Archive for the ‘unusual bicycles’ Category

Chuck-out season continues relentlessly, and up until now, the streets have been a bit bare … but here’s an odd find. A Roadmaster 3-Speed step-through, simply labelled “Three Speed”, which is borderline as to what I would normally pick up, but I just couldn’t resist the 3-speed derailleur set up.

pretty unexciting, but barely used ..

The Roadmaster appears hardly used, but has suffered the ravages of idleness in a salty environment, albeit in someone’s shed. A good candidate for spare part hub internals, etc.

I find it unusual that a cheap bike from this era has a square taper crank set ( no cotters ) and yet a backward looking three speed derailleur system.  Of course this would have cost less than a 3-speed geared hub to the maker, ( and appeared more trendy ), but why not a five speed in the 1980s, even on such a cheapie ?

shimano tourney copy ..

The rear derailleur and shifter are the DNP brand, which I hadn’t heard of before … they are Taiwanese, and still making gear systems, it seems. The R.D. is very similar to an old Shimano Tourney and the crude-looking shifter has a fine ratchet movement, rather like the nicely ratcheted Dia-Compe shifters.

ratcheted thumb shifter – note the full length cable outer

Then again, this would have been a very simple system to use in the pre-indexing days, and really, for round town use, most people wouldn’t need more than three gears – so there ! 

Also, strangely, it was running a 1/8″ chain ( single speed / track ) with a master link … so it should also last forever with reasonable care ! In a dry climate such as here, it made a kind of sense, I suppose.

three speeds only, and the obligatory pie-plate spoke protector

It would seem that the three cogs were screwed onto a wider Long Yih – ( Taiwan ) freewheel with some threads left over, and with cog spacing for the wider 1/8″ chain.

I have some better and more interesting 120/126mm spaced frames than the Roadmaster for accepting this gear train, and my curiosity has been aroused to try and make it work again.

Speaking of three speeds, I also had the very good luck to find a 1972 Sturmey Archer 36 hole AW hub.  Why so good ? Because almost all my S-A hubs are older 40 hole ones, and I have many more good 36H rims than 40H !  So I can see another planetary overhaul coming up, some time soon …

Happy Re-cycling !


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This one is a bit of a mystery… I bought it from a local corner antique shop and may have overpaid just a little, but there are some interesting parts on it.

does anyone know ?

s s – does anyone know ?

I believe it was once a single speed road bike but the original wheels are long gone – it’s not a track frame, as there would be no need for the seat tube pump braze-ons on such machines.

drop-out and bodged derailleur

drop-out and bodged derailleur

There are no drillings for a front brake, however, and the tapered chainstays, the pencil thin seat stays and rear-facing dropouts suggest a single speed frame built for lightness and speed rather than for rough road “roadster” durability.

damned electrical tape !

that damned electrical tape !

The now very bent handlebars look like old track bars with their big curves and a deep drop (I love the tattered cloth bar tape). The bars are possibly original but I can’t find a brand. The patent numbers indicate dates of approximately late ww2 to post-war period but that isn’t  much of a clue.

i like this style of stem ..

i like this style of stem ..

The stem is “Hi-Speed” branded – made in Japan (steel) and also possibly a later addition.

sanyo bottle, malvern star decals

sanyo bottle, malvern star (?) decals

There are two “S” badges integral to the head tube and if anyone out there knows what they mean, I’d love to hear.

malvern star ? - no cigar !

malvern star ? – no cigar !

I’m not at all convinced that it is a Malvern Star as the down tube decal says – the bike has been reworked into a ten speed around the late 60s or early 70s when MS decals were readily available and may have been added then. It may not even be Australian.

Also there is no pin lining anywhere on it and signs of at least partial re-painting. Top tube is 57cm, and seat tube 54cm – and it’s a shame the head tube doesn’t have five stars on it instead of the two esses !

you're joking - 50/48 ?

you’re joking – 50/48 ?

The heavy steel Williams cottered double chainset is unusual – but with 50T & 48T rings I wonder why any one would bother with a double – a mere 2 teeth difference makes 52-42 seem dramatic !

the inside story ..

the inside story ..

The inner ring is fixed to the outer with six hex bolts while the outer ring has the traditional Williams 5-pin square bolts to fix it to the crank. The letter code “ZF” on the crank dates it to 1965 but it was possibly second-hand when fitted.

The bike might now have ten times the original speeds but it was made horrendously heavy by this conversion. I suppose that’s the worst aspect of the 70s 10-speed craze where steel components rather than alloy were used .

nice lugs though - decorative, but not too fussy

nice lugs though – decorative, but not too fussy

Although it’s not in “valuable” condition it would be nice to ride it with lightweight single speed components fitted, even if just temporarily, as the frame is remarkably light for the era, compared with the usual roadster frame, and obviously was not cheap when new. The seat tube top lug and tapered seat stay ends are very classy and modern looking for such an old bike. There is a serial number on the left rear dropout (possibly K22204), and the bottom bracket shell was cast with “BSA A88” on it.

neat 888's

neat 888’s in the wrong place …

The later derailleurs are the mid-range but apparently reliable steel SunTour Honor rear and Spirit front, with a Suntour “Perfect” freewheel. Shifters are SunTour 888 clip-on downtube with cables roughly taped in place. The electrical tape can do a lot of damage on removal as it hardens and bonds to the paint and decals over many years.

