Category Archives: General Posts/ Misc Posts

Posts that don’t easily fit into other catagories

What is a Restored Bicycle?

What is a restored bicycle?  How do you define restore? It’s not nearly as cut and dry of an answer as you think it might be.  It is actually a fairly debatable topic among bicycle enthusiasts and other people that like to tinker and or admire old stuff.

The key to this debate is mostly found within how a person defines the term “Restore”.  And simply looking at the dictionary for a cut and dry definition doesn’t help much.  Because the two basic schools of thought on the subject are based on two slightly different definitions of the word.

Merriam-Webster defines the term restore as follows.


  • To put or bring (something) back into existence or use
  • Return (something) to an earlier or original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc

And from here the debate rages.

It might kind of seem like a subtle difference in definitions.  But one that divides the two camps of people who ride and fix up old bikes.  How historically accurate do I need to be in the project and still call it a restoration?  Are time period correct parts needed in this project?  Does improving the bike with modern better working parts like upgrading to alloy rims and shiny stainless steel spokes count? And the answer is different depending on who you talk to.

On one end of the spectrum are the people who say don’t touch any of it, Patina (ie rust and scratches) is good, and by altering the bike at all it loses its identity and soul.  They consider each dent and scratch part of the bikes story or history.  And that history makes the bike more authentic.

Often when working on the bikes I wonder what happened that caused that small dent or scratch.  And for the most part I know deep down that the patina was likely caused by something less interesting than the story that I make up.  Whose imagination can resist the stories that some of the old bicycle advertisements portray?  Boys out running lions on an  African tundra (or is it that he snuck into the zoo?), keeping up with fighter jets, and what not.

However, patina on bikes this old are likely from being banged up while sitting in storage.  More likely a box of christmas ornaments falling on the fender causing the dent, than little Mikey hitting a curb and knocking out his front two teeth.  The reality is most likely nearly always more ordinary than extraordinary, which is kind of a blow to the this line of thought.  Is neglect really worth preserving?

There is also the opposite extreme example of the Rat Rodders and Modders who don’t care at all about what the bike was, and they just build up their old bikes as they want, often going completely over the top with their choice of accessories .  For those that don’t know they’re the “Hot Rodders” and Big Daddy Roths of the bicycle world.

I don’t find their philosophy offensive either.  There is definitely something to admire both in hot rodded Model Ts and Schwinns.  And the amount of effort. attention to detail, time and money that goes into some of these projects is inspiring to say the least.

Most people fall somewhere in between leaning one way or the other.  Flippers don’t take any of this into account and part out and rebuild these bikes with little more in thought in how to generate the maximum profit.  Though I suspect most people just try to keep their bikes running – until they don’t.

The reason I bring all this up now is that this is the dilemma that I am currently going through with the Manhattan.  Bikes like this Manhattan require a lot of work.   Realistically it’ll cost much more money for a true historical restoration than it would probably ever be worth.   And with bikes in this condition, a true historical rebuild quite frankly isn’t possible, if for no other reason the fact that I can not likely find the same paint (very likely lead based) to repaint the frame that was originally used.  And even if I could, would I want to?  Paint has improved significantly (though some might disagree) over the last 60 years.

If the bike was a significant piece of bicycle or industrial history – (read that as rare – and not the I’m trying to sell you a bike on e-bay/CL “rare” – which 99 times out of 100 means that it isn’t rare), this question gets a lot easier to answer.  Of course you go for as historically accurate as you can.

But this is not the case of the Manhattan.  It’s just another three speed, and the closest it comes to being rare is the AG hub, the metal full chainguard, and perhaps the fenders – none of which are really all that rare, uncommon is probably a better descriptor.

The easy way out is to just strip it down, repaint it in black, build it back up and sell it.  I could actually make a few bucks off the bike, especially if I kept the few uncommon parts off the rebuild and sold them separately.  Though I admit if I omit any of it I’ll most likely keep them around here for future projects.  Especially the AG hub and lights , if it turns out that they are fully functioning.

Of course there are other issues as well which aren’t really about the bike which I have to consider as well.

