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Vol. 2, Issue 69 - May / June 2017

Posted: Tuesday 16th May 2017

Author: Peter Underwood

For technical reasons, we start with the crossword, editorial follows below….Editor



1. Iconic Alpine 18km.,long 6 000ft. high mountain pass climb first included in the Tour de France route in 1911. It is also the name of a classic model of Paris frame with a unique profile. (8)

6. A track racing competition consisting of a number of different events for each one of which points are awarded. The overall winner is the rider who accumulates the best final points total (6)
8. Noted post-WWII Southampton classic lightweight frame builder whose brand name was a contraction of ‘road’ and ‘track’ (6)

9. Famous Dutch brand of bicycles, including lightweights ridden by professional teams, which was established in 1892 and is still in production (7)

10. ‘—– Stuart’: First name of a noted lightweight produced by the Biddulph brothers in south London from the late 1960s until 1972 (5)

11. Road hazards often encountered by cyclists (3)
12. Surname of British Best All Rounder (BBAR) in four successive years (1949-1952) who was also a prolific place-to-place record holder (3)

13. Italian brand of alloy handlebars and handlebar stems (3)
14. Noted Italian lightweight brand originally produced by and named after the rider who set the world unpaced hour record in 1933 at 45.090km (4)

15. Devices cyclists use to keep tyres inflated (5)
17. Used to cover handlebars (7)
19. Spanish road stage race first held in 1935 (6)
20. Full first name of the first Irish rider to hold the yellow jersey in the Tour de France which he did in 1963 (6)

21. What is ‘beading’ on a bicycle? (4, 4)


2. What type of device is a ‘bike spanner’? (1, 4)

3. The necessary personal quality a cyclist who wants to descend at high speed on twisting roads must have in abundance (7)

4. ‘Maglia —-‘: Race leader’s distinctive cycling jersey in the Giro d’Italia (4)

5. Noted post-WWII lightweight builder based in Southampton Way, central London (7)

7. What organised track cycle racing occasions are usually termed (8)

9. What cyclists need to do to attach tubulars securely to sprint rims (3, 4)

10. Favourite brand of tubing used by Italian builders of lightweight bicycle frames (8)

12. Bespectacled Dutch rider who won the world professional road race in 1979 (3, 4)

13. Term for the tube linking the bicycle’s seat cluster to its head tube (3,4)

16 & 18. First and surnames of the Dutch former rider who was the directeur sportif of the highly successful TI Raleigh professional cycling team of the 1970s and early-1980s (5 and 4)

I was puzzled to see a chain guide on the top chainstay of the 1948 German Patria WKC bikes featured in C L N 68 and also seen in the video linked to that page: Carsten, the owner, tells me: “You need the chain holder on the chainstay when you ride a coaster hub, because it lost the chain tension when backpedalling and so there is risk of chain trouble.” I see what he means as the bottom chain run would be tight under braking, allowing the top run to become slack and possibly move from side to side.

Confessions of a cheat (do not try this at home!):

As one gets older, so comes the need to lower the bottom gear rather sneakily while hoping others don’t notice. Some people are not so sensitive and blatantly ignore a policy of period correct components in order to keep riding. Who is to blame them, as the important thing for health and well being is to keep getting some miles in one way or another.

I have seen conversions to triple rings on the front using modern day components and frames with rear ends spread so as to accommodate modern multi sprockets giving much lower gearing.

My own method of beating the system is courtesy of Stronglight cranks and TA rings coupled with Campag Gran Sport rear changers mated with early-day Campag front changers. Hopefully the bike looks kosher unless subjected to close scrutiny.

TA produced two set-ups for racing back in the day, the Professional which by dint of its BCD could take only a 44-tooth inner chainring (although they did produce a few 43), and the Criterium, one of which was based on a 5-pin outer ring and would take the same size (44T) inners. They also produced a triple but a racing-style rear changer such as Campag, Simplex or Huret would not cope with these so I discounted this option. Obviously there would be gear changers for these triples but they were very much for the tourist and I prefer to build machines looking like the racers of the day.

However, TA also produced a Tourist 5-pin outer ring with much smaller BCD inner ring drillings allowing very small rings down to 28T to be fitted. I like to convince myself that superficially a Tourist outer could be mistaken for a Criterium – a theory that relies on failing eyesight of the onlooker, who should be of pensionable age at least.

Now comes the tricky problem of tormenting gear changers to cope with a much wider range of gears than they were designed for. ‘Back in the day’ most double chainrings had a 3-tooth difference mated to a rear sprocket with 2-tooth difference between the sprockets. For the racing man of the era who had probably been brought up on fixed from puberty this was a mind-boggling array of gears known as one-step gears.

Campag’s Gran Sport rear changer has a stated capacity of no larger than 16 to 18 teeth being the sum total of the difference front and rear and a recommended maximum sprocket size of 26, if I recall correctly. The first thing I do is to cheat by using a rear sprocket of 28-teeth. The next is to build a TA double with 10-teeth difference such as 48/38 or 46/36. Now comes one of the tricky parts, entailing a chain length which will just cope with large ring/large sprocket and small ring/small sprocket. Actually this is next to impossible so try large ring/second largest sprocket. This all takes much use of a compatible chain splitter and you may well find you spend much time taking links out and then replacing them when you find the chain drooping on small/small before eventually finding a chain length which will work.

