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 most difficult part of the restoration…
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.