Winter and an old bicycle

Hello there dear reader! I hope that you end of 2016 was great and that 2017 has started in a good way. I am sorry that the updates are rare here. But I guess that is what happens when work and real life wants attention. Besides, it is not so fun to sit in the basement, mending bicycles when it is snowing outside. The basement is gloomy place as it is, but when it gets cold outside, the basement is filled with an bone chilling cold and raw draught. But did that stop me from mending and repairing old bicycles? No, of course not.
I was down in the basement anyway, fixing my latest project bicycle.

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The saddle is a worn non original Brooks

A while ago I bought a bicycle that my brother would use when we went on the Bike in Tweed event. But by coincidence he bought an 1920’s rusty old Monark bicycle instead. So the one I bought become standing in his storage unused. One day I asked him if I could take it back and use as a project. It turned out that he needed some space in his storage so he was only happy to let me have it back. We had already started an light renovation of the bicycle but never really got around to complete it. Now when I had it back in my basement I started to do some research about this new bicycle I suddenly had. What I knew was that it was an Nordstjärnan (Northern star) and that it could be a genuine Stockholm bicycle, but they where own by Nymans that was based in Uppsala. My question was; was it made in Stockholm or was in assembled in Uppsala? How could I date it? Here is a quick story about the bicycle brand.

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Stockholm registration plate

Anton Wiklund had a bicycle shop in Stockholm back in 1886. Where he also had an mechanical shop where he started to manufacture bicycles in 1889. In 1894 quitted Anton Wiklund all work with his company, but the remaining owners kept the name since it was known that the name was equal with good quality. Wiklunds bicycles was very famous competition bicycles, known for their reliability. They made bicycles in their mechanical shop, and in 1900 they needed to move to a bigger place. They had a newly build 5 storage building at Kungsholmen in Stockholm where the company moved in. At that location they build bicycles and motorcycles and later on also imported cars with brands like Fiat and later on even Nash, Chevrolet, Packard, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce. Really good quality brands in other words. Then there was the economical crash of late 1920’s and the import of cars almost stopped completely in early 1930’s.

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The Wiklunds symbol the “W” inside a star. It is a nice detail…

When the Swedish military stopped buying Wiklunds bicycles around 1932 the business went down even further. In late 1939 Wiklunds went so bad that Nymas from Uppsala bought the Wiklunds company and moved the production from Stockholm to Uppsala. Then the second world war started and in 1941 Wiklunds was closed as a brand. There is of course more information and a great story behind the brand and all different models that they had, but we stops here with the history lesson for now.

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…that can be found on the front wheel hub

After I had asked around on some internet forums and different discussion groups trying to date the Nordstjärnan and looking for details about the bicycle. I tried to pin point the year for manufacturing to 1936-1939, that could make it an Stockholm made bicycle. But did I dare to hope? One day there was a fellow on one site I had asked about information that replied to me saying that he had an original catalogue from Wiklund from the -30’s. He enclosed an photo of the catalogue and there it was!

It was the same model, the handlebars was the same. The luggage rack, painting and pin striping. It all matched my bicycle. The catalogue was about the model range from 1938. So now I am 100% sure that it is made in Stockholm and that made me really happy since now I have a bicycle that is made in the town where I am born and where my family are from. Also the catalogue helped me in replacing some parts that was missing, for example the handlebar grips. Along the years a previous owner had replaced the original wooden grips with some 1960’s style plastic grips that was horrible. In a drawer I had a pair of original wooden grips, worn in a way so it matches the bicycle.

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It rides just great and with the visor on the head light it looks really cool

Sadly the luggage rack is in bad shape so I removed (I still have it) but I mounted an registration plate instead, I think it looks really cool and it really defines it to a bicycle made and used in Stockholm. One more thing I did, since the bicycle is used and worn there is no collector item or museum piece. I decided to replace the rear hub. It was original Wiklunds own brand “WINCO” hub. But I replaced it instead with the classical German made Torpedo. Only because, the access to spare parts. The Wiklunds hub have not been manufactured since 1940’s, spare parts are non existing. Around 1940-41, Torpedo celebrated 40 million made hubs. So parts are cheap and easy to find. Also it is very easy for me to repair an Torpedo single gear hub.

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The Torpedo hub from 1937 that I bought on German eBay looks just great

I also had an old Västerås made “ASEA” head light and an old dynamo laying in a drawer that I decided to use on . One day I saw a visor that fits those old ASEA light on an auction. I fell in love with it right away! Sadly the dynamo is a Swedish made “Neo” that was the bicycle makers Husqvarnas own brand. To be honest, I must replace it. I can not have the competitors made parts from Husqvarna om the Stockholm made bicycle.

After all Husqvarna is far from Stockholm and Kungsholmen.

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The Husqvarna made “Neo” dynamo, it looks impressive and still works after all years

 

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4 Comments

  1. Henri Lindberg

     /  February 9, 2017

    Hello from Finland!

