For sometime I've been wanting to try this Drop Bar MTB malarky. Probably something to do with the fact I started as roadie in my early youth. A chance find after a tip-off, I collected some very old retro Drop Bars from a local seller's "Blue Ikea Tat Bag" buried deep in the basement. My main build (http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/viewto ... highlight=
) has come to a standstill and so yesterday temptation was far too great and the Orange Clockwork Urban Assault was to be seriously modded.
Updated Parts List
- UN51 110mm bottom bracket. This is from 1994 and constantly oscillates between hack bikes and the bin and the spare part box. A going over with a wire brush to fetch the rust off brings it back to former glory. No signs of slop and it still runs smooth.
- LX M563 175mm cranks. They've had the black coating removed and the granny ring bolt holes ground off to make a cheap mans DUO. An additional 1mm spacer on the drive side cup centers them just about right.
- New Driveline 42T SS chain ring. Cheap and cheerfull.
- San Marco Rolls Ti saddle. What else?
- 50% worn Conti-Twister Supersonic 1.95" upfront, 50% worn Conti-Twister Protection 1.95" on the rear. As close as I can find to some 26" semi-slick Cyclo-cross tyres. Pumped up to healthy 40 PSI they should be spot on.
- Profile 130mm 20 degree 25.4mm stem. NOS complete with scratches.
- M535 pedals. They just won't give up.
- BBB bottle cage. Nothing fancy.
- Bike Ribbon Professional black handlebar tape. I was amazed to see this product still around!
- A less worn HG73 chain...
- Pair of Tektro RL520 linear pull levers.
- 42cm wide, shortish drop, shortish reach and importantly 25.4mm clamp classic road drop bars. I don't know the make because the previous owner(s) have scratched them to buggery while trying to fit / remove them. All I can make out is the word "Mondial" in a champions laural reef, so they must be quality. They must be of similar breed to those used by Joop Zoetemelk when belting across loaf of bread sized cobble stones in crummy conditions in Belguim. Perfect for me.
What I estimated to be a small 2hr quick job became a man cave epic. Drilling bars for aero levers was always a project, but 20 years ago I can't seem to remember butchering Campag Chorus brake levers to get the sodding cable routing acceptable. It's probably over 15 years ago since I put handlebar tape on, but it's surprising how it all comes back. Plus 9 hours later Orange Clockwork CX/DB was born and looking a million dollars. Smiles all around.
Test Ride Report
In anticipation for the big event I decided do to some carbohydrate loading with a pre-prepared chicken-mango-pasta salad at 01:00 am.
Actually, this was dinner from the all night store after being up to my eyeballs with the build. A bright, dry, blue sky +10c morning with only an obligatory one pint of stong black coffee had me out of the door fresh at 11:45 am.
Initial reactions had me thinking I got it all wrong and was about to turn around and put the hammer in the whole lot. It felt very different. With ubiquitous images of JT (thanks Retrobike
) flashing through the gray matter I thought I would stick at it.
On the tops it felt right, on the hoods I felt stretched out like Chris Boardman could never achieve. On the drops it felt fine and fast. This time, mental images of Moser in Paris Roubaix was very motivational and gave me the urge to ride a bit more moronic.
Off-road on more technical stuff the best position was tucked in the hooks, and steady climbing on the tops and out-of the saddle on the hoods eventually seemed fine and comfortable.
Steep climbs (along with the 42 x 18 ) could only be tackled off the saddle sprinting on the hooks. I must have looked a right knob to the Nordic pole walking brigade, but I have my pride not to walk the bike along. Corners seemed best on the hooks out of saddle, shifting weight forward and digging what tread of the contis had left into the ground.
Interesting reactions from other cyclists; the MTB folks quickly pass it off as a cyclo-cross, and the cyclo-cross folks initially see - just another cyclo-cross rig - but then realise the fatter tyres and a very missing frog-leg canti-lever brake on the forks. The look on their faces says "it's one of those".
It's been all good single speed fun, and to be honest it's the first time I've taken the Orange off-road. I felt battered after 3 ½ hours though. It's a hell of a lot of work in the cock-pit area, especially with "far from light action" braking. I'm going to stick with it and try to get some 46cm wide bars, and a 130mm 25 degree stem, or keep my eyes out for a shorter top-tube old school steel frame.
Enjoy the pictures, and comments always welcome!