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Old 06-03-20, 08:46 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Medford MA
Posts: 1,766

Bikes: Ron Cooper touring, 1959 Jack Taylor 650b ladyback touring tandem, Vitus 979, Joe Bell painted Claud Butler Dalesman, Colin Laing curved tube tandem, heavily-Dilberted 1982 Trek 6xx, René Herse tandem

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AND now the taillight. Last piece of the puzzle!

I was going to make a cool taillight, like the ones Jan Heine sells. I can't afford anything from Compass except tires sometimes. So I had turned a housing and bought a beautiful jeweled glass lens, no doubt for some power-on indicator on a piece of midcentury equipment. Fits the guts from a Spanninga Pixeo. Looks like an old JOS, right?

Now kicked out of the machine shop, I can't turn the threaded cap to retain the lens. And you know, I just did it some random diameter, because who cares? I'm making the threaded cap anyway so why stick with rules about the specifics? So it's not like I can pay anyone to make such a cap. This is just not going to be finished anytime soon.

Anyway, I'd just look pompous with that thing sprouting from the seat tube. Onwards.

So plan B is again to go back to my roots. No machining, use what I have. And what do I have? A Busch and Muller Toplight Line Small.
René Herse used off the shelf components, so why can't I?
Two bottle mounts on the seat tube, a couple spacers, and a hollow screw to pass the wire, and my work is done. I'm not fussy.

Brazing on my porch, I think some busybody neighbor called the fire department on me, but the torch was out by the time they drove by. Guy driving the fire engine did a good long stare at me wrenching, though. I'll have to be more discreet in the future.

Here it is installed. The seatpost inserts to just the right depth (after a little bit of filing, that is!!)

The wiring is a bit bulky, because I put in an extra disconnect in case I want to take everything apart and paint the frame one day. Let's see how it rides?

Good news: Derailleur shifts well under load, doesn't drop the chain, and even does the thing Jan Heine promised, where the chain can push it around a little so it trims itself when rubbing. Bike handles pretty well around corners.

Bad news: I can't ride it no-hands without leaning a foot to the left. Oh no. Look at that tire wear. Something is out of alignment.

The fork was bent way to the right. I adjusted the fork a bit and brazed some bronze in a dropout with my oxy-propane setup to get the wheel to sit even. To be fair, the previous owner told me the fork was messed up, so I'm prepared to believe this wasn't even my rake adjustment that caused it. That's fine.

Now, on roads, it rides great, no-handed and everything! A LITTLE twitchy at low speeds, which is to be expected. Works way better with a handlebar bag. I think it "planes". Certainly it doesn't feel like a dog, the way some welded aluminum and oversized steel frames have for me.

I took it on some flowy singletrack and it works better than my Ron Cooper. I should start calling that front derailleur lever the "instant mountain bike" lever. You pull it and suddenly you're grinding in low-range over rocks and roots. Really impressed me.

I've got 50 miles on it, maybe 5 off road. The one thing I think I don't like is the Suntour LePree three-pulley. It's mated with a Simplex retrofriction bar-end, which pulls it through the 11-34 9-speed cassette just fine. I have no doubt it works well with big jumps on a freewheel and up to 40t cogs, but for this modern cassette it requires a lot of fiddling with the shifter and hard listening to "trim". Else it ghost shifts at inopportune times, either up or down depending which side you need to "trim" toward (it's not the lever slipping). I think I'm going to change that out for an XTR M952, which is all I have on all my other bikes that don't have Le Cyclo mechs. But I'll give it a chance for the time being, as long as no good deals for those pop up on Ebay.

Also the bike weighs a little too much. Probably 29 - 29.5 lbs. I may build some lighter wheels, and pretty much any saddle would be lighter. I can probably lose 2-3lbs that way, which might make it feel a bit more lively. Other than that, unfortunately there's not much weight to cut.

We'll have to see about the handlebars. I'm trying narrower bars and non-aero levers because I liked them on my Vitus 979. Of course 50 miles is not enough to tell. I want to take this bike to PBP if they ever have it again. Hopefully we have a vaccine by 2023.
Owner & co-founder, Cycles René Hubris. Unfortunately attaching questionable braze-ons to perfectly good frames since about 2015. With style.
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