Skip to content

DK’s ‘The Bicycle Book – the definitive visual history’

Le Tour de France starts in a few hours. Which reminds me that, last autumn, Prof. Lessing and I were called in by Dorling Kindersley to help them finish off this book: DK’s ‘The Bicycle Book – the definitive visual history’
It’s worth every penny for the super pictures of a huge range of bicycles old and new from around the world. Fabulous value at £20 RRP.

Bicycle Book

Advertisements

New content on K-series Sturmey hubs

If you go to the section of this website that provides detailed information on how to repair old Sturmey-Archer hubs, you’ll find new content on the K-series 3-speeds of the 1920s and 1930s. Not all the material is explicitly about repairing the hubs but it may prove useful and interesting to some readers.

There is now an 18-page PDF file (zoomable and easily printed) that includes all the following content:

  • The late great Jim Gill’s description of the type K hub and the changes made to it during its production run (2 pages).
  • A cutaway drawing of the 1922-1933 model.
  • Jim’s simplified instructions for dismantling and re-assembling the type K.
  • Jim’s analysis of the type K’s “no intermediate gear” feature, which went AWOL in 1935.
  • Jim’s tabulated analysis of 20 type K hubs manufactured between c.1925 and 1937 (2 pages).
  • S-A’s 1925 parts list and exploded diagram of the type K .
  • S-A’s 1935 exploded diagrams and parts lists for the type K, type KS and type KSW hubs (5 pages).
  • S-A’s 1937 exploded diagrams and parts lists for the type K, type KS and type KSW hubs (5 pages).

Go to the Cycling tab above, click on Gears and scroll down the list to “How to repair old Sturmey-Archer hubs”. Or just click on this link: https://hadland.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/how-to-repair-old-sturmey-archer-hubs/

Update 22 June 2016: I’ve also added material on the K-series brake hubs (KB, KC and KT) and on S-A’s 1930s drum brakes (BF, BR, BFT and BRT).

Major new cycle history interview

Interested in the history of Raleigh, Sturmey-Archer, Brooks, Pashley or Moulton? Or maybe in the wider development and changes the British cycle industry has undergone in the last 50 years? Then this interview, which I recorded on 23rd March 2016, is for you.

John Macnaughtan spent 48 years at Raleigh and Sturmey-Archer. Early in his career, he was sent to Raleigh South Africa and he soon became Director of Raleigh Industries East Africa. Later, with David Duffield, he set up Raleigh Australia. John joined Sturmey-Archer in 1977 and became Sales and Marketing Director in 1981. After the sale of Sturmey-Archer to Sun Race, he became Managing Director of Raleigh International. He was instrumental in saving the Brooks saddle company and became a co-owner of Pashley. Today, he spends much of his time at Bradford-on-Avon, dealing with the export of Moulton bicycles.

The interview, in two parts and full of unique insights and recollections, is now on the Veteran-Cycle Club YouTube channel.
Part 1: John Macnaughtan interview Part 1
Part 2: John Macnaughtan interview Part 2

2016-03-21 John Macnaughtan.jpg

New hub and bracket gear tables

You may have seen elsewhere on this site (in the comments on John Allen’s hub gear table in the Gears section) that Wiel van den Broek has created some very useful Excel spreadsheets for gearing choices involving hub gears and bracket gears. You can enter the tyre format, chainwheel and sprocket sizes and instantly compare the results given by different gears.

The gears covered range some more than 100 years old to others that are in current production. There is a metric (distance travelled per pedal rotation) chart and a gear inches chart (equivalent direct drive wheel diameter), both of which you can download from here: http://fietssite.jouwweb.nl/downloads

Many thanks to Wiel for creating these spreadsheets.

Tony

The End of the Hydes of Hyde End

For the full and most up-to-date version of my article on the recusant Hydes of Berkshire, see the 10-page PDF file here: Hydes

News about the Sturmey-Archer Story supplement

It’s amazing to think that 28 years have passed since my book The Sturmey-Archer Story was published. You can still buy it from the Veteran-Cycle Club’s sales officer (email: clubsales@v-cc.org.uk) or from Dorothy Pinkerton (telephone: +44 (0)121 350 0685). Remarkably, the price has hardly changed, despite decades of inflation.

