Category Archives: My Herd

A New Bike! (2)

Back to cycles this month, to round off a story I started in 2017.

At last it was so far, on Marten Gerritsen´s Tubes and Coffee event last December I collected my racing frame. I had known from the start it would take some time for the frame to be done, so the waiting time was ok.

But before that, in August, I was invitited to have a look while the main triangle and the fork crown would be brazed, which I found very nice indeed of Marten. Watching craftsmen at work is something I find fascinating, but not all of them appreciate that.

I arrived with the tubes all mitred and laid out ready to be clamped into the jig, everthing well guarded by the fierce hound Marten keeps in his workshop.


Parts are treated with flux, and then the brazing as such begins.

Then a spectacle started which I found amazing. Brazing a frame produces very interesting colour effects.


But also after brazing some parts remain quite colourful.

After that, a thorough check on the alignment table.

And this is what has become of it. I do love it.

I have to apologize about the quality of the photos, but I don´t have much time for editing these days. Take them as a first view, I can (and will) edit them later. Or retake in better weather.

Now a quick look at the bits which I hope to hang from the frame soon. Wheels are going to be 650B, chainset Stronglight 100, b/b a Phil just like the hubs, derailleur will be old SunTour, brakes Weinmann Cantis. I can´t wait for spring to begin, honestly.

It has to be said that this complement of parts would not have been assembed as easily as it was if it hadn´t been for the CR list. The rear derailleur actually was a gift from a member for which I will always remain grateful, while the hubs and some other bits were bought from there. Of course some parts also came from my Box, and the tires were bought at Stalen Ros last year, overstock, great.

So, the next part of the series will be about assembly, and the finished bike, and soon, I hope. And with better photos.

A New Bike!

Yes, after 8 years, I´m going to have another custom frame built. No photos of it yet, not British this time, but a few explanations to start off with.

What´s the background?

I´ve had custom frames made off and on for the last 30 years, and I´ve never rued any of those actions – financial, organisational, time wise a custom frame is a real action, but its advantages grow with each Centimetre of frame height, and I need between 65 and 67 of them.

I started with my Mercian, a tourer as nice as they come, and not much in use nowadays as I´ve moved away from loaded cycletouring. I was quite inexperience then, so dealing with the people in Derby was an eyeopener; see my blog post on the matter. Just enter “Mercian” in the search box top left, and there you go. Matter of fact, you can enter the names of all bikes I´m going to mention this way, if you like. I used the Mercian to go all over Europe.

Then, in 1991, I had Dave Miller build me a curly Hetchins track frame, which also was great. I did some track training at the time, and loved it, now the bike is a fixed with a three speed Sturmey. Luckily, Dave suggested at the time that I order mudguard clearance and some braze ons like a classic road/track layout. I´ve even used the Hetchins for century rides, actually, and it´s not bad at all.

After that, there was a 2nd hand custom frame – yes, something like that exists. Our dream at the time was a George Longstaff expedition tandem which we couldn´t afford new. One day in 1995, a small add showed up in the Tandem Club Journal, and off I went to the UK to pick up a bike which was absolutely our dream machine, down to the choice of colour. No mean feat if you consider that we need 65/51 frame size in a Tandem. The machine has given the family endless satisfaction, not least with our son as the stoker, progressing through all stages of kiddy cranks and so on. It actually got our son into cycling.

During my son´s and my century riding we met a rider from a place near Dortmund who was foolhardy enough to swap his wonderful custom made Rickert for a carbon framed machine – so another huge coincidence delivered a 2nd hand Rickert custom road bike to my doorstep, again perfect down to the colour. I must admit I have not used it much, but it belongs in the group of bikes which are my size and which I would have or actually did order according to my wishes.

Next, some years after my son and me had started century riding in earnest, my son going through a procession of machines which I built from all sorts of frames and parts, me riding an old bike which had changed roles so often I had lost track, my son´s growing came to a foreseeable end, and we ordered randonneuers from Ellis Briggs in Shipley because Doug Fattic had recommended them to us. I had spent the precending season (2007) taking notes after each ride and thinking about the machines, and Andy at EB got them just right. We have enjoyed them hugely ever since finishing them in 2009.

Why now?

Of course I´d be able to carry on with the bikes I´ve got. But, shortly after I had started riding the EB, Jan Heine´s influence had grown important enough to re-popularize 650B wheeled bicycles. (Which reminds me, BTW, that I have to take out another subscription of BQ.) At first it wasn´t clear if 650B was a fad or if it would last, but from the start it was clear that 23 mil wide tires are tougher to ride than 42 mil ones, and my back hasn´t been very kind to me, or vice versa, I don´t know, so this summer my decision grew that I had to have a 650B bike. I had played with the thought for some time, but now, due to my job situation and other things, I also felt I could do with a reward for some very hard work which had kept me out of the saddle for the whole season.

