Thursday, September 6, 2012

Miyata 512, Vintage 1988

A co-worker that wanted to return to cycling asked me to restore his old ride, a vintage 1988 Miyata 512 entry level tri-bike. It had been hanging in his garage for a couple of decades collecting dust on top of the original road grime.  We agreed in advance that due to the bike's age the following parts would be replaced; brake pads, bar tape, tires, tubes, rim strips, cables, chain, and chain stay guard. He said that he would later add the necessary accessories like pump, seat bag, patch kit, spare tube, rear blinky, water bottles cage, and water bottle.

Upon receipt of the bike, my initial inspection did not reveal any problems beyond the expected tire rot, decades of dirt, and oil on components turned to yellowish varnish. Also, it was obvious the bike did not get much use before being put into storage. There was no substantial wear on the bar tape, cogs, chain wheels, or brake pads.  So it was on to stripping the bike down so I could inspect the frame both inside and out while the greasy components soaked in Citra Solv. 

One of the concerns I always have with steel frames is internal rust especially in the bottom bracket and fork crown. These are areas where water that enters from around the headset and seat post tends to settle creating sometimes creating a serious corrosion problem. Luckily there was only a bit of rust in these areas and it was easily removed. To help resist future problems I applied JP Weigle's Frame Saver to the inside of both frame and fork. 

Another bit of very good news, it the alignment of both the frame (shown in picture above) and fork dropouts was as close to perfect as can be.  

The frame was near flawless with no dings or scratches. The only problem was a seat tube decal that was loose and torn in places. My concern was how to dissolve the decal's adhesive without damaging the frame's paint. After testing the Citra Solv on the paint over spray inside the bottom bracket I determine is was safe to use. To hold the Citra Solv in place a soaked a rag in it and wrapped in around the decal for about 30 minutes. After that it was just a matter of peeling the remains of the decal off and scrubbing off the more stubborn bits of adhesive. After the frame was good and clean, I finished it with Pedro's Bike Lust leaving it at least as shiny as new.

One of the more interesting challenges was cleaning the brake level hoods that were covered in ground-in greasy dirty. After a bit of trial and error I found my shop hand cleaner, Orange Goop, did a great job restoring them to bright white with no residue.

The first and only real surprise was found on my truing stand. The rear wheel had a significant flat spot requiring the rim be replaced.  The above video, providing you look closely, shows the problem.


Normally, I would recommend rebuilding both wheels with more robust rims like something from Velocity, my favorite manufacturer of alloy rims. However, the bike's owner wanted to keep the cost down so I selected a low cost Sun Ringle CR-18 700c silver rim and 36 straight gauge stainless spokes.  The CR-18 is slightly wider at 22.5mm, but is a good cosmetic match for the original.  The build was standard 3-cross.

Observations and Tips

The re-assembly, installation of the new parts, and final adjustments when smoothly. In the process I had a few observations.

The Miyata 512 internally routes its rear brake cable housing through the top tube. This is pretty cool and gives it a slightly cleaner look.  Also, remember Shimano Biopace chain rings?  This bike has them!

TIP - Consider using an old-school bar wrap especially on vintage bikes. This method starts an over lapping wrap near the stem and finishes at the bar end with the plug holding tape end in place. This provides a cleaner classic look since it eliminates the need for vinyl tape.

TIP - Using a bit of Loctite Blue on the brake caliber mounting bolt threads is cheap insurance. 

TIP - Don't forget pedals have bearings and especially with older bikes they should be serviced by thorough cleaning, re-lube, and careful reassembly.

TIP - Thoroughly clean and lube the quick release skewers. I have found a silicone dry lube spray does the job. Some people say oil or grease is better, but I have found these are dirt magnets. Take care to wipe off any excess lube.

TIP - Don't forget to lube the moving parts of components with a well placed small amount of silicone dry lube. Use a rag to limit over spray especially when lubricating the brake caliper pivot points.  


I have no relationship what-so-ever with any manufacturer of any products I mention in this blog.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Motorist Bill of You Do Not have the Rights

Many motorists assume the road they are using at the moment is exclusively for their use. Some of it is ignorance of the need to and even how to share the road with cyclists. More concerning is some of it is just plain old selfishness.

