A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Armstrong Single Speed

Click to enlarge
It started as another found 10 speed frame. The old lugged steel frame was spray painted drippy white and it had some grotesque tape pin striping on top of that. It did, however, have a Raleigh style headset and bottom bracket. It also had a very nice brass head badge, which read Armstrong; Made in England. Horizontal dropouts capped off the chain stays, meaning I could make it into a fixie or a single speed. Click to enlargeThe frame even had screw on cable guides instead of braze-ons, so I did not have to remove any superfluous bumps.

I took the frame home and began stripping off the white spray paint. Underneath was glossy black paint, and bare metal. As I brushed on paint stripper and scraped away the crinkled white finish, I found that I rather liked the weathered result. Once I had most of the white paint in a gooey clump on the garage floor, I took another look at the result, and elected to stop. It was kind of the anti-road bike, a contemptible mess to the fastidious weight wienie set. I clear coated the frame leaving the random specks of white and bare metal as they were.Click to enlarge

I had some extra parts in my garage, so I selected a skewered 700c chrome steel wheel set for the bike, after removing the rear gear cluster. A leather suspension seat from France fit right on the seat post. It had been hanging on a nail in my garage rafters for half a year, waiting for the right application. It was probably taken off an old Peugot bicycle, but who cares? It's a great alternative to the expensive Brooks seat.

Click to enlargeAfter a bit of thinking, I decided to go with drop handlebars this time, and an old pair of Nitto B123 bars provided the right flavor. I also need a cottered crank set, and I wanted a plain Jane chain wheel. Ebay provided both. The big question though was whether to go with a fixie or a coaster brake. I knew I wanted a minimalistic bike, so I finally decided on a coaster brake to prevent having a handbrake lever on the handlebars. I ordered a new Sturmey Archer coaster brake hub and unlaced the rear rim. After a bit of work and using Sheldon Brown's pages as reference, Click to enlargeI had the coaster brake hub laced in the rear rim. Some Specialized gum wall tires and vintage rat trap pedals set things off nicely.

To finish the bike off, I wrapped the handlebars with padded black handlebar tape, and I ordered a Bike Punks sticker from Sticker Giant.

When I took the bike for a spin, I found that it rode superbly. It was nimble, quick, and mechanically simple. Just the thing to chain up beside the color coordinated road bikes at the local pub.

Armstrong Updates


New Chainwheel


Finishing Touch

And finally, the finished velocipede. Click the pic to enlarge.
Click to enlarge

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Blogger Antibubba said...

You know, I'm not much of a bike person, but the way you so lovingly write about them makes me want to get one. Sacramento is a good bike town, too.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Briana said...

Cool bike!

10:03 PM  
Blogger butler m said...

Yes! Cool indeed. Be cautious of using the coaster brake too aggressively as the chain stay was not engineered for the brake arm attachment. You will also find that the spokes will stretch and loosen under the extreme torque generated by stopping the hub rather than the rim.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Eileen said...

That is one hard core ride Xavier!

9:19 AM  

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