Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Fell in love with a Step Thru- My 1980 Schwinn World Tourist

Vintage Find: 1980 Schwinn World Tourist Five Speed
My new coffee shop bike

I recently responded to a classified ad on a pair of Schwinn World Tourists. I bought the this pair for 80 dollars, but the men's bike could have been designed for Wilt Chamberlain. I couldn't even throw my leg over the exaggeratedly tall top tube of the bike. The step through version, or ladies frame (although I refuse to call it that, let's just refer to it as a step through, ok?) was designed also for a very tall woman, but it fit me like a glove when I got on it for a test ride. I took these bikes home and stayed up late buffing out the step through frame with some steel wool and WD40. The dynamo wasn't working at first, so I removed the head of the generator and sprayed that down with some WD40 as well. Once I got it loose enough to move, I spun the cranks and the lights lit up. I then took it for a spin around my block at night. Riding this bike is like riding a 1960's Chevy Impala. The circular non-LED headlight lights up yellow and not so bright, kind of like the round headlights of an old car.  

I wasn't even three houses down my block and a neighbor spotted me and complimented me on the bike. I also enjoyed the upright position the bike put me in. Not that I have any problems riding leaned onto the bike, but the different positioning offers a different perspective while riding on it. Granted, this bike isn't a road bike. It isn't meant to go fast, but I already own fast, more intense bicycles. This bike, although not as fast, and according to some American standards, not designed for me (because I'm a dude) is the kind of bike that will stick with me when I no longer have the itch for hard core cycling but still want to excercise and pedal around a bicycle. In fact, there are actually some benefits to owning a step through bicycle as a guy. It has optimal geometry if you have back problems (which I happen to have as well, not severely though). There is no danger zone area if you happen to crash on the bike, since there is nothing that will bang your family jewels out of existence. It's not a touring bike, but there are accounts of many people riding long distances on step through bikes. Many men in Belgium commute on a step through. In Amsterdam, this bike is referred to as a dutch style bicycle. 

Here's a few pictures of my step through bicycle. 

A look from the rear. The dynamo is on the right side of the bike, with a little round taillight attached.

The front headlight on the bicycle is in working order.

The saddle is comfy and well broken into.

It may sound like I'm rationalizing my choice in owning this bicycle, but this bicycle is truly designed for me and I feel comfortable on it. I don't feel like I'm compromising my masculinity in riding what a few people might consider a ladies bike. I feel that the perception of cycling in America needs to broaden to be more accepting outside of the norm. There are road bikes and mountain bikes. They very seldom make bicycles like this anymore. Even the "hybrid" bicycles are just mountain bikes with thinner wheels or road bikes with a flat bar instead of a drop bar.  It's common sense to ride a step through bike, and I believe there should be something like this available for men in most bike shops in the US. That will open up a new market to older gents and those guys who would like to ride but otherwise can't seem to bend over or have mobility issues. Even if you just want something that expresses your personality, or have plans on doing a tweed ride in the future, this bike is for you. This bike is laid back fun in a non-aggressive, "I'll get there when I get there", sort of way. 

If you are a guy who for some reason finds a bicycle like this and want to make it your own, don't be ashamed. You can ride your bike with your head held high knowing that you are not the only dude in America on a step through frame.

How To Restore Your Bicycle: Part 3-Re assembly

Now that we got the rust off, it's time to put it back together.

I first want to apologize that I have been behind on my recent activities in regards to this restoration. The frame has arrived back from powder coating, as well as a few parts that I have ordered online. I like to make the best use of my time, so I started putting the bike back together as I wait for the last few pieces that I ordered. 

This cruiser is a little more complicated in that it is geared and comes equipped with a drum brake. Some restorations take longer than others, and because of the wait time in receiving parts this restoration will probably take a little more than a month to complete. 

Here's a few pictures of what the bike looks like as of today. Still a work in progress, but finally starting to take it's true form.

