Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Project on the horizon

Its all very hush hush at the moment, and I may not get said project off the ground with all the work I'm having to put in on my teaching conversion course, but whisper it and I may have a new bike to work on. Hybrid bike, lost it's fork and front wheel, and can't be resold because the shop can't guarantee frame safety without a an X-ray and metallurgical analysis these days. Don't know what else they might strip off in the way of spares for the workshop. I could end up with a new commute bike out of this. My previous plan was to convert my Ridgeback Adventure 520SX to a 9 speed as the shifters will need replacing soon. I could get round the whole problem, and if needed transfer the wheels as the hubs on mine are fantastic deores, with a whole new frame. Then it would be a case of sourcing a new fork and headset only. Watch this space to see what new adventure I get to embark on.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It costs how much?

I have just finished reading an article on "Bike Radar" about custom resprays. When I first started the rebuild project I did consider getting a professional paint job, but decided that the aim was really to get a cheap mountain bike on the hills, not a labour of love. If you remember, the paintwork on the frame was OK if alittle stone chipped. So to keep the additional damage to it down to a minimum, I did a quick and dirty cover up job. It would have been possible to just about do a strip and respray in the shed I have, but it would never have been clean, and besides the bike didn't need one.

At first glance the prices quoted in the article are really reasonable, and I would say I'd happily keep a specialist frame builder afloat with a respray. At £120 for stripping and £45 for one colour, its not too bad. I could have added extra cable guides and had a front mech and even fitted disc brake mountings to the frame. Bootstrap evolution would have occured on the old P3 as it's DNA was tweaked with small biochemical changes. Then I totalled it all up and the price came to close to £300, rather defeating the object of a cheap rebuild as I could get a decent hardtail for the final build and spray price with all new shiney components on. Even having a simple clean and respray adds significant costs to the project.

I can see the attraction, but I can also see the article writer's point that this is something you do for a one off frame or a frame to which you have some deep emotional attachment. I suspect if it is the latter you should probably stick the bike on the wall where you can see it everyday, because otherwise you may leave it in the shed and never appreciate it's beauty.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stiff little linkers

So having installed the new chainring I thought the day is sunny and I have half an hour free time. Why don't I take the bike for a little rattle down the local treelined hill, and see what shakes out. No sooner do I leave the house and get up the road than there is a horrible clunking noise from the back. A regular little skip like a heart beat gone wrong, and a rattle and a clunk that sounds like the chain wants to move to the next gear socket. Then the chain falls off at the front.

Okay.... so perhaps I have miscounted the links on my chain and so its the wrong length. Only I could have sworn I had measured correctly. Perhaps then I have not adjusted the rear derailleur for the new front chainring? This seems like the easiest problem to start on, and so armed with my trusty screwdriver I set about the limit screws in attempt to solve the problem by the roadside.  10 minutes later and I limp the bike home clunking like the mechanical equivalent of an asthmatic who has forgotten his inhaler.

Its a week before I get a chance to sit down and review the problem. There is no way it is a the derailleur. Everything is perfectly set up from the start and the adjustments did not affect the problem one bit. Nor is it the chain length as I check again.

Perhaps it is time to revist the potential chain cross problem that I feared was a factor in losing the chain when riding with the larger 42t chainring. I get the calipers out (yes I have some, very cheap from B&Q) and start measuring. The final measurements in and I discover that actually with everything on I'm probably a few mm short of the perfect chain line. I can afford to put the chain retention device on.

So some happy time putting the taking off the bottom bracket and we are in business. Only we are not - there is still the irritating hiccup, even though the chainline looks near enough perfect by eye. So I do what I probably should have done when I put the front chainring on, I look at the chain itself. What do you know one little stiff link. Rigid and immobile and so unable to bend round the jockey wheel.

Fixing this is a cinch, if you have a chain tool, which you should by now. First I tried just wiggling it and applying some lube in case it was caused by grit or dust. Of course for me it isn't but you never know it could have been that simple. Instead I reverse the chaintool and give the central pin a little squeeze back. It works! I am up and running yet again.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Replacement of chainring

I have now received the Goldtech chainring from BETD, very prompt dispatched Tuesday and here the next day, so being free for half an hour fitted it. It is a simple job as there was no need to remove the bottom bracket and adjust the front derailleur. Simplicity does have its merits. I do need to work at getting the chainretention device to fit cleanly though. I think over the rougher downhill sections it will save me from spinning my legs in a futile attempt to provide drive when required.

