Belleville update

Baskets, cranks and saddle dialed in on the Trek BellevilleThe Belleville turned out to be a success! It’s dialed in for fit, and function, with a couple of “form” tradeoffs*. Angelina says it’s heavier than the old bike, but “feels sturdier,” and she loves the dynamo lights. It’s a huge relief not to worry about batteries, or turning the light on. I’ve seen her rolling along at dusk, too, and they’re pretty visible.

Goodwill basket on the Belleville's front rackDespite all the goodness, Angelina kept riding her old bike, because it had the baskets. She uses the bike as transportation, so she needs to bring things home. I moved the Wald folding baskets to the new bike, which was good, but she didn’t like having to bungie things onto the front rack. I balked at moving the front basket, though, because it didn’t fit the rack or the bike’s aesthetic. After she threatened to wire the old basket on with whatever twine or baling wire she could find, I went to Goodwill, determined to get something basket-like. Wicker picnic baskets (hmm, not bad), heavy storage basket, suitcase… and this. It looks like it might have had a laundry-room or dishwasher function, but it fits the rack almost exactly, and is cut down in back to go right under the bar! Perfect. Plenty of room for a half rack of beer. It even had wire “ears” on the bottom I used to attach it to the rack , through the magic of ‘bending.’ One broke, so a single hoseclamp replaced it.

Repaired Brooks saddle on the BellevilleThe stock saddle turned out to be really comfortable, but not at first. I flipped the saddle clamp around, so the post is in front of the clamp, instead of behind. This gives more setback, but also more leverage on the saddle to knock it out of angle, so you have to tighten it like mad. I’m cautious doing that, though, since I snapped the bolt on the Brooks 2-rail clamp (the Brooks bolt had two weak, flat sections, which is really stupid), and had to replace it with a much sturdier Chinese part.

I was a little worried about installing the repaired Brooks, since the Trek Eco saddle has been so comfortable. But I did the work, and it’s a great seat, and I can always put the Eco seat back on. This Brooks has the same flipped clamp, which gives 1/2″ more setback, which surprised me.

Cork repair to the Eco handgripThe grips are hard plastic, held on with screw-clamp ends, and have to be rotated on the bars so the indentations to line up naturally with the hand. One almost came off in an intersection, and the cap part disappeared, so I replaced it with a cork. And tightened up the little allen bolt. I may leave the Steyr out in the sun, so I can slide the old grips off and use them on the Belleville.

Other tweaks.

I bumped up the handlebar height about an inch, with spacers. Chris King red, brown and blue spacers would be dynamite, but black goes with everything.

The cranks are 175mm Ritcheys she’s been riding for a few years on her old bike, and she said they made a HUGE difference in comfort. The tread is also much narrower, and the left arm almost hits the kickstand. I think the chainring’s the same size. The white pedals are borrowed from another Austrian-built 3-speed my friend asked me to fix up for him. All I’ve done so far is pull the front wheel off, spin it, wince, and put it down. And steal the pedals.

It looks like I need to get some zip ties to corral that wild shifter cable. There are brazed-on lugs for the zip-ties, which is pretty cool.

I took these pictures with my new camera and old, old lens. Some are nicely focused, some not. More practice!

*The baskets are dumpy, but the cranks and (stolen) pedals are prettier.

Angelina’s new bike

I got a new Trek Belleville women’s bike from Tommy’s Bike Shop in McMinnville at a nice discount, with part of the price traded for improvements to their website (not implemented yet, in case you were wondering).

Angelina hasn’t had a new bike since she was 11. She’s been riding the same Goodwill-sourced Steyr mixte for 14 years or so, and had nixed the idea of buying new as philosophically repugnant, except that “This bike is so pretty!” It’s also recyclable, and made OF recycled material, supposedly. And it’s pretty. And she doesn’t drive.

I like it because it comes equipped with front and rear generator lights, fenders and racks. All the wiring runs inside the tubes – the fork, the rack the main tubes, under the fenders. My bikes don’t have internal wiring! I also really like the welded mounting tab for the front rack, which I’ve never seen before. It’s clever and strong, and it takes the brakes right out of the rack-mount equation.

I’m a huge fan of custom bikes and bike-makers, and it looks like the Belleville designer(s) are too. I only ever see painted and integrated stem and bars on show bikes. Since most people never change either the stem or the bars, it makes just as much sense to make them all one piece. The bars need to be raised ~2″ to match her old bike’s setup. I only hope there are pretty spacers I can use! I’d like one tall blue one, or three 1/2″ ones in light blue, red and brown like the decorative bands that accent the bike here and there.

I raised the stem with normal ugly spacers and a longer bolt. Eric of Winter Bicycles pointed out that the stem is a lever on the steerer, and shouldn’t come above the top of the steerer tube, but I did it anyway. If Angelina crashes and dies, he can say “I told you so.”

I also ran the wire through the guide tube – you have to fold the spades away from each other to get them through the tube.

There were only a couple of things I would have designed differently, and a couple of assembly details I’ll redo (light wiring doesn’t go through a wiring tube, and I prefer as wide a rack mount as possible).

Design Detail 1

The front rack struts are tubes that are open at the top, but closed at the bottom! I think they’ll fill up with Oregon rainwater in short order. I plan to plug the tops before that happens. The outer tube is actually for the headlight wiring. Oops.

Design Improvement 2

Rear fender woggles a bit. A support tab from the rear rack to the top of the rear fender would be ideal. I plan to make a U-bracket from the rack bolts to the fender.

And the pedal bearings are really crunchy. White rubber block pedals would be the bomb for this bike.

Other than those tiny nits, this is a beautiful bike.