The story of the restoration of a 1950s classic bicycle for a Land's End – John O'Groats charity ride in aid of Alzheimer's Society
The bike will have derailleur gears, but they’ll be far cruder than the smooth 11-speed gearing found on modern road bikes. In the early 1950s it was common to use a 4-speed freewheel in the back wheel. Together with double chainrings at the front, this gives 8 possible gear ratios (of which 6 are likely to be usable). For a long hilly ride like LEJoG, I’ll need the gear ratios to cover a wide range so, with only 6 usable ratios there will have to be big jumps between adjacent gears.
Wide-ratio 4-speed freewheels are very rare, and often in poor condition when they do turn up. I’ve been lucky and managed to track down a 14-28 freewheel made by the British Cyclo Company, with sprockets in very good condition. This should work well with the 3/32″ chain I want to use. The only problem is that, at some time in the past, someone has resorted to brute force to remove it from a wheel, and one of the slots that the freewheel remover should engage is pretty much destroyed. This damage means that, once mounted in a rear hub, it could be almost impossible to remove the freewheel. So I now either have to find a way of cutting new removal slots in the freewheel body, or track down another Cyclo freewheel to cannibalise.