Neerkant 2014

Again it was late March and a friend, my son and myself found ouselves in the trusty Volvo motoring down to Neerkant for yet another edition of the fascinating “Stalen Ros” meet. What would expect us this time?

N14MainHallOf course, there was the same venue which miraculously seems to grow small-ish halls and additions every year. And it needs them, too – Stalen Ros´ success cannot be overlooked. Of course, there were the same friendly people as every year, and the international appeal was audible. The bikes to watch were mostly of superbe quality, though many of them were relatively modern. All of this is great.

N14RosaMerckx

But to be quite honest, it seems as if cycle collecting as I know and understand it has come to a turning point. Stalen Ros seems to be smothered by its own success – it is undoubtedly an important factor in the current popularity of veteran racing bikes in the Netherlands. A swap meet in which there are 1.000 times more nineteen-eighties and -nineties Japanese parts than nineteen-thirties ones from any country put together does not hold a big attraction for me. The good stuff there was was hugely expensive, it being clear of course that any collector´s item is worth just what someone is prepared to pay for it.

N14Hbarprice

Also this is not to say that modern Japanese parts are no good or not collectable – that´s for each collector to decide, but this year´s Stalen Ros definitively shows that we seem to be at a point which I witnessed in motorcycle collecting some time during the early eighties. The good stuff was gone, it was as simple as that.

N14Tablehubs

My consequence then was to get out of old motorbikes. While I´m not thinking old quitting old bikes I think I´ll have to get used to the idea that my collection will not grow much any more. I´m just not prepared to pay 100 Euros for a non-functional aftermarket four speed Osgear lever, for example.

Anyway, the bikes in the expo were mostly wonderful. As a Brit Bike lover I just had to snap the Great Magnum Bonum Hetchins with an original FW/two sprocket conversion.

N14Hetchdrivetr N14Hetchforkcr N14HetchfullBikes in Neerkant are there to be looked at, placed in two rows, so taking decent photographs is hard.

N14RowbackTo make good for my rant earlier in this post: Some people had interesting items, some useful, some eye catchers.

N14Transfers

N14Gold

N14ToysLastly, this was what some visitors used to come in this year:

N14HPV

Berlin

After nearly a month off-line here´s at least a re-start in the shape of a 12 inch vinyl record from the early sixties which contains the famous Berlin Sportpalast Waltz, played during all six days and other cycling events. This one features “Krücke´s” original whistling.

BerlCover BerlLabel

On the Road

Being blessed with glorious spring weather and some free time I took the newly restored Miele Model 112 for some rides last week. First I undertook a longer shakedown ride (which revealed that I will have to do some more work on the three speed).

SchildMelle

Mi60Schlede Mi60Schledetor

A few days after that there was this season´s first ride in the RTF series (which revealed that I really have to do some more work on the three speed). I decided that about 80 km was enough, not having done any winter training at all, and I just enjoyed the bike, the ride, and the good company.

Mi60FreStat1

It took me about four hours to complete the nearly 80 km, two feeding/control stations, some stops for photos and one to help a rider out with a decent pump. The bike rides nicely, it can actually be quite fast and you don´t even have to push too hard. I think the alloy rims contribute a lot to this effect with the originals being heavy painted sheet steel. Also I appreciated the fat tires (original size) on the predominantly bad roads.

Mi60ZielJust when I leant the bike to the sign saying “finish” and pressed the button on the camera, there was a loud noise – two unattentive cyclists had crashed into each other, not at any considerable speed, but at least one of them was lying in the road in pain for quite a few minutes. You can see other riders looking after him seconds after crashing.

On the way I encountered some sort of diesel engine or tractor museum – can´t really say as it was closed. The diesel monsters in the parking lot were impressive, though.

Mi60JamoI haven´t a clue what this engine is – couldn´t find anything on the net and also I´m not really into this type of machinery. What I found intriguing was that the beast seems to have been made in the Soviet Union/Russia:

Mi60JamoRockerCover

It says “YA M” on this rocker cover. The badge gives instructions on how frequently to clean oil and fuel filters. As the intervals are given in hours rather than kilometers my guess is that this engine is not from a vehicle. Also there is the very useful hint that one should service the engine according to the maker´s instructions. Who´d have thunk.Mi60JamoSchildBut I certainly wouldn´t want to sign off with something as un-bike-like as a diesel engine, so have a look at this:

Mi60WissThere´s times I envy Californians their weather, and there´s times I don´t.

