Look KG381 Team

August 25, 2011

Picked up my new (well second-hand but in excellent condition) Look KG381 Team with full Dura-Ace 7800 groupset and new Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels. Can hardly wait to get out for a decent ride on this full-carbon weapon and see what it can do.


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.

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

November 28, 2010

I finished yesterday’s race in 5:37.15 – that’s 160km of non-stop pedalling at an average speed of just under 28kph. Not bad I say.

Surely you could coast down the hills you might ask? Nope, I did the race on a track bike, that means no freewheel and no coasting.

I used the race as a means to fundraise for the Kiwi charity Medicine Mondiale. All up I managed to raise $1180, although there might be a bit more trickling through in the wake of the race. Ray Avery’s Medicine Mondiale does a fantastic job at developing high-quality solutions to the medical problems faced by those less fortunate than ourselves. The charity is dedicated to creating a more equitable world and is about using science to solve specific problems, not simply sending poor countries our secondhand leftovers. If you’d like to make a donation please visit Medicine Mondiale’s site.

The race was hard but my training paid off. I’m very happy with my time and how well I did on the hills. There was seriously no contest as roadies would gear down, spin like hell, and go nowhere, as I powered steadily up each and every climb. They might then pass me on the next long downhill, only to succumb to the next climb. Consistency was really the key. It seemed like many riders started out quick but ended up falling back as the race progressed and fatigue set in.

To be really honest I can’t remember that much. My focus was steadily on what was in front of me and pushing myself to catch the group up ahead. I basically followed this pattern of jumping from group to group as I pedalled on. The ups and downs all blend into one as everything and nothing goes through your head. People call this ‘”getting into the zone”, but it’s hard to explain this to someone who hasn’t experienced sporting focus first hand.

Hatepe Hill was one to remember, though. In the lead up to the race I’ve heard and read much about this infamous hill. What they say is true, this hill is steep – very, very steep. It climbs 150m in around 2km,  and at the 132km mark, it’s bound to take its toll. As I approached the bottom of Hatepe I saw swarms of riders slowly making their way up it. A few people passed me, only to have me pass them moments later as the hill proper kicked in. I climbed Hatepe at a steady pace of just under 10kph. This was fast enough to see me pass many people the whole way up. It’s a bitch of a hill, and one that soon sorts the men from the boys. Many dismounted to walk instead of ride, it is that steep.

Here are some photos that my trusty support ‘crew’ (there was no crew as such, only one Louisa) snapped during the race. Fingers crossed one of the professional photographers snapped me in action, but with thousands of participants the chances of this is unlikely.

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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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After a few months of searching for parts for my 1969 Claud Butler build it’s finally rolling, well sort of.

A quick test ride today has proven  shimming a 26mm seatpost up to 26.4mm is just not going to cut it as I can’t get the post to clamp down tight enough. Half way up the road and I was starting to pedal by knees into my elbows.

I’ve ordered a silver Kalloy Laprade-style 26.4mm post from JensonUSA. A decent length seatpost in this size and in silver has been one of the hardest items to source so I’m glad to have finally found one.

Another little snag  holding things up was sourcing a reasonably priced 1″ quill stem. As the frame is relatively small for me, I first tried it out with a fugly 130mm 90s-style stem. This made the bike’s handling feel very odd. A long stem and shallow rake aren’t a good combination so yesterday I got hold of a tidy 95mm Specialized branded stem for just $29. Now that’s the kind of price I’m after when I’m still at the testing stage to work out what length I need. The stem’s nice – it’s  styled very similar to Nitto’s offerings although it’s a bit too rough to match the rest of the standard I’ve set for the build – but it won’t be staying for long as I’ve also ordered a 90mm Nitto Dynamic stem, also from Jensen.

So the bike’s not finished yet, but it’s close. So very close.

Now I wait, for orders to arrive from both Wellington and the US.

From Capital Cycles in Wellington comes a brand spanking new Brooks B-17 Standard saddle and Brooks leather bar tape. Both in honey colour.

And from the US comes the seatpost, the Nitto stem and Brooks toe straps – in honey of course to match the saddle and tape.

I’m hoping that all these bits arrive by the end of the week in time to finish off the bike on Sunday but this might be too optimistic.

Once the bike’s completed I’ll post up some pictures along with a spec list and then a ride report.