Rivendell Appaloosa

Photo courtesy of Rivendell Bicycles Works https://www.rivbike.com/

I recently ordered this lovely 2018 Rivendell Appaloosa frame.  It is designed for 650b wheels (a 51 cm frame) and has 135 mm rear spacing.

Why?  I have many wonderful bikes that I thoroughly enjoy riding.  But one thing I have never had since 1999 is a bicycle soul mate – that’s the year I crashed my 1976 Centurion Pro Tour.  Since then, while I have ridden many excellent bikes, I have never found that one bike that speaks to me, a bike that will take me into the next decades of riding, with comfort, competence, and a spiritual connection that is hard to explain.

In 2012 I built a 650b frameset while attending UBI’s frame building class here in Portland.  That experience helped me realize two things:  experienced frame builders have much knowledge and lore that newbies should respect and value. And, many cycling “experts” don’t know a thing about frame geometry, especially as it applies to riders under 5’6″.  One of the (few?) nice things about being an accountant by trade is that math comes naturally to me.  So, understanding the complexity of frame geometry has always been a high priority.

The 650b frame I built back in 2012 is currently being repaired with additional brazing on one of the lug joints that I didn’t do so well at filling with silver the first time out.  When that frame has been sand blasted and painted, I’ll build it up.

Rivendell Appy in shipping garb

Meanwhile, I received shipment of the Rivendell Appaloosa and 650b Velocity wheelset I had ordered earlier this winter.  When the frame arrived I was amazed to see that Rivendell had protected and packaged the frame in a way that only bike geeks can appreciate. As a buyer of bike frames, I have received countless frames shipped with no tubing or drop out protection.  Some eBay sellers simply do not have a clue as to how to properly ship a bike frame, so: Caveat Emptor.

As expected, this bike’s paint scheme is lovely, in fact, extraordinary for this price point.  The fork crown has ornate patterns, with mounting holes on top to accept stays for a front rack.  The Appaloosa head badge is fun and interesting (it’s a Rivendell!), and all the lugs have been filed and well brazed.  For a frameset that costs the consumer a mere $1,300, the value is clearly reflected in these features.  A Rivendell frame is one step away from custom, but inexpensive compared to custom options.

Is this a cargo bike?

Horseshoe seat tube/seat post drilling

Whether you want a kickstand or not – here is the bracket for it

Beefier than any other dropout – and with two threaded eyelets.

Two more eylets on the rear dropouts

3 rack mounts on the seat stays, plus the eyelets on the dropouts.

Silver tubes – butted and cro-mo

One thing to note about Rivendell frames is that they can have a longer wheelbase and longer chainstays than expected.  This Appaloosa has 51 cm chainstays. That means it is in cargo bike territory for its wheelbase.  For this frame (advertised as 51 cm size), I measured the seat tube as 50 cm and the top tube as 55.5 cm.  These measurements differ from the specs shown on Rivendell’s website.  My measurements are center to center.

There are a few condition issues with the frame.  The seat stay cluster was filed very thin, but the upper portion extends outward, and with a little paint loss, is not ideal.  Also the rear canti stud braze-ons are not well executed.  They look unprofessional, but after examination I think they will be safe to ride.  The head badge was not glued evenly to the head tube, as shown above.  Naturally, I am documenting these issues in case anything arises with the performance of the bike.

Because the frame is heavier than other frames that I ride, I expect to replace the FSA headset and the low-end Shimano bottom bracket.  I’ve got lots of interesting vintage options in my parts bin that are lighter weight and probably more likely to last through the ages, as well as provide better performance.  Smaller riders can benefit from weight savings, and I intend to focus on that as I consider options for components.

Removing and Replacing Vintage Bicycle Grips

1947 C. Daudon blue Velox grips

The baby blue original Velox grips on my 1947 Camille Daudon were faded, dry, cracking and incomplete.  I usually love to re-use all original equipment on any vintage bicycle I restore, but these grips were damaged beyond repair.

Wood grips from the 1940’s

Earlier period vintage bicycles sometimes feature wood grips, which require a different algorithm for restoration and replacement.  The Daudon’s grips were rubber, and so I searched the internet for a suitable replacement.

I was lucky to find these French NOS Felt grips which matched the shape of original Velox grips exactly.  The blue color is very vibrant, and is a little bit lighter than the color of the original grips, which have faded and darkened over time.

The Daudon’s Stronglight crankset features matching blue highlights.  Even the crank bolt is colorized.

When I restore or “preserve” any vintage bicycle, I do my best not to ruin any original parts or accessories in the process.  I wanted to remove the original grips without damaging them. Parts that I remove and replace are kept for a future owner of the bicycle.  That’s the best way to document a bicycle’s provenance.  Using a surfactant, in this case Finish LIne’s pink bike wash, is the best way to soften the dry grips and begin the removal process.  By slowly and carefully inserting the blade of a small narrow screwdriver, and then spraying the bike wash into the opening, the dry grips began to soften.  After about 1/2 hour of this process I was able to remove both original grips intact without destroying them.

For installing the new grips, I will use that most mysterious of products:  hairspray.  An adhesive not to be messed with.

Before that, I will remove the brake levers and stem from the alloy bar, clean and polish all the parts, and then put everything back together.  This bicycle’s stem mounts directly to the steerer tube, and is fashioned from lugged steel, chromed, with sets of 8 mm mounting bolts on the stem and steerer sections.  The Daudon’s levers are alloy, but unbranded.  The handlebar assembly will be lovely and functional when completed, and then I can move on to the rest of the restoration process.

1947 Ideale Model 65 Saddle

1947 “Hawk Nose” Ideale Model 65 with duralumin rails

Ideale Saddles were often a builder’s or rider’s choice on quality bicycles produced from the early 1900’s to nearly the end of the previous century.  The manufacturer,Tron and Berthet, began operations in France way back in 1890.  While they made many highly prized saddles, some of the most interesting lightweight models feature these large duralumin rails.  Together with the supplied duralumin clamp, these saddles were lighter weight than any competitors’ models, some weighing in at 250 grams less than a standard saddle.  This Ladies Model 65 weighs only 15 ounces, or 425 grams.  For comparison, the smaller standard Brooks B-17 weighs 540 grams.

It is a lovely saddle, having come equipped on my 1947 Camille Daudon, and was in nice condition for its 70 plus years of age.  While the leather was a bit dry, there was no cracking and the leather had not separated from the rivets anywhere on the saddle.  The seatpost is alloy also. I am guessing that the seatpost was custom made by Camille Daudon.  It has a closed top, is feather weight, and should polish up quite beautifully.

And so, I was looking forward to cleaning and polishing the beautiful alloy Daudon seatpost and Ideale seatpost clamp.  The entire Ideale clamp assembly is alloy, except for the axle and bolts, which are steel.

Even the round washers are alloy.  However, there is a down side to these lightweight components.  As you can see above, one of the alloy clamp pieces has broken apart and the other is cracked.  These seatpost clamps require a lot of torque to prevent the saddle from altering its position while cycling over bumps and other surface anomalies.  The alloy clamps probably could not withstand the torque needed to keep the saddle in place while riding.  That means sourcing some undamaged clamps to fit these wide duralumin rails.

 

If you are interested in the history of Ideale saddles, you might want to check out this post from Eric Anschutz (ebykr), who recently published an overview of the company’s history.