10:09 pm - Thu, Nov 18, 2010


Justice. Not to get all philosophical on you all, but I was:

a) a law student, and
b) a philosophy student,

and after spending my first full day in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney for a family law matter, I re-discovered my strong my sense of justice which I last felt in uni.

I hate unfair outcomes, I hate being ripped off. I hate people taking credit for ideas which weren’t theres. I actually hate having whinge, but this goes to the character of the subject of this post so I think its important to have in the public domain; bicycles can be rolling death machines if not properly set up.

Melbourne Vintage Bikes, now Wheels and Dames or Retro Modern Lovers, whoever the hell they are or want to call themselves, have been taking credit for ideas that belong to others from day one. On day one it was Sydney Vintage Bikes. On day 2,555 7 years later, I feel like Delightful Cycles has become the next victim. 

Its 16 May 2011, probably 4 months after I came up with Delightful Dream Bikes. A service whereby a customer would specify their preferences, I would work to meet those preferences as close as possible to the budget also specified by the client. I’d then take a deposit, where necessary, and the building process begins from there.

Now I notice, and for the purposes of this post I’ll call them “me, myself and irene” (MMI) since it appears they have trouble picking their true identity, that MMI is offering a similar service, with a similar procedure and requiring a deposit. Notice that on this day 16 May 2011, MMI’s website is still under construction. 

But really thats not too bad, right? But then, why does an ostensibly fully fledged business, operating for some 7 years, require deposits? I dont know of any acutal bike shops that dont provide a service unless you pay upfront. MMIs bike from what I am aware of do not, in anyway, shape, or form, offer components and upgrades on their bikes which have to be shipped in from overseas. As far as I am aware, only Delightful Cycles offers high quality components sourced from abroad.

The only reason I require deposits to be paid is because I do this part-time. I dont have a business bank account, I dont have enough income rolling into the business to afford to spend my own money for clients, even if they will eventually pay for it all. Shipping bulky parts from the USA or UK is expensive, on top of that the parts themselves are expensive. So when ordering some $400 - $600 in parts ($600 being what my most recent client is spending, updates on that crazy build soon) I simply cant afford to foot their bill.

Therefore anyone who thinks taking deposits is a great idea, one worth ripping off, is just plain stupid, unless they’re offering to build up bikes with parts worth that much money. This is because if you’re only spending $100 - $200 on el cheapo, generic parts from Asia then why bother getting client’s to foot the bill for you. If you’re a successful established business, surely you can afford that. Furthermore, surely you already have the parts in stock, and you simply build the bikes with the parts you already stock once an order is received. How else would you offer turnaround periods of under 3 weeks.   

But like I said, thats okay with me. The worst thing, the thing that annoys me the most, that frustrates the skin off me, is taking credit for those concepts. To announce that you are the first person with any concept, that you are the pioneer, that you, yourself, came up with these brilliant ideas, and were the first to turn those ideas into reality, just burns me, when that is as far from the truth as their giant heads are from the centre of the universe. Its hard work bringing something in your head or on paper, into the real world. It sucks when someone makes your hard work look meaningless.

So come on, give credit where credit is due. We were all inspired by Sydney Vintage Bikes, thats a fact. And Delightful Cycles was the first, if not one of the first, to consider involving customers to let them build their own bike. That could be contentious. You dont need to mention where your idea came from or who, but dont claim what is not yours to claim. 

10:09 pm

Malvern Star “Vogue” Dream Mixte Project UPDATE #3

As you can see the lovely tyres have arrived and they are finally now on the bike! Huzzah! I also purchased a lovely Suntour Cyclone Mark 1 front derailleur. Its light, solid, pretty and matches the rear derailleur. The last change is the grips which got another layer tape, this time I used cloth tape. 


Bit of an interesting story to go with that announcement. I broke not 1, not 2, not 3, but all 4 of my tyre levers in the one night whilst trying to get the tyres on. So my first attempt at getting the tyres was a bit of a fail, which was really frustrating for me because when I start something I need to finish it. They are relatively wide tyres compared to the narrow rims so perhaps that was the problem. And I was using the rather cheap tyre levers, the thin black plastic ones you can get for about $6 for three. So the following day I went bought some sturdy Maxxis tyre levers. They are much stiffer and wider than the cheapo levers and I got both the front and rear tyre on a-okay that afternoon. Lesson learnt. Next time instead of thinking I can find cheaper stuff on ebay Ill listen when the bike shop sales person tells me to buy a tool thats more expensive. Im also very pleased with how it looks at the moment. White tyres ftw.

10:08 pm
3 notes

Yet another project: Apollo III aka “Summer” (Update No.1)

I finally took the yellow Apollo III for its maiden ride. I’ve also officially named it Summer thanks to my friend Catherine, who owns the blue vintage ladies Roadmaster. Summer seemed a perfect name given its colour and the fact that its Summer in Australia right now (though Bumble Bee seemed equally fitting). Theres still a bit of work to be done but as of Sunday the 23rd of January 2011 Summer was complete enough to ride. For anyone interested my girlfriend and I were riding on the cycleway at Tasker Park near Campsie. The red bike is hers.




