Author Archives: starostneradost

Two Thirds, Two Years, Part Three…

… already.

So this month it´s all about how I got by my bike. Starting at when I first tentatively looked at ads on the net, and being shocked by prices just in the five figures for a simple 350 Konsul I even sometimes. Ugh. So my visits to mobile dot de became less frequent, until one evening in June I spied an unrestored specimen, despite the fact that I had been told that they didn´t probably exist anymore, all Konsuls having been pimped up beyond recognition apparently. I don´t want a museum piece, garage queen or whatever you want to call those poor animals, I want to enjoy a machine on the road which will not lose thousands in value with every scratch it receives. I want that Konsul that looks worked, but with sound mechanicals, which could only be achieved by me myself or people I trust looking at all the important bits. So an unrestored one it had to be. And there it was.

I had had the idea to go and visit some sellers to see what could be done price wise, but no such luck. One seller refused to budge an inch even though he did not allow me to start the engine. Not allow me, you are reading it correctly. So what with bikes costing 8 or 10 grand that had been lavished chrome on, yet the engine probably still sounded like the caretaker was moving coal into the basement, and unrestored specimens unavailable, I basically gave the idea up.

Until that fateful evening in June, as I just said. There it was, a Swedish assembled 500cc Konsul, called  Svalan in those northerly realms, and even judging from the pics on the net in dire need of TLC. But the price, nope, sorry, no way.

Holidays in France, watching bikers on all sorts of machines zooming past. So after the hols another look at the net, and lo and behold the unrestored Svalan was still there. Price dropped even, so my hunter´s instinct was awakened, and a phone call was made. On the following Friday a visit was also made to the seller who liberally applied ether from a spraycan to get the engine running, offering me a test ride.

I get on the bike, engine throbbing, strange noises everywhere, I pull the clutch and lift the gear lever. (Konsuls have British ways, with the gears shifted like British bikes and the kickstarter on the right side of the bike.) There is a clunking noise, the bike lurches forward, the clutch apparently has no function, but the tractor the 500cc engine is, it doesn´t stall but plods on in tickover along the grassy way I have been pointed out to use. More hectic clutch pulling is followed by the idea to brake the bike to a standstill, thereby stalling the engine, but you will have guessed it, the brakes don´t work either. The ignition key does. The seller has of course never heard of the clutch not working, and serious bartering begins because I have fallen in love with that wreck.

In the seller´s garage another close look at the bike, and another trial run of the engine. My son who is standing on the other side of the bike from me suddenly looks a bit amazed and points to the cylinder. There are exhaust gases emanating from between the cylinder head and the cylinder in visible quantities.

Plus the exhaust is completely gone, it is a homemade one complete with pop rivets to hold bits together.

Empty, rusted out silencers, no way this is ever going on the road. Then the clutch, the brakes, a homemade unoriginal seat, only looking like the English seat Svalans would have had, and with the ignition coil in a completely wrong place,

a shot rear mudguard, and other bits and pieces too numerous to mention. Oh the electrics are horrid too. Good heavens.

So we take a break of a few minutes, have a drink in the seller´s living room, a chinwag with him and his wife, and then sense wins over love: This project is several sizes too large for me. I decline, despite what is the lowest price I have yet seen for a recognizable Konsul, and we drive home. End of story.

One might think. Next weekend, brilliant weather, on a cycleride I pass by a friend´s house, and tell him in passing of the declined NSU. He nearly flips, how can I decline a project like that, hen´s teeth they are, and the long standing and experienced bike mechanic he is, he offers me help, saying he enjoys the idea of getting a 500cc NSU under his paws, not restoring it to museum standard or whatever people think that means, but making a good reliable used bike of one, which is perfectly my idea too. Wow. This is just what I need, suddenly the project is within my reach.

Too late? Phone call to the seller, no, it´s not, bike still unsold, so an appointment is made, a van is hired with some motorbike transporting gear in it, and a week after our first visit we are back, this time with an envelope full of Euro bills, and after the envelope has been handed over and a decent contract has been filled in and signed for, we are off. Hey! It feels so good having that big old NSU behind us in the van.

Taking a break at a motorway service area, we shoot a photo, and then suddenly we see a problem: Getting the bike into the van was easy with three people, but how to get it out at home? Once arrived, we roll it on the ramp, that came with the van, with trepidation, but then we realize that the brakes do work when you apply them with the bike rolling backwards, only the forward direction is not functional. Yey.

