Lennie Rogers complete

Here’s the LR finally together:

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Lennie Rogers 60cm finally able to be ridden once more

I’m fairly happy that I managed to build this bicycle with about 90% stuff that I already had. New parts were brake levers, brake calipers and friction shifters. The rest I had already in the random spare parts bin.

The frame looks good in Emerald Green. The seatpost is 27.2mm; all I had was a black post so that has to do. I had a set of brakes and then realized they didn’t have the required reach. Oh well, I got these Dia-compes; not too expensive. I painted the lower part of the brakepad slot matt-black to try to make that appear less obvious. They look more normal that way, I think?

The rims are used before. The spokes I had in my collection; I laced the wheels a certain way so that I could use the lengths I had in stock, even using 14mm nipples to make it work. Front hub is a rare 32H OMAS. Rear is a 6-sp Shimano 6207 (also 32H) however I swapped the freehub for a 7 speed, so that’s what this bike is now. Both hubs were “NOS” so should be good for many kilometres now with fresh grease.

BB is a Shimano 600 and for whatever reason, the cranks from the Concorde I used to own never got sold so here they are again. The stem, bar tape, Nitto handlebar and seat were all lying around from other projects that I had stripped and sold off.

It’s wearing (used) 32C tyres because I am riding this in Noosa Strade Bianche 2018. I rode NSB with 25s last year and I think 32s will be better on the gravel roads.

I also plan to fit a rear rack and timber crate for shopping (once NSB is done). I remembered that one of the reasons I bought this old frame was because it could fit wider tyres and it had eyelets for a rack. So, it will be good to actually use those features.

I’ve not really ridden it yet. I will try tomorrow. I haven’t been very excited to finish this bicycle, really. I seem to feel the satisfaction when I finish the NSB ride instead, when it has achieved it’s purpose. Also I get depression, a little, and so that may be why I am not too excited today. I will commute to work on it tomorrow, and hopefully, nothing will come loose or fall off it!

Maybe I will see you at Noosa, August 13!

 

 

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Lennie Rogers frameset detail

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This frame has sat around for a couple of years in my garage. I bought it for some wonderful bicycle idea I had at the time; but promptly forgot about it and went onto other projects.
After Noosa Strade Bianche 2017 I parted out and sold the Concorde. I just wasn’t riding it often enough and I knew how much those parts were worth (the Dura Ace bits). I sold the Koga Miyata too. I think I O.D’ed on vintage bicycles and just wanted to do some solid training too.
So I did a lot of that. When I’m training I get frustrated if the bicycle I’m using can’t do everything I want it to do. Old bikes don’t have the gear range I need at every moment. Vintage bicycles require management, manipulation – I can’t change gears instantly – I have to, crickey, reach somewhere ELSE to change gear! So when I’m cycling purely for training-fitness I ride modern bicycles with STI. Judge me if you want!
If I’m just riding around for fun, a vintage bicycle is fine, of course, and looks great too.
I was searching around in a box of bicycle parts and I thought “I’ve got enough spare parts here to make a whole bicycle. I even have that old frame hanging on the wall over there…” So I set about a re-fresh.
I did not intend to over-think this one though. I’m just using the parts I have on hand and if it turns out ugly, then it’s just going to be ugly.
I decided from the start to put a box on it and use it for local shopping. That way it will get used and actually have a proper purpose in my life. I was lucky that it has frame-mounts for a rear pannier rack. In fact, I think that’s one of the reasons why I bought it.
I’ve had down-tube shifters (don’t love them). I’ve had bar end shifters (don’t love them. My knee kept changing gears for me). I thought I’d try thumbies or stem shifters this time. These, and the brakes, were the only parts I didn’t have in that box of bike parts because the frame requires long-reach brakes.
The frame needs longer reach brakes, I think, because it is a 27″ wheel frame. This and the 120mm rear width leads me to conclude it’s about mid or late 1970s. A great thing about 27″ frames is that (once you fit 700c wheels) they provide excellent clearance for larger tyres than you would normally be able to fit on an older frameset.
I don’t know what paint they used back then but daaamn it was on there thick. Once I started stripping it I could see all of this detail that was hidden. Like, whole serial numbers and component stamps. There were no other colours underneath it, but I think it had fourteen coats.
The fork has written on it in black pen “Clarrie Smith. V.B Red”. VB is a Holden car from 1978, that’s probably the original colour code. It’s a bit bright for me (I’m going to paint it green).
I researched the Lennie Rogers brand and as is stated in several other internet places, this shop-brand used frames sourced from Laurie Rogers, Fred Cobcroft, Geoff Scott, and maybe others. From the forums and other sites, I reckon this a Fred Cobcroft, given that the tubes are pinned with nails (you can see the nails when you look inside the BB), and the rectangle vent hole in the top tube junction to the seat tube. This rectangle was made with the sharpened end of a file, they say. I’ve put a picture of this on here since I have not seen pictures of these details elsewhere, even though people talk about them. Oh, the seat stays wrap around a tiny bit where they join the seat junction. That’s a Fred thing as well, they say.
I’ve never had anyone such as Geoff Scott verify this frame wasn’t his, or anything like that. I’m just going on what I’ve read here and there and everywhere. This article shows a very similar Lennie frame, for interest, though slightly different in minor ways.
My frame has Gipiemme dropouts front and back, Davis Components BB shell, with shimano-branded cable guides brazed on top.
One more thing about this frame. It’s 60cm seat-tube and 56cm top-tube. I usually ride 60/60 or even 61/59 but wow this is a short top-tube. I don’t know how I’m going to like that, but given it’s a shopping bike made of left-over parts, and it’ll probably make me sit more upright, it will probably be fine.

