Another Bitser


A bike with a frame dating from two decades, built up with bits from at least three countries – that´s not what one would expect of a successful restauration. Indeed, this

Gfullwas one of my earlier tries, and it will disintegrate again soon, so I thought I´d document it here before it will vanish again in some boxes.

The frame I bought off the late Ron Sant, or rather swapped it together with some other bits for a pair of horrible Fendt Cardanos. I was glad to be rid of them, and Ron was concentrating on shaft driven bikes and those made in Manchester, so a swap was the obvious choice.

Ron had gotten the frame minus its original forks, so he had George Longstaff reproduce one, using an old Ekla crown and also copying the mudguard stay tabs halfway up the fork leg.

GforkcrThis is why the frame dates from two decades: The main frame from about 1936, the front fork from the eighties.

It seems Granby had a strange mix between headclip and more modern headsets – note the locknut and the floating ballrun headlugs.


GbbAt the time I was hunting for what you call funny frames – those with unusual build features. The discussion why people made them is not to be repeated here, let it suffice to say that most of those strange constructions did not make it into general practice, and only two – the curly Hetchins and Baines Flying Gate, to a lesser extent the Paris Galibier – have survived in their own little niches.

Anyway, the 1936 Granby Taper Tube offered to me by Ron seemed irresistible and I decided to try and make a bike of it. Note the fat tubes arriving at the bottom bracket shell; higher up they taper to a smaller diameter. The paint, another neuralgic spot, is so thick that any measurement of tube diameters will be inaccurate.

GseatclAnother nice touch is the concealed brake cable routing. However, there´s no provision inside the top tube for guiding the cable, so you pull out the outer cable, and you´ve got a problem.

The rims had to be 26 inch ones, and it took me years to find a pair – with 32/40h to boot, because I wanted to use my Sturmey AF. When I had found a pair, they had a strange surface – all pimply from having spent decades in the sun in a shop window.

DSCN0565 KopieLuckily the goo came off easily with a straight edge.

The hub of course must be the nicest item on the bike.

GAFIt is a real working example of an AF, be it without original trigger which I think I´ll never find. The thing about the AF was that it had a special ratio, and of course the F meant Four Speed. The top three gears were close together giving plus 9.1%, direct, minus 10% and then the fourth would drop down 25% for the steep hills. The press ravished about this hub, Sturmey-Archer received the CTC Silver Plaque for it and the FM brought out in 1939, too, for having produced the most interesting innovation of the season, and then the AF was only made for two seasons, 1939 and 40, because of WWII intervening. There is a lengthy article about the AF in Tony Hadland´s fascinating book The Sturmey-Archer Story.

Then there´s a great 1930s Brooks

Gbrooksand a Chater knock off Diamant chainset

DSCN0564GCrankDiam GcrankfluteThe Chater pedals fit perfectly, and note the really deep flute.

GhollowchainwhboltsOK, English frame, German chainset, and the third country? Here´s another one of my French scrapyard finds:

GCaminargIt fitted, that was enough reason for me to fit it.

Two more parts on the bike which don´t really fit, I think; one´s the BT brake which only appeared in the immediate post war years, and the other´s the toeclips – more Italian I think. Need to look into this. They are unusual, and were NOS when I got them.

GbrakeGtoeclLastly, a personal remark: I´m still quite booked out with all sorts of activities, including work and some health issues, so I wouldn´t be surprised at all if there weren´t any more posts until after Neerkant.

Will This Work?

After a fortnight of not blogging, and no end in view of being sidetracked, here´s at least a small tidbit.

There´s loads of pictures of bicycles in children´s books or on other children´s media which really are no illustrations, but abominations and insults of young people´s perception of the world and their technical understanding. I can very well remember as a child thinking, when confronted with similar illustrations, will this really work?

Here´s one particularly strange specimen:

SAM_5137It´s on the sleeve of a 10″ double album of A.S. Pushkin´s fairy tales called “Recordings for Children”, issued in 800 copies in 1981, costing 2.10 Roubles, at the time no mean sum for people on average incomes.