My plan is for Summer to be a more comfortable touring/commuting/work bike since my other road bikes sportier. Shes fairly light. The frame is straight guage chromoly and most of the parts are alloy such as the cranks, pedals, derailleurs, bars, stem, brakes, seat post, hubs and rims, which is pretty much everything. She’s already got a front lowrider pannier rack and in time I will invest in a Tubus rear pannier rack and some nice leather pannier bags. Shes also got those lovely Suntour Command butterfly shifters which, after riding it for the first time, I can confidently confirm as amazing. They are friction shifters and incorporate the ratcheting mechanism that Suntour shifters are famous for and just have a delightful feel. Summer also has a fairly short, yet tall stem compared to my other bikes which means I am less hunched over when riding on the tops of the bars. Still left on the to do list is to buy some Panaracer Tourguard tyres. They are apparently a wider, taller, and comfortable set of tyres than the ones pictured and come with a nice tan sidewall which will suit the bike perfectly. Lastly Im after a honey coloured leather touring saddle to match the bar tape which I should be ordering within the week.

10:06 pm

Warning about restored vintage bikes

I dont really sell bikes anymore, at least for not some time. Too busy these days. But I still keep my eye on the market and coming up to Christmas theres been lots of vintage bike action on eBay.

I guess I just want people to be wary when buying a bike for yourselves or for others this Christmas. Ive seen some sellers at the moment claiming to be selling “completely restored bikes”  yet “intentially retaining parts which show signs of their age”  to “add to a bikes charm”. Seriously. Horse shit. Completely restored is exactly what it is; completely restored. Please dont pay top dollar for a bike that has been half-assed. New parts can be bought for butkiss. Of course you’d want a bike with some quality new parts if you’d like it to last, not just cheap new parts, but thats another story.

So when buying this Christmas/Summer, always have a good look at the photos and make sure the sellers honest. I doubt it would be much of a safety issue, more an issue of getting ripped off.  At the end of the day though its your money and your choice.

10:05 pm

Yet another project: Apollo III

Heres a glimpse of another project Im working on. The paint is pretty crumy so Im too ashamed to show you pics of the whole bike at this point. Its hopefully going to be a commuter, something Id ride to work. Its plain gauge chromoly, though it looks like a clunker so I feel confident about leaving it on the street and finding it there again at the end of the day.It has a front pannier rack, I need to invest in a rear, and eventually some Giles Berthoud panniers to put stuff in.

Its also running Suntour VX derailleurs with Suntour Command shifters which look a bit odd but I really like them.  Shifting is something in between index and pure friction. It actually feels quite pleasant to shift and they fit my hands perfectly. They were definately much cheaper than getting brifters or bar-end shifters and in my mind slightly better than bar-ends since theyre closer to the brake levers. Brake levers are pretty scratched up Suntour Sprint Aeros.

At the moment Im wrapping the bars in synthetic cork with yellow cloth tape over the top, theres also a wine bottle cork pluging the bar end. At some point in the future I will get around to shellacing it and putting on a brown leather saddle.


10:04 pm

Wet Wet Wet

The rain has been coming down incessantly in Sydney for about a week and the clouds seem intent on keeping it coming. Most casual riders prefer to stay indoors than go for a ride in the rain. I find it difficult to ride in the rain mainly because I prefer to wear glasses rather than contact lenses, and when it rains, beads of water form all over your lenses and you cant see a thing. But I think its important to point out that if you’re riding a vintage mens or ladies bike, that was originally built in the 80s, or there abouts, odds are you’re rolling on steel/chrome rims which are dangerous to use in wet conditions. 

Steel/chrome rims are incredibly pretty because of their mirror like shine. However brake pads dont seem to be able to grip onto a wet steel rim. Its therefore incredibly difficult to stop in the rain. In my experience is like having no brakes at all. You can squeeze your brake levers as hard as you can but it wont do a thing and thats quite scary. Alloy rims on the other hand are usually less shiny, unless they’ve been polished, and you can actually stop in the wet with them.

So if you have steel/chrome rims enjoy your bike in the sunshine, but don’t risk riding out in the rain. If La Nina decides to hang around for a while you might consider upgrading to an alloy wheelset, if you want to get out and have some fun in the rain. They do pop up cheaply on eBay, otherwise drop into your local bike store (LBS). 

10:02 pm
1 note

Malvern Star “Vogue” Dream Mixte Project UPDATE #2

I swear girls with handyman bike-building boyfriends are so lucky. I wish someone would throw money silly at a bike project for me and then tenderly and meticulously put it together one ridiculously overpriced piece at a time. I suppose boys with handywoman bike-building girlfriends are even luckier…To be honest though this could have cost much much much more, thats the price of being unique these days I guess, so shes an even luckier girl cause I got some bargains which really make this an exceptional build.

