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.
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… ).
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !