The first parts

The first parts of the retro racer has arrived!
Very good service from the Pelago shop and the staff there! They did an excellent job on my request and questions. One and a half week after I sent the first mail with my strange questions I could collect an rather large parcel at the local service point for parcels.

It was the frame and front fork of an black Pelago Bristol that had arrived straight from their warehouse in Helsinki. I was told it was one of the first generation of the Bristol model that now was replaced by the second generation Bristol. I got to buy the last frame that never was assembled. The frame stands here with me now and are awaiting the rest of the parts so it can be transformed into the retro racer I have in my mind. Heavily influenced by the Pashely Guv’nor and the the 1930s Path Racers that seems to be in style now. But this one will not be a English racer, more a Finland/Swedish version. Bike in Tweed 2015 is the goal. Will I make it? I hope so.

As now I am looking for parts for the bicycle. 170 mm cranks, 40-635 rims, handlebars and all that. It is a fun and interesting search.  Of course the urge for building bicycles has grown stronger. It is fun and educational. Every new step includes lots of learning for the process. It is not only to build a bike. There is lot more knowledge and special facts you have to know. Just to build a wheel is an entire science. The spokes length, the calculation for length, position, where to start, how to start, why do one start there and not there, and so on. Then you need grease to lubricate, what to lubricate and how.
Perhaps there will be more projects. After all it is fun! But will my tweed fit the style of the bicycle? It will be more of an sport version? Of course!
With a pair of plus 4 trousers and a jacket and I will be good to go.

After all, tweed goes well with anything!


The retro racer

I have mentioned it before. The idea that I would like to build a bicycle in the style of an “retro racer”. The standard roadster frame, one gear, upside down turned handlebars. All in a classical 1930’s style. The thoughts has been with me for a long time, but I never got around to it.

Some time ago I saw a classified add on internet of an old Swedish Monark bicycle made in the 1950’s, that the seller had rebuilt into a old racer with drop handlebars and other nice details that made it look very attractive and fast. I liked the clean look of the bicycle and started to think if I could do an build like that. I started to look around for a good project to get started with. Sadly, every old bike today are used, in original condition or expensive.
Since vintage bicycles today are popular they who owns them know what they are and know the market for vintage bicycles. So my options where to find a donor bicycle and re build that one or a frame of some sort. The problem was that the complete bicycles that where in bad shape was in really bad shape and the ones that where suitable for a rebuild was in way to good condition. With that I mean they where complete and in a good original condition and it should be a real shame to remake a bicycle like that. Only to strip it of all details and in short, destroy the original look and paint.

Then I started to look for a frame instead, an vintage frame that was from the right era. The mid 1950’s, only because that is when they built the frames in the most general way. All details where there, but it was a very good build and not so heavy as the earlier frames. But that turned out to be a real problem. Where to find one in a fairly good condition? Many of the frames or “in need of slight renovation” that were offered looked like they had spent the last 50 years on the bottom of an lake. After all, the fram should be safe, if it looks like it has been runed over by a buss, perpshs it is not safe to start to build a racer on that frame… But there was a place in the city where I got offered a frame. In my opinion it was a bit expensive. It was just the frame, no wheels or so. It was the same price for the frame as an complete original bicycle on internet.

One day I was looking around on the internet then I saw the Pashely Guvenor bicycle and I realized one thing.
Why make a old bicycle when I can build a new one to look just like an old one? New parts, new frame. Better parts in general. Of course, not exactly the same details. But I am only after a minimalistic retro racer. So I went home and looked at my black Pelago Bristol bicycle. That one is a 3 speed one, I was thinking of perhaps using that frame, it looks so good. Sadly it has loops for the cables for the gears attached on the frame. I visited the Pelago website and noticed that they where selling frame sets so you can build your own bicycle! Now that is just the ticket for me! What luck that I was going to Helsinki on my vacation a few days later.

At the shop in Helsinki they where very helpful and listened to my silly ideas with interest. I had some special requests about the bicycle frame. The nice girl in the shop helped me a lot and phoned around. I needed to go back home the same day, but I said that would write an email to them. Later that day I wrote an mail explaining my ideas again and about the frame I was interested in.  Two days later (it was weekend) I got an reply.
-Yes, the frame I wanted was available.
I placed the order right away. So now I will build a retro racer with a Pelago frame as a foundation. It will be a great build, all in a classical look. A Nordic build. It will be a special bicycle, only one example. But with the possibility to build more since all parts is available. That is one huge advantage agaisn real vintage parts. They are very scarce in finding. New parts are, well new. So the are simply a click away on your computer.

