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Category: 1972 Phillips 3-speed (Trudy)

Bike Seats for Bigger Kids, part 3: the Bobike Junior+

Bike Seats for Bigger Kids, part 3: the Bobike Junior+

Trudy Phillips, before upgradesTrudy, a 1972 Raleigh-built Phillips 3-speed, as found.

Trudy, right after her upgrades. New tires & tubes, a big bell, a new saddle, a double kickstand, a front basket with a basket support, and a Bobike Junior+ professionally installed using the universal seat tube bracket. The only things added since this are a Hebie steering damper, which holds the front wheel in place to make the bike as stable as possible when parked while getting a child into or out of the seat, and Bobike’s saddle spring protector.
Trudy, after her upgrades, after the first summer of use. Notice that the angle of the child seat has shifted a bit, with the seat post attachment up higher than in the previous photo. The clamp on the back of the seat was used to carry the insulated lunch bag, and can be used to help secure light loads when the seat is closed.

For the last two years, we have been using a Bobike Junior+ child seat on the back of Trudy (a ’72 Phillips 3-speed) to carry my son Dominic on longer rides. It has worked wonderfully for us, allowed us to take longer rides we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do, and Dom (ages 5 to 7) has been thrilled with it, but we don’t have many photos of it in use – when I’m riding with a passenger, I feel less able to take a panda shot, and it never occurred to me to ask my husband to take some photos.

Closest we've gotten to a panda shot: our shadows.
Closest we’ve gotten to a panda shot: our shadows while parked.
A beauty shot of the Hebie steering damper, which is essentially there to stop the front wheel flopping around while you load and unload your kid. I ordered mine from Dutch Bike Bits.

Until yesterday. We took a short family ride – our last one before we remove the seat. Dom is now able and independent enough to take longer rides under his own pedal power on his new-to-him bike, or as stoker on a trailer-bike. In fact, we hardly used the seat last summer. He is also is tall and heavy enough that when he is in the seat, it rests on top of our fender and moves the fender to one side, which it never used to do. (Also, he’s heavy enough that I’m starting to struggle to get him and a heavy old steel bike uphill. Oy vey.)

Hmm, looks like the back tire needs more air, too. Another reason for no photos: Dom hates to have his picture taken.
Hmm, the seat post attachment has definitely crept upward, and it looks like the back tire needs more air, too. Another reason for no photos: Dom hates having his picture taken.

Looking over all these photos, I can see now that the seat stays have moved a bit over time, and the seat post attachment point has gradually crept up the seat tube by a couple of inches (which may only be possible because old 3-speeds use different diameter seat tubes than modern bikes). So, that is my only point of caution with this seat – to make sure it’s in the correct position and the screws  are tightened up frequently, as part of your regular maintenance routine, especially if you’re installing it on a vintage bicycle. Maybe comparing with a photo taken right after installation would help you catch it instantly if the seat shifts position like it did on my bike. [Update: I just uninstalled the seat from the bicycle, and the hex-screws holding the seat stay attachment in place were indeed a bit loose, causing the whole seat and the seat stay attachments to change angle. If I had been more vigilant about checking the hex screws, I think the seat might never have moved.]

If we still needed the seat for Dom, I think we would have it re-installed on a lighter modern bicycle, to make it more secure and make it easier for me to get uphill. There’s a reason those Japanese mamachari come standard with pedal assist!

It would also be preferable to install this on a bike that has skirtguards/coat protectors. Bobike sells these as part of the Maxi’s assembly, but not the Junior’s. This wouldn’t be a problem in the European market, but it’s more of a challenge here in North America. Dom has been conscientious, and I’ve always ridden slowly with him on board, but it’s too easy for a foot to slip off a footrest into the spokes. If we’d been able to find solid skirtguards to install on the 3-speed, we would have – but we couldn’t, and we felt that crocheted ones wouldn’t have provided enough of a barrier.

My only other quibble with the Bobike seat has been that I couldn’t figure out how to carry anything on a rack underneath it, if I had been able to install a rack (which the geometry of my vintage bike plus the child seat forbade). That limited me to what could be carried in the front basket, a crossbody satchel, and a little lunch bag attached to the clamp – which meant, only little errands and no grocery runs for this bike. Hum has that issue all sussed out: Basil panniers on the rack of a newer bicycle are the answer! She discusses the options for both a regular bike and a mid-to-long-tail.

So. I hope this review of my experience with the Junior+ child seat helps those of you who are weighing your options, and I hope it helps Miss Sarah figure out which bike it will go on for rides with her little guy. It’s a great seat that fills an important niche in family biking – the ability to carry an older kid on the back of a bike is a huge thing for expanding how often you can use your bike. But it’s not optimal for installation on a vintage bicycle. A modern bicycle that’s not so heavy, isn’t undergeared, and has an integral rack (for panniers) and skirtguards – like, you know, a standard-issue city bike from Europe – would be the ideal ride to install this on.