Back to the bike pic: Look at the front fork, twisted and rigidly attached to the frame, the non-existant connection of the rear wheel to the rest of the bike, fittingly hidden by the leaf which must be there for the reason that the creator of the illustration probably did not know what a bike really looked like. As an excuse it must be said that in the Soviet Union there were few more unpopular pastimes than cycling.


Knochenschüttler – The German Equivalent

I guess it´s about time I delved into my archive and wrote a short post on the old-bike – publication of my home country, the Knochenschüttler (KS). After all it´s been the lifeline that has connected the German cycle collecting community for nearly 20 years now.

Seeing that even lifestyle blogs like in a post called fur-nostalgie-liebhaber seem to like the mag I guess I just have to harp in.

Founded in 1995 by Tilman Wagenknecht from Erfurt it was based on a newssheet published by Fahrradveteranen-Freunde Dresden right after the demise of the GDR. As such Tilman did a great job in developing the publication to a much more interesting format. This is what the first KS A5-sized front page looked like:



It had 10 pages and featured a report on the 1995 IVCA Rallye in Haarlem/NL as well as an article on German bottom bracket geared bicycles, and had a run of 60 copies.


Already the second issue, appearing in September 95, sported 16 pages and was not loose leaf anymore, but properly stapled. Leaps and bounds. Its main attraction was a multi page article on MIFA. It said on the back cover that “at least” 300 copies had been made. No 3 had 24 pages, and No. 5 showcased 28. As from No 4 there was a stiff cover, and the run was upped to 500.


This format stayed the same until No 12, spring 1998, when there was a colour cover – printed on green cardboard. This was also the first issue which was the official newsletter of the freshly founded Historische Fahrräder e.V., the German old-bike club which has since taken over the show, after Tilman´s leaving the editor´s desk.

HistofaMitglCoverIt´s surprising how many entries in this, the first members´ handbook are still in the latest one. My personal record, for any club, is the V-CC which I joined in 1988, so there must be something in old-bike clubs. (Although having long passed the 50-year-mark, I still refuse to join FCOT – it would make me feel really old.)

Actually the Eastern German Knochenschüttler absorbed its Western equivalent, Christoph Guder´s Velorat, also around 1997; can´t remember the exact date. The title did not refer to a small furry animal, btw.


After that, No 18, the first issue after the Millennium, was in its present format: A4, b/w cover, new design.

No18CovSave the introduction of colour (and not only in the form of a green cover), this has stayed the same.

No58CovThe next issue will be an unbelievable No 59, issued by mainly three editors: Tilman, Thomas Busch and Michael Mertins, who has returned to this job after an interlude of a couple of years. These three really have done a lot for the German old-bike scene, especially Michael, who has been at it for years and years, adding up his two tenures, managing to introduce full colour to the 36 A4 pages the mag now has. The board of editors have recently decided to concentrate on two issues per year.

No 59 will be issued, as always, to members of Historische Fahrräder e.V., inside Germany as well as abroad. If you´d like to become one, you can easily go to their homepage and register.

Not About Bikes, But Necessary


Ca. 1978 Doug Fattic

Some stories are weird, some wonderful, and some top them all. Like this:

A few years ago I received an email from Doug telling me that he himself had gotten a message from a German cycle dealer who was about to sell up and who was wondering what to do with an old frame he had had knocking about his shop for years. The dealer had found out Doug´s email as it was his name on the down tube.



It became clear that the dealer had a great number of rare items in his shop besides the frame, so I motored down to Southern Germany to help him get rid of it all which wasn´t very complicated as it just took the opening of my trusty 740 Volvo´s tailgate, shoving in a great number of boxes filled with things like after market titanium bits for Campag NR/SR, and the handing over of a rather moderate amount of money. Oh yes, the tailgate had to be closed again, too, which wasn´t too easy.


It seems that the Fattic frame is very lightweight indeed (the bike as pictured in this post weighs 8.6 kilos) and made from Tange tubing. Doug remembers that it was one of his first frames, and that he did not yet paint his frames at the time. How it got to Germany? My guess is that a serviceman must have brought it over as the bikeshop who sold it to me was rather close to a major US base.

XFreardoXFZeusdoThe frame is equipped with Zeus 2000 rear dropouts for weight reasons.





