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The ‘grey ghost’ is looking like a pretty quick project, as much of it is in good order. The front wheel was given a slight true and new grease and is running well. These 80s Araya rims could have been really good on the Cecil Walker, but I don’t want to go there for a while, and this one is worth keeping (fairly) original …

Malvern Star could have made this a brilliant bike by using cast dropouts, a better alloy chainset and derailleurs, down tube shifters, and the same brake levers sans the suicide bits. That’s all it would have taken, but there you go … I like it anyway.

the classy SR laprade seat post is worth putting a decent saddle on

the classy SR laprade seat post is worth putting a decent saddle on

I’ve always wanted a slightly sporty 3-speed, which was what the Sportstar was planned to be, and in lieu of the bent rear axle I’ve removed the rim from the rear and laced it to a Nexus 3 coaster hub. This internal geared hub is heavy-ish, but I wonder if it’s really any heavier than the derailleur hub and cluster plus the rear brake and lever & calliper plus the front and rear mechs and associated hardware, and the extra weight of the double chainwheel ?

Probably not much, and certainly not as heavy as the 7, 8 or 11 speed Nexus/Alfine versions.

nexus inter-3 coaster

nexus inter-3 coaster

You have to be careful with the 3-speed coaster though, as it’s easy to lock it up accidentally if you unthinkingly back pedal, but like everything ‘new bikey’ one gets used to it fairly quickly.

A coaster brake is clumsy with foot retention systems so I generally use flat pedals, in this case the brilliant Speedplay Drilliums.

drillium !

drillium !

With a coaster there is also the often added routine of rotating the cranks to the correct o’clock before mounting the bike !

For a derailleur 10-speed to gear-hub conversion the newer internal geared hubs are ideal as they are generally around 120mm width and that means less worry about spacers. 10 speed frames are generally 120 (older) or 126mm wide.

For older coaster hub single speed frames you are better off using an older hub like the 70s/80s Sturmey-Archer AW or Shimano 3S, because these are the same 110mm width and don’t require widening of the frame.

I need to keep the front brake, and in order not to be too asymmetric I think the drop bars may have to go, but I’m still thinking. They really do suit this frame. A cross top lever could be useful if it fits, otherwise it’s Tange moustache bars from Project Sportstar.
Because the Nexus 3 revo-shifter needs a long straight section of bar I guess it’s to be the Tange, unless I can figure out a different shifter system. These revo-shifters are a lot more fragile and fiddly than the old 3-speed triggers as well.

generally, i prefer trigger shifters...

generally, i prefer trigger shifters…

This bike is another example why the serious recyclist needs to be able to build and true wheels – it just wouldn’t be worth it to pay someone else for all this !

So many old bikes need wheel work, as that’s often the reason they were abandoned in the first place. The rear wheel gave me some problems and took a long time to straighten, perhaps because the rim isn’t as stiff as modern ones. Old single wall alloy rims are the hardest ones to re-lace, in my limited experience anyway.

The conversion to a single chainring means that the crank axle probably wasn’t the correct length for a straight chain line so a little measuring is required. I find that most likely a 107mm or maybe 110mm bottom bracket will do the job.

Most current square taper bottom brackets are sealed, no maintenance and non-repairable, though they only cost around $20 to $25. I have successfully used models from Miche, Genetic, and Gist (italy), in standard JIS square taper for single speed and hub gear conversions. In this case ( after measuring the BB and hub ) it’s a Genetic 110.5 mm and lines the chainwheel up quite well with the offset 22T Nexus cog.

a new genetic 110.5mm JIS bottom bracket

a new genetic 110.5mm JIS bottom bracket

I recycled my newish Token TK2051 165mm chainset, it’s nice and light and the black ring vaguely matches the original ‘look’.

