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Ben Folsom
Rules 5 and 9
Rules 5 and 9

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1982 Trek 728: First look

In keeping with my personal preferences for old bikes and comic-book-collector mentality for completeness, I have acquired a 1982 Trek 728 touring bike. This bike is the progenitor of the famous Trek 720 touring bike, marketed between 1983 and 1985 (and NOT the current, failure-prone aluminum Trek 720 'credit card touring' bike, which owes nothing to the classic 720). In 1982, '720' was the designator for the 'frameset-only,' while 728 was the designator for the built bike.

Like the majority of my other old bikes, I acquired this bike on eBay and it was priced to jump into my stable (this one was a steal at five bones). The frame, from the materials (Reynolds 531 steel tubing) to the geometry to the color, is virtually identical to the 1982 Trek 620.

The buildout is quite different, with this bike having Huret derailers (including the famous/infamous Eco Duopar rear) and a traditional SunTour freewheel. In the case of the former, the Huret rear mech will be replaced with a SunTour V-GT, VX-GT or Cyclone Mk-II, and the rear wheel will be replaced with one on the Helicomatic standard. This bike also comes with the classic SunTour barcon bar-end shifters. At this time I am undecided as to whether I will keep them or convert the bike to downtube shifters. Ease of disassembling and shipping the bike will be the significant factor in this decision (more on this below).

This bike is now first in line for the standard overhaul/restoration treatment, it will be my ride for the summer 2017 bike tour, wherever that takes me.

I now have 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 Trek touring bikes.
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1989 Schwinn World Sport: The Last Ride

As with Twin Turbine A, so goes Twin Turbine B aka Will.

The boy is now fully ensconced in his new bike, a 1984 Trek 520, that bike has been in effect now for eight months, and his first road bike, the 1989 Schwinn World Sport, has sat idle with no rider. Time to spruce it up and send it to its next owner.

Like Josh's bike, I would not be sending this sold bike forward with its upgraded parts. If perchance the next owner of this bike gets the bug and wants to know more, perhaps he or she and I can talk about upgrades, for now I will hedge that this bike will not be ridden as much or as hard the next four years as it has the last four, and therefore I will keep the higher-quality parts for myself. Details:

* The SunTour Cyclone Mk-II front derailer came off and was replaced with the original SunTour Accushift Alpha-3000 front derailer. I would call this original front derailer 'serviceable.'

* The SunTour Cyclone Mk-II rear derailer came off and was replaced with the original SunTour Accushift Alpha-3040 rear derailer. I would refer to this original derailer as a 'derailer-shaped object.'

* The SunTour Power ratcheting downtube shifters came off and were replaced with the original SunTour Accushift stem-mount shifters. I was once enamored of the Power shifters, but no longer. They went into the trash.

* I replaced the 90's-vintage black and white camo bar tape with new plain black.

Before Will could take it for a ride, Young Master wanted to ride it first. It is comically large for him, yet he shows his chops by executing perfect CX-style mount and dismount. With his neck tat and cutoff shirt, he looks like someone you do not want to mess with. Will then rode it up and down the street one more time, a big smile on his face. I know he will miss this bike.

Like Josh's bike, this bike will be held for a possible West Potomac High School Bike Club, it will be used for rides and maintenance lessons, and if it selects a club member, may ride home with him or her.

I have enjoyed taking care of this bike the last four years, and seeing my boy take to the activity and make the bike such a part of his life that imagining him without it is tough, even eight months since he got a bike that actually fits him.
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1986 Nishiki Century: The Last Ride

If I were given to poetry and profundities, I would wax eloquent on the inclusive and generational nature of bike culture: We learn from others on gear handed down, master the gear and pass it on. I would then ponder the infinite in a discussion of Turbine A's aka Josh's old bike, his 1986 Nishiki Century and how The Time Had Come for that bike to find a new home.

Alas there are more pragmatic paradigms in play, and those are space in the Bike Shed and marital harmony. I am running out of the former and need to make some space to ensure the latter. In fact, the missus only signed off on the last bike acquisition with the proviso that I eliminate unneeded bikes.

Regular readers will recall that Josh's bike was getting in pretty poor shape by spring of last year. It was almost four years old at that point and the boy had ridden it hard, culminating in the inner limit screw on the Shimano 600 Arabesque rear derailer coming loose, allowing the derailer to drop into the spokes and be torn off into a million pieces. I slapped a SunTour V-GT I had lying around on there, it was just a band-aid on a poorly-maintained bike, the victim of a large family fleet with but a single fleet manager and limited space to work while we were out of the house and in the nearby condo for the renovation.