Then we park he bike in the garage, and I´m thinking that this is it, an adventure in more than one dimension has started, and I´m feeling great.

 

 

 

 

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Two Thirds, Two Years Feat. W.W. Moore

Ending last month´s post with the name of Walter William Moore, I had expected to begin this month´s with him, but I think we will have to go back a bit before his advent at NSU, really.

What with the firm having been one of the largest German two wheeler producers since the days of the high bicycle, there were always special motorbikes around at NSU, since the very beginning of motorcycling, which oddly was later than the beginning of motoring in cars. Even in the days around 1906-1910 there were NSU racing motorbikes of renown, as Dieter Herz and Karl Reese report in their book on the NSU racing history, a tome I have had since my youth.

It says that in the immediate years before WWI one of the most coveted and fastest motorbikes was the NSU 3 1/2 PS Sporttyp, developed by the famous designer O. Donovan. TT races even were run successfully, and the name of NSU was being quoted everywhere if talk was about fast motorbikes. Legend has it that English speakers all over the world had a hard time pronouncing the brand Neckarsulm, the name of the town in Germany where the bikes were made, so it was abbreviated to NSU. Can we believe this? No idea.

Then after WWI, things started to slow down. Ok, there were racers like Islinger who rode a 1.000cc, 40 bhp NSU on a remarkably wobbly frame, but it was felt by the powers that be at NSU that a fresh input was needed, and whence could it come but from Britain, so headhunting started, and Norton´s Walter William More was scored in 1928. He had had a huge positive influence on Norton, and was considered a legendary designer even then. His CS 1 racer was about the fastest thing on two wheels.

Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles – http://www.yesterdays.nl/norton-1928-p-2357.html

He made his mark right away with his NSU SS 500, a bike which resembled his Norton CS 1 that closely that people began to explain that NSU stood for Norton Spares, Used.

By courtesy of “Deutsches Zweirad- und NSU-Museum” (e-Mail 17.08.2006 13:14) – With many thanks to Ms. Dumas & Ms. Grams

 

Rider Tom Bullus had also arrived from the UK, and as he was the man who rode the bike in races, it became known under the monniker of Bullus NSU, and when I started on bikes in the 70s, he still was known among bikers.

One will note that both the Norton and the NSU had a shaft driven bevel gear ohc (while the lowly Konsul and its predecessors in the 30s had push rods,) and that the engines looked remarkably alike even from a distance or in small size photos. Anyway, NSU began to be very successful again, and engines like a 350 and a 500cc supercharged one were developed. In 1939, with the outbreak of hostilities, Moore returned to England and left NSU to Albert Roder, who went on to design such famous bikes as the Max and Fox, with really unusual engines in each, but this is not the subject of my post.

The supercharged engines were carried on to post WWII races, but very soon supercharged motorcycle engines were forbidden, and NSU was left out in the cold. They decided to focus on the small engines for racing, 250, 125, and were supremely successful with these, but Walter William Moore´s legacy was kept alive by using the supercharged engines in land speed record attempts, and of course in the unmistakably designed engine of the Konsul.

Wilhelm Herz was the name that every schoolchild knew in Germany in the early fifties, as he was the rider who pushed the extremely powerful and aerodynamic NSU bikes to a land speed world record. But even before he had raced Germany´s most powerful motorbikes to the limit of many a track, achieving averages of more than 180kph on a supercharged 350 for instance.

NSU issued a small booklet with many interesting illustrations after the achievement of the world record, and you see a number of now legendary Herz pictures in it, like these that show him on the 350. You can see that the print quality was not meant to produce a lasting work of art, newspapers having a comparable quality, and those booklets are quite rare now. They were suprisingly text oriented, it seems that people read more than they do now, perhaps, so the booklet is full of fascinating facts, but also drawings of the famous engines are included.

 

For the land speed record, the 500 supercharged engine had been tuned to pump out 110 hp, unbelievable for the day. Much was made of the machine in NSU publicity.And Herz made it. On April 12, 1951, he rode his bike at an average of 290 kph on a stretch of motorway near Munich. It had been planned that 300 Police trainees from a nearby academy were to secure the course, but there was some sort of uproar in the barracks as all 800 present volunteered and insisted on coming.

