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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:17 am 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:32 pm
Posts: 405
Location: London, UK
A few years back I became disgrunted with the short service life of derrailieur transmissions when forced to cope with wet weather commuting. I began to hanker for a simple vintage 3 speed town bike for my commuting.
I played about with a scrapper bike to see what was feasible, it was a steep learning curve but I soon found out what worked and didn't.

The classic Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub gear is a brilliant device for utilitarian transport, their lifetime is measured in decades and once set up are almost maintenance free. The gear wheel can wear to the point where it is totally hooked, yet still work acceptably. The only maintenance required is a drop or two of oil down the port.

However I soon found out that both chromed steel and stainless rims are hopeless in wet conditions, to the point of being lethal in London traffic.

I found this curious bike on eBay for just over £20 and at the time was interested in the stainless steel rims that were fitted to it.
The name on the headbadge is Staco, I was told the former owner had brought it back from Switzerland.

Having collected it and been out for a quick sortie, I already felt that it was much too curious to break up. The styling is similar to the classic "Swiss Army Bike" (no jokes about tin openers please).
It had huge motorcycle sized mudguards, "North Road" chrome handle bars, and a retro bullet shaped headlamp powered by a fork mounted dynamo. There was even a combination tail lamp/number plate holder.
The stainless rims fitted were 650b, an odd size used on French touring bikes although ironically coming back into fashion for some mountain bikes.
Sadly, on closer inspection the rear rim was cracked and the elegant stainless finish dangerous in rainy weather.

More to follow...

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:24 pm 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 10:01 am
Posts: 11214
Location: Stockport, staring at the Peaks
Did anything ever come of this? Caught my interest! :D


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:22 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:32 pm
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Location: London, UK
Yes, I got a couple of years use out of it, I had to make some mods to make it more suitable for London commuting though.

I couldn't live with the "North Road" handlebars so put some straight ones on.
Next I rebuilt the back wheel with a modern era 26" MTB rim and replaced the front with a cheap 26" MTB rim. This meant I had a lot more choice about tyres and had brakes that still worked in the wet (stainless rims don't).
The really comfy sprung saddle disintegrated and was replaced by a non-sprung item.

The reasons it hasn't been used in the last 12 months are:

The weight, at around 18 Kg.
Any maintenance of the rear wheel is a major pain in the bum. It is not a bike to fix a rear puncture by the roadside in 5 minutes.
The cotter pin cranks which are an art to set up.

I am planning to fit a modern bottom bracket, fix some cosmetic items and sell it to a hipster next summer.

The official version of the Swiss Army bike sells used for over £1000. :shock:


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:16 am 
South East Deputy AEC
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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:27 pm
Posts: 4398
Location: Angmering
is this the one that came out for a cake run Mark?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:38 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:31 pm
Posts: 1112
PurleySquire wrote:
Any maintenance of the rear wheel is a major pain in the bum. It is not a bike to fix a rear puncture by the roadside in 5 minutes.


This is the problem with commuter bikes. Because of my convoluted weekly schedule, I commute two days a week on a Brompton with hub gears and the rest on a cyclocross bike.

I had a flat on the Brompton the other week and it was a nightmare.

Has nobody ever managed to come up with a hub gear wheel that's easy to remove?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:36 am 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:32 pm
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Location: London, UK
BobCatMax wrote:
is this the one that came out for a cake run Mark?

The very same, it had only been built a month before the TDC. It then got used on rainy days the following winter and all through the Olympics, as I saw it as my least desirable bike for thieves.

They tried to steal my Muddy Fox the 2nd day I used it!


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:02 pm
Posts: 1273
Location: north hamshire
looks a bit like a 1947 raleigh i saw on ebay for £470, i would like to do the L to brighton on something like that !


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:53 am 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:32 pm
Posts: 405
Location: London, UK
oonaff, as you will probably know, Raleigh continued to make bikes like this up until the 1980s. In Europe such bikes are still common and are usually known erroneously as "Dutch" bikes.
You adapt to the choice of just 3 gears pretty quickly and you can change gear whilst waiting at the lights. The steering feels different to anything from the 90s onwards, lighter and not as smooth or stable at speed. As mentioned previously, braking, even with alloy rims isn't as effective.
But there's nothing to stop you doing London to Brighton on one provided you are not out to break any speed records.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:02 pm
Posts: 1273
Location: north hamshire
not likely, knowing the bloke im going to ride it with, it will be a pub crawl :P
[the number plate holder will come in handy if certain people in london have their way]


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