Saturday, December 7, 2013

Carved leather saddles

Leather bicycle saddles are beautifully crafted works of art that add a classic touch to any modern or vintage bicycle. Leather saddle manufacturers such as Brooks and Gilles Berthoud are just a couple of well known companies that spring to mind. Just when I though that these traditionally classic leather saddles could not be improved upon I came across a couple of websites that have proven me wrong.

The craftsmen mentioned below take conventional Brooks or Gilles Berthoud saddles and carve beautiful designs into their leather covers.


Michiel started carving saddles a couple of years ago after experimenting on an old Brooks Professional saddle that he needed to replace. Impressed by his initial work he has now finely tuned his artistic skills and produces beautifully crafted custom carved saddles to order.

Here are a couple of his wonderful creations.

His craftwork is fabulous and his skills have been extended to producing equally beautiful carved matching saddle bags as well.

You can view his work and place orders on his website
....and of course designs can be customised to your liking.


Equally impressive are these carved designs by Kara Ginther. These designs can also be customised although I'd prefer to choose one of the beautifully crafted designs displayed on the website or on her flickr photostream.

Brooks Swift saddle crafted for the London Tweed Run 2010

You can view more of these stunning works of art at

If you love your bicycle and are prepared to pay a little extra for something truly remarkable then these saddles are for you. So what would you expect to pay for a customised design? 

Keeping in mind that these handmade pieces of art are all individually designed and crafted by artists with special skills, expect to pay what the artisan deserves. Please see the websites for approximate prices.

Ride safe,

James @ PVC.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fremantle Tweed Run 2013 - The ride

The Fremantle Tweed Run this year was an outstanding success thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of the fantastic people associated with the 'Dismantle' group. 

At about midday on Sunday November 3, 2013, about 250 vintage cycling enthusiasts, and others wishing to experience an uncomplicated afternoon of cycling fun, gathered at Pioneer Reserve, Fremantle. Participants were greeted with good humour, fresh scones, and iced tea that were all served together in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It was a beautiful day, perhaps even a little warm!

There was a wide range of bicycles and period clothing, however the real common thread between all participants was their love of bicycles and cycling. Although there were only a handful of genuine vintage bicycles it was pleasing to see the popularity of 'new' vintage styled bicycles - some very nice bikes indeed. Here are some images of the group at Pioneer Reserve prior to departure.

After being given some clear guidelines and directions by the organisers the group casually rode through the historic streets of Fremantle at a relaxed pace, bells ringing, people laughing. Cyclists received a warm reception from onlookers that were in the streets attending the Fremantle Festival. 

The ride continued through town before making its way to the Swan River foreshore in East Fremantle. Once on the foreshore the group arranged itself (well...sort of, nearly) for the group photo. This also gave cyclists a short breather and a chance for some liquid refreshment....some cyclists alleviated their hydration concerns with a cold golden fluid contained in small bottles, some sipped from small hip flasks, whilst others swilled from water bottles.

....and so the friendly ride continued over the bridge and on to the northern side of the Swan River. After snaking its way through the cycle paths adjacent to the river the group ended up at a safe haven otherwise known as the North Fremantle Bowling Club....and safe it was! Cold beer, Hendrick's Gin, interesting snacks, live jazz music, and lawn bowls! A great combination for a very pleasant and relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Don't you wish you were there? Don't fear....there will be another Fremantle Tweed Run during 2014. If you did miss out this year please bookmark this blog or keep a look out for the advertising poster for next years event.

Thanks to all at Dismantle. Please visit and have a peep at their wonderful endeavours.

Safe riding....

James @ PVC.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fremantle Tweed Run 2013 - Promo

This year the Fremantle Tweed Run is again sponsored by and the Fremantle City Council as part of the Fremantle Festival 2013. It is an event that allows Tweedsters to participate in a leisurely bike ride through the beautiful and historic Fremantle townsite whilst wearing their dapperest attire. 