Also, there is this factor that my EB randonneur is not replaceable now. When Andy was still around, we could always send a damaged frame to Shipley (as we did twice) and we could count on the repair being perfect. Paul of course also is a great framebuilder as I have heard, but Andy has passed away, so I feel that I should give my EB a less hard time. I now treat it less than a bike but more as a monument to the marvellous craftsman who built it. That´s not just talk; after nearly 40 years of cycling I have recently for the first time crashed and damaged a frame. Nothing spectacular, but still.

What sort of bike?

I decided to get a 650B shod road bike, all the rage now in the US, it seems. The French would have called it a sportif in former times. No lights, no mudguards yet, but clearance for all eventualities, just a decaleur in front. The funny coincidence that triggered that decision was that an acquaintance of mine who does house clearances offered me an old beat Trek 2300 road bike dirt cheap, and I quite came to like it because it´s much livelier than the EB, more lightweight and far easier to transport in a car too. It is a bit small for me, but hols in France and Belgium using it were very enjoyable. So the bike that was used as a working basis to start from actually was alloy framed with a carbon fork and Shimano Ultegra parts. Who´d have thunk.

How far has it progressed?

Well, given the fact that a frame builder has been found, lots of decisions about the frame have been taken, and a number of spares have already found their ways to my box, I think the bike has progressed quite far, but of course there is nothing to view at the moment besides a few documents and said box.

Also I have decided to get a friction shifted bike once more, for that I found Suntour bar ends and a pair of threaded Phil hubs in my box. Also there´s a 27.2 Campag seat post, a Regina block of sprockets, and outside the box there are already a bar and a pair of wide non-Ergo Campag brake levers. In the plastic bag there is a set of very nice CLB cantis.

Also due to the great kindness of a fellow Classicrendezvous member a 1st gen Suntour GT rear derailleur and a Vx front have arrived, so that the Shimano in the box now will be replaced by something much more stylish and historical. Oh yes, some Stronglight 100 lx cranks are also somewhere outside the pic. Also I will not be able to withstand cracking an all but invisible joke: I hope to use a Phil bottom bracket bearing together with the hubs.

Who will be the frame builder?

That question actually didn´t really pose itself; I didn´t shop round or send off long enquiring emails to all corners of the world, I asked Marten Gerritsen because over the last few years my fascination with his work has grown and I found the thought of riding an M-Gineering frame intriguing.

I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Marten, not only talking bike and filling in forms, measuring and taking decisons, but also being invited to dinner and going for a cycleride too, during which Marten watched my cycling habits, which to him, the former race team mechanic, will have looked very amateurish I´m sure. The whole experience was very enjoyable and I felt taken very serious. Also I hit the limits of my Dutch which I found a bit embarrassing.

Now dig this: My beloved EB randonneur frame on which I have spent more than 40.000 happy kilometers and which fits me like a glove was built by a man who, when asked what features he, from his own cycling experience, could recommend additionally, just answered in a Yorkshire accent “I don´t ride a bike”.

Marten has since emailed a very detailed and professional sheet on which all angles, lengths and other measurements are mentioned.


Further developments?

I´ll keep you posted.

Nice Try

The other day a friend rang who had scored a Bickerton Portable MkII on the net and wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Which should have made me think twice. However, being a fan of all bikes British, I went and bought it for a very moderate sum indeed. Which should have made me think twice over.

So, what about a Bickerton Portable? Checking things up on the net does not yield very substantial information, even the Wikipedia article is more than skinny. Made from alloy mostly. 10 kilos weight. Not bad.

Also, there´s a clip on youtube which shows Mr Bickerton himself arriving at a train station on one of his bikes at the same time as his train, he folds his bike down in a jiffy, and vanishes in the station, bike in hand, in time to catch his train. Great.

In the real world I had this heap lying in front of my garage and started to wonder.

Like that perhaps?


And where is this going to go?

I have seen long saddle posts in my time, being 6″6´tall, but the Bickerton one beats them all.

Just a few hours later: This is what I think it must be like.

And what does it ride like? After pumping up the age old brittle tires as hard as I dared, I took my fate into my hands. Here´s what the cockpit looks like when in flight:

Exactly my thoughts.

The bike is definitively not for fast, spirited riding. Just look at those handlebars, the unbelievable seat pin – it all adds up to a feeling which can only be described as impossibly wobbly. You´re good when the bike takes you within about 10 or 20 degrees of where you point it. Still more unbelievably, the machine sports two different wheel sizes,

the smaller one being in front and not exactly adding to anything even remotely reminding of a stable ride.

But I doubt anyone in the seventies (the Bickerton was launched in 1971 according to some sources) would have noted. Those days were the low point of the bicycle as such, the only category cycles would be classed in was price point, hardly any good bikes were to be had anyway, and the car reigned supreme. The Bickerton was expressly made as a supplement to the car (or the train), so I suppose it wasn´t seen as the insult to serious cyclists that it must be perceived as being today.

El Cheapo

And cheap it is, truth be told. Look at this dropout end. Squashed tubing, no strengthening inside, full stop.

