Drilled saddle for CX: failed

Bad news: the project of drilling a saddle myself for my Superia Gemini Cross CX bike failed. Reason: you cannot simply drill leather with a drill for steel or plastic. No big deal: dream gone, saddle gone, Superia 'cross bike project will be continued with another, regular Arius Special Gran Carrera saddle.
I spent quite some time measuring, making and applying drilling templates, based on the original Assos and Arius drilled saddles. It all looked pretty good. But what seemed to be so simple ended in 30 minutes or so. Drilling small holes of 2 mm is easy, but going to the final diameter of 4 or 5 mm is a problem. You simply don't get nice, clean round holes in the leather. You either have to use a very special drill or, more likely, punch the holes with a special machine.
Right now I don't see a possibility to convert a regular saddle into a perforated saddle by myself, so I have to give up this idea for the time being.

Reydel Pro saddle

Over a year ago I wrote about the Reydel GTi saddle I had found. Now I'm the proud owner of a Reydel Pro! Really rare and hard to find. I have the strong feeling, that this is the type of saddle that Sean Kelly and his team mates have used in the 1980s.

Other Reydel saddles I've seen on the web (besides Pro and GTi) are cheapish, all plastic bike saddles. I guess these were typical french OEM products for Peugeot and others. Other bike entousiasts link the name Reydel to cheap bicycle stuff, not to high end pro materials.

As far as I could trace back, Reydel supplied saddles to Jean de Gribaldy's racing teams in 1983 and 1984. Maybe also in other seasons, but at least in these 2 years, the Reydel name was present on the team jerseys and the team photos. In 1983 as SEM - France-Loire or SEM - Mavic - Reydel (looks like jerseys were changed for the Tour de France, quite usual in those days); in 1984 as Skil - Reydel - SEM - Mavic.

The Pro saddle itself doesn't look very special. The saddle I bought was hardly used, but (as with so many older and even newer saddles) the leather cover is separating from the base. At the whole circumference, the glue lost its function. A matter of buying a package of Bison Kit glue and fix the cover again. No big deal.
Same for the cheapish Reydel sticker on the back. Typically french?
Whenever I have the posibility to start a french bike project (I hope to get a Vitus 992 frame kit once), this is the right saddle.

Superia Gemini Cross - part II

I've picked up the bike nearly a week ago, so now I know what I'm talking about.
Actually, the frame size is 57 cm (centre - top). I haven't done a ride yet, but it looks like the seat tube length is okay. Just put the saddle a few cm up. For sure, the hole for the brake cable will be too high. I'll need another seat post or at least drill a second hole.
The frame material is Ishiwata 022. According to the old Ishiwata catalogues it takes a 27.2 mm seat post, but the actual size is 26.4 mm. A bit strange. Either Superia has been creative with decals or Ishiwata has supplied several set of 022 tubing. Like Reynolds did with their 531: double butted 531c or plain gauge 531. Another possibility is that Superia has mixed some tubing sets. I think I'll never find out.
Superia is not famous for its beauty, but from the practical point of view, it's an ideal cyclocross bike. When Reinier Groenendaal joined the Skala team in the 1980s, I spoke to him many times. He had extremely good experience with Superia and for Gazelle it was a challenge to build good bikes for Rein. A tough guy... For sure, Superia designers and frame builders knew what they were doing. The cable guides, the cheap but wide fork crowns, lots of mud clearance, all braze ons at the right position: it al looks very simple, but it's so hard to get it perfect.
The chain set (Ofmega Cyclocross, Competizione) is beautiful. The 45 teeth chain ring is too large, but I'll see if I can get a 42T instead. The double guide plates are original. The FAG bottom bracket set is from later date and could be too long.
I'm very happy with the Sun Tour Power Ratchet bar end shifter, but although the Sun Tour VX GT rear mech is original, I might replace it for something else.
Dia Compe 960 cantilever brakes are fine and period correct. The operation feels quite heavy. I may be able to improve that with better adjustment, spring tension and cables. Otherwise, Mafacs will be a good alternative. Mafac cantis were always considered to be the better or even the best cantis and Dia Compe the poor man's stuff. The current aero style Dia Compe brake levers don't belong on this bike and they have to go. But it's pretty hard to find proper non-aero brake levers. I have to do my best to find a few pairs.
3ttt bars and stem can stay, although I have to check if the stem length is okay.
The Ariake (with NJS mark!) saddle looks horrible. For sure I will replace that one. I'm thinking of an Arius Gran Carrera and drill it myself.
The Shimano 600 wheels with tubulars may be the original wheel set, but there's a lot of corrosion. That means that I have to find 2 new wheel sets, that I can put in this Superia as well as in the Alan cross bike: a set to show off and a set for real use. The current 5 speed cassette is a bit poor; number of gears could be 6 and the range a bit wider. The tubulars (Clément Grifo 61 front and Pneumant Cross Champion rear) are in bad condition and will go into the bin. Wolber Cross 28 Extra tubulars may come into place.
Finally the pedals: road pedals, so not good. I've got to complete my set of Lyotard 460D with double Christophe toe clips size L.
Summary: frame set and some parts are okay, but there's a lot of work to do. The goal is to have it ready to ride by autumn 2013.