Coming Together: The frame finally arrived from powder coating, so it's time to start re assembly.
Pedal to the metal: The powder coated frame and pedals really brings out the shine.

I replaced the springer fork with this replica
If you happen to be restoring a cruiser similiar to this, keep in mind the following tips which will make putting the bike back together a whole lot easier.

- The non-geared side is reverse threaded. Remove all the hardware from this side of the bike, and simply slide the crank arm out of the bottom bracket through the opposite end. Slide the crank arm in through the geared side when reinstalling it.

- Bottom bracket bearings will always face with the ball ends towards the frame, against the cups of the bottom bracket. Never install these facing outward, this will cause the bearings to break and failure of the bottom bracket assembly.

- Steering tube bearings always face with the ball ends upward. The bottom steering tube bearing will have the ball end against the bottom of the steering tube and the top bearing will have the ball end against the crown of the threaded fork.

These are some tips, so far, that I can include if you're this far into your own restoration. In the coming weeks I will post some final pictures of the finished product and some more tips on putting the bike back together along the way.

Friday, July 27, 2012

DART Orange Line- Irving, welcome to Mass Transit

It's finally here! The Orange line comes to Irving/ Las Colinas
Open for business on July 30.
This Rail Line marks where the Las Colinas Urban Center Station will open come Monday, July 30.

Finally, after three years of long anticipation, the Orange line will be open for business on Monday, July 30, connecting Irving and Las Colinas to the DART railway system. This could not come sooner for residents around the  Las Colinas business sector. There are many new attractions in Las Colinas that people will now have more accessibility to. There is also a bike centric atmosphere developing in this area. Las Colinas is home to the L.B Houston trail system, also known as Campion Trails, a on and off road trail system running between the subdivisions of Las Colinas and Valley Ranch. The Bike Shop in Las Colinas just opened it's doors a few years ago in downtown Las Colinas and provides top notch service with any bicycle repairs. Every Wednesday evening cyclists will get together in the La Villita subdivision for the weekly criterium race.

The DART rail station is the icing on the cake for many new changes that this area is undergoing to quickly become a magnet for bicycle friendliness and mixed use zoning development. It has also attracted many new job companies and potential employers, Research in Motion being their latest acquisition. Things are looking up for this architecturally wonderful area that only a few years ago had nothing going on in it.

Flashback to 2006. I was in my early 20s. At 11:30pm, I would lace on my Converse high tops and put on my rolling stones tee shirt. Tonight was free-running night, otherwise known as parkour night. Las Colinas was the sort of nightly ghost town you could do such a thing in. As I jumped staircases and bus stops, flying over trash cans I couldn't help noticing how beautiful this place was. It has canals, like Venice, even clever vines that wrap themselves along a faux-pas brick wall. A lonely set of lanterns lit up the cobble stone paths. The windows of businesses that no one ever shopped in still displayed 80's manikins with their teal jewelry and wide Sunday hats. There was a building that had one floor in it where there was always a party, you could tell by the changing lights coming out of the windows. Along it's skyline was an unused metro rail, suspended by bridges, even going through some of the buildings.  Las Colinas was eerie, in a very cool sort of way. To best describe what Las Colinas was, it was like being in a Duran Duran music video, a place that got stuck somewhere in the mid to late 80's, and hid itself from the world. It was the kind of place that left you wondering after you visited, was it real or did it only exist in my mind?

My favorite shot of Las Colinas at night. 2008 by Jonathan Guzman. All rights reserved

Anyway, back to 2012. Las Colinas continues to be a cool place, getting in cooler as time goes on. Although they no longer allow free-running (that's ok, I don't think I can do that anymore anyway) it now boasts gondola boatmen in it's canals and a hometown bike shop. Surrounding Las Colinas is the DFW airport, friendly roads and lots of places to ride. Check out more on what Las Colinas has to offer. Read my blog other blog posts about this area. Check out the bike information on the DART website with tips on how to use the DART to commute by bicycle. I look forward to this year's opening of the Orange Line, and the Blue line station in Rowlett come December.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Restore an Old Bicycle?

