Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Royal Enfield Revelation

Originally written in 2018~

Ever since I started getting a little deeper into the history of the small-wheeled bike "thing" that happened in 1960s England, I kept hearing about a mythical bike considered by many to be the "holy grail" of these bikes: The Royal Enfield Revelation.

Tony Hadlund's blog has an excellent overview of this bike.  I won't dwell on the details here.  Suffice it to say they are REALLY hard to find, especially here in the US.

What I WILL dwell on is the story of how I found and finally got this bike to be a member of the herd!

Ever since I had learned about these bikes, I would occasionally look at eBay to see if any would pop up for sale.  For years, nothing.  Just by chance, I was checking out the UK eBay in late 2015 and saw a post for a "Royal Enfield Revelation" but the bike that was pictured, while a Royal Enfield, was not the Rev you see above.  It didn't look like any bike I'd ever seen before actually.  Disappointed, I copied and pasted my eBay search into Google just to drool over a few pictures and re-read Tony's blog post about Revelations....  To my surprise, one of the first search returns was for a Rev that was for sale on Gumtree, the British form of something like craigslist here in the USA.  I clicked in and saw this bike.  

"What are the chances it would still be available?" I thought.  "Probably a post from a year ago... already gone..."  After some emails with the seller, I found out the bike WAS still available, located in London and he'd be happy to ship it!!  The bike was being sold for about $100, shipping would be twice that, but... IT'S A REV!!!  I went for it.

The long and short of this story is that the guy, a very nice guy actually, never shipped it.  We emailed over and over, I even called him and we talked... a couple times... he said he'd send it, but just never got around to it.  This went on FOR OVER A YEAR.  Finally I got despondent and figured I was just out the cash... what a bummer.  THAT CLOSE to actually getting one... I gave up...

2017 - Spring:  We are taking a trip to London to see my wife's family and do a little traveling in the summer with my youngest son.  I get thinking about this bike.  Maybe I should reach out to the guy again and let him know I'm coming to get it.  I go back onto Gumtree and... the bike is up for sale again!!!  posted only four days prior.  I immediately email the guy and lay into him... "don't sell MY bike! I paid for it and I'm coming to London to get it!!"  I figured he'd ignore me and just sell it.  But amazingly, he got back to me.  "OK, let me know when you are here and I'll get it to you."

SO... London, summer of 2017.  I reach out to my guy and get directions to a mini-storage place near the Borough Market and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.  He is running an entire vintage bike business out of a bunch of storage units.  He had to pull out all these bikes to get to it.  It seemed really sketchy, but....

...HERE IT IS.  That is the guy I've dealt with all this time.  He is a little cagey about wanting to be in pictures, but I got this one of him holding the bike.  Also notice that it's missing the pump that was pictured above.  I should have noticed it at the time, but I was very happy to just have the bike.  I had to eat a portion of the shipping I'd already paid, so the overall cost to me was about $150 USD.  Honestly, I thought that was a good price.  The tires were full, so I hit the road for a 13 mile trip across downtown London back to our airbnb house in Ealing... in the ONLY driving rainstorm of the entire trip.  Figures.  Here are some photos of the journey and the route.  I'll never forget this adventure.

Once I got it back to the house, I started to look into ways to ship it back.  Another really lucky thing happened. One of our neighbors, who happens to be our financial planner, was living in London for a year with his whole family, very near the house we were staying at in Ealing.  He offered to pack the bike in the shipping container they were going to bring back - for free!  I just would have to wait a few months until it cleared into the US.  Done.

So after seeing this bike in late 2015, going through all the rigamarole of getting it and shipping it back, I finally was riding it around the block here at home in late 2017, nearly 2 years since I first laid eyes on it.  I had found an after-market pump in Oxford to replace the original.  Too bad, those pumps are probably like hen's teeth to find. 

As of now, the bike is hanging dry and snug amongst my other treasures - a few Moultons, some Raleigh RSWs and Twentys.  The plan:  keep it as is. The paint is a bit rough, but it's all there.  I'll get some pictures up shortly of the current look of it.


 I have been a little remiss in keeping this blog current.  Four years remiss.  Many years ago, when I started it, the "dot-com" domain for veloscene was not available.  Just the other day, I found that it now was, bought it, and now this blog resides under the new home of www.veloscene.com.  I will eventually let the .net one expire...

