Ten Speed + Delta Cruiser Creams = Budget Country Bike

To my mind, the main feature that makes the venerable ten speed bicycle a far more practical real world road bike than its modern descendent is tyre clearance. An average modern road bike will take accommodate a maximum tyre of around 25mm wide – some, more by luck that good jugdment, might squeeze in a 28mm, but only just.

Plenty of clearance under those Weinmann 500s for 35mm tyres.

Ever since acquiring my late eighties Peugeot ten speed, I’ve been keen to exploit its big tyre potential – I’m a firm believer in the dictum that states if you’re not racing, you should fit the plushest tyres that your frame will allow. Doing so will dramatically improve comfort, protect the bike and rider from road shock and open up new routes on more varied surfaces. With big tyres on your road bike, that enticing gravel road shortcut is suddenly a real option.

With the Delta Cruisers in place, the Peugeot feels right at home on this sort of 'road'.

I was always aware that the clearances on the ten speed would allow plusher tyres than the 23mm gumwalls that it was specified with back in 1987. Indeed I’d been running 25mm Specialized All Conditions with 35mm fenders, with no issues at all. However, lately I began to think of bigger tyres, initially pondering a set of 28mm hoops – assuming that this would possibly be the biggest tyre that would fit comfortably.

It was then that I had the brainwave of seeing if my 35mm Schwalbe Delta Cruisers (in cream) would fit between the Peugeot’s slender stays. If nothing else, the experiment would set some outer limits on tyre size.

Cream tyres and blue frame - pleasing, at least to my eye.

And so it came to pass – I was dubious yet hopeful as I uninstalled the fenders and removed the skinny 25mm tyres, before slipping the gorgeous cream Delta Cruisers onto the Weinmann rims. At this point, I was hoping against hope that they would work, purely on aesthetic grounds – the wide cream tyres looked amazing on the vintage polished aluminium rims and slender Maillard QR hubs – I would be gutted if they didn’t work.

With some trepidation, I slipped the rear wheel back between the dropouts, aligned it and snugged up the QR. So far so good, plenty of clearance at the brake bridge, between the stays and under the chainstay bridge too. However, the real test would come when the tyres were inflated to a working pressure. I attached the track pump and began to inflate – 30, 40, 45, 50 psi – and lo! still plenty of room (around 8mm each side and over 1cm beneath the bridge)! Praise the Lord! Fat tyre compatibility had been verified.

It was a similar story at the front end, with around 1cm clearance beneath the Weinmann 500 caliper (regarded as a ‘short reach’ brake in its day but now firmly in the ‘medium’ camp). OK, there’s no chance of fitting a fender now, but the benefits in terms of ride, practicality and looks are well worth the sacrifice.

Spring has indeed sprung in Croxteth Park and even on an Easter weekend, it's possible to find a 'solitary glade' such as this. Pug and I pause for a photo.

My first proper ride on the newly shod bike was a revelation, made all the more pleasant by the UK’s currently sublime spring weather. My test ride location was Croxteth Country Park, my favourite destination for a local spin on the paths, gravel tracks and hardpack trails. Today the park was alive with families enjoying the Easter weekend. However I could still find that counterpoint of solitude in the park’s farthest reaches – at one point I seemed to be riding through a dreamscape – a secluded bluebell wood with blossom descending like snow from the branches above, the birds in full spring tune and the smell of wild garlic heavy in the air. Rolling along on the ultra plush 35mm tyred Peugeot in such a scene was a little slice of cycling heaven – the bike is still responsive, yet has an unstoppable, steamroller feel.

I think I may have unwittingly created a retro country bike – a quick, lively, sporty bike that will eat gravel roads all day long.

Anyone else out there created a budget country bike from a ten speed?

Schwalbe Delta Cruiser update, glass and superglue

Velouria, curator of Lovely Bicycle has recently posted on the subject of cream tyres, a subject dear to my heart, which has given me cause to give you a quick update on my recently acquired cream Delta Cruisers. This post was also inspired by a recent glass/tyre interface, which happened on the way to work.

 

The Cruisers in all their glory a few days after purchase - showing a little canal towpath beausage - A month on and with more miles they look even better - think vintage trainer soles....

There I was, Monday morning, cycling towards the office on the cycle lane that runs past Manchester City Stadium, in that blissful, serene state that cycling alone can give you. Clearly I was a little too blissful, because, in my reverie, I failed to notice the jagged broken bottle top placed strategically by the glass elves, front dead centre in the cycle lane.

My attention was however, eventually pricked by the loud hissing noise issuing from my back tyre. I cussed, stopped and assessed the damage, fearing the worst.