Recently I had a very disappointing conversation with a non-cyclist friend. The friend told me of being very upset with a cyclist sharing the road with motorist during her drive to work. She was traveling in the left of two Eastbound lanes and found herself confronted with slowing traffic as the motorists in the right lane swerved to avoid a cyclist. She admitted the total delay was less than one minute, but seemed longer. She told me the cyclists should have picked a better time or a different road or used the sidewalk for his bike ride.

Trying to get her thinking on the right track, I asked her the following questions and got the following responses:

Q: Are you proposing cyclists break the law by riding on the sidewalk so as to not inconvenience you when you are in a hurry?
A: Well no, but the cyclist has no business being on the road because it slowing traffic and creating a hazard for motorist.

Q: Do you know of another less traveled road the cyclist could have used?
A: No.

Q: Do you know swerving around a cyclist is both dangerous and a violation of the 3 ft law?
A: Yes, but what could the other drivers do? The cyclist was in their way!

Q: What makes you think the cyclist's schedule is less important than yours? Do you think only motorists have to be places and do things at specific times?
A: I need to get to work and there was just one cyclist slowing everybody down!

After this conversation, it got me thinking. Given, based on my experience, most motorists falsely assume exclusive or at least privileged right to the road what is needed is a "Motorists Bill of You Do Not have the Rights” to set things on the right path. Here's what I have so far:

You as a motorist do not have the right to:
  1. Believe your's is the only legitimate use of the road.
  2. Assume bicyclists' reasons for being on the road are frivolous compared to yours.
  3. Get to your destination at the fastest possible speed you dare.
  4. Treat bicyclists as mere road obstructions in the way of your multi-ton vehicle's progress.
  5. Demand bicyclists use some other road or use the road at some other time.
  6. Be faultless if you did not see the cyclist you hit with your motor vehicle.
  7. Blame the presence of a cyclist for your bad behavior,  such as dangerous lane changes, passing on blind curves, or exceeding the speed limit.
  8. Confront cyclists in your path by shouting at them, tailgating them, flashing your lights, sounding your horn, or by swerving around them.
  9. Simply ignore the presence of a cyclist because cyclists should not be on the road and therefore deserve whatever harm that comes their way.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why I Joined Weight Watchers

My height of six feet and five inches puts me at the upper limit of a number of bike manufacturers' standard frame sizing with many manufacturers choosing to ignore riders my size. In addition to bike sizing, I have always needed to take care when selecting components, such as wheels, to ensure they will be durable under even at my ideal weight.

Adding to the challenges created by my height, my weight has been an issue for some time and my efforts to manage it have resulted in large seasonal swings. A swing from a winter high of over 250 pounds to a late fall low of less than 220 pounds is not unusual for me. So, in general, I don't have problem loosing weight when I am most active during the warmers months, but the short cold winter days are a killer.

Over the years I have found the swings getting more pronounced and key health metrics, like LDL, Triglyceride, H1C, and blood pressure following suit. At the end of this winter I hit a new high of 260+ pounds. So there I was facing the need to suffer through loosing 50+ pounds in a few months and that large amount of weight really hampering my ability to enjoy the warming weather.

Of course anyone that struggles with his or her weight probably already understands both the short and long term health issues associated with it. Like myself, they have probably read books on the subject, consulted their physician, and they have tried some number of quick-fix diets that all failed in the long run. With all this being common knowledge its not worth repeating here.

All that said, there I was...literally too fat to fully enjoy my passion for cycling knowing it is also harming my general health. Clearly, I needed to do something significantly different or face the same problem next year and likely worse.

With failure comes knowledge and in my case loads of knowledge of what was not going to work to keep me from the seasonal weight gains and subsequent efforts to quickly take it off. Packaged meals, low carbohydrate diets, and diet shakes all work, but not for the long haul because who can live like that? Then there are the more wacky ineffective and even dangerous products based on junk science or pure snake oil that can be eliminated out of hand. What is left is pretty much one program, Weight Watchers. Beyond selecting it by elimination, I found their flexible program based on good science and would provide me a good opportunity to learn to eat better, enjoy what I eat ,and maintain a health weight for a lifetime.

