Vol. 2, Issue 89 - September / October 2020
Posted: Thursday 10th September 2020
These editions of Lightweight News are rather light on lightweight news as so much is in abeyance these days. To provide some reading material I am selecting items from the website which I think you may have missed.
Here in Cambridge cycling is still in lockdown mode but with some restrictions lifted. Cycle rides are limited to groups of six or less and I am rather enjoying the smaller groups as it makes it easier to have conversations. To think that I used to aim for rides of 30–40 back a year or so. At weekends I manage to get a ride in with Patricia, weather permitting – the rain seems to wait for either Saturday or Sunday!
Before the Covid-19 took hold I would have said that I didn’t much enjoy riding on my own but for several weeks that was all we were allowed to do as our daily exercise slot. I soon got used to it, and dare I say, even enjoyed it. We were blessed with good weather and I was lucky to have a 30-mile traffic-free route which I used almost every day. I soon got into a ride-alone routine which involved not a little of talking to oneself! If it were not for this exercise exemption I would have been confined to the house for most of the time – I kept expecting it to be rescinded and have never spent so much time with my fingers crossed. It also got me out of the house every morning, giving Patricia some space and peace as she was very busy working from home.
Our local V-CC group cancelled all rides since March but as the rules were eased, sometimes organised ad-hoc get-togethers for six-or-less riders, and we took part in a couple making sure that we kept well away from other people. Conversing over a two-metre gap has become the norm now and will be so for some time I think.
Sadly we didn’t get our usual trips to Germany and Italy this year but we have managed to rent a lodge near the Norfolk coast which will allow us to do some cycling in the lovely North Norfolk lanes which are very quiet, just a mile or so inland from the actual coast road.
We are missing the use of public transport as train-assisted rides gave us various options for cycling in different areas. The trains are running but we don’t feel it is worth the risk as 95% of people are quite sensible but there are the odd people out there who either don’t get it or perhaps don’t care. For our break we will be using a car club vehicle to get us there and back with the bikes in the back.
I am reprinting (from the website) a piece I did on Campagnolo Bar End levers some time ago. I have a love/hate relationship with these and have put them on and then off my 1957 Cinelli several times. I do have a 1964 Pennine Italia which had a braze-on for the rear changer but not for the front. I have used a Campagnolo bar-end lever for the front changer, which works well being straight forward or back to change the double chainwheel. I wondered if the frame was built for a time-trialist using a single chainset although everything else about it suggests use for road racing, including a braze-on for a Pennine CO2 tyre pump.
Campagnolo bar-end levers – servicing and fitting by Peter Underwood
This could be classed as a classic case of the blind leading the blind as I couldn’t work out the complexities of the Campag bar-end levers for ages. I think I have it in my mind now and some recent chains on the Classic Rendezvous mailing list brought it back to me. To the left are the parts of the lever, minus the inner cable and the locknut. The handlebar control body of the gear consists of the mounting for the lever plus the smaller diameter segments which slide into the handlebar end.
The segment component works rather on the principle of a stem expander bolt. In the image on the left, the round part looks like one-piece but it is divided into three segments and held together by a circlip-like spring segment holder which can just be seen around the middle (See left-hand image below of the three segments, expanding screw and spring when off the body).
This screw, with a hexagonal hollow through it, screws in from the outer end and into the body. When it is tightened the countersink acts as a wedge expanding the three segments. Ah, I hear you say, how do I get the allen key in to do this when the unit is in the bars? This is where the cunning hexagon hollow comes in – with the lever out you can slide the 6mm allen key into the ‘wrong’ end of the bolt and tighten it from here.
(See image below centre showing bolt partly undone with 6mm allen key inserted – this is how the body is inserted and locked into the bar end, minus lever)
Tightening the bolt feels as if you are undoing it as you will be looking at it from the wrong end. A 6mm ‘T’ bar allen key is the best tool to use for tightening, if you only have a normal ‘angled’ allen key you hay have to exert some extra leverage as you will be using the short side to tighten, needing the longer side to reach through the body to the segment tightening bolt. From this you can see that you have to be able to dis-assemble the whole lever end of the changer in order to fit the body into the bar end.
