Building A Retro Replica Bike | 1920’s (ish) Giro Challenge Part 1

Building A Retro Replica Bike | 1920’s (ish) Giro Challenge Part 1


(logo whooshing) – Now what with it being the Giro d’italia I was having a chat to Si in the office about how tough the riders
were back in the 1920s. How they battled over mountains with just two gears on their bikes. One on either side of a flip-flop hub. And I said to him, how ‘about I build up a bike for you to try and do that, too? And he obviously wasn’t listening, because he somehow agreed to
this, well, weird idea of mine. Either way, today we’re going
to run through the components of what I’ve chosen for
him to do this exact feat. (jazz music) Now, let’s start with
the frame of the build, or the chassis, if you like. Some of you will remember
the Cheap Bike To Super Bike upgrade and renovation series that I did. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that for this I headed over to Ebay, too. So here it is, the Elswick Whirlwind. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, it’s not a 1920s original,
but to be honest, I set myself a do it as cheap
as you can style budget, so, obviously, an original
bike from the 1920s certainly wasn’t going to fit within that. But this bike, it’s not
an all-out race machine. I do estimate it comes from the 1970s, hence the interesting paint
job, to say the least. But is does have some slack angles on it, as you can see. So it is slightly
resembling that 1920’s bike that I’m trying to go for here. Importantly, this frame is
actually built from Reynolds 531, and from memory, more Tour
de France’s have been won using the Reynolds 531 tube
set than anything else. So it’s certainly reliable, and, well, it looks the
part doesn’t it, too? Why this bike then? Well, it was fairly local, and also it’s going to be easy to work on, because I’m going to be stripping it of virtually all of the parts from it. The only thing that’s
going to be remaining, frame and forks, the head-set, the bottom bracket and chain-set, brake calipers, and brake levers. At least, I hope! I want it to be modern, yet old. (jazz music) So, first up handle bars and stem. These had to go. I don’t really trust something
quite as old as this, and I wanted it to, well, be
a bit of a showpiece, really. So I contacted the folks at Velo Orange, over there in the United States, and they kindly sent me
a handle bar and stem. So these Grand Cru
Randonneur style handle bars, first of all, just look at them. There’s that little rise up there, either side of the actual
central part of the handle bar. And then we’ve got 30 millimeters
of flare on the drops. So, all those people out there who believe that, well, Gravel handlebars
are a new innovation, and all that, they’re not. These have been around
for many, many years these are just a modern
day replica of them. And I think they look great. We’ve got kind of a satin finish here on the bits that are
going to be covered up. Then on the important bits
that are going to be revealed, nice engraving and a polished finish. Then of course, we’ve got the stem to match up perfectly, too. I absolutely love that, that is a really nice bit of kit. And, safety first, (bell rings) got a little bell on there, too. So Si can alert anyone who’s
getting in his way to, well, just move over whilst he
smashes up those climbs. (bells rings) And lastly, well we need to
wrap up those bars, don’t we? And, well, there’s nothing better than period-correct handlebar tape. So I’m not going to give Si the pleasure of cork handle bar tape,
or anything like that. Instead, I’m going to give him, well, something quite as nasty
and horrible as this. And it’s the cotton handlebar tape. Essentially, it looks like rim tape, but you wrap it on your handlebars. This was used up until,
I believe, the early ’80s when the Benotto shiny ribbon took over. That was just as bad, if not worse, because when it got
wet your hands slipped, and you would let go of the handlebars. With this though, its going to offer him a little bit of grip, I imagine. (jazz music) Sticking with the cockpit, then well, I’ve decided to upgrade this quite tired looking
seat post with this one. So a much more classic
and classy looking affair. Well, kind of the same, really, but just not quite as rusty. So this one, as you can
see, is pretty short and probably not long enough for Si’s legs or, well, any of the GCN presenters, to be perfectly honest. So this clamp here, that’ll easily go on to this one, and then we’re not going to use this nasty old vinyl saddle, oh no, no, no. I want Si to have a little bit of comfort, so I’ve treated him,
here, to a Brooks saddle. Check that out, the B17. An absolute beauty. They say that these never
wear out, they just wear in. I think really though, that your bum just gets used to it. Right, let’s talk wheels, then, because I wanted 700C
wheels for this bike, but it came with 27 inch. So there’s about eight
millimeters difference in the actual total
diameter between the two. Not the end of the world, but I could run into a few problems when it comes to building it up, but we’ll tackle that
bridge when we come to it. But still, why did I want 700C wheels? Well the reason being tire choice. Tire choice. Well, you’ve got way more
options with the 700C wheel, and ultimately, tires can really transform the feel of a bike. So, that’s why I went for it. So, alloy wheels, 700C, with
a flip-flop dual sided hub meaning that, well, you’ve actually got two
different gear choices, just like riders had back 100 years ago. In fact, some riders, even back then, had a very simple derailleur
