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Sportsters and Roadsters Today Where bicycles similar to the classics are new today

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Parts List for an English 1960 Hercules Bicycle

Owner's Manual for an English 1960 Hercules Bicycle

Internal Hub Gearing
Including Sturmey Archer AW Hub Parts Diagram.

Hercules

Raleigh

Comparisons of Roadsters and Sportsters to Other Bicycles

Getting an Old
Three Speed Bike
Ready to Ride


Not A Perfect Bicycle? No, I didn't Say That

Ride Safely - Be Prepared

How To Pack A Bicycle For Shipping

Bicycle Photo
Gallery 1


Bicycle Photo
Gallery 2


What's New ?

More About Biria Bicycles - A new internal hub bicycle

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Where You Can
Reach Me

jvernooy@ymail.com
_____________________________

Bicycle Data and Info About New Bicycles.


Three Spreed
                    Bicycles  Three Speed Bicycles  Three Speed Bicycles

This site is about three speed bicycles first and foremost, vintage bicycles from brands such as Hercules, Humber, Robin Hood, Raleigh, Rudge, Triumph, and many others, and secondly new brands such as Torker, Sun, and others. This website was moved from its original site, threespeedbicycles.angelcities.com, to this site on November 24, 2011 due to the mysterious disappearance of angelcities.com. There will be some reference to other enclosed gear system bicycles and related data, but that will be held to a minimum. This website has existed since 2003 but it needed to be moved. If I had done nothing it might have remained unseen for an unknown amount of additional time. It is now on a very dependable and stable server and more improvements and updates for this website are on the way.

(Updated
January 2, 2012 )                                  240H x 296W

News - Bicycle related and general
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Once upon a time
there were bicycles that seemed to invite you to go for a ride. They had fenders to keep themselves and their riders clean. They had a chainguard to protect their rider's trouser cuff. They had a saddle that, though not as comfortable as an easy chair, at least didn't seem like it was on the attack. They had few enough gears for the correct one to be easily chosen, (3, 4, or 5), and yet there were enough to make the bicycle easy to ride. They had tires that were just wide enough to go just about anywhere except in the rough and mud. They had handlebar grips that were padded well enough that gloves were usually not needed by their rider. It was easy to hang bags and baskets on them if your travel required that you take luggage and such with you. Their parts, except for cables and brake blocks, seemed to be almost permanent. Even when they did need a repair that required a removal of a part, which usually was only after months or years of use, if even then, the design of these bicycles made the operation easy. Many models even came with what we today consider "extras", (fenders, chainguard, lights, luggage rack, pump, bell, and  kickstand), as standard equipment. Want more details about how these bicycles were easy to repair and adjust? Click here.

Raleigh
                      Sprite 5 speed Raleigh  1969 Sprint Gent's
5 Speed

Hub: Sturmey Archer S5
Raleigh
                      Lady's Sport Lady's 1978 Sports 3 Speed

Hub: Sturmey Archer AW
Hercules
1962 Hercules Gent's 3 Speed

Hub: Sturmey Archer AW
Lady's Robin Hood
1969 Robin Hood Lady's 3 Speed

Hub: Sturmey Archer AW

No, it is not a tall tale. It really did happen once upon a time. Even today not everyone's idea of bicycle riding fits a mountain bike, road racing bike, or even the ordinary comfort bike. The best news is that these bicycles are not all gone. Many of the old ones survive and new bikes that are similar are still being offered in the present model year, 2004. The market of new bicycles is even leaning, though only slightly as the year 2004 begins, towards an increase in demand for bicycles that make the rider feel comfortable. If you love these old three speed bicycles for any or all of the following; quality, dependability, dignified appearance, ease of repair, comfort, adaptability, rideability, even nostalgia, you may doubt that any bicycles can be made today that even come close to the vintage bicycles that were made in England by such names as Armstrong, BSA, Dunelt, Hercules, Humber, Norman, Phillips, Robin Hood, Rudge, Raleigh, Sunbeam, and others. (A more complete list appears a little further on.)

There have been numerous three speed bicycles made ever since the three speed internal gear hub was invented in 1902 by Sturmey Archer. This site will be mostly about vintage three speed bicycles. And since most of the three speed bicycles were made in England as were the Sturmey Archer three speed hubs, this site will mostly center on the three speed bicycles that were made in England. These bicycles were made to last. (Click here to see places where I have been riding my almost 40 year old bicycles.)

