New Veteran Bike Ride?

I´ve been thinking about staging a veteran bike ride, once again after 17 years, if people will find it interesting. The Iron Leg ride could take place in our moderately hilly Teutoburger Wald which is dotted with loads of touristy and less touristy sights. For the Dutch I could call it Yzeren Been, I´d love that, sounds a bit like a 1920s race in Flanders, although of course it won´t be a race.

Anyone? Drop me a line via the comments.

Still Older Than the Bike

Last week I took my Dürkopp on another shakedown ride. I worked it a little harder than before, so I think I can now say that it rides well; the frame is responsive in spite of it being too small for me and rather stiff, which I like. It goes where you point it even on descents and in sharp bends. The AR feels lovely and smooth and changes well. Let´s hope it stays that way; I wouldn´t want to start hunting for spares for this really rare hub.

I fitted a TA bottle cage to the handlebars and a handlebar bag as a small saddlebag under the saddle rails. I think that with these the long stems don´t look all that lanky anymore.


The light was quite warm, so I took my camera along and made a point to visit some sights near the place where I live. I started off at the Sundermannsteine which are the remains of a 5,000 year old neolithical burial place. They are situated near a road with a speed limit of 70 kph, and when re-mounting my bike after taking the snaps, a car zoomed by at a speed which felt like double that. I was glad not to have been on the road at that moment.

DSteingr3 DSteingr2 Dsteingr

I then went to visit a very old church. It´s named after St. Dionysius and was erected in the middle of the 13th century making use of a still older building. It has been extensively re-built since, but many structural parts are 800 years old.


The cemetary which had been in use since the ninth century was given up in 1922. It was moved a hundred metres down the road.


Here our forebears found their last resting places 800 – 1922

So with nice weather, a fine bike and a well chosen route, even a lowly shakedown ride can become quite an exquisite pleasure.

Lastly, for those of you who wonder where my ride report of  last weekend´s Huissen Tandjeterug ride is: I didn´t go. I was taken in by the horrible weather forecast which proved only partially true, and also I just couldn´t face the motoring. Taking part would have meant nearly 400 km of driving, and I´m afraid I like driving less and less, fast approaching the point where I´ll just reduce it to the bare necessary minimum for my job, which is about 20.000 km per year anyway. Let´s see if I`ll make it to Amerongen.

H Williamson – or the end of it

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the Williamson frame is useless after all. I had been daft enough to do a lot of work on the bike before checking out the headset. What had happened I´m not sure, however, this is what´s left of the lower headrace:

DamraceIt has been worn away on the half that used to point to the front.


And this is what the race did to the fork column…DamForkcolside DamForkcr

… and the fork crown. The column could probably be replaced, but the bad thing is that the groove in the crown is really deep and will have weakened it.

Also the race wore away the front half of the lower headlug, and this is what to my mind has killed the frame off. The front half of the lug is only paper thin now – compare it with the rear half – and a ridge has formed where the worn away metal used to be.Damlug DamLug2 My guess is that the damage must have started right when the bike was quite new – possibly a fault during fitting, or a part which had the wrong measurements, but the outcome is catastrophic. It would have been so nice to have had a 62cm frame from the thirties – at least the many good and rare parts are worth the money I paid for the bike.

If I should ever have the chance again to work on a bike with a British headclip headset, I will certainly look there first.

Lastly, a Raleigh

The last machine I had the chance to look at in detail during my stay in the UK was a very nice Raleigh RRA – dating from the time when Raleigh, the largest cycle maker in the world, refused steadfastly to use any derailleurs, turning themselves into a fortress of British hub gear engineering in the onslaught of foreign wizardry. Perhaps another reason was that Raleigh owned Sturmey-Archer at the time. Anyway, here´s the outcome: A beautiful, desirable piece of British history.

Many parts bear the heron, and for once the RRA front wingnuts are on a correct bike. I´ve seen them on at least three other machines which were not RRAs over the years, including my own Evans.



1954 FM in an alloy shell – yummy.


Can´t do without a little bit of foreign metal.


The pump


Even if the hub isn´t quite right, the wingnuts definitively are.

MRchainwhl MRdownttransf MRforkcr MRforkcrside MRlampbr MRtrigger Now my holidays are well and truly over.


The Art of the Tricycle

The same collection where the Selbach resides also houses two tricycles, one of them a really marvellous

DFoldsdownttransfFolds not only was a great framebuilder, but he also had his own ideas about making a tricycle rear axle, using steerer tubes and headsets.