For example, what is the focus of my blog right now?  Do I want to get into a complete historical restoration this early?   Or I am more interested in learning and teaching people how to take care of these bike themselves, and if that is the case – do I even need to do a full resto on it?  Does a complete historical restoration fit into that goal? , or does it just make these bikes look like too much work, and perhaps freighting  off potential riders.  I already kind of feel like I did that with my last post, where I started perhaps the most involved and most intimidating part of these bikes, and that’s the cottered cranks.

As for me, I  fall somewhere between the two camps.  My main goal is to keep the bikes road worthy, and make them enjoyable to ride.  And if that means that I need to replace something like the handlebars, I have no problems with obtaining new alloy north road bars or even moustache bars to replace the (most likely completely rusted out) chrome.

However there is a balance.  Hydraulic disc brakes would greatly improve the brake system,  but I would never even consider doing such thing to an old three speed.  Drum brakes?  Most likely I would not hesitate, even with the modern ones.  I think the idea of components within the hubs of the wheel to be very “three speedish” in concept, they increase durability, and greatly simplify the maintenance of the bike.  Carbon fiber would definitely be out, but like stated above quality alloy parts would usually be ok by me, but mostly because there isn’t much of a choice with new parts, not many companies do quality chrome anymore .  I’m more interested in the idea of “original in concept” than I am to “historical original”.

Though if given the choice, I’d stick with the original parts or original replacement parts if available at a reasonable price.

It’s not unusual to hear that some people have ridden 100,000 plus miles on them.  And to do so, one would expect there to be some adjustments and replacements of parts over that kind of lifetime.  And this is often confirmed by bikes that are put for sale with “period correct” parts (not original from the factory, but generally available additional parts at the time).  And why shouldn’t they be that way?  It’s your bike, make it comfortable for you.

And the final proof is that most the bikes I buy for parts are usually some kind of franken-bike. Which is why they make great parts bikes.  Since they’re often sold cheap, because there is little to no hope of ever doing a historically accurate restoration on them, and often things have been “fixed” or “upgraded”but not very well and/or not in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

Under normal circumstances the Manhattan would have been a parts bike for me.  I would have likely, taken it apart, salvaged the better useable parts, and put them on another bike.  And scrapped the rest.  The frame is likely the only thing that would have been scrapped because I don’t typically do a repaint.  However, I have been itching to do one recently, I am constantly looking at expanding my skill sets. Likewise it will make for an interesting set of blog posts.

It desperately needs new paint, the patina is well beyond quaint or charming.  Most the red paint is worn down to the primer coat, but for some reason most the white is in ok shape, but would stand out against a new red paint job.  I’ve got the paint guns and compressor to do it right,  but what color do I paint it?  I like the red on white, but the seat is two toned blue and white.  Both colors were available at purchase, but the seats are all the same colors as the frame were painted from the handful of images I have seen.  Or do I even care if the seat is blue and the frame is red?  I could always repaint the seat too.  Of course I could also paint it something completely different too like hot pink and fluorescent green (not very likely to happen).

I do know that I’m reluctant to put the chainguard back on.  It’s a pain in the butt to remove, and it greatly affects the practicability of future maintenance.  But on the other hand, once I’m done with it, it likely wouldn’t need to be removed for at least another decade with proper care.  This would be a much more difficult decision to make if I had the complete chainguard, but I don’t.  So, for the time being I’m leaning on omitting it.

If I repaint, then I’ve got the question of what to do with the decals?  I haven’t been able to find anyone that currently makes reproduction ones for this model – which for most people would be problematic.  But though I’ve never tried it, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to make some professional level replica water transfers of my own, and I’m quite eager to try my hand at it.

And should I decide to make the water transfers do I replicate the “Manhattan” sticker on the seat tube?  I actually like it quite a bit, but many don’t seen to appreciate it.  Some say it is too flashy for such a noble steed.  And if I’m looking at making more traditional three speed looking, getting rid of the two tones and painting say just one color and forgoing the transfers would save huge amounts of time and money.

