Mitch wanted a bike that rode well, worked with him on the hills, let him do long day rides and brevets, handled well with a load – even an overnight camping load.
He did his homework and came to me with a sensible build kit with a few exotic pieces that just made the project that much cooler.
This graceful silver bike sports the same integrated chainrest design I’ve used on two Oregon Manifest entries, 2009 and 2011.
I believe the design was created by one of the contributors to Bicycles Quarterly, Mark Van deKamp, for his custom bike built by Curt Goodrich and tested in the magazine. A nice vintage iteration of this idea was recently displayed on the Bicycle Quarterly blog. It is used on a lovely 1962 Alex Singer, using a Nivex derailleur, custom fabricated dropouts and Maxi-Car hub with wing nuts.
Mitch is using thoroughly modern drivetrain parts on his bike, reserving the vintage parts for the MAFAC Raid centerpull brakes with brazed on pivots. Amazingly, the 11 speed Campy Athena brake/shifters shift the 8 of 9 nine speed cogs on the Dura Ace FH7700 rear hub, using a new Shimano Deore LX rear derailleur. I’ve modified the hub with a 7 speed freehub body to allow the extra drive-side room for the chainrest, which takes up the space where the smallest cog would be. The Campy shifters index perfectly with the derailleur and cassette, making the rear wheel removal that much easier.
You just shift to the highest gear position and the chain falls on the chainrest. Stop the bike. Remove the rear wheel as you normally would and the chain stays on the rest, which is stainless steel so no ruined powdercoat there, nor will it corrode over the years.
To replace the rear wheel, you need only move the body of the derailleur out of the way, like you normally do on a standard bike, but won’t have to handle the chain as it’s still sitting on the chainrest. Then you’d want to re-attach the straddle cable for the rear brake.
To get the chain off the chainrest, lift the rear wheel, get it spinning in the forward direction, click the front shifter onto the second or third cog on the cassette, then gently turn the crank forward and watch as the chain lifts off the rest and back onto the cassette cogs. Simple, elegant, keeps the bike and you clean. You could also just do a cyclocross style mount, where you run along side the bike and jump on as it’s rolling, then shift, turn the cranks and go.
It’s a nice system that works equally well on road or mountain hubs. There are a few limitations, in terms of specific models that are compatible with the 7 speed freehub body, but the selection is good enough that you aren’t likely to feel want for a better hub. The Shimano hubs are nice with decent seals for the loose ball bearings, so maintenance is simple and only needs to be performed once a season, if the bike has full fenders. Fortunately, with regular annual maintenance, these hubs can last for a very long time.
I’ve also posted a video on a recent post to this website. Check it out here.
It’s been fun to set this one up and I’m quite pleased with the shifting performance. I really was skeptical when Mitch requested it, but it seemed there were enough accounts of people doing just such a thing, on the interwebs, and you know how everything on the internet is true, right? The combo works so well, I’m even considering getting a set up like this on my personal bike.
Enjoy the bike Mitch, I certainly have!
I used two film cameras to shoot the following gallery, in addition to my standard digital SLR for in-shop shots. A new, to me, Olympus Pen FT with Zuiko 38/f1.8 half-frame camera was fun to use and good for close-up work, though the viewfinder is rather dim and the lens might do well with a CLA. The lens has a vintage character that is a nice contrast to the uber-sharp digital Nikon lenses I use. The Leica M6 Cosina Voigtlander Color Skopar 35/f2.5 is a nice, compact combo, also with a distinctive character. There’s a little distortion and vignetting but I sure do like how this set up fits in my coat pocket. Good stuff and adds to the enjoyment of documenting the creation of these bikes.