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Cyclery North "Hellenic" Tourer restoration

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Cyclery North "Hellenic" Tourer restoration

Old 12-05-22, 01:21 PM
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My guess as to the reason for such a shallow seat tube and steep head tube is that Eddy (or whoever drew the plans) wanted to keep the wheelbase short for increased maneuverability on a big bike that usually would have a long wheelbase. Luckily for the OP, the shallow seat angle and long top tube might work well for upright handlebars. Back then it was common for custom builders (especially in the Midwest) to make a criterium racing style of bicycle. That was by far the most common type of race here. Those bikes would have steep seat and head angles and a fairly short top tube combined with a long stem. That design of road bicycle does not work well with North Road handlebars.

Back in the 70's when custom framebuilding restarted again in the US, there wasn't a lot of background builders had to make their good choices. That meant they would often color outside of the lines because they didn't have enough experience or knowledge to know what worked well and what didn't. I remember asking Ron Boi (RRB Cycles) where he learned and he said (like many could say) he learned on his own. I'm not sure where Eddy learned either. The father of modern American builders Albert Eisentraut grew up in Chicago before moving to Oakland, CA. Depending on when he told the story of his beginnings, he was either just inspired by Oscar Watyson's in Chicago or actually learned by watching them. Whoever was the Watyson immigrant coming to the States around the turn of the 20th Century brought his knowledge of how to build frames from Belgium. The 4th generation of the original immigrant still runs a bike store in Chicago. Albert taught framebuilding in a variety of 2 week classes throughout the US including one in Chicago. Somehow he had a connection to someone at Turin's I believe.
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Old 12-05-22, 03:32 PM
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63rickert Can't get over that you remember this particular bike! The seller just followed up that he's not able (I think he means willing) to share information about the original owner, so this is the closest I can get to establishing provenance. The finishing on the frame is certainly top-notch, along with the general craftsmanship. Some of the odder details are the rear rack bosses, which are offset on the inside of the seatstays:

This means that attaching anything but the Blackburn rack that came with the bike, and which was already modified to attach at these points, might be an ordeal. Another nice feature are the second set of water bottle cage bosses on the bottom side of the downtube:

I will also certainly keep Obenauf's in mind when it comes to reconditioning the saddle. This will definitely take more intensive work than slathering on some of the Proofide I've got.

gugie BoltBreaker Absolutely beautiful bike - congratulations on the construction and the final build! I've always been curious about "hellenic" bikes, from the GT and Yamaguchi-inspired triple triangle fixie craze of 15 years ago to a more mature fascination with idiosyncratic French and British examples of yore:


campagnolo delta brakes: Thanet Silverlight

Both of those bikes are absolutely nuts, but the Routens has my heart - it's currently for sale, too! All this was in my head when I saw the present CN for sale, and also contributed to my mania in attempting to acquire it.

I did a partial strip on the bike today during lunch, but before going all the way I wanted to fit modern wide tires to the rims and check for clearance in the fork and rear. Also, I wanted to get a feel for fit using a cockpit more typical of what I would personally choose and with what components I had immediately on hand:

The clearances are pretty tight and rather extreme at the front end of the fork crown. Not even a wider rim would make too much of a difference. Don't get me wrong, 32c is ambitious on any frameset designed around standard center-mount calipers, but it is a bit frustrating, as fendering will limit max tire size pretty severely, at least with 700c. Another interesting detail is visible in the last picture, where the dimples on the inside of the chainstays are placed well back of where a 700c tire would hit, beginning more or less where the tire seats into rim and the breaking surface begins. I know what has been said about 650b here, but I would be very curious to get my hands on a wheelset and see how it sits in the frame.

Apropos Eisentraut, here is a preliminary build I executed on a 1975 Limited Touring frameset I scored this past January before breaking it back down:

As the paint is in rough shape and the ST was dented by a previous owner it was my intention to have the dents rolled out, a few braze-ons added and then refinished. I'm hoping to have that done this Winter/Spring. Regardless, I am also enamored with the simple mastery of the crisp lugwork on the frame, as well as its spry handling - to say nothing of how not only Eisentraut, but the other builders working in his workshop at the time might have had a hand in joining the tubes together.