WECO Bivalent – sort of

Classicrendezvous – who could do without it. People say there has been the possibility to post pictures – I have yet to see, or find out how to post one, however.

There has been a recent discussion about bivalent hubs – here´s one which is special and which people most certainly haven´t seen before. It is a WECO prototype given to my by the firm´s owner years and years ago when I visited the premises. As I don´t know how to show my hub to  CR members, I´ll have to take the detour of my blog. Besides, this approach should net another half dozen of clicks.

WECO (Wehmeyer & Co) were known for decades as furnishers of cheap, but reliable bicycle components, mostly to do with bearings – hubs, pedals, but also roller-skates. They were situated near Bielefeld and supplied their products to the local cycle works.

Wecofull

You fix the wheel to the frame with the help of the hex nuts – the seeming q/r lever isn´t one; it is turned to unscrew the hub from the smaller part which stays in the frame. The hub is of all annular bearing construction.Wecosurf Wecounscrewed

Tall-ish Miele

Last year, on the Friday before Whitsun, to be precise, I was able to buy the remains of a Miele Klasse 12 Model 112, meaning a Miele Original roadster in 60 cm frame height. I usually need around 65 cm, so this I felt was a step in the right direction, keeping in mind that 55 cm is to be found on 95 per cent of bikes from that era. I decided to restore the bike, or rather, make a complete bike out of the sad remains that were still there.

M60downttransfI also decided to use some lightweight parts – to my mind they look better, and wheels with alloy rims ride better when ridden fast. I was lucky to be able to score a set each of alloy rims and the mudguards in the right size (28 x 1,75). Also I was very lucky to be able to buy a 26″ bike with a bad frame but really good chrome and the elusive rear light. It also had passable Miele marked saddle and pedals. I don´t use these now as I plan on riding the bike.

So I broke the 26″ bike for parts, and when the frame and mudguards resplendent with the new paintwork

M60headtubeM60headtubeliningM60rearmudgtransfM60reatriangleliningM60chaing

returned from Velo-Classic in early autumn I though I could build the thing up and ride it, but I found a number of small parts were still missing, and I had to find the time, too. So I only finished the bike last weekend. The paintwork on the chainguard is perfect in reality; it´s just my photography that makes it look odd.

This is what it now looks like:

M60fullM60fullfront M60fullrear M60fullrhs

Contrary to what I found on the bike I also though I might like a three speed. The frame number showing that the bike must have been made around 1958, a Fichtel und Sachs Model 55 was the hub of my choice.

M60Mod55 M60Mod55trigger M60Mod55wingnutI stll had the trigger and the beautiful wingnuts in my boxes – I think these must be the parts I have kept the longest of all spares. I can remember getting them in the mid-eighties, and I have never touched a Modell 55 three speed since.

Headlight and dynamo, slightly too old for the bike, came out of a box I took over for next to no money from someone who wanted to build up a bike for his wife but gave up after 20 years or so. The bad chrome stands out, but it´s not too bad. It passes the three foot test in any case.

M60headlightM60dyn

M60rearlight

Taking a closer look at the way the frame is made, it becomes clear very quickly that it´s not really a gem. In the late fifties people even at Miele obviously had to build their bikes to a budget. Look at the seat cluster, for instance:

M60seatclA crimped seat tube, flattened seat stay ends – not overly nice.

M60forkcrThe same goes for the fork, the crown cover of which still gives an impression of what the whole bike looked like when I got it. The whole front fork was not made in house at the time, only the special Miele headstock thread was still used.

M60frontwingnutAlso the front dropouts are just flattened tube. The wing nut really belongs on a sports bike, but it looks good also on a roadster. BTW, the front hub marked Miele is too early and comes off a wrecked sports bike.

M60fthubOTOH, there still are some quality details to be found on this top of the line bike. Look at the chainguard braze on for instance. The little shaped washers also are original.

M60chaingfix

Also the b/b and chainset is good old locomotive grade quality.

M60bbM60chainwhlNow there´s just some typical Miele details left to show. In case you ask yourselves where the tool pouch is: I haven´t got one yet.

