Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Richard Brimer work shop photo

Ok, sorry about photos of me in two consecutive
posts, but my friend and great photographer
Richard Brimer took this a few months back
and I thought it came out pretty good.


After many years of being out on loan,
I have my 1950 Sturmey Archer ASC three speed
fixed gear back, and back in action.
What bike to run it on was a bit of difficult question,
but luckily my own impatience has answered that 
difficult question for me. 
As my 1949 Bates was the only suitable bike in a complete 
riding state at the moment, and I have always been unhappy
with the 700c Fiamme wheel set on it, it was a done deal.
A few hours later I had a reasonably period correct, 
late 40's British TT machine to try out.
 Chater Lea drive train.
Brooks Swallow with alloy clip, surprisingly comfy.
Bluemels "Tour de France" pump, another one of my seemingly
endless fetishists, vintage lightweight pumps..sad I know.
Serious looking vintage lightweight front end.
View from the cockpit, you can see why I was pretty excited 
about trying this one out, sort of like riding a AC Ace...
...a Boutique English builder
who probably made a few more machines than you thought....
..based around a pretty stodgy old motor that they made cool.
SA ASC 3 speed fixed ultra close ratio hub gear,
 with alloy body and wing nuts, looks
good and goes well too.
Not quite like the 3 speed on your average Raleigh
Ruddspeed modified Zephyr motor in a AC Ace.
Not quite the same as in your uncles old Zephyr.
 But what I really liked about the Bates fitted with the ASC hub,
is that this is the first bike that actually made me laugh out loud
while I was rattling along as fast as could.
I love riding this bike, it's fast but it feels authentically old, 
which is a much more difficult combination to bring off
 than you might think. 
Maiden voyage.
Before the power of 3 fixed gears on a vintage
lightweight brought a huge smile to my face.
Even the broken chain after 25km didn't dampen my
enthusiasm for this wonderful time machine.
So the Bates Bar gets my vote as the 
AC Ace of the bike world.
What bike is that car?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

1979 Liberati Professional ( I should have walked away)

There is a term sometimes used when discussing
 old vehicles or objects, 'survivor', which is
pretty self explanatory, an unrestored example
in better than average condition, often with 
nice patina.
I think there should be another term, survived.
Which would mean, rough, but original and intact.
This is the exact state of this 1979 Liberati Professional
I have just unearthed.
From five feet, you might think, mmm not to bad...
but in reality, unless you where fully committed to a total 
restoration, this machine wouldn't be for you.
Luckily I am, well I am now.
Don't get me wrong, this really is a beautiful Italian
superbike, and what is coolest about it, is that this is 
exactly how it came built up from Cicli Literati in 1979.
Very pretty chrome panto lug's (nicely thinned), fork crown.
All the chrome on the frame will need lots of
linishing work and rechroming.
New cable eyes on the top tube will need to be brazed on.
 One of the things that I instantly liked about this bike, 
is that it isn't just all Super Record, 
it is a mixed gruppo in the finest
pre single groupset tradition.
 SR derailleurs and shifters of course, 
notice white high light in drop out triangle.
Universal CX brake set is nice.
Nicely sculptured Galli Chainset with Campagnolo 
chain rings, plenty of lushous Italian 70's pantograph.
SR pedals with Fides super light record cages.

Cicl Liberati  shop, Tuscolano, Rome late 1950's.
More pantograph, SR seat pin.
3TTT bar set...more panto.
Primo Liberati and his wife Gabriella opened
Cicli Liberati in 1957.
Literati had been a enthusiastic amateur road man, 
so opening and cycle business was natural for him.
Apparently the Liberati brand was very active in supporting
amateur cycle racing clubs in Rome.
Unfortunately I can't seem to find much information
on the brand, however they are still operating,
so I will attempt to get some more history directly
from them.
Photo of the Liberati shop taken a couple of years back.
 The reason why I didn't walk away from this project.
I am pretty fussy about the seat cluster area, don't know
why, I just am.
This seat cluster is one of the nice ones, especially the
chrome seat binder, it's surprising you don't see this
more often, such a nice little finishing touch.

