1992 Bridgestone RB-2 for a Temporary Commuter.

Picked myself up this Bridgestone RB-2 for two reasons.

1. I wanted a geared bike quickly because commuting on my single speed was killing me! I’m currently building myself a geared cyclocross frame but I’m not yet even done with the front triangle so it’ll be a bit.

2. Since I build frames mostly using double oversized tubing I wanted to try an old traditional tubeset.

This showed up on CL and I figured it was going  to be trashed for the price they were asking. And it kinda is, derailleur cable for a rear brake cable, rear pads were almost gone, tires were dry rotten, bar tapes shot, drive line had a decade of WD-40/mud on it, frame and fork have chips and scrapes, Shimano DeoreLX derailleurs and wheel set… so I bought it!

Here it is right off of CL.

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That Deore though.

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It’s a 59 cm, which from the best I can tell is to the tip of the top of the seat tube. The top tube measures 585 mm. So far this thing is right on for fitting me! Head tube is about 160 mm tall and the rear end measures 410 mm. Head tube is about 74° and seat tube is about 72°. The fork has an axle to crown of 375 mm. So yeah, race bike geometry. Oh and the weight, 24lbs flat with 25c tires and a water bottle cage. Not bad IMO.

That short rear end doesn’t leave room for much more than a 25c Gatorskin.

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Time to get into it. Braking has been addressed, bar tape, tires and tubes, cleaned the shit out of the driveline, cleaned and regreased the hubs, trued up the wheels, put SPD pedals on and just washed it!

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I finally got to commute on it today. First impression is “Wow! This thing is FAST!”. My 8 mile commute involves about 600ft of climbing into work and 850ft home so this was a good chance to see what gears could do for me. The small diameter tubes surprised me! This frame is very stiff! That nice short rear end makes for some nice power transfer! The steering is razor sharp and the fork flexes enough to give some forgiveness on the bumps without unraking the fork too much under heavy braking.

I had always heard that Bridgestone bikes were highly regarded and I can see why now! According to Strava I had a few PR’s!

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I’ll probably be sad to get rid of this bike since I’m only really buying it for a temp commuter till I can finish my CX frame. I would love to give it a 22 speed SRAM Rival group and some compact ergo bars! But then it would need paint first and better wheels. Oh the snowball.

I guess that means I’ll just enjoy it for what it’s for. Besides, the feeling of riding a bike you designed, built the frame and fork, speced the EXACT parts  you want and assembled it all together FAR outweighs this bikes cool factor.

Hopefully next post will be of my next build but until then I’ll be enjoying this little rocket!

Ride safe and have FUN damn it! We’re only on this planet so long, don’t take the shortest way, don’t skip dessert, smell those damn roses, ignore bullshit, get lost, laugh hard, hug your kids often and just be a nice person!

Allan

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Adam of Rotten Gear’s Track Frame

My buddy Adam is a hard workin’ family man, a fan of horror and metal who also rides fixed gear bikes. His body was getting beaten up riding Aluminum fixed gear frames that look good but never fit him well. So, I got talking to him about building him a frame. I wanted more frame building practice, he wanted a frame to fit and be comfortable. WIN! He also wanted a triple triangle which is something I hadn’t done yet. WIN! Being that Adam isn’t a track racer I gave him a more laxed head tube and the ability to run a longer rear end. But, the dropout slots are long enough that he can tuck the tire within a CM of the seat tube if he wants.

I started this build WAAAAY back in May of 2015 but due to other projects and moving from LA to SD, I finished it JUST in the nick of time. You see Adam and his wife are from Phoenix, AZ and took an impromptu two day vacation in LA. Luckily all I needed to do was some odds and ends finishing work. So we meet in Corona as they were on their way home for the delivery. Let me tell you it was SO rewarding watching him see his frame for the first time. Made the whole build worth it!

Proud moment!

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Soak anyone?

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Here’s a lesson learned moment right here. I needed longer seat stays, so I made these nifty little extensions, mitered them all up THEN checked the alignment of the chainstays! Aaaand they needed just a smidge of adjusting. Ugh. So after aligning the CS’s the miters didn’t line up. Oops.

