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Brothers of Briar

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Zeno Marx

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The Tour de France ended today. One of my favorite times of the year. Coffee and bicycling makes for a good morning. I don't follow it like I once did, which is funny now that it is almost guaranteed to be televised somewhere. Back in the old days, it was a treat to get to see it. Peacock had both USA coverage and European coverage. Most of the same camera footage, but different analysts and discussions. Both were good, and the USA had the classic commentators with Phil Liggett. If you follow bicycling in the USA, you know his voice.

My favorite was ABC Wide World of Sports covering the Paris-Roubaix. Watching them battle it out on the cobblestones, wrecks, and being covered in grime by the end. I'd never seen anything like it. As cool as the Tour is, this is the race to watch.

I wish they talked about the technical side and mechanics more. It might seem ho-hum because nearly everyone can ride a bike, but it is a very technical sport. Cadence, making circles, and RPM. I remember the first time I rode with a trained cyclist, thinking it wouldn't be any big deal to at least keep up with them for the first few miles. Wrong. They were probably riding at around 90RPM, while I was struggling to keep in the 50s. I'm not interested in counting cycles and doing all that jazz, but it was interesting to witness that first time. And the bikes! Bicycle technology has come a long way.

I grew up in a small town, where the kids rode bikes to get everywhere. We lived on the outer edge of town, so we were about a mile from downtown. I rode downtown to the dime store for candy and comics sometimes several times a day. I'd even go get groceries for my mom on my bike (on credit). And we had the luxury of having a bike repair shop ran by a grumpy Europhile guy who wore a beret and rode around town with his wife on a tandem. His garage was wall-to-wall bikes. And yes, that's a luxury. Most rural farm towns do not have bike shops and repairman. I didn't know it at the time, but he planted a seed for me to get into bicycling in my early teens. I was more excited to get a great bike than I was a car. I never did get a very good one, as even back then, the good ones were several hundreds of dollars. I quickly realized I wasn't built for it though. I didn't have the lung capacity for it. Racing didn't seem that fun anyway, because I was already tired of competition sports. I got into touring. Riding on back roads from my town to the other towns and back. Dreaming of having everything I owned in panniers and riding around the country. Freedom. The wind. Open country.

On a family vacation, I got to see Olympic trials in Colorado Springs in their velodrome. Talk about alien stuff to a country kid. And then with movies like Breaking Away. Bicycling is the coolest.
 

Swede

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Cycling always gives me a sense of freedom, and I mostly just putter around on a lugged steel frame Bridgestone. I always wanted to do some touring, but guess it will have to be bucket list thing. I do have the panniers and a Bridgestone RT (road touring) that needs work.
 

RudyN

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I have been riding as soon as I could ride a bicycle physically and I am still riding at the age of 78. It is great and before I retired, I used to ride to work about two to three times a week. Somehow I have managed to end up with three road bikes and a mountain bike. 😎
 

Zeno Marx

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I have been riding as soon as I could ride a bicycle physically and I am still riding at the age of 78. It is great and before I retired, I used to ride to work about two to three times a week. Somehow I have managed to end up with three road bikes and a mountain bike. 😎
I was going to say something about it being a lifetime sport in my original post. I think that factor is significant. You don't need someone else to do it. You don't need a court. If the bike is set properly, it is nearly stressless on the body, only second to something like swimming. Great for the knees (again, if the bike is setup properly) and for cardio.

I could very easily collect bikes. At this time in my life, I'm more tempted by it than any other thing.
 

Swede

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I have read that a person can keep riding into their 80's +, so definitely a lifetime sport. About collecting, I think I have BAD: 2 road bikes, 1 mountain bike, 1 hybrid, 2 folding not counting my wife's. I have a soft spot for vintage steel bikes, but tamed it somewhat. I used to read the BoB list and Rivendell's and Velo Orange's webpages alot. At least PAD and TAD acquisitions don't take up as much room.
 

