I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before but the 80’s Raleigh frame that I used on the first fixed gear is now “dead”. What happened? Well I’m not quite sure. It’s viewable in one of my Cyclist POV videos, where you can see I’m riding along and all of a sudden the rear wheel locks up and I come to a stop. It’s happened before but never that violently and never just riding along. I realigned the wheel and rode on, but after getting to my destination I realised the wheel no longer looked straight… The rear triangle looked bent. A few second opinions later and I had concluded it must be the end of that frame.
Note: At no point have I actually checked the frame alignment with the available tools.
A few weeks have gone by and now I have version 2 up and running. Version 2 was found on eBay for the small sum of £15. Naturally the colours caught my attention and I had to have it. As luck would have it, nobody else was interested in it and I won the auction for the starting bid. I have to say the seller of this frame has been an absolute pleasure to deal with – possibly the best seller I’ve dealt with. He emailed me as soon as the auction ended and asked if I wanted some further postage quotes and after looking around found one for £4 cheaper than quoted. Unfortunately he hadn’t checked the PayPal transaction and booked the delivery for the wrong address. Nevermind, he got straight onto the courier and had it changed. The courier didn’t even come and collect it and instead it had to be dropped off at the post office and sent from there. I was updated on the whole process and never left out. I wish all sellers were like that!
Anyway, the new build! The frame is a two tone, pink and purple, MBK trainer. I haven’t been able to accurately date it however I’m leaning towards an early 90’s date. Lugless, oval tubing and CRMO – I really like the frame. It has its fair signs of wear and it the colour apparently disgusts come people but I love it. It’s just my size and it’s so light.
Straight away I removed the headset from the old build and fitted that to the MBK frame. The old Halo wheelset went in perfectly, as did my old black stem. This is where things change. Instead of the flat bars I wanted to fit a set of drop bars in black with some all black brakes. I’m only running one brake, yet still decided to fit two levers. Why? Because I like the riding position! Finding the all black bars took a lot of searching on eBay as most 25.4mm clamping bars are for silver in colour for old road bikes! It was worth it though, the black bars and brakes make the pink stand out even more.
When it came to the bottom bracket and crank I had to get something new. The Raleigh uses 26tpi thread and a cottered axle, where as the MBK frame uses a standard 24tpi thread. I have a few spare cartridge bottom brackets that I could have used but something new was more appealing. I decided to head to VeloSolo and take a look at their collection. I opted for the 107mm Stronglight bottom bracket and crank set. It looks amazing and threaded straight into the frame. The Raleigh used a 42 tooth chain ring (I believe) where as the Stronglight uses a 48 tooth. Combined with the 14 tooth sprocket I’ll be getting more top end but hill starts will become a bit tougher. I’ll see how I get on with it and if it’s too tough I’ll swap out the sprocket to a 16 or 18.
The tyre clearances are close but I’m going to swap those out for some Michelin Krylion Carbon when I get some spare cash! (Those tyres are brilliant – I’m using them on the British Eagle in the wet). Apart from that I’m 100% happy with the outcome. The bike feels like a perfect fit and everytime I look at it I find a massive grin creeps across my face. It’s definitely not everyones style. What do you think?
I know I shouldn’t… I know it, but I’m weak. I see a nice part and I buy it. It’s going to really get me in trouble… The story behind this buy is:
A couple of weeks ago a new hit popped up on my Raleigh Blue Streak search on eBay. I have 95% of the parts I need and nothing I actually needed was listed. However, the results that came up showed a crank set in better condition than the one I already have and the price wasn’t too bad either so I waited, bid and won. After checking out the sellers other items I ended up with a few more parts and one of them being this frame set. At first I thought I’d just add it to my watch list. It sat there for a bit and then I decided to ask the seller how much he’d accept for the frame and for a hub I wanted for another build. I thought it was a fair price so I agreed to buy it.
I picked it up on Sunday morning. The chap I bought it off seems to have exactly the same addiction as me. In the kitchen was his freshly built 30’s path racer and outside in the garden and in the sheds were multiple bikes and bike parts… I’m pretty sure he also said there were some in the loft. We spoke for a bit about the bikes and apart from getting this nice frame I’ve always made a new contact for parts… missing out the eBay middle man.
So the frame. It hails from the beginning of World War 2. The Sports Model preceeds the start of war but in those earlier catalogues the bike is clearly shown with a coloured head tube. Despite the name “Raleigh Sports Model”, the frame carries a lot of weight! Thick, heavy tubing with no fancy lugs. Climbing hills will be fun. The frame still has all the original paint/enamel on it and despite a few rust patches it’s in really good condition, so much so that I’m thinking of just polishing the frame and applying a clear coat to preserve the originality.
