Turning an old road bike into a fixie thing of beauty

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Elswick Mistral

Elswick Mistral – Original Glory

I have an old possibly 1970s road racer bike that I managed to snap the chainring on and then bits eventually started dying and falling off in the summer of 2013. It was then left outside to die slowly, exposed to the elements. It was never the quickest to accelerate but once up to speed it coasted along beautifully sucking up all the bumps with its steel frame – all in all it was easily as quick as the cheap aluminium bike I had at the time.

This Summer, I took on the challenge to restore it to its former glory, but rebuild it as a fixed gear bike, partly because it’s easier and partly for style reasons. The plan was to replace anything that had seen better days and hopefully teach me some things too.

Stripping the frame

Stripping the frame

The first step was to take off the old wheels and strip the frame of anything that was no longer required like the derailleurs, brakes, cables and so on.

Looking good so far

Looking good so far

Investing in some more flamboyant wheels, these were attached and a new saddle bought (not a Brooks, but an imitation).

Sanding the frame down

Sanding the frame down

It was at this point I decided a re-spray would make the whole thing look far nicer. Time to take everything back off and start sanding.

 

 

 

First coat of primer on the frame

First coat of primer on the frame

Deciding to spray paint the bike, I went for a few coats of white primer, a dark red and lots of lacquer on top for protection. In theory this would give it the maximum protection. I could probably have masked things better, but it sufficed. The work stand worked surprisingly well as a painting stand and the colours left on the stand from overspray give it some character.

 

 

First coat of red paint

First coat of red paint

The first coat of red paint scared me a bit, because it went on and looked very bright as well as quite pink as it mixed in with the white primer underneath. I’d bought the darkest red possible and thought I’d made a big mistake! I’d also masked off some areas to keep white, the theory being it was easier to do that now rather than add it in later as well making the frame not just a solid red.

 

 

Painting complete!

Painting complete!

 

 

 

The finished coat of red!

 

 

 

 

 

Applying the Elswick decal

Applying the Elswick decal

I managed to source a company that makes old school vintage bike decals and having sanded off the original decals wanted something that gave a nod back to its origins.

 

Elswick decal

Elswick decal

 

The Elswick decal was only a couple of quid and looks great on the bike.

 

Pinstriping tape works!

Pinstriping tape works!

 

I noticed that some of my lines were not quite perfect from masking during the red paint stage and there was the odd smear or line on the areas of white. Rather than re-doing these areas properly, I used some car pinstriping tape to hide the less than perfect lines between red and white.

 

 

 

Getting there!

Getting there!

 

 

Paint-job complete, it was time to re-add the new bits and pieces to the finished product. A new chainring replaced the one that looked tatty originally and the saddle went back on.

 

Starting to look like the finished product

Starting to look like the finished product

 

Time for the wheels to go on, definitely looks better than the last time I was at this stage!

 

 

 

 

Finished Elswick Mistral Fixie

Finished Elswick Mistral Fixie

And finally, all done! The chain was probably the most difficult thing to get right with one chain completed ruined before it was sorted. I’d never set up a fixed gear bike before so it took some learning. Once the chainring had been re-set the chain lined up correctly, stopped rubbing and started to ride smoothly. One test ride jumped the chain off and ruined a bit of the paint work on the driveside chainstay, took an extra link or two out and it’s now spot on. I’ve gone for only front brakes and using my legs as resistance for the back brakes (beauty of the fixie approach), big flat pedals help massively with this!

It’s definitely been a worthwhile project, turning something broken into a useful fixie bike instead of it rusting away doing nothing – it took about £150 all in all to do (nearly everything was sourced on Ebay) and I think the only specialised tool I used was to get the chainring off and on (which I had already, but it’s cheap as).

Now I have a new toy and something more interesting and different to what I already have.

Turning an old road bike into a fixie bike of beauty

Standard
Elswick Mistral

Elswick Mistral – Original Glory

I have an old possibly 1970s road racer bike that I managed to snap the chainring on and then bits eventually started dying and falling off in the summer of 2013. It was then left outside to die slowly, exposed to the elements. It was never the quickest to accelerate but once up to speed it coasted along beautifully sucking up all the bumps with its steel frame – all in all it was easily as quick as the cheap aluminium bike I had at the time.

