Archive for the ‘coaster brakes’ Category

Here’s another freebie, from a fairly recent local hard rubbish extravaganza …

eek ! a very rusty rider ..

This Cyclops ‘Solitaire’ looked rather tragically rusted, and would be a ridiculous amount of work to completely de-rust.  However, a closer look shows that the frame paint is in very good nick, and that the bike has actually seen very little use…

but the frame shows promise .. i serviced the bb and steering head.

For someone like The Recyclist, who has plenty of alternatively collected parts, a bike like this can be refurbished without a lot of cost or drama. It’s not the sort of thing one can expect to sell for a fortune though, so it’s more a ‘project for a friend’ type of thing.  In this case, the friend didn’t want a bike with gears.

not sure i want to use this malvern star saddle here, but ..

Ten-speed step throughs, as with “sports bikes”, are typically heavy bikes, with ‘gas-pipe’ tubing and cheap steel accessories, however, they can be modernised and lightened like this one, by simplifying the gearing and/or by using alloy parts such as chain-sets, rims, stems, bars, brakes etc.  This Cyclops is intended for use in flat areas so has been converted to a coaster braked single speed.

a reliable shimano coaster, and alloy rims

The typically 110mm wide rear Shimano coaster hub has been fitted with spacers to slot centrally into the wider 10 speed drop-outs and the Sakae ‘custom’ chainset has had the large 52T ring removed by drilling out the rivets. I went a bit too far with the first drilling, so I drilled all five rivets right through the arms, and then countersunk the holes. ( oops … accidental pseudo-drillium ! ). Using the inner ring gives a pretty good chain-line with the original spindle fitted ( at least in this case ).

oops, i mean … nah, it’s drillium – no more big ring !


nearly there, needs a chain and some mudguard tweaking


ready to ride !

A 20T rear sprocket will give easy pedalling at modest speeds, when combined with the remaining 40T front ring.

the pink mixte, revisited

Some mixte style step-through bicycles, though not all, were made with better quality tubing. They tend to be more rigid than standard step-throughs, as well. This one shown is only 1020 Hi-Tensile, which is a very basic steel, yet as with many older basic bikes, when given lighter components and with generously sized tyres and a good saddle fitted, these can often ride quite well.

Happy Re-Cycling !     


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the eadie coaster

the eadie coaster – somewhat loosened off

Here’s an interesting little gadget from many years ago – the Eadie Coaster hub. It’s of a different style to the familiar coasters of the 1960s and later, in that the brake part resembles a drum brake of fairly large diameter, but it’s initially operated by the typical drive screw it shares with the modern coaster brake family.

The later replacement for it was called the “BSA New Eadie” and came with the now familiar smaller diameter central expanding shoe.

I can remember riding a ladies’ bike as a child in the 60s that used one of these Eadie coasters, along with a ‘Hercules’ chain set. I can clearly remember the sliding oiler cover on the brake housing – and I think it was a fairly old bike even then !

the slotted drive-side flange

the slotted drive-side flange

Because of the narrow but large diameter shoe, the hub flanges are unequal sizes, and you’ll notice the unusual slotted spoke holes in the drive side flange. These slots allow a wheel to be built, or a drive-side spoke replaced, without either having to bend the spoke past the large flange or to remove the drive sprocket – clever, but necessary.

This also means that two fairly different lengths of spoke will have to be used to build up a wheel. Such oddities are where ‘Spokecalc’ comes in handy, as this hub wasn’t fitted to a wheel when I got it, so I have no idea of the spoke lengths required.

Eadie coasters were made between the early 20th century and the 1940s or so. The Eadie company was taken over by BSA in 1907, though the hub does not have any BSA logos on it at all.  I’m almost certain the hub isn’t pre-1907 though. There is a reasonable amount of related literature for Eadie coasters on the web.

the guts of it ...

the guts of it … note the matching teeth inside the shell and on the driven clutch

The tiny oiler cap in the hub centre is stamped “Abingdon Works” which was in Birmingham. Missing from the parts picture above are the 13 x 1/4″ loose ball bearings from the inner sprocket drive side. I was unable to remove the bearing cover from the sprocket outer ball cage, so I had to try and clean it in situ.

Although I haven’t actually used it yet, I’ve noticed that the design has a free-spinning quality to it, without the noticeable drag one gets when spinning a modern coaster hub.

Also, there is quite a strong spring-back when braking pressure is released, which may help account for this lack of friction.

another angle

another angle

This one is a 40-hole model so I need to find an appropriate rim, but I would like to use it on one of my loop-frame ladies’ models. It’s to be hoped that it works well enough on its own, but one never knows with a re-built coaster, at least not until one tries it out !

dahon dreaming again - @ swansea.

dahon dreaming again @ swansea.

On an unrelated topic, here’s a pic of my 1984 Dahon 3-speed taken on a recent outing. It cost me around $30AUD several years ago at a garage sale, and following a complete rebuild it became perhaps my most attention grabbing bike, at least as far as the non-cycling public is concerned.

It’s altogether Flexy, Frivolous and Fun !

Happy Re-Cycling !

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1984 apollo capri -hard rubbish rescue.

1984 apollo capri -hard rubbish rescue.

This one featured in the post ‘Apollo Capri Part 1′ a while back, and in the end I decided to make it a simple flatland city run-around with nice wide bars for easy low speed steering. I’m coming to the view that any basic bike with pressed rear drop-outs and no proper built-in derailleur hanger is probably better off as a single speed or hub geared conversion anyway.

The single 46T chainset was borrowed from another salvaged Apollo ladies’, and the 27″ wheelset swapped from “Grandfather’s Axe” ( another story ! ). The Hi-Stop coaster hub and alloy Weinmann branded rims were bought new a few years back.

One of the problems often encountered doing this sort of conversion is the 95mm fork width and 5/16th” axle sizing on the Apollo front drop-outs. The newer front wheel had 100mm spacing and a thicker axle.

While some might not consider these ‘sports-roadster’ style bikes to have much value, they happen to be what I mostly find as local throwaways and if I only accepted 100mm wide forks I’d be missing out on a lot of good rebuilding opportunities !

reconditioned front hub & new spokes.

reconditioned 95mm front hub & new spokes.

The favoured method I used here was to de-lace the front rim from its original Quando 100mm hub and re-lace it to a restored salvaged 95mm hub – more wheel therapy for me !

To deal with the 110mm rear coaster hub I merely put spacers between the cones and locknuts to widen it out to the approx. 126mm of the previous thread-on 5 speed hub, taking care to maintain chain line and centring. Luckily the axles were easily wide enough to cope with the extra spacers. This negated having to bend the frame and thus kept the drop-out alignment as it was.

110mm ---> 126mm with spacers

110mm —> 126mm with spacers

I’ve used a 22T sprocket for easy pedalling around town and the offset of these larger cogs gives a little adjustability for chain line by flipping it either way as required.

That’s about it for such a relatively simple conversion, and the fact that modern ‘retro’ versions look remarkably similar to this step-through is an indication of the practicality of such a straight forward design.

Perhaps the only disadvantage with this conversion was that derailleur bikes don’t usually come with chain-guards, as one of those would have been perfect for this single speed .

Now, I did have an ideal rear rack for this somewhere … or perhaps a basket ?

P.S. — Don’t forget ‘Wheels on Wheeler’ 4th March 2016 — see previous post for details.

See Ya There !

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old faithful ..

old faithful ..

I’ve made a couple more changes here – firstly the bars and stem, where I’ve refitted the early Cinelli stem with a set of steel Alps bars.

The bars are a little wider to give me better steering leverage and alloy bars don’t look right with this stem. Also, as the ( roughly ) 11mm Cinelli stem hex bolt head was rounded off, I have replaced it with an allen head bolt, hopefully not offending any purists in the process.

complete with twined bottle cage

complete with twined bottle cage to hide the modernity

I am a bit fussy about the bar tape on this bike and can only seemingly tolerate the texture and colour of this brown Brooks bar tape However, it’s quite thin if wrapped along the full length of this narrow diameter bar. My way of making things more comfortable here is to very much overlap the tape around itself for the drops and ramps, and then use heavily wrapped cotton tape for finishing off the tops – which I then shellacked.

