MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

POOR BOY  SS - INTRO

BUILDING THE POOR BOY SS

 POOR BOY SS - UPGRADE

RIDING THE POOR BOY SS 

UPGRADING THE POOR BOY "SINGLE SPEED"

The minute one begins to upgrade a Poor Boy "Single Speed" the bicycle graduates to "Junk Bike".  The mandate when building a Poor Boy is to invest a minimum of time, effort and cash to get the bike on the road, ensuring of course that the bicycle is safe and dependable to ride.  The "Junk Bike" seeks the Poor Boy look to cleverly disguise performance orientation.  Seeking performance changes can, and often times does, require more cash outlay.  Needless to say, time and cost invested goes up with each upgrade as the "Junk Bike" evolves.

Believe it or not, the building of this early eighties Canadian made Miele as a "Junk Bike" was requested by the customer.  The lady in San Diego wanted performance orientation but ugly or unattractive cosmetics.  The Miele is a relatively unknown brand in most parts of the first world and actually frowned upon in Europe, but that is another story.  The bike's cosmetics were all scratched up and the top tube of the double butted chrome moly  frame set even sported a dent.  Though the bicycle is cosmetically challenged, it does not really become apparent until one gets up close.

Now, seeking performance orientation does not mean exotic everything and to heck with the cost.  Seeking performance can mean an assortment of things.  Reducing the bike's weight is a fundamental performance issue.  So too is improving comfort or fit.   Gearing modifications might prove necessary to accommodate terrain issues or even the rider's lever of physical fitness.  Improve braking falls into the performance category.

Good tires are an obvious upgrade but be careful with this one.  A really good set of tires will attract a thief's eye in a blink of an eye.  Part of the "Junk Bike" focus is to make the bike unattractive to thieves.  With this in mind, should you absolutely have to purchase new tires, try to mismatch them at least.  Perhaps you can even get a deal if the bike shop happens to have one of each in a discontinued line.  Have a look and see what you can come up with.  Installing a matched set of new high end tires on a "Junk Bike" is not the way to go.  The tires installed on the Miele, at the owner's insistence, are worth just about half of what it cost to build the bicycle.  And most thieves would recognize that in an instant.

For the Peugeot, an ordinary set of 27" x 1 1/4" tires were selected and then fitted with puncture resistant inner tubes.  The resulting dependability performance would be the equal of the expensive set of Schwalbe tires but at one fifth the cost, or even considerably less.

Upgrading can also focus on comfort issues.  A good quality saddle, preferably scuffed up or even with a tear or two, is the first thing one might want to replace.  Steering stems and handlebars will likely become a targets for change, once again focusing on fit and comfort.  In addition to terrain considerations, intended riding conditions can also lead to special requirements.  Since the Peugeot will bridge the gap between the end of deep Winter and the beginning of Spring thaw, a set of aggressive tread tires would be in order.  And, again, because of the crappy conditions in which the Peugeot will see service, a set of fenders is almost a must.  Finally, the bicycle will be used from everything from picking up groceries to carrying other bicycles home.  In other words, an errand runner and that suggests the need to be able to carry extra stuff from time to time.

When city or errand riding, I always wear a back pack.  Generally, the pack offers enough capacity for me to carry whatever it is that I might need to bring home.  But there will be times when one needs an extra place to carry stuff - perhaps even the back pack if the city ride turns into something different.  Many is the time I have pulled the back pack off, strapped it to the rear rack with a bungi cord or two and headed off again.  With all of these thoughts lurking just below the surface, the need to upgrade the Peugeot became increasingly apparent.

The Peugeot's performance upgrades had nothing to do with weight reduction, or going faster or even stopping faster.  The performance focus was simply city riding comfort, fit and convenience.  The number one performance upgrade for a busy traffic bike, for just about any bicycle actually, is to be seen.  Keeping as dry as possible in inclement weather and sometimes unsavoury riding conditions is a second important requirement.  Being able to carry things would prove to be a great benefit for the bicycle.  The handlebar choice had already been made, as had the slow down component choices.  With all of this in mind, the performance upgrades for the Peugeot would include install lights/reflectors, fenders, and a luggage rack of some kind.

I should offer a word of warning about building both Poor Boy and Junk Bikes.  It will be difficult to resist the urge to pretty the bicycle up.  As you invest time and effort, perhaps even a few dollars, into the bicycle you will begin to walk down the path of best results.  You will be tempted to wax the frame set or shine up the chrome.  Don't!  Just leave it dirty, ugly and unattractive.  You will not understand this urge to improve until it assaults your intended build purpose.  But it will happen...  Then you will know.  All that said, you must keep the certain mechanical components, such as the drive chain and sprocket clean if they are to function properly.

With upgrade targets in mind, The Old Shed was once again asked to cough up it Velo treasures.  The accessories of interest would be an unwanted set of fenders, match or mismatched and a rear carrying rack for sure.  Perhaps even a front rack, if any were basking in the gloom of the shed.  And, it just so happens that I know exactly where one is stashed and, as I recall, the handlebar bag that goes with the rack is there also.  I might add that the bag has a map pocket which would be a real bonus for Yard Sale days.

Fender sets have been accumulating in The Old Shed for years now.  Though of absolutely no interest to me when I first started collecting and riding vintage road bicycles, I have come to appreciate the value of a good set of fenders.  The trick would be to find a set that would work well and have little collectable or resale value.  Perhaps something mismatched.  However, a plastic set all but jumped out at me as soon as I began to search the shed.  Why not use them?  I hated plastic fenders for vintage use, but for practical use - absolutely.  Next I would need a decent parcel or luggage rack...

For two years I had seen an old "Ten Speed" sitting in the side yard of a house that I ride by from time to time.  I always kept my eyes peeled for signs of life as I passed by and one day I was rewarded for my patience and diligence.  I stopped, introduced myself and purpose, explaining that I would like to purchase the bicycle.  That request and ten dollars netted a fairly nice late seventies or early eighties Raleigh Criterium.  I paid the fellow and carried (literally) the Raleigh home.  The Criterium was fitted with a pretty nice Shimano 600 Arabesque grouppo and also sported an unusual luggage rack for a "Ten Speed".  The rack would soon find a new home.

Lighting to me is intended to let me be seen as I ride and with this in mind, I always have two flashing red lights attached to my person when out and about at night.  I also have a small flashing white light attached to the handlebars.  The red flasher, incidentally, is absolutely illegal to use where I live.  I do not like to intentionally break the law but I will use the flashing red beacon since it is so effective at making me visible and from a long ways off.  I also have no qualms with riding on the side walk when traffic conditions warrant doing so.  Of course, I respect all other side walk users.

With those few upgrades out of the way, I forced myself to quit building the "Poor Boy Junk Bike".  I would love to dump the pie plate and clunky five cog freewheel.  Converting the crank set to better resemble the "Single Speed" image would also be a considerable improvement in how the bicycle looks.  But then I remember - the bike should not look good.  Unfortunately the Peugeot does look pretty darn good - from a distance.  One up close look at the disease that covers the frame set in splotchy blotches should help change a would be thief's mind.

   

 

NEXT - RIDING THE POOR BOY "SINGLE SPEED"

 

 

     

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