Now you need to study the enlarged image of the ‘nut’ on the left. The bolt shown for the lever screws into the left-hand end here and one hears complaints that the bolt doesn’t want to do this freely. The whole assembly needs to be cleaned up and lubricated as maybe some reaction has occurred between the bolt and the ‘nut’. If you look carefully at the ‘nut’ you can see that there is a flat cut into the inner side of the outer hexagon. The washers, or lever friction plates, shown can be seen to have flats either side of the ‘hole’. The washer flat has to seat on the nut flat.
Going back to the body of the changer the holes for the bolt and nut are, either side, one round and one hexagonal (see image centre below for the hexagonal). The secret to assembly is to have the lever at right angles to the body with ‘Campagnolo’ facing back and the washers sitting in their recesses with the slotted holes exactly in line with the lever. It is essential to have the inner cable threaded through the lever at this point. Examine the ‘nut’ and you will see that the flats are in line with two of the hexagonal flats and that there is only one way this can go in and obviously only in one side of the body. Gently ease this in until the hexagonal is flush with the casing. Now the bolt goes in from the other side (in the round hole of course).
(Image below-right shows the assembly from hexagonal side – minus locknut)
In the image top right it can be seen that two sides of the hexagonal are in exactly the same plane as the lever – this is the key to the assembly. All that is left now is to fit the cables and decide where to exit from under the bar tape before heading for the frame down tube. This is another subject which can, and has been, debated at length!
Nigel Scott sent the images below and details some of the minor differences.
The above left image: The left-hand lever is the Gran Sport h/bar lever with its pivot screw, shorter screw,spring washer under head and screws into the long sleeve/nut, no locknut on end, the end of sleeve is nicely chromed to finish it off. These levers have a slimmer boss to fit into the body and are not interchangeable with the more common levers. The body will have Gran Sport stamped on the top as opposed to the usual type which are un-named. The right-hand lever is the familiar pattern, slightly thicker all-round, long screw passes through sleeve nut and uses locknut on the end. The sleeve nuts are slightly different on each model.
The above right image: Both levers in this image are GS (I once had a GS body, could never find the correct lever/screw and put it on ebay about 5-6yrs ago. Despite being pretty scarce, it made next to nothing. Naturally I subsequently found several GS specific levers and their screws all NOS!)
John Spooner, (Chief Constable of the UK Style-Police Force who has now sadly passed away), pointed out some important facts about cable runs for bar-end levers. The cables should always be taped to the bars to within a few centimetres of the stem; as seen in the image (below left) of Samyn and Van Looy. This allows a sweet, pleasing to the eye, curve to the cable eyes on the down tube. Whilst allowing that Bob Maitland (below right) was a very good rider, the Chief Constable pointed out that no self-respecting person would be seen with the cable taped this way (even with a Cyclo lever). It looks as if Bob had to ride with his left hand glued to the handlebars as fitting punishment.
Roger Pratt (Cardiff Ajax) says: I enjoyed the piece on the Campag bar-end levers as I used these for racing in the early sixties and for their time they worked well as I remember.
Their use was partly fashion – Rik van Looy was a hero – the Emperor of Herentals – but primarily when we were using close ratio rings (48/52) with only five sprockets (six from 1966) – maybe 14/16/18/21/24 – you almost always had to make a double change using front and rear mechanisms simultaneously to get a manageable gap between gears. The double change could be done with down-tube levers if you were dexterous and had prehensile fingers but it felt safer and easier with bar-end levers. If it was good enough for Rik it was good enough for me. I feel that these levers were used mostly by Belgian/Dutch riders where you couldn’t take your hands off the bars much because of cobbles and poor road surfaces. Safer when bunch sprinting too.
I guess that looking back it was probably a slow change given the length of the cables but I don’t recall any great problems and the cables HAD to be taped right back up towards the stem for that Flemish pro. look. I enjoy the site even though I have no great desire to go back the old equipment days, but it all brings back happy memories.
Keith Body puts the case for the other side where function rises above style!
