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Picture of Detours Handlebar Basket with rain cover for touring and commuter bikesDetours Town and Country Basket with Rain Cover
A refurbishing project of a '60's Puch Bergmeister went surprisingly smooth and easy after the initial hard work and efforts to restore the bent fork and convert to a 14 speed cruiser.

A comment from a reader suggested I not add a handlebar basket as it would block the beauty of the ornate lugs and head tube badge.  

My search for a versatile handlebar basket began with considering a handlebar bag for photography equipment and other goodys that I enjoy taking with me on my bike rides.  A combination of a waterproof handlebar bag and basket seemed like a tall order and something I hadn't considered as being an available product on the market thinking I would have to make one myself, that was before I found the versatility and convenience offered in the Detours Town and Country Basket.  Installation is simple and mounting brackets are offered in 25.4 and 31.8 mm, quick release bracket, storm collar, rain cover and is made of sustainable bamboo and grass.  Weight capacity of ten pounds, nothing about it is heavy.  Handle straps provide ease of using as a tote option and the inner liner with drawstring keeps things protected whatever items one wants to keep safe and sound.   This is a very easy way to provide cargo options for touring and commuter bikes.   We share this one and will order another for my wife's bike, we like it that much.

For more information about other Detours products visit their site
Or use the link provided below for information or purchase.  

 
 

One Inch Threaded Mountain Bike Replacement Forks from Breezer and Sunlite

Picture of Bridgestone MB 1 mountain bike'93 Bridgestone MB 1 mountain bike for touring and commuting
One of the joys of bike repair is finding older bikes worthy of refurbishing.  When I heard about this classic steel lugged '93 Bridgestone MB 1 mountain bike I had to check it out.

I got the bike for a very reasonable price and immediately went about converting the riding position to a more relaxed style for touring and commuting. Bridgestone bikes from that era built with Ritchey Logic tubing are very desirable to many Bridgestone aficionados as the thin strong steel makes for a very lightweight frame and when combined with the original rigid Ritchey fork it's one of the most lightweight steel mountain bikes ever produced.

The suspension fork that came with the bike had to be replaced when I discovered the one inch threaded steer tube was so stripped that the headset could not be removed to service the bearings.  After having to cut the steel tube to remove the fork I was able to salvage the original aluminum headset parts that were obviously damaged from some previous owners efforts to work on it.

I was looking for a one inch threaded fork and received two models for consideration.  First fork I installed is a nice commuter bike model from Breezer.  A nice, lightweight rigid one inch threaded fork at 1040 g.  The Breezer fork has threaded eyelets for rack and or fenders with a nice rake to it. While replacing the fork I decided to swap out the original eight inch long Ritchey stem and flat bar with a 95mm stem and some Touring Trekking bars in a 25 degree sweep. Add some inexpensive foam grips and felt good about the project thus far.  Didn't like the red so much and when I noticed the double eyelets of the Sunlite fork I decided to install that one as both forks use a 27 mm crown race it was convenient and easy to do.  Sunlite's fork has a longer steer tube of approximately 3/4 inches which meant cutting the threaded fork to fit, an easy task with proper cutting guide tools.  

Picture of Breezer one inch threaded fork on Bridgestone MB 1
Breezer One Inch Threaded Fork
Picture of Sunlite 26
Sunlite One Inch Threaded Fork
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After installing the Sunlite Fork and taking it for a test ride with the Trekking bars and UNO stem I felt like riding it further to get a feel for the bike's overall performance.  With the XT Thumbshifters and no sign of wear on the chain the bike is quick, light weight and not as twitchy as it was with the longer stem and flat bars.  Here's a combination of components I used for this project and has proven to work out very nicely in providing a quality, comfortable commuter bike in keeping with performance and handling.  

For bike folks needing a one inch threaded fork or wanting to replace a worn out suspension fork check out these forks from Breezer and Sunlite, respectively.  Here's a link for the 27 mm crown race as it can sometimes be hard to get as that size is frequently out of stock.


