Building a Bike for Eroica part 3 Posted on 4 Feb 10:05 , 0 comments

The brakes have been at the back of my mind for a while. In its "test" build configuration, the Severn Valley had modern moulded brake shoes/blocks, which performed very well on these vintage long-reach cantilevers. These are the correct brakes for this frame, as back in the 50s and 60s, the standard British tyre size for "racing bikes" was 27 x 1 1/4" (630mm). However those actually raced the bikes were using tubular tyres known as "tubs"mounted on 622mm diameter "700C" sprint rims from the continent, so the brakes needed to be adjustable to cope with both rim sizes. Most riders would ride to a race or time trial carrying their racing wheels on special brackets attached via the front axle. You can see from the photo, there is ample adjustment for the 4mm difference in the rim diameter. Also there is adequate mudguard clearance even with 630 x 35mm tyres, as riders would fit mudguards for winter training. That is one of the joys of racing frames of this era, that light wider, fast tyres such as Grand Bois Cypres can be fitted and run at low pressures over rough surfaces such as those found on the Eroica.

Anyway back to brake pad material. I found an original brake NOS shoe and block (see photo). Still shiny and with the moulding pips still on the rubber, but after all these years, I expect the rubber will have hardened. It turns out that Kool Stop make replacement MAFAC brake blocks in their famous "salmon" material, so I have ordered some of those.

I used to have a box full of old MAFAC brake levers, but was shocked to find the cupboard was almost bare and there weren't any serviceable ones left.Until I can find and re-polish some more, I have fitted some new, but period-looking Dia Compe 202 reproductions.

I was anxious to make sure the gears shifted correctly so I decided to temporarily cable up the rear derailleur. I managed to get hold of a small amount of the period Campagnolo "wound" derailleur cable  outer, so I used this.

As the bike has bar-end shifters - these are definitely original 60's equipment, whatever Eroica rules state about down tube shifters only - the frame needs some cable stops. Originally these would have been beautifully styled and chromed band-on cable stops, but the previous owner had braze-on shifter bosses fitted along with bottle bosses. Perhaps I should have removed them? Anyway, i have yet to find any vintage looking cable stops - any ideas? - so I have fitted some Velo Orange Dajia Cycleworks ones. The good news is that the shifting works perfectly, on the rear at least.


You may have wondered where the forks are? Despite the beautiful paint finish, there was a small chip on the forks when I removed the bubble-wrap, so they had to go back to be repainted and went to the back of the queue being Christmas. The good news is that they are now ready and I will be collecting them this week. I shall then be on the home straight.