Thursday, April 2, 2020

The COVID-19 Vintage Cycling Reading Reading Room #5

Day six post #5 we have  Cycling magazine's road test of Bernard Thevenet's 1976 TdF winning Peugeot PY (PX)10, and who doesn't have a soft spot for PX 10's?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The COVID-19 Vintage Cycling Reading Reading Room #4

Day four brings you one of my  all time favorite articles..a well and truly thumbed through Feb 18 1978 Cycling piece on lightweight components, some great info here...for the rivet counter that is.

To view the page larger and make it easier to read, click on the image, right click to view image and enlarge.

The COVID-19 Vintage Cycling Reading Reading Room #3

Day three brings you from the pages of Winning magazine a road test of Gianni Gugno's 1992 Bianchi team bike and an interview of the great Bob Jackson...

To view the page larger and make it easier to read, click on the image, right click to view image and enlarge.

Funnily enough I have been riding a very ugly 1990's Rieker built with Oria Cromo as my main ride for the last couple of months..and loving it.

We were right in the middle of building a a Bob Jackson TT low pro like the one in this photo for sale (except our one is 700/700) when we got stopped by Covid 19, I am looking forward to giving it a blast over my favorite flat course after all this is over.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The COVID-19 Vintage Cycling Reading Reading Room #2

One of the early English riders to become a professional cyclist in Europe, Brian Robinson tells us his thoughts on choosing a bike and the the right gear to mount on it.

Up next is a road test of a 1961 Cinelli Super Corsa....

To view the page larger and make it easier to read, click on the image, right click and enlarge.

Cycling April 1961

 I like it that you could smoke, ride a bike and be cool in '61..
aahhh the good ol' days.
Who would have guessed they came with mud guards?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Homage to Jacky Hayes and Comet Cycles

Late in 2016 a friend of mine passed away.
His name was Jacky Hayes, I had met Jacky when I was tracking down information on the surviving New Zealand frame builders from the golden age of hand built race frames in New Zealand, which I extend into the early nineties btw.
Jacky was the son of Slater Hayes the founder of one of New Zealand's, and certainly one of Auckland's most famous bike shops of the late 1930's-70's.

In fact it was after first meeting Jacky in 2009 that I decided that needed to do this blog and record some of the history of NZ cycle racing that I was being told.
I used to really enjoy dropping by Jacky's once or twice a year when I was up in Auckland, and always enjoyed a cup of tea a biscuit and a chat with Jacky and his wife. Here is a link to my very first Flying Wheel post from 
2009 which was on Comet Cycles of course!
Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Jacky in my collection, so here is one of Brian 'Happy' Howlett who rode Comets  nearly exclusively throughout his cycle racing career (1940's-70's).
Jacky's father Slater Hayes who started Comet in 1934, is seen here in 1938 after winning the annual Auckland-Morrinsville race, which was reportedly watched by 15,000 people. 
Notice the machine advertised in the Comet add weighs in at 12lb 12ozs (5.7 Kg).

When I had heard of Jacky passing I made a trip up to Auckland and purchased a Comet that I had known about for while with the intention of building it up as a tribute to Jacky Hayes, Salter Hayes and Comet cycles.
This is the bike as I purchased it (not including wheel set/bars/stem), unfortunately it was just to rusty to leave as is, so a full restoration was in order, before I stripped the paint I took the frame to my paint supplier and had him colour match the green and red, and have to say I am very pleased with his match.
Here is a link to more photos and the story behind this bike.

 A couple of Comets with unknown riders in action 1950's.

With this build I wanted to portray a serious 1950's road bike.
I find that many of the restored 50's race bikes that I see on the net ( I am really talking about English light weights here), seem to me to look too...well tweed, lots of them somehow just don't come across to me as authentic looking period race bikes that are about to be taken out to do battle.
For my homage to jacky I wanted to build a bike that was about as period perfect to about 1954-6 as I could reasonably make it.
The bike also had to reflect a roadman who, like most young men at the time had far from unlimited funds, so had to choose his components carefully.
 Back from the chromers, who disappointingly didn't do the 
greatest job, anyway I had to push on none the less

Masked up and ready for some serious etch priming and 
spray putty work.
 The original "Comet" down tube writing was applied with a tin stencil and then hand lined. I had seen this stencil in Jackys garage, he was going to give the stencil to me, but sadly I lost track of it.
Anyway I made my own stencil taken from the 1956 Neil Ritchie Olympic track bike
Here is the frame with the colour matched metallic green and deep red and stenciled 'Comet' sprayed on and ready for lining.
 Comet stencil and remade decal sheet 
(with some Fiamme wheel decals for another project)
Comet down tube writing now lined and clear coated.
Notice the very nice world Champion pretty.
New Comet logo came up pretty good I thought,
which was just as well, I spent some serious time getting this right.