A few points for future reference though - SRAM powerlinks are a life saver! I rerouted the chain after shortening the chain for the smaller chainring. This new route through the jockey chain was clearly going to do nothing for the chain or the noise levels as I cycled. Ooops! Undoing the masterlinks though was almost literally a snap. Clearly, if ever I should desire to move back to the larger chainring I am going to need a new chain. I have saved the old links, but I am not convinced despite assurances that they will do anything but act as an emergency link to get me home. Finally, summer dust is much harder to remove from the drivetrain than mud.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Today is a day of learning new things - acronyms love them or hate them they are here to stay. I was looking to replace my chainring from 42 teeth to something a little smaller. I am not small in the thigh department but I am not Chris Hoy! Riding up fire roads and hills in Surrey although short is strength sapping. Last weekend if it had not been for riding with an 11yr old who lacks the strength and technique I would have been plastered all over the hills in a state of exhaustion. Ally this with the fact that I rarely went past 7 on the rear shifter and you can see that I am wasting machinery. Perhaps one day I will have the strength and speed to peddle downhill at full tilt, but lets not run before we can walk.

So to replace the front chainring that I got with the bashguard and retention device (latter of which is currently off the bike because of chaincross). Looking on the usual suspects I find that the cost is around £30-40, which is out of my range for a good few months, even if I flex plastic. When Uncle Riotious puts me onto BETD via Howard at Pedal and Spoke. £18! Cushty! 38 teeth will take me into the realms of comfortableness a little bigger than the average middle chainring, so I should still have more oomph for the quick bits but I should be able to ride up hill on at least one back cog higher if not two.

Now to choose the Goldtech chain ring. Hang on what is this PCD in the options? Erm they have BCD in the text? Bolt something clearly. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing BCD (bolt circle diameter) right there on Wikipedia and PCD (pitch circle diameter) on the same page. Phew, all they want to know is what is the distance between the opposite bolts. But I have discovered that this is important in replacing this part and so I won't be picking up any sale items with the wrong BCD in future. Just when you think you have this bike mechanic stuff sorted it just comes back to bite yer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

tweaks and alterations

Today I worked on the problem of the chain cross which looked to be developing on the ride I took the bike on round Pitch Hill in Surrey. Chain cross is where the angle of the chain in the extreme ends of the gears is too wide. This puts stress on the cogs and chain and increases the wear and so eventually the frequency at which parts need to be replaced. Another issue was the failure to retain my lowest to gear cogs. At the start of the ride both these gears were readily accessible, but as the ride went on (lots of time in low gear climbing hills) I began to progressively lose the gears. For me this was terrible news as on a 42 tooth chainring at the front you are really going to need those bottom to cogs at the back.

Gear selection problems first. Investigating the cable housing I discovered that I'd actually cut a couple of sections too short (only just), but enough to induce some slack in the cable tension as it is pulled up by the shifters. The correct response to this problem, is I am sure, to cut new cable housing. However, I have taken a short cut and used some superglue to hold the cable housing to the end caps. This might not be a great solution and I could find that it all comes apart on the next hard ride, but I really couldn't face unlacing all the cable to do it properly. Eventually I will probably will have to do it, but lets hope its not until the whole cable is due to be replaced.

Chain cross is described in detail by Sheldon Brown. it is enough to say that on the ride the grinding noise was a good enough indication. When I rode out later, there also seemed to be a problem of chainrub on the retention device, which let me tell you makes it awfully hard to turn the cranks round. Going back to basics I measured the distance from the centre line of the bike to the chain ring, only to find it was outside the tolerance for the chain retention device. Not by much, just a couple of mm, but that can sometimes be enough. So it was a simple matter to remove the chain retention device but keep the bashguard. As it is unlikely that I will be doing any major downhill in the near future I probably won't miss it. There probably is some nifty way of fitting it which will allow me to add it back later when I come across it.

