Monthly Archives: March 2015

Impressions from 2015 Neerkant Stalen Ros

After a number of visits to the Neerkant event over the last few years I have the same problem writing up the event I encounter when looking for birthday presents for old friends: What´s new?XNdruk

This time my personal news was that the venue was very crowded, it literally was hard to move between rooms or among stalls. My guess is that the organizers will have to look for a much larger hall soon. Given the prices people seem to be prepared to pay for bikes and parts, I can´t very well imagine anyone objecting to a moderate rise in the entrance fee if better conditions are the cause.

Also I again found it very hard to get a good look at the marvellous bikes lined up in the expo part of the event. It was basically impossible to take decent photos because of the cramped conditions. So one more idea: If the venue changes anyway, why not improvise a photo studio with a choice of the nicest bikes presented there at certain times? The really great pacer for instance which was there yesterday would have been worth a better opportunity for appreciating it.

XNSteherrear XNstehermot XNSteherhead XNSteherfullElse, what was up? I met a number of friends, had lunch with some of them in the neighbouring chippy, and bought a great book (of which more in the near future).

XNStallext XNstallNumerous stallholders offered unusual things for sale.

XNredrimsOne Belgian had brought a time capsule NOS 1980s Motobécane, shrink wrapped and untouched.

XNMotobecnewdet XNMotobecnew

However, some merchandise in the boxes under the tables really was substandard in every sense of the word. Rusty cheapo derailleurs teamed up with cracked Record crank spiders to make for some nasty surprises.

Dutch Gazelle frames abounded, as did Italian ones, with one special all French equipped Mercier catching my eye.

XNMercheadb XNMercgold XNMercallFrenchThere also was a good specimen of a late thirties Helyett with an Osgear, but most photos I took of it just didn´t come out.

XNHelyettrearmechdo XNHelyettdt XNhelettshiftlev XNheadbhelyettSome bikes in the expo were quite rare local brands.

XNHeadberoba XNHeadb XNheabstefiThe stall I took most snaps at was the one with the toys. I just loved the Renault scale model with the dead insect on the roof.

XNReninsThe rest of the toys just were too colourful to pass up.

XNmoddssaf XNModpeugXNMehyog XNMehunico XNMehkakaoWhy is it that I keep ending my Neerkant report with pics of cars?

New Season

What better way to start the new randonneuring season than riding a steel framed bike in brilliant sunshine? I guess people will very soon tell me all about this Sunday having been the warmest March 8 on record and how bad this is, but frankly today I didn´t care. I just enjoyed the gift of the unexpectedly wonderful weather, my son´s company and the landscape.


The Freckenhorst RTF was a great foil to project the enjoyment onto with a good route choice, friendly people and – yes, after all those years, nice food at the control posts.

FrFarm58One of them was on an old farm, the main building dating from the 1870s and providing a spectacular backdrop for the 1958 Miele I chose today.

Frdet58FarmIt still feels strange to park the bike in a row of carbon fiber high tech machines at the control post, but reactions by fellow riders are mostly favourable.


They often ask for the weight of the bike, expecting anything up to 20 kilos, but they never ask for the sense it makes to ride 7 kilo bikes in the flat. Besides it feels good to be admired for riding an RTF on such a bike, riders mostly assuming that it must be hard work, which of course it isn´t due to good tyres and well cared for bearings.

The second control post is reached via a disused railway line.


The post itself is situated right next to a bridge, giving the opportunity to shoot an aerial picture of it without leaving terra firma.


Returning to the start I discovered a Rohloff equipped mountain bike.

FrRohlfullIts well-worn hub surface showed that it must have seen quite some use.

FrRohldethubThat meant that this construction

FrRohlbandlwr FrRohlbandmay have kept up longer than I would expect it to. The band has probably been sourced from a Dutch roadster; it´s the part attaching the front brake drum torque lever to the fork blade on cheaper bikes where a braze on is not used.

Even this little horror couldn´t spoil my day.

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.