Upon joining Weight Watchers, I found the many benefits including the support provided in the weekly meetings, on-line tools, fantastic recipes, and simple to use Points Plus economy are helping me stay the course. So much so, that in the first few weeks I lost 20 pounds without starving myself as in past years. Of course I expect the next 30 pounds to be harder to loose, but I am in it for the long haul. More good news.... The benefits so far are just not all weight loss! With the loss of my first 20 pounds, my doctor has noticed the difference in my HDL/LDL, Triglyceride, H1C, and blood pressure pressure numbers.

Disclosure - My spouse was my inspiration to join Weight Watchers. Having struggled with her weight most of her life she finally found success with their program. Now 60 pounds lighter and much healthier, she works part time as a receptionist at one of their centers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brooks Professional Saddle Frame Replacement

While riding my cross bike I noticed the sudden presence of a strange clicking sound when I pedaled. When I returned home I found the frame of my MCM Selle An-Atomica modified Brooks Pro Saddle had broken.

At first I thought I would replace the saddle, but then reconsidered given the pain of breaking in a new one. Of course there is the matter of the cost of both the saddle and the MCM Selle An-An-Atomica modification.

The good news - I found that Brooks makes replacement parts for saddles readily available through its website.
The bad news - I could not find any detailed instructions on replacing the saddle frame, so I was left to my own devices.
From the Brooks Website I ordered the parts:
Quantity 1 - Professional Frame Assembly – BYB 162
Quantity 6 - Solid Copper Rivet – Large Head (16.5 MM Dia.) - BYB273

A few weeks later the parts arrived and I took on the task of removing the broken frame.

This requires carefully removal of the 6 rear rivets. I first thought about drilling them out, but decided on a more conservative go-slow approach of using a Dremel to grind off the backside of each rivet.

Using cutting wheels at about 500 RPM, I slowly removed the flared backsides of the copper rivets so as to not to build up sufficient heat to hurt the leather. It took a total of 8 cutting wheels to complete the task.

After that, it was simple to remove the rivets from the saddle with a small punch and a few light taps of the hammer.


 With the rivets removed, the broken rail was easily separated from the other components of the saddle. I had to do a fair amount of cleaning at this point due to the mess created by removing the rivets.  Important! - I carefully noted the position of the tension adjustment nut and then turned it so it is all the way up on the tension adjustment bolt.

After removing the broken frame, further inspection revealed a surprise! The bracket was cracked just in front of both rail attachment points. I felt lucky the saddle didn't fail in a more serious way!

Before continuing, I decided to properly do the riveting I needed a concave punch. To save time searching for one just right for the job I made one from 11mm round steel rod using a bench grinder and 9mm drill.

To finish the business end of the punch I drilled out a bit of the end of a 11cm piece of the rod with a 9mm bit and then used a bench grinder to create a taper. Note - the concave end does not need to be very deep, but just sufficient to properly mushroom the rivet shaft.

With the concave punch completed, I gathered the other tools which included a heavy hammer to be used with the concave punch, a small smooth head hammer to do the finishing work, a large 16mm brass flat-end punch, and a large engineer's vise with anvil.

After inserting the first rivet, I placed the saddle on the vise so the rivet head was perfectly flat against its anvil. Using the punch and large hammer I carefully stuck the rivet straight-on until nicely mushroomed. Basically I hit it until I felt the punch had gone as far as it would go. Then I repeated the process 5 more times.

The result compares very well to the original rivets in both size and shape. On a side note the rivets took a bit more hammer effort that I expected. Initially I was using the small hammer, but found I needed to switch to the heavier one.

With the rivets secure the next step was to finish the heads. This was the step of most concern since it would make or break the looks of the saddle.

Supporting the frame on large flat-ended brass punch head held in the vise I used the small flat head hammer to lightly hammer around the circumference of each rivet head until flush with the leather.

I found that more and lighter hammer strokes were best to shape the rivet heads and give them that hammered appearance. NOTE - Don't worry about harming the leather. It is very elastic and will just bounce back when struck.

After hammering on the rivet heads they needed a bit of polishing using the Dremel equipped with a buffing wheel and some polishing compound.

Using the position of the tension adjustment nut noted earlier I used a Brooks saddle adjustment wrench to restore the tension to the saddle.

