Not all bicycles are for riding…

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Possibly more than any other invention, the bicycle seems to encourage mechanisation of manual tasks – moving one’s legs to turn a wheel can apparently have almost endless applications.

Once they can’t be ridden any more, it’s great to see bicycles continue to offer some utility far beyond their intended lifespan.

Here’s a great example of that, and some great grass roots entrepreneurialism too.

Everyone knows cycling and coffee is a great combination, now even before it reaches your cup =)

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35132430

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Global Bianchi domination…

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After having stumbled across the Bianchi café in Milano, I stumbled across the Bianchi concept store in Akihabara, Tokyo. Am I following Bianchi, or are they following me???

This one is basically just a bike shop, but only with new Bianchi bikes. The shop was shut but I didn’t see any vintage bikes, or memorabilia. While this seems a shame given the brand’s strong heritage, without wanting to generalise, in Asia often new things are valued more highly than old things, so heritage is maybe not so important.

Some nice frames and bikes here, but out of my price range, whether in Yen or Euros!

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So as the bike shop is closed, time for some tasty ramen instead!

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Not bikes, but architectural salvage!

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It might not be bike-related, but it’s too cool not to share.

 

$_57 (1)A friend of mine has the only remaining illuminated sign from the facade of the now defunct Hürlimann brewery in Zurich.

As you know from the blog, I love reviving things that have a history, and architectural salvage is all about that.

The sign has been stored since it was removed from the brewery, and has a few age-scars as you would expect given its vintage, but it’s a truly unique object.

I’m currently selling it for him, so please share with anyone who might be interested. It would be great for this unique object to go to a good home!

The sign is very large, heavy and currently located in Switzerland, so bear that in mind if you want to bid!

Now imagine what a unique Christmas present that would make for someone…

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BMC FS04 (update 2)

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While looking for info on the bike on the web, I found it’s sleeker, lighter road brother.

So mine’s definitely a 2006 model, given near identical paint scheme. Not quite as clean though!

BMC Fourstroke FS04 (update 1)

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I recently bought a tired BMC Fourstroke FS04 mountain bike, which had seen plenty of action, but not enough maintenance.

I saw potential (or as much as one can see from a couple of mobile phone photos…) and brought it home to breathe new life into it.

Sometimes you get lucky and there’s not much wrong with a bike. And sometimes there’s a few skeletons in the closet, but finding them can also be fun (as long as they’re not too serious!).

Firstly, I like to give bikes a good wash. Often so quickly after I get them home that I don’t get any “before” photos… I’ve got to learn some patience.

Washing a bike gives you the chance to look at it closely and spot things you previously overlooked. The BMC was superficially lightly dirty, but chain, chainrings, cassette and jockey wheels were well overdue a de-griming. I wonder whether half of restoration is actually just cleaning?

Now funky shaped frames are great, but who wants to clean their bike with a toothbrush after every muddy ride??

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Overall, the bike is sound, frame is good, components all there. A few dings, but no evidence of crash damage to the frame – which is especially important for aluminium frames. Brakes are ok (if a bit spongey), rotors are true, headset is fine, BB has no wobble.

The front hub was loose, so I stripped and repacked it with new grease. Bearings fine, races fine. Sorted very quickly and only minor adjustment to the disc brake caliper needed to avoid rubbing against one pad after tightening the cones.

The rims are slightly out of true. Usually I use rim brake pads as a makeshift truing stand, to see minor wobbles and where to adjust spoke tension. Truing wheels on a bike with disc brakes will be a little more tricky, so I’ll leave that for later…

The biggest fault the seller mentioned was the twisted derailleur and chain. The derailleur looked ok, so I removed the hanger with the intention of replacing it with a spare from the Steppenwolf, but found it was a slightly different shape and wouldn’t fit.

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A trip to the bike shop later, the mechanic told me he didn’t have any spare hangers in this shape, but he could bash it straight for me. Back home I reinstalled it, stripped the derailleur, serviced the jockey wheels, reinstalled the derailleur and chain (minus one link), and wouldn’t you know it – it worked perfectly!

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If you read my last post on this, you may recall the seller mentioned his local bike shop quoted almost twice what I paid for the whole bike to sort this out (presumably replacing derailleur and hanger).

Pretty poor advice as I sorted it in two hours (including an hour’s walk to the bike shop and back with the kids) and at zero cost (a contribution to the tip jar was all they would accept). Some adjustment needed for perfect indexing, but 80% there. Result.

I adjusted handlebar position, flipped the riser stem and adjusted brake and shift lever positions, taking the opportunity to lube/grease all the screws that hadn’t been loosened in years.

While poking around I found a couple of other issues: a sawn off seat post (kids, just don’t do it…), a loose pedal spindle and broken chainring teeth, but overall this is turning out to be a nice little restoration project.

Watch this space!

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A saddle and a lock, at the same time…

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This is a pretty neat idea. Saves lugging a lock/chain around, and avoids scratching your paint while you’re riding.

I do wonder how heavy it is, but in fairness, on a town bike it probably won’t make much difference to “performance” or centre of gravity.

PS. I unfortunately have not received one to test, but if the right people are reading this, you know what to do! =)

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Summer is a time for holidays, taking a break, recharging the batteries, and filling idle moments scanning second hand bicycle adverts…

The latest addition to the stable is a well loved (i.e. ridden quite a bit) BMC Fourstroke FS04 (2006?) fully suspended XC mountain bike. As one could tell from the ad photo, it has seen better days and needs some TLC, but fundamentally is a solid bike with an interesting frame, sound pedigree and some nice components.

I picked this one up very cheap, for less than the cost of a second hand front suspension fork (which I’m on the look-out for the Steppenwolf Tundra build). Here in Switzerland (and this may be common to your part of the world too), servicing and repair costs are relatively high. An overhaul and replacing a couple of parts can easily run into many hundreds of Swiss Francs, which tends to put people off repairing things when they break.

In this case, the previous owner had bent the derailleur hanger, snapped the chain and twisted the rear derailleur (miraculously without breaking a spoke…), and was quoted a relatively high sum to repair by his local bike shop. So he put it up for sale, to fund a replacement.

As servicing costs are high, this also tends to put many buyers off buying such a bike. Which is good news for people who enjoy a challenge, and finding diamonds in the rough…

BMC is now a well known and respected bike manufacturer, with successful racing teams in road and MTB disciplines, but I didn’t know that they are a relatively new brand. Apparently they began as a Swiss distributor for Raleigh bicycles in the mid 90s (past Raleigh’s heyday…), then branched out into framebuilding when the distribution contract was terminated. What a great outcome that they’re now such a highly recognised brand.

Incidentally, while aimlessly browsing the ads, I came across another ad for the same bike in fully working order, for over four times what I paid for this one.

For once, I managed to take some photos of the bike in original as-bought condition (usually I’m so excited when I get something new that it immediately gets a wash and the tinkering starts as soon as I get it home…), so here they are below.

First glance suggests that the bike is mostly sound, and other than replacing a derailleur hanger (and possibly the rear derailleur), all it needs is a bit of an overhaul (hub servicing, brake bleeding, new chain, pedal adjustment etc.). Will be interesting to see if the derailleur is reuseable…

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