SOLD: Selle Royal CX saddles

USED condition
Rails partly corroded, wear and light scuff marks  on the cover. No holes, no tearing.
No. 1 is in better condition (appearance) than No. 2, thus the price difference.
I'm selling these beautiful vintage Selle Royal CX saddles. Nicely shaped rails and stitching, that is typical for Selle Royal saddles. In the 1980s a very different saddle design with so called aerodynamic features. Same era as Modolo Kronos brakes. E.g. see older Rossin and Gazelle catalogues.
Price excl. postage.

No. 1:

No. 2

Christophe double toe clips

For cyclocross, double toe clips were used. Simply because these were stronger and more durable. Example: you approach an obstacle like barriers, stairs, a steep hill or sand. You have to get yourself ready to jump off the bike. With your feet into the clips, it's impossible to jump off quickly, so you will stand with one foot (usually the left foot, in case you shoulder the bike on your right) on a pedal. The other (right) leg between (left) leg and bike. But because you stand on the bottom side of the pedal, the toe clip hangs down and can easily scrape over the path of road surface and even hook up with a rock, root or branch. This may bend, break or at least wear the clip.
Double clips are some kind of added security. Your toe clips will not bend or snap during a ride or race.

Christophe supplied double toe clips as a standard item, see photos. In case you couldn't get any (fitting) double toe clips, you could (can) also make a pair by yourself. All you need is 2 pairs of regular toe clips and some rivets (from a hardware store of Mr. Minit shoe repair). Drill out the rivets of the toe clips to remove the eyelet for the toe strap. Then, put 2 toe clips together and put the eyelet on top of it. Finally, connect the both clips and the eyelet with rivets, using a hammer or bench vice (original riveting tool is also possible, but I never used that).

Lyotard 460D pedals

Before 1990, when Shimano introduced Shimano Pedalling Dynamics (SPD), there were no such things as we call clipless pedals (or click pedals) for offroad use. People had to use rat trap pedals, either with toe clips and straps or without. Mud and dirt proof foot retention systems were not available.

Lyotard 460A pedals were the standard in cyclocross, but also used in other cycling disciplines. Lightweight, grippy teeth, good mud clearance. Not very well sealed, but good enough for one season and the bearings could easily be cleaned, greased up and adjusted. And these pedals were cheap as chips, DFL 10.- a pair or so, if I remember correctly. Maybe a bit more. For that amount, every cyclocross rider could afford to wear out or damage 1 or 2 pairs each winter season. In 'cross, you easily hit a tree root, rock or other obstacle with your pedal and the front plate of the pedals bends easily. As mentioned, no big deal. Bend it back when the ride is over and get a new pair of pedals if the damage is too bad or the season is over.

