Renovation of Grants Dragster GT

Dragster GT Muscle Bike. Designed and built by Huffy in 1970 to around 1972.

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Branded as Grants and only sold through the W.T. Grants department stores this is a very rare bicycle now, due to its short run and limited availability through only the Grants stores. This particular model was finished in a candy green paint and had the Carlisle Redline tires as standard. Originally I think it would of had a glitter seat and a short front fender as well. This bike has obviously had some use and is owned locally. The owner, who rode this when he was a young man, brought it to us to make it like new again for his Grandson.

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As you can see from the above images the bike was in a bit of sad state and needed some serious renovation. The bike was first stripped down to bare frame and fork and all parts cleaned. The wheels were in bad shape and the hubs have been completely rebuilt and have new bearings throughout. The coaster brake mechanism is all still original and works well. The spokes had all rusted so I have rebuilt the wheels using new stainless steel straight gauge, custom cut and threaded in the workshop. Duck tail fenders were found in a California bike shop and I have modified them to fit on new fender struts. The original rear fender has obviously been saved, Pam has removed the dents and buffed out as much of the surface rust as possible. The fender can be used again as an historical piece. The Illinois license stickers are an added bonus and date from 1972 and 1973.

The frame, fork, chain-guard and seat clamp were all media blasted and have been painted using a color matched green with a fine subtle metal flake. It sparkles very nicely in the sunlight.

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The major parts ready to start the build.

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The wheels fitted with some old school Tioga “Street Block” tires, 2.25 at the rear and 1.95 at the front.

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After all the work is done a 70’s chopper rides again.

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Obviously no renovation is complete without a test ride. If they ever do a remake of “Easy Rider”…Pam’s your girl. Born to be wild.

Posted on December 1, 2018 .

One More Custom Bike.


The last full custom bicycle of the year has just been completed and rolls out of the store with its new owner. Anyone visiting the store over the last few months has probably seen parts of this build laying around the workshop and the frame had been hanging on a hook for longer than usual. Everything about this bike has been meticulously planned and built to create the perfect bike for the rider. A few teething problems along the way, as with all custom builds, however the end result, though slow in coming, has been worth the wait.

The frame is a full custom design, built around the riders measurements and the geometry set for his personal style and intended use, in this case the design is for a very quick handling, light gravel bike. The frame is built in Titanium and was built by master frame builder Mike DeSalvo in Oregon. The wheels are hand built by myself using DT Swiss rims and modified hubs from White Industries. The shifting is by a cable actuated traditional setup but the brakes are hydraulic. Whilst on the subject of brakes, one of the biggest features on this bike is the braking system. The calipers are from Hope in England and are completely machined from one single piece of aluminum, obviously being from England they used Alumin(i)um… Despite the spelling this is a very complex caliper. Designed for use with a road bike lever they are small in size and lightweight but have fantastic stopping power but still maintain good feel and modulation at the lever. The calipers actually have 4 pistons and need a good amount of fluid, the hose was originally a braided stainless, specially designed to be used with these calipers, unfortunately we had a few problems with it and eventually a failure in the casing itself. At the moment we are using Shimano high flow hose but eventually we will switch to braided high flow hose from Jagwire. We just need to customize the fittings for the caliper end and the lever end to suit. The rotors are also from Hope and are their floating design that have been around for a while now. I will do a separate post on the reason behind this design of rotor at a later date.


Wheels are setup to run tubeless and are running a 700 x 30 tire. The wheels have been laced using spoke washers at the hub and rim washers in rim along with the DT Swiss pro head nipples. Tension is maxed out on these rims obviously and the 32 spokes are laced in a 3 x pattern. As much as I love DT Swiss rims, spokes and hubs, I am not a big fan of their tubeless rim tape so I opted instead for Whiskey brand tape. I also departed from the usual sealants and went instead to Finish Line. Should have a little longer before it dries.


Running a standard 50/34 chain ring combo however, we have gone to our favorite brand for rings, Praxis. This is their “Zayante” model. The derailleurs front and rear are standard Shimano units although you may be unfamiliar with the newer shape and, especially the cable routing on the front. The rear is a Shadow model and shares some characteristics with standard road and some mountain bike models. Ideal for this gravel application. These new models have fantastic chain wrap and engagement. Rear dropout is thru-axle and the less common Syntace style.


