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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, folks. As thousands keep asking about her, here's "Bob".

If you think that "Bob" isn't female - you obviously have never watched "Black Adder" (you'd need BBC America "over here", funnily enough).

The story so far.

After a year or so acting like I could still do this cycling thing on my trusty Gunnar Sport - despite the rack eyes, still one of the best handling bikes a guy could ask for - my dear wife Sue insisted we take a three week vacation and head back to my native England. I'd been idly thinking of a new frame for some time at this point - running up to July 05 - but mostly angling towards Waterford, from WI.

HOWEVER - I was also idly aware that England's Bob Jackson were still very much alive and building. Bob himself had handed over the reigns to some keen guys in the late 198's, after opening his shop just after WW2 - and the BJ ideal of superbly built and tasteful frames was kept going.

Lot of sentimentality here - a Bob Jackson was the last frame I raced on in 1973, before my military career made entering races impossible in England's tight and restrictive racing scene back then. When your job means you don't know where you'll be day to day, entering a race a month ahead was a waste of money I didn't have. So I quit racing, and while I was at it figured as I couldn't do what I loved - road racing - I might as well not ride at all.

So, like an idiot, I took nearly 30 years off the bike.

Restarted riding some four years ago, went through far too much money on unsuitable bikes - to anyone in my sort of situation - just buy a road bike and don't diddle around - eventually got my Gunnar, dropped 45lbs, quit junk food, cookies etc.

So, seeing as we'd be landing at Manchester in the NW of England and driving more-or-less past Leeds on the way to the Olde Home Towne of Hull, on the east coast, I figured out a little diversion to BJ's shop cum frame factory. Eventually got there for a couple of hours and chatted with manager Don - weather had delayed our departure from the US, end of visiting the shop as we got there on a Saturday though. They are in a small village south of Leeds, occupy most of a block of shops and sell bikes through two shopfronts, while building frames in the rest of the building.

After spending an hour or so drooling over the frames and bikes they had in the shop - most of their building is custom, so the bikes on show mostly belong to the staff - that was the end of the decision process.

Bob Jackson's US agent is "World Class Cycles" up in New York, headed up by Roger Lee, and I did all my ordering through them. They are mail-order only, no bricks and mortar store, but that proved no problems.

I knew the geometry I wanted, based on my Trusty Gunnar, and from September through October, spent a lot of time going between me, World Class and BJ to match up what I wanted with what could be done.

The paint job was easy. Bob Jackson's have a great philospphy on paint - if you want it, they'll do it. Have heard something on the lines of "too many people want their frame red, it's so much more fun to do real custom paint that we'll throw it in for free so we get to enjoy doing it".

After which, I got an orange with black version of the red/white scheme I raced in '73! However, all I paid extra for were the chrome chainstays - go work out what it would cost if I'd had to pay for masking off those seat tube panels...

For now, here's a shot of the frame as I got her...

Spec is Reynolds 853 OS, vertical dropouts - and, I hate to say it - a CF fork with 1-1/8" steerer. I was originally going for a steel fork, but wanted the 1-1/8" steerer as a nod to the 21st century ;) and there's just no matching crowns for my choice of lugwork. When Roger at WCC explained how much weight I'd save for a little extra cost, I found I could live with myself :rolleyes:

The geometry is, of course, mine, all mine. The frame is based around 54 cm ST and TT 74.5 STA, 73.5 HTA. I have short thighs - can't sit in the zip code aft of the bike - short torso - can't abide bars and saddle being in adjacent zip codes - but long arms (all those years in the Royal Air Force - now my knuckles about scrape on the ground ;) ) which means, unlike most 50-0somethings, I can't live with bars up near saddle height.

Otherwise, it's a road racing frame. Should be as stiff as Cipolini's hair gel, but with steel's somewhat forgiving nature. Why a road racer when I should be old enough to have more common sense? Because I'm the one paying for it!