So here’s how its going and a little idea how much its worth now. Original bike cost $80. Thats pretty good for something made out of Tange tubing. It is a bit expensive considering none of the original parts were retained, the only exception being the headset. Nitto bars, shim and stem $100. New cable hanger $10. Mavic wheels were $5 (worth $50, maybe more, i recently bought similar rims in better condition with Suntour sprint hubs for $120). Suntour Superbe crankset $70 (worth $150-200). Suntour Cyclone GT rear derailleur $25 (worth $40). Inverse levers $30.  Shifters were $25. That brings the current amount of cash spent to….$345…so far.  Still need to get cables, housing, bar tape and cloth tape, tyres, tubes, saddle and pedals. How much is this worth? Well only eBay could decide that, but in terms of the value of the individual parts……$485!!! So far!! To put this into perspective, my fairly decent Repco Olympic 12 racing bike cost $160 all up.


10:01 pm
2 notes

If you have a rack, ALWAYS bring a bungee strap.

I see lots of people with racks but never bungee straps. Maybe they just take them off for photoshoots and take beautiful shots like the ones at The Lovely Bicycle. But honestly why have a rack if you have nothing to tie stuff down with?

Today my fathers motorbike broke down. He was going to push it all the way home, we’re not far from his work place, but a bike ways several hundred kilograms. He pushed it a little and gave up, deciding it was better to walk home with the motorbikes battery rather than lug home the entire bike. Mum told me he was pushing the bike so I raced down on my Raleigh which has a rack and which luckily had a bungee strap wrapped around it. I didnt even think about it when I left home because I thought I would just ride down and help push. But instead I found him walking with a fairly heavy battery. So with just one strap we strapped it to my bike and I made it all the way home without any issue. 

So i think having a rack is awesome and having a bungee strap is legen-wait for it-dary, because i really do believe you can strap down almost anything, and when your in a tight situation, it really does make life easier. ALWAYS bring a bungee, just in case.   

9:59 pm
4 notes

Malvern Star “Vogue” Dream Mixte Project UPDATE #1

Heres a loooonngggggg delayed update. Im trying not to spare any expense in building this dream bike but thats pretty hard when you dont even have a lot of spare change. So with the soaring Australian dollar I thought it was time to cash in on some now cheap(er) parts from the US.  To be specific I got them from Bens Cycles aka Milwaulkee Bicycle Co in Wisconsin, who I highly recommend and who I discovered have a pretty cool basketball team, the Bucks, featuring aussie Andrew Bogut, as well as being home to the Greenbay Packers (NFL) who arent bad either. Anyway I got a brake cable hanger, inverse brake levers, Nitto heat treated Albatross bars, Nitto Deluxe stem and shim. Together with half price shipping and a 10% off coupon, these were all a steal. And yes Im terribly excited by their arrival hence the load of photos.

4:02 am - Wed, Sep 8, 2010

1982 Raleigh Team Professional Rebuild: Part 4

Decals finally arrived today. They’re from Cyclomondo on ebay, one of the few people who provide this service but I have to say that while I was impressed with the quality, I wasnt too impressed with the transaction. I paid extra for express postage but it took 17 days to arrive after I paid. It was posted via normal post for a measley 1.20. I paid 10. But Cyclomondo is the only one who sells this kind of stuff so Im just happy that I have them now and now the bike is finished. 

4:01 am

Potters frame arrived today, finally, and thankfully. Looks hot. Decals are in the mail. I was delighted to find out that it was a custom one off Team Pro. I’ll confirm that tomorrow or Friday hopefully. I took it straight to Stanmore Cycles on Parramatta Road today to get the headset cups pressed and the fork drilled for the recessed nutted SunTour Superbe Pro brakes. I like to do most stuff myself but I just don’t have the right tools for this particular job and I just trust this guy with this frame. I went all the way into the city from the west to get this done. I just don’t trust the local shops around Parramatta with this high-end frame. I always leave this shop with a smile, today I spoke to the store owner about SunTour and its downfall, about how they were light years ahead of Campy and Shimano, who are still playing catch-up today. I also found out that he has mint boxes of Campy Super Record and Suntour Superbe Pro gear. Un-freaking-believable. I get the frame back tomorrow or Friday if I can’t be bothered going into the city again tomorrow arvo.

3:59 am
Potters bike is arriving today. Finally. And I never doubted the seller.

Potters bike is arriving today. Finally. And I never doubted the seller.

3:50 am
Finished…for now, will look into a Brooks saddle and new grips, possibly some racks, new tyres and new bars, but only when i have lots of money

Finished…for now, will look into a Brooks saddle and new grips, possibly some racks, new tyres and new bars, but only when i have lots of money

3:49 am - Mon, Jul 5, 2010
1 note

Malvern Star “Vogue” Dream Bike Project

This is the dream bike build. No expense will be spared. Problem. No money exists to complete at this point time hahaha…Its a lightweight Tange 900 Mixte frame. So far its been cleaned polished, slapped on some racy Sugino cranks, french Mafac centre pull brakes, alloy fluted seat post, hand polished alloy rims and SunTour shifters and derailleurs. Will be ordering a white leather saddle, Nitto north road bars, Nitto Technomic Stem, white tyres, latex tubes and Kool Stop pads some day.  



3:49 am

1982 Raleigh Team Professional Rebuild: Part 3

The last batch of parts has arrived! The brake callipers are pretty ninja, they have hidden springs and the bottom bracket is problem one of the best non-sealed bearing bottom bracket you get buy.