This red Speedwell Special Sports is the only one I have that came with its original mudguards. It’s easy to spot the original red colour from the parts of the frame that had cable clamps ‘protecting’ small areas from U.V. light. I believe it dates from 1957, going by the previous owners information. Serial number under the bottom bracket is V30907 and there is a smaller set of numbers ‘3447’ on the BB where it meets the left chain stay.
The paint has plenty of patina and could be considered only as fair condition for its age.
I’ve built it up as a 2-speed semi-light roadster though I think it would have originally been a 3-speed, the reason being that it looks to have once been fitted with a frame mounted jockey wheel for the gear cable.
The Sturmey Archer S2C rear and 1984 Chair low-flange front hubs have been laced to Araya 36H anodised rims for lightness and better stopping. These simple rims have a classic look with a shape that’s not too different from the original steel rims.
I haven’t used a cottered crank on this one because I wanted a 42T chain ring for the 2-speed hub. This is because a 44T is a bit high geared for my liking on the 27″ wheels. The 22T rear gives me a 42×22 low gear with the equivalent of a moderate 42×16 high gear. The tyres are new Schwalbe ‘Active Line’ 27″ white walls.
The crank set is Shimano ‘Golden Arrow 105’ with a 42T Surly 130 pcd stainless steel chain ring. A 113mm JIS square taper bottom bracket gives a nice close clearance and a good chain line on this bike though that’s a much narrower axle than would be used on a derailleur bike with double rings on these cranks. At the moment the pedals are MKS Sylvan, but I’m soon going to fit some original Phillips, once they are overhauled.
An early owner has painted white ‘visibility’ sections on the front and rear guards that I won’t be trying to remove. The only frame surface treatment I gave was gentle cleaning and a sparing layer of beeswax conditioner. Any past attempt I’ve made to brighten the candy paint on a special sports hasn’t been successful, so this is all that I do now.
Most of these Special Sports frames have 54cm seat tubes and around 59cm top tubes. Because the frames are a bit low for me I find them somewhat unsuitable for drop bars unless the stem is set high, so I’ve fitted this one with ‘Oxford’ style bars. The little bell is stamped ‘Speedwell Cycles’.
The bikes have either 26.8 or 27mm seat posts and this one is a new alloy one – I’ve toned it down a little with some shellacked cloth, otherwise it looks a bit too obvious.
I could have fitted the original Monitor ‘Ventura’ steel front brake but instead decided on a ‘Cherry’ brand alloy. The problem with fitting a later brake is that the flat section of guard isn’t long enough to avoid the nose of the calliper touching the guard, but this one just fits. I did fit a small piece of rubber from an old tube between the calliper and guard to stop them rattling together. These brakes aren’t brilliant either, but combined with the coaster do a reasonable job while not looking too out of place.
For the moment the saddle is a Brooks Flyer in antique brown with a matching B4 frame bag and Shellacked Cardiff cork hand grips. I’ve fitted my PDW Take-out basket as I thought was it rather appropriate for this sedate old cruiser… and the brass badge from “Tommy Mac’s” was from my grandfather’s collection, as he used to work at their Newcastle store – possibly he was there around the time this bike was made.
Happy Re-Cycling !