Not to be discovered easily: A lily under the bottom bracket. Also the gear cable routing was progressive for the time: Many frame builders would still route over the b/b during the mid-seventies.

XFlwrheadlugAnd another one, more easily noted.


And here´s for the bits I´ve hung from the frame for the time being.XFCampaftder XFCampaftderalloybolt

The alloy bolt is from one of the weight weenie boxes, as is…

XFfiledCamparhcrank… this filed SR crankset c/w lightweight b/b axle and nut.

XFMafacsThese did not come in the stash. They were from the private boxes of a wholesaler I cleared out about 18 years ago.



XFpotence XFCampaseatpin XFDelta


All pretty much standard and will have to undergo lightweight treatment eventually if I find out how to. The Deltas were already in the frame when I got it.XFfrontdo:alloywasher

The knurled ring under the wing nut is alloy – another weight weenie bit as they usually are made from steel. Saves two grammes per piece.     XFqrlever  XFrearhub

The Normandy/Simplex combo is lighter than Campag.XFrimScheeren XFScheerenbunt XFScheerenstandard One front, one rear – sensible with the Weltmeisters being that lightweight.

Still a lot of work to do, like rebuilding the rear derailleur with some bits from the boxes, but already it´s a wonderful bike, to say the least.

Amazing Figures

When receiving the annual statistics the other day I thought I´d fall over backwards: Last year servers from 97 different countries tried to get at starostneradost contents. My guess is that in this day and age of encrypting and other still more cryptic things going on on the net, not all of these countries will actually have detailed readers to check on my blog, but even if there´s only people from 50 countries who were honestly interested in what I´m doing I´d be very pleased. The countries with the most readers were Germany, the US and the UK, in this order.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-12-31 um 21.56.03

My posts were viewed 19.000 times in all in 2014, which I consider to be one more amazing figure. Sure, Sinéad O´Connor´s “Nothing Compares to You” – video on youtube has had more than 123 million clicks, but then again I´m not (yet) quite as bald as her, so it´s OK. I´m content with any figures as long as at least some of you are with what I´m doing.

Until recently I thought that whenever I hit the “publish” button, at least my followers would receive and read what I´d written, but it seems that most of them are spammers – which wordpress doesn´t allow to remove from the list. It´s very strange that whenever I publish a book review there´s at least a couple new followers, none of which has an interest in bikes visible at the surface, but all of which have either books to sell or advice to give on how to write or to sell them.

So, a happy new year to all readers, visitors, followers and spammers alike, and I hope to be able to carry on blogging in a way which won´t waste your time. And hopefully see you on April 19.

Warning – French Book

Sometimes the internet and its weird machinery let you despair, more often they make you laugh out loud – like in this case. In preparation for this post I researched the availability of this

DCoverbook, and found a few copies can be had from various sources – at a price, however, and not everywhere. The selfsame book from the selfsame seller is $38 on US Amazon, and £68 on UK Amazon – that´s the despairing part, but the sales blurb headed by this post´s title definitively is the lol one. Lucky me – I bought my copy years and years ago for a few Francs in a French fleamarket.

So, why write a post on this volume? Easy, because it´s nice. It gives you a 40 year plus old view on cyclotouring and randonneuring, and shows that not much has changed. Sure, electronics such as GPS weren´t around, but reading up the basics like nutrition and what your bike should be like hasn´t changed much. Matter of fact, reading Jan Heine or Delore isn´t much of a difference at all – Jan even re-manufactures Mafac brakes now, and leaving the current 650B fashion aside, the drawing of this

DHerseHerse bike (is it by Rebour?) just makes any 2014 brevet rider drool. Well, most.

In 1978, when the third edition of the 1973 original appeared, the book must have been a mine of info, what with dozens of addresses, clubs, and more than 60 pages of ride descriptions alone.