So here is my homage to Jacky Hayes, one of the last of a 
long line of New Zealand race frame builders, 
and sadly missed.
Fully restored Comet Road/Track machine
and ready for action..1950's style!
This is Jacky Hayes jersey he wore while competing in Australia in the late1950's, he also worked for Malvern Star at that time, where he learned to pin stripe.
Comets were as far as I know exclusively made from
Reynolds tubing, definitely 531 DB from the 1950's onward.
Hollow Stronglight bottom bracket set, with Lytaloy steel/alloy cups and retainer. Unknown slotted, double fluted crank arms,with TA 51/49 chain rings, I do know that this chainset was used in the 1953 Tour of Britain, Brampton chain.

My favorite 'suicide' type front changer, the classic
Benelux, which always reminds me of a a Morris Minor
gear stick for some reason.
Just in case you wanted to know what is inside one of
these contraptions..

 The beautifully constructed Allez! pedals with matching Allez! Corsa toe straps and GB Special clips, this set had been cut down to track style pedals which thought was pretty cool.
Half hollow axle, alloy cap and retaining nut. these pedals are a great example of some the top end English equipment on the market during the 1950's, some of the best in the world IMO.

 Type 2 Benelux derailleur, which runs fours speeds,
I am just using the five speed block until I can find a
four speed with a decent rang on it, as I actually want to
ride this bike regularly.
Notice the Chater Lea rear track drop outs, as I 
mentioned in the original post on this bike, it was used
by it's original owner as both a road and track machine, and
came with two sets of forks.
 Exploded view of not quite the same Benelux derailleur taken 
from the 1955/56 Brown Brothers catalogue.
1952 AKL Junior Champions, notice both Whyman and Gunn are holding Comets, I know that Neil Richie also rode a Comet, not sure about Peter Baird though, I know he rode a few Bertins. 
Baird would go on to come second in the 1958 Empire games road race, and Richie rode for NZ in the 1956 Olympics.
 The Benelux rear derailleur is controlled remarkably well by 
this Cyclo bar end shifter.
 The nicely bent Reynolds Hiduminium bars that are soon to 
wrapped in NOS Allez! twill bar tape.
Unknown rider takes the line a Comet circa 1948. 

Red anodized GB Coureur Plus brake set, I had been saving
these for quite a while waiting for the right build.

 1953 Cycling magazine
 OK, I did slip a bit with these GB cable oilers,
I know that these would be rarely (if ever) seen in
the peloton..but they are so cool, I couldn't resist. 

Constrictor 'honking' hoods.

 Neil Richie and Comet circa 1956

Here is the NOS Mansfield Ormond Sprint saddle that I would replace after just one ride! I have ridden..I don't know how many different saddles, and not all of them great, but this saddle is without doubt the most painful saddle I have ever encountered, which is a shame as I loved that alloy frame.

Brian 'Happy' Howlett of the Manukau club in Auckland
rode Comets throughout most of his career, he was married to 
Pam Stephenson who was a professional photographer, and
spent a lot of time shooting the Auckland scene around her
husband, hence there are more photos of Happy Howlett from
this period than anyone else (that I am aware of anyway).
Here are a selection of photos of Howlett and fellow bikies 
during the period that this bike was being used in 
these same races.
L-R, Unknown, Lynn Parris, Howlett and what appears
to be a very young Dick Johnson, I think this photo must be from
1958 as Johnson first rode against the seniors that year I believe.
Johnson would go on to win the first Dulux Six day tour in 1960. 
L-R, Howlett, Peter Baird, Lynn Parris and John Halloway
in what I think is the trials for the 1958 Empire games. 
 Brian hammering his Comet to good effect, BSA 
double chainset, Campagnolo derailleurs..I would 
love to know what happened to this machine.

The wheel set is something pretty special, 
Harden H/F hubs radial laced with 17/15 DB spokes
with alloy nipples to Constrictor ASP 27" alloy rims,  
tyres are fasgrip crono 240 gram TT rubbers all held
on with Reynold alloy wing nuts.
The rear is radial/cross.
Unfortunately the NOS fasgrip tyres fell apart on
my first ride, luckily I had some Specialized
27" tyres that fitted the bill as replacements.

Lytaloy steel/alloy lightweight headset, GB 531 stem.

 Nervex lugs on the frame but not the forks which I think
have Ekla fork crowns.
1951 New Zealand Cycling Review which ran from
1949-53(?) a great little magazine, let me know if you have
any, I would really like to get a complete collection together.
A beautiful Coloral water bottle that Lynn Parris gave me.

 Laurie Coats Speedwell cycles catalogue was eagerly awaited by the racing set.

Here is the Comet in it's riding rim, a couple of little adjustments here and there, especially replacing the Mansfield for the Brooks B17.
The bike rode like a dream, it felt fast and aggressive, the Benelux front and rear derailleurs worked flawlessly, the GB brakes are pretty good. It is surprising nimble, though maybe not all that surprising when you look at the overall geometry...I think Slater and Jacky would approve.