It was approximately 41 years ago that I first saw what is inside a three speed bicycle hub. Thanks to the diagram on the parts list that came with my bicycle, made by the Hercules Cycle  & Motor Company of Birmingham England, I was able to reassemble the hub successfully. Hey, if a ten year old can reassemble a Sturmey Archer AW hub how hard can it be? All you need is the tools, the time (with experience less than 30 minutes), and the diagram of where the parts go. For me that was on the Hercules bicycle parts list. That  Hercules bicycle parts list circa 1960 can be seen here.

Three speed bicycles are still being made although not by most of the original manufacturers. The Sturmey Archer three speed hubs are also being made under the same brand name by a different manufacturer (SunRace) in a different country. This site will be mostly about the vintage three speed bicycles but there will be some mention about other internal gear bicycles including some new ones. But it will only be about bicycles with enclosed hub gear systems. No bicycles with exposed gear systems will be allowed on these pages.

Here's a form to submit bicycle information, questions or comments to the author of this page.

On this page and others I tell you about some of the bicycles that I own or have owned.
But this form is for you to tell me about your bicycles.
You may tell me, anonymously, what kind of bicycle(s) you have, using the form below.
If listing more than one bicycle, you may use the "Comments" part of the form.
Please include your email address in the "Comments " part of the form if you want an
answer. Of course, then you will not be anonymous to me. I will not divulge names or
email addresses that you send to me. These comments will be put on another page on this
site but any names or personal information that you give me will not be divulged.
If I compile a list of bicycles, models, and model years
for this website, that too will be anonymous. Thank you.

Bicycle Brand.................

Bicycle Model...............

Model Year...................

Comments:


Or, you may e-mail me at jvernooy@yahoo.com

The form above has generated a lot of response. I have added a page so that you too can see the responses that I have gotten. No identities will be shown. No need to be worried, even if you included your email address. It will not be shown. All responses will only show brand of bicycle, year of bicycle, model of bicycle, and comments. If any reference to the responder's identity was included it will not be shown. I just want you to see how many vintage three speed bicycles are out there as I have seen from this form page. True this is not a scientific survey. It is not at all guaranteed to be accurate. But it is interesting. 

To see some of the responses to the questionnaire above click here.


More about this questionnaire.
Many of the responses to this questionnaire have included questions about the value of the types of bicycles that I have mentioned on these pages. I can't do that. I don't know if anyone can. One reason is that there are so many variables. I'll list just a few.

  • Year of manufacture (A brand and/or model that one year was the "cream of the crop" was in another year nowhere near that level. The design of a certain brand and/or model sometimes would be redirected toward a different group of buyers based upon what the company thought would help increase their profit.)
  • Condition (The importance of this even varies by age make and model.) 
  • Where the buyer lives (How much will the shipping cost?)
  • Where the seller lives (How much will the  shipping cost?)
  • And possibly most important is that any price is a figment of the imagination. When both the buyer's and the seller's imagination agree, the item gets sold. If their imaginations don't agree, there is no sale .
One of the best ways to determine the value of a bicycle is to see what similar bicycles have sold for on Ebay. That, of course, will only tell you what a bicycle would likely sell for on Ebay. If you find the same bicycle in a bicycle store it will probably sell for more because they will probably check it over and make needed adjustments before they sell it. Then there is the yard sale as well as other places you may find where one of these bicycles is being sold. And if you are real lucky, you may even find one being thrown out and have the honor of "rescuing" it.

Please forgive me if you asked for my estimate of the value of a bicycle and I didn't answer. If your question was for other advice I will try to answer soon. If I fail to answer your question, and it doesn't have to do with a price estimate, please repeat your email.

   Page views since Febuary 1,2003     


My First Bicycle - A 1960 Hercules Hawthorne Three Speed

My first bicycle was a Hercules Hawthorne three speed bicycle. (For more about Hercules Hawthornes sold by Montgomery Wards click here.) And since my parents gave the bike to me as a Christmas present I didn't get to ride it right away, not until spring. But I did get to work on it even before I rode it. 1960 Hercules
                Hawthorne in 1961 I was looking it over a few days after Christmas and noticed that the hub bearing adjustments weren't quite perfect as the owners manual said they should be. The owner's manual told how to adjust the bearings and since only simple tools were needed to adjust the hub bearings I made sure the hub bearing adjustment was made as close to perfect as possible. The bearings probably would have worn in in time to be smoother without any further adjustment, but I had months before I could ride the bike. And it is better to have the adjustment exactly correct. Besides, I got to see how many times I could get the wheels to turn after a gentle spin of them with my hand.

At left is a picture of my first bicycle, a 1960 Hercules Hawthorne with a Sturmey Archer model AW three speed hub. This picture was probably taken in the fall of 1961.


There Have Been Many Brands Of Three Speed Bicycles Made

Three speed bicycles have been made by many companies over the last century. Here's a partial list of just the ones that at one time were made in or near England;

Armstrong, BSA, Carlton, Claud Butler, Dawes, The Defiance, Dunelt, Dursley Pederson, Elswick, F. H. Grub, Gazelle (the Dutch Raleigh), Gloria, Halford, Hateley's, Hercules, Hetchins, Hobbs of Barbicon, Holdsworth, Humber, Indian (by Phillips), Invicta, Keystone, The Londoner, Mead, Norman, Phillips, Popular Special, Robin Hood, Royal Enfield, Royal Londoner, Royal Scott, Royal York, Rudge, Rudge-Witworth, Scout, Sunbeam, Sun Cycles, Triumph, Vulcan, Wearwell, and Windsor. Raleigh bought out so many of its competitors, mostly in the 1950's and 1960's, that, at one time or another, Raleigh has made many of these brand names even though many of those brands at other times were made by other companies. Since Raleigh, at times, would manufacture bikes under a custom brand name of your choice for an order of only 100 bikes, some names could have a production run of only 100 bikes. But don't get excited about making a great profit finding one of them. Often the only difference is the name on the decal and name-plate that went on the bike. And as I said before they last so well that it's likely that all 100 that were manufactured under that name still exist with most of them in operating condition or near operating condition. And others of these brands enjoyed years of a model run, into the millions of units produced, and a possibility of millions still surviving. They are out there, some still in daily transportation duties, others in attics, garages, barns, and carriage houses awaiting re-discovery.


Other sites with more information about some of the bike brands listed above will be listed on this page as found. So far there are those listed below.

The Canberra Bicycle Museum pages archived in the Pandora Archive by the National Library of Australia and Partners. (This link had disappeared but can still be seen at the Pandora Archive.) BSA, Dursley Pedersen, Eagle, Raleigh, Sunbeam, Tri-ang bicycles, and others.

Humber page at the Wolverhampton Museum of Industry

Sunbeam page at the Wolverhampton Museum of Industry

Vulcan and Wearwell page at the Wolverhampton Museum of Industry

Dursley - Pedersen

Information can also be found at the Classic Rendezvous website about many brands including those listed above.



My Second Bicycle - A Sears Three Speed Made In Austria

My second bicycle was a Sears three speed made in Austria by Puch. The hub appears to be a Sturmey Archer model AW that was licensed by Sturmey Archer to be made in Austria. It is very similar internally but externally it looks quite different. The hub has three parallel raised ribs running around the hub. The axle nuts have no markings but are chrome plated. The trigger lever attaches with its clamp on its back instead of being clamped from its edge as the Sturmey Archer trigger levers are attached to the handlebar. But it sounds just like hubs that were made by Sturmey Archer in England. I probably wouldn't have bought this bike if it didn't sound just like a Sturmey Archer hub. 1966 Sears 3 speed

The Sound Of A Sturmey Archer Three Speed Hub

I got accustomed to the sound of a Sturmey Archer model AW hub. They have a distinctive click in second and third gear and when coasting. Any other three speed hub, such as a Shimano hub, which also has a distinctive click, just didn't interest me. You can probably tell the difference too. If you can put a bike with a Sturmey Archer model AW hub and a bike with a Shimano three speed hub near each other and just lift the rear of the bike enough to spin the rear wheel, first one then the other. There is a difference in the sound. If you had a bike with a Shimano hub when you were eight years old you might think that the Sturmey Archer hub sounds strange. They both work equally well, and they are both about the same to work on even though they are designed with noticeable differences.