I unloaded the bike (which as stacked with a camera equipment after my jaunt to the Cycle Show), removed the wheel and took a look. Close inspection showed two big slashes in the tyre, cutting through the tread and the red coloured puncture protection strip. Don’t think for one minute that this counts as a ‘fail’ for the Delta Cruisers. I’m certain that this bottle top chunk would have sliced my Panaracer Pasela Tourguards clean in two.  With this philosophical thought in mind, I replaced the tube and carried on to work.

Add this to your 'at home' bike tool kit and fix cuts in your tyre tread.

 

Later on when I got home, I cleaned the cut area of the tyre and allowed it to dry, before repairing the cut tread with superglue (that’s a TOP TIP right there folks).  So I’m pleased to say that barring this potentially tyre-ending encounter, the DCs have coped with glass strewn streets and paths with aplomb. They also grip really well on most surfaces apart from deep mud, where no non-knobbly tyre can find real grip.

I’m also happy to report that they look better with every ride. I was worried that they’d look horrible covered in daily grime, but if anything, daily usage and normal cleaning = tyre beausage. They have a real antique/veteran look – and they now have the veteran’s battle scars to match!

Review: First Impressions: Schwalbe Delta Cruiser (Cream)

After much prevarication and debate I’ve finally purchased a pair of Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream.

The Cruisers in all their glory - showing a little canal towpath beausage

I’ll admit to being a compulsive tyre swapper and I confess to coveting the cream coloured Schwalbe’s for a while. I first saw them on the Pashley Guv’nor and the obsession was spawned. Then I saw a fine set of Grand Bois Hetres (in cream) on Lovely Bicycle! curator’s  Rivendell Sam Hillbourne. Then a friend purchased a Pashley Poppy shod with aforementioned cream Schwalbe’s and the die was cast. I had to have them.

And so, after some online price comparison shopping and debit card skulduggery, a suspiciously tyre shaped package arrived in the post, containing a brand new pair of Cream DCs. Now, these tyres look good in photos – but boy, they look even better in the flesh. The cream colour is perfect – a light, natural, almost edible looking colour (H and S note: don’t eat them folks). A friend of mine compared them to python skin and not being a reptile expert, who am I to argue?

Whatever they look like, I think they give a bike an instant classic look. If you check out old photographs of early bikes, you’ll see that many of them don’t have the now ubiquitous black rubber – they have light coloured tyres in creams and browns. Indeed, it’s easy to forget that black isn’t rubber’s ‘natural’ colour – carbon based powder is added to the mix to achieve ‘standard’ black tyres.

A full view of the bike sporting the new tyres - see how the cream tyres pick out the leather straps of the Carradice bag, the tones of the decals and contrasts with the honey saddle and brown tape.

I plumped for the 700 x 35mm model, 35mm being my optimum tyre width for all round usage. They’re available in a number of sizes, including 28 inch (635) and 26×1 3/8 for classic roadsters.  Mounted up on the bike they look superb, especially against my black rims. For an inexpensive tyre (mine came in at an astonishing £22 for the pair!) they’re beautifully made (as are all of Scwalbe’s offerings) and come complete with puncture protection, a reflective stripe and a dynamo track. Tread wise, they’re similar to Schwalbe Marathon. However, for me, the big selling point has got to be that colour – the cream tones perfectly with the cream of my Resurrectio decals and the straps on my Carradice Camper. It also contrasts beautifully with a honey Brooks and my brown shellacked cotton tape. Pretty much any classically styled road bike or roadster will come alive with these tyres.

On the road, they’re quiet, quick rolling and grippy, even in the wet and, because of their round profile they corner well. I’ve swapped from a set of Panaracer Paselas, a tyre at the quick end of the touring range and in direct comparison, the Schwalbes don’t feel overly sluggish, despite having a much sturdier sidewall and more tread. I’ve ridden them on canal towpaths, gravel, hardpack and cobbles and they seem to cope well thus far.

My one concern was how the tyres will look after a few grotty wet weather commutes and, as if to answer my concerns, today Manchester was treated to a thunderstorm and downpour of truly biblical proportions, rendering the side streets and towpaths of my commute muddy and partially submerged. However, the silver lining is that the cream treads shed major dirt really well. Yet at the same time they’ve acquired a pleasing amount beausage – a bit like the soles of a pair of vintage trainers. How they’ll cope with brake sludge from aluminium rims is a different matter, but time will tell.

Obviously, this being early in our relationship, I can’t comment on durability and puncture resistance, but if they’re anything like as tough as my Schwalbe Land Cruisers (an off road cousin to the Deltas sharing the same type of puncture protection) I shouldn’t have any worries.

I’ll report back after a few months daily usage. But before I sign off, I must point out one thing. These tyres will slow you down on your commute, because you’ll find yourself getting off the bike every now and again just to stand back and admire them…