I will be posting soon on a whole new crop of bikes (and a few of the old ones) so stay tuned!

Friday, October 14, 2016

1965 Moulton Speedsix - UPDATE

This bike is no longer with me.  I sold it recently to a fellow Moultoneer who appreciates it much more than I was.  He has been collecting and repairing vintage Moutons for years and had many of the special parts that make this bike a one-of-a-kind original specimen of a Huffy-imported Moulton Speedsix.  It is in great hands and I feel like I've been a part of the history of this special bike.

Before I sent it away, very well packaged for a long journey across the country, I shot some photos of it as it left...


Here is a picture of the Speedsix after the updates done by the new owner:

Note the following: brake levers, headtube badge, bell, rear carrier, single chainwheel, Moulton branded saddle, new derailleur... probably more.  This bike is now as it rolled off the line.  Nice work!  It's easy to tell that it is in great hands.

I feel a little sad, but very excited that this bike is where it is now.  It has found the right place.  I'm just happy to have played a minor role in it finding its way there.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumnal Twenty

I couldn't help it...  This is an incredibly rare orange Raleigh Twenty that I came across a couple years back.  It is completely stock, practically New-Old Stock.  The tires and tubes are original Raleigh whitewalls, the pump is alloy and works, even the mattress saddle (Brooks) is in near perfect condition.  Just thought it looked nice with pumpkins and fall flowers...

This bike is one of a mated pair.  The other one is white.  They came from a gentleman in Seattle, WA, USA.  These were his parents bikes.  They were purchased in 1974 in Seattle and used only for the proverbial "Sunday Ride."  His parents traveled to Vancouver, BC a few times and the bikes served them well spinning around Stanley Park.  They were put into storage about a year later, dry, warm basement, completely covered in sheets.  They sat there until 2014.

My seller had the unenviable job of going through his parents things after they had passed.  These bikes were among the things he needed to move on.  He was very reticent about selling them, but I was able to convince him that they would be going to a very good home.  I have preserved these bikes as-is and have not changed a single thing on them.  My wife and I continue the tradition of riding them in the summer around Alki Beach here in Seattle.  After the ride, they are lubed, cleaned and put away for the winter in dry, warm storage.  They are special ones, and I hope I honor them well.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

1966 Robin Hood

So here is my latest bike... a 1966 Robin Hood, 23" Frame.  Robin Hood was one of the brands created by Raleigh back in the day.  This bike is essentially identical to a Raleigh Sport, but with a different decal set.  They may have used a few lesser quality components, although the only thing I can tell that is different was the "prop stand" and frankly, I just take those off anyway...

So a question might be "why?"  I already have a mated pair of Raleigh Sports in pristine condition, completely done up.  Why this old beater?  Well, I have been thinking lately about the fact that most of my bikes are either impractical to ride (Raleigh RSW) or too nice to ride (aforementioned Raleigh Sport)  I was honestly looking for a vintage Raleigh Sport in 23" frame size that I could just add to and make it an everyday ride around bike.  This one fit the bill.  Also, I had a nice set of rebuilt wheels (original refurbished Sturmey Archer hubs laced to Sun CR-18 rims with modern stainless spokes) with new tires and tubes waiting for this frame.  Add on the Brooks B-66 and alloy seatpost, Carradice Barley bag and a few odds and ends from the parts bin and, voila, here she is!

Most of the decals are pretty rough (see below) but the head badge is BRILLIANT!  I love this head badge.  Of all the Raleigh brands, this one takes it.

My plan is to slowly acquire and replace some of the wonky parts.  The right crank seems a bit bent, so the pedal twists a little under foot.  The plastic roller wheel can be replaced with metal.  Brakes are a little rusty.  Mostly cosmetic stuff, so I'm not in a real hurry.

Fun ride!  Now if I only had the space for it around the house...  

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bikes 4 Sale

It's time to clear the shed...  I hate to go this direction, but I'm just running out of room.  If anyone is interested, please contact me direct at cwestergard -at - gmail - dot - com.

All the bikes are in really nice condition with the normal signs of age.  Rust is minimal if at all and these bikes have been stored in a dry indoor storage area for the last 5 years.  Saddles are period but not necessarily Brooks.  These bikes function in all gears as they should.  They really are in nice shape.  Prices are pretty firm.

