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speedwell special sports

speedwell special sports

This frame, presumably a ‘Special Sports’ model was overlooked in my post ” A Brace of Speedwells ” as it came without a fork and with very sad original paintwork. Sometimes the appeal of a bike takes a while to grow, and also a little thought is needed as to how to proceed with its conservation or refurbishment.

I visualised this one as a kind of semi-sporty 3-speed fitted with some non-period components. I decided to add these components to give the bike a bit of shine and to make it a nicer user. There are parts spanning over different decades, starting with a new ‘reproduction’ chromed steel fork and a new alloy threaded head set.

Note – not having the original fork gave me the perfect excuse to modernise the bike guilt free, but I won’t be repainting this or any of the other Speedwells – except the ‘Flash’ of a couple of posts ago which had lost all its original finish after a previous owner’s repainting.

character !

that’s character !

The new fork steerer was a bit long, but instead of shortening it again I’ve added several spacers to get the bars a little higher. They were going to be 42cm steel randonneur bars in a Soma “Sutro” 80mm stem at first, as shown in these photos.

However, after some initial rides on it I began to suffer dull aches and stiffness in my forearms and hands, which became quite unbearable both on, and finally, off the bike as well…

I put it down to the narrow diameter and very rigid bars, a problem made worse with the thin leather tape. The combination had no give at all. I now conclude that the beautiful and tactile Brooks bar tape is only suited to drop bars if there is  a deal of compliance in the bike as set up, unless the tape is heavily overlapped and/or the riding position is quite upright.  In this case even overlapping the tape more didn’t help.

I’ve since changed to Tange moustache bars after unsuccessfully trying thicker tape. The pain has now subsided and yes, I can feel some flex in the much wider bars as weight is applied to them – a good thing in this case !

I’m now using Cardiff cork grips on the ends but would like to add some bar tape around the levers as well. I’m still trying to figure out what to use so that it doesn’t look silly, however at least the bike rides well now !

Wheels are 27 X 1″ alloy presta valve 36 holed rims with a Sturmey Archer high flange front hub (new) and the compact Shimano 3S hub that I restored some time back ( Yes, I know it’s not period or marque  correct, but… ).

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

Using the new fork meant that I could also use a more modern 100mm wide track style hub – yay !

Brakes are modern Tektro R559 ( nutted ) extra long drop with Dia – Compe levers. The Tektros work much, much better than what would have been the original callipers, and they are great for older frames with large clearances or where 27″ to 700c conversions are being contemplated when standard road brakes just won’t cover the 8mm smaller diameter .

They don’t really have a classic appearance but are at least nice and shiny, and actually stop the old bike rather well.

New Jagwire brake cables were fitted, and an original Shimano 3S click shifter has a jockey wheel mounted near the bottom bracket. The top tube cable clips are re-cycled Shimano ‘Dura-Ace’ … Cool Bananas !

a cable jockey tucked away

a cable jockey tucked away

The Shimano click shifter works pretty well but is a bit plasticky looking compared with period Sturmey Archer triggers. The moulded face-plate doesn’t survive outdoor neglect as well either.
I like the way this gear cable runs along the down tube as it means the top tube isn’t visually overloaded with cable and it hints a little of the old Sturmey Archer cable jockey wheels – albeit at the opposite end of the seat tube.

miche xpress chain set

miche xpress chain set

The BB is a Miche Primato sealed 107mm with a Miche X-press chainset ( JIS ). The X-press chainset has quite a classic style – for a modern crank anyway, and I think it suits this bike.
Gearing is 48 x 21T – i.e for second or ‘normal’ gear, a little lower perhaps than for gearing a single speed. Tyres are Continental Ultra Sport 27 x 1 & 1/8″ – I didn’t know these were available until recently as they are also hard to find.

what's left of the down tube decal

what’s left of the down tube decal

I’ve learnt that with the old Speedwell paintwork a rub over with a beeswax leather dressing will help keep the paint together and also bring back some colour and lustre, whereas a glossy clear coating is rather more final and not as natural looking.

seat tube decal

seat tube decal

It would appear that this frame has faded from a purple-red originally, with the down tube paint stencilling of the earlier Special Sports seemingly replaced by a different style of decal to the other examples I have. This makes me think that it’s a later model than the others, as is suggested by it not having a bottom bracket oiler – but again I am only guessing.