Zeno Marx

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To tell you how out of the loop I am, I'd never heard of bikepacking. Maybe I thought it was just an updated term for touring? I know how much, and how often, newer generations love to change terminology for established things. So yeah, bikepacking. There are a lot of videos about this, and I've just started watching them. This one has a ton of information crammed into ten minutes, but I found it really interesting. Once again, it reiterates how much of bicycling is about wind and resistance and not as much about weight and road. Of course, it is also about those things, but streamlining your profile is HUGE. Talks about bags, but also fenders, handlebars, positioning, etc. Just so much cool stuff to try to understand and optimize.

The Fascinating Aerodynamics of Bike Touring and Bikepacking​

 

Idlefellow

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I still have my old 70's-era Raleigh Super Course; in my grad school days my bike, my pipe and I were pretty much inseparable. These days it spends most of its time hanging up in the garage. Guess I need to get it down and take it for a spin....

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Zeno Marx

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I love those old 70s bikes like that. I've recently been admiring 70's Peugeot.

When I was a kid, I wrote companies all the time for brochures and catalogues. Stuck in the middle of a corn field, 60+ miles away from any city, it was the only way I could get information and then dream. I had many bicycle catalogues. Some of the names have all but disappeared, except on bike collecting groups. I threw out all those catalogues, and you guessed it. Even they are fetching decent money now. I used to look at them every night, studying every detail. Like stereo equipment. Never with any pricing, though. I never knew how much anything cost, and my parents weren't all that keen on me calling long distance and driving bike shops nuts for prices and information.

My first nice bike was one I traded a Kenwood integrated amplifier (that sound like crap) to get. The frame was at least 3cm too big for me, but I couldn't pass up the offer. I rode it for a summer, but it wasn't as much fun as I'd hoped. Just too big for me. It was a steel Trek racer, but I can't remember the model.

There used to be a place in Minneapolis on the edge of downtown, a couple blocks from our place, that sold liquidations. They'd buy entire stores in liquidation. A bike shop in Nebraska had a fire, and the insurance company totaled all the contents, regardless if there was any fire or smoke damage. That's where I got my first very nice bike and that actually fit me. A Specialized aluminum frame middle-tier racing road bike. I think it is either 18 or 19LBs. I still have it. The Trek I mentioned above was maybe 21-22LBs, and my other bikes were in the high 20s or even 30LBs. Let me tell you. The difference was indescribable. A totally different riding experience. Even the 2-4LB difference than the Trek was like night/day. Even if you hadn't been on a bike for a decade, you would instantly notice how responsive and agile it is in comparison to the tanks that most people own. I still want to own an old steel frame bike (or three), but this thing is like riding on air.
 
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Idlefellow

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Yeah, those Peugeots were the cool bike at that time. I always wanted one, but when I finally went serious shopping I fell in love with the Raleigh - color is Coffee just like the one in the ad. My wife and I were both riding Monkey Wards 10-speeds so the Raleigh was quite a step up. Then I won a bike in a local contest and she picked out a nice Falcon Black Diamond. We were in tall cotton then. Years later we sold the Falcon and she picked up a used Schwinn Suburban; weighs a ton but easier for her to ride. It's hanging up there with the Raleigh now.
 

Zeno Marx

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I've been eyeballing a couple older Schwinn models that get surprisingly great reviews and have a loyal following. Of course, I know there are Schwinn nuts, but I didn't realize there are some diehards in the touring community.
 

Swede

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I've had some Schwinns-one from college days, but sold them. I pretty much like any vintage steel. The old Japanese made lugged steel frames are beautiful. There was a website with all kinds of vintage bikes people would post, and you can get lost in looking at all the builds. I've gone for Brooks saddles and Nitto bars on mine, including one MB3 with a moustache bar and bar end shifters. Grant Petersen, who used to run Bridgestone bicycles has a lot of good reading on retro type stuff on the Rivendell rivbike site. He's known as a retro grouch which I can relate to...
 

Zeno Marx

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The old Japanese made lugged steel frames are beautiful.
When I went shopping for my first nicer bike (wasn't very nice, really), I was blown away by the Japanese bikes. Instantly turned into my dream bike. The one I was eyeing was 4Xs my young teenage budget, so I was left dreaming. One day, I will have one. There's one around 400 miles from me, but I have no way of getting it right now.

