Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Firenze GL5000 project

So I picked up this bicycle, a used Firenze GL5000, off of craigslist for $100 from a guy who seems to have taken reasonably good care of it. The tires showed age, but all parts seemed to be in working order. I replaced the rear brake pads which were worn out.
Turns out, the bicycle is a semi-vintage with an interesting story. The bike was manufactured by the Italian company Firenze in Taiwan on subcontract circa 1983. Something like 50,000 units were brought to the US after which they found out the bike was not upto US code. However, a loophole in the law allowed the bike to be given away as promotional, and so the bike was given away free with Televisions and Stereos etc.The bicycle mechanic at the Madison REI recognized it as the "TV Bike".

Anyhow, the first ride I did with this bike was a 38 miler down to Paoli and back up to Madison.
 Halfway through the ride, I think my Jeans caught in the bottom brackets and undid them. I believe some of the bearings fell out and the pedal began wobbling. I took it in to Budget bicycles and had it repaired. I also had them put on toe brackets for the pedals.

Anyhow, from the bike ride, I found that the tires were a bit thin for soggy trails. And so while shopping around, I found these Kenda K161 tires on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kenda-Knobby-Bicycle-Gumwall-27-Inch/dp/B000A0KZ1O/

The original tires were 27x1-1/8" whereas these were 27x1-3/8". So I wasn't sure. However, the original tires had very little of a tread pattern and suited road, whereas these actually have an aggressive tread which I thought would suit better for trails.So I bought these as well as Sunlite 27x1-3/8" inner tubes. http://www.amazon.com/Sunlite-Bicycle-35-40-SCHRADER-Valve/dp/B001298H1M/ and decided to make this into my bicycle project.

Here's some of the pictures I took while swapping them in. I forgot to take a close-up "before" picture, before I took off the first tire, so here's the bike with the first tire off:


Here's the bunch of tools I needed for this project:
Notice the WD-40 and the Carbon Dioxide Inflator (and the Cider !). I took the tires off, wiped down the frame as well as the wheel - every spoke and hub area including - with WD-40 to make the bike look shiny and new - that was a time consuming effort.

Once that was done, I swapped in the new parts:
The rim strips on the bike were in pretty good shape, so I doubled up the rim strips by adding a new one on top of the existing. Tube and tire install was a bit of a pain considering the tires were wider, and wire bead which makes it harder to get into place, but got it done with some patience.

Pumped up the tires up to spec - ~65psi since 70psi is the max for the K161. I also replaced the original water bottle holder with a new one as that was starting to rust (WD-40 didn't do much wonders on that). I also got a bicycle frame pump from REI (which has screw on presta/schrader ends and flexible hose) to go with the bottle holder - had to swap the frame bolts from my Raleigh Revinio 1.0 road bike since the mounting bolts on this one wasn't long enough to mount a pump and  a water bottle holder.

But once all that was done, the finished product looks rather snazzy.
Hoping to hit some of the Wisconsin railroad trails with it this summer - Elroy-Sparta, Sugar River, Pine River, etc etc..

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