Tagged: Chain

Wheel building and the France Sport

Building my own wheels is not something I really thought about before this France Sport build. Wheels have always been readily available for me to buy and use. This build threw up some problems with that idea though. There are no three speed wheels available, finding a three speed freewheel is rare and the size of rim I need is long gone. It’s forced me to patch together parts from other bikes to make up a wheel set that will work but there’s one thing I need first. Introducing my new wheel building / truing stand:

With the idea of building my own wheels set in my head I had a look around on eBay for some of these stands. The search threw up the usual Park stands along with other brands but they were all well over £100 for a substantial bit of kit. I found this gem hiding in among all the other adverts. It cost me £50 and it’s designed and built by the chap selling them. Every part is laser cut steel and it’s fully adjustable to fit a range of axle sizes and lengths. I think it’s a beautiful bit of kit and it’s coming in handy!

I started by trying out my truing “skills” on a few of the wheel sets I already have. It’s pretty simple to understand and get your head round. A little tighter here, a little looser there… I managed to pull a spare 26″ x 1 3/8″ wheel back to perfectly straight without much effort. The practice did however highlight the rear wheel in my “good” 27″ wheelset was beyond repair. I could true it and make it spin without any side to side wobble but looking from the side I found the rim had multiple flat spots. Nothing much I can do about that but fortunately my 3 speed freewheel fits on the hub so I’ve stripped that wheel down to pinch the hub for the France Sport.

That leaves me with a clean front wheel fitted with a new Continental World tour tyre, a shiny new chain and all the parts (minus the spokes) for a rear wheel build.

The 26″ x 1 3/8″ rims I’m going to be using probably aren’t the original size for the bike. Diameter wise they’re spot on but this size tended to be used on the “town” style bikes. After looking for some advice about sizing on a Facebook group it was suggested the bike probably had a slightly narrower 1 1/4″ rim but the possibility of finding an original replacement for that size is extremely low. The slightly wider rims will do for now!

The next step is to collect all the measurements to work out the ideal spoke length and shorten the OLD spacing slightly so I can build the final piece of the puzzle. Wish me luck.


Raleigh Meteor – Up For Sale

Another day of cleaning and I’m happy with the finish. I said in the last post there was a bit more rust under the dirt than I was expecting but after yesterday’s cleaning session nearly all (on the chrome) has vanished. It’s still in a completely original form. I could have started replacing cables and such but everything works so I felt it was pointless.

I’ve popped it onto eBay to see if it gets any interest. [ Click Here ]

Hopefully it will go to someone who will look after it and maintain it’s working state.

Raleigh Meteor – The cleansing begins.

In the first post I introduced the Meteor in all it’s dusty and dirty glory. A last second decision to place a bid on a bike I had very little information about had resulted in a bit of a disappointment. The disappointment being; it’s a junior bike. Nevermind, my intention remains the same and that is to give it a good clean and sell it on.

It looks like it could have been a “barn find”. It’s not as severely rusted as a well used bike but it is covered in a very fine layer of dust / dirt. From the pictures it didn’t look too rusty. It looked like there was mainly dried grease, with the odd spot of rust on the frame but after a wipe down I can see there is a bit more than I expected. Just spots, but lots of them. The chrome looked in good condition too and it is. So far everything I’ve touched, bar the rear rim, has cleaned up nicely. Unfortunately the short winter day beat me today so with the light fading I had to call it a day.


These two components took up most of my time today. I spent a good couple of hours with fine wire wool and polish going over each rim and then onto the spokes, trying to get them both as clean as possible. An extremely tedious job but I think it’s been worth it. The dirt that was covering every component did a good job of hiding how pitted both rims were but they’ve cleaned up surprisingly well. The rear is the worse of the two with more pitting and unfortunately some peeling. The spokes had a good wipe down with the wire wool to try and bring a bit of shine back to them and then it was onto the hubs. I stripped down both front and rear, cleaned everything up with some paint thinners to get rid of the old grease and reassembled. They were both running quite rough before but with the clean and fresh grease I’m happy to say both spin beautifully.

Both rims and hubs are Sturmey Archer components. Front and rear hubs have the engravings clearly visible and if you look closely both rims are lightly stamped with “Sturmey Archer England”. Sizing wise the bike runs 24″ x 1 3/8″ wheels and will benefit from new tyres before being ridden properly. The freewheel fitted to the rear is stamped Atom 77, with Atom being the “brand” and 77, well I’m not sure on that but it’s either the “model” or the year produced. ’77 fits into the era this bike would have been produced. It spins freely, has all its teeth and cleaned up nicely. I would have loved to remove it to clean underneath but unfortunately I don’t have the right tool.

Seat / Seat Post

BROOKS! In terms of saddles, Brooks is always a name I associate with quality. I have one on the “France Sport”, a nice leather one; unfortunately this one isn’t leather. It’s a moulded plastic model with a bit of a scratch in it. It’ll still add some value to the bike. Thankfully the seat post wasn’t seized and came out without a fight. It had a fair amount of surface rust but that was soon removed with the old wire wool and polish. It cleaned up nicely and I greased up the seat tube so it shouldn’t seize up in the future.


Dirty but fully working. I’ve got no idea what “brand” they are as all they are stamped with is “Made in England”. There is a possibility they’re Sturmey Archer items too but the washer with the stamp on isn’t in the greatest condition to read. Both calipers and levers were covered in grease and surface rust but again, the one I’ve managed to finish has cleaned up nicely. The levers have a bit of play in them so I’m going to see if I can find a way to tighten them up. Apart from that, once I’ve had chance to clean the front and the levers there’s nothing more they need.


This is the last thing I managed to do before the light failed me today. I quickly managed to removed the stem (without it being seized!), removed the forks and cleaned everything up. The chrome has cleaned up beautifully with little wear on the cups or the bearings. Around 24 5/16″ bearings came out of both races. I say around because I always drop one or two. Luckily I always have spare bearings so loosing one or two isn’t a issue. There wasn’t actually any grease in the lower race and the top race was extremely dirty. The fresh grease was much needed!

Until next week some time, that’s it. Jobs left to do:

Clean and Polish: Stem, Bars, Front Caliper, Brake Levers, Cranks, Bottom Bracket, Derailleur
Clean and Lubricate: Bottom Bracket, Chain

Raleigh Meteor – A tiny one.

Those last few seconds in an eBay auction are a tense time for me. I don’t show my cards till the end. Not till the very end and sometimes I the delay in the web submission doesn’t even reach eBay in time. I wasn’t even sure I wanted this bike but I thought it looked too clean to pass up so I placed a bid in the last few seconds for £2.36 more than the starting price. I won it by the 36p. Always, always use the pence, it’s won me so much stuff.

Anyway, the bike, the listing, I didn’t really know much about it. I’d seen it, clicked watch and forgot about it until the end. I was going off pictures and barely any information. That was a bit of a mistake on my part as I was expecting a men’s racer but when I went to pick it up I was presented with a junior racer. Ah well, it’s still something to add to the collection and I don’t think I paid over the odds for it.

I can’t work on it until the weekend so these pictures are all that’s appearing for now. Generally, I think the condition is pretty good. Everything is original and although the chrome is pitted with small amounts of rust I don’t think it’s too severe, so a bit of wire wool and polish should sort that. The brakes and gearing look in perfectly workable condition with plenty of life in both. The frame, well that’s dirty… nothing a clean and polish won’t fix. At the moment, all I think it needs is a damn good clean and to grease up the bearings. That and the tyres replacing, maybe the grip tape too.

All in all, happy. Too small to ride, but may be something to keep as a wall piece or something to sell on.

Fixed (Again)

It seems like every post I make about my fixed gear build is one saying I’ve fixed it again after something went wrong. Hopefully, this will be the last one!

It’s fixed!

On its last outing, after the last fix of bending the chain ring back into shape, I had constant problems with the chain popping off and flexing. I figured it was down to the damage caused before, but also that I’m using the smaller chain ring of the original double set so it’ll never be as strong as the solid outer ring. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do until I started buying a few bikes to do up.

A solution presented itself when looking over the new bikes. They’re all old three speed bikes, with one single speed ring up front and the three gears inside the Sturmey Archer hub. A single speed chain ring up front… with a cotter pin crank… Putting two and two together told me I should take one of these chain rings and put it on the fixie with a new, stronger chain and that’s exactly what I’ve done!