So there it is, the last full custom of 2018. This bike has been in the workshop for so long I miss it now that it is gone. The owner is local so I will get to visit with it and if you are riding around the area keep your eye out for a glimpse but you won’t catch it…

Posted on November 25, 2018 and filed under Custom Bikes.

New Site, New Blog.

By now some of our regular customers and followers of our Facebook page will know that Cycle Depot has a new Web-Site, finally. The new site has been a long time coming and part of the reason for that is there has also been a complete change of host for the site and blog. Swapping between hosts is not something I would recommend in the interests of keeping ones sanity, however, sometimes you just have to push the button and go for it. The end result and the rationale behind this change was to make the whole site easier to manage and edit. Our original sites were all housed on our own computers, edited and then transferred on block to hosts using ftp. This is a great way of creating web-sites and you can have a good deal of control over the look and design but, for a bicycle mechanic with limited web-site skills, not particularly easy to make changes and update. This new format is more web based, we have a little less choice and control over the design but changes and edits can be accomplished in minutes rather than hours.

Some of the original web content has been lost to the web pixies, no great loss as a lot of this content was outdated anyway. Gradually we will add the stuff that is still useful to various pages on the site. One of the areas that has become a little chaotic is the blog. So consider this first post a fresh start. I have transferred as many of the blogs from our old hosts to this new platform, unfortunately many have been lost. Those that remain are all a bit jumbled up but still have tags and are searchable. The posts that were “how-to’s” are the ones I was keen to keep and I would say there are about half of them here. I will gradually freshen up and re-post the missing ones over time.

So there you have it. Thank you everyone for your patience, I know a lot of people had given up on ever seeing a new web-site from Hartsburg Cycle Depot, I was very nearly one of them…



This post is supposed to link to our Facebook page with a handy dandy link. “Supposed to” being the key words here. If anyone has problems let me know and I will fix it.

Also, the subscriber list is a new setup too, so even if you subscribed to the old blog and newsletter you will have to do it afresh. Again, any problems let me know and I will try and fix whatever it is I messed up.

Posted on November 19, 2018 .

Umlenker or Top Pull Device.

Recently had one of these wheel into the store and thought that it was a clever idea and worthy of a mention.

A company called Speen make this device called the "Umlenker" which translated means the top pull. Nifty little doo-hicky gives you a clean and simple method of running a traditional bottom pull road derailleur with a top routed cable. Genius, which being manufactured and designed by a German company is not at all surprising.
The device is just the silver bar bolted onto the top. They make a version for Sram, Campy Etc.

 Visit them online to see their gizmo's
Posted on May 11, 2014 .

A Freewheel Tool Is Finally Replaced

People are constantly surprised when they look around our workshop at all of the bicycle specific tools that they see. They are even more amazed when we tell them that rarely a month goes by without us buying more. Every time some manufacturer designs something new invariably there is the need for a new tool to service it. Also things wear out over time and just need replacing, I recently needed a new DT Swiss hub lockring nut removal tool to replaced a worn out one, the sucker cost me 40 bucks too! Sometimes however a tool needs replacing for a different reason. About 8 years ago I lent someone my Maillard freewheel removal tool. This is a splined widget that fits the matching splines on the inside of an old French freewheel that was quite popular in the 70s. Well long story short that tool never came home, now apart from pissing me off slightly, I did not make a big deal out of it and figured I would replace it down the line. Not so easy, every time I tried to source that thing nobody had one, they are rarer than hens teeth. Now, as I said it is not a common freewhel but about 5 or 6 times a year one will come through the door and I would wish a fresh curse on the swine that relieved me of the tool. No more though, a shiny new Var tool has been delivered. I bet now that I have it I will never see a Maillard freewheel again, Oh well it will make  a fine paper weight...
Var Freewheel Remover For Maillard Helicomatic And Super Plus Freewheels


Posted on April 27, 2014 .

Hydraulic Brakes. Make Them Like New Again.

