Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2018

February, a month of snow and cold in the north.

What can you do at this time of the year? You could perhaps sit in front of a fireplace, reading a book and enjoying a read a cup of hot coco. Or you could perhaps take the time to repair your bicycles for the next season with lovely summer rides on tracks in the forest.

All that is for amateurs!

What me and a good friend decided to do was that we took a trip to Finland to join the 2018 Helsinki Winter Tweed run. This was the 8th year they held this event and the 2nd time I was there. Of course the Winter Tweed event is held in February, it is the coldest month of the year and that is the general idea with the event. It is a fun and brilliant event.


Boarding the cruise ship in Stockholm with destination Helsinki.

A few hours before the event started on Sunday the 11th we got invited to a fellow vintage bicycle owner that has been in Stockholm on Bike in Tweed, and that I met last year in Helsinki too. We visited his garage to make some final adjustments on our bicycles and to have a drink.


Leaving the hotel in central Helsinki.

Then it was time to join the others tweed riders at Senaatintori in central Helsinki at 1 o’clock. On our way there we were riding on the snowy streets of the city and were crossing tram tracks. I told my friend to be careful with the tracks. If your wheels slips on the tracks or if the wheels slides down into the tracks groove it can be dangerous. You could crash and injure yourself badly. So be careful!

Less that 1 minute after I said that I got stuck with my front wheel in the tram tracks. The only damage was on my own pride and the front tire on the bicycle. The grey tire got a new interesting colour. An odd shade of Helsinki tram track rust brown.


Tram track and an front wheel with in a odd shade of rust brown.

At Senaatintori we joined the other winter tweed riders, there were about 40 people there with both vintage and new bicycles. Tweeds suits mixed with vintage clothes suited for winter. It was nice to see old friends again. There was were we met the organizers that handed out stickers, shouting in their vintage megaphone, talking to people and looking at old bicycles. I got a sticker with the logo of this years event, I placed it on the frame on the Hermes bicycle along the sticker from last year. It starts to look like a well traveled bicycle with the stickers on the frame.


One more sticker, a well travelled bicycle. It is a shame I do not have stickers from the other events I have participated with this bicycle.

Then it was time for the traditional group photo, we all tried to go up the stairs to Helsinki cathedral, but it was not cleared from snow so it was an adventure just to try standing still instead of sliding down the stairs in a ski jumping fashion.

I helped a lady with her bicycle, she was slowly gliding down holding her vintage bicycle. Somehow she managed to stand still for the photo. But we were all laughing and having a good time all the same.


Senaatintori.


Vintage and modern bicycles, tweed and modern cloths. The fun is still the same.


Documentary time.


The start-up line.

After the photo was taken it was time to leave. This year there was a fellow who wanted to make a documentary about the event so we did a victory lap on the square before leaving. He wanted top film us riding out bicycles.  The route that followed was the same as last time, going south out of the centre passing Vanha kauppahalli, the old market at the habour. on our way to the Olympic ferry terminal.

We were following the coastline, passing Eira and up along the cemetery to the west coastline of Helsinki. Then to arrive at café Regatta where it was time for a break where we could and have a coffee and a bun. From the café we noticed real Finns take wither baths in a hole in the ice. I did not mind the -5 degrees in the air, but taking a swim? There are limits even to me.


Leaving Senaatintori and heading south.


Towards Eira, the mythical place (film reference to “Calamari  union” by Aki Kaurismäki).


The bay of Lapinlahti, going north to Café Regatta.


Parking at the café.


Nice details on a Hermes bicycle.


Modern and old bicycles.

Now the official winter tweed event was over. The unofficial after party took over. This year the party was held in a new location. We were about 30 riders that joined up to leave for the after party. We went up icy hills, rode on snow free bicycle lanes and went down slippery streets with tram tracks.

On one of the bicycle lanes one of the riders suddenly took a fall. We all stopped to check, it looked really bad but the rider was fine and we all started again. We bicycled along Tölöviken and saw Linnanmäki, the amusement park across the bay. It all looks very different in the winter, no people sitting in the grass and having picnics. Only pet owners with scarves and hats rushing around trying to avoid the winter. Looking bewildered as 30 tweed dressed bicycle riders passes ringing their bells and honking old horns.


View from the handlebars on one of the few snow free bicycle paths.