Lastly I put a good coat of Brook's Proofide on both sides of the leather and polished the top side with a soft cloth.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Durable Wheels for Clydesdale Cyclists

Light weight clincher wheels utilizing low spoke counts are numerous and fashionable, but they may not be the best choice Clydesdale recreational riders.

For example, I purchased Mavic's Ksyrium Elite wheel set because of its innovations in rim and hub design, light weight, quality bearings, aerodynamics, and good looks. Unfortunately, all that goodness couldn't overcome my 109Kg rider weight driving the rear wheel severely out of true just a few days into the Bicycle Tour of Colorado.

So what's a better choice for the Clydesdale? I decided I would build a wheel set optimized for (ordered from most to least important):
  1. Durability
  2. Ease of maintenance
  3. Cost
  4. Aerodynamics
  5. Weight
First, I identified spoke count as the most important factor in durability. I especially understood it would take more spokes than the 20 of the Mavic Ksyrium Elite's rear wheel to keep me from frequent visits to the truing stand. Additionally, I decided I needed to find an inherently stronger rim.

So just how many spokes and what lacing pattern to use? Instead of a more scientific approach, I just I called upon my experiences with wheels I have ridden over the years that consistently proved themselves to be durable over thousands of road miles and requiring only infrequent trips to the truing stand. Those have been wheels with the traditional 36 spokes laced in a 3-cross pattern on both drive and non-drive side.

Having decided on the number of spokes, I starting looking for a strong 36 hole rim. My own experience with and the reputation of the Velocity's Deep-V MSW clincher rim made it the obvious choice for me. The shape of this rim gives it high strength with the bonus of good aerodynamics. The fact the Deep V is available in numerous colors is an extra added bonus. To keep things simple I decided on the same rim, spoke count, and lacing for both rear and front wheel.

Now for the hubs.... I needed to select hubs that are durable and readily available in a 36 hole drilling. Adding the factors of cost and ease of maintenance I decided on Shimano 105 hubs. They are common, perform well, are nicely finished, and simple to service. OK, I admit the Ultegra hubs where probably a better choice at just $30 more.

Here's a price comparison of hub sets as of (05/23/2010):
  • Tiagra - $53
  • 105 - $133
  • Ultegra - $163
  • Durace - $440

Now for the spokes.... I am attracted to CX-Ray spokes given Sapim's claims of 3x durability over any other spoke. They also claim their spoke's oval shape provides better aerodynamics without the hassle associated with building a wheel with bladed spokes. The downside to the CX-Ray spokes is at $2.90/spoke + nipple they are almost 6x the price of a basic DT 14g stainless spoke + brass nipple costing only $0.50. With 72 spokes in the wheel set that adds up to a difference of $173! I decided the benefit of a 36 spoke count was sufficient to meet my durability requirement and chose the basic DT 14g spoke option to keep cost down. I also considered a middle ground of using a double-butted spoke for weight savings, but I decide it was not worth the 2x spoke cost. Lastly I considered mixing spokes, perhaps putting the CX-Ray spokes on the rear drive side, but decided to keep it simple.

So here is a cost summary:

Velocity Deep V Rims x 2 - $120
Shimano 105 Hubs - $133

DT 14 SS Spokes + nipples x 72 - $36

Total Parts Cost - $289

So what is the weight penalty of my Clydesdale-friendly wheel set? Using my spouse's digital kitchen scale (admittedly not the most accurate) I found the Shimano 105, Deep V, 36 DT 14g spoke wheel set to be 434g heavier than my Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheel set. That's about 1 pound.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rivet nut replacement

When I attached my water bottle cage to the seat tube of my new bike I failed to notice I was using aluminum bolts. That bit of carelessness resulted in breaking off the first of the 5mm bolts I tightened.

Normally this a simple fix using a Craftsman Drill Out Micro Power Extractor to remove the remains of the bolt, but it was not going to be that easy. When attempting to extract the bolt the rivet nut started spinning in the frame. The combination of spinning rivet nut with a broken bolt stuck in it left me no choice but removal.