I had chose to take the chain ring off a very rusty Raleigh Wayfarer but my original technique of removing the cotter pins failed drastically and now I had two mushroomed pins holding the cranks to that bike. I found this guy on YouTube who has a channel dedicated to fixing bikes and watching a few of his videos gave me some ideas on how to remove the cranks. Low and behold, on another bike, I left the nut on the cotter pin, used a big punch on top of the nut and with one swing of a hammer the pin was free and I could swap the cranks over!

However, as with every simple job, something went a tad wrong. When I put the new crank on the fixie I found the BB was very stiff and then found the shell was unwinding itself from the frame so I ended up stripping all that down, cleaning everything off and regreasing it. The “new” crank and single speed chainring went on fine then. It’s sightly bigger than the old one but that just means more speed 🙂

As for the chain, I decided to ditch the cheap Clarks chain I bought after only using it for 180 miles. It felt so weak and it’s been nothing but trouble so I went for a Izumi chain this time. I saw it had good reviews on Chain Reaction Cycles and my first impression is it has a more sturdy appearance and feel than the Clarks chain. It looks solid, feels heavy duty and seems well made. I had a slight problem with it being a bit big for one of my chain tools but it went on smoothly and rides well!

When it was all back together I took it for a test ride and I’m happy to say there were no issues whatsoever. I even managed to set a couple of PBs on some local climbs. Hopefully, this will be the bike fixed completely now and it’ll last a good while! It’s always a learning process but now I think I know the best way to go about doing a fixed gear conversion on an old Raleigh! I’ll get it right first time with the other builds 😉

Fixing the Fixie.

I’ve lost track of time with this. I don’t remember how long it’s been sitting in my living room waiting to get fixed but now it’s done. Well, fixed should be used loosely. Everything is back together and working but it wasn’t the most ideal solution. Some may remember but on the last outing for the fixie, the chain slipped off, got caught on the chain ring and bent it (partly down to a bolt being missing from one of the mounting points?!). I had to walk the bike home, it chewed up a load of paint work and I was royally pissed off. The aim was to buy a new Bottom Bracket and crank set but finding a match for the old Raleigh threading is difficult and I never have the money to spare so I decided to “bodge” the fix.

The old chain ring is steel so although it’s bent I thought it should bend back into shape with some careful persuasion. I had to strip the crank off, and with the cotter pin coming out really easily the job was done quicker than I thought. The old chain ring was persuaded back into shape with my trusty hammer and after fitting and giving it a few spins it all seemed straight. A few little tweaks were needed with some mole grips but it seems to be back to normal… I replaced the bolts with some fresh ones, trimmed them down and added lock nuts so I don’t have to worry about them coming loose again. The chain went back on really easily too. I replaced a few links and the job was done. Everything span as it should…

I’ve taken it for a quick test ride and nothing went bang so I think it should be good for a while… I’m looking forward to some more fixie cruising!

I broke it… again.

Just as I’m getting to love this bike, something, possibly me, has broken it. It’s a really nice bike to ride and I was loving riding to work and having a detour home but now it’s officially out of action. Dead. Until I can source some more part that is.

So here’s what I think happened. I’m riding to work earlier this week in my work gear. I’ve never had a problem with trousers flapping around but as I’m cruising along I got a horrible snag as part of my trousers got pulled into the chainring and luckily it came straight back out. It didn’t sound or feel good but everything seemed fine.

Then on one of my detours home wile playing “the filtering game” I heard a couple of clangs/ bangs/ noises… I don’t know how to describe it but it sounded like something had popped under tension. The bike still rode though so I got it home, decided to clean the chain and in the process found one link had bent and was about to dislodge from the pin holding it in place. So that was what the sound was…or was it.

That link was replaced straight away with a new link and spinning the wheel / crank by hand it seemed fine. On the way to work the next day though it was pretty rough to start with but it did settle. Again though, it started making a weird clunk every now and again while out on a ride with a friend before eventually disaster happened. She doesn’t like to ride on the road so it meant hopping up and down curbs and on one of these instances my chain popped off. It then got caught in the rear cog and locked up the rear wheel. No bother, I’ll just feed it back on and be on my way. Unfortunately I found that it had chewed the master link on the chain but it had also bent the chainring. Weirdly a bolt was missing from that spot too but even with it pinched up to where the bolt should be it was still bent. So bent it was catching on the frame and chucking the chain straight off. I had to walk the bike all the way across town to get it back home.