In my case this is all done with the bike suspended, or on a work stand if you prefer, and entails some very careful ‘feeling in’ of the gears as you ‘pedal’ gently turning the cranks by hand. If the chain is one pair of links too long then the chain will ‘dip’ when in small/small and may catch the top of the chainstay when the drive is not taken up, and it may also sag on the bottom run when powered.

I can just hear some saying that one should never use the extreme crossover when riding, which is true of course but an absent-minded change can result in accidently doing this. Watching the chain try to deal with large/large while being carefully feathered on a stand will soon show why this is a no- no and I think it will be impossible to use this crossover without serious risk to chain or gear breakage.

If you choose to do this sort of jiggery-pokery yourself I would recommend taking the new set-up on a stretch of stress-free road and playing with the gears to get used to the feel of things and realising where one needs to change the front ring in order to be safe. Luckily on most rides for older machines there are not many times when it is needed to use the large ring with the smallest sprocket unless riding down a gentle hill with a tail wind. On a steeper hill one would free wheel most of the way but it would be easy to start using larger sprockets and going a bit too far up this range. This is one of the danger points. Going small to small is not quite so critical as the only result would be a slightly slack chain – if you factored this in when setting up the gears.

All of this of course is the result of some sort of vanity instilled in ones brain during the heyday years of a youth spent racing around on bicycles imagining oneself to be the answer to Fausto Coppi (in my case).

In my musings about last year’s accident on my Colnago I described myself as hitting the road like a sack of coal. Patricia wondered if our younger and overseas readers would wonder what on earth I was talking about. Sadly, I can remember the days when coal was delivered in 1cwt hessian sacks on an open flat truck pulled by a horse. At some stops where the coal was stored underground the coalman would stand on the cart about a yard off the ground and let the sack fall to hit the ground ‘like a sack of coal’. Now I realise that no one will remember what 1cwt (112lbs) is: the answer is approx 50 kilos. A yard (36 inches) would now be app 91 cms. I think I am on safe ground now!

Nothing to do with this but the flatbed of the truck would be just about the right height for the coalman to lever a sack onto his upper back when standing with his back to the truck.

I notice that even today large steel beer casks are dropped from vans and lorries onto a padded cushion before being wheeled across the road to the local pub. Most pubs store the barrels underground and have a trap door through which the barrels take their second drop. In spite of this relatively modern phenomenon I don’t think I could have said that I hit the ground like a barrel of beer so sack of coal it is!

Sorry about so much of my own rambling, not due to a feeling of self-importance but rather through lack of outside input.

For sale:
Two x 22” Bill Philbrook bikes, both built in 1967, one in original paint. Both have  been built up with a mixture of original and more modern components but need TLC.   More photos available. £500 the pair, no offers.  Located in Rainham, Kent.  See images below:

Answers to the Crossword Quiz

1. Galibier. The memorial to the Tour’s founder, Henri Desgrange, is located at the col’s summit.
6. Omnium.
8. Rotrax. Established in 1945, it later changed hands and closed in the 1960s.
9. Gazelle. Established in 1892, it sponsored and supplied professional teams in the 1960s and subsequently.
10. Clive. The ‘Clive Stuart’ brand name derived from the first names of the firm’s owners, Clive Biddulph and Stuart Biddulph.
11. Ruts.
12. Joy. Ken Joy (1932-2013) also won the British amateur road championship in 1952. He rode in the 1953 ‘Grand Prix des Nations’ time trial in France which was won by a teenage Jacques Anquetil.
13. TTT.
14. Olmo. Guiseppe Olmo (1911-1992). The frame building business was based in Celle Ligure, Italy.
15. Pumps.
17. Bartape.
19. Vuelta. The event was first held in 1935, but thereafter only intermittently. It became an annual event in the 1950s.
20. Seamus. Seamus ‘Shay’ Elliott (1934-1971). A team mate of Jacques Anquetil in the French Helyett professional team of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1959 he won the ‘’Het Volk’ semi-classic race in Belgium; in 1962 he was third overall in the Vuelta and second in the world pro road championships behind Jean Stablinski (France)
21. Tyre part.

2. A Tool.
3. Bravery.
4. Rosa. ‘Maglia Rosa’ or ‘pink jersey’ based on the colour of the sponsoring newspaper, the Gazetta della Sport.
5. Gillott. A.S.Gillott. The firm’s leading frame builder was Jim Collier. The brand disappeared in the late 20th century.
7. Meetings.
9. Get glue.
10. Columbus. Established in 1919 by A.L. Colombo, it produced lightweight steel tubing at Settala in the province of Milan, Italy. It subsequently became a division of ‘Gruppo SPA’ which also took over the noted Cinelli brand of lightweights a and components.
12. Jan Raas. He was a leading member of the TI Raleigh professional team in the 1970s and early 1980s.
13. Top tube.
16. Peter. Peter Post (1933-2011). Noted as a top track rider winning many six day races during the 1960s, he also won the Paris-Roubaix road classic in 1964.
18. Post.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Tuesday 16th May 2017

Author: Peter Underwood

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