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Raleigh Twenty winter bike-to-be

Raleigh Twenty winter bike-to-be

Week before last, via Kijiji, I bought this slightly scruffy Raleigh Twenty folder for the very fair price of $160:

Grande Mocha

I believe it’s already made an appearance on the Raving Bike Field’s blog this spring, when he did work for its prior owner – I suspect he’s behind the sensible addition of KoolStop brake pads at the rear. It rides very nicely, with only the usual complaints that come with vintage steel three-speeds (weight, brake mushiness).

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This is Sparta

This is Sparta

I’m welcoming a new bicycle to my stable! Well, new to me:

1982 Sparta Windsor step-through with 3 speeds and drum brakes, as purchased from my friend Karen.
1982 Sparta Windsor step-through with 3 speeds and drum brakes, as purchased from my friend Karen.

Karen brought this 1982 Sparta Windsor omafiets to Edmonton with her when she moved from Vancouver – but its place as her daily ride has been supplanted by her Linus, thanks to its lighter weight and ability to attach a trailer for her toddler. I’m well past the toddler stage now, so I jumped at the chance to ride with drum brakes after all the rainy weather we have had this summer.

Sturmey-Archer AB hub with drum brake stamped 82 6
Sturmey-Archer AB hub with drum brake stamped 82 6
Sparta-branded bell
Sparta-branded bell
Headbadge, with a zip tie that has been holding the cables so long it has rubbed off part of the design.
Headbadge, with a zip tie that has been holding the cables so long it has rubbed off part of the design.
Front fork decals and chromed trim.
Front fork decals and chromed trim. The 26 is for the tyre size: 26 x 1 3/8.

It came to me with a Sturmey-Archer AB 3-speed drum brake hub with a 82/6 date stamp, front drum-brake hub with 5/82 date stamp, 80s-style plastic Sturmey-Archer trigger shifter, a full chain case, a chromed Steco front pannier rack with a spring-clamp, a rear rack with a wire basket, a Royal vinyl mattress saddle, a frame lock, Pletscher kickstand, and front and rear lights wired to a plastic bottle generator (currently not working). The paint is a bit scratched up from years of use but it still polishes up nicely. From these photos on Flikr it would appear that originally it would have also had plastic skirtguards (jasbeschermers), bungee straps (snelbinders) for the rear rack, and a chromed bottle generator instead of the plastic dynamo now on it.

Rear fender decals and aluminum badge.
Rear fender decals and aluminum badge.
Downtube decals. The frame lock is stamped "STENMAN PAT.PEND." on one side, and "MADE IN HOLLAND 582" on the other.
Downtube decals. The frame lock is stamped “STENMAN PAT.PEND.” on one side, and “MADE IN HOLLAND 582” on the other.
Decals on the remaining tubes, plus a label from Richmond BC warning would-be thieves that the bike has been engraved. Oh, the innocence of the eighties, thinking that would be a deterrent.
Decals on the remaining tubes, plus a label from Richmond BC warning would-be thieves that the bike has been engraved. Oh, the innocence of the eighties, thinking that would be a deterrent.
The chain case has more pretty decals and a black plastic port for servicing the chain.
The chain case has more pretty decals and a black plastic port for servicing the chain.

I’ve already made a couple of changes: I swapped out the vinyl saddle for my Brooks B67S, and once I had adjusted the saddle to my height, the wire basket no longer fit properly, so I swapped it out for the antique egg crate I’ve been using on the DL-1 (which, in turn, looks handsome with the black wire basket installed). I’ve also installed a mirror to the handlebar (it’s Evo’s clamp-on Canadarm mirror), and removed the water bottle holder. Now to replace the bottle generator and find some bungee straps and skirt guards!

After swapping out the saddle and rear basket.
After swapping out the saddle and rear basket.

How does the ride differ from my Raleigh-built 3-speed roadsters? Well, the posture is a smidgen more upright, because the handlebar stem is longer. The seat position is similar, and the shifting is, of course, identical (although the plastic shifter feels a little different). The braking is reassuringly responsive. There is currently a small pedal rub against the chain case that will need looking at (probably the axle got a smidgen off-centre the last time the bottom bracket was repacked – maybe that has to do with the non-cottered cranks?).

