Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Throwback commuters

So what do you do when you have been job searching for months and you still have no offer in hand? well you could bang your head against the wall.

Or as I like to do you can detach yourself from reality and plan for the purchase of a cool commuter bike for that job you don't have yet.  Now the facts that A) I need another bike like I need another hole in my head and B) I have no idea if my eventual job will even be bike commutable are just details that I am choosing to ignore right now.

I have developed a love of the English 3 speed and I even had one in my size as a project bike for a time (here) but I sold it on in part because I needed the $$ and in part because I realized in my hilly world with my level of fitness a 3 speed wouldn't really work.  However, thanks to the developments of later day IGH (internally geared hub) technology I can get a 7, 8 or even 11 speed IGH that should allow me to climb my local hills.  And in my recent search for the commuter of my dreams for that job I don't have yet I found a number of possibilities.  So on to the contenders.

Schwinn Brighton

The Schwinn Brighton (here) has the right look and it has an Nexus 8 speed rear hub to go with fenders, rear rack, kickstand small Chain ring (38t) and a classic chain guard.  I would want to put a Brooks saddle on it, a larger rear cog 22t rather than 19t for a lower granny gear,  and probably new pedals - MKS Sneaker pedals perhaps- but its a good starting point and reasonably priced at around $650.  And they have a 58cm model which is nice as most of the vintage Raleigh's I see are in a much smaller frame size than would work for me.  However seeing some of the Schwinn branded stuff on sale at the local Target I am a bit concerned about their quality these days, and vague phrases like "Euro-Style steel frame" make me think pig iron rather than chromoly.  You can also have any color you want so long as its green, which, fortunately, I kind of like.

Linus Roadster 8

Another choice is the Linus Roadster 8 (here) that has much of the same look and features of the Schwinn; fenders, rack, kickstand, 8 speed Nexus IGH etc. although they go with a chainring guard rather than a full chain guard, perfectly workable just not quite the same vintage vibe.  As with any candidate I would want to go with a Brooks saddle and this bike already has a large rear cog (22t) but that is offset by the larger front chainring (48t) so I would probably want to downsize the chainring to 36t to get that nice low gear I need for the local hills.  I have ridden the similar Linus Gaston 5 and really enjoyed it, this bike is built with 4130 steel and comes in a variety of colors and at a higher price point of $830.  Oh and the bell comes standard.

Simcoe Roadster Classic
I stumbled onto the Simcoe in my own backyard, it was in the window of a local bike shop, first I had ever heard of this brand.  The Simcoe Roadster classic (here) is again in that English 3 speed style with fenders, rear rack and in this case a 7 speed Shimano IGH.  I was worried the chain guard might be plastic but the spec says alloy, they didn't give the chainring and rear cog sizes so I am not sure if I would need to make any changes there but of course it would need a Brooks Saddle.  This bike also has color options and it comes in at the most expensive of the lot with a $900 price tag for the 7 speed model.  Although expensive the idea of supporting a local bike shop is appealing.

Classic Raleigh 3 speed

One final option would be to find another classic Raleigh 3 speed in the 23 inch frame size and fit it with a modern 8 speed rear hub, and what the heck while I'm at it I might as well get a dynamo hub front wheel built.  I am not sure if A) sourcing an old bike and getting a new rear wheel built would cost any less than a new bike and B) I worry the rear frame spacing would have to be adjusted to accommodate the rear hub and that's an additional cost to have it "cold set" which has its own complications.  And the nice thing about the new bikes is they are all 700c wheel sizes rather than the one off 26x1 3/8 classic 3 speed size.  There is also the guilt of bastardizing a classic 3 speed, not quite on par with making a classic 10 speed into a fixie but nonetheless.....oh the dilemmas!

Of course until I actually land a job its all academic and just a good excuse to go virtual bike shopping on the interwebs.  Perhaps when I finally land a job an its in (hopefully) downtown I can use that as an excuse to test ride the 3 new bikes above and explore the feasibility of upgrading an old Raleigh 3 speed and do a real world report.

Until next time Ride. Smile and repeat.


  1. Love this virtual report. I do this all the time in my head. Hmmm, I wonder what bike I'm going to get next...

    1. Annie glad to know I am not the only one out virtually shopping for my N+1

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hey Accyclist thanks for stopping by I did see your comment before it was removed and thanks for the encouragement to take the plunge on coldsetting

  3. Ryan, I spent two years moping around this damn trailer park with no job other than fixing trailers for chump change. Were it not for the long nights spent shopping and dreaming on the interwebs I may have lost my mind. That and writing my blog not only helped me stay more-or-less sane but gave me a window into another world, poor but always riding and living a true bike-life.

    As you know I bought a nashbar 29er for a bangaround bike but have yet to get the damn thing running. There are several new bike paths opening up in our area and I may put the nash rambler (just thought that one up) on the back burner and go back to getting little miss dialed in. I was building her specifically for those paths; in another year or so one should be able to pedal all over florida on dedicated bike trails.