 Will restoring an old bicycle add value to it?

I have been getting feedback on my blog from several viewers. One such viewer asked me the above question which makes for an interesting discussion topic. The reader might ask, "can something that's been sitting in my barn or on my porch for 30 years still be valuable?".  All you have to do is watch the show American Pickers, and the question will answer itself.

The truth is, there is always a market for classic or vintage items. Whether is for collectors or sentimental value, restoring old items to like new conditions is an investment that will yield returns when it's time to sell. Most vintage bicycles become conversation pieces or end up in Jay Leno's garage. But there are some people who restore bicycles just because they don't want to buy anything new. They might be able to get the latest carbon fiber road bike, but instead recognize the quality of a classic bicycle. The saying "they don't make them like they used to" can be justly applied when it comes to bicycles. Now I am not saying that anything new is not worth buying. Nowadays there are great performance designed bicycles that may offer more utility or comfort than bicycles of the past. The difference between a new and old bicycle is the difference between a Honda Element and a 57' Corvette. Style over utility. Feel over performance. The fact that anything over 30 years is still around is testament to the quality of it's design. 

On a recent visit to a well known bike shop in Dallas, I was shopping around for some Schwinn Bicycle grips and checked in to see what they had. When asking one of the techs if they had any Schwinn parts, the tech replied that Schwinns were low quality bicycles only sold at Wal-Mart.  Knowing better than the tech and having worked at several bike shops, I smiled, biting my lip and nodding my head, refraining from a all out lashing of his ignorance and lack of persona. But then again, this was the RBM in Dallas, surrounded by the Highland Park and Lakewood communities, where people usually ride their $5,000 road bikes around a nine mile circuit known as White Rock Lake. In fact, upon closer observation, the majority of their bicycles were worth over a thousand dollars, on average. I'm not trying to defame this bike shop or take any business away from them, I'm just relating what happened.  Later on another tech was a little more helpful in at least pointing  the way to other sources where I could find out more on vintage Schwinns.  

This lack or alleged lack of knowledge about old bicycles is fairly common in the modern bicycle shop environment. One reason is that reps at the shop are usually commissioned salesman that want you to buy something new. Bike shops have to buy new bicycles in bulk quantity at a discounted rate and pay the manufacturer back within a reasonable amount of time, otherwise the are responsable for the full MSRP on all the bicycles purchased. That's why I like the Mom and Pop bike shops better. They don't carry a lot of new inventory, their overhead is lower, the pressure to sell is less and they tend to have more knowledgeable staff.

Another reason for this reaction is the bike boom of 2008. More people who did not know about bicycles got into cycling and many people lost their jobs and found work at the bike shops. So many reps only know about the products they sell, and tend to demean anything that is foreign to them, because they haven't heard about it.

The reader might ask themselves "Is an old classic worth as much as a new bicycle from a bike shop?" A rep at a large chain bike shop will probably say no. But I want to answer that question to the contrary. 

I am currently doing a restoration of a 1980 Schwinn Cruiser 5. I have seen these same bicycles sell on eBay from $600 to 1000 dollars. Granted, this bicycle might not be worth as much as a Specialized Tarmac, but even 600 dollars isn't chump change.  That's why the rewards are worth the investment.

Just like my current restoration project, there are many classic bicycles, many in the Schwinn family, that are worth a lot of money in like new or restored condition. Collectors, enthusiasts, or just practically minded people are willing to spend the cash to buy them, even in a down sloping economy. From a business standpoint or simply for personal enjoyment, restoring an old bicycle makes sense. You take something you already have and add value and utility to it. Its taking something that currently does not exist on the market, making it unique and desirable to others. No one turns heads driving a Honda Element, but a 57' Corvette? Now you get the picture.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to restore your bicycle- Part 2 Rust Removal, before and after.