The frame number is W(?)23725 – I’m not absolutely sure of that ‘W’ though.

The shine of alloy and chrome helps lift the dull paintwork and yet makes it more subtle at the same time.

backlit

backlit

It’s a responsive but not overly quick handler that can do a surprising turn of speed for an oldie – especially in a tailwind !

Happy Re-Cycling !

I’ve been watching and enjoying the extended SBS TV highlights of the Tour de France, as well as reading some interesting stories – in particular 2012’s “The Secret War” by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle, which is probably the most interesting of the several “Armstrong Era” insider confessions that I’ve read, mainly due to Hamilton’s lively approach and his closeness to the competitive heart of the era, having raced both with and against Armstrong.

The war of marginal gains and enhancements surely continues in the 2010s as it always has, but beyond the more recent tragedies, triumphs, deceits and lies of the formerly ‘undetectable’ EPO era, I’m now looking further back to the past in the book ” Tour de France – The Golden Age 1940s -1970s” ( teNeues).

It’s a large format book that covers the era from Robic, Coppi and Bartali (1940s post-war) to the decade of Merckx, Thevenet and Ocana ( 1970s ) via Anquetil vs. Poulidor in the 60s and lastly leading into the early Hinault years :

Ferdy Kubler, 1950

Ferdy Kubler, 1950

Anquetil vs. Poulidor 1964 - legendary !

Anquetil vs. Poulidor 1964 – legendary !

Taken mostly with large and medium format film cameras, with the majority of images in classic black and white, it offers quite a bit of insight into the men, equipment and spirit of the times thanks in part to the wonderful reproduction detail and the image quality of the originals.

Fausto Coppi, 1951

Fausto Coppi, 1951

There are few words and those are probably unnecessary, although having some background knowledge of the legendary event and its riders will definitely enhance the viewer’s enjoyment.

Jean Robic, 1948

Jean Robic, 1948

This is a book to have and hold, not one to merely view on a screen…

Roder Hassenforder, 1953

Roger Hassenforder, 1953

Happy LeTour !

 

ready to roll ...

ready to roll …

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 driveline

the driveline

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.

this is not a 'path racer'

this is not a ‘path racer’ – it’s too modern !

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.

an attempt at comfort - grips and tape

a successful attempt at comfort – grips and tape

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 ) !

 

how it was

how it was

So, what would you do with a sadly rattle-canned Speedwell Flash ? Would you wait patiently for the perfect parts to restore it ? Ride it as it is ? Or maybe re-birth it in semi-modern Flashness ?

no hate mail thanks ... lol

no hate mail thanks, speedwell lovers … lol

Given that the original finish, decals etc., were long gone I decided to repaint it and make it a mix of classic and new – I don’t know, perhaps some Speedwell afficionados will be horrified. Suffice it to say that had the bike been in possession of it’s original paint no matter how sad, I would absolutely have kept it that way.

Although I don’t know a great deal about the ‘Flash’, it was a fair step up from the ‘Special Sports’ model – the wheels were alloy, the frame lighter and with fancier lugs, a more compact rear triangle and lovely pencil thin seat stays, alloy brakes and chromed fork legs. The original colour of this one was a metallic translucent red over a gold base – which as is often the case with resprays was discovered from the old paint remnant on the fork steerer. The steerer is stamped “F” as opposed to the “S” on the Special Sports forks – that makes me wonder whether the Popular was stamped with a “P” — I must check that sometime.

there wasn't much stable chrome left either

there wasn’t much stable fork chrome left either

I can’t say what sort of saddle it had and I haven’t decided what to use yet – I’ll have to trial a few for comfort once I’m able to test ride the bike.

this took some time by hand ..

this lettering took quite some time by hand ..