M60bellM60headbM60mudgmascI´ll be taking the bike out for its first shakedown ride this afternoon, let´s see how it is.

Postscript: I visited a friend in a neighbouring town this afternoon who had a few Jazz records for me (that´s the parcel on the luggage rack under the Carradice), and the Miele is great. It does need a longer seatpin, that´s for sure, but the bike rides easily and relaxed. It feels safe downhill, no shimmy, it follows bends even at speed, and is quite OK uphill, too.

M60BAB1

Having made a point of visiting the former owner on this maiden voyage of the resurrected bike, ringing him to make sure he was at home, I actually met him on the road. He recognized his old steed by the mudguard mascot and stopped me. He now rides an electrically assisted cycle being not the youngest anymore. He said that he had bought the bike at a lost and found office auction in 1969, for the princely sum of five Marks. Later his son used it when a university student, and even though the bike had suffered, he wanted it back after his son had bought a glitzy new cycle.

M60KiIckgroß M60KircheIcker

Due to the too short seatpin I curtailed the ride and only did about 40 km, passing by this church (which actually dates from the early 20th cent) in a neighbouring village.

And, added a few weeks later, here´s a pic taken in Wiedenbrück, a beautiful town with a marvellous center full of historic half timbered buildings.

WDRatsk

The Dürkopp Contrast

Here are a few snaps of a ca. 1958 Dürkopp sports, mainly to show what great frames the other two Dürkopps I have are (http://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/failed/ and http://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/blue-streak/). Look out for differences in the fork crowns, the chainsets and of course the braze ons – in this last point the black bike pictured below weighs in quite well because of the rings that hold the Simplex cables. Also the beautifully lined rims are worth noting.

DSDownttransfer

The bike pictured below was not very well kept, had a number of unoriginal parts (saddle, tyres…) and in general was not worth saving. Among other problems the chainstays had been badly squashed flat by the aftermarket kickstand.

DScranksetI

The bike has since been broken for parts and mostly been passed on – except for the rear hub of course, which will eventually find its way onto my 1950s road frame, and some other bits.

DSrearhub

It can be safely assumed that Dürkopp had a number of high quality rear hubs left and used them up in the late fifties when the bicycle market definitively was moving from one low point to the next, so the Dürkopp rear hub (possibly made by PWB anyway) and the Union front might very well have been original.

Also the black sports was rather later than the two racing frames – some of the simplifications on the black one may stem from that and not necessarily from the fact that it´s a relatively simple sports bike and not a more expensive road bike.

DAChainwhl DSbbmarks DScableeyeseatstay DScableeyeseatstaytop DScableeyett DSChainguard DSchainhook DScrankmark DSfthub   DSforkcr

DSheadb DSlock DSmascot DSrearder DSreardo  DSrim DSseatcl DSSimplexshifter DSwingftdo

Failed

For some time I have been assembling a set of parts to build up a mid-to-late 1930 road bike, like wood rims, a nice (I thought) set of Osgear stuff, and so on. The last thing I needed was a good frame, but these don´t come cheap anymore, and they don´t get any more frequent either. So when I was able to buy a ca. 1937/8

Ddownttransfframe late last year, relatively cheaply, too, I went for it. As it is, there´s always some bits missing, and lack of time is chronic, so I found out only today that my idea wouldn´t work.

DfullLooking at this picture I hear you say, “what´s wrong? Looks great!”, but it isn´t.

First, of course, the paintwork isn´t original. The frame was re-finished probably some time during the seventies, with not all transfers available anymore

Dseattube

On unpacking the frame I found that there was some sticky tape sticking to one crank. Pulling the tape off, the chrome came with it, revealing black polishing dust underneath. Wow. On the upside the frame is straight. Also it has some beautiful details, like the little chain hook on the seat stay

Dchainhook

or the cottered b/b race;

Dbblower also for a German thirties frame the lugwork is rather nice.

DheadlugI have been told that both the lugs and the headclip are special and not usually found on comparable Dürkopps, but I´ll have to go into this. If I only knew how and where… The net isn´t exactly abounding with Dürkopp road bike info.

