Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Classic Sturmey Archer S5 Shifter and Hub - Overview

Virtually everyone understands the Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub and shifter after a very brief explanation. But when it comes to the 5-speed S5 hubs of the late 1960s and early 1970s, people become confused.

Is it a 3+2?
Is it really a 6 speed?
How does that double stick shift work?

Let's start with terminology:

Sturmey Archer hubs traditionally have gears with names rather than numbers. However numbers are more familiar to people, so we'll use both:

Bottom - 1st Gear - the lowest of all gears
Low - 2d Gear
Normal - 3d Gear (the middle gear, direct drive)
High - 4th Gear
Top - 5th Gear (the highest gear)

The Sturmey Archer S5 hub is actually two three speeds in a single hub. It has a set of planetary gears like the AW, but it has two sun gears. The result is that you have two three speeds: a medium ratio three speed using one sun gear and a super wide three speed when the other sun gear is engaged.

Thus, you have a dual stick control. You basically have two banks of three gears.

Bottom Gear - 1st Gear. Both sticks are pulled back toward you.

 Low - 2d Gear - the non-drive stick is forward, and the drive all the way back.

Normal - 3d Gear - the non-drive position does not matter and the drive in the middle.

High - 4th Gear - the non-drive still forward and the drive all the way forward too.

Top - 5th Gear - the non-drive now pulls back but the drive stays full forward.

So if I said you have two banks of three gears, where is that last gear? It turns out that when in direct drive mode the gearing is the same no matter which sun gear you are using. Thus, as shown above, normal/3d gear has it so that the non-drive stick can be either forward or backward, it doesn't matter. Thus, you have two banks of three gears, but two of those six are the exact same ratio (so you only have 5 gears because you have a duplicate).

Schwinn Continental - Weekend Ride

More abnormally warm weather was the story of today, followed by some thunderstorms (in February!) and cooler weather in the evening. Before the rain, I was able to ride this beautiful, 1947 Schwinn Continental 3 speed. It really is a gem of a rider - light, responsive and quick.

This really was a fast, high-quality bike in its day, and it has become a true classic.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Good Pair: Washington's Birthday and Westfield Sports Roadster

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, going by the Gregorian (new system) calendar. This being Presidents' Day (Washington's Birthday was part of that holiday's genesis), I thought it fitting to take out an "American" bicycle.

 Washington was not only a "founding father" of the United States, but also actively participated in boycotting British goods prior to the Revolutionary War. Washington wrote that Americans could make all the necessities of life in the 13 colonies: "[T]he necessities of life are mostly to be had within ourselves...". He believed that Americans should actively begin manufacturing finished goods equal to those from Britain.

This gave me a chance to ride my 1940 Westfield Sports Roadster. It was made in Massachusetts, with running gear made in Connecticut. It imitates English styles, but with some uniquely American twists: a New Departure coaster brake, Westfield keyed bottom bracket, internally tabbed/lugged steel pipe frame, and 1/2 inch axle Torrington pedals.

The Sports Roadster represents the early "modern" American bicycle for an adult rider and utility use. Until the 1930s, American bicycles often had single tube (tubeless) tires that glued onto wooden, clad, or metal rims.

This bicycle represented an attempt to modernize American bicycles for the adult, in the style of the English bicycle.

 The bike has the old-style, fabrikoid touring seat from the 1940s.

So 'Happy Birthday', President Washington. You would be proud to see what we could build, at least in 1940.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Late 1960s Raleigh Sprite

Warm again today - over 70 degrees. I took this 1960s Raleigh Sprite out for about an hour this afternoon. It's quite a change of pace from the Model C Hercules. It sure has a lot more "go" to it.

 The bronze green paint really does nicely in the sun - very bright. Raleigh seemed to use different tones of bronze green over the years. This one is a bit more "bronze" than my other green Raleigh.

The "honey"-colored Brooks B66 really goes nicely with the Raleigh bronze green color.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Another Warm Day - 1946 Hercules Model C

Just because a bicycle has 3 speeds and is made in Britain does not mean it is like all other British 3-speed bikes. An example is this change of pace: going from the late-1960s 5-speed Sprite to a 1946 Hercules Model C.

Both have 26 x 1-3/8 wheels, both have 3 speed transmissions, and both are lugged steel frames. Both also have the usual array of fenders, Brooks saddle, saddle bag, and chromed bright work.

But the 1946 Hercules has the rider almost perfectly upright, with the knees traveling through the bends in the handle bars. The Hercules is a slower, more leisurely bicycle.

However, it is quite easy to go a great distance on the Hercules, it just takes a long time to get there. I spent about 90 minutes today on the 1946 Hercules, and really did not feel any fatigue because the bike is not demanding on the rider in the least.

The temperature reached almost 70 degrees today - very warm for February. The past month or so has been very good for riding, considering it is the middle of winter.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Raleigh Sprite - February 2017 Rides

The Raleigh Sprite represents the ultimate development in the internally geared Raleigh Sports-type bike line. By the mid-1960s, Sturmey Archer had developed a five speed hub, derived by changing the shifting mechanism of the previous, four-speed FW hub.

The result was the first generation Sturmey Archer S5 hub. This hub was meant to be a performance upgrade on both the FW and AW hubs, offering very high and very low extra gears. The hub was set into Raleigh Sports-style wheels with steel spokes and Westrick pattern rims. The Raleigh Sports platform of frame, fork, and accessories was the platform for this hub.

The result was basically a higher performance Sports bike: the Sprite. This late 1960s-era Sprite has been in my collection for a couple of years. I recently swapped a Brooks "Honey" colored saddle onto the bike.

I also located a set of Raleigh frame pump clamps and added a traditional frame pump.

We had another mild day today, at least mild for February. The roads were clear of salt and dampness, giving me a chance to take this Sprite out for a nice ride.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Unseasonably Warm

Another winter weekend, and another weekend of above average temperatures has come and gone. We reached the mid-50's today, which is quite warm for this time of year. The forecast says this week will reach 65 on Tuesday and 70 on Wednesday. That's very warm for February.

Seeing as today was not a bad day outside, I took the 1941 Schwinn New World for a ride. I've been riding just this bicycle this winter because there's just not enough ride time to rotate bikes.

Although it has been unseasonably warm for much of the winter, there is not enough daylight to keep several bicycles in rotation and ride them all. This time of year, I really only ride on the weekend - not enough daylight to ride after work during the week.

This 1941 New World really has the "well-ridden" look to it, but the condition is pretty consistent throughout. "Honest wear" would be a good way of putting it. Mechanically, it is a real joy to ride though.