Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Handlebars for the Ross, Take Two

I moved the anniebikes workshop outside to take advantage of a nice afternoon. The thumb shift levers are temporarily secured in mid-bar position; the old cables are too short, but for now I'll keep them intact.

I tried cutting a new length of housing. Our cable cutters are so old that it rendered the cut pretty rough, so I appealed to a neighbor who came over with a Park tool and snipped the end clean. He's leaving them with me for the duration of my project. I need to buy my own pair for future use (how's that for optimism?).

It was easy to unhook and remove the old brake cable. I swung the bar from side to side to insure I cut adequate length housing and cable, with three inches of cable to spare. At some point I may need to reposition the brake lever. I don't know what the final up and down position of the bar will be so I sat on the seat and temporarily adjusted it. I believe the stem is as low as it can go.

Voila! I replaced my first housing and cable. The brake lever looks pretty good too. There will obviously be fine tuning with the cantilever brake adjustment, but I'll leave that for later. One thing I learned is a ratchet works well for securing the brake lever to the bar. I needed to squeeze the lever to leave a gap, which is where the screw is located, to tighten the clamp. And it's best to unhitch the cable or better yet, tighten the clamp before the cable is in place.

Of special note: I would've like to use these brake levers in the downward position so they are partially hidden beneath the bar like a 3-speed, but it's not possible with this type. The lever cants at an odd angle and thus it's not comfortable to grip. I also looked into bar end clamp-type levers (inverse) otherwise known as track levers, but these mustache bars are not built with that type of opening. At least I considered the possibilities...

I had to step back and admire the bike. I love the curve of these bars.

The double allen bolts look like eyes. The stamped "R" for Ross shows up well now.

Old brake levers are still strapped to the front rack.
And the bars are swept upward. I may need to adjust the seat angle when this project is finished. Okay, back to work.

Now that I was feeling like I could really do this thing, I placed the right brake lever in place and began to tighten the clamp. It took several turns. Maybe too many, because suddenly I heard a crack. Jeesh. Then a few choice words. I'm glad my kids didn't hear me. I'd broken the brake. On a 30+ year old Mafac brake. Rats!

I took a deep breath and put the bike away for a few days. In the meantime, I did some research. New brake levers are expensive. But I came up with an assortment of old clamps on eBay for 6.00 that should replace the part that's broken. So I'll wait.

Did you know that Mafac is French? Apparently people are selling all kinds of Mafac parts for hefty prices too. A similar pair of brakes is listed for 35.00. My husband has a whole box of these parts from his 1970s Peugeot. I'm glad he kept them.

Another day I went back to the bike and put on the two shifting cables. You can see that the bars will be a spider web of black wires, but it's the best I can do. I'm also limited by the left shifting cable that routes through the stem.

Still waiting for that package of clamps...


  1. Well done so far, the handlebars look great, I may have to get a set of them myself, you make changing them look so easy.

    1. Changing the bars is not hard, nor the cables. If you are methodical, use appropriate tools and expect everything to take lots of time, you can do it. Of course I never expected to break the clamp. In the long run it would've been better to have the bike shop do all this, but i wouldn't have learned anything. What will be difficult is adjusting everything so it works smoothly as Yung Falbz pointed out in the previous post.

      I miss riding this bike around town. So I guess I'm heading down the right path and altering this bike so it's really special.

    2. I am taking apart an old bike apart now and replacing a few parts on it, it has all gone fairly smoothly but it is a steep learning curve for me, I am enjoying it so far, but I know that putting it back together will have many challnges as far as getting it all adjusted and working well.

  2. Lookin good. Very useful instructions.

  3. Looking good on it too (in addition to the other comments which I agree with),I'm diggin' em :)

    The Disabled Cyclist

  4. Hi- I like that you moved the workshop outside. So much style, yet everything about that bike sings uniqueness with practicality. And the bars are sick.


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