P.S. – For those keeping track, this has precipitated another bicycle switcheroo. Fiona is buying the DL-1 (Eliza) back from me, since the Sparta is taking its’ place. I also will no longer need Trudy (the ’72 Phillips 3-speed), so I am trading it to Nicki and getting Mary Poppins (the ’66 Phillips single-speed loop frame) back from her. Winnie (the ’51 CCM-built loop frame) is also looking for a new home.

Meet Remy (a mid-1980s Vietnamese Miyata commuter bicycle)

Meet Remy (a mid-1980s Vietnamese Miyata commuter bicycle)

Look what we picked up via Kijiji:

(photo via Kijiji)
(photo via Kijiji)

The previous owners brought it home from their travels in Vietnam. It’s a single-speed steel-frame Miyata Remy with a Thai Binh headbadge and lots of parts stamped made-in-Japan. There’s a frame lock (with key!), a kickstand, front basket, rear rack, a National (Made In Japan) bottle generator headlamp on a braze-on, a Karasawa drum brake, and 26-inch wheels. The frame is enough shorter than the standard North American bike that the previous owners had listed it as having 24-inch wheels. It’s kitted out in standard practical southeast-Asian commuter style. Both tires were flat, and it hadn’t been ridden in awhile, so I took it to my favorite LBS for some love. Not realizing it had 26 inch wheels, I bought it originally for my daughter, but now it’s destined for Angel’s fleet, if Monica can figure out a way to upgrade it to multiple speeds (adding a cog and derailleur? new 3-speed hub?).

Miyata REMY chainguard decal
Miyata REMY chainguard decal
Miyata REMY "for beautiful cycle life" tube decal
Miyata REMY “for beautiful cycle life” tube decal
DSCF1926
A view of the downtube decals and Thai Binh headbadge

The style of the decals compared with vintage Miyata catalogues places this bike between 1984-1988. The pearly purple paint with slight damage kind of says 80s to me, too. The usual searches yield nothing that looks anything like it, but then, people never lovingly photograph ubiquitous bikes, do they?

TB155 = serial number, with TB no doubt standing for Thai Binh. (If you have a single letter at the front of your vintage Miyata’s serial number, this list might prove helpful.) I can’t find any further information on this marque, but Thai Binh is a province of Vietnam. So the bike was indeed made in Japan for export to the Vietnamese market.

Rear hub stamped 7H, SUZUE, Made In Japan. The front hub is also made by Suzue. My guess is that the 7H is a manufacturer’s date stamp, so maybe this is a 1987-August hub, but nobody seems to have put a list online that I can check it against.

bottlegenerator
Bottle generator and headlamp
Karasawa label on the edge of the drum brake
Karasawa label on the edge of the drum brake
Proofide and Upgrades for Eliza and Bert

Proofide and Upgrades for Eliza and Bert

Eliza Doolittle (the rod-brake ’78 Raleigh DL-1 that used to be Fiona’s) came to me with a Brooks B-66 saddle. Then I scored a ridiculous deal on a vintage B-66-S on eBay, which I installed on Eliza, and Bert inherited the B-66. So we now have two vintage Brooks saddles, one of them almost as old as I am, that are a bit dry and stiff, but seem to be in great shape (little surface cracking), despite their age and unknown maintenance history. I thought it would be best if I gave them some love.

Eliza’s new-to-her vintage B-66-S before treatment.
The 1978 B-66 that’s now on Bert. Poor thing probably hasn’t seen Proofide since the factory. 

I know there’s a perennial discussion going about alternatives to using Brooks’ Proofide product to condition and waterproof saddles. Everyone from Sheldon Brown to the guys at BikeForums.net have weighed in at some point on it. The neetsfoot oil used to soften baseball gloves is often suggested instead, particularly for reconditioning older leather that has dried out, but some think it can make the leather too soft and ruin the saddle. My feeling was, in this case, using something other than the saddle goop recommended by the original manufacturer might be false economy, so why overthink it, especially when I can easily buy it at my favourite LBS for less than twenty bucks? (However, vegetarians take note: if you’ve decided to use an existing leather saddle, you’ll want to research the alternative products that are available, since one of the main ingredients of Proofide is, um, beef tallow.)

This is how much Proofide I was told I should use. 
Like the old Brylcreem ad says, a little dab will do ya…

…unless your saddle is as ancient and neglected as mine were. Here is the B66S gooped up with about four times that amount, spread in a super thin layer all over. Immediately after spreading the goo (it feels just like hair wax, too) and taking this photo, I wiped off the excess with my rag.

