I have finished restoring Sophie’s handlebars. The final version has the original narrow drop bars wrapped with black cloth tape. I removed the safety levers from the brakes, and added brown hoods, and lastly, the bar ends are fitted with cork from wine bottles.
I seriously thought about replacing the handlebars with new, wider bars, but gave up on the idea. Wide bars simply do not match the aesthetic of the classic bicycle shape. They would be more comfortable, but new bars would be the beginning of a whole new cockpit since I’d have to get new brake levers as well. With new stem, handlebars, and brake levers, Sophie wouldn’t be the same bike that I rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles when I was in high school, and I really don’t like that idea.
Still, I am glad I tried the wide bar idea out. If I didn’t, I would always be thinking about them in the back of my mind.
Look! A new seat for Sophie. This saddle is from Retrospec, and I have a black one on Mango. I find it very comfortable, but unfortunately they don’t make them anymore. So when I stumbled across this white specimen, I ordered it right away. I think it goes well with the white cables, and would pair nicely with white handlebar tape. But I am going to try some black cloth tape and see how it looks. If the mismatch is too much to take, then I can even move my black saddle to Sophie, but I think the white looks fun and very 80s. 🤣
FYI, I am waiting on a new, wider set of handlebars for Sophie. Wider will be more comfy, but I’m worried that she’s becoming less vintage… So I’m having second thoughts and might just keep with the original narrow bars. We’ll see!
As for Rossa, I’ve ordered some new shoes (tires) for her and set her up with the frame bag and Sophie’s old seat. I think the Bianchi is looking good! Hopefully by this weekend she’ll have her new shoes and we can go for a spin.
You know, the white seat might look good on Rossa too since she has white cables and the large white Bianchi graphics. Maybe some cheap white handlebar grips and white pedals would look fun?
One thing I’ve learned while restoring my Peugeot bicycle is that the cast alloy stems used on many of the bicycles of that era are prone to catastrophic failure. In fact, they have the nickname “death stems”! With that in mind, I ordered a modern quill stem to replace my old one.
The old stem has a 22 mm diameter, but modern bicycles are 22.2 mm diameter so the new stem requires a little modification to make it work. Basically, you have to shave off that .2 mm using sandpaper or a file. I opted to use the file to quickly take off the extra width, then sandpaper to clean it up a bit.
Before putting the stem in the fork, I put a light coat of marine grease on it to prevent corrosion and make it easier to remove later.
The new stem has a handlebar clamp that will accommodate the common 25.4 mm handlebar size but my old handlebars are about 23 mm, so I thought about buying some new handlebars. For now, I will try these shims to fit the original bars to the new stem. I might buy wider bars in the future, but I’d also like to keep Sophie as close to original as possible.
Another advantage of the new stem is that it is a bit longer and I can position the handlebars a little higher making for a slightly more upright riding position.
I’m excited to ride with the new set up (as soon as the shims arrive)! It will be nice to be able to ride in the drops without the nagging thought of the stem breaking and crashing the bike.
Yesterday I reattached Sophie’s broken chain and it looked good as new (as good as a 50-year-old chain can look) so today I went for a ride. When the chain broke, I was shifting into the lowest gear while applying a good amount of pressure. I think that stress caused the chain link to pop out, so with that in mind, I was shifting very gently today. I’m happy to say that the chain was fine, and the shifting was almost flawless. 😀
I should probably replace the chain, as well as all the spokes, but I’m in no rush. The next thing on my list of to-dos for Sophie is to get some new handlebar tape. I’m just pleased that Sophie is back in action and performing nicely. I love that bike!
One thing that I am not in love with, but is a necessary evil, is the frame bag. It’s super convenient to carry my cellphone and camera, but it’s a huge eyesore, isn’t it? Maybe a nice vintage-looking chrome rack is in order. Hmmm…