Sunday, April 14, 2019

New Bikes for the Retro-Kids: Another One Done

If you've been following the progress on the new bikes for the Retro-Kids, then you've probably been waiting for a final update to see the second bike finished. Well, it's pretty much there. Let's take a look:

This is the bike that started out as a Miyata One-Hundred model - A fairly inexpensive but nicely made bike from the mid-'80s. According to the frame tubing sticker and the catalog, it was built from triple-butted chrome-moly, so that's a good sign for quality and surprising considering the original price point. The lugwork is simple but well-executed.
Here's a shot from the '86 Miyata catalog that shows how the model would have been equipped when new. I got the one here as just a frame and fork for about $75, along with a headset and bottom bracket that I did not re-use. Looking closely at the catalog photo, I couldn't help but notice that the mixte would have had the rear brake (side-pull) mounted on the top set of stays - necessitating a redundant loop of cable to operate it. Using a center-pull brake on the middle set of stays (the mixte-stays, as they are sometimes known) as I did makes for a straighter cable run. Not all mixte frames have the proper bridge necessary for that, but this one did.

Drivetrain consists of a Sakae crank (same model that I used on the other bike - I was able to get two of them new-old-stock), and SunTour derailleurs. Though you can't see it, I put Shimano UN-55 sealed cartridge bearing units on both bikes. Those are cheap but smooth-running and long-lasting. Freewheel is a vintage Shimano 6-speed, 14 - 28. Chainrings are 48/34.
One of my favorite derailleurs: the SunTour Vx - here in one of its medium-cage configurations. I have a couple of these, either on other bikes, or in my parts bin waiting for other projects. But this is the only one I have with a fully enclosed pulley cage (Vx-T) - the others have the open "quick cage" that made chain replacement an easier task. The Vx was reasonably light, nice-looking, and durable.

Front derailleur is the SunTour ARX model - The AR/ARX line were early-'80s replacements for the V series of derailleurs - so the front and rear units are actually from different generations - but visually they are a good match for one another. The ARX front derailleur was significantly nicer than the regular AR which used a lot more steel. These are inexpensive on the vintage parts market, but shift very nicely.

I've got Velo-Orange "Left Bank" handlebars and a Kalloy stem - same models that are on the other bike. Brakes are the nearly ubiquitous Dia-Compe center pulls with Kool Stop salmon pads.

There's that cool dragon head badge I showed in an earlier post - which was actually a pewter jewelry pendant that I modified. The cable hanger for the brakes has a built-in quick release to simplify wheel removal.

The rack is from Velo-Orange. The other bike got a small front rack and a basket. This one will have a set of canvas and leather panniers.
The VO rack is super pretty - but installing it properly takes time and attention to detail. For one thing, the tabs that mount to the frame's dropouts start out fairly long and are pre-drilled (4 holes per side) with the intention that it will fit a variety of frame sizes and styles. The first time I installed one of these was over 10 years ago with the first production batch which did not come pre-drilled - the idea was that you'd locate it in the best position (low enough to pretty much sit on top of the fender) then drill it yourself. Pre-drilled is obviously easier - but in this instance I found that the holes were in exactly the wrong place for the optimum height. One hole put the rack higher than I wanted, while the next hole had it too low to clear the fender (unless I pushed the fender down to where it compromised tire clearance and proper fender lines). Oh well - I ended up having to go with the higher position and then where the rack bolts to the top of the fender I filled the gap with some aluminum spacers which I cut and filed to size. It was also necessary to cut off the excess length on the lower tabs which I then filed to a smooth, rounded profile - otherwise the tabs interfere with the wheel quick releases. Last thing - these racks look best when they're nice and level, and you have to get that set properly before you can drill the fender for the screws that attach to the rack to the fenders. That means the whole installation takes the following procedure: Take wheels out of the frame, test-fit rack for proper height with fenders, remove the rack and cut and re-shape the tabs, re-attach rack, install wheels, set the bike on level ground, level the rack (I used the level app on my phone!), mark the location for the fender holes, put the bike in the stand, remove the wheels again, drill the holes, fiddle around with spacers to get the correct thickness, install the screws and tighten everything down, and finally re-install wheels. It took a while, but the end result is worth it.

Another Brooks C-17S saddle - I had bought two of these for the price of one. Also, another view of that rack and my little spacers.

Hand grips are cork/foam bar tape, with cork bar plugs, finished off with some twine and shellac. Brake levers are the same Tektro "City Bike" levers I used on the other bike - a nice-looking design. The shift levers are old SunTour XC power ratchet thumb shifters (originally for mountain bikes). These sometimes sell for a bit more than I'd have wanted to spend, but I found this lightly used pair for a pretty reasonable price and cleaned them up with some fine steel wool and aluminum polish.
At this point, the bike just needs a few final adjustments and it will be ready to ride. Thanks for following the progress, and I hope readers enjoyed it.


  1. Those Sakae cranks are solid and an excellent value for rebuilds. I found two of them at a bike shop's "garage sale" bin for $10 a piece with clean, fresh chainrings. Used one on a friend's bike and I'm saving the other for a rainy day.

  2. Beautiful work... you have some lucky kids! Did you target a specific crank length for the retro-kids?

    1. Good question - yes I did. I picked 165mm cranks for both - I thought that would be the best size for them.

  3. Replies
    1. my 13-year-old was so happy with hers that she took pictures with her phone and sent them to her friends.