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Paul Kettelar from AU’s influenced rear trip jig. Kept the dropouts centered nicely. The ST to CS angle was so slightly off on the right side. Not bad at all if I had only checked that before mitering the seat stays.

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Miters need to fit tightly even under lugs.

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Well, that’s it. Thanks Adam! I really enjoyed this build!

Next up, a disc CX frame AND FORK for me. Yay!

Ride safe!
Allan Varcoe

Rear Triangle Fixture.

I think all I do is build fixtures. I have a fixture for just about everything. Having apprenticed in a prototype / tool and die machine shop back in the late 90’s and still working in the same field today, I guess I feel the need to develop a fixture everything. I built the frame fixture (jig) and that should cover everything I need to do on a bike frame. Or does it?

You see, due to the nature of working with lugs I have gotten decent at going without fixturing or with minimal assistance from fixturing. So, after I built a frame fixture I kind of started to feel it was over constrained. While I know this isn’t the case, I’m actually having a little trouble wanting to use it to finish a frame that I started a while back.

This fixture isn’t revolutionary or anything, heck, it’s probably hardly even evolutionary, but I got the idea on fucking Pintrest of all places. The idea is using the HT and ST from your front triangle to project the alignment of your rear triangle.

As with most fixtures, you need good straight surfaces. While there are probably straighter, a couple pieces of 1/4″ thick aluminum angle are lookin’ mighty fine for this job. Also, it’s cheap and easy to store.

I’ll be using my 2″ Paragon tube blocks with this fixture so I need a 2″ spacer with holes for a bolt and the dummy axle. Like this.

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Next is drilling holes in the aluminum angles. I used this block as a guide since it has the exact hole size and spacing I need.

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Trim the ends of the angle to clear the dropouts.

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Bolt it all together. Then using 3″ C-clamps to hold the aluminum angles to the tube blocks on the HT & ST I can align the dropouts and set the ST to chainstay angle.

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I can also use this fixture to align the front triangle for brazing the DT to the BB lug. Simply leaving off the rear triangle and clamping the HT and ST together in alignment. I have a feeling I’ll be using this one a lot.

Next mission is to finish this frame up. I’m looking forward to doing the triple triangle seatstays on this one!

Thanks for reading and PLEASE ride safe out there! Now that it’s dark at 5:15 you’ll need to light yourself up like a Christmas tree to be seen!

Allan Varcoe

EDIT!

Paul Ketelaar from Australia gave me some pointers on a way to really make this fixture more effective. There is 2 separate stages and I have only done 1. But I did make the parts for the second stage also. Stage 1 mod is basically adding a swinging arm to the end. This allows me to push the dropouts down (or up) without having to fiddle with the clamps that hold the fixture to the tube blocks.

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Stage 2 involves another segment between allowing articulation. This allows the use of traditional vertical road dropouts. You see with a horizontal dropout Stage 1 works fine because the dummy axle will slide in the dropout while the angle is being adjusted. Not in a vertical though.

Thanks Paul!

Check his FB out! He’s a badass!

https://m.facebook.com/steeltherideideal/

Frame Painting #RattleCan

Rust. Bare steel frames last just fine in the desert that is LA county. However now that we’re in San Diego county, 12 miles from the beach, I couldn’t keep bare metal clean and shiny. So, it’s time for paint. Not just any paint, no no no. Rattle Can Paint! Budgets suck. Ha!

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But first I wanted to add water bottle mounts. My handy, dandy little fixture here makes quick work of the drilling.

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And brazing water bottle mounts is among the quickest braze jobs on a bike.

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Now, time to prime.

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Paint.

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Add frame decals like a pro builder, reassemble.

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BAM! I even did the stem. Love how it looks!

Next I’m finishing Adam from Rotten Gear’s frame finally!

Ride safe out there people! Road raging morons are out there waiting.