 
 

DIY Brake Lever Tips for Velo Orange Handlebars

Picture of reshaping brake levers for touring bikeReshaping non aero brake levers for commuter bike


A fellow bike appreciation friend who honors the quality of old steel lugged frames and such recently commented about how much he "hates retro bikes with a passion".  His rant had more to do with bikes refurbished in keeping with an older bike's original design and components with their inherent inability to perform or function satisfactorily.  An example he focused on is older non aero drop bar brake levers which typically provide poor comfort on the small rubber covers or "hoods" and simply do not provide enough comfortable braking power.  Hmm, debatable as anything else I suppose and to each their own.  However I enjoy finding use for components as I see fit, it helps to keep me open minded for solutions to repairs or other modifications.

Picture of customized handlebar for touring bike with modified brake leversNon aero caliper levers used on custom trekking bar
I have found a nice use for the non aero brake levers particularly when converting drops bars to a trekking or touring style handlebar as pictured here when I modified a '70's Vista Summit steel lugged eighteen speed.  I wanted to convert the old drivetrain to a 24 speed cafe style bike without having to fork out a lot of money and I was confident of having plenty of spare parts kicking around the shop.  

After cutting and bending the steel handlebars to shape it is necessary to straighten the non aero caliper levers for sufficient clearance for the flat style bar as pictured above.  Recently I decided to add the Velo Orange Porteur Handlebars to our Puch Bergmeister in a classic commuter style for running errands.

Picture of Velo Orange Porteur Handlebars and brake leversVelo Orange Porteur Handlebars with VO brake levers
Velo Orange provides quality craftsmanship with original retro styling which works very nicely in retro fitting components for bike restoration projects.  When I removed the drop bars from the Puch Bergmeister I decided to leave the bar tape, levers and orignial copper stem intact as an option so I didn't use the non aero brake levers to be modified.  Velo Orange Porteur Handlebars have an outside diameter of 23.8 mm so conventional caliper levers will not fit.  Velo Orange offers their City Levers which are a very simple design and uses a standard mountain bike style brake cable, whereas the modified non aero levers use the road style brake cables.  

At the very reasonable price of twelve bucks and free shipping I didn't see the point in tearing apart the original drop bars to use the brake levers.  However, the old non aero levers will fit the 23.8 mm Porteur Handlebars.  Just another reason I appreciate those old retro bike parts.  Nothing against Velo Orange City Levers but I personally like the style of the modified non aero levers better than the City Levers.  So, if you're looking to install some Velo Orange Handlebars with the 23.8 mm diameter and you have some old non aero brake calipers dormant in your parts bin pull them out and use them, they work great.

Happy Spring, good time to get those bike projects going for a fun year of riding.  Cheers!

Velo Orange Porteur Handlebars can be used with Inverted Brake Levers or Bar End Shifters as well.  I went with the City Levers as I may install Bar End Shifters later.

 
 

Google Chromebook for Bicycle Touring?

Picture of Google Chromebook Samsung and touring bikeSamsung Google Chromebook for bike touring
Chromebooks are becoming very popular with students and other mobile users.  Reading over the reviews the main reason folks were interested in a Chromebook is peace of mind knowing that all important data and information is not being unnecessarily toted around.

That gave me the idea of using a Chromebook for bike touring trips where we need to stay in touch with our business while we pedal the countryside.  This review is not intended to cover all the potential usages of this nifty little computer but to share how it can be used while bike touring and the main concern is having the ability to share photos.

In a nutshell a Chromebook uses the Google Chrome browser as its' operating system, so essentially it is not an operating system it's a browser based netbook that connects to the user's gmail account and other gmail account applications such as Google Drive, Google Plus Photos and the like.

While this requires internet access there are some very functional features  for offline photo editing and document editing.  One of the Chromebook forums had an exhaustive list of question and answer sessions with folks very upset and angry about their Chromebook not being able detect their camera once they plugged in the USB cable to transfer photos.  I didn't have this problem, so let me add that I am writing this blog article with the Chromebook.  Not only that I was able to edit the photo for this article offline with the Pixlr Touch Up app.  I was able to rotate and resize the image for use on my blog as well as altering the image quality for faster page loading time. As I had several other photos I will edit and tweak for blog usage later they are all safely stored on my Google Drive.  This makes for ease of access should I ever want to sort through my older blog article photos and want to share them while traveling as I can access them from any computer. Of course another benefit is that I don't have to worry about my photos being lost if I were to have a minor mishap with my Chromebook and lose everything on a hard drive because there isn't one.  