at the back of the bike and had a free-wheel mechanism with two sprockets built onto it. Sadly, I couldn’t find one of those, and I didn’t really want
to risk one, either, because the chance of it still
working would be quite slim. So what’s Si going to have to do? Well, he’s just going to
have to unbolt the wheel and swap it around if he
wants to have an easier gear. Probably not going to do that very often ’cause it would be quite
tiresome, I would imagine. So, the sprocket size that
I’m going to be putting on to this dual sided flip-flop hub is going to be a 16 tooth on one side and an 18 tooth on the other. And then it’s going to be paired up with this 48 tooth chain ring. Now, apparently Maurice Garin, the first winner of the Tour
De France back, what, in 1903, he used a gear that was just
two inches smaller than 48/18, so I reckon that this bike, when it’s had its modern day upgrades, if you like, is going to
be a little bit lighter, so it shouldn’t be a
problem for someone like Si to be able to ride along. And besides, if he wants to
just push on a little bit, if he’s feeling nice and fresh, he can just take out the
wheel, flip it around, put it in the 16 tooth sprocket, and have an even bigger gear
to be able to play with. (jazz music) Now, I gently touched on it, earlier, and these tires, they’re not really going
to be up to the job. They look very cheap and nasty. Instead, I’ve opted for some of these. Challenge Strada Bianca gum wall tires. How great do these look? Now, they come in 30 mil in width, which is just a touch narrower than these inch and a quarter ones. But I reckon this is
really going to transform the feel of the bike. (sniffing) They smell great too! Would do you reckon? (sniffing) Take my word for it, they do! (jazz music) Like I mentioned at the start, virtually everything’s going
to be going from this bike, including this very tired,
saggy old looking chain. And it’s going to be replaced with this. The piece de la resistance, if you like, a pink chain. 1/8th of an inch, absolutely great. I had to get one long enough
to be able to accommodate the 48 tooth chain ring there, as well an an 18 tooth
sprocket at the back. But by the time that’s fitted, it’s almost going to match! I do like a pink chain. Or a white one. Or a gold one. (jazz music) Now, this crank set is one of
the old cotter pin style ones. Some of you out there
will know about them. If you don’t, essentially, the chain set attaches onto the bottom bracket axle, and then you use these
wedge-shaped like bolts that then have a nut on
the top which you tighten, and it kind of wedges itself into place. Now, they wear away and then they become dangerous, because everything starts to
become very loose on the bike, and quite frankly, I’m glad to see the back
of cotter pin chain sets, because they were a pain in the backside. Another thing, though, that was a pain in the backside was toe-clip pedals. Oh, I remember numb toes
from using toe-clip pedals when I did up the straps nice and tight. But yeah, Si can live with those memories of numb toes from now on. But like I said, the bike
has to be period-correct, and toe clips were
actually used from about 1907 up until the early ’90s, and, well, some riders
still use then to this day. And of course this then put me
into another troublesome area trying to find some toe clip cleats to fit on the bottom of a modern day sole, because as much as I tried and tried to get Si to wear some retro shoes, he wasn’t keen on the thought of it. So I had a look on the
depths of the internet, and I managed actually
to find these ones here. A pair of DHB shoes
for Si to use, instead. A real traditional classic looking shoe. I didn’t have to actually look
quite that hard for these, but they’re going to be up to the job, and they’re going to look
the part, aren’t they? Let’s face it. But, those toe clip cleats, then, to fit onto that three-hole sole, I contacted a company a company called Yellow Jersey Cycles, in
Arlington, in the USA, and Andrew, who works
there, was really kind and sent me over a pair of these cleats. I tried to buy them locally, just nobody had them whatsoever. So, a big thanks, actually,
to Andrew for those. Just check ’em out! So they’re going to
slot into the pedal body and will give Si that power that he’s going to be
craving on this beauty. (jazz music) And finally, we need to
talk braking, don’t we? And you know what? I’m not going to change the brake levers, nor the calipers, unless I really have to, because I want Si to have that authentic feeling of, well, truly terrible brakes. I just hope there’s not too
many downhills on his ride, because I don’t want to be using them! Only joking Si, I’m sure
they’ll be absolutely fine. So I have bought some new outer cable and inner cable. So I’ve got Jagwire ones in white. They’re going to stand out beautifully. And to match up, too, I’ve
got some new cable clips that I’m going to be using
here on the top tubes to replace these rusty old ones. They’re just going to
look a little bit better. (jazz music) So there we are, the components and bike for this kind of 1920s retro feel bike that someone, sadly Si, has
to ride over mountain or two. Ha-ha! Rather him than me. Right, let me know what you think of it down there in the comments section below, because next week, we’re going
to be building this one up. And I’m so excited about it,
as you can probably tell. Also, why not check out the GCN shop at shop.globalcyclingnetwork.com We’ve got a whole heap of
limited range of goodies, too, including this rather cool sweatshirt. So head on over there. And now for two more great videos how about clicking just down here and near this manky handlebar tape! Ew.