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.

995_001-251775a

Some fantastic advertising posters.

1750-63977-12948ec

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.

tendem_ravat-229a50f

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

pedale-1cb673f

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

pub-ravt-wonder-1935-4-28faf62

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 =)

img_3537img_3538img_3539img_3540img_3541img_3542img_3543img_3544img_3545img_3546img_3547img_3549img_3550img_3551img_3552img_3553img_3554img_3555img_3556img_3557img_3558img_3559img_3560img_3561

Love this story….

It’s a bit late for valentine’s day but I love this story…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-35299608

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…

$_57 (2)

$_57 (3)

What makes for the best commuter?

Mountain bike, hybrid, road bike or fixie?

As far as I can tell, cycling in cities is becoming more popular. I have commuted by bicycle to work for the last 8 years or so, first in Paris, then in Singapore. Over this period, I have the feeling there are a slowly increasing number of people riding to work.

Cycle commuters seem to come in various flavours.

Some choose vintage road bikes that have seen better days.

Some use fixies or single gear with freewheel, with or without brakes, coloured chains, aero wheel discs etc.

Some use purpose built hybrids with mountain-bike style frames, often front suspension and larger than 26″ wheels with skinny tyres.

Some choose Dutch-style town bikes, usually with a basket somewhere and sometimes with backward pedalling brakes.

And some choose old mountain bikes, that have probably never seen a mountain…

I fall into this latter category and, for the most part, rode old, ugly mountain bikes to death work for much of the last 8 years…

I have had the good fortune to commute in countries where public transport is efficient and cheap, so cost was never a motivator.

For me the main incentive was that I enjoy riding, that it got me to work faster than public transport and that a little bit of exercise doesn’t do you any harm.

Cycle commuting is something that takes a little time to get used to. And in that time, one probably changes the route taken, clothes worn, equipment used, the bike itself and the attitude to other road users.

For me these choices were generally driven by the principle of “I don’t want to die”. Crashes aren’t nice. Everyone has had one (or more), and would like to avoid them as much as possible.

For a time, I commuted by 1980s road bike. It was exhilarating and fast, but it didn’t take long before I had enough close shaves to figure out it wasn’t sustainable. Also I find the dropped position on the handlebars limits visibility and comfort (on the neck), high-pressure 23mm tyres on cobble-stones are like riding a pneumatic drill, and 30 year old brakes and drop handlebars aren’t the best way to avoid getting splatted.

So while a 90s MTB isn’t the coolest way to get to work, it’s safe, comfortable and bulletproof.

That said, if you’re going to spend a lot of time riding, you may as well enjoy it. So maybe spend a bit of cash and get something decent looking instead…

So I’d say, whatever you’re riding, keep safe, and enjoy your commute.

What do you guys and girls commute on? What do you enjoy most about your ride?

Round the world, on a drainpipe

Thanks to a very rainy 1st May weekend, we had the chance to explore the Luzern transport museum. Great museum for kids (and big kids), with lots of interactive stuff, planes, boats, trains and cars.

Among all that, they squeezed in a few interesting bicycles.

A racer from 1905

IMG_2180 IMG_2182

A Swiss military bicycle. Apparently unchanged in design for almost 100 years… (must be heavy!)

IMG_2185IMG_2183IMG_2184

An early tandem from the 1930s

IMG_2188

They also had an early mountain bike (nicer but similar to some of my collection, Deore LX etc.) and an interesting bike which completed a tour of the world.

Ridden by Armin Honegger, this 1955 British Hercules completed a 149,000km round trip of the planet. Looking at this bike, Herr Honegger commands some serious respect. Nowadays, most people wouldn’t even ride to work the supermarket on this, so it just goes to show what is possible with simple technology.

No need for a thirty three gears, aero tubes, electronic shifting, air damper suspension and carbon fibre. This guy went round the world on a (well built) drainpipe with three gears and crummy brakes. Well done that man!

IMG_2186IMG_2187

Dear Santa…

Admittedly I’m a sucker for cromovelato, but wow.