Maria Has A New Bike – A Project

Maria Has A New Bike - A Raleigh Caprice from 1987

Maria Has A New Bike – A Raleigh Caprice from 1987

Maria bike is thought to be a 1987 Raleigh Caprice. It came to us as a tatty blue wreck, we could have left it like that but to be fair first gear didnt work and it was grossly over geared. The brakes didnt do much and the front wheel bearings were falling out. We mechanically restored it, serviced the head set, bottom bracket, brakes and cranks. I built a pair of new wheels for it and put a newly reconditioned Sturmey Archer 3 speed AW hub gearbox in it but it still looked like a tatty blue wreck.

Marias blue bike

Marias blue bike

The tatty blue bike had a certain shabby chic appeal but was never a great advertisement for what we can do so plans were formed for a makeover. At this point I was looking at a colour pallet Mondrian would have approved of but Maria didnt!

Maria settled on Plumstead with details in Gray’s Inn.

And so it was that on a Saturday morning I stripped the bike back to its bare frame, degreased it [use a bucket of hot soapy water and a liberal spray of Mr Muscle Kitchen cleaner], and got the power tools out.

IMG_1101Depending on the state of the paintwork on your bike you might get away with a light sand but in this case the paint was in such a sorry state we had no choice but to take it back to bare metal. This is a time consuming process but the time spent preparing the frame shows in the final finish so be patient and you will get a great result.

In this case we removed most of the paint with a power sander. This is the ‘random orbital‘ style of sander, I used it because I had it there and I had sufficient sanding disks. The power sander is fitted with fine abrasive disks to ensure we dont scratch the surface of the steel under the paint.

We also used a drill mounted wire brush to get in to the corners and finished off with a sanding disk folded in half and a bit of ‘elbow grease’. I used about 5 disks for the entire bike frame, fork and chain cover.

Using the power sander to take the paint off

Using the power sander to take the paint off

You could equally well use conventional paint stripper or take the frame and other parts that need the paint removing to a commercial paint stripper who will return the parts to you in gleaming fresh steel.

If you are working on a steel frame it is worth making sure you remove any rust at this stage [not sure if its steel? if a magnet sticks to it, its steel]. In this case the action of sanding the frame was enough to remove all traces of the light surface rust but you may have to do more. If you are unsure of what you have found under the paint take a snap and email it to us to check out.

Dont forget to look at all the parts you have removed from the bike while you are doing the prep; forks, chain covers, racks, stem, pumps, even the wheels could be colour coded to match the frame at this stage. It is often easier if you can work with someone on this job; take it in turns to sand the parts or clean and prepare the components you are going to refit.

Marias Bike In Bits!

Marias Bike In Bits!

In this case we painted the forks, chain guard and rack at the same time as the frame but decided to fit new mud guards [which we will paint to match when they arrive]. All the other components are going to be checked, serviced and cleaned before they are fitted back to the frame.

We are planning to paint Marias bike in two colors; the majority of the parts will be ‘Plumstead’ but details are picked out in ‘Gray’s Inn’ so we need to plan what gets painted first to get the effects we are after.

Setting up for paint.

Once everything is ready it is worth spending a few minutes setting up for the paint. We had already hung a plastic sheet up to protect our working space from dust and dirt during the sanding so we had a quick sweep up, put the tools away, hung the frame from the roof beams so we could get to all sides without having to handle it and made a coffee before we got started.

The paint we are using is supplied by, the first ever range of bicycle-specific colour coating designed for both amateur and professional use. You can use the range of colours to personalise, change or refresh your ride, creating something unique to you. The paint is supplied in 200 and 400ml spray cans and one 400ml can is enough to do one frame and leave spare for accessories and touch ups.

Before you start make sure you have the following; Eye protection, a disposable face mask, disposable gloves and plenty of ventilation. You may also need masking tape and scissors or a sharp, craft knife. I also had a roll of kitchen towel that proved useful for masking larger areas.

I asked Gareth from for his advice on application and this is what he told us;


As Spray.Bike cans are pressurised, there’s an optimum distance at which the paint is effective on leaving the nozzle: 5-12 centimetres. In this ‘window’ the paint is semi-wet and the pigment is perfectly primed to do its job properly. Under 5 centimetres, faults can occur. After 12 or 14 centimetres the paint will have turned into a dry powder dust with little adhesion at all.

Always move your hand continuously while spraying, as this ensures an even coating. Touch-ups can always be done later don’t over-apply the paint in a single coat.

If re-using the paint after storage, test spray first. If the paint seems to splatter, replace the nozzle as the existing one is probably clogged.


Getting areas where the paint has landed as a powder (and has a rougher surface) will happen but this is easily solved. Leave the paint to completely dry, then using a soft cloth rub gently to smooth the surface.

