Rider Daniel shares his passion for building vintage bikes
Little known fact about the people behind Portland Pedal Power: we have a deep passion for bikes! Daniel Erle, one of our longtime Brand Ambassador Riders, recently shared with us some fascinating details about his devotion to building and procuring vintage bikes. These bikes are pieces of bicycle history!
It is always interesting to hear about the latest bike project he has been working on, and witness the final result. Below, Daniel Goes into serious detail about his process and passion.
Seven years ago I was browsing bikes on eBay and I stumbled across a very expensive, fully restored 1940s Bianchi with a Campagnolo Cambio Corsa derailleur. I had never seen one like it and was fascinated. A few years later I came across a late 1940s Fabrica Imola frame with Cambio Corsa derailleur and matching hub set on eBay. It was my size and for sale in my home town, 3,000 miles away, so I took that as a sign and purchased it. After that, I spent almost two years collecting parts, mostly from Italy, to complete the bike. I sourced as many period correct Italian parts as I could find and had the hubs laced to modern, vintage style rims.
When the bike was finally built up I rode it through the summer and it’s a blast; the ride has a very vintage feel to it but it’s fast and surprisingly light at just over 24lbs. The Cambio Corsa derailleur takes a bit of courage to get used to but is a lot of fun to use. The dropouts on the rear of the frame are longer than normal and have teeth cut into their tops. These mesh with teeth in the rear axle which keeps the wheel straight when it’s in the frame. To shift you stop pedaling and reach back to open the extended quick release on the rear wheel. You then pedal backwards and use the second lever to move the chain on to your desired gear. You can then close the quick release and continue pedaling forward. An interesting part of the Cambio Corsa system is that since you are shifting with the rear wheel unhooked, the wheel travels forward and backward in the frame as you shift. That bike now hangs on my wall waiting for nicer weather and a replacement rear axel.
My 1959 Phillips was given to me by a friend; it had sat untouched in his yard for several years so I stripped it to the frame and gave it a full overhaul. I put fresh grease and grade 25 bearings in the headset, bottom bracket, and wheel hubs. I also cleaned and polished all the chrome. The bike was originally a deep burgundy but has mostly faded to flat brown. An uncommon feature of this bike is that the brakes use rods, rather than cables, to pull the brakes against the inside of the rims, rather than squeezing them from the sides. It has a Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub dated December 1958. Almost every other part on the bike, aside from the Dunlop rims, is stamped ‘Phillips Made in England’. In 1960 Phillips brand was sold to Raleigh.
I’ve only recently become interested in vintage mountain bikes. I found my 1983 Ross Mt. Whitney locally on craigslist. When I purchased it, it was set up as a touring bike with drop bars and vintage French fenders. It had the original wheels, cranks, pedals, and front derailleur. I stripped it to the frame and began collecting all the original parts.
The bike is a blast to ride, and it has been my savior this uncommonly snowy winter. At some point Ross began making primarily cheap department store bikes but they were pioneers in the early mountain bike market. In 1983 they had the first professional factory sponsored mountain bike team, the Ross Indians.