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  1. #1
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    1970's French Tandem Restoration Project Advice?!

    Hello all,

    I'm just about to start restoring a 1973 Gitain Gaves Tandem, and have started a blog do document my progress, but, most importantly, to coalesce my inevitably huge number of questions for the tandeming community into one location.

    http://gitaingaves.blogspot.co.uk/

    I would be eternally grateful if anybody here had time to read the whole thing (it ended up longer than I meant it to...), and hopefully put in a few useful comments?

    Thank you!

    Will


  2. #2
    pedallin' my life away
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    Looks like a real nice old bike. I wonder if the Classic & Vintage forum would be helpful as well, or perhaps more-so than this tandem area.

    The most overarching thought that came to mind as I read your blog was, what is your objective in restoring? That may steer an awful lot of answers to many of your questions. For example, it might be "faithful to the original" restoration, achieving the best performance that the original (or appropriate period) components can achieve. Or it might be, "I want to be able to ride this bike XXX miles in a day over XXX kind of terrain with XXX stoking, and don't really care whether the bike ends up being faithful to the original equipment or period, or a mix+match with modern stuff that works." Whatever you settle on for the objective, establishing a budget up front will help a lot -- avoid the situation where you're 1/2 way done and have reached the limit of resources you want to put into it.

    I know I'm not directly addressing the details, for which I apologiz(s)e but I don't have a lot of knowledge to share in that regard. Best of luck with it, hope you get many happy miles on it.

  3. #3
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    Wow! This takes me back to our first tandem a 1970's Peugeot. Some ideas I had while reading your blog: 1. Bar Fat for the bars if vibration is a problem. Or just double wrap with thick tape. 2.) Why change out the cranks?? If they are T/A's they are pretty good and new rings are available. Be sure to change out the chains as well. 3. Single side drive is OK if you don't live in a hilly area. If hilly stick with what you have. We had good luck setting the cranks out of phase (OOP) as the Peugeot was a bit more noodly than a modern bike. 4. Suggest Phil hubs with Velocity rims for your new wheels. 5. For brakes we have had good luck with V brakes and travel agents--others on this forum don't agree. Also have had cantis that worked very well, but were less attractive than some others. I think your bike has Mafac cantilevers. When you replace them be sure to check welds on the attachment points. 6. On our Peugeot the drum would not stop the bike, but it made it slow down enough that the rim brakes would stop it.

  4. #4
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    More to the "what's your point" argument - If you want to restore a vintage bike for an occasional "show" ride, OK, but then obviously, you need to stick as closely as possible to original equipment.

    If your intent is to build a tandem to actually do any serious riding on, sell the Gitane and buy a more current ride. Almost any used, quality tandem in the $500 - $1000 range will give you a ride that is head and shoulders above the Gitane. You'll spend at least that much just trying to make that one rideable, and you'll still have a very noodley, standard steel frame.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    From your blog I gather your goal is to have a usable tandem with modest upgrades. With that assumption my comments:

    Velo Orange bottom bracket should give you reasonable use.

    Consider modern brake levers. With modern levers the brakes may stop fine if properly adjusted.

    If new brakes needed I would measure the canti stud placement. From picture they seem close together compared to modern placement but that maybe a error on my part. I suggest modern wide proifile canti brakes like Tektro CR720. They work well, not expensive and more in line with the style of the bike than V-Brakes.

    Agree with new handlebars and stems.

    If you get the rim brakes working you might do without a drum brake.

    New Rear derailleur, maybe front as well. Assume you want to keep the freewheel 5 speed for budget purposes.

    You mentioned rebuilt or new wheels which sounds good. This is the major expenditure.

    New cables and housings all around.

    Keep the cranks if they work for you. but as mentioned new chain.

    New cogs and chains if needed.

    New tires. Tires have a great impact on how a bike rides.

    Enjoy working on it.

    P.S. a brass bell from Velo Orange would be a nice touch.
    Last edited by waynesulak; 08-29-12 at 11:06 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris ss View Post
    Looks like a real nice old bike. I wonder if the Classic & Vintage forum would be helpful as well, or perhaps more-so than this tandem area.

