Over the weekend, I was able to complete my take on the European-style utility bike — what I’ve been calling “Jack’s Patented Grocery Gitter”.
Using an actual European city bike frame (an old Belgian-made French Astra), I was able to salvage enough parts to make this project a winner. Heck, I even salvaged an old chain from another bike! The total parts cost to me was about $30 — $15.00 of which went towards a chrome Wald front basket . The rest went to cables and to a neat little adapter I needed to make a gearie out of this old frame.
For those of you out there who have an old, low-grade frame you might want to convert into a geared machine…you might discover that there is no place to hang a derailleur from. Sunrace to the rescue! Here’s a handy bolt-on derailleur hanger adapter that works perfectly for my application:
These adapters are available from a variety of sources. I got mine from Bike Tools, Etc.
Once the adapter was bolted on, I was able to cobble together a 1 x 6 drivetrain using a collection of old parts: a six-speed Suntour 14-28 freewheel, a first-generation Shimano 105 derailleur, old Shimano LX cranks, a grimy Sachs PG chain and a Salsa 40T chainring. I need to include a special shout out to our own Russ Roca, who provided great insight into appropriate gearing for a cargo bike.The whole thing is pushed around with a left-side Shimano friction thumbshifter (designed for a front derailleur…I couldn’t find the right side!). It works, and is surprisingly smooth considering that all the parts are pretty well used.
Once I got the front basket and rear folding wire “panniers” on, I realized that this bike can really haul a load. I estimate that this setup will easily hold 3 full bags of groceries — and heavy stuff, too — Wald baskets are made TOUGH!
In my opinion, no errand bike is complete without a kickstand. God, I haven’t ridden a bike with a kickstand in something like 25 years! But hey…this bike has gotta have one, so on it went:
I’ve got a couple more final touches to do…figuring out how to mount lights to the front basket and fine-tuning the brakes and shifter. But, I’m ready to ride — and who knows? Maybe the next big trend in bicycles will be a utility bike conversion of an old classic!