DFlechesDDiagonThis wealth of info came at a time when cycling had just been re-discovered as a pastime after the havoc wreaked on it by the car craze during the two preceding decades. In his preface, Guy Bossière, the then president of the French Audax Union, even writes that Delore is the first complete book on its subject at all. This is blatantly untrue, but at the beginning of the seventies any contemporary well-written and well-researched book on randonneuring must have seemed a godsend to the few serious randonneurs who were still around or were just discovering the sport. Many will have appreciated to be told what to think of in the morning before a long ride, how to read a map looking out for cyclists´ needs, how important mudguards are, the pros and cons of tubs versus wired ons, etc.

From today´s point of view it´s sad that there are not more photos of bikes or parts as the book relies more on the written word than on pictures. Those few which are there, however, are worth regarding, like these showing triplets:

DTriplAlso the single page on the then-fashionable F-frame Moulton

DMoultfullhas a great illustration of a Speed model with the re-designed rear fork and suspension point.

DMoultdetBuilt up with French (Stronglight, Allvit) parts, this must have been a very special machine, showing, by the way, that Allvits were not alway  considered cheap stuff at all.

However, the many vivid descriptions of what you can do with something like this


is what you will remember of the book.

DDisciplAnd wouldn´t we all show as much discipline as humanly possible if we could join this bunch right now?

M-Gineering Tubes and Coffee II

Another year has passed, and here we are for the second time (first time here: in Marten Gerritsen´s workshop for another dose of apple crumble, vegetable soup and bike talk.TAppleforkleg

Having driven up from Germany together with two friends and my son (who actually did the driving, and who is shortly to publish a video of Marten´s open day on youtube), I enjoyed the get-together greatly, talked a lot to the many participants, stroked the cat

TKatand had a good helping or two of Marten´s delicious apple crumble.

TfoodfullAs before, the atmosphere was friendly, and an always helpful Marten was confronted with a number of questions by his customers, or perhaps visitors. One had brought the sorry remains of a BSA parabike, which took the idea of the folding bike to new heights.


This looks quite a normal parabike b/b, painted over, true.


And a beautiful wing nut is securing the two halves of the frame. Here´s the rear dropout,

TBSAreardoand here´s the horror:TBSABreak

TBSAFolderMarten´s comment was that he would see what he could do. Brave man. Obviously some bad welding had damaged the braze joint decades ago.


Not easy to ride with the cranks at this weird angle, and the shark fin teeth are witnesses for the hard life the bike must have had.


But of course there were much nicer bikes to be marvelled at. The BSA was a cheapo even when new (one bystander remarked that it was never meant to last, but to be shot at). This one, Marten´s show bike to be taken to trade fairs, is a completely different matter. Just look at the first rate fillets and the constructeur-like parts such as the rear dropouts.

TsilverdtransfTsilverfull  Tsilverseatcl TsilverS+Scouplers TsilverRohlcomm TsilverRofltwgrip Tsilverreardodet Tsilverreardo Tsilverrack  Tsilverftdo Tsilverforkcr TsilverFillet TsilverextTsilverVeloOsaddleThere was one frame, bilaminated for good measure, which had just been completed and could be contemplated before painting. This was a great opportunity to see what things in frame building should be like. If it were mine, I´d probably just have it clear coated with some durable, but transparent paint.

Tworksbarebb Tworksbareseatcl Tworksbarefillettophead TworksbarefilletlwrheadThen of course it was very nice to be able to delve into the secrets of a frame builder´s workshop, with all the small, but important bits and pieces spread before you.


Tworksforkcrns Tworksboxbits Tworksblockforkbl Tworksblock Tworksbits

M-Gineering are the Dutch importers for SON products, so we were able to regard some unusual demonstration objects.

TSONbunt TSONdemoint TSONdemoblau

By the time we had had a good look round the shop, some more specimens of Marten´s work had arrived outside.

TBluefull TBlueladreardo TBlueLadexc


Neither were other marques absent, just one example:

TSalsabucketfull TSalsaforktransf TSalsadttransfAnd what would Tubes and Coffee be without some choice veteran bikes, serving as eye candy as much as objects of comparison, expertly explained by Marten. Take this Graftek for example, with its carbon fibre tubes bonded into stainless lugs. Rare lightweight equipment completes the bike.


TGraftekbrake TGraftekseatl TGraftekrearder TGraftekpedal Tgraftekheadb TGraftekfrontend  TGraftekchainMarten isn´t forgetful about the Dutch cycle making history, either. Ko Zieleman was one of the more famous Dutch builders.