For now, I really should be fixing my wife's business computer - one snag about being half of our 'family' company is that the half I am includes IT :eek: So, here's a shot of "Bob" as she arrived, un-touched apart from a King headset.

Back soon with more, once I downsize the digitals to RBR friendly dimensions

Regards

Dereck
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
To move this along, here's a close up of the front end. I really wanted my name on the other side of the TT, but someone pointed out that there's a brake cable in the way...:eek:

These are decals - some things have gone downhill since the 60's, when it would have been painted on by some genious with incredible talent and very steady hands, but that's life, I suppose.

However - the colours are actually our company logo colours (company - Sue, who's the brains and beauty, and me, who does the rest...) and I asked BJs to do the lug lining in the best contrast. Note that it's black lining between orange/orange and white between orange/black.

The head tube extension - well, even if I do have my bars down a ways, they're not down as far a ways as they would have been in the mid 70's :(

The paint standard is fantastic, and everything has a really deep clearcoat over it - so some other things have improved since way-back-when :)

Regards

Dereck
 

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naranjito
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Now that is a nice frame! Being english myself I´ve always liked homegrown handmade frames and forks. I´ve never had a BJ though, despite living only 50 miles from Leeds. How are you going to build it up? If it was me, I think it'd be campy centaur (for the alu bits - keep away from carbon on this one), with a chorus alu crank, and a nice set of traditional wheels (chorus or record hubs on some mavic rims, 32 or 36 hole cross-3. What about bar tape and saddle?

foz
 

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This is the kind of thread I really enjoy reading. One man's internal thought processes and actions toward spec'ing out then receiving a full custom frame and fork. I've been there twice, though both times for me have been for carbon fiber. I'm so 21'st century for an older guy.;)
 

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Dereck,
Congratulations on a beautiful frame!!! I love lugged steel and the crew at BJ has done an outstanding job with yours. Especially love the outlined lugs...stunning work. I also really like the way the carbon fork came out. IMO I think it looks better than a steel fork would with the OS tubes on the frame. Really pretty. Keep us updated on the build hope we can get together for a ride soon!!

SPG
 

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Great thread

Enjoyed the story and the pictures... Now let's see some close ups of the seat cluster and the drop-outs :)

Steve-O (Drooling over lugs since the Handbuilt Bicycle Show in San Jose)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
foz said:
Now that is a nice frame! Being english myself I´ve always liked homegrown handmade frames and forks. I´ve never had a BJ though, despite living only 50 miles from Leeds. How are you going to build it up? If it was me, I think it'd be campy centaur (for the alu bits - keep away from carbon on this one), with a chorus alu crank, and a nice set of traditional wheels (chorus or record hubs on some mavic rims, 32 or 36 hole cross-3. What about bar tape and saddle?

foz
Hi Foz
Some will call down all sorts on my head, but it's built up with Shimano. I did think about going Campag - after all, my last BJ had a Campag drivetrain, though none of us would have wasted money on Campag brakes (Weinman sidepulls were the cheapest and lightest of our day, IIRC - who pays good money to slow down a racing bike ? ;) ).

Why Shimano? Usual racers' reasons - I know it works, having ridden a fair amount on my 'old' 9 speed rigged Gunnar, and I prefer the shape of the brake lever hoods to Campag. As the parts of a bike that your body contacts are somewhat high on the list - the drivetrain just hangs around the back and moves the chain around, as long as it works, I aren't fussed about it all that much - that's where I went.

It's basically a Shimano Compact ahead of Ultegra. - 34/50 x 12/25, which is enough gearing range for my feeble body. Even the 50 x 12 is a tad excessive - after all, I was starting to make folk edgy in 1973, made it to first cat on all of a 52 x 14 - I doubt I've improved all that much in the intervening 30-odd years to where 53 x 12 or thereabouts would be any use, let alone an advantage ;)

You are right in one respect - if I'd gone Campag, would have stayed with a Centaur alloy compact. The Shimano cranks have a good polished finish, but a dull grey on the rings - practical, as the inevitable chew-up on the backside of the 50T will be less obvious - but not that pretty.

