Springtime for Tweed

It has been a while since I last wrote here. Well, as usual I have no good excuse for not writing. More that laziness and that the weather has been bad (says the fellow who wrote an article about riding a bicycle in Helsinki in the middle of February).

That is true, but can I say to my defence that I actually had nothing interesting to write about? After all, reading about bicycles and more bicycles can be a bit boring for you. Considering that I once stated that the motto of this blogg was “my view of things around me”. Then the question is, how difficult can it be to write things that are around me? Strangely, not difficult at all.
But, what can I write to still keep the level of my writing style? I can of course write political articles, reviews of things that I tried. I could write endless posts about movies, music, life and so on. But would I like to do that? Strangely, yes and no.


the sticker from Helsinki tweed run is still there

If I started a long time ago and kept it all under one roof, all writings, thoughts and articles collected here under this blogg. Then it would have be a great collection of my views. An time line over what I, as a person, was developing. Different interests and ideas over the years. But after starting this blogg rather recently.  I realized that I wanted to keep it clean, no statements other that “tweed is nice” and “vintage bicycling is the bees knees”, you get the point. An sort of silly, harmless writing about things that offends no one. That is what we really need at this day and age. More harmless silliness about nothing.

So here I am, writing about old bicycles and Tweed hoping that I offend no one.

In fact, now when writing about it. I realize that I never have written anything about tweed it self, the cloth. All my experiences of the cloth with stories from my early teens up to the present. The change in fashion and other ideas all over but how tweed always was important and why a grey herringbone tweed was important for me. Could that be something for you to read?

Or I could write about my ideas for a new bicycle project that I have been thinking of for many years. Once I had an old Swedish military bicycle from the 40’s. Sadly it was in a pretty bad shape and was later even stolen. But today, I would really like to get one again and this time really try to get it in good working order. It would be fun, they are heavy, but reliable!

I can also now officially let you know that I have an vision to participate of 5 different Bicycle Tweed Rides/races/runs this year. That vision brings me to the issue of bicycles in general. After all, I really would love to only have one good vintage bicycle that I could use and participate in different Tweed Rides. But as now, I had different bicycles in every event. There is more articles to write about. In fact, when thinking about it. I have no time to do something else than writing. The questing is how to earn money on writing?

To something completely different. The weather today was an lovely day in the spring with lots of sunshine and chirping birds. In short, it was a perfect day to take the 1956 Hermes bicycle for a ride. I have not moved or looked at it since my return from the Helsinki event, I have not even cleaned it yet. But still the tires had full pressure, nothing on the frame was loose.
I brought my tweed jacket and took a ride. It went smooth as silk. They knew how to make great bicycles back then.


the weather was perfect for an ride with an vintage bicycle, springtime

Happy Tweed!

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

 

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!

The mystery bicycle, part 1

Some weeks back I visited an bicycle shop in the central parts of Stockholm. I was looking for some old bicycles. I had been asked if I knew any old bicycles that some friends could use for the Bike in tweed event for next year, 2016. It seems that the Bike in Tweed event has become a huge success so more people wants to join. Since I like old bicycles and know were to look, I was asked to do some research for the friends.

This shop I visited is what I call a real bicycle repair shop. There is not a clean spot anywhere to be found. The smell of old grease and rubber from old tires hits you when entering. The workers got old grease up to their elbows, that is a sign of working and having an interest. There are some good shops for vintage bicycles in Stockholm, but this place is genuine as a shop used to be. Own by people that loves bicycles. There are bicycles everywhere, parts everywhere, bits and pieces all over the place. But they know every part of the shop. All things, pieces and tools are in the right place, in an odd but nice way. I had been there some time earlier and looked at their range of old bicycles. They had some really nice ones, mainly old Swedish brands standing in corners of the shop. They vintage ones was mixed with newer models, a really good selection for everyone.

As I mentioned in this post, I got an idea of building an bicycle by using the parts from my grandfathers bicycle. My idea was a black roadster, in a 1930s style. So I decided to visit the old shop again and ask them if they had an old bicycle for sale that I was looking for. I explained the style I was aiming for. I think I even said that I was looking for a project to work on and it was for the 2016 Bike in Tweed.
The fellow I was talking listened and understood what I was going for, he remembered that he had seen an project that might be suitable for me. “Follow me”, he said and walked in to the shops storage.

We walked in to the really small rooms in the back, there up on some water pipes hanging from the ceiling was an old frame laying covered in dust and spider web. He took it down and said that it was an old Swedish 28 inch wheel frame that might suit me as an project to build and develop. The frame had no name badge so it was a mystery what maker it was. It had screw holes on the head of the frame for a badge. I got a feeling of remembering the pattern of the screw holes from somewhere. But my memory was blank for the moment.
He asked me if I was interested of the frame. If I was, then they could look for more parts and also build the bicycle for me. Of course, I was really interested of the parts. But I said that I would like to build it myself. After all I have been repairing bicycles since I was a kid and I still think it is really fun to repair and fix old bicycles. I told them that I would come back a few weeks later so they could find the parts that was needed for the project in their own time.