How to restore your old bicycle part 2
Rust bath results

I wanted to give an update on the parts restoration process before getting the bicycle frame back from powder coating. In my last article one of my readers brought up a good point. Unless you are trying to remove rust from chromed plated bicycle parts, I would not recommend using oxalic acid on any aluminum or nickel plated parts. The best solution for these kind of parts is to use a  mineral solvent like Simple Green and to continuously scrub the parts in the solution using a steel wool sponge or wire brush. Newer bicycles from at least the last two decades will very seldom have any chrome plated parts on them.

As far as removing rust from chrome plated parts, I have yet to find a more effective solution than oxalic acid. In my last article I posted the before pictures of the parts before being treated in the oxalic acid bath. Here's an update on how these parts look now.

After 48 hours, the water will have a yellowish tint to it, the acid is doing it's job

Parts after the first phase of the oxalic acid bath.

I Jerry-rigged this "ghetto bath" out of a recycling bin that leaked so I had to wrap plastic around it. Will make it better next time

After the first oxalic bath, I made another larger bath out of a recycling bin. I know, I know, Greenpeace would hang me by my toes if they saw this. In my defense it no longer leaks. Being that I am also pro-environment I always take extra precaution when handling chemicals like this, reader rest assured. 

I let the parts from the first bath sit in the second bath for about 10 hours and added more rusty parts into the soup. Here is how the initial parts turned out after being placed in this bath,

The ugly duckling becoming a swan- Before and after oxalic acid bath.

Before and after oxalic acid bath.
Even after a 3 day bath, sometimes the rust may leave small pits where it ate through the chrome finish. Oxalic acid can really bring back chrome polished metal, but it does not work miracles. Here is an example of small pitting that may occur when a metal has been long exposed to rusting. From a distance pitting may not be noticeable. I had to make this picture below with my macro-lens setting.

Pitting may occur when metal has been exposed to rust for a long time.
My next article will feature how this bike starts to come together. Stay tuned as I give more tips on parts installation techniques and final touches on this bike.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Restore a bicycle- Part 1-Dissassembly and rust removal

How to Restore a Bicycle-
Getting off that rust is a must!

It's been one week since my last blog post, but it already feels like forever. I want to apologize to my disgruntled fans for having kept them waiting on my every word for the very next thing I  have to say. In my defense, I've been busy. With what, you might ask? With my next project, restoring a blue 5 speed Schwinn Cruiser. It lived it's life on the ocean and became a beach bum. Now it bares the consequences of it's laid back lifestyle with a collection of rust on it's frame and parts. In fact, this bike is so rusty that I think I'll just refer to it as "Rusty".

Bicycle newbies, mechanics and restorers need to pay close attention to this article if you are trying to revive a Rusty of your own. This article is going to cover the steps I take to get rust off a bicycle and also the tools and chemicals I use for the job.

Things you'll need for this job:
- A socket wrench set with metric and standard sizes
- A bicycle repair stand
- A large universal wrench, the kind you would club somebody trying to rob you with
- Needle nose pliers
- A cable cutter, preferably the one Park Tool makes
- A pedal wrench. Mine is a chain whip and pedal wrench combo, found at your local bike shop.
- A few buckets
- Savogran Wood Bleach or any wood brightener that contains oxalic acid
- Rubber gloves, goggles and a respirator mask if the fumes are too intense.
- Baking soda
- A ventilated area or a space in your backyard where the neighbors won't mind
- Allen wrench set
- WD40, steel wool, and wire brushes
- A Phillips and Flathead screwdriver 
- A clock in the room and a coffee maker, just 'cause.

Okay so each restoration project is different in that the parts of the bicycle are all mounted differently. So instead of going into detail general bicycle diss-assembly, I'm going to talk about the diss-assembly for this bicycle. Here's what the bicycle looked like, after I took off the bolt on wheels.

Ol' Rusty getting stripped down for the rust bath.

This fork has seen better days.

