Notes : Daniel Ridings

November 29, 2009

Holdsworth Mistral, on the road again

Filed under: Bicycles,PAW 2009,Pentax *ist DL,Photography — at 6:52 pm

About 27 years ago I ordered a bicycle frame from Holdsworth, a touring frame called Mistral. At that time you couldn’t get a decent touring bike in Sweden. The frame I ordered was made of the same quality steel (Reynolds 531 double-butted) as the competition bikes, but the geometry was different. It was made to absorb the bumps.

I’ve ridden it for years. I installed an Ideale model 45 saddle on it way back when. It’s leather. You couldn’t get Brooks here at the time. I’ve sat on this one for 27 years. You could say it fits my butt pretty well.

Ideale model 45 after 27 years.

This year I decided to try to rejuvenate the bike. Believe me. That was not easy. Bicycles have always been close to anarchy when it comes to “standards” (the nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them), but add to that confusion 27 years of companies that disappear (Holdsworth, Sun Tour (for all practical purposes), Ideale, Mafac (a _real_ problem for me) and you end up with a puzzle that at times lookes like some of the pieces are missing, for good.

Finding a threaded free-wheel is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Well, ok, I thought. As much as I hate to, I’ll retire my Campagnolo Record hubs (threaded for free-wheels) and build up new wheels with integrated free-wheels.

Not so easy … The frame was built for, I think, 125 mm axels in the back. Actually, I think it was less. The frame is made of steel and I had been shoving in 130 mm hubs for years. Probably shouldn’t try that with an aluminum frame.

You can get 130mm hubs, but … they are intended to be used on racers. They tend to have fewer spokes than a now aging biker would like to see in his wheels.

No problem. Hubs intended for MTB bikes are easy to find with 36 spokes. … But … they’re made for 135 mm axles. I’m prepared to cold set the steel frame for a slightly wider spacing, but I’d be stretching it for over 10mm. Long story. Solved it.

The real problem is that the frame was designed for the British market, read: 27″ x 1 1/4. Even back in those days 700c was taking over the market. No problem, I thought. The brakes will just have to reach longer.

Now this is a touring bike, with spaces for fenders, so the brakes have to reach pretty far anyway. Put in smaller wheels and you’re starting to hit the limits. Back in those days I could pick up a pair of good center-pull Mafac brakes with exactly the reach I needed.

Mafac 2000 long-reach center-pull brakes

But … see that cable that straddles the brake arms? The cable that they one leading from the brake levers pulls up? If it breaks, I’m out of business. Mafac is out of business and it is well nigh impossible to 1) find a replacement straddle cable and 2) to find long reach brakes that will fit. The well-being of the whole bike rests on that little cable.

Bottom-brackets have changed, they’re now sealed and better than anything I could get back in the early 80’ies.

I’ll not go into the Cinelli stem and bars (Cinelli had a standard all to themselves … and they no longer make anything for that standard anymore. No one else ever did).


I got it up to snuff and took it out for a 50km spin today. The wind was against me and the temperature was just above freezing (but it _was_ above freezing at least) but the sun was shining.

First to Särö Västerskog, always to the sea …

Särö Västerskog looking east

The wind has been blowing very, very strongly for a couple of weeks now. All kinds of debris has been washed up on the shore:

Holdsworth Mistral at Särö Västerskog

Then around to the other side of the bay (cove ?), to Vallda Sandö. This is the road leading to Sandö (Sand Island):

Road leading to Vallda Sandö

Same road, but looking back east:

Looking east from the road leading to Vallda Sandö

My break at Vallda Sandö:

Rest stop at Vallda Sandö

With the saffron rolls (buns ?) (lussekatter) that Ewa baked right before I left. They’re traditional at Christmas and today is the first day of Advent.

Saffron rolls (lussekatter)

Never could figure out which direction the wind was blowing. I travelled 360 degrees, and it was never in my back.


  1. Nice bike. You could probably find some spares at for instance long reaching brakes.

    Do you need new hubs? May be it will be OK after cleaning and grease and oil in the freehub.


    Comment by Thure — November 29, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  2. There are no free-wheels on these Campagnolo hubs. They are threaded. You need a traditional free-wheel (sprockets and free-wheel in one unit). They are a dying, dying breed. They’re not “cassettes”. You can’t even find any on Sportex has some 14-28, I think. has it too:, but I just had to admit … threaded hubs are out-dated.

    But the problems didn’t stop there. Once I had a modern (Shimano XT hub) and a 8-speed cassette, I found out that the Campagnolo Rally derailleur (“touring” model, long cage) didn’t have enough swing to cover all the sprockets, only the first 7, so I was still stuck with 28 teeth (unless I filed off some of the body so that it would swing a little further). Fortunately I still had a Sun Tour BL GT and it worked perfectly. Shifts better than the Campagnolo too.