This Summer, I took on the challenge to restore it to its former glory, but rebuild it as a fixie bike, partly because it’s easier and partly for style reasons. The plan was to replace anything that had seen better days and hopefully teach me some things too.

Stripping the frame

Stripping the frame

The first step was to take off the old wheels and strip the frame of anything that was no longer required on a fixie bike like the derailleurs, brakes, cables and so on.

Looking good so far

Looking good so far

Investing in some more flamboyant wheels to suit a fixie, these were attached and a new saddle bought (not a Brooks, but an imitation).

Sanding the frame down

Sanding the frame down

It was at this point I decided a re-spray would make the whole thing look far nicer. Time to take everything back off and start sanding.

 

 

 

First coat of primer on the frame

First coat of primer on the frame

Deciding to spray paint the bike, I went for a few coats of white primer, a dark red and lots of lacquer on top for protection. In theory this would give it the maximum protection. I could probably have masked things better, but it sufficed. The work stand worked surprisingly well as a painting stand and the colours left on the stand from overspray give it some character.

 

 

First coat of red paint

First coat of red paint

The first coat of red paint scared me a bit, because it went on and looked very bright as well as quite pink as it mixed in with the white primer underneath. I’d bought the darkest red possible and thought I’d made a big mistake! I’d also masked off some areas to keep white, the theory being it was easier to do that now rather than add it in later as well making the frame not just a solid red.

 

 

Painting complete!

Painting complete!

 

 

 

The finished coat of red!

 

 

 

 

 

Applying the Elswick decal

Applying the Elswick decal

I managed to source a company that makes old school vintage bike decals and having sanded off the original decals wanted something that gave a nod back to its origins.

 

Elswick decal

Elswick decal

 

The Elswick decal was only a couple of quid and looks great on the bike.

 

Pinstriping tape works!

Pinstriping tape works!

 

I noticed that some of my lines were not quite perfect from masking during the red paint stage and there was the odd smear or line on the areas of white. Rather than re-doing these areas properly, I used some car pinstriping tape to hide the less than perfect lines between red and white.

 

 

 

Getting there!

Getting there!

 

 

Paint-job complete, it was time to re-add the new bits and pieces to the finished painted fixie. A new chainring replaced the one that looked tatty originally and the saddle went back on.

 

Starting to look like the finished product

Starting to look like the finished product

 

Time for the wheels to go on, definitely looks better than the last time I was at this stage!

 

 

 

 

Finished Elswick Mistral Fixie

Finished Elswick Mistral Fixie

And finally, fixie all done! The chain was probably the most difficult thing to get right with one chain completed ruined before it was sorted. I’d never set up a fixed gear bike before so it took some learning. Once the chainring had been re-set the chain lined up correctly, stopped rubbing and started to ride smoothly. One test ride jumped the chain off and ruined a bit of the paint work on the driveside chainstay, took an extra link or two out and it’s now spot on. I’ve gone for only front brakes and using my legs as resistance for the back brakes (beauty of the fixie approach), big flat pedals help massively with this!

It’s definitely been a worthwhile project, turning something broken into a useful fixie bike instead of it rusting away doing nothing – it took about £150 all in all to do (nearly everything was sourced on Ebay) and I think the only specialised tool I used was to get the chainring off and on (which I had already, but it’s cheap as).

Now I have a new toy and something more interesting and different to what I already have.

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Turning an old road bike into a fixie bike of beauty was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Cotswold Climbs 3 – Larkstoke

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Larkstoke Hill

View from Larkstoke Hill

Larkstoke Hill is found just about in Warwickshire near to the village of Ilmington. There are quite a few different routes up this hill but the climb of interest takes us to the highest point in Warwickshire. It’s a popular one to tack onto sportives to destroy legs near the finish.

Larkstoke has one of those lies of the land that completely disheartens first-timers to the hill. After crawling up one slope, you’re then presented with another longer, steeper slope that’s hidden from you until you’re right on it.

Larkstoke Hill

The start of the climb, doesn’t look much here

A fairly nondescript junction is the start point and you can see the climb wind its way up past a very hopeful bench and out of sight. This first slope is steep but is just about manageable, ranging between 10-15% and can be a struggle if you go into it too quickly and use up your energy too fast.