It all leads me to reflect on the original bike, which had a chain retention device. This used a BB-01 bottom bracket and not the BB-04 which I had to use. Clearly, the BB-01 must have been narrower and allowed the configuration. So one of the issues of retro-building is coping with evolving componentry. Some evolution is obviously better in terms of performance, but others are driven by market forces to develop customer sales. A bicycle is a fairly simple bit of equipment, real evolutionary developments can be probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. The changes though can have a profound effect on the modular nature of a bicycle. That is to say putting parts A and C on one frame and then changing them for parts B and D. The again who would want to put a rabbit's tail on a T-Rex?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The man who went up a hill and came down a mountain

Yesterday was the first real test of the P3 and my building skills. I went with some friends to Holmbury hill for a short ride. Well that was the aim, but they met someone who offered to show them some of the less popular trails. The result a rather longer day on the hill and a test of me and the bike.

I would love to say I spent the time flowing with the terrain and catching big air, but actually I spent frantic moments of concentration learning new routes and learning the ways of a new bike. Bits fell off, the result of not be quite tight enough, I didn't although my foot slipped from the pedals.  I also spent a lot of time letting my legs recover from the climbs.

First off it seems a torque wrench might be a worthwhile investment if you are building a bike that is going to be shaken by the ground. The handlebars slipped on a short downhill section, which was alarming. I also lost one of the front brake arms. It is possible that the brake boss problems are the cause or it may be the mechanic who put it together.

I also realise now that I need a few changes to improve the rideability of the bike. A 42 tooth front ring is not an ideal climbing ring for the average unfit weekend rider. It was hard work, perhaps made harder by trying to follow the lead riders up the hill in their granny rings when I needed to be going faster. I also can't push the crank round up in 9 for long enough. Perhaps one day I will be fit and trail wise enough to do this I don't think so either. The other problem was that other the hardening trails as the back kick out over stones and roots I would lose my connection with the big flat (cheap) pedals . A few shin bites resulted. I am now looking for a nice pair of clip in pedals with a wide foot bed.

Am I disappointed to have the bike now? No, it is fantastic to be riding something that I have worked on. The tinkering with all the little details is,  I guess, all part of the fun.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Well it beats washing the car

Hooray - I have finally ridden the bike properly! I say properly because I have actually been on the bike round the park, but since that was as a means of keeping up with the kids while they cycled, I don;t really count it as a ride. Today was the first proper ride. Out along some local roads to a the nearest patch of dirt, mud and grass. Significantly it also has a small hillock on which you can pick up some reasonable speed over rough ground. Here at last then I can test some of the rideability of the bike and determine if there are any flaws in the build.

First impressions on riding out was that the bike was really comfortable. I had forgotten how much off the peg bikes are not designed round your length. So the distinct advantage of building from scratch was that I have been able to select component parts (mostly the headstem length) that factored in my body length. This also means my legs aren't cramping up under my arms, despite having a frame that is at the bottom of the size range for my height. There were two immediate issues that need some attention. The rear wheel isn't quite true, simple to fix. The gears have a habit of slipping, which isn't too serious and just needs some minor adjustment. Well at least I hope, but the worst case scenario is the shifter is more shot than it feels.

It felt odd to ride out with only 9 speed at your disposal, I kept reaching to change front rings and finding nothing on the handlebar. However, it really didn't dent my general speed over a rough, flat course. Very smooth would be my assessment of the overall ride, but I suspect it will glue itself to the ground on longer slopes. The front end did wash out in gravel on a twisty descent, but not seriously and no more than expected for a hardtail. I didn't push it downhill as there wasn't much and I had to be wary of other park users.

There is a pure joy in being able to do something and then look back and say I built that. I remember my uncle talking fondly in similar terms about a car and a motorbike he built from scratch. Its not the same sense of achievement of looking at a finished project and seeing others use it. Instead, because it is you using it there is a certain - connectedness.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Evolution, revolution and mechanical assembly

When I started this blog I rather ambitiously likened myself as a bike builder to the blind watchmaker of Dawkin's fame. As if I can compete either with evolutionary forces or God, depending on what you believe! But then there are some serious points that can be considered from the whole process of building a bike and the creative process.

Initially, I think you need to decide if the process of life is creative or mechanical assembly. The bike building that I have just completed is essentially a mechanical assembly. You could argue that there was some creativity in determining the paint, and dealing with some of the potential problems. In reality though most of the choices were predetermined by the shape of the machine. However, in my mind whilst working there were creative processes working. I am thinking about frame geometry and sizes, wheel bases, tyres and the like. Now I am not a natural engineer and so this creative thinking is unlikely to result in a bike, but creative it is.

Think about all those bike designers who think about and have developed the geometry of the bicycle from the simple wooden horse, through the Penny farthing, and on to the modern bicycle forms we see today. Two hundred years of development and evolution. I find it all quite amazing that anyone would think of these changes to make a better machine. Then again perhaps necessity was the mother of invention. I can of course conceive that an individual would perhaps add a round "wheel" or find the addition of a pneumatic tyre beneficial. But you are left wondering how long things would take if it was left to a random stop/start process. The timescales are immense and the processes required to meet each stage complex. Understandable that we should seek a concept that describes what happens according to our own social understanding. The scientific method (often forgotten) is to formulate a hypothesis based on available evidence and to test hypothesis to destruction. So in reality all scientists are actually uncertain if any of the theories by which we build stuff and do things really works.

What about building a bike you say. Well I hardly did the work in a vacuum of knowledge. I have had a bike since I was 7 years old. So although perhaps not the most engineering of brains has managed to absorb one or two things in the intervening years. Then there are books, manufacturer's booklets and the Internet as a sources of information. Which, despite my best efforts I couldn't totally ignore. A good thing too, or I would still be trying to build the damn thing right now. My bank balance would be a lot emptier than it is now, and my shed would be full of components that did not fit. An excess of brake bosses is enough thank you very much. How long then for a blind bike builder to produce a modern bike from nothing?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Time for reflection

I promised, sometime ago, that I would pause and reflect on my experiences of constructing a bike from scratch. I think I am going to split this into sections, mechanical, philosophy and riding.

On the mechanical side of things I am surprised. OK so this wasn't a design and build a bike from bits of steel, but I did start with nothing in mind. So it was a surprise that the mechanics of assembling a bike were quite simple. True I did have to buy some extra tools that were not in my basic bike tool box. This added to the overall cost of the build so perhaps not a good idea if you don't plan to build another, but I suggest that having built one you will build another.

What you do have to be careful of is mixing and matching components. Some gear shifters don't work with some mechs. Some bottom brackets don't fit some frames and also need different tools. Wheel hubs will only accept certain sizes of cassettes. Even the frames have different capacities that affect headsets and wheel/tyre choice. All in all the idea of just picking things up in a random fashion is not a good idea. From a mechanical stand point, I'd suggest a list of choices, and a little research. Being a blind bike builder can be a slow and expensive process.

Start off with an idea of what you are going to use the bike for and develop that. There are no rules that say what you initially put on the road/trail is the finished article, so don't hold out for the ultimate kit if you can get hold of an alternative that will get you out riding sooner. Parts will always need replacing, and I missed being able to ride when I had taken both bikes off the trail.

As you develop the idea of what you need the bike for, a certain frame type and gear/wheel combinations  follow on. Be guided by the price of components. Put the higher priced ones as the guide for getting the rest that are dependent on that.

Mechanical assembly is pretty straight forward. A bike is after all a bit of pre-fabricated engineering. Most bikes are developed to be relatively simple to assemble and parts in general fit a logical scheme. Whilst a generic understanding of how a bike fits together is important, either through analysis of an existing bike as a template or through experience, most of the build is suggested by location. Bolt front wheel to front axle, rear derailleur to rear stays on the right is not exactly rocket science.

Getting the tools for job is important, but a reasonable £30 bike mechanic kit will do all but fitting a headset and servicing the forks on a bike. As you can see from the blog the former needs some pretty specific tools, or which there are pro, amateur, and DIY versions. Depending on your choice of drive train you may also need a different tool for the bottom bracket. But if you stick to the taper type, you can save an awful lot of money if you are not requiring a high standard of performance.

Finally, what you don't know you can find out. I tried to do most of this build without to much reference to the internet and books, relying instead on my abilities to analyse a system and understand how it works. Having said that "Zinn and the art of mountain bike maintaince" was invaluable for checking my logic. If you get stuck and you need a practical demonstration then the Bicycle Tutor has excellent "how to " videos. Other riders were also helpful sources for ideas, although not always correct. You can find all sorts of conflicting advice on bike forums, based on conjecture and one off experience, they will give you an idea but don't take them as gospel. Instead, go to Sheldon Brown who has compiled lists of technical information in a much more rigourous manner.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

let the good times roll

It is always good to get out on a bike, the feeling of freedom, speed and the pure adrenaline rush of turning the cranks are always a tonic. It is even better when you are riding the bike you have constructed from the frame up. Slightly different perhaps to riding a new bike, because generally you are certain that everything is set up correctly and all you are trying to do is determine how fast it stops and how tightly you can make the turns. So perhaps it is a good thing that I rode to our local park with the kids and so stopped myself pulling any crazy tricks before I was sure of my mechanical skills. A great leveller of ability, is when you have to stop to support and encourage your 4 year old on their bike.

So what did I find out about the mechanical soundness of the bike? Well, I need to make a small adjustment to the brake and gear lever as they aren't optimal, and I haven't quite aligned the limit screw to allow a jump on to the final cog. Apart from that everything else held together fine. The wheels go muddy, I wall rolled a few steep banks and popped a few (brief) wheelies. By the end of the trip nothing was squeaking or falling off, which is a positive. I washed the wheels off, not because they were muddy, but because of the risk that some of the brown stuff came out of dogs' bottoms, and the paint stayed on. All in all a good start to a career as an amateur bike mechanic and assembler.

Next steps, well I think after the small adjustments to be done it is time to get out on some tame trails near me, and then move out to the bigger challenges after that. I also think that now might be the time to reflect on what I have learned through this process, so I suspect the next few blog posts will carry the dos and don'tsl  in bike construction.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the road again

Swapped tyres for a thinner profile at the back, and hey presto no problems with the tyre being jammed into the frame at full inflation.. Of course now the bike just looks plain silly with a big fat free ride tyre on the front, so I will have to find a few moments to change that for a different one as well. If I had the spare cash I would buy some new ones, but as I don't I am robbing them off the old bike. A bike which will set on the work bench of the shed for awhile awaiting a new headset and a pair of forks.

The advantage of the tyre change is that suddenly I look less flashy and a little more "stealth" for riding out with all those fit young dirt jumpers. No-one will expect me to be making big air or downhilling in Scotland every summer. Certainly, not until I have invested in a full face helmet. One very bruised face from a "minor" tumble is enough thank you very much.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war.

Finally, the bike is complete! There are a few niggles, like the fact that it is unrideable in its current configuration, but it is complete and I am hoping that the issues can be overcome quickly and cheaply.

brake boss line up
Finally, I have brake bosses that at least partially work with the XT brake arms. If you look in the photograph you can see the three versions that I managed to get. Look at the different size of the lip next to the screw and if you can compare the profile of each boss fitting. Not all bosses are the same and so when you get to adding brake arms it is clearly a question of the right ones for the job. I'm keeping the others in my spares box for anyother job. The one to the right is from Tiawan and made of titanium, but is far better quality and has a better profile than the others. Even so it does not provide a perfect fit for the brake arms, with a small 3mm gap between the frame and the arm. I am hoping that this will not cause to much strain in braking, because if it does I will need to see if the adaptor kit works any better.
just a small gap

Confident that I would at least have some braking potential, and finding my Sunday afternoon surprisingly free, I continued on completing the last jobs on the bike. First up chain onto the bike. Simple enough, I'm not going to explain the ins and outs as it is done well enough in Zinn and in other bicycle maintance books. I had not appreciated how much you need to be an octopus though. I was most pleased that I was fixing the chain together with a powerlink and not having to force a pin into place with a chain tool. Really simple, but a little more fiddley was the task of aligning the rear derailleur (mech). Setting the high and low screws to match the limits of chain movement is simple in theory. I found that holding the derailleur over the low position and looking at where the limit screw was holding gave me more confidence that this phase was set up.

I then needed to cut the housing for both the brakes and the gears. I wish I had a proper wire cutter for this as it was hard work with the cutter on my old pliers, but they worked adequately. Fighting to not strip the wire as you thread it through the housing is also a must. Not only does it make it difficult to thread, it will also weaken the cable.  Finally, I fitted the handlebar grips, (some lizardskin ones which have lock down bolts) and adjusted the shifter and brake levers into position.

I have however, created a bike that is a little overdeveloped in the tyre department. There is an alignment issue with the rear wheel which I think is easy to sort, but there is one major problem that is preventing me from riding the P3 today. The tyres are too fat. Inflated the rear tyre is one large balloon wedged between the downstays. Not so bad at lower pressures, but it still rubs the frame badly. The original tyres that came with the wheels, I seems to remember, were fine. So I will try a switch back. In the short term there is a potential to borrow some from Uncle Riotous who is storing a load of spares. The ultimate will be a rebuild of the hub on a narrower rim. Whilst I have enjoyed assembling a bike from its components and I even feel that framebuilding might one day be an option- I have visions of being an old man with a shed in the Welsh mountains building custom frames. Wheel building is an art that requires specialisr equipment, much patience and many hours. So to rebuild the wheel I think I may need to employ my local bike shop.