Gearing ( i.e. second ) is 48x22T. Unfortunately 3-speeds have unavoidably large gaps between the ratios compared with a derailleur system and so it’s all about compromises. If second is too high, then third becomes little used so I try to make second just high enough to work OK on level road but able to pull up a moderate incline too. Perhaps a 21T would be sufficient although the solid saddle and shortish 165mm cranks mean that spinning fast is relatively easy compared with some other of my bikes. I won’t change the gearing yet without a fair amount of riding first, to suss it all out …

now pretty much completed

now pretty much completed

I lifted the Velo Orange hammered guards from the pink mixte ( toe overlap on that one ) and borrowed the Nexus-fitting Brooks grips from my Gazelle. The front brake lever now operates from the left side so as not to foul the shifter – and to make the cables look more symmetrical. I used the brazed on brake loops on the top tube to hold the gear cable in place, as of course there’s no need for the rear calliper now. The Bontrager Select K 27″ tyres used to grace Cecil W. before his conversion to 700C. I’m pretty happy with the look and concept so far.

the grey ghost in fernleigh tunnel

the grey ghost in fernleigh tunnel

Steering is quite quick and the bike accelerates and climbs well for an old school ride. As geared, it’s certainly better equipped for the various moderate inclines on the Fernleigh Track than the Duo-matic 2-speed hubs, allowing easy pedalling pretty much everywhere, though the ride is never as finely tuneable for ‘cadence vs.gradients’ as a derailleur system, of course.

See Ya !

 

 

as it was

as it was

I’ve not been leaving well enough alone in the perfecting of the imperfections of some of my bikes – this one is my grandfather’s ( and my ) old Speedwell.

home of my youth

home of my youth

Having decided to approach ever so slightly closer toward originality, I’ve used the forks from the Malvern two star, and its mudguards to aid the cause. Both these bikes have non-original paintwork so I can feel okay about playing around with them.

The Speedwell frame is long and low with a 60cm top tube and a 56cm seat tube so it looks smaller than it really is if you judge it by the head tube length. The previous chromed forks were bodged a bit to fit the short head tube and I decided to correct this by using the Malvern star forks and a new head set.

campag record head set and home made headbadge

campag record head set and home made headbadge – pedals are temporary – i think !

The headset is a Campagnolo Record which has an ISO 26.4mm crown race. This was too small for the flange on the fork steerer but a JiS 27.2mm was too big – I had to gently file away the flange ’til the Campag fitted …

The wheels are the same, Weinmann alloy rims with a Quando front hub and generic coaster rear. I had toyed with the idea of going to 3-speed but canned it as I like the simplicity of single speed and that was its original format. There is a real aesthetic purity in a bike with no cables and I’m sure that’s a big part of the appeal of track bikes too.

I’ve used a set of SR “Road Champion” bars which are waiting anxiously for some luxurious bar tape. You’ll notice the tall head stem with very short extension – this is so I can sit up like a roadster rider on the tops, yet still get out of the wind more in the drops without leaning too low on these deep bars. The other nice thing about this type of stem is the ‘vintage’ appearance it lends.

With no cables it’s very easy to swap to and fro with the gull wing bars I was using before – just one allen key !

The bottom bracket is new, a Genetic 107mm that seems to work well chain line- wise with the narrow coaster hub. The cheap and heavy non-original steel cranks have gone, replaced by a Charge Rotisserie 42T ( really an FSA, I think ), nice and light and classy looking in a ‘modern but traditional’ kind of way … I changed the rear cog to a Nexus 19T ( the old set up was 40x18T ). It’s a little low geared but that’s how I like single speeds. The small ring doesn’t quite have the old-fashioned look though.

A new micro-adjust alloy seat post ( 26.4 mm ), a B17 flyer saddle and a new chain tensioner complete the many changes. There are still some details of the finish to tidy up – I added a little Indian Red colour to the seat tube and chainguard to tie the look together with the new fork and guards – now I wonder if it’s worth getting some repro. Speedwell decals ?