It was a little risky going to the compact - but I based that on having run my 9 speed on a 38/50 with complete success, so figured Shimano wouldn't have spent so long on a 34/50 chainset they claim works on a standard front derailleur if it didn't. All's well that ends well - my blasts up and down the street suggests it shifts as well as the 'old' stuff, if not better.

Now, if I could find good bars and stem in polished alloy? Thank goodness for Thomson's zero setback seatpost in polished alloy! I even had my saddle a tad forward on that - a setback would be useless to me, plus the Thomson is a great piece of engineering. Wheels are Mavic Ksyrium Elites in polished alloy. of course - though I have a hankering for a good pair of conventionally built wheels - DA in OP, maybe?

Insight - a custom CF is high on the list when I hit the lottery :) A ride buddy has a custom Calfee and it is one awesome frame - very stealthy, in natural CF, and built to his specific positioning needs. OTOH, another buddy - who is a tad older than me - has a Colnago that's a real dream machine with full everything Record/CF, but he confesses that it leaves him a little beat-up after 40 miles ... I told him to stop using his Ferrarri to do the shopping :cool: For longer rides, the poor so-and-so is forced to choose between his two Serrottas :p

So, being of a less than adventurous nature, I got a direct linear descendant of a bike I rode 33 years ago,albeit with the latest tubing and a CF fork.

Now, off to go shopping .. it's a full life being your own Executive Vice President :)

Regards

Dereck
 

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Nice bike. I'v always had a "thing" for English bikes. I rode a Falcon Team Pro for most of the 70's. Wish I still had it.:( I loved that bike. I always admired Jacksons. I liked Ron Coopers too. Are they/he still around making bikes?
 

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sounds like a good build, but I have to say if it was me I'd have tried a "modern-retro" type build. I'm not sure about an alloy stem, but maybe thompson makes one too? If not, there may be threads on the retro forum or sonewhere similar about removing the black anodising or paint and polishing the bare metal on a new black stem.

we need photos!!!

foz
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Mr. Versatile said:
Nice bike. I'v always had a "thing" for English bikes. I rode a Falcon Team Pro for most of the 70's. Wish I still had it.:( I loved that bike. I always admired Jacksons. I liked Ron Coopers too. Are they/he still around making bikes?
IIRC - saw several Coopers in a bike shop in Sausalito, CA - that's the one, just over the bridge from SF. From what I could find out from the guys in the shop then, they are Cooper's sort-off US agency! Real nice classic frames, well made and detailed. Go to http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Bike_Shops/A-Bicycle-Odyssey.htm

From my connections - albeit slender - over in England, their framebuilders have lost little of what they always had. Like my BJ and those Coopers, the aim is extremely well built frames with superb detailing and plain, classy design - apart from Hetchins, whose lugs out-bling anyone to this day!

For that sceptic who reckons you can't tell frames apart with the paint removed - wait till you see the shot of the initials "BJ" engraved in the seat stay wrap-over tops.

More photos to come - I have to spend the day learning how to maintain our company website :eek:

Back later

Dereck
 

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A handsome specimen. To these modernist Left Coast eyes, it looks utterly, absolutely, quintessentially British. It looks like you could conquer India with the thing. Right and Proper.

Ride it in good health.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Thank you Mapei - one of my short list was a Landshark - I'd have gone for a red, white and blue based on the Union Jack, John S to do his thing on it!

Nearly forget to give credit where due!

Bob Jackson - http://www.bobjacksoncycles.co.uk/default.php

And, their US agents, World Class Cycles - http://www.worldclasscycles.com/

And just found, lurking on the old faithful Win 98 machine in the basement, a little peer at BJ's place, just south of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

One's the front of the shop - they own the whole block, use a couple of storefronts for their bike shop business, rent the other storefronts out and make frames in the rest of the building. I recall that they even paint the frames on the premises too.

