The green bicycle called Snabb

I bought a bicycle earlier this summer, after all projects and every problem with parts that do not fit properly. I realized that it would have been cheaper and better for me to buy a complete bicycle from the start. Because this idea I had of using old part that came from my grandfathers old bicycle many years ago. All projects I had was either dificult to assembly or did not “feel” right. But one day I saw an ad on internet of an old bicycle for sale in the south parts of Stockholm in a shop I had visited earlier. It was an old Swedish “Snabb” (quick) bicycle from the mid 1930’s. It looked to be in a good original condition with ornaments on the frame and with the original green paint with the golden pinstriping details still intact.

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The badge says, “Snabb, Prima Svenskt Fabrikat”. Translation: (Quick, excellent Swedish manufacturing)

I decided to visit the shop to have a closer look. After my visit I did a quick decision, the bicycle was perfect for me. Good condition, all important parts was there. So I simply paid for the bicycle and rode it back home, it was a good ride, smooth and everything worked as a charm. The bicycle was in perfect condition for what I had in mind. The idea of fixing up the bicycle as an homage to my grandfather and his passion for bicycles. After all he was riding them all year, no matter the weather, summer, wither, sun and rain. He was always riding his bicycle. In a way, the Snabb that I bought could have been a bicycle that he could have used when he was living in the central parts of Stockholm back in the mid 1930’s. That was the spirit of the idea I had.

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Nice mid 1930’s lines and look

I changed the small black 1920’s style headlight to a chromed bubble style headlight that was common in the mid -30’s. In my opinion it fitted the style of the bicycle better. I changed the seat to the old worn seat that was mounted on my grandfathers bicycle and that I remembered from when I was a kid. The bell, bicycle pump, the pump holders and other small parts all added up to an really great and lovely bicycle. There was even an old trouser clip that was an accessory back in the days. I do not use that, but I clamped it on the headlight mount. A small and nice detail.

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The headlight and the cover for the dynamo, all guarded by the Pegasus on the mudguard

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Original style lock with my grandfathers key tab attached.

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The trouser clip from 1930’s that I mounted on the headlight bracket.

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My grandfathers old saddle, worn and beaten up. But lots of memories for me.

But then I realized that on top of the frame were 2 holes and an outlined shadow of an earlier plate with the owners name. That was a very typical extra feature in Stockholm at that time. It was more common to have a ring around the stem to the handlebars with your name and address. But in Stockholm it seems that this frame mounted plate was common. What should I do? I needed a plate to cover the already missing plate. But where to find a nameplate from the -30’s now? Even with or with out a name engraved on the plate it is an impossible mission. Then I remembered that a friend has, like me, also an Rex tandem with the nameplate from one of the first owners. I asked my friend politely if I could borrow the plate to make a copy of it, I would be very careful with the plate since it is unique. He said yes!

By coincidence there is an silver shop that makes jewellery and art in silver in the area where I live. I went there and asked him about the name plate and if it would be possible to do a replica of it. Since the bicycle had the colours of green, black and gold I thought that brass would be a great material for the plate. The fellow at the shop said it sounded like a fun project. He loved to help me out.

For many years I had a brass casing from a 20mm air defence gun in a pile of “good to have” things. The brass shell was curved just like the frame on the bicycle so it would make a great nameplate. The silver shop fellow started to work on the shell but quickly realized that the shell was made in a way that never would work, it was to thick in the bottom end of the casing (designed to withstand an gunpowder explosion). So he decided to take an old cracked cymbal he had as a drummer many years ago and cut a piece out of the cymbal instead. He polished it and did a wonderful work on the plate, making it to look like the style of 1930’s old plates with my grandfathers name and the address he had back in 1937.

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The brass name plate. Looks really good and matches the colour of the frame and pinstriping.

A few weeks later I had a magnificent hand made plate in brass mounted on the frame of the bicycle. Of course it fitted to the holes and covered up the shadow on the frame, it looked a bit “new” and polished. But after a few days the brass started to oxidized and looked worn. A brass plate on a British racing green bicycle with details painted in black and gold, it looks really good.

After all parts were fitted to the bicycle, even the small key tab that my grandfather used to have, I was ready for a test ride. If it was good before, it was even better now! The Snabb made a popular entry at the Bike in Tweed 2016 even. I got many compliments for the looks and condition of the bicycle.

It is a keeper!

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Is there any one who recognizes the location of the photos?

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Bike in tweed, 2016

The day we had waited for had come, it was time for Bike in Tweed 2016. We were three fellows in tweed that had decided to meet at 9’a clock in the morning outside an local bakery shop for our traditional breakfast before the start of the event. The staff at the bakery must have been surprised when three gentlemen in tweed suits looking as they came from the 1940’s was entering the their shop and starts to order sandwiches and drinks. Fashionable as can be! But we got many possitive comments on how great we looked.

We had a quiet talk about the events during the day while eating an fresh breakfast sandwich. We talked about meeting familiar faces once again and all the happy smiles from the bystanders that will stop and look along the way. The spirit of the event, with music and lots of great bicycles and well dressed people, it was going to be a great day! After the breakfast we all mounted our bicycles and started the ride into the central parts of Stockholm, the old town and Stortorget to be precise. The sun greeted us welcome to the city when we were riding over the bridges and enjoying the view.

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The view when we were close to the starting point at Stortorget

There we were, three gentlemen in tweed on vintage bicycles along new bicycles and everyday commuters, we got lots of curious looks and smiles. When we got closer to the old town, more and more vintage bicycles with riders also dressed in tweed were visible, we were on the right way to the meeting. When we all were walking the narrow alleys pushing our bicycles, many tourists looked puzzled and took photos of us. It must have been a strange sight for them.

The registration for the participants opened at 10 a clock, we were there on time and recived our starting numbers and a bag of things, that included a package of biscuits and an map of the route around Stockholm that we were going to ride. After some talking with the other riders it was time for the traditional photography. Every rider had their photo taken for the start gallery and to document the clothes and the bicycle. There was 166 riders so it took a while to take all photos and register all of us. Then there was the adventure of trying to make room for all vintage bicycles, curious tourists and ourselves on the old square. It was a challenge, but it was fun! Many curious people came forward to take photos and ask what we were doing while we were having a cup of tea and a biscuit.

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Tourists and curious bystanders are looking on our clothes and bicycles

Between all photos, the tea and biscuits we were having in the sun, we talked with other tweed riders and had a really great time. Suddenly the church bells announced that the clock was 12’a clock and it was time for start. Bike in Tweed 2016 was on its way! Laughs, cheers and good luck wishes from tourists and bystanders followed us all along the way to the starting point next to the royal castle where we formed a slightly chaotic starting grid.  Then the signal came from the leader, we were off for a 20 kilometres ride around the city of Stockholm.

Along the way, the group with all 166 riders was very scattered and formed many small groups. Due to the sheer amount of riders it was impossible to keep a tight formation during the ride. Red lights on the streets, cars and buses scattered us all, so we were in groups of 10-20 riders instead of an united group. Fortunate there were some planned round up places for us to all get back together as a unit during the course, that was necessary and was a good move by the designer of the route.

After rounding all up, we continued our ride and headed to the open air theatre at the “Rålambshovs” park and the picnic we always have there. The break was really needed, after all. It is very hot to ride up and down the hills and bridges of Stockholm with a heavy three piece tweed suit from Harris Tweed. While wearing a hat.

The cucumber sandwiches and lemonade that the events sponsor Hendricks Gin offered tasted really great, it was just the bees knees for us tweed riders. Many riders had also their own food and drinks in typical baskets, some had wine and real china with them to eat on. Others, like me had some sandwiches wrapped in paper. Just as they use to do it in the olden days when having a picnic. My sandwiches were made by slices of Skogaholms loaf, that is an classic. Of course topped with the equally classic “cognacsmedwurst” sausage. Every child have had those sandwiches on field days since 1945. Instead of the bottle of milk we has as kids, I brought along a bottle of beer. It was just perfect for the Bike in Tweed picnic.