    The most overarching thought that came to mind as I read your blog was, what is your objective in restoring? That may steer an awful lot of answers to many of your questions. For example, it might be "faithful to the original" restoration, achieving the best performance that the original (or appropriate period) components can achieve. Or it might be, "I want to be able to ride this bike XXX miles in a day over XXX kind of terrain with XXX stoking, and don't really care whether the bike ends up being faithful to the original equipment or period, or a mix+match with modern stuff that works." Whatever you settle on for the objective, establishing a budget up front will help a lot -- avoid the situation where you're 1/2 way done and have reached the limit of resources you want to put into it.

    I know I'm not directly addressing the details, for which I apologiz(s)e but I don't have a lot of knowledge to share in that regard. Best of luck with it, hope you get many happy miles on it.
    The second scenario is the correct one. I want to be able to ride something like 60 miles a day, over hilly but hopefully smooth roads, with an inexperienced stoker, and really don't care about being original at all. I want the best performance to cost ratio possible. This project is being done on behalf of my Aunt and Uncle (still the official owners), on the premise that I'll do the fixing, and they'll pay for components, meaning they save cash compared with a shop overhaul, and, when they get too old and tired (not long now, I'm afraid), I'll inherit the whole thing. Also, I have it booked for the London to Brighton every year So, the budget is not in my hands, and I intend to send them a detailed plan, with alternate scenarios and costs etc. and then do the most expensive thing that they'll finance!

  7. #7
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Spohn View Post
    Wow! This takes me back to our first tandem a 1970's Peugeot. Some ideas I had while reading your blog: 1. Bar Fat for the bars if vibration is a problem. Or just double wrap with thick tape. 2.) Why change out the cranks?? If they are T/A's they are pretty good and new rings are available. Be sure to change out the chains as well. 3. Single side drive is OK if you don't live in a hilly area. If hilly stick with what you have. We had good luck setting the cranks out of phase (OOP) as the Peugeot was a bit more noodly than a modern bike. 4. Suggest Phil hubs with Velocity rims for your new wheels. 5. For brakes we have had good luck with V brakes and travel agents--others on this forum don't agree. Also have had cantis that worked very well, but were less attractive than some others. I think your bike has Mafac cantilevers. When you replace them be sure to check welds on the attachment points. 6. On our Peugeot the drum would not stop the bike, but it made it slow down enough that the rim brakes would stop it.
    1. I think we'll just double wrap (it's double wrapped at the moment, but the discomfort comes from the fact that they're very narrow, and the angles necessitated by the non-aero brake levers 2. I would only change them to get more amiable ratios in a situation where I also changed the rear cassestte, or to convert to single side drive, if this is deemed necessary to implement the V/O BB 3. Why would this make a difference? If the sync chain is on the outside, as suggested my John Allen in the article I linked, surely the gears are the same? 4. Phil hubs. I thought so! I think the back will have to be on the existing Drum, due to ALN spacing, and the front, well, I'll try and talk the finance department into a Phill on the front (and indeed BB), but I'm not sure if they'll be receptive 5. Getting the V specific levers if the T/A's dont work well shouldn't cost all that much, so I think we'll try that 6. Lovely, this is what I was hoping to hear!

    THANK YOU!

  8. #8
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
    More to the "what's your point" argument - If you want to restore a vintage bike for an occasional "show" ride, OK, but then obviously, you need to stick as closely as possible to original equipment.

    If your intent is to build a tandem to actually do any serious riding on, sell the Gitane and buy a more current ride. Almost any used, quality tandem in the $500 - $1000 range will give you a ride that is head and shoulders above the Gitane. You'll spend at least that much just trying to make that one rideable, and you'll still have a very noodley, standard steel frame.
    The intent is almost exactly halfway in between what you said!

    I am not only in this for the tandeming, but also the shared experience of fixing the thing up with my partner, and us both riding something that works because of our own efforts. An eBay buy with the same money wouldn't be nearly so rewarding.