The c.126mm rear hub  had been brutally forced into the track dropouts which breathed a sigh of relief back to c.120mm track width when released ! The paintwork has been abused somewhat, and the frame marked and dimpled by the accessory fittings. There is also more bare metal and surface rust than actual paint on the frame !

Front hub is a “Velo” brand small flange 32H c. 93mm O.L.D., the rear has track threads on the current non-drive side and a threaded 5 speed gear freewheel on the other ??? A derailleur flip flop … who knows?

fixed/free -- please explain ?

fixed/free-gears — please explain ?

It’s Japanese and I can just make out the letters  — L.W. – Rims are Araya 27 x 1 & 3/8″ . Interestingly, with the loose drive-side spacer removed, the wheel seems to fit the track dropouts centrally in spite of the dishing…but I could have been hallucinating !

There is a working Sanyo bottle dynamo and a pair of old National lights on it – ideal for a future classic bike project ! Even the red reflector can be recycled.

rather nice badging, methinks

rather nice old badging, methinks

The seat post is 26.4mm and topped with a Dunlop CL7 Narrow saddle (steel frame  & rubber top) in reasonably rideable condition, with the badge still intact. I read somewhere that these were made by Brooks, but can’t be sure. Could be another age clue if I can date this, but who would know if it was original ?

the racing style is apparently unusual for dunlop

the racing style is apparently unusual for dunlop

And finally to something a little prettier – my blue Speedwell has borrowed the Cinelli bars from Cecil W. , a temporary B18 saddle, and a Millbrook saddle bag – for now :

baby blue, baby

baby blue, baby

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Well, it’s a bit of both really !

Here are some close-ups of my favourite rat-bike, for your perusal. It was parked at Newcastle Station today, in favourable light …. I hope you enjoy this amazing 2-wheeled collage. For previous entries on this machine, refer to “unusual bicycles” in the right hand category list.

rear saddle bags, pump

main frame

handlebar from the front


front end

seat post

2 litre water bottle holders and helmet

down tube clamps for accessories

bottom bracket

seat post clamp (!) and rear rack

shift lever and handgrip

top tube (?) carry bag ….

Perhaps this last one is the most artistic of all …

My next project is a portrait of the owner and the bike … if I ever meet him.

Happy Cycling !

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I have already featured this bike in a previous post, but as I now have a slightly better camera, I thought I would reshoot it as I found it again today. This bike could have come from a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” world where nuclear holocaust survivors struggle to live off the detritus of a burnt out civilisation.

I’m not sure how much WordPress lossily compresses detail, but if you can zoom in, check out the fine details on this masterpiece of backyard engineering. It’s almost organic …

I admire the heavy duty 2-litre water bottle holders, but I think I can see green algae growing in the water ???  Eeew ! Other interesting details include the wire toe clip straps and innumerable other assemblages of hose-clips, wire and rubber (?) strips – truly amazing !

an obscured view

ratty rear view

coincidentally, this is image #666 on my camera 

Appropriately, Laman Street in Newcastle also appears as a post apocalyptic mess, having been controversially denuded of all its majestic fig trees. You can see some of the sad stumps in the background and the bike is very well camouflaged making it hard to photograph clearly.

Laman Street now wins my award for Newcastle’s ugliest street …. but that’s a whole other story.

The bike, however, is marvellous …

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You may love motorised bicycles, or you may hate them, but there’s no denying that their owners go to great lengths to create something different !

from a standing start

to sitting pretty ...

Wished I could have got closer …

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a raleigh 26" tandem and the swansea dual lifting span bridge

Here’s to the bridge – may it ever rise and fall …

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In Laman Street Newcastle, famous locale of the Great Newcastle Fig Fiasco, where giant Ent-like Ancient Trees wait silently, coiled like brittle springs, to pounce on Unsuspecting Potential Litigants ( and thereby incurring the Great Wrath of the Council of Knaves ), there may at times be seen a sort of half-bicycle-half living creature chained to the Great Protective Fence of the Innocents…

Bio-Engineered from a humble mountain bike it has grown organically around the owner’s needs such that any other person would find it strange and difficult, an almost unrideable beast of rusted metal protrusions, strange fleshy padding and crumpled, ripped, soft-sculpture saddlebags…

There is a quality reminiscent of the functional bicycles of the developing world, where this machine would surely not look out of place, modified as it has been by sheer necessity.  It is beyond simple categorisation into style and brand name – which is no longer readable anyway…

As a working bicycle in this car-oriented country it belongs on a plinth in the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, conveniently just down the street – as an Object Worthy of Contemplation … I also think that the owner deserves an Arts Grant. Seriously.

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