Much was made in advertising from the fact that Mr Bickerton was an aircraft engineer – whatever that was supposed to mean. I guess I know now why I have an aversion to flying.

Chromed steel rims, cheap plated and plasic covered q/r levers everywhere, but a min insert marking as a saving grace.

Never heard of Ursuss with the double “S” – are they the Italian manufacturer of bike components who may have lost an S over the years?

Cheapest German brand of pedals, too, plus a front hub (and front dropout) in the same vein.

Also the chainset is the cheapest available given the large chainwheel size.

The funny axle nut is there to catch the rear dropout end when the bike is folded, I think. In the manual it´s not described very in-depth – there´s mention of pushing the folded down handlebars until the catch frees the wheels.

Also the construction as such is so very quirky, and definitively not made for prolonged serious use. Look at that brake bridge. Luckily my bike has a coaster brake, but just imagine a brake caliper hanging from it, and what it would do to the two small bolts attaching the bridge to the stays. Flexing is an understatement really.

Or look at this cable clip. It moves when you look at it.

Lastly the saddle, which according to some illustrations on the net could well be original.

The wrench ingeniously suspended from it was put there by the former owner who obviously hadn´t understood the folding mech and undid all the nuts everytime.

So how does it fold?

You have this funny lever which has a flat surface into which a hook hooks. The hook is attached to one half of the central square tube, the lever to the other.

You turn the lever to the left, the flat gives the hook a little play…

… which allows it to be swung out…

.. and the Bickerton becomes a folding bike. It has a hinge…

by the shape of which the bike can be indentified as a Mk II, BTW, and which is fixed to the tube by bolts, as is everything else. Bickerton prided himself by saying that he didn´t use a single weld on his bike.

The tube doesn´t just consist of two empty halves, but the screwheads in the two faces of the folded frame insert themselves into the oposite face´s holes, giving at least some little strength to the construction.

But the quirkiness goes on.

One of the pedals must be removed in transit, so in order to facilitate removal it can be blocked with the help of a small plate, showing clearly that the pedals must be original:

Now it´s free…

… and now it´s blocked and can be unsrewed. When the bike is in transit, the pedal lives in the hole in the square main tube behind the seat tube, where, BTW, it sits very losely and to my mind is lost easily.

It says in the manual not to forget to un-block the pedal when the bike is assembled, else the pedal is unscrewed when in use, but I´m not sure if the whole contraption would make today´s health and safety people happy. Also it says in the manual that the pedal doesn´t need to be screwed in the crank eye very tightly – I think that is so tell-tale with regards to what sort of use the Bickerton was meant for.

One more major headache is the complicated system of catches, safety tubes and springs which makes up the extension. (Note how the headset is plastic…)

So once you have progressed this far, the handlebars must be folded down. Mr. Bickerton did invent a device that made folding during a ride impossible, but it´s also quite impossibly complicated to use when operating the folding mechanism.

Got it? No?


Let´s turn it round

Now the Bickerton from below.

I really hope that the small bolt isn´t the only thing holding the b/b shell, but I wouldn´t be surprised if it were. Anyway the big hole is where the seat tube is attached.

This nice little plate sits on the underside of the square main tube right behind the steering head. Could anyone please explain how this bike came to be made in Australia? No mention of it I could find on the net. There´s another, different Australian plate on bickertonbicyclespares dot co dot UK (which site I am very much indebted to for much info in this blogpost), but no explanation is given as to where Bickertons were really built.

What else?

I´m quite certain that mine was made for the German market, what with the dynamo lighting and the Shimano 3CC coaster hub,

yes, the one with the cranked mech for which others just used a toggle chain,

because people here love their coaster brakes. But then, all of these items could have been retrofitted, of course.

When getting the bike a few days ago, I also was attracted to it because the whole drive train on my bike is like new, chain, sprocket, alloy chainwheel – what does that tell us?

Yes, you´re right. Think twice. But then again, every cyclist who owns bespoke or other great bikes should have a Bickerton just to remind him or her every now and then of how lucky they are.

Not getting rid of mine in a hurry.

1950s Bauer

This nice little bike apparently is nothing a serious collector would get excited about, but I like it. I´ll explain why in a moment.

xbdownttransfxbmodeltransfThe bike was built at Fahrrad- und Metallwerke L. Bauer & Co in Frankfurt. The works were founded in 1911, so the bikes you still see around with the headbadge alluding to the firm´s 50 years anniversary are all later than this one. Its rear hub bears the year stamp “56”, so it must be about that time.

It´s not one of the famous Bauer Weltmeister bikes, although the World Championship attained in 1952 on a Bauer is mentioned on the seat tube transfer:

xbseatttransfSadly, this is the only badly worn part – should have been the nicest.

