This is going to be a fun project. Ever since our enjoyable day at the Tweed Ride, I have wanted to get a couple of bikes older and classier that our 5-speed Schwinns. Thanks to Craig’s List here in San Diego, my wishes have come true. The project part will be to go through each bike 100%, and to add some cool period accessories. As this project will take some time to complete, the many parts of this story will be spread out over several months.
Bike # 1 Oxhead
The first bike I chose, is a Oxhead, made in Germany. Not English you say? Maybe not, but some of the parts have ‘Made in England’, stamped into them. It shares the same basic look as the other bikes and is probably in best shape of the three. On the top frame tube are the words, ‘Made in Germany’, written in English. Plus this bike is a single speed with a freewheel hub, and front and rear hand brakes.
Aside from the classic looks, there were two things that drew me to this bike. One is my German ancestry. Maybe the bigger factor is the fact that I can’t find any information about the bike or the Oxhead Bike Co. I have searched the web heavily with no link to any information about either. I even had my brother’s German speaking mother-in-law search the German language web with the same results. This might be one very rare bike. So, the investment thing figures in.
Bike # 2 Raynal
This bike was offered by the daughter of a man who had owned it since new. He was no longer interested in keeping it, so off to the chopping block it went. I was excited and thrilled to be the one to be able to carry on with this bike. It is a three-speed, with front and rear hand brakes. It has a classic style front rack, that even has a scuba diver’s metal sign attached to it.
The paint is a lot more faded than the others, (more polishing?) and it has several reflective license stickers on the frame. These things just make it more desirable. One real cool feature is the name of the bike, (Raynal), is incorporated as the spokes in the front chain ring. And it looks like the chrome there and other places will polish up nicely.
Bike # 3 Meteor
This bike is a three-speed, but has a rear coaster brake. It does have a front hand brake. The paint is in pretty good condition. It is not shifting too well, but has some rust on the small chain coming out of the hub that might be affecting the movement. Like the other bikes, it has practically new tires, but they have gum side walls, instead of black.
This one seems to have a smaller frame size, but it could be an optical illusion. As I work them all over, I will be more tuned in to the differences in equipment and sizes. It has the seat post set all the way down, so this might be why I am feeling it is so small. The original (?) seat is black and white, and in great condition.
Bike # 4 Sunbeam
What? This story is about THREE old English 3-speeds. Well, this bike is in near perfect mechanical condition and might offer some spare parts that the other bikes need. I kind of hate to use it that way, but parts for these bikes are not on the shelf at very many bike shops nowadays. The pedal arms on the Oxhead are bent. If I can’t straighten them, the replacements are at hand. The Meteor that is not shifting well and has a coaster brake, might benefit from the rear hub that is working and shifting perfect. I thought about putting it on the Oxhead to make it a 3-speed, but I think I will leave that bike as orignal as possible.
With any luck, I can leave this bike intact and put it back into working order too. It looks great and has a nice red paint job. I got it for a song, from a young gal who had used it quite a bit. She hated to let it go, but needed the funds for other things. I felt bad, but what was I suppose to do, give her the money and let her keep the bike? I considered it.
My plan is to have two classic, great riding bikes for my wife and I to ride with the group, on days when old bikes are desired. Have them outfitted with some bags and the such that look just right on them. I have already purchased a few items that will compliment these bike perfectly.
I will tear each one down close to 100%. Polish each part. Tighten each spoke. True each wheel. Install thorn-resistant tubes with green sealant goop. Clean, lube, and adjust each bearing. Replace heavily worn parts. I won’t be doing any repainting, but maybe a little touch-up here and there. I want them to have the worn look of their age, but shined and cleaned with loving care. I want two bikes we can ride, and might put the Oxhead back on the market to foot the bill of the reworks.
So there you have it. Follow along with my journey on the three (four) old English 3-speeds. You might consider getting your own to do the same thing, Turbo Bob.
“In a car you are carried; on a bike you go. You are yourself integral with the machine.”—Christopher Morley, The Romany Stain.
Visit my favorite San Diego Bike Shop. Two locations.