Allan Varcoe

Project Dandonneur

My buddy Dan wants his 1971 Raleigh International converted to a 650b randonneur with a Wald front rack. Dan is a busy family man so we meet at my day job and discussed the project. He needed the rear end widened to fit a 135mm wide wheel, cantilever mounts front and rear, rack mounts and the struts to make that happen and I needed the brazing practice. Perfect!

Excited to get going I adjusted the rear end first using a BB post mounted to a Bridgeport table.

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Next it was onto brake mounts. I like this fixture and it works well but when time permits I’m going to make a better one. This was also the first time I tried Fillet Pro from Cycle Design. I’M A FAN!

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Onto the fork. The fork needed brake and rack mounts. This is the first rack I’ve mounted so it is completely new to me. I haven’t ever owned a bike with a rack either. Dan was awesome in helping me with images for examples of exactly what he wanted.

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The next thing I did was dimple the chainstays to clear the new 650b x 42 meaty tires. I made a pair of vice grips so I could dimple built frames as opposed to dimpling the tubing before assembling the frame.

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With the frame and fork done my next step was mounting the rack. I machined this headset spacer / top rack mount on a 4 axis horizontal Haas CNC milling machine.

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You’ll see how this works later.

The Wald rack came with some beastly mounting struts. I wasn’t about to use them to mount to this rack. Using some 4130 tubing and solid stock I machined the strut parts.

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Then brazed ’em up!

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MUCH nicer (and lighter) than the big ass piece of bent metal that was supplied with the rack.

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With the bottom struts taken care of it was onto the top.

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Again, confusing now but keep on scrolling and it’ll all come together.

I had to put some mounting slots in the back mounting plate of the rack and what a better way to do so than the tomb stone fixture on the Horizontal.

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Finally finished brazing the top struts so now these pics should sum that all up.

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Well, here is the finished product. Dan has already told me that he is going to get a poodle so he can carry it on the rack! Can’t wait for pics of that!

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This project brought me a load of new challenges and I greatly appreciate his patience with my learning curve and I hope he loves the bike for years!

Thanks for making it to the bottom of this post.

Ride safe!
Allan Varcoe

Here is his Flickr feed.

The RAKER!

After making a fork jig I needed a way to rake (bend to give the fork offset) fork blades. Joe from Cobra Frames gave me some pointers and pics to help me come up with a design.
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Two pieces of 1.25″ thick x 8″ wide x 1′ long poplar were used to make the die. I traced my curve on the blocks with a friking super accurate set-up!
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Then deck screwed them together and cut the profile.
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Then unscrewed them and belt sanded chamfers on the inner edges to create the “V”.
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I made the roller in the handle out of some scrap low carbon steel and cut the stock for the side plates in no time. Laying out my hole locations in the side plates and die was quick. I then bolted the handle extension on. 50″ of leverage outta be enough to bend some little fork blades.

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I also had to weld the part that stops the tube up.

Next I’ll attach the wooden die to a 6′ long 2×10 and the tool will be complete.


8)

I used a shit load of washers on this thing. LOL!

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Now, I’ll be building myself a disc cyclocross fork because my next project will be a disc cross frame for myself.

Thanks again and ride safe out there!
Allan Varcoe

Fork Jig

After making my frame jig I figured I’d keep on keepin’ on with the 80/20 stuff and build a fork jig. It’s pretty simple, pretty self explanatory. This jig only took minor machining to build. And the machined parts could have been done without milling, just drilling.

The FixieFool fork is just for demonstration purposes only. I actually rode a fork just like this for a bit and holy CRAP was it stiff. My hands would hurt after 20 miles on that fork. Geez. You definitely get what you pay for when it comes to fork ride quality.

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Project Frame Jig

With the cost of frame jigs exceeding the value of my car I decided a little while ago to slowly build my own. Well, the time is here. My jig is done!!!! It’s obviously has quite a bit of influence from the Arctos jig made from 80/20 extrusion.

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As I use the jig I will add and improve. I want to add a BB height scale and some angular measurements for the HT and ST.

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Perhaps I’ll braze the rear triangle on the Rotten Gear frame.

Thanks for checking this out.

Ride safe!

Allan Varcoe