The imperfection and impermanence of older weathered bicycles has nostalgic appeal for me and so I like to keep some of the markings of use, but at the same time I like bikes to be well maintained and safe , and that can give me tiny dilemmas at times…
Having had a chance to look more closely at this bicycle, it’s obvious now that the big stumbling block is the rear wheel. Repair or replacement will be difficult for a few reasons. For a start, I don’t have the two prong “Suntour” freewheel remover and it’s probably not worth buying it for a hub that may be ruined inside anyway, as the axle is visibly slightly bent. I’ve been advised that the tool may break because of possible electrolytic corrosion between the steel cluster and alloy hub. Given the other bits that were “welded” together e.g. the seat post and tube and the headset nut and fork tube I don’t doubt this !
Also, the bike’s rear dropout spacing is an old 70’s width of 120mm and most recent bikes have 130mm dropouts. Most new road wheels are 130mm width and have wider gear cassettes (more speeds) as well. I’m not that keen on buying old wheels on the web either, sight unseen…
Perversely,120mm is the width of most rear track hubs and this bike has semi-horizontal dropouts, suggesting that single speed is an option, although I rather wanted to keep it as a ten speed. Also the downtube shifter bosses will not look good with the shifters removed, but I won’t be grinding them off in case I do find the correct rear wheel and cluster one day.
However, as long as the frame is kept original and I keep all the gear parts together, it wouldn’t be a drama for me to convert to single speed on a temporary basis and the shifter bosses could be neatened up a little with a couple of small bolts and washers.
Also, I have since found out that Sturmey Archer make the S2 Duomatic two-speed kickback non-coaster brake version hub in a 120mm O.L.D. ( over the locknut width ). With the right choice of sprocket this would be more flexible than single speed for where I live and also allow the original brakes to be used as designed.This hub could be fitted to a new “plain” 27 inch 36 hole rim, e.g. a Velocity “twin hollow” or even a trad. style 700c rim.
It’s a good idea to check for toe overlap when inspecting this kind of sporty bike, and sure enough it’s there – this is with a 27 x 1 & 1/4″ tyre (above), but it does the same thing with a 700c x 35 that I tried. It’s an annoying trait that can really catch you out at slow speeds, though becoming irrelevant as speed increases and the front wheel is stabilised.
Going 700c would mean a much better range of tyres and rims available and I know the existing brakes will reach. Incidentally, the Modolo brakes look very well made and have cleaned up nicely.
Hmmm – I’m still thinking about all this — should I simply remain in a patient wait for an old 5-speed wheel that may never appear ?