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 ?
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.
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.
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 ..
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.
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.
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 !