That's right there is no hard drive instead when you purchase a Chromebook customer's receive 100 GB of storage for their Google Drive associated with their email account.  Depending on how many photos you enjoy taking while bike touring this is a viable option for most folks.  Also considering you can access your Flickr account with Pixlr Editor App Flickr's whopping 1 Terabyte of storage is plenty for storing massive amounts of photos.  Point being made here is that there are plenty of easy work around solutions for a browser based computer for blogging, emailing, sharing photos and bike travel. 

I purchased the Samsung Chromebook as I really like the feel of the keyboard, it is very light weight at less than three pounds, has a battery which lasts approximately eight hours and is quick to recharge. At a price of $249 I'm not worried about the Chromebook being damaged compared to say toting a Mac Air Book around.  

So far I am enjoying the simplicity of this product particularly when considering the potential uses for bike touring. For bike commuting when I want to go work at the coffee shop for a change of scenery this Chromebook from Samsung feels in no way burdensome.

Although this product is in no way meant to replace a full usage laptop for all business purposes it is providing a very affordable option for many folks looking for a convenient economical method of staying in touch with friends and family while traveling, such as bike touring.  Cheers!

Besides having a good amount of storage space on google drive, photos that don't exceed 2048 x 2048 pixels can be stored for free with Google Photos, I didn't know that and I'm sure glad I wrote this post.  Here's a link to a good article on using Google Photos.

Here's a good review of Chromebooks from Tech Republic where there are links to other quality reviews of the Chromebook

 
 
Picture of steel frame materialsSteel frame and metal roof cover for store addition
Most of us have been there, three hours sleep, work projects, family waiting in line to use the shower and sprinkle it with a bit of bad weather to work in and it all made for a very nice week.

As a way of displaying my love and support of the Natural Living Country Store and knowing Lisa would have her very popular home made chocolate ready for the store's Friday market (which was on the same day as Valentine's), I wanted to get as much of the store addition ready as possible.

A steel frame carport with metal roofing material was delivered a day early on Monday rather than Tuesday which helped me to get started on the project sooner as we were expected to have cold temperatures, high winds and lots of rain during the week.  That is probably why the guys delivered the stuff a day early without calling because they wanted to duck the weather, so it worked out very well.

Inclement weather has a way of slowing things down, whether driving, riding a bike or in this instance a small construction project.  As most avid bicycle touring or bike commuting folks would agree, the best way to handle the situation is by taking one's time and work it out at a safe and steady pace.  

Picture of setting steel frame for cover
Steel frame material delivered a day early.
Picture of steel frame and cover
Steel frame and cover in place the same day!
Picture of Rideon working on storePrepping store for Lattice and Screen Material
Once the steel frame and roof were in place it was my task to add wood lattice and screen material.  Our screen material is mildew and mold proof product from Easy Gardener.  We used it on a previous project and has stayed mildew and mold proof for three years in our very humid climate.  When combined with treated lattice and cedar it provides a very sturdy rot resistant way of shielding our produce from heat, bugs, rain and other nuisances for our customers.

Although this was only a 220 square foot addition it has added a very pleasant atmosphere in which to prep our store's market.  Better flow and simplified method of getting our organic products to our customers.

As soon as I started on the project the weather turned to wet, cold, windy and made it difficult to work as the wind was blowing the large pieces of lattice and screen as I tried to cut it.

Picture of Rideon working on store
Winds and rain were making work difficult
Picture of mountain bike trail riding
Discovering new trails for mountain biking.....fun.
Picture of Rideon working on store
Working on getting store ready for Valentine's Day
Lisa put her coat on and came to help hold the lattice so I could get some of the pieces in place and call it a night.
The next day I was able to finish our store project without too much hassle from the weather.  

Checking the forecast I was able to work around most of the passing storms by waking up at five in the morning which provided the added benefit of getting some time on the bike to work out frustrations.  Found some new trails to ride Lisa brought the camera along for some very nice photos.  All in all we had a very nice Valentine's weekend.  Cheers!

For more information on what Natural Living Country Store does for the community and other assorted organic products visit shopnaturalliving.com for more information
Picture of Natural Living Country Store
For more information visit shopnaturalliving.com by clicking on photo.
 
 
Picture of bike commuter with bike handlebar for commuting
Some preferred handlebars by bike commuters
Picture of handlebars for bike commuter,Sweeping handle bars offer comfort and performance
There are many methods and techniques for creating a more comfortable riding position on any bike.  But the most affordable and simplest way to accomplish this is by finding a proper handlebar that fits an individual's needs.

Differences between road bikes and mountain bikes are obvious for many reasons so it makes sense that a bike for commuting would be a bit different from both.  Mountain bikes are most typically designed to put the rider's weight a bit more forward thus adding some pressure to the front tire for more grip or traction.  What has become termed a "more aggressive riding position" varies from bike to bike.  These days we see fat bikes designed with a much more upright posture lending comfort and ease of expression to a fun relaxed ride that for all purposes does not lack performance. 

This illustrates the point of finding a proper handle bar for bike commuting performance, pleasure and comfort.  There are many variations on handlebars these days, sometimes difficult to keep up with all the latest designs and added features.  However there are some tried and true handlebars that are simple in design that have been around for quite awhile with proven satisfaction, popular with many types of bike commuters and available in the most common stem mounting diameters of 25.4mm, 26.0mm and 31.8mm.  Remember to choose the right diameter for your particular stem or if necessary consider replacing the stem to get your preferred handlebar.

Picture of mountain bike handle bar for touring and commutingMountain Comfort handlebars with 30 degree sweep
Handlebars with a significant degree of sweep have been around for decades and although most associated with a beach cruiser type of bicycle, mountain comfort handlebars like the one pictured at left have become quite popular.  Another example of the tried and true nature of a sweeping handlebar is what has been dubbed the "North Road Bar" and Nitto with their established reputation still provides such an option.  Velo Orange Porteur with 15 mm rise or drop by simply flipping the handlebar over and usually at a very reasonable price is another very good choice in an example of a sweeping handlebar.

Some of these types of handlebars are available in different widths to accommodate various shoulder widths in order provide a nice custom feel when added to a commuter bike.  Other mountain style handlebars like the one pictured above provide options for cutting to width as well as typically being available in 31.8 mm clamp diameter.  

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The popular option provided by being able to simply flip the handlebar over, referred to as "flip flop" for higher or lower handlebar height like FSA - Metropolis Handlebar.  Although this type of handlebar is only available in a single width of 62cm the approximate 40 degrees of sweep and length can provide a couple nice hand position options with longer grips. Some bike commuters prefer the 31.8mm clamp diameter as the larger size seems to transfer for a more solid feel in overall handling.    

For more information visit our article at Bike Answers. Or shop the bicycle commuter handlebar links provided.
 
 
Picture of touring bikes riding in Tanzania, AfricaAfro Ngosha Adventure Tours in Tanzania
Africa is the kind of place most all folks associate with exploration and adventure with the word Safari being directly associated with wildlife tours and sightseeing.  

Good news!  Our friends at Afro Ngosha are providing bicycle touring services in Tanzania, Africa.  Folks interested in exploring one of the most beautiful and charming areas in the world can schedule their visits and have access to Afro Ngosha's knowledgeable and talented staff.  

As rich in cultural heritage as it is in natural wonders including wildlife, famed Kilimanjaro, white sand beaches and a wealth of entertainment are just some of the things which attract people from all over the world to explore that particular region of Africa.

Due to the fact that Afro Ngosha Adventure is best known for providing hiking tours, when I heard they were providing bicycle tours I thought I'd give it a "blog about" in helping promote their services as most folks may not realize they can schedule bike tours as well.

Eco Africa Organization at Afro Ngosha's site explains their unique approach to ecologically conscious tourism services the company offers.  By scheduling your bicycle tour with such a diverse and interesting group of knowledgeable folks you're also supporting an organization which "seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity".  That quote from the company's site gives you an idea of the type of folks who would providing your services, knowing you're in good hands while adventuring and exploring an area which includes three of Africa's seven natural wonders. 

