Tweed, haggis and bicycles

We went to Scotland, the lowlands and Edinburgh was our destination. A few days in April filled with tweed, bicycles, haggis and drinks. You always hear about rainy Scotland and the cold weather. But for us this time, it was like any sun vacation around the Mediterranean sea. Sunny, warm and very nice weather. The days was focused on tweed safari, visiting Harris Tweed shops, Walker Slater, woollen mill outlets. Observing ladies and gentlemen using tweed as everyday cloths. We were amazed by the natural way so many used tweed jackets, suits, coats, skirts, scarfs, hats and caps. They where not going by the rules of the modern fashion icons. They all used their own mind to create a look that represents the person instead of being a follower of fashion. Just sitting outside in the sunshine at an pub located at Grass market, looking at the display of all people waling by was real treat. Almost as an cat walk. Sadly the weather forcast told us that it would be rainy and cold upon arrival. So I decided not to use my own Harris Tweed. That was a bad mistake. Since the spring had arrived, the birds was singing and trees was blooming. A tweed jacket had been the right choice! Edinburgh is a town build upon hills. Streets, stairs, up and down. Having a tea in Princess street gardens, a glass of locally brewed ale at Tollbooth tavern on Canongate or trying a small Whiskey at an pub on Cowgate. A nice town with lots of atmosphere and things to see, parks to visit and steep streets to walk. There were bicycles to, the regular ones. But there were some interesting ones standing here and there. Among others there was a display outside a coffee shop. British roadster, all original with rear coil springs and a front loop leather seat. Rod brakes and a delivery carrier mounted in the front. Then we had the rat bicycle, fat tires, a Sögreni style chain guard. Down turned handlebars. But many bicycles we noticed was used as commercial. The best example was of the rusty worn old racer that was commercial for a repair centre where then learn you how to repair things (sadly not bicycles, more furnitures). What about the food? Haggis, the traditional dish. It is served everywhere. Traditional with  “neeps and tatties” or with breakfast along the sausages, beans, tomatoes and eggs. Why not try it as a burger? There is all kinds of serving haggis. We found one place that served the haggis burger with the option of sausages on top. That was a bit to much for us. We settled with “bangers and mash”, fish and chips or one of all pies. But the Scotch egg is a real treat! So strange, but so perfect. It is an hard boiled egg placed inside a layer of sausage meat, then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. Absolutely delicious! Now I must make some Scotch eggs for the Bike in Tweed event. In short, it was a good visit. It was 4 years since last visit to the Great Britain, but my first visit in Scotland. Will I return? Tweed, haggis and bicycles? Of course! But the next time I will use my tweed jacket. DSCF7166_sch IMG_5675_sch

Tweed and bicycles

The theme for 2015 will be tweed and bicycles.

First up is the result of a long time of designing, thinking and putting together a sort of retro/vintage/classic-looking bicycle. It is made of different part from different brands. But the main part is the frame and that ids made by Pelago in Helsinki, so I guess that makes it an Pelago racer. It turned out really nice, the black paint, chrome parts and gold details. I have mentioned it earlier in many different posts. But now it is finished and been out for a test run. The fist impressions are that is is a quick and light weight bicycle. There are some small issues that needs to be adjusted, bolts to be tightened, adjusting the chain and raising saddle and handlebars.

But first, tweed! Later this summer there is a visit to Edinburgh planned for me and a friend. While we are there we will eat haggis, drink beer (perhaps a small whiskey to) and see the town. But more interesting and tweed related, we will take a train ride up to the highlands to look for Harris Tweed cloths. Perhaps I will buy a suit or at least a pair of trousers and a waistcoat that matches the jacket I already got. Then a lunch at the local pub. It will be an interesting journey, I guess there will be a post about the travel to be found later on here on Schneebremse blogg. Complete with images and describing photos of the scenery.

Why this obsession with Harris Tweed? Well that is a difficult question. But the short and simple answer might be that tweed is a classic, durable, great looking cloth. Also the brown Harris Tweed in herringbone pattern coat I got from my father when I was a teenager. He bought the coat at Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm in the mid -60’s. He used it back then, but later on it ended up in an closet. When I got it in my teens, the fashion was a bit different. Everyone was using leg warmers and pink slacks or leather jackets with studs. But I used to walk around dressed in suit trousers, white shirt, dark tie and a tweed coat. Of course I had a black umbrella with a bamboo handle when it was raining.  Mind you, this was in the mid -80’s. I guess I was rather along looking odd, dressed like that (sadly no photos exists from that era). But I liked it. It was long before it became “hip” or “cool” to dress like that. After all, one of my biggest heroes at the time was Harry Palmer.
By unfortunate events I lost the coat but before that I got different tweed jacket from different brand. It was in a dogtooth pattern, almost in a black and white “op” pattern style with a lovely ox blood red lining. I used the jacket so much that it literally was falling to pieces many years later. By then I bought a three piece suite in a red-brown herringbone pattern, yellow lined, Donegal Tweed from Ireland. I used it a few times, but never got around to really enjoy it since it was slightly to small.
After that I went back to the Harris Tweed brand by buying a “stock” pre-made jacket in grey herringbone pattern. Now I had found my way back, it feels just right. Perfect fit and the nice contact with the retailer made the jacket a really good purchase.
It all starts and ends with Harris Tweed from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