Almost at the final destination we turned into a steep down hill street that had tram tracks. One of the young riders got stuck with her front wheel in the tracks and took a very nasty fall. I was a bit behind her and noticed how she fell. She got help right away from her company. For me to avoid the tracks and crashing I decided to let my bicycle roll on and break a bit further down, I stopped and looked up the hill. The girl seemed to be all right the handlebars on the bicycle was shifted but everything looked fine. That is the advantage of being young, a fall is not so bad the body is made of rubber. When we gets older and taking a fall it is like dropping a bag of potatoes…

We continued to our destination where we all gathered around the organizers. We were informed that there was pea soup and hot punch inside, refreshments of other sorts to. Later that evening there would be live music preformed by the organizers! It was really nice to go inside and have a hot plate of soup and have the tip of the nose recover from the cold winter outside. The rest of the evening was filled with drinks, laughs and wonderful music!

Sadly everything comes to an end. After saying a heartfelt goodbye to our lovely hosts we mounted our bicycles and started our journey back to the centre of Helsinki in the dark February winter night.

Again, thank you for a great time and a lovely event!


Waiting to board the cruise ship back to Stockholm.


Goodbye for this time. See you soon.

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The red bicycle

I guess it is all my own fault. Who else is there to blame? I saw an ad for an Swedish made Ridax bicycle that was made by A. Ekström in Hallsberg back in 1940´s.

My first thought was that I do not need one more project in my already cramped basement. Especially when the seller wrote in the ad that some parts were missing. Parts like the saddle, chain guard, pedals, rear baggage rack, kick stand. But when I saw the photos the seller had posted, there was something with the bicycle that was really striking a note with me. Perhaps it was the decorations on the frame, the red colour with black and gold details. Or was it the 1940s design of the frame?


Details of the ornaments

After meeting the seller I went home with one more bicycle. Since there was no saddle or pedals on the bicycle I had to walk home. Along the way I got to know the new project quite well. The bicycle had most likely been involved in a accident.


Walking home with the new project

The handlebar stem was crooked, the front wheel was changed to a modern one. The rear wheel was badly warped. It rear wheel so bad that the rear tire had been grinding against the frame, rubbing away all the rubber from the tire at one spot. It was only a question of time before the tire would puncture beyond repair.

When got home I decided to mount a head light and a dynamo, a worn chain guard and a set of pedals I had in a drawer, just to try it out. I borrowed a saddle from one bicycle just to get the look. It all looked great! Pedals and chain guard was not a big problem, those parts are common.


Added chain guard, saddle, headlight, pedals and a dynamo. It looks quite nice.

But what to do with the wheels? The rear wheel was original with an Torpedo hub from 1942. To find an original front wheel with the same colour scheme is impossible. After I removed the tire to inspect the rim I found that it was not only warped, it was rusty and had some cracks. I needed new wheels.


Torpedo made hub on the original rear wheel. 50 milion jubelee, the hub is made in 1942


The rear wheel, warped and beaten up


Cracks and rust

I was offered to buy a set of stainless steel wheels from 1950’s from a shop in the city. The hubs on those where also Torpedo, but the rear one was the beautiful Zweigang model from 1953. Sadly with out the shifter or linkage to the hub. But I bought then. After all, they were all chrome and together with brand new grey Duro tired they looks amazing together with the red bicycle frame.


Two geared Torpedo “Zweigang” from 1953

Now the fun part of taking down the bicycle to pieces to could start. Clean, inspect and polish all parts before putting it all together again. Also to find the parts that are missing.

 

Uppsala Vintage Biking 2017

It was time for my 4th Tweed ride this year.

Uppsala Vintage Biking is a brand new event that was held for the first time this year. It was held at the same day as the festival Kulturnatten (Culture night) was held in the university town of Uppsala. I found out about this event early in 2017 and decided to participate juist for fun. In the summer an event was started on Facebook for Uppsala Vintage Biking, I signed up for it and paid a small starting fee.

The day for the event came, I took my lunch box with home made sandwiches and a beer (not home made), packed my bicycle bag and left home early in the morning for a ride to the commuter train station. These days you can take the commuter train all the way to Uppsala from Stockholm. It is just to add an extra fee to the regular travel card, simple and effective. For the first time I was going to take the bicycle on a train, I have never done that before. It was an experience.


Arrival of the commuter train to Uppsala

As soon as I stepped on to the train with my bicycle I bumped in to more bicycles already parked in the vestibule on the train. My first thought was “now this is just great, I can not stand here”. Then I noticed that it was old bicycles, really old bicycles. Vintage ones. Right beside them there was a gang dressed in tweed, just like me. “Hello”, they shouted. We recognized each others and I was invited to sit with them. Then we started to talk about tweed, bicycles and the new event we were going to. One hour later the train was in Uppsala, it was a quick and pleasant ride with nice company.


