MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

1977 RALEIGH TOURIST

194? VICTORIA

FIFTIES? CCM ROADSTER

E-Z ROLL REGAL TRICYCLE

SEARS FROM AUSTRIA

BEEKAY THREE WHEELER

WINDSOR WINCHESTER

 

ROADSTERS & TRADERS

1978 BEEKAY THREE WHEELER

The story behind this donated to Bicycles for Humanity BeeKay tricycle is kinda interesting.

In 1978, the fellow who helped me load the three wheeler had purchased the bicycle for his wife, who suffered from balance issues.  According to him, she rode the bicycle two times and for very short distances before saying that she did not like riding it.

On that day, in 1978, the BeeKay was hung, upside-down in the family shed, where it remained, untouched, until July 25, 2011.  The three wheeler had been hastily wiped clean, (sort of clean, anyway) of dust, cobwebs and what ever else had attached itself, to the near mint time bubble like patina that presented itself that day.

Being ridden little and stored carefully, everything was perfect, save the flat tires.  Pressurizing them later would prove them to be sound, air tight and incredible.  Incredible?  When was the last time anyone saw Tractor-Grip tires on anything Velo related?  The BeeKay sported Tractor-Grip tires and they were in perfect condition.

So too was the three speed derailleur fitted transmission.  The one ring drive featured a 42 tooth ring and extremely short crank arms.  Though the small cog set suggested hard to pedal, nothing could have been further from the truth.  The three wheeler was easy to pedal in the lowest gear, although many hills would see a rider dismount and walk the bike up.

To add just a small bit of icing to the transmission cake, the three wheeler came fitted with a handlebar mounted Suntour Power Shifter, one of the nicest to use friction shifters on the market in the seventies and even into the early eighties.

No high cadence spinning with the saddle mounted on the BeeKay.  The more than butt wide perch was luxurious, to say the least.  And pretty comfortable for the straight upright sitting position that the trike offered.  Needless to say, springs accompanied the great width, offering even more rider comfort for around town jaunts.

The extra high handlebars place the rider's arms horizontal to the ground and, once again, proved to be reasonable comfortable considering the sitting position the machine demands of the rider.

The all steel chrome plated brake levers were adequate, easy to reach and pull.  The brakes themselves, a side pull calliper on the front and an axle mounted drum on the rear, did a fairly good job of slowing the three wheeler down, at low speeds.  However, they would likely prove to be miserably ineffective, if trying to slow it down from great speed.  The BeeKay is a slow speed machine - period!

One brake lever feature that proved to be somewhat unique to the BeeKay was the parking brake.  A small notched lever, that fits into one of several cogs, could be used to set the brakes, preventing the tricycle from rolling away, when unattended.  This is an incredibly important feature for a three wheeler.  Without it, the bicycle, which cannot be leaned against a wall or laid down on the ground, will tend to roll away when ever it is left unattended on unlevel ground.

Over all one would have to say the the construction of the three wheeler was very good.  The frame lives up to the name on the tires - tractor.  When looking the machine over, heavy duty comes into the mind time and again.  This is one well built, made to carry heavier loads, active transportation machine.  Active transportation = human powered.

Not only was the structure solid and well thought out, but the finish was well presented also.  Welds were clean.  Assemblies fit perfectly and even the decals were installed straight.  All in all, the BeeKay is a testament to the Quality Philosophy targets adopted by the Japanese business machine a decade earlier.  Put another way, many products coming out of Japan in the seventies were a cut above average, always targeting the needs and wants of the customer.

And make no mistake about it, the BeeKay is a Japanese originated machine.  However, the frame and components would have been assembled in Canada, hence the maple leaf emblem featured on the seat tube decal.

It was common practice, from the early seventies on, to assemble bikes in the country where they were to be sold.  The reasons for this are both political and financial.

Government tariffs, starting at 25%, were placed on all imported bicycles but not bicycle parts.  Creative marketing departments for large companies like Raleigh, Peugeot and even BeeKay took advantage of this by setting up domestic shops in large market areas.  None the less, the BeeKay was available in Canada and sold as a Canadian bicycle, much of the time although some frame sets did retain the Made in Japan sticker.

There was some evidence of Canadian heritage, though.  The wheels were Canadian made, with Made in Canada clearly stamped on each of the three chrome plated steel rims.

Riding the three wheeler was a bit intimidating at the onset of the experience.  Any bicyclist will have a difficult time adjusting to the need to steer, rather than lean, the machine into corners.  This one feature, coupled with the miserably inadequate low speed only brakes, makes the BeeKay a grocery getter, recreational use, around the neighbourhood kind of ride.  But for those purposes, the three wheeler is perfect!

Grocery getter?  Take one look at the original issue luggage rack and it should be evident that more than a couple of bags full of groceries will fit.  In other words, the bicycle is a work horse as well as a rocking horse, capable of tackling work and fun situations alike.

The lines are funky and the ride is cushy, a combination that would meet immediate wants, if not needs, of lots of people in today's vintage bicycle market.  This lovely old time bubble kept girl will, however, find itself spending the next however many years of its life with a handicapped person in Thunder Bay or the surrounding area.

 

 

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