My Reasons For Writing These Pages

There are a few reasons why I have taken the time to write these pages. The greatest incentive came when I found that Raleigh was planning to start importing bikes made elsewhere to sell after about 100 years of making Raleigh bikes, and most of the components that go on them, in their own factory that covered about 40 acres in Nottingham England. The report was online here at Bicycle Retailer.

Another reason is that I still prefer to ride a three speed (or as in this picture a five speed) Sturmey Archer equiped English bicycle. The racing style with its downturned handlebars, narrow saddle, and toe clips isn't the right choice for riding in traffic on city streets any more than a  bulky mountain bike is. A bicycle with internal hub enclosed gears is so trouble free and easy to shift that it is still my first choice. The picture below is me with one of my favorite bicycles, a Raleigh Sprite 5 speed on June 30, 2004.

Older
                Kid with Bicycle

Raleigh, as well as most other surviving manufacturers of these three speed bikes, had already found the demand for these bikes diminish and produced few, if any, in recent years favoring mountain bikes and racing bikes which use the more popular external derailleur gears. You can still buy new, used, and re-manufactured three speed bikes.


New
Today you can purchase Gazelle three speed, (or 7 speed), bicycles made by Gazelle in Holland. Or you can purchase Gazelle three speed, (or 7 speed), bicycles made in Holland through Cycle Heaven in York, England (they call them Dutch bikes). Or you can purchase three speed , (or 7 speed), bicycles made by Pashley of England (they call them Pashley Classics). Or you can purchase three speed bicycles re-manufactured by Cycles of Yesteryear using three speed bicycles from the 1950's. Two more brands of three speed bicycles have been brought to my attention not long ago. They don't appear to be marketed in the U. S. A. at this time. But they are being sold in England. They appear to be quite plain and basic but also quite low in price. They are the models Le Mans and La Riviera by Universal Cycles (using Sram hubs), and the models Classic men's and Classic lady's by Hawk Cycles. In the U. S. A. you can purchase three speed bicycles, (or 7 speed), made in Germany by Biria (more about Biria bicycles), three speed bicycles, (or 7 speed), by Breezer, and three speed bicycles, by Sun Bicycles. There are other bicycles being made today that use internal hub gears. So many in fact that instead of adding the list to this page I have created a new page,Roadsters_and Sportsters_Today.

These new bicycles are not just copies of the old standards. New designs are incorporated into many of them. Probably the most like the originals are the ones made by Pashley.  I thought I would have no interest in any three speed bicycles that are not true to the classic designs. After all, I have only owned the originals, the ones that were made thirty years or more ago. How could today's manufacturing do better than the originals?

I have had to rethink my resistance to change after seeing one brand of bicycle that has a heritage in the past but whose bicycles are definitely made for today and tomorrow. I find it comforting that bicycles with the old standards of quality, durability, and performance are being made today in a way that should ensure not only many years of use to those who purchase these bicycles but also that the bicycle type that has an internal hub gear system, fenders, chainguard, comfortable saddle, etc., will continue to be offered as a current model for years to come.

That brand is Biria. The quality is excellent. Only a handful of bicycle brands that I know of are designed in a way that doesn't sacrifice quality for price. Now that I know of Biria they are included in that short list. But to impress me enough for me to accept that anyone has the right to redesign three speed internal gear bicycles the changes have to offer something significant and not just be change for the sake of change. And, they are reasonably priced. For more about Biria bicycles click here.

Reasonably priced, highest quality bicycles, with significant design improvements * aren't as common as they once were. In 40 years a whole new generation might be wishing that they bought these Biria bicycles, just as I wish I had been able to buy a new Sunbeam bicycle.

Used
You can also track down used three speed bicycles quite easily since so many of them have been made and they are so durable that there are still many of them around. They can often be put back into service with just a little reconditioning, even if they have been out of service for years. If you have some mechanical ability, you may be able to do the work yourself. For me they seem like one of the simplest machines to work on, but that could be because I have been working on them for about forty-two years, ever since I was about eight years old. Some of the best sources are, alphabetically; Cyclerecycler, Ebay, and Menotomy (oldroads.com)



Three Speed News

A bicycle shop in Madison Wisconsin, U. S. A.  sells new 3 speed Classic Roadsters manufactured in  India, (single speed, 3 speed, or 7 speed.). - Click here.

The BBC has a tour of the Raleigh Factory online, beginning in the reception area of the factory, as well as other Raleigh related info - Click here.