Of course, on a real cyclocross bike, these pedals were equipped with toe clips and straps. Preferably Christophe toe clips and Alfredo Binda straps, although that didn't make a lot of sense, because the straps were nearly never pulled tight. For example, Christophe straps would also do.
A real freak would tune all parts to the limit. More about that in another blog in a couple of weeks.

Sun Tour Power Ratchet bar end shifters

Before Shimano introduced STI and Dual Control shifters (a bit later followed by Campagnolo and Sachs with Ergopower), nearly all cyclocross rider were using bar end shifters to operate their gear mechanism. And not only cross riders, but some roadies as well. With bar end shifters, you can keep your hands on the handlebars while shifting. This enables you to shift gears quickly and safely.
Bar end shifters work in the same way as down tube shifters, but only the location is different. However, during the approx. 5 years WITH indexed shifting but WITHOUT STI-like brifters, the use of indexed bar end shifters (or: bar-cons) was minimal. There were some reasons. The 1st is technical: for indexed shifting you need more than a shifting lever that says "click". The whole system has to be perfect. It took conservative cyclists and bicycle dealers a long time to understand that this was not only a commercial trick from Shimano. Shifting levers, sprockets, chains, cables, yes, even frame design has to be optimized. Then we come to the next point: 'cross riders tend to mix and match everything they can lay their hands on, which is not good for indexed shifting. And third, cross bikes are more complex than road bikes. Different gear ratios, longer cables, different cable routing, mud, rain, frost, etc.
A short explanation why indexed shifting in general and in the beginning STI was not perfect for CX.

Sun Tour had the perfect bar end shifters in the olden days of friction shifting. Operation was the same as Shimano, Campagnolo and others, but Sun Tour was extra popular because of the perfect Power Ratchet mechanism. A friction type shifting lever has to be set up with a certain amount of friction in order to withstand the spring load of the derailleur. The combination of lever friction, cable friction and derailleur spring force make shifting heavy and hard to control. Sun Tour Power Ratchet's ratchet and spring/pawl mechanism decouples the friction from the lever. When shifting against the derailleur's spring tension, the lever can be moved upwards without friction, making it light to operate. When a certain gear has been selected, the lever (and thus the derailleur) stays in place because of the lever friction and the ratchet mechanism. When shifting in the other direction (lever downwards), the rider has to overcome the lever friction, but gets help from the derailleur's spring force.
All in all the same idea as e.g. Simplex' and later Campagnolo successful down tube shifters with spring load, but a different construction.

Sun Tour bar end shifters were the overall standard for cyclocross in the 1980s and nearly every single 'cross bike was equipped with 1 or 2 of these levers, depending of the number of gears (single or double chain ring in the front). Nowadays these levers are pretty rare and of course getting more and more expensive. This week I found a set in Belgium, the cradle of cyclocross, and still for very good price. As you can see on the picture, on both levers the flat head nut is missing. This always happened with these levers. Most levers are without the nut. It's no big deal, the function remains okay and the levers don't fall apart. For security reasons I will put a standard M4 hexagon nut in place.

For (dis)assembly to (from) the handlebars, the lever has to be removed from the bracket. Just a matter of taking the long bolt and the nuts out and sliding the lever out of the bracket. When tightening the lever to the bar end, you have to turn the Allen key counter clockwise! Not because there's left hand threading, but because the tool is put into the bottom of the central fixing bolt instead of the bolt head. Turn clockwise in case you want to remove the lever from the bar end.

A challenge: cyclocross saddle

For a cyclocross fan with a saddle fetish, a real, vintage cyclocross saddle is a must. Although I've been active in CX racing, in the bike trade and bike industry for decades, I've never owned one or seen any benefit of these saddles. But I've to admit, that it's just awesome. Top of the bill is Assos, of course, although Arius is a good No. 2.
Since these 2 models are rare "as hen's teeth" (a year ago, I let an Assos go when I was able to get it, I'm such a dumbass), I'll try to make one myself.
To be continued.

