I've been searching for one of these for a while, scouring gumtree and eBay every few days. While they are somewhat common, finding the exact one you want isn't so easy. They come in two sizes, 21" and 23". My height suits me to somewhere inbetween the two, I can ride a 23" but any sudden jumping off the bike would probably destroy any chance of future progeny. It's difficult to find the 21" size, there would be the occasional one on eBay and gumtree but usually they wouldn't ship or some other reason. Also I desperately wanted one with a full chaincase, mostly for the low-maintenance and no chance of getting chain gunk on my clothes, oh and they look oh so cool.
|I love the detail on the top of the front mudguard. Also|
the bike came with the key for the fork lock, this locks it in the
straight forward position so anyone trying to steal it would
hopefully crash and die ;)
I picked this one up from a flat on the fourth floor of a housing estate in south east London, not too far from where I'm currently staying. I went up what could be called the tiniest lift in the world and knocked on his door, as soon as the door opened, a waft of stale cigarettes and smoke punched me in the face; I can still smell stale cigarettes on the bike now. I took it downstairs, had a quick ride and paid for it. The average price for a bike like this is around £80-£200 depending on vintage, originality and condition, I got it for a smidge over £100. This one was nearly completely original, the paint is excellent and all the parts are there; This is pretty important on these old 3-speeds as little bits and pieces are specific to the bike and would be difficult to chase down and retrofit. The rear hub has a built in and fully functional Sturmey Archer AG dynamo hub and front and rear lights, more or less identical to the set found on my old Raleigh Twenty.
|Woods valve disassembled with valve core and rubber tubing.|
Now I finally know what those little rubber tubing bits are for in
those crappy patch kits you get at K-mart.
As soon as I paid for it, I put a bit of air in the tyres and the valve on the back tyre just lost it and wouldn't keep air. It was a Woods style valve which I had never had any experience with. No attempt to fix it would make it hold air, so I ended up just walking it to the station and back home. I went to the local shop to get a spare tube but they didn't have the 26 x 1 3/8 size; this used to be the most common size in the UK and Commonwealth but as mountain and road bikes have taken over in the last few decades it's faded into slight obscurity. It's also known as 650A (French system) or ISO 590mm, yes confusing I know. Anyway little did I know but standard MTB tubes will also fit, they are ISO 559 which is about 30mm smaller in diameter but close enough. Anyway, after putting in some new tubes and rim tape (the old ones inside looked like they were the 30 year old originals I took it for a ride.
|The wobbliness is from my one handed shooting, not from the bike :)|
The bell that came with it is possibly the most awesomest bell ever, it's a spinning bell which I have never really seen before in real life, only in pictures. I had no idea they worked like this, yes it sounds weird to get so excited over a bike bell but I love this kind of thing.
Anyway thanks for reading and happy riding.