Archive for the ‘three speed hubs’ Category

speedwell special sports

speedwell special sports

This frame, presumably a ‘Special Sports’ model was overlooked in my post ” A Brace of Speedwells ” as it came without a fork and with very sad original paintwork. Sometimes the appeal of a bike takes a while to grow, and also a little thought is needed as to how to proceed with its conservation or refurbishment.

I visualised this one as a kind of semi-sporty 3-speed fitted with some non-period components. I decided to add these components to give the bike a bit of shine and to make it a nicer user. There are parts spanning over different decades, starting with a new ‘reproduction’ chromed steel fork and a new alloy threaded head set.

Note – not having the original fork gave me the perfect excuse to modernise the bike guilt free, but I won’t be repainting this or any of the other Speedwells – except the ‘Flash’ of a couple of posts ago which had lost all its original finish after a previous owner’s repainting.

character !

that’s character !

The new fork steerer was a bit long, but instead of shortening it again I’ve added several spacers to get the bars a little higher. They were going to be 42cm steel randonneur bars in a Soma “Sutro” 80mm stem at first, as shown in these photos.

However, after some initial rides on it I began to suffer dull aches and stiffness in my forearms and hands, which became quite unbearable both on, and finally, off the bike as well…

I put it down to the narrow diameter and very rigid bars, a problem made worse with the thin leather tape. The combination had no give at all. I now conclude that the beautiful and tactile Brooks bar tape is only suited to drop bars if there is  a deal of compliance in the bike as set up, unless the tape is heavily overlapped and/or the riding position is quite upright.  In this case even overlapping the tape more didn’t help.

I’ve since changed to Tange moustache bars after unsuccessfully trying thicker tape. The pain has now subsided and yes, I can feel some flex in the much wider bars as weight is applied to them – a good thing in this case !

I’m now using Cardiff cork grips on the ends but would like to add some bar tape around the levers as well. I’m still trying to figure out what to use so that it doesn’t look silly, however at least the bike rides well now !

Wheels are 27 X 1″ alloy presta valve 36 holed rims with a Sturmey Archer high flange front hub (new) and the compact Shimano 3S hub that I restored some time back ( Yes, I know it’s not period or marque  correct, but… ).

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

Using the new fork meant that I could also use a more modern 100mm wide track style hub – yay !

Brakes are modern Tektro R559 ( nutted ) extra long drop with Dia – Compe levers. The Tektros work much, much better than what would have been the original callipers, and they are great for older frames with large clearances or where 27″ to 700c conversions are being contemplated when standard road brakes just won’t cover the 8mm smaller diameter .

They don’t really have a classic appearance but are at least nice and shiny, and actually stop the old bike rather well.

New Jagwire brake cables were fitted, and an original Shimano 3S click shifter has a jockey wheel mounted near the bottom bracket. The top tube cable clips are re-cycled Shimano ‘Dura-Ace’ … Cool Bananas !

a cable jockey tucked away

a cable jockey tucked away

The Shimano click shifter works pretty well but is a bit plasticky looking compared with period Sturmey Archer triggers. The moulded face-plate doesn’t survive outdoor neglect as well either.
I like the way this gear cable runs along the down tube as it means the top tube isn’t visually overloaded with cable and it hints a little of the old Sturmey Archer cable jockey wheels – albeit at the opposite end of the seat tube.

miche xpress chain set

miche xpress chain set

The BB is a Miche Primato sealed 107mm with a Miche X-press chainset ( JIS ). The X-press chainset has quite a classic style – for a modern crank anyway, and I think it suits this bike.
Gearing is 48 x 21T – i.e for second or ‘normal’ gear, a little lower perhaps than for gearing a single speed. Tyres are Continental Ultra Sport 27 x 1 & 1/8″ – I didn’t know these were available until recently as they are also hard to find.

what's left of the down tube decal

what’s left of the down tube decal

I’ve learnt that with the old Speedwell paintwork a rub over with a beeswax leather dressing will help keep the paint together and also bring back some colour and lustre, whereas a glossy clear coating is rather more final and not as natural looking.

seat tube decal

seat tube decal

It would appear that this frame has faded from a purple-red originally, with the down tube paint stencilling of the earlier Special Sports seemingly replaced by a different style of decal to the other examples I have. This makes me think that it’s a later model than the others, as is suggested by it not having a bottom bracket oiler – but again I am only guessing.

