I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before but the 80’s Raleigh frame that I used on the first fixed gear is now “dead”. What happened? Well I’m not quite sure. It’s viewable in one of my Cyclist POV videos, where you can see I’m riding along and all of a sudden the rear wheel locks up and I come to a stop. It’s happened before but never that violently and never just riding along. I realigned the wheel and rode on, but after getting to my destination I realised the wheel no longer looked straight… The rear triangle looked bent. A few second opinions later and I had concluded it must be the end of that frame.
Note: At no point have I actually checked the frame alignment with the available tools.
A few weeks have gone by and now I have version 2 up and running. Version 2 was found on eBay for the small sum of £15. Naturally the colours caught my attention and I had to have it. As luck would have it, nobody else was interested in it and I won the auction for the starting bid. I have to say the seller of this frame has been an absolute pleasure to deal with – possibly the best seller I’ve dealt with. He emailed me as soon as the auction ended and asked if I wanted some further postage quotes and after looking around found one for £4 cheaper than quoted. Unfortunately he hadn’t checked the PayPal transaction and booked the delivery for the wrong address. Nevermind, he got straight onto the courier and had it changed. The courier didn’t even come and collect it and instead it had to be dropped off at the post office and sent from there. I was updated on the whole process and never left out. I wish all sellers were like that!
Anyway, the new build! The frame is a two tone, pink and purple, MBK trainer. I haven’t been able to accurately date it however I’m leaning towards an early 90’s date. Lugless, oval tubing and CRMO – I really like the frame. It has its fair signs of wear and it the colour apparently disgusts come people but I love it. It’s just my size and it’s so light.
Straight away I removed the headset from the old build and fitted that to the MBK frame. The old Halo wheelset went in perfectly, as did my old black stem. This is where things change. Instead of the flat bars I wanted to fit a set of drop bars in black with some all black brakes. I’m only running one brake, yet still decided to fit two levers. Why? Because I like the riding position! Finding the all black bars took a lot of searching on eBay as most 25.4mm clamping bars are for silver in colour for old road bikes! It was worth it though, the black bars and brakes make the pink stand out even more.
When it came to the bottom bracket and crank I had to get something new. The Raleigh uses 26tpi thread and a cottered axle, where as the MBK frame uses a standard 24tpi thread. I have a few spare cartridge bottom brackets that I could have used but something new was more appealing. I decided to head to VeloSolo and take a look at their collection. I opted for the 107mm Stronglight bottom bracket and crank set. It looks amazing and threaded straight into the frame. The Raleigh used a 42 tooth chain ring (I believe) where as the Stronglight uses a 48 tooth. Combined with the 14 tooth sprocket I’ll be getting more top end but hill starts will become a bit tougher. I’ll see how I get on with it and if it’s too tough I’ll swap out the sprocket to a 16 or 18.
The tyre clearances are close but I’m going to swap those out for some Michelin Krylion Carbon when I get some spare cash! (Those tyres are brilliant – I’m using them on the British Eagle in the wet). Apart from that I’m 100% happy with the outcome. The bike feels like a perfect fit and everytime I look at it I find a massive grin creeps across my face. It’s definitely not everyones style. What do you think?
As always, I keep an eye out for bargains on eBay. Things that I’m planning for further down the line. If they come up cheap enough, a last second snipe is all it takes and I’ll find the money. This time round a bucket seat.
There’s obviously the benefit of weight reduction when fitting a fibreglass bucket seat over OEM seats, as well as the body holding form for any spirited drive but I have to say, I find them comfier than standard seats. I don’t find the standard leather Corolla seats really that comfy. They have a large lower back support which forces my body into a shape it doesn’t really like to sit in, and my shoulders are rarely resting on the back. Comparing it to the minimal padding, body hugging BuddyClub seat I had in the Civic, well, I loved that seat. I could drive for hours and because it held me all the time I was never uncomfortable.
For the grand sum of £33 I’ve managed to bag myself a Cobra Imola 2 fixed back bucket seat. It was dirty as hell when I got it, covered in dust, dirt and years of grime, but amazingly, it doesn’t have any tears. There’s a few tiny holes (possibly fag ash burns?) in the seat cushion but they’re barely 1mm in diameter. I’ve stripped it all down tonight, chucked the covers in the washing machine and they’ve come out brilliantly. A little faded but for a seat that was produced in 1997, I can live with that.
When it comes to weight, even with the custom side mounts it has, the seat weighed in at 6.2KG. I’m expecting the standard seat to be around 18KG so even after I get some rails made I think I’ll have around a 10KG saving. Now all I’ve got to do is find a similar seat for the passenger side and replicate the weight saving. Well, that and make some rails and find some harnesses.
I can’t be doing with seatbelts… they’ll scuff up the material!
OK so it’s not Thursday, I apologise but I didn’t want to miss this post out. I’ve already done two posts about the lengthy build of my old Civic and here’s a third (and hopefully the last – if I can fit it all in).
I left off the last post with my intentions changing yet again. After starting the build aiming to create a clean OEM look Civic, I was now looking at creating a lightweight track car. The progress had begun with a set of lightweight wheels and ditching the electric “luxuries” for lighter manual items. There was an obvious way I could take the weight saving and that was Carbon Fibre. I’d seen a group buy appear for a Carbon Fibre sunroof bung and a couple of months later I had it in my possession. It saved a mighty 12KG from the highest point on the car so was well worth the investment but it was a bit of a pain to fit! The size was perfect but trying to position and secure it in place by myself was extremely awkward and the finish to the Tiger Seal wasn’t the greatest. Never mind though, it did the job!
