Renovating my Chas Roberts bicycle - stripping it down - Part one

The stripping of my Chas Roberts bicycle

Chas Roberts touring Lands End to John  O'Groasts in its better days

In 1998 I moved from Sydney to London flying my Trek hybrid bicycle with me as part of my baggage allowance. Two years later it was stolen from outside my bedsit in Kensington Olympia, London. By this time I had started cycling regularly with the Central London, CTC (Cycle Touring Club). I asked them advice about getting a new bike. Someone suggested that I visit the Evans Cycles bike shop in The Cut, London and speak to the manager, I did so within the week. I asked if there were any bikes for women of my size suitable for cycle touring or should I have a bike custom built for me. He took one look at me and sold himself out of a bike by saying, "I was best to go and have something custom built, as there really wasn't anything on the market to do the job I wanted". This is how my Roberts bicycle which I still ride today was born.

Why choose a Roberts, because many of the people I cycled with in London had custom builds by him and they loved them. Now I have a custom built bicycle there really is no going back. After 17 years, one complete strip and repaint, my bike is in desperate need of an overhaul again. Probably at least a year over due my bike is no longer in a safe state to be ridden. It had rust in too many places, the rear derailleur fixing was threaded and my bike was looking very sad and tired. I stripped it as far as I could with the skills and tools I have. The picture below is my bike as I presented it to Paint My Bike. They stripped the remainder of the bike.

Cost was the main reason it took me too long to make this necessary decision. My Roberts bicycle is my main form of transport and as such is my work horse. I suspected that the cost of painting and re-building my Roberts would be significant. So I suppose, I was trying to put it off, not a good idea really. But now that I have started it is really exciting.

I took an afternoon off work, caught the bus and Kevin met me at the workshop of Paint My Bike. I knew I wanted a blue colour but I wasn't sure about the shade and accent colour. Matt Chamberlain, the production manager at Paint My Bike was called in to help me make a decision. It was hard, we went through patches, but no luck. Matt started to mix paint for me, we took the pots into the sun to give me a better idea of how it would look outside. Eventually I made a decision, well as much as I could considering I really didn't know what it would look like in the end. Then the colour of the writing had to be decided. Matt suggested antique white. I want my bike to look classic and classy. So I loved the idea of antique white. I then decided where I wanted the writing, if I wanted a protective coat over my bike, which was a yes. I also had them fix my rear derailleur attachment, as the thread was wearing badly.

That was it, all the decisions had been made and I was left anticipating what the end paint job of my prized and loved Chas Roberts bicycle would look when it was finished and ready to be pick up.

In part two you will see what the finished paint job looks like. Stay tuned for the next episode.