Saturday, February 23, 2019

New Bikes for the Retro-Kids

My Retro-Kids are growing up.

It was pretty apparent by the end of last Fall that they were on the verge of having outgrown the last of their "kid" bikes - a couple of 24" wheeled machines that they'd ridden for the last two years. I knew both girls would be ready for "adult" sized bikes by Spring. Well, Spring is just around the corner.

I've been preparing for this since just after getting the 24" bikes. Almost two years ago I started watching ads on Craigslist and eBay, looking for some nice-quality '80s vintage frames that I could pick up cheap. I managed to find a couple - neither was more than about $75 or so. Though the paint on both frames was pretty decent, I wanted these to be special and I wanted the girls to have some input on colors, so back in the Fall, the girls and I took the frames over to my powder coating guy and I had the girls pick out the colors. The guy I go to does a really nice job, and the price is more than reasonable, though he only does the work on sort of a part-time basis these days so the turnaround time can take a while. He finished them up in January and now I'm getting started on putting them together.

This one started out as an early '80s Miyata (One Hundred - or maybe One-Ten model, I can't recall which).  I believe the color is RAL 6027. I installed the fork with a Tange Passage headset - a good basic headset, and quite a bit nicer than the one the frame had come with. The gap under the top nut will be filled perfectly by a cable stop spacer for center pull brakes.

As a nice finishing touch I outlined the lugs in a purple violet. I'll be attaching a custom head badge in the near future.
Another shot of the outlined lugs.
The second one started out as an early '80s Centurion Le Mans. I believe the color is RAL 4007. I used the same Tange Passage headset as on the other frame.
I outlined the lugs here in a light blue - not too far off from the color on the other bike. It's almost as if the frames have the exact reverse color schemes. This one also will be getting a special head badge soon.
Another look at the outlined lugs.
There they are together - ready for parts.
Both of these frames would have had 27" wheels on them originally, but I've got two nice pairs of 700c wheels ready to go. There should be plenty of tire clearance and probably room for fenders, too.

I've got saddles, bars, stems, cranks, and derailleurs for both bikes. I still need to get bottom brackets, seat posts, pedals, and I need another set of brakes. 

As I get more done on the bikes, I'll post updates on the progress. That's all for now.


  1. Fantastic! I've pretty much done the same for my 12 year old son, I picked up a 1976 Schwinn Voyager chromed frame(stealth Panasonic). We are now in the process of building the frame to mostly era parts. He'll have one nice bike and have learned how to overhaul headset, bottom bracket,and pedals bearings.

  2. Darn! If my father had been more like you there might have been some love between us..
    I suppose do have to thank him for handing over a rusty iron bike and some emery cloth and telling me to get on with it. still tinkering after all these years.

    Nice looking frames.

  3. Wow, very nice! Your girls must be excited.

  4. I've been down this road more than once (four daughters). Great stuff. But why are you sentencing them to centerpull brakes? Long reach sidepulls will work (at least as well, probably better) and avoid that cable hanger junk. See ya, Kyle.

    Jim Townsend

    1. I don't think centerpulls are so bad - and with modern pads can work pretty well. On the back, where I'll be mounting them on the middle set of stays, centerpulls don't stick out laterally much as the arms on sidepulls, meaning more ankle clearance. The newer dual-pivot brakes do work nicely and have a light touch - but in my experience they seem to crowd a fender, even the ones that claim to have more clearance. So I have reasons. And if we find that we aren't happy with them, we can always make changes - like sidepull on the front, centerpull on the back.

    2. Dual pivot sidepulls are essentially re-engineered centerpulls with simpler cable attachment.

      Are the brake attachment points on the mixtes on the top tube/stays or on the seat stays? I never understood why builders would put them on the seatstay which necessitates an awkward bend in the cable rather than a direct line of attachment along the top tube. Centerpulls actually work really well with the latter setup.

    3. David you are perfectly correct, pure madness to put them higher and with that awkward cable route!

    4. Both frames can take brakes in the preferable position- for a nice straight cable run. It was something I checked before buying them. Routing brake cable with that terrible s-bend makes no sense.

  5. Going with drop bars or some nice swept bars, like Nitto Albatrosses? I vote for the latter.

    1. I've got some swept back bars from Velo Orange.