I’ve not been leaving well enough alone in the perfecting of the imperfections of some of my bikes – this one is my grandfather’s ( and my ) old Speedwell.
Having decided to approach ever so slightly closer toward originality, I’ve used the forks from the Malvern two star, and its mudguards to aid the cause. Both these bikes have non-original paintwork so I can feel okay about playing around with them.
The Speedwell frame is long and low with a 60cm top tube and a 56cm seat tube so it looks smaller than it really is if you judge it by the head tube length. The previous chromed forks were bodged a bit to fit the short head tube and I decided to correct this by using the Malvern star forks and a new head set.
The headset is a Campagnolo Record which has an ISO 26.4mm crown race. This was too small for the flange on the fork steerer but a JiS 27.2mm was too big – I had to gently file away the flange ’til the Campag fitted …
The wheels are the same, Weinmann alloy rims with a Quando front hub and generic coaster rear. I had toyed with the idea of going to 3-speed but canned it as I like the simplicity of single speed and that was its original format. There is a real aesthetic purity in a bike with no cables and I’m sure that’s a big part of the appeal of track bikes too.
I’ve used a set of SR “Road Champion” bars which are waiting anxiously for some luxurious bar tape. You’ll notice the tall head stem with very short extension – this is so I can sit up like a roadster rider on the tops, yet still get out of the wind more in the drops without leaning too low on these deep bars. The other nice thing about this type of stem is the ‘vintage’ appearance it lends.
With no cables it’s very easy to swap to and fro with the gull wing bars I was using before – just one allen key !
The bottom bracket is new, a Genetic 107mm that seems to work well chain line- wise with the narrow coaster hub. The cheap and heavy non-original steel cranks have gone, replaced by a Charge Rotisserie 42T ( really an FSA, I think ), nice and light and classy looking in a ‘modern but traditional’ kind of way … I changed the rear cog to a Nexus 19T ( the old set up was 40x18T ). It’s a little low geared but that’s how I like single speeds. The small ring doesn’t quite have the old-fashioned look though.
A new micro-adjust alloy seat post ( 26.4 mm ), a B17 flyer saddle and a new chain tensioner complete the many changes. There are still some details of the finish to tidy up – I added a little Indian Red colour to the seat tube and chainguard to tie the look together with the new fork and guards – now I wonder if it’s worth getting some repro. Speedwell decals ?
Old frames like this tend to ride well, though they can be a bit heavy and this one does, and is, too – but because of the many alloy bits and the simplicity, the weight isn’t bad. Steering is only a little slow but the trade off is good stability. The 27″ tyres and alloy wheels mean it’s quicker steering than the original blue Speedwell 28″ in the header shot.
I’ll show some more pics when it’s completed.
Happy Re-Cycling !