Just get it resprayed...a cautionary tale.

As a faithful and trusted travelling companion, your beloved steel bicycle frame can get you across continents, commute all four seasons and even let you self-flagellate down the famous diagonals of France and Belgium.  

A steel frame is often spoken about in terms of comfort and compliance. It’s something to be treasured and after 20 years of loyal service we often want to rejuvenate our trusted steeds with a respray.  I shall offer some words of advice but let’s look at some recent examples…



Paul Fogg’s 1989 Flying Gate ‘Dovedale’

Paul Fogg acquired a Flying Gate frame through his family and felt strongly that a respray and modern groupset would not only honour the memory of his brother in law but get him out riding with a sense of history in every pedal stroke. 

Before….

Notice the rear mech cable clamp and the band-on gear levers. There is also a braze-on boss for a bottom bracket dyno on/off lever behind the vertical and some inevitable dints in the top tube.

Notice the rear mech cable clamp and the band-on gear levers. There is also a braze-on boss for a bottom bracket dyno on/off lever behind the vertical and some inevitable dints in the top tube.

After…

Paul’s 1989 Flying Gate ‘Dovedale’ was renovated by me and resprayed by Bob Jackson Cycles, Leeds in 2018.

There were issues with the new cantilever brakes and the rim width but Paul and his mechanic (Colin Gardiner) managed to get round these with a little research. The chainstays were longer than usual as the original owner had three Gates and this was his longest wheelbase model for rough and winter riding with a Soubetez dyno and luggage. The aheadset stem is attached to a simple quill to ahead adapter. Very neat.


Jez’s 1982 Flying Gate ‘Dovedale’

This was the bike Jez rode through the eighties. This guy has some serious fast twitch muscle and even though the pressure of work and family commitments have meant he hasn’t been able to keep all of his earlier form, he was keen to give his trusted stead a revamp with new wheels, groupset and livery. What a transformation and worth every penny. The riding position has changed to accommodate Jez giving him a lot more comfort.  Nitto do a range of quill stems to enable this via SJS Cycles online.  

Before:

After….

I did the renovations and shipped the frame to Bob Jackson Cycles for the respray and lug-lining. David at DCR Wheels built a really strong pair of wheels. The rear tyre only just clears the unique Flying Gate front mech bracket. But that’s all it has to do! Fag paper clearances are par for the course.


Mark Kelly’s 1983 Flying Gate ‘Dovedale’

Mark had always wanted a Flying Gate and bought this frame from Hilary Stone.  It was originally white with chrome detailing and then it fell into the wrong hands. Mark told me that he didn’t even ask for red but that’s another story.   

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Can you believe it? One of the worst cases I’ve ever seen. Mark was all set to accept his lot but luckily, all Flying Gate decals come directly from us so I was able to throw him a life line. After lengthy correspondence to establish what Mark actually wanted, I advised him to send this poor old Flying Gate to Argos Racing Cycles for a full renovation.  Major heartache avoided and Mark will one day ride again head held high.  

Before: 

The’ve even left the pressed cups in situ - argh!

After….

Hallelulah! Argos Racing Cycles did the renovation work and the respray on this - I supplied the front mech bracket, decals and vital liaison to ensure it all came together as a viable frameset.


Now here’s the detail – applicable to most steel frames circa 1980 - 1999:

Get this wrong and it’s expensive mistake.  Get it right and you’ll have the Ready Brek glow of contented smugness to share with fellow riders.

1)   Will you be refitting a metal headbadge?  If so how?  Rivets or 2.5mm screws?  The head tube may need any drillings tapping or resized.

2)   What size is the headset?  What state was it in?  Was it brinelled?  Was it JIS? (30mm internal diameter and 27mm crown race) If so, hurrah as you could have the head tube reamed and faced and the fork crown milled to fit a quality 1” headset often referred to as Campag fit (30.2mm pressed cup and 26.4mm fork crown race) which is a significant upgrade.  Check the stack height too as some old Shimano headsets were very shallow. Make sure you have enough steerer to fit a new headset.   Yes, you can chase threads and tidy them up if they’ve become a bit damaged but as for cutting new thread – this is a non-starter in most situations.

3)   Does your frame feature any chroming?  Stripping this needs to be done professionally and all tubes will need internal inspection.  

4)   What will your new paint scheme be?  Enamel? Flamboyant or metallic?  Will you have lug-lining?  Will you have panels?  Will you have the frame internally treated against corrosion? Will you have a gloss lacquer? Will you have your name on the top tube? The history of panel size, the use of bands and even the positioning of decals on a panel is an art in itself. Get this wrong and your frame will just look naff (for want of a better word). 