The front fender of the bike is good shape and can easily be cleaned.  However, the rear fender is pretty much toast.  There is a large patch of rust that is through the chrome making it flake off.  I could probably eventually find a replacement fender,   The problem with finding this part is that the fenders are a fairly unique design.  How long do I wait until one comes up on ebay at a reasonable price?  How much time do I want to put into calling and emailing different bike shops and people trying to find one, where it might be likely that I might not find one at all.  Of course since it is an unusual fender I could probably sell or trade the front one for a nice set of not original chrome or more modern alloy ones in good shape which would wouldn’t be noticeable to anyone but the few three speed aficionados out there.

I will likely swap to alloy rims since most people prefer these rims to steel ones.  I still ride the steel rims on my Superbe and Twenty, but this project will most likely be put up for sale when it’s done, or if my kid likes it given to her.  And unlike her dad, she doesn’t have 35 years of bike riding experience, where most of it was riding on steel rims.

Truth is that I probably won’t make up my mind on some of this stuff until the day everything is cleaned up and ready to get put back together.  Some of the issues might sort themselves out by then, others might be more of a financial or practical decision.  And even when it’s done, if it sits around here for too long—-who knows what’ll happen to it?

And that is part of the fun too, this whole project as well.  It is going to end up being a surprise for me as well.




The Full Metal Jacket

“Battle is an orgy or disorder”-  Gen. George Patton.

And so it begins.  Today (well, last Sunday) I have starting disassembling the Manhattan for the rebuild.  This bike is in such grand shape that it definitely needs a complete overhaul.  Every part will be removed, cleaned and when necessary replaced.  And today we’re taking off the full metal chain guard.

Let me preface this journey by stating that you’ll notice that I’m not, and will when ever possible be using the most basic tool possible to do this job.  That even includes forgoing the tried and true bike stand.  Truth is I don’t have one, yet (I got all the parts to make one,) but though my garage looks somewhat clean and organized,  the boxes in the garage are a jumbled mess.  And it’s yet another project that when I do it, I’ll blog it.  And it might be that it happens within the scope of this rebuild.

But aside from that, one of the points I’m trying desperately to make with this rebuild is that these bikes don’t really require much in the way of specialized bike tools.  Of course I say this and one of the first things you’ll notice is that on this project I bust out a specialized bike too out to do the job.  But honestly, outside of a couple of cone wrenches, I can only think of three bike specific tools that I work with.  And you’ll see one of them today and a mention of another.

That is not to say that I wouldn’t recommend good tools.  I’m currently strongly suggesting my wife get me a set of Whitworth wrenches and sockets for my up and coming birthday.  They’d be nice.  But they aren’t necessary.

And on the same note, when I do bust out a special tool, I will describe and link to other ways of doing the same thing without the tool.

There are a couple of reasons I’m going after the chain guard first.  The biggest reason is that this is my first time dancing with this particular beast.  And a few times like the title implies it felt like war.

Removing it also allows me to see what chain wheel is under it (though I already peaked in the crank arm door and knew it wasn’t going to be the one with “Phillips” built into the design of it.  Of course since the crank arm on the right side is clearly marked by Wrights, I already knew this without taking a peek as well.

And last but not least, though I only did a fairly quick search on-line, I wasn’t able to find any tutorial on this particular procedure.

So first and foremost lets look at the tools you need.

The Tools

Pictured left to right.

  • Cheap screwdriver that flips and has #1 and #2 bits in both Phillips and flat head.
  • Cheap adjustable wrench, or spanner as they call them across the pond. Though really I recommend two, one of the cheapies like you see above, and a larger one that whose jaws can open up to around close to 1 1/4″ as possible for future projects.
  • Can of Tri Flow lubricant – my personal favorite, I use it a lot. But any spray on lube will do (not WD-40 though it’s not a lubricant).
  • Cotter Pin Press (Specialized bike tool)
  • Pliers
  • Locking Pliers (where I used them here a second adjustable wrench would work too  I only used it because it was closer to me than another wrench.
  • Socket Wrench with a 5/8″ (I think, I’ll double-check and edit this later) socket
  • Optional and not pictured nor used in this tutorial is a chain tool.  Probably should get one, they’re cheap.  And we’re going to be using one eventually.