The frame number is W(?)23725 – I’m not absolutely sure of that ‘W’ though.

The shine of alloy and chrome helps lift the dull paintwork and yet makes it more subtle at the same time.



It’s a responsive but not overly quick handler that can do a surprising turn of speed for an oldie – especially in a tailwind !

Happy Re-Cycling !


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Or should that be a swarm ?

not so 'flash' - at the moment, anyway.

not so ‘flash’ – at the moment, at least – also, this saddle isn’t the original.

I’ve recently acquired a number of Speedwell frames and associated parts from a down-sizing collector, mostly of the ‘Special Sports’ model but also including this roughly re-painted (but at least straight-framed) ‘Flash’ model.

pretty rough..

interesting, but pretty rough..

The Flash has a mix of components – a Speedwell stem minus the red “rocketship” end plug, a lovely Pelissier ‘Plume’ high flange alloy rear hub on a 27″ Mavic alloy rim and Weinmann 610 “Vainqueur 999” centrepull brakes are some of the interesting parts.

pelissier 'plume' french made hub

pelissier ‘plume’ french made ’36H flip-flop’ hub

after some effort

and again, after some effort..

appears to be a replacement ? - an atom front hub

appears to be a replacement ? – an atom 36H front hub

From a recyclist’s point of view the Special Sports models have the advantage of a solid brake bridge and properly brazed on seat stays which means that a coaster rear hub isn’t necessary, however the rear spacing is the same 110mm as the Popular so it will take either a period fixed/free hub, an internal gear hub or even a coaster if desired.

The bikes have rear facing horizontal dropouts – i.e. ‘track style’ ends – rather than the cheaper style pressed down ends of the Popular.

this green one is in the best overall condition

this green one is in the best overall & original condition

At the front end, the forks fit the typical 90-95mm hub with a 5/16″ axle, the same as most old Aussie bikes. Older models have the fork tips that must be pulled wider to allow wheel removal, due to the flange on the cone ends that mates with the drilling out of the fork tip.

Sort of early “lawyer tabs” I suppose .. The dropout and front axle widths also mean that modern front hubs can’t be used without modification. Modern track front hubs have thicker front axles and are 100mm O.L.D. , and the rears are at 120mm over the locknuts.

this one had been re-painted with new repro decals

this one has been re-painted and has new reproduction decals

The Special Sports rims are 27″ chromed steel with 40 hole rear drillings, which makes life a little difficult if one wishes to convert to alloy rims while using the original hubs. 36 hole rears would have made things easier – ah well.

On the front the hole count is 32. The 27 inch ( 32 – 630 ) rims at least have a basic but decent range of tyres still available (including Conti Gatorskins if you can find them !) which is a definite plus when compared with the 28 x 1 & 3/8 ” ( 37- 642 ) size of the populars.

the oldest one is my favourite, but it has damaged forks

the oldest one is my favourite, but it has damaged forks – note the different down tube stencil to the others, and the chromed fork legs.

i love the flag decals

i like the colour and decals on this oldie

The blue one above looks to be mid 1950s and is the only one to have the older style flared head tube – the remainder have removable cups for their loose 1/8″ bearings.

I have a feeling that the flag and crown motif somehow relates to the coronation of Q.E.II in the early 1950s.

AW-63, SW-57, SW-59

AW-63, SW-57, SW-59

A number of 40 hole Sturmey-Archer hubs were purchased with the  frames, including a 1971 coaster, a 1966 FW 4-speed , a 1963 AW 3-speed and 2 x SW 3-speeds ’57 & ’59 – apparently a somewhat unreliable model that did have some good points, but was fairly quickly dropped from the S-A catalogue after 1959 or 60 !

The early SW (centre) has the double indicator rod with left hand window. Note how much more compact it is than the usual AW model due to having one less planet gear (i.e. 3), and they also have slightly wider ratios than the AW.