Old frames like this tend to ride well, though they can be a bit heavy and this one does, and is, too – but because of the many alloy bits and the simplicity, the weight isn’t bad. Steering is only a little slow but the trade off is good stability. The 27″ tyres and alloy wheels mean it’s quicker steering than the original blue Speedwell 28″ in the header shot.

DSC_0623

I’ll show some more pics when it’s completed.

Happy Re-Cycling !

 

 

the L.A. 84

the L.A. 84

 

The Malvern Star L.A. 84 was released to commemorate those Olympics, but is a far cry from what the Olympians would have been riding. Still, it’s a step up from the Sportstar  that I was in the process of renovating and so has jumped the proverbial recyclist’s queue … the frame is nice and high, with a 59cm seat tube and a relatively short 56cm top tube.

cro-mo go slow...

cro-mo go slow…

The frame is indicated as being double butted Chrome-Moly steel, and I at least think the 3 main tubes are, as they have that high ‘ting’ sound when tapped. Other nice features are 27″ Araya alloy rims on decent Shimano hubs ( though the back axle was found to be mysteriously bent ), SR Laprade fluted alloy post 26.6mm, SR alloy stem and SR “Road Champion” alloy bars with Cinelli tape.

fluted SR post

fluted SR post

The brakes are Dia Compe ’500′ side pull callipers. Shimano Z series gear components are reasonable too, with a mid length rear derailleur to cope with the 32T largest cog and 12 friction shifted gears via stem shifters. A Tange Seiki headset looks to be in decent condition. There is a single plastic star on the head tube in typical Malvern Star fashion.

steering detail

SR steering detail

The ordinary parts include an alloy crank / steel ring combination 52/40T Takagi chainset and a basic PVC covered plastic saddle. Also the rear dropouts are only pressed steel 126mm and the front are 95mm wide. Brake levers are those annoying Dia Compes with no gel hoods and suicide levers … ah well.

note the missing bolts !

note the missing bolts !

It’s a good starting point, and I would like to keep the old parts aside just in case I want to build it back as fully original.

rear mech

rear mech

I can’t understand how the axle got so bent when the derailleur appears straight – the dropout needed straightening too.

kkt alloy pedals

kkt alloy pedals

These KKT pedals are exceptionally light – one is tight and has some rust under the black end cap – hopefully it’s not terminal.

 

It was great to see some of the classic bikes of Newcastle gathered together again for this second-time-around Newcastle Tweed Ride.

Some overall views can be seen on the Facebook site “Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride”, and on Vicki’s blog “Bicycles in Newcastle” (see blogroll), but here I will concentrate on a few favourite bikes seen there.

Firstly, some details of the only “Ordinary Bicycle” ( a.k.a penny farthing ) at the event – though hopefully there will be more next year. This one is a beautiful modern reproduction :

DSC_0521

I don’t believe I’m the only one who thinks that modern performance bikes are becoming excessively complex and fussy, with manufacturers pushing minimal spoke counts, electronic gears, hydraulic brakes and such, but I wonder how many of these components or carbon frames would be easily recyclable AND look better than ever after sitting for a decade or two in a shed or beside the house ?
Hence the appeal of steel frames, coaster brakes, dynamo lights, and the other practically simple mechanicals of cycling.

a classy trek 520 tourer

a classy trek 520 tourer

And while I can drool as well as anyone over Reynolds, Campagnolo and Columbus, I have a real soft spot for the plain, everyday “bread-and-butter” bicycles of decades past :

malvern star touristar

malvern star touristar

This simply furnished Malvern Star “Touristar” is a great example. Removing anything further from it would be a visually backward step, yet adding accessories to it would also.

Therefore, it must surely be near perfect as it is..

Perhaps just losing the wheel reflectors and adding a classic pump and some metal rat-trap pedals ….?

There is just enough subtle patina to be charming, yet it’s in good enough original condition to have obviously been well loved.