I just saw the bit on handlebar controls. I was a user of these from 1950, at first the Cyclo, and from about 1955 Campagnolo. All our bikes still have them, although sadly rarely used. First, the picture of Bob Maitland (above) showed almost the most effective way of fitting the cable. Unfortunately these controls which were expected to work even in the wet, must be fitted with the least number of bends in the cable, and the less sharp the better. Bob was right. Tie them up to the bars and put a tight bend in by the stem and you would rarely get bottom gear, as the Cyclo gear depended on the spring in that direction. We also bent the Benelux arm and cage so that the top roller was nearer to the wheel when on the large chainring, so that the extreme gears were available. I used to bend them to cover 6 speed block, produced by putting the top pair from a Regina on a Simplex 5. I used to change both at once off the saddle on any hill, unlikely with the Campagnolo GS. Also changed both at once with a left hand handlebar control and a Paris Roubaix. Campagnolo supplied very flexible cables, the outer being stainless steel with no cover, and the inner a 49 strand ( 7 strands of 7) very flexible wire. The cable goes through 2 holes in the lever, plus the cable stop. Very important to fit the cable through before fitting the lever, and pull the cable completely through one hole at a time, or you will create a tight coil of wire that is almost useless. the 1952 image (below left) shows my 1952 cable. The right hand cable outer would rise a little under tension when in use. Also, (below right) shows Mrs B’s cables after 5 years use without any servicing other than light lubrication. (Good to see that Mrs B got decent levers of her own – many wives of this era had their husband’s hand-me-downs . Her cables are taped up as far as the brake levers – Peter Underwood)
More contributions below from bar-end users on their experiences:
I have had experience with adjusting these bar-end levers, having maintained them for years. I’ve found that when adjusting tension (Campy T-wrench for nut and a short flat screwdriver on the road), there’s a tendency to just tighten the lock nut a bit more rather than loosen it, adjust the screw and then re-tighten.
Both work for getting the right amount of tension to the shifter, but I guess I’ve tightened the locknut just a bit too much myself. The barrel that the screw goes into must deform it’s threads a bit making it hard to turn, not sure that lubrication will change that. I have just muscled it anyway in the past, and have a couple extra shifters.
Once it’s out, run the adjusting screw into and out of the unit a bit both ways so as to loosen it up. I’ve even tried another screw to chase the threads with, which at least psychologically seemed to work. The screw is hardened, the piece inside doesn’t seem to be, and it never seems to loosen up completely. The shifters will probably stay hard to tighten for the rest of their useful lives.
Slather the whole thing in grease when putting it back together and it should work fine. It’s a pain to have to take them completely apart just to change a cable. They really are not as easy to work on as Suntours or Shimano, but work far better to me, just buttery smooth when adjusted right.
Line up the flats on the openings of the washers with the lever and slip them in without changing the rotation of the lever while keeping the lever parallel with the vertical flat of the opening. Then lining up the flat of the inside piece when installing it, I usually get it in either all the way or in a bit. It seems to pop in when you screw in the tightening screw. I try to adjust them so loose that the rear derailleur will just hold it in the biggest cog, makes shifting so sweet. If they are set up that loose, you may have to tighten them just a tad when the cold weather sets in as it seems to loosen them up just that much. I’ve worried about the inner piece distorting/disintegrating myself and have got extra shifters when I could. I have at least one that’s been cannibalized. The plastic expander also doesn’t seem to hold up completely. Years ago, I had a set of the expanders turn to powder and break apart, but the others seem to be holding up fine.
When I’m installing the shifter body into the handlebar, I first get the shifter body to a snug fit by hand, then get a fairly large adjustable wrench wrapped in one layer or so of rag and do the final tightening with the Allen wrench (Campy T) while keeping the body aligned properly with the adjustable. I get it just a bit tighter so it won’t twist too easily on the road and the large adjustable so far has not marked the body of the shifter.
As these are an area of particular expertise for me I wonder what you’re attempting to do? Taking the lock-nut off would indicate you want to remove the lever in which case the screw just turns like any other screw. Remove it normally and the nut/bushing just pops out.
If the lever is off, and then you want to take the body off, the Allen turns opposite to the way you would normally think of because you’re at the wrong end of the bolt –
you turn counter clockwise to remove the body. And when you reinstall just moisten the friction disc with oil to perfect the shifting. It’s worked for me for 35 years.