Retro track bike day in Büttgen, Germany, 20/Jan/2013

A yearly event for fans of vintage track bikes on the Sport Forum track in Kaarst - Büttgen, Germany.
This year on Sunday 20. January.
Don't forget to contact the organizers beforehand in case you want to join.
All details on this blog: www.klassikerausfahrt.de

Superia Gemini Cross

I'm still busy with the Alan and suddenly a second CX bike project is coming up. To be honest, the Alan isn't off road ready (yet) and I want to keep it nice, so I'm not going to take it into the mud, salt and rain.
For that purpose, I've been looking for a cheap alternative and a few days ago it suddenly showed up: a Superia Gemini Cross, real old school cyclocross brand, nice steel frame, some usable components and... exactly my size. I hope that things work out well and in that case I can post more details within a couple of days.
Steel frame 58 cm (EDIT: it's a 57cm, but that will do), wheels with tubular tyres, single chain ring with guide plates, Sun Tour bar end shifter, Dia Compe cantilever brakes, toe clips and straps, etc. And very affordable, too!

Status update Alan Super Cross

As mentioned before, the Alan is ridable but not off-road ready. Besides that, some problems have appeared and need to be solved before taking the bike outside again. Below is a pic of the bike before the maiden ride on the road. Please understand that the bike wasn't ready and not as I intended to build the bike, but it was just a quick action to have a ridable bike at that time. The most serious issue is that the front fork is not reliable. One of the cantilever brake bosses is loose; a matter that was hidden/covered up by the previous owner. Yes, Marktplaats.nl can be risky. Anyway, that same Marktplaats.nl brought me another fork, but unfortunately, that one is too long and the threading is too short. So, the to-do list is:

Forks: Cut approx 20mm extra thread or find another fork, 200mm steerer tube.

Bar end shifter: Currently a Shimano indexed shifter, but this is not period correct, brand-wise, emotionally and technically (in index mode) not matching with the Campagnolo rear derailleur. Will be replaced with a Suntour micro-ratchet, spring loaded bar end shifter. Pretty rare now, but very common in the 1980s.

Brake levers: Aero type Shimano Dura Ace brake levers have to be replaced by some non-aero types like older type Shimano, Modolo, Campagnolo, Mafac, CLB, Suntour, Galli, etc.

Wheels: Now nice wheels with Mavic tubular rims, but Shimano 8/9-speed cassette hubs. Will be replaced by period correct wheels with Campagnolo or Mavic hubs for boss-type freewheel (no cassette). Preferably tubular rims, because I have new Wolber CX tubulars. An additional pair of clincher wheels will be nice for "daily" use, because clinchers are more practical (repair a flat) and I can keep the tubular wheels in perfect showroom condition. Cyclocross parts tend to wear, you know? It's no track racing.

Freewheel: I will need a multiple freewheel, ideally a Maillard 6 speed, 13 - 26 T.

Seat post: Another Campagnolo 25.0 mm seat post will be handy, because I only have 1 piece in full length or both my track and CX bike. If possible an Alan-pantographed one!

Pedals: Got only 1 (new) Lyotard rat trap pedal! I need a second one or a complete set.

Toe clips: Same as the pedals: only 1 piece available, but it's a nice, new Christophe double toe clip. Need an extra double or 2 single toe clips, size L (?).

Straps: No straps available, so I need a new pair.

Selle Royal Superleggero

Selle Royal saddle, special edition for Gazelle. Showed up in Gazelle's 1981 catalogue on a beautiful Reynolds 753 bicycle. Like Cinelli Unicanitor, it's a plastic shell with a padded leather cover. The rails, however, are aluminium, thus super lightweight or superleggero. I never had the opportunity to ride this kind of saddle, even not during my days at Gazelle. Or, maybe I had, but there was plenty other stuff to use. And first I have to get myself a Gazelle frame set to do this saddle any justice. Until then, it will stay NOS.