Monday, April 24, 2017

That nice Holdsworth

A woman brought in her late 1970s Holdsworth touring bike to be renovated for another few decades of fun, reliable riding.
It dates from the early Japanese era. The frame is British steel, but the only European components are the Campagnolo Record high-flange hubs, the Brooks Professional saddle, and the Sedisport chain.

She loves her Brooks Pro. It came in looking a little dry after years of storage, but it was not warped from neglect and abuse.
I polished its copper rivets with some Simichrome. Later in the process I hit the leather itself with some Proofide.

I adopt improvements as they come along, so I recommended aero brake levers and interrupter levers to provide a more upright control position in traffic or on a rough road. Other than that, it was a straightforward overhaul and new tires.

Campy front and rear hubs. Suntour Winner six-speed freewheel.

Reynolds 531, of course.


Modest but reliable derailleurs were made entirely of metal, back in primitive times.

Nice lugwork on a production frame.

Ready for the next adventure.

The geometry of the bike is very similar to my Cross Check. There's no secret wizardry to frame angles, fork rake, and stay lengths. A frame designer will consider details of rider size and the intended use of the bike. Criteria for these are well established. A bike like this one will carry a moderate load and provide a comfortable ride, without being too sluggish. Short of racing, this is a good all-around road design.

Skinny steel tubing makes it easier to compare frames side by side. And because steel fabrication was -- and is -- economical to set up, we could be enjoying a bounty of adaptable designs in steel for many applications. You can still find them if you know where to look. But of course the cutting edge competitor will need the latest weapon for the bloody and expensive conflict represented by racing. And the misplaced notion that racing represents the highest form of technique and technology will lead to non-racing bicycles executed in more exotic materials than mere steel. Even aluminum has gone seriously down-market since the turn of the century. Metal in general has a quaint image as a holdover or a throwback. But it holds its own among serious tourists and utility riders of all sorts.


Coline said...

I think the change of levers was a smart move and one which I might have considered in retrospect. I changed the wheels to 700c and kept the polished up 27 inch originals with tougher tyres for gravel tracks. As much as i liked the look of the original pro saddle it has never changed from brick hard so it has been swopped for a 21st. century brooks which is already more comfortable...

Send me an email and I can send you a snap.

Justine Valinotti said...

Ah, yes, Reynolds 531 + Brooks saddle + Japanese components= Sweet spot!

cafiend said...

Coline -- I was surprised to see that this bike had 700c rims already. Brand and model were correct for the time period, so I assume they were OEM. Even so, the rear brake bridge was too low for me to fit 32mm tires for her. She had some 28s on there that had dried out. I put on new 28s. We'll have to revisit her gearing, too, but the BCD on the crank is 110, so she has lots of options.

One Brooks aficionado for whom I built a couple of bikes showed me the one he put 42,000 miles on. It's on his old Windsor. He's put so much conditioner on it that it was this miraculous soft sculpture of a Brooks Pro. It held its shape, but molded into a completely flexible sling when he sat on it. He is not lathering his new saddles as aggressively, but it was interesting to see how the old one could retain its shape when it was so drastically softened.

NHcycler said...

What is this "metal" of which you speak?

Seriously, I love those old bikes...built to last, and beautiful!