Once over the rise, your eyes play tricks to make the second rise look far higher and steeper than it really is, you get a short downhill part to build up speed (don’t coast!) and really attack the bottom of this section.

You can see the road kink to the left and it’s here where it eases off into a tired slog to the real top of the hill marked by the microwave dishes.

There’s no real point where you to experience the views, but a cheeky look over the right shoulder on the steep part after the bench shows how far you’ve come already and a quick glimpse on the left hand kink to see your handiwork will suffice.

Larkstoke Hill

View down Larkstoke Hill from second rise

My PB: 9minutes 7seconds (67th out of 843 on Strava)

Larkstoke Hill

View from the top looking West

Cotswold Climbs 3 – Larkstoke Hill

Standard
Larkstoke Hill

View from Larkstoke Hill

Larkstoke Hill is found just about in Warwickshire near to the village of Ilmington. There are quite a few different routes up this hill but the climb of interest takes us to the highest point in Warwickshire. It’s a popular one to tack onto sportives to destroy legs near the finish.

Larkstoke has one of those lies of the land that completely disheartens first-timers to the hill. After crawling up one slope, you’re then presented with another longer, steeper slope that’s hidden from you until you’re right on it.

Larkstoke Hill

The start of the climb, doesn’t look much here

Start of the Larkstoke climb

A fairly nondescript junction is the start point and you can see the climb wind its way up past a very hopeful bench and out of sight. This first slope is steep but is just about manageable, ranging between 10-15% and can be a struggle if you go into it too quickly and use up your energy too fast.

Once over the rise, your eyes play tricks to make the second rise look far higher and steeper than it really is, you get a short downhill part to build up speed (don’t coast!) and really attack the bottom of this section.

You can see the road kink to the left and it’s here where it eases off into a tired slog to the real top of the hill marked by the microwave dishes.

There’s no real point where you to experience the views, but a cheeky look over the right shoulder on the steep part after the bench shows how far you’ve come already and a quick glimpse on the left hand kink to see your handiwork will suffice.

Larkstoke Hill

View down Larkstoke Hill from second rise

My PB: 9minutes 7seconds (67th out of 843 on Strava)

Larkstoke Hill

View from the top looking West

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Cotswold Climbs 3 – Larkstoke Hill was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Cotswold Climbs 2 – Saintbury

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Saintbury Hill

Saintbury Hill

Saintbury is as well revered as Dover’s Hill and it’s a near cert that any local Sportive will go up at least one of them.

The climb is about a mile long and feels like it gets easier as you go up the climb but still has an average of 9%.

Starting at the edge of the picturesque Cotswold village of Saintbury with its distinctive church nestled on the hillside, the hardest part of the climb is going through and out the other side of the village. Struggling up the 15% gradient here is the point where your legs are burning, urging you to stop.

Saintbury Hill

Saintbury Church

Coming out of the village, there’s a gentle hook left and a steady but steep ramp up to the sharp right which touches 16%. This ramp has excellent views to the left and shows how much height you’ve gained in a couple of minutes of pedalling.

After just about getting round the right-hander, you’re covered by the trees for most of the rest of the climb but after 50-100 metres you get some respite with the gradient trickling down to a more manageable 4-5% as you pass the crossroads.

Saintbury Hill

View from the Crossroads

Looking left this is your last real view across the Vale of Evesham as you head back into the trees. This second half generally averages about 7% with a couple of short bites that kick back up to 10% for 10 metres or so. There’s not much to look at during this part just the slightly eerie woods and maybe a rambler.

Saintbury Hill

View from the top

As soon as you come out the trees you can see the golf club entrance on the right and the work is over. You can sprint the 3% finish to the main road junction and look out across the Cotswolds to Blockley Hill the other side of the Cam valley.

My PB: 9minutes 10 seconds – again set last July and something I think I could smash if it I did again properly now (208th from 801 on Strava).

Cotswold Climbs 1 – Dover’s Hill

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Dover's Hill

Dover’s Hill

As hills go, Dover’s Hill is very well-known. It’s the site of the famous ‘Cotswold Olympicks’ or Dover’s Games held every year on hill followed by a torchlight procession down in Chipping Campden and a general town-wide level of drunkenness.