Another favourite was this 26 inch wheeled Ladies’ Speedwell Roadster which has been lovingly – and practically – accessorised with “Brooks England” style and fitted with cream tyres and a red skirt guard.

And check out the beautiful Bell ladies’ model leather saddle !

How much nicer is this than the majority of modern “retro” bland step-through offerings ?

no, not a brooks !

no, not a brooks !

on the street

on the street

Another thing that I’m a known sucker for is the unrestored frame. In these two close-ups of a Speedwell and a Cyclops (?) roadster you can see the charm of rust and colourful scratches set against “modern classic” Sturmey Archer running gear in the form of their S2C hub.

cyclops

cyclops

cyclops

cyclops

The two-speed coaster brake kickback hubs being perhaps the closest thing ever to a “thinking person’s cable free non-fixed-gear bike”. Of course it would have been nice to see these bikes “all original”, but that’s difficult if their running gear was typically worn out, clunky, or rusted.

speedwell

speedwell

By keeping your classic frame original, many possibilities then remain for yourself or a future owner.

This desirable white Carlton road bike was at last year’s event. This year it came equipped with race wheels and fork mounted carry brackets, as if intended to be ridden to an event then raced. Wonderfully presented !

impressive carlton

impressive carlton

Finally, a Brompton with provenance – as the owner informed me that it was previously owned by the Blue Wiggle !

I

To see more, you will need to come to the event next year…

Happy Re-Cycling !

It’s on again – the Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride 2014 and this Sunday 22nd June looks to be shaping up perfectly weather wise. If you live in the Newcastle area and have a bike and a nice set of old threads (tweed or not) then here’s your excuse to indulge in some dressing up.

The ride is free – register from 9am in Islington Park and ride from 10am – destination Nobbys !

The route is almost all shared cycle path and the event proceeds at a stately (easy) pace. There will be lots of things to see, photos to take, and catering and entertainment at the end.

See You There, Novocastrians !

the recyclist's magic carpet ...

the recyclist’s magic carpet …

a completely irrelevant pic to get your attention....

a completely irrelevant pic to get your attention….but i got there by bicycle !

I don’t have a service diagram for the 70s Shimano 3S, but as it turns out the principles are the same as the Sturmey-Archer AW. The 3S is more compact, and unlike the older Shimano 333, the pawls are held in place by snap ring wire circlips, in much the same way as a 10-speed freewheel cluster.

This makes servicing simpler than the Sturmey Archer AW too, just don’t lose or break those clips !

eeew !

Classique 3 hub — eeew !

The 333 must have been a nightmare with its pawl pins and hair springs, and has a bad reputation for reliability. In my experience the 3S is a good hub although the moving parts do look more delicate than the Sturmey Archer. As far as operation goes the Shimano uses a pushrod to move the gear train against the clutch spring via a bell-crank, whereas the Sturmey Archer uses the cable tension to pull out the indicator rod with the characteristic little chain helping to compress the clutch spring.
Both systems will default to high gear if the cable is detached.

cruddy close-up

horrors ! – a cruddy close-up

I thought it best to look inside the Classique 3′s hub, not knowing its history, and I’m glad I did so as it wasn’t too pretty.

the main assemblies

the main assemblies – planet cage, gear ring, driver and axle w/sun gear – cleaned up 

Note above – the snap ring comes off to release the 4 little cylindrical retaining pins and thus separate the planet cage from the ring gear.

I couldn’t figure out how to remove the planet gears, the sub-assembly doesn’t appear to disassemble beyond the pawls and springs so I had to flush and brush throughout thoroughly with kerosene as best I could.

the driver close-up

the driver close-up

I had a spare to compare it with in case I messed up, and after I finished I also had a quick look inside. This one I have owned since new and inside it looks like an Internal Gear Hub should i.e. no rust !

the deceiving outside ...

the deceptive exterior …

much nicer inside .. approx 40 yrs old with no service but oil ...

much nicer inside .. approx 40 yrs old with no service but oil …

If these hubs can last 30-40 years without a service then if I overhaul them now they should be able to last a riding lifetime ! Just remember that you are unlikely to find spares for them at a bike shop, unless it’s a very old long established one.