    Also, this tandem has been in the family since it was new (almost 40 years now), and we kinda love it... The plan is for occasional serious rides, at least until I get full ownership (currently with my Aunt and Uncle, as explained above)

  9. #9
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynesulak View Post
    From your blog I gather your goal is to have a usable tandem with modest upgrades. With that assumption my comments:

    Velo Orange bottom bracket should give you reasonable use.

    Consider modern brake levers. With modern levers the brakes may stop fine if properly adjusted.

    If new brakes needed I would measure the canti stud placement. From picture they seem close together compared to modern placement but that maybe a error on my part. I suggest modern wide proifile canti brakes like Tektro CR720. They work well, not expensive and more in line with the style of the bike than V-Brakes.

    Agree with new handlebars and stems.

    If you get the rim brakes working you might do without a drum brake.

    New Rear derailleur, maybe front as well. Assume you want to keep the freewheel 5 speed for budget purposes.

    You mentioned rebuilt or new wheels which sounds good. This is the major expenditure.

    New cables and housings all around.

    Keep the cranks if they work for you. but as mentioned new chain.

    New cogs and chains if needed.

    New tires. Tires have a great impact on how a bike rides.

    Enjoy working on it.

    P.S. a brass bell from Velo Orange would be a nice touch.

    Well assumed, sir.

    I was thinking of going with Velo Orange anyway, since, even it it is problematic you can replace it twice for a similar price to the Phil!

    Are you suggesting modern Aero levers, but with the same old Canti's? The problem with these levers is they can only be accessed from the drops, I'm not sure how modern ones would increase the stopping power?

    Style really isn't important in this endeavour, as there's no desire to keep to the original parts etc. I believe that standard V's should fit on, the Mini V's would have to be tested I think...

    Whether I keep the Cassette is a matter up for debate; I would like a hyperglide if possible, as it really is very jumpy at the moment. Since I'm planning on keeping the rear drum/hub, this will no doubt come down to what will fit. I would love somthing a bit like THIS with a proper granny gear, just in case

    The Cables are all brand new anyway, since a brake broke!

    Chains, tyres, yes yes agreed

    Bell: No. We have a horn.

  10. #10
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    So, the budget is not in my hands, and I intend to send them a detailed plan, with alternate scenarios and costs etc. and then do the most expensive thing that they'll finance!
    Ahh, honesty is refreshing these days!

    I think you'll find, (by adding up the cost of waynesulak's list, particularly the new, hopefully "tandem-rated" wheels), that the most expensive thing you can do is fix up this Gitane, and then you'll still get handed down a hi-tensile steel Gitane with outdated equipment. A decent used, current day ride will be 1/3 lighter, twice as stiff and responsive, have twice as many gears, better braking, better shifting, plus the uber-convenience of brifters, (brake and shifter together, if you're not familiar).

    I logged quite a few miles on one of these Gitanes back in the 70's, and I'm here to tell you that the current day bikes are head and shoulders above them. I'm reasonably sure that if you go ride a current day machine, you'll probably agree. Plus, in trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, you inevitably screw up someone's opportunity to own a beautifully restored sow's ear!


    Oops! Wrote this before I saw your rebuttal to my original post. If you're determined to fix this one up for sentimental reasons, go for it. There's often no "dollar to value" rationale necessary there.
    Last edited by Onegun; 08-29-12 at 04:14 PM.
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  11. #11
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Nice looking bike. It's not so different from our '82 Peugeot, even to the double stays from HT to rear DOs. We picked it up in pieces and I rebuilt it over last year's autumn and winter. Because I had some of the original parts I wanted to maintain as much of its French-ness as possible, subject to it being a useful bike. So I'm reasonably familiar with what you want to do. I'll describe our experience and you can learn from that.