Here’s what it looked like immediately after I wiped the excess off (still a bit shiny). If you look at the cloth on the rack, the slightly discoloured part was used to wipe. After taking this photo I went in with a corner of the rag to get the little globs on the edges of the holes. At the advice of the guys from redbike, I only did the top, not the underside (apparently the underside is only needed if you don’t have fenders.).

And here is Bert’s B66 gooped up with six times that fingertip amount – it was thirsty! After taking this photo, I wiped the excess off, then redid the driest bits with another two fingertips’ worth.

This is how much was used out of a 40 gram tin – the smaller 25 gram tin would have done me just fine. I think 40 grams might be a lifetime supply, if the stuff doesn’t go rancid.

Here is Bert’s saddle when I was all done.

Here’s a detail of one of the driest parts of the saddle after treatment – you can see that the surface of the leather had started to crack and flake a bit, and it’s rough enough that it was pulling tiny threads from my wiping rag – but feeling much smoother and looking better now.

The nose of the saddle was the other especially dry bit that got a second application of Proofide. I also noticed that the saddle looks like it may need retensioning, so I’ll get the guys at redbike to do that for me soon.

The chain on Bert was looking pretty cruddy and a bit rusty in spots, so I decided to apply some lube next. One generous drop per link, on the little roller in the middle (whatever it’s called), then wiping off the excess with an absorbent cloth.

The oil I used, bought at MEC, feels like veggie oil, because it pretty much is veggie oil. Since its purchase I’ve learnt that this stuff gets brutally sticky in our climate, and catches all kinds of road gunge, in addition to being best for the warmest temps – but since I’ll only be riding Bert with the trailer bike attached on the neighborhood sidewalks with my kids during the good weather, I might as well use it up.

The chain looked much better, and the rag looked much worse, when I was finished, and my hands were nicely moisturized from the veggie oil. …I guess the next job will be to clean all Bert’s little rust spots and carefully apply some wax or clearcoat.

Lookin’ pretty good, Bert.

Since I last griped about Bert, the correct Shimano shifter has been found and installed, the rear wheel has been pulled back so the chain isn’t too loose, and the Wald rack and a Crane bell have been installed, with the expert help of both Coreen and Keith at EBC. I’m still figuring out the little chainguard rub and trying to decide if the handling only feels squirrelly when the trailer bike is on it or if the headset needs attention or what. But all in all I feel pretty good that I’ve at least been in the room watching and taking mental notes and that I’ve gotten my hands good and dirty getting Bert to the point where he’s useable, even if my husband never ends up riding the darn thing. 

Eliza just came home this afternoon from a holiday at redbike with her new Steco rack with integrated kickstand (ordered online through the legendary David Hembrow‘s Dutch Bike Bits, because redbike couldn’t special order it through their suppliers), and the same kind of rear light that Pashleys have installed. They also tightened the tension bolt in the vintage Brooks B66S for me because they noticed the leather was practically touching the rails. Thanks guys!!

I also upgraded Eliza with my vintage chromed Miller bell, which used to be on Mary Poppins. (The little bell that came with Eliza got inherited by Audrey’s balance bike.)

A clear plastic shower cap will make a handy rain cover for the saddle until I can get something cuter.

Next I needed to install my antique quarter-sawn oak egg crate, to complete Eliza’s transformation into Super Grocery Bike. I carefully lined everything up so the crate is centred and the screws for the homemade clamp have lots of clearance. The back edge of the crate is just off the rack to give me the most possible butt clearance for riding comfort.


View of my home-made clamp from the top.

 

I tightened up the thumbscrews and voila! This is super sturdy and ready to carry a fairly heavy load.

 
The egg crate is now solidly clamped onto the rear rack.
Eliza is looking so useful and beautiful and timeless!
 
About a half hour after Proofide application, the saddle is looking much less shiny. 
I’ll still wait overnight before I take it for a spin.

As a finishing touch, I added fabric flowers to her front basket (I had these on the egg crate last year).
 
Eliza’s ready for her first grocery run!