Exiting the train at Uppsala station, 5 tweed dressed bicyclists started their journey.

We all gathered at the old docking bay at the old Nymans bicycle manufacturing plant, a classical bicycle maker in Uppsala. There the organizers greeted us, they handed out our starting numbers and some information about the route. They also gave us rain capes in case of rain. During the time we registered other tweed riders joined us. We all talked and had fun for a while before it was time to start the ride. The route was planned not only by the streets of Uppsala, but also the rides route was in the nature and wonderful parkways.


Lovely scenery in a old tree alley passage.


A slow ride along green hedges and grass lawns.

There was a break in Botaniska trädgården (Botanical garden) with a group photo of the riders and picnic on the schedule. Now this was a really impressive picnic break. They had arranged two long tables for us to sit by under a big archway. There were a brass band playing old jazz songs when we arrived. We parked our bicycles and sat down at the tables. There we sat and had our food and drinks while listening to old jazz standards played live. It was a lovely and wonderful time! Sadly we needed to get on our way.


Live jazz and picnic, great relaxation


Bicycles parked while we were at the picnic break


A Vintage Rider, with a lovely 1920’s dress and an Uppsala build Hermes bicycle

The ride continued up around the Uppsala castle were we had a small stop. Up there we admire the view and used the time to gather up all the riders. After a few minutes we went down the hills passing Uppsala cathedral and in to the central parts of the town. Because it was the culture night festival the streets were filled with people, stands, children, music and laughs. It was a real festival feeling in all of Uppsala. We got lots of cheers and liking from people when riding the streets and over the bridges with our vintage bicycles and everyone dressed in tweed or vintage dresses.


View from Uppsala castle


Down to Uppsala cathedral

The next stop was when the entire Vintage Biking crew went in to Nymans museum to get a guided tour around the collections of bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles and boat engines.

After that guided tour we all went to the central shopping street for the finish and price ceremony. After thanking the organizers and saying good bye and promising to meet next time it was time to go home. I got company to the train by a fellow rider, she showed me the way to the railway station and there the long journey home began.

It was a excellent event! I lift my hat for the organizer! Lovely, fun and heart warming!

Thank you, see you all next year?

The black bicycle, part 1

I have mentioned the black bicycle many times before. So many times by now that it has almost become a mythical story. But this time I will tell you the story behind it and my intentions with a black bicycle.

It all started when I was a kid. There were always bicycles all around me when I grew up. I grew up in the same house as my father grew up in when he was a kid. Back then in the late 1940’s bicycles was the main transport for short distances. My fathers parents was always riding their bicycles around the city and surroundings of Stockholm. My grandfather was a special keen bicyclist from an early age when he lived in the country side.

He used his bicycle every day going to his work. No matter weather, no matter season. In the heat of summer or the freezing cold winter with up to 1 meter snow. The entire family was riding bicycles all the time. So it was only logical that I grew up with old bicycles around me.


I have always been using vintage bicycles. Here I am in about 1986 about to ride bicycle from about 1940.

Back in the early 1980’s my mother used an old U-frame bicycle, or “ladies bicycle” as they are called in Sweden. She had painted it blue with a brush of some reason and used it every day to the grocery shop and to her work. It was standing outside in a bicycle rack day and night where we used to live. One day my mother discovered that it had been stolen during one night. But that was no problem for her, she got a different similar bicycle, painted it blue and kept pedalling on.

My father had an old bicycle that he had got from my grandfather. It looked different from the other bicycles I was used to see. It was all worn and the black paint was scuffed. I liked it a lot, it looked cool. I remember that there was a name plate that was mounted on the frame with a previous owners name and address. Why I remember that plate so specific is because that plate left an imprint on my thigh more than once when I was a kid, I was sitting on the frame when my father gave me a ride sometimes. Now, why I did not use the rear luggage rack? Simple, it was impossible to sit on. It was the style of rack made of flat irons, typical style in the 1930’s. To sit on flat irons was really painful when getting a ride, even for a little kid. But all those details, the bell, handles, pedals, name plate on the bicycle. They all stuck in my mind.

One of my first adult bicycles was an 1940’s Monark. Or, something like that. It was put together of all sorts of strange parts laying around. Sadly I was very reckless with it so it broke down and got replaced. But I liked the upright seating position when riding that old bicycle. Upright, looking around at the world when cruising along the asphalt on a old iron horse at an slow pace.