This chainring, believe or not, will shine after the oxalic acid bath.

Taking the bike apart is the easiest part depending on how you look at it. Where there's a bolt, use a socket wrench, a screw, a screw driver. But it is also very labor intensive. Turning parts that have don't want to be turned because of rust can be a real challenge. My secret weapons for stubborn parts are my bicycle repair stand and WD40. Whenever possible, use the bicycle repair stand to your advantage. Even if its to remove a pedal from a crank arm, you can set the crank arm in the vice and bear down on the bolt of the pedal to screw it freely off. This will save you from having to bend over constantly and in the long run will save your back. 

I will, against all bike snobbery wisdom, use WD40. I don't rely on it exclusively, but to get parts to move on old bicycles, its a must to have around. This single piece crank set shown on the picture took about half an hour to remove. The reverse threaded side was stuck onto the frame by rust. With some WD40 I was able to work at it little by little until the crown started turning. (FYI: the non-drive side on these crank arms is always the reverse threaded side. Always remove the bolts and crown on this side of the bike, then slide the crank arm out the opposite end through the bottom bracket.)

The best way to learn how to put the bike back together is by making a mental note of  what you remove. "Does that washer come before, or after the ball bearings?" for example. Save every little part taken off because you never know how important that part may be or how difficult it might be to replace.

After I remove all the main parts such as the wheels, crank arms, fork and seatpost, now I'm ready to tackle the small stuff. I take a pair of cable cutters and cut the exposed cable on both ends of the brakes and the shifter and derailleur. I leave the housing intact because I will need to know how much housing to buy in the future. 

Finally with all parts taken off, the frame is ready to be sent for sandblasting and powder coating. This is an acceptable strip down of the frame at this point of the restoration.

Once the frame has been stripped down, a painter should have no problem removing the remaining rust  and repainting the surface.

I'm not going to lie and say that I know how to do powder coating, because that would be over promising any potential clients of mine. I do know where to get it done at a reasonable cost, and paint jobs like these aren't exorbitantly priced luxuries. The paint job is, however, a major expense in the restoration process. Be ready to shell out at least a Benjamin to get a frame like this painted to match. I will post pictures of the results of the powder coating on my next article.

Now that all the parts have been removed, it's time to put that rusty pile in a chemical bath. The chemical you will need is called oxalic acid. It is a compound mostly used to bleach wood decking. You can buy it at some hardware stores in its concentrated, or crystallized form. They also carry a diluted liquid version which takes longer to remove the rust. At first I went to my nearest Lowe's and bought a gallon of Cabot Wood Brightener which contained oxalic acid. I set the rusty parts in a bucket and filled it with water. Then I started adding a few ounces of the wood brightener. After leaving it overnight, the parts looked almost the same, so I added more copious amounts of the stuff into the bucket. At the and of the day I saw the water turning yellow which is a sign that the oxalic acid is doing it's job. I will leave it again overnight and see the results tomorrow. 

If you are using Savogran Wood Bleach oxalic acid, two tablespoons should be enough to tackle a batch like the one below. This acid needs to dissolve in hot water when it is first used.

My first 48 hour Oxalic Acid bath using liquid wood bleach.
Reader be advised, when using oxalic acid, please take the necessary safety precautions. This acid is a poison. It should not be left in a garage or an area with no ventilation. When cleaning parts off with this acid use rubber gloves. To dispose of the acid you will first have to neutralize it using baking soda. Pour small amounts of baking soda at a time until the water sizzles out, then you know the bath has been neutralized. After the acid has been neutralized, it can be poured down the drain. Also, when working in close proximity to the acid, use a respirator mask. Exposure to this acid has been linked to kidney failure and joint problems. Again, take the proper precautions. 

In my next article I will feature the after photos of the acid bath, the finished powder coat and decals on the frame, and a few more other steps in the restoration process. Stay tuned for part 2 and possibly a part 3 on how to restore your bicycle.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mountain Biking in Texas- Rowlett Creek Preserve

Rowlett Creek Preserve
Home of the Teeter Totter and the Whoop-tie Doos.