Wheel truing stand (#2!)

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The background here is that I bolted together a very basic wheel truing stand for about $40 worth of material from Bunnings, about eight years ago.
It did the job but I always knew I could design a better one.
I know these things are called a “wheel truing stand” but I just call it a wheeljig. It’s easier. Henceforth: wheeljig.
The first Wheeljig lacked adjustment, because the uprights that supported the wheels were bolted to the base. Every time I wanted to change from 100mm to 126mm or 130mm, I had to unbolt one of the uprights and move it. And I didn’t have any other options other than those widths.
With #2 wheel jig I wanted quick and infinite adjustment.
Some wheels these days are 190mm+ over-locknut dimension (OLD) (e.g. fat tyre bikes) and some are as narrow as 74mm (Brompton front wheel) and even 70mm (some modern track bikes).
I doubt I’ll build to those extremes but “just in case” I wanted the option. Plus, I do actually have a Brompton and they have small diameter wheels. I wanted the new wheeljig to cater for small diameter wheels as well – so all the parts needs to adjust, move  or rotate, to allow that.
I investigated linear movement (a lot). In medical laboratories and precision manufacturing they employ these linear guide tracks that are very accurate and smooth. These items are very task-specific, and very expensive.
Ultimately I gave up on the idea of ball or needle bearings in a cradle to move one of the uprights transversely (in hindsight, it was also complete overkill for my wheeljig).
I then researched low friction surfaces, so I could slide the upright back or forth, hopefully, without it binding. I discovered this UHMW Polyethylene (UHMW for “Ultra High Molecular Weight”), which they add to conveyor belt systems to reduce friction and energy use.
I found it was used in woodworking too, on table saw beds and jigs. I sourced some at Carbatec (woodworking tool store) and they had matching aluminium extrusion for it to sit in as well. This is what formed the basis of my sliding mechanism.
I know that other manufacturers of stands use a screw thread to move the uprights in and out. Park tool use that system, but the uprights don’t move in and out parallel to each other. Instead the angle between them increases as the screw is turned. This was a big fail for me; I want perfectly parallel faces to clamp a quick release on to, or screw an axle into. I think the park tool stands, the cheaper ones anyway, don’t even clamp the wheel in, it just sits in there by gravity. I love Park Tools and I have many of them, but the stands they offered didn’t seem to be all that I desired.
And oh, yes I’ve seen the P&K Lie stands. Like, three thousand dollars worth. I was fairly (*definitely*!) sure I’d be able to make a pretty nice and useful stand for about a tenth of that.
I did a bit of pencil design work and sourced a lot of screw thread and machine parts through Elesa Ganter. They have lots of small parts for all sorts of purposes which I was able to emply. Plus I could order them in Brisbane (and collect by bicycle at Pinkenba).
I ordered all the parts and steel, and… it just sat there for about 12 months. I kept meaning to get to it but other priorities just kept moving up the list of things to do, ahead of the wheeljig, which was more of a *want* than a *need*.
Honestly it’s like putting out spot fires or juggling chainsaws at our house: What desperately needs fixing immediately receives the money and time allocation.
By the time I finally got around to construction and assembly, I’d lost all my hand drawn design notes. So I kind of used my memory and designed it again along the way. I managed no major F-ups doing it this way, but would not recommend it, of course.
The pictures and the descriptions explain the design. I’ve built one wheelset so far and have another two ready to build, just as soon as I have time to put wheels 1st on the list of things to do (at our house that needs a lot of maintenance).

Honda Collection Hall in Motegi Twin Ring

 

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I’ve seen these vintage race bikes in pictures and on YouTube videos (to hear the sound), but I was surprised at how “rough” the fairings were up close. I am spoilt by perfectly smooth products in the 21st century. These are hand beaten and welded.

While at the MotoGP (see previous post) we visited the Honda Collection Hall, since it is on the grounds of the Twin Ring circuit.

Typical of rushed holiday sight-seeing:

  • I would like to have visited for a full day, on a non-MotoGP weekend, and taken my time to look at all the bikes in detail to take it all in.
  • There are so many things to look at it is overwhelming, so you miss a lot of detail and have trouble focusing.

If we had attended MotoGP for the three days instead of two, we would have had more time. But the bus trip there, the cost, and everything else – we had to rationalize our time.

So here are some photos I took of the things that I liked. There was whole floor of racing cars that I didn’t even look at. I was there for the early bicycle-based motorcycles and motorcycles which developed from that point. I like things on two wheels!

Comments added to each photo.

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Two variations of the early Honda motor-bicycle. I think this is a 1952 Honda Cub F in the foreground (with the motor on the rear), and a 1949 Honda model C behind.

 

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The style and colourway of the original Africa Twin (makes me want to buy a new one!)

Almost every one of these motorcycles are photographed on the Honda Collection Hall website: http://www.honda-museum.com/

Some of the vintage micro cars (production, not race) were very… space efficient. They were mixed in on the motorcycle floor so I did take a few pictures of those:

And a couple of final pictures of the famous “oval piston”. It was displayed in a cutaway engine and as a rotating assembly unit:

A couple of final thoughts.

I hope the Honda Motor Corp have a really good fire sprinkler system in this building. Every time I see a collection of invaluable items (be it in an art gallery, museum, or someone’s house) I cringe at the thought of fire. It’s happened throughout history, many times! In a future post I am going to feature the Hammaru Palace in Nagoya. The Palace and the Castle, sadly, were both burnt to the ground in WWII, due to allied bombing.

Second final thought – how do I get the job of keeping this lot in running order? I’d have to test ride them every day, right? Check the oil and tyre pressure? Then a few laps of Motegi Twin ring?

MotoGP at Motegi

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In January 2017, we decided to go to Japan for a holiday, and specifically to include MotoGP at the Motegi Twin Ring.

I did a lot of google research and came up with very little, so I am writing this account of the trip to MotoGP so that others may gain, perhaps, a little bit of confirmation of “the things you read on the internet”.

Firstly, as soon as you decide to go, book accommodation!! We didn’t finalise an itinerary and hotels until probably, April, and we found ourselves in quite a difficult situation.

By that stage, on the Race weekend – hotels were still available in Utsunomiya, but they were $1000 per night. Added to this accommodation difficulty is that the MotoGP calendar wasn’t “confirmed” until about March. Furthermore, Motegi Twin Ring doesn’t release tickets until June.

My suggestion is to book using Booking.com at hotels which allow free cancellation of the booking. Book the hotels and dates you think you’ll need, cancel or alter them later. Watch the FIM MotoGP websites regularly for the calendar confirmation and ticket releases.

The two towns close to Motegi which have a good range of accommodation and public transport are Mito and Utsunomiya. We wanted to stay in Utsunomiya because that’s where the charter buses go from. Book at Mito if you have transfer to the track figured out from that direction.

You can also go to Twin ring direct from Tokyo with Motegi88. We didn’t want to have such long days, so we didn’t choose that option.

Given that we messed up the accommodation… we did end up travelling to Utsunomiya on the first morning we attended (the Saturday) by bullet train (Shinkansen) from Tokyo.

We then found the charter bus and headed to the track. That night, we had to stay in Nikko (A 40 minute extra train ride out of Utsunomiya – we didn’t really have a choice).

Then Nikko to Utsunomiya and to the track again on Sunday. We did finally get accommodation in Utsunomiya on the Sunday night, after the event was over! We were tired by then and glad not to be en route to Tokyo like many others.

I’m not personally familiar with any other MotoGP track on the circuit, however Motegi seems like one of the more remote ones. It is in a quiet rural area, and the rumour you find online that a “single road lane” leads to it, is generally true. From Utsunomiya, it’s two lanes each way, then half way there it narrows down to one each way. Since everyone is going in the same direction, that’s just a single lane.

About the buses:

We caught a charter bus from Utsunomiya station. There are tour buses from Tokyo as well. We decided against this option due to the travel times we expected. I’d read about “5 hours to get back to Tokyo” and we weren’t keen on that.

My research confirmed that there is only a single (council) bus to and from Motegi each day. We didn’t want to risk that so we went with the charter company. They had lots of buses. They were filling them up and they were leaving when full. People with a reservation got on the buses first.

There were people without reservations lined up… complaining about how disorganised it was. I suggest those people could have been more organised themselves and reserved a seat before they came. To us (with reservations) it was hectic but generally well organized – there was even a lady walking back and forward through Utsunomiya station with a big sign “FIM MotoGP Buses” and directing people to the correct station exit.

The company is called Motegi88. The reservations don’t open up until about a month or two before the race. So, we’d booked flights, accommodation, trains, everything – except the last 90 minutes journey to the track. That’s a little unnerving, but we kept an eye on the Motegi88 website every few days and it appeared. We booked the seats right away. There is no online payment, you pay in cash on the day. 3000 yen each person return.

The delay on the single lane wasn’t too bad on the Saturday (QP, etc). On the Sunday morning (Race day) it was very backed up. We got 95% of the way to the track easily, then the last 3kms were crawling at a snail’s pace. Really, we could have walked it faster.

About the tickets.

We bought through GPT. I had to follow up email them because we didn’t get any kind of confirmation. It’s because my bank charged some $30 fee and therefore they were $30 short on the ticket payment. Of course, they could have told me! But I finally secured tickets and they arrived in the mail a few weeks before we departed.

 

We bought paddock passes. I’m not sure this was a great investment. You don’t see a lot, much of it is fenced off and with umbrellas everywhere it was difficult to see much. There was a special viewing area at corner 3-4 for paddock pass holders; that was the closest we were able to get to the track, so that was good. I saw Dovi walking from his pit garage to demountable offices behind (a 2 second glimpse!), and we saw the Moto3 riders roll out of their garage for their race, and gave them a clap. But we were only in the “paddock” for about 25 minutes, probably. For the money, we probably wouldn’t buy those again. We also had to go and find a paddock pass activation booth to exchange our “tickets” for a “track pass”. This was confusing and GPT didn’t outline any of this prior.

Grandstand seats – hard plastic and no back support. bring a foam pad or something! We bought ponchos for 1500yen each upon arrival. They were pretty awesome, we’ll use them at other places I’m sure.

I got spoken to by a Japanese worker at the grandstand for standing up too long. It was in-between races (no riders on track) so I don’t know what the issue was… anyway, he had to do something to prove he was working, I guess.

I wanted to walk around the circuit more – however it was a very wet MotoGP so it was a bit of a struggle with backpacks, ponchos, and keeping the camera and phones dry. There are a lot of stairs and my partner wasn’t comfortable doing big miles around the track in these conditions. Adding to this, we only went on the Saturday and the Sunday, while skipping the Friday. On the Saturday we wanted to see the Honda Museum at the Twin Ring so that we were trackside all day Sunday; this also shortened the time we had to walk around the whole circuit. If we’d gone on the Friday as well I think we would have had more time to explore.

Food:

There were a lot of food vans, but they were all selling similar things. Noodles in a bowl, and variations of. Meat on a stick (all different meats). karaage chicken, with or without rice. long skinny fries. Doutor, etc. Japanese fast food. We found some pizza slices for 400yen each. Didn’t see much western food and none of it seemed overly healthy. On the second day we brought a lot of our own snacks like muesli bars, bananas, etc to get us through the day. The coffee was terrible.

 

Other notes:

We steered clear of the promotional area; just too busy. I looked at the Honda stand and said “no way”; I didn’t even attempt to squeeze in even though I might have bought a T-shirt or something.

Honda Museum: One of the only places to sit down on comfortable (bench) seats. (I am writing another blog about the Honda Museum on it’s own).

Overall, I wanted to go to Motegi “one day” and we did it. It was fantastic to be in Japan, and the racing was really amazing. We saw Dovi win the race on the final corner. Afterwards, media said it was one of the “rider battles of the decade”. So, we can say we were there for that. We won’t go again since we have a lot of other places we want to go, but we certainly don’t regret it. We might go to Phillip Island (our home GP) in a couple of years.