I remember having a brochure for Bridgestone. I don't think I seriously considered one because I couldn't escape the car tire association. I'm sure my young mind was thinking, "They can't be THAT nice. They make car tires!" I know. I know. But I'm sure that was what I was thinking.
 

Swede

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When I went shopping for my first nicer bike (wasn't very nice, really), I was blown away by the Japanese bikes. Instantly turned into my dream bike. The one I was eyeing was 4Xs my young teenage budget, so I was left dreaming. One day, I will have one. There's one around 400 miles from me, but I have no way of getting it right now.

I remember having a brochure for Bridgestone. I don't think I seriously considered one because I couldn't escape the car tire association. I'm sure my young mind was thinking, "They can't be THAT nice. They make car tires!" I know. I know. But I'm sure that was what I was thinking.
Yeah, that probably didn't help the brand. They made really nice frames (Japan), good components, and Grant was/is a cyclist, so I figure built right. I'm pretty sure some had Reynolds tubing. The prices have gone up from my last purchase of an RT for $50. My favorite a 300 ("low" end) came from a yard sale for $25. It's now got Nitto bars, Shimano brake levers recommended by Sheldon Brown (RIP), Suntour bar end shifters, and good tires. I use a rear rack with the rat trap type hold down to haul stuff. It's fun to build one up, but gets costly if not done carefully.
 

Zeno Marx

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I've been reading a little bit about Bridgestone today. Neat history. Rich and influential guy who runs a multi-national corporation, and who is also a designer, uses his position to run a company based on his hobby, cycling. Looking at the old prices, it's good that I didn't think highly of them. I think it was either the 1992 or 1993 catalogue where they even talk about wool jerseys etc being superior to synthetics because of how the wool fibers are x, y, and z. You can feel the passion in the catalogues. Quirky, nerdy level of stuff when you have an exploded view of a wool fiber to prove your point in a bicycling catalogue. I know they're selling their gear, but that's the kind of thing you see in National Geographic. I happen to be a devotee of wool, so it was fun to see it there. Remember Protogs? I think my first biking shorts were Protogs wool. Most of my backpacking clothing is still wool. I ran into a cashmere sweater sale a few years ago, and bought a half-dozen turtlenecks for hiking. I wouldn't hesitate to add a zipper and use them for cycling. They were like $5 each, after being over $80.

I'm not nearly up to snuff on components, as you seem to be. I found that the previously mentioned bike, my first no-so-nice one, was a Sanwa. Imported by a Wisconsin supply company from Japan. One company with three names, one being Sanwa. Steel tubbing, though not double-butted. Made for more of a mass market than anything too serious, though they did have some more serious models. Opinions vary from "another department store piece of junk" to "by today's standards, they're a hell of a lot nicer than anything you would find in a department store. Not a bad frame." That was back when JCPenney sold MCS stereo gear, which was made by Technics and other stereo makers. You could buy some pretty nice stuff that was re-branded, actually good gear. Sanwa is sort of another example of that. We know it doesn't work like that anymore.
 

Swede

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I'm a wool lover too. I actually look forward to winter so I can wear more wool. Its great stuff, and has a lot of admirable properties that I don't think any synthetic has matched yet. I don't remember Protogs, but wasn't into cycling as much until the late 90's. Thats a cool idea about the cashmere sweaters. Its interesting to compare "wool" and hair from various animals to see the properties like camel hair has characteristics that can keep you warm or cool. I'm not too much up on stuff anymore, but would go by what Rivendell sells to start off. There are blogs that Grant writes that are pretty interesting. I looked up Sanwa bikes, and really like the headtube badge. I'll keep my eye out for that make. I know very little about stereo equipment, so you got me there. I've just had Sony stuff.
 

Zeno Marx

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A couple of questions about panniers. Anyone know of a good source for ultra-light panniers or dyneema panniers? On the other end of the spectrum, any good eyecandy sources for people who use military surplus for daily bags? Not looking to outfit an authentic WWII bike or anything like that. More in the vein of people who have either fitted their bike with surplus or modified surplus to work for their daily errand/use bags.

I've been lusting through this thread at Bike Forums, and at least one poster used surplus bags. Unfortunately, their photos no longer show up in the thread. Looking for ideas, but also interested in just seeing some cool fits.

 
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