PS: This post is part of our series for the LGRAB 2011 Summer Games! This is a “perform a maintenance task on your bike” post.
A Deelite-ful Balance Bike

A Deelite-ful Balance Bike

Remember the adorable little mid-70s banana-seat Deelite that was going to take so much work to make roadworthy? A couple of Sundays ago, we took it in to EBC and turned it into a balance bike, with Coreen’s supervision. The genius of this plan is that it means no need to repack the bottom bracket or fix the coaster hub – and that it will help Audrey with her rocky transition from 16 inch wheels with training wheels attached to 20 inch wheels and no training wheels. Once she’s done we’ll give the banana seat a makeover to make it less girly, and it will become Dom’s.

As found. 
Much to my surprise none of the nuts that had to be removed from the cotter pins, chain adjusters, or axles were seized. We used a cotter pin press to remove the pins without incident, pulled the pedal cranks off, then broke the chain. Here’s what I saw when I pulled out the axle:

Coreen: “Wow, that bottom bracket looks even worse than Poplar’s!” I doubt that somehow, but it is pretty dessicated, and when I smushed the rusty granular goop together in my hand it was the consistency of that sticky putty you use when you install a toilet. That is not how grease should feel.

After cleaning the bottom bracket out, I smeared a little Phil Woods goop in there to help keep it from rusting, then put the cups back in place. Those two holes you see above mean a pin spanner is required for the job of screwing and unscrewing the cup from the threaded bottom bracket, in addition to the bottom bracket wrench with three prongs for the outer ring. Yeah, I had never heard of a pin spanner before either.
All done for the day. As you can see we also removed that rattly front fender, which involved taking the front wheel off entirely.

Best helper ever.

Leftover parts, minus a few ball bearings.

Yesterday I finished the job by changing both inner tubes, since neither of the old ones were holding any air, inspecting the rear tire that supposedly needed replacement (looks okay now that it won’t be a braking surface), and resecuring the no-longer-needed chain adjusters. I’ll have to get Coreen or Keith to take a look at the front forks, since I had to be really careful in placing the wheel back in there to find a position where it didn’t rub as it turned – I think something must be bent to be causing that – but it’s working okay for now and will fulfill its’ immediate purpose.

And here it is in use! We fancied it up a little with a plastic front basket and some NOS Milton plastic streamers I found on eBay. Audrey is doing great on it – she says it feels really weird to be not pedalling – and in a few short days I think she’ll have enough confidence to graduate to her big-girl bike. She’s already working on building up a little speed and seeing how far she can coast without putting her feet down.

PS: Oh look, our heroes at Chicargobike have already posted a summary of balance bike history and make-it-yourself instructions.

More Japanese Cycle Culture

More Japanese Cycle Culture

Although all my coolest cycle-chic photos from Japan have already been posted, I have a few more photos to share with you – I’m especially excited about the ones of an old Bridgestone Cycle rod-brake bike that I’d forgotten all about seeing.
This sign above the sidewalk in Tokyo explains that it’s a multiuse path.
Tokyo, May 21st.
A delivery trailer outside a courier company – the same one that delivered our rented cell phone to our hotel.
You can rent bicycles for use on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo,
so chances are pretty good that this white guy rented his sweet ride.
Rain during the last part of our trip dissuaded us from returning to try this out.
At the Asakusa Kannon Temple in Tokyo.
Notice all the bicycles parked to one side of the intersection!
A lot of the famous neon signs in Shinjuku were still turned off to save electricity at this point.
Parked inside a shop in Hida-Takayama (Gifu prefecture) in the early morning after a rainy day.
The narrow streets of the Edo-period Kami-Sannomachi district before opening time.
Once the shops open, these streets are crowded with pedestrians and bicyclists,
but at this early hour (about 8am) the delivery trucks can have access. May 24th.
By the time we returned, the pretty loop-frame had been moved outside the shop doors.
A narrow alley between houses in a residential district of Hida-Takayama.
I was taking a photo of the shrine, I swear.
This lovely old-timey rod-brake bike was squirrelled away in a storage area in one of the old houses at Hida No Sato, an outdoor architectural museum of mostly Edo-period farmhouses
on the edge of Hida-Takayama.
Bridgestone-stamped plastic (celluloid?) handles with brass caps. As you can see the bars themselves are pretty rusty.
I had to reach over the bike to get this shot of the chainguard. It was definitely not set up as a display.
Even the leather saddle is Bridgestone (Tokyo) branded. I wonder what the top tube is wrapped with?
Headbadge shot. The poor thing could use a good cleaning but I bet it’s still in working condition.
Bridgestone Cycle Co Ltd was started in 1949, so it’s no older than that.
This headbadge is one of the ones in this photo.
Given the crazy humidity and the fires kept inside each building,
it could be that rusty and dusty without being particularly old.
Cars, electric trolleys, pedestrians, and bicycles share a busy intersection on a rainy day in Hiroshima.
Notice the two ladies riding while holding umbrellas. May 27th.
an Earth Day ride and Eliza