As with most old Raleigh’s the “standard” gearing was a fixed / freewheel hub with optional Sturmey Archer. It seems the bike did indeed get the Sturmey Archer treatment but I’m going for the fixed / singlespeed option. I already have a Baylis-Wiley front hub which fits perfectly along with a set of peroid Raleigh wing nuts. I also have a British Hub Company rear hub that suits both the frame and the fixed / freewheel standards. Digging through my boxes I’ve found a set of fixed cogs that I can fit and a nice Phillips freewheel.
You’ll notice the Brooks saddle too. That’s come from my “old” fixed gear (it’s been relegated after bending the frame). It’s not period correct but it suits the bike. As for the other parts, I think I have a set of brakes that will fit, along with the crankset and handlebars. The rims are going to be the hardest thing to find! 26 x 1 1/4″ are rare, so very rare and finding ones in good condition for a reasonable price is even harder. I do have other options but I’d like to stick with the original wheel size if possible.
I’m in no rush to get this bike built. This is another one for my own collection so it will be on the back burner for a while. Still, what do you think? A part of British cycling history.
As I’ve said before, I’m always on the hunt for bargains on eBay. I don’t like spending a lot but I always end up spending too much in a month because I find these bargains. I’m still on the look out for the last piece of the puzzle in the Blue Streak build, a Benelux front derailleur. It’s a rare part, so naturally I have an eBay search set up to notify when a new listing pops up including Benelux. This time I didn’t find the part I needed but if you’re lucky, this is what £40 can buy you.
A whole heap of old tools. There’s a couple of Brooks spanners in there and a King Dick chain tool but in all honesty, I wouldn’t spend more than £10 on that lot. I would however spend £40 if it included all this.
That’s a lot of goodies right there! The listing popped up late in the evening as a “Buy It Now” style and after I’d had a look through I just had to buy it. To me, there’s a lot of useful parts in there and they’re worth a lot more than £40. The seller was fantastic too, emailing me first thing in the morning to let me know how and when he was going to post them out and when I should receive them. I got a knock at the door first thing this morning with the parcel. So here’s what I got.
Three hubs in total with one pair of GB wing nuts and a few other random wing nuts. The Sturmey Archer hub was one of the most eye catching pieces. It’s a three speed dyno hub that has a date stamp of 1967. It’s the AG model which means it has some wide ratio gears on the inside and comes fitted with a 20 tooth sprocket. It’ll go nicely on a town bike of that period to run some Dynamo lights if it all works. It definitely needs a bit of grease but cosmetically it looks pretty sound. The front hub and rear hubs unfortunately don’t have any form of stamp or marking on them so I’m a bit hard pressed to say what brand they are. The rear hub is a useful find though. I noticed it hiding in a picture on the listing. Look closely and you’ll see both sides are threaded (one side with two sets of threads). I’ve got myself a nice “flip flop” track hub here, something I can run both fixed gear with a lock ring and single speed. Very handy.
First is a 18 tooth single speed freewheel by T.D. Cross & Sons LTD., stamped “De Luxe” and “AB”. The teeth are starting to show signs of the shark fin wear, the mechanism is a little stiff and someone has really given it a beating when trying to remove it from a hub. The prong slots are completely mashed but it may still be useable… maybe. A 1961 catalogue lists this freewheel with three different chain sizes, none of which seemed to be stamped into the freewheel.
Next up is a 3 speed Cyclo freewheel (14/16/18) which is cosmetically great but the internals are not engaging as they should. I can spin it both ways by hand freely so I would say either the pawls on the inside are broken or they are completely gunked up and frozen in place. It’s a “Type B” freewheel but looking through the catalogues that are floating around I can’t pinpoint an age. A 3 speed freewheel with Type B appears on the catalogues of the 50’s and 60’s but reading on the number of teeth don’t seem to match up. It does look like the rings could be interchangeable though; there seems to be a lock ring on the rear of the freewheel.
The remaining four freewheels are all products of Regina. The first is a large 3 speed freewheel stamped G.S.Corse S.I.C.C. MERATE. There’s no date stamp that I can see and again cosmetically the freewheel looks quite good, however the mechanism is very rough. The tooth count is 16/22/25. It’s a slightly odd looking freewheel as in it almost looks like it’s missing a ring with the exposed threads and the jump from 16 to 22.