With the debut of the Josh's 1984 Trek 520 in June 2016, this bike was officially retired. Today I put it on the stand to prep it for the next phase of its journey. Details:

* The Shimano 600 Arabesque downtube shifters came off and the original Shimano Light Action stem-mount shifters went back on the bike.

* The Shimano 600 Arabesque front derailer came off and the original Shimano Light Action front derailer went back on.

* The SunTour V-GT rear derailer, itself a replacement for the shattered Shimano 600 Arabesque rear mech, came off and was replaced by the original Shimano Light Action rear derailer.

* The Avocet Touring I saddle, a replacement for the original Nishiki-branded Vetta that was falling apart, was losing its leather cover, so I replaced it with an Avocet Touring WII from stock. I also swapped out the replacement SR Laprade 26.6 fluted seatpost for the original smooth steel shaft. The glamour photo shows the saddle is tilted back, this was corrected after the photo shoot.

* The dirty, old white bar tape came off and was replaced by silver Fizik form stock. The glamour shot shows the right brake lever is lower than the left, this happened as the lever body came loose over time, and Josh never wanted me to even them up, this was corrected after the photo shoot.

Josh wanted to take the bike for one more ride, he looks like a giant on it. Just wait until I can dig up the first photos of him on this bike and compare.

Going forward, I am in the early stages of trying to establish a new bike club at their high school (more on this later), and this bike, along with Turbine B's refreshed bike, will be available for club use and possible adoption.

Next time you see this bike on G+, someone else will be riding it. Thank you for everything, 1986 Nishiki Century, you were a great bike for Joshy and he and I will never for get you.
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1982 Trek 311: The single-speed project

This was not in the plan.

I got a guy at the LBS, he helps me on my high-toned problems, including most recently rebuilding Turbine B's aka Will's rear wheel. This guy, he calls me, he calls me up and he says there's an old Trek frame in 22.5 inches at the shop with my name on it if I want. I tell him I will be down in the morning. At this point I have no idea.

Yesterday I head down there, my mechanic guy hands me a frameset, old Trek, 22.5 inches, heavily sanded down with a non-matching fork with threadless steerer and threadless headset. Turns out it is his frameset, he had acquired a while back and had planned to build it up but never did. He knew one guy that would take an old Trek and give it a good home, he wanted no money but did accept the twelve beers I customarily bring to the shop every time I do business there. There was one caveat, though:

The derailer hanger has been hacked off.

So it's a single speed project. I have wanted to do a single-speed project for years at this point, hard to find a better option than an old Trek with no derailer hanger.

My guy did not know the year and model, but the serial number was still visible, I tracked it back on the Trek Vintage website to 1982, a model 311, that was a 'multi-purpose sport' bike, a stripped-down unit with down-scale parts and no bottle cage mounts.

Speaking of stripped, the frame has been sanded, but not completely. The original silver paint is present in some places, heavily chipped. The fork is not original, it is a Fuji, with an unthreaded one-inch steerer and Stronglight roller bearing headset. The wheel size is 27-inch / 630 BSD.

This one does not move to the front of the line, not even to the middle, but it is on the list. Single speed, so I guess it's time to get a tattoo.
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1982 Trek 311: Well, that was unexpected

I am running out of taglines for these collections.
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1984 Trek 520 (Turbine B): Brother's bike, too

Continuing the presentation of some older content that has not yet made it to collections...

The Twin Turbines are, well, twins, and while they are no longer the exact same size, for bike-fit purposes, they are. Turbine B aka Will received a 19-inch / 48 cm 1989 Schwinn World Sport when he was ten, at that time it was so large on him he could barely ride it and by this time a year ago, just before turning 14, he was much too tall for it. So I went out to eBay and picked up a pair of 21-inch / 54 cm 1984 Trek 520's, one was a complete bike, the other was a frameset. Turbine A aka Josh got the complete bike, Will got the DIY kit.

I had nearly everything I needed to get this bike on the road, and acquired the rest quickly, my goal was to spec the bike as close to original buildout as possible. There was some urgency to the project, as spring was here and they were riding frequently. The bike came together quickly, and while it is imminently rideable (in good enough shape for Will to ride it 65 miles in October at Sea Gull Century), it needs some work, and this bike is first in line of the in-use fleet for a complete tuneup.