Regards

Dereck
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
And a last quicky for now - the seatpost lug area.

The seat stays are what I'd always have raced in the 70's given a chance - nearly 5/8" diameter at their max, wrapped right over the top of the top lug. The BJ initials are engraved, then painted black - so much for the theory that all frames look the same naked ;)

"Sentimental Journey" - it's been more than 30 years since I slung a leg over my last BJ. If that isn't a sentimental journey, what is? It's a decal, BTW, but buried under one heck of a clearcoat.

The Reynolds decal is where it always would have been. I don't care about builders who leave off their tube maker's decals - that's their affair.

Note that the lug lining is black on this all-orange area of the frame.

More later ...

Dereck
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Okay, a couple more - after this, I'll post some shots of the finished bike - honest:eek:

I had the cable stops moved onto the head tube, after spending a lot of time keeping the paint from getting worn by the der. outers on my Gunnar. On reflection, am not too sure if it was the right thing to do or not, but not to worry - the gears shift like I expect them to, so it's fine there.

If my fuzzy memory serves, BJ always used decals on their head tubes, rather than rivetted on badges, but it's a long ways back to 1973...

The BB shot - well, this could ellicit the squirrels of the C vs S lobby to run out on their tree branches and throw their nuts at me ;) It's a Shimano compact, got it from Total Cycling in Northern Ireland, as no-one had them in the US when I bought it a couple of months ago. Cost - about $180 for the cranks, IIRC, might change a tad with the exchange rate. I also got the matching BB - they arrived about as fast as I've experienced from US mail order sellers and at about the same shipping cost - go figure!

Having blasted up and around the neighbourhood, it all shifts as well as Shimano said it would, with a standard Ultegra double front der.

Why Shimano and not the Campag that my ride buddies figured a Brit should be fitting to his Brit built bike?

Easy - I have a couple of years experience with Shimano, the tools and my wheels were Shimano hubbed. Over two-odd years, it's always worked. I admit to still thinking like a roadie - you can't win if you can't get over the finish line.

Ergo, the bike has to work 100% My 'old' Shimano worked, and I like the shape of their levers - so explain to me why should I change? It's a bunch of mechanical bits that move a chain around - about as passion-arousing as an American car's automatic gearbox ;)

It was also very easy to install on the bike - far easier than my 'old' Ultegra 9 sp double and triple cranks.

When you get over the crank - and I don't really like the ring finish, if that helps any ;) - notice those three black rings above and below the longer centre trim panel on the ST. That white lining, and the black trim rings, are all hand-painted, not decals. There's also lining around the little diamond re-inforcement panels around the bottle cage mounts - white lining on the ST, black around those on the DT.

I suppose they'd build you one just like mine if you asked, and I'd be flattered, but for now, this frame is definitely unique and mine, all mine. I suspect it won't matter whether it's a 2006, or when it's a 2016 - it'll still be unique.

Which, for me, beats the heck out of knowing I've got one of only thousands built in that model year :)

Maybe I'll take her around my LBS and weigh her too :p Back soon with the built up shots - she looks like bike now, though I might tinker some with the bar and brake lever positioning before I toss the $5.00 bar tape for the black Cinelli. Next comes spoiling her beautiful lines - I really have to put my computer onto her...

Regards

Dereck
 

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Really nice bike. I've always wanted a BJ, and your's is especially nice. I agree that the chainrings are the one let down. Are they anodized that color/finish? If so, I wonder if Dave Hickey's polishing method would work. I'd link to it, but it must be archived.

Now, not to rag on you at all, but I wonder where are all the racists who give anyone in the US who buys a non-US frame? I guess that as long as white guys are building the frame, its okay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
bwana said:
Really nice bike. I've always wanted a BJ, and your's is especially nice. I agree that the chainrings are the one let down. Are they anodized that color/finish? If so, I wonder if Dave Hickey's polishing method would work. I'd link to it, but it must be archived.