If anything breaks or is lost it will probably be necessary to scrap an old hub for spares, if you can find one. The same could apply to the trigger shifter, cable and cable adjusters too, so again take care – and don’t lose anything.

the trigger shifter

the trigger shifter

assembled

assembled

I re-assembled the hub using Tri-Flow clear teflon grease and inserted a little Pressol oil down the axle after reassembly to improve the flow

ta-daa !

ta-daa ! with bell-crank and turnbuckle adjuster

I’m now looking forward to re-building one of these hubs for my Grandfather’s old Speedwell – onto a new 27″ alloy rim.

one day this will be the ultimate speedwell roadster !

one day this may be the ultimate 3-speed speedwell roadster !

See Ya !

 

out testing

out testing

No, no, it’s not really about the fine art of component weight reduction via filling everything full of holes – or at least only vaguely …

full circles

full circles

I’ve been investigating flat pedals for a couple of my bikes and have found two pairs of metal platforms of interest. I assume these are designed for technical MTB-ing down hills but they also make good commuter pedals for urban use in traffic where my regular “long distance” toe clips are too ungainly.

kinda honeycomb ...

now sort of floral …

The first is the Speedplay “Drillium”, a really neat looking and grippy pedal with concave surfaces. They feel like suction cups on your feet and even though quite costly – they are the most expensive pedals I have bought to date – they are very well made and very “different” . Not exactly old school or classic looking for your old bike, they form endlessly fascinating honeycomb patterns at different viewing angles. Too cool for words !

road king & b144s

road king & b144s

The other set is the Wellgo B144 in red to match my Road King, these are well made and grippy, though not as much as the drilliums – at around half the price. Both these pedals are equipped with tiny metal studs to hold your shoes fast.

Will the simple rubber O-ring inner bearing seals on the B144s last the distance though ? – we shall see !

The Road King has gone full circle with its bars, as I have gone back to drop bars. The upright bars I had felt strange as I am becoming more used to road bars, which is odd because I used to dislike them …

Cane Creek SCR-5 are my fave road levers for old bikes too – they are really great to grip .

I found some new cotton bar tape that I have shellacked for the bars, and rather like the look and feel, at least with a cushiony double wrap on the drops anyway.

worth a try, anyway

CL7 – worth a try, i suppose

On the Fernleigh track the 2-speed Sturmey-Archer hub shows its limitations, as you would expect. However it wasn’t planned to be a world-beater, merely a suburban tourer and it does that well. Although I don’t have a computer on it, the gearing allows around 30 ( or so ) km/h in top at a comfortable fast cadence. That’s all most people really need isn’t it ?

It’s a matter of slowing down in first sometimes or grinding out in top when your requirements are somewhere in between the two speeds. If you insist on perfection in such a gear system then you could be disappointed, but it’s still much better for my riding style than single speed !
Some more thoughts on this hub :

When coasting down hill, I kick it back to the lower gear as the high gear freewheel sound is loud and graunchy as opposed to the typical sweet Sturmey low gear sound.

It is difficult to tell which gear you are in at traffic lights when you backpedal for the restart of motion, as the sound is the main clue. Another good reason to not gear it too high – bogging down !

In spite of this it’s a great hub, and you can’t beat the feeling of a fast back pedalling upchange when accelerating.

Big mistakes department — the Dunlop CL7 Narrow classic 50s saddle I tried on the Road King looks cool, but it left a big black rubber stain on my jeans after I tried to revitalise it — it’s back to the trusty B17, I guess !

it doesn't seem like nearly winter ...

it doesn’t seem like nearly winter …

Happy Re-cycling !

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