I’ve spent a fair amount of time and money (but no more than a cheap bike shop model might cost) bringing my old Road King up to speed as a practical commuter – guards, saddle, bars, rack, lights, pedals, etc.
I didn’t mind doing this because the basic bike was in such good condition for an almost 30 year old ride, even though some cycling forum threads cruelly describe Road Kings as low end clunkers fit for the rubbish tip ! Tsk tsk …
I take the different view, however, that a well set up straight framed and properly maintained bike like this is well worth keeping and improving upon if you can accept its few basic limitations – which are mainly the weight of the steel frame, wheels, and also of other components along with the slightly clunky drive train (mostly things that can be improved). I even think it has quite a bit of classic style – so there !
Just don’t pay too much for one if you are thinking of buying it – I’ve noticed “buy it now” prices rocketing on ebay lately for this sort of thing :
I have almost always disliked cotter pins as they can be imprecise and fiddly things that have a tendency to wear out and loosen prematurely, which is a hindrance on a long distance commuter when you’re “pressing on” or pedalling hard. Maybe they are OK on “high end” classic bikes where the components are more accurately machined, but not on this old Woolworths beastie. These steel cranks and chain wheels are quite heavy as well as looking inaccurately made :
For the sake of originality on a genuine collectable classic bike I wouldn’t change the cottered bottom end unless I really had to, but this bike arguably isn’t one of those. Anyway, you can always hold onto the original parts for the future if they are in working condition or repairable.
So it wasn’t a difficult decision to replace the cottered crankset with the square tapered one from an old Ricardo 12 speed MTB – a Tracer brand that has also done some brief service on other bikes. It has alloy cranks with steel rings, and surprisingly fitted in and worked without even needing the derailleur stops adjusted !
You may need to adjust the height of the front derailleur to fit the new ring size however. As long as the new crank axle is the right width and you have non-indexed friction shifters this kind of mod. is easy. The down side in my case is a slight reduction of top gear chain wheel teeth from 52 to 48 without a corresponding drop in low gearing – they have the same sized 40T lower chain ring – oh well, it was a freebie I suppose.
It doesn’t look too much different to the old set either, and the alloy cranks seem to visually match the newer pedals as well. Most better quality bikes in ’84 were beginning to have this type of crank/axle set-up anyway.
Hopefully there will now be no more squeaking and creaking…