the autumn bike

p1020038you may have noticed that in previous posts, i first referenced a doctor telling me that i shouldn’t cycle anymore, and then later referenced the fact that i’ve been cycling to and from work. how dare i ignore doctor’s orders in this flagrant manner! well, let me tell you: such rebellion is dead easy when you’ve got great connections in your town’s bicycle underworld. behold… the autumn bike!

nigella is a 1972 raleigh sport. i got her from a friend in exchange for $1 cash and hauling away an old couch, which was a great deal because i was lacking furniture at the same time as i was slobbering over the bike. nigella’s original bronze-green colour is still visible around the badge on the headtube, but she’s been painted red and is missing her original chain guard, fenders, gear shifter, cable, and hub index chain and spindle. the sturmey-archer internal 3-speed hub was still intact, however; once i found a new hub index chain and spindle, plus a used shifter from the bins at the local community bike shop, we were good to go.


what the doctor said to me about cycling was that i shouldn’t put pressure on the palm on my right hand, because it compresses the nerve and worsens the carpal tunnel syndrome. so, i decided, he really meant that i shouldn’t ride my fixie or my road bike, because both feature low bars and a racing position when riding. sitting upright on a cruiser could be fine.


on my other bikes, the carpal tunnel was impacting my ability to operate the brakes, because it required more strength in my fingers than i was finding manageable. with that i mind, i started thinking about coaster brakes: it’s been a long time since i rode with them, but that makes it even more fun!  i got a new wheel with a single-speed freewheel and a coaster brake at the community bike shop where i volunteer, plus a nice new tire to go with it.

nigella’s original rear wheel features a sturmey-archer 3 speed hub, the axle of which sheldon brown (RIP) describes thus:

The axles are flatted, and there are special anti-rotation washers keyed to the flats on the axles. These washers have tabs that must face into the drop-outs to help keep the axle from twisting under load. The axle nuts are easy to strip because of the interrupted threads on the flatted axle, so you should lubricate them with medium-to heavy oil or grease.

what this meant for me was that the drop-outs were too narrow to accommodate the full (non-flatted) axle of the new wheel.  i couldn’t get the new wheel into the slots… but only just barely!  after a bit of hemming and hawing over whether or not i should risk damaging the frame, i took a file to the drop-outs.  it didn’t take much to widen them enough for the new wheel, and i think that i can still use the old 3-speed wheel in there without too much instability.


the solid cork grips were bought in vancouver last year; they were a bit too big for the handlebars, so i wrapped electrical tape around the bars before tapping the grips on with a little rubber mallet (thanks to leigh for the advice!). in the future, i won’t buy these grips again, because even though they look and feel nice, cork is endangered. i actually feel like a bit of an ass for even using these ones, but there’s no point in wasting them now.

i adore these laminated wooden fenders! usually my tastes are towards cleaner lines and so i don’t like fenders at all, but these just too handsome. i picked them up last winter at a local fine bicycle retailer, where they were gathering dust in a corner of the basement. one of their staff gave them to me for the cash in my pocket (~$25) because he said they weren’t selling at the regular price (~$35). radness.


then there’s the panniers. my friend sheri’s roommate brought these back from morocco for her. the first time i saw them, i told her quite bluntly that i coveted them. desperately. lo and behold, last week she brought them to my house as a parting gift, since she’s moving to the other side of the world. i am *so* lucky!

they’re made from some sort of rubberized-fibre, like a truck tire.  i want to say it’s leftovers from a tire factory or something, but i don’t know that for sure.  they are sturdy, waterproof, and lightweight, and soooo good-looking.


in fact, this whole bike is good-looking.  she also rides like a dream: kinda heavy, but handles well, and i can get up to quite a good clip when i’m pushing it.  though i generally hold on to the handle bars with both hands for the sake of stability, i can also steer with only my healthy hand and rest the damaged one on my lap or in my pocket.  i think the doctor would approve.

a new bike for a new season… handsome nigella!

[big thanks to leigh, sheri, triane, and dea: for the suggestions, parts, muscle, and camera-lending… y’all are wonderful]


4 responses to “the autumn bike

  1. holy shit, those paniers are amazing!!! i also covet them. that’s a cute ride.

  2. thanks!
    i <3 her very much.

  3. Pingback: bicycle coaster brake parts | Digg hot tags

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