Mike Baker (V-CC) explains, when we were using Campagnolo handlebar controls in the 1950s, we used to saw about 1 inch off the handlebar end, to compensate for the length of the body of the controls, and take the levers a little further away from the rider’s knees. It also helped if the bars were tilted slightly upwards, rather than horizontal. This meant that, if you were riding out of the saddle, there was less risk of your knee hitting the right hand control, and changing up unintentionally on the rear derailleur, especially uphill, a rather painful process as you tended to hit the saddle fairly hard!
Regarding the routing of the cables,obviously the shorter the better, as increased length, plus the friction of the longer outer cables,could slow the change;- possibly why continental team mechanics disliked them as they invariably took the longest route near the stem and were compressed by the handlebar tape. The shortest route and probably the best curve emerges after the straight section of the handlebars, next best being underneath the bottom of the brake levers, not so pretty but perhaps more effective!
Books / Fiction
We’re running fiction for the first time — because it’s lightweight-related, and because author Tom Learmont is also known for his book, Cycling in South Africa. Tom told Lightweight News: “No matter if I’m writing fiction or non-fiction books — I always seem to get bicycles into them.”
The fictional extracts are from a time-travel trilogy called Brief Music. So far, Vol I (Light Across Time) has been published. The item titled Archer on a bike is actually a paste-up of cycling scenes from Vol II (War Across Time) which is not yet available. Tom has nearly finished Vol III (Bridge Across Time). His website is tomlearmont.com
ARCHER ON A BIKE: cuts from War Across Time by Tom Learmont.
Extract from Archer’s papers for AD 1908 –1909
August 2 Another ride at Vélodrome Buffalo, in the 15 000m for amateurs, and finished in the
peloton. At least I wasn’t dropped. I’m a stayer, not a sprinter. The young Swiss cyclist Oscar Egg was there, as well as Marcel Berthet. Much talk of the 60-minute record on the track. Berthet says it’s possible to exceed 41 kilometres, with the right training and diet.
August 8 The American Wilbur Wright is in Paris, to demonstrate his flyer. Petit-Breton will
triumph in the Tour de France tomorrow, say the papers.
August 20 An exciting day. To Cycles Bastide, at 56 Boulevard de Clichy, for my new road-path velo. This is the low-slung racing wheel of the future, different in so many ways, with nothing but the best components. M. Bastide told me that a short 60-centimetre seat tube is only one reason for the extreme lightness and rigidity. He also cited British-made tubing and lugs by Reynolds and BSA, plus brazed-on stays and a horizontal top tube, which leaves me showing 12 cm of pillar below an English saddle by Brooks. BSA supply the bearings and nickel-plated cranks. The wheels are small, 65cm in diameter, with beautiful Bastide maple rims and Clément tubular tyres. I specified toeclips, straps and gearing of 25 x 7 teeth. In vélodrome trim, my wonderful new machine weighs about 10 kilos.
Aug 27 The Bastide rides better than I’d hoped on the concrete of the Vélodrome Buffalo. I have more confidence now in shorter events. When I kick, it responds, and the frame doesn’t whip. It is so nimble that I find myself squeezing through narrow gaps I would never have attempted before.
Maybe I can be a sprinter after all. But today I was there as a spectator, to see the American Major Taylor, known as “The Black Cyclone”. I hear that he has been persistently fouled and sabotaged by his colour-bar compatriots in the USA, who seem to think that fair play is only for white opponents.
This little man is of international status, with or without nitro-glycerine drops. He’s a stayer, but with a blazing finish, and he put on a real show amid the French professionals. Major Taylor is a big favourite with the Parisians.
November 1 The aviator Louis Bleriot made a cross-country flight from Toury to Arteny and back, 28 km. Too cold to go cycling these days. But Paris will soon have an indoor track in Rue Nélaton, so next year we shall race right through the winter. According to reports, this “Vélodrome d’ Hiver” will be a hardwood “bowl”, steeply banked, with four laps to the kilometre, a glass ceiling and more than a thousand lamps.
December 29 Settling into my new quarters in Dulwich. I chose the area myself, and will testify with hand on heart – that my decision has nothing to do with the Herne Hill open-air velodrome, which is a five-minute walk from my lodgings. Yesterday, a terrible earthquake in Sicily. Messina is in ruins, and reports put the dead at 80 000.
March 30 A few laps of Herne Hill, which is a long 450 metres, with shallow bankings. Despite the biting cold. And got a puncture! Rotten day, but I met a few English riders. Will join their club.