And without further ado here is the chain guard.

Chain Guard

Looks harmless enough.  As you can tell when I bought it the piece that covers the lower rear section of the chain and hub is missing.  I have worked with the vinyl ones that are common on  the more modern Tourists and other Dutch bikes,  but this one is much trickier.

So the first thing I did was look it over and find all the clip and screws.  On the front I found this one.

braces at the rear left

Here you can see it better.  The clip spans the chain stay of the bicycle and helps hold it place.  Using the flat head screwdriver I simply unscrewed it and set the screws and clip to the side.  I tend to put the screws back into the holes of the clips when I take stuff off,.  Doing this not only keeps the parts together, but also makes it harder for the screws to roll away.

Then I took the crank arm door off the front of the chain guard as well.

Looking through the peddle door

I wasn’t completely sure if the round piece that the door was on would come off.  I gave it a very half assed try, but didn’t want to try too hard in fear of causing too much damage to it.  I can now say that it does come off,  and you can remove it at this time, even though I didn’t.  It looks like it should sort of pry off, but I can’t guarantee it.  Mine simply fell off later in the process.

Next I went to the other side (left side) of the bicycle. And found these connections.

cips and braces behind the chainringpay attention to the order

Here you can where there is a clip wrapped around the seat tube that is screwed in.  So I removed it.  Again pay attention and remember the order in which all the screws, nuts and washers are placed and oriented.  Nice thing is that if you don’t think you can,  the digital camera and cell phones are there to save the day.  Just take some pictures before remove anything you’re not sure you’d remember.

I again reassemble these parts and place them next to the clip that I took off earlier.  I nearly always arrange the parts removed in the order in which they are removed, that way when it comes time to reassemble, I just have to work my way backwards – most the time.

And in case you didn’t notice it before there was another clip behind the kickstand.

brack behind the kickstandRemove the Kick stand

And so now I have to remove the kickstand.  Remember when loosening bolt and nuts the old phrase “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey”.  Had my socket set not been a giant mess, I would have prefered to use a socket wrench for removing this bolt, the adjustable wrench didn’t fit real well, and the socket wrench would have been much quicker. Though I will stress the socket wrench isn’t necessary, it would just be faster and easier.

The clip behind the kickstand was just like the first one we took off on the front of the chainguard that crossed over the chainstay, this one also crossed over the chain stay.  It simply unscrewed with a flathead screwdriver.  With no kickstand, I gently laid the bicycle on its side to do this task.  I did lay a piece of cardboard under it to prevent scratching the parts that were touching the cement.  Don’t do work like this in the grass unless you have to, finding small dropped parts in the grass is never fun.

When I started I suspected that I would need to remove the wheel to get the chain guard off, and I was right.  So off comes the rear wheel.

lossen the nut on the left side of the bikewasher is on backwards

Here in first picture you again see the old adjustable wrench at work.  Simply remove the axle nut.

Though sometimes even the simplest things give surprises.  For example, in the second picture above you can see the serrated lock washer is on backwards.  Those tabs (the serrations) that are facing towards you should be turned around, and the flanges should be aligned within the drop out slot.  Also this washer was placed on the axle 90 degrees off of where it should have been.  I had to slowly pry the washer off.

Also not very apparent in the photo you’ll notice the axle is misaligned.  The axle has two sides of it flattened which again lets it sit in the drop outs nice and snug.  Someone at some point in the past has re-installed the rear wheel wrong.  This error has caused the dropout slot to be rounded where it was positioned at some point.  No big worries though, the axle so far appears not to be damaged, and the rounded drop out slot is nothing adding an extra link or half link of chain can’t fix when it come time to re-install.

Now on to the right hand side of the bike.

The indicator chainlossen the indicator chain


Again this is pretty straight forward.  Here you’ll notice the right side axle nut is different.  It’s long,  has a hole in the side of it, and a small chain coming out of it which is connected to a wire that runs to your shifter on the handlebars.

