My new upgrade project - advice needed

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by GazK, 9 May 2010.

  1. GazK

    GazK Senior Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    I just picked up a secondhand bike in lovely condition from a guy down the road - an 80s Falcon Westminster light tourer.

    Components range from the good (531 frame, B17 saddle) to the OK (Rigida alloy rims) to the frankly a bit crap (Weinmann suicide brakes, Shimano SIS rear mech).

    I want this to become my longer-distance-soak-up-the-bumps day trip bike. It's not good enough IMO to warrant the vintage restoration approach, so I'm currently torn between:


    • moderate upgrade - better vintage rear mech, bar end shifters, better brakes (the Weinmanns are awful, I almost missed by turning in the village!), new wheels, retain current 6 speed block
    • complete drivetrain upgrade - STIs up front, maybe 105 in back. Done over time to spread cost.
    What does everyone think? The brake upgrade is a must - I will get some koolstops in the meantime, but I'm used to Vees and I'm not that nostalgic for sticking my foot in the spokes!

    What are my options regarding this? What is there in the way of decent brakes that will fit around 32mm tyres and attach to a steelie frame? And would they be compatible with STI brifters?
     
  2. RecordAceFromNew

    RecordAceFromNew Swinging Member

    Location:
    West London
    I think you are absolutely right to address the brakes first - nothing is more important than safety.

    I wonder if you can provide more details about the brakes? Are they side pull calipers or centre pulls? If they are Weinmann centre pulls then the problem is unlikely to be the brake calipers themselves.

    The size of the existing/future wheels can have significant implications for drivetrain/brakes. What are they?
     
  3. OP
    OP
    GazK

    GazK Senior Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    They are Weinmann Vainguard 250s. Basically the absolute standard Weinmanns I remember coming on midrange bikes I couldn't afford in the 1980s - I had to settle for DiaCompe side pulls. You can make them out in the photo here:

    4592870598_f072f35af5_b.jpg

    I am thinking along the following lines:
    - fit koolstops
    - give calipers a stripdown and regrease
    - check cable running
    - get shot of crappy levers ASAP

    current wheels are 27 x 1.25". I would like to switch to 700Cs in the medium term - I fancy building another pair of wheels - which means 4mm lower rims. Interestingly, the blocks on the front wheel are right at the top of the slot - there's plenty of travel. On the rear, which seems to be a shorter reach caliper, they are at the bottom. I reckon that if I swapped calipers, they would both reach to 700C. Is this sensible?

    Also, do modern brake levers (e.g. STIs) have the right travel for centre pulls?

    I have checked the dropouts and they are 96mm front, 126mm rear. Sheldon says this means I could use 100mm front / 130mm rear (i.e. modern) hubs just by easing the dropouts out - no need to cold form.
     
  4. Gerry Attrick

    Gerry Attrick Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant

    I fitted Kool Stop Salmon Eagle II's to my Weinmann side pulls on an old BSA. The braking has been transformed and is as good as the 105's on my road bike. Don't forget to update the cables to modern lined type as they also greatly affect braking efficiency.
     
  5. RecordAceFromNew

    RecordAceFromNew Swinging Member

    Location:
    West London
    Gerry's advice is worth following. Cables and housings are cheap.

    There are two schools of thought re suicide levers. The first says it is to be avoided at all cost. The second says IF they can be properly set up and adjusted then they are ok. I did LEJOG with a set just fine many moons ago when everybody had them, and therefore tend to agree with the latter. The problem, IMHO, is that they preclude having really comfortable hoods to hold.

    I don't see any reason for not swapping front/rear brakes if by that they reach ok for 700c's. Modern levers will work just fine with your brakes. Sheldon is always right, IME...

    Nice, tidy looking bike, by the way!
     
  6. OP
    OP
    GazK

    GazK Senior Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Gerry - thanks for the tipoff, new blocks and cables it is. There seems to be a bewildering array of cables on CRC, from the very cheap to the very expensive. What is the difference?

    RAFN - I went for a short ride round the block and found the pivot nut for the suicides *really* irritating when riding the hoods. I'm thinking of putting a cyclo-cross lever on the front brake when I change the levers - then I'll have the advantage of a lever on the tops without the problems of SLs.

    I couldn't believe my luck with the bike - £70 it cost me. It has been on an advert in our local shop for two weeks while I was scouring ebay, gumtree etc. I haven't even needed to adjust the saddle!
     
  7. Gerry Attrick

    Gerry Attrick Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant

  8. RecordAceFromNew

    RecordAceFromNew Swinging Member

    Location:
    West London
    I agree again with Gerry regarding stainless steel cables. CRC sell them for a couple of quids.