Frame painting is not always one of my favourite activities but I couldn’t leave it in the rough rattle-can-over-everything state it was in.

Painting took me a long time, including the preparation and the masking and hand lettering, and is a modern take on more classic paintwork. I’ve also used some Langridge decorative rust finish in places and it’s quite lifelike as a rust effect – I would like to hand paint a complete frame with it one day … but you’ll either like it or you won’t.

Using reproduced decals is fine for recent bikes, but without the period fine hand lining on a bike like this it seems a bit pointless – and my own shaky hand is unable to recreate such detail. Maybe next time I’ll find an expert ..

a flip and a flop

a flip and a flop – 20x20T

I want to fit tubular tyres to this bike ( ’cause I like the way they ride ) so I’ve altered the wheel size to 700c with new Mavic Reflex 36H tubular rims. Hope it works !

I kept the Pelissier flip/flop rear but didn’t have an exact matching front – I’ve gone for the closest visual match I have in 95mm and 5/16″axle – It’s a recycled 80s Kun Yu steel hub, but it at least runs smoothly. The flanges aren’t as high but at least the holes are round ! It looks OK I think.

a woody stem ...

a woody stem ! … and i’ve left the lugs as clear coated metal

Because the frame is only around a 55cm seat tube I am not going with drop bars, instead I’ve chosen some flipped over upright bars for a little more height, with nicely shaped Dia-Compe levers to operate the original Weinmann centre pulls. The stem once had a plastic ‘rocket-ship’ end cap but I thought “why not use some timber?” It makes sense to me, even if it’s not original, and I can always change later if desired.

I wanted to keep the spidery look of the period Williams chain ring so had to use a cottered axle ( unfortunately ! ). I have several Williams crank sets now, but finding a suitably straight one isn’t always easy ! Had to do a little bending of the chainring to get it true as well .. and it’s amazing how close fitting these old bottom ends are.

love the williams rings - but disregard the pedals at this stage

love the williams rings – but disregard the wellgo pedals at this stage

Gearing will be a tame 46×20 to begin with so it’ll be a spinner not a masher – I mean, I can go to 18 teeth later – but I say take care of the knees first, I want to still be riding at 80+ years of age !

New seatpost, new brake pads, and now new cables and chain to follow, and stick the tyres on – I’ll post an update when it’s done .. should be well in time for the Newcastle Tweed Ride 2016.

See Ya !

I’m over it now Doc., I can kick this re-cycling habit any old day … see, after my last ‘brace of Speedwells’  it’s no more new-old bikes this time … I’ve no free space left.

Uh uh uh, don’t tempt me now, there’s no N+1 anymore for this little black duck !

But I couldn’t help an innocent little drive around this year’s first council hard rubbish pick-up could I ?

Yet fear not, dear reader, I’ve shown such enormous willpower in bypassing anything not absolutely essential for the metaphorically-snowed-under recyclist … for example, I hardly batted an eyelid at the many ‘classic’ exercise bikes, mountain bikes, BMXs and even this motorised Road King MTB complete with a one-piece crank —  and a blown motor.

never seen one of these mtb road kings before ..

brrm, brrm, i’ve never seen one of these mtb road kings before .. least of all with a motor.

Well, I mean these petrol conversions have been made illegal now anyway…

the end of the road ... king

kaboom ! – the end of the road king following a damn good thrashing !

And I finally succumbed to the temptation of the 3-speed, including a lonely 20″ dragster wheel with Shimano 3S hub, and a 1984 Apollo ladies’ 3-speed with the same hub type.

 O ye of little faith ... this hub will shine and spin again one day

O ye of little faith … this raggedy hub will shine and spin again one day

a cycle of pink-ness

a cycle of pink-ness

Such a pretty pink, and I wasn’t even looking for bikes, upon my word Your Honour… ( but I do need 3-speed bits for some of the upcoming frames ).

O.K. then, I lied … but I can’t help it if I’m just an old planetary bike magnet, now can I ???

