Another complete bike! I’m getting through them, slowly but surely I’m turning frames into complete bikes.
I like the way this one worked out. The gorgeous deep red & chrome frame and white decals with the Shimano 600 parts look really good together. Sorry for another long post but hopefully it is more pictures than words.
I’m not a weight weenie but while the frame and forks are completely stripped, it’s always nice to get the weight. This is 531 Professional tubing so won’t be as light as my 753 bike but will be considerably lighter than a standard 531 tubed frame.
I always start a build by fitting the headset. This frame has standard British threads (1″ x 24tpi) and Campagnolo style diameters (26.4 crown race and 30.2 pressed race) so it’s always good to check you have the right headset.
I don’t suppose many people will go to the trouble of facing the head tube. This is probably because the tools to do these frame prep jobs are expensive and may only get used once. I do this type of work often so for me, it is worth while investing in these tools. A headset can be fitted into a head tube that hasn’t been faced and can often be absolutely fine. But for me, it is best to face it. The image above shows the head tube face as it was – the paint is chipped and uneven and the upper face and lower face may not even be parallel (vital for good bearing performance). After applying a liberal amount of cutting fluid to the facing tool, and a few turns on the top and a few turns on the bottom, you get a lovely smooth grey metal finish.
Once the head tube is faced, the fork crown race can be cut. The crown race on this fork is chromed. I wouldn’t normally use cutting tools on chrome as it is too hard and damages to cutting edges. However, the chrome is gone from where the crown race sits, so I was able to cut the seat.
Unfortunately, before I could attach the crown race cutting tool, I had to clean the fork threads, as I couldn’t actually thread the tension screw onto the steerer. I’ve not built this frame before so have no idea about the condition of any threads. It’s best to check them and give them a clean bill of health.
Again, liberal amounts of cutting fluid and run a cutting tool down the thread. Once it is removed and cleaned up with a wire brush, the tool that provides the tension for the crown race cutting tool could easily thread on. This also means that the light alloy headset cup and locknut would have no problem threading onto the forks.
Before pressing in the headset cups, a small amount of grease is smeared on the faces and the inside of the head tube. Dry fitting the forks without grease shows that the steerer column was 2mm too long (this matches with the measurement I made of the stack height before starting work on the headset). I could have easily fitted a 2mm spacer in addition to the spacer included in the headset but I like things to fit properly as they are intended, so 2mm was cut off the steered column.
Next in the build process is the bottom bracket. I’ve never had a bottom bracket in this frame so it’s a really good idea to prep it. Threads need chased and the faces of the shell need to be faced.
The 600EX bottom bracket is a standard cup type and fitting is straight forward.
Before you bolt anything onto a frame, any threads should be cleaned. It’s often amazing how clean a thread looks but is still full of rubbish. It takes 5 minutes to run a tap through the main threads (bottle bosses, gear lever bosses, drop out adjusters, rear mech hanger, crank pedal threads).
Spending a couple of minutes prep ensures that components bolt on quickly and easily.
With components attached (both derailleurs, calipers, gear levers and chainset), the handlebars and stem can be fitted, together with the brake levers. The angle of the handlebars isn’t important at this stage as it will be set when the bike is standing on wheels on the ground. A good thing to have handy at this point is a handlebar holder. This will stop the handlebars turning and hitting the top tube.
A lot of people have different opinions on bike setup, but any setup, no matter what it is, should always start from a known point. This applies to the position of the brake levers on the handlebars. I always fit brake levers so that the tip of the lever is in a direct line with the bottom of the handlebars. The easiest way to do this is to hold a straight edge against the bottom of the handlebars and tighten the brake lever clamp with the tip of the lever resting on the straight edge.
Handlebar taping… who hates wrapping the handlebars? It’s easy if you follow the same process.
- Start by pulling the rubber lever hood forward and adding some tape to cover the clamp
- Overlap the end of the handlebar, holding the tape towards the frame
- Start to wrap the tape around the handlebars evenly, peeling the backing tape away as you wrap
- As you wrap the tape, pull the tape slightly with tension to ensure it isn’t wrapped to loosely
- Wrap a figure of 8 around the brake lever clamp
Once you get past the clamp, stand in front of the bike – it is best to fit the front wheel temporarily so that you can hold the wheel between your legs to keep the handlebars facing forward as you wrap.
- Wrap the tape away from you – this is important. This means that when you are riding the bike, your normal grip on the tape will help to tighten the tape. If you wrap the tape towards you, your hands on the tape while riding will loosen the tape
- Wrap evenly until you reach the ferrule
- When the tape reaches the ferrule, cut off the excess in a straight line to the edge of the handlebars
- Unwrap the tape a couple of turns
- If you have wrapped the tape correctly, the tape should be at an angle to the ferrule
- Use a pair of scissors to cut a straight line towards the edge of the ferrule – have your finishing tape ready
When the tape has been cut, wrap it back around the handlebars. The edge you have cut should butt up nicely against the edge of the ferrule. Apply your finishing tape.
To complete the task, tuck the overlapping end of the handlebar tape inside the bar and push in an end cap. Pull the rubber lever hood back into place. Hopefully you will not have any gaps!
Moving onto the front wheel, I removed the axle and fitted new bearings and grease. The cone had a lovely smooth silver line with no sign of any pits in the bearing surface. A quick true in the jig and then new rim tape was fitted.
The rear wheel cones were good but the freehub body was noisy – it rumbled. New 6 speed uniglide bodies aren’t easy to find but I tracked one down and fitted it. New bearings and grease and rim tape were also fitted.
Before fitting the rear wheel into the frame, it is important to check the dropout alignment to make sure the inside faces of the dropouts are parallel so that they will grip the axle locknuts correctly when the quick release is fastened. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it is good to check. In this case, the alignment tools indicated that they were fine.
The final thing to check is the rear wheel dish – this will ensure that the rim sits central in the frame between the seat stays and chain stays. Each side of the rim should be an equal distance to the locknut. This can be checked quickly with a dishing tool.
The final alignment to check is the rear hanger. If this is out of alignment, the gears will not shift correctly – this is very important with indexed gears. The hanger should be straight up and down and level side to side.
- Screw an alignment tool into the dropout.
- The alignment has to be checked at the same point of the rim at 4 points (6 o’clock and 12 o’clock – 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock)
- With the valve hole at the bottom (6 o’clock) adjust the alignment tool so that it just touches the rim
- Take the valve hole to the top position (12 o’clock) – if the up and down alignment is ok, the tool should just be touching the rim as it was at the bottom
You can see the top image is touching the rim but the next image is almost 2″ away from the rim. The hanger was bent in. If this went unchecked, the bottom of the cage on the rear mech could have hit the spokes and shifting would have been impossible to setup correctly. A little bit of bending of the alignment tool will straighten the hanger.
Repeat the process for the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position.
This is a very simple bike, brake cables and gear cables only take minutes to fit and adjust.
I’ve finished the bike with black cables and a black Turbo “Bernard Hinault” edition saddle. This bike isn’t pristine, perfect, immaculate or a wall hanger, it is used, the parts are used, but for a 30 year old bike, it is looking good and ready to ride again.