Curb find of the week : Deore DX shifter


For some reason I keep coming across tossed bike bits recently, most are in decent condition or need a bit of TLC. All of would be considered in need of an upgrade, or “vintage” depending on your point of view!

One of these finds is a set of Deore DX shifters attached to a rather horrific early 90s mountain bike. The left (front) shifter was in need of servicing, as it would not index on the upshift and would return to the smallest chainring.

According to Velobase, the Deore DX range was introduced in 1990 and was positioned under Deore XT in terms of spec. Incidentally the bike my shifters are attached to is considerably more ugly than the one shown in the Velobase photo.

The shifters themselves are pretty similar to modern shifters, if a little chunkier, giving a “heavier” feel. Both up and down shifting is performed with the thumb, whereas an index-finger downshifter is more comfortable in my view.


In my experience, unless Shimano index shifters have been opened, the various bits inside exploded and were incorrectly reassembled, all that is needed to restore 100% functionality is a little spray lube.

Nonetheless, I made the cavalier error (and I do know better by now…) to open the shifter body to get a better look at the insides, and clearer access for lubing.

As I was unscrewing the cover I could feel there was tension in the unit, indicating a high likelihood that various springs would come flying out and be nigh-on impossible to reassemble. Nonetheless, my logical reasoning clouded by a head-cold and misguided enthusiasm, I continued unhesitatingly. Until the obvious happened, the springs all pinged out of place, and I was left with a nice jigsaw puzzle to reassemble.

Catastrophe? Not at all! Thanks to the internet, or more accurately those kind souls that feed it with obscure guides on how to repair things that most normal people don’t want to fix, within 5 minutes I had found an excellent photographic guide on a complete reassembly of the shifter.

Reattaching the upshift lever along with the return spring proved extremely challenging, though Ian Graeme’s suggestion on removing the upshift trigger’s plastic cover was the way to go.

Within an hour, and with some cursing, the shifter has been reassembled, and now shifts correctly!

And no little pieces got lost in the process either…

Thanks again to Geoff Kuenning, for the super helpful guide!

UPDATE : Fuji Del Rey (1985!)


As it turns out, the Del Rey is not an ’83 as originally thought, but an ’85…!

The very helpful Classic Fuji website contains a collection of old scanned Fuji brochures, which allows one to date the bike, and also to work out which components have been changed since it left the bike shop.

Mine is clearly an 1985 model, based on the paint scheme (Star Silver), front fork (unfortunately no longer half-chromed) and the components, notably the main crank set. Pics at the end of the post for comparison.

Components which have been replaced prior to me getting the bike:

- Brakes (front and rear calipers, levers and hoods): Upgraded from Dia Compe G500N to Aero Compe/Royal Compe II with aero brake hoods.

- Rear derailleur: Upgraded from Suntour LePree to Suntour Superbe Pro.

- Rims: Upgraded from UKAI alloy rims to Matrix ISO C aero rims. Not sure if this is really an upgrade, and as they are brown they don’t really complement the dark grey colour of the frame. No reflectors on the wheels (nor on the frame), which is a visual improvement.

- Hubs presumably have also been replaced but have no markings on them.

- Freewheel has also been replaced as the cogs have far fewer teeth than the stock bike.

- Tires: Have obviously been replaced multiple times. The bike is currently wearing low cost Decathlon road tires, all black. While they do look pretty gnarly and ride well, they are not really visually in keeping with the vintage of the bike.

- Pedals: Replaced from MKS Sylvan Road black to unknown brand/model (not black). Toe clips are present, but are not the original steel cage variety, and have been replaced with plastic Cateye clips with Avenir straps. No reflectors here either…

The original brakes with black calipers and levers arguably look better than the white ones it has now, and would look great with the all black tyres and black bar tape, but at least the current brakes are higher spec and the aero hoods with hidden cable routing gives a cleaner look.

The original silver bar tape looks pretty smart, but I think the current black “pleather” bar tape looks a bit better (also same colour as the saddle), and should be more comfortable than a thinner tape. I can’t help but think the original tape looks a bit like Christmas wrapping tape…

So, if the brochures are to be believed, I guess owning the Fuji Del Rey makes me an “uncompromising recreational cyclist”. What an accolade!


My Fuji Del Rey

Fuji DelRey 002


1985 Fuji Del Rey brochure

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1983 Fuji Del Rey brochure

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And some extra photos for fun:Fuji DelRey 007Fuji DelRey 006Fuji DelRey 008Fuji DelRey 004Fuji DelRey 009Fuji DelRey 010Fuji DelRey 003

Fuji DelRey 005

Thule Round Trip Pro bike bag


Now this is a bike bag! I wish I had this when returning to Europe.

