It’s entirely possible that I may one day get this bike closer to original, but in order to do that I would have to know just what that ‘original’ was. This is a problem with many old classics that have been altered here and there over the years by owners like me, perhaps just attempting to keep them going while still looking ‘respectable’.
I don’t always see the point of keeping un-rideable totally original bikes either, unless they are in unsafe condition – or are so rare or unique as to almost be museum pieces.
The serial number is A94488 on the bottom bracket, and from the Williams chain ring code (AU) the bike might date from 1955 – but this assumes that the chain wheel was the original.
As the non-drive crank was a rusty fluted Magistroni, it’s hard to be absolutely sure that this was the case. Some research also indicates that these particular Weinmann brakes likely date from the early 60s, so they may ( or may not ) have been later additions. That means the frame number is perhaps the only real clue to its exact age…
I wanted to use the existing rims at first, however the alloy was somewhat pitted so I declined that. Anyway, they didn’t match either – like the hubs. The half price new grey “CD” finish Mavic reflex rims were too good to pass up. I originally wanted silver ones but I’m getting to like these now.
The bike rides really well considering the tyres are 23mm but then they are Tufo tubulars ( model : C-Hi composite carbon ).
I used 23mm as this is the recommended size for the Mavic rims, otherwise I would have gone wider.
In spite of the skinny tyres the Flash rides better than my other single speed, based on a Cr-Mo Malvern Star L.A.84 frame set, and that’s on 27″ wheels with 1 & 1/4″ ( 32mm ) Bontrager clinchers. Also, any bike that can make a fairly new Brooks Team Pro saddle feel relatively comfortable must have a decent amount of compliance to it !
Based on my experience with these tyres and my other Tufo ( S33 ) tubs I would describe the Tufo tubulars as having more of a “papery patter” to their ride on typical corrugated suburban road surfaces as opposed to the “thump and bump” that some other frames and some clincher tyres can give.
The Weinmann 610 ‘Vainqueur 999’ centre-pull brakes work surprisingly well, even at near maximum drop for the 700c wheels and I’m happy with the Dia-Compe levers too, which were salvaged from an old cantilever braked MTB. The curved levers also seem to visually match the curved wing nuts on the hubs.
You’ll notice the bars have a ‘mixed-up’ look with Cardiff cork grips butting onto the lever clamps then some short lengths of bar tape finished with shellacked twine. This isn’t just for decoration as the combination makes the ‘bar’s grip area wider and more evenly comfortable and it eliminates pressure points when my palms are on the lever clamps – ( as that’s my preferred hand position here ).
I’ve always liked these Cardiff cork grips…
At 46 x 20 on the freewheel, the bike will spin out at speed in a tailwind or going downhill, but it’s a joy otherwise, being easy to accelerate from low speeds or spin up short sharp hills with a little run-up.
If using the fixed cog I would probably fit an 18T or 19T just for the sake of downhill runs.
Even though the cranks, bars and stem are all steel, the bike overall is about as light as any of my other more modern steel framed road bikes.
In the end, I’ve tried to treat this old Speedwell with some respect – albeit in my own way – although I have taken some liberties as well and there’s now even more departure from whatever was the original.
Happy Re-Cycling ( and riding ) !