5)   What size wheels do you want to fit?  Don’t assume you can fit 650B wheels to a 700C frame as the bottom bracket will become significantly lower and the crank arm may catch the ground when cornering with potentially fatal results.

6)   Did your original rear wheel have a 126mm over locknut dimension (OLND) and do you now want to fit 130mm?  If so, have the rear end re-tracked (known as cold setting) by a framebuilder. 

 7)   Are your old cable guides non-slotted and smaller for old school ferrules and old school brake and gear outer?  If so, have these removed and replacement slotted guides fitted to take modern cable outer ferrules for the new dimensions of brake and gear outer ferrules. 

8)   Look at the gear bosses on the down tube.  Were your old gear levers band-on with a pip brazed on to prevent the clamp slipping? Do you want to keep these or upgrade them and have the pip filed off?

9)   How was your pannier rack fitted?  P-clips? If so, consider having proper pannier eyes brazed on.

10) Are there any dints in the top tube or anywhere else for that matter?  Get them filled.

11) Are your bottle cage, mudguard and pannier eye threads all ok?  If stripped, have some new ones fitted.

12) Make sure your cable guides are ok where they intersect with the bottom bracket – do you want them routed underneath or are they still ok on top of the bottom bracket?  If you want to lower your front mech because you’re fitting a smaller outer chainring, bear in mind the front mech may foul the gear cable if it runs above the chainstay.

13) Were your old brake calipers secured with a nut? Do you now want to fit allen key type calipers?  If so, you’ll need to have your fork crown drilled out and countersunk and modifications to your rear brake bridge. 

14) Don’t think you can upgrade to disc brakes just like that.  Fork blades designed for use with rim brakes will not be strong enough.  Disc brake fork blades are larger diameter with thicker walls and paired with thicker walled steerers and modern safety dropouts. 

15) Never take your frame to anyone other than a reputable company specialising in BICYCLE finishes.  Believe me, there are plenty of powder coat specialists who will take your money but have no idea about the level of knowledge required for a bicycle frame.  If water gets under the powder coating, it can rot the frame ‘silently’ from within. Only a bicycle finish specialist knows the correct grade of grit needed to ‘shot’ blast a frame.  Only a bicycle finish specialist can inspect the stripped frame and tell you if there’s an underlying problem. 

16) Decals (also known as transfers).  What do you want and where will they be positioned? There is a small British company that holds a library of historic marques on file and can even replicate originals so long as you have a good photographic record.  Yes, they even have all the period Reynolds decals too.

Liz Colebrook BSc OT BA hons CyTech - August 2019.

Have you nodded off yet?

Have you nodded off yet?

 

Email me with some photographs if you would like advice on how to proceed with your renovation project. The whole process can take up to 3 months.

 

Guest Blogger for International Women's Day

The Traditional Cycle Shop owned by Pashley Cycles, Stratford upon Avon invited me to write a blog for International Women's Day 8.3.18.  Here it is and thank you Fran Martin for invited me.  A trip to Stratford upon Avon offers a great buying experience for anyone contemplating a Pashley handbuilt bicycle.  Book an appointment with Fran and you will not be disappointed.  He has a refreshing energy and excitement that really makes you and your love of the bicycle feel validated. 

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Liz spent a day with me at The Traditional Cycle Shop teaching me all I know about bike fitting and to this day, each time I adjust a bike for a customer, I can still hear Liz’s calming voice talking about ‘the Goldilocks position’...
Fran Martin.

I cut a hole in my Brooks B17 saddle with a Stanley knife back in 1992.  Admittedly, it wasn’t my idea but I’d seen a woman in Berlin do this to her saddle. “Wow, I’ve gotta try that!” It certainly worked and twenty years later Brooks officially call this pressure relieving feature ‘carved’ and it’s a much neater affair with tricolour bodice-like lacing to boot. The honey Imperial B17s pictured will adorn my latest Beaumont step-through commissioned by a Shropshire-based Breeze champion as she leads her rides, inspiring and encouraging more women into the saddle, I know she’ll be enthused to share what she’s gleaned from having a made to measure bicycle built to her specification. 