The result is more thickness – i.e. comfort – but without the clashing newness of modern tape. I think the effect is nicely ‘retro’, not least because the tape is somewhat deformed due to being re-fitted and removed several times !

Used alone, I find plain cotton tape to be a bit harsh on the hands.

the sturmey-archer s2c

the sturmey-archer s2c

The second alteration was to fit a Sturmey Archer S2C Duo-matic kickback hub, and because I like the classic look of the Alesa alloy rims that were already fitted, I spent an afternoon dismantling the single speed coaster wheel and re-lacing the S2C. There were two hesitations here and they are worth thinking about. One is the weight of the S2C, it seems heavier than even a typical 3-speed like the Nexus 3C. The other is the loud freewheel noise it makes compared to a silent single speed coaster hub. This is particularly noticeable in top gear when coasting Moving the pedals back a bit here will help make conditions less noisy.

Regarding the weight, at least the wheel is no heavier than the original all steel 700A that it replaces !

The top ratio, as in the S2, is 138% of normal gear, and that 38% is a pretty big jump ! To work it out, if you begin with a 22T cog such as supplied with this hub, then that will be your normal ( lower ) gear. Your high gear will be roughly equivalent to a 16T on the same front ring. In this case with a 46T the gear inches are approx. 56 and 78.

It’s better than single speed, but either gear is not always low enough nor first always high enough. Changing the front ring alters both ratios of course, and one needs to personally decide whether to set it up for spinning or grinding, or possibly both !

the old school 'millbrook' saddle bag..

the old school ‘millbrook’ saddle bag..

The beauty of this hub, though, has to be the “zero cables” thing, and there’s a whole lot to be said for that on an old bike such as this, in terms of uncluttered appearance and simplicity of operation. The Speedwell Popular models only came fitted with coaster brakes as far as I know and I’m still reluctant to fit a front brake even though I know it would make sense.

The other plus is not having to mash the pedals so much at low speeds, thus making life easier for the old knees, while retaining a top gear that won’t spin out so soon.

Purists please note that the original wheels have been safely stored away for future re-fitting… but the relative lightness of these alloy wheels with modern tyres is hard to ignore.

Even so, the extra weight and laid back geometry is hard to get used to after stepping off the ‘criterium style’ quick handling Vectre. Ah well, all in good time …

greetings from the land of the summer Christmas

greetings from the land of the summer Christmas

Christmas Greetings !

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The ‘grey ghost’ is looking like a pretty quick project, as much of it is in good order. The front wheel was given a slight true and new grease and is running well. These 80s Araya rims could have been really good on the Cecil Walker, but I don’t want to go there for a while, and this one is worth keeping (fairly) original …

Malvern Star could have made this a brilliant bike by using cast dropouts, a better alloy chainset and derailleurs, down tube shifters, and the same brake levers sans the suicide bits. That’s all it would have taken, but there you go … I like it anyway.

the classy SR laprade seat post is worth putting a decent saddle on

the classy SR laprade seat post is worth putting a decent saddle on

I’ve always wanted a slightly sporty 3-speed, which was what the Sportstar was planned to be, and in lieu of the bent rear axle I’ve removed the rim from the rear and laced it to a Nexus 3 coaster hub. This internal geared hub is heavy-ish, but I wonder if it’s really any heavier than the derailleur hub and cluster plus the rear brake and lever & calliper plus the front and rear mechs and associated hardware, and the extra weight of the double chainwheel ?

Probably not much, and certainly not as heavy as the 7, 8 or 11 speed Nexus/Alfine versions.

nexus inter-3 coaster

nexus inter-3 coaster

You have to be careful with the 3-speed coaster though, as it’s easy to lock it up accidentally if you unthinkingly back pedal, but like everything ‘new bikey’ one gets used to it fairly quickly.

