It’s been almost two months since I last updated this blog. Damn. My excuse is that I’ve been doing other things, like building a flat tray for my new townie.

“New townie?” you ask. Yes, the Claud Butler is getting a makeover. You might remember it from my earlier classic-inspired build, which funnily enough I posted up a year tomorrow. That build never really worked out, the geometry was really lax 60s roadie and no good for a fixed ride. The frame, with its 53cm top tube, was also on the small side for me which meant running a tall seat post and a ridiculously high saddle to bar height; cool on a true track or pursuit frame, not so cool on an old road frame with a shallow rake. In the end I stripped the frame and mounted it on the wall in my room where it stayed until now.

I’m going to run a set of box section wheels with a coaster brake on the rear. I’ll be ordering this wheelset from the States soon. Other than that the bike’s almost good to go. I have a spare set of low-end Sugino cranks where the driveside arm, spider and ring are all one piece. Not so good for high-stress fixed drive trains, but perfect for this townie build and coaster brake setup. The front rack is my own design with parts bought from my local hardware store. It’s a bit of a work in progress but will hopefully be strong enough to hold a 12 pack when finished.

More pics to come once this build it rolling, watch this space.


My Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is featured in a post here on Ray Avery/Medicine Mondiale’s blog. Rad!

The professional photographers snapped a few great shots of me in action at Taupo. It doesn’t look that steep, but the top shot shows the infamous Hatepe Hill. You can see people in the background who’ve hopped off their bike to walk it; it’s that steep. It felt great to power up this hill passing people the whole way up. It was tough on the legs, though. Bring on the Rotorua Flyer in April, might even have a team of fixed riders doing it by then.

I’ve created a new page where I’ll be keeping a log of all my training rides in preparation for some road races come summer.

You can find it next to the ‘About’ page up top.

In other news, my shiny, chrome high-flange Phil Wood hubs are on their way from the States. In the past I’ve not been a fan of mirror finishes but I admit they’re growing on me, quickly. I bit of well-placed chrome is unbeatable. I’m planning on lacing these hubs to a set of bright silver Deep Vs with silver double butted spokes. They’ll probably live on the Miyata, but will no doubt see some action on the Coltello. Watch this space.

On Wednesday evening I was heading down Symonds St when some asshole pulled out of City Rd taking me out.

I clipped the right back corner of the car and went down. All very well, people make mistakes and I’m used to cars pulling out on me, but this joker didn’t stop and just drove on up Symonds. I got up and ran after him in the bus lane, dragging my Coltello in along with me. He got stuck behind a bus waiting at a red light at the K Rd / Grafton Bridge intersection. Google maps tells me I ran 150m before catching up to him at the lights. Damn right. He gestured that he’d pull over up ahead but screw that, he was probably just wanting to drive off again. I stood in front of his car’s bonnet with my bike refusing to move. Only when I said I was calling the police did he get out of his car and begin apologising profusely, pleading with me not to call the cops. Tough luck buddy, you reap what you sow. I bet you’ll  suddenly see a lot more bikes on the road from now on.

DON’T DRIVE OFF WHEN YOU HIT SOMEONE; that shit’s just not on.

The cops turned up and took our statements, but it’s pretty black and white; there’s no grey here. Three witnesses also stopped and supplied me and the cops with their details. Big  ups to these three people, you rock. The cops were also great to deal with, too.

Thankfully the bike and myself are fine. The bike’s up at T Whites getting looked over by the Supersonic Brian. But they reckon it’s all good, just a couple of tiny scratches and a minor clearcoat chip out of my carbon forks. They build ’em tough.

So kids, the moral of the story is don’t pull out in front of bikes, and if you do stuff up, don’t run.

Tall gearing trial

August 8, 2010

I took the Miyata for a 33km training ride this afternoon. Ignoring the brief shower and the gusts – which always seemed to be a damn headwind – the ride went well. My legs feel better for it but the 50/13 ratio’s not for me, thank you very much. Theoretically, this gearing should see me doing 50kph on the flat easy, however, in reality this isn’t quite the case. I usually run the ‘perfect’  48/17 but have found myself spinning out with more left in the tank lately. Admittedly, the 50/13 is a massive jump up, but it was an interesting trial that cost me nothing as the wheelset with the 13t cog was the set that came with the bike.

I’ve done a few calculations and I’m going to give 52/17 a go. This will give me a rollout of 6.4m, according to Sheldon Brown’s useful calculator.