DFoldsdiffDFoldsrearaxle DFoldsrearaxleright DFoldsrearderThe rest of the bicycle is not only ingenious, but more elegant, too.

DfoldsfullIt was used by Folds himself and had to be rescued at some time.

DFoldsbbDfoldsseatclDFoldsBrooksseatpin DFoldschainsetAll components are of very high quality.

DFoldsheadclipDFoldsshiftleverIt´s a fascinating machine.

Also very nice, mostly because of its neat construction, is the Grubb, in the same herd again.

DGrubbfull DGrubbhead DGrubbrearaxle DGrubbseatcl

Twenties Selbach

Another really beautiful bike I was able to view during my visit to the UK was this ca. 1928 Selbach.


It has a Monitor Super Cam brake in the front and everything else would make a fixie fan´s heart beat faster. I also very much like the handlebars.

DSelbfullOK, minus the mudguards for the fixie fan. But in general it´s simple, well made, light; basically just what a bicycle should be. The front fork rake is remarkably modern for late twenties.

DSelbcockpit Dselbfthub DSelbMonitor DSelbrearhub DSelbseatcl DSelbsteerhead


Claudine Butler

On my recent trip to the UK I was able to take part in a V-CC run, in which there also was a beautiful original 1950s Claud Butler Avant Coureur Special Ladies – top notch.

SCfullThe whole frame building, as well as paintwork with double box lining and the build is just the finest you can hope to see anywhere.

SCbb SCfrontSCrearbk SCseatcl SCseatt

This must certainly be bilaminated, even if the headlugs and the b/b aren´t.SCseatttransfThere were so many other bikes in the run, and there was such a lot of talking to do, that I couldn´t snap any more details, sorry.

A Cycling Trip on the Niederrhein

Where I´m living now is not where I hail from, and as my parents still live in the same small village I spent my youth in, I sometimes go there to visit them. This summer I also made up my mind to go and have a look at Germany´s newest bridge spanning the Rhine, at Wesel, which is only about 15 km away.

Wesel received its first road bridge across the Rhine in 1917, built due to increased transport rquirements at a time when not much other large construction was undertaken in Germany. However, the bridge did not last for three decades even as it was blown up in March 1945 before the Allieds crossed the river. Some six decades of provisional bridges followed until in the nineties a decision was taken to replace the old road bridge erected in 1950 with a modern four carriageway construction. This bridge was built between 2005 and 2009.


For me it still was a new experience to cycle across it, so I did. Setting off near Hamminkeln, I crossed Wesel (encountering some of the nastiest compulsory cyclepaths I have yet met), the new bridge and carried on across a really wonderful cyclepath following the Rhine dykes to Rheinberg, a town blessed with some great architecture.

Approaching the bridge it becomes clear that the new structure really is huge.


So you think that there should be ample and well-signposted provisions for cyclists, but there´s no such luck. The first thing you notice is the overpowering presence of motorized traffic, contrasted with the minute cyclepath.

RBcyclviewBefore you enter the 772m long bridge, there is a gap in the cyclepath surface which may well cause a puncture in a road bike tyre.


Looking down from the bridge you can see the remains of the old railway bridge, also destroyed during WWII, and now under a conservation order.

AlteeisenbbrIn general, Wesel suffered heavily during WWII as it was targeted repeatedly by allied bombers with 97% of its buildings being destroyed. The building with the tower, closest to the center of the b/w picture, top left of it, was rebuilt and became a high school until 1976. That was where I learnt my English basics, among other things. BTW, reconstruction of the town´s cathedral lasted until 1994, and during the early seventies when I went to school in Wesel, there were still plots with ruins on them in the town centre.


Public Domain/ARC Identifier 535793/USAAF


Back to the present. Once you have crossed the new bridge, you have to be careful not to miss the only signpost to Rheinberg, and even when you have seen it, it leads onto a disused sliproad of the 1950 bridge, and unless you´re lucky enough to be able to ask a passer-by, there´s no way you can find the beautiful cycleway to Rheinberg.

Once you have found it though, you´re rewarded with great views of the Rhine.

WegRheinSchiffeTourists from many countries use the cycleway, and even during my short trip I talked to a German couple, a Canadian, and several Dutch. They all appreciate the fact that a well-kept cyclepath near a river makes for very easy cycling.

