Classy Old Bike

(Reposted from 23 September 2009)

I found this 1970’s-era Dawes racing bike in a trash pile near my house. Knocked on the door and yes, they intended to throw it out. I was on my mountain bike, so I grabbed the old bike’s gooseneck and towed it home.

The old track wheels were straight, but the tires were ancient Dutch high-pressure gum tread with nylon cords; unreliable and unsafe. Went to the bike shop and got some Kevlar tires for it. The rear bearings were shot, but digging around in my parts bucket(s) I found a hub with the same kind of cones and bearings, perfect condition. Just a little bit of time and grease and the axle was turning smoothly again. My old Black & Decker compressor had to strain to get up to 110 lbs of air pressure.

The old-style racing handlebars aren’t my cuppa, so back to the buckets and found some straight bars, a brake handle off an old mountain bike, some comfortable handgrips and a better seat. It’s amazing what you accumulate when you strip old junk bikes for parts.

This frame is old-style lugged alloy steel, strong and lively for its light weight. The bike handles beautifully, which is not unexpected for an old Brit racing bike. It has mountain bike pedals on it, which is fine. originally (before someone made it into a track bike) it had Weinmann brakes but the front brake is a Dia-Compe center pull. The back brake is superfluous on a track bike, due to the fixed gear.

I rode it to work the last two days. Super-silent, super-light, almost zero rolling resistance. I may use it for long rides in the country or on the constitution trail. I’ve heard that fixed-gear bikes strengthen your quads, which is good for the knees.

Here’s the nameplate. Lot of artistry went into this one.