    For levers, I would also consider getting new, aero ones with nice rubber hoods. SJS e.g. has plenty to choose from. If on the other hand you want to be period correct, then a vintage pair with nice rubber hoods would be my choice - avoiding the need to find new hoods that match perfectly.

    You might also want to be aware that cyclo-cross levers don't sit too well with traditional brake levers. Their cables can only run naturally if the levers are aero or modern ones, in that the cables don't run out of the top of the lever hoods but run along the handlebars.
     
  9. PpPete

    PpPete Guru

    Location:
    Chandler's Ford
    I'd change the centre-pulls for dual-pivot calipers. Either Alhongas or Tektros. Both are the "nut fitting" that you need for a frame of this vintage, and have enough drop to accomodate both 27" and 700c wheels. Compatible with your existing levers, or aeros, or modern drop bar STIs.

    Nice looking bike BTW.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    GazK

    GazK Senior Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Gerry - nice link, I might get a pair of these as an interim measure while I decide on classic aeros vs STIs (and raise the necessary funds).

    RAFN - whatever I do, classic or STI, I want to have aero levers, so the cross top brake shouldn't be a problem. I hate having brake cables waving around in my face, and I want to make room for a bar bag.

    I have spotted another potential pitfall though - routeing the cable from the end of the bar tape to the front brake hanger on the top headset race. This is a 90 degree change of direction over a very short distance and some Cyclo cross bike makers use a rigid noodle instead of cable. Is this necessary?

    porky: those tekros look very nice. I'm on a limited budget, so I will see what effect koolstops + new cable has, and then decide if my wallet can stand it!
     
  11. OP
    OP
    GazK

    GazK Senior Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    If y'all will indulge me a little further on another question: if I went down the STI route, how much of the drivetrain would have to go - where can I draw a line under the cost?

    For instance, is this sensible?

    wheels - new, freehub on rear
    cassette - change to 8 speed or 9 speed - does this have to match the brifter?
    chain - new (the old one has stretched to 12 3/16"!!)
    rear mech - new
    front mech - keep?
    chainrings - keep?
     
  12. RecordAceFromNew

    RecordAceFromNew Swinging Member

    Location:
    West London
    It is the brifter, not the rear mech, that determines the number of speed at the back. The cassette should match the brifter in "speeds".

    If your brifter is Shimano, then you should get a Shimano (or Shimano compatible) cassette for the same speed.

    All Shimano rear mechs are generally compatible with all Shimano brifters/cassettes combinations.

    8 speed chains are stronger and will likely last longer than 9 speed chains. You can't use a Shimano 8 speed chain on a 9 speed cassette.

    You are likely to be able to keep your front mech and chainset/rings (unless they are very worn).

    If you are getting a new rear wheel, you should get one with a Shimano freehub if you want to use a Shimano drive chain.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    GazK

    GazK Senior Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Thanks RAFN, a very clear and concise explanation.

    I confess I am totally torn now. On the one hand, Ultegra bar end shifters on the end of Brooks leather bar tape (and if I can find them, aero levers with brown hoods) would look very sweet with the B17. And would still allow me to index the rear mech.

    On the other, I have always craved STI brifters, and there is no prospect of a modern road bike in my forseeable future.

    Anyone got a coin??
     
  14. RecordAceFromNew

    RecordAceFromNew Swinging Member

    Location:
    West London
    In case you did not know, most (certainly is the case for my Ultegra) bar end shifters can be switched into friction mode. What that means is you don't have to change anything else to use them today.

    One other thing you might not know, since as you said there is a cabling problem running modern cross levers with your centre-pull, these levers might work better, but they are designed to go with traditional brake levers (which you said you don't like that much...). Also if you do want to go down this route, you have to check that your handlebar has the adequate width for them to fit.

    Instead of flipping a coin, you can always wait. There are so many great minds on this forum, someone may yet offer a brilliant insight we can't see right now.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    GazK

    GazK Senior Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Quick update: I have now completed stage 1, which is to make the bike safe to ride. New brake cables and koolstops have made a big difference to braking, and the suicide levers have been replaced by cheap weinmanns as posted above. I've also cleaned up the drivetrain - the chain is very worn but there isn't any skipping so not much point in doing anything more until I have a new pair of wheels buitl.

    I have tossed my coin and settled on brifters. Now scouring fleabay for a suitable pair. I would prefer 8 speed but options here are limited - I could buy ST2300s but I'm hoping for something a bit classier and in keeping with the bike, i.e. silver. Older Tiagra or Ultegra might fit the bill. Otherwise its 9 speed Tiagra.

    I'm currently negotiating on a pair of Nitto randonneur bars - the stock Sakaes are only 37cm wide.
     
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