Raleigh Shopper - Mauve/Purple
This is a very original non-folding Shopper from England.  Original steel rimmed 451 20" wheels.  Rear rack with bungee/basket and front rack..  Twist shift three speed.  Prop stand is not original, but functional. Aluminum pump non functional, but looks good! Stormy Archer AW 3-Speed, date not readable.  $150  SOLD

Phillips Twenty - Gold
Very original Raleigh-built Phillips-branded bike.  Thumb-shifting 3-speed works well.  White bullet hand grips.  406 wheels with newer tires. New Chain. No Pump.  SA-AW 3-speed dated 7-69  $120 SOLD

Raleigh Twenty - Blue
Very nice three speed coaster brake; includes aluminum pump.  Aluminum ping bell.  New Schwalbe Marathon 406 tires.  Salmon brake pads on front. SA-TCW-III Rear hub dated 2-73  $150 SOLD

Raleigh Twenty - Red

This bike is pretty original but sports alloy 406 rims, new brake pads and aluminum pump.  Forks and chain guard are re-painted, the rest of the frame is original paint.  SA-AW 3-Speed hub dated 4-72  $150 SOLD

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

1965 Moulton Speedsix

I was going to name this post "the good, the bad and the ugly," but decided to just present the facts.. as I currently have them.

So here is the story so far as I know it:  I came across this bike doing a nationwide search of craigslist.  The title of the ad was "Alex Moulton racing bike" and it was posted in the Santa Fe craigslist.  The seller who was very nice to work with, agreed to terms and would ship it to Seattle.  During our conversations back and forth I asked him how he came by this bike.  I swear he said that he traded a cow for it!  Alex, if I'm wrong, please correct me and let me know how you did come by this bike!!

Anyway, it shipped out from New Mexico on November 30 and arrived here in Seattle on November 3.  It was packaged well, but I haven't had a bike shipped to me yet where UPS didn't do something to wreck it... In this case, one of the front fork drop outs was protruding from the box and it was bent... pretty severely as you can see from the pictures.  I don't think its irreparable, but sad to see...

I'm going to just throw a bunch of pictures up here to show the current condition of the bike.  This is a Huffy imported Speedsix from 1965.  Very rare bike.

The above three photos are ones the seller in New Mexico posted to craigslist.  It looks remarkably complete.  On further inspection, there have been plenty of after-market changes...  The decals are in really great shape for a bike of this vintage and it overall condition...

The above three images are from the seller as he packed it for shipping.
The images below are ones I took today to document current condition.

The rear changer.  Not sure if this is a Benelux modified by Moulton or not.  The label that Alex Moulton had applied to his modified Benelux changers is gone if it is one. (Update: according to Ian S from Cincinnati , this is a correct Cyclo P2 derailleur, proper for this bike)

The changer hanger.  It appears slightly bent.  Not an uncommon thing from what I hear.  The late Steve Hed in one of his videos on the Speedsix indicated that it needed to be adjusted frequently.

Now for the REAL ugly... This is the backside of the seat tube.  There is a vertical crack about an inch long.  There is a slight depression in this area as well.  A flashlight pushed against this crack shows light on the inside... not much but it does go through the tube.  The rust at the bottom of the tube does not penetrate the metal.  The black looks like the remnants of electrical tape where they may have tried to mount a front derailleur.

Another ugly... the seat tube has been CRANKED DOWN and the binder bolt bent.  I think someone tried to put too small a seat post in, it kept slipping and, well, frustration set in... too bad.  

Serial number on the drive side: 247208
According to what I've read about Moulton serial numbers, this would indicate it was built in the 24th week of the year (1965 from the serial number on the other side) and it was the 7208th bike built.  THAT just seems wrong to me.  I didn't think Moulton production was that rapid...  I must be missing something....  The other side has a very clear K65 on it.  Kirkby 1965?  Maybe, but I've heard that the convention might not be accurate.

This is the cross bar.  There is a hole drilled here that I do not believe to be original.  Could a cable hanger have been added at one time to accommodate a cable to a now gone front changer??  There are numerous cable hangers missing on this bike.  They are black.  The ones available from Moulton Preservation are white...  hmmmm... (Update: According to John in Eugene, the hole in the top tube is correct!  It was drilled by Huffy to keep the prop stand from rotating around the bar.)