Whether you are a new purchaser of the book or bought it years ago, don’t forget to read the free supplement. It contains a host of information, some of which is not available elsewhere:

  • Product developments by Sturmey-Archer and its competitors in the period between publication of the book and the closure of Sturmey-Archer’s British operations.
  • How Sturmey-Archer ceased to be a British company and became Taiwanese.
  • The auctioneer’s detailed list of Sturmey-Archer plant sold off when the British factory closed.
  • Additional information about the period covered by the book.
  • Corrections.

The supplement is available free of charge on this website by clicking on the Cycling tab above and following the drop-down link to Gears. But if you want a printer-friendly version, so that you can print out a tidy 26-page A4 version, click here: S-A Story supplement

You can also save the supplement as a PDF file to read on your desktop computer, tablet or phone by right-clicking the link above and ‘saving link as’.

Tony

Economically upcycling a 1978 BSA (Raleigh) 20 folder

In a recent post I described a 1974 Raleigh 20 FE, in near original condition, that had been in the same ownership for 40 years. The husband of the FE’s owner also had a 20, which was a folding version, badged as a BSA 20, and made in 1978. I rescued both bikes from an almost certain final trip to the local tip. I sold the FE on eBay for less than its replacement lamp cost me. I didn’t mind though, as I needed the space and it saved the bike from a prematurely ignoble end. As for the BSA 20 folder, I decided to keep it and refurbish it.

My aim was not the ultimate ‘hot 20’, which could cost quite a lot of money. Instead I decided to upgrade the less desirable old components, mostly with items from eBay or the spares box, plus a few from St John Street Cycles or Amazon Market Place dealers. The following annotated photo sequence shows the end result, a very rideable hack which, because of its colour scheme, I call Cappuccino.

The 1974 Raleigh 20 FE, described in a previous post, weighed a hefty 37 lb (almost 17 kg) in orignal form but without its rear bag. (That, however, is a pound and half less than my grandson’s modern but relatively inexpensive mountain bike!) The BSA folder weighed 32 lb (about 14.5 kg) in its original form but after the modifications described below, it weighs 30 lb (about 13.6 kg) without bag, despite having the addition of a rear carrier. Further weight savings could be made by replacing the original wheels with new ones having alloy rims, alloy hubs and narrower tyres, and by replacing the handlebars and stem with alloy equivalents.

A general view of Capucciono, complete with the Carradice handlebar bag which, via Klickfix fixings, gets used on several of my bikes.

Above: A general view of Cappuccino, complete with the Carradice handlebar bag which, via Klickfix fixings, gets used on several of my bikes.

Another view of the bike, this time from the left side.

Another view of the bike, this time from the left side.

The handlebar cluster and related components. I decided to keep the original steel stem and handlebars, as they are in fine condition, are nicely rigid and allow lots of adjustment, both verically and fore and aft. The Carradice bag (great for day rides) is easily detachable via a Klickfix bracket on the handlebars and has a handy shoulder strap. The ergonomic handlebar grips (cheap but adequate copies inspired by Ergon) make a big difference to comfort. The Tetro brake levers are also a huge improvement on the cheap steel originals, having far superior leverage, adjustable reach and cable adjustment.

I decided to keep the original steel stem and handlebars, as they are in fine condition, are nicely rigid and allow lots of adjustment, both vertically and fore and aft. The Carradice bag (great for day rides) is easily detachable via a Klickfix bracket on the handlebars and has a handy shoulder strap. The ergonomic handlebar grips (cheap but adequate copies inspired by Ergon) make a big difference to comfort. The Tektro brake levers are also a huge improvement on the cheap steel originals, having far superior leverage, adjustable reach and cable adjustment.

A rider's-eye view of the handlebar cluster, showing the Klickfix bracket, the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger and a bell, tcuked away by the bag bracket. This set-up enables the bike to be stood upside for maintenance, supported well by the handlebar grip extensions and saddle.

