Two years ago, I built up this lovely Reynolds 531 1980 Meral sport touring frame, and converted it to 650b (it was originally built for 700c wheels with minimal clearances). I used a combination of new and vintage components. My initial build had some issues, primarily involving fork shimmy as well as the Panaracer Col de la Vie tires feeling ponderous and slow. That problem was easily solved with the amazing Compass Loup Loup Pass tires.
With that issue resolved, I began riding the bike a lot more and using it as my primary commuter and weekend rider. But then, it was a dark and rainy night when…I was climbing a steep hill, approaching a light, suddenly a pedestrian walked in front of me, and I had to swerve while driving the pedal down. That caught my shoe up in the fender stay bolts of the pretty hammered fenders I had installed, and I nearly crashed. While I knew about the toe overlap issue with this build, and had adjusted to it, more or less, this was one of those situations when toe overlap became unacceptable.
As I was thinking about changing out the fenders, I felt it was the perfect time to consider replacing the heavy and not so attractive Ticino rear rack. While rummaging through my parts bins, I came across some rusted old F. Fiol front and rear racks, which I had removed from an early 60’s rando bike. They are made from stainless steel tubing, which I discovered once I started cleaning the rust off with a brass brush and some cleaning oil.
I didn’t want to give up the beautiful hammered fenders, but finally concluded that I had to do something different. I probably needed narrower fenders, which didn’t use a stay mounting system with large bolts sticking out.
Then I remembered the simple but sturdy aluminum fenders I had used on my old Centurion Pro Tour. I dug them out, and realized that their stays were flush mounted to the interior of the fenders (just what I needed), and that they were a bit narrower, albeit with much less bling, being of a very understated design. Amazingly, they still looked great, even after about 40,000 miles of use. So, I embarked on a whole new fender/rack installation.
The racks mount to the fenders, and are made from very small diameter steel tubing. Even so, they are much stronger than expected and I have had no qualms about hauling groceries and commuting gear on these racks. Admittedly, I will not try to haul really heavy items, but I actually think I could even carry minimal camping gear, and certainly enough gear for credit card touring with these racks.
Once that was done, I decided to tackle the other issue that had been bothering me about the build – the constant trimming needed on the front derailleur (a Shimano Ultegra designed for a double crankset). I realized that I had a NOS Simplex Super LJ front derailleur in my inventory, and kind of wondered why I didn’t think of using it before…but, once installed it worked perfectly with the T.A. triple crankset. It requires a bit more robust up-shifting, but there is now no trimming needed, and I was able to reinstall the original 8 speed cassette I wanted to use (replacing the lower geared 7 speed cassette I ended up using with the Ultegra).
During this time, I also decided to stop using clipless pedals on all my bikes. Because a lot of my riding is commuting, the constant clipping in and out at stop lights and intersections caused some chronic pain and swelling in my “clip out” foot. So, what was old is new again. I have always loved toe clips, and even though I have used clipless pedals for about 15 years, it felt great to go back to my roots, and that resolved the issue with my swollen ankle. I had originally chosen these beautiful Lyotard pedals to use on the bike, so it was nice to put them back on, and you’ll see I’m using Velo-Orange leather straps – very well designed because the extra material below the clamp helps to keep everything aligned, making it very easy to slip my shoe in and out of the clip.
I am very happy with the rest of the build: