1980s Eclipse Countryman and Bob Yak

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  • While ordering the stem tool from Alex's Cycles in Japan I treated myself to some LL sized MKS leather-lined deep toe clips so I can use normal footwear when I want to. The gears worked fine, requiring almost no re-adjustment.

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  • I replaced the original black Brooks B17 with a honey coloured Team Professional Titanium model and I have left off the Blackburn low rider front rack for everyday use. I am using a long-setback SR MTE-100 seat post while I wait for a couple I have ordered in the correct diameter which may provide sufficient set back for the saddle in a lighter and more elegant solution.

    I was delighted with ride from the 27 x 1 1/4 Panaracer Pasela kevlar beaded tyres, the only drawback is that I have to partially deflate the rear tyre to remove it because of the front facing horizontal dropouts.

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  • Very nice! I found that 35mm Vittoria Hyper Voyagers just fit under Chromoplastic mudguards, albeit with tighter clearances than is ideal, and I have to deflate the tyres to get them through the brake calipers. As I'm usually doing this within easy reach of a track pump I don't mind too much.

  • What an absolute stunner, truly beautiful!

  • This is perfect!

  • @Thrustvector It is good to know that 35mm wide tyres will fit.

    @vp1337 and @veLLo thanks, I am looking forward to getting out on it again once the icy weather clears.

  • Classy build. How might this compare to a modern tourer?
    Interested in your thoughts on this topic since you've gone to so much effort.
    In any case - chapeau to you sir

  • Classy build. How might this compare to a modern tourer?
    Interested in your thoughts on this topic since you've gone to so much effort.

    Okay, here are a few reflections.

    In the mid 1980s, when I bought the Eclipse Countryman, quality off-the-peg touring bicycles (including others such as Holdsworth and Claud Butler) all looked pretty similar with chrome-molybdenum steel frames, 72, 72 degrees geometry, drop handle bars, centre-pull brakes, and usually fitted with a double chainring like 32-50t and a 6 speed 13-28t freewheel (a lowest ratio of 31" or 2.5m development). I wanted a lower bottom gear like those available on custom tourers of the day and the dealer was happy to upgrade the chainset to the T.A. Pro 5 Vis 26-42t double, but this was seen as unusual (a lowest ratio of 25" or 2m development). The T.A. offers a lower q-factor than modern chainsets, which is noticeable, but it requires a flat sided derailleur to avoid it scraping against the inner surface of right-hand crank. Once I found the Campagnolo Victory LX derailleur in the early 1990s, I converted it to a triple chainset, 26-38-48t. The advantage of the friction shifting is that one can mix and match components and not be tied to a single manufacturer to maintain compatibility.

    All the bearings are cup-and-cone type which makes for straightforward maintenance and an easy upgrade by ordering higher quality ball bearings from somewhere like Simply Bearings. The exception is the headset which uses roller bearings, though these can still be found as new-old-stock. There are no braze-ons for bottlecages or a low-rider front rack, which are now found on most modern tourers, though the Blackburn FL-1 clamp-on low-rider rack I have works fine. The downside to restoring an older bicycle is the availability of comparable wheels new (Though Velo Orange and Sun still offer 27" rims) and the narrower spacing of the rear drop-outs at 126mm on the Eclipse compared to 130mm or 135mm. @Thrustvector has an Eclipse Countryman that is a conversion to 130mm spacing, which a framebuilder can do at a reasonable price, and his uses 700c rims with the brake pads lowered accordingly.

    Modern touring bikes come in a wider range of geometry, frame materials, rim or disk brakes, 26 inch or 700c wheels, flat hybrid-style or dropped handlebars. Cartridge bearings are common, though it is not clear to me how many are easily serviced without expensive workshop tools. Quill stems seem to only be available as a high-end option, which is a pity. I place a premium on user serviceability so I would not fit factory-only service hubs like the Rohloff. Bottom bracket dynamos have been replaced by low-friction dynamo hubs, but the best like Son are factory service only -- even the wiring on their lamps it seems. A bike like the Kona Sutra offers a modern alternative retaining the advantages of a steel frame, but they don't come cheap and still need conversion to a dynamo lighting system. On others such as the Condor Heritage, or Spa Cycles 725 Steel Tourer, I would have to replace the "brifters" with bar-end shifters to enable a back-up friction mode which further adds to the cost. The alternative is to build up an off-the-peg traditional frame like the Bob Jackson World Tour, which is probably the route I would go if buying new.

    In my view, an older high-quality steel touring frame in good condition still provides a sensible alternative for building up a nice touring bike, especially if it was initially made for 700c wheels.

  • I bought mine from a bloke on the CTC forums who was local to me and repaired/refurbed/sold bikes; he reset the back end, built a good set of wheels, and built it up with parts from his bits box. I got the bike because it was in my size and relatively cheap, but then liked it so much that after I'd put a couple thousand km on it I paid for a respray and to have bottle bosses added. Compared to a modern tourer I guess it's possibly less stiff - no oversized tubing etc, though that brings advantages in ride comfort - and possibly has slightly narrower clearances (though as noted I can fit 35mm tyres under the guards), but it rides really well for my kind of cycling, i.e. day rides and exploring with the odd bit of rough-stuffing. As a tourer, I've only really done light/credit card touring on it, but it's been great.

    The only reason I'd consider replacing it would be to go custom; at 6'5" I could stand to have a slightly slacker seat tube so as not to have my saddle way back, and a slightly longer top tube would mean I don't need quite so long a stem and bars. I'd possibly/probably go for slightly larger clearances (handy for mud when rough-stuffing), though that would require the use of cantis or direct-mount centrepulls. I'm retrogrouchy enough not to be fussed about STIs and/or disc brakes; for my kind of cycling their advantages aren't overwhelming, especially when set against the cost/versatility benefits of the old kit.

  • After much searching for custom solutions, and some head scratching, I finally found a nice solution to the mounting of a rear lamp to a Jim Blackburn rear carrier -- much neater than the old ESGE aluminium mount I used in the distant past.

    The Cateye SP-11 mount is designed to fit a seat post or handlebar, but it will clamp down small enough to firmly hold the twin rods at the top-back of the rear carrier. There is some rubber damping material which allows it to conform to the shape of the rods. Fortunately, the mount will accept a much wider range of their rear lights than listed in the instructions. I took out the toothed band and reinserted it in the opposite direction which improved the fitting.

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  • When mounted horizontally to the top-back of the Blackburn rear carrier the SP-11 mount is correctly oriented to allow the vertical insertion of my Cateye LD-TD1100 rear light. I like this lamp because of 2 additional sideways pointing LEDs on each side, plus it takes AA batteries like the rest of my gear (GPS unit, headtorch, and small back-up front light).

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  • My aim is to mount a strong bottle cage to take a sole 1 litre bidon on the down tube as the seat tube is occupied by a frame-fitting pump. There are no braze-on bottle mounts on the frame and I would like to leave the decals intact so I have ordered a pair of the second version of Zefal Gizmo mounts to try.

    Meanwhile, I came across the Wolf Tooth Morse Cage, which they originally commissioned King Cage to manufacture, but is now made in-house. This bottle cage allows a generous 32mm of lengthwise movement in the placement of the cage, which is half the distance between the 64mm spacing of standard bottle cage mounts. I went for the Ti version which seems strongly made and it feels light as a feather (32g), as no stainless steel ones are available anywhere.

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  • This is so nice.

  • In the absence of brazed-on bottle cage bosses, I thought I would try Zefal Gizmo mounts. These use unusual zip ties with a horizontal profile to the section which clasps the toothed area. They are then tightened further as the cage bolts are tightened. Unfortunately, it turns out that the zip ties' clasps are weak and they repeatedly failed as I tightened the bolts. In the end I ordered a couple of additional Gizmo kits to get the zip ties and then proceeded to tighten the new ones cautiously, with only one failure that again needed replacement. The bolts are plated rather than stainless steel, which seems a rather cheap move.

    I think I'll write to Zefal as this is a flaw in the materials used for the zip ties. If it failed on a front fork, while holding a dry bag cage it could cause problems. In the photograph you can see four of the failed zip ties and a fresh one on the right.

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  • The finished bottle cage installation looks okay, though the thick mounts raise the cage a bit more than I would like. We'll have to see how long the Gizmo mounts last.

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  • After some careful measuring I ordered a Carradice Super C Audax saddlebag from the factory, a birthday gift from my spouse. It seems to be a good size for long day trips and the interior zipped pocket is a useful addition, along with the quick-release buckles.

    I swapped the white leather straps for Carradice black ones and I used a black longer strap to go round the seatpost. This left a white leather patch that takes the seatpost strap which I dyed black using an Artline 109 permanent maker pen. I applied three coats, rubbing after each drying until the colour seemed stable.

    I am really pleased with its appearance and the way it rests on the Blackburn rear carrier, plus there is no rubbing against my legs.

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  • I always wanted a BOB Yak trailer for cargo duties. I like the idea of a single-wheel trailer that leans with the bike. Now that they have been discontinued after almost 30 years, I bought one of the last ones available new -- the 28 Plus model in black.

    Some assembly and setting up is required. It is going to be a close fit beneath the bicycle's lower rear rack and mudguard mountings.

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  • I decided to reduce potential road noise from grit/spray flying against the Bob Yak trailer's alloy mudguard by applying underseal. Some searching of forums, mainly for motorcycles, suggested 3M rubberised underseal and I bought 3M Car Body Schutz 08877 in aerosol, the type available in Europe. After 4 coats, it had built up a 1mm layer. When dry, I stencilled round the inside fittings and cut out the rubber so that they mounted firmly against the alloy at the attachment points.

    I swapped in a B&M Secula Permanent battery-powered light which was a similar size and orientation to the original passive reflector, shortening the upper mounting screw to the same length. It required a small amount of black Sugru to fill in a gap around the slightly narrower lower mounting pin which prevents the unit from twisting off centre. It was rather too easy to turn on so I took out the black button, which has a length of plastic rod that operates the unit's switch. I removed a fraction of a mm off the length of the rod using a sharp blade, before refitting it. A very slight lengthening of the rod, by gently pulling it with some narrow pliers, resulted in the ideal force needed to turn the light on. The Secula offers a wide field of view and it provides helpful sideways illumination for nighttime trailer use.

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  • This is impressive home upgrading

  • Very nice, and duly noted for metal mudguard upgrades! What if anything did you use to mask it?

  • Very nice, and duly noted for metal mudguard upgrades! What if anything did you use to mask it?

    I think the idea originally came from my reading Tony Oliver's Touring Bikes book a long time ago, but I don't have my copy in the UK to check.

    Here is a somewhat detailed summary of what I did to mask it:
    I used 35mm wide STUK masking tape cut into short lengths of about 25mm. I applied each strip with the short side halfway inside a section of the inner lip and wrapped them laterally round outside of the mudguard toward the centre line. Each small section butted against the next along the inner lip. The front and rear of the mudguard used narrower strips. Once the inner lip was completely masked I applied 60--80mm lengths longitudinally to the outside of the mudguard until no gaps remained. After a couple of days drying, the excess rubber underseal came away nicely at the edge of the masking tape, carefully removed one lateral strip at a time.

  • The fork of a Bob Yak trailer mounts to the rear dropouts using two bobbins -- grooved metal outer sleeves that attach to the outside of the quick release (qr) fittings of the replacement skewer provided. When the skewer is inserted with the lever in the closed position between 10mm and 19mm of thread must be exposed where the skewer exits the outside of the the dropout. Any excess needs to be removed with a hacksaw and the end of the threads rounded with a file (or 180 grit abrasive paper, which I used), leaving the skewer as long as possible. Two M5 nuts were fitted first, so that the thread would be reformed when they were removed after the sawing and filing. In the case of my Eclipse Countryman with a dropout width of 126mm, I had to saw off 6mm to reach a 19mm protrusion. However, I found that the adjustable (non-lever) outside fitting would not tighten sufficiently, allowing the qr lever to close too easily (the fitting for the bobbin bolt is the same threaded channel as the skewer is inserted into, so they can collide internally). I filed off a further 1mm and tried the lever, which seemed to tighten better, though still not as tightly on the maximum setting as the Campagnolo qr.

    Unfortunately, when I took the bike for trials, the rear wheel moved in the horizontal dropouts. Finally, I removed a further 2mm from the skewer, leaving 16mm of thread exposed, which now allows the qr to be set so that the effort to close the lever is greater than the Campagnolo one. At the maximum setting I cannot even close it. It should still be adjustable for a modern 130mm dropout width, but probably not a 135mm. I do have a spare uncut BOB skewer that can be used if the need arises. The bobbins both needed to be reversed so that their grooves face outwards, which then matches the width of the trailer fork.

    The good news is that there is masses of clearance between the trailer's fork and the bicycle's rear mudguard/rack and derailleur fittings. So the fork can pivot upwards and downwards at severe angles, e.g., going up or down a steep ramp, with no risk of fouling the bike parts.

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  • I fitted the fork to the front of the trailer's frame and it is now ready for a proper test ride.

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  • Today I first rode the bike by itself, with the BOB qr skewer fitted, for a test ride up the steepest hills near me through the small streets that ascend towards Crookes quarry, Sheffield. There were no problems and the rear wheel was stable in the dropouts.

    Later, I attached the trailer and took it for its maiden voyage up the same steep route. Once I turned out through our driveway up the initial ascent, the handling immediately felt intuitive. On the steepest hills I could now feel the trailer weight and some additional drag from the extra rear wheel. The handling was great and it felt like a normal bike leaning round bends and weaving in and out of parked cars, just with a "dragon's tail" following. The flag was useful when I checked over my shoulder going through junctions, as it reminded me to allow time for the extra length of the trailer. Next trip I'll load the trailer up with some weight.

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  • Lovely!
    The Bob Yak is one of the things for me with the highest want and lowest need combination...

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1980s Eclipse Countryman and Bob Yak

Posted by Avatar for Nick_S @Nick_S