In the middle of a open field alongside the trail at Rowlett Creek Preserve
Nestled between the city limits of Garland and Rowlett, with easy access via the Tollway and soon the DART light rail system, is this awesome mountain bike trail known as Rowlett Creek Preserve. Technically, the trail is on the Garland side of the city limits, yet for some reason they don't want to call it "Garland Creek Preserve". I guess it wouldn't have the same ring to it. After all, the trail system here has been around since the mid or late 1990's, and by now everybody is comfortable with the name of the trail.

This trail system currently covers about 10 miles of trail with another 3 or 4 miles expected to be open by the end of this year. All the loops on the north side of the trail can be ridden in about an hour and 40 minutes or less. It's a great trail to ride during the week before or after work because it does not demand alot of time to complete.

Rowlett Creek is known for having shifty soil that is constantly changing. Since the trail is in a flood plain it requires constant maintenance to continue to be a functional trail. I wouldn't recommend riding this trail after a heavy rainstorm. Parts of the trail alongside the creek have been known to fall into the water and the trail can be flooded for weeks at a time if there is a wet winter. In the dry heat of the summertime the soil will crack and loosen off the ground making turning at highs speeds sketchy. The constant erosion of this trail has exposed many root beds which can make for a bumpy ride in some places. I have had more than my fair share of falls on this trail, probably more so than any other trail that I have ridden on. Yet I keep coming back for more. That's just me I guess.

Yeah, so anyway, if you just watched my blooper video you'll know what I'm talking about. North Texas isn't known for having large, predatory wildlife in this area. But watch out for snakes! This trail is home to the copperhead snake, a poisonous cousin of the rattlesnake. I have never seen one on the trail before, but everyone else who has ridden out there has. I dunno, I guess I must run over them and not even notice! As long as you stay on the designated trail and don't venture into the tall grass, these snakes will usually leave you alone.

If I haven't already scared you silly about riding at Rowlett Creek Preserve, here's a few more videos of what this trail has to offer. The trail does have alot of man made obstacles and challenging natural terrain. It is fun to ride, but falling usually involves bruising and open gashes, so I would recommend taking it easy if it's your first time on the trail.

In the next video you'll see a few neat drops as well as the first creek crossing.

This last video shows the Whooptie-doo section and has a couple of steep climbs and one crazy 4 foot drop.

This isn't be best, or the funnest, trail to ride in North Texas. If you live in Dallas, it is the closest and quickest option for mountain biking. It is still a fun trail, but I won't try to sell anybody on it. The trail is at it's best during the fall. In the summer there is not enough shade and in the winter it's probably below water. Take all these things into consideration if you're planning a trip out to Rowlett Creek Preserve. Stay tuned and subscribe to my posts to get more articles about mountain biking trails in North Texas.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vintage Find- My Mango Single Speed

Vintage Find
Mango single speed cruiser

Picked up this baby for ten bucks at a yard sale- My first single speed cruiser.
Okay, since my last restoration, I've been riding the vintage cruiser bandwagon. I had never been attracted to these bikes until recently. I saw how cool cruisers were on my visit to Tybee Island in Georgia. I also saw how beautiful these machines looked and rode after a restoration. Once a mountain biker, and a road biker, and a snob of all things cruiser, my leanings have shifted in favor of this design. I'm not calling it practical by any means just yet. It's hard enough to get 3 inches off the ground doing a bunny hop on one of these. Also I would like to note that no hour speed records will be broken riding a cruiser. The selling point to me on having a cruiser is the fun, not the performance, that this bike can offer. I hadn't ridden anything that had a coaster brake on it since I was 11 or 12. This bike brought me right back to childhood and those days I wasn't allowed to ride outside my neighborhood. The simplicity of pedaling backwards to brake once again fascinates me. 