Five years later, Herz actually established another world record on a machine which based on the 1951 one, this time in Salt Lake City, reaching an unbelievable 339 kph. The so called Delphin III was painted in red, white and blue, so can´t be confused with the 1951 bike.

In the next races, NSU distributed tons of publicity gadgets, like these sunshades with erectable NSU tadpoles or world record cigars in the middle. I´m really lucky to have found these, I got them out of a Belgian NSU workshop that had been locked one day in the early sixties and then was left untouched. I helped to clear it in 1981. And when assuming I had lost the shades, I got others off the net for a cheap price, but you know that Murphy says you will find the old ones as soon as you have bought new ones, and that obviously holds true even for strange and long misplaced objects like these. I now must be the owner of the world´s largest collection of NSU World Record sunshades, and I´m proud of it too.

In the photo below you can now see why I have been fascinated with NSU for so long. OK, I was born 10 years and a bit more than three months after the land speed record, but still. OK, the push rods were routed through a round chromed tube to resemble that of a shaft driven bevel gear. OK, the frame is definitively early fifties.

But compare the Konsul non-drive side with the photos of the Norton and the Bullus above, and you will see a distinct lineage in engine design. That´s what I love about my bike.

Next month, the steps toward getting it, and maybe the very first steps of restoration.

 

 

 

Two Thirds, Two Years

I´m narrowing the scope of this blog to motorbikes for the time being as I´ve made a dream of mine come true, which I will report about not for the usual readership I guess, but for others who have asked me to write things down when they learnt I am back in motorbikes again. So here will be a live report of my adventure with an NSU Konsul restoration, for which I´m giving myself a two thirds chance of success in a timeframe of two years.

Starting a long time ago, more than 40 years ago actually.

When kids of about 14, and growing up in a rural area, a few pals and sometimes me went round the farms in our vicinity to see if the farmers had old motorbikes stashed away in their barns. I can remember finding 250cc DKW, 98cc Sachs engined marvels, the odd 125 Ilo or Sachs engined bike by for example Geier or other long and rightfully forgotten brands. We always dreamt of a big BMW or NSU, but it never came to that. Farmers had been poor in our area in the 30s and 50s, and were impervious to the fact that NSU were the largest motorbike factory in the world at the time, had won countless races, had put a 500cc compressor engine on wheels that pumped out 98 bhp and was good for 339 kph. I wasn´t, neither impervious, nor suitable for 339 kph.

When we had talked some bike out of some farmer (who could be mean and horrible to us boys), then we would try to get the machine running by the most primitive means and would ride it on small farm tracks, meadows, which the farmers didn’t like for fear of the cows being poisoned by the oil our bikes were losing, or harvested off fields. Ever so often a man from a neighboring city would come in a VW split screen panel van and buy our bikes for 20 or 50 Marks, keeping us in petrol for the next adventure, and laughing all the way to the bank. Also sometimes the local policeman would come and make us push our bikes home, no mean feat for a 15 year old encumbered by a, say, 250 DKW.

But no NSU, until I had an offer by a neighbour. It was an utterly and wholly run down 98cc four stroke NSU Fox made in 1950. It had been owned by about half a dozen owners in its day, and the last one had painted it bright red, but it was my first own bike, and one of the legendary brand I had lusted after. Then there was another neighbour who knew the answer to how to make it roadworthy again. He worked with a well talented mechanic who had had many NSU bikes in his day and could show me what to do, and so for about a year I spent many an afternoon with this man and built up the bike from scratch. The nastiest shock we got was when we found that someone had WELDED the directly driven flywheel magneto onto the crankshaft instead of bolting it on. My by then friend took a normal hacksaw and sawed the weld off, saving the crankshaft free hand. Amazing.

He then sent me off to buy rubber. So I went to the local tire company to buy tires, proudly naming the correct size, and they asked me if I didn´t need inner tubes too, so I narrowly escaped being shamed there and then, but shame followed close when I came back to my friend´s and he laughingly found that I hadn´t gotten any rim tape. Oh to be young again… But after a while, encompassing sandblasting, painting, shaking the tank filled with lead pearls about until all of me hurt, rivetting brake shoes, sourcing bits all over, wiring, reassembling, tearing down again and re-reassembling, in summer 1980 the machine passed its TÜV test first try.

