Gravel Klunker Bike

Discussion in 'HOW TO' started by Jude Ephesus, Nov 22, 2019.

  1. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    87A7D804-99D9-4C4B-98F4-A4E1B3D6D967.jpeg OK, sort of a big “how to” BUT, after the MBBO, I’m thinking of doing a gravel bike?

    I recently discovered these on the inter-web! It’s basically a road bike with MTB tires. Sort of like cyclocross.... They look super cool and yet are highly functional.

    I grind out thousands of miles a year, mostly on the road, but every ride has a touch of off road or gravel. —Some rides more than others depending on if dogs are chasing me or if I just caught up with the guy who thought it would be funny to scream out his window at me as he sped by and I just put a massive cleat dent in his passenger side door.:dance2:

    My daily grinder is a TREK 3900 with urban tires. Works great. A little heavy. Plus I’ve been riding it pretty much exclusively for about 10 years and Want to mix things up.

    I was recently thinking of building a vintage 10 speed, putting a 2” tire on the back, functional springer on the front, straight bar and riding the heck out of it!

    Has anyone done anything like this or maybe put a 10 speed set up on a vintage middleweight?

    I’m debating the base bike/frame. I’m sure the old 10 speed is a quicker and cheaper build, but a vintage middleweight with 10 speeds and on and off road capabilities would be pretty epic.

    Any insight or advice, I’m all ears!
     
  2. MattiThundrrr

    MattiThundrrr

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    This is something I've also been pondering, and researching. I hate drop bars, but my brother rides em exclusively, vintage speedbikes. I figured if I built something in between, I could steer him off the pavement from time to time.
     
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  3. Phil Fink

    Phil Fink

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    I bought some oversized 1-3/8” Kenda 27” gum wall knobby tires for my Sears Free Spirit.
     
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  4. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    Cool. any pic’s?
     
  5. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6

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    "I was recently thinking of building a vintage 10 speed, putting a 2” tire on the back, functional springer on the front, straight bar and riding the heck out of it!
    Has anyone done anything like this or maybe put a 10 speed set up on a vintage middleweight?"
    -When I lived in the Phoenix area, I did something sort of like that. I took a vintage 10 speed road bike and modified it for riding the canal banks, which were mostly gravel roads. I used fatter 27x1-3/8" tires and some DIY bull horn bars (cut down stock drop bars and install them upside down) I also removed the front derailleur and extra chain rings. I later converted it to fixed gear.
     
  6. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    Cool! I was actually thinking it might be easier to cut the drop bars and flip ‘em!

    Got any pic’s of the old beast?
     
  7. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6

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    Here is the bike, but it does not have the fatter tires installed in this pic.
    rccogs.jpg
     
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  8. us56456712

    us56456712

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    Old 70s 10 speeds are usually close to modern gravel bike geometry, but they are not as light as the modern real deal. I have always been able to fit 700c rims in place of the original 27 inch but that may not always be possible on these old 10 speeds. I have never had to fit different brakes for a 700c conversion, probably lucky. 1 3/8 tires are available for 27 inch rims if you want to keep them. You can fit a treadless fork on most of these, perhaps not the French. Lower gears and different bars, bigger tires and away you go. I built my wife a gravel bike from an old Specialized mountain bike with a suspension fork and lowered the gearing and put on higher bars, longer gooseneck, plastic toe clips and 1.75 x 26 inch urban tires. It works great on gravel. She easily rides it 10 miles on gravel and she is 68 years old. You need comfort for century gravel rides so I really like drop bars because you have so many hand positions and my hands and wrists never ache and I am 74 years old. You also need a different gooseneck for comfort, something so you are a little higher and a little less stretched out, at least that is what I like. With this set up you can still tuck and coast with the drops the few times you need it and you will be glad to do it as gravel is tiring compared to the road.
     
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  9. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    Cool.

    Bars look great. Comfy ride? I had an older Peugeot road bike with a saddle like that and was not a fan!
     
  10. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    Awesome! Thanks so much for your input.

    My biggest concern is the brakes and geometry.

    I’m going to see what I can pick up!

    Do good and safe riding!
     
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  11. us56456712

    us56456712

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    Brakes are not a problem here as our gravel rides are on roads that have been mostly contoured so the grades are mostly like road riding but on gravel. Rim brakes with alloy wheels work fine. I have mounted up a set of red rubber rim pads for wet conditions to try these this spring. They are a softer compound. Some of the hills here are steeper than pavement but without the sharp turns of single track rims brakes are all you really need. I have had to do a few quick stops when riding in large groups but the calipers always worked to avoid a problem. Cross bikes had rim brakes until a few yeas ago. I have a single speed gravel bike that I built from a reproduction 1952 Columbia. I put 700c x 40 tires on it, a layback seat post and wishbone stem attached to drop bars to get the small frame stretched out. It has MAFAC canti brakes on the front and a 1920s Phillips clamp on center pull for the rear. I took it on a ride last summer that had big, long, high speed downhills and they worked fine to control speed but I probably could not have completely stopped during the faster parts of the descents. I was pedaling until I spun out, which added a lot of speed. The bar bag is for tools and food for the longer gravel rides. I't all I needed and more for 100K. I have ridden it in 100K gravel races and on single track. I used tubes with removable valve stems and put Stan's Sealant in them but I still get pinch flats on single track unless the tire pressure is high. The other problem I had is I broke several chains until I used a 7 speed step rived mountain bike chain. This type of chain may or may not fit on all single speed set ups. 54845_d83138bc7597c8b661f77bb88fd5ca42.JPG
     
  12. MattiThundrrr

    MattiThundrrr

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    Someday, @us56456712 , I hope to be half the cyclist that you are.
     
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  13. us56456712

    us56456712

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    I'm sure you will become an improved cyclist, just keep tinkering with bikes. I have been tinkering with bikes since 1951 when I got my first Hawthorn cruiser. My Dad let me pick it out and of course I got the one that had the most red on it. It was so big I had to run along beside it and jump over the top tube to mount it. I kind of quit tinkering and riding in the mid 90s when my kids got old and I had no one to ride with. Bikes can be a relatively inexpensive hobby, especially if you collect junk like I do. Just ride them all, on all surfaces. I never find the pristine classics, but I have friends who do. Some say with age comes experience but in reality it's caution, slow thinking and confusion because the brain is a little numb so people think you are wise. Also the young ladies in their 50s know you are harmless and give you hugs and kisses (I have been called Joe Biden but I cringe and never touch). The only other advantage I noticed about getting old is that I no longer get migraine headaches. Apparently the brain can't swell because of hardening of the arteries and dementia. Anyone over 70 has some degree of dementia, good thing to remember when voting. Cycling is 80% mental and 20% fitness anyway. Most people are not stubborn enough to ride or start to ride again in their 60s. Cycling has been the best thing for my joint health as I could hardly stand when I retired at 62. I took up cycling again by riding around the neighborhood. Four years later I was starting to ride single track and the joints felt much better, plus I lost 20 pounds. Just be stubborn and positive. As my wife says about me "no brain no pain". She also thinks I'm scary for an old guy, but in a fun way, if that makes any sense? Ho-e-ya-cow-wa (Yooper expression, similar to holy wah, or wah for short), in 19 days I'll be 74.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
  14. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    Awesome! Thanks for your input! Bike is over the top. Keep on trucking brother!

    -never seen 700c tires on a tank bike! Love it: that’s exactly what I’m looking to do! Build a totally unique beast and ride the heck out of it!

    Awesome inspiration! Thanks!
     
  15. us56456712

    us56456712

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    It rides better than it looks. It is really a universal single speed bike, road, gravel, two track and single track. It would be a stretch for adventure biking as sand is very hard to ride in but it can be done. It's also surprisingly light. People look at it and think that bike isn't sure what it wants to be. Super comfortable for me with the high stem and lay back post. I love this bike.
     
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  16. horsefarmer

    horsefarmer

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    Last year I went along trails in the woods with my wife. She was riding a young horse at the time and the horse was somewhat lazy and would stop frequently. Also unsure if the horse would be OK with other horses, so I rode a mountain bike along with as an incentive for the horse to continue.
    The soft sand trails (not packed down by vehicles) was a workout! :showingbiceps:
    I guess I was "adventure biking".
     
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  17. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    The brake set ups are impressive. How’d you get that back to work?
     
  18. us56456712

    us56456712

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    I'm very surprised you picked up on that. The brake was originally set up to work on a frame that had no hole drilled in the frame seat stay brace for a brake mount. The brake has a typical mounting bolt, like for a bike with a hole in the frame but instead there is an ornate brass plated backing plate that acts as a vice to clamp the brake onto the frame. This Columbia repop has a single tube at the top of the seat stay so there is nothing for the original clamp to attach to. I drilled a hole in the single seat stay tube and made it into a slot with a Dremel Tool to so that the rear wheel could be moved to accommodate chain stretch and make the brake position adjustable so the pads could be made to fall on the wheel braking surface. I used a fender washer, curved to match the seat stay, in place of the big oval brass mounting plate to hold the brake in place. I used too much adjusting pressure on the bolt and put a small dent in the set stay tube. I used a Dremel tool to cut small slots in the top of the tank so that the rear brake cable fit inside it for a neat look. Both brake levers are 1920s Phillips. Seems to work good so far.
    The front fork shown is from a mountain bike with 26 inch wheels and the cantilever brake mounting pegs were removed and then repositioned and welded on to accommodate the larger 700c rims. I have since replaced this fork with a chrome one that was factory for 700c. It looks like the same fork but is chrome. The red paint I used for the fork didn't perfectly match the factory red on the frame but with chrome it looks factory.
     
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  19. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    Madness! Awesome!!!!
     
  20. Jude Ephesus

    Jude Ephesus

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    Is the seatpost custom too?
     

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