At that time we also were having our group photography taken. Every rider was standing by their bicycle and an photo was taken of us all as an memory. We were also taking photos on each other, our clothes and bicycles, all the lovely hair creations and all great tweed suits. So many photos!

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Time for the group photo

Then we were off again! Out and around the streets, out into the traffic, up steep hills, trying not to crash into each others when  taking narrow corners in construction zones. All 166 of us together on bicycles had to get along with with cars, pedestrians and everyday cyclists. There was some talk about the unfortunate choice of route for the event. Many walkways we took was very narrow and steep. This year I was riding a single bicycle, not a tandem. For me it was very easy to get around the course. But I felt sorry for those brave tandem captains and stokers. The captains trying to manoeuvre those heavy battle cruisers true the narrow nooks and crannies of walkways between roadworks and hedges. It puts the captain to test with navigate and planning the ride.

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Narrow and tricky rout challenged the riders

Then we all arrived at the end destination, the goal of Bike in Tweed 2016 event. The finish line was located this year at Armémuseet (Military museum). They let us use their courtyard as a collection point, but also so we could have a price ceremony. There were speeches about the day and prices were given to best dressed gentleman and lady, the best looking bicycle. A special price went to the gentleman who joined the race in a bicycle car that was built after drawings from the -40´s. Hendricks Gin, the sponsor, treated us with Gin and tonic after we all had made it to the finish line. Later on during the price ceremony Hendricks Gin had an special award for the most unusual rider.

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Just before the price ceremony there was live music, we all sang along and had fun.

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Hendricks Gin and sandwiches.

After mingle and talking with everyone many of us had signed up to join the after party with dinner at Hasselbacken restaurant out on the island of  Djurgården. It is a famous old restaurant where we had a stop last year. We arrived there 30 minutes later on our bicycles and parked them on the grass and sat down at our tables, looking at all vintage bicycles standing under the trees. The evening followed with drinks, food and laughs.

Later that evening we had to ride our bicycles home. 14 hours after I mounted my bicycle and left for the breakfast, I was back home again and parked the bicycle in the storage.

It was a great day, all I can say is:
See you all next year!

Reflections and thoughts about the bicycles

There comes a time in a mans life when he realizes that he has to many bicycles. Is that even a thing Can it even be possible? Can one have to many bicycles, I hear you ask.

Yes, you can! When you have a very limited space in a cold, dark basement. When you can not enter that space due to the simple reason that the bicycles (and all the crates filled with all sorts of bicycle parts) are blocking all access to anything anywhere.After all I need space to prepare the bicycles for bike in tweed 2016.

Situations like that demands actions, no matter what! So, I decided to sell one of my old bicycles to a girl I know. She was very happy for it and wanted to try it at once, I adjusted the seat and off she went. It was nice to see her riding on a bicycle from 1941. She handled it with grace and style. Even the bicycle seemed happy, not a squeak or creek anywhere. An vintage bicycle like that one, 28″ tires and a steal frame, then you can not rush, it is a promenade bicycle. Simply climb up, and gently pedal away into the smoothness that only 28″ balloon tires can offer. She took the old bicycle for a short ride, on the way back she had a big smile on her face. That smile made it all worth for me. The happiness of others that appreciates the feeling and joy of something old, the small details and things that makes a vintage bicycle so great. The comfort, the design, the way it handles. Simple but well thought of functions like the double stand, the decorative and functional holders for the bicycle pump. All made locally and designed for usage. Not a plastic “34-geared-race-use-now-throw-away-later” bicycle. The old ones was made to last. Built like tanks!

In the basement there are more bicycles standing, waiting for my attention. I have made some minor updates on some older ones. For example the Rex tandem have received an original front mudguard ornament and a better looking reflector on the rear mudguard. Lady Blue have a new set of tires. The tires I fitted had the makers horrible colourized brand name on the tire wall. It looked horrible! But I have found a retailer that sells tires with a vintage tread pattern and a very nice vintage looking tire. The white lightning will get a new life as a retro racer with a new owner soon, more of that in a post further on.

The black painted Hermes frame from 1934 with its the wheels I mentioned last time. Is still missing a front fork. After all, if I am going head over heels to make it perfect. Then the front fork should be the same brand too. But since when I am looking at the wheels as all I can see is the spokes that are laced the, for me “wrong” way. I can not see anything else. I know that is exactly what would happen if I mounted the wrong fork. I would only see the errors and after spending the amount of money as I have done. That would be a project that would haunt me for the rest of time. My decision was not easy, but logical. I will save all parts and put it all in a safe place. Perhaps one day I will finish the project. But as it feels now, no. I am tired of the 1935 Hermes.

Then we have the black Pelago. Well that is a sad story. The Pelago path racer I put together from parts that I bought from all over the world, is standing in the basement unused. I made it in a style where you have sit and reach down to the handlebars at an steep angle. My back can not deal with that at all any more. I get a horrible back ache when using the racer, of course I should have known that from the start. But it was such a good look and all parts really came together well. I was hoping all the way that my back could cope with it. Sadly, I will have to sell that one since I can not use it. But there is a person out there that enjoys the Pelago as much as I do, I am sure of it. It is a great bicycle!

Last but not least, there is a new old bicycle standing in the basement at the moment. It is an mid 1930’s Swedish made real iron horse, heavy with a divine roll in the wheels. The paint, mudguards wheels and handlebars are all original, except the saddle and the tires that have been changed due to wear and tear. I have mounted an 1930’s Bosch dynamo and front light so it looks just right now. This is the one real vintage roadster I have being looking after for so many years. It has all details I wanted, oil nipples on front and rear hubs, double legs stand. Undamaged and straight frame, trued wheels, all parts are worn in the same moderate way. The only problem is that is does not have my loved Torpedo rear hub. That would have been to perfect.

Along the way of looking for parts to all old bicycles I got some ornaments that was supposed to be mounted on the front mudguards. They where made by all sorts of different brands, but there was also many “no name” ornaments available back then. You could by them as decoration for your bicycle if the maker never issued one. I have this lovely Pegasus ornament that is lovely in all small details and it is worn in just the right way, the nickel finish has worn off from some parts of the ornament. But it is not damaged.

Now the question is, should I drill a hole in an mudguard from 1930’s to mount a ornament from 1930’s? It is tempting, but at the same time. It would be a shame.

Vintage bicycles, a source of silly problems.

 

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Wheels and spokes

As I mentioned, I was going to build the wheels for my new project. I got the rims and the hubs, everything original 1930’s. But the spokes and nipples was new, better safe than sorry. After trying to mend and fix my old bicycles I have realized that the old vintage German made Torpedo hubs are so easy to work with. I have taken them apart and together again many times. in fact it went so far that I got some tools for the hubs. They are simple to understand and make work. So for me the natural choice for an hub when building a rear wheel was of course Torpedo. The frame I got for my really old bicycle are from early 1930s, so I needed an hub from that era. I found one that was just perfect. The only drawback was that it did not had the beautiful beak arm that some Torpedo hubs had back then, a slightly curved arm with the name in relief. So nice details! Sadly the hub I got has the 1940´s break arm mounted, I have an extra old curved arm laying around. But sadly it does not fit.

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a Torpedo hub, keys and an German made Torpedo copy from DDR.

After looking around on internet I found out how to spoke the wheels since I never had done it before. I found many tutorials on how to make the modern overlapping style. But when looking at all my vintage bicycles I noticed there was something odd with the way they were threaded. There was no overlapping, it was space and the spokes was in an easy and understandable way. As I did some research I found that the overlapping method seemed not to be so common back in the 30´s at least for regular bicycles. More an competition style bicycle. One night I sat down in the kitchen and started my work. I made some errors, looked and an old wheel, counted and finally the result was made. I was proud of the work I made. I needed to true the wheel, but since I wanted it to be perfect I decided to go with the wheel to an shop. That where the shop owner said I had made it all wrong. I should overlap the spokes!

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here are the wheel whit the “old” style of not overlapping the spokes.

I tried to explain that the old way was this simpler style and that was the way that all my old bicycle wheels was made. Yes, the owner said. but the over lapping way is safer and more sturdy and they DID do that back then. Your other wheels might have been renovated earlier. That might be the case, but I like the simpler style.

When I collected the wheel from the shop later on. They had remade the entire wheel in the “modern” style. I was not happy, but it was made by professionals and was well made. But it looked wrong for an old wheel. I found some new made tires that was made in an vintage style pattern, black of course! I mounted a new rim protector, hose and tire. It looks great, but all I can see are those overlapping spokes, perhaps I will get used to the spoke issue. Most likely I am the only one noticing that thing.

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soon I will start to put the bicycle together

Projects and visions

I know I have written about all my bicycles that I have and the ideas that I have for all of them. But is that all? Have I told you everything? No, sadly not. It is worse. Thing is that one bicycle was the gateway to a second. As of now I am at 7 bicycles. This must end, I can not collect more. Well, of course I can. But there is more of an logistic matter. Where to store them? My basement storage is now filled to an such extent that I can not enter or mend the bicycles inside. I have to take the bicycles outside to access my tools and spare parts inside of the storage unit.

More than the project with the black Hermes bicycle from the 1930’s that I am currently saving parts for and that I will build into something that I will use as an homage to my grandfather. But also use at Bike in Tweed 2016. I also have the old Monark bicycle that I was going to turn into a retro racer, the white lightening. The original plan was that I was going to re build it in to a path racer just like the Pelago. But this time using an vintage frame and keeping the original worn and rugged paint. But since I have been using the bicycle I feel that I need to do something special with it, it is a fun bicycle and needs more attention than it have now. I am thinking of an complete repaint because, partly because of all the brackets that are welded onto the frame. The chain guard, luggage rack and side stand brackets are just unnecessary now. Simply grind them off, have the frame completely sanded down and the repainted in a nice colour, perhaps in British racing green? That would make the frame looking just great. The mount it all with the original parts all polished, cleaned and shiny.

The original rear wheel hub is worn and in a messy condition. After all it has been abused since the late 1950’s so I guess it has have all rights to be worn by now. The plan is that I have a old Torpedo hub from the 1950’s in my storage that would fit just great with the Monark’s chromed rims . I will re-spoke the rear wheel, truing it and have new tires mounted. The chromed front fork, the stem and handlebars, add an black Brooks saddle. I have some unused black wooden old grips in a drawer that will be perfect addition to the racer. If it all turns out well, perhaps I will contact the Monark bicycle brand (that still exists) and ask if they got some old vintage sheets of decals for the frame. It will be quite nice looking.

But still, I have no room for all bicycles. That forces me to reconsider my plans. In short, I need to sell some of my bicycles. But how and where? Who wants to but a worn old bicycle where I started a project and never finished it.

It turned out that I know a fellow bicyclist that owns a shop for new bicycles. I will ask him if I can sell my bicycles in his shop. Since the ones I am building are looking quite unique I think that they might act as magnet in his shop. Customers will enter the shop and look around get a look of my old retro bicycles and will be curious. Perhaps even buy something in the shop. I think it is a good idea, perhaps the shop owners will think that to. After all I think it would look nice with both the Pelago path racer and the Monark racer side by side in a shop. New and old, both retro. Ready for riding the streets in the summer, with or without tweed.

Visions are important.

 

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