Also there´s a wonderful twin plate crown fork. The crown is plated, something which would have been considered a great luxury in the day as in the late thirties chrome on bicycles had been forbidden by the government in order to economize on foreign imports – they were saving up for a war after all.

DforkcrThe rear dropouts are quite simple, though, but also state of the art in the thirties.

DreardoAlso it´s obvious why it didn´t bother me too much to fit the Osgear clips, what with the paintwork being as scratched as it is. The seat cluster looks quite OK, but not awe inspiring either. Thirties standard, I´d say.

Dseatcl

There is one relatively minor spot of bother, however: Someone has drilled holes # three and four in the brake bridge, thereby weakening it beyond its braking point, if you´ll excuse the pun. When the paint will be re-done, the brake bridge will be relatively easily replaced, though.

DbrakebridgeSo what with all these bits in my box, I thought I´d build the frame up nevertheless to see how it would be going. Good thing I did before spending any more money on it besides the hubs which I thought to be de rigueur. Dürkopp hubs were famous for their smooth bearings and their longevitiy – two traits that fit together. One I got off Classicrendezvous, a very nice front. The rear, not so nice but a large flange one, was bought elsewhere. I had seen this combination before; the low flange front being lighter, what with the flanges being hefty steel, and the large flange rear giving a stronger wheel. Both were post-WWII, but I didn´t mind that at first.

It´s easy to tell pre- from post-WWII Dürkopp stuff. First, there´s the triangular headbadge which was used in the thirties. For the post-WWII headbadge see my other Dürkopp post, http://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/blue-streak/ .

DheadbNext, the “Dürkopp” logo changed over the years. On components, pre-WWII it would look as if it were written in upper case Italics, or even in script, which is much older. On this bike, there´s all three of them.

DheadclipThis supernice headclip bears the script logo. Perhaps they didn´t use too many of them and had a stock to use up?

Dcrnk

DchainwhlNext, these two show the Italics version. And lastly,

Dfthub

Drearhubthe hubs have the post-WWII logo stamped into the barrels. BTW, the spokes aren´t correctly tensioned yet. Always a bit careful with wood rims and tight spokes.

DrimtyreThe fat tires BTW are Soviet ones I´ve had for ages. Would you believe it, they still hold air.

But that wasn´t all. The front hub fit the post-WWII front fork like a glove, but won´t work with the pre-WWII front dropouts without some filing, which I would not like doing. I still have the post-WWII Dürkopp road frame hanging on my wall, remember?

Next, the Osgear.  I have one on a ca. 1941 FW Evans which I like a lot, so I thought I would be able to repeat the pleasure. Far from it, I´m afraid to say. The reason is easy: Aftermarket. On the Evans the bike is built for the derailleur; brazed on tension arm eyelet etc. On the Dürkopp all the horrors of aftermarket fitting struck.

To begin with, the lever is ok.

DOsgLeverIt fits well around the down tube and doesn´t bother the paint too much. But the tension arm

DKettenbl

Dbbupper

doesn´t work well at all. Its clip has sharp edges and a grub screw which has to be grubbed into the down tube. Yuck.

But worst of all the striking fork won´t fit over the chainstay:

DOsgrearIt would have to go a few cms to the front of the bike, because the chain hits the roof of the fork, but obviously the clip doesn´t allow that. And again there´s the grub screw.

Also the gap between the crank and the tension arm end isn´t too wide, but it should be ok; on the Evans it´s even closer. But then, the shorter braze on fitted arm has less sideplay.

DcranktensionarmSo what is going to happen to my beautiful Dürkopp? One thing is for sure, the Osgear will not have a future on it. I won´t sell it, either, but I rather will take the nicer bits (some seem NOS, actually) to replace worn or unsighlty ones on the Evans. The grub screw equipped clips will be buried in my boxes forever, I hope.

And I´ll flatly refuse to do two things: Either to have the Dürkopp on fixed, or to fit any of the heavyweight Fichtel & Sachs stuff it might have come with originally, a Renntorpedo or a dreadnought derailleur. Besides, I´d have to get hold of a set.

But to give you an idea what else I´m privileged enough to be able to fool around with, look at this:

DARNow that´s something I´ve been longing to put in a bike for a long time, and yes, in my box there´s a set of 32/40h Conloys and a Rosa front hub, too…

Cycling Illustrations

Here are two illustrations I found at a fleamarket the other day. They are from

HTitel

“The Gentleman Driver”, a short-lived but nevertheless interesting 1920s publication. Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists it as having had a run from Jan 1924 to May 1928. It was the official newsletter of the German Motorcycle Association MvD.

