Another Bitser


A bike with a frame dating from two decades, built up with bits from at least three countries – that´s not what one would expect of a successful restauration. Indeed, this

Gfullwas one of my earlier tries, and it will disintegrate again soon, so I thought I´d document it here before it will vanish again in some boxes.

The frame I bought off the late Ron Sant, or rather swapped it together with some other bits for a pair of horrible Fendt Cardanos. I was glad to be rid of them, and Ron was concentrating on shaft driven bikes and those made in Manchester, so a swap was the obvious choice.

Ron had gotten the frame minus its original forks, so he had George Longstaff reproduce one, using an old Ekla crown and also copying the mudguard stay tabs halfway up the fork leg.

GforkcrThis is why the frame dates from two decades: The main frame from about 1936, the front fork from the eighties.

It seems Granby had a strange mix between headclip and more modern headsets – note the locknut and the floating ballrun headlugs.


GbbAt the time I was hunting for what you call funny frames – those with unusual build features. The discussion why people made them is not to be repeated here, let it suffice to say that most of those strange constructions did not make it into general practice, and only two – the curly Hetchins and Baines Flying Gate, to a lesser extent the Paris Galibier – have survived in their own little niches.

Anyway, the 1936 Granby Taper Tube offered to me by Ron seemed irresistible and I decided to try and make a bike of it. Note the fat tubes arriving at the bottom bracket shell; higher up they taper to a smaller diameter. The paint, another neuralgic spot, is so thick that any measurement of tube diameters will be inaccurate.

GseatclAnother nice touch is the concealed brake cable routing. However, there´s no provision inside the top tube for guiding the cable, so you pull out the outer cable, and you´ve got a problem.

The rims had to be 26 inch ones, and it took me years to find a pair – with 32/40h to boot, because I wanted to use my Sturmey AF. When I had found a pair, they had a strange surface – all pimply from having spent decades in the sun in a shop window.

DSCN0565 KopieLuckily the goo came off easily with a straight edge.

The hub of course must be the nicest item on the bike.

GAFIt is a real working example of an AF, be it without original trigger which I think I´ll never find. The thing about the AF was that it had a special ratio, and of course the F meant Four Speed. The top three gears were close together giving plus 9.1%, direct, minus 10% and then the fourth would drop down 25% for the steep hills. The press ravished about this hub, Sturmey-Archer received the CTC Silver Plaque for it and the FM brought out in 1939, too, for having produced the most interesting innovation of the season, and then the AF was only made for two seasons, 1939 and 40, because of WWII intervening. There is a lengthy article about the AF in Tony Hadland´s fascinating book The Sturmey-Archer Story.

Then there´s a great 1930s Brooks

Gbrooksand a Chater knock off Diamant chainset

DSCN0564GCrankDiam GcrankfluteThe Chater pedals fit perfectly, and note the really deep flute.

GhollowchainwhboltsOK, English frame, German chainset, and the third country? Here´s another one of my French scrapyard finds:

GCaminargIt fitted, that was enough reason for me to fit it.

Two more parts on the bike which don´t really fit, I think; one´s the BT brake which only appeared in the immediate post war years, and the other´s the toeclips – more Italian I think. Need to look into this. They are unusual, and were NOS when I got them.

GbrakeGtoeclLastly, a personal remark: I´m still quite booked out with all sorts of activities, including work and some health issues, so I wouldn´t be surprised at all if there weren´t any more posts until after Neerkant.



  1. Sergio Montes
    Posted March 2, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for this new post. Hope it does not take too long to get a followup. I have built many Bitsas, in fact few of the bikes in my stable are new bikes, as I derive the most enjoyment in cooking up something different. At the moment, paralleling your application of a Sturmey-Archer AF I am adapting a five speed free-wheel (14-28) on a Sturmey Archer AW. This hybrid gearing will go an a nice 1950’s BSA frame. I am still looking for the appropriate 26″ rims, as used in the lightweight British bikes of the period.


    Sergio Montes

    • Posted March 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Sergio,
      thanks for your comment.
      I hope your AW conversion will work. AFAIK the AW is suitable for tandem use, so torque in the low gears won´t be too high for the poor thing. Or will it? And will the complete hub fit the 110 mil 1950s frame rear spacing?

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