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Old 12-06-22, 04:34 PM
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Inspiration for the CN Hellenics was the Carol Fields Hetchins. Carol was pretty inspiring herself. Once there was a sample out on the street customers asked for them. Eddy did not push the style, people asked. He sure did like the look and that he had icons rolling around. Himself he was not that much a rider.

Eddy was basically self taught but.... a lot of buts. Rudy Seno showed him how to braze and encouraged him to build. (Rudy definitely not a builder himself.) Ike was at the shop on and off and Ike was a builder. Ike definitely worked more with Oscar more than did that other guy who talks about it. Oscar was still building at this time. Bob Myers was building a mile and a half northwest. Straight south on Broadway, where the original store was, four miles away Alex at Buckingham built a few. Ron was only maybe seven miles north and these guys all knew each other. The Paramount Room helped everybody. I'm sure there were others building I did not know. Well, I did know Mark Muller but he was further away and only built a few. And there were at least three different shop mechanics who built the CNs. Eddy did the paint and ran the store, kept a small semblance of order amid the madness. I find it amazing there really was a shop style and only total insiders can tell who built which just by looking. And not always easily.

The 70/76 guess is not quite. I will guess 72/75. With six degrees of convergence the toe overlap would be extreme. The saddle is set back in photos and not over the rear axle just yet. Laying straight edges on the computer screen over the head and seat tube it does not look like six degrees. Some stuff is easy to eyeball. Angles ain't.
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Old 12-06-22, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by heidelbergensis
<snip> I wanted to fit modern wide tires <snip>

The clearances are pretty tight <snip> the dimples on the inside of the chainstays are placed well back of where a 700c tire would hit
Yeah this bike is a prime candidate for 650b conversion IMHO. Having the chainstay indents in the wrong place would bug me to no end.

For measuring before building wheels, you can't beat a Rossman gauge. $25 might sound like a lot for a couple pieces of laser-cut plastic, but it can save you a lot of money compared to buying 650b wheels!

Here's a review of the Rossman gauge by Jim Langley. https://www.roadbikerider.com/hahn-r...rance-checker/

A tape measure and some cheap plastic measuring calipers can also suffice, if you know the numbers for where the 650b tire will end up relative to the dropouts. (I don't know off the top of my head but could measure for you if needed.) Measure the radius to the widest point on whatever tire you want to use, and make a temporary mark there on the chainstay, then measure the width there with calipers. Use the overal radius to the top of the tire for checking clearance under the crown and bridge, but that will almost certainly be fine. I think the width between the chainstays will be your only worry. You almost never have to worry about the BB height being too low as long as you can fit some decently-large tires, preferably 40-42 mm but at least 38 mm.

If the c-stays are still too narrow, even back at the 650b radius, then these stays can be indented more (and further forward), but sometimes that mod is more involved than the bike owner is willing to go. Unless you're willing to make your own indenter, it'll likely require you to send the frame to one of the artisans who's set up to do this, like BF's own gugie . But again IMHO, this frame is worthy of that much customization to make it even that much cooler and more practical (not to mention more comfortable).

My own stay indenter was sort of a testing prototype, it worked great but I built it too cheaply, with a garbage-quality Chinese C-clamp, and the threads are feeling rough like they're self-destructing, so I'm not currently set up to be able to offer this as a service. I will make a strong one at some point, hopefully by this Spring, but don't wait for me, there are people who can do it right now.

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Old 03-08-23, 11:34 AM
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Greetings all!

So, it's been a minute since I posted an update here - I had a pretty severe COVID infection later in December (my second tango with everyone's favorite virus) from which took me about a month to recover. Since then, I've been busy with work, but I also managed to tear down the CN and go over all the components, as well as plan out potential builds or configurations. I settled on a 650b conversion and, after testing out several bar/stem combos, found myself enjoying a porteur bar with a 110mm stem. However, as I started getting into the nitty-gritty of the restoration, I realized a few things about the bike - or, perhaps more accurately, myself: 1.) I don't need a 650b porteur bike, 2.) I need to actually start focusing on paying off the last bit of my custom frameset build with Bilenky, 3.) I prefer the serenity of a household where my partner is not constantly (and rightfully) on my a$$ about the size of ye olde bike pile. Since this bike was always N+1(+1), the equation carried out to its inevitable conclusion is that I need to let it go. Hence, you can find the complete build listed here on the C&V marketplace: Vintage 1970's Cyclery North Hellenic touring bike (60cm)

All that being said, I wanted to go over some of the stages of the resto process below, both for the edification of those who followed this thread (and who graciously provided their advice, opinions and memories) as well as any potential buyers for this beautiful and unique bike. I'll revisit this thread over the next couple days with more pictures and words. Until then, thank you again to everyone who responded above! More soon!
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Old 03-24-23, 11:39 AM
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As promised, here are some more pictures from my slow process of cleaning up this special unicorn of a bike. On the whole, it's been a really edifying if slightly frustrating process, as I slowly realized that the bike was just not going to work out for me. After reassembling the bike I tried a few different bar configurations and really ended up liking the V-O porteur bars that I ordered:

....but on the whole, I found that my plans for the bike outpaced both my own current financial means, as well as interfered with the other projects that are further up in order of importance. I'm currently paying off my first custom frameset (from Stephen Bilenky in Philly), assembling a modified Trek 520 (build thread incoming!) and having my LBS rebuild the wheelset on my KHS after the rear wheel was tacoed, which has become a bit of a saga. Three separate V-O Enterprise rims needed to be warrantied for QC reasons - we ended up getting TB14s. Not sure what's going on with V-O, as these rims had gotten decent reviews and seem to be widely used. Anyway, in terms of saving the CN and making sure that it will eventually end up in the hands of a caring and competent owner, I have at least succeeded in the first instance and hopefully will cross-off the second objective in the near term!

Stripping down the CN proved pretty uneventful, though it's remarkable how little wear there is on the frameset. My focus was mostly on cleaning the componentry, which was gunked-up from the previous owner's application of good ole WD-40. This mostly made for relaxing distraction during my "home office" lunch breaks and an hour or two after logging-off the computer. Living in NYC means that my "garage" is my office and my "workbench" is our white dining room table:

Here's some before and after shots of the Huret FD:

I'll say, it's quite a pretty derailleur in its own way, and cleaned up rather nicely. Unfortunately, it doesn't really play nicely with the brazed-on Campy cable guides on the frameset:

Definitely needs a more "modern" FD or at least one that is compatible with these kinds of cable guides, as front shifting is sloppy and often falls out of the tall chainring. Another issue was the Duopar RD; while there was relatively little wear, the stamped connecting pins on the unique double parallelogram design had developed play, which was an issue with these in-period. I ordered an NOS example of the Duopar ECO back in December, and the pins are tight with no play, but it's easy to see how these would work themselves loose after even only moderate miles.

Nice and clean

Bendy guy

Beyond dismantling the derailleurs, I also repacked the hubs, pedals and headset. The BB spinned crazy smooth as it was, but I removed it out of curiosity to see how this could be when everything else was rather chunky. No real secret there besides lots of grease and really spot-on installation by whoever last worked on this bike!

After playing around with different stems and bars, and then realizing that I would need to invest a lot more time and money to make this bike personally appealing, I decided to put it back together as I had first received it and set about finding a new owner. It definitely pains me, as I would love to just display the frameset for its wonderful presence and exquisite craftsmanship, but I just don't have the room right now. My partner and I will also be moving later this year, so we also need to lighten the load a bit. All in all, I think it cleaned up rather nicely!
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