April 9 Good Friday meeting at Herne Hill. Exciting day, with top cyclists, including some who live nearby. Vic Johnson got a gold medal in last year’s Olympic Games, and his namesake “Tiny” won three silver medals. The motor-paced king of Herne Hill is Bill Bailey. And then there’s Jack Meredith, with four amateur world titles behind him.
April 16 Still in the peloton, or “the bunch”, as it is known over here. Mind you, it’s something to finish on the same lap as Vic Johnson. Jack Meredith shows great interest in the Bastide, and introduced me to a new type of tubular tyre, the Constrictor. Instead of cutting it open to mend a puncture and re-stitching it, you simply take off the rim tape and tease out the punctured part of the inner tube between diagonally crossed threads. Ingenious! I shall get a pair.
May 9 Herne Hill racing again: a fourth place in the 10-mile! Another puncture, though – the surface is rougher than Buffalo.
May 18 Bill Bailey let me ride his motor-pace machine in return for a few laps on the Bastide. The gear is so heavy that it took me a while to get the thing moving and tuck in behind the motorcycle at thirty miles per hour. The pacemaker took it easy with a novice like myself, and let me get used to the bike before he accelerated gently. But what a sensation – spinning that enormous gear at fifty miles an hour in the pacemaker’s “wind shadow”. Exhilaration!
ARCHER INVESTIGATES AN ANARCHIST GANG IN WHITECHAPEL . . .
On the Sunday, I entered a few events at Herne Hill, including the quarter mile and mile, which are not really my distances. I thought the explosive release of energy in these short races might make me feel less tense. Lo and behold – I won my heat in the quarter mile! But the final was a foregone conclusion, with Vic half a wheel ahead of Jack, and Tiny Johnson in third place, all yards ahead of me. Still, it did me good.
With all that violent exertion I managed to break a couple of spokes and put a wobble into the back wheel. So, on the Monday I took the Bastide to a repair shop recommended by Jack
Meredith: Osborne Cycles in the Old Kent Road. I asked Mr Osborne to replace spokes and check the truth of my wheels, and fit Constrictors fore and aft. Also to inspect and lubricate. He’d never seen a Bastide before, and said, “Your strange-looking Froggy racer will be ready for you on Saturday.”
CAPTURED BY THE ANARCHISTS, HE MANAGES TO ESCAPE . . .
By then it was five o clock, and the hansom driver had stopped asking questions. He grunted when I gave him a sovereign and told him to drop me at Osborne Cycles in the Old Kent Road. I started walking back and forth on the road as it came to life and the early traffic began to move. At seven-thirty I knocked on the window of the shop. Mr Osborne wore a puzzled look as he let me in.
I bought a pump with frame clips as well as a touring bag, which I fixed behind the saddle. I squashed my jacket into the bag, along with the two tyres that had been replaced, a puncture repair outfit and the Bull Dog revolver. Then I settled the bill, tucked my trouser cuffs into my socks, rolled up my sleeves and got going. I had a plan: when they’re after you, do the thing they least expect. I was hoping that they would never expect me to cycle to Dover.
I made good time to begin with, over jarring stretches of cobbles. On flat tarmac sections I could turn that high racing gear with ease, looking out for stopping points, so that I could push back against the fixed wheel to slow me down in time. On the steep roads, I had to stand up on the pedals and wrench the bars to keep the Bastide moving. A couple of times, I came to a halt and was forced to dismount, gasping for breath as I walked the bike to the top of the hill. The downhill parts were also hard work. My thighs burned as I pushed back on the pedals, to keep the 25 x 7 tooth ratio under control. I began to regret that there had been no time to fit a freewheel and a brake.
At the Dartford post-office I sent a telegram to Clem’s Paris address, advising him about my escape on the Bastide. Then I washed down a Chelsea bun with a pot of sugary Earl Grey in a tearoom. I guessed that I’d covered about thirteen miles – with no sign of any pursuit – and estimated that Dover was another fifty-odd miles away, via Canterbury. I was now on untarred gravel roads, covered in light-coloured dust. I chose to walk down to the bridge at Rochester, which was too steep a slope to tackle without brakes. And I was forced to dismount on the climb up to Rainham. By that stage I was hungry again, and very tired, with sunburn, aching wrists and tender sit-bones. I went spinning on down the Roman road in the sunshine, heading for Canterbury.