The bent front fork... Thanks UPS.  You know for the price you pay to have stuff shipped.... well, don't get me started...  It will need to be bent back and aligned.

The stem is AVA.  Not sure if that is stock or not.  The bar has no markings visible.  It does retain its original vinyl tape.  Black. (Update: Stem should be a GB Spear Point according to Ian S.  Bars look to be correct GB Maes with Gem bar tape)

OK, I've been around bikes a long time... not Moutons, but... seriously?  These brake levers are the wildest I've ever seen.  You can reach them from the top and when your hands are in the position like you are "on the hoods" with normal levers.  Not sure how you'd engage them when you are down in the drops....  Only the front brake was connected.  Black ribbed housing.  Are these Balilla levers?  Are they aftermarket? (Update: Correct levers should be Balilla 62)

The front label is very worn, but definitely says Moulton Bicycle Bradford on Avon, Made in England.  It is very discolored and slightly off center.

There were a couple labels on the seat tube, the top one totally faded away.  The blue one below it from some cycle shop of the era in Chicago.  Anyone know what these are??

The changer lever is in great shape.  I love the little stars on the friction adjuster.

This bike has a second chainring added, probably after market as well.  The outer ring is the 60t TA.  The inner one just says "Made in   46   France" 

Milremo 555 cranks are original and in decent shape.

The bike has the rear rack.  One support, the right side, is broken...

...and the whole rack is a little bent.

Here is the original Balilla rear brake block.  Pads are history, but the spring is in good shape.  They should clean up nice.

Here is a VERY worn out saddle and no-name seatpost.  What seat post was stock on this??  Saddle?? Brooks?? (Update: Again, according to Ian S. the correct saddle was a Middlemore with a Moulton tag on the back - near impossible to find now... I have a period correct Brooks Professional that will fit the bill nicely)

OK... another UGLY.  This is a SunTour ProCompe 6-speed free wheel.  NOT the original and a real bummer.  Dr. Moulton had a custom 6-speed free wheel, first one produced, made for the Speedsix.  It boasted a 11t gear in the smallest position.  Even worse, this one does not spin.  The wheel hub is Milremo, the original.  My hope is that they didn't misthread this freewheel on and strip out the threading...

Now here is something I've never seen before either!  GB wing nuts with one long arm and the other side a thumb pad.  This are made of aluminum, very light.  I looked them up on eBay, just to see if there were replacements.  There is a guy selling a pair in SF Bay area for nearly $200!!  yes, that is the sound of my jaw hitting the floor!

The flipped of the rear wheel.  It uses a standard nut with integrated washer.  There is one broken spoke on the drive side.  Hub spins but sounds/feels dry.  The rims are in really nice shape.  Alloy and  not dented or scored by brake wear.

Original tires and rubber.  Cracked and worn a bit.

Here is the front wheel.  The second image shows the wing nut, but the tip is broken off this one.
The pedals do not have any name on them, appear to be original and spin freely, although dry.  Christophe D toe clips.  Leather straps are both broken. (Update: These are original Phillips pedals according to Ian S.)

This bike has both aluminum fenders, a little worse for the wear, but they should be able to be gently bent back into shape and polished up.

I have not had a chance to check the suspension systems either front or real.  It is concerning that the rear wheel doesn't drop away like the 4-Speed does.  Is it "glued" to the rubber block?  I can't get the front wheel on to test the front suspension either.

Well, that is it for now.  I'd love to hear what everyone has to say about this bike.  Here is my BIGGEST  question:  Should this bike be left "as-is" as an example of the Huffy Speedsix?  Or should we move ahead with restoration work and bring it back from the poor condition it is in.  And if we go with route number two... will it be worth the money?

For now, it sits.   I have an appointment with Colin at Cyclefab here in Seattle tomorrow to get his take on it.  I've also been in touch with a gentleman from Ohio who has deep experience rebuilding these bikes.  I really value everyone's opinion on this project....

UPDATE: 11/4/15, later...
I've had conversations with two very knowledgable experts on this bike.  They have given me a lot of information about what is "correct" and aftermarket on the bike.  Many of the most hard to find pieces are there.  A couple will be very hard to find (freewheel and saddle), a couple may be easier to find (brake levers and cable guides).  I think it is fair to say both experts feel this bike would be worthy of repair to the damaged frame and full finish restoration.  I agree, but I still need to think about the cost...