If you do make a mistake (e.g. put colour in the wrong place or over-apply the product), wait for the spray to completely dry (max 2 hours). Then using a very fine sandpaper or other abrasive material, slowly rub away the paint. Don’t use a traditional solvent paint remover though as it will damage the acrylic compound in Spray.Bike and you’ll end up making more mess.


For best results, don’t be impatient! Although the coating does seem to dry rapidly (touch dry in a few seconds), it’s always best to let the paint completely dry over a 12 hour period before re-building the bike.

Masking and stenciling

If using masking techniques (with, say, masking tape) or stenciling after an initial coat, always wait 20 minutes before adding masking or a stencil to make sure the paint is dry enough not to be pulled away on removal. Masking can sometimes create lines where paint has built up against the edge of the mask: again wait 20 minutes so as not to pull that build-up away on removal of the stencil/mask. Leave for at least 2 hours to dry, and remove excess colour coat by rubbing down with a soft cloth.

Masking difficult areas

Sometimes masking small or intricate areas (such as head badges) can be tricky. When simple masking tape can’t be used, there are alternatives. Thick grease can work really well, as it acts as a barrier between the surface and the paint. We’ve also experimented with margarine and even toothpaste with great results.

Surface texture

Because of the reflective pearlescent particles, the fluro colours are slightly grainier than the other ranges. Rubbing down about an hour after painting with a soft cloth is highly recommended.


Use the Pocket Clears for blending as they can produce rapid and unusual colour change when used in conjunction with (i.e. on top of) solid colours (especially Fluro Clears on top of solid Fluro colours). The Pocket Clears are a solid pigment with a transparent base layer, so the final colour is based on the combination of solid/clear used, e.g. Fluro Yellow Clear on top of a blue will become a green. Use on junctions where 2 dramatic colours meet to create a fade. Give it a bit of practice for great results.


Spray.Bike paint lasts in its can for up to 10 years. Store upright and below 50°C so it will always be there for scratches and touch-ups.

If you have followed these simple stages you should now have a beautiful painted frame hanging from your garage roof. Let it rest for a while then gently rub it all over with a soft cloth. You can leave the frame like this and the paint will have a satin finish but if you want a gloss finish a final coat of Transparent Varnish will bring the colour out under the gloss varnish.

Now leave it over night to properly harden, tomorrow you can put it all back together. The images below [click for high res] are of Marias bike without its new mud guards as they are still on their way. I will update these pictures as soon as we have the final ‘bling’ delivery.

The total cost of this makeover?

Some of the tasks required to make a great job will need professional help, removal of head sets and bottom brackets can be challenging and getting them back in without damaging your new paint needs special tools. See our price list for a breakdown of service costs and consider that if you were to ask us to take your machine and do all this for you we would probably charge about £230. including materials. Marias bike needed a number of repairs and upgrades to get it to this stage and I would estimate the entire investement including new tyres, tubes, brake blocks and a complete set of cables to be around £150 plus labour costs. Maria also fitted a new saddle and grips to finish it off!

The back story for Marias Bike is here.



26″+ The best of all worlds?

dePhuse project-1.3 with Reggie and Ronnie wheels

dePhuse project-1.3 with Reggie and Ronnie wheels

There is no doubt that having the right bike for the task at hand is wise and I have been on a mission to make a fast trail bike. The trail in question is a 7.5mile circuit that follows the coast of a small local lake. Its more or less flat.

The total climb is less than 100ft but it is made up of five short, steep climbs that come in the first two miles. After that the rest is a cruise!

Not quite; if you are going to get a good time round this little loop you have to pedal non stop, you will discover there is no where to rest, its relentless and if its not presenting you with a short killer hill its another of the 20+ hairpins!

To get round here quickly you have to keep the power down, keep it flowing through the hairpins and attack the climbs. This means you need grip, lots of it. You dont need [much] suspension. you need strong legs and you need to be able to accelerate, lots. Breaking it down there is less than a minute between each significant effort.

When the body isnt enough to close the gap I start looking at the gear. What am I riding?

This bike is an Easton tubed hard tail street trials frame with a 1 x 9 drivetrain using XTR parts for the back wheel and shifters and RaceFace for the cranks and chain wheel. Its got RockShox Silver forks that have seen better days and need replacing up front. Untill recently I have been running Easton XC One wheels with appropriately chosen tyres for the prevailing conditions. The bike feels fast and in general has been.

What has been clear as the trails dry out and the tyres get slicker and harder is the bike reaches its limits very quickly, violently breaking traction at any opportunity! Hard cornering and powering up those short climbs the back end is skipping round but then half the circuit is smooth, flat and fast so the low rolling resistance is a distinct benefit. What needed tackling was the lack of traction without compromising the fast rolling tyres.

I decided to run an experiment; I got in touch with Mike at Onza for some Reggie and Ronnie drilled trials rims built on to some Tension Aerosilk hubs. They arrived yesterday!

Our new Cray Brothers rims from Onza

Our new Cray Brothers rims from Onza

I was so excited I didnt even bother weighing them [I’ll do it next week]. To insure I could make a fair comparison I swapped not only the cassette and disk from the Eastons but the tyres and tubes as well for the new wheels. I normally run these tyres at about 40psi on the Easton rims but in this case I went strait in at 20psi front and rear and went for a ride!

Two early morning runs, one in each direction were immediately impressive, the bike felt fast but dead! It was a lot more comfortable and the power transfer was amazing! Normally I would be standing in the pedals for most of the run but I found myself seated for 80% of the circuit and noticing the saddle was to low!

I had to go to work so uploaded the runs to Strava and got on with the day, thinking all the time. By the end of the day I had reached the conclusion I needed a little more air in the tyres to make it feel a little more lively and I need to put the saddle up a little so I could get the power down while seated. This done I headed out for another evening run.

I had increased the tyre pressures by 5psi and I think that was a bit much, Ill drop them to about 24 front and 22 rear. The seat can still go up a little but the main thing is a stack of PR’s. I got my fastest time ever on the circuit!

Whats the benefit?

  • 26″ wheels accelerate faster than any of the new 650b, 27.5 or 29″ wheels.
  • The wide rims from Onza allow us to increase the air volume of the tyre without increasing the size of the tyre and as such we can run a lower pressure.
  • Lower pressure tyres conform better to the ground so power transfer to the trail is improved.
  • Larger volume tyres absorb minor trail bumps better so the bike doesnt skip about.

So 26″+ bikes rock in Suffolk!

If you want to know more or have a ride get in touch!



dePhuse project 1 starts to take shape.

a dePhuse project

a dePhuse project

A dePhuse bike. Made in Suffolk

A dePhuse bike. Made in Suffolk

dePhuse project 1 starts to take shape. This is a teaser view of the first frame in its bare paint finish before receiving its varnish. The paint comes from our range and we have used;

We will over coat with Transparent Varnish to make it more hard wearing.

Stay tuned for more buid details as project 1 comes together.

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 2

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 2

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 3

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 3

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 4

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 4


Quick Release problems I have seen this week.

Warning! How to use the quick release

Warning! How to use the quick release

Recently there has been a lot of talk about problems with quick release levers used to hold the wheels in to most modern wheels.

Most of the discussion in the news has revolved around some badly designed and specified components fitted by manufacturers to their new bikes but this week I have seen two cases of QR Abuse that were clearly not the fault of the manufacturers.

The quick release lever has been around for long enough that most people who own a bike should have used one by now. They are, in the main, safe and secure and by far the most convenient way of securing the wheels to your bike.

When installed properly they will shrug off all attempts to dislodge the wheel but when you want to remove the wheel you can do it with one hand and no tools.


Check your quick release faces backwards.

I serviced a cyclocross bike this week that had in my opinion, only one dangerous fault; The QR for the rear wheel had been installed facing forward [click the image for a closeup];

  1. Firstly a forward facing QR can catch in the bushes, especially on this cyclocross bike; a simple catch on a branch could flick it open releasing the back wheel!
  2. The second problem is that the tip of the lever is actually hard up against the frame [chain stay] which has prevented it from closing properly.
  3. The third problem comes when trying to open the QR. There is no way you could get your fingers behind it and that could lead to all kinds of frustration when its cold and muddy!

Always ensure your quick releases point backwards and that the lever is clear to close properly without catching anything. In the closed position you should be able to get a gloved hand in behind it to open it.

The Seatpost Clamp

Next; when out for a cycle I stopped to chat with two guys, I noticed the seat post clamp on one of the bikes was open and pointed it out to the rider. He seemed a little confused and on closer inspection I discovered why. I didnt have my camera with me at the time so I have re created the problem with an identical Hope Seatpost clamp on my road bike pictured below.

IMG_1196The problem isnt the fact that its a Hope clamp, the rider had bought the bike like that and could not understand how to adjust the height of his seat post. The clamp had been done up tight by screwing it in using the lever as a handle untill it was tight enough to hold the seat post in place but it had now ceased itself in that position and no amount of jiggling it was going to undo it.

When I tried to turn it I discovered it was totally locked in place. The only way to release this seat post clamp was to get some grips on the nut end of the mechanism and ease it off while turning the handle on the other end back and forth. It made a bit of a mess of the clamps nut but we can replace that for a few pennies. In case you are wondering, here is the before and after;

The Hope seat clamp done up wrong

The Hope seat clamp done up wrong

The Hope seat clamp correctly closed

The Hope seat clamp correctly closed

Before You Ride; Simple checks you can do for your own safety.