So how does this compare? Well with 48/17 I’m looking at a rollout of 5.9m, whereas today’s 50/13 had me riding with a whopping 8.1m rollout!

I made it through my Tamaki Drive/St Heliers loop but steep Roberta Ave killed me. I was also disappointed to see that my I’ve replaced one problem with another, both leaving me feeling like I could go faster. With 50/13 I found that although my legs could turn faster, I don’t have the power to push the pedals as fast as I’d like. I averaged 26.6kph on today’s ride – pulled down plenty by the hills. There is no point being fast on the flat if it just means I get killed on the climbs.  So everything’s pointed to the 52/17 ratio, so I’ve ordered a 52t chainring from Fyxomatosis. It’ll be sent off tomorrow so I’ll hopefully have my hands on it before next weekend. They’re supposedly awesome. I’ll do a write-up once it arrives to see if they’re worthy of their cred.

The funny thing is before the ride I spoke to a fellow fixed rider who usually cruises on 51/14, dunno how he can do it but he reckons it’s great.

Bicycle bedroom

August 7, 2010

This is my bedroom, and why my girlfriend is awesome.

Trigon drops and stem combo

Here’s a sneak peek at my brand new carbon fibre Trigon drops. All up this awesome bit of kit is a meagre 370g.

But never mind the weight savings, it just looks plain awesome. I dig the bulging muscular look of them and the finish is second to none.

I’ve been running full carbon fibre Trigon straight-blade forks for close to year now and they’ve never let me down. So it’s fair to say I’m a bit of a Trigon fan. In the area of carbon fibre composites, Trigon’s finish is the best I’ve seen. I’ve taken the bike for a quick spin and these bars are very comfortable. I’m going to swap them back for my Nitto B125 bars and save them for racing.

Although I trust Trigon’s products I’d rather run the steel Nittos which will take more of the force in the event of a crash during day-to-day riding.

Team Miyata Track

June 26, 2010

My new toy arrived from Christchurch yesterday. A very rare – the only one imported new into New Zealand – pro-model Team Miyata track bike.

I won it for a good price, although it was ramped up a bit during the auction with another keen bloke in the bidding to the end.

I’ve taken it for a spin and it rides amazingly, and that’s with the stale tyres, too-long stem and rock-hard seat!

This frame is exactly what I’ve wanted for while – a proper NJS-style steel steed with aggressive track geometry, and not drilled for brakes. I love the lugwork and the contrasting yellow lug cutouts lugs and stamped rear stays.  The colour scheme is great, and far too good to even consider repainting it.

So a little about Miyata. From what I’ve read Miyata were special in that they made their own tubing, they were also the first to use triple-butted tubing, although my Team Miyata uses double-butted tubes. Sheldon Brown has high praise for Miyata, although he’s referring to their top-shelf touring model during the 80s. Miyata was founded by a  Japanese gunsmith – Eisuke Miyata – and produced the first conventional Japanese bicycle in 1892. There’s a bit of history about Miyata here and catalogues to be found here.

The good/interesting bits that came with bike include:

  • Cinelli stem and handlebars – the stem is too long for me so will be replaced with a shorter Nitto stem
  • Suntour Superbe Pro crank on the right, and a Dura-Ace arm on the left
  • 50t French chainring and 14t Dura-Ace cog
  • Campagnolo bottom bracket and headset, both feel silky smooth
  • Shiny 36-hole high-flange Suzue hubs

The rims are nothing-fancy Alex, the seat is a rock-hard throwaway, and the seatpost, a plain Ritchey.

The pics show MKS pedals and Brooks straps, these were robbed from the Claud Butler build. The photos were taken in the Auckland Domain, though I’m not super happy with how they turned out. The light was crap but never mind, there’ll be more pics no doubt once I get what I want sorted on the bike.

Taken with a 450D and Canon’s f1.4 50mm USM.

Here’s the frame’s history – from the seller – which is worth a read, too.

It’s a particularly special bike David and has a very fine pedigree indeed. Here’s a brief history.

1. It’s the only one of its type brought new into NZ – ever.

2. It was my first brand new bike and was originally a gift to me from Miyata Inc. Japan after my Dad secured the agency for the distribution of the brand in NZ following a visit to them in Japan in late 1989. At the time he was the CEO for CMC (Cycle Manufacturing Co) who made Tarini bikes & Pantha BMXs.

3. The first time I raced it I crashed and scored the minor dings in the top tube as mementos. I was severley annoyed about it but they proved to be a constant reminder to be careful.