an Earth Day ride and Eliza

To celebrate Earth Day today, Audrey and I went for a ride around the neighborhood. It was a gorgeous day, sunny with a cool breeze. The snow has mostly melted, and street cleaners have started to remove the winter debris from the roads in our neighborhood.
Audrey dressed in purples to match her bike.
We practiced signalling – Audrey is almost as good as me now – and also spent awhile practicing turns in the parking lot of her elementary school. She’s ready to have the training wheels pulled off her bike. Actually, she’s ready for a bigger bike. We’re going to see if we can get a bit more life out of this one by adjusting seat and handlebar height. Once she’s done we might cannibalize this bike to get the little blue Deelite working for when Dom outgrows his Tigger bike.
{Update: Audrey’s bike appears not to have adjustable handlebars or seat. Not impressed! So we’re going to prioritize getting the Eaton’s Glider frame fixed up for her ASAP, and her current bike will become a part donor for Dom’s Deelite and Damien’s Rapido. Vintage kids’ bikes FTW!}
I rode Eliza, the 1978 Raleigh DL-1 Lady’s Tourist that used to be Fiona’s.
Everything except the skirtguards and basket is original. 
I haven’t changed anything on her yet, so the seat is still a bit high for me.
Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub marked 78 7 AW
The plastic trigger shifter has lost its adhesive label.
I think I’ll get it replaced with the chromed SA shifter with a screw-on faceplate that came with Bert.
Front rod brakes.
I didn’t remember to look for marks on the Westwood (rod-brake-only) rims.
The tires (or should I say tyres) are labelled Raleigh Roadster,
40-635 (28 x 1 1/2), 50 lbs/in2 – 3.5 ATM
Heron chainwheel, rear rod brake, pedals marked with the Raleigh crest.
Both the headbadge (hidden under the basket) and the decal on the rear mudguard are marked Nottingham.
Notice that the fenders have a rounded profile, instead of the ridged versions on Mary Poppins and Ms Trudy.
The Brooks B66, nicely broken in. I can see how a B66S might be more comfortable for me,
since the nose on the B66 feels a bit long.
Closeup of the OTT Simeli crocheted skirtguards.
Eliza still needs a thorough cleaning and some lemon-and-foil to really make her shine, and I might touch up her paint where it’s been dinged – her front forks are especially scratched. At the advice of uber-mechanic Keith, I’ll be considering an imported Dutch centre stand (the kind that attaches to the back wheel) to allow me to carry a grocery-loaded rack – this is crucial for me, since I need Eliza to earn her keep as my errand-running bike, and installation of any of the other double kickstands is made impossible by the rod brakes. (It is possible to install the specially-made DL-1 Pletscher prop stand, or to grind down a prop stand and install it with a shorter bolt, but those solutions aren’t stable enough if you plan to carry heavy loads.). If I’m not happy with how the brakes feel after new Fibrax rod brake pads have been installed, rebuilding the rear wheel with a 3-speed coaster hub (like Velouria did) will provide secret stopping powers. 
{Update: it seems that Steco make a black-powdercoated rear rack for 28-inch bicycles with an integrated swing kickstand, and this is what comes standard on the Achielle Oma – so now I know what I’m asking the guys at RedBike if they can special-order for me. Or am looking to bring back as a souvenir from Japan.}
As you can see behind me, in installing the (wave-style) bike racks at Audrey’s school in a sheltered location they managed to ensure they’ll be buried in a snowdrift after the rest of the snow is long gone. Oops.
Trading Spokeses

Trading Spokeses

Subtitled: Wherein Eliza becomes Deborah’s bike, Mary Poppins becomes Nicki’s bike, Fiona buys a vintage Sparta from Karen…and Winnie looks for a new home

Our lovely friend Karen is selling one of her pair of vintage Dutch city bikes, to make room for her gorgeous new Linus loop-frame (which I hope she’ll review for us – its’ biggest selling feature for her was its ability to attach a Chariot for her little guy).

The Sparta Cornwall above, which she is selling, 
is the bigger sister of the Sparta below,
shown with Karen at the Fall edition of Critical Lass. 
Aren’t they to die for? (Along with her Fluevogs?)

