What a weird bike. My dad and I bought this bike from a guy and his son up in Mchenry, Il. They seem to stumble on bike for resale and usually give us a courtesy call when they are listing a new bike on Craigslist. This particular bike wasnt listed because they had just picked up and we just happen to see it while there buying a Schwinn World.
They quickly showed up the unique feature on the bike, a cam that is actually integrated with the with the bottom bracket cup.
I had no idea what kind of bike it was or where it came from and neither did they. I thought it may have been a German or Belgian bike with a name like that but it turns out that Houdaille was an American company.
To my understanding this is the only bicycle Houdaille Industries made. What makes this such a rare bike is not only the manufacturer but the Powercam crank, which is conjured in competition with Shimano’s Biopace technology.
The bikes Powercam crank is definitely different. From what I read it was designed to help the rider at their weakest extension while cranking, improve cadence, and build muscle. After riding locally on the Houdaille, and getting use to the strange relief motion you experience when your leg is furthest forward while cranking, I can agree that it has the ability to build muscle quickly while ‘kind of’ making it easier on the rider. You can definitely build and maintain speed very easy with this bike without exerting as much energy as a conventional crank. I think the primary reason this technology did not take off is because of how different the riding experience is. Its definitely not a bike I would take our leisurely. It is meant to for performance applications like competition and racing.
Ive been pretty busy with projects for specific people these last few weeks. Projects for individuals often prove to be challenging but fun. Ive met some cool people along the way and its always interesting seeing the different reasons why someone needs a bicycle and flattering that they want me to rebuild one for them. This bike almost ended up not being thrown in the “build-to-order” category but it was very similar to a bike I already had lined up for a young guy.
Originally the guy was going to have me rebuild a Miyata One Ten frame Ive had for the past year now. He needed a commuter and wanted to mess around on a sturdy vintage steel frame with decent tubing. Once I discovered this frame I knew it was a much better buy than the Miyata seeing that it had Columbus tubing and a much sportier color scheme.
I didnt have to replace really any of the componentry, just recondition it, add new tires, tubes, cables, housing, wrap, chain, saddle, true the wheels, and a good cleaning.
Its a sharp bike and rode very nicely. The guy was pleased with it and thought it would be perfect for his applications.
Every once in awhile I’ll build a bike that sub quality components. What I mean by that is steel. Steel components are heavy, restricting, and dumb. Cottered/one piece cranks, heavy steel handlebars, and of course steel wheels that each weigh a ton. They just are efficient components and there are more than obvious reasons why they were left in the shadows 30 years ago. But like said, I use them on occasion because there is an abundance of them and if they are reconditioned, they can be used for a budget bike. Thats what I did here:
Had this project called for alloy components I would have charged much more but since its equipped with steel, its considered a budget bike for a budget buyer. I dont want to be known as someone who is too prideful to work on shitty bikes or attempt to build a decent bike within a tight budget and I think most people who buy these budget bikes appreciate that. Not everyone values, appreciates, or can afford $250+ bikes so helping those individuals out is something I enjoy doing, which is why I made this steel clunker as efficient and pretty as I could.
Unfortunately the buyer of this bike didnt appreciate the extent of work/resources that went into this bike. I received a call on a Saturday prior to heading out with friends regarding this bike. It was a young man calling on behalf of his father who thought the bike looked great and was priced accordingly. I set something up with them the following day and everything was in order. Next day came and I called the young man an before I left to confirm that we were still on for the afternoon. He confirmed and then confirmed the price that he claims we agreed on. Thing is, we didnt talk about a price at all, I assumed they were paying my asking price. I was somewhat flexible but I didnt want to bend that much because the bikes was already priced for someone on a budget. We agreed to $10 less than my asking price which was fine.
They lived on a very narrow one way street outside of Chicago and I met them in the street since there was no parking in front of their flat. Young man and his father came out and scanned the bike without compliments. Instead, the father quickly made a fuss about paint chips, the very few that were on the frame. I tried explaining that paint chips are extremely common on frames that are 20-30 years old, even younger, but he wouldnt budge. He claimed “he had to get the thing repainted”. I told him that if the frame didnt have those chips I would have charged more and that they are common and meaningless. The bike is in great shape and full functional but it didnt matter. Him and his were trying to drop the price on me even more and I frankly got upset. I knew I was being taken advantage of and I felt really disrespected. While this was happening a car pulled up behind me and sat there. I basically had to make a decision. Take the father’s bullshit offer or drive off with the bike. I took his offer to justify my 30 mile trip to their home but respectfully shook the mans hand and told him to have a nice evening.