A rider’s-eye view of the handlebar cluster, showing the Klickfix bracket, the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger and a bell, tucked away to the left of the bag bracket. This set-up enables the bike to be stood upside for maintenance, with stable three-point support via the handlebar grip forward extensions and saddle.

A view of the handlebar cluster with the bag removed, showing the front of the Klickfix mount.

A view of the handlebar cluster with the bag removed, showing the front of the Klickfix mount.

I decided to ditch the chainset and bottom bracket axle and bearings, replacing them with a cotterless assembly. The chainset was an inexpesnive item from eBay but nonetheless has a proper detachable chainwheel. This enabled me to move the chainwehel to the left hand of teh spider, to get a better chainline. The chainwheel was sold as being for 1/8-inch chain but actually works fine with older style 3/32-inch chains. Also in shot is a MKS all-metal folding pedal, which repalced the very heavy solid bearing original pedals.

I decided to ditch the chainset and bottom bracket axle and bearings, and replace them with a cotterless assembly. The chainset was an inexpensive unused item from eBay but nonetheless has a proper detachable chainwheel. This enabled me to move the chainwheel to the left hand of the spider, which was very important to get a reasonable chain line. The chainwheel was sold as being for 1/8-inch chain but actually works fine with older style 3/32-inch chains (e.g. for 6-, 7- or 8-speed derailleurs). Also in shot is an MKS all-metal folding pedal, which replaced the very heavy solid bearing original pedals and enables the width of the bike to be usefully reduced very easily for transit or storage. I dispensed with the hockey stick chainguard and its mounting bracket, filing off the sharp corners of what was left of the fixing point on the strut behind the chainwheel.

Raleigh 20s and their badge-engineered brethren have ultra-wide (78mm) bottom bracket shells and are Raleigh-threaded. This is very limiting when it comes to converting to a cotterless set-up, especially at a reasonable price. I reduced the width of the bottom bracket shell, on the chainwheel side, by 5mm. This enabled me to fit a relatively inexpensive Oxford 73mm-wide threadless bottom bracket cartridge.

Raleigh 20s and their badge-engineered brethren have ultra-wide (78mm) bottom bracket shells and are Raleigh-threaded. This is very limiting when it comes to converting to a cotterless set-up, especially at a reasonable price. So I reduced the width of the bottom bracket shell, on the chainwheel side, by 5mm. This enabled me to fit a relatively inexpensive Oxford 73mm-wide threadless bottom bracket cartridge. The letters and numbers stamped onto the bottom bracket are not a serial number but the postcode of the previous owner.

This shot clearly shows how the chainstays of the Raleigh 20 series were flattened and wrapped around the bottom bracket shell (to which they were brazed) before continuing forward to form bracing struts, brazed to teh underside of teh main beam.

This shot clearly shows how the chain stays of the Raleigh 20 series were flattened and wrapped around the bottom bracket shell (to which they were brazed) before continuing forward to form bracing struts, brazed to the underside of the main beam.

A wider view of teh same area.

A wider view of the same area. Note the struts, which join the main beam below the frame hinge on the right of the picture.

Another view of the MKS folding pedal.

Another view of the MKS folding pedal and surrounding area. Note the frame hinge on the left and the TI ‘made in Britain’ sticker at the base of the seat tube.

A similar view but showing the pedal in folded mode. The difference may not sem much but a pair of such pedals can reduce the stored width of the bike by about 5 inches (12.5 cm)

A similar view but showing the pedal in folded mode. The difference may not seem much but a pair of such pedals can reduce the stored width of the bike by about 5 inches (12.5 cm).

Another view of the folded pedal, with the frame hinge at top left.

Another view of the folded pedal, with the frame hinge at top left.

The wheels are in very good condition, the original Sturmey-Archer rims being true and almost perfect cosmetically. The front hub and rear hubs are also fine and the spoke tension is OK. So rather than spend a small fortune on new 451 wheels, I decided to keep the originals and just fit new inner tubes and new Schwalbe Kevlar-protected whitewall tyres. Yes, steel wheels have porrer wet weather braking but I don't intend riding this bike much in the rain. Also, I upgraded the brakes, about which more below.

