Thursday, June 30, 2016

1987 GT Transit

There is almost always a story behind every bike I build. Perhaps I am just a sentimental fool because a bike is just a bike, right? Well, not really, at least to me. There must be a certain level of connection between bike and rider or else, there is just no reason to ride that particular bike. Maybe this GT Transit will explain what I mean.

This bike was put on sale for a long time, nobody seems interested in it and I was rather surprised because I thought it is quite an interesting bike. The owner did not say much in his advertisement either, so maybe that's why it did not drew much response. I decided to take a look and see if it can be a fixer upper. The owner was very nice gentleman with a sad story to tell. At age 45, his spine is giving him problem and cycling is something he had to give up. This bike was his commute bike, using it for quick runs to the food courts and supermarket. There are some other personal details which I will omit but sufficed to say that it is indeed a sad story. I decided to buy the bike to remind myself how lucky I am to be healthy and this bike personifies it. I told the owner I will restore it as much as possible to its former glory. He told me he bought the bike off an elderly man and thinks the bike was brought it from New Zealand. Originally, it has a 7 speed internal gear drivetrain. However, since it was rather old, I decided to restore it with modern parts but keeping to the original design of the bike.

As usual, the bikes I buy are never in good condition. Being a steel bike, rust was starting to show in areas where the paint came off. Armed with paint remover and plenty of sandpaper, the frame was stripped and all traces of rust removed. Next thing to do was to apply a corrosion prevention primer.

I had a few cans of spray paint and decided to use them instead of buying new ones. Not a good idea because the nozzles were clogged and the paint came out in droplets instead of a mist. However, it sort of gave the bike some character, with its rough finish. I would have liked it to be smooth and shiny but the final result was not too bad either.

After weeks of work, this is the final result. The bike looks great and I kept to the retro theme.

The drivetrain is a Nexus 3-speed internal gear with coaster brake. I could have gone with the original 7-speed but I figured 3 is enough since the purpose of this bike is mainly for commute to the food courts just like how the previous owner was using it.

The brake levers were a rare find! They are originally red.

The Nexus drivetrain works very well. Simple and effective. The ratio between each gear is quite large but I do not really care. This bike is about going out for a ride, the speed do not matter.

A rear bag was installed for putting stuff like food and other things.

A raised handlebar means a very comfortable riding position.

While the bike looks docile, there are some racy parts like the Mavic rims and 105 hub.

Both wheels were built by me. Wheel building has been a skill I have always wanted to achieve and I am glad I have finally achieved it.

Good old cantilever brakes, not the most effective but they do not give you much problems.

Of course, the Ferrari leather saddle is a natural choice.

The chainring is a Shiman Dura Ace 39T.

The sticker that shows the bike was sold in New Zealand.

Coaster brake, also not very effective but it works.

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