MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

CUSTOM OPTIONS- INTRO

CUSTOM BIKE ACCESSORIES

THE ORIGINAL SINGLE SPEED

ENHANCING VISUAL APPEAL

SINGLE SPEED UPGRADES 

THE ORIGINAL "SINGLE SPEED"

Changing as little as possible about a bicycle when converting it to "Single Speed" design is the second cheapest way to go when bicycle customization is the issue.  The Original "Single Speed" is a nicely cleaned up bicycle that uses original brakes, original cranks, original wheel sets etc.  There is no need to hunt for and purchase special items because none will be needed.  The end result will be a bicycle that looks pretty much stock with the exception of the converted drive assembly.

The two Sekines pictured are both mid-seventies Canadian issue, the red one being shown exactly as it would have appeared on the showroom floor.  These lovely old Sekine bicycles, each adorned with a very ornate "Medialle" head badge, were middle of the line offerings and focused primarily on the needs of the recreational rider.  For some interesting and unusual reasons, Canadian Sekine bicycles were very well made and finished.  The colors offered and art work applied are typically 70's vintage and have tended to hold up very well over the years.

The cosmetics on the "pearl gold" SHC 270 were very good.  So good, it would be a shame to loose the vintage appeal.  With that in mind, nothing was done to alter the antiquated appearance, nor ride performance, in any way other than to implement the "SS" conversion.  The build would include pitch out what was not needed for the "Single Speed" design and then tidy up what ever was left.  The result will be an obviously vintage road bicycle that offers a much improved "user friendly" feel, says something about the owner/builder and costs relatively little to convert.

The only planned conversion for the SHC 270 included discarding the transmission, swapping out the freewheel to one of single cog design and substituting the original crank for one that is more readily convertible.  The hope was to finish up with a "Single Speed" bicycle that retained the vintage appeal of the near forty year old steed.

Part two of the build, would focus on changing components with performance issues in mind.  Performance issues would include reducing weight, improving comfort concerns and embellishing the vintage appeal, the old bicycle brought to the party, in the first place.

Finally, the focus would shift one last time to practical issues, and components would be added to demonstrate that direction that a "Single Speed" conversion or custom build can take.

The first thing to do when converting to "Single Speed" design is remove those components that will prove unnecessary to the build.  Things like front and rear derailleurs are the first to go, along with shifters and any clamp on brackets that might be part of the transmission system.  Next, pitch out things like rear wheel spoke protectors, commonly referred to as "pie plates" and any other accessory items that add weight, or detract from the light appearance that is common to most converted "Single Speeds".

With the components to be discarded out of the way, what was left on the bicycle was stripped and set aside for cleaning, polishing and reassembly later on in the build.  The bare frame was checked for structural integrity and found to be straight and ready to build, with no need to straighten anything out.  That is always a big bonus with a vintage lightweight bicycle.  Since they are so fragile it is not at all uncommon for old road bikes to need a little tweaking to get them back into acceptable alignment.

Once satisfied that the frame set was true and needed no work, it was cleaned thoroughly and treated to a nice coat of Carnauba wax.  All threads were checked, cleaned and chased as required.  Frame set cavities were inspected and found to be in near perfect condition, requiring mostly a good cleaning followed by a thin application of grease to improve lubrication and protect against oxidation.

After preparing the frame set, the intended original components were inspected, cleaned and installed per factory specification with the exception of the crank set.  The original crank and ring set would need to either be replaced with a single ring crank set or simply convert what one has to begin with.  Fortunately, the Sekine offered a nice tapered fit alloy crank set that would lend itself well to conversion.

The original steel 27" wheels were not to be changed.  The rims and hubs were in excellent condition, both cosmetically and mechanically.  Though much thought was given to swapping the wheels out for an alloy rimed quick release set, the decision was made to stick to original even though the temptation to change the running gear was quite high.  Going to a lighter alloy rimed wheel would certainly offer a positive impact to ride feel and reward.  Heavy wheels are the one thing that will so significantly impact ride that to not change them out could almost be considered a mistake.  But the original hoops remained for this build.

The hubs were rebuilt with the rear being re-spaced to accommodate the narrower freewheel.  Finally, both wheels were trued and the back was dished to accommodate the re-spacing of the rear hub.  Incidentally, the re-spacing is necessary to ensure that the tire runs in the center line of the bicycle's frame/fork set.  Additionally, the spacing of the hub was to ensure that the chain line was correct, allowing for reduced drag and wear on the entire drive assembly.

Both the original drop bars and SR embossed stem were retained, once again to keep costs low and original issue condition high.  The original "dual position" brake levers were installed and then just before final decision time, swapped out for a single position set.  The "dual position" brake lever generally represents an entry level bicycle and were often frowned upon by riders of more sophisticated road bicycles back in the sixties and seventies.  There was a time when I had a healthy dislike for the "dual position" or safety lever or suicide lever, depending on one's point of view.

Today, I see the "dual position" brake lever as a good idea considering the demands of modern traffic conditions, provided that they are set up to work properly.  And setting them up to work properly begins with a rebuilt and trued wheel set.  The safety lever has less travel that the primary lever and as a result the brake callipers must be set to engage soon when the lever is pulled.  Too much slack in the adjustment and the "dual position" lever will bottom out on the underside of the drop bar and effective braking will become nonexistent.  The truly nice thing about a properly adjusted secondary lever is that it allows the rider to ride with his or her hands on the top of the drop bars and still have immediate access to either brake.  But they do not look cool!

And look cool was one of the requirements for the calliper set.  The brakes had to be effective but if they looked the vintage part, so much the better.  With that thought driving the brake calliper decision, the original Shimano "Tourney" center pull brakes would do the job nicely.  This Old School system has the vintage look, to say the least.  An assortment of brake yokes, yoke cables and cable guide brackets all contributed beautifully to the vintage appeal.  Once cleaned up and installed, the old callipers looked just great.

The original Sekine saddle was retained as was the Old School seat post and saddle clamp assembly.  This Old School saddle perch is not the best for heavy strong riders like myself.  The saddle clamp assembly tends to swivel and even tilt unexpectedly.  Once again, consideration was given to swapping the original saddle post for a more modern indexed alloy model.  But the urge to do so was resisted, knowing that the newer seat post would not look correct when everything else was of period correct vintage.  And that was the rational that dictated keeping the original saddle even though comfort might well be sacrificed by doing so.  Keep in mind that the original decision was to keep the Sekine as original looking as possible, thus maintaining vintage appearance and keeping costs low at the same time.

When it came to pedal selection, the originals would have done just fine.  The pedals are weighted and always sit right side up when in use or at rest.  There is never the need to right a pedal before engaging it.  This makes them very user friendly in busy traffic conditions.  However, the weighted pedal, as its name implies, is heavy!  With that in mind, a much lighter double sided set was selected that are just about as "user friendly" as their distant weighted cousins.

I should add that I see no need to attach one's self to a "Single Speed" for traffic conditions.  With this in mind, I tend to prefer easy to use pedals with some form of anti-slip surface.  I happened to have an interesting set that I would be using if I could not find a more appropriate period correct set.

And that just about took care of the design decisions.  The result was a very clean vintage road bicycle that would prove to be a comfortable and sensible steed for city riding.  It had cost very little to convert

NEXT-ENHANCING "SS" VINTAGE APPEAL

 

 

     

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