    That’s an absolutely lovely bicycle and I appreciate the work you do with these. There’s something about these old beasts that sets them way above the current production bikes. Maybe it’s the attention to the aesthetics and the fact that many parts were actually made by the company that built the bikes, maybe it’s the feeling you get that these are made for real use, first and foremost a dependable man-powered transport vehicle that gets you from place A to B – they definitely do not feel like toys but purpose-built machines. Beauty often comes from function and simplicity.

    I own a few bikes too, with my favourite being an old Swiss army model 1905, stamped 1945 on the frame. You might know these, there’s still a lot around. It’s heavy, it’s built like a tank and it’s sooo smooth to ride. All the modern bikes I’ve handled feel flimsy and rickety compared to this. There’s one thing I did to it: the original wheels are hipster size 571 with special style tyres, which are amazingly still available as cheapo reproduction, but they’re crap, wear fast and let everything through. I had the rims changed to size 584 (old style steel rims of course), so now I can use better tyres, even winter versions if needed. Of course the originals are still stored away. I kind of thought the same thing as you did with that beautiful Nordstjärnan – used and abused, not really a commendable collectors piece, so I can take a few liberties. The common tyre size probably actually adds to the value of the bike, as most of these Armeevelo’s are naturally in the difficult size.

    And the Torpedo hub! It’s my favourite so far. Very smooth braking, you can modulate the speed before coming to a gentlemanly halt. However if the need arises, it can be pushed to a sudden stop. The Shimano back-pedal hub I don’t like. It’s like on/off, there’s nothing between. If you try to brake gently, it screams like a witch. Wonder what the Wiklunds hub is like.

    I could probably rant about a lot of stuff but let’s leave it at that for now. Take care and keep doing what you are doing!

    Best Regards
    Henri Lindberg

    Reply
  2. Hello!

    How very nice of you to write here, thank you very much.

    These old bicycles, often made on location in small shops and by people that had an vision. They made bicycles that could last a life time. Once you got an bicycle, you took care of it. It is a shame to see modern bicycles that only last a few years. Or even less as in the case with my Pigeon that was an really horrible adventure. I wish today that I had taken more photos and made some posts about all my misadventures with that one.

    An Swiss army bicycle, I have been looking for those for a while. They are really nice, I like the details that makes an difference between bicycles made in the same decade are but in different countries. But many manufactures still used the Torpedo, as you write. It is the best! The original Wiklund hub was not the same but worked. Sadly the design of it was really strange and parts that was worn are today nearly impossible to find.

    To be honest when I was young I had an original Swedish army bicycle that I used as an daily commuter bicyclel. Sadly I was stolen later on, but I have been thinking of getting a new one and this time get all original parts as it was back in the -30/40’s. Who knows.

    Thank you

    Kind regards

    Reply
  3. Henri Lindberg

     /  February 14, 2017

    Heya,

    That’s what I’ve been having in my mind too. There’s this quality feel about them. I’d wager a full-steel bike will easily outlast the plastic fantastics of today if maintained properly, as you said. There’s nothing really much to go wrong with them outside of a disastrous accident or misuse. I read your article containing a glimpse of the Pigeon. Sad story indeed!

    The Swedish army bike is actually a step up from the ground level, as those often had a front drumbrake if I recall right! That is a proper good invention, a great emergency brake when paired with a standard Torpedo hub. A friend rescued a battered and thoroughly incomplete old Finnish army bike from a forgotten warehouse which I took under my wing to restore to usable condition. Came out nice, it’s a good solid basic bike. Older model with 622 tyres, with a reflective orange border guard marking on the frame. Needlessly thick 3/16 chain, as with the Swiss bike (someone had tried to install a thin chain to the Finn bike and apparently gave up judging from the chain being just left there hanging. Had a laugh.). Can’t have less than that! I hope you’ll find a suitable Swede bike someday. They probably still are rather common?

    Getting a Swiss bike is pretty much gamble, as it would be the best to see the thing yourself before purchasing, and most are located in Europe behind heavy transport costs and are in random used condition. I had the luck of seeing and riding mine live before the deal was made.

    Bikes are nasty in the aspect that they DO take some room to store! But you just would like to have them all anyway and then people regard you as a lunatic. Oh well…

    Best Regards
    Henri Lindberg

    Reply
  4. Hello!

    Yes, the Swedish military bicycles model M/42 is the most common one I think. That is the one with drum break on the front wheel and the special integrated break handle in the handlebar. That is actually the model I had many years ago and I like to find one, but this time get extra parts that matches the era. But as you mentioned, bicycles take storage room. So one more bicycle is not on the priority list as of now.

    I think more or less all military bicycles are an gamble, since they were really well used by many recruits and had to run for countless miles on all sorts of terrains. Also that is why you must look at it before buying. But when the bicycle is in Switzerland and you want to bring it home, that is a bit of a problem. An bicycle does not really fit in the carry on luggage. Unfortunately. Or, perhaps it is an advantage, how many bicycles would we else bring home from around the world. The storage would become a real problem then!

    Kind regards

    Reply

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