After a few years my father saved some money and bought two brand new bicycles for him and my mother. 10 geared racers with thin tires on shiny wheels with silver frames. The old bicycles were left alone in the basement. Some years later we moved away from the house, the black bicycle and some other old bicycles where left behind.


My fathers “new” shiny racer, slightly modified back in the 1990’s.

I never forgot that old black 1930’s old grandfather bicycle. A few years ago I got thinking of getting me an old bicycle. A black 1930’s bicycle! With the one my father used to have on my mind, I started to look for parts to build me a bicycle. Why build instead of buying a complete one?

That is easy. I wanted to work with my hands. An decision I have regretted over and over again along my bicycle adventures.

 

Why do I like Torpedo

First of all, I must say that I am not in any way a repair person. I am not educated or even pretending to know what I am doing. I would never try this on anyone else bicycle. Simply because I have no idea what I am doing.

For me the Torpedo bicycle hub made by Fichtel & Sachs is a great invention. During my years mending, fixing and trying to repair old bicycles I have come by a few different hubs. Winco, Novo and other hubs. But none has the simplicity and quality as the Torpedo hub. Now I am talking about the standard version that has only one gear and a break and coaster. That means the wheel turns and the pedal are still. It is made in the spirit of my way of thinking, “less is more”.


Torpedo hub shell made in 1957

There is no need for gears and special functions that are impossible to figure out. Like the Norwegian DBS I had as a young teenager. Two gears, you shifted by quickly pedal backwards and the forward again. Or the 10 speed racer I once had. The chain skipped tooth’s on the sprocket so many times, causing pain and frustration that I looked for a single speed geared bicycle after a crash with the 10 speed racer one day.  Then we have the gearing system that the German bicycle Adler has, an entire gearbox just as a car mounted in the crankshaft and a stick shift. Give me Torpedo any day.

When using bicycles that was made back in mid 1930’s, the chance is that the bicycle never have been serviced since 1950’s. Back then a bicycle was an investment, not a toy. Kids got their bicycles that was way to big for them. but they had them to “grow in to”. So here we are with an old bicycle. It is my old/new Nordstjärnan that almost never have been serviced since the last 50 years. With a rear hub that I bought on eBay in Germany and build the wheel my self.

This morning I decided to take a test run with the Norstjärnan just to see if it would manage a Tweed event. After all, on these events we use to ride for about 19 miles (30 kilometres). Having problems with a bicycle along that ride is not a good idea, there is one thing worse than riding a broken bicycle. That is manage a  broken bicycle while walking. So the test today was simply to see if everything was in good shape. After the ride I found some issues that I need to address before an longer ride. It is nothing major, merely small, easy things like a rattling headlight, rattling bars to the rear mud guard and the Torpedo hub that behaves oddly when coasting. It works great, but not perfect. That is the danger of making things yourself. Why settle for great when it can be perfect?


Torpedo hub from 1937, bought from eBay Germany that I serviced and laced the wheel.

The only adjustment that takes longer than 5 minutes is the Torpedo hub. With a few tools you can disassembly the entire hub, clean it and put it all together again so it works! The usage and worn parts are easily located, simply by looking at the parts. The brake cylinder has grooves on it, if the grooves are worn, well the the break is not good and trying to stop is an adventure. I know that by experience. That goes for the ball bearings to, you can see if they are good or need replacements. It is a simple sign if the parts are broken or shows sign of ware and tear.

To disassembly the Torpedo hub is really easy. First loosen the wheel from the bicycle. Then with some tools loosen the lock nut by holding the axle with the special key. There is a special key made by Torpedo that are perfect for that work, of course I have one of those keys. Then gently take the entire hub apart, put all the parts on a towel clean all parts and clean off all old grease.


The parts of a Torpedo hub, axle, brake cylinder and att the bottom left, the special key


All parts have the F&S and the dimensions stamped on it.

I use a degreaser agent to get all old grease and dirt removed from the parts. Some times the parts have to be soaked in the cleaning agent for a  few hours. Then with a brush, an old toothbrush works great, brush off the sticky residues. Clean all parts with a cloth and inspect all parts for damages. Any crooked axle, damaged bearings and so on. If all looks all right, lubricate it generously and mount it all in the correct order again.


The repaired hub, mounted and newly greased. Ready for long rides.

Tighten the hub by adjusting the brake leaver cone. I use to tighten the assembly so it is just a small amount friction, then loose up it ever so slightly. Because when you tighten the lock nut it tighten the assembly altogether. There you have it a perfect fixed hub and a wheel that spins without wobbling, rattling or any play.

Now the Nordstjärnan is ready for many miles of tweed rides.