Hydraulic Brakes are one of those components that everyone wants to have and then, when things go wrong, they bail and become anti fluid and pro cable actuated. I will admit that there are some good cable actuated discs out there that are very good, the Avid BB7 for instance, however, nothing comes close to the feel and operation of a good hydraulic system. That is why it is a shame when people ditch them. Even some bike shops are more than happy to sell the hydro's but don't want to mess with them afterwards for service. A hydraulic brake system can be ordered as a kit, hoses attached and filled with fluid. You can always tell a system that has come this way as it will have 3 feet of extra hose in a big loop off the bar, just waiting to be snagged by a passing Moose or even a tree limb. Now sometimes this is just laziness on the part of the mechanic but often it is fear of cracking the system open. So here is a little primer on the hydraulic disc brake system...

I have already mentioned Avid above, apart from making the BB7 they also make some great hydraulic units, the older Juicy and Code plus the newer series of Elixir and Trail. All of these models are easy to service and durable apart from working very well. Shimano also make a range that are popular and again easy'ish to service and repair. Other companies that we are fans of are Formula and Hope, both of these produce disc systems that also qualify as works of art, sadly they also  have price tags similar to a minor work from Rembrandt...

So, back to my point. What do you do when things start to go sideways? Well you service them.  Below I have taken some pictures of the complete internals of a set of Avid Juicy levers and calipers. These brakes recently came to us from a customer at the Lake of the Ozarks and they were in dire need of some TLC. These brakes are very common but basically all hydraulic brake units are following the same principles, so with a spec sheet of your particular make and model you will be in good shape.

These particular units had developed one of the common issues of older neglected sets. They had developed the sticky lever syndrome. Another common issue is a soft lever which means air is in the system either through the need of a good bleed or the hose has developed a hole or an o ring has failed on a bleed port. The sticky lever however means that the internal plunger in the lever is in need of replacing or that the caliper pistons are beginning to stick and corrode. My rule is; do both, if one end is gummed up and failing the other ain't far behind.

Wear gloves as DOT fluid is not something you want to be bathing in all afternoon and a pair of safety glasses, you would be amazed at how often I have shot myself in the face with a full syringe of this stuff.

I usually start with the lever first and, with a new bag of the correct internals, start cracking it apart. Below is what you end up with, again this is a Juicy so you will have a different looking pile of bits but they will be doing the same job.
Once the lever blade is removed it will reveal the circlip that needs to be removed to slide out the reach adjust mechanism and the plunger.

Reach adjust mech is next. If yours is a more basic model this will be missing.
In this case the parts were worn
All the parts laid out ready to clean. In this instance everything is being replaced except the body the blade and the reservoir cap.
The main culprit of the sluggish lever return is the plunger unit, in the above picture it is the thing with the spring attached to it. However when you are pulling it apart you may as well replace all the bits as they are all in the rebuild kit anyway.

Once the lever is rebuilt I attack the caliper. Again disconnect the hose first. The only way to get into the pistons is to split the caliper body in half. this is achieved by undoing the three bolts. Once you have the body in two the fun begins. The way to get the pistons out of their press fit home is with the use of compressed air. You cannot get them out any other way so don't be jamming screwdrivers in there or you will damage the body itself and you will get fluid leaking out and the whole unit will become a paperweight. The compressed air does a great job of popping them out. Warning; Make sure you don't have the thing aimed at anything soft and fleshy, it will hurt...
Waiting to be cracked open like a walnut...
The main culprits in here are the quad rings (the square edged rubber washers) and the round pistons.All of which will be replaced.
Once the caliper has been rebuilt all that is left is to run new hose, to the correct length as mentioned earlier to avoid lassoing stray Moose... Also never re-use banjo fittings or crush washers. Once they have been tightened up they have to be replaced. That's it, job done. Go ride.
Good as new.

Posted on April 13, 2014 .

Custom Made Wooden Rims.

Over the last year we have been working on a couple of unusual projects. We have mentioned before the Bamboo bike frame that was completed recently, which we will feature here before too long, as a follow on to the frame project however we have a set of wooden rimed wheels.

These things are beautiful, we have dealt before with an Italian rim manufacturer, Ghisallo, but these new rims that a good friend of ours has had custom made are head and shoulders better. Our friend Tom, who has been the driving force behind the bamboo frame build, went in search of a craftsman to make these hoops and boy did he find one. They are made of white oak and have been stained and finished in a lovely medium brown that shows the grain.
The unfinished rim
The rim after being stained and laced up.

