Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Viking Severn Valley

The 650B conversion story started two years ago when I acquired a circa 1958 Viking Severn Valley.  It's a lovely thing, all 531DB with custom carved Nervex Pro lugs (I originally got the frame for the lugs; they remind me of my first serious bicycle, a Schwinn Paramount in the early 1970s).  It had an ugly paint job, but the lightness of the frame, the fluted seat stays, all said 'special' and I started thinking about how to set it up.

During its time in my closet, I started reading the hype on 650B conversions and thought that would be a lovely way to show off the Viking's details.  A set of ex-Rene Herse Maxi-Car wheels with Super Champion rims floated down from the Ebay heavens, and the conversion was on.  I identified a builder whose work seemed, well, old school, and he agreed to modify the frame by cleaning up some things and adding studs for cantilever brakes at each end.  I could have gone with long-reach centerpulls, but most of them look rather ungainly, to be honest, and the old French-style randonneur with cantis seemed to be the inspiration, so that's what we did.

This is what the frame looked like when I bought it (set on the 650B wheels with 42mm Hetres on them, so I could do some measuring).  The bottom bracket dropped a tad, but seems it should be right at 265mm, about standard for a road frame these days.  With a 170mm crankset on it clearance seemed fine:

Good clearance for mudguards.  I think the Gilles Berthoud 50mm bits will fit perfectly.

The lovely head tube lugs, just that much bit different from Nervex Pro standard cuts.

The even lovelier seat cluster, complete with fluted stays.  Seat binder takes a Campy bolt.

Tomorrow, I'll post pics of the frame now that it's back from the builder.

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