But here the bike is in all its glory:
xbfullfront xbfull

The frame is not the greatest example of craftsmanship. For instance you get mid – to – late fifties stamped sheet metal dropout ends instead of the nicer drop forged ones that were still the norm a few years earlier:

xbreardoIn the front, the chrome´s a nice touch though.

xbfrontdoHere you can see how dirty and neglected the bike has become after about 30 years of disuse. Ah well. It was cheap.

The seat stay tops are OK, really, as are the lugs and other frame components all round:



Also the Mod. 55 F&S three speed is equipment which one wouldn´t find on too many bikes at the time as it was quite dear still. The bike came with an ugly black later model plastic trigger, which of course couldn´t work correctly either, but I had a blue Mod. 55 trigger in just the right state of dilapidation in my Box:

xbthreespxbtriggerI haven´t seen one of those for ages – getting rarer and rarer it seems.

The chainset is above average too, I think it´s Bielefeld made. Plus I forgot to snap the alloy rims – another unusual and expensive touch at the time.

xbchainsetIt´s counterweighted by this unavoidable, horrible, useless and even dangerous anti-theft device which buggered German bikes for decades. The only chance it would stand against thieves was that they would laugh themselves silly when seeing it, forgetting what they had come for.


But now to the points I really like. It was of course the fashion up until the sixties to adorn bikes with as many branded components as possible, but this Bauer has a lot of them, most still present, and they are above average good looking too, like the extension or the mudguards which are alloy and nicely lined.


rear mudguard transfer

xbmudguardmascxbheadlxbheadbxbextension xbdynamoxbchaingxbbellSo, what do I make of this bike, then, after having been told by a major collector that it being a 26″ wheel size one it would only be good for breaking for parts?

That´s not going to happen at least until my tenure ends. I can´t stop wondering if the first owner wasn´t very proud of it – he (probably a he) spent a lot of money on it for sure, and received a bike which in 1956 or 57 was above average, frame wise, equipment wise and by the looks, too. The headlight, the deep bend mudguards, and the extension even add a French touch. Apart from the slightly wrong saddle, the lost tool pouch and the wrong handlebars, there´s nothing amiss with it. Looks a bit like a time capsule to me, it even seems.

I hope to find a few hours during the next vacation to polish the chrome up, use black wax on some of the rusty spots, to repack the bearings, renew the cotterpins and so on. If the bike´s back to a little more splendour, maybe it will make people see its real value.

The Thing That Makes All the Good Weather

We´ve had quite a remarkable autumn this year; the weather was fine quite frequently, so I could get a few miles under my belt which I had missed out on during the season proper.XRhof


I haven´t told you yet about the mishap I had while doing a century ride, have I? Early this year I decided that I didn´t want to do all that many miles in the car anymore, so I did a lot of what we call Sternfahrten. This is basically a normal century ride, but the miles spent on the bike en route to the event also count. Of course you meet less people that way, also the fee stays the same but you don´t profit from food stops, but, as I said, it means less driving.

Of course less driving also means less compatibility of flea markets and cycling events. While I´m definitively shrinking my collection of vinyl and shellac discs, I still can´t pass by a fleamarket. In the car – no problem. You just throw the records in and forget about them until you´re back home. On the bike you need to plan your route more diligently to include the car boot sales, and also there´s the problem of carrying, say, 30 discs on a randonneuse. So what to do? I decided to press my Rohloff equipped touring bike into RTF service, because years ago I had found out a quite foolproof way of transporting LPs on it.

For this reason, I take my winter mitts even in 30 deg Centigrade weather, and I always take both of my trusty, by now 30 y-o Agusport panniers.

XRbagsbadgeXRBagsrearXRbagsmittsThe two small Agus make a very trustworthy platform, and the mitts are wrapped around the bag with the records under the spring clip

XRbagsdiscsrearand just aft of the seatcluster,

XRbagsmittsfrontand Bob´s your uncle. I have carried close on 50 LPs in one go this way, and there´s no problem whatsoever. OK, granted, on steep descents the weight makes itself felt in some sort of weird rear end shimmy, but that´s a small price to pay. One Saturday this summer I bought 25 LPs and then went on a 120km ride.

One wonderful side effect is that the cyclists you meet during the small portions of the RTF route that you have to do in order to validate your license entry have a hard time guessing what´s in the yellow bag. One actually made me show him the discs as he wouldn´t believe that I took LPs on a century ride.

Anyway, back to the mishap. On one of these Sternfahrten with a carrier rack full of LPs, and about 35km from home, a pedal axle snapped, just where the adjustable cone starts, at the end of the thread. I was lucky enough to be quite close (10km) from the home of a friend who also is into bikes, so I was able to borrow a pedal, but I do hope that this is the last prank the cheapo stuff on the original chain store cycle has played me. You might remember that I bought the Rohloff used (and the Maguras, and the lighting, and…) hung on a frame which was so cheap as to be nearly unridable.

I then decided to get a decent pair of pedals and bought the heavy version Shimano reversibles.

XRPedflat XRpedspdThey´ve been fine so far. I usually keep single pedals, far too thrifty to throw a good pedal away, but I binned the un-broken one this time.