 

 

 

Bicycling images of Japan

Using a bicycle for transport is a normal everyday activity in Japan.
We travelled to Tokyo, Utsunomiya, Nagano, Nagoya and Kyoto and saw the same activities in all places.
People choose a bicycle for transport regularly; mode share was very high.


Bicycles have right of way at intersections – particularly crossing side streets, where there is a “zebra” crossing at every side street entry. I was amazed at the drivers waiting to turn into a side street – patiently (in comparison to Australia), no stress, no aggravation, no abuse. Just, waiting. When there was a gap, they turned into the street slowly. It could take several minutes, but was accepted as normal.


Many bicycles were electric. Many had one or two child seats, also electric. Parents with children would even ride on reasonably busy roads with children, because drivers were not intimidating them.


99% of the bicycle rides I saw were utility cyclists. I saw only a handful of “fitness” cyclists (high end road bikes/lycra). Upon my return to Australia – travelling from the airport to home, I also saw a handful of fitness cyclists. I did not see a single utility cyclist though, and that’s the difference – utility doesn’t exist in Australia. The governments and councils of Australia have killed it off in favour of private motor vehicles.

No all ages mandatory helmet law exists in Japan. No one wore a helmet and because they were riding upright, slow and stable bicycles, helmets were no required anyway.

Even at night time, many cyclists didn’t have lights. And of course no hi-viz. Motorists concentrated and looked out for people on bicycles, because they were everywhere, thus it was a constant requirement to be aware of them.

Given the extensive and efficient train network and the wide-spread use of bicycles, we didn’t see much congestion. It just didn’t exist; most of the vehicles on the roads were small kei cars & delivery trucks, taxis, buses. Because only the necessary motorized vehicles used the road, there was simply no traffic jams full of single occupant private vehicles.

Very little on-street parking exists; even though many streets are narrow, they are not clogged with 2m-wide privately-owned property being stored on public road space.

It really saddens and infuriates me that Australia in general, Brisbane and Sydney in particular, have their transport plans, models and goals so profoundly backwards. We are making incredible mistakes on how personal mobility should work and we will be paying for it and fixing it for decades. We all suffer our terrible road design decisions, some with our lives.

See captions in the photos for more description.

My Workcycles Fr8 & Brisbane

 

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This is my Workcycles Fr8. It’s quite the beast – solid, unbreakable, extremely well made with all stainless steel fasteners. It’s two years old yet looks the same as the day it arrived.

When I purchased this bicycle I lived in Nundah, Brisbane. We used it to ride to the grocery store, local shops and school (all within 1.5 km). We used it to go to larger shopping complexes – Toombul and DFO, and industrial areas at Virginia (all within 5km). I’ve ridden it to the Brisbane CBD and around West End. We’ve been on the train and back, and I ride this each time I support #Space4cyclingbne in safe streets advocacy rides.

Now I live in Ferny Hills, Brisbane. When a suburb has “hills” in the name it’s not because it sounds nice. There are hills here! Last week I actually got off and pushed this thing up the Caesar Road pinch. I’m a fairly fit cyclist but when the gradient gets to 12% there is just no way this bicycle can go uphill! Gentle gradients up to around 5% are no issue; just find the lowest gear and pedal up it. It takes a while but you get there, even with cargo.

The cargo which I speak of is very manageable. I’ve ridden a long tail bicycle before and there was this inherent wobble at low speeds with that bike. This is much more well behaved (the laid back steering angle really helps). I have a big timber box that goes on the front.

I have carried:

  • A 6 year old and our work/school bags, and five bags of groceries.
  • A 6 year old and as many groceries as we could carry.
  • A 6 year old on the front and another adult on the rear as we went to dinner!
  • Two cases of beer plus groceries.

I’ve found, unfortunately, that the hills in Ferny Hills are just too much for two of us (one of them now well over 7 years old!) and additional cargo. The Workcycles just doesn’t get used much and so it is for sale.

I’m investigating electrification options. A front hub motor would be easiest to install, but then I loose the hub dymano which powers the lights, a feature that I love. I would have to rebuild the wheel to suit, as well (if I wanted the keep matching rims).

A mid-drive Bafang is also an option however the chain guard doesn’t fit once that goes on, I’ve read.

The 250W limit in Australia is infuriating and I wonder if that would be enough to get me around and do all I want to do on this bike? Adding a Bafang adds a lot of weight in itself.

There’s the cost and there’s the quality, too. Stories abound of overheated and failed Chinese motors. I just haven’t come up with a solution yet.

Until then, I’ll just ponder the options and ride it when I can, avoiding Caesar Road at all costs!

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