Then again 600USD is a lot of cash… I have never yet spent that much on a bike!!

Child’s Coronado racer : 1st update


Thanks to PeterMC’s timely comment I have returned my attention to the Coronado rear wheel.

It is missing four spokes which were broken by a wheel locking system intended to stop the rear wheel turning when parked and locked.

To replace the spokes, I need to remove the rear cassette (or freewheel?) and which seems to need a 2 pin cassette remover, that I don’t own.

Below are some photos of the rear hub, the rim showing some missing spokes and nipples, some other bent spokes, and (the presumably original) Hutchinson tyres. 65PSI seems pretty high for this type of tyre? The tyres are pretty perished, so will need to be replaced I think. The Dunlop/Woods valve inner tube was replaced with a cheap new Decathlon Schrader tube which is holding perfect pressure after 6 months unattended. Not as per original spec, but likely more effective.

I know it’s a rookie question, but any thoughts re: whether this is indeed a cassette or a freewheel? It is marked as a Suntour Perfect XH, and has a 16?mm cone nut on the axle (which also seems a little bent…). The teeth seem in perfect condition, though pretty dirty!

Of course, it would be much easier just to get a new wheel, tyre and hub, but then why make things easy when you can make them really complicated and drag them on for years!?








August in Paris


On a recent trip to Paris I was pleased to see that more people now seem to be cycling than was the case a few years ago.

There are public hired bicycles (the famous Velib’), tour groups on bikes, commuters on bikes, bikes parked on top of bikes, hobos on bikes, artist installations on bikes, recumbents, “col de cygne” (swan-neck) town bicycles, foldable bicycles, hipsters on fixies, bikes being reclaimed by nature, bikes with motors (the humble Solex…), bikes with batteries, goods delivery bicycles, bicycle taxis, weekend racer carbon aero bicycles, fully suspended mountain bikes, supermarket bikes, expensive bikes, cheap bikes, old bikes, new bikes, nice bikes and not so nice bikes. Even some tandems too.

Now all of this is not new for Paris. There always were a fair amount of bicycles, and France has a huge cycling heritage, but there are definitely more cyclists now. I’m not sure what’s driving this, but guess it could be: a desire for a more sustainable lifestyle? fashion? fitness? economic austerity? a combination of the above?

Cycling infrastructure, however, does not seem to have developed much. Sure there’s a few “cycle lanes” painted on some roads (often contraflow to traffic – delivery van drivers love that on narrow lanes…), and some separated from road traffic (but shared with buses, taxis and some of the maddest scooter riders on earth), but there is very little provision for public (or private) cycle parking whatsoever. I did see a few more dedicated cycle lanes than previously, but there is quite a way to go before cyclists are safe and respected road users here. That said, many cities do not have the level of infrastructure provided here, and it is clearly not putting people off pedalling…

One other great event which is still running is the “Paris Rando Velo”. This is a group ride around central Paris, leaving from Place de l’Hôtel de Ville every Friday night from 10pm until midnight or so, organised by volunteers who come up with a different route each week.

While riding in Parisian traffic may be hair-raising for the unaccustomed, the volunteers provide a very effective cordon around the group, ensuring it is never troubled by scooters, drivers, pedestrians etc., and that no-one can get lost. Usually the arrival of the group is well noticed as (apart from consisting of a large number of bicycles…) it is always accompanied by a chap pulling a trailer with a light and sound system, usually playing eclectic things like Abba or Michael Jackson. My hat goes off to him for pulling heavy car batteries around Paris every Friday night! The pace is usually relatively slow, which makes the ride manageable for all. Also, there’s a pause halfway round, at which people might share a granola bar, or a cup of cognac. Most people ride their own bikes, but many use the rented Velibs. It is free to participate, and you can peel off at any time if tired.

I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to enjoy Paris in a different and quirky way, or discover bits of it you never knew. Riding across the Seine at sunset, in a bicycle convoy led by a man pulling a trailer blasting out Kylie Minogue is pretty unconventional, and will make for a good story. Check out their website: Paris Rando Velo

My friend and I opted to do our own little Paris tour this time. You can check it out here.

Paris is as charming and quirky as ever. Next time you visit, see it by bike!

PS. if you’d like to follow any of my rides, feel free to follow me on Strava.

Velib's by night

Velib’s by night

Bush or bicycle?

Bush or bicycle?

