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  1. #1
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    My R20 puts itself into temporary retirement, and I ponder the options

    This is going to be a long story, so I'll break it into 3 pieces. First, the tale of why my 20 is now off the road, followed by my options to use instead of it, and finally, more discussion of how I'm going to mod it into the perfect bike.

    So, I've had my 20 about 6 or 7 months, and have been using it regularly, but with all the mileage, some of the components had been showing their age. I did my first strip down and rebuild of a loose ball cottered BB a couple of weeks ago, which improved things significantly, but was frustrated on my next ride to find a broken spoke. This was what decided me to stop pondering upgrades, finalise what I wanted to do, and start buying the parts. I figured I'd ignore the broken spoke, ride it as is til after Christmas, by which time I might have everything I needed to rebuild. I really want to do this all in one hit.

    I usually use the 20 when I'm going to London - it's not a bike that people want to steal, it's handy in traffic, and if the train racks are full, I can fold it and get on anyway - perfect. Most of these trips involve an 8 mile ride from Waterloo to the East End, lots of stop start, fast traffic, and me riding hard, but today, I had a meeting in Central London, on Picadilly, perhaps a mile and a half from Waterloo. As I left Waterloo, I felt that the back end was a little squirrelly, and pondered whether another spoke had let go. When I got out of my meeting, I checked, and in fact, 4 more spokes had broken. Not good. By the time I reached home, the back end of my bike was shaking it like a Polaroid picture!

    Clearly it's not going to be ridden in that condition, and the fact that I'm assembling my parts for a rebuild means I really don't want to pay the LBS to put all those new spokes in - I'm only going to take those wheels off soon anyway, plus I could do with the money to pay for parts! Hence, the little Raleigh is coming off the road, which means I need to choose something to use in it's place for now.....

  2. #2
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    So here are my choices for the replacement. I have a cheap folder (two in fact) rather like those that are advertised on eBay regularly. Central hinge fold, 20" wheels, aluminium frame, 6 speed derailleur gears. I bought them on a recent holiday to Spain, because it cost the same as hiring bikes for a week, plus I was intrigued to see if cheap folders were really THAT bad, and I wanted something that folded smaller than my 20, so it could come with me in my little Ford Fiesta without occupying the whole bootspace. It's not that bad, but I can't get the seatpost high enough for full extension, and it's quite undergeared. It's fine for short trips when out and about in the car, but that 8 miles across London doesn't fill me with anticipation, and although I've bought a rack to fit it, I suspect that the already squirrelly handling won't respond well to a generously loaded Ortlieb Office Bag 2 perched on the top of it. No pics of these yet I'm afraid.

    Option 2 is my tourer. On the downside, it doesn't fold, and I'd have to be a bit more careful with the wheels when hopping curbs etc, but on the upside, it's ready to go. All I'd need to do is stick the Ortlieb adapter on the rack, and I'm off.

    Option 3 is the all weather urban assault bike I've been building. I was building it single speed, with an old steel frame I had, and then I chanced into possession of a pair of wheels built on SA 5 speed hub, with drum brakes. With nice wide rims, and chunky Marathon style tyres (might even be Marathons) this thing is as tough as old boots, the hub gears and drum brakes should cope well with abuse and bad weather, and it's ugly enough that people probably won't want to steal it. Counting against it, however, is that it keeps blowing rear tubes, and I can't find the problem. It's gone through two during the build process, which means I've yet to even get to setting the gears up right. Even when I do cure that, I'd rather take it on a few rides locally before I trust it in London when I'm in a rush to be somewhere.

    I suspect the solution to my conundrum is simply to use the tourer for now, get the urban assault into fettle asap, and shift to that.....


    My tourer:

    The Urban Assault (it's progressed from here, but you get the idea.....)

  3. #3
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    On the way home on the train, I got to thinking that this meant I had to get the 20 finished much quicker than I'd planned. I started crossing things off the build list which could wait, and came to the conclusion that the minimum was to build the wheels and do the BB and cranks, and that if I was going to strip the bike down to that extent, I would paint it at the same time. Then I got to considering the cost. I would need:

    Front hub - 15
    Spokes - dunno. 20 or so?
    Wheelbuilding stand - 65
    Spoke tension metre - 20?
    BB - 15
    Nexus 7 shifter - 20
    Nexus fitting kit - 10
    Tyres and tubes - 30
    Chain - 10

    And I just realised I couldn't do it. There was no way I could assemble that lot in a short time, just don't have the money. So, I've decided to treat it as fate, temporarily retire the 20, and work on it at my own pace. I'll strip it down, tidy up every last detail, and buy in all the parts, then when I'm ready - bam. All at one go.

  4. #4
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Hmmm. On opening my post tonight, I found that an article I wrote a year ago (I'm a freelance journalist in my spare time) and forgot all about had been published, and I'd received a check for 85. My first thought was that I could get my tyres, tubes, Nexus fitting kit, shifter and cog, and perhaps my spokes too for that money. Then I realised that was short term thinking, and what I REALLY should spend it on is the wheelbuilding stand I need, and a tension meter. Then I discovered that the only tension meter on the market in the UK is the Park TM-1, at 50!!!

    Wheelbuilding appears to be an expensive business.

  5. #5
    Senior Member JosephLMonti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    Hmmm. On opening my post tonight, I found that an article I wrote a year ago (I'm a freelance journalist in my spare time) and forgot all about had been published, and I'd received a check for 85. My first thought was that I could get my tyres, tubes, Nexus fitting kit, shifter and cog, and perhaps my spokes too for that money. Then I realised that was short term thinking, and what I REALLY should spend it on is the wheelbuilding stand I need, and a tension meter. Then I discovered that the only tension meter on the market in the UK is the Park TM-1, at 50!!!

    Wheelbuilding appears to be an expensive business.
    Based on the prices you've presented, the wheel building tools will cost in excess of 100 pounds. What would the LBS charge to build up the wheels for you? Better yet, are there any pre-built wheels available that would suit your purposes?

  6. #6
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    The LBS would probably charge me 60 or so, but this won't be the only set of wheels I'd build with the tools, so you have to amortize it over a longer period. Additionally, I think the LBS might freak out at my request to build a 36 spoke hub into a 48 spoke rim. Nothing remotely like what I want is available pre built (Nexus 7 speed hub built into deep section 20" rims), plus I already have the rims, and I got a killer deal on the hub (33 brand new). I'm going to have to bite the bullet, but I'd prefer the tensioning tool to be cheaper. The important thing, however, is that I REALLY want to be able to build wheels.

  7. #7
    Senior Member JosephLMonti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    The LBS would probably charge me 60 or so, but this won't be the only set of wheels I'd build with the tools, so you have to amortize it over a longer period. Additionally, I think the LBS might freak out at my request to build a 36 spoke hub into a 48 spoke rim. Nothing remotely like what I want is available pre built (Nexus 7 speed hub built into deep section 20" rims), plus I already have the rims, and I got a killer deal on the hub (33 brand new). I'm going to have to bite the bullet, but I'd prefer the tensioning tool to be cheaper. The important thing, however, is that I REALLY want to be able to build wheels.
    If you plan to build a lot of wheels then it is more cost effective to invest in this equipment. Also, it's best to have as many mechanical skills "under one's belt" as possible.

    Back to your commute dilemma - which make/model folder did you buy as a back-up from eBay? Any pics?

  8. #8
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I didn't buy it from eBay, I bought it from Carrefour in Spain, and I didn't really buy it as a backup. I bought it because it was about the same price as renting a bike for a week, but I'd have something to show for it at the end, and because I kinda wanted to test just what you'd get for such a small amount of money.

    I will photograph one (not tonight, it's dark already), but they're not really suitable for my commute. I think their place is for leisurely mucking about - for instance, I might take one with me when I stay with a friend in Cambridge, and cruise along by the river, or I might use one on a camping trip, to get to the local shops. In London traffic, they'd be too undergeared, which would mean I'd be frustratingly slow, plus I'm not sure, yet, how they'll deal with my really rather heavy case on the back. I'm certainly going to test how they do, but I don't see them as a realistic option for the length of time it'll take me to do up the R20. I think I'm going to have to forego the folding option for now. That's probably ok, because I rarely have to fold my R20. The only way a problem is likely to arise is if I get to the train, and find all of the bike rack slots are full. In that situation, I'd fold my 20, and stick it out of the way somewhere, but I've only had to do that once. The bigger bikes won't be quite as agile in traffic either, but I can live with it. When the 20 is done, it'll be the perfect urban rocketship....

  9. #9
    Senior Member jnb-rare's Avatar
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    So I guess the rear wheel from the cheapies doesn't fit the R20 (undergearing aside)?

  10. #10
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Well, it's a derailleur setup. The problems involved in fitting it outweigh the benefit.

  11. #11
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    One does not need a tension meter to build a good wheel... A truing stand which can even be self build out of an old fork though i'd recommend buying one and a spoke key is all that is needed. Check the internet for wheelbuilding tips.
    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html
    My Tweaked and modded Raleigh Twenty. Lots of pictures and lots of general info on for example a different & Cheap Bottom Bracket solution as well as fork solution.

  12. #12
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Having discussed a bit, I'm now seriously considering the "no tension meter" approach.

  13. #13
    jur
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    I have built somewhere between 5 and 10 wheels by now, none with a tensiometer. I go by ear by plucking. I found a site following links from Sheldon's. All the wheels I have built have not required re-truing and all are as 'perfect' as they were when built. Some have withstood heavy work, such as my raleigh 20's SA 8sp wheel which commutes 56km daily and toured Tasmania 1200km loaded with 20-oddkg of gear. (As you may know, I broke the hub before the spokes.)
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  14. #14
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    If you're going to spend any cash at all - get a good spoke key. A cheap one is worse than none at all as it will strip or break your nipples (that's what she said ) and leave you one short. Mine is a DT one and though not cheap will work forever. The tool I got with my Minoura Pro truing stand was not really up to the job and lies as a spare in my day-to-day kit. FWIW I do have a tensionometer but have built wheels that are perfectly fine without it. It's actually harder to use one on smaller wheels as it's harder to fit the contact points on the shorter steel - especially on 3x spoke patterns.

    More on the tools i use here

  15. #15
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I have a tension meter that I rarely use and a wheels-stand can be built pretty cheaply / free if you can find a spare road fork... flip it over and mount it in a vice or on your workbench and add a few zip ties and you're ready to rock.

    I'll see if I can't find or take a pic of the stand for ya.

    This works as well as any pro stand and I upgraded mine by adding a dial indicator.

    I just upgraded my Twenty with a pair of alloy BMX wheels - I laced up the new rear wheel to the old SA hub and just swapped the front wheels.

    The old wheels were fine save for the fact they were steel and the wet braking was non-existant.

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