Another funny thing about my bike is this dead spider

XRheadlspidin the headlamp. It must have crawled in when the first owner of the chain store bike put the machine away after about 50km of use. And, no, neither the spider nor its net makes a shadow on the road.

What else? Oh yes, the Rohloff´s been fine, and I have decided to perform the yearly oil change tomorrow. Well, bi-annual, this time. Sorry, hub. BTW, there´s a great write up of “Rohloff how to and why” on Marten Gerritsen´s m-gineering website (whose third Tubes and Coffee will be on Dec 20th, and unless something horrible happens you bet I´ll be there).

I can´t resist in offering some impressions from this wonderful autumn´s rides, beginning with a marvellously dangerous and rusty steamroller which has been stationary on our neighbourhood playground for decades. Kids can fall off, put their hands in holes, bang their heads on protruding things, cut themselves on sharp edges – they hardly ever do, and they love the machine.

XRSteamrbadge XRSteamrfull2 XRSteamrfull

Here´s one half of a Beetle. Before I chanced upon Volvos I used to be a dyed-in-the-wool Citroen 2CV man, so I guess that this is the best thing you can do with a beetle – cut it in half and use it as a stopgap in the hedge.

XRVWThis is a bike which I happened to see on one of my rides – a real cross frame ladies roadster, more precisely a Utopia Kranich (Heron). As so often in German bikes – good idea, cheapo build; just look at those lugs and the seat stay top.

XRUtseatcl XRUtreardo XRUtheadb XRUtfull XRUtforkcr XRUtcross XRUtbbUtopia started in 1982 and have always used steel frames, which is good, of course, but all Utopia frames I have seen were relatively coarse and, if I´m allowed to say so, priced in a way that I never bothered: A Kranich frameset is now +/- 1.000 Euros.


Photo courtesy Utopia Velo

However, pricey as they may be, they are known for their ruggedness. A former neighbour of ours who is 6´7″ and weighs in accordingly has used a London, the gents´ version, with a Rohloff for more than a decade as his exclusive means of transport without a problem.

The frames are made in the Netherlands at van Raam bike speciality workshop in Varseveld near Doetinchem in the Achterhoek region, funnily enough only about 40km from where I spent my youth. The firm has been going strong for more than 100 years at different locations. If you look closely, the Utopia frame pictured above does look Dutch, too. According to their website, van Raam employs three framebuilders at the moment. Actually, the boxlining on some of the forks is done by Henk Kluver who, at 93 years of age, is the oldest employed person in the Netherlands. He´s been working at van Raam´s for an unbelievable 70 years.

Utopia have also had a strong connection with Rohloff and were presented with a pair of specially engraved Speedhubs for their 25th anniversary.

XRweatherfull XRweatherbadgeSome kilometers away from our village an automatic weather data gathering station was erected some years ago. Is this responsible for all the good weather?

A Bike for Brum

Some of you may know that my son recently moved to Birmingham/UK because he received a grant/bursary for a year´s worth of study at the University there. The problem about taking a decent bike was twofold: Would he need one, and if so, would there be safe storage? Both questions have by now been answered with a yes, the first one because there is not even a student bus pass included in the unbelievable £9.000 yearly fee. Allow me to be a bit unfair: Our local university manages to include a pass for less than €600 total fee per year.XGJdtransf

Anyway, this gave me the great opportunity to go hunting for a trusty steed. Sadly, the first port of call rendered a magnificent bicycle, of my favourite utility bike brand, from the perfect era and in very good condition. I would have loved to visit more bike shops and look at more small ads, but it just had to be this wonderful, ca 20 y-o Gazelle.

XGJfull XGJfullfrontYou will note right away that it has a somewhat shorter wheelbase than a standard Dutch roadster, which makes it a lot nippier. There actually are light alloy handlebar and seat post. I don´t know how Gazelle engineers could bring themselves to use these parts – they make the bike at least 200 grammes lighter. Horror.

But also the wheels are a little more sporty, if I may use this word in a Dutch roadster environment. Hubs (five speed Pentasport with drum brake) have light alloy shells, and rims are of a Westrick profile. To make good for the other light alloy parts, rims are sturdy stainless. Still, I think they are lighter than the usual Westwoods, so riding the bike in a hilly area (England, not Holland) should be pleasurable.

XGJrearhubXGJrimXGJfronthubnutThe last photo brings me to an explanation why I think that the bike is in such good nick and from such a great era: Just look at the hooded axle nut and the mudguard stay end. OK, admitted, the end goes shabby quickly if you´re not careful with it, but still.

As per usual on Gazelles from that time, the bike abounds with places the brand is mentioned on in picture or word from. I have long coveted the idea of staging a competition: Send in the right number of Gazelle sightings on a 1990s specimen and win the bike, but that would be unfair on readers as it would take ages to figure out.

A certainly non-complete list must start with this,

XGJheadbthe beautiful (screen?) printed metal badge.