4. I raced it at the Nat Track Champs in Auckland that year and took it to the Junior World Champs in the UK as a backup just in case it was needed.

5. My Dad also raced it and won a number of National medals in the Veterans’ category.

6. I last raced it in 1994 but it went on to be raced by a number of really good riders who scored national medals at Under-17 and 19 level, helping 3 of them get selected to race at the Junior Worlds.

7. It most famously went to Italy where it was ridden on the track in the Junior World Championships Points Race by Auckland’s Rawea Greenwood (1993 or 1994?) who won bronze in the pursuit (on my old pursuit bike).

8. It is very well travelled in NZ and has been ridden on most of the velodromes including Levin, Palmerston North, the old and new tracks in Wanganui, Taupo, Manukau & New Lynn in Auckland, Trafalger Park in Nelson, Denton and English Parks in Christchurch, Dunedin & Mosgiel, along with the old outdoor and new indoor tracks at Invercargill.

So there you go. It’s been in our family for 20 years but now the next chapter in its amazing life is up to you.


Cheers, Brendon

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The Olympic bands

May 29, 2010

My regular Trade Me hunting saw me stumble across this frame and fork in early January. I nabbed it up for the sharp price of $130 from a bloke down in Wellington. It’s a 1968/1969 Claud Butler Electron Super Five according to the catalogues. The frame is in very good nick considering its age. The delicate and slim metal tubing really can’t be beat, it just has so much more character than a welded alloy frame. It has beautiful lugwork throughout and still bares the Prugnat Lugs sticker – mostly intact. Plus there’s plenty of patina all over which makes the bike look even better, especially juxtaposed with all the new and shiny bits I’ve built it up with. I coated the frame with a clear spray paint I bought from the hardware store. The idea behind this was seal the frame and prevent any further corrosion. The clearcoat has also had the effect of bringing out the colours of the frame. It was well worth the effort.

With the frame sorted it was just a matter of sourcing all the other parts needed. I’d actually picked up a set of brand new Dura-Ace 7600 track hubs before I’d found the frame. These beautiful high-flange hubs set the standard for the build – silver. It had to be silver. Admittedly not everything on the bike is comparable to these gorgeous  hubs. The headset and bottom bracket are entry-level Modus and Truvativ units. I couldn’t justify buying a Campy headset but the Modus one came in silver and looks the part, so on it went.

The hardest part to source was a seatpost. The frame uses a rare 26.4mm post. They’re actually quite easy to get hold of in black but a completely different story when it comes to silver. Once I’d finally got hold of a 26.4mm silver post from the States the whole project came together in a matter of a few days.

The finishing touches bare the longstanding name Brooks. The saddle, handlebar tape and toe straps are all Brooks. I reckon the ‘honey’ colour leather looks great against the red and the shiny silver. The standard of Brooks’ parts is second to none and you just can’t beat the look and feel of high-quality leather. And, aren’t those cork bar ends just awesome? The saddle is Brooks’ cheapest and most popular, the B17. Although the leather tape is fantastic it’s a shame it’s covering up the quality of Nitto’s finish. The bars are Nitto B125 – a chrome-finished steel bar. Most people go for the B123s but I prefer the more shallow drop of the 125. Either way, you can’t beat these NJS bars, the feel of steel is real, and like the frame, it’s great.  You can’t see the bar’s chrome, but you can see the excellent satin finish of the Nitto Dynamic stem. The stem has a 26mm clamp but I was stoked to find it clamps nice and tightly to the 25.4mm bars. I’m glad I didn’t need to source a shim as it would probably have ended up dragging the project out like the damn seatpost did.

All in all I’m very happy with the way this bike has turned out. It’s great to see ideas finally materialise, and having only taken five months, I can’t complain.

Here are the specs and some more photos. They’re shot with a 450D and a Canon 50mm USM 1.4 prime.

  • 1968/69 Claud Butler frame and fork
  • Shimano Dura-Ace 7600 track hubs laced with double-butted spokes to Velocity Aerohead rims – 28h front and 32h rear
  • Sugino Super Mighty 165mm  144BCD track cranks with a 45t French TA chainring and Uzumi chain
  • Nitto Dynamic stem in 90mm with 40cm Nitto B125 Steel Keirin bars
  • MKS Sylvan track pedals with MKS toe clips
  • Brooks B17 saddle, leather handlebar tape and toe straps
  • Continental GP4000S front and Continental Ultra sport rear

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