To remove the wheel from this side you must first disconnect the chain from the cable.  If you are doing this and your bike currently shifts good, make sure to mark the spot with small nut.  To do so run the little nut up tight to the long skinny nut at the end of the cable.   If you hub doesn’t shift well don’t worry about it and just loosen it until it disconnects from the cable.

Once that is disconnected just loosen the axle nut.

note the oreder of the washers


I typically leave the axle nut on the chain.  In this picture you can get a better look at some of the damage to the drop out slot behind the washer still on the axle.

At this point you now pick up bike by the seat stays. And give it a gentle shake.  You might need to try to pull the stays apart a little while you do this as well.  Sometimes  a little kick to the back of the tire is also in order.  You should now have the rear wheel off the bike.

As I progressed it become more apparent that I’m probably also going to have to remove the right hand crank and chain ring.  Though I still wasn’t 100% sure.  But I only had one last step to know for sure.  now the chain is in the way.  So off it comes.

There are two ways to remove an old chain.  The first way preserves the chain.  Here you’ll need a chain tool.  They’re fairly cheap, most department stores carry them for less than $10.00 .  If you only plan on working on the chain once every few years than those will do.  If you get the bug and do a lot of wrenching I’d recommend getting one made by Spin Doctor or Park which will run more like $20-$30.  Make sure the one you choose does 1/8 chain for three speeds and single speed bikes.  Some are designed for the smaller chains of bikes equipped with a derailleur.

The other way is to simply break the chain.  This chain is likely 54 years old, and not in very good shape.  Most the time I replace chains anyway, so I seldom bother saving the old ones.

Though if you want to save the chain most of them can be cleaned by soaking them in some solvent or gasoline, drying them off, then giving them a soak in oil afterwards.  But really I don’t think it’s really worth the effort considering decent new chains don’t cost much.

Breaking the chain

Here are the tools I used.  As noted in the tool section, neither one is really necessary, a couple adjustable wrenches works too.  These were just the two that were laying closest to me when I did this part.  All you do here is put both the wrenches on the chain like it was a bolt and then push/pull the wrenches in opposite directions.  The harder you do this the faster it will break.

Now the chain is gone, and it became apparent there was no choice but to remove the chain ring and right side crank arm. They are in essence one piece on bikes with cottered cranks. Here is where my specialized tool comes in handy.  It’s a cotter pin press made by Bike Smith designs (I’d recommend that you go ahead purchase the cotters to replace the ones your taking off, and the bottom bracket tool as well).(.   There are other ways to do this one can be found here and another can be found here.

The first of those linked methods is not recommended, it’s too easy to damage the bottom bracket with that method. Though if you must resort to that method be sure to remove the chainguard from the bike – I learned that lesson the hard way when I was just starting out.

The second is pretty much an improvised version of the press.  I use to use the second method with a clamp and socket , but it was kind of pain, and doesn’t work nearly as well as the Bike Smith tool.

Unscrew the nut on the cotter pinSetting up the cotter pin press


First thing I did (not pictured) is spay lots of Tri Flow all over the cotter.  Next I grab the adjustable wrench and remove the nut and washer from the cotter.  I then positioned the cotter press so that side of the cotter without threads is placed within the slot in the press, and then I hand tighten the bold onto the threaded side.  Once in place double-check that the press is on straight and snug.

Using the Cotter Pin Press


Now using the adjustable wrench on the body of the press to keep it from spinning, apply strong steady pressure to the socket wrench.  Continue apply pressure and turning to the socket wrench until you run the cotter out as far as it will go in the press.

At this point some will just fall out, sometimes you can pull them out with your fingers, and sometimes you need some good pliers to grab it and pull it the rest of the way.  On really stubborn ones you may even need to tap it the rest of the way out with an old screwdriver and a hammer.  If it comes to that add more lubricant and go with lots of soft controlled taps over one big tap to prevent bending the bottom bracket out of alignment, which then renders the frame useless.  Worse case scenario is getting a drill and a metal drill bit and drilling them out.  This is usually only necessary if you bend the threaded part of the cotter pin, though rarely are they that stubborn.   It’s not fun drilling them, but it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be.