I’m sad to say, for now at least, the fixie is dead. I can fix it, and I will, I just don’t have the cash at the moment. I’m going to have to break out the Holdsworth for the daily commute now and get used to those damn clipless clip pedals… Hopefully I’ll find some cash soon. I don’t want to be without the fixed life for long…

MTB – Fixed?!

I sure hope so, it’s been driving me mad!

After replacing the chain, cassette and chainrings and then crashing, bending the rear mech hanger and getting a horrible slip in the gears I needed yet another fix. Straightening the hanger and trying a mech adjustment seemed to work but the slip soon came back and worse than ever. I tried another alignment but nothing seemed to work so I ended up ordering a new SRAM X7 rear dérailleur.

I picked it up this morning.

It’s a pretty easy job to swap over to be honest. The “awkward” part (for me anyway) is getting the gearing adjusted so it’s spot on. The replacement is pretty much as follows:

Split the chain and free it from the rear mech. The SRAM PowerLinks make this so easy. Push the links together and it comes right apart.

Remove the gear cable.

And undo one (5mm I think) hex head bolt and that’s it. The old one is off and the new one refits in the reverse of that.

The trick is then getting the “hi” and “lo” settings adjusted, the correct cable tension and the right hanger setting. This really got to me today but I think I cracked it in the end. The first thing I actually did was set the right “height” (?) for the rear mech. One 3mm hex head bolt lifts or lowers the whole mech. The SRAM instructions said the mech should sit roughly 6mm under the largest cog (lowest gear) of the rear cassette. So fitting the chain to that cog, winding the screw in (or out) and that’s one job done.

Then it came to the “hi” and “lo” adjustment and fitting the gear cable. It’s a simple procedure but I always manage to get myself in one of those “fuck this shit” moods. It should be just as simple as:

Fit the chain to the smallest cassette cog (highest gear), and select that gear with the shifter.
Wind the “Hi” screw in or out until the jockey wheels of the mech sit in line with the outside edge of that cog.
Fit the gear cable with a nice amount of tension.
Spin the pedals and switch down to the largest cog (lowest gear) and adjust the “Lo” setting so the jockey wheels sit directly under that cog.


Except I couldn’t get it right. I normally do all my adjustment with the bikes the right way up and just look from the back to check the alignment. Most of the time it works but this time I just couldn’t hit the sweet spot. Sure on a test ride the gears all worked but in 6th and 7th the chain would consistently slip and try to get into the next gear.

The “fuck this shit” mood was well approaching after a couple more adjustments and no success but then I had a quick thought. I flipped the bike over and spun the pedals to see if I could witness the chain slip…and I did. I could see it catching on the next gear and lifting up ever so slightly, and all because the rear mech was too far over. After changing to the highest gear I could see instead of the jockey wheels being in line with the OUTSIDE edge of the gear they were actually lined up with the INSIDE edge. Obviously checking the alignment from the rear didn’t work so I made one more adjustment, this time with the bike upside down and what do you know…. it worked!

Well, I’ll go for a proper ride during the week and check for sure but on the test ride every gear selected perfectly and there was no slipping. I think it’s almost safe to say next weekend I can head back over to Cannock for another round!

Happy days!

Arghhhhh damn bikes – MTB woes.

It’s my own fault really. My own clumpsy fault but the MTB is out of action again…

After riding the furthest I’ve ever gone before at the weekend (on the road bike mind you), it’s got me in a bit of a riding frenzy. Yesterday I braved the rain and rode the MTB to work, complete with the fresh gearing and chain. On the way home I decided to ride into town and back out again to lengthen the journey. That extra route has cost me.

Stupidly I fell off twice (and no none of it is on camera). I lost the front wheel and slid off turning into a damp underpass which wasn’t too bad. It was more of a slide the a crash but I think it may have added to the issues later on. When I wasn’t too far away from home I came to cross a road with a few cars waiting to pull out. There weren’t going anyway so I cut in front of one, jumped the curb only to find a nice big metal box in my way. One of those used to house data connections or phone lines and such things. Unfortunately I couldn’t get out the way in time so ended up clipping it with the left side of my forks and flew over the handlebars crashing down on the right side. I escaped injury and after a quick cheer to the people laughing in the cars I rode off but I had a problem.