Litte Fox on a long journey – longer than mine in any case

And I went to England on the 98cc with six brake horse power. Unbeknowns to me I returned from the trip the day after the Isle of Man TT had ended, and the Big Bad Biker that I was, was sent to the special bike only ferry that had been arranged for the TT crowd, where for the first time I found that bikers are nice people really. Far from being teased about my bike´s six hp, I was congratulated on the fact that I had taken it on a major trip.

Next bike was a 200cc NSU Superlux, two stroke, also in need of restoration, but as it had been painted black by its last owner just the mechanicals and the brakes were done, and I ran it for years when at uni. In between there was an array of other bikes, too, of course.

But: I had wanted a Konsul ever since a neighbour of my parents told me when I was a kid how dangerous it was and how he crashed one. He kept telling me that story later when I had bikes myself, and I just thought ´It can´t be that bad, I have to try eventually` but then life intervened, you know how it goes. Girlfriends being afraid of riding pillion, and what not.

NSU built two versions of my coveted bike, the Konsul 1 at 350cc rated 17.5 hp, and the Konsul 2 at 500cc at 22 hp, with none of them ever doing any racing of note. They were workhorses, sidecars were attached frequently, and so on. They were intended to give BMW a run for their money, but NSU failed quite miserably at that, BMW having the resources to design modern two cylinder engines soon after the war, whereas the Konsul was basically a pre-WWII design and less powerful into the bargain. Less costly too, by far actually, but still, only about 13.000 were made of both capacitiy engines together.

A certain Walter William Moore had been head hunted away from Norton by NSU in 1928, and all his engines for NSU looked like Nortons, excepting of course the wonderful competition specials he made, like the world record one mentioned above, but that will be next month´s story.

La Perle Mixte

Sometimes you have chance encounters that are quite nice indeed, but then, that´s what you go cycling for, I´d say.

When on our Normandy holidays this year, I had the opportunity to go for a late cycleride one day and met a very nice young Lady who was on a mid-range, but quite well preserved La Perle mixte, and who had time enough to allow me to take some quick snaps.

The machine belongs to her Grandmother who is still living in the area and the cycle has recently been serviced for the family to use, carefully, round the place. Even the leather pouches that belong on the left and right sides of the rack have been removed for safeguarding, so it is easy to assume that this bicycle is appreciated and will be preserved well. It actually showcases a tire size now back in fashion:

The bike is kitted out with Simplex lighting, all original, LeFol Le Martelé guards, a Nervar chainset, and a cute little flag that is lost on 99.9 per cent of bikes today, so a pearl this bike is, no doubt.

The frame as is not top range in the way that there is no Nervex Professionnel or R531, but still it has nice touches. I would bet that all lugs, bridges and what not are from the Nervex catalogue, Série Légère lugs and all.

The very pretty lining is also still in place.

The original idea seems to have been to buy a frame equipped for Simplex derailleur gears which were to be fitted later, but looking at the lever braze on and the rear hanger, this plan never seems to have been put in practice. The paint on both looks untouched.

Brazing quality is mostly very nice and worthy of a big brand like La Perle.

Some typically French touches: rear brake and rack fixtures.

Build quality of the bike as a whole is reflected in the closeness of chainwheel to chainstay, also affording a low Q-factor.

So, what a nice surprise on an evening ride.

Rohloff Test Part Three – My Commute

No special meet or ride this month, but an update on how my Rohloff equipped bike is behaving. In all, it´s great, save the noise most Speedhubs make in the “lower case”. I have a belly feeling that in those lower seven speeds the resistance one feels also is greater than in the silent, top eight gears. The bottom bracket makes clunking noises now, and also the chain needs replacing soon, so I´ll try to change the ratios by getting a larger sprocket and a smaller chainwheel, thereby avoiding the lower case gears as much as possible. Also, I´ve not used gears 13 and 14 a lot, but 1 and 2 on every ride really, and by effecting the changes to the drive system that will be improved, I hope.

The next oil change is due too now, and the bike has deserved it as I´ve used it a lot this year. I don´t have an odometer, but a conservative estimate is at about 2.500 kms so far this calender year, and a lot more since the last oil change. Gear changes are still 100 per cent precise and instantaneous, there´s no play in any bearings and no oxidation on the shell or any other periphery parts, so the oil change will be all the attention the hub needs, I hope.