From a cycling perspective however it’s interesting as the site of several British National Hill Climb Championships. People like former Cervelo TestTeam rider Dan Fleeman, 1980 Olympic Cyclist Jeff Williams and 5 time Hill Climb winner Jim Henderson have all conquered this climb.

The hill itself is 1 mile long with a little bit of tenuous climbing from the road junction up to the real hill. Once you reach the tight left-hander, it’s go!

Dover's Hill

The hill gets steeper…

The hill ramps up slowly for a hundred metres or so before getting steeper as you go round the sharp right hand corner. As you climb in the near dark from the thick tree canopy (I often take off the sunglasses for this climb) you’re in a battle where the hill is getting harder and you’re getting less strong. Eventually by the farm on the right you get a brief respite before starting again.

Dover's Hill

The view from the top looking down..

This is the first point where you can see the top and all you have to do to reach it is one last blast up the steepest part of the climb, around 12-14% at this point. On the upside the trees disappear from the right hand side of the road and (especially in the Summer) get a great view of the Cotswold Edge extending down to Cheltenham and Cleeve Hill very visible.

Battling through, out of the saddle, you go back into tree cover and finally reach the top after around 6-7 minutes. The car park entrance on the left being the peak and a fun, speedy roll down to the crossroads junction and into Chipping Campden to get your breath back.

My PB – 7minutes 5seconds – 151st of 683 on Strava
I did this back in July and I’ve only ridden it once since, taking it relatively easy but only 7 seconds off this time. Very tempted to have a proper go at it soon…

Cycle to Work on a Bike (My Way and the Better Way)

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I live in the countryside, bordering the Cotswolds and have to cycle to work in central Birmingham everyday. I’ve managed to put off learning to drive for many years and only now am I getting there, but I’ve not taken the test as yet. This means that regardless of the weather, I have to use my bike every day!

This winter we’ve had some…interesting weather. I cycle to work in cross winds, driving rain and some of the calmest dry evenings as well. It’s been quite rare for it to be properly cold though, only a few mornings has the Garmin gone below 0 degrees, far better than last year!

I’m sure I manage to do all of my cycle to work completely at odds to most people, but that’s the source of my individual style!

Commuter

This person is very happy commuting by bike…not sure why they’re on the pavement though

Cycle to work tips

1 – I ride my full carbon bike in every day because I like zipping around on it. It gets dirty, it gets rains on but I can get to the train station very quickly if I feel like it (I averaged 25mph with a tailwind into town today for instance). Now I know this flies against all accepted wisdom but riding’s about enjoying yourself!

2 – wearing the right gear is important, I spent all Summer cycling in wearing a suit (no blazer) with rolled up sleeves on an old steel racer. Sure I looked good but it was fairly impractical. These days it’s the full proper cycling get up with the bib tights for winter and the bag on my back with the work clothes. I just need to think of a way to get ride of the work bag now…

3 – Give yourself plenty of time in case of mishaps to reach the train station (if work is your destination, you can just be late…missing a train is far worse!). In the last year I’ve had a couple of mishaps…a crank arm has fallen off, various punctures, brake stuck on and I’ve still usually made my train by giving myself 10 minutes spare. The crank falling off meant I had to cycle back one-legged for 2 miles to do get the tool to tighten the crank arm to then carry on, I did miss the train that time…

Umbrella

Umbrella, not wise

4 – Getting wet, can’t get away from it, no matter what you do or wear, just harden up, save some money and take it.

5 – Lights, get the best front light that you can afford, do not be a cheap skate about this one piece of kit. Expect to spend about £65-100 or more for a decent one. Rear lights, something reliable and without AAA batteries in it will be perfect. Avoid Halfords and Poundland.

6 – Mudguards, yes! No doubts here. Never fun getting soaked on your cycle to work.

7 – Hi-vis stuff, optional, depends entirely on how competent and confident you are as a cyclist.

8 – Finally, cycle to work a couple of times a week and you’ll see a huge improvement in your cycling. Cycle each working day and you’ll have a healthy amount of base miles to work with before you even do proper training rides!

Commuting

The problem with driving to work…

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Cycle to Work on a Bike (My Way and the Better Way) was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling