Monday, May 16, 2011

New Toy

Got a new toy on the way:

This is a Bianchi Grizzly, ca. 1988/1987.  The Grizz is a classic fully rigid MTB and was at the top of Bianchi's line.  There were a couple of variants of the Grizz (Super G, Team G) that were a little nicer than the base version, but that aside, this was about as good as it got during the golden era of rigid mountain bikes.

This golden era ran from the late 80's into the early 90's.  Prior to this, the mountain bike was just getting sorted out, for instance, angles tended to be slacker.  Following this era, front (then rear) suspension started appearing and the brightest minds in the industry started working on this, relegating fully rigid bikes to the midrange.  Plus, lugs started going out of fashion as well - this bike is fully lugged, even the fork has a vestige of a crown, you can see little in this picture:

The celeste handlebars are a nicely excessive touch.  The Deore derailleur is classic silver and surprisingly pristine as are the biopace rings.  Silver rims are nicely retro and double rear eyelets will fit with my plan for this as a city bike:

Japan in general has tons of bikes, but even by Japanese standards, Esaka, our little corner of Osaka, is pretty incredible on the bike front.  Here is a very typical street scene in our neighborhood:

Every nook and cranny is stuffed w/bicycles:

Even the seemingly innocuous park across the road from our place, pictured from our seven floor verandah, covers the Esaka Park Bicycle Catacombs:

 Here are a couple shots of the entrance to the catacombs:

Here is the north chamber:

Another shot of the north chamber that hints at the enormity of these catacombs:

Then there is the south chamber of the Esaka Park Bicycle Catacombs:

Keep in mind that this is under the park!

So the plan is to get the Grizz decked out as a city bike and join the fun here in Esaka.  A road bike really would be way overkill - most of the bike traffic moves along at about 10 mph:

As we can see, spandex/drop bars are not the way to go in the Esaka bike culture:

So my plan for the Grizz is a utilitarian city bike.  Here is what I'm thinking:

Stage 1:  The existing saddle looks spent and the aftermarket seatpost is something I'd like to replace.  For the saddle, I'm thinking a nice white Selle San Marcos Rolls:

Of course, the only thing that goes better with Bianchi celeste than white is more celeste, so I'll be pleased if I can track down a good condition old Bianchi saddle like this, although I'm not going to hold my breath:

Notice that I'm not considering a Brooks for this bike.  This is for two reasons.  The first is that the value of a Brooks really comes into play for longer rides, where they stay comfy all day long.  The second is that this Bianchi is going to be an all-weather utility bike.  And so while a Brooks can serve well in that environment, it takes some special effort for waterproofing, remembering a saddle cover, and so forth.  However, for this bike, I'm going for maximal ease of use and as wonderful as leather saddles are, they do require some overhead.

The saddle and seatpost are really the only mods I feel I must do just to get this minimally serviceable. 

Stage 2:  Centerline tires and Berthoud Stainless Steel fenders.  Berthoud stainless are both bomb-proof and classy, most other offerings suffer in one of those regards.

Stage 3:  Nitto front campee rack with removable lowrider brackets are the best heavy duty front rack if you've got cantilever brakes for mounting:

Stage 4:  Dynohub wheelset.  If I'm going to make a front wheel, I probably can't get a match rim to existing rims, so I may as well make a whole new wheelset.

The new dynohub Velo Orange is importing is not a game changer, sorry, but it is a pig at 700 grams.  Schmidt is still tops for 2011 although Shimano is breathing down their neck with the DH-3N80.  The Sondelux, at a mere 390 grams, is looking good - I had a Son28 that I purchased around the year 2000, rode ten years on it, then sold it for as much as I paid for it:

For the rear hub, a Paul Components Jono hub will do:

I'd like to lace these hubs to a set of Sun Rhyno Lite XL rims.

Lastly, this bike could finally be the reason to get some of those wonderful White Industries city pedals:


Dale said...

Nice post, glad to see you back!! I bought a set of ticino cyclo tourist wheels after reading your review of the hubs and I'm very pleased. The rims look great and they are very, very round :-)

robatsu said...

Those Ticino hubs are the schizz, no doubt. Even now, a year later after the aura of newness has dispersed I still love them.

JHo said...

Hey there! I like your Grizz! I just found one from 1988 in a friends garage that there tenant could not take with them thus I got it for free. It is pretty clean and in excellent condition. I am going to turn it into a single speed and use the Deore XT componets for my 1987 FAT Chance Wicket! Now I don't know if you are familiar with FAT Chance and Fat City Bikes that use to be Boston, but the Wicket was the frame that changed the geometry of mt. bikes for the 90's. In 1987 the FAT Chance Wicket had Ritchy and Scott looking closely at tighter geometry. By the 90's most top end bikes and any mass produced middle of the line frames got tighter. I bought my 1987 FAT Chance Wicket in the Haight/Ashbury at VeloCity Bikes on Stanyan St. for 1500 bucks and was the first to have one on Mt.Tam. It was so fast on the handling that I returned it and asked for another bike. THey laughed and took me for another ride the next day and showed me how to handle it on the Hoo Koo e Koo trail. I was sold and never looked at another Mt. Bike again. So when you talk about the best steel frames of the times (1980 - 1990's) I must politely correct you by saying, FAT City Bikes of Boston was actually making some of the best steel frames in the country and Chris Chance changed the industries standards.
To give you a better idea how great they were and are still, I just raced this last season on my Wicket on short track mt. bike courses in Portland Oregon and the geometry of most of the carbon fiber hard tails were the same angles as my wicket. The drawback were my 26 inch wheels.
So what was my impression of the Grizzley? Cool bike and liked the nostalgia era that it represented, but the angles were so racked out for me that I felt like I was on a mini chopper. I am so used to straighter anlges that it was unsafe for me at first. Any way, thanks for your info on the bike and have fun!