Everyonce in awhile you run into jerks like that but in any line of service you will. Hope he enjoys the bike.
This bike was under priced and under worked. Not to say it wasnt in proper working order, I just wish I did further customization to it. After selling it I happen to stumble on another Kona that was extensively customized. Here is what I stumbled on:
Wish I would have done something sexy like that but I was still pretty happy with how my Kona turned out, just kind of kicking myself in the rear for selling it so cheaply.
I sold it to a guy who just needed a reliable commuter. He would have been fine on any other mountain/hybrid bike but he got a hell of a deal.
It sat as a frame for awhile after stripping it. The wheels needed to be serviced and I used city slicks on the bike just to make it easier to ride around on pavement with.
Most of the components were original if I can remember correctly.
Id really like to get another bike similar to this in my hands again to hopefully do some extensive reworking with.
I left early one morning to buy this bike from a gentlemen in Wicker Park who promised to hold the bike for me despite having had many other inquiries. It was initially very dirty and needed a decent amount of work. There was a great deal of dried limestone and grit on the rims and surrounding the BB shell. I didnt expect it to clean up so nicely, though.
After stripping, reassembling, and dressing the bike up I was very content with the turn out. It was a 22 inch frame so I was able to ride it semi comfortably.
It took about 2 weeks for this bike to sell which is probably the longest time Ive waited for a bike to sell since last winter. Ive noticed that the prices of bikes have gone up slightly but the quality and workmanship has definitely remained sub par. There is just not a lot of great deals out there for people which kind of baffled me when this Trek didnt sell in a matter of days.
I finally had a young man from Ireland inquiry on the bike. He turned out to be the best person to own the bike. He had knowledge of bikes and an appreciation for 80s steel road bikes, having rode a few in Ireland.
It doesnt scare me that it took that long to sell but the down season is definitely here.
My father tipped me off on a lead for a tall framed Super Le Tour somewhere in Elk Grove, Il. My father had plans for the day so he asked me to go out and buy the bike for him. He told me that the seller would be a place of business until 5pm so I had to run out the door quickly.
I met with a cheery cigar smoking gentlemen who had a small warehouse full of random things. Antique smokers, lawnmowers, dvd players, bicycles, stuffed animals (including a grizzly bear head) and number of other interesting items. He apparently runs a demolition company that is able to cease the items at the sites they are hired to demolish so he is constantly stocked with common/oddball items that he takes the time to refurbish, restore, rebuild, and resale. He had a number of bicycles but only a couple were ‘sellable’ because the rest had not been worked on. Along with the men’s Super Le Tour I went out there to buy, I ended up buying this pretty mixte.
The wheels were out of true, calipers needed adjusting, the headset was loose, and the frame in general needed a good cleaning but it only ended up being an hour of work so it wasnt a bad buy at all. New tubes, cables housing, regreasing, and slapped a nice brown leather reupholstered saddle.
I toyed with the idea of getting it converted to single speed but figured Id save myself the work and hassle of getting the rear redished and the other expenses that go into conversions.
I really love the champagne color alongside the nice browns. Such a nice autumn feel.
I told the seller about the hobby that my father and I have and that we dont mind buying non-functioning bikes. Hopefully we can start a business relationship in the future. Not sure how this winter season will pan out as far as the demand of bikes but Im confident that I will still be relatively busy.
I had bought this bike for a taller guy who needed a bike to perform triathlons more efficiently. He desperately needed a road bike of some sort because he was using his mountain bike to compete! Luckily I found him a Sirrus in his size.
The bike needed some care. New cables, chain, tires, brake pads, and a good wash. I was able to do most of it on the fly for him, he needed to train.
The frame fit him perfectly. He was finally able to train appropriate for that phase of the event and was very thankful for my help.
It was a pretty attractive bike as well. Glad I got to work on a second Sirrus.