I have a pair on the way for my latest project.

The bike I am building has 27" wheels, which aren't a big deal, but I would prefer 700c. But the brakes won't reach if I switch. I can't wait for the Rivendell/Tektro "Silver" calipers to come out. They will have enough reach to be able to do this and run some nice fat tires. They should be out soon. I assume they will hit the Rivendell site first.

Watch this space for photos of my beater project.

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