Racing bikes, as many of you know I'm not a fan, for a fat middle aged fella like myself it's just not a comfortable position to ride in. So you're probably wondering why I've gone out and bought another racing bike...
Or worse still, another racing bike project. I really don't need any more bike projects, let alone racing bikes. After a quick count up of my collection I currently have ateast eight racing bike projects, so another one really wasn't needed, but when you're an addict it's hard to get away from it. But for this particular bike there were several reasons for the purchase. Firstly, after looking at the photos of it on fleabay I noticed that there were several parts on it that I wanted for another racing bike project I've been tinkering with lately. Secondly, after a re-visit to the 'field of dreams' I spoke about in Episode 177 I purchased a pair of 700c wheels the rear one of which had a 3-speed hub with a coaster brake so I was on the lookout for a suitable frame to put them on. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, it was cheap! So I bought it, picked it up and headed for home.
Once back home I stripped it down, gave it a quick wipe over with some WD-40, and then started the re-build. Finding those wheels really was the basis for starting this project. But the other inspiration was the Huffy Chesapeake I bought a while back. I've been riding that thing a fair bit, and I thought that I would be happy enough with it as a replacement for my stolen Kalkhoff Weltmeister that went missing back in 2017, and I still miss to this day. To some extent the Huffy does fill that gap, but as good as it is, it does seem to remind my of the Kalkhoff, and does make me want another one. I dunno, I think its the combination of the big wheels and big frame that the Kalkhoff had that I miss. The Huffy, good as it is has neither a big frame, or big wheels. So stumbling across these wheels in the 'field of dreams' and knowing I already had this Steyr-Puch racing bike in my watchlist it seemed to me that it would be foolish not to buy it in order to build the Kalkhoffs replacement.
Before long I had rummaged through my stash and created something close to what I was after. I'll be honest, I wasn't thrilled to have to use a crank with cotter pins rather than the type that uses the axle with the square ends, but I figured the Kalkhoff had cotter pins, and so this would make this closer to the bike I was trying to emulate. That being said when I had the Kalkhoff I was on the lookout for a crank that didn't have cotter pins, so I guess the search is back on for one! Also, I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to use the handlebars I put on it, but they were at the top of the stash, and within arms reach and so on they went. So that was it, I was ready to roll... Almost. I still had to pump up the tyres!
Pumping up the tyres brought about another problem. As cool as they looked with air in them they were just too damn wide to fit insde the confines of the narrow frame. Damn! I was pretty irritated by this as I had been looking forward to a bit of a test ride, but I put the bike to one side for a day or so, while I thought about what I should be doing. I looked though my stash for some tyres, but nothing really jumped out and me as being right, so I looked at my collection of bikes and decided that I would borrow the tyres from the Raleigh Maverick as I've not ridden it for a while, and was toying with the idea fo selling it. It seems I can't sell it now anyway as I've also borrowed the wheels from it now for something else too! Of course, as I had started borrowing from the Maverick this sort of opened up the floodgates a little and pretty soon I was borrowing from other complete bikes too. With the weather closing in, and knowing that Mrs Clint was at work I flung the Clubman into the back of my Navara, along with the smaller tyres from the Maverick, the handlebars from the X-rated Mesh, and the saddle from the Hill Street Cruiser, and headed for BelongaClint.