A coaster brake is clumsy with foot retention systems so I generally use flat pedals, in this case the brilliant Speedplay Drilliums.

drillium !

drillium !

With a coaster there is also the often added routine of rotating the cranks to the correct o’clock before mounting the bike !

For a derailleur 10-speed to gear-hub conversion the newer internal geared hubs are ideal as they are generally around 120mm width and that means less worry about spacers. 10 speed frames are generally 120 (older) or 126mm wide.

For older coaster hub single speed frames you are better off using an older hub like the 70s/80s Sturmey-Archer AW or Shimano 3S, because these are the same 110mm width and don’t require widening of the frame.

I need to keep the front brake, and in order not to be too asymmetric I think the drop bars may have to go, but I’m still thinking. They really do suit this frame. A cross top lever could be useful if it fits, otherwise it’s Tange moustache bars from Project Sportstar.
Because the Nexus 3 revo-shifter needs a long straight section of bar I guess it’s to be the Tange, unless I can figure out a different shifter system. These revo-shifters are a lot more fragile and fiddly than the old 3-speed triggers as well.

generally, i prefer trigger shifters...

generally, i prefer trigger shifters…

This bike is another example why the serious recyclist needs to be able to build and true wheels – it just wouldn’t be worth it to pay someone else for all this !

So many old bikes need wheel work, as that’s often the reason they were abandoned in the first place. The rear wheel gave me some problems and took a long time to straighten, perhaps because the rim isn’t as stiff as modern ones. Old single wall alloy rims are the hardest ones to re-lace, in my limited experience anyway.

The conversion to a single chainring means that the crank axle probably wasn’t the correct length for a straight chain line so a little measuring is required. I find that most likely a 107mm or maybe 110mm bottom bracket will do the job.

Most current square taper bottom brackets are sealed, no maintenance and non-repairable, though they only cost around $20 to $25. I have successfully used models from Miche, Genetic, and Gist (italy), in standard JIS square taper for single speed and hub gear conversions. In this case ( after measuring the BB and hub ) it’s a Genetic 110.5 mm and lines the chainwheel up quite well with the offset 22T Nexus cog.

a new genetic 110.5mm JIS bottom bracket

a new genetic 110.5mm JIS bottom bracket

I recycled my newish Token TK2051 165mm chainset, it’s nice and light and the black ring vaguely matches the original ‘look’.

Gearing ( i.e. second ) is 48x22T. Unfortunately 3-speeds have unavoidably large gaps between the ratios compared with a derailleur system and so it’s all about compromises. If second is too high, then third becomes little used so I try to make second just high enough to work OK on level road but able to pull up a moderate incline too. Perhaps a 21T would be sufficient although the solid saddle and shortish 165mm cranks mean that spinning fast is relatively easy compared with some other of my bikes. I won’t change the gearing yet without a fair amount of riding first, to suss it all out …

now pretty much completed

now pretty much completed

I lifted the Velo Orange hammered guards from the pink mixte ( toe overlap on that one ) and borrowed the Nexus-fitting Brooks grips from my Gazelle. The front brake lever now operates from the left side so as not to foul the shifter – and to make the cables look more symmetrical. I used the brazed on brake loops on the top tube to hold the gear cable in place, as of course there’s no need for the rear calliper now. The Bontrager Select K 27″ tyres used to grace Cecil W. before his conversion to 700C. I’m pretty happy with the look and concept so far.

the grey ghost in fernleigh tunnel

the grey ghost in fernleigh tunnel

Steering is quite quick and the bike accelerates and climbs well for an old school ride. As geared, it’s certainly better equipped for the various moderate inclines on the Fernleigh Track than the Duo-matic 2-speed hubs, allowing easy pedalling pretty much everywhere, though the ride is never as finely tuneable for ‘cadence vs.gradients’ as a derailleur system, of course.

See Ya !


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I tend to pull old bike things apart in my spare moments, and while some might call it insanity, to me it’s therapy.

I find it amazing how something that seemed so useless when found can be so unexpectedly handy later on in time.