It seems that motoring magazines have not changed much in their attitudes towards cyclists:

Hradf

Under the Title of Incorrect Behaviour the picture is captioned with a remark that even in today´s traffic, the young are becoming ever more cocky. I´d rather think that the boys are displaying a remarkable feat of mastering their cycles.

The next pic is of course completely unconnected with cycling, but rather funny.

HKoffIt seems that the Dutch police force were bearing down on youngsters riding in boots because they caused accidents and damage to motor vehicles. What I´m asking myself is: How did they get in? Red lights? Flagging the driver down under false pretexts? Anyway, I must try this myself next September when there will be a large veteran car meet in our neighbouring village.

Flashback, 1925 to 1889.

WTitelA lovely hand bound copy of a booklet commemorating a long-forgotten jubilee by a not quite forgotten German royal house. Inside, lots of drawings of the festivities, among them this one:

WS&NSeidel & Naumann were a firm who produced many different models of typewriters (German writer Erich Kästner used one), sewing machines, and of course bicycles.

Evolution – Sneak Preview

There´s books the world was waiting for, and those it hadn´t known it was. There are books that enter upon the scene with a bang, and those that prove their value quietly over time. These are the characteristics of Florian Freund´s and Matthias Kielwein´s Veloevolution, all four of them.

velo-evolution_02When I first scanned it I thought, well, what´s new? To begin with there are about 30 pages of very informative text. Interested in production figures of the German cycle industry over the ages? You´ll find them. The reasons behind engineering inprovements? They´re there. How did a certain bicycle ride a hundred or more years ago? There´s a good chance that you´ll read about it. These facts will mostly be known to experienced cycle collectors, but even they will find new info, making the book well-suited even for those who have busied themselves with old bikes for years. The added advantage of Veloevolution is that you will find the most important info collected in one book, ready for mythbusting. This is something we have waited for.

Also when you work through the chapters it becomes clear rather quickly that the manner in which facts are presented (chronological narrative) make the book a good read for those who aren´t experienced cycle collectors, and I think that this is true for about 99.9 percent of the population, conservative guess. So Veloevolution can be considered to be an enjoyable introduction to German cycle history for those who are only mildly interested (yet) and who didn´t know they were waiting for the book.

velo-evolution_03Also the authors are on the height of current research, and that myths that bedevil many general cycle histories (no names quoted here, for obvious reasons) are not repeated. This is not only an added bonus, but can be called essential.

OK, but what about the bang? Well, the tome came in a box accompanied by a handful of colourful flyers and advertising postcards, which I imagine must be the prelude to a biggish advertising campaign. I don´t think I´ll have to explain that Veloevolution will make a long time impact, possibly as the work which will interest many people in cycle history.

velo-evolution_05And, of course, there are the pictures, about 80 pages of them, 22 by 29 cms in full colour. Florian Freund is a professional photographer, and it shows. One could lose oneself in the illustrations, all taken either of original machines (there is an appendix describing every machine and its state of originality, or restoration) or perfectly restored ones. All of them are exemplary, in their special ways. They stem from the collection, now mostly disbanded, of Siegfried Stahl.

Florian and his co-author Matthias Kielwein have managed to choose, photograph and explain dozens of great bicycles, tracing mostly German cycle history from its rise in the 1880s to its demise in the 1970s, nearly ending their tale with the infamous Sprick Active Comfort and the even more so Itera. The very last bike, however, is a beautiful 1983 Cinelli SC road bike.

This way the book also traces the history of cycle collecting in Germany – collectors having  begun with the older bikes, when solid rubber still was affordable and restorers wouldn´t flinch to destroy even well preserved original surfaces to attain mirror like finishes, then working its way through the progressively less well made black heavies, and only recently beginning to develop an interest in the way out of collecting colourful 1950s trash by developing an interest in road and track bikes which have always been at the forefront of cycle technology in Germany, where we dearly lack the British club cycling tradition as well as French cycle culture.

velo-evolution_04One could think that the pictures are the reason why the book was made, and man being a visual animal this may well be true. They will certainly help to gain the volume the popularity it deserves.

velo-evolution_01___________________________

Florian Freund, Matthias Kielwein, Veloevolution, Maxime Verlag, 2014. 120 pp in full colour, hard cover, price 24.95 Euros. ISBN 978-3-931965-26-6. Obtainable direct from the publisher´s at fahrradbuch.de or in any bookshop. Out Feb. 10. Small publishers and local book shops – use them or loose them.