Fiona had a hybrid (destined to become her husband’s bike) and a beautiful vintage (1978) Raleigh DL-1 Tourist named Eliza. (In fact, I strongly suspect that Eliza is similar to the rod-braked snow-covered beauty that we swooned over and dubbed The Baroness at EBC last winter, but was far too big for Angel – update: Fiona says Keith found her this one after she just missed out on owning The Baroness). Sadly, Fiona has found that Eliza is a smidgen too small for her. So, she was very intrigued by Sparta and needed a new home for Eliza so she could justify the purchase. (Did I mention she lives in a small apartment-style condo?)

And so began our little game of Musical Bicycles.

Eliza, via Fiona’s blog Retro Rides & Prairie Skies
Yes, those are fully functional rod brakes, 
which apparently mess with the installation of most styles of double kickstand available.
She has 28 inch wheels, so I expect her to fit like Mary Poppins does. 
 She’s been fitted with an SA 3-speed hub, Brooks leather saddle, 
rectangular wicker basket and crocheted skirtguards.
I believe her full name is Lady Elizabeth Doolittle, the Baroness Raleigh of Nottingham,
but as she works for her living, she has no patience for such pretentions.

Nicki expressed interest in Eliza, but we knew Eliza was beyond her student budget. So I proposed that I might upgrade from Mary Poppins to Eliza – my budget can stretch this far, since Eliza is an everyday ride instead of purely a collector’s item, and I’m finding that 3-speeds are much better suited to my rolling neighborhood than single-speeds – and Mary Poppins would become Nicki’s new ride. Since we paid similar values for the two bikes, we could almost do it as a straight swap of Mary Poppins for Winnie, and not much actual cash needed to change hands, which made it very budget-friendly for Nicki. Mary Poppins does have a couple of repairs that need doing, but we think she’s closer to being everyday-ride-able than Winnie, and at lower cost (especially if DIY with EBC’s help is involved).  Most importantly, Nicki has been nurturing a serious bike crush on Mary Poppins since she first laid eyes on her, and we know from the summertime edition of Critical Lass that she’s a perfect fit.

Nicki with Winnie on the day we found her

This arrangement left me with both Winnie and Eliza, but the Musical Bikes fun won’t end there. Winnie needs attention for her nonfunctional coaster brake and a few other small issues, but she should be ready-to-ride with a couple more afternoons of DIY at EBC (a detailed list of her remaining issues is in the blog post about using her as my Basic Bike Maintenance learning bike). I’m hoping a new home for her will pop up in the meantime (if it’s with you, please let me know!).

My eventual plans for Eliza:
– update: first and foremost, new brake pads, since her rod brakes aren’t feeling terrifically reliable
– to inherit Mary Poppins’ 1950s-era Miller bell, 60s-era chrome rack, and antique egg crate (yes, I’m making Eliza my grocery-getter)
– also to inherit the (decorative) chrome handpump (anyone know where to get the leather washers for these?)
– double kickstand absolutely required for grocery-getting, might need to be custom-made or -modded
– cork handgrips
– puncture-resistant cream Schwalbes to set off all the lovely brown accessories
– vintage light (already in my collection) rewired, fitted with LED bulb, and installed

Mary Poppins late last summer in full regalia – 
she’ll retain her jaunty custom basket liner and double kickstand. 
I know she’s going on to a great home.

Nicki’s probable plans for Mary Poppins:
– Mary is keeping her custom-made front basket-liner and double kickstand
– Mary is losing most of her other accessories; she and Trudy will swap saddles, so she’ll have the Canadian Tire Everyday one with the built-in LED light
– giant dingdong bell
– lights for evening rides
– loose spoke fixed – so, relacing one wheel (can’t remember if it’s the front or back)
– coaster brake works, but slowly, so needs to be serviced
– slow leak in one tire, so new tubes

Update 1: Fiona has written about it too! More details on the Sparta, now named Sophi, in her post.