A Century of Bicycle Production Ends Thursday November 28, 2002 - The BBC report on The Raleigh factory at Nottingham England - Click here.

The Long Road From England to Taiwan for Sturmey Archer - Click here.

Bicycle Advocacy and Politics - Click here.


chain_pathFor more about this comparison and others click here.


Can a bicycle get better  as it ages?

Machinery seldom gets better with age. Usually it just wears out. But there are exceptions. I'm convinced that some of those exceptions are part of many bicycles that were made in England or Austria. This  characteristic may apply to bicycles made in other countries but I only have first hand knowledge of bicycles made in Austria and England. The bicycle in the picture below is one of those bicycles that has improved with age. The picture was taken in December 2002. The subject, a Sears JC Higgins Austrian built three speed, was manufactured during 1966. That makes it at least 36 years old. It was the economy model listed in the 1966 Sears catalog and originally sold for $39.95.  

Sears
                three speed bicycle Dec 2002

What gets better?


If you compare the December 2002 picture to the one further above that was taken in 1967, you can see that some parts have been replaced. For some of them you may have to look very closely, others are obvious. The parts that have been replaced are; fenders, rear reflector, chainwheel side crank, pedals, tires, shift cable, kickstand, brake cables, and rims. Tubes, though not obvious, I'm sure have been replaced a number of times. The saddle bag has been added and the pump is not mounted on the frame although a replacement has been on the pump mounts as needed for long rides.


So what gets better? The most notable is the rear hub.  Although parts of it do eventually wear out, on the way there the operation of the hub actually gets smoother. And then when the wear degrades operation, a simple opening,  a replacing of the parts that need to be, and a relube put it back at least as good as new.

Notes
*

Improvements? Just as I prefer vintage Hercules, Raleigh, Armstrong, Phillips, and all others of their type for what they are, much of the general public resists them for what they are. To them they appear to not give as much of what they want. To me I see today's bicycles not giving as much of what I want. I will choose a bicycle that has a little surface rust and needs a little attention over a new one if it means having a bicycle like the one I had when I was 10 years old. I will choose a bicycle that has a gear hub that has a neutral area between 2nd and 3rd and  requires me to remember to give it a few drops of oil once in a while if I can have the piece of mind that I am riding a bicycle that has a hub design that has already taken me thousands of miles without trouble. And what price the vintage bluish chrome or the 40 spoke rear and 32 spoke front wheels, just as it is supposed to be.

But the majority of bicyclists probably aren't too sure that those sentiments are rational. I realize that. So for them the improvements of these new  bicycles are very real and very significant. I have ridden a brand new Biria . It rides as good as the best English roadster that I have ridden. It is even more tame and rideable for a novice than the English roadster. It has riding characteristics that you won't get tired of regardless how much you have ridden. But it is not a Hercules, or Raleigh, etc., and it doesn't try to be. Its aim is to be lighter, easier to ride, safer, with more, better integrated features, and it succeeds.

Some of the better examples of currently manufactured bicycles that are equiped with enclosed-hub, multi-speed gears will be highlighted in this side-column.
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Torker is offering a 2 speed bicycle in its 2012 lineup that uses the Surmey Archer KB2 Automatic Kick-Back-Shifter hub. While this is not a 3 speed but worthy of notice due to the ability to shift without any cables.
Torker KB2 -
              240H x 296 W
________________________________

Sun Bicycles is offering a 3 speed bicycle with a low step-over that they call the Streamway 3.
Streamway_3_sm-186Hx296W
The reason I mention these here is that the store, Bob Lounsbury Sporting Goods, where I have worked for approximately the last  30 years can order these models from these various manufactureres. If you live in the area of Middletown, NY or are planning to be near enough to stop by you can order these and other models from us as long as you can stop by to pick the bicycle up, or have someone pick up the bicycle for you at 104 North St., Middletown, N.Y. 10940, phone 845-343-1808. We only sell bicycles in a fully assembled, fully adjusted, ready to ride condition. We accept all credit cards except American Express.

Well there, now I have gotten around to use this website to offer to sell something. Now this website is much less rare; having done so might even increase the number of visitors to this website. Now back to some of the other models I have found being offed by  companies that we represent.
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Torker has what might be the closest to what the English 3 speeds might have been today if they had continued a gradual evolution from 1960 forward. It is the Torker T-300.Torker_T-300-224h_x_296w