Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Almost Reconstituted Follis
- 1962 Road Bike -

How strange it is to ride essentially the same bike, 47 years after I first climbed aboard.

Now my latest reworking of my first road bike -I'm the original owner, too - is almost complete. I was the recipient of my Uncle Sid's generosity when I was 14. My brother received an identical bike, and we were the first kids on the block to own 10 speeds.

Because I lived on the heights of the Santa Monica Mountains, above the Los Angeles Basin, the bike, with its low gearing, meant I had been given a certain amount of freedom to explore the world beyond my home.

The bike was probably a bit outdated technologically when I got it. Note the single down tube shifter, and the "suicide" shifter on the seat tube, the latter probably not much seen on road bikes by the 1960s.

I've flipped the brake cables, back to the way they were set up when the bike was new. The right hand now operates the front brake. At least in the U.S., this is opposite of the way most road bikes are set up. I've ridden the bike this way a couple of times now, and so far I've managed to remember it's all up to my right hand on the Follis if I need to make a sudden stop.

Having recently added the yellow cables, All that remains to do is replace a worn-out washer on the old Silca pump, and the bike will be ready to ride. I've even purchased some yellow-accented shorts which, along with a yellow jersey, should nicely complement the bike.

Still original: the frame, forks, AVA handlebars and AVA stem (later versions have been called the "Death Stem," but as mine has lasted since 1962, I'm not too worried), as well as the two shift levers and brakes.

The Suntour cranks and SR seatpost date to 1975, which is also when I had the white bike - with chrome forks - repainted. Perhaps one day I'll restore the paint job and chrome as closely as I can. I also need to figure out a way to stop the corrosion of the lugs. Any thoughts on what I can use?

The wheel set dates from the mid-1990s, built and purchased from a local bike shop run by an old Frenchman. He loved my bike. The Shimano six-speed freewheel and simplex rear derailleur are of unknown vintage; they were purchased in 2008 at the wonderful Pullins Cyclery shop, in Chico, California.

The Specialized Phenom saddle is about a year old, the yellow cables, yellow-accented Serfas tires, MKS pedals, and ALE toe clips are new (although I often switch the old-style pedals out for modern Egg Beaters), and the seat bag is new, too.

I purchased the rear derailleur, freewheel and a smaller inner chainring a year ago - the bike is geared now at 48/39 and 12-28, which lets me climb all but the steepest slopes. The weight of the bike is about 24.5 pounds.

The old Follis and I have been on many adventures together. Sometimes I rode it to high school and it went college with me. Because I put a narrow range of gears on it, best suited for flat roads, I largely left the bike alone for many years, which was an unpardonable mistake. Now, with it's new gearing, I try to rotate the Follis with my other bikes. It's a grand bike, with its weird amalgamation of the old and the new, and it is once again able to take on the hills or a 100 mile ride.

1 comment:

Dr. Biggles said...

Hey mang, clean lugs with ammonia. Then apply car wax vigorously with an old toothbrush, several coats. Wipe off with rag and buff. Says old bike thug friend of mine.