The bike as such needs a good clean, though, but all that oily dirt can be said to be a rust and theft inhibitor, meaning, I just don´t care 🙂 I see to it that the chain is lubed, the tires are inflated and the brakes are adjusted, and that´s about it. I do have to clean it soon though to check for any possible cracks in the frame, I know.

Major repairs: The front fork had to be replaced after a slight accident last year, and the Shimano 71 front hub gave up its ghost quite spectacularly in May, replaced with a SON now which runs appreciatively lighter, and that´s not a belly feeling. I bought a reduced price overstock wheel with the SON in it, so I have two different rims and spoke sets in the bike now, shiny and black, but again, I don´t care as long as it works and it does that perfectly.

My commute? It´s an about 32 kms long ride over four slight hills in the Teutoburger Wald area in Northern Germany. It takes me roughly 1:30 to 1:45 hours, which is not fast, I know, and while I´ve never been a fast rider, I´m still not fully back to even that form, after all the lack of time and the illnesses over the last 10 months or so, also the bike is really heavy and carries a lot of load too.

The route crosses no famous terrain at all, there´s no historical interest in that anyone famous was born in any of the villages and towns I cross, no battle has taken place, no famous buildings, nothing. At least, I´m not aware of anything, save maybe the part of the road that doubles as a hillclimb car race track once a year, explaining the heavy duty guard rails:

There´s loads of youtube videos on that race, it´s the Osnabrück or Holter Berg hillclimb, depending on how well the makers of the videos know the area 🙂

 

So for want of anything more interesting, one has to concentrate on making new friends on the way,

and on the few buildings that are nice.

Noted the colour red in some pics? Here we go for a sugar shock:

And no, the Schwalbe is not the company vehicle of the strawberry sellers´, it´s just in the colour its owner chose when doing up the moped.

Setting out early in the morning, there sometimes are spectacular sunrises, but they occur only when one has forgotten the camera at home. On the days the camera is at hand, one has to be content with simpler things like this:

Some 30 minutes later, the countryside begins to look familiar.

There´s more hillsand more decends

and some flats leading to more hills.

In all, I won´t say anything new in that when one cycles a route that one has partially driven so many times, there´s many things to be discovered, even tiny ones, which one is able to stop for and savour when on the bike.

So that´s the commute and the comment on the speedhub.

But why not more posts? I´ve been sidetracked by some issues with the heating in our house which didn´t render any sexy pics, by the car which did,

Photo courtesy Yannik

and a new love which rendered some spectacular snaps,

Photo courtesy Gideon

but which has put my affection to the test by taking up a lot of patience, even though I´m not new to the hobby of old motorbikes.

Also a lot of fleamarkets have been in the way of blogging.

Editing courtesy Nikki

Plus the century runs I usually do have been bedevilled this spring by adverse weather conditions, be it rain, thunderstorms or heat I couldn´t stand.

But I hope next month my post will be more interesting again.

 

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An Inspiring Ride: Retro Classic Holten

Quick trigger warning before I start: The post above, which is set on private, is by no means meant to exclude anyone, only it contains photos on which faces are visible and riders can be recognized. What with all the recent humdrum about new data protection regulations, and press coverage about bloggers possibly being fined for showing faces and not being in possession of written consent by everyone in those photos, I thought it wise not to make them public. The password for this post is obtainable from either me or the owner of the retrokoers website. I would like to say, though, that the private nature of the post means that only people who took part in the ride should write in for the password, sorry about that.

And what was that – the blog wasn´t visible at all for nearly a week – very sorry about an error I committed. When trying to set the photos mentioned above on private, I hit the wrong button, the whole blog vanished, and I didn´t notice at first as don´t read my own blog too often 🙂 When I did notice, internet illiterate me had no idea off hand how to make the mistake good again, so it took a few days.

But now, here we go.

 

Any ride must be great if you can lean your bike onto a bronze pig before the start

and if there´s another one to look on even.