Sheldon Brown’s site has quite a bit of info on this somewhat obscure hub. They should make for some curious tinkering fun down the track…

the typical later down tube stencil

the typical later down tube stencil

seat tube decal 'made in sydney'

seat tube decal


the top tube decal is - at this age - usually badly worn

the top tube decal is – at this age – usually badly worn

There are also some fixed/ free ( or flip-flop ) rear hubs, including some Speedwell branded ones and also a single sided Brampton freewheel hub in fine shape.

Front hubs include a rough BSA, an excellent condition Bayliss-Wiley, some Speedwells and a Phillips – all 32H, and the chainsets are all cottered Williams 5-pin.

The Special Sports models feature the lovely hand applied pin lining and the typically detailed decals of the era, and would originally have been very brightly metallic coloured over a gold or silver coloured base – that is until the Australian sunlight typically faded their brilliance – however that deterioration now tends to complement the bikes’ age and grace.

a nice patina on the red one ..

a nice patina on the red one .. flashes of the original brilliance here and there

They would have come with mudguards, I think (?), but not many guards will have survived after 50 odd years. The above red frame came with a pair, at least.

Perhaps my favourite is still the early model blue one with the flag decalled and chromed forks, and even though the paint is very worn on the top tube, and the forks somewhat bent, I would still like to try and repair this one later on.

I can’t show them fully in the space of this post, nor do I have the space or time at the moment to build them all up, so I shall be selectively presenting their progress in future posts.

And Happy Re-Cycling !

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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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a completely irrelevant pic to get your attention....

a completely irrelevant pic to get your attention….but i got there by bicycle !

I don’t have a service diagram for the 70s Shimano 3S, but as it turns out the principles are the same as the Sturmey-Archer AW. The 3S is more compact, and unlike the older Shimano 333, the pawls are held in place by snap ring wire circlips, in much the same way as a 10-speed freewheel cluster.

This makes servicing simpler than the Sturmey Archer AW too, just don’t lose or break those clips !

eeew !

Classique 3 hub — eeew !

The 333 must have been a nightmare with its pawl pins and hair springs, and has a bad reputation for reliability. In my experience the 3S is a good hub although the moving parts do look more delicate than the Sturmey Archer. As far as operation goes the Shimano uses a pushrod to move the gear train against the clutch spring via a bell-crank, whereas the Sturmey Archer uses the cable tension to pull out the indicator rod with the characteristic little chain helping to compress the clutch spring.
Both systems will default to high gear if the cable is detached.

cruddy close-up

horrors ! – a cruddy close-up

I thought it best to look inside the Classique 3’s hub, not knowing its history, and I’m glad I did so as it wasn’t too pretty.

the main assemblies

the main assemblies – planet cage, gear ring, driver and axle w/sun gear – cleaned up 

Note above – the snap ring comes off to release the 4 little cylindrical retaining pins and thus separate the planet cage from the ring gear.

I couldn’t figure out how to remove the planet gears, the sub-assembly doesn’t appear to disassemble beyond the pawls and springs so I had to flush and brush throughout thoroughly with kerosene as best I could.

the driver close-up

the driver close-up

I had a spare to compare it with in case I messed up, and after I finished I also had a quick look inside. This one I have owned since new and inside it looks like an Internal Gear Hub should i.e. no rust !

the deceiving outside ...

the deceptive exterior …

much nicer inside .. approx 40 yrs old with no service but oil ...

much nicer inside .. approx 40 yrs old with no service but oil …

If these hubs can last 30-40 years without a service then if I overhaul them now they should be able to last a riding lifetime ! Just remember that you are unlikely to find spares for them at a bike shop, unless it’s a very old long established one.

If anything breaks or is lost it will probably be necessary to scrap an old hub for spares, if you can find one. The same could apply to the trigger shifter, cable and cable adjusters too, so again take care – and don’t lose anything.

the trigger shifter

the trigger shifter



I re-assembled the hub using Tri-Flow clear teflon grease and inserted a little Pressol oil down the axle after reassembly to improve the flow

ta-daa !

ta-daa ! with bell-crank and turnbuckle adjuster

I’m now looking forward to re-building one of these hubs for my Grandfather’s old Speedwell – onto a new 27″ alloy rim.

one day this will be the ultimate speedwell roadster !

one day this may be the ultimate 3-speed speedwell roadster !

See Ya !


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