    The reason I mention the nashbar is that Bikes Direct has a Motobecane with a nexus 8 on the same platform as that bike I put together for Cromwell awhile back.

    I know what you are thinking, but you said schwinn so motobecane is just as valid. Aluminum frame (which I kinda like) and rim brakes. Perhaps the low price balances the lack of panache? I don't know.

    I am WAY over rehabing old bikes. Little Miss has enough $$$ in her right now to have put me on a Rivendell. Maybe. Almost. I think my Grail Bike is a Waterford, the sad tale of the Schwinn brand drives me crazy.

    My first bike was a schwinn, of course, as is Little Miss. The bike shop where I purchased my first stingray back in '62 was called Gilles Schwinn Cyclery. At one time in America the word Schwinn was practically a generic term for bicycle, like Kleenex was for facial tissue. It breaks my heart, it does. So many venerable icons in this country/nation of ours have fallen prey to the Junk Man that we have, I think, lost part of our collective soul as a people.

    Speaking of broken hearts, I had a heart attack last Friday and spent Labor Day weekend hooked up to all manner of hoses and electrodes and being x-rayed and EKG'd and I don't know how bad it was but they wouldn't let me get on the treadmill to prove I was OK.

    I'm OK now, sort of; I rode fifteen miles today and lived to tell the tale. But they have me taking medication that makes drinking alcohol a really bad idea so that is why I'm typing like a grown up. I'm sober. Good Lord...where does it all end?

    yer pal,


    1. Tim Joe I am glad to hear you are ok and sorry to hear about your heart attack MAN! As you may have read back in April I had a very minor stroke which is nothing like a heart attack and didn't require a hospital but did require some meds for blood pressure. Hope the ol ticker stays strong for you.

      Now I am the king of putting off getting on my bike and walk by the damn thing multiple times a day but when I finally decided to throw a leg over and take a short ride to the farmers market it really put a smile on my face so I hope you get the NB single speed up and running and riding, and then you can, you know, maybe write about it on FB or something.

      I did actually see the MB with the 8 speed IGH on directbikes but something about a aluminum frame runs counter to my steel english 3 speed ethos- or something on the other hand I had the wild hare I could buy a cheap Windsor 3 speed and swap out the rear wheel for a 8 speed hub so I am not immune to the lure of the "inexpensive bike".

      Stay well my Velo Brother and keep doing those 15 milers!

    2. Speaking of Nash Ramblers, I almost forgot to add that my Dad had a Nash Rambler once upon a time and he loved to tell this story; He was a on a business trip while working for the Feds and was issued a Nash Rambler from the motor-pool. After a dinner on the road he and his colleague got back in the car which promptly failed to start, my Dad, having alot of experience with this issue, quickly diagnosed a vapor lock. He grabbed a wrench from the glove box, popped the hood and took one solid whack on the fuel pump to the puzzlement of his colleague. The puzzlement turned to awe as the my dad climbed in and started the car right up! His co-worker thought he was a mechanical genius for ever after.

  4. Ryan, I have been a bit behind and am catching up. The shopping and dreaming of bikes can derail my best intentions of a productive work day. And, this comes at a time when I am pretty satisfied with the bikes I have in my garage. I ordered my fatbike from bikesdirect and I have a bit of a story. I started with their Lurch model because it is a steel frame. After waiting for a couple of months in which they misplaced my order and then did not have stock to fill it and then the lengthy dock workers slowdown on the west coast ports, I changed my order to an aluminum frame one that they had in stock. I was OK with the whole mail-order bike concept, but I also like the feeling of handing over my cash and riding out of the LBS on my new ride.
    I really do not have any plans or wants for a new bike right now. The only upgrade I can see me doing would be a Surly disc trucker to replace my LHT and even though I love the disc brakes I am not OCD enough for the expense of that upgrade when it is not really needed.
    I like the look on that Schwinn Brighton. I would be willing to bet that the frame on the Schwinn and the Motobecane that TJ pointed out were made in the same factory

    1. Jim thanks for stopping by, i envy you getting a Fat bike I've only come as close as putting 700x47c tires on my Handsome Devil/ I have looked at the disc trucker a few times myself. I agree that at least the Schwinn and MB frames are probably made at the same Taiwanese factory and maybe a few of the others I listed above. I must say I have a soft spot for the Schwinn Brighton but I would have to test ride one first and its all academic right now anyway but a boy can dream, the Sears and Roebuck catalog being replaced by the interwebs

  5. A brief update, the good news is I got a job, well actually two jobs but thats another story, and so soon I might have the finances for a new steed but the downside is that the commute one way is about 20 miles and not all of them are very bike friendly. I'm not ruling out at least a multi-modal commute (Bus-bike) and the employer does have showers but it won't be easy or quick