The wheels are in very good condition, the original Sturmey-Archer rims being true and almost perfect cosmetically. The front hub and rear hubs are also fine and the spoke tension is OK. So rather than spend a small fortune on new 451 wheels, I decided to keep the originals and just fit new inner tubes and new Schwalbe Kevlar-protected whitewall tyres. Yes, steel wheels have poorer wet weather braking but I don’t intend riding this bike much in the rain. Also, I upgraded the brakes, about which more below.

This bike did not have a carrier (rack) but I found this original Swiss-made Pletscher on eBay. This carrier was fitted to quite a few Raleigh 20s and fitted perfectly. It has a sprung parcel clip and I have added a couple of old-style toe-clip straps, which are often handy for securing items of luggage (such as a rolled up jacket).

This bike did not have a carrier (rack) but I found this original Swiss-made Pletscher on eBay. This model of carrier was original equipment on some Raleigh 20s and fitted perfectly. It has a sprung parcel clip and I have added a couple of old-style toe-clip straps – often handy for securing items of luggage (such as a rolled up jacket).

Another view of the carrier.

Another view of the carrier.

And yet another shot of teh carrier, but this time including the new longer and alloy mico-adjust seat pillar. This replaced the original steel seat post, which, for no good reason, was slightly shorter than the standard Raleigh 20 item. The saddle is quite a nice one from the spares box.

And yet another shot of the carrier, but this time including the new longer and alloy micro-adjust seat pillar. This replaced the original steel seat post, which, for no good reason, was slightly shorter than the standard Raleigh 20 item, and which had an old-style steel saddle clip. The saddle now fitted is quite a nice one from the spares box. The original, supplied with the bike, was a very cheap vinyl-covered mattress saddle, with no main chassis springs – unlike the relatively plush Brooks item fitted to the FE described in a previous post.

Another view of the saddle and seat pillar.

Another view of the saddle and seat pillar. Also in shot is the Sturmey-Archer AW wide-ratio 3-speed hub. As can be seen, this was made in the days when they still fitted a lubrication point, so it’s easy to add a few drops of oil from time to time. The AW is a very efficient hub but the original gearing of Raleigh 20s is on the high side. So, although I kept the same number of teeth on the chainwheel (46), I fitted a larger rear sprocket (17 tooth). This lowers the top gear to 71-inches, a great gear for pootling along at a reasonable speed, without hunting between top and middle gear. Middle gear is now reduced to 54-inch, fine for many moderate slopes. Low gear drops to 40-inch, enabling easier hill climbing. For most people, reducing the gearing in this way is one of the easiest and most worthwhile upgrades you can make to a Raleigh 20 or derivative.

The original pressed steel callipers are not great, so i replaced them with these

The original pressed steel calipers are not great (poor leverage and flexible arms), so I replaced them with these Tektro R365 dual-pivot brakes. The leverage at the caliper is much better (aided also by better brake lever leverage), they are quick-release and incorporate adjusters for brake block clearance and cable tension. As the brake fixing bolt that passes through the fork crown is retained by a threaded sleeve (rather than a standard nut) it is necessary to enlarge the hole through back of the crown slightly. Also, these calipers fouled the forward extension of the original mudguard. This was easily resolved by trimming back the mudguard. Visible in this picture, against the lower steering bearing, is the chrome-plated stop that prevents the forks being reversed. I took the opportunity of fitting new balls to the lower steering bearing. (The upper bearing is solid nylon, which damps the otherwise rather light steering. It can be replaced with a ball bearing unit, if desired.)

Despite the long reach of these brakes, the fixing hole for the rear brake calliper needed to be elongated downwards by a few millimetres to get the brake blocks low enough to avoid the risk of them rubbing on the tyre sidewall during braking. Slightly longer brake arms would avoid this problem.

Despite the long reach of these brakes, the fixing hole for the rear brake caliper needed to be elongated downwards by a few millimetres to get the brake blocks low enough to avoid the risk of them rubbing on the tyre sidewall during braking. Slightly longer brake arms would avoid this problem.