Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Steyr Clubman

So I needed a road bike so I could keep up with Queenie while riding with her in Canada.  She is quite speedy on her new bike and it was all I could do to keep up with her on a loaner mountain bike.  So I've had this old Austrian Steyr Clubman from the early 70s in my basement for several years which I got at a yard sale for next to nothing.  It doesn't have any braze on cable stops so I figured I'd convert it into a single speed.  However, that would have required me to hunt down some new wheels and that would have been expensive while I had plenty of 10 speed wheels and fittings.  

So I went to Fred Meyers and bought a cheap cable set that included brake and gear cables and housings.  They weren't the best as they don't have the nylon tube inserts, but I remembered to lube the cables when inserting them into the housings and that works pretty well.  Old school technique using cycle lube or something like that.  Not having cable stops presented another challenge.  They used to have these little tin bands you'd use to fix the housing to the frame, but those things were never that solid so I used black zip ties and it worked better and looks pretty good too.

I have boxes of old bike parts in my basement.  I had everything I needed pretty much.  At first I wanted to have a simplex rear derailleur as that's what came on the bike, and I had a pretty good body but the pulleys kept breaking teeth off so I installed an old Campagnolo Valentino rear.  It looked cool but they never worked that great when they were new.  So I found an old Shimano Eagle rear derailleur which was missing a pulley but I found a pulley and it worked well.  An Eagle was the first rear derailleur I ever had experience with on my first road bike.  It wasn't the best either as it fell apart on a century ride and I ended up riding 50 miles in my middle gear on the back wheel.  For a long time after that I had no confidence in Shimano parts and my next road bike was french with Simplex and Mafac and those parts were solid as rocks back in the 70s when Shimano really hadn't figured things out yet. But now the Eagle works better and it will do fine.

The last thing I might change is the shift levers.  The bike came with the old Simplex plastic levers.  I had two sets and built one working set out of the two.  But I think I might switch that to a Shimano set too as it has more purchase and should work better with the Eagle rear derailleur. And I have a bottle cage and some clamps to hold it onto the frame as once again there are no braze-ons for that either.

My friend gave me some green cello tape.  And I had my choice of the dual position brake levers that were so popular in the 70s or just the single brake levers.  I went with the dual position just for that retro look and also the convenience of being able to brake from the top of the bar.  I also had some nice toe clips and straps.  It has a totally cool hard plastic saddle exactly like I used to use back in the 70s.  I totally love that thing and despite how it looks it is really comfy at least for me.  I wish I could find a few more of those.

Then to finish things off I'm going to put a rear rack on the bike and I might even add fenders.  I have a couple of nice sets of fenders but we will see on that.

One of the things I love about this bike is the cottered crank.  I was getting a little bit of play on that but I tightened up the cotter bolts and it took the slop out I think.  I'll know for sure when I test ride it.    The other thing I love is it rides like a steel bike.  It has that springy feel that you don't get out of other more modern frames.  Can be a little punishing on long rides but on short rides steel bikes are great in my opinion.  Nothing like them.  I'll shake this bike down riding to work a bit.  After I know it is sorted I'll pack the wheel bearings the derailleur pulleys and treat the chain.  Then it should be good to go.


Jules said...

Quite a project, and well done! I kind of wish my road bike had the dual position brake levers.. would make reaching the brake easier for me. Is that possible on my bike?

I imagine on a proper bike, you'll out ride me every single time. I'm not exactly fast, or built for much endurance. I'm looking forward to you having a bike you love up here though.

don said...

Yes they make a new version that works inline with the brake cable. You need to get the right diameter for your bars though. I can get them for you but I need to know the bar size.

don said...

Also I found some better tires online for this bike. Both Vittoria and Continentals that take more pressure and should roll better. That can make all the difference on a bike like this. On any bike really, tires make a huge difference. One of the most important things on a bike.