Eco Africa Tours Provides Educational Knowldege

Picture of Eco Africa's women bicycle touring in AfricaEco Africa offers a variety of bicycle tours for all skill levels
Whether you are an advanced mountain bike rider or entry level bike commuter wanting to splurge on your first bicycle adventure, Afro Ngosha's Eco Africa tours will provide you with the support, accommodations and knowledge customized to suit each and every individual's particular needs.  Men, women and children as well are encouraged to visit the company's site as the company provides something for the entire family.  With a multi-lingual staff knowledgeable in the flora and fauna as well as preservation concerns most folks visiting the Tanzania region by way of Eco Africa Tours leave with an expanded vision and knowledge that can help in educating and preserving a wonderful heritage for generations to come.

Eco Tourism as a sustainable means of providing adventurous as well as environmentally conscious exploration having become a vastly popular method of vacationing around the world.  Implementing such a beautiful approach to their bicycle touring services is a unique way for folks to connect with one another while bike touring and something I have wanted to emphasize in this post for Eco Africa's efforts toward sharing their vision and company's mission as stated in the following quote.

“KARIBU” is Swahili for “welcome”, and is the first friendly word most visitors will hear on arriving in Tanzania for holidays and safaris. Our purpose is to educate the community, provide funds for ecological conservation, directly benefit the local communities and foster respect for different cultures.  The concept of Eco tourism is known as the magic triangle because it benefits local people, environment and their culture.  We aspire to support the cultural ethics of the community while simultaneously assisting the community to embrace change.  
Picture Eco Tourism Bike Touring company Afro NgoshaBicycle tourists enjoy the supportive organizational and knowledgeable staff of Eco Africa Tours.
I hope you have found some of these ideas provided by Eco Africa as something which can enhance and enrich your bicycle touring interests while exploring Africa or elsewhere. By visiting their site the information and current projects might help one's own outlook toward their own community and find a new appreciation for one's own personal as well as regional heritage.  Visit Afro Ngosha's Eco Africa Tours for more information whether you're looking to schedule a bicycle tour or not, their site and blog is full of good information regarding Tanzania, eco tourism and more. 

 
 
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Grant Petersen's very popular book "Just Ride" basically describes the difference between what we have come to know as a "cyclist" and someone who simply rides a bike.  Differences being mostly about bicycle race marketing cliches and riding on'e bike in a more comfortable appreciative mode of identifying one's own ride whatever that might mean to you.  

"Ride your own ride" I have enjoyed saying from time to time, knowing there are no absolutes and there are exceptions to every rule. If you have spent any time at all commuting where bike lanes are not prevalent or bicycle commuting just hasn't had its place in the area you live then you probably realized at some point that some rules are made to be broken anyway.  That may contribute to the popularity of converting a mountain bike for bike commuting.  Converting can be as simple as replacing heavy knobby tires with tires which provide less rolling resistance or something in between.  Other additional changes to a mountain bike might be replacing the stem or handlebars to provide a more comfortable riding position or adding fenders and or racks.


Kindred Cargo Bikes for Bicycle Travel

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Whereas a traditional touring bike is based on a fairly standard idea of frame geometry for comfort for extended time on the saddle, a commuter bike is mostly defined by the rider's commuting needs depending mostly upon road conditions and cargo needs.  Some bike commuter folks may not find it necessary to install a front rack for panniers, while some find it convenient for their bike camping or other touring bike needs.

Touring Bike, Bike Commuter Survey


 
 

Sikania MTB Cycling Tours, Mountain Bike Touring Services

Picture of Mountain Bike tour in SicilyAlessandro Ferrara of Sikania MTB Cycling Tours and the beautifully scenic charm of Sicily
New is good, change is good, so when we heard that experienced mountain bike tour leader Alessandro Ferrrara decided to provide tours from his home town of Palermo, Sicily we wanted to give it a "blog about".

Located in the beautiful town of Palermo a variety of mountain bike tours are provided granting access to the diverse and abundant riding opportunities that Sicily has to offer.  Discover vast tracks of ocean front tours or ride the higher elevations for spectacular views of Mount Etna, either way Sikania MTB Cycling Tours has you covered.  Offering accommodations for lodging, bike and helmet rentals or van transport this bike touring company knows how to care for and look after their customers assuring a safe, adventurous and fun time whatever your mountain biking skill level might be.