We used the Velo Orange Grand Cru front hub.Just visible are the DT Swiss brass spoke washers that we use.
The finished wheel.
The wheels will end up on the bamboo bike frame, at the moment though, they are hanging up in the workshop and have become quite the conversation starter...

Square Taper Crankset Woes.

The method of affixing crank arms to a bottom bracket spindle using a square taper system has been around for many, many years now and even though we have had lots of designs since it is a method we still see a lot especially on the comforts and hybrids and anything that comes from a box store.

Because we see a lot of these cranks on the cheaper bikes does not mean that it is a bad method, White Industries make a very high end crank set that uses a square taper fit and Phil Woods produce some of the most expensive bottom bracket cartridges ever in square taper format.

If the square taper crank to bottom bracket interface has ever had a problem it has been with installation and maintenance. The basic principle behind the method is that the crank arm gets tighter as it is drawn onto the square spindle because of the tapering. The most comon issue we see is the crank arm bolt coming loose or falling out completely and the bike is still ridden. Even though the crank arm is tightly fixed onto that spindle with the bolt gone the pedaling action will break the bond within a mile of riding. Now here is were it gets interesting. People just assume that a new bolt when they get home and a wrench to tighten it up will solve it. Wrong. When the arm gets loose and you continue to ride it the square hole in the crank arm just mushrooms out. The crank arms are made of soft aluminum and the spindle is steel. Once that crank arm hole becomes deformed it will never stay put, no matter how tight it feels when tightening it back up. The only cure is a new crank arm.
This is a typical example of a crank that became loose and was still ridden.
This is what they are supposed to look like
The above are pretty generic examples of the square taper cranks that you see on multiple bikes nowadays. Below is a picture of a White Industries VBC crankset and bottom bracket. This one was recently installed on a Ti Moots road frame and made a significant upgrade to the bike.
White Industries VBC crank set in anodized black.
The bottom bracket to match.
One slight issue that you have when using the white industries bottom brackets is the choice of spindle lengths or the lack of choices. In the event that a different length is needed then the Phil Woods bottom brackets are a great alternative.

Yearly Maintenance. (The Bottom Bracket)

 This is the time of the year when the workshop is full of bikes waiting for their annual check up. Mixed in with the bikes that we see every year are the bikes that have just been dragged out of the barn for the first time in 5 years and were put up wet in the first place. Those bikes are always interesting to pull apart and really highlight what can happen to bikes that have suffered some neglect.

However it is just not neglected bikes that have problems, any bike that is ridden regularly and hard throughout the year desperately needs that overhaul before the new season starts. Recently we had just such a bike in the workshop. This bike is one that has been overhauled by us before, not yearly I think we did a frame up rebuild on it 3 years ago, however the bike always is cleaned and lubed on the outside by the owner and kept inside.

Below is a picture of what we found inside the bottom bracket shell, once we had used a breaker bar and 2 of us to get the cartridge out!

 Keep in mind that this is an aluminum frame so that is not rust from the frame itself that you are seeing however aluminum does create a powder like substance under the right conditions. This is a mixture of sweat and moisture that finds its way down the seat tube and also the cartridge itself being steel bodied can supply some rust to the mix as well.

Moral of this story is. "If it looks good and clean on the outside, it doesn't necessarily mean everything is cool inside..."
This is a bottom bracket tap. The threads were so damaged after removal we had to re-cut them. Not an ideal scenario but the only option at this point.
This is the material that was removed in the re-tapping.       
Posted on April 2, 2014 .

We're Back...

After a long hiatus from the blog I am back in the saddle, so to speak. Last year just did not seem to have enough hours in the day but I feel refreshed and ready to go.

There have been many projects and restorations over the past few months and I have documented some of the more interesting ones in pictures. Also, as visitors to the store will know, some bamboo has been experimented with and quite successfully I might add. So there is plenty to share plus, of course, some of the usual repair and upgrades that we get in I will share with you as I know from the hits I receive on previous posts, these are quite popular with those of you that are working on similar projects at home.


Posted on March 31, 2014 .