After drilling out and removing the rivet nut's remains from the frame, I purchased a Marson zinc plated 5 mm Riv-nut from Bikeman ( ) for $2.99 USD. Actually I bought two just in case I spoiled one on my first installation attempt. This turned out to be a good investment.

I didn't want to purchase a rivet nut tool, so after doing some searching I found instructions on the Park Tool website ( ) on tightening up water bottle fittings. While the instructions and make-shift tool used are for just tightening a loose rivet nut, I decided to take the chance they would also work for installing a new one.

My makeshift tool consisted of an adjustable spanner as the spacer, a cheap steel front skewer, and spare Campy front hub. The picture to the right shows the setup with Riv-nut in place. My first attempt to install the Riv-nut yielded a couple of problems. The first is the thickness of the adjustable spanner's jaws are tapered. This, in effect, creates a wedge between the skewer and the axle nut resulting the bending of the skewer when tightened. The second problem is the axle ends are not flat but beveled distorting the Riv-net's face as pressure is applied . The result was bad enough that I decided to remove the Riv-nut an start over.

On my second attempt pictured on the right, I corrected the shortcomings of my makeshift tool by substituting an open end wrench with uniform thickness that would still be me a good leverage. I also installed a washer on the skewer between the axle end and Riv-nut to provide a large flat surface.

Admittedly it took a fair amount of effort using this setup to install the Riv-nut since the skewer doesn't provide a lot of leverage. With each close of the skewer's lever I had to screw the skewer a little bit further into the Riv-nut and repeat. After several iterations of this, I was able to compress the Riv-nut sufficiently to secure it into the frame.

After thoughts... I think the technique I used is probably not a good solution for installing a new rivet nut. The hub or even just the axle from it is a bit awkward to use and requires a lot of finger strength to set the rivet nut. Probably a better low-cost alternative to a proper rivet nut tool would be a strong steel 5 mm x 20 mm bolt, a mating steel nut, and some washers. The idea would be the nut, bolt and washer assembly would be screwed into the rivet nut and with the bolt held in place while the nut is backed off thereby compressing the rivet nut. This would give more control and require much less effort.

Lastly, while writing this entry I found a source for a very basic rivet nut tool for under $30 USD from ( ). The tool itself looks simple and easy to operate within the confines of a bike frame so I am considering purchasing one.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

iPhone, GPS, and battery capacity

One of things that attracted me to the iPhone 3Gs the GPS apps available to plan and track my bike rides. It wasn't too hard to decide on the MotionX GPS app that is both very capable app and reasonably priced at just $2.99.

I suspected that I was going to need an external battery and my first ride with the GPS confirmed it. After only a few hours with the GPS app running it consumed enough of the battery's charge that I had to stop it so I would have a phone if needed during the ride.

When I got back home I started searching for a high capacity rechargeable external battery. The ones I found were disappointing either from the standpoint of battery capacity or how they attached to the iPhone.

Some were units that plugged into the bottom of the phone extending its overall length and putting what think is unacceptable stress on the iPhone's connnector. Others connected to the iPhone using a cable making them clumsy to use with it attached.
I decided what I needed was something that did not plug into the iPhone, but something the iPhone plugged into. The ideal was the battery should be basically a case housing the iPhone, but not interfering with normal operation.

What I found was the FastMac TruePower iV iPhone Battery Charger. It has a whopping 3100mAh battery compared to the iPhone 3Gs battery of only 1150 mAH. That is 2.7x more battery capacity! The extra bonus is a "flash" which is just a LED light activated by an external switch is handy when you need a flashlight, but not much good for pictures. It also has a USB connector to allow the TruePower iV to charge devices such as Bluetooth headsets which I haven't used yet.

A desktop test showed the additional battery capacity allowed for over 8 hours of full use of the MotionX GPS app with battery capacity to spare. This meets my need to have GPS for an long day's ride without compromise.

The TruePower iV is near perfect, but there are a few misses. At about $100 USD, its expensive. It doesn't provide the same protection as the typical case. It doesn't hold the iPhone as tightly as I would like leaving the possibility of it becoming accidentally unplugged especially when in my backpack.

For a full description of the FastMac's TruePower iV go to

Disclosure -
My only relationship with MotionX, Apple, AT&T, and FastMac is that of paying customer.