The chain was no skipping. I had no idea why because I hadn’t really had any proper impact on that side but I managed to get it home. It seemed to only skip under power and a little randomly. This morning I rode to work on it again but before I went I found the problem. I’d bent the rear mech hanger and after a bit of advice from Facebook I was told to just bend it back into shape. A big allen key in the dérailleur bolt and it bent out easily. All seemed good.

I took it for a longer ride home again and apart from a bit of clunky shifting it seemed to be going ok. Seemed. The skipping of the chain came back after about 6 miles and got steadily worse until it was skipping almost constantly. I managed to get it home again but now I’ve found the new chain (that’s only done 20 miles) has a few stiff, or even damaged, links. They’re arching up as I ride and slipping when they get to the cassette and rear dérailleur. Of course. It is fixable but it’s the financial cost I’m feeling now. Fingers crossed the chain slipping hasn’t done anything to the new cassette…

So that’s that bike out of action until at least the weekend. Maybe I need to head back to Specsavers before I crash into something else…

MTB – A little bit of maintenance.

Back in January 2010 I rebuilt the Carrera Vulcan I’d bought in 2008. Since then, I’ve not really changed any parts, only performing the usual cleaning and maintenance and finally the mileage has taken its toll. To put the amount of miles in perspective, I joined Strava in August 2012 and since then I’ve covered 750 miles, leaving two and a half years of riding unaccounted for. It’s no wonder then, that on the last ride out to Cannock my chin kept on locking and then eventually snapped.

A few new parts are needed then! Obviously the first thing I’ve gone and bought is the chain but I’ve had problems before when putting a new chain on an old drivetrain so naturally I ordered a couple of other parts. I bought a replacement cassette and a new set of chainrings too. Sometimes you may get away with a new chain on old cogs but in my experience it can lead to the new chain skipping.

Everything arrived yesterday so I got to work fitting it all. First off were the chainrings. The old worn ones on the bike were actually the original ones that came with the bike. On the surface they looked ok but after removing them I found a couple of teeth had worn to half size so it was a good move buying a new set. I went for a RaceFace Evolve set which I managed to pick up a bit cheaper from Canadian eBay. They’re so easy to fit. Once the chain is off it’s pretty much just a case of removing the drive side crank, undoing the old rings and fitting the new. My RaceFace Deus Cranks had a 10mm allen key lock ring and then an 8mm allen key bolt holding it in place and once they were both out it slid right off. The chain rings were held on by 6mm allen key bolts (I think – It was either 6 or 5mm). I gave everything a good wipe down while the crank was off and inspected the Bottom Bracket and suprisingly the BB looked in really good condition!

With the chain rings done, I then replaced the cassette. If you’ve never replaced one before you need to get yourself a chain whip and a lock ring tool (and the appropriate socket to fit round the lock ring tool). That’s genuinely all you need. The chain whip is there to stop the freehub rotating (and thus the cassette) when you try to undo the lockring. Wrap the whip around the cassette, hold tight and undo the lock ring. Once that’s off the cassette just slides off the freehub and voila. My Shimano style freehub has little lips and grooves that have a specific pattern and help lock the cassettes in place. You can only fit them in one orientation which makes refitting fool proof. Slid the new one on, screw in the new lock ring and torque up and that job’s done!

Last but not least, the chain. Old vs new. Old is stiff and greasy and dirty while new is…well… new. First thing to do is measure the new chain against the old so you can see how many links to remove. My new chain came with 114 links and I only needed 108 so I’ve got a few to spare should this one snap any time soon! My old chain was a Clarks PTFE chain which is taken apart and fixed together by working a pin either in or out. The new one, a SRAM PC971 has the SRAM Powerlink. It’s so easy to use! With the chain shortened to the length of the old chain minus one link (for the PowerLink) all I had to do was feed the chain around the gear, fit one half of the PowerLink to each end and basically just clip them together. No messing about with chain tools or pins. Just one click and it’s done.

Safe to say the bike now rides beautifully. I rode it to work today and had no trouble flicking through the gears so I’m counting that job as a success. There is one more issue to address though. The chain wasn’t the only thing to break at Cannock. I managed to fall off and snap my Manitou Remote Lockout lever clean in two so that’s something else on the list to fix. I can still use the lockout…it’s just a bit awkward setting it on top of the forks.

And yes, I know the bike is muddy. It’ll get a bath soon 😉