Pix of my latest bike project, refurbishing what I think is a 40-yr-old Czech bicycle. Those commies never filed the edges on anything, but they built stuff to last with plenty of extra metal everywhere.

Until relatively recently, most men in the Balkans went to work every day on one of these babies. They were manufactured by the millions in communist Eastern Europe, often in factories that produced tanks or something in WWII. You still see them in the poorer places like former Yugoslavia. Greeks won't touch them anymore because they have graduated to SUVs.

This one was fished from my bro-in-law's sheet-metal shop. First step was to take it to the do-it-yo-Balkan-self carwash where I blasted it with high-pressure water. Then disassembly and lots of scrubbing with acetone, industrial sandpaper and a wire-wheel to scrape the history off everything. I mean everything too -- I'm still sanding the spokes to clean 'em up.

All the old bits were reused -- nuts were filed to metric dimensions, the rear stirrup brake was chopped and moved to the front, etc. Only the fenders were tossed. Some new bits, of course -- tires and tubes, grips, pedals, chain, cotter pins, bell. The surreal-mccoy saddle was preserved and laced up to regain shape.

Spray-can primer and color and the bike, she is ready. The plastic contraption on the frame is for a child-seat. I only take this bike around the city, on the flats, because with that old stirrup brake and crunchy ball-bearings, this thing is not easily controlled. But the riding position is pure comfort. Better to take the frame and rebuild it with quality new parts. Also I could have gone to Athens and bought the same bike, new from a Chinese or Indian factory, for about $200.

Interestin' technical notes:

1. Eastman saddle, made in India (from cows?), Brooks-quality, laced to regain shape
2. Renak coaster-brake hub from Czechoslovakia? Germany? with extra-beefy spokes
3. Made-in-Greece rear rack-zilla stamped "Ellas"
4. Phillips front hub
5. Hubs and bottom-bracket shell all have lube ports!

K. Berkowitz

Thessaloniki, Greece



Balkan Roadster - Eastman Saddle

Balkan Roadster - serious lugs and rod brake
Balkan Roadster - rack-Zilla
Balkan Roadster - rear hub detail
 Balkan Roadster - side view on greek tiles

Current Classics Photo Gallery - Cross Bike Photo Gallery

Single Speed Garage Photo Gallery - Working Bikes & Practical Hardware

   Submit Your Bicycle Photo