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Let me introduce you to Denis

February 19, 2013
Nightly Commute

Riding home from work.

Denis had been hanging around in a friend’s garage for literally decades. Every now and then I’d spy this old 12-speed, hanging up there on the wall covered in a thick blanket of dust. I never had a close look but the tall head-tube appealed, maybe he would be a good fit for my lanky limbs? One day I said “If you ever consider selling that old bike can I have first dibs please?” “Stick it in the back of your car now” came the reply, so Denis changed hands a little quicker than expected and he only cost me a six-pack!

He was in such good condition, right down to the original bar-tape and tyres that I contemplated on-selling straight away and turning a profit. But the ride was so comfortable and the look so retro he just had to become part of the family. My roadie friends teased me of course, but what would they know? In my opinion anyone who walks around in public with their genitals shrink-wrapped in lycra has no right to comment on style.



Initially I just gave him a bath and lubricated all his creaky joints and bearings. Everything was working but the braking left something to be desired. I couldn’t get the drop-bars high enough so I raided the bike-cupboard for some city-bars and while I was in there grabbed some grips, a high-rise stem, some larger BMX pedals and an old saddle I wasn’t using.

After a fortnight commuting to work and a couple of chocolate-starfish moments in traffic it became clear using the soles of my shoes to “complement” braking wasn’t ideal, time to visit the bike shop! Some of the items I could buy locally but the only shop that stocked all the bits I needed was T. White’s Everyday Bikes over in the city. They have lots of experience restoring old bikes and getting 10-speeds back on the road is a bit of a speciality.

New BootsAlhonga 2-Finger LeversFlat-Bar Levers RequiredDenis at Beach

$150 later I was rolling on spanky white-wall tyres (with inner-tubes that retain air) and the bike actually stops now thanks to replacement levers, cables and brake-pads. It’s more money than I wanted to spend but he has at least another 25 years left in him and is simply a hoot to ride. Anyway, if you think about it that’s not bad value compared to a couple of tanks of petrol.

Healing SkylarkHealing Skylark Chainstay DecalDusty SaddleCustom!
This is how I found him, tired and dusty but everything in the right place.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2013 7:39 pm

    Nice job! I love stuff like this, talking old unloved bikes and giving them new leases on life. And that whole “Designed in X country, manufactured in Japan/Taiwan” seemed to be pretty common in bikes of the 70’s and 80’s. I’ve had a couple Centurions which were American bikes manufactured in Japan, and that was prominently labeled on the bike.

    • February 19, 2013 9:29 pm

      Thank you, it would be sad to see something like this end up on the scrap-heap. I’ve been looking for a nice 25″ lugged touring frame for years but they are rare as hen’s teeth down here. This one is more “10-speed” quality but he rides nice and fits me well.

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