    I was just going to order the Dia-Compe 750, but a few days ago I referred to them on and yesterday, when I went in to order, they were gone. They’ve been there for weeks. I guess they just had one single set and someone ordered them.


    Comment by daniel — November 29, 2009 @ 9:52 pm

  3. Beautiful bike and I’m sure many miles/kilometers left in it. The Holdsworth tandem racer my wife and I borrowed many times in the ’80s was a wonderfully fast responsive machine — for two! For parts, around here we no longer have old bike shops with cellars full of spares. You might look up the website Classic Rendezvous; they have a lot of info about classic bikes (steel is real). Also, ebay (forgive me) has a lot of obsolete bike parts; there might be some stuff there. But it looks like you’re doing fine
    -Bill (1986 Bianchi club racer mostly Campy but a Superbe rear derailleur — Suntour sponsored our bike team for a few years. And a Brooks professional)

    Comment by bill harting — December 3, 2009 @ 4:43 am

  4. These are excellent compositions and very interesting images, I specially liked those ones about the bike with landscape, but each one shows reasons to be here.Your images are inspiring, perhaps could be time to repair my bicycle. Regards

    Comment by Carlos — December 3, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  5. Thanks Bill. I’ve found most of the things I need. (The brakes are a real problem, but I have two straddle wires I can strip from a contemporary Raleigh competition bike if push comes to shove. I can easily pick up new brakes for that bike).

    I’m not real pious about the renovation. I don’t try to keep it true to its age. Instead, I’m trying to renovate it in such a way that it will continue being a functional bike. I ordered a stem-converter:

    Hmmm, looks like I got the last one. The link will say “temporarily unavailable” and then the page will go to the index after a few seconds. It looks like that, but it converts to 1 1/8 inch rather than 25.4mm:–25.4-mm-20395.htm

    With that, I can use modern stems and replace the drop down bars. I could never get them high enough to use them in dropped down position and they are a bit too narrow. I’m going with one of these:–Silver-15572.htm


    The conversion gives me access to modern stems and various angles.

    The Cinelli stem requires a 26.4 mm handlebar, Cinelli’s old standard (that noone uses and that Cinelli gave up on in the 90’ies). You can’t find good 22.2 mm stems anymore since almost all modern bikes use the A-headset rather than the older kind. Talk about head-aches.

    The parts are on the way. I still have the Karrimor racks (back and front) and the back one is as good as anything else out there, so I’ll use it. I even have the panniers (front and back) but they need a little work. The elastic hooks tend to break on you, but I see that some newer bicycle bags are using the same set-up, so I can get new hooks and straps.

    Thanks for looking! I’ve got 120 km on it now. I about froze my toes off yesterday and that is no exaggeration. I was a little worried when I realized I had 30 minutes before I was home and I was getting a little worried about frost-bite. But I guess it takes a while to get frost-bite. It was 7 degrees below (centigrade).

    Comment by daniel — December 3, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  6. I should stress that I am not restoring my Bianchi, but still using the parts I have on hand. My youngest daughter was quite a racer in her days (fourth in national time trials by a couple hundredths of a second) and I was her pit mechanic, support crew, flat-fixer, driver). So I still have a stockpile of parts. And a Cinelli stem. I’m so retro (ha).

    Comment by bill harting — December 3, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  7. Oh, a Cinelli stem I have … but try to find new handlebars for it 🙂

    Today’s “standard” seems to be 26mm. The difference between 26.4 (or 26.5 in my case) and 26 mm may not sound like much, but they say (I really don’t know) that if you put smaller bars in the stem and just tighten it up that it will cause stress on the alloy that might eventually cause it to crack, just when you don’t want it to (while pulling up hard).

    The stem is fine, but I’d like to have bars that are about 45cm wide (or more). I can probably raise the stem a bit to make me happy. I too have a stockpile of some stuff. Fortunate circumstance of never throwing anything away.

    You must have kept busy as a father 🙂

    Comment by daniel — December 3, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  8. When you actually sit down and look at all the different components you suddenly realise what am amazing and often overlooked feat of engineering it is

    Comment by Campagnolo Biker — January 13, 2010 @ 12:47 am

  9. If we had a bike like this do you think the gap between us and the podium of the Tour de France would be a bit closer? We can dream!

    Comment by Campagnolo Cyclist — January 17, 2010 @ 6:49 am

  10. Hi a couple of days ago I put a comment about how my good friend Livo Borro had renovated my Mistral. He passed away to day, so if you could include this comment it would be much appreciated.


    Peter Larkins

    Comment by Peter Larkins — July 1, 2011 @ 3:05 am

  11. Hello. I have this very same bicycle, color, size 58 cm, and everything. I live in the US and ride it every day to work. I run 700C tires with fenders, much appreciated, with Tektro R559 brakes. Very stiff, dual pivot brakes. Did you change the headset? I have noticed some brinelling on my original part. Anyway, cheers to the Holdsworth Mistral.

    Comment by Collin — August 28, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

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