These photos are split into two groups. The first was immediately after I finished the build back in June, I grabbed those photos while Will was in the drug store picking up Arizona tea and candy for his friends, the second set was taken today, the more traditional Folsom bike glamour shots.

Details of the bike:

* In the first place, this bike was a legit frameset, with a frame and fork but no headset. I found the original headset, a Stronglight B10 Hinault, on eBay. This is a roller bearing headset, with cylindrical rather than spherical bearings. The bearings are in a conical plastic cartridge and rest against conical floating race plates above and below, such that the bearings do not actually contact the insides of the headset cups. This headset has plastic 'Delrin' top and bottom cups, with metal spacers and lockrings.

* For the drivetrain, I managed to find an original crankset, though the chainrings did not match the spec sheet. This SR (Sakae Ringyo) CR crankset is a 52-40-28 'stair step' crank, while the original spec is a 50-45-28 half-step-plus-granny. This crank has a very cool-looking spiral design in the spider and the chainrings.

* I tried to put a SunTour Cyclone Mk-II front derailer on the bike, to match the spec, and here is where I learned the riddle of the vintage triple.

While the touring derailers of the day accommodated and double and half-step triples easily, these old derailers have a hard time with stair-step triples. The Cyclone would not shift into the middle ring, and continued shifting causes the chain to skip over the middle ring to the outer ring. I was not able to tune this out.

I did some homework and learned from Sheldon Brown that this behavior is typical of gear of the day, this appears to be a main reason for the existence of half-step triples.

So I went back out to eBay and procured a Shimano Deore DX triple clamp-on derailer. This is a 1990-vintage derailer and with its beefier cage handles the middle ring shifts perfectly.

* For the rear derailer, I pulled a SunTour VX-GT out of stock, this mech handles the 14-28 freewheel combined with the large-range crank very well.

* Speaking of freewheel, this bike came with no wheels, I found a set of wheels on eBay matching the original spec: Trek Matrix Titan rims laced to Maillard Helicomatic hubs, with a 14-28 Helicomatic freewheel. Between the first and second sets of photos, the rear wheel started to come out of true, the spoke nipples were rusted to the point where I could not adjust them, so my guy down at the LBS rebuilt the wheel, original rim, new DT Swiss spokes and nipples.

* For the brakes, I deviated from original spec and pulled out a set of Shimano BR-MC70 classic cantilevers out of stock, I love these old brakes, installed with a headset-mount cable stop and Kool-Stop Eagle 2 salmon pads.

* For the saddle, I used an Avocet Touring W, the 'women's' version of the classic Touring I saddle, slightly shorter and wider while being the same firmness as the standard Touring I, mounted to a spec-match SR Laprade 27.2 mm fluted seatpost.

* I did not have a stock set of shifters around at the time, so I installed a set of SunTour Power ratcheting shifters. When I got religion on downtube shifters, I acquired a bunch of these off eBay, they are cheap and plentiful, now that I have installed them on two bikes, I have changed my opinion and I do not like them. The ratcheting washer has a tendency to strip and the shifters do not stay tight. These will come off the bike at tuneup and be replaced by a set of Cyclone shifters.

* Will had first pick of the bar tape, as it took his bike longer to hit the road and as you can see from the photos, the bike is cosmetically less pleasing than brother's. It has some rust spots and nicks on the frame and some of the decals are rubbing off. He elected for orange.

Of the twins, Will is the more aggressive rider, though Josh seems to be more of the long hauler. He is very comfortable on this bike and I look forward to tuning it up for him. He is not in danger of outgrowing this bike in as short order as his twin brother, though I expect he will hit his brother's eventual height, what with them being identical twins and all. Good thing dad is lousy with 22.5-inch Treks.
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1984 Trek 520 (Turbine A): It became a bike

Catching up on some older content that did not make it to the collection, this is Josh's aka Twin Turbine A's new/current bike.

For those following the Turbine Times, Josh used to ride a red 19-inch / 48 cm 1986 Nishiki Century, he had that bike for about four years from age 10 to age 14, it went from comically too large for him to comically too small.

I went out to eBay and bought two 21-inch / 54 cm 1984 Trek 520's, one for each boy, Josh got the complete bike, while the other brother got a frameset to be built up. Josh's bike was in good shape and did not get the complete overhaul/restoration treatment, just detail work. It was completed in June and Josh rode it one hundred miles with me at Sea Gull Century in October.