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

The snowbanks are melting, although the 17-storey Mount Slushmore in the west end may take until next winter. My five-year-old is delighting in pointing out hints of green among the brown blades where grass is exposed. My seven-year-old is thrilled to be wearing a thin fleece-lined jacket instead of an adapted sleeping bag. Today I saw a robin, and yesterday, when we took the kids for a long walk, we saw a pair of migrating geese (and boy, they looked pissed that their pond was still frozen over).

Best of all, today I took Ms Trudy Phillips out for a (too-short) ride around the block:

Happy to be playing in the sunshine. Someday I’ll figure out the art of the panda shot.
Sensible shoes: my shiny black rainboots, worn with thick knee-high socks and capris.

The sun and cool breeze on my face were absolutely heavenly. I must put more air in her tires and have another go, ASAP.

The residential roads are finally ice-free in my neighborhood, although the margins are covered in a winter’s worth of the dirty sand that makes Americans who visit Edmonton in winter think we don’t have paved roads. These shots are typical of conditions in the back alleys:

Skeptical bicyclist is skeptical. I’m wondering if my iPhone camera will get a decent shot.
As you can see, there’s a little stream running down the middle of the alley behind my home.
Some of the puddles are fairly deep.

So, things are improving! Hopefully we’ll be able to come fully out of hibernation soon and announce a Critical Lass date for May…

Trudy Got An Upgrade

Trudy Got An Upgrade

Remember the 1972 Phillips step-through that I had dubbed Mary Poppins’ Little Sister?

She’s finally gotten some much-needed love. I got her back from RedBike today.

Those are Cheng Shin 26 x 1-3/8 nylon tires that I scored on eBay from a guy who was offloading parts he hadn’t used from a fixie conversion, a period double kickstand, the Canadian Tire Everyday saddle that had been on Mary Poppins (as a more-comfortable stopgap until I can get a Brooks), and a Nantucket Bike Basket Co. wicker basket and giant chrome ding-dong bell from RedBike.

In the not-too-distant future she’ll also get a BoBike Junior child seat installed on her, and Dom will ride in the back while Audrey rides her own bike to school.

We’d been thinking of her as Ms. Phillips, but with the white tires and all that shiny chrome, I decided that she needs a 1960s stewardess’ name. So she’s now Ms. Trudy Phillips (after the author of a famous kiss-and-tell book).

Now that it’s safe to do so, I took her for a quick spin around the block. She’s a Raleigh-built three-speed. The lowest gear is ridiculously low and will only get used on the steepest of hills; second gear (big jump) feels like the third gear on the five-speed I had as a teenager; and third gear feels like the fourth gear on my old five-speed. This steel-frame bike will never go as fast as that five-speed… well, maybe if I’m headed down a steep hill. Also: hand brakes! I realized tonight that I have missed having hand brakes.

Can’t wait to do a longer ride on her!

Mary Poppins’ Little Sister

Mary Poppins’ Little Sister

This one is Angel’s as-yet-unnamed bicycle, but it’s in my garage right now so I can fix the flat front tire and use it for pulling Audrey on the trailer-bike and return Violet. As soon as Bert is fully fixed it will become Angel’s ride. It’s another Kijiji find:

Ta-da! It is a 1972 Raleigh-built Phillips 3-speed, bought from the original owner, with all original parts. It looks an awful lot like Mary Poppins, except not a loop-frame and 26-inch wheels. I gave it a quick wipe-down with Simple Green and a little spray wax today, lubed the chain, and took some photos.

Ok, not all original parts. But this is easy to replace.
Decals on seat tube.
Top tube decal.
Bottom tube decal.
Decal and Fairylites reflector on rear fender.

Chainguard, Raleigh-offlabel-from-Phillips-pattern chainwheel, cottered cranks, chromed solid pedals. 
The chainwheel and everything else was ridiculously clean. 
I think this was ridden only only Sundays by the baba I bought it from.
Notice the interesting change to the fork design. Pretty! Yes, all the pinstriping is this pristine.

Raleigh stamp on gooseneck.

Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger shifter and rubber grips. With bonus cute doggy action.

The Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed rear hub is stamped 72 1 – so the bike was built in 1972.

The Raleigh stamp is the only mark on the front hub. 
What? I got tired of cleaning, okay?

Sturmey-Archer wheel rims.

The Raleigh Record tires are most likely original. They’re pretty dry. 
That’s one end of the cloth (cloth!) rim tape you can see poking out, 
from when I was investigating the flat front tire. 
The rest of the writing on the tire says:
55 LBS/IN^2 – 3.8 ATM
37-590 (26 x 1 3/8)

Pretty chrome fender nose.
I am a bit concerned about this small tear in the rear tire, but it has held air overnight.
Sturdy aluminum kickstand marked REG Italy.
Notice the plastic gasket between the top plate of the kickstand and the frame – smart!

All in all, a great bike in amazing shape. It seems to shift smoothly and the bottom bracket doesn’t feel gritty. A few little dings here and there but really in fantastic shape and largely rust-free. She does have some scratches that suggest she once had a rear rack (probably a Pletscher-style rattrap rack). Oddly, no serial number stamped in the frame that I could find. Needs a bell and the front flat fixed then she’ll be ready to ride!