The Mango Parrot Logo

I found this bike at a yard sale a few days ago and bought it along with another rigid mountain bike that I will feature on this blog very soon. I bought both bikes for a total of 20 dollars. I noticed the inscription on the cruiser said "Mango" on it and I did a little research on the bike. I found out that this bike is designed in the Florida Keys and a brand new one costs about 350 dollars. This is no big box bike by any means. There are a few things which this bike is in dire need of, but nothing that is difficult to fix. In fact, it probably just needs new bearings and a new chain, and it will be ready to go. But, being into customizing bicycles, I have something different in mind all together. I can't say about the final design because it hasn't come to me yet, all I can say is that this cruiser will probably undergo a transformation of some sort.

There is a growing market for custom cruisers and manufacturers are making all sorts of cool accessories for these throwback bicycles. Compared to performance bikes like high end road and mountain bikes, the parts are inexpensive and the maintenance is minimal. One can now get tires in multiple color schemes as will as chains, handle bar grips, pedals and saddles. The sky is the limit on customizing cruisers. I like what custom cruiser designers like Villy's Customs have done to make their bikes in different colors. I also like the bikes that I have seen on Rat Rod Bikes. I can't decide. The point is, this is going to be a custom design, not a restoration.

Any suggestions? Leave a comment below the article.
Bunny hopping a manhole. I must have gotten, like, 3 inches of air that time!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Schwinn Restoration- Before and After

Before and After: My Schwinn cruiser restoration
If you're already tuning in to my blog, you know that I do custom bicycle restorations. The "Transform your Klunker" segment of my blog has gotten me my first restoration project, this one of a kind vintage Schwinn cruiser.The serial number on the head tube leads to believe that this bicycle was made in the late 70's to early 80's. When I received this project, the wheels were rusted through, and many parts were covered completely over by brown surface rust.
Before and After: Surface rust removal.

 I disassembled the frame and put the parts in a chemical bath for a few days to remove the rust from the surface. After removing most of the rust I went over the parts with a steel wool brush to get any remaining bits of rust off. I had the frame sandblasted and powder coated. The powder coating finish was ready within a few days and I had decals also placed on the frame.

Frame after arriving back from powder coating.

I found these vintage decals to match the frame perfectly.
I got to work installing the bottom bracket and single piece crankset. I purchased new bearings and repacked the bottom bracket with new grease for the bearings to quietly roll along.

Repacking the bottom bracket.

Crankset after assembly.

I also had a better preserved Schwinn head-badge that I was able to replace the old, worn head badge with.

Era specific head badge
There were some parts, such as the wheels and fork of this frame, which were not salvageable. I found a replica fork and wheels at a local bike shop and was able to replace these quickly. The end result made for a great final product.

Finally, all finished

The end result of this restoration is a bicycle that the owner will get many more years out of. A restored cruiser like this costs about as much as buying a new custom cruiser. The difference is bikes like these were made of steel as opposed to today's bikes which are made of aluminum.  They were made to take the abuses of country roads and paper boy routes from a time were people depended on these bicycles to get them around different places.

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area or can cover your own shipping/transportation costs, please feel free to ask me about the bicycle you would like restored. You can email me pictures of the bicycle from all angles and what you would like done on the bike. I will get back with you with either a quote or realistic response if your bicycle is not able to be salvaged. To learn more about my restorations please feel free to visit my "Transform your Klunker" page on my blog.

For a free quote, send me an email with pictures of your bike to the following email address.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mountain Biking in Texas- North Shore Trail, Grapevine

A view of Grapevine Lake from the mountain bike trail

North Shore Trail Grapevine, Texas

A preview to mountain biking on North Shore and other North Texas trails

North Shore trail is situated between the cities of Grapevine and Flowermound, Texas. This 21 mile trail is among the best trails if not the best mountain bike trail in North Texas. This trail hugs around the sand stone cliffs on Grapevine Lake and has everything from fast descents and tight switchbacks to sketchy rock gardens, bridges and even some trials riding! The trail breaks off into three parks; Rockledge Park to the east, Murrell Park in the Middle and Twin Coves Park in the far side of the trail. This trail is actually a system of two trails running parallel to each other to direct coming and going traffic. I recently visited this trail with by riding buddy Alex, and rode about half the distance of this trail in a few hours. Here's a video of a few sections of trail that I recorded on that day.

