Re: [CR] Care of vintage bikes

(Example: Framebuilders:Dario Pegoretti)

Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2009 09:51:23 -0700
From: Pacific Coast Cycles <>
To: <>, Bianca Pratorius <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Care of vintage bikes

Did you mean 15 guage spokes? I have only seen spokes called 13 guage at the elbow end and I haven't even used any of those myself.

As far as wheel building at shops goes, I separate the capable wheel builders into two categories. First, and be clear that this does not include the ones who have no business charging for their work, there is the wheel builder who can do a decent job of putting spokes into a hub and turning out a useable true wheel.

The second type of wheelbuilder is what I have worked over many years to become. That is the wheel builder who thinks about wheels on a deeper level than just the basics and learns what it is that makes wheels actually have the properties that they do. This kind of wheel builder has the ability to formulate combinations of parts, spoke guages, dishing characteristics, and technique to build a wheel to suit the application. For me, that is the crux; suit the application. I do not build heavy clunky wheels and I do not build wheels that are fragile. There is a balance there that is achievable. It takes a dedicated wheel builder who thinks of wheels on that level. It is unlikely that I will build the same configuration for you that I do for your friend.

In any discipline there is a bell curve of abilities. It is so true with regard to wheel builders. There is a small percentage who are exceptional and many who are passable and some who should be forbidden to touch a spoke wrench. I'm sure the profession of doctor is subject to the same bell curve. A sobering thought that gets more frightening as I get older!

Chuck Hoefer
Vista, California USA

--- On Sun, 10/4/09, Bianca Pratorius wrote:

From: Bianca Pratorius <> Subject: [CR] Care of vintage bikes To: Date: Sunday, October 4, 2009, 9:11 AM

I have had experiences in bike shops over the years that run the complete range from horrible to excellent. Nothing has changed except that most of shops don't have experience with high end old technology. Take wheel building for example. I had a wheel built in the 80's at Adams Avenue bike shop in San Diego. They used a totally inappropriate spoke gauge of 13 straight while I specifically asked for db 14/15. That wheel turned out like so many others over the years that shops have made for me - to need constant retruing. Unless you pay real money no one is going to work on a wheel for two hours to make it just right and long lasting. - Better left to the bike owner to learn the job for himself.

The issue of cost/time is constantly at work in any bike shop. If you want a slow careful complete overhaul of a classic bike then don't expect that 60 or 70 bucks will cover it. If you want someone to do quiet, concerned loving work on your old bike, then you have to be willing and able to pay the price. I don't think it's fair to expect that a shop mechanic should start the day with a meditation, empty his mind and then get to work on your precious old bike just because it is old and irreplaceable. They have a million other things to do and think about, and they have to work fast to please their thrifty, impatient customers. There are shops that do this semi restoration work with absolute love and respect, and for the most part they expect to get paid a premium for it.

I for one think that just about any  job done on an old classic should be done with the idea that "if I mess this up, there may not be another bike like it in the world". "Let me see just how focused and careful and skillful I can be". This is really work for an owner who cares. None of this stuff is brain surgery. There's not a single job that someone can do on a bike that I can't teach myself to do with time. It might take me four times as long, but that's all part of the hobby - part of the romance. Who wants to make love while watching a clock?

Garth Libre in Miami Fl USA