When I saw this machine, sitting right down the back 
dark corner of that old Italian guys garage, 
probably untouched for at lest 20 or more years.
 I thought, I know I shouldn't, but I
am going to restore this beautiful machine, it has 
survived, but probably not for much longer. 

I aim to have this one finished for next summer.
It will be a stunner.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

1950 Raleigh RRA - or It's all about the little things

I had to admit to my wife last week,
that I had fallen in love...again.
She was, I have to say, very relaxed about
my confession,maybe she is just getting 
used to it...
...the object of my latest affections is a
beautifully preserved 1950 Raleigh
Record Ace, known to enthusiasts as the RRA.
The reason I have fallen so hard for this quite sedate looking
piece of British iron, goes back to my very first interests in
classic racing bicycles....
The first serious racing bike I acquired, just as part of
a swap, was a late 70's Team Raleigh.
Although it was to big for me, and I knew nothing about
 racing bikes, I instantly realized that
this was something special.
Being the slightly obsessive type, I spent the next
little while learning all I could about top end Raleigh's.
As I was also then already developing a bad habit for 1950's
British style cycle racing culture, and I had an existing sort of 
loyalty for the Raleigh brand, the RAA became 
the obvious machine of my desires.
What I really liked about the RRA, was all the small 
stuff Raleigh made especially for their flagship model.
You know other makers might get their name/logo stamped
into a component or two, but Raleigh went all out,
 for the RRA,  starting with a specific
set of slim, profiled cranks, and chain ring.
An absolutely beautiful sculptured chrome saddle bag support,
that came with it's own bag (of course).
 Ultra stylish alloy wing nuts for the 
No Weight Blumels mud guards.
And my favourite bit, the very modern (for 1950) pedals.
The whole pedal body is alloy, with steel cage, featuring the
famous Heron Raleigh logo.
The only problem was that as far as I could find

out, they weren't imported into New Zealand, so
unless I could strike it lucky, and find one brought over
privately, I was out of luck, because finding one in the 
UK is neither cheap, or easy, and getting a whole bike 
like this brought over is very expensive, 
well to much for me anyway.
So you can inagine my pleasure, when, about six months ago
a chap I was buying some bikes from, mentioned that he had
"an old RRA" at his bach, if I was interested..was I!
He talked it down, saying that it had been converted into a
town hack by the previous owner, and not to get to excited.
He obviously doesn't know me that well..
So cut forward to last weekend, I arrive at his house, after a
very long drive, and see, what looks to be a old Raleigh Sport
parked up his drive.
I quickly notice the chrome fork ends, so know this is the RRA.
My slight disappointment, instantly turns to real joy when I 
start looking it over...
It still has it's saddle support in place, and GB  Hiduminium
brake calipers..
..it's Blu Mel No Weight guards are present, and
most surprisingly, uncraked, the Raleigh decal still bright.
The correct chainwheel,crankset and pedals are intact.
 The original paint and decals are in pretty good order,
just a light clean and buff will bring the frame up to
fine fettle.

 RRA lugs, pin stripping still pretty bright.
Reynolds butted tubes..of course.
The bike also came with original Raleigh bag, Blu Mels pump.
One of the most unusual things about the bike, is that the original
owner has ordered a Sturmey Archer FG 4 speed Dyno hub, on 
26" wheels. I know this is the original wheel set, because this
would be one of the few FG/26" wheel sets in the world with
double butted stainless steel spokes!, which was the standard spoke
for the RRA.
I will bring the bike back to original, the first task
is to replace the handle bars, luckily there are many correct
period options, I am going to use this set if Stratalite 'OPPY'
bars, and Reynolds twin bolt stem.
 aahh the small stuff, Oppy stamp on
the Stratalite bars
Reynolds twin bolt stem, with alloy bolt/washer, 
and wedge,all up weight 170grams, not bad.

I am going to store the original wheel set away,
and build a set more in keeping with the bikes sporting
Dunlop 27" Special Lightweight rims
1951 Sturmey Archer AC Ultra Close Ratio
3 speed TT hub.
Some times you do get what you wish for.

For a more indepth look at the RRA history visit Peter Kohler's
great articles on ipernity