Vicki's speedwell with the modern wheels

Vicki’s speedwell with the modern wheels

Take for example Vicki’s old Speedwell wheels that she donated to me some time ago after upgrading to her Nexus 3 coaster. It’s worth referring to her blog  “Bicycles in Newcastle” ( on the above link ) about the issues she went through with it.

The rear wheel had a Renak model 60 – 40 hole hub with poor braking, and for some reason I thought of it when dismantling the horrendously rusty Favorit hub from the salvaged Apollo II.

can you believe the rust ?

the favorit – can you believe the rusty hub shell ?

The internals seemed very similar, but the brake shoes on the Favorit seemed much less worn. Could they be used to improve the Renak ? The shoes on the Favorit measured slightly larger in diameter than the Renak’s and the other mating parts looked very similar.

the outer bearings always cop it - outside end of the driver

the outer bearings always cop it – outside end of the driver

the spring clip comes off to release the rollers and driver

the spring clip comes off to release the rollers and driver ring

the driver, with needle rollers

the driver, with roller bearings

favorit (L) & renak (R)

note the wear – favorit (L) & renak (R) interlocking brake shoes

The Favorit is a 36H from a later 27″ wheel, but of course this is irrelevant to the internal compatability – if it works, it works !

Dismantling and cleaning these hubs is easy work apart from some stubborn grease in various crevices like those of the ball bearing cages – I use kerosene and a toothbrush and rags, and also a brass wire brush for the axle threads etc.

the internals

some of the internals

and the rest

and the rest

Upon reassembly with plenty of fresh grease everywhere, the hub seems to be working but there’s no real way to tell what the brakes are like until fitting it to the rim, to a bike, and riding it. I don’t have a use for this hub/wheel yet, but I’m sure one will eventuate !

These old hubs use track cogs and a left hand threaded lockring – the cogs are still available in plenty of sizes thanks to the fixed gear craze …

not bad, hey ?

not bad, hey ?

brake arm end

brake arm end

Tip – use a penetrating catalyst like PB Blaster on both ends of the nipples before attempting rusty spoke removal. The steel eyelet washers were almost corroded right away, probably from electrolytic reaction with the brass nipples.

As you can see, you can make old hubs really clean and shiny when they’re out of the wheel and clear of all the spokes – the same with rims too.

with a mavic 700C road rim for comparison

with an old mavic 700C road rim for comparison

The painted steel rims are in reasonable structural condition and may be recycled – well, they will need to be if this hub works, as the rear is the only spare 40 hole rim I have !

If the coaster brake doesn’t work sufficiently there’s not much point re-doing the front wheel as these painted rims aren’t really suited to calliper brakes.

the cog will need to be removed again for re-spoking

the cog will need to be removed again for re-spoking

I will need to find a 32H hub if I’m to get the matching front wheel going again, as the front hub internals were used by the bike shop to fit Vicki’s new 700C wheels to the Speedwell.

But that’s for another day …

uh-oh !

uh-oh !

Here’s one I came across today on my ride, but :

a)  it’s total crap, and

b)  who knows, the owner might actually come back for it …

A good recyclist is an honest recyclist —- Karma !

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the lonely one

the lonely one

‘Popular’ is such a quaint old fashioned name for a bicycle model suggesting an everyday bike for the average person – which is what it was. Nowadays, however, the Popular is pretty rarely seen, though some are still around in Newcastle if you look out for them.

Speedwell designed it for robust simplicity, to be a relatively affordable, sturdy, basic single speed transport and leisure machine with a little bit of flair in the decoration, perhaps inspired in this case by the post-war and post-coronation aspirations and hopes of ’50s society – despite the general lack of affluence compared with today.

red, white 'n' blue

red, white ‘n’ blue

Those days of a more simple life are long gone now — or are they ? A bicycle doesn’t have to be complex, as the fixed gear movement has shown, and we know that sometimes the least desirable bikes can have the most gears, features etc.  – witness the average low quality department store suspension MTB.    Things are as simple as one wants them to be, really.

detail - seat tube

The bike is all steel, with big wheels  – ( 28″ x 1 & 3/8″ – i.e. 642mm,  not  635×1 & 1/2″ ), painted and lined Westwood rims, a generous fork rake, and a comfortable Bell 12-40 model leather saddle (not sure if it’s the original one though).

the flying kangaroo - i always wanted one of these !

the flying kangaroo – i always wanted one of these !

