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What makes a great townie?

Old 08-07-12, 10:00 PM
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SkippyX
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What makes a great townie?

Right now I'm in the middle of getting my commuting rig together - an '81 Fuji that will be my regular ride (and maybe a tour or two - I hope). I'm having the work done @ one of the LBSs that I like dealing with. The price of the bike was right (CL find). They do competent work and they don't mind answering questions. A great little shop. When I get it back all I'll have to do is swap some bits off my hybrid (rack, saddle, etc), set it up and ride. Not a bad deal.

However, I've been toying with the idea of building a bike myself. Since I've got my regular ride sorted out, it seems kind of silly to do another drop bar road bike. I'm planning on selling the hybrid on CL. It's served me well, but it's not what I'm looking for any longer. I've always loved the look of the old English bikes. You know the sort - three speed IGH, upright riding position, mustache bars (think that's what they're called).

The (now closed) thread on Grant Peterson had me perusing the Rivendell website and I couldn't help but drool over the Sam Hillborne. I don't really groove on the extra horizontal tube, but aside from that it's a thing of beauty to me.

Now, there's no way in heck that I could afford a Riv. That's totally out of the question. But, from what I can tell it's basically a recreation of an old English three speed, only w/ a modern drive train and modern bits.

I thought, "Wouldn't that be a great project?" It'd match nicely w/ my wife's Schwinn Cream when we're out & about together.

So my question to y'all is, what makes for a great Townie? I was thinking that I could take an old sport touring bike, put the mustache bars on it, do the 700c conversion, pop on a Brooks and a have a right comfy bike for tooling around.

Am I far off the mark here? Is there some frame geometry I should be looking for?

What say you?
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Old 08-07-12, 10:38 PM
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Hey there Skippy!

I just viewed your Sam Hillborne bike on Grant's site....

When I think of a Townie bike I think of something like the Giant Via 1 with the North Road handlebars. I also think of relatively low gearing.

The Giant Via 1 ~ $600
www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/via/9017/48861/

I also think of the Linus Roadster Series....

Like the Linus Roadster - 8 for example:

www.linusbike.com/models/roadster-8/

Last edited by SlimRider; 08-07-12 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:58 PM
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I really like the Linus, but I think I'd like to stick w/ a dérailleur. Since it's pretty flat around here I was thinking one chainring up front and whatever in the back.

I like the idea of an IGH, but don't care for the expense.

Besides, I'm looking to learn more about wrenching on a bike. It's easy to pick up an 80's 10/12 speed. Then I only have to spread the rear by 4 mm. God only knows what I'd have to do once I start looking at IGH hubs.

Honestly, I was looking at putting a (gasp) stem shifter on whatever I build.

EDIT: I entered the Linus bike giveaway. I was a little disappointed not to get THE email......."Congratulations! You won!!!!"

Last edited by SkippyX; 08-07-12 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 08-07-12, 11:22 PM
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I realize you've got the itch to more or less build your own, but you're kinda looking for inspiration. I like the Giant Via 2 and the Globe(Specialized) Daily 2. http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...e/daily/daily2

And I'm not sure if you want moustache bars if you want an upright posture. North Roads, Albatross, or Mary bars perhaps...
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Old 08-07-12, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
I realize you've got the itch to more or less build your own, but you're kinda looking for inspiration. I like the Giant Via 2 and the Globe(Specialized) Daily 2. http://www.specialized.com/ca/en/bik...e/daily/daily2

And I'm not sure if you want moustache bars if you want an upright posture. North Roads, Albatross, or Mary bars perhaps...
+1

I really do love that Globe Daily 3....I totally forgot about Globe!
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Old 08-08-12, 12:30 AM
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What about this Felt? It's $549 and has 3speed IGH: http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2012...f--3-Mens.aspx
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Old 08-08-12, 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
What about this Felt? It's $549 and has 3speed IGH: http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2012...f--3-Mens.aspx

Hey, that one looks really nice too...It almost looks like the "perfect commuter"!
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Old 08-08-12, 02:01 AM
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I used to ride a Triumph All Steel 3 speed. My Dahon Cadenza 8 serves that role now. I have upgraded the front wheel to Shimano dynohub driving a B&M lamp and the flat bars to On One Mary for more sweep.
The Alfine is smooth, reliable and clean. Disc brakes may be en vogue but they are a real upgrade in all weather conditions.
IHG require a reliable means of chain tensioning. I would give serious though to using a Gates carbon drive. It is clean and low maintenance, not exactly traditional but it is in the spirit of a clean, practical utility bike. A split triangle with sliding vertical dropouts is probably the most effective design.

The hardest item to source is a chainguard. Love or money, arms and legs cannot be traded for a good one. If this is a project, then you may have to bash your own metal one or mould one from composite.
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Old 08-08-12, 03:53 AM
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Old 08-08-12, 03:55 AM
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You don't say what type of roads you'll be riding nor the type of terrain. Hills or flat? Handlebars are a personal preference. Some designs others like are torture for me. Fatter tires are nice especially on city streets. Personally, I like 650Bx38.