So travelling with train to the Scottish highlands in tweed, buying more tweed is either pure madness, or it can turn out to be a great event and a lovely experience.

Back to the bicycle for a moment. The idea was to replicate an 1930’s path racer bicycle. The style of the turned down handlebars, clean design and “less is more” attitude. I think I got it right, it do not look like any other bicycle on the market today. Not like this. I think I got it right.

Let us go straight to the facts about the new bicycle. Here is an approximately price what I paid for all parts. There might be errors all over, so see it as a rough guide and not as an exact list. I was not aiming for the cheep parts, I just bought the ones that I wanted and had the best design in my opinion. The parts was bought over a long period of time. In the end the total price is about 670 Euro, but I like to adjust it up to 700 just to be safe. It feels more accurate that way.

After it being completed, the weight are 14.3 kilos.

Bike in Tweed 2015, here we go

Parts  Brand Price S/H Total
 Break (front) Cavo, bought at an auction  12  6  18
Grips NOS from -50’s 15 4 19
Grease Mirum 8 8
Frame Pelago Bristol “classic” 275 25 300
Pedals Sylvan Touring Silver 35 35
Saddle Ideale 80 42 6 48
Handlebar NOS from -50’s 7 4 11
Cranks (no name from Australia) 15 6 21
Stem NOS from -70’s 10 4 14
Chain Classic cycle (gold) 18 17 35
Saddle post n/a Bought from a friend, 160
Tires / tubes Swalbe Delta cruiser (same as above)
Wheels / hubs Van Schothorst / Shimano (same as above)
 Total, 669€

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The Pelago Path Racer

Well, I am afraid that I will spoil the big surprise by posting this.

As you know there are one project that I have been working on for a long time. Many other projects has crossed my way since I started searching for parts to my “project”. But now, at last it is finally complete. You might know after reading and following my blog that I, for a long time had an vision to have a old bicycle. But since old bicycles often are in need of constant service, and even sometimes are rare and expensive (I know since I have vintage bicycles too). That made me look for all sorts of modern bicycle brands and models. I realized quickly that modern ones did not quite cut the mustard for me in either design, style or”feel”. After a long search on internet I found that the Finnish made Pelago bicycles was the ones I was looking for. More specific the model the calls “Bristol”. It is a classical looking bicycle in a roadster style, black colour, nice details in lugs and frame work, simple but still vintage looking. While I was looking around and searching I noticed the Pashely Guvnor and was hooked right away by the design of the “path racer” from the -30’s. I started to think how the Guvnor was made, designed and found out that it was just a regular frame slightly changed and modified, but was still keeping the standard look.
I could not stop thinking of the great style of the Path racers and the way Pashely made the Govnor.
After a while I decided to simply build one myself. I just needed a good frame to start with. I started more and more to like the look of an path racer with the turned down handlebars, no mud guards, no chain guard. A really fast looking one, but made with vintage parts. I decided to give it a go and that I would go all the way with this one. It was going to be 100% perfect in my taste. I had time on my hands so there was no rush. The deadline was set so I could enter the Bike in Tweed event for 2014. The Pashely Guvnor was a great inspiration in all the process. But I wanted something different. Something in a more “less is more” style or simply in “my” style. But sadly I could not attend the 2014 event. So everything was put on ice for a moment.
After listening and talking to people I found out that there was going to be an 2015 event of Bike in Tweed. Then I suddenly got about a year to build and finish it to the 2015 event. That became my new goal!

Last summer I visited Pelago while I was on vacation in Helsinki. They was very kind and helped me out with the frame, I also bought the pedals at the Pelago shop (so to be honest the bicycle started out as a pair of pedals). I later bought front and back wheels from a friend that had a set of brand new wheels in spare, he also had an seat post that fitted the Pelago frame that I bought. The saddle, the complete front break system, handlebars and the grips was found on internet auctions.
The stem was an adventure by it self. I found a special made one in United Kingdom that I bought. But that one did not fit the look at all, so I found a old one I had in a locker down in the cellar. That one fitted like a charm. The bell comes from UK and has a lovely tone. I found the crank set in Australia, the chain are from Germany, so are the tires and tubes.
It is an truly international bicycle. But in a European style, perhaps even a Nordic style. So I collected parts for about 6 months for this bicycle, time was not an issue. I had more than a year to get it ready.