There was a plastic guard over the part of the stay protecting the little badge. Those are missing on all bikes I know of.

XGJseatclXGJtubestickerAgain, the last pic brings me to an explanation why the great era of Gazelle framebuilding must have come to an end shortly after this model.

It did have an oversized downtube (sporty, remember),


but look at this:

XGJbbbottomWelded before brazing – ugh.

The old Gazelle “Kogellager”, press fit ball bearing b/b, was still there, however. René Herse, eat your… oh well.

Also look at this:

XGJbrakebridgeplateSo there are the two stainless bolts holding the carrier rack, and just above them there is a little piece of sheet metal just like a tiny recessed display board – which it used to be, because there was the frame number stamped on older Gazelles. On this bike, expensive stamping has been economized away, and strangely enough the frame number is to be found on the sticker just over the b/b shell. I should imagine that nothing is easier to remove or falsify.

Speaking of the carrier rack: It´s so Dutch. The versions for the German market had a sprung baggage holder and looked completely different.

XGJbaggcarrXGJrearreflBut look at that lock. Massive, and with real keys (both of which are still there). The hole facing you is for a cable loop to secure the bike to some tree or lamp post. The cable can be locked with the same key. However, it had to be bought as an extra and is rarely seen. BTW, noted the box lined mudguards? Not a spot of rust on their edges.

XGJaxalockSomething else which is really nice and useful is the brazed on rear light base, a sign of the more expensive Gazelle bikes.

XGJrearlightIf I´m not mistaken there´s an LED insert with a supercap to carry on burning after this

XGJdynhas stopped in front of a red light. Gimme an AXA HR anytime – just as good as a cheap hub generator. Earth cable, large dia cap for slow turning internals – wonderful. And the way it´s fixed on old style Gazelles:

XGJforklegbrazeonsBraze ons everywhere.

And then the track bike fork crown!

XGJfrokcrJoke, there´s no hole because of the bike having drum brakes. Very useful in Dutch (and British) weather.

XGJfronthubleftAlso this brake (is Fichtel &) Sachs and not the usual heavy Sturmey.

XGJtwistshiftTwist shift for the five speed. Much handier that the old thumb shifter.




The two rear d/o end assemblies. The plastic chaincase is remarkably robust and its small rear part comes off very easily for maintenance or repair of the rear wheel. I must say I found the old fabric covered kettingkast still easier to work on, but there you go.


All bolts and nuts are stainless. The lighting cable emerges from the chainstay and vanishes in the mudguard stay after only a few inches. Can be a pita when you´re working on the rear wheel, but is perfect in daily use for anti-snagging purposes. Also look at the Gazelle chain tensioner.

XGJframenostickerDon´t know about royal, but a quality bike it certainly is.

Another Tall Bike, and a Puzzle or Two

Some years ago, a decade ago more like, a friend from the Netherlands emailed that he had seen a very tall (65cm c/t) RIH frame in the Dutch equivalent of CL. Did I want it? It came with a number of parts lying in a box, some actually usable, and was to be had at a good price, so given the fact that classic frames in my size aren´t exactly frequent, I got it and collected it some months later. When looking at the frame, I was quite impressed, I remember that.

xrihdoenttransfWhat with having had the frame hang from my study wall for the best part of five years (reason: see below), and RIH having been in the news recently with the passing of owner Mr van der Kaaij last December, the closing of the workshop in Westerstraat 150 in Amsterdam´s Jordaan quarter where the firm had been since 1928, and the moving house to a modern facility, I somehow thought I might want to try out the frame on the road after all.

Slowly, and more precise: Thanks to Marten I have received info not to be found (by me) on the net. I could vaguely remember reading about this on CR, but have not yet found out how to access and search their archives.

First, Wim vd Kaaij´s wife fell ill, and he closed the shop after not finding any new owner. Later he did find successors, even taught them framebuilding in the new venue in the North of Amsterdam, and then died quite unexpectedly, literally overnight.

After all like after finding out that someone had drilled a massive hole in one of the seat stays to accomodate a chain hook:


No chrome on the screw; can´t be original.

Or like after discovering that the frame has either been built in a hurry or has had a crash already: The undersides of the top and down tubes have very small, but tell-tale ripples just aft of the headlug tips. They are that small that they don´t show in a pic at all, but they can definitively be felt. Luckily steel usually doesn´t break suddenly like light alloy does, so I´ll just give the bike a try.

xrihheadbAnother reason for not doing much with the frame was that its headbadge also was somewhat intriguing, making it look like it had been changed during a respray – possibly after a crash repair. There are three different badges, and mine didn´t really fit in the right category:

– one on which it says Holland, which some, for example on a Dutch old bike forum, say belongs to the other RIH,

– one on which it says Amsterdam, said to have been used by the Westerstraat custom shop, and

– one on which it says neither.

The somewhat unreadable letters in the diamond mean Gebroeders Bustraan , Bustraan brothers, who were the original founders of the shop back in 1921.