At my next visit, they had found some mudguards that had the same colour scheme as the frame, black with gold trimming. But sadly no wheels. But, they had some rims that matched the mudguards and the frame. But there was no spokes or hubs. That is no problem for me, I had a rear hub from 1935 that was very common on Swedish bicycles in those days. Besides I have wanted to build a wheel for some time now. With the winter around the corner, it could be a fun lesson for me. Building wheels where 36 spokes need to be mounted in a special order and tighten so the wheel is true. It will be fun!

To day I collected the first batch of parts. I brought a big plastic bag and carried the parts home. Now comes the part that I really like, cleaning and making sure that the parts are in a good shape. De-greasing, cleaning and polishing all the parts. As I was unpacking all parts in my basement I remember the screw holes on the frame. Now I even remembered where I have been seeing the pattern before. It was the pattern of the Hermes badge that is on one of my other vintage bicycle. But with one difference, the pattern is for the older, 1930’s style badge. So now we know what brand it is, it is an Hermes made in the Swedish town of Uppsala. With that information, I can now focus on getting the correct parts for the build. I am thinking of documenting the build here on this blogg if you like?

I will most likely spend the winter in the basement building an 80 year old bicycle so why not write about it and take photos to? After all, it could be worse.

I could be sitting outside in the snow, building a 80 year bicycle.

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Modern cameras and old cobblestones

Back in the days when all photos were black and white. Well, not that far back in time, only to the time when digital cameras were rather exclusive and very expensive. Back in the end of the 1990’s when I was starting to take photos on a more regular basis and I started to develop and make my own prints in a darkroom in the basement. At that time I was using an old Zorki camera as my main camera. It was a Soviet made “Leica 2” copy made in 1955. The German Leica 2 cameras from 1930’s was considered to be one of the best cameras in the world at that time. They were developed to improve the Leica 1 camera that was a ground breaking design in mid 1920’s. The usage of 135 millimetre film, also the simple, but reliable functions along with the optics that was developed and made by Leitz (that founded the Leica camera company). Leitz lenses with and Leica cameras was top of the line back then.

After the second world war, everyone all over the world started to make copies of the Leica cameras because they were so well made and great working. But in Soviet they already had made copies of the Leica camera even before the war. The main manufacturer was the FED factory that was located in Kharkiv (Ukraine). They started to produce cameras in the mid 1930’s, but some years after the war the KMZ factory that was located in Krasnogorsk that is near Moscow, started to make FED cameras due to that the FED factory was behind in production. After a while KMZ developed the FED-Zorki model, but soon after that they changed the name to only Zorki. In fact even the “1” is an addition in recent years. In teh begining it was just “Zorki”. Then with further developments and designs then started to use the add on numbers. It all ended in 1978 with the Zorki 12.

Back to the story. When I was using my Zorki camera, I always used the Kodak tri-x film. It used to have a nice grain and good performance so it became “my” brand of choise. I got great results and it was fun to take photos and later on develop and print the photos in the basement. At one point I was visiting an old city in Germany when I by accident dropped the camera on to the cobblestone pavement! It was a rather high fall for the old camera, so of course I thought that the camera was absolutely smashed to pieces. But when I picked it up I could not find a dent, not a scratch anywhere on the camera! That was a surprise! The Zorki camera was simply built like a tank, robust, sturdy and almost indestructible. I just picked up the camera dusted off some dust and it was ready to take photos again.

Now, many years later and many different cameras later. I have been using a Fujifilm X-100 for the last few years. It is a good camera, the sensor captures the colours and details in a great way, the optics are really nice and the camera works like a charm. When I bought it I wanted to protect the lens. So I bought an UV filter so that the filter would take the first hit when the dust flies around. I also got a lens hood, just to catch raindrops, snow, any fingers or anything that an by accident can make a mark or an smudge on the lens. Both lens hood and UV filter? I hear you ask. Well, you can never be to safe.

When I attended this year Bike in Tweed event, about a month ago. I brought my Fujifilm camera along, there are lots of photo opportunities of the bicycles and the participants, I posted some of the photos I got in a post about the Bike in Tweed event here on Schneebremse. But at one moment when I trying to get a good photo, crawling around on the ground, disaster struck! While was trying to get some nice photos at the start of the event, I dropped my camera straight down into the cobblestone pavement. At least I was kneeling down when I dropped the camera so it was a short fall, at least that was I thought.

The impact was not dramatic or anything like that. But when I picked up the camera, the entire lens hood was smashed like the crash zone on a car. It turned out that the entire impact was on the lens hood when the camera fell to the ground.

The camera worked perfectly the rest of the day, I got great photos in total. But when I got home I tried to get the smashed lens hood off the camera. It was really tight and difficult to remove, all bent and crooked. But I finally got it off the threads. But I need to get a new lens hood now after all I think it is a small price to pay, since I rather pay £15 for a new hood rather than £150 for an new camera.
But remember the old Zorki camera, it was all metal and built like a tank, no electronic or plastic.

Instead of getting a dent, it dented the cobblestones.

(the Fujifilm X100 with the smashed up lens hood and extra UV filter, a cheep protection of the lens)

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