...Meanwhile, during the cold snap, I fitted Schwalbe Snow tyres to my winter bike, which is best done wearing gloves. I may have rather alarmed tentative traffic as I flew passed flushed with confidence at being velcroed to the road but they got me to my workplace with a Scandi-style buzz (actually the studs sound like you’re riding through popping candy). Today on International Women’s Day, I will entertain Chris from Swrve with ‘pour over’ coffee as they say in Portland and I shall extol the virtues of my black Skinny fit cycling jeans bought from him last year at Bespoked and thoroughly recommended them for their saddle friendly gusset, stretch factor and reflective turn-ups. Then I will treat my engineering mentor Trevor Jarvis to lunch at the Castle Hotel in honour of the major part he’s played in my continued development as a framebuilder. I’m the same age as his daughter and if I had been his daughter, we would definitely have had a van saying ‘Jarvis and Daughter Ltd.’

Going Electric

I am currently building a made to measure step-through for a tall woman wanting some extra 'umph'. The conundrum is how to present and pitch the best option for her given what's currently on the market.  I recently wrote an article for BikeBiz (Nov 2017 issue 142 page 44) and the essence of it reflects my sense that something is still being lost in translation.  

After much consideration, I have chosen a system which is straight forward to add or remove - a handbuilt frame is built to last a few generations so I like to feel that if the frame was handed on to a new owner, it could be ridden traditionally.  This means saying no to the mid-motor and the heavier conversion kits.  Handcrafting steel cable covers was fiddly but the outcome should look good as these will be sprayed with the frame. 

Another key factor is Ah or amp hour - the battery I have chosen is a 17Ah - perfect for longer days out. The charger is also a consideration as this has to be transported with the user when going for a touring holiday.  You don't want to be carrying the equivalent of a house brick or small vice.  The front wheel must be secure in the fork with anti-rotation tab washers as well as a captive washer for safety. The wheel nuts are subjected to a lot of motor vibration and should be checked regularly for tightness. Consider puncture protection - quick note here to say that the Schwalbe Marathon Plus is much more 'forgiving' now than it was when it first came onto the market. Glad to see that improvement. 

The weight of the front hub is balanced by the battery being over the rear wheel.

Now waiting for the electric conversion companies to look more closely at the spokes and rim options for building the wheel as well as the rack options for carrying a pannier as well as housing the battery securely.  What else...well with all that power, it shouldn't be too tricky to offer a lighting system and USB plug in.  Jumping on board now is a good thing - I'm showing my support for cyclotricity.com - there is always room for improvements and the answers are just a discussion away. 

Jane Henshaw - co-editor of Dorset based AtoB magazine. A humourous read and beautifully unbiased. 

Jane Henshaw - co-editor of Dorset based AtoB magazine. A humourous read and beautifully unbiased. 

Finally, check out www.atob.org.uk as they have an immense body of knowledge on the subject and their pocket size magazine is well worth the small subscription of £12 a year.  

Being a Gater...

Flying Gate owners gather annually to spend a weekend together somewhere in the UK. This year we returned to Burton on Trent. Why? You may well ask. Back in the eighties, this is where Trevor Jarvis built his first Flying Gates and we even took a look at his old workshop...

Here are some of those early models which feature the Burton Cooper on their headbadges. Trevor here on his knees! Brother Ian who played the major role in organising the weekend on just the one knee.   

Here are some of those early models which feature the Burton Cooper on their headbadges. Trevor here on his knees! Brother Ian who played the major role in organising the weekend on just the one knee.

 

This was the 19th annual Flying Gate Weekend.  Altogether almost 50 of us rode over 3 days what the French call 'etoile randonnees' (day rides out and back from a central base).  Friday took us to Rocester (pronounced 'roaster')  passed the Joseph Arkwright Mill and the new JCB academy.  Saturday took us to the National Memorial Arboretum and Sunday took us to the village of Hanbury where the largest non-nuclear accidental explosion took place in WW2. 

Here we are riding across the Washlands and the Ferry Bridge, then you can see Trevor shaking a leg at the place where the early Flying Gates were stove enamelled (Ordinary wheeled out in honour!).  One stroke tractor started with a shot gun cartridge at our cake stop and some photos from the Arboretum - what a place. Finally, with shoe laces all in order, some of us take risks and some of us don't at the 'slippery when wet' cobbled ford.

Andy's dad's Jubilee Flying Gate no.3 featuring Andy's handsome thigh.

Andy's dad's Jubilee Flying Gate no.3 featuring Andy's handsome thigh.

“This year we celebrate 50 years of Trevor Jarvis’s life and work”

Thirty five years since the first TJ Cycles jerseys and we are about to launch a new Flying Gate jersey with a retro look in Merino washable wool - more news as it breaks. Trevor has taught Jeremy and myself well as we both displayed our most recent work.  Alison braved the 12" deep ford but needed to wring out her socks for some reason. 