Nature reclaiming parked bikes

Nature reclaiming parked bikes

Another bike taxi

Another bike taxi

Bikes chained to bikes

Bikes chained to bikes

Covered bike taxi

Covered bike taxi

The Velib'

The Velib’

A full bike rack

A full bike rack



More full bike racks

More full bike racks

Tour des Trois 2014 (TD3-14)


As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently came across an interesting event in Switzerland, the Tour des Trois.

In a nutshell, the principle is to gather a group of cyclists, with a passion for vintage bicycles, and riding, and ride together through three countries, in a single day, in a matching historical cycling outfit.

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The ride covers c.130kms and 1,900m total elevation, with one long, steep climb of 400m close to the start, at Gempen in Switzerland. The ride begins in Leymen, France in Alsace (Haut Rhin), proceeds east into Switzerland into the canton of Solothurn, swings north through canton Basel, across the Rhine into Germany (Baden-Württemburg), before crossing the Rhine again back into Alsace, and looping south back to Leymen.
photo photo (1)

For my part, I had never done such a long group ride before, or put so many kms on any of my old bikes, nor strained them with any heavy climbs, so was unsure as to whether it would be possible without mishap. But to spoil the plot early on…. It is entirely possible, and everyone of the 50 or so riders finished with beaming smiles and nothing worse than a few punctures.

I had intended to complete the ride with my 70s Mercier (which has not yet featured on the blog), but the combination of heavy forecast rain, weak Mafac brakes, steep descents, tubular tyres and a high proportion of unsurfaced gravel track on the route pushed me to make a last minute switch to my more modern (yet still “vintage”) bike, the Fuji Del Rey (1983). 2014-06-29 06.36.26

The weather forecast up to a week before the ride was for constant rain and thunderstorms all day, and the forecast worsened the closer the day came. The night before the ride, after some last minute preparations to the Fuji, I could hear the rain lashing down and could only imagine what it might be like to ride 130kms in constant rain, with or without a rain jacket, in 15°C… (esp. after being used to riding for the last 3 years in Singapore between 28-32°C!).

Weather-wise, the day went like this: Got up fairly early (rain), drove to Basel (in the rain), got out of the car (rain stopped…), sun shone more or less all day, finished the ride, drank a beer, said goodbyes, got in the car (rain restarted immediately…). The timing of the weather was so freakishly perfect, literally to the minute, that I’m not sure who bribed the clouds but am eternally grateful for it!

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While the Fuji had better brakes, better derailleurs, better shifters, better tyres, and a generally more modern, comfortable and planted feel than the Mercier, it also happens to have much higher gearing (to which I hadn’t previously paid any attention… not sure if the freewheel/cassette is original). As a result, the ride up to Gempen was a punishing slog, and I’m not entirely sure how I did it. But I did! This gearing would also explain why I had previously struggled to make much progress with the Fuji in the Alps. I am pleased to now be able to blame my corncob freewheel for my poor climbing instead of my weak thigh muscles =), and from now on will pay more attention to counting teeth…

The Fuji was one of the least glamorous bikes of the day, and there was a fantastic display of bicycles from 1953 onwards. Italian, French, Austrian, German, Swiss and British bikes were all ridden, mostly steel, but some nice early lugged aluminium frames too (e.g. Alan). IMG_1194 IMG_1079

The best thing for me was to see such beautiful bikes being ridden. Properly ridden. Not just on roads, but through mud, tree roots and over gravel, through puddles, pot-holes and up big hills, even though most of them have tubular tyres.

It is a real pleasure to see museum pieces being used, not just kept for show like china dolls, by individuals who both appreciate their beauty, engineering and historical significance, but aren’t afraid to get them muddy, risk a crash or a failed and difficult to replace component.

The TD3 is organised by a great team of guys, mostly based in the Basel area, and has now run for 7 years or so. Flash provides friendly tech support, and takes some great photos, in his fantastic red VW combi van. Many of the pics in this post are his, and you can see much more interesting information about Hetchins bikes on his great website. There are a number of pitstops around the route for food/coffee/fruit/granola bars etc., and the event manages to be casual, yet very well organised in a seemingly effortless manner (which hides significant preparations on behalf of Stefan and his team).

The ride is open to all, subject to application, and using a pre ’85 bike with matching outfit, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Many of the participants travelled from far afield to join the ride, e.g. from Berlin, or Austria, so while the number of participants is relatively small, it’s a dedicated and friendly group of guys.

Check out the TD3 website for application opening for the TD3 15. I hope to meet you there. With a nicer bike than mine.

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