This one came out just fine, and I needed  pliers to finish pulling it out.  And it came out with threads still intact.  It generally isn’t recommended  to reuse a cotter.  They are put under a lot stress, and though they may work, they can also fail too.  It is not a pretty picture if they fail and fall out or slip while you’re riding.  I’d only consider reusing them if they were the Raleigh ones with the well known “R” nuts.  They aren’t made anymore, and the threads of the “R” nuts aren’t compatible with modern cotter threads.

Next all that is left is pulling the chainring off.  Again I just lube it up really good, then I usually just grab the chainring and pull with both hands, often with my feet on the frame to apply more pressure.  Sometimes it helps to grab the pedal and spin it on the hub while pulling it off too.  Because the chainguard didn’t allow very much room for a hand hold I spun the chiainring off.

Chainring removedThe ChainringSucess

The first picture though not very good shows the chain ring just after it came off.  This is when the cover plate fell off that I mentioned earlier.  The next picture shows the chainring.  Obviously not the Phillips, but still of a design that I like, I might need to a charm of this one.  Despite the looks in the photo, I’m pretty sure it’ll clean up really nice.

The very last picture shows that last step of removing the chain guard.  That is the back section of the guard which are kind of molded into each other, but aren’t permanently attached.  THe two halves are simply held in place by the very first clip we took off.  So you just then grab each side and gently pull the two halves apart just enough to get it around the chainstay.

Parts layed out in order

As you can see, I laid out each piece in the order that I took it off.  Now to re-install, you’d basically do everything backwards.  Though since this is just the first phase of a complete overhaul, I put the pieces in a box, smaller pieces into a plastic zip lock bag that I labeled with the name of the bike, and “chain guard” so I can easily find it and know roughly where it all goes.

All in all, it really wasn’t that bad of task.  The time it took up was roughly an hour, and I did it while cookiong some BBQ short ribs as well.  Of course it would have gone much faster had I not been taking pictures.  And honestly, my writing and editing this post took longer than the actual disassemble did.

I hope you enjoyed it.  I know for some of you that this whole post might be a little simplistic, but I’m trying to do this in such away that those that aren’t so mechanically inclined might be able to follow.  Feel free to leave any feed back, suggestions for improvement are always appreciated.  As well as any tips that I might have missed, or techniques that I wasn’t aware of.


A Not So Brief Introduction.

Made in England

Well, it is now technically Spring and ones mind turn to bikes….of course.

And this last week-end I just picked up a bike that we’ll all get very familiar with.  This is the bike in which I’m going to use for this blogs section on cleaning, and refurbishing an old three speed.  I picked this one up from a Craigslist ad,  It’cost…$25.00.

So without further ado let me introduce to you the 1960 Phillips Manhattan.

Right Side

Sorry, it’s not the greatest photograph, but there will be many more of it as time goes on.  (And note this pic is still better than 75% of the pics on Ebay or Craigslist.)

HeadbadgeTailSeat tube decal


So obviously it’s a Phillips Manhattan.  This bike was supposedly made by Phillips for the American market.  And though I will say that some made it over here, I’m not totally convinced because if you look closely at the picture of the seat tube (the one with the Manhattan logo) you’ll notice that the tail light is on the right side of the bike which is where one would mount a rear bike light if one were to ride in England where they drive on the wrong side of the road (though watching most people, I’m not so sure there is a wrong or right side of the road to drive on anymore).

Some of the not so obvious hints that this is Phillips are found in some of the little details.  Like the Phillips Dimples on the fork.

Phillips Fork Dimiples


In the picture above you’re looking at the front fork from the left hand side of the bike.  If you look at those sideways chrome (granted it’s hard to tell they’re chrome in the picture) D’s where the “tines” in the fork meet.  Those are a very specific design aspect of Phillips bicycles.

Also they have some other things to note, for when you’re looking at old three speeds which might lack markings. Like the Front and rear lugs.

Front forkAg Dynohub


I’m not going to say a whole lot about these.  I’m kinda working on a side project about different drop outs where this subject will be explored much more in-depth.  Though astute readers will notice something a little unusual about the second photo.  It’s a Sturmey Archer AG.