As you don´t get that in too many places, Holten it was again, after a few years of not going to the great KNWU Toertochten that start in the area, see post of yore. This time it was to be a retro ride, of which the Netherlands and Belgium have had that many recently that you can lose oversight. The retrokoers website, which some years ago was still very quick to read now is a really long list of rides all over the Netherlands and Belgium. This is a great development, of course, but if it comes to travelling from the North West of Germany to the South of the Netherlands or even to Belgium, things quickly become difficult. If you then see a ride advertised which is only about 130 kms away from where you live, it´s relatively unavoidable that you go, right?

And it was a good decision, what with the weather being wonderful, attendance high, and the route well planned. We met in the middle of the town, in a place called Smidsbelt, at a café, where the organizers, the tourist office of the town, had erected two long racks onto which riders could hook their bikes for safe storage either with the handlebars or the saddles of their bikes.

Not too many riders came by car, but in any case parking space was ample, and as my son and I were very early, we had the prime parking space – if that matters. So we set about assembling the bikes (and hiding some marvellous vinyl records we had bought in a fleamarket on the way). We had brought my son´s 1952 Miele Sports bike, and my ca. 1982 RIH. We thought we´d be fine with that choice, and while I was, the RIH being a really great bicycle to ride, my son was hard pressed on his relatively heavy tourer when it came to the run over Holterberg with no holds barred and the group dissolved for a few miles. He coped admirably, though, and the great atmosphere of friendly rivalry saw to everybody being included in the spirit. On a personal note, I may add that my recent intensive training had led to me not being the slowest by far after basically 18 months of absence from riding, so that was good too. I battled it out with a group of riders among which there was one to ride a beautiful red Ko Zieleman, a real marvel of a bike.

Start was at 10.30 for the group which was led by Theo de Rooy, a former Pro and a very friendly man indeed. We had met before in some ride or other, and he remembered me and we were greeted with a handshake, which created a familiar atmosphere right away.

The first round of riding was about 35 slowish (25kph) kilometers, with lots of great conversations possible, and everybody in good mood. I talked to the only other RIH rider a lot, brushing up my Dutch, and finding out once more that the frame number of my bike doesn´t match with the usual numbering system employed in the day – four digits, starting with the expected two digit year code, but then one digit is missing.

While it has to be admitted that not every bicycle in use there was a prime museum piece, the group including also some low range cycles, they all were in very good nick technically, so only two punctures occurred, for the mending of which the group waited, making good use of the time by taking photographs, chatting even more, and looking at each other´s bikes. Here´s a quick photo bomb of the headbadges and -transfers I was able to catch, and as you can see, many bicyces were of fascinating provenance.

So, after about 90 minutes we were back for a round of coffee and cakes at the café. Again, bicycles were scrutinized, and some I found fascinating, some others shocking, like this 1920s machine which had obviously been involved in a bad crash some time in its long history. You could see that something was wrong with the angles from just looking at it, and this was the reason:

Ripples under the top tube, right behind the cable clip, and one big bulge under the down tube. Luckily, steel is forgiving, but it´s not nice in any case.

After the break at the café, or, for those who had brought their own sandwiches, on a round bench under a tree, on we went for the next round of riding, roughly the same distance again, but over Holterberg. The peloton again was moving forward at a moderate pace until we came to said hill, and we met again after it, so te group arrived back at Smidsbelt in more or less one batch. Riding in the group was pleasurable in all, discipline prevailed, no dangerous situation occurred, but all those colourful old jerseys made for a really bright outlook.

Two more interesting bicycles:

One, only represented here in details, a Peugeot randonneuse I have portrayed before, with some gold anodized Simplex accents and some nice transfers:

And the other Theo de Rooy´s bike, one he rode in the day when being a pro, and the only cross bike in the group. Great bike, really, but look at the rear dropout and the seat saty top – are those hairlines in the paintwork also cracks in the metal? Let´s hope not, but they look like it, don´t they?

Is this a cracked seat stay tube?

  After a few hours it was packing up again, and back home, but it was very much worth it. I´ll certainly be back next year.

Time Flies

On April 29, it was Stalen Ros time again, one more year over. So we went to Deurne again, second time already that the event hasn´t taken place in Neerkant anymore, and had a great time. Many visitors, much metal to see, a few bits to buy – as I said before, the quality of the items offered for sale in the numerous stalls isn´t exactly increasing.

Still, many visitors came.

The organisers had requested people who brought expo bikes to have a special focus on RIH, the Amsterdam builder and one of Holland´most famous ones, so there ways a huge number of unusual bikes by that brand to be seen.