After that I have two four speed freewheels (14/16/18/20 & 15/17/19/22) both are in good condition and have exactly the same markings as the three speed, although they aren’t as abbreviated. They read Regina Gran Sport Corse – Soc.Ital.Cat.Cal.Merate. On the rear of the smaller freewheel I’ve found a numeric stamp of 1148 and on the larger freewheel a stamp of 455. The smaller freewheel seems to be siezed but the larger rotates and locks in place as it should, although it is a little rough. They look to be 70’s items so I’ve no idea what the numeric stamps on the back are for.
Lastly I have a 5 speed freewheel with exactly the same markings as the 4 speed, however the rear only has two digits stamped and they read 61. The smaller and larger rings look to be the most worn but the freewheel mechanism does work. Tooth count is 15/17/19/21/23. I think with a good service I’ll be able to use all the freewheels.
I picked this out straight away in the listing. I knew straight away it was a GB Spearpoint stem. It’s a forged alloy stem which would have polished up really well but unfortunately it’s broken. it wasn’t visible in the pictures but the handlebar clamp has sheared off so I’m afraid all it’s good for is a decorative piece.
I have three shifter which fortunately match up with the three derailleurs I have in this lot. The newest is a Huret shifter, complete with the rubber hood, dated to 1976 I believe. It’s in great condition and should work well. The second shifter is also a Huret item but this one is a few years earlier. It again comes complete with the rubber hood and although it is functioning it is in need of a complete rechrome. Date wise, it’s hard to tell. The rust is obscuring any small date stamp and the catalogues online only go back to the 70’s. I’d imagine this shifter (which is matched to the derailleur) is at earliest a 50’s part. The final shifter is a Cyclo part of the same era as the early Huret. It’s in better condition cosmetically but it came in pieces so I’m going to have to play around for a bit and get the right alignment to get it working fully.
This is where I knew the £40 price tag was a bargain. The first derailleur is just your standard 5 speed Huret from the 70’s. It’s clogged with grease and dirt but looks like it should function well after a clean. Once I’ve cleaned it I’ll be able to tell the specific model and the appropriate freewheel to use with it.
The two earlier derailleurs are where the money is though. The first is an early Huret. It’s not too bad cosmetically and I’m hoping the rust will clean up from near the hanger section. Mechanically, the jockey wheels are very stiff and need to be regreased but the gear selecting action seems to be fine. The second is jewel to me. It’s a Cyclo Benelux “Mark 7” 4/5 speed derailleur which seems to be mechanically sound. It will need a good service and clean but (in my mind at least) this is quite a desirable part. I spent a long time looking for one of these for my Blue Streak build and although I’ve already found one, having a spare won’t hurt. The date of this derailleur is circa 1960.
Unfortunately I don’t really have a complete set out of any of these parts so these brakes will mainly be for spares. What I got was half of a Weinmann Type 810 caliper, a complete Weinmann Type 730 caliper, a near complete GB Coureur and an incomplete pair of Raleigh calipers. The complete Weinmann I should be able to use, along with the GB once it is cleaned up but the Raleigh set are missing some essential parts and look to use the double ended cable system rather than the clamp at the caliper end.
The crank set will be a nice one once it is cleaned up. It’s a Williams crankset with a Williams 48 tooth chainring. Unfortunately the chain ring does look to be quite worn with the shark tooth shaped teeth so I think that is going to stay as a decorative piece but if I can find a replacement I will reuse the cranks. The pedals on the other hand need a lot of work. The axles are very loose and as you can see rust has displaced the chrome. I can’t make out what brand of pedals they are but I’ll have a good root around once I’ve cleaned it all off. It’s, again, quite hard to pin point the date of these. The brochures online jump from the 30’s to the 70’s. The 30’s brochure definitely shows a similar crankset but I find it hard to believe it is that old.
There were a couple of other small odds and sods in the parcel, like spokes and chains but nothing really that noteable. All in all, I think the £40 price tag was an absolute bargain and after a good clean I should be able to put all these parts to good use.
Always keep your eyes peeled on eBay!
I was getting all ready to write out a nice post about my plans to change the design of my fixie. It’s coming close to the 1000 mile mark so I thought it’s only right to spruce the old girl up a bit. In the first few hundred miles the bike got beat up quite a bit, trying to fine tune the chain tension etc. A respray is long overdue but I also wanted to change the style of all the components.
I wanted to flip things around. The light frame would go dark and the dark components would go light. Essentially I was going for a black and chrome look. It would look a little more “period” than it does currently. This, of course, meant buying a Brooks saddle and a chrome seat post to start with. I opted for a B17 model in black. I got it for a good price and it’s in pretty good condition. I rode with it on Friday and I can safely say it’s just as comfy and supportive as all the other Brooks saddles I’ve ridden.
