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Confessions of a Retro Grouch
Last Post 09/16/2018 01:41 PM by 79 pmooney. 5 Replies.
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Nick A


09/06/2018 11:24 AM
I had an REI Novara commuter bike. I turned it into a grocery getter with tons of baskets and cruiser bars. Now, a few years later, I pulled the baskets, fenders, kickstand, and put on drop bars to make it a gravel bike. To make things work, I used friction bar end shifters. Boy, not as awesome I remember. LOL. Of course, the fact that they are "backwards" (up for for a bigger cog) from downtube shifters doesn't help. Also, they have a ratcheting mechanism that may be responsible for losing some "feel". And of course, with eight cogs, instead of five or six, well....I'm now officially spoiled by brifters.


09/08/2018 03:53 PM
I too like to be frugal, and find it satisfying to repurpose old components and frames. For years I had been using a cx bike for gravel rides, but wanted a frame that was more stable and comfortable on long rides and tours on the long-distance bike paths that we have in the Veneto region, many of which are partially or totally unpaved. I just wanted to transfer all the parts from my cx bike to a new frame, but all the new frames were made for disc brakes, which I didn’t want. Not only would it mean having to buy brakes and wheels (I could have used mechanical discs and kept my existing shifters), but also I wouldn’t be able to just whip off the wheel and throw my bike on my fork-mount roof rack (I’d need an adapter). Not to mention that discs would be totally unnecessary for the kind of riding I do on that bike. The owner of a LBS found me an "outdated" (i.e. not for disc brakes) trekking frame (for 200 euro/$250) and I had him transfer everything to it: Campy 9-speed shifters and derailleurs (vintage 1998!), and Sugino compact touring triple (26-36-46), bought in 2009, and an old set of wheels built with Campy Chorus hubs. I already had my favorite handlebars, Ritchey Evo-curves, and an SMP Lite 209 saddle. I just needed a new seatpost, and replaced the cantilevers with a set of TRP mini v-brakes found on for half price ('cause everyone wants discs now). I also needed a negative angle stem to offset the tall head tube and found it on ebay. The whole thing, including labor, new cables, etc, cost me a little over $400. Last week I did my long-awaited first mini-tour on a wonderful rail trail that runs north and south of Cortina d’Ampezzo. I used lightweight bikepacking seat and handlebar bags. I got there by train, which was ecological and relaxing. The bike rode great: smooth, stable, and comfortable, just what I wanted.


09/08/2018 09:10 PM
More about the “trekking “ frame please.
Nick A


09/08/2018 10:06 PM
This basically the equivalent of an 80's steel mountain bike frame. I have 26x1.5 city tires and V brakes. You can get road levers that have the correct pull for like $30 (Tektro). I put the rack back on. Doesn't look as cool, but it may be more versatile.


09/10/2018 05:57 AM
Here are pix of the bike and of me on the rail trail. (The mountains in the background are Pelmo and Becco di Mezzodì). The frame had no name on it because it's a generic frame that bike shops put their own names on. I came up with the name North Star and made the vinyl letters myself with a cutting machine.

The word "trekking" is used in Italian to mean multi-day hiking and also multi-day bike touring. The term "cicloturismo" is often used to mean long distance riding that is done for enjoyment and is not competitive (such as non-competitive fondos) but not necessarily with panniers, etc. (though it can mean that--it depends on who's using the word). Most of the laden-down bike tourists you see here are foreigners. Gravel bikes and events (on the order of randonees, but on bike paths and trails as well as roads) are becoming popular, as is bikepacking. Italians use the English terms for these.


09/16/2018 01:41 PM
Donna, are you set up for a several day hostel/hotel tour in that photo? (What we might call in the states touring by credit card?

I like that bike and your setup,\. That's quite a negative angle stem! Looks like something I would do. But in your hands, the bike just looks right.

I just got back last night from a very different tour, Cycle Oregon, where one of three semi-trailers hauled my bag each day and I rode light through the mountains of northeastern Oregon, the Wallawas and the Blue Mountains.

Funny, on the retro-grouch side, I rode my geared TiCycles, steel forked (1" threadless for now but it might get threaded for its next headset) ti bike; 32 spoke wheels. On the chip seal which we saw a lot of, it is a sweet ride! The first day, two other riders told me their strongest memories of past rides were specific stretches of chip seal or cracks. I remembered them after the mention but they were not a big deal.

One of the high points of this ride happened Friday on the last good downhill of the week, coming out of the Blue Mountains. At the summit I latched onto a single rider behind a tandem. Got one of the downhills of my life! About 8 miles. Not super steep, but with a tandem driving the pace, not slow! Chip seal with gentle, sandy potholes. That ride was fast! I had to pedal nearly the whole time, hard in places. Twice I came off, first in traffic, then when the single bike I was following came off and I had to go around him. Shades of racing long ago! 53-12, out of the saddle, nose on the stem, trying to catch the race going up the road! I made it and revisited the exhilaration and high (literally) of the post-catch. The bike was my perfect ally. I've spent a lot of time thinking and second guessing myself for not going 1 1/8" on the steerer, just to get better, more positive steering and less chance of shudder. Not going to sweat that one anymore. I had no way of missing the potholes. Going way too fast! I went over one of those potholes with my hand on the DT shifter. Nothing happened. There were only three things I could have done to make the descent better, faster, easier. More aero (if it didn't compromise what I had), a 13 tooth cog (I had my cassette set up 12, 14-19, 21, 23; perfect all week except I could have used a 25 or more training and on two occasions the 13) and more weight (downhill, duh!). But really, I didn't need any of that. I stayed on that wheel. The bike was perfect. Doesn't get any better!

This bike is a mix of old and (relatively) new. 9-speed but 53-42-28 in front which I have been using for 40 years. Modern clinchers but aluminum rims traditionally spokes. No carbon fiber. Rear brake turned around; forward of the seat stays just because I like it that way. (Looks cleaner in my eyes and I get to work on both from the same righthand side of the bike. Under BB cable guide, top mounted DT shifters and a turkshead knot/ring around the DT at the bottle cage to keep the cable off the paint.

I brought and rode one day big Paseslas, a 37 in front and a 32 in back. (Absolutely the biggest tire possible! ~.5 mm clearance each side and less to the derailleur clamp. I put on glass catcher set to ride on the 32 but miss the regular 28 entirely, just to minimize the chance of a pebble jamming my rear tire. Sadly, I missed the turnoff to the gnarly gravel option so it never got the real test. On the 1 mile stretch of gentle gravel, it did rule!

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