All interested ladies and gentlemen are invited, and all are encouraged to dress for the special are most welcome too! Vintage bicycles are also encouraged, but any bike that doesn't go too fast will also be allowed.

This years event is to be held on Sunday November 3, 2013, and will commence at Pioneer Reserve in Fremantle at midday. Pioneer Reserve is the park on the corner of Market Street and Phillimore Street (the park opposite the Fremantle Train Station). It's a great location for the good times to commence.

Here is this years poster to advertise the event.

At 2.00pm the group will leave Pioneer Reserve and ride through the streets of Fremantle on a controlled designated route. After a short stop for some photography near the river the ride will continue to the North Fremantle Bowling Club. Arrival at the bowling club is expected to be at about 3.00pm. 

Festivities, including live swing music, will continue at the Bowling Club until everyone has had enough! The bowling club is located on Thompson Road, North Fremantle.

Last years event was great...although the the weather was not so favorable. At this stage the weather this year is looking good!!

For more info please go to:  or

Here are some images from past years to wet your appetite....

It would certainly be grand to see you there in your finery.

Safe riding from James @ PVC.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ganna Bicycles

The history behind many Italian and French cycling brands is very interesting - and the GANNA brand is no exception.

Luigi GANNA was born in Induno Olana, Italy, on December 1, 1883. He died at the age of 73 years on October 2, 1957. 

GANNA was an Italian professional road racing cyclist and the legendary highlight of his cycling career was his overall win in the first Giro d'italia that was held in 1909. The 1909 Giro was a gruelling cycle race of 2448 kilometres where only 49 of the 127 competitors managed to complete the course.

In his younger days GANNA worked as a brick layer many miles from where he lived and so he rode his bicycle to and from work each day. The roads were rough and this daily exercise enabled him to become a very strong and talented rider.

His enjoyment of cycling led him to entering local cycling competitions where he regularly won. After convincing wins he realized that the skills he had gained on his daily rides to work were worthy of him becoming a professional cyclist. 

Luigi GANNA  1883 - 1957

GANNA competing in the 1909 Giro d'italia

In 1912 GANNA successfully commenced building and marketing his own line of bicycles, and continued to manufacture fine bicycles until his death in 1957. The GANNA name was carried on after his death until in 1985 the company was bought out by Giubilato. 

Fortunately many bicycle collectors appreciated his work and added his finely crafted steel framed machines to their collections. 

Here are some images of one of his wonderful creations that was built just before his death. It is the Bonvicini Torino Mezza Corsa bicycle from the 1950's that carries an original Campagnolo gruppo from the era.


Images courtesy of Vintage Speed Bicycles, Switzerland. 

What a beautiful machine that would add value to any collection!

Safe riding,

James @ PVC

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tange Prestige chromed fork

I do like older steel bicycle frames, especially when the frame is graced with chromed lugs, a chromed fork, or both. 

For many years steel was the choice of master frame builders throughout Europe and these quality built frames often had some type of chromed highlight or feature. The chromed features were usually complimented by chromed headsets, chromed stems, and other chromed steel or polished aluminium components.

Some manufacturers chromed the chain stays on their frames, others chromed the seat stays, but the most popular chromed feature was the chroming of the front forks.

A row of 1980's steel lugged Colnago frames with chromed forks.

1980's Masi steel lugged frames with chromed features.

Indeed today, most European brands still make steel framed bicycles to satisfy the wants and needs of the nostalgic cyclist, although they rarely have chromed features. This is most likely attributed to the high costs involved in the chroming process that is now seen to be very environmentally 'unfriendly' due to the toxic chemicals that are used.

There are a few modern steel frames on the market that do have chromed features, unfortunately they are usually accompanied with very heavy price tags.

Wishing to upgrade the fork on my 2010 Masi Speciale steel frame I was keen to get hold of a chromed steel fork....but after considerable research I discovered that this was not going to be an easy task! 