Pantour Suspension Hubs

           It is time for a clean out here at the store, an early Spring clean if you will. First up is a set of wheels with a matching front and rear Pantour suspension hub. These hubs were originally built, by me, as a set of demo wheels for the road recumbents we sold at the time. They have been hanging up and need to find a new home. They are built around a Velocity Aerohead rear offset rim and a Alex road 20inch front. The front could easily be laced to a matching 700c Aerohead if required for the ultimate road setup.
          If you have never seen these hubs before take a look at them at they are very impressive. We can get new ones of course but take a look at the ebay listing for these ones and if they fit the bill you could save a few bucks.

Pantour website at
Ebay listing at
Posted on February 24, 2013 .

How Not to Treat Carbon

             I have written many times on the subject of carbon fiber and rarely does a week go by without someone thrusting a scratched or damaged carbon doodad under my nose and asking is it OK.  Well last week we had a bike come in for a full overhaul and prep ready for the new race season with a couple of good examples of carbon fiber that is definitely NOT OK.

             The parts in question are a carbon drop bar and a full carbon seat post. These two components are the most common to suffer abuse and these examples are the most common way to kill them. Over tightening the clamping pressure. The handlebars have been squashed in the stem to the point of cracking through all the layers on both sides of the face plate. The seat post has suffered a similar fate by being  over torqued at the seat clamp. Both these components are dead and will fail in a spectacular fashion if used further.
             If you only buy one tool in your life let it be a torque wrench.
Again, probably twice the specified torque on the stem face plate to cause this.
Carbon has been squashed so hard it has made a peg in the carbon.
Posted on February 20, 2013 .

Raleigh Competition Renovation

Recently we had a renovation project come through the doors, a 1973 Raleigh "Competition". This bike had been owned since new by the present owner and he had decided that it was time for a makeover.

Before the new paint and decal job.
What started as a simple pull apart, service and rebuild turned into a pull apart and update everything to a modern Campagnolo group and a custom wheelset.

First the frame was treated to a blast and full repaint including a new original spec decal set and three coats of clear-coat. The frame then had the lugs highlighted with gold pin striping. A new custom wheel set hand-built by myself and sporting a set of Eldon rims and a matched set of high flange polished Velo-Orange hubs.
Back from paint.

The customer wanted the build rounded off with a 10 speed compact group from Campy.

The conversion was not without its headaches and a lot of small shims and add-ons had to be handmade to get the new technology to work. However the end result was definitely worth it.

Complete and ready to go.

High gloss and gold pinstripe, classic 70s...

Posted on February 17, 2013 .

Team Sky Christmas Card Factory

          With lots to celebrate this year Team Sky got into the Christmas spirit by making their own cards. Not sure if this is going to catch on or if they plan to do print jobs on the side but they are sure offering a quick turnaround. Hopefully Staples will soon adopt this method in their printing shop...              

Neat little video showing how Team Sky prepared their Christmas cards this year.
Posted on December 20, 2012 .

Global Cycling Network

            Coming to the screens in January is a new cycling channel. Due to hit 'You Tube' on January 1st 2013 is the 'Global Cycling Network' a free original content channel for all things cycling. The initial feedback seems good and it promises to have all kinds of content covering the gamut of cycling. Take a look at the preview and add it to your favorites.

Posted on December 15, 2012 .


            The previous post on crank-sets made reference to a dimension called the "Q-Factor" This raised a few questions along the lines of 'What the hell is a q factor???' So, here is the definition and why it is important.
            The Q-Factor is the distance from the point of pedal contact on one crank arm to the other, measured parallel to the bottom bracket. The little illustration below shows the measurement.
             Some people of a certain vintage refer to this dimension as the crank-set  tread, but nowadays it is universally called q-factor.
             In most cases we want the smallest q factor that is possible. The more this dimension increases the less clearance we have when cornering and for most body types the further out the pedal is the more the angle of attack under pedaling force. Think of this when you are running say, your legs prefer to function by being directly under your hips. If you widen your stance greatly you start to rock and loose some power. Also it puts pressure and strain on knees and hip joints.
             Why then don't we just make skinny crank-sets? Well we have clearance issues when building frames. We have to widen chain-stays on mountain bikes to get clearance for big tires, the chain rings have to be allowed for. All these things dictate the minimum q factor. With the compact double road bikes with minimum tire clearance we can get crank-sets with the narrowest tread.
Posted on December 13, 2012 .

