Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sunday Shake Out Ride

The vintage Sequoia is nearly complete. We had gorgeous weather today - our first truly spring-like day this year - and with that in mind, I made it a priority this weekend to get the bike road worthy.

I got all my cables hooked up, brakes and derailleurs adjusted, pumped up the tires, and after a few spins around the block to make sure things were working more or less as they should, I took it out for a real "shake out" ride into the valley.

I still need to wrap the bars. I didn't want to do that until
after making sure the stem length felt right and levers
were placed where I wanted them.
Some first impressions: I don't know if it's the well-designed frame, or the 32-mm Gravel King tires (probably both), but the ride is is really nice - definitely what I'd been hoping for. We currently have a lot of broken pavement, and the bike seemed to soak it up very well. The bike also handles predictably - not super quick (remember it's not a racing bike), but well-composed. I had an experience on my descent into the valley where the handling was very reassuring. The descent is fast and twisty, and I discovered a huge patch of badly broken pavement right at the apex of a tight, blind curve. Just coming around the curve and "surprise" - but the bike stayed planted and I barely broke my line through the turn. Like I said: reassuring.

On my ride, I had only two things that I needed to address: I pushed my saddle back about a centimeter (the seat tube angle on the Sequoia is a bit steeper than one would expect for a bike like this), and I had a bar-con shifter that needed to be tightened slightly to keep it from slipping. You have to get just the right balance for those. Other than that, everything felt right and worked just like it should.

Down in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, this is the perfect time to see the great blue herons. There is a heron "rookery" in the park, and now - before the leaves come back - you can easily observe the huge, almost prehistoric-looking birds nesting. There are dozens of nesting pairs easily visible in the trees.

Unfortunately I only had my cell phone for pictures and couldn't zoom in enough to get a really good image of the birds. Trust me - those dark masses in the branches are nests - and there are herons in them. 

Back home again. A few posts back, I'd mentioned I wasn't certain how well the Cyclone front derailleur would handle that wide spread of gearing (50/36 chainrings) - but honestly, it shifted like a champ. Shifts both up and down were crisp and immediate. Could not be better. Let me just point out that I've installed vintage Specialized-branded toe clips and leather toe straps from Soma Fabrications.

I just want to come back to that ratcheting bar-end shifter for a moment. On one side, there is this slotted round, domed "nut" that fits almost flush with the body. These things sometimes get lost, and the shifters don't stay adjusted without them - but it's also a little difficult to get them properly tight. The end of the screw comes up through the middle, and fills up some of the slot so a screwdriver doesn't quite get enough bite.
My solution: I took an old flat-blade screwdriver, and with a small square file, I filed a notch in the end of the screwdriver to clear the end of the screw. That allows me to tighten the domed nut much more easily. Also, a drop of blue Loctite is a good idea in the final assembly. I've never lost one of domed nuts.
I was pleased with the fit and feel of the bike, and so now my next job will be to wrap the bars and get some shellac on them. When finished, they should be a good match for the saddle.

Well - that's all for now.


  1. I like the way you describe the Sequoia's handling and road absorption. It reminds me of how my Miyata 610 felt. Such a comfortable and reassuring bike to ride.

  2. Beauty! Good simple and clever screwdriver mod. Just wondering if you opt for longer crank arms since your bikes are a bit taller than average.

    1. Good eyes on crank length. Yes, I'm pretty long-legged and I prefer cranks a little longer - 172.5 or 175, whichever I can get. These ones are 175.

  3. I have a short Sturmey Archer cone wrench whose handle I ground almost 50 year ago into a tool to fit those Suntour locknuts. It's a very handy tool, when it's called for.