Check out the Veloevolution Facebook page.

All photos in this review are courtesy Florian Freund.

Kessels Time Capsule

It´s not easy to find info on early Eddy Merckx labeled bikes, that is what many people who have written on the subject on the internet agree on. So it´s always nice to find a completely unmolested specimen, hardly used actually, to make more judgements from.

KdownttransfSome weeks ago a friend did just that: He saw this

Kfullbike on Ebay, and after a quick phone conference we decided to hit the “spontaneous buy” button, or whatever it´s called. Often of course this proves to have been a spontaneous self combustion of hard earned money, but this time I think the friend was perfectly right to have bought the bike. This

Kftdois the only place where any serious wear is recognizable.

Some research on the net reveals that the Merckx name was big business in the seventies, when this bike was made. There were numerous makers licensed by Merckx to use his name, some consecutively, some actually at the same time. One of them was Ets. Kessels S.A. in Oostende, Belgium. From what one reads on the net, they made a range of Merckx bikes when not selling under their own brand name Main d´Or.

I think this bike must have been second tier from the top, the upside being the full Record equipment (save the brakes, Universals)

Kcampaglevers

Kftder

Kreardo

Kblock6spthe good quality handlebars,

KCinnice rims,

Krim

and the full 531 tube set.

KReyn531Seatt

KforkReyn

On the other hand the frame does not look as if it had been made very caringly.

KseatclThis seatcluster for example doesn´t exactly ooze quality, and these lugs have not received much attention, either.

Ktopheadl

Ksteeringhead

Also I´m not too sure about the forkcrown design. It does happen that especially lesser bikes carry numerous instances of their makers´ names.

KforkcrIt is, however, a nice touch, and the crown seems to be cast. too.

There are no braze ons at all, save the derailleur cable ones, for example over the b/b.

KbbtopEverything else is band-on which of course might as well be a sign for the frame´s age rather than any lack in quality.

Kcampaglevers

KttCampagbandon

Here´s the typical Kessels b/b shell, though, with some hand painted letters and numbers. It seems to be clear now that the abbreviated name was the name of the shop which sold the bike, or the name of the first rider if the bike was bought direct. I found this info on the Flickr Group for Kessels, and it makes a lot of sense. What one can only hope is that the number stands for the year the frame was made; this would explain the apparent lack of braze ons and the use of the Universal brakes.

KbbShellSign

Hoever, here´s what Hugh Thornton of classiclightweights says about this:

There is not a lot of information available online on Kessels.  My own Kessels-built Merckx is, I think, top tier or close to it, and more in the ‘well-used’ category.

Hugh´s Kessels can be seen on his website (which is worth a visit anyway). Hugh continues:

I was advised that the names under the BB denote the frame builder, not the customer.
 
If the Pernod Trophy sticker on the blog bike is original, then it cannot be earlier than late 1974.  I also take that type of head tube decal to be a later style, whereas mine has a borderless picture, which would have had an Eddy above it to match the Merckx below it.  The seat tube decal though has a border.
 
The blog bike is exceptionally well preserved.  A very nice example with the same performance as the top tier models, just a slightly lower level of build and a small saving on components.

The colour of the Universal name goes well with the frame colour, but this is a coincidence.

KrearbkHere are some more pics of the really very well preserved foil stickers the frame abunds with.

KFotoseattube

KKesselsdownttransf

KseattubeTdFDid you note how the “Giro di Francia” sticker near the front derailleur is pink, and this French language one is yellow?

KtttransfLastly, here´s the Brooks Pro saddle, an item fitted by the current owner.

KBrooksCplate

Two issues: One, I forgot to snap the places in which the Campag components are date stamped. I hope to able to do this soon. Second, the hasn´t been ridden yet, but this also is on the agenda.

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