The other RIH? Yes, there are two firms, one, Cové in Venlo, which makes off the peg (city) RIHs, and the original firm in Amsterdam which produces the made to measure frames.* The Venlo people nowadays use the “neither” headbadge. Amsterdam RIH, more precise Willem Bustraan, the son of one of the founders, sold the rights to the cheaper half of the RIH name to Cové in 1972. Earlier, there had actually been a detour via the Fongers works in Groningen who made the cheaper RIHs for a while, even using headbadges with “Amsterdam” on them, and stamping their own year letter frame numbers on the frames, but Fongers then got taken over themselves. If you look things up on the Cové website it seems as if there never had been an Amsterdam shop after 1972, but I was there, I know there was one. Here´s a quotation from their site (my translation):

Great racers like Peter Post, Gerrie Knetemann, Leontien van Moorsel, Ingrid Haringa, Gerrit Schulte en Henk Nijdam were their customers. In all,  63 titles, Olympic gold medals, tour etappes en world championships were won “op een RIH.

That was of course mostly before the name was sold.

But now look at this:

RihAmstheadbHere´s another RIH headbadge, with Amsterdam on it, (and the “R” in RIH being of a different design). This one came off a crashed frame with its number under the b/b, and which was very obviously a cheapish, bought-in Italian eighties affair. I´m sorry I don´t have any fotos of it, didn´t think of it at the time. Amsterdam RIHs have their frame numbers (four digit mostly) on the lower headlug, like mine:

xrihframe#So mine definitively is an Amsterdam RIH, and the bike on which it said Amsterdam was not. OK, sold by them, possibly, but not more.

Before the whole thing gets even more complicated, let´s get on with my bike. I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze one more non-date matching Campag Record groupset, a modern Cinelli handlebar and an old and battered Brooks Pro from my Box, so I set to it, and after a few hours the bike was there. When the wheels are already built, Campag and RIH quality combine to make a build very easy and quick.


click pedals show that I really want to put the bike through its paces

So, some more pics of the frame. I said I wouldn´t make things more complicated, but I´m afraid there´s one more puzzle: My frame is a “Model Cock van der Linde”, sold at van Doorn´s bike shop in Beverwijk.

xrihcocktransfDon´t ask me who van der Linde was/is, I was told that he used to run a bike shop, and if you enter van Doorn in a search engine, there is mention of a C. vd Linde/van Doorn cycleshop in Beverwijk/Noord-Holland. They don´t seem to have an email address. So next time I happen to be in Beverwijk…


Here´s the rest of the pics, and no more complicated questions, promised. OK, there´s one, but only after the pics.


fork crown drilled for smaller dia brake bolt – had to cannibalise a cheap Weinmann


transfers on both chain stays

xrihbb xrihcableeye xrihbrakebr


looks like clean brazing

xrihforkcr xrihftdo xrihforktransfxrihseatcl xrihreynolds xrihrearhub xrihreardo xrihlwrheadl

Now for the last puzzle.

I love Campag two bolt seat posts; have been using them for ages, and I find the precision with which one can adjust the saddle unbeatable. Also I find that fitting a saddle is very easy – if I don´t use the Campag tool from the tool kit.

campatoolI have been told repeatedly that this bent contraption is a two bolt stem tool plus Brooks nose bolt spanner, although I can´t really believe it. I must say that for a nose bolt the original Brooks tool is much preferable, but what happens when you use the two bolt stem end is this:

camptoolrearhexYou can´t reach the front bolt. The rear one is OK, admitted.

So what do I do? Simple, I utilize my standard cranked spanner,

camptoolrearcrankand everything is fine. Am I missing something?


* Sorry, not going into the Vienna/Austria RIH here. They´re just too far away, and the only connection is a horse, anyway. Look up the horse yourself on the net, you might not believe me.

NSU by Two

To make things completely clear: This is not about the NSU we´ve been hearing about so much of late in Germany, the terrorists which have committed so many atrocious crimes. This is about two bikes that were made by NSU works in Neckarsulm, the history of which brand is well documented on the net, e.g. by the NSU Motorenwerke entry on German wikepedia.


Anyway, here they are:

XNLfullXNHfullThe 1963, 28 inch wheel size gent´s bike is mine, bought cheaply off a cycle dealer earlier this year because he didn´t have the coaster brake spare required to make it ridable. I repaired it in a few minutes´ time (I have a number of 515 hubs I have been breaking for spares over the years), the internals being very simple. It has given some good service already, on some outings as well as serving as a spare bike for visitors. The 26 inch wheel size lady´s I saw by chance on the road.

XNHlandsch1 XNHlandschickerb

One might think that the bikes are quite similar, but there is about 5 to 8 years difference between them. The lady´s is the older one, still equipped with its original Model 55 stepped shell three speed, the blue trigger of which is quite sought after nowadays. This one even has the plastic coat on the lever still intact.


