Motobecane bottom bracket work.

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I’ve been working on this Motobecane for a really wonderful and helpful coworker at my former bakery. She has always been willing to cover for others, she has learned everything I’ve tried to teach her, and she has always made my job seem easier. She had a few bikes from which to choose, and she went with this old mixte. The Motobecane needed some work, but it wasn’t in the worst shape I’ve seen. The rear hub needed overhauling. The bottom bracket needed overhauling. The derailleurs were all gunked up and had to be removed, cleaned, and lubed. I cleaned up the frame as much as I could while most of the parts were off, then I put it all back together and voila! A tiny bit of tuning and it seems ready to ride. I put some air in the tires, but it’s late and dark and I was up before 5am today, so the test ride will have to be tomorrow. More pictures to come…

I did a tune up for some new folks in town. The bike was in great condition, but the front derailleur was a bit wonky and kept skipping over the middle sprocket when downshifting from high gear. I cleaned the drivetrain and then hit it with some WD-40 followed by lube. That, along with some adjustments of the limit screws, got the rear derailleur all sorted out. The front, however, just didn’t like me, or something. In the end I removed it, scrubbed and cleaned it, decreased and lubed it, and worked it back and forth a lot along the way. Then I placed it back on the bike and tried over and over to make it work properly, but no matter what adjustments I made it would not stop skipping that gear. So I worked out everything else I could find and took a few tools along for the test ride. I kept making small adjustments to the tension and the angle of the derailleur until suddenly, when all hope seemed lost, some combination finally worked and the problem was fixed. I rode it around some more, shifting my ass off, until I was satisfied. Oddly enough, I later passed the owner while she was riding around Back Cove with her family, so I got the chance to swing around and check in on the bike. She said it was running better than ever, which made me feel fantastic. What a pleasant bit of happenstance!

I decided to make my own leather brake hoods. I did a bunch of research online, which mostly consisted of me reading and rereading the two helpful tutorials I found on the subject. I found a fellow named Tim who owns INSERT NAME HERE. He was willing to sell me a little bit of leather, so I took a brake lever and drove out to his place to see what he had. He was very patient and helpful as I explained my project and showed him a couple of examples. He helped me figure out how much leather I would need and he went over some techniques for sewing and burnishing. He also threw in a special needle and some waxed thread for free! I made sure to send him pics of the finished project.
I cut the leather into two equal pieces and did some marking and trimming. I soaked the leather in warm water for a bit before wrapping it around the brake lever (which I had placed back on the handlebars for ease of application). I clamped the excess leather as tightly as I could and allowed it to dry and shrink on the lever overnight.
The next day I removed the leather, trimmed off all of the excess that was left, then I reapplied the hoods and sewed them in place. The top bits were somewhat tricky with the little cable nipples sticking out through the holes, but I got them looking decent after a lot of fiddling around. The second one was much easier to finish than the first, so I have to assume that if I had made several pairs I would have eventually got to something approaching a professional look. As it stands they are imperfect, but they also still get a lot of compliments.