Now, not to rag on you at all, but I wonder where are all the racists who give anyone in the US who buys a non-US frame? I guess that as long as white guys are building the frame, its okay.
The rings are the one let-down - you couldn't polish them up with anything likely to be found in the local hardware store, though a pro in the field might come up with some ideas. The one saving grace seems to be that the finish won't chew up on the back of the large ring from chain shifts, but most of us can live with that on polished or black finished rings ;) However, it meets my first criteria for a bike component - it works!

Not sure about your other point. I've seen a fair few of the handbuilt frames available in the US - my own shortlist was another Gunnar, a Waterford, Landshark and BJ. All were frames that I had actually seen examples of, and left my fingerprints on them. I've looked at a vast range of websites of other builders, and feel sure that their work is as good as those in my personal list. One criteria I couldn't avoid - I would never buy a bike frame without having seen examples of their work (though if I win the lottery, I might make an exception for a Sachs ;) )

I suspect that if I was a racer in modern times, I'd be slinging some collection of Taiwanese assembled alloy tubes around - or maybe not. We always equated the 'best bike' with the 'racing bike' - after all, there's no point in going into something as hard as a bike race without loading the odds in your favour across the board.

I have no idea of what colour folk built my frame. In most of England, you call someone up on the phone, you can tell they're from London, Yorkshire, Liverpool or wherever - you can't tell where their ancestors came from until you meet them personally. Mostly, we're English. This attitude has a lot to commend it,but that's nothing to do with frame building.

Regards

Dereck
 

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Dereck said:
IIRC - saw several Coopers in a bike shop in Sausalito, CA - that's the one, just over the bridge from SF. From what I could find out from the guys in the shop then, they are Cooper's sort-off US agency! Real nice classic frames, well made and detailed. Go to http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Bike_Shops/A-Bicycle-Odyssey.htm

From my connections - albeit slender - over in England, their framebuilders have lost little of what they always had. Like my BJ and those Coopers, the aim is extremely well built frames with superb detailing and plain, classy design - apart from Hetchins, whose lugs out-bling anyone to this day!

For that sceptic who reckons you can't tell frames apart with the paint removed - wait till you see the shot of the initials "BJ" engraved in the seat stay wrap-over tops.

More photos to come - I have to spend the day learning how to maintain our company website :eek:

Back later

Dereck
Thanks Derek. I appreciate the info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Okay - photos soon, I promise, but right now I should be doing something important.

Took "Bob" out for a quicky 40-ish miles this morning. WOW!

Okay, the first bit was interesting. I roll out of my development and a left turn sends me down this bendy hill - I can hit 35 in an aero tuck, but there's a restaurant on the left at the bottom, opposite a parking lot for the C & O Canal park - plenty of chance for squirrels to be reversing out into the road on the fastest bit.

All the way down the hill, I keep wondering why I'm turning too tight, backing off, turning too tight.

Then I recall that I do this on my Gunnar - long wheelbase, laidback touring type bike and I'm now riding something the likes of which I haven't ridden in a fair while (approx 33 years!) and what I'm doing is steering, instead of just thinking about it and letting it happen.

Five miles down the road and "Bob" and I are firm friends. Stiff - yes, the old Gunnar will feel like something's broken next time out, I suspect. Comfortable - definitely, given that my riding position is a "tape measured eyeball job" and I think the bars are too high. Maybe the stem's too short by a cm, but that costs money to fix, so maybe I'll live with it for a while. Goes where you think about pointing it, corners like it should.

Idle thoughts - an English idea of a road racing bottom bracket height precludes the American notion of 'stand over height". The entire bike is about 1.5" higher than my Gunnar - you either stand next to it - necessary - or ride it - great fun! Even my Ti/CF lovin' ride buddy, on one of his two Serottas today, was seriously impressed!