XNLrearhubMy later gent´s model is equipped with the three speed after this, the red trigger, straight shell Model 515.


Sadly, the lady´s bike seems to spend most of its time outside in the rain.

There´s the typical one piece pressed steel headstock on both – no lugs, just a pressing.

XNLheadThe long lugs betray the fact that there are no mitred tubes inside – the lugs are that hefty because they have to hold the frame together as the tubes inside them probably do not touch. Cheap and rugged.


The lady´s, however, still has the old style brazed in drop forged dropouts…


Slight bend in seatstay found often on coaster brake equipped 50s sports bikes

… while the later gent´s already has the far less refined, much cheaper flash welded stamped steel ends.


Also the b/b shells on both bikes aren´t very special at all.


The general design is quite similar on both bikes:


No lining on the gent´s though – money seems to have been somewhat less of an issue in the late fifties than in the early sixties

XNHheadbXNHseattransfXNLheadbMy gent´s has a useless, but nice branded spoke lock…

XNHspokelock… and a slightly more useful chainguard.

XNHchaingAlso all the rubber strips are still on the carrier rack – quite nice.

XNHbaggdrHowever, the original chainset as well as the front hub are quite cheap items – I wonder how they have held up that long. The brake spares mentioned earlier usually last forever, so the bike must have seen a lot of use. The white pedals, which might be original too, also show signs of great wear.


XNHbbXNHfronthubBoth bikes have aluminium plated mudguards – nice to look at at the beginning, but rust prone and there´s no way you can either stop or repair rust on these.

XNHmudgdesignTo finish off this post, here´s a view on the typical 1950s NSU mudguard mascot:


Chance Encounter: Van Herwerden Route 531

Some of you might have read the post on the Whitsun cycle jumble in Rommerskirchen. I was sadly not able to attend the run on Saturday, but the Sunday morning was dedicated to visiting the jumble and scouring the offers – see the report two posts below this one.

I was able to buy a frame off a friend who I have met several times on rides in the Netherlands, and so it was no big surprise that the frame has  Dutch name.




The tower shown in the head transfer is also a part of the Voorburg coat of arms.

VH1898On the van H. website it says that the shop is about 100 years old, so might this be the  year it was founded?

And yes, it´s the same van H. as mentioned in my post on cycling around Rotterdam last year:

The shop is still active, offering a range of handmade steel framed bikes, very interesting. However, on the site it says nowhere how proud the shop is that these frames are made by themselves – which makes me wonder.

This what my van H. Route looks like:

VHfullIt has been a general problem with my blog recently that I have too much to write about (meets, bikes I got) and too little time to accomplish it, so I´ll re-take this horrible snap when I can find the opportunity. I hope the details are better.

While the van H. frame is made of a full set of Reynolds 531,

VH531it still is easily visible that it was made on a budget. Van H. being importers of Chesini at the time (see my post on my own Arena model), they had a top of the line bike, and my guess is that their house brand would be used to make a good, solid, middle price point effort. The 600 headset might be an indicator for this, too.

VHtoplugNo filing visible here, and this cable eye

VHbrakecbleyehas either had a knock to create the dented tube just about visible, or it was brazed on in a hurry. Also look at the paintwork finish which is not overly smooth.

That said, the frame is not horrible at all. There´s lots of chrome



and the tang on the inside of the fork legs is a thing of beauty.

VHseatclThe semi-wrapover chainstay also adds a nice touch, even if it has not been executed with the last drop of care.

VHbb VHbbunderThe b/b shell also is nice and rugged. I like the cable tunnels – not too long to make threading in of the inners a tricky business.

So my guess is that this frame is one a rider can get a lot of satisfaction out of and fun with without having had to pay an undue amount of money to acquire it.

As I said in my post on the Motobécane (, I have come to like these things.

Williamson – Happy Ending thanks to m-gineering

Remember last year when I wrote the post on the seeming end of the way of the 1940s Williamson I had so looked forward to to riding?

Exciting news: Marten Gerritsen of m-gineering has actually managed to repair the frame.

This is what it looks like now:

WRfullBefore looking at the headbearings I had had the frame at another friend´s place to get a hole in the chainstay fixed which had been worn into it by a wobbly chainwheel:

WRholeI then discovered the catastrophe of the more than worn headset, see old post for pics.

So what Marten did was that he machined down the fork crown ever so slightly to get rid of the ridge worn into it by the loose race,

WRforkcrstrengthened the fork column by fitting a tube inside its lower end,

WRtubeand here we were, back again on the way to full recovery. I have since managed to fit a b/b bearing and the headset, but so many parts are missing or u/s that I think I´ll use my boxes for replacements. Or can anyone help out with, for instance, a 1930s BSA chainset? See.

Speaking of boxes: The rear hub which came with the bike is a three speed Cyclo, and I found a (hopefully) correct rear derailleur in my box. So things are looking up, it seems.

Stay tuned for more pics as work progresses, but first a huge thank you to Marten.