Details of the bike:

* Like the other Trek touring bikes of the day, this bike has the Stronglight Hinault headset. This headset, which I also have on three bikes myself, has cylindrical roller, or 'needle,' bearings, rather than spherical bearings. These bearings are locked into conical cartridge rings. Conical floating race plates sit above and below the roller bearing ring, so the bearings themselves do not come into contact with the permanent headset cups. This bike has the B10 version, which had plastic (marketed as 'Delrin,' a DuPont-trademarked plastic) upper and lower cups, with metal rings and locknut. The major drawback for these headsets, according to the reading, is handling under load, Josh is still lightweight compared to an adult and has not put any weight on the bike. From my personal experience, these headsets are really nice and smooth.

* The crankset is an SR (Sakae Ringyo) CR, it is a very fast-looking crank with a spiral design to the rings and spider. This stock crankset is a 50-45-28 half-step-plus-granny. This is in contrast to Turbine B's bike, which got the same crankset, but with different rings.

* The derailers are stock, SunTour Cyclone Mk-II, my all-time favorite derailers. There was only one front model, and it works well with the half-step crank.

* The hubs and freewheel are Helicomatic, all stock original on the bike, 14-28. All told, the Folsoms now have six bikes on the Helicomatic standard.

* The stock Avocet Touring saddle (the spec sheet incorrectly indicates 'Avocet leather sport') was not in good shape, so I removed it and replaced it with a period-correct Avocet Touring W. This was the women's model, it is the same firmness, slightly shorter and wider in the rear. I have several of these in the Bike Shed and they are essentially expendable. When Josh gets heavy enough to merit real saddle consideration, I have a selection of dad-approved Brooks, Avocet and Selle Italia saddles for him.

* Like all touring bikes of the day (and up to current models, with V-brakes and disc brakes in the mix as well), this bike has cantilever brakes, these are the stock Dia Compe 960's, I like them very much. Of course, cantis require a cable stop, and this bike came with the combo front-reflector-with-cable-stop. I did not have a headset-mount accessory cable stop lying around (well actually I did, but only one and it went on Turbine B's bike, which while the same model was a build-up) so it stays for now. The final form of Josh's touring bike will have headlamps and a handlebar bag mount, obviating the need for the reflector, but it is unlikely I will need to change it on this bike (see below).

* The shifters are SunTour LD-3300, these appear to be non-groupset shifters that are in line with contemporary Cyclone 2nd gen, Superbe and Blue Line shifters. These are among my favorite shifters because they are as smooth as the Cyclones, but have a downtube band that is easier to mount than the Cyclone shifters. These shifters have a mounting bolt on the rear of the band, so you just spread the band, mount and tighten, as opposed to the 'paint scraper' Cyclones, which have the band-tightening mechanism integrated under the shifter mounts. For these, the shifter assemblies and mount are separate, for the Cyclones, they are all integrated, making mounting and dismounting a pain.

* Josh got the blue bar tape, as Will had first choice (because his bike was not as cosmetically pleasing).

While Josh's first road bike lasted nearly four years, this, his second, may not last more than a year. He is growing like a damn weed and is almost as tall as I am, his legs are already at grownup length but the pubescent geometry of his torso and arms make a smaller bike a better fit. It will not be long before he is ready to level up to dad's 22.5-inch size, which makes it a good thing I have stocked up on bikes and frames in that size.
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1982 Trek 728: On the horizon

Sometimes it is difficult to tell if it is the simple love of a classic American touring bike, or a crippling addiction that can never be satisfied.
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Your mod on duty, 14 Feb 2017

Morning all, I have been away from the community for some time now, I am back in effect and mod on duty for the day, if you have comments, concerns, input or requests, please drop them in comments or PM me on the side.

I wanted to address a couple of things relevant to our members and membership, this is notwithstanding anything else any of our outstanding mods or members may have written on similar topics.

1. Membership surge. Mods and active members know that the community has been deluged the past few months with new member requests. The Plus continues to focus on Communities and Collections as key use drivers, and it is clear Bike Commuting has made it onto some list(s) of 'recommended communities.' Although I have been away since November, I still receive an email notification every time someone requests to join Bike Commuting. My records indicate the membership surge started sometime in the second week of November and continues to this day. When I logged in this morning, there were 26 new member requests waiting, this after I cleared open requests late last night. While I was vetting the existing 26, two new ones arrived, and I am certain more have arrived as I write this post.