Update 2: photos via Fiona’s blog:

Little Man wanted me to take it for another spin

Eliza’s crochet skirtguards were ordered through Dutch maker Simeli – see more on them at Cyclelicious
Talk To The Hand…

Talk To The Hand…

…that’s what I’m afraid my husband, who is already making noises about us owning far too many bicycles, will say when I chat with him about an extremely interesting bicycle I heard about today that is available for sale from a friend of a friend. If I purchase it, I’ll probably have to sell more than one of my existing bicycles (say, Mary Poppins *and* Rhonda Rollfast) to fund it. But here’s why it might be worthwhile:

Via

It’s a 1935 ladies’ Rudge-Whitworth (not sure if it’s loop-frame or straight step-through), with cobalt-blue paint, and white celluloid-wrapped handlebars and (I think?) fenders & chainguard. It’s in fine condition and its current owner (the son of a collector) is looking for a home for it where it will be cherished as a completely unique piece of cycling history. A 1935 date puts this bike to either just before or just after Rudge-Whitworth were bought out by EMI (It’s not clear from the information available online how that ownership change altered the bicycles’ design & construction).


What is clear is that after 1943, when Rudge-Whitworth were purchased by Raleigh, the bicycles became rebadged (but not second-tier) bicycles built using Raleigh’s proprietary parts, but with Rudge-pattern forks and chainring.

The majority of the Rudge information online- has to do with post-1943 Rudge bicycles, or the groundbreaking Rudge motorcycles – so I have collected links to pre-Raleigh photos and information I have found online below.


pre-1943 ladies’/ step-through Rudge-Whitworth bicycle photos

Photos with a side of history:

More Rudge-Whitworth History:



Advertising Images:

screencap of matchbox image, date unknown, 
Alright, time to go discuss this like a responsible adult… wish me luck!

Update: (Deep sigh!)

As I suspected, we simply can’t stretch our budget this far right now; we only have money for the bikes that can be ridden day-to-day. (It *really* didn’t help my cause that – unknown to me – our annual property tax assessment AND income tax forms came in today’s mail. Terrible timing!) 
So… my dear bike-obsessed Edmonton friends… contact me if *you* are seriously interested and I’ll hand on the relevant information that’s not in this post. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own an antique bike of this vintage and distinction – since I currently can’t do it, I sincerely hope that one of you can.
Headbadge Lust Redux

Headbadge Lust Redux

Dear new bicycle manufacturers: I know that vinyl decals and stamped aluminum headbadges are easy-to-apply, inexpensive, and shave a few grams off your bicycle’s weight, but today I’m perusing the Flikr Bicycle Head Badge group pool and longing for the days when every bicycle was deserving of carefully-designed cast brass with raised designs, beautiful fonts, and enameled details.

Zenith, via. (Not actually in the pool but it should be.)

A mosaic of screencaps of some of the headbadges (also called nameplates) currently up on eBay: 
Ben Hur, Clipper, Cyclone 60 (Cyclone Jr in full colour here), EmpireLegnano
Ludwig (similar to Henderson), and Regent. I LOVE the look of these old badges.

(If the huge collection of photos on Flikr somehow leaves you wanting more eye candy, Jim Langley has posted photos of his nameplate collection too.)

Luckily some of the smaller bicycle manufacturers and handmade-bike designers (like Capricorn Bicycles, Rivendell, and Winter Bicycles) are still creating gorgeous headbadges. I also ran across Revolution Cycle Jewelry in my travels through Flikr – she is making custom headbadges using traditional metalworking techniques, of sterling silver, brass, and enamel. Beautiful work. There are also wonderful hand-sawn metal headbadges available from Etsy’s FutureCrash and Tangerine Treehouse (of Bike Moustache fame).

It makes me want to break out some fine silver metal clay, brass metal clay, and enamel powder and see if I can create a sintered-metal OOAK headbadge for a special badgeless bicycle… which would require a special jig to factor in the shrinkage during firing, since the sintered silver isn’t malleable… hmmmmmm….

PS: Remember I waxed poetic about the CCM Cleveland’s cut-out headbadge previously? For the record, there are a couple of eBay listings right now in the eBay store of vendor benzo_one in Quebec for the back plates for cutout-style CCM badges (so that’s how they achieved the pop of colour behind the cut-out!), and a bunch of head badges that look (from the configuration of the rivet holes, round or oval shape, and limited Canadian distribution) like they might be rebadged CCMs for various regional hardware and department stores. The names I noticed: Sunshine (Waterloo, ON), Victoria (Quebec), Majestic (Montreal), Maple LeafMonte Carlo, and Superior (Toronto). Please weigh in if you can confirm that any of these were CCM marques. (Update: most of them are not! See comment below from John Williamson.)