The next buys were a new set of bars and a new stem. I didn’t want flat bars anymore and I didn’t want the tradition drop bar, although I would have gone for the sleek sloping style that are on the France Sport if I could have afforded a pair… Instead I went for a set of “North” bars (or at least that’s what I’ve seen them called). I think they’re meant to be used as riser bars for town bikes but instead I’m mounting them upside down so there is a very slight drop. They’ll be wrapped in a black cloth tape and fitted with a matching period brake lever. Stem wise, I wanted to go back to chrome or polished alloy. I still have the original SR stem from the bike but it only has a 60mm reach and I feel comfortable with a bit more. My searches on eBay threw up lot of choices, too many choices, but I found myself leaning towards the alloy stems with a “sleek” design. On my watch list was a renovated “Biba” stem which was beautifully polished, however as £40 it was quite pricey. I kept looking and to my surprise another “Biba” stem popped up under the title “Unusual British Made Stem”. The seller had noted the two cyclists in the logo but hadn’t seen they also spelt “biba”. It was only £10 so I bought it without waiting. It’s needs a slight polish but it’s exactly what I was looking for.
As for the next steps I’m hoping to get my hands on a “Rudge” crank set because I love the hand design and possibly some new pedals. The frame will be stripped and repainted a gloss black and the bike will be good for another 1000 miles.
Well… actually that’s all just a “wish” at the moment. I had a slight accident on Friday riding to work. While trying to flip my non drive side pedal, without hitting any form of pot hole, my chain jumped off the sprocket, wrapped itself around the hub, locking and pulling the rear wheel out of alignment in the drop outs. This was at around 20mph, possibly more and was quite a violent motion. I skidded to a stop, realigned the wheel and tensioned the chain and rode on. Something didn’t feel right though. When I got to work I checked the bike over and noticed something that concerned me. Looking at the bike from the rear, aligning my sight down the seat tube and head tube, shows the rear wheel has a lean to the non drive side and it also seems the rear triangle is now bent slightly too.
The chain has slipped off and locked up before but never this violently. I asked my work mates to have a look too and they said the same thing. The rear triangle looks bent… I’m going to try and find a frame alignment tool and check it out so fingers crossed. It would be great if I could just bend it back but the more I bend the steel, the more it stresses and eventually the more likely it is to fail…
It sucked a little bit having to ride to work no matter the weather but mixing it up with the traffic is always fun. So slow on the fixie though, so slow.
It’s been a while but I’ve made a new edit.
With all my injuries healed and the car off the road I’ve been using the bikes to get around. This edit is from 5 days of cycling to work and back. I have two GoPros now too so I can film front and rear. It’s pretty tricky to get the two clips lined up but I like the all round view it gives.
I actually have four bikes up and running now so I’ve tried to include them all in this one.
It seems like every post I make about my fixed gear build is one saying I’ve fixed it again after something went wrong. Hopefully, this will be the last one!
On its last outing, after the last fix of bending the chain ring back into shape, I had constant problems with the chain popping off and flexing. I figured it was down to the damage caused before, but also that I’m using the smaller chain ring of the original double set so it’ll never be as strong as the solid outer ring. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do until I started buying a few bikes to do up.
A solution presented itself when looking over the new bikes. They’re all old three speed bikes, with one single speed ring up front and the three gears inside the Sturmey Archer hub. A single speed chain ring up front… with a cotter pin crank… Putting two and two together told me I should take one of these chain rings and put it on the fixie with a new, stronger chain and that’s exactly what I’ve done!
I had chose to take the chain ring off a very rusty Raleigh Wayfarer but my original technique of removing the cotter pins failed drastically and now I had two mushroomed pins holding the cranks to that bike. I found this guy on YouTube who has a channel dedicated to fixing bikes and watching a few of his videos gave me some ideas on how to remove the cranks. Low and behold, on another bike, I left the nut on the cotter pin, used a big punch on top of the nut and with one swing of a hammer the pin was free and I could swap the cranks over!
However, as with every simple job, something went a tad wrong. When I put the new crank on the fixie I found the BB was very stiff and then found the shell was unwinding itself from the frame so I ended up stripping all that down, cleaning everything off and regreasing it. The “new” crank and single speed chainring went on fine then. It’s sightly bigger than the old one but that just means more speed 🙂
As for the chain, I decided to ditch the cheap Clarks chain I bought after only using it for 180 miles. It felt so weak and it’s been nothing but trouble so I went for a Izumi chain this time. I saw it had good reviews on Chain Reaction Cycles and my first impression is it has a more sturdy appearance and feel than the Clarks chain. It looks solid, feels heavy duty and seems well made. I had a slight problem with it being a bit big for one of my chain tools but it went on smoothly and rides well!