There is also an different project I am thinking of creating. The big photo project of 2015! It is a project to make a photo book based on my friends, the retro racer and my interest of photography and designing. The idea is to having a friend posing with the bicycle, then I will write a short text about the photo, the friend and the environments on the photo. Always the same bicycle. The retro racer. The friends I have asked so far to be a part of the photo project, they all says it is a great and fun idea! So now there is two major projects for me to do for 2015.
The Retro racer it self and the photo book. It will be a fun and productive year!

It is soon winter here in Sweden, so I will have 5 months to build this one. After all it is 11 months to Bike in Tweed 2015!

By then it will be done.




Development of cameras, part 6 “epilogue”

There we have it.

Four different cameras used at one occasion. Four different ways to take photos, all with different results.
The Kodak box from the 1930’s with the minimalistic settings. The Rolliecord that took the photographing to a new level with adjustment availabilities with change of shutter speed and f-stop. Then we took a large leap into the digital era with the new Fujifilm X100. That is an camera also used by many pro-photographers as an great backup to their regular cameras. Or as an “back to basics” camera with the rigid lens and old style layout of the controls.
That leave us with the last camera, or phone, or computer or… Well, the iPhone 5s anyway. It is a camera/development laboratory and everything else that you might need for a great everyday photo, all in one.

Of course all cameras has their advantages and disadvantages. The old film cameras has the problem that you can not check the photo at once, if the model blinks, then the photo is ruined and you will find out that a week later. But the advantage with that, are thaty due to the limited frames you have. You really have to see and plan the photo in your head before taking it. Planning, explaining to the model and a lot of thinking of different light settings, pose of teh model, what might work and what might not work. Everything needs to be considered before taking that photo.

With a digital camera its just to get the settings right, set the f-stop to get that depth of field you like. Then it is just to fire away. You can take a photo and then show it to the model to explain what you are wanting from the model and situation. It is a great aid, also if the model blinks. Just take a new photo. Or even better take 3 photos at the same time. After all the roll of film in the digital camera holds about 400 espousers (sort of).

But with your smart phone, there is no settings, nothing. Just point and shoot. The quality are perhaps not so great comparing with the professional camera. But the images are great anyway, all cameras are individuals. The same photo do not look the same with different cameras, as we realized during this series. Here is an image I made (with an app in my phone) where I joined all four cameras photos from the same scene.


Here is one image with the four photos that I have been talking about the last topics. From left to right,
Kodak Box (1930) grainy but genuine.
Rolliecord (1952) the details are great crisp and nice.
Fujifilm X100 (2012) well, the colour and sharpness is fantastic.
iPhone 5s (2013) a good snapshot clear and nice.

The vintage cameras are about the same and so are the digital cameras about the same in style and quality. It all comes down to what you like and what you are going for. Using old vintage cameras with real film would be a great and fun thing if you had possibility to develop and print the photos your self. As an hobby it is just great! I know since I have been doing it. But the digital media is a huge advantage, you can sit by your computer and with a fairly good photo editor you can get really good results. Then the phone, well. If you are only taking photos for fun. For usage to take snapshots of the everyday life, the sunset at the vacation, that girl with the bicycle. Then you can tweak and adjust the photos in the phone it self and get amazing results. The question is, what do you like to get out of the photo? Now on those photos I have been showing you here, I have not edited them in any major way. Only putting my name on them and resize them, perhaps use a clearing up tool for compensating the loss of pixels in the down sizing process. That is it.

Just for fun I took out the phone while sitting on the subway going home from work one day. With an app I changed one of the photos I took with my phone. I started to change settings and colours. Just for fun making a “vintage” style photo. When putting it side by side with the “real” vintage photo like the one created by the Kodak Box. We clearly can see the differences. But when the photo are standing along by it self like below, it really has a feeling of an old photo. Made with a few swipes on a smart phone (that primary are a telephone…).


So what can we say with all this? Any camera is great as long as you get the results you want and captures the scene you see. All cameras has their advantages and disadvantages. For me, the feeling of really taking a photo with the Rolliecord is special. But knowing the amazing results I can get with the Fujifilm really boosts the urge to taking one more photo. But as for pure fun factor nothing beats the iPhone. The accessibility, the easy to take a photo. The way you can take memory snapshots in the moment and still have a great quality photo. That makes the smart phone photos really fun and great to work with.

Just for fun, the photos I have been showing here are just simply examples. One of the reasons for the photo session was to get photos for this post. But we did not only take one photo, there was an entire series. Diferent poses, dresses and settings. Here is one more from that session.


In short I would like to say like this. The best camera is the one you got with you.

The search for the perfect photo is making us wanting to take more photos.
After all the next photo you will take might be the perfect photo. Or the next, or the next after that…