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?

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!

Malmö Tweed Ride 2016

Welcome back dear reader! How has your summer been? Way to hot when using tweed I guess. Perhaps even to hot for riding an old bicycle with no gears and wobbly wheels? But now when the weather are cooler and the autumn is around the corner it is time to take the old tweed suit out in the fresh air.

Different unplanned things happened this summer, but other things did not happen as planned. For example my bicycle projects I mentioned earlier did not happen. The Monark racer is still standing in a corner collection dust, the black Hermes frame and all the belonging parts is still in parts. The Pelago Path racer I built a few years back are about to be sold. The reasons for all those things are equally simple and silly.

First is the reason that I feel stressed out due to the lack of space for building and renovating old bicycles. Then there is that racer style bicycles is killing my back when riding them. I can simply not sit leaned forward on a bicycle for a long time. So why have bicycles around that I do not use? Better to sell them and save money to a bicycle that I can use without problem.

But to one thing that happened that was a fun event! Saturday the 3rd of September 2016 the 4th annual “Malmö Tweed Ride” was held. It is like the “Bike in Tweed” event in Stockholm, or like the “Tweed Run” in London. It is a gathering of people that loves old bicycles, tweed clothes and likes to dress up. I was there with my old Hermes from 1956.

We all gathered at Gustav Adolfs torg (square) in central parts of Malmö around noon. I was there and noticed many tweed riders joined from all streets leading up to the square. The weather was perfect for us, cloudy with a bit of sun from time to time.  When the time was 13:00 the announcer greeted us welcome, it was time to register and each rider would receive a pin. It was a pin that shows that you were a participant of the race this year. Well, race is perhaps the wrong word, a run or parade, perhaps even an show and gathering while riding mostly vintage bicycles in a calm speed across the town is more accurate. So we all could enjoy the surroundings and all the lovely bicycles in the parade.

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2016 Malmö Tweed Ride pin on a tweed suit lapel

After receiving our pins, we all formed a starting line and we left Gustav Adolfs torg for a ride along the old city of Malmö. People cheered and waved to us along the streets. Many was happy and asked us what it was all about, old persons talked about how they used to have an bicycle, just like the ones we were riding, when they where young. With a smile and a nostalgic look on their faces they watched us making noises with our bells and horns along the way.

The ride went around Malmö for a while before we had a stop at Västra hamnen (West harbour) where the old mechanical warehouses was located and was nod demolished for new buildings and developments. It was a large place at the water front where the sponsor Hendricks gin served us lemonade and cucumber sandwiches. Tasteful and refreshing in the last of the summer sun rays! There was music during the rest, an gentleman played jazz records on a old gramophone, complete with funnel and crank. It was really nice to sit and listen to old crackling 75 rpm records and drinking lemonade.

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A good selection of music played on a real gramophone

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Time to start again

After the break there was time for the group photo, we all were directed to sit in a group on the board walk. After the photographers was happy we all went for our bicycles again and started the final leg of the run. The path we tool led us down to the sea side and the new land mark in Malmö, the “turning torso” tower, it is an apartment house with 54 floors. Impressive and we where riding just at its base and entrance. Then we took the roads back to the central parts of Malmö where we all ended up in Folkets park “the peoples park”, it is the oldest peoples park in Sweden. It was founded over 120 years ago.

When arriving there we all received a drink ticket from Hendricks gin, non-alcoholic alternative were available to! Then it was mingle and chatting with all the participants. We all sat on the dance floor in old furnitures and listened to Svempas Swinging Trio, an jazz trio that played old standards in a really refreshing way. Lots of energy and joy! There was a small vegetarian buffet that was really nice after the long ride we just finished.

After the food and mingle it was time for the prize ceremony. Best dressed lady, best dressed gentleman and the best looking bicycle. Hendricks gin had also the special prize “the most unusual award”. It was a great evening and an perfect ending to a fun and nice day in Malmö. Friendly people and an great atmosphere an flawless organisation and arrangement! Good briefing of the guidelines and that there was an bicycle repairman in the parade, but most important an medic that was scanning the parade all the time. In short it was a great event!

I lift my cap for you and we will see you all next year!

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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

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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