P@Tweb updates on July 27 - 2011

This site is now dedicated to steel bicycles in their different forms and ages.

1- Roberts Roughstuff (October 2008 - March 2009)

An all-rounder by design, this expedition bicycle is built around a custom-made brazed Roberts Roughstuff frame, fitted with a convenient S&S coupling system. The group set is a blend of TA Carmina chainset, Dura-Ace bar-end shifters, XT rear derailleur and Campag front derailleur. The wheels are hand-built, using Mavic Open Pro ceramic-coated rims (26 Inch, 36H), Sapin spokes, a Royce Titan rear hub and a front Schmidt dynahub. To improve the riding comfort, the saddle had to be a leather one such as the travel-tested Brooks B17. The handlebar is a Nitto Moustache. With 26 inch wheels, long wheelbase and chainstays, a shallow head tube angle and reasonable fork trail, the bicycle is stable at speed and well balanced. It can be easily ridden in all weather and terrain conditions. It is probably the most versatile bike I have ever owned. It can be configured for on/off-road touring with four panniers, front and rear luggage racks, or for the daily town rides with a light Carradice saddle bag.

Interesting links:
- Roberts Cycles, the Roughstuff frame makers
- A test ride of the Roberts Roughstuff
- About the S&S coupling system
- How to plan for a bicycle adventure
- Setting-up a Moustache handlebar

2- Jack Taylor Super Clubman (December 2009 - April 2010)

The three Taylor brothers produced some of the best frames ever made in post-war England. This particular examplar is a Super Clubman from 1962, with a custom paint featuring the famous double box lining from Jack, the designer and painter of the bikes. It took me about three months of active treasure hunt to source all parts required to rebuild the bike in its period juice. I also needed the help of two great mechanics and a frame builder to get the frame realigned, build a good 27”wheelset and set-up the bike correctly. Riding such a bicycle is a great experience. It is also a reminder of how good these old geometries were: long wheel base, Taylor’s standard head tube angle and high fork rake. It rides smoothly and rolls for ever (Campag Nuovo Record chainset and hubs) as a good sport touring bike should do. With this geometry, it does not have the cornering ability of an agressive racing bike and it is fine so. This Taylor is about long traveling, not racing.

Interesting links:
The story of Jack Taylor Cycles
The movie on the Stockton brothers

3- Paris Galibier (October 2007 - February 2009, December 2010 - Ongoing)

First produced in the late 40-ies, this modern Paris Galibier lugged frame is a comfortable option for audax rides or to climb passes at a leisure pace. This somewhat special bicycle is fitted with a triple Campagnolo Record chainset and hand-built wheels (Mavic MA2, Sapin spokes and Record hubs) that are great for the intended usage. These classic Mavic rims are wide enough to give some flexibility on the choice of tyres, from 700x23 to 700x28 if required. The frame details, such as the thin double top tube or lugs finish, are simply stunning.

The bike currently undergoes some transformation, such as the fitting of thin Honjo mudguards, wider tyres and canti brakes. It will also be fitted with a Chorus double chainset and a medium cage deraillleur for a better chain alignment. All these enhancements shall make the bike more usable throughout the cycling year.

Interesting links:
- About the original Paris Galibier
- The new Galibier version
- A great online gear calculator

4- Colnago Master X-Light (June 2008)

Is there a modern steel frame that is more iconic than the Colnago Master X-Light? With a fantastic race pedigree and that special Italian hip, this lugged frame is special indeed. Thanks to its racy geometry, with a cross-shaped top tube, short chainstays, this Colnago X-Light is very responsive, and is second to none in the mountains (for a steel bike). Finished in a special Art Decor paint, this 1999 Master Light is now fitted with a Campagnolo Record 10 groupset, with 53/39 chainrings, a 13/29 cassette and a Campy Shamal wheelset for flat rides. It is always a pleasure to ride it in the conditions it most deserves, such as a sunny climbing day in a great European pass. It is above 1000m that the Colnago Master X-Light seems to work best!

Interesting links:
- Profiles of the top climbs worldwide
- About the Colnago Master X-Light
- Old Campagnolo catalogs

5- Condor Military Velo MO-05 (November 2009)

Thanks to the simplified mechanics, single speed bicycles are practical and require low levels of maintenance. Having owned two road-oriented single speed bikes before, I decided to learn from my unconvincing personal experiences to only focus my attention on what I truely needed. This had to be a single speed (vs. fixie) with mudguards, an upward riding position and a luggage rack to transport the occasional bags. I also added an occasional trail ride element to the puzzle. The work horse that could answer it all is an old Condor MO-05, also known as the traditional Swiss Army bicycle. This specific bike is from 1973. It is as reliable and practical as one can wish. Despite its heavy weight, the short wheel base and 26” wheels give it a very good cornering ability and make it fun to ride. These bikes have been tested in the worst riding conditions for over 70 years. It means that only quality parts are used: the saddle, the hubs, the brakes are all top components that serve their purposes well. It is effectively a good example of a lean original design that did not have to evolve much over time. High quality parts are getting harder to get but I am confident this MO-05 still has another few decades to go...

Interesting link:
In praise of Swiss Army bikes

6- Alex Singer Velo de Ville (April 2010 - July 2011)

The aim of this project was to build a bicycle that can carry a heavy front load - like a porteur - and can still be used for day-long rides. Not easy for sure! Levallois-based constructeur Alex Singer used their long experience to build this bicycle around these specific requirements and their traditional style. Most parts are old stock manufactured in France: Maxi-car hubs, Super Champion rims, Huret Jubilee derailleurs, TA Specialites chainset, Mafac brakes and Ideale saddle. Stunning ride dynamics thanks to its front geometry.

Interesting links:
Courier Racing
Cycles Alex Singer