I never liked city bikes. They’re neither a road bike nor a mountain bike. Neither here nor there. An ugly, heavy, chimera mess.
But then I grew up, realised variety is a thing (you can like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, or Oasis and Blur at the same time, or other bands that your friends don’t think are cool), had kids, and learned that commuting by road bike gets your trousers dirty, is occasionally scary on wet cobblestones or heavy traffic, and a road bike is terrible at carrying kids to school.
So here it is, in “as picked up condition” (people often have their handlebars and saddle in the weirdest positions!). My next project.
This will improve the commute, I can also do light shopping with this bike (which is “interesting” on a road bike…) and I’ll attach a tandem trailer to it (which I will collect soon, also second hand) so I can take my daughter to school. My transition to middle aged parent is complete…
Cilo is a classic Swiss marque, though as this bike is relatively recent, as the brand went bankrupt and was bought by investors, I’m not sure if this frame was made in Asia. There’s a great post on Cilo history here: https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/the-story-of-the-swiss-cilo-bicycle-company-and-bob-who-guards-the-bike-shed/
The aluminium frame seems sturdy and well made, paint job too, though the components seem a mixed bag. Nice Shimano Nexave drivetrain and brakes, slightly cheap feeling fork (but maybe that’s just the vintage feel), cheap (but decent) pedals, handlebars, headset and seat post. The saddle has Cilo embroidered into it, which I find a pretty cool little touch. Overall though a solid and reasonably good looking urban bike I think. My third Swiss bike!
The good news is, no-one wants “broken” city bikes. That is, a city bike on which the rear derailleur doesn’t shift and both tyres are flat. I think I can fix both these issues and I picked this up for CHF20 (USD20), which is a bit of a win!
It never ceases to amaze me how good a deal you can get on things (not just bikes) that require a bit of work (and some know how), if you’re prepared to take a risk or chalk up mistakes as a learning experience.
An equivalent bike bought in a shop would easily cost hundreds of francs, yet this will (assuming I can repair it) fulfil exactly the same functionality, and save one bike from landfill at the same time.
So full of confidence I was (and over-excited at my good deal) that I didn’t give the bike more than a basic look over, and didn’t diagnose the rear derailleur issue until I got home. Fortunately it’s a pretty good condition overall with almost no sign of abuse.
The derailleur looked fine, not twisted, no evidence of crash damage or mistreatment. Only the shifter wouldn’t shift past 3rd gear, in any chainring (there’s three). The up-shift lever couldn’t be forced past a certain point. Now, having learned a lesson from my previous gung-ho attempt to dismantle a shifter (don’t do it!), I went for the classic “spray some WD40 in it” approach.
These shifters often gunk up as the grease they presumably shipped with thickens over time. After a soak and a few minutes wait, shifting was fully restored. Not even a screwdriver was needed to recover full functionality. Magic.
The tyres were similarly straightforward. One tube was fine, the other had a hole. Rather than patch it (totally feasible on these chunky tubes) I opted to replace it with a spare I had laying around. One schrader valve, one presta, Not perfect, but good enough!
Bike fully repaired and functional after about 1hr effort and the cost of an inner tube. Win!
This got me to work the next day, as a test run, but in doing so I noticed a few other things that needed a tune-up:
- Front and rear brakes make a horrific scratching noise and need replacing
- Saddle is horribly wobbly, adjustment needed
- Dynamo lights don’t work
- Headset cap is missing, so water will get in there and rust away happily (meaning good luck getting the fork off in a few years)
After a while, brake pads harden, pick up bits of rim, which then scrape along the rim surface, etching them. If this is left to continue, the rims are gradually shaved thinner and thinner until they collapse under the pressure from the inner tube. This is not a theoretical risk, it happened to me once after I ignored my scratchy v-brakes for too long.
Lesson learned, I removed the brake pads, picked out any obvious bits of aluminium, and roughed the pads up against some stone/concrete to remove the metal sheen, and make them work more effectively. This is absolutely just a temporary band aid, preventing further rim damage until I get some new pads in.
In the interests of total comfort, this bike not only has a squashy saddle, but a suspension seat post. I’ve never used one of these before, so I’m curious to see what benefits it brings.
On the first ride it felt awful. Like the whole thing was flopping around. The seat post itself had a few allen bolts on it, and a google search indicated one was to limit lateral movement. Why there would even be an adjustment for this I can’t imagine. Presumably the optimal amount of lateral movement in a saddle is… none?! Anyway, this seemed to fix it, but overall I’m still not impressed by the suspension saddle. It doesn’t seem to do much to iron out bumps, so just adds weight and complexity to an already heavy bike.
The bike came with a fork mounted tyre-operated dynamo which, when engaged, made a happy whirring noise, but no light. This turned out to need only a simple repositioning of the dynamo. Tweaked upwards a bit for better contact with the tyre, we now have light!
This one took me a little longer to figure out. The headset is at an angle. Where on earth would I find such a cap? Then it struck me, there might be a neat little bit of upcycling to be done here… and I’m quite pleased with the solution, a perfect, snug fit!
So hurrah for variety. My N+1 is a heavy, comfy town bike. I can’t believe I just wrote that…
Next up: restoring the kids tandem trailer and connecting the two together. Watch this space.