Once back home, and in the relative warmth and comfort of our lounge I started to once again re-assemble the Clubman. Before long the narrower tyres were on, and spinning freely in the frame, and the bike as really starting to come together. It was then that I heard the key in the door. I thought to myself that was odd, it's only lunch time, Mrs Clint shouldn't be home yet. But she had decided to call it a day early, and was she pleased to see me in our lounge building a bike? Erm, No, not so much! She came through the door and without even saying hello she started with, "What's that doing in here?" I looked up at her from where I was sitting on the sofa while working on my bike and just said, it is being turned from a neglected early 1970's racing bike into the spirit of the Kalkhoff, then, once this transforamation is complete I will ride it! "I see" she said, "well, do you think it should be in my lounge?" she went on. I said, well to be fair you are home four hours early and I would've easily completed it by the time you were supposed to come home, so really if you think about it this is all your fault. If you'd have come home at your normal time you never would've known. It's not like you've caught me before is it? "What?!" she exclaimed, "I have too!" But before she got to continue I said Oh no you haven't, if you're referring to the last time you caught me working on something inappropriate in our lounge that was not a bicycle that was a motorbike, and frankly I think I deserved a little bit of hero worship for being able to get it up the stairs and into our flat! (It was a complete Yamaha TW200, and it was pretty heavy and awkward getting it up the stairs. But I was told that I had to keep and eye on the kids, and they didn't want to sit outside in the rain while I worked on my motorbike!) She just looked at me, and then said, "Well why aren't you working on it outside?" I told her it was too windy and rainy out there, plus in here I could put my record player on, get the fire roaring, and sit in the comfort of the sofa while I worked on my bike, it's perfect! "Just hurry up and get it out of my lounge!" She replied. OK I said, now run along and fetch me a sandwich and a cup of tea, and I'll finish up here! She looked pretty angry at me, but headed off to the kitchen. I must say that I think I've done well with my wife, I'm pretty sure that most women would've murdered me by now, I know my poor Brothers wife would've, she doesn't let him do anything! He can't even work on his car in his garage, but that's another story.
Anyway, before long I had finished putting the bike together, and was sitting in the sofa eating my sandwich and drinking my tea. Mrs Clint came in a sat down beside me, "Hows your lunch?" she said. I said that it wasn't bad, but I couldn't decide with the arsenic was in my sandwich, or in my tea? She looked at me and said, "It's in both." Then she looked out of the window and gave me a weather report, "It's not raining now, so you can take your bike outside." I looked out, the sun was shining, and to be fair I was itching to ride my new creation, and so I headed out for a test ride. About ten minutes into my ride I noticed that the sky had darkend again. I had a feeling I might be in for a bit of a wash!
As I headed across the viaduct to the point where I usually turn around I could see the rain coming towards me. I rode into the rain for about 100 yards to my turnaround point, then turned the bike around, and headed back for home! I was soaked, and now I had to ride atleast 200 yards to get clear of the rain! But I did get out of it, the pavement was dry ahead of me, but there was a wall of rain chasing me along it. I pedalled furiously for a little while trying to keep ahaead, but the rain was coming, and I was starting to struggle to stay ahead of it. I decided to seek shelter under an old railway bridge and hope it was just a shower. After about ten minutes the shower had passed me by and I continued on my way home, to be fair I should've just ridden in it, I was already wet through.
I felt that despite racing the weather it had been a successful test ride for the Steyr-Puch Clubman and I am pretty happy with how it rides and looks. As similar as the Huffy Chesapeake is to the Kalkhoff this Steyr-Puch Clubman is a lot closer. I know it's been a long time since I've ridden the Kalkhoff but to me this feels very very similar. At this point in time I think that all I want to change is the tyres. I think that the 700 x 32 tyres are good, but I feel that you could fit 700c x 38mm tyres on this frame and still have enough clearance, and possibly even get away with 700 x 42 although that might be pushing my luck a little as I'd probably only have about 2mm clearance on each side at the back then. I also feel that it would look a lot better if the tyres were either whitewall, or gumwall to keep it classy, so I might just keep an eye out for some. But in all honesty thats probably about it, unless of course that cotter pin crank starts giving me trouble, I've never had much luck with those, so any trouble and it will be outta there! but apart from that all I need to do is ride, maintain, enjoy, and repeat. Oh, and maybe not work on it in the lounge while Mrs Clint is at work, either that or get her to phone me when she leaves work so I've got ten minutes to clear my bike out of the house before she gets home. I might suggest that to her, just maybe not tonight, no point in pushing my luck any further with her than I have to.