Also you find many restaurants and hotels right on the cycleway.


Historical details abound. What used to be the strictly guarded demarcation of Prussia and Holland now is a hardly recognizable and effeortlessly crossed border between EU member states Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. No good old times here, again.


The landscape being very flat, unlike the more prominent features of the Mittelrhein like Loreley, the view even from the relatively low dyke can be picturesque.

BüderichBut then you´re always reminded very quickly that you´re on the outskirts of the Ruhr industrial centre.

KraftwerkRBweitWeselWhile you can´t say the the landscape is dominated by it, the new bridge still is a well-visible feature for miles around. It certainly dwarfs Wesel´s St. Willibrord Cathedral spire.

AlteBrOn the way back the last remainders of the old road bridge can be seen.

Lastly, driving back home after the prolonged visit to my parents´, this was what my trusty old Volvo told me:


Ein englisches Dürkopp

Some time ago I obtained a rather nice ca. 1939 Dürkopp road frame, and for want of the original Dürkopp parts I unsuccessfully tried to build it up with an Osgear – you may remember There are some photos of frame details in that post, too.

Since then I had the brake bridge repaired so that it will now hold a sidepull caliper safely, and yesterday and this morning I built the bike up with the British parts I had mentioned in February. I even found the time to take it for a shakedown spin. It rides sweetly as the AR is a great hub, although somewhat limted in gear ratio – but then, that´s the idea.

DAfullHowever, I think the bike looks horrible with the long seatpin and the extension stem protruding from the frame which is far too small for me – there´s about 5 cms lacking. I´m not sure if I´ll leave it together even. Also not all parts are to my liking – i.e. having to make do with post-WWII brakes

DAbrakecalas well as 50s Chater pedals.  Here´s some details of the nicer bits:

DAfthubDAsaddle DAtriggerThe AR is an interesting item. You need to concentrate to find out if there is any difference at all between gears. It gives a 7.24% rise in third, a direct second and a 6.76% drop in third, as Tony Hadland says in his Sturmey-Archer Story. It wasn´t advertised as being ultra close-ratio for nothing.  It used two epicyclic gear trains and was made to withstand the rough and tumble and the high torques experienced in racing, not least because its internals moved more slowly than those of other hubs. You can actually hear this when riding – the pawls click very slowly.

The hub was only made for three years from late 1936 to the outbreak of WWII, and I feel privileged to be able to try one out. The “AR-8″ means that it dates from 1938 and is the second version without the indicator rod on the left. Also it´s missing its q/r toggle – cable connector.

DAARAnd I do need a larger 12 spline cog.

An American Bates

Sometimes things go very slow. About 17 years ago I was sold a ca. 1945 Bates Vegrandis frame relatively cheaply, but then, the poor thing was in a state. Rust pitting on the chainstays, adventurous paintwork – you know the feeling.


So the frame languished in my cellar until Doug Fattic and I got talking, and I decided to hand him the frame for restoration work. I had wanted to get an American restored frame for some time, and here was my chance. Again things took their time, Doug using the frame as a demonstrator when teaching painting to another framebuilder, but at long last, actually some years ago, the frame arrived back, and wasn´t it worth the wait.


No traces of any pitting left, the transfers covered under an invisible clear coat, the whole thing glassy smooth, just perfect. Transfers, speaking of which: For a ca. 1945 vintage the “Bates of London” transfers are not quite correct as HE and his brother only split up roughly two years later. Oh well. Here´s some more snaps.


Plating was left in as found condition – far too good to replate.

VBbb VBbrakebr VBfarmeno VBforkcr VBfrontdoVBfullseattubetransf VBheadclBSA VBheadtransf VBknurledmudguard VBlampbr VBmatchnoforkcr VBreardo VBreyntransf VBrosette VBseatcl VBseatstemBirml VBtopheadl VBvegrtttransfThe only daft thing about such a wonderful paintwork is that I don´t dare build the bike up because of the certainty of scratches under wing nuts, brake bolt nuts, gear lever bands and so on.

Here´s the master at work, and some instances of the long and involved process of restoring paintwork.


A good example of what paintworking can mean: All of this for the few square millimetres of paint on the fork crown.

AWhite:Gold BRed CLining CTransf DMeasuringtransf EBatesdowntmeasure ETransfsoak EXDownt FDowntdone GVegrapplic HVegr2 IClearcoatJClearc2The workshop photos are courtesy Marten Gerritsen.


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