The beast nearly ready for action

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh arse!!

There are always times of frustration in the progress of any project, today the P3 project encountered another one. The bosses arrived in the post and I went outside to fit them in a spare 5 minutes at lunchtime. They looked a perfect match, the thread an exact match for the screw in mount housing on the forks. The the first grrr moment. In order to screw them in I was going to need a 9mm spanner - I had 7,8......10, 11?!!! What the? Where? Resigned to not finding the missing spanner I walked up the road to the local hardware store and bought a cheap replacement.

Almost, all in and the bosses are getting tight. Wondering how much further I slide the XT brake arms on to the bosses, only....they won't reach. Not they won't reach because I need to screw the boss in further. They won't reach even when screwed in flush. Arse!!!

I unscrew one, extra time wasted, and extract one of the brake arms from the old bike out of the shed. This slides on perfectly. I go and check the XT arm again, no dice. There is a ridge on the boss which allows you to tighten the boss in the mount. It is also where part of the brake arm locks in, it is too bid for the XT arm, but not for el cheapo fitting. I'm left with a quandry, do I fit el cheapo and look for an alternative? Do I file off the excess? Perhaps a little chat with the suppliers and a chance of an exchange? First though, I need to get the other boss off the forks, and its stuck! The cheap 9mm spanner is bending under the force. I give up and get on with living the rest of my life. I can have a real crack at it some other day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Homeward bound

Today I started on the home straight. A bit more internet searching and I found the brake boss parts I needed, or so I hoped. The sales team at UKBikestore were really helpful in sorting out if the bosses would fit and in no time at all the order was on its way. I should see these next week. In the meantime the crownrace fitting tool arrived from the folks at Wiggle.

Crownrace tool
The Cyclus Crownrace tool is heavy and chunky which is what you would expect from a device that is essentially a heavy tube for tamping down a ring on to the outside of the tube. It does come with an adaptor to allow the fitting or the race to road forks (1") and at £25 it is not too expensive. It does lack the finish of a pro-tool and I have to say mine has rust on the exterior suggesting the finish is not that good. Personally, I have at least one headset to change and alongside those for friends it will pay for itself in beers in no time at all.

Crownrace fitted
So confident that I will have all the parts need, I set about fitted the new Marzocchi MZ comp forks to the P3 frame. First, the crownrace, tamped down onto the forks. Then simply fit all the parts in the correct order onto the frame, to check they all fit. Thank goodness that the stem of the forks is not too short! Finally, grease the stem and then tighten all the bolts to hold the handlebars and the headset together. Finally,I fitted the front wheel again to avoid having to rest the bike on the front forks. Next week, brake bosses, brakes, chain, rear dérailleur alignment and cabling and we are in business.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who's the boss?

Well not me it seems. I had expected small hiccups in the process of putting this bike together, but really I didn't expect them all to come at the end. I feel like I am at an evolutionary dead-end. The forks arrived this week, and yes they are all they were descrived to be. Certainly not the forks to sit on the machine forever, but good enough for some casual cross-country/downhill riding. They are also dual brake capable, that is you can fit disc brakes or the more low tech V-brakes (also known as side pull cantilevers). There is a snag. I could fit disc brakes to the forks, but the hubs I have are not designed to take the disc. I can't bolt on V-brakes straight away because the forks lack the brake bosses needed to fit the brake arms. This would not be a difficult proposition if there was a surfeit of brake bosses on sale. I think I might have found a kit for the forks, but it only mentions forks produced from 2007 onwards. This leads me to some concern as I am worried that my local bike shops will not stock the spare parts I require.

This is what leads me to feel at an evolutionary dead-end. The trend is towards disc brakes on sports mountain bikes, and although V-brakes are common on low end leisure bikes, no-one takes a high spec sports bike and puts V-brakes on it. A problem for all those retro-bike builders out there. Soon the spare forks will only be off leisure bikes, which are not capable handling the punishment or a more aggressive riding style, and we will no longer be able to ride some of these classic frames. The bikes will not be superceded because they were unable to compete in the environment, but they lack the input of the manufacturer's resources. The world has changed and moved on.