Some of the most sketchiest riding came just before I reached Rockledge Park. There was a 12 foot high rock garden descent that I cleared just before the end of this video below.

A map of North Shore trail, courtesy of Trail Jogger

Riding with my friend Alex.

There are many fun mountain biking trails in North Texas, many which I will probably write a few articles about. North Shore trail in my humble opinion is the funnest. I grew up riding on this trail, so maybe my opinion is biased.  But I believe that that North Shore challenged me to hone my mountain bike skills so that nowadays I can ride on any trail in Texas. There will be more articles to come as I document riding the other half of this trail, which has more boulder gardens, as well as other trails in the North Texas area.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Schwinn restoration project

My latest project, an old Schwinn Cruiser
Since posting my new "Transform your Klunker" segment on my blog, I have already attracted the interest of a few people. This is my first restoration project I have had since advertising my services. Included here are some "before" shots of how this bike currently looks before I restore it. I will as time allows post updates on the progress of this restoration. What I can say is that I am very excited about the end result of this bicycle.

If you are local to the Dallas/ Fort Worth area and would like to get a qoute on my restorations, please feel free to contact me via email and I will get back with you on a response. I work in person and through Pay Pal as well. Out of area and out of State customers will be responsable for paying shipping costs or transportation of the bike. Stay tuned for updates on this restoration and future testimonials.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Faces of L'Eroica

A race lost in time: The participants of L'Eroica are as vintage as the race itself. Photographers- Nicola Carignani, Ertzui Film, also follow them on Flickr.

Welcome to Gaiole, a small town in the state of Chianti, Italy. Here is where the L'Eroica bicycle race is held, a race that has it's own unique following. Bicycle racing is big all over Italy, so it's no surprise that there would also be a bicycle race in this area. The difference is that this race comes with a theme of it's own; vintage bicycle racing. And the participants are no less vintage than their bicycles, whether it's in appearance or in age. This bicycle race does not allow any bicycles made after the 1980's. The rules also specify that the bicycle needs to have shift levers if geared. You can see bicycle's here from all the way back to the 1920's and even older still in working function and actually being used in the event.

A tweed ride on steroids, L'Eroica winds through gravel roads that out of tradition have never been paved. It follows some of the route of Strade Bianche, a race also held in Chianti. Riders race on these roads the same way they have been for almost a century. The race is known for being self supported, but if you happen to catch sight of the pit crew they might be able to lend you a spare wheel.

No Mavic Yellow cars in this race, but this guy might help you if you happen to have a flat. Spinwell
A race full of hardcore, handle-bar mustache sporting guys. My kind of peeps. By Velorunner

Taking a rest break. Courtesy of Cicli-Berlinetta

This race truly embodies the romanticism of the golden age of cycling. It personifies the ideals and visions shared by those who have an appreciation of the old-school and long for simpler times. And these guys don't merely collect their bicycles in a show room and use them as conversation pieces. They are out there mashing on their cottored cranks taking their heavy bicycles up and down winding hills, through pot holes, and through loose gravel and unpaved roads. Guys like these can just take the easy route and sit on their lawn chairs drinking their Ensure. But they choose not to, and that's why I admire them for their hardcore ability.

I'm a niche blogger, and micro-niches like these fascinate me. I learned about L'Eroica researching if there were any bicycle races that were suited to people who rode on old bicycles. In an age were carbon fiber is king and the cost of professional gear turns away many people from getting into racing, this might be the answer to the common person. This looks like a fun event to hold in my area, and collaborating with the community I would like to one day host such an event in my city.