Tzielcrank TZielseatcl

The wrapover tips – accident or joke?

TZielReyn  TZielforkcrAnd this was what guided the way onto Marten´s yard:

TKopPedfull TKopPedheadbLastly, I just can´t resist to post a photo of the unusual village Marten lives in, and of the equally unusual vehicle one of the visitors arrived in.

TCanal TCXI just can´t wait for the next edition of Tubes and Coffee.

A Wonderful Mercian

Having been a Mercian owner myself for the best part of three decades (see, I couldn´t resist snapping this one when I met it and its owner at Marten´s place today.TMercdowntubetransf

Very nice framebuilding, well-thought out detail and equipment, it seems to be a very able touring bike. Its owner has already taken it over half of Europe. Here are some photos which don´t need much comment.

TMercfullTMerccrankTMercforkcr TMercftderTMercheadb TMercupperheadl TMercstem TMercSON TMercseattransf TMercseatclrear TMercseatcl TMercreardo TMercrearder TMercrackeye TMercrack TMercmudflap TMercMafac TMerclwrheadl

Cycling in Münster

The other day I had the opportunity to visit Münster again, situated in Westphalia, north of Dortmund, and my old haunt from university days. Münster is known for its huge percentage of cycle related transport, according to different sources 35 or even 40 per cent of all trips are made by bike, making it one of Germany´s foremost cycling cities. Reasons for this are the absence of hills, and the town´s social structure with about one quarter of its inhabitants being university students.

Consequently you find parked bikes everywhere.


There´s old wrecks, sadly left to rot although they might still be saved, like this fifties Adler with its stylized Bauhaus eagle,



ubiquitous Dutch roadsters,

XMGazCornerwell-heeled moms´ bikes (Or maybe is she lucky enough to able to dispense with a car and to buy a decent bike instead?),


as well as fantastic handmade luxury bikes.


XMRohlhubYou find them parked along the newly opened and very grand Landesmuseum which houses artefacts from several centuries,

XMLandesmus2 XMLandesmusand on former car parking spaces.

XMParkBikeNeither is Münster´s heart, Prinzipalmarkt with its Lambertikirche, exempt.

XMLambertiBefore you rush to Münster expecting to wallow up to your hips in Renaissance buildings: All the town houses you see have been built in the fifties, to look similar to their predecessors destroyed in WWII, but to be much more habitable inside.

The bikes that happen not to be parked, frequently use the

XMPromSchild which is a combined foot- and cyclepath rounding the inner city, using part of the space created by the razing of Münster´s city walls in the 19th century. It even incorporates structures like this underpass

XMPromUnterfmaking cycling much easier for those who want to cross this

XMPromUnterfKreuzgroad. More typical, however, is this sort of view,

XMPromturnor this:

XMPromQThe fotos were taken on a cold and inhospitable day during low traffic volume time; more often than not Promenade is filled to the brim with cyclists.

More infrastructure always is close by; cycle shops abound, too. Some have hire bikes on the streets ready to be used.

XMLuftstation XMLeihräder XMLeihraddetXMHansenXMOstma

Walking through the city my impression was that the fixie craze seems to be abating. I only saw a few of them being ridden, and only one parked, and that was a horrible specimen built on the basis of an old Motobécane or Hercules frame and only used to advertise a nearby shop.

XMMilchreardo XMMilchrearbrake XMMilchfull XMMilchdttransfQuite close to this horror, another one, perhpas ever worse, was lurking. In a shop window, this thing pretending to be an early fifties Dürkopp racer, was presented to disbelieving passers-by.

XMDürkfullXMDürkseatcl XMDürkrim XMDürkreardo XMDürkpedalXMDürkfrontdohub XMDürkbbWatch the El Cheapo rims, cranks, and hubs, as well as the drilled out holes in the rear dropouts. Also the b/b axle seems to be much too long. At least the people presenting the bike had the good sense to put it wrong side out, with what I believe to be Suntour derailleurs turned away from the street.

Couldn´t mar my day in Münster, though.



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