    Over the last 10 months we've ridden ours over 1800 miles. We've climbed no mountains, but New England is very hilly in spots. Our longest ride was 62.6 miles, our typical rides are 40-50 miles, and 80 miles total each weekend. We did one overnight trip to a campground about 40 miles from home with the bike loaded to about 95lbs. I'm 63, and together we weigh only about 270lbs. So we aren't power riders but we've had great fun and have come to trust the bike. We run triple chainrings, 52, 38, 28, and I found a tandem-specified Suntour 5-cog freewheel, 14-32, so the gearing is good 1-1/2 step for both chainring shifts. Low gear is good for maybe 5.7 to 7.0mph. I would recommend you rig yours with conventional cranks and chains instead of both chains on the right, or the drive cranks in front.

    Ours has the original Mafac canti brakes with Koolstop pads. it is rigged with the right Mafac lever operating both front and rear. I have adjusters on both cables so I can keep F and R balanced, but that isn't a big problem. The left Mafac lever operates the Atom drum, not strong enough to stop the bike but adding useful stopping power to the cantis besides acting as the non-rim-heating drag brake. Together the brakes stop the bike well enough but admittedly they aren't up to modern Tektro or even traditional Campy standards, which are VERY good.

    VeloOrange BBs might make sense for you. I run traditional bearings in ours, but I spent a lot of time trying to find good spindles of appropriate length. If your bearing cups are in good shape and you have all the parts there is no reason for you to change them.

    For wheels, the front wheel is easy, it can be most any "touring" wheel. Our was a custom wheel (built for someone else) on a Shimano 105 hub, A319 rim, and only 32 spokes. The rear is also a modern rim built onto the 36-spoke Atom hub. As long as your axle is straight and the bearings and brake pads okay you should be able to use them. String (or have a bike shop string) a new rim onto the old hub. That's easier than switching brakes and all that it implies. You DO want nice alloy rims spec'ed for strength, not for lower cost.

    I run close-to-original Simplex derailleurs, believe it or not. The FD is a later triple model (I forget the name), and the rear is an SX810 (I think) with the long "GT" cage. They shift pretty well, but aren't Suntour-quality. I even have Simplex levers.

    Part of your plan will depend on your bike experience. If you're experienced or at least comfortable working on bikes there isn't much to worry about other than finding missing parts. Part will depend on your weight. If we weighed 370lbs total I might worry about a few things. But if you can keep the bike in good shape it should be a good machine even if it isn't "modern". People will tell you otherwise, but our experience is that those were quite nice, functional machines.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Suggest not to spend a lot of money updating.
    Ride the bike as is; if stuff wears out, then replace/upgrade.
    Don't count on aging aunt/uncle to give up the ghost just yet; we are ages 80/77 and are now on our 5th tandem since 1975 and still log thousands of miles a year.
    Rode quite a few centuries on our then new 1975 Follis tandem including TOSRV in 1976.
    Enjoy the ride TWOgether!
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    Here is a pic of our Bob Jackson which I restored and modernized.

    Although this probably has a better tube set (Reynolds 531) than your Gitane I am sure you can still get your bike to go very well.
    Contrary to what some of the others have said we find this old bike to be just as fast and enjoyable to ride as the modern tandems we also have.
    Yes it is more flexible but I don't consider that to be detrimental to how it rides.
    One of the main things with these old tandems is the short stoker compartment. Some stokers don't like it and some (like mine) don't mind.
    On your bike I would,
    -Set the rear stays to 130mm if they are less than this now. If you are a heavy team you may need to go even wider.
    -Get a good solid set of modern road bike wheels.
    -Convert to 9 or 10 speed. Chain, cassette, derailleurs, brifters.
    -If you can't get satisfaction with the brakes change them. The alloy rims and new pads will help though. Also be aware that modern canti's and V brakes are designed for 80mm pivot spacing, yours may be narrower which creates some issues.
    -I had to add some shifting pins on the chainrings to get satisfactory front shifting. You could either do this or put on modern ones if they are available for that crank pcd.

  14. #14
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Oops! Wrote this before I saw your rebuttal to my original post. If you're determined to fix this one up for sentimental reasons, go for it. There's often no "dollar to value" rationale necessary there.
    It seems no reply is neccesarry here!