Another break in Faversham at half past three gave me time to gobble muffins, swill tea and splash cold water on my flushed face. In the gents’ loo mirror I looked pretty rough. My bowler was gone, so I improvised a cool cap from a wet handkerchief with four knots in it, and carried on.
A couple of miles beyond Faversham a Mercedes tourer passed me in the opposite direction. The glimpse I got was too short to identify any of the four men in it. The driver wore a cap and goggles. I comforted myself with the thought that quite a few of those tourers had been imported, and tried to look like a lone cyclo-tourist exploring beautiful Kent. The Mercedes came up behind, overtook me and roared ahead, leaving me in its white dust cloud. The road dipped a little more and I speeded up. I was debating if I should take to the fields, when I rounded a blind corner into the dust cloud and found myself on a collision course with the Mercedes. It was drawn up broadside on to me at the left side of the road, blocking my path. Two men in dust coats were waiting for me at the rear of the car, in the open right lane.
I rose off the saddle and made a skip-stop, by hopping the rear wheel an inch off the road and holding the cranks level with braced feet. The locked wheel landed hard, and cut a straight groove into the gravel surface for a few metres until I had slowed enough to pedal again and swerve to the left, aiming for the narrow gap between the car's front wheels and the roadside ditch. One of the men lunged at me, but missed, and I was through. I knew that my desperate manoeuvre had most likely scraped half the rubber off the back tyre, but I had to keep going. I got out of the saddle, like a man starting the quarter mile, spinning that track gear up to my limit.
They started shooting at me. The road kept sloping downward. I was probably doing more than forty miles per hour, and began to fear that the un-braked Bastide was going to run away with me. The pedals were spinning so fast, like Bill Bailey’s motor pace bike, that it was impossible to slow them by pushing back. The road dipped steeper between its hedges, and I went faster. I didn’t look back, but could hear the shots and the anarchists’ yells.
The road led down to a stone bridge over a stream, then went through a right-angle bend to the left and rose steeply again. If I survived the descent, they would surely catch me on the rise. I clung to my runaway velo, and chose the best line over the bridge and through the corner, swinging from the right side of the road across to the left. As I leaned the Bastide over the middle, the left pedal gouged a chunk out of the road surface, and the whole bike jumped a foot to the right. But I hung onto the bars, and the momentum carried me spinning up the rise. I slowed and ran out of muscle near the top, dismounted and reached for the saddle bag to get the Bull Dog revolver out.
But there was no need. The Mercedes lay on its back in the ditch. One front wheel spun idly in the air, the other was missing. I could see no goggled driver, no dustcoated passengers. Panting like a dog on a hot day, I staggered to the top of the rise, and swung onto the saddle again.
Tom began buying parts for a dream bike in 1955 with the proceeds of school holiday jobs: a Campag Gran Sport steel rear mech and “matchbox” front changer. He gradually added a lugged steel 6″ stem, a Brooks B17, Ambrosio bends. Mafac brakes, Campag pedals, etc. Coloral bottle and cage. By 1958 he’d saved enough to cover the frame and air freight, and wrote off to Putney for a 24″, 73 deg parallel Holdsworth in 531 with chrome Whirlwind lugs, top tube stops for exposed rear brake cable, pencil seat stays and a fluted semi-wrapover seat cluster.
It came with 9″ of chrome on fork and stays, and a cromovelato finish in violet lacquer over nickel plate with solid duck-egg blue head and seat panels and double box lining in gold plus appropriate Olympic bands. And Campag ends, of course. No pump pegs, because I used a Sparklets CO2 inflator. Oh, and Christophe flint catchers fore and aft. The frame arrived fitted with a Stronglight gruppo centrale and TA rings. Gearing was half step with a 5 sp Maillard block and 49-51 rings. Please disregard the anachronisms: saddle pillar and LF hubs were made in Taiwan. The bike is now 62 and lives in Tom’s bedroom, where it’s the first thing he sees every morning. His most memorable ride on the Holdsworth was from Elizabethville to Jadotville in the Belgian Congo 1960, when Tom got in after dark and was interrogated by two red-eyed, dope-smoking members of the Force Publique — he still doesn’t know why they let him go.