Unless your bike will be always in a protected place, don't ride an expensive or expensive looking bike. Some people distress their new bikes so they seem old, thus less attractive to theives I think that is stupid. Just get an old bike in good working order.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:44 AM
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You got the Hybrid.. (begs the Q? hybrid of what sort)
I'm planning on selling the hybrid on CL.
add load hauling capacity, a solid kickstand. ,
and bars and a saddle that works for you.
and a good lock system to keep it.

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-08-12 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:51 PM
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Here is my town bike I wrenched together out of an old Soma 10 speed road bike and bits I had hanging from the rafters. I have about $30 in the project including the rattle can of automotive paint. The rear wheel is a 26” 3 speed IGH the front is the 27” that came with the wrecked Soma. The stem shifter on the right works the IGH. Very fun town bike and no one notices I’m always riding up hill.



.
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Old 08-08-12, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
I realize you've got the itch to more or less build your own, but you're kinda looking for inspiration. I like the Giant Via 2 and the Globe(Specialized) Daily 2. http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...e/daily/daily2

And I'm not sure if you want moustache bars if you want an upright posture. North Roads, Albatross, or Mary bars perhaps...
Yep. That's exactly it. I'd like to build my own - or restore something from way back in the day. I'd like to use it as an opportunity to learn how to wrench on my own bikes.

I'm that way about everything I take an interest in. That's how I wound up fixing computers for a living.

You're right about the bars. The North Roads handlebars are exactly what I'm talking about. Thanks!

Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
You don't say what type of roads you'll be riding nor the type of terrain. Hills or flat? Handlebars are a personal preference. Some designs others like are torture for me. Fatter tires are nice especially on city streets. Personally, I like 650Bx38.

Unless your bike will be always in a protected place, don't ride an expensive or expensive looking bike. Some people distress their new bikes so they seem old, thus less attractive to theives I think that is stupid. Just get an old bike in good working order.
I'll be doing city riding. The terrain here is flat as a coffee table. Around here an overpass = a hill.

Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
You got the Hybrid.. add load hauling capacity, a solid kickstand, and bars and a saddle that works for you.

and a good lock system to keep it.
That's a possibility. The Trek already has a rack and a kickstand on it.

My 7100 has flat bars w/ grip shifters and indexed shifting (SRAM). I imagine it would be possible to get rid of the grip shifts and put some bar ends into another handlebar. Is it as simple as obtaining some bar ends meant to be used on an indexed shifting system and plugging them in or is it more involved than that?

Originally Posted by bud16415 View Post



.
I like that. Very nice. Practical too.
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Old 08-08-12, 04:10 PM
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Paul's Flatbed , Aluminum Porteur rack, is a nice carrying option..
or those type front racks in General..

Steel CETMA may let you really Haul a lot.. on the front..
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Old 08-08-12, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Paul's Flatbed , Aluminum Porteur rack, is a nice carrying option..
or those type front racks in General..

Steel CETMA may let you really Haul a lot.. on the front..
Ah...you were talking about a front rack. My mistake.
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Old 08-08-12, 05:22 PM
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a Trek Transport/Xtracycle/big dummy . or a Bakfiets , where the load capacity
is increased by making the frame longer, in tail or ahead.

makes the go and fetch a lot of stuff in the same trip,
and leave the Hummer at home, Practical..


Read back thru this stuff..
http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...tility-Cycling
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Old 08-09-12, 04:10 AM
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Maybe the answer is the old reliable English three speed: Raliegh, Rudge, BSA, Triumph, Phillips,etc. They have chainguards, fenders, North Road handlebars, and you can put baskets on the front or rear.
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Old 08-09-12, 07:31 AM
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Take away the derailleur and add an internal 3 speed or single gear hub and this is the general look I think of when I think of the classic town/commuter bike. http://www.schwinnbikes.com/bikes/urban/coffee-2 Its the style I grew up riding (though mine were single speeds) until I was a teen and got caught up in the 10 speed road bike craze of the mid-late 70's. My dad bought an old red and white 3 speed Schwinn at a garage sale when I was a kid so he and I could go riding together. Wish I still had that bike. It was sweet and stylin'.

I'd like to have another classic looking bike like that, but can't justify the expense of another bike. I just bought a new $450+ Trek for me and a $350 Fuji for my wife, both Hybrids.
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Old 08-09-12, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by homechicken View Post
Take away the derailleur and add an internal 3 speed or single gear hub and this is the general look I think of when I think of the classic town/commuter bike. http://www.schwinnbikes.com/bikes/urban/coffee-2 Its the style I grew up riding (though mine were single speeds) until I was a teen and got caught up in the 10 speed road bike craze of the mid-late 70's. My dad bought an old red and white 3 speed Schwinn at a garage sale when I was a kid so he and I could go riding together. Wish I still had that bike. It was sweet and stylin'.

