Archive for January, 2010

Merry Christmas Mom!

Custom Libertas

Custom Libertas

For the last few months of 2009, I was hard at work secretly building a bicycle for my mother for christmas. Well, it was secret if you were my mother. I bought the bike in October hoping to have it ready by November so I could display it around my shop and show it off. As usual, things didnt exactly work out like that. Off the bat, I was disappointed with the purchase. I grabbed it off ebay because of the graceful unorthodox bend on the middle stay. I knew that some Libertas bikes were made of Reynolds 531 but this is not one. The paint was pretty rough with some nice house paint and white out used as touch up. I decided to dive deep into the bike and met up with my buddy Hale to make some modifications. First I stripped and photographed the bike and the decals because I thought I would recreate and slightly modify the decals. I took the bike to Hale’s house and began work. The brake bridge and fender mount were both plates and looked really ugly, as did the tack-welded kickstand plate. We decided to knock those out and replace them with some bars and we scavenged some rear investment cast dropouts off of a Surly Cross Check. There was some shortening of the stays and a little realignment it was time put some nice cable guides in the appropriate places.

Powdercoating the frame was next. The frame had nice headtube lugs, but nothing too special anywhere else so I thought a powdercoat would be fine. I have always loved white bicycles so I went with a matte white. I also decided to abandon the original decals and just create my own. Post powdercoat, I began piecing the bike together. I had a lot of parts saved up over time, including a pretty sweet spinning bell with a bee on it and an old French Simplex chain guard that I had shipped from Paris. I found my old Brooks Flyer saddle, so it was nice and broken in for Mom, and I bought a Porteur Rack from Velo Orange. And since I went with a front rack, to minimize how much the fork would swing around, I went with a Pletcher double kickstand. The Honjo fenders were a challenge to set up, but once done I was very pleased with how sold they felt. Lastly, I purchased a light for a cruiser bike and Niko had the knowledge to gut the insides (which consisted of 2 C cell batteries and an incandescent bulb) and replaced it with 3 LED bulbs running off a 9v.

Next: decals. I took my mother’s name and combined it with Rensho, of 3Rensho frame and wrote Yoko Rensho on the downtube. Its pretty awesome how the letters are visible through the split top tube of the mixte. For the headtube, where I was initially going to echo the original Libertas logo, I decided to put the Sun of the Japanese flag with the four main islands cut out of it. Around the circle I wrote “Libertas Custom” so some sort of the origins of the frame can be known. It was tough to weed, but worth it.

All those reasons, on top of trying to run my shop allowed me to finish the bicycle on the final possible day I could, just in time to disassemble it and throw it in a box, just to find out that everything would fit in the bike box except for the front rack. Just my luck. I decided to take the bike home with me on the airplane and since Velo Orange is conveniently located in Annapolis, I took the hour long drive out there and picked up a new rack.

I spent 2 days trying to keep the huge bike box hidden from my mother. I would hear her coming up the hall way and I would try to meet up with her in the hall way and block her view to my room. I didnt think I got away with it, but apparently I did. On Christmas, when my mother went to my neighbor’s house, I ran upstairs and brought the bike down to the living room. Upon her return she was totally surprised at the sudden appearance of the bike! Unfortunately the weather was less than ideal so the bike sat there patiently for a few days. When more of the snow had melted I convinced mom to ride the bike up and down the street. She says she love it and has asked for a stem with more of a rise. So I will have to bring that back next time I go home.

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Friday, January 15th, 2010 Custom Builds, Rosebud was a bike! Comments Off
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San Francisco, CA 94133

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