  15. #15
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    we are ages 80/77 and are now on our 5th tandem since 1975 and still log thousands of miles a year.
    Wow. I'll bear this in mind! Perhaps I shouldn't make it too good, as they'll be more likely to want to carry on using it!

  16. #16
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
    Set the rear stays to 130mm if they are less than this now. If you are a heavy team you may need to go even wider.
    -Get a good solid set of modern road bike wheels.
    -Convert to 9 or 10 speed. Chain, cassette, derailleurs, brifters.
    -If you can't get satisfaction with the brakes change them. The alloy rims and new pads will help though. Also be aware that modern canti's and V brakes are designed for 80mm pivot spacing, yours may be narrower which creates some issues.
    -I had to add some shifting pins on the chainrings to get satisfactory front shifting. You could either do this or put on modern ones if they are available for that crank pcd.
    How do you propose we stretch the stays out, without risking damaging the frame? Is there a particular reccommended method, or do I need to find a frambuilder?

    Converting to cassette will be tough as I'd have to ditch the current drum brake which I was planning on keeping (although one reason for this was to avoid expanding the rear stays!)

  17. #17
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    @Jimmuller

    First of all can I say, what a fantastic reply that was! - You're really understood where I'm going with the project.

    By way of comparison, our longest to date was the London to Brighton, at 65 miles, so, very similar. We are 19 and 20 respectively, and add up to around 310lb (140kg) combined weight.

    That information on gears is fantastic, thanks!!!

    I am planning on keeping the cranks conventional, but, is there any specific reasoning behind your reccomendation?

    We're planning on putting the rim brakes on independent levers, and putting the Atom on the friction gear shifters, which will have been vacated once I move the gears to bar ends: do you think this would work?

    Regarding BB replacement, it really remains to be seen what's there once I open them up... I'm expecting the worst though : (

    Is there a particular reason you've kept the Simplex deraileurs? Just for the originality? Our rear derailer definitely needs replacing...

    I'm a very experience cyclist, and modern solo mechanic, so I think I should be OK, I just wanted the expereince of those who've done similar things to back up or confront my percieved opinions; thank you.

    Who needs 'modern', eh?

    Will

  18. #18
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    Well assumed, sir.


    Are you suggesting modern Aero levers, but with the same old Canti's? The problem with these levers is they can only be accessed from the drops, I'm not sure how modern ones would increase the stopping power?

    Modern levers pull less cable but provide more leverage. This allows effective braking from the hoods as well as the drops. Canti brakes must be adjusted properly to account for this or as you mentioned with V-Brakes and adapter is required.

    I like the ability to brake from the hoods.

  19. #19
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
    Contrary to what some of the others have said we find this old bike to be just as fast and enjoyable to ride as the modern tandems we also have.
    Dean, your Bob Jackson bears NO resemblence to this Gitane. Nor did any other double-butted 531 or Columbus tubed frame of the era. This is a plain carbon steel, non-butted frame.

    Without getting into the details as to the how and why, for the first year I rode tandems I stoked on a Bob Jackson, and when it was unavailable, a Gitane like this one. So I had the opportunity to ride them both back to back too many times, as far as I was concerned. With the exception of the fact that they both held two riders, there was no resemblance between the bikes. Not in weight, not in stiffness, speed, braking, shifting, cornering ... nothing.

    Not trying to offend any Gitane owners out there. If you have one and like it, then it's a good bike for you. But the OP asked for opinions, and this was my experience.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

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  20. #20
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    How do you propose we stretch the stays out, without risking damaging the frame? Is there a particular reccommended method, or do I need to find a frambuilder?
    It's just bending the frame out, being careful to keep the frame symmetric. Then a step sometimes omitted, straightening the DOs to make sure they are parallel (to themselves and to the frame centerline). I wouldn't do it myself, would prefer a decent builder or trustworthy shop do it. YMMV. If I can get decent gearing without it, I'd skip it, but then I'm more tolerant of not having quite the perfect gear than some people seem to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by waynesulak View Post
    Modern levers pull less cable but provide more leverage... I like the ability to brake from the hoods.
    I usually brake our Mafacs from the hoods, but admittedly if I need POWER I drop down and grab them from below. (I'm also an acoustic guitar player with strong hands.) Yeah, modern brakes are superb. The only drawback to levers with high mechanical advantage is that the pads must be positioned closer to the rims, which requires well-trued rims.

