Say hello to Janet in her new finery! As well as a good clean she has had a few modifications…
The most obvious being the new cream Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tyres. To be honest I have a thing about white tyres since being a small child, my first bike had white tyres and I was very disappointed when they went out of fashion and you couldn’t get them any more. Black tyres seem so boring and dull to me! They came from Spa Cycles in Harrogate, who must have (fortunately for me) had some old stock as they don’t have the reflective strip around the rim, which for a vintage bike looks more authentic. I was considering changing the handlebar grips, but the original cream matches the tyres so well it would be a shame to now.
As you can see I’ve added a skirt guard. This came from ebay in Germany and is an elasticated one designed to go through holes in the mudguard. I didn’t want to damage the original mudguard so I used mini bulldog clips.
Then there is the Brooks Lady saddle, which so far doesn’t feel at all like I’m breaking it in, but has been comfy from day one. Yes, it is much firmer than the one on the Bloom, but maybe because it is just as wide and supports my pelvis properly it doesn’t put any pressure on delicate parts! The saddle came from Rutland Cycling who are generally quite cheap, but rather slow.
Then there are the small details, like a new bell from Cremoni on ebay Italy who has some great items for vintage bikes.
A raleigh pump for woods valves (cheap as chips from Amazon)
Now for the major surgery. She has had a new back wheel with a new Sturmey Archer 5 speed hub with coaster brake added. The original back wheel was a 40 hole Westwood rim, but that meant to add a coaster brake (or any gears for that matter) would require a vintage hub. Whilst getting hold of a vintage Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub with 40 holes isn’t too difficult, finding one with a coaster brake on it as well in the UK at least appears to be very elusive. So, I decided the simplest option would be to buy a modern 5 speed hub with a coaster brake and a new 36 hole Westwood rim. I got these from SJS Cycles, but credit has to go to AE Butterworth Cycles on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield, for building the new wheel and then splaying the back forks to fit the new hub (which was nearly an inch wider than the old one), fitting the new gears, fitting the new tyres and inner tubes, tensioning the chain, replacing the front axel and generally putting up with me bringing Janet back on a regular basis till we got everything sorted! (If you do live in Sheffield - I highly recommend them and they are very reasonably priced too).
Although I prefer twist shift gears to clicky ones, I’m not overly impressed with the modern Sturmey Archer version (the original one I had on my mum’s RSW was far more elegant and even the later ones they did on the Grifter where much nicer) an in comparison to the Shimano Nexus one on my Gazelle Bloom, it is very clunky and not very nice to hold. It also turns the opposite way (up is down and vice versa), which I find hard to adjust to as I still need to ride the Bloom most days for carrying kids or luggage.
Which leads on to luggage. I managed to get hold of a very retro “new old stock” saddle bag from ebay, which just fits in the small gap between the rear rack and the seat on its lowest setting. Here the drunken angle of the rack comes in handy! However, as the capacity is rather limited I haven’t really used it much although I may use it now the nights are drawing in as a means of attaching some rear lights which I can easily clip to the buckles.
What i have found more handy are these panniers which also came from the same place as the bell. You can get real leather versions, but I opted for vinyl, mainly for cost, but as Janet is a sixties girl, artificial fibres are a must! Their capacity isn’t huge and after being used to being able to carry loads of stuff in my Basil panniers, I do need a lot more discipline with these.
But I think they suit her rather well, what do you think?
After riding her for a few months now, I’m still getting used to the coaster brake - especially training my legs to freewheel the opposite way round so when I brake the pedal is in the right position to set off! I’ve had problems with the rear mudguard which keeps going out of alignment and worked it’s way loose with all the potholes and I’ve still not managed to get the tension right on the hub cable, so after suffering slipping in first, it now slips in third!
However, she is a great bike and amazingly fast and sporty. Not quite like a racing bike, but surprisingly responsive and light. The ride position, compared to my Bloom is more aggressive and less upright. The 5 speed hub combined with the 28 inch wheels has pretty much the same range as the 7 speed hub on the Bloom and is if anything slightly easier uphill. I have the standard 18 tooth cog on that came with the hub and so far haven’t seen any reason to change it.
There are still a few things I haven’t got round to, I have a vintage style battery LED light for the front and an original Sturmey Archer clamp to attach to the lamp bracket, but unfortunately the hole in the new light is a fraction too small and will have to be drilled out. Hence, I haven’t done it yet. I haven’t managed to find any suitable retro rear lights and think for now I will go with Knog as they are easy to get on an off wouldn’t be on to spoil the look in daylight.