New Crankset From Sugino

The Road OX801D
          Sugino, the Japanese company famed for making some of the best crank sets to grace bikes through the decades have come up with yet another innovative design that is both stylish and addresses a common problem when choosing a gear combination. Lack of choice.
The MTB ZX801D
           The new OX801D for road and the ZX801D for MTB features a 110 and a smaller 74mm bolt circle diameter that enables the use of rings only usually obtainable on a triple. This new design and the selection of rings available gives you 13 possible combinations. Perfect for those looking for the ultimate touring setup or a cross racer looking for a tweak to the standard configurations. Mtb  options for running a wide gap for a low climbing gear on a tough or muddy course. The choice is yours.
Close-up Showing the 74mm. BCD for mounting  the smaller rings
           The build quality is superb, typical Sugino, and the outboard bearing bottom bracket configuration is very stiff. The setup also gives you the lowest Q factor available when using the lower 74mm mount rings at 145mm for the road and 156mm for the mtb. Let us know what your gear requirements are and we can put together the best combination for you.
Posted on December 6, 2012 .

Bicycle Measurement

              You would think that the task of measuring a bike would be a very simple one but alas, as with most things in life, we have made it complex and ultimately very confusing. Over the years a few different ways of measuring frames, seat tube length specifically, have evolved. Sadly they have all become commonly used among the many frame manufactures out there, I have even dealt with manufacturers that have utilized 2 different methods of sizing within their range of bicycles. Needless to say this can get very confusing and needs to be kept in mind when purchasing a bike, especially when using an existing bikes measurement as the foundation for a new one. In my opinion buying a new bike in a size based solely on the fact that it is the size of the previous one is a bad way to go about things anyway but can be disastrous if the frames have been measured to different points.
 Today’s modern frames are designed very differently from the older, horizontal top tube, bikes of yesterday. The new geometry of compact frames with sloping top tubes are designed to have lots more visible seat post and can vary a lot from design to design so, again, sticking with the size of a previous one for the new and expecting it to fit like the old probably is not going to happen. Always get a new bike fit done on the bicycle style and design you are contemplating.
             The drawing below shows the various points that are used when quoting seat tube frame sizes. All have a starting point at the center of the bottom bracket but from there can be measured to the top of the top tube, the top of the seat tube itself or even to an imaginary line which represents the center of the top tube if it were a horizontal design
Click Image for full size.

There is actually another one that is only used by frame-builders when building custom frames and that is; to the center line of top tube where it will actually be. This is because we are building a bike to an individual’s body measurements and the tube dimensions are already factored in. We also work from center line dimensions when setting the frame jigs.

With all these methods you can see how varied the results can be. Looking at the frame in the picture you can see that there is quite a difference from   the shortest measurement to the longest on the same frame. I have always thought that the most important measurement on a production frame nowadays is the effective top tube length. When comparing a favorite frame to a possible new addition this is a good comparison measurement to start with, but again a proper fit is the way to go.

Posted on December 4, 2012 .

Hoy Bikes

          6 x  Olympic Champion and 11 x World Champion, Sir Chris Hoy, officially launched the Hoy Bike brand last week,finally. Rumours have been flying for weeks that a bicycle venture was in the offing and now we know. Through a partnership with the Evans Cycle Shops Sir Chris will be releasing a range of bikes due to be released in March of 2013.
          Initially the range will consist of three road bikes and four city bikes however, the range will eventually be expanded so expect to see mountain as well. Even though it was denied that the range was to compete with the successful range of fellow Olympian Chris Boardman, there is already a planned release of a limited edition track bike. Should be fun to watch...
Posted on December 3, 2012 .

Alfine 11 Shifters.

                The recent post on the new Shimano 11 speed internal hub created quite a stir and I have had many questions regarding it. One of the main queries has been whether you can run it with a drop bar STI lever. Answer; yes you can. There has been a drop bar brake shifter around for a while as an option for the older 8 speed Alfine hubs and that manufacturer, 'Versa', produces a lever for the new 11 speed unit.
The Versa 11 speed cable actuated shift brake lever.
                However that is not the only choice, for those of you into the whole Di2 electronic shifting experience Simano produce a dedicated 'Alfine' specific electronic shifter.
The Shimano electronic Alfine 11 speed shifter and cable brake.
            Both of these options come with a matching left brake unit which is obviously just a brake.

Posted on December 2, 2012 .