Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tall bike

Twenty-five years ago, I used to ride a bike a fair amount. I had a Univega Viva Sport bike that I purchased around 1981. It was a low to mid-range Japanese road bike with a Chrome-Moly butted lugged frame, Sun-Tour drive train, no-name cranks and headset, and Dia Compe side pull brakes.

In order to ride the bike, my Dad fabricated for me a 14" seat post turned from billet aluminum (solid). There did not exist at that time seatposts longer than about 8 inches. The bike was never that comfortable, because the handlebars where way below the level of the seat.

Anyway, recently I decided to try to rehabilitate that bike as a more relaxed cruising/commuting bike. I found that the selection of seat posts and stems was much greater now. This is what I came up with:

The work I did on it to bring it back to life (it had been sitting in a series of barns and garages since the mid 80s):
  • Disassemble, clean, repack, and adjust wheel bearings. Old-style cone and cup bearings in 27" wheels.
  • New tires (Conti Gator Slicks) and tubes. The selection of tires for old-style 27" rims is pretty limited. I may switch over to 700c wheels at some point, along with long-reach brakes.
  • Clean and lubricate chain.
  • Replace seat post, seat, and handlebars with MTB units. Switch shifters to indexed SRAM MTB shifters. These worked perfectly with the Sun Tour Vx derailleurs on the bike.
  • Install a taillight and buy a Gilo helmet.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the variety, quality, and low price of bike components nowadays.

How's the riding part? I would say tentative. It's hard to get used to riding with cars, and I quickly determined that the original saddle was no longer compatible with my 25 years older behind.

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