“Thanks to Ian Jarvis for arranging a special edition bottled beer and a jar of Marmite for every Gater”

Ros and Rob Seall gave us a great slide show and talk about their travels in China.  I believe this part of the weekend subliminally inspires some of us to get out there and explore.

Meanwhile, next year we will be in Norfolk...

Did you want to see what's happened to Trevor's old workshop in Burton?

The camera is definitely lying about Ken's stomach but not everything else...

The camera is definitely lying about Ken's stomach but not everything else...

And finally, the winner of this year’s Trophy was Anthony Howlett - for crossing the deepest ford with inimitable gusto!
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Team Leader Mechanic for RideLondon 2017

St Paul's Catherdral at 8am, my team of 13 volunteer 'Dr Bike' mechanics gather for their briefing. Our mission - to solve participants bike problems with minimal kit supplied by Cycling UK - it was a like the parable of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes as we repaired puncture after puncture cutting large patches in half to make them last the day.  Folk came at us from all directions with all kinds of problems from broken chains to just needing to borrow a pump.  We had a mixed range of skills between us and I loved how well we communicated when trying to solve a problem.  

End of the day final photo after fixing over a hundred bikes.

End of the day final photo after fixing over a hundred bikes.

Can you just...

The highlight of the day was a woman who had a rear puncture on her Brompton half an hour before taking part in the 2017 Brompton World Championships. Stan removed the wheel and pulled out the inner tube which already had about 3 patches. With no spare tubes, I had no choice but to repair the puncture using our last patch. We put it all back together and sent her on her way.  Chatting as the glue dried, she told me about her business which was advertised on her Brompton bag.  I remembered the name and sent her an email asking how the race went....

Removing and refitting a Brompton rear wheel is a bit fiddly.

Removing and refitting a Brompton rear wheel is a bit fiddly.

...I got an answer back later to say thanks, her puncture had held and not only that, she was part of the winning female team! (photo below)

The next day, I was up at 4.15am to Brompton into Pall Mall for more mechanicing. This time to support the RideLondon Surrey 100 and 46 amateur Sportive. This was another 5 loaves and 2 fishes event as the rain had washed glass, flint and staples into the road we were inundated with repairs.  My mechanic comrades had brought their own tools and we did what we could - thank goodness for big-hearted riders who shared their glueless patches with others who were also on their 3rd puncture. This was another amazing day of skill sharing and passing on great tips to riders. 

My quickfix tyre repair using the rider's £5 note.  He probably talked about this all day....

My quickfix tyre repair using the rider's £5 note.  He probably talked about this all day....

This was a fantastically well attended event with whopping great medals for the finishers who completed either 100 or 46 miles out into Surrey and back.  Thanks to the Mayor of London who with an array of partners, has made this the 5th year of RideLondon since the Olympics in 2012.  My small part in all this was in response to Cycling UK's shout out for veloteers - happy to help.


Thanks for sending me this superb photo, Rena yellowlady. Massive congratulations Team Hamburgfiets. Come back next year!! You are awesome. Liz.   

Thanks for sending me this superb photo, Rena yellowlady. Massive congratulations Team Hamburgfiets. Come back next year!! You are awesome. Liz.

 

The Flying Gate has a new home

2017 marks the year Trevor officially hands over the treasured baton. 

Trevor Jarvis and Liz Colebrook at Bespoked 2017 - Bristol. 

Trevor Jarvis and Liz Colebrook at Bespoked 2017 - Bristol. 

We set off from Shropshire with our whole display packed into just one estate car.

The big deal is...

This is the year Trevor officially instates me as his official framebuilder and marque owner.  Beaumont Bicycle now incorporates TJ Cycles giving a new home to the Flying Gate. I've officially passed my initiation and I'm thrilled to be taking on the ownership of this iconic marque. 

Jim Holland from Brooks came over to see both Trevor and myself earlier this year to interview us and take some photos.  He's just published this work on the Brooks England website and here it is.  Thanks Jim. 

Meanwhile, the goods on show this year are a Beaumont frameset for off-road adventure-loving Physiotherapist Alison and two Flying Gates for enthusiasts Will seen here about to test ride his new complete build and Maxon who will soon take delivery of his track frameset on the display stand.  

 

Will is an audax rider extraordinaire. This is his extraordinary build with my own handbuilt wheels with Sapim CX Ray spokes and custom gearing - verdict - excellent. Thanks Will.

Will is an audax rider extraordinaire. This is his extraordinary build with my own handbuilt wheels with Sapim CX Ray spokes and custom gearing - verdict - excellent. Thanks Will.

Next up is Maxon's track frameset in 631. 

