Saturday, February 26, 2011

New rubber and parts for my road bike

A bit of a refresh for my 1991 Diamond Back Master TG.
After being sick for much of the past week, I was finally feeling well enough to spend some time in the shop. It's fortunate that I was up for a little shop time, because my 1991 Diamond Back Master TG was in need of some work. You may remember my 20 year-old crazy pink road bike from an earlier post. Curiously, that post about my Master TG is one of the most visited pages on this site, possibly because not much relevant info exists anywhere else about these particular bikes. If you happen to be here looking for info on the short era of steel Diamond Back road bikes, I'll do my best to continue to expand the story as I'm able. For now though, on to a little shop work.

When I got the Master TG, although initially flat, the tires and tubes held air well when pumped. In fact, they've held air very well for several months now, and have carried me on several shortish rides totaling perhaps 80 to 100 miles. However, I knew the tires were dry and brittle and could become problematic any time, so new tires were in order.
The old Vittoria 22c clinchers crumbled when I removed them from the rims.
I hadn't yet taken the tires off the rims since I had owned the bike, but when I did, the casing near the bead disintegrated into dust and fragments. However, the tube inside was supple and in good condition. After a careful inspection of the tubes, they had no patches and served to support my hypothesis that this bike had only been minimally used. I decided to reuse the tubes with new tires. After all, the tubes appeared to be in at least as good of condition, if not better than tubes on many of my other bikes. I have a pile of tubes that have accumulated in my shop over the years, a few of which are at least 20 years old. Some of my older tubes have been patched many times, but seem to have more lasting power than newer tubes. Maybe they just made them better back in the old days. In any case, I have no qualms about reinstalling the original tubes on the Master TG. 
New Michelin 25c tire (left) versus old Vittoria 22c tire (right). Who knew an extra 3 mm of width would make the carcass look so fat?
I chose a pair of Michelin Lithion 2.0 25c folding bead tires as replacements, mostly because they seemed to be decent mid range standard road tires. I was tempted by some colored tires that would match and/or contrast interestingly with the frame color, but I couldn't quite pull the trigger. I decided to modestly up-size the carcass width of the new tires because I couldn't see any clear advantage of running such skinny tires on this bike, and thought I might appreciate a little more bounce.
There's not a lot of clearance between the new tire and the fork crown, 3 mm or so, but that's enough.
It's a good thing that I didn't decide on any fatter tires than I did, or else I might have had to file down the inner fork crown to fit. The rear triangle had plenty of clearance at the seat stay bridge and the chainstays, so probably 28c or even 30c tires would work on the back. The 25c tires are just fine for my purposes though.

I also decided to make some alterations to the cockpit, with a new bar and stem. I liked the original black anodized Tioga Prestige road stem, but I felt a bit stretched out along my torso when riding. This could be because I'm not recently accustomed to a traditional road bike riding posture, but I decided to install a somewhat shorter and taller stem. I swapped the original low rise 130 mm extension stem for a Nitto Technomic Deluxe 100 mm extension with a higher rise. I'm not sure that this stem will permanently stick on this bike, but I wanted to give it a try.

For the handlebar, I went with a Nitto Model 177, otherwise known as a "Noodle" bar, in 44 cm width. The original Centurion bar was 41 cm wide and felt a little narrow for me. I haven't owned a Noodle bar before, but based on the feedback of a lot of people who swear by this model, I'm now entering the test phase.
I like the shape of the Nitto Model 177 (top) better than the original Centurion bar (bottom), at least in theory. Only putting on some miles will let me know for sure.
Those who are familiar with Nitto products know that they come with a glowing satiny finish reminiscent of times gone by, when Japan and Europe exported components with buttery smooth metal surfaces. Modern components aim more for the technical wow factor of a plastic-like carbon fiber finish. I know carbon fiber parts are lighter, but for me they are diminished in aesthetic appeal by the way they feel. This is probably no small contributing factor in why I'm working on a bike that's almost old enough to buy beer. Well, that and the fact that I likely couldn't withstand the price tag of carbon fiber anything.

If the good weather holds and I continue to regain my health, I'll put my refurbished road bike to the test sooner than later.

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