Picture of mountain biking on trail in SicilyBeautiful, scenic touring routes of Sicily.
Providing one, two, three and six day tour package options all offering different sights and trail riding terrain, Sikania MTB Cycling Tours can assure your particular mountain bike tour will be personally fulfilling as they are also offering Customized mountain bike tours upon customer request.

Dubbed "Sikania" referring to an ancient term referring to Sicily, eighteen year mountain biking veteran Alessandro Ferrara brings his riding expertise and experience as well as his knowledge of his home town of Palermo lending a knowledgeable and down home charm to the exquisite beauty that is Sicily.

For more information contact visit Sikania MTB Cycling Tours to view their many unique bicycle touring features as well as to ask questions regarding your personal interests for visiting Sicily. 

Picture of mountain biking in Sicily
Visit Sikania MTB Cycling Tours for mountain bike touring packages or custom bicycle tours of Sicily. Click Photo for more information.
 
 
Picture of Razesa road bike, steel lugged frame, Campagnolo componentExceptionally well made bike from Razesa
Found this beautifully crafted bike from Razesa complete with steel lugged frame, Campagnolo crank set, Nitto bars and stem at our local thrift store for $65.  

As I am a reasonable person I allowed the bike to sit at their listed price of $90 and felt that I would allow another person who needs a bike more than me (I have several) an opportunity to purchase the bike.  I would routinely pass by and watch folks consider getting the bike and ultimately decide not to.  After a week I went and haggled the price down to $65 as the bike was missing rear brake pads and the original down tube shifter. 
For a bike like the Razesa I wanted to get the original Ultegra shifter and brake pads so the bike would be kept in its' original, standard component class.  After finding the parts for less than twenty bucks on ebay, replacing cables and giving it a tune up this bike is a smooth, fast retro classic that simply feels good on the road. 

Some History of Razesa Bike Company

Picture of Razesa frame and Campagnolo logoRazesa built with Campagnolo crank set
It is difficult to find much information about Razesa, a company perhaps best known for providing a bike for Miguel Indurain's first of his five consecutive Tour de France victories.  Other than that the best information was provided by a guy in one of the forums I found while researching this bike.  Information he provided is given in the following quote.

"Hi, i have a razesa, from the 80´s and like razesas, i am from Spain. Razesa is a small company from the north of Spain, from Navarra. Navarra is near Pais Vasco, also in Spain, with a great tradition in cycling and steel making. From Pais Vasco are also the brands BH, Orbea y Zeus. BH is the most important, everybody here had a BH when we were kids :) Now Orbea is as important as BH. Zeus made bicycles and components, but its now closed.

In the 80´s with the great demand of road bikes, all brands colaborated, because they sell more bikes than they can make. So Zeus made components that were used by BH and Razesa, Razesa made frames for Zeus and i think also for BH because my Razesa is exactly as some BH i see.

In the 90´s with the mountain bike explosion, these brands were specialized in road bikes, so, it were bad times. BH and Orbea began to make mountain bikes and continue production, but Zeus and Razesa were in trouble. Zeus close and Razesa was almost in bankrupt. The owners sell the company to the workers and they continue making steel frames for track, and distribute carbon frames ( i think they imported them ) they also made taylor made steel frames".

Razesa won a tour de france with Banesto team and Miguel Indurain, so is part of the history of cycling. My razesa, from the late eigties is a fine bike, cromed and painted, with lugwork. Campagnolo, huret, cinelli and zeus components. Weight about 10 kgs.

Picture of Nitto Stem and Handlebars on Razesa road bikeNitto stem and handlebars on Razesa Road bike



This bike is a dream to ride with classic steel lugged Columbus tubing, Nitto handlebars and stem it's a very nice piece of cycling's history and I'm honored to have had the opportunity to repair such a quality bike as this Razesa.  

For more information visit Cycle Exif's blog article regarding the Razesa bike company and to view some very nice photos of Zeus components.

Bike discussed here is a 59cm frame with Mavic 27 x 1 1/4 wheels with Ultegra components and Campagnolo crank set.  



Picture of Campagnolo crank set on Razesa road bike
Razesa with Campagnolo crank and Ultegra Derailleurs and chain. An original chain with little to no wear. A beautifully crafted classic road bike.
 
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