Saturday, February 28, 2009

Retro Raliegh Update: Weight Weenie Bug Strikes

Just as my own weight balloons up to a whopping [REDACTED], I'm getting uncontrollable weight weenie urges on the new/old Raleigh International hanging from the workstand.
Regular readers may recall my initial intention to do a path racer build with a flip-flop drivetrain, two brakes, luggage, and steel fenders. I started down that path, but made the mistake of taking it down out of the stand to torque the crank bolts when it was a chain short of being completely built. Dang, that thing felt light! Then I recalled the International owned by the late, great Sheldon Brown (similar vintage, same size, and even the same color) that he'd once built into a fixed gear described as, "well under 20 lbs."

At that point, the hook was set. I stripped the rear brake and freewheel off, cast aside thoughts of big bags and chromed steel fenders, and started thinking light. I know, I'm hopelessly behind the times -- in the age of "sub-15" road racers, "sub-20" seems to be a descriptor saved for mountain bikes. But I've never owned a sub-20 bike of any sort, and only ridden them on brief test spins in my shop days. The thought of attacking (as much as my corpulent arse can attack anything) a hill on a fixie that feels like I could pick it up with my pinkie? Too good to pass up.

I'm still keeping it built smart, with the Redline's old 36/36 wheelset and (folding) 700x35 tires, but it won't feature any luxury items -- the Gordon can keep all the cupholders, seat heaters, map lights, and OnStar. And I'm not pursuing weight weeniedom to the depths of titanium toeclip bolts or Swiss-cheesed components. I'm not actively trying to make it light -- I'm just not actively trying to make it heavy, either.

The build is almost done -- with a chain, I could ride it today, but my guess is that it wouldn't be terribly comfortable. I took some measurements and realized that my stubby T-rex arms probably won't make it to the bars without a stem that has less extension and more quill. I'm pretty accustomed to that... everything else in the stable has an upjutting 8 cm stem, so why would this be any different? I'm also undecided on bars/brake levers, but I have enough spare parts in the pile to experiment.

Of course, the weather taunted me with a dusting of fresh snow yesterday, and I'm sure we'll get the traditional state basketball tournament blizzard in March, so this fair-weather bike is still something of an academic exercise.

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