The AG is basically the standard AW hub, but with a dyno in it.  For those that don’t already know what a dyno is I will explain.  The dyno produces electricity for the lighting system.  This technology has really caught on recently with bike commuters, and many think it’s a fairly recent invention.  But many don’t realize that it was invented by Sturmey Archer in the early 50’s.  It’s fun to look back at some of the ads for them back in the cold war days, because they claim it works great for lighting up fall out shelters and for emergency lighting.  Though I got one on my Superbe and honestly the light is pretty much there to keep me street legal at night, but I don’t really use it to see anything because the light is pretty dim.

Currently I’m not sure if the dyno works.  If you look closely you’ll notice one of the connectors is disconnected.  And even if it was hook up there is a good chance the bulbs are burned out.  We’ll find out if it works together when I get to that aspect of the rebuild.  I should note though that the hub shifts perfectly, and because of that I’m hopeful the dyno works.

Ag Hub date Stamp


For those that don’t know already, the hub is the standard for dating these bikes.  All Sturmey Archer hubs until fairly recently have a date of manufacture stamped on them.  Here you will see the numbers 60 and 6 stamped under the S-A logo.  60 would be the year, and the 6 would be the month.  Since the hub was made in June of 1960, this bike was probably built in the late summer/early fall of 1960.



A quick look at the cockpit.  You’ll notice that the shifter is age appropriate.  And despite the fact that 80% of the frame is worn to the primer coat (see the first picture and you’ll see a small amount of the red that was preserved by being under the cable clip for most it’s life), the shifter looks amazing.  It’s not unusual at all for all the paint to missing from an old shifter.

Last but not least, lets look at that chainguard.

Chain Guard

Despite it’s coolness.  I’m debating if I should ditch this part.  First it’s missing a part.  There should be a small piece that covers the gap in the lower left part of the first picture.  Second these all metal chain guards are horrible.  They look cool, but they’re a pain in the butt to remove .  As much as I’d like to keep the bike all original, this coupled with the severe rust on the rear fender make this goal really difficult.  Not impossible, but it’ll take a lot of extra time sourcing the missing parts and money.  And since this bike is a little too small for me, I’m most likely going to sell it once it’s done.

So basically here she is.  Get use to her.  You’re going to see a lot of this bike in the near future.

A couple more pictures and features.

Oil Port on Front Hub          Don’t need to grease these bearings.  Just add oil.

Peddle and Oil Port     Phillips pedals and an oil port on the bottom bracket too.




A New Year and a direction.

So I got to admit that doing this whole blog is a bit daunting.  Part of the problem is that the world of 3 speed bikes just doesn’t move anymore.  And though that is part of the appeal of such bikes, it doesn’t make for very interesting reading.  My intent when starting this blog (aside from shameless self promotion) was to make a guide for people that are starting to bike to explain the virtues of the trusty old three speed.  To guide them through the purshasing process and the tools and knowledge to do the upkeep themselves, making the 3 speed even more attractive.

I still plan on doing this, but I’m going to take a slightly different approch.  Rather than yet another dull post that explains the XYZ of these bikes.  I’ve decided to do it a bit differently.   Instead, I’m going to scan Craigslist and other sites and give the bikes and the ads a crituque.

I already spend alot of time on these lists looking for good bikes that I can either potentially add to my rather small collection or to fix and clean up to resell them.  I also find these sites are great places to find out the history of bicycling as well.  Each one has some sort of history.  And that is one of the most satisfying parts of riding these old bikes.

In each crituque I will try (where possible) talk about the virtues or downfalls of that particuliar bike and get into some brief history of the maker and model, any issues good and bad that are apparent through the listing and photos.

I will not give specific price information.  The ad by themselves aren’t enough to truely judge what the price should be, however I will rate each bike on a three speed scale.  High gear, neutral gear, low gear.  High gear of course would mean that I suspect that the price is too high, and low gear of course would mean that if you’re looking for a bike like this you should probably call and pick it up.

