Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking
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I've just purchased a Speedwell Special Sports. The cranks are Williams with an AY code, which dates it to 1958-ish (confirmed by '58 date on front hub). I am flummoxed as it came with a 3-speed block on one side of the flip-flop hub and a fixed cog on the other side but no derailleur. The bike is super original and hardly ridden (original fibrax brake blocks, original Olympic Speedster and Dunlop Speed tyres) so the 3-speed block is probably original. I presume the bike was set up to accommodate a derailleur at a later date when funds permitted.
Frame Speedwell lugged steel, single-speed fork ends
Wheels Speedwell chrome flip-flop on rear, Durex chrome on front. 32/40 spokes, Dunlop chrome 27" rims
Chainset Williams 5-pin B100 46-tooth
Pedals Phillips Apollo
Gears No gears, 16-18-20 Simplex freewheel, Villiers 18 cog on other side.
Brakes Monitor Ventura
Stem/Bars Unbranded chrome
Saddle Bell Model 70
Other Details Speedwell grips, Speedwell bell, painted mudguards
It has rear-facing fork ends, so I'm probably limited to a chainstay mounted derailleur. But which one? 1958 is pretty late for any of the obvious choices (Cyclo Standard, Oppy or Ace). Any suggestions?
Last edited by Johnj on Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John, there are some derailleurs around with reverse fittings to fit rear facing dropouts. I have seen early SunTours with this fitting and also some Simplex, although both date from the early 60's. I believe Benelux made one for the 1Mk7 gear although I have only seen it in a catalogue (mid 50's to mid 60's)
The other option is a Cyclo-Whitmey gear which clamped onto the dropout and stay. I have seen this used on both pre and post-war Malvern Stars but maybe not as late as your machine.
I dunno about Oz but you could buy Cyclo Standard derailleurs NOS from the back shelves of bicycle shops in the UK well up into the early 70's and serious tourists often used them in preference to the mainly racing orientated derailleurs that were around until SunTour hit the market in a big way with the various GT models so maybe that might be an option?
Anyway, a reverse hanger is easily made from a piece of plate for most derailleur types. If you have trouble let me know and maybe I can make one for you?
Does it need be a reverse hanger tough? A regular forward facing one might be fine.
I remember back in 1959, my first year in high school, I thought Speedwell Special Sports bikes were just fantastic. They cost about 25 pounds for the single speed. As I remember in that year single speeds were common and 3 speed sturmey archer gears were a bit of a luxury. I do know some kids who got a single speed bike as a 12 to 14 year old saved up there pennies to change the hub to a 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub a few years later. My recollection is that in 1959 derailleur gears were unusual in the school bike shed and were only on more serious racing bikes than the Special Sports bikes. Does your new bike have Speedwell hubs front and back? Can you post some pictures?
I got my first Special Sports about seven years ago and have since found a few more in poor condition and recently bought I good frame on Ebay.
Thanks Col, that really helps give a good context for the bike. I've modified the original post, which should answer most of your questions. More pics at high resolution here.
Richard, I may well take you up on your offer for a derailleur hanger. The freewheel is a Simplex, so a Simplex 3-speed might be a appropriate. Got to sort the chain out first though....
Quite right, a forward facing hanger will work but you have to remove the derailleur to remove the wheel
I might be way off here, but should that rear axle have wingnuts, so you can manually move the chain to the appropriate ratio for the area that your riding in? Like a pre deraileur TdF bike? Those Italian/French gear changer thingies will never catch on
1.370" x 24 tpi - what sort of stupid standard is that?
Congrads JJ, an excellent example of such a classic. As stated,single speeds were the norm,three speeds the luxury, but this cluster option was unseen out our back blocks way back then. Personnaly i think a deraileur set up would not suit the style and time period, what would really set this off and most ridable as well, would be an alloy FC/FM 4 speed Sturmey Archer. To me that would be in line with the period,but hey, this one looks so damm nice and original any way you look at it !!
Which is more or less what happens anyway ... it can be a fiddly affair.
JohnJ >> What a lovely bike. A beauty !!!
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