Now Al's new Beaumont frameset - built for 26" wheels and V-brakes but future proofed to fit 650B and disc when her components wear out. Tough brief but fulfilled. I also launched my new headbadge. Thanks to Jonny Keeley for the photo.


Unsung Hero

Bryan Jackson taught me how to framebuild and I would recommend Downland Cycle's residential training course to anyone interested in building from scratch. It's total immersion and with my long experience of working in the cycle industry, I quickly recognise genuine knowledge and sound teaching. The fact that Bryan operates a highly respected Campag Service Centre on site speaks volumes. His technical skills are hard earned and you only get this good if you've lived and breathed it day in day out.

Bryan (right) teaching Andy.

If something isn't going to work, Bryan will tell you straight, but he'll also tell you why and then make sure you get it right. If the metal is too cold he'll tell you, if it's getting too hot he'll tell you....torch too far away...torch too close. Clear instructions are essential as your brain is learning an art as well as a science. There's plenty of time to practice and Bryan also makes sure you take a break as that's all part of the assimilation process (apple donut? Don't mind if I do...)

And what a place to be! Amazing rolling downs - hence the name I presume - take your bike (as if you wouldn't). I cycled every morning before the course and felt like I hit the ground running. Hot showers, fully equipped bunkhouse, WiFi and delicious evening meals served up by both Bryan (yes, he cooks as well but that's another story) and Julie Jackson. Give Julie a ring if you're interested or email her - she's also served her time in the cycle industry - not just anyone rides a multicoloured Brompton with a Brooks saddle.  

So to sum up I will simply say - high standards, generosity and for me... a life changing experience!  Thank you Bryan and Julie.

www.downlandcycles.co.uk 

 

 

Ta..da! (The official launch of Beaumont Bicycle).

On Saturday 9th January, Beaumont Bicycle launches with about 100 friends and family in support at Bishop's Castle Town Hall. 

The scene is set...Blue lotus chai tea in vintage china.  Spikey Blond beer (named after the woman who brewed it) from the Six Bells and Prosecco also in the offing.

The scene is set...Blue lotus chai tea in vintage china.  Spikey Blond beer (named after the woman who brewed it) from the Six Bells and Prosecco also in the offing.

I am delighted to be standing here before you launching Beaumont Bicycle and my new life as a bespoke framebuilder

I also said, "everything I've learnt and everyone I have met has brought me to this point".  I thanked key people who helped me along the way and I explained how unique my skill set is having done my time repairing bicycles, building wheels, advising customers and taking time out to train and work as an Occupational Therapist over the last 30 years. 

 

I understand why people love cycling and I know how to ask the right questions and make the correct adjustments to keep people in tune with their bikes especially if one's body is not as comfortable on two wheels as it used to be.

Trevor reads a postcard from a Flying Gate customer (whose frame I will build).. and he compares the challenges of my role as a framebuilder to Margaret Sanger and her pioneering work on contraception!

Trevor Jarvis of TJ Cycles (far right, but not politically I hasten to add)  and home of the Flying Gate - has asked me to be one of his frame builders. This is a huge honour as this classic marque is highly revered across the world with a very unique following of people who adore its heritage. Trevor was there on the night to explain how our paths crossed and how exciting it is to have someone with my skills on board - as it's not just about the building, it's about the community that develops as a result of getting to know your customer. 

Carrying the torch - Liz with framebuilders past and present (Wes Mason, Tony Revell and Trevor Jarvis).

Carrying the torch - Liz with framebuilders past and present (Wes Mason, Tony Revell and Trevor Jarvis).

Poet and dear friend Bernie Cullen from York opened the launch with a poem written especially 'Bicycle Christening'. My sister Caroline came all the way over from France to sing 'Summertime', but with her new lyrics; "Beaumont bikes...and the pedaling is easy".  Bishop's Castle's very own 'Men from Off' sang a rousing version of their hit 'Route 44' and my website designer and photographer Jonny Keeley sang and played some of his acoustic set. 

What a night! Val, Julie and Anne on the bar were the hostesses with the mostess.

Thank you all for making it a night to remember. 

L'eroica

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L'Eroica is Italian for Hero. For many years Brits have travelled to Italy to take part in this gruelling annual event on vintage velos. The excitement has now spread to the UK and finds its home in Derbyshire. Last year's event L'Eroica Britannia was an amazing success giving hundreds of us permission to fit toe clips and straps, down tube shifters and dig out that old pair of Cinelli bars (you can't chuck out Cinelli).  This year's event is all set for June 19th - 21st and I have acquired a King of Mercia especially for the occasion. Here's a sneaky close-up - more to follow.