Bangkok, Thailand – full of surprises 

Yesterday I was in Bangkok. Like Mumbai, not a city you might think ideal for cycling, but I was surprised to see it heading in that direction. 


A bicycle can be your shop as well as a means to commute. 

My recollection of Bangkok was more like this. 


Than this


Great to see cycle lanes, and in use too!

I was surprised to see they have an urban bike share system. Great stuff. I wonder how popular it is. 


I walked and walked all day and found myself in Lumpini park, where hundreds of people were jogging in the early evening. 

Then I came across a Bubble Pirate. “What’s one of those??”. The Bubble Pirate turns out to be a man by the name of Sandy with an interesting story and a penchant for spreading joy. Read more here

He traveled to Bangkok from Singapore, where I also once lived, over 3 months, enchanting families with bubbles along the way. 

Just before sunset in the evening light, the colours in the bubbles were so vibrant. 

Sandy’s journey will continue, so who knows where you might find him next. 

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I also spotted a beautiful vintage Thai-made Rama (the name of the Chakri kings of Thailand) bicycle at the Chatuchak weekend market (not for sale). I would guess this dates from the 30-40s. Beautiful condition and apparently complete and original. 

That’s a lot of surprises for one day. Bangkok never fails to amaze. 

Velobrico Workshop: 1999 Colnago Tecnos Soft Paint

After looking for a number of years, an opportunity presented itself and… I just bought my first Italian bike!

Here’s the photos from the advert, mostly looking complete and in sound condition. 

The Tecnos is a steel framed road bike, made by Colnago in the second half of the 1990s and I understand to be the lightest steel frame they ever built. The tubing is made by Columbus, with a special alloy, made only for this bike. 

I presume this was one of the last frames to be made in Italy before work was outsourced to the far east. The frame is painted in Colnago’s Art Decor style, a somewhat psychedelic, vivid paint scheme, done entirely by hand. It’s really something special. 

On getting it home, for once I managed to contain my excitement and took some close-up photos before I did anything to it, though I was itching to get to work!

Non-original saddle. 

The bell really adds to the look, and the reflective tape on the head tube. 

A little cable housing rub on the head tube. 

Damaged chrome on one fork leg, not good.

Rims are sound and true, no cracks. 

Really nice lug work. 

Lovely brakes. 

The other fork is fine. 

Some pretty spectacular paintwork. You either love it or you hate it!

The paint was a surprise. I expected it to be glossy, but it’s actually a matt, soft, slightly tacky finish. Quite unusual and I have never seen this before. 

Chain rings are good, no shark teeth. 

Quick release put in the wrong way round. 


Cleats that don’t work with my cycling shoes. 

I spent the rest of the day washing it, removing stickers, the bell, the saddle bag, the lock, and various bits of sticky tape. 


…and servicing the gritty and grimy rear derailleur, cleaning the chain, adjusting the saddle, brakes, installing some new Michelin Classic tires and switching out the pedals to Ultegra SPDs for a test ride. 


Some blue grease, to go with the blue frame 😁. 

As there’s still some more to do, I’ll keep the photos for another day, but I took it for a shakedown ride on Sunday and it greatly exceeded expectations. 

My overwhelming first impression was how smooth it is. Very little road vibration, smooth shifting, everything is tight. At speed it just flies with very little effort. Gearing ratios are little odd, and didn’t give us much range as I would’ve expected for a triple chainring, though climbing was no problem. Steering is very precise, without being twitchy and nervous. I had never ridden Campagnolo before, so the shifting took a little getting used to, but it has a good, positive, clicky feel.

It’s amazing how well this 18 year old bike rides, a real cracker. 

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Watch this space for updates and photos of the finished project!

Oh yeah

Finally the wait is over. I bought my first Italian bike. 

And what a bike! 

Can’t wait to pick it up…

Velobrico Workshop: 1930s Wonder tandem (update 1)

While trying to find some info on the Wonder tandem, (it’s easier to research on the net in winter than brave a cold workshop), I came across this great forum, all in French, related to this manufacturer from St Etienne.

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Some fantastic advertising posters.

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A few pictures of tandems, but Ravat models, not Wonder. This one looks pretty similar to mine. Similar derailleur, “gents” saddle at the front, wider “ladies” saddle at the back, same tool pouch, mudguards, but it has a split down tube and the top tube carries through to the rear seat tube.

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From the look of these pedals, mine aren’t original.

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I imagine myself pretty much as the chap in the photo below, casually pointing out a route on a map to his female companion.

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I was curious why the chain goes all the way from the front chain ring to the freewheel on my tandem. Typically I have seen one shorter chain between chain rings, and another between the rear ring and the freewheel.

The advert above says that this is how Ravat tandems were deliberately designed, along with a short rear wheelbase and thin lateral tubes, which “improves stability, rigidity and performance”. That’s a bit of a vague claim, and I don’t see how the chain length would help with that, but when I ride it I guess I’ll decide for myself!

Once I start on the restoration in earnest, I’ll be sure to reach out to the forum members. Looks like the only place to go!

Velobrico Workshop: Wonder tandem

A new arrival in the workshop today (yes, it is easier to start projects than finish them…). something really quite special indeed.

I’ve always fancied a tandem. Not really sure why. They’re heavy, large, unusable without a trained partner, don’t fit on the car, look a bit weird. But still, they do look fun, in an eccentric sort of way.

I’ve also thought it would be cool to own a bicycle from every decade of the 1900s. Well I have managed to tick both boxes with this one.

This is a “Wonder” tandem from the mid 1930s, seemingly remarkably original and in excellent antique condition.

I have never owned a vehicle this old, nor repaired anything with this much history, so I’m going to be treating it very carefully! That said, this isn’t going to be a garage queen restoration. My intention is to use it, but keep as much original patina as possible.

Watch this space, this is going to be an interesting restoration and a very unique bike to research, fix up and ride.

Any tips more than welcome. I’m in uncharted territory with this antique =)

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Global Bianchi domination…

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!

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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