    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    First of all can I say, what a fantastic reply that was! - You're really understood where I'm going with the project.

    By way of comparison, our longest to date was the London to Brighton, at 65 miles, so, very similar. We are 19 and 20 respectively, and add up to around 310lb (140kg) combined weight.
    Thanks. (Bunch of youngsters, aren't you? May you enjoy many sweet miles!)

    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    I am planning on keeping the cranks conventional, but, is there any specific reasoning behind your recommendation?
    If you press the granny chainring into service as a timing gear you won't have it for triple chainrings, not a problem until you need it. More radical arrangements such as the drive crank on the front are more likely to create rear shifting problems. It might be nice to have the FD more forward so the captain can see and hear it, but shifting the front is rarely a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    We're planning on putting the rim brakes on independent levers, and putting the Atom on the friction gear shifters, which will have been vacated once I move the gears to bar ends: do you think this would work?
    It should work just fine, and I've seen it recommended. My personal concerns are that I'd forget to release the drum at the bottom of a hill, and I wouldn't have a tactile sense of how hard I've cranked the lever to engage them, couldn't feel if it was too little or too much. Some people give the stoker a lever for the drum, but neither I nor my stoker would like that.

    Another factor, perhaps just aesthetics, is the cabling. Maybe your bike is different but ours has enough cabling to control a nuclear submarine - front and rear calipers, rear drum, front and rear derailleurs, plus the original generator wiring, with braze-on fittings for everything. The bottom of the keel tube is, ah, busy. I thought it was neater to rig things as per original, as long as performance was okay.

    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    Is there a particular reason you've kept the Simplex derailleurs? Just for the originality? Our rear derailler definitely needs replacing...
    Originality mostly. In the old days I would have replaced a Simplex with a Suntour VGT-Luxe, but the fact is, the SX810GT works quite well, even with the long cable length. And I have an original-style 610 available as backup. The front is a bit more problematic because of its flex and weaker spring. Being designed for a triple it has three pivoting plates instead of two, but it still seems flexy, perhaps from the pins. If it breaks (or when I eventually get frustrated) I'll see what else might work, possibly a Suntour. In that case I may change over the rear too just for the aesthetics of consistency. But I like having so many French or even original components. It's like having a pretty paint job - as long as the bike works, it's a nice fun overlay on the whole experience.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

  21. #21
    certified vegetarian veggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pargeterw View Post
    Converting to cassette will be tough as I'd have to ditch the current drum brake which I was planning on keeping (although one reason for this was to avoid expanding the rear stays!)
    They make modern hubs with drag brake threads.

  22. #22
    pedallin' my life away
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    Whew you got a lot of input there to digest!

    The only thing I'd say, and this is of course a personal opinion- if I were doing it, on the terms+ objectives you explained, I would focus first, maybe most, on new wheels (maybe new hubs if you want+ can get money), and MOST DEFINITELY go to a fully modern 9-speed Hyperglide geartrain. And I'd try koolstop brake blocks before doing anything expensive or complicated to the brakes. And if you DO decide to replace the brake levers, do seriously consider brifters- integrated brake&shift levers. They are astonishingly easy + convenient while riding- and more-so, the more shifting and braking you do. I'm American but lived 70 miles SW of London (between Farnborough + Portsmouth) for 4-5 yrs and rode a couple 1000 miles on our tandem with my wife. Whew did we USE that geartrain a LOT, all day, every day. Oh! did we appreciate a fab wide smooth reliable setup.

    Here's why focus on wheels and HG -
    The frame's a given, it's been in the family 40 years. It is, what it is, nothing you can do to change/improve that. But you invest in the continuity of your family's bike that's important to you (and I think it's cool too, I've done the same with an old Schwinn Twinn from my mom.) But, that makes the wheels the next best, and arguably the ONLY, way to improve the performance, handling, and responsiveness of the frame. And new+good wheels (and new+good tires) will certainly have a noticeable impact- worth the cost.