This is my coffee getter townie. Started out life as a Schwinn MesaRunner. Had a donor beach cruiser and a vintage leather saddle crying to join up into a coffee cruiser. Cup holder came right after I took the first picture. Might add a good example of the new Schwinn quality is shown in the Schwinn quality badge they put on upside down on every cup holder walmart had.

Fenders might go on her someday and or a rack but haven’t found anything correct yet. I left the gearing on this one alone.

I posted because I think the OP is looking for inspiration on wrenching together something himself to make a one of a kind townie.





.
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Old 08-09-12, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by bud16415 View Post
This is my coffee getter townie. Started out life as a Schwinn MesaRunner. Had a donor beach cruiser and a vintage leather saddle crying to join up into a coffee cruiser. Cup holder came right after I took the first picture. Might add a good example of the new Schwinn quality is shown in the Schwinn quality badge they put on upside down on every cup holder walmart had.

Fenders might go on her someday and or a rack but haven’t found anything correct yet. I left the gearing on this one alone.

I posted because I think the OP is looking for inspiration on wrenching together something himself to make a one of a kind townie.





.
Nice job on the Schwinn! I love that cup holder. It's both frivolous and useful at the same time!

You're exactly right. I'd like to do some wrenching as a learning experience. I suppose I could have taken that opportunity w/ the Fuji, but I want that one on the road as soon as possible for use as a commuter. The bike shop is doing an overhaul/cleanup/lube for around $60, and all the parts that I am replacing they'd have to take off to accomplish that job anyway. All they're doing is replacing the old parts with the new parts when they reassemble after cleaning/lubing the bottom bracket and the headset.

Still, I'd like to know how to do some of this stuff so I don't have to drop the bike at the shop every time I need something done. If that's the case, why not use the opportunity to make something different/useful?

The idea of restoring an old English bike is appealing in that there aren't a bunch of them on the road around here. If I went that route, I'd likely keep it pretty stock/period-looking. I've been looking and I've yet to find one at a reasonable price. People around here seem to think that old=antique=$$$$$. Not to me it doesn't.

If I take an old 70's frame and strip it down to turn into a townie, I've got some more options w/ regard to what I want in a townie. I wouldn't go all PeeWee Herman on it, but I'd definitely try to have some fun w/ it.
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Old 08-09-12, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
Maybe the answer is the old reliable English three speed: Raliegh, Rudge, BSA, Triumph, Phillips,etc. They have chainguards, fenders, North Road handlebars, and you can put baskets on the front or rear.
That's a viable option. There's a 1960's (I think) Royal Scot on the local Craigslist for $125. Standard old English three speed. I looked around a little and Royal Scot was pretty much a low-end Raleigh from the time period. I don't know if I want to toss that kind of money down on something I plan to tear down to it's frame. I'd be much more comfortable doing that to a $25 garage sale find.

Originally Posted by homechicken View Post
Take away the derailleur and add an internal 3 speed or single gear hub and this is the general look I think of when I think of the classic town/commuter bike. http://www.schwinnbikes.com/bikes/urban/coffee-2 Its the style I grew up riding (though mine were single speeds) until I was a teen and got caught up in the 10 speed road bike craze of the mid-late 70's. My dad bought an old red and white 3 speed Schwinn at a garage sale when I was a kid so he and I could go riding together. Wish I still had that bike. It was sweet and stylin'.

I'd like to have another classic looking bike like that, but can't justify the expense of another bike. I just bought a new $450+ Trek for me and a $350 Fuji for my wife, both Hybrids.
Kind of ironic - I've got a Trek hybrid right now that I have been planning on selling once I get my Fuji back from the shop.

My wife has a Schwinn Cream (step through version of the Coffee) - and it's a great little bike. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to create/restore a town bike was to have something similar to hers when we go out riding together. The Fuji will be my commuter (40 mile R/T) and maybe I'll use it for light touring.
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Old 08-09-12, 11:43 AM
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The wrenching thing is a lot of fun. Get a bike stand you will never regret it and will use it all the time for cleaning bikes etc.

The thing is with bikes and playing around like this with used bikes it’s not cost effective at first until you are about to be thrown out of the house for bringing another “classic” home to strip of parts.

Like you said it’s not to take something old and collectable and alter it into some Frankinbike. Those true classics you want to restore as close to original as you can. The curb finds are another thing. I like no Love finding older non suspension mountain bikes that were in the high end range in their day and starting a project bike there. Also road bikes “vintage” 10 speeds from the day have lots of potential to become something else. You just have to keep your eyes open and look mainly for good components or frames that are in your size. Even then sometimes a small or large frame can be worked around for something like a cool townie.
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