On vintage bicycles, and some modern, you will find a lot of steel, chrome, aluminium etc. in need of polishing. It may be a light polish just to bring it back to a shine or you maybe restoring components with years of tarnish and oxidation. I have often struggled to get a good shine that doesn’t take hour to complete. I came across Peek when I bought my crankset for my Giant bike. It was aluminium and had about 20 years of oxidation and grime on it. A clean didn’t bring back the shine so I tried my only polish I had at that time, which was Brasso, I could get it shiny but it would take a long time to get it all shiny. In search of a better polish I went to my local hardware shop and bought their only polish available; Peek. It cost me £5.49 for a 100g tube, I thought this was a bit expensive for some polish. I got to the crankset and applied a bit onto and old t-shirt and started rubbing it, the effect was immediate the polish turned black with the oxidation it removed and the crankset became very shiny. I am very impressed with the polish and for £5.49 I feel it is a great deal because of how effective it is and how little you need to use. The crankset cost me £2.50 from a bicycle coop and with a bit of polish I saved my self a lot of money on buying a new or lightly used crankset. So a bit of effort and polish is a good option of you are restoring on a budget.
Cost – ✰✰✰✰✰- for the amount you receive and the amount it will save you on parts I feel it is a great value product.
Effectiveness -✰✰✰✰✰- Best polish I have ever come across.
Uses -✰✰✰✰✰- not only does it polish metal it also leaves a film over it to protect from further oxidation, it can also polish plastic, fibreglass and ceramics.
Overall -✰✰✰✰✰- A must need when working with vintage bikes, I don’t think I will change polishes again.
Peek is available on amazon.co.uk for £4.20 – Amazon Peek
Buying a water bottle cage can be a difficult choice for some. Carbon? branded? colour matched? There are thousands of different water bottle cages out there. They range in colour design, material, brand, but they all do the same job. The most expensive water bottle cage I could find was a FSA K-Force cage, at £63 each they are bloomin’ expensive, yet still they are still probably made in the same Chinese factory that churns out the £10 carbon cages you can buy on eBay but that’s down to bicycle branding which is a whole over story. The FSA cage claims a weigh of 28 grams, on the same website you can buy a Clarks Polycarbonate bottle cage for the princely sum of £3.19, it weighs in at 48 grams, the FSA is £60 more expensive but only 18 grams lighter, you could leave 18ml of water out your bottle and get the same weight savings. You could buy 20 Unbranded plastic cages for one FSA cage. Anyway I feel like I’m going off on a tangent, which I was but now back to the bottle cages.
I chose Lezyne Flow bottle cages. 46 Grams. I chose them mainly because in Scotland there are many pot holes deep enough to bounce your bottle straight out your cage and underneath the wheel of the car behind. I got 2 of the cages for my b’twin for about £12, they were on offer at the time. They weren’t supplied with fitting bolt which is unfortunate if you don’t have bolts but I did so It was fine. The cages come in black, white and grey, not exactly inspiring. As with most things from CRC they came promptly The cages were a doddle to fit. Two bolts per cage, they have some up and down adjustment which is good for small or compact frames. after fitting I went to try my High5 bottle for size. they certainly are tight. Maybe to tight for some. the two tabs fit into the groove of the bottle. It is very firmly held but still accessible with a good tug. I would rather have a tight bottle cage than have loose bottle cages with my bottle 10 miles down the road that way. The cages feel well made, and quite light for the price. Overall the cages may not be suited to people who like easy access to the bottles at all times but if you mountain bike with bottles or ride bumpy roads I would definitely recommend these. They look quite nice too.
They also offer a Flow HP cage which has an integrated clamp for their pump, handy!
Lezyne Flow Water Bottle cages- http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=73214
Price- ✰✰✰✰✰, currently £6.99 at CRC
Usability- ✰✰✰✰, bit tight but still easily accessible
Looks- ✰✰✰✰, I think they look nice but some may be put of by futuristic shapes.
Overall ✰✰✰✰, Good bottle for off road and bad roads. Good looks and well made but just a little to gripping for some.