Since I do flip bikes, I will not post refrences oto any of my bikes for sale on this part of the blog.  My bikes will appear in the vintage parts/bikes section of this blog. My interest in doing this project isn’t to sell my bikes by compairing the two against each other.

On a last note, the bikes that will be reviewed will only be bikes that listed in the areas around Portland Oregon.  But I hope than many out side of the Portland area will find it interesting.  Not just because it’s about cool old bikes, but also because I hope they might learn something about how to look at these ads and how to gather as much information as possible from what little is often given.

I still plan on doing some tutorials on bike repair, but I’m going to simply do them as they come up in my everyday life.  Most of what I’m going to do is available elsewhere on the internet, so really if you have the interest or the need you’re not going to be missing much from my lack of posting a tutorial about it here.  Sheldon Brown, Bike forums, and Utube are great places to find what need if you need the information faster than I’m providing it.  And honestly, that’s where I get 90% of the information I need when I don’t know.

Happy New Year and Keep on Riding

Opening Statement/Blog intent

Ahh where to start.

I’m new to this whole blogging thing and honestly, I’m not much of a wordsmith.  However, I do have a very keen interest in vintage and utilitarian/urban bicycling.  I’ve been riding most my life, as a kid in the small towns of the Bible Belt, one of the last paperboys in the Detroit Metro area as a “tween/teen”, five year car less bike commuter in the mid 90’s here in Portland, to current recreational rider.  Though I wish I could bike commute now, my job as a welder/iron worker and the 1000 lbs of gear need to do such a job makes it impossible.  Having been a life long “cyclist” I have a pretty good working knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.  And being just a working class guy, I believe I can relate and talk about bikes in a fairly unique way.

I do have some pretty strong opinions on the subject of bicycling.  Many of which will bear themselves out as this blog progresses.   My personal philosophy on bicycling is that all that is needed to bicycle, is a bicycle.  I know this seems extremely simplistic. However, it is actually is a pretty bold statement in the United States bike community.  Where the next “latest and greatest” invention or safety devise is sure to make your life better, ride safer, and wallet much thinner.  For the sake of future content, this is all that I will say on these topics for now.

In keeping with the idea of bicycling as a simple activity I have taken to riding and rebuilding vintage three speed bikes.  With much digging you can find all the information you need to know on the subject of repair and restoration of such bikes online.  But even the sites with the best information, can be a bit daunting and hard to wade through.  Part of my intent is to guide one through the all the processes of keeping these bike in good repair, as cheaply, effectively, and easily as possible.

Though the internally geared hub is still being made today, you’ll find many employees and mechanics of bike shops don’t know much about them or how to fix or adjust them.  So if you decide to go the way of the 3 speed, you might find yourself having to fend for yourself.

One of the great advantages the old 3 speeds bikes have over other bikes is that they were built and designed  with ease of maintenance and durability in mind.  For 90% of the work needed to keep these bike road worthy all you need is a screw driver, an adjustable wrench, an oil can/pump, and some time.

There are some quirks to these bikes as well, and these issues will be brought up as we go through and fix them up.  Likewise, for some parts, if one is so inclined there are modern upgrades that might be considered.  Again these issues will be discussed as we go over each part of the bike.

I will also at times post things that apply to the local bike scene here in Portland Oregon (yeah I know another Portland bike blog).  But in the last few years I’ve taken more of an interest in bicycle advocacy, and would to make more of an effort in improving the cities bicycle infrastructure.  Emails and responding to blog posts and news articles only goes so far after all.  And on top of it all for how “great” the infrastructure is here in Portland, my neighborhood is perhaps one of the worst and is often, I feel- neglected.

The last reason I am starting this blog, is that I’m also currently doing some work and designs geared at starting a home based business.  One that I feel will offer much appeal to riders of similar bikes.  I’ll be the first to admit that nothing I make will make your riding easier, and it wont be the “next best thing”.   They will perhaps allow you to personalize and enjoy your trusty steed a little more than you do now.  More on this later, when I’m ready to roll it all out.

Well, I guess that this will be a sufficient start, I hope you enjoy the blog.