Calla Randonneur Restoration - Part 1 Posted on 5 Dec 14:24 , 0 comments


Possibly named after a famous climb in Tuscany or maybe the Calla Lilly. Calla was a cycle manufacturer from Alsace just on the French side of the Franco-German border. Not a large factory, nor a "Constructeur", but this little Randonneuse is loaded with charming details from the the early post 2nd World war era. Looking through old photos, it is entirely typical of an old French tourer. Custom Front and rear carriers in the same paint as the frame; a large bottle dynamo driving 2 beautiful polished alloy headlights and a tail light integrated into the aluminium mudguard. The Velo Orange parts we sell, seem to be faithful copies of the mudguards and carriers fitted to the Calla. It came to me in part exchange for a new bike and was alleged to have been bought from the original owner, having not been ridden for decades. Further research indicate that it might have been "flipped" a couple of times, but apart from new tyres, its originality is not in doubt. 

Calla's condition is remarkable. There is no rust on the frame and even the Rigida Chrolux rims are only slightly pitted and carry the original stickers. I haven't stripped the bearings yet, but my instinct tells me it has not covered too many miles in its 65 years of life.

Despite the originality of the paintwork, there is not much of it left, with nearly every square cm having a chip or scratch. The paint that is left isn't too good either, so despite encouragement from friends on both sides of the channel to keep her "in her juices", I have decided to get a top quality respray from Darron at Sven Cycles in Weymouth Dorset (UK). My friend Andrew at Seventy2 Design is recreating the decals for me from photos. Current thoughts are the same metallic midnight blue and double box lining in silver and white, but to skip the sky blue head lugs, which look like they were hand painted afterwards anyway.

I want this bike to be a usable Randonneur too, so for me it will need a larger range of usable lower gears. But I do want to keep the original "look", so it will have an Alfine 8 hybrid drive - with a difference. The Alfine 8 Premium hub will built into a new wheel with an alloy 650B rim. A new front wheel will also be built with a large flange hub with wing nuts of course. The difference will be that the original Simplex front and rear derailleurs will be retained: the front as a derailleur with the gorgeous integrated chain guard, but the rear just as a tensioner. So at first and even second glance the bike will look original. Tyres will of course be Grand Bois Hetres. The original wheels will be carefully stored so the bike can be returned to original condition in less than an hour


Still to be decided is the chainset. It has a cottered steel double clanger in fine condition, but I truly hate cottered chainsets from a maintenance point of view, so it may well be changed, either for a Stronglight 49D, which would be contemporary and appropriate, or a René Herse replica from SunXCD, which would look very well on this bike. Otherwise Calla will be original. The saddle might have to be swapped for a Brooks though, if it isn't comfortable. The moulded plastic handlebar covers will be replaced by stitch-on leather covers from Velo Orange. The originals are just too horrible to contemplate and have already been covered with cloth tape!

Comments and suggestions are welcome, as the build progresses.

Orlandi 8 speed custom build Posted on 2 Nov 00:23 , 0 comments

The Orland is such a good platform for customised builds. We got a phone call from Gareth in France. He loves the look of the Orlandi, but lives in a mountainous area of France and wanted an 8 speed Orlandi! The Orlando comes as standard with a 2 speed Sturmey Archer "kick shift" hub, so naturally we offered him a Sturmey Archer 8 speed hub, which slips right in to the dropouts and is available with a range of shifter options. But Gareth was insistent that he wanted a Shimano hub. I had no experience of Shimano hub gears, but did a bit of research and ordered up an Alfine Premium 8 speed hub. This would not be such a straightforward project as a Sturmey Archer hub...

Firstly the Alfine 8 hub is for 130mm OLN frames and the Orlandi is 120mm. However the "road" version of the Alfine 8 has space for a "roller" hub brake as an option, so by removing the a spacer and thick lock nut from the left hand side and replacing the locknut with a thin one, the hub is reduced to 122mm OLN and slides right into the Orlandi dropouts. The hub comes with a neat plastic cover for the roller brake splines which I wanted to retain. so I also had to trim that back by 10mm. Of course the axle was then 10mm too long so that needed to be have 10mm sawn off the LHS. Then just the small matter of building the new wheel.

Those of you have been up close and personal with hub gears know that anti-rotation washers (aka as no-turn washers) are needed) to keep the hub axle from spinning in the drop outs. there are various versions of these for different  types of dropout but for the Orlandi rear facing "track" dropouts you need a white one and a silver one. At this point I found the at the flats for the washers did not go far enough inboard on the LH axle, so the axle needed some attention with a file. That done, 10 minutes later the 8 speed rear wheel was fitted.

Just the matter of fitting the shifter now. The Alfine 8 has only a "twist grip" shifter available and this only fits 22.2mm diameter handlebars, so you need to make sure that the bars you choose are available in 22.2mm. 

Gareth said he wanted to keep the reverse brake levers that are a feature of the Orlandi and had expressed doubts that these could be fitted in conjunction with twist grip shifter. This was an issue, but past experience with Campag bar end shifters on 60's racers, gave us a simple solution: back in the day for neatness and comfort we used to hide the cabling for bar end shifters inside the handlebars. No reason why this wouldn't work with bar-end brake levers, so a couple of holes were drilled - one at the bar end and another at the cable exit point and the shifter was by-passed.

Just a matter of running the gear cable to the rear wheel (28.6mm Dia Compe Cable Clamps are handy for this) and adjusting, the gears on this hub is simplicity itself.

Half an hour after I finished the job Gareth turned up to collect his new bike and was delighted with the finished job.

This was a first time job for me and I have a bike shop full of parts and all the right tools. If I hadn't, then  the few snags that I hit might have cost me days, but if you want to do this conversion yourself , we can put a kit together with all the parts you need, including a modified hub and the right bars and brake levers.