The Poor Boy "Single Speed" pictured above is about as practical as an Old School ride can get.  High volume tires, fenders, luggage rack, sensible handlebars, dual sided pedals and a fairly soft saddle all focus on practical issues.  The bicycle is designed to allow for easy around town traffic use.  Thanks to the fender set, the bike works well in wet weather or dry.  Small items, or even large, can be carried home on the luggage rack.  There is no need to search for the correct pedal side and no special shoes need be donned to take this old bike out for a spin.  Setting the Sekine up in a similar fashion is the final part of the Sekine's metamorphosis into a practical and pretty street "Single Speed".

So far the upgrades associated with the Sekine SHC 270 have focused on appearance and performance.  Performance being defined as lighter, faster, and more agile with compromises to include comfortable and dependable.  Not a bad set of targets for a bicycle intended for frequent city use.  But one consideration has been omitted, and an important one at that.  What about practicality?  Or safety, which almost by definition must fall into the practicality category.

One could argue that going with the higher air volume 27" tire, the practical issue had already been addressed and one would be right.  The only other thing that could be done to the running gear would be to install puncture resistant inner tubes.  These inner tubes are very thick and probably weigh three times what an ordinary tube would weigh.  But they are very effective at preventing flat tires.  I rode one bicycle over 4000 miles one year running the puncture resistant inner tube and experienced not one flat tire.  Now that is both a performance and a practical issue, as far as I am concerned.  But there are other practical upgrades that can make the difference between comfortable and miserable rides.

What about fenders for wet weather conditions?  Can you live with the appearance of fenders or are they out of the question.  For many people, fenders are definitely out of the question, just from an aesthetics point of view.  But they are very practical and if you can find a vintage set, such as the original Sekine fenders selected for the SHC upgrade, then you just might want to give them a try.

My 1975 Sekine SHT 270, the second from top of the line model, has been fitted with these beautiful old alloy fenders for many years and I really like both the appearance and riding results.  In all fairness, a mud flap should be added to the bottom of the front fender to keep the splash from reaching the rider's feet, but overall the fenders are very effective.  I should add that I plan on install a set on my early eighties Norco Magnum Special Edition one of these days.

Or how about lights and/or reflectors for night riding.  Will the lighting chosen be designed to see with or be seen by.  There is a big difference.  For city riding, I choose to be seen.  In most areas the street light produce enough light for me to see my way safely.  With that in mind, I select the LED flashing white light for the handlebars and a flashing red light on my person, usually attached to the back of my back pack.  My theory is that by raising the height of the light to near shoulder height, I make the light easier for drivers to see.  That said, a warning...

The flashing red light is illegal in most areas!  Use it for your own safety but only knowing that you are breaking the law by doing so.  I have given this considerable thought and decided that I will take my legal chances and use the flashing red light.  I would much rather pay the fine as opposed to the doctor bill.

Perhaps you are the sort of person who likes information pertaining to ride performance.  If that is the case, why not install a computer that measures most things about each ride session including top speed, average speed, elapsed time and related information.  Turn your errand running into a measured exercise program.  There is even a built in clock to help you know not only where you are but when you are.  However, the computer is one of those little things that just might look totally out of place on the vintage ride.  But it is your ride.  I personally like to have access to a bike computer if for no other reason than to know what time it is.

Since the bicycle will see a lot of city riding, some kind of warning device might be in order, particularly when negotiating bicycle paths and trails that are often shared with slower moving pedestrians.  Though the rider can always warn the person to "watch out", a gentle tap on the vintage bell not only warns the pedestrian that you are coming up behind him or her, but also adds a vintage note (pardon the pun) to the message as well as the experience.  Vintage bells, incidentally are frequently offered on Ebay for very little.

Of course, since the bicycle will be used frequently for running errands, some sort of carrying device might be in order.  A vintage rear rack for carrying purchased items home with or even a saddle mounted bag to carry tools, spare inner tube, patch kit or whatever.  And again, while out on the busy errand trail, being able to see behind might prove worthwhile.  With that in mind, a vintage mirror just might be the order of the day.  The point is, the way the bicycle will be used and under what conditions will help to define any special upgrades that one might want to implement.

The one supposedly "user friendly" or supposedly practical upgrade I strongly recommend against is the clamp on side or center stand.  These old stands did not work well, frequently loosening off and requiring retightening.  Of course, sooner or later all that tightening resulted in crushed chain stays.  This problem is even more prevalent on high end bicycles with thin walled chrome moly butted tube sets.  Do yourself a favour and avoid the clamp on stands at all cost!

To prove my point, but not to the horrifying degree that I have witnessed on other frame sets, consider the Sekine featured in this article.  Look at the top of the chain stays near the bottom bracket.  Can you see the damage to the paint?  Fortunately, this old Sekine had seen little use and the need to tighten up the stand had not had time to occur.  But the simple fact that it was installed has damaged the paint already.  Incidentally, the underside of the stays is a bit worse but at least there is no tube distortion.

So, with the fenders installed, a saddle bag of considerable capacity, a bell and a "be seen" headlight, the Sekine SHC 270 "Single Speed" conversion and upgrade project is complete.  The end result is a bicycle sporting an unusual and certainly antiquated appearance.  It is easy to ride and offers relatively quick handling characteristics.  The bicycle stops well and hanging onto average city traffic speed is not an issue.  Incidentally, does anyone know what the average speed cars travel at in most cities?  As I recall, the number is 14 miles per hour.

The Sekine turned out great and is a very worthwhile city bicycle.  It did not cost me a great deal to build but it well could have.  Had I not had the necessary upgrade components on hand, a build similar to the Sekine would run hundreds of dollars unless patience in acquiring components is considered.  But just about any old road bicycle with horizontal rear drops can be converted to "Single Speed" design for very little cash outlay.  And end up looking pretty good to boot.  Of course, if you want to spend the bucks, the results can be even better...