Firstly the frame required a fork with a threadless (a-head) 1 1/8 inch diameter steerer, it had to be made for a 700c wheel, and drilled to accommodate a recessed mounting bolt for a modern brake setup.....and so my search commenced.

After much inquiry I could only find two options available:

The first fork I found was from Brick Lane Bikes in London. This fork was fantastic, it met my requirements and also had a double crown fork design - the double crown design was stunning and is a feature rarely seen on modern frames. Unfortunately they were made in very limited numbers and were sold out at the time of my inquiry.

Brick Lane Bikes double crown fork design.

My next, and only other option, was a fork made in Japan by Tange. It was called the Tange Prestige chromed fork and it had beautifully crafted lugs. This fork was difficult to locate, and after much inquiry and consideration I eventually ordered one through my local bike shop. 

Tange Prestige fork.

After the fork arrived I measured the steerer length and cut it to size. I then fitted the fork to the frame. Here are some comparative images below...

Masi Speciale with standard Masi fork.

Masi Speciale with Tange Prestige chromed fork.

.....and some more images with a bit more detail.

This is a very nice chromed fork and is truly reminiscent of a bygone cycling era. As steel framed bicycles become more and more popular I can clearly see chromed steel forks and other chromed steel components re-emerging into the market. 

Safe riding....

James @ PVC.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Pashley 'Speed 5' has arrived.

Eurobike 2013 was held recently in Germany and as usual UK based Pashley Bicycles furnished a beautifully designed display stand with their new and exciting models. 

Pashley never fail to disappoint .....and this year was no exception. The 2013 Eurobike stand heralded the launch of three new models for Pashley. For me the most outstanding was a new machine they have called the 'Speed 5'.

The Speed 5 on display at Eurobike 2013.
The release of the 'Speed 5' is a great marketing strategy when you consider the success and popularity of it's older stablemate the Guv'nor.

The 'Speed 5' is essentially a Guv'nor that has been 'tricked' up with a 5 speed Sturmey Archer rear hub and a few other little extras. The new breed looks like a Guv'nor, has the classic 1930's geometry of the Guv'nor, but on closer inspection the vintage cycling enthusiast will see some fantastic new features.

The first obvious difference is of the frame colour. The 'Speed 5' is generously powder coated in British Racing Green, a perfect colour choice for a machine that is typically English. The frame also has a small racing number plate adorning the number 5 tucked in behind the head tube. A small but stylish feature reminiscent of the 1930's path racing era....and of course there are no prizes for guessing what the '5' eludes to.

Racing plate behind the head tube.
Pashley Speed 5 - side profile.

Other upgrades from the standard Guv'nor include the 5 speed Sturmey Archer rear hub with internal brake, a black leather Brooks "Swift" saddle with chrome railing, and a gold half-link chain. Another obvious difference with the Guv'nor series is that the 'Speed 5' has black Schwalbe 28 x 1 1/2 inch tyres instead of the more traditional white tyres that come standard on the Guv'nor. The black coloured 28 inch Westwood rims with gold piping remain the same.

Black Schwalbe tyres, and a gold half link chain.

GB wing nuts come fitted on the front hub of the 'Speed 5' as standard - a really nice touch! Although I am surprised that the designers at Pashley didn't opt for a stylish GB chain set that has been spied on some of their earlier models, perhaps this isn't an option right now.

I've also noticed that the pedals on the Eurobike display version are probably MKS Sylvan Road pedals with steel cages and leather straps.....unlike the Guv'nor that has MKS Sylvan Stream pedals fitted as standard.

So you think that the release of the new 'Speed 5' is all good news don't you. Well it isn't. The dilemma now arises for Guv'nor owners: How do I tell my wife I want another Pashley??

The Pashley website has just been updated with specs of the new release at:

.....and of course if the kind folk at Pashley are keen to have their new machine road tested on the streets of Perth, Western Australia, I'm more than happy to put my hand in the air.

Until next time, safe pedalling.

James @ PVC.