Happy Re-Cycling !

 

the iconic kanga

the iconic kanga

The Australian “Bell” saddles were apparently made by the Pierce Bell Trading Company ( Sydney ), but sadly I haven’t found out much else about them on the web.

Apart from the one on my ’59 Conqueror loop frame, I have no real way of dating them.
It seems that the saddles were made from the early WW2 period to some time in the 1960s and were fitted to some Speedwell bikes, among others – and that’s about all I know.

I remember seeing these saddles in my childhood days, with the kangaroo image from the model ’12-40′ imprinted into my memory from some moment long ago.

model i.d. on the side

model i.d. on the side

They are nowhere near the construction quality of most Brooks saddles of the day and yet for me they remain desirable Australian cycling items…

the two 12-40 frame types

the two 12-40 frame types

I have a couple of types of the 12-40 roadster model – one with a single rail and the other with a double looped sprung rail much like the current Brooks B18 ‘Lady’ saddle.

classic 12-40 saddles

my classic 12-40 saddles – the leather dressing was made in singleton, nsw.

The Model 80 fitted to my 1959 Conqueror ladies is even more like the Brooks as it has a similar leather flap on the saddle nose as well as a lovely floral design including what looks like wattle flowers.

model 80 lady's

model 80 lady’s

the model 80 lady's

the model 80 lady’s from my ’59 conqueror loop frame

badge - model 80 lady's

badge – model 80 lady’s

Here’s a sportier ‘Model 70’ in a darker red-brown – roughly similar in shape to a Brooks B17 narrow :

the model 70

model 70

model 70

This one below is a model 40 – it is in reasonable shape except that the tension bolt is almost at its limit.

underside model 40

underside model 40

unusual shaped model 40

unusually shaped model 40

Only two saddles here are badged at the rear, the Model 80 Lady’s – which has a metal relief and black paint, and a single tatty 12-40 with a blue coloured badge of flat metal.

It’s a shame that there is so little history available on these saddles – can anyone point me to a catalogue or some other resource on-line ?

See Ya !

IMG_3214

“The racing cyclist, on the other hand, uses a light small perch which acts as a fulcrum for his efforts…a mere positioning knob, as it were, to keep him centrally secure on the machine. ”

(Extract from “The Art of Easy Cycling” 1946 by F.J. Urry).

it makes the current b17 'narrow' look like a new mini vs an old mini !

it makes the current b17 ‘narrow’ look like a new mini vs. an old mini !

Those words came to mind when I first saw this saddle, and the conundrum here is why the saddle has hangers for a saddle bag, since it was seemingly designed for short distance racing events !

Never mind, because it is a very charming saddle anyway and the frame and hangers are of a good quality, although it’s certainly not light for its size and intended purpose.

so narrow !

so narrow !

But it’s still in fine shape for 56 years old – and it will probably last another 56 if properly cared for, though it does have one broken rivet at the back …

"genuine leather - made in england" on the top

“genuine leather – made in england” on the top

And how do I know it’s a 1960 model ? Well a little research tells me that after Brooks was purchased by Raleigh in late 1958 (and perhaps up to around 1990), they stamped a code on the metal cantle plate at the back of the saddle underside. It has a 3 month letter (A,B,C or D) and the last 2 of the year digits, hence D60 is Oct-Dec 1960 …. easy !

you might just make out the D60 at the centre of the back plate

you might just make out the ‘D60’ at the centre of the back plate

This model had been introduced to the Brooks line-up from 1925, with a few detail changes along the way, of course – and even a current re-release (though quite dissimilar to this one).

The numbers stamped on the leather underneath saddles of this era are apparently batch codes and have little or no relevance to the date of manufacture.

again compared with a modern b17 'narrow'

again compared with a modern b17 ‘narrow’

This saddle generates an almost irresistible urge to put it on a bike and see how it rides, but methinks secretly …

“Ouch, I’ll bet it hurts ! ”

I’ll soon find out …

See Ya !

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