Meanwhile - the spec.
Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium Elites, Conti 2000, folders
Drivetrain: Ultegra / Shimano compact 34/50 x 12-25
Sitting on stuff: Fizik Pave, Thomson Elite post
Holding up front bits: Deda Magic, shallow Italian bend, FSA stem (cheapy, until things settle)
Trivia: Crank Bros Quattro pedals, Taxc Tao bottle cages, Cannondale seat pack (clip-on, not the Velcro fastened model). Cheap-O gel bar tape, until things get settled (Cinelli gel tape waiting in wings, in black). Polar Cr200 HRM/Computer/Cadence/List of local coffee shops/other stuff I haven't figured yet (for pointing out when I'm going flat out and failing miserably, as if I didn't know already!)

Other credits - Total Cycling, Northern Ireland, for shipping a Taiwanese made crankset to the US real quick and cheaper than the US too!

Clive Sousa's "Glory Cycles" for the Deda bars and the seatpost (the former - the only handy place I found to get them, the latter because I've only had the frame on order since last October, had forgotten the seatpost and they had one!) If you ever get the chance, talk to Clive - his store's in Orlando, FL. He's a former pro from South Africa - who's lead-out man was some new kid called Robby Hunter! Clive still races, though not so seriously. Yeah, I'd bet sitting on his wheel is real fun :eek: I have to figure out how to get back to Orlando, meet Clive in person.

Be good

Dereck
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
One more time, with feeling!
(and one can hear some mumbles about 'won't he go away' and 'can't we have him stuffed and put in a museum' ;) )

Finally together and ridden, as above. A slight gruntling noise was tracked down to the chain. This is the first Shimano chain I've ridden - always had SRAM on my other bikes - and I really miss that split-able link, whatever you call it. Suspect the Shimano chain with be gone pretty soon...

Right now, I must apologise for that dongle of steerer sticking up above my stem - a slight miscalculation on my part, I must add. It'll be gone soon - I've promised myself, so it should get attended to.

If you're looking at the frame and wondering how such a vertically challenged donkey can ride something that big - well, pull up a sandbag and I'll explain it.

First off - the BB is pretty high. On World Class Cycles, it's described as "High English 10.75" Translates to some 1.25" higher than my dear old Gunnar, also translates to 'can pedal around about any corner you expect to stay atop the bike in" I grounded a pedal on the old Gunnar once - forgot how old I'm supposed to be, and went around a steep corner like the guy in front. Not fun, though I stayed atop of matters...

"Bob" is basically a 54 x 54 in the ST and TT regions. However, what we figured out was that we started there, then dropped the back end of the TT one cm and lifted the front end one cm. That got me a shorter ST and a longer HT - or you could call it a 53 cm ST with a head tube off a 55 cm. Subtle, you really need to see the frame against a reference horizontal to see it.

Also makes it possible for me to straddle the frame, both feet on the floor - when I did this seriously, bikes were sized and dimensioned for riding, not 'standover height'.

I still don't know what it weighs - some lighter than the Gunnar (and she donated the Mavic K's), some heavier than my ride buddy's all Campag, all CF Colnago C50 (which I am convinced, but can't prove it, must have some parts missing :) ).

Enjoy

Dereck
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
It's all in the details!

Here's one of the seat stay/TT area.

Not sure if this area of a frame is subject to fashion, but this was actually in fashion back in 1970-ish!

The time-triallists (known as clock-bashers in some circles ;) )that far exceeded road-racers in numbers in England around that time all favoured skinny, almost aneamic seatstays that ended at the seat bolt eyes, or the back of the seat tube. Roadies favoured the thickest stays going, and wrapped over the seat lug - just like my new baby.

In a society where races where everyone started together were viewed as strange, intensely foreign events, this was important to us!

I've also tossed in some shots of the rear brake mount area. This was once simply a straight tube, maybe gussetted onto the seat stays. I think I prefer this curvy, rectangular cross sectioned piece.
 
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