The mods are working hard to ensure requests are vetted so as to keep the tenor and topicality of the community. While we do not have a membership litmus test per se, if I pop over to your profile and see literally no indication you have even a passing interest in bike commuting or transport cycling, you are rejected. Since coming back to active modding last week, I have evaluated well over a hundred requests, accepting none. The current surge of member requests is dragging in profiles that are empty, full of spam, or filled with posts and disparate community memberships that put me off. We are not in a membership drive, we have no interest in increasing membership numbers artificially, and as the Fish Speakers of Bike Commuting, the mods are zealous of protecting the useful and social dialogue we have. And as anyone that has ever modded a group or had to manage individual inputs of large groups into collaborative efforts, a dollar of prevention is worth ten dollars in eradicating weak input.

I invite comment or any other relevant input or experience from the community. If there is anyone reading this that believes they have been rejected unfairly, please PM me and we can discuss. We are not out to exclude anyone, we are out to keep the discussion topical and social.

2. Content. We recently lost a long time member over posting of content another mod and I agreed was not relevant to the community. These are very political times and I am committed not to let the cause and interests of the BC in general and the BCC in specific be seen as partisan in nature. Reasonable people can disagree on substance, and when we do, those disagreements should be relevant to the arena of our shared interest. I do not want to see off-topic and partisan stuff up here. You have your own page and can find a brazilian other communities out there for your political and special-interest stuff.

If there are members or content that you feel violates this standard, please tag a mod, or me personally. The mods have our own side venue for discussing everything from philosophy down to your grammer, if you tag one of us, it will get addressed.

Taken together, here is what these two things mean for the community:

* There is no wall and no membership ban, however there is a vetting process. This community is inclusive to the extent it is obvious from your profile that bike commuting and transport cycling are of topical interest to you. If you do not pass that test, you will have to try harder to get in.

* We are not censoring your input, however if you post too far off-topic, or post material that could reasonably be seen as overtly political or partisan, we will ask you to reconsider or take it down.

If anyone has questions, comment or would like to discuss in greater detail, drop a comment or PM me.


That's me this morning riding in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. When you are a year-round bike commuter, the weather is a fact, not a factor.

I love riding my bike to work.

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The good kind of problems to have

IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the self-professed "world's largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences," has a real hard-on for self-driving motor vehicle technology. Five hours ago they ran a story called 'The 2578 Problems with Self-Driving Cars' (ref. 1), detailing all the reported cases of autonomous testing vehicles requiring human intervention. If you read that piece, as well as the linked piece on self-driving cars and bicycles, you will read in it the snark and high standards of the engineering community. They are not against self-driving cars per se, they are simply hammering hard at the limitations of the technology in an effort to set it free or bury it as not practical. That is what engineers do.

Yesterday they ran the linked piece on challenges the underlying navigational technologies face in identifying and handling bicycles and cyclists on the road. It is a good read and gives a good live-look into the state of the technology as it relates to those of us for whom the bike is a principal mode of transport.

And here is the bottom line: Even in the current imperfect state of bicycle-detection in autonomous vehicle navigation technology, rolling out this technology now would save lives and reduce cyclist injuries.


To summarize the piece, autonomous navigation technologies (ANT's) are getting really good at identifying vehicles, but not as good at spotting pedestrians and bicycles. This is because pedestrians and cyclists are not uniform in appearance or movement compared to cars, and can act unpredictably when compared to cars.

Of course these are principal complaints of the motor vehicle driver community as well. Why this is the case is something reasonable people can debate. Is it because drivers do not respect the rule of law when it comes to cyclists? Or is it the cyclists that do not? I digress.

While it not clear in the piece, I have surmised that the risk to cyclists vis a vis ANT's will be directly proportional to the cyclist's behavior in traffic. In other words, take the lane and be visible and uncertainty in treatment by an ANT decreases, while riding the gutter and darting through moving traffic increases that uncertainty. I will always gamble on the ability of an ANT to see what is directly in front of it better than an object coming in from a side vector.

As those familiar with my philosophy know, the world I strive for is one where all road users observe the rule of law, and I am not disrespected or put at risk for exerting my right to the lane on what usually happens to be a slower, 'different' conveyance from the road majority or motor vehicles.

If we are all sharing the same lane, then we do not have to worry about a driver or an ANT hitting me in a right hook from the main lane across the bike lane. This is another way of reiterating the idea that creating parallel infrastructure on the roads creates navigation challenges that neither our human nor machine overlord driver education programs take into account.

So if we could all just share the lane, that would be great.
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