Mr Ramen part 1

Over the past year and a half I've rebuilt and ridden an old road bike. The original goal was to build a classic road bike, however it's slowly morphed into the randonneur style. This is basically somewhere between a road bike and a touring bike, classic randonneur bikes by builders such as Alex Singer and René Herse served as inspiration.

I originally bought this bike at Mitchell Rd auctions, I spotted the Shimano 600 bits on it and brought it home. It had nice old weinmann levers, centerpull brakes, Sugino maxy cranks and old shimano high flange hubs, the Apollo seat gave a clue to its origins.

After peeling off the stickers and pulling it apart, I discovered it was an Apollo III which was made in Japan by Kuwahara, more well known for its BMX bikes, made famous as the bike in the movie E.T. The Kuwahara bikes are reasonably common in Australia and I found out the serial number gave it a production date of 1978, this matched the date codes on the Shimano 600 front and rear derailleurs which both started with C.

There were some clues to the frame construction, the fork steerer had the marking "Tange 8F Made in Japan" and the seatpost size was 26.2mm. Once I had the BB out I could see inside the main triangle, you could see that the tubing was seamed. Tapping the tubes with my nails I cold tell that it was straight gauge, most likely cro-moly. Frame weight was about 2.69kg and forks were about 0.85kg so this sounds about right.

To begin with I started polishing all the parts - I have a strange liking of polishing, it's somewhat meditative. I've posted a guide to polishing here:
I obtained some anodised alloy Araya rims off another bike which I ended up polishing, I don't even know how managed to do it because I had to manually remove all the anodising and polish it back up, it took about 2 days... Seriously I think I had RSI by the time I finished, but they looked great.

I got the frame powdercoated at Precision powdercoaters in a gloss black, the guy advised that it would scratch up quite easily but I had my heart set on it. Powdercoating was quite cheap however and the finish was quite good when I got it back, not perfect but very good value. I lined the lugs using model paint and a fine brush, this took quite a few tries but was worth it in the end.

I then mocked it up and put it together for a rough fit. Stupidly I managed to cross thread the drive side BB, I was certain that it went in clockwise when I removed it. I had the drive side BB cup going in and I was putting all my weight into it, thinking that it was just a bit tight and I had no idea why it was going in wonky...

Only later did I realise that this was because when I removed it originally the bike was upside down... I spent a whole saturday putting it together to get it ready for a sunday ride but this BB cross threading stopped me in my tracks. Anyway a trip down to Clarence St cyclery for a BB tap and face solved this.

Once this was together and the wheels rebuilt I gave it a first ride, it was magic. It's hard to describe the way the bike rode, it was really smooth and it rode like a dream. The long wheelbase made it superbly stable, but the highish fork rake and 72deg head angle gave it responsive handling, the geometry also suited my somewhat short legs, it has a 52cm seat tube and a 54cm top tube. The only thing I noticed was that the freewheel made a ticking sound, I confirmed this by swapping with another which made it go away. No big loss as it was only a cheapie DNP brand one.

Anyway that's all for part 1
Continue to part 2...


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