Now it is done!

I will present the bicycle better as soon as the winter turns in to spring and the weather is nicer. It is a user bicycle, but I like to take good photos in good conditions. But for now, here is a photo from the hallway. I will also present all the bicycles. It is getting rather confusing now with all projects. At least it is confusing for me.

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Happening in white

Today when I was down in the basement, searching for some old books I had in storage there. While I was there I took a look at the old Monark bicycle that I re-build earlier a few months ago. The one that was going to be the “silver arrow racer”. That I was going to build but never got around to do it. I had to move the white Monark out of the way to access the drawer with all the books. When I was going to put the bicycle back I got the idea of checking out the air in the tires. I remember the seller telling me that the bicycle needed new tires and tubes since there was no air in them. But after filling the tubes with air at the time of the re-build earlier. It was still air in the tubes today! The ires are bad, but that has to do with that they are rather inexpensive. But they do their job. Then I got a silly idea.
Why not try the Monark out, just to see if all parts are in place and works as they should.

I brought it out on to the street and looked at it in the sunlight. Well, to be honest. It is a bit scruffy and dirty. But it sure is a looker. There is a certain “cool” look about the old bicycle. If it was a car it would perhaps be called a sleeper. Beaten up, but a real racer underneath. First I started by putting my right trouser leg inside of my sock. We used to do back when I was a kid. After all, I have no chain guard, so a trouser leg fluttering in the wind might be problems waiting to happen. So with my trousers securely tucked in my sock I mounted the bicycle and put the right foot on the pedal and pushed away.

I need to mention that the streets here are now covered with a layer of snow and ice. Also the tires on the Monark is old, inexpensive summer tires. The first thing that happened was that the rear wheel started to spin when I pushed away, no traction at all. But with some technique and routine from the youth when I was riding bicycles all year around I quickly got some speed. The ride felt really nice, a but bit unusual  for me with the low handlebar position. Last time I had a racer bicycle was about 24 years ago (that one was scrapped after a nasty fall in high speed). So it was a simple matter of adjusting the riding position for me, riding low, riding fast. The saddle is a bit worn, so I am thinking of replacing it with an Brooks saddle I have laying around. It could be great. It was fun to suddenly after so many years remember how to ride a bicycle in snow again. Skidding along the road with those cheep low profile tires, making rear wheel braking into a action filled event.

I am looking forward to this summer, I will ride the Monark often. Just for fun!
But I realized that I had completely forgotten about the headlight. I was planning to fix it so it did not need a dynamo to get the light going. I was thinking of building in a battery inside the headlight housing. It was a really cheep lamp so if it breaks, no big problem. But the Monark looks really great with that big head light mounted. So now in the winter it is a perfect time to try to solve that puzzle.

After trying the bicycle for a short time. I took a photo of it so I could write a new post for you readers. After all, it was a long time I wrote here. I am sorry for that. But it is winter here in Sweden. Snow and ice are not so great for bicycles. Let us be honest. It is more fun to ride along in the summer and to take photos with old cameras.

By the way, I heard a rumour earlier. It was one of the Bike In Tweed organisers that talked about the event this year. They are thinking of having it at the regular date, that is the  first (or second) weekend in October as it was before. That is just great! Let us all hope for great weather so all nice bicycles and owners will be there this year. See you there perhaps?

 

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A ride in the snow

Today I took a ride on the Pelago that I have, the one with three gears. It was such a nice weather this morning. The sun was shining, only a few degrees below zero, birds was singing. A lovely day for sure! I took a ride to the place where I always take photos of my bicycles just for fun, adding a winter photo to the collection. I am leaning the bicycle against the same tree every time I am there and takes a photo. Just for fun. A sad note is that I will most likely sell the Pelago to a friend, he want to buy a good bicycle that will last him many years. He has currently an old Swedish army bicycle that he never uses. Because it is so heavy to use, with no gears and a frame that are made of solid iron (it feels like that anyway). The tires comes straight from an old tractor or somethi9ng like that. I mentioned to him that I have this black Pelago bicycle and I am not really to happy with the gearing (I am used to only one gear and finds 3 gears a bit to much, “less is more” so to speak). Perhaps I will take his army bicycle and fix it up to original condition. It would be a fun project. We will see how it all turns out.