Is your bike safe?

Its more than just a good idea to check your bike before you ride; Your comfort and safety depend on how well you look after your bike!

Follow these tips before you ride to ensure you have a safe journey;

  1. Stand back and look at your bike.
    1. Does it look right?
    2. Is anything hanging off?
  2. Come in closer and visually inspect your bike, start at the front and work your way back looking at the contact points;
    1. Tyres; are they in reasonable condition and pumped up?
    2. Steering; stand with the front wheel between your legs and hold on to the bars with both hands; apply moderate force, can you spin the bars without the wheel moving? If there is any movement seek advice before riding.
    3. Brakes; check the action of both front and back brakes. They should have about the same amount of travel and stop the wheel before the lever gets to the bar.
    4. Saddle; are the bolts or seat post clamp holding the saddle to the post tight and is the post tight in the frame? Is the height right? Its safer to have the saddle too low rather than too high but there is a sweet spot between the two where the riding is easiest.
    5. Pedals and Cranks; holding a pedal turn the crank back to where the pedal is at the top, then try bending the pedal in and out of the frame, do this on both sides. Does it move, rattle, squeak? If it does seek advice before riding.
    6. Chain; is the chain in place and does it allow the cranks to turn smoothly when you spin a pedal backwards? Often a chain that needs servicing will stick to the crank gear or jam up when you turn it backwards rather than running smoothly.
    7. Racks, mudguards and accessories; These should all be securely fitted and functional. If your not using those mounts for the lights you lost last year, remove them!
    8. Gears; If you have them do they work? This is usually best tested when riding and as this is the last check you can hop on and gently ride. Find a quiet space and work your way up and down the gears. A well adjusted gear set should change cleanly between gears at any speed, if yours isn’t you should service them before you head out.
  3. Personal Safety; It is commonly accepted that the bare minimum is a crash helmet. Assuming you are going to wear this can I suggest adding some eye protection and gloves?
  4. Be Seen; Having a safe bike is half the battle, the other half is ensuring you are seen. Being another statistic is not cool. Wear high-vis clothing, use lights, ride bold and own the road.
  5. Your ride survival kit;
    What do you carry with you on a ride? For every rider this is different; if you don’t mind walking home then your free to ride without any kind of survival kit but for most of us a few basics packed into a seat bag or in the bottom of the basket are essential. These are some of the essential things I carry;

    1. Pump
    2. A spare tube
    3. Tyre lever
    4. Multi tool
    5. Change for coffee
    6. Phone

Here are a few pictures to help you identify some issues [click the image for a close up];

Image 1; Brake balance

Image 1; Brake balance

In Image 1 note how the V-Brakes are not evenly balanced. In this case we discovered there was no spring tension in the right side lever of the V, we took the pair off, de greased them and centred the adjustment on the springs before re fitting.

Image 2; Saging Gear Cable

Image 2; Saging Gear Cable

In Image 2 can you see how the gear cable droops away from the frame? In all cases, even when the gear selected is at the bottom of the travel the cables should have just enough tension in them to hold their shape and not dangle like this. It could be badly adjusted, stretched or it could be the derailleur is ceased.

Image 3; Frayed Gear Cable

Image 3; Frayed Gear Cable

You will see in Image 3 how the other end of the cable was all frayed where it met the derailleur. We replaced the entire cable but not before removing, de greasing and re oiling the derailleur.

Image 4, Worn Brake Blocks

Image 4, Worn Brake Blocks

Note the level of wear on the brake blocks in Image 4. They are borderline but as this rider knows how to change them we elected to leave them on and they will change them at their own discretion.

Image 5, Are these scratches cosmetic?

Image 5, Are these scratches cosmetic?

It is not unusual to scratch your bike but deep gouges like this on the brake lever in Image 5 can indicate a bike that has had hard life and deeper issues. In this case we didnt find anything to worry about.

Image 6, Is your QR like this?

Image 6, Is your QR like this?


Here is an interesting one [Image 6] and in my opinion the only serious problem with this bike; The quick release on the rear wheel looks normal but it has been closed facing forward causing three potential problems.

  1. Firstly a forward facing QR can catch in the bushes, especially on this cyclocross bike; a simple catch on a branch could flick it open releasing the back wheel!
  2. The second problem is that the tip lever is actually hard up against the frame [chain stay] which has prevented it from closing properly.
  3. The third problem comes when trying to open the QR. There is no way you could get your fingers behind it and that could lead to all kinds of frustration when its cold and muddy!

Always ensure your quick releases point backwards and that the lever is clear to close properly without catching anything. In the closed position you should be able to get a gloved hand in behind it to open it.