Wrapping bars on a bike is, in my opinion the most satisfying and fun job to do on a road bike. To finish off my retro Giant bike I wanted a bar tape that would suit its classic looks. I did some searching and after almost going for cotton tape I decided to go for Deda Mistral, mainly because it was faux leather so It had the looks but with out the price tag of Brooks bar tape for instance. For £7.99 it is quite affordable and comes in White, Red, Black, Brown and Blue. Also in fluorescent Yellow, Red and Green. I went for the brown. It came in the usual Deda box with 2 rolls of the tape, two patches to go behind the levers, finishing tape and Bar end plugs. Onto wrapping. I have used Deda tape before and found it quite easy to wrap but this stuff was different. All bar tapes I have used have has some stretch in them, this is necessary to keep tension especially intricate part such as around the brake lever. With no stretch at all I found it quite difficult to wrap properly. When you make mistakes in wrapping you can usually just unwrap what you’ve done and fix it, even other bar tapes with adhesive strips have always come undone easily but when trying to correct mistakes the Deda would rip the foam of the tape and stay stuck to the adhesive strip which was either stuck to the bar or to another bit of tape. This made correcting mistakes very frustrating. I eventually got it done, to finish the bar wrap they provide you with two adhesive strips. No one uses these most people just use electrical tape. I decided to finish it with twine as it always looks good on retro bikes, thanks Rivendell Bicycles (Link at bottom). If you do want to use the adhesive strips provided use electrical tape first then gently heat the provided strips with a hair-dryer or fan heater this makes them stick much better. Once the wrap was finished it did look very nice. The bar end plugs don’t quite go with the retro feel, I would have preferred chrome. I had some chrome bar ends laying around so I used them but champagne corks would also work and give a retro feel. The frustration of wrapping was almost made up for by the looks, if it weren’t for the silver Deda printed onto the tape it would be much nicer. My other grievance with this tape is the lack of padding. the bar tape has no padding at all. It doesn’t prove any comfort, this wouldn’t be as obvious if you wear gloves, which I don’t. Overall the tape is very aesthetically pleasing especially for retro builds and I like the look of the fluorescent colours, but it you want easy of wrapping and comfort I highly recommend Cinelli tape. Aesthetics- Yes, Comfort, No. The tape has also held up well, not tares and the unsightly silver Deda logo is wearing off, hallelujah!
My only tip for bar wrapping is don’t be scared to do it yourself, my first wasn’t my best but it fun and rewarding. Why pay some to have your fun?
Bar Tape- Deda Mistral- http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=90979
Price- Between £8-£10. Good value. Cheaper than other alternatives. Also vegan friendly! ✰✰✰✰
Comfort- Lacks enough padding unfortunately that’s the main downs side for me. ✰
Looks- ✰✰✰✰✰ Great looks for retro builds, especially the faux leather brown. The perforation adds a nice touch.
Wrapability (yes that’s a real word) – ✰ No stretch, to rigid to get a good coverage around the levers.
Overall- ✰✰✰ Would I buy again? Yes, but only for retro builds as its the best available but not for my modern road bikes. It lacks comfort.
Rivendell Bar wrap and twine, great for classic bikes. Good video too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO8DcaOJzrA
Tire levers. You use then to pry your tyre off the bike rim. It’s pretty important to have a good pair. I always had those black tire levers that come in the corner shop ‘Bicycle repair kit’ or some spoons. It turns out neither of these are any good; spoons scrape your rims and and the little brittle black ones are about as much use for removing tires as a piece of wet spaghetti. I found this out when putting a pair of no flat inner tubes (review to come) into my new bikes wheels. They both failed, the spoons did eventually work but scraped by shiny black wheels, the horror. So I eventually decided to buy some proper ones. I tried a few; Continental, Park and Tacx. They didn’t work. I’m sure they would work for many other tyre-wheel combinations not as tight as mine. I came across the SKS tire levers in my local bike shop, at only £3.99 I bought them (you can buy them for £2.99 from CRC). According to SKS they are made from a ‘high performance resin’, they definitely perform. They took the tires off with no problem, they are very strong and stiff, no bend it them whatsoever. They weigh in at 19g according to my scales, so not exactly heavy either. I have taken many tires off and there are no mark on the levers at all or the rim. Pretty impressive. So if you are looking for a good pair of quality German engineered tire levers, the SKS lever are the right ones. It quite a lot to write about what it essentially a piece of plastic but it is important to have a pair of tire levers you can depend on, especially if you cycle far from home. Oh yeah, they are orange which is always a bonus and the clip together. And remember to never use tire levers to put tire back on.
Tire levers – SKS Tire Levers. – http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=68584
Price – £2.99 online, buy from you local bike shop though. As I learnt you only realise how useful they are when they are gone. £2.99 is a bargain, I would still pay up to £6 for these though. – ✰✰✰✰✰
Quality- ✰✰✰✰✰, Well made and rugged, not going to break soon.
Overall Stars- ✰✰✰✰✰