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Winter project/L'eroica machine
Well, the lovely weather we've been having has turned my mind towards a project for the Winter months, what with all the lovely wind and rain etc.

The Cycle Show ran an piece the other week about L'eroica Brittannia, which looks to be exactly the sort of stupidity I can align myself with so I'm planning a trip next year, assuming it'll be on.
L'eroica is an annual Italian vintage cycle festival which seems to occupy the format of drinking wine, talking about old bikes, looking at old bikes, buying old bits for your old bike restoration project, drinking more wine and if there's any time left, maybe even going for a ride. Well, the good people at <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w --> have taken the initiative that we, as a nation of cycle lovers and drinking fanatics would appreciate something similar on our own shores, and this year organised the first ever Eroica Britannia. There's a bunch of stuff on YouTube about it, but it seems to have been a resounding success: lots of people drinking, looking at old bikes etc.. People really seem to get involved, growing huge moustaches and trotting about in clobber which can only be described as tweed fetish gear. "Hell with this", I thought, "I'm in!!"

So to the bike. A few years ago I bought out of the paper for thirty quid a Raleigh Medale road bike, with the intention of stripping it, singlespeeding it and flogging it to a hipster. I never got round to it and it's been sat in the corner of the garage gathering dust and cobwebs. Having had my interest piqued by the notion of doing this vintage bike weekender next year I dug it out to see if there's anything that can be salvaged.

Glory be!! It's in pretty much mint condition. A moment on Google tells me from the frame number that this beast rolled out of the Nottingham factory in May 1974! It's just turned forty and there's hardly a mark on it!. the sticker you can see on the seat tube is a nice note from Serco saying that they can't take this item away - it was left out for the bin men!! OMG!!

Aside from some really superficial rust it's spot on. Even the 27" chromed rims come up nice with the gentlest rub with some wire wool:

Literally every component is good enough to use, bearings are free and smooth - it looks and feels like this old fella rolled out of the factory, was bought, ridden a few miles and then stashed in a (thankfully dry) shed until a few years ago when it was put out for the bin men! Well, i have other ideas...

I guess predictably enough I have already started on the wheels. There's a gooey, oily dust stuck all over everything but w few minutes work and the vintage Maillard hubs go from this:

To this:

So now my head is spinning with possibilities of paint jobs (the gold and black fade is ghastly and looks like it was done by a bloke after a few pints in some Raleigh factory local haunt), the old school drop bars are too narrow for me so I'm considering some more forgiving swept back bars  (in keeping, of course, with the period), and I shall be investigating facial hair options over the next few months: I'm either going full walrus moustache or some giant muttons. Watch this space!!
Looks like it will be an interesting build Smile Bicycle design facinates me and I can easily pass many hours looking at photos of all sorts of bikes - particularly love some of the brilliant creations on <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w -->

The only tip I have for you at the moment would be to use the IMG codes on Photobucket so that they appear on the post rather than having to follow a link.

Will be watching with interest 8)
Got some bars if you want to go flat and swept back, there's a pic here, scroll down, they're as new condition with a little bar tape residue that I can probably get off for you. Gotta post them though as I'm not local though may be in Crawley next month
Keep it foolish...
Hey, those are exactly the sort of things I've been looking for! What's the width like? I've got my eye on a set 555mm wide and exactly that sort of sweep. What would you want for these fellas? I'm in no rush to get this project going so no worries if it takes a while to get them over this way... also, nice lugwork! Why did you take them off? Back to drops? I'm currently thinking of a set of reverse brake levers (Dia compe do a set of suitably retro looking efforts) with 'leather' bar tape most of the way from the ends to the middle... all pie in the sky at the moment!

And Neil, yes I tried to remember how I linked to photos before and failed badly. Tired due to staring at ebay for too long!
Consider them yours, I'm away in Berlin til september but as you say, no rush. I took them off because I was doing a 120 mile ride and drops were a  better option due to greater number of hand positions. Saying that, these were very comfy as you could sit upright, hold them in the bend for a bit more of a stretched position or towards the centre / stem for a more traditional feel. Reverse levers would look great too, i've seen lots of bikes out here with reverse levers on them, nice, understated and a bit different from the norm. I wrapped mine from end to stem, it looks nice with some slim leatherette tape, or if you're feeling brave go for the harlequin look.

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Or what about cotton tape with a shellac varnish finish? That's look sweet, maybe more in keeping with my fancy lugs and not that comfy from all accounts, but pretty none the less.

And don't paint it, get the surplus racks and what have you off, new cables and a very good clean up and a little touchup paint and it'll be great.
Keep it foolish...
I watched some scary videos on YouTube about harlequin wrapping - terrifying! Waaaay beyond even my level of geeky obsessiveness! Also looked at cotton/shellac - does look very nice and truly retro, but I think for the time being at least I'll just get some leather tape and wrap from the centre out, using the reverse levers to hold it all in: should look clean and be nice and comfy etc. If I had the dosh for a Brooksy saddle I'd go for one of those but there are similar ones for a fraction of the price - I'm not realistically expecting to ride this every day but it'd be nice to have hanging up for nice days!
Re: the paint job, it really is terrible - the fade is proper naff and I'm not really big on the gold and black scheme. The least I'll do is get the frame done as the forks are tidy but I'm currently thinking get the whole thing (inc. mudguards) done, colour choices change every day! The lugs aren't as fancy as yours but I'd be half tempted to have a go at picking them out...
I'll gladly relieve you of the bars, sure we can sort something out between now and next Summer! Cheers!!

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