When it was all back together I took it for a test ride and I’m happy to say there were no issues whatsoever. I even managed to set a couple of PBs on some local climbs. Hopefully, this will be the bike fixed completely now and it’ll last a good while! It’s always a learning process but now I think I know the best way to go about doing a fixed gear conversion on an old Raleigh! I’ll get it right first time with the other builds 😉
Bikes! Who’d bloody have them?!
Well I’ve finally got to work on the British Eagle I picked up a while ago. It didn’t look in the best condition when I collected it but it’s turning out to be an absolute nightmare! The bike was pretty much complete bars the wheels, saddle and front derailleur. It had Shimano 105 brakes and gearing and an aluminium seat post, long stem and drop bars. Google suggested the bike wasn’t too old but it had definitely been through the wars with parts of the frame repainting and bubbling but I still didn’t think taking apart would be this much work.
The brake system and rear derailleur came off really easily. No troubles there at all but as soon as I tried to remove the bars I realised I was in for a fight. They were awkward but with a big screwdriver and a bit of wiggling I did get them out. The seat post on the other hand, well that was stuck solid. First I had to break through the paint that had been layered over the clamp and with that off I found the seat post wasn’t going to come out easily. The entire length of the post inside the frame had oxidised and it took a lot of bashing with a hammer to free up. This unfortunately did damage the seat post slightly but I was pretty certain I could polish it up.
Now this is where things have gone downhill. The seat post may have been difficult but the stem has been impossible and is now in several pieces. It wasn’t bolted down to start with but still it was stuck fast and the same method of persuasion that shifted the seat post (hammer) was completely ineffective against this. I’ve got a feeling it’s an aluminium stem and it has oxidised against the steel fork and effectively welded the two together. Turning to the old faithful penetration spray and giving it a good few coating and leaving it to soak did nothing so I tried heating it up with my blowtorch in an attempt to break the seal. Nothing. Not even a mm of movement and eventually the head of the stem snapped off. Not ideal but it gave me more of a chance to prise the remnants of the stem out of the forks… or so I thought. I tried gripping and crushing the broken half with my vice to no avail and I couldn’t even shift it with a punch an chisel. I’ve given up now. The forks have been damaged too and I don’t think they’ll be any good now. Maybe some BMX forks are on the cards now though?
Next up was the cranks. They had a strange cap covering the nut holding them down. I guess you need a special tool to unscrew them properly as when I tried with my biggest screwdriver they just tore apart, although they’re potentially a bit brittle from old age… Now capless I could unbolt the cranks and surprisingly the bolts came off with no issues. They revealed that the bottom bracket was square taper and also that the cranks were stuck tight. Luckily I have a crank puller which screwed into the drive side nicely and helped pop it off but the threads on the non drive side are trashed and the crank puller tool ended up stripping them. Holding the crank in my vice while I used a bolt to try and knock the spindle out didn’t work either so at the moment it is also stuck…
If I do manage to get this crank off… I’m still stuck with a strange bottom bracket. The cups / lock rings are made out of plastic and look like they need some form of C spanner to undo. I’ve had a go at the drive side with a few tools but nothing worked so it looks like I’m going to have to find a special tool for the job.
All in all, not the best start but we’ll see where things go from here….
Here we go, another edit. I’ve already seen some more things I want to try and recreate for the next “episode” but for now it’s more of what I tried out last week, as well as trying out the video in video part.
The first few clips, on the fixie… well that bike needs work again. I hit a drain cover and it knocked the back wheel out of alignment in the drop outs and jammed the chain and wheel. It didn’t stop me for too long but as I rode on I could hear some clunking and then the chain started to drop off again. It really does need a new chain ring… I went exploring on it though, following some back routes into fields, that was fun.
After that is a bunch of clips from Cannock. I did another two laps of Follow the Dog and set a load more PBs but on the first lap I encountered major issues with my gears. I couldn’t really select anything mid range on the rear and kept on having to change up and down before it eventually just skipped constantly. Stopping to try and retension the cable on the trails did nothing so I stopped off in the car park after the first lap to check everything over. The hanger looked a bit bent so I “fixed” that and I retensioned the cable but it still didn’t work. I ended up doing that lap with either 9th or 1st on the rear. It really was go fast or go home!