A while back I converted my Road King ten-speed into a two-speed by using the Sturmey Archer S2 kickback hub. I really liked this hub, but disliked the “deep V” rim it came fitted with, firstly because I find aero rims ugly and secondly, the rim was very heavy, and the depth and short spokes made for very rough riding on the already non-compliant Road King frame.
So I dismantled it and found another reason for disliking deep-Vs , i.e. the spokes are a pain to work on…
Having 32 spoke holes, upgrading the S2 hub required me to order some new rims and a new front hub. I settled on H Plus Son ‘Archetypes’ from Wiggle, in a bold black anodised finish with classy upper case white lettering, which really suited the frame I had chosen. The front hub is a Miche Primato 32H low-flange track model. These rims were a relative pleasure to fit to the chosen hubs and they ran true without too much fiddling.
This frame is a mystery, and the previous owner could not throw any light on it. The cast rear dropouts are Gipiemme (suggesting 1970s at the earliest) , the original fixed BB cup was an older Brampton but the bike had been fitted up with a Shimano 600EX Arabesque group. I wanted this group for another project though, so I had to begin anew with this frameset.
No wheels were fitted as found. The BB is stamped “V26272”
The frame decals are “Speedwell” but have been added after some repainting – I don’t believe that Speedwell is the original brand as there are no indications of the Speedwell head badge having been fitted.
There are brazed on guides under the BB for front and rear derailleurs and for shifters on the down-tube. No eyelets or bottle cage threads fitted though.
I had to use a Tange fork from another frameset as the old ones had corroded dropouts. Coincidentally the tange fitted well, and is the right colour red also.
To up the gearing a little from the Road King’s 42 x 22T, I used a Token TK2051 crank with a 44T ring and the 22T rear cog. This gives a moderate 2:1 ( c.54 inch ) bottom gear and a good all round ‘urban’ top gear ( 1.4x – my guess is roughly 44x16T equivalent ).
I retained the original fluted SR Laprade seatpost and the 3T “Competizione” drop bars and fitted a new VP head-set and a Genetic 100mm road stem. Brakes are new Tektro R559 long throw with Dia-Compe Q.R. levers. I used Cinelli “Mike Giant” arty bar tape in black & white for some more character.
The trickiest part of this rebuild was the bottom bracket, as the threads would not allow me to fit a new sealed square tapered BB. I’ve had this problem before on old bikes, and I guess it’s because the sealed cartridges have a wider threaded area on the fixed cup than the old non-sealed ones which, over many years, allow grit and moisture to clog and corrode the inner shell threads preventing further inward travel.
I decided to bite the bullet and buy a BB thread tap and shell refacing kit. The Park Tool kit was too expensive to justify for this hobbyist mechanic, so I went for a ‘Lifeline’ kit. This worked quite well but the instructions are poor – and one needs to be absolutely certain that the correct tools for each side are used ( as there are both left and right handed threads on an English threaded BB ). Luckily the Park Tool site has a useful ‘help and repair’ section and their kit functions in quite a similar way. The new sealed BB now threaded in smoothly and easily.
Tyres chosen were Schwalbe Delta Cruiser in cream, and these 35C jobs give a smooth ride and roll reasonably well at the recommended 65psi ( for such ‘semi-balloons’ at least ! )
I wanted the tyres to contrast with the black rims and I am rather pleased with the look. Tyre clearance is close at the rear and the nutted Tektro brakes work very well. They were the best I could find for the large drop and wide tyres.
With these tyres, the laid back seat tube, the longish wheelbase and thick bar tape, the bike gives a comfortable ride on the rough urban and suburban roads I often use.
The frame has a 56cm seat tube and 58cm top tube ( C-C ). These old style ‘over-square’ frames often give an unfashionably slow and yet lovely stable steering. To my mind it depends as much as anything on one’s riding ‘mood’ and environment as to which is preferable.
And there’s no toe overlap here, even with large toe clips.
I originally tried an Iscaselle “Tornado” classic saddle that I acquired with another bike, but while it looked great, it’s not as comfortable as any of my regular Brooks, so I am now trying my ‘Team Pro’ instead. Although the Italian ‘leather over foam and plastic’ saddies feel initially softer than Brooks I find that over a distance my bum somehow partially settles somewhere on the hard chassis, whereas the Brooks ‘hammock’ style keeps the pressure points more evenly supported.
I’ve learned a little technique after using this hub for some time, especially for the tricky down changes. The rattly freewheel sound while coasting in high can be quietened by back-pedalling very slightly, then, if necessary a small quick back kick from there will shift it to low. Still catches me out sometimes though …
I left the frame pretty much as it was, just a rough de-rust and paint touch-up.
I added the hand painting of the head tube inset – black with a white question mark – as being appropriate to this mystery frame and I kept the Speedwell decals as they’re part of its history now. The lugs have been lined in white and — hey presto !
A new-old rough ‘city fun bike’.… and was it worth the trouble ? Well, I think the heavy and harder riding Road King now has to go anyway.
Happy Re-cycling !