    Geartrain performance is the next largest impact on rideability, enjoyment, and "mission" flexibility, and even more-so with more shifting. Unless your aunt+uncle are out in Norfolk/Suffolk/Essex, they're probably gonna do a WHOLE LOT of gear changing, unless they ride on very different territory than the short-and-sharp up+down, twisty, narrow roads that we mostly rode on there. And they'll do even more shifting+braking with age. I say "do it right for them." It'll feel TERRIFIC to build 'em a great bike on which they enjoy many happy miles and long years together as they grow older Lord willing, and that you will enjoy in turn as well, hopefully for many years after that. I say the more THEY enjoy it, and the longer they enjoy, the more YOU will enjoy it when it's yours. For me it gets more special to me, the more special it was to them.
    (one guy's opinion, you get to choose).

    Back to the bike- If you've ridden with HG, you'll appreciate the positive impact on shifting, rideability, flexibility of terrain, power, etc. (If you haven't, I'd urge you to try one that's set up RIGHT before you decide against it. I'm o-so-pretty-sure you won't regret it.) From the sound of it, you're replacing wheels, brake levers, R der, + cogs already anyway. The net increase in cost to go to 9-sp HG isn't big. ("performance-to-cost" you said.) Spreading the rear drops of an old carbon-steel frame is readily done. I've heard that 9-speed is less finicky and more forgiving in setup+shifting than 10 (altho I myself have only built+ridden 9sp). It's certainly cheaper- over here you can get used Shimano 9-sp kit on ebay and new, high-quality non-OEM parts for far less than new Shimano. Chains last longer and are cheaper.

    One last thought- they (aunt+uncle) (and maybe you) might also appreciate inline gear position indicators, at least on the rear shift cable, maybe on both. We love 'em, and the more shifting back+forth on the back and the front, the more we love 'em. You know where you are, helps avoid the crossovers, can get on the right chainring ahead of what's coming up, etc. You can do it without taking your eyes off the road to look down+back, potentially destabilizing the bike or getting disoriented. I cut that little 1 inch cable down to 1/2 inch so the ferrule butts up against the body of the indicator to eliminate compression, and file the ends to get a little angle between the ferrule+ indicator to help cable routing.
    http://www.amazon.com/Shimano-ST-700.../dp/B001GSSE5I
    ($15 here, Amazon won't let me go to amazon.uk)
    That said, I've heard not everybody likes them, so your build, your decision.
    Last edited by chris ss; 08-30-12 at 11:58 AM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    If you press the granny chainring into service as a timing gear...
    What about the setup suggested in the John Allen article (linked on the blog), with the timing on the oustide?

    neither I nor my stoker would like that.
    And neither I nor my stoker would either!

    Re: Cabling - Since the frame is not a carefully heat treated piece of CroMo, or aluminium or anything, I haven't yet ruled out adding my own braze ons at the end, as and when needed. Until then, I will hold any extra lost cable housing in place with Jubilee clips as a temporary measure!

    It's like having a pretty paint job...
    I'd like a pretty paint job, but, on our budget :S

  24. #24
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veggie View Post
    They make modern hubs with drag brake threads.
    This is true, but they are pretty much all Hub brake threads, not Drum Brake threads, as far as I'm aware? Buying a Hub brake would be pushing the budget...

  25. #25
    Senior Member pargeterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris ss View Post
    MOST DEFINITELY go to a fully modern 9-speed Hyperglide geartrain.
    I would love one, my worries are that this would mean buying a new hub brake (the drum takes a freewheel, not a cassette), and stretching the frame... I think this depends on the budget holders! (A&U)

    short-and-sharp up+down, twisty, narrow roads
    This pretty much sums up my life...

    inline gear position indicators...
    This is a very good idea; I'll put it on the shopping list as an 'optional add-on' and try to talk A&U into it!

    Thanks!

    Will

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