Great stuff.

Bicloun from Paris had a really rather special bicycle for sale, a Dilecta showing most features of a good tourer, but equipped with a cheaper version of the Osgear Super Champion derailleur – very unusual also the top tube gear lever which has the cable exit at a 90 degree angle. Else, nice brazing everywhere, and a super original condition, even the alloy cap of the Osgear tension arm spring is still present. However, the little cage that circles the chain under the tension arm roller to keep the roller on the chain in rough riding is not.

Here´s a few uncommented photos to show the high quality of this mid-range bike. I´m lucky enough to own a four speed pro version of that derailleur, so I wasn´t tempted.

Two cars will also have to be mentioned here: One, my old Volvo who had a huge breakdown on the way back home (con rod failure at 3.500 rpm and 466.000 kms; going from super smooth sailing on the motorway to clanking horror in less that 20 seconds),

here parked next to a Dutch registered 940, and this beauty, a team car based on a Citroen CX 2nd series Break, just look at it. Dream car, I´d say.

So until next month hopefully. Coming to Holten on June 3, anyone?

Just a Few Photos This Month

This month´s post is about me. Having written about so many other people, bicycles, books and what have you, it´s my turn now.

You might remember posts about century rides, about rides to meets, and so on – no such luck today. Today, however, marks a special day as it was the first time in 18 months that I sat on a road bike, and literally. A spate of phases marked by utter work overload, an accident damaging my foot, infections (for instance the genuine flu) and other illnesses (among them a recent one leading to me losing 8 kgs of body weight in three weeks) has kept me off the bike for that long. Not nice.

Now that things seem to possibly look up again (touch wood) I´ve tried very slowly to get myself re-accustomed to cycling, which is bloody hard work. In the past weeks I went out on the bike whenever the opportunity opened itself, and I was out quite a bit.

Starting out from our small town

I cycled over hills, from the distance looking at a nearby ice cream cone factory (not joking here),

and also a few trees,

and old houses.

I rode over canal bridges

and even overtook a Harley on the way.

I first used my trusty, sturdy Rohloff equipped KFS.

Today I upgraded to one of the best road bikes I so far have had the pleasure to own, my NR equipped RIH:

But would you believe that I´m still walking hills I didn´t even notice were there two years ago? Or that I wasn´t half as tired two years ago after a day of 150+kms on a heavy, 1956 Miele roadster, resplendent with a three speed hub, than I was today after 45kms (taking nearly THREE hours) on the RIH?

Will I ever get back to the shape I was in two years ago, I wonder, or will the 56 year old fart that I am have to be content with walking shallow inclines? Looks like the latter right now.

Not My Kind of Bike, not My Kind of Ride

Weekend before last there was this bicycle and travel fair at a local VW dealership. The VW people cleared most of their vast exhibition hall and made room for dozens of stalls by regional tourist offices, cycles shops, big cycle makers and some charity stalls too.

Coach companies showed off their latest bicycle trailers.

Why did I go? Looking at it with hindsight – no idea. What did I expect? The manisfestation of the return to classic bike culture? Ha.

Take these, for instance:

Electric, superfat tires, superfat frame tubes, if you can call them that, hard if not impossible to service at home, defined life expectancy, and a price tag that made me swoon:

I´m not a fan of DIY superstore bicycles, and I´ve always tried to have more expensive bicycles than cars, but this is just over the top, sorry.

And things go on. Yes, there are a few steel frames bikes, two I think, but of course they need gimmicks to induce planned obsolescence, like Pinion bottom bracket gearboxes and so on. Nothing, BTW, I saw in that fair which was praised as the dernier cri did not have some sort of precursor as far as 110 years ago, not even the bamboo bicycle with its super cheap kit.

Useful as a strong carrier rack may be, but the Belgians learned that a brazed/welded on rack does have its disadvantages as far as servicability is concerned. Now these racks seem on their way back.

What with Germany always being a bit skeptical as far as useful bicycle developments are concerned, we actually are discovering the advantages of a Dutch bakfiets (box bike) now.

One of the few occasions in the fair I had a hearty laugh also was on the bakfiets:

I think I have to administer some antidote now before it´s too late. Gimme this

and this

and this

and framebuilding like this

anytime. Please.