As I was sliding along in the snow I was thinking of the fact that tomorrow is new years eve!
Then the year 2014 is over and we are entering 2015, a new year!

It feels strange in a way. After all, it was only a few weeks ago I mentioned “Bike in Tweed”, right? It can not be a whole year ago?! Anyway, a year ago I was going on about how I really wanted to be a part of the Bike in Tweed event next year (this year 2014). How I got an tandem bicycle and everything around that bicycle with my attempt to fix it up. Only so I could enter the tweed event. Then got other bicycles that I was also fixing up in time for the tweed event. But due to some odd planning I could never join the tweed event.
I remember the disappointment I felt when I realized that it all went down the drain with my planning.

But soon, really soon it will be 2015 and I will make a new attempt to join the tweed dressed people in a bicycle ride around Stockholm. This time I will not make any promises. But I can say that I will really try the hardest to be there next year!

Since of the renovating of “lady blue” last winter and the tandem bicycle this summer. I am currently having 2 more projects in the cellar that you have been reading about. It is the old Monark bicycle that I will build into a “ride-for-fun” bicycle. I will try to make it as good as possible, I realize that the style is not going to be typical like the 30-50’s era. But it will be a reliable racer with a very own style. Then I still have the Pelago frame with all parts that I have bought. I am trying to bring together to a retro path racer, also as you might have been reading about earlier. How that one will turn out, well that is a different question. All parts and so on is a quite a challenge to bring together. Or at least put it all together so it all fits in a good way.

I realize that I might have taken a chance with that project. But I will try to complete it as good as I can.  It will be an expensive and complicated learning experience. But fun! So far I have learned lots of things I did not know about bottom brackets and the different styles of taps, cranks and all those other things. Things you never think about when riding a new bicycle that you bought. Especially for me that in all times have been mending and fixing old bicycles that was made in the 40’s. The Pelago is brand new, using brand new components and techniques.

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I hope both projects will be completed until the “Bike in Tweed” event in September 2015. Then I have 4 or even 5 bicycles hanging around. The question is what bicycle I ride, but also who will ride the others. I hope that the blond girl would like to ride “Lady blue”, she said it would be fun. But she needs a tweed dress, in a weak moment of confusion. I said that I would help her to find a dress. But I have no clue of where to find a vintage tweed dress in her size. Or in any size of that matter. I know where she can find new made dresses in tweed. But they are not so much vintage looking. I will try to persuade her.
For my own appearance I am thinking of buying a new tweed suit, since I gave away my old one. For me personally the brand is not an difficult option. For me there is only Harris Tweed. The cloth is made in the Outer Hebrides islands just north of Scotland. The cloth are woven by the weavers in their homes and the cloth is then sent to the tailors that also are located in Scotland. I am thinking of having a dark colour tweed suit this time since I am using a grey herringbone tweed jacket almost everyday,  it might be a good idea to change colour sometimes. Beside a dark suit is usable in so many different settings so I think it is a good investment. Not only a fun thing for use at an bicycle race around the city once a year. But it is representable at party’s and other social events. After all, tweed never gets old or out of style.

Back at work I have talked to a bunch of people about the Bike in Tweed event that they would like to join it to with their own vintage bicycles. It sure would be a real treat if we all could join and experience that day. If that happens I will post a photo of us here, along with an report from the day. Bicycles, tweed, tea and sandwiches. But I hope that 2015 will have more fun events with bicycles and also having nice picnics. Packing up an old spirit stove, a can of beans, bacon, eggs, bread and make an English breakfast outside in the nature. Of course the enamel mug for tea is joining. Why not make it in to a photo shoot to? I think the blond girl would like that idea of a tweed picnic.

This year was not so bad out of bicycle view. I got much made on my own bicycles and I actually helped out a friend with his family’s bicycles. I repaired and adjusted them and did an general overlook of them. It was easy thing to fix, but it was also fun to work with bicycles. One of the ones I was adjusted was an old Swedish army bicycle from the 50’s same style as the one I mentioned earlier! All original and in a great shape. A great rider, made for riding thousands of miles on old gravel roads. I hope that the friend will join the tweed event 2015, or perhaps a picnic. After all there are so many advantages with an old bicycle, you get exercise and fresh air. Saving the environment and getting healthy at the same time. Noting bad with that really. When getting back home from my winter ride. I removed all the snow from the tires, rims and frame. I wiped off the water from the mud guards and pedals. Back in the basement, parking beside Lady Blue and the other bicycles. See you all next year!

Finally I wish all my readers a great 2015. I hope it will be filled with lots of nice rides and many great memories.

See you at #bikeintweed2015

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