I purchased it from a Speedwell collector who is more interested in the Speedwell “Special Sports” models, of which he had a number of lovely examples to show me.

Originally it came from Yass, and still has much of it’s original frame paint intact, though the guards have been sympathetically resprayed.

The generous quantity of  hand lining looks art-deco influenced, and is typical of so many Aussie bikes of its era, though perhaps not as elaborate a flourish as on the more upmarket ‘sports’ models.

transfers have aged

transfers have aged

It’s unusual for me to buy a bike and overhaul it only to have it look much the same as it was, but even so, I checked and adjusted the steering and front wheel bearings, replaced a missing spoke after disassembling, cleaning and re-greasing the BSA ‘New Eadie’ Coaster hub. You can see the same brake internals on a previous post about my ladies’ Popular, suffice it to say that photography is difficult when your hands are covered in grease !  This was an important job for a bike that is to be used, as the old coaster hubs eventually become dry and/or rusty inside, and can then wear out quickly. There is a grease port on the hub, but this is mainly for the braking surfaces, and injected grease is unlikely to reach the bearings, especially the ones nearest the cog that have their own little cone and race chamber separate to the rest.

I find that serviced coaster hubs can sometimes become a little idiosyncratic in operation, but generally do ride much more sweetly as a reward for the overhaul. It will sometimes take half a turn to re-engage drive after using the brakes – probably a sticking clutch assembly. This particular ‘New Eadie’ coaster brake stops very well, unlike the same soggy model on my ladies’ Popular … perhaps it comes down to wear, though I also didn’t use teflon grease on it this time … hmmm?

the speedwell bell

the speedwell bell

As an aside, many other old bikes that I find seem to have been unnecessarily abandoned partly because tight front wheel bearings have made them mysteriously unpleasant to ride, so it’s worth checking these often on your “classic”, and adjusting them for play & free running …  to check, lift the wheel and see if it rotates back and forward freely ’til it comes to rest with the heaviest point of the rim – usually either the valve or the plastic reflector – at the bottom, while making sure there is no brake friction stopping this, then check there is no serious play side to side ( a minute amount is OK on an old bike if it’s necessary to keep the wheel running free ).

with brooks millbrook bag

with brooks millbrook saddle bag

Even with the hard plastic grips this ride is comfortable thanks to the relaxed frame angles and those large tyres and softly spoked wheels. I’ve changed the gearing by going to a 20T rear cog (to replace a worn 18T) while retaining the original 46T front ring. ( Please forgive me the modern Surly track cog excess – but I do like those round holes ! )

This gives an overall low 60s gear inch measurement as recommended in “The Art of Easy Cycling”, and is a good compromise for this single speed, giving a feeling of pedalling lightness at sensible speeds … though it isn’t overwhelmingly heavy  anyway, thanks to the spartan simplicity.

cool kanga !

cool kanga !

The straightforwardness of a single coaster brake is always appealing – no untidy cables, just a bike, pure and simple.

curly bars

curly bars

Initially I had thought that the drop bars would be uncomfortable, and it’s true that they are difficult to hold on the tops – having no ‘hoods’, and being a continuous curve except for the straight drop ends — but they also look just right for this bike, as I found by trying ‘north road’ style bars. I quickly swapped them back ! Because of the smooth ride it’s relatively comfortable for someone now used to riding old road bikes. The turning circle is large and cornering is slow compared with modern bikes.

The broad saddle doesn’t interfere with my pedalling when leaning forward, and that surprised me. As sold, the bars were rotated 180 degrees to ‘upright’ mode, but this just felt clumsy to ride, as well as looking less attractive.

In short, it’s a pleasure cruise – and quite graceful too, if one “rides it steady”.

( there you go ! ).

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