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Steel bike/building questions.(7 posts)

Steel bike/building questions.cydswipe
Mar 16, 2003 1:57 PM
I took a late '70's John Deere men's ten speed bike apart. The frame is steel. It really isn't very heavy. I would like to build it up into a second bike. Because of it's age and my inexperience at building, what should I look for in components? I mean, are measurements going to be so wild that I can't use modern Ultegra or the like? I also am going to replace the fork. Any suggestions? I'm pretty excited! I'm getting the frame powder coated next month. The standard Suntour GT components are in good shape. They just weigh a lot.
Thanks in advance!
Yeah! Here the topic will stick around for a while.Humma Hah
Mar 16, 2003 2:23 PM
On General, it'll scroll off in a couple of days.

Let's see ... getting it powdercoated, hard for me to argue with it as I've had my darling old cruiser powdercoated. I always detested the original red, self-inflicted a DupliColor silver job decades ago. The original paint had been ruined, worn thru by road grit on my pants rubbing against the top tube, so there was no big loss. I finally forked over the money for a proper silver powdercoat, and never regretted it. But any collector will cringe at the thought of losing original paint and/or parts. I did have them put on original-type decals, except for a custom name on the chainguard (Humma Hah, the bike's name). I even got an original replacement for the LBS stickie of the shop that sold me the bike in 1971. I had the whole thing clearcoated.

I believe I recall seeing John Deere bikes back then. In fact, we had a John Deere dealer in Manassas and they had kids bikes in green with the logo, and I'm sure some farmers bought them for their kids.

Are you planning to restore the color and decals? That would be my choice for a brand so closely associated with a particular color scheme.

I'm of the opinion that gears are over-rated, and am perfectly happy with just one, myself, maybe 3 tops. I thought 2x5's were excessive and 3x10 is just plain nuts. A lot of us are using older frames to build singlespeed/fixed gear bikes, and I've not heard one negative thing said about it: virtually everyone who tries singlespeed adores it and becomes a convert. The old frames usually have horizontal dropouts that allow us to set chain tension, and the narrow dropout spacing works fine for SS/fixed.
re: Steel bike/building questions.MrDan
Mar 16, 2003 4:46 PM
You will be in for a nightmarish ride trying to change that "BEAST" over to Ultegra... to use modern stuff, the rear dropouts need to be 130mm. You probably have 120mm.
The frame is probably not really worthy of such a conversion (IMHO). If the components are still in good shape, stick with 'em - clean/lube them up. You say the frame isn't very heavy... how "not very heavy" precisely?

If they're Suntour GT components, then that's most likely what the frame is worthy of. Clean/paint it, but leave it if you like riding it.

OTOH, if you do get it powder coated, and you know what you're getting into (a hobby...) and you know that the BB is suitable to upgrade, and can figure out dimensions to make sure you'll end up with a decent chain-line, etc. then go ahead and alos get the rear triangle spread before the paint... if for some reason you're attached to it (very plausible... many get attached to their bikes) .

Good luck!
1 piece crank?Walter
Mar 16, 2003 5:07 PM
JD bike's I've seen (pics only never in person) have had steel 1 piece cranks and are much more similar to a Schwinn Varsity than to the lightweights of the 1970s. If so you've got issues on top of issues for your conversion. BB conversions are available. An older shop or checking with Sheldon B. at Harris Cyclery can set you up. I'd recommend aluminum wheels if yours are steel if for no other reason than the improvement in braking. An older shop may well have some generic 27" replacement wheels on a hook still. I put some on a Motobecane in 1978 or so and I'd imagine those wheels got more miles than any 1 wheelset I've owned since. Stem diameters may well be different as well.

Worth considering: The reason I've seen pics of JD bicycles is b/c there are some collectors. If the bike is not an old friend and will clean up reasonably nice you may well convert it into enough $ to get you a decent used bike that would be closer to what you want w/o extensive mods. If you go that way don't powdercoat or at least do it in Deere Green and get some decals made.
Converting my cruiser's BB is an option ...Humma Hah
Mar 16, 2003 5:27 PM
... something I learned at a LBS in the Mission Bay/La Jolla area of San Diego that specializes in cruisers. There's a kit available so that you can just press out the old cups from a cruiser or early BMXer, and press in the adapters and spindle that let you use modern cranks.

I opted not to go for it, but if I really wanted to convert the cruiser to, say, Campy cranks, it could be done.
O.K. I'm learing more with each post...cydswipe
Mar 16, 2003 8:20 PM
..But, I've already sent the frame to have it painted, for free I may add. I can clean the components. This was my first road bike and suffered because of this fact rain/elements/wrecks. But, I haven't ruled out a singlespeed conversion. I like the train of thought of these owners. My frame was the "racer" type which has a very similar geometry to most modern bikes. Not these sloping top tube bastardizations of confusing bicycle fit :) Or the Green, 3-speed type. My frame was a regular style 10 speed bike. The only real diff.( aside from mm measurements) was the stem located shifters. Geez, I'm a rookie at this. My other ride is a OCLV y-foil. I'm excited to build a bike! I'm more eager to learn from the posts.
Mar 16, 2003 8:30 PM
My crank is a standard double. It has a bolt on plate that fits to the outer chain-ring. Sort of like those Dura Ace plates. This was the John Deere "racer" version. I think you are describing the 3-speed style of bikes. I've considered e-mailing Sheldon. After heeding some of the posters' advice I'm not sure which direction to go. To be honest the tires are as flat as some of the girls I danced with in 7th grade :) I really want to make something positive out of this. I appeciate the posts!