The Carbon Fibre goodness continued with a Seibon Bonnet and Tailgate. As with the bung these items weren’t perfect but I got them cheap and they saved weight! The tailgate had to be slightly modified to get the lights to sit properly and the bonnet had a bit of accident damage. The damage meant the front corners weren’t in the best shape and lifted fairly easily. I was concerned about safety and security so ordered a pair of aero catches for the bonnet. Attempting to fit them myself I messed up and put the first one in completely the wrong place. I’d stuck it too high so now the bonnet had accident damage and a repaired hole. The catches went in eventually but it set the trend for my car. I didn’t really mind what it looked like as long as it did the job!
The weight saving was going well and I thought it was definitely increasing the performance. My next modification ticked both those boxes. I didn’t run any power steering or air conditioning so the standard 3 ring crank pulley was an unnecessary evil. I ordered a stand Honda performance part, an EK9 N1 Crank pulley to replace mine. The N1 Pulley only has one ring (for the alternator). It saves a few KGs of unsprung weight and frees up a bit of power in the engine. There’s a lot of confusion about these lightweight pulleys with some people saying they ruin your engines and others, like me, saying they’re one of the best modification you can do. I think it really depends on your engine. For my near enough standard B16A2 it really helped and caused no problems at all. It gave good gains and really freed up the revs, especially when combined with the lightweight flywheel.
With the weight coming off and my thoughts turning towards power and track day use I decided it was time to upgrade the brakes (again). I had a set of fully refurbished EG6 hubs with some beautiful lightweight wheels but I decided to ditch all that in favour of a full 5 Stud Integra Type R setup with EK9 alloys. I could have stuck with my 4 stud hubs and wheels and adapted some bigger callipers to fit the hubs but I wanted to stick with the ease of OEM fitment. The swap came with all the discs and pads needed and went on with ease but I soon found both the discs and pads were well past their best and one of the rear callipers was seized. The calliper, discs and pads were replaced quickly and I felt the car was nearing the stage to lose its track virginity. Not wanting to skimp on parts for any future track time I’d replaced the pads with Ferodo DS2500 parts. Over 3 track days and countless miles on the road I couldn’t fault them! They’re well worth the investment.
With that goal of a track day firmly set in my mind, over the next few months I went to town on the weight loss. Everything I could remove was thrown. All interior panels, carpet, wiring, sound deadening and even the heaters. Admittedly the heaters had a leak and had to go back in when the next winter set in but that was because I missed a group buy for a heated windscreen! The whole interior of the car was stripped to bare metal. I picked out all the sound deadening and seam sealer, cut out any unused brackets and repainted the bare insides. The Recaro’s I loved were sold in favour of a BuddyClub P1 Seat and a 6 point Luke Harness. It was getting pretty raw and ready for track now!
A few more touches set it off with some suspension upgrades to start with. Spoon Front and Rear Strut Braces were fitted along with a completely refurbished EG6 rear Anti Roll Bar. Then came the D2 rear camber kit and BuddyClub Front Camber kit and Extended Ball Joints. All of the suspension upgrades were useless without a good set up though so after a few recommendations I headed up to Preston to use the services of Stevie at Grinspeed. I can’t recommend this chap enough. He looked after both me and my car and gained my trust with a wealth of knowledge and his past and current experiences in the WRC as a team mechanic. After that visit and setup the car handled beautifully. A good setup really can make or break a car!
I still had a few more changes to make before the first track day though. Three more Carbon Fibre items; consisting of a genuine Spoon spoiler, APR wing mirrors and a Teishi Bumper duct. The duct was fitted to feed cold air to my engine but I couldn’t neglect the exhaust either so I bought a genuine Spoon N1 back box, a 5Zigen manifold and had a custom 2.5” Centre Section and Decat built by Solid Fabrications in London. Their work lived up to the recommendations with the best welding and Fabrication I’ve had the pleasure to own, definitely worth the 4 hour round trip. With that said and done, the first track day was upon me and the first of three for this car!
The first day, for both me and the car was Blyton Park. I won’t go into too much detail (as I want to do separate posts for each) but I can safely say the day was amazing. I was honestly terrified before I hit the track but as soon as I was on, all my fears went away. I learnt a few things about myself and the car and it had me hooked. I did another day later in the year at Japfest 2 (Donington Park). I discovered a heating issue with the car on that day so once I was back I began work on a few things. Unfortunately things didn’t progress too quickly from here. I moved out into my own place and funds grew short. I tried to save as much money to progress for the third track day but I couldn’t complete all jobs.
The first two track days had been down on road tyres and although I found they handled quite well they did deteriorate quite quickly after a few hot laps! I found myself a second set of EK9 alloys to fit some semi slicks to and bought myself a set of part worn Dunlop Direzza tyres. They made such a difference for the next day! That wasn’t the only change I managed to make though. To keep an eye on the heating I fitted an SPA Design Dual Temperature Gauge. It’s a great bit of kit, reading accurate digital temperatures and giving warnings when you reach your pre set limits. Talking about temperatures I’d done something to solve that too. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste but I cut my front bumper up and used aluminium sheeting to create my own intake feed for the radiator and a new cold air feed for my air box. I’m positive it helped cool the radiator and engine but I’m sure it also helped with the aerodynamic performance of the car. In the urge to drum up some cash for much needed work I also ditched the Spoon Spoiler and created my own aluminium “masterpiece”. I had loads more plans for my own work out of aluminium but unfortunately time and money were against me. The third track day came and went and I was struggling to make ends meet at home so unfortunately at the beginning of the year I decided that time was up for this car.
It was truly the best car I’ve owned and such a pleasure to drive. It broke my heart when I had to break it but it might lead onto bigger things in the future. At the end of its life it was voted joint favourite 5th Gen build on CivicLife so I feel the project finished on a high. I still wish I could have kept the car but hopefully the next project can be even more successful.