|Greetings: Anyone heard of a Norwich Astor? Here's a pic. I haven't seen the bike...the photo was sent to me by a friend, so I can't check the hub for info/date. He says the headbadge says "Norwich" and the seat tube says "Norwich Astor". That's a new name for me. Looks like a Brooks 90-3 saddle, and the shifter would put it no later than 1930's. I'm trying to decide if I should buy it based just on the photo. Any help greatly appreciated! Regards, John|
| Can you tell if it's Raleigh-built? It would have 26 thread-per-inch bottom bracket and steerer threading instead of the more common 24tpi.|
| Gents, I believe what you have here is a Norwich Rival. Please search the archives here and see what I have said about them in the past.|
Built in Norwich, Norfolk, England. In an old shoe factory in Heigham Street, mainly from Phillips parts. A full range available up until the late 1950s(?). Better photos would help identify it more fully. The headbadge should say Norwich in an arch across the top and Rival in a crescent across the bottom, in the centre is a large R with sunrays emanating from the centre circle.
Matthew - Norfolk and good.
| Thanks David and Matthew! I don't think it's Raleigh built. It does say "Made in England". It sounds like Matthew is on the right track. Thanks for the steer to the info on Norwich. It sounds like an intriguing little company...I love the thought of people making bikes in an old shoe factory! I wonder if the Norwich Astor was the U.S. version of the Rival. Astor is a name more linked with American luxury (John Jacob Astor, the Waldorf-Astoria, etc) so maybe the renamed the Rival when they sent it to the States. |
Any thought on whether I should pick it up, Matthew? I think I can get it for about $100, although I'll have to drive several hours to get it. Any unique features that make it special?
Thanks again, gentlemen, for your time and interest. Warm regards, John
| Hi John,|
The manufacturer's name is 'Norwich Rival' usually shortened to Rival. The Astor is probably a model name for all the reasons you have said.
Get your friend to photograph the headbadge, then you will know for sure, it should be as I described it.
A 'Rival' here in England would fetch £50+ stirling. A Rival trade bike just sold on eBay for over £100.
Matthew - matter of fact
|I have this AMF Hercules, 3 speed Ladies 27", Badge & labels show Nottingham England, Sturmey Hub dated 1963, Seems to be all original including pedals, seat, racks even generated lights seem proper dating. After good cleaning only shifter cable needed replaced along with tires & tubes. Question to all: Is this worth keeping for the $40 invested or are the parts worth more than the bike? Not really my style bike but I'd hate to butcher for a few extra dollars. I've seen same badge and either rack go for $20 each on ebay.|
| (Isn't it 26" not 27" tires?) You could easily get $100 (probably more) for such a nice 3-speed on Boston Craig's List. The market all depends on where you are. You could probably sell it on ebay too, but you'd have to deal with shipping it most likely. Don't butcher it.|
| I stand corrected it is 26", thanks David. I'm a ballon tire guy and this sure doesn't qualify. I will take your advise and preserve bike until good offer in the spring, (I live in NE Ohio) not exactly bike weather yet. Thanks, Doug|
| Whatever happened to Roll Britannia? The awesome web site with all the lovely pictures? P.C. (Kohlers web site)|
| Whatever happened to Roll Britannia?---success happed to it!|
| If I member properly, the host (Yahoo?) closed it down without warning and deleted everything as part of a groups restructuring. The site wasn't getting enough traffic for some bean counters I suppose.|
| How is that "being sucessful" if it was shut down?|
So, P.C. Kohler lost everything?
This should be started up again.
| Why not ask the great man himself?|
Matthew - get to the source
| How is that "being sucessful" if it was shut down?|
It was a free site---yahoo wanted $$$$ and deleated some sites that were free that had lots of Pics ,use,etc.
| Thanks for your reply's, Roll Britannia needs to be brought back.|
| I'd be more than happy to host it here if anyone still has the files.|
VVVintage Vintage Bicycles
| Reading the post below about towing a trailer and Matthew mentioned the efficiency of drum brakes made me think about a problem I have with one of mine which has yet to be fixed.|
Problem being oil contamination of the linings caused by the "expert" that built my rear wheel and "serviced" the KB4 hub.I wont go on about what the "expert" did but lets just say it was appaling and I had to do it all again with better parts and new bearings.His idea of repairing was to fill the hub to the brim with oil and telling me to ride it plenty! The result being the excess oil has soaked the brake linings causing little or no brake.Can't find new linings(shoes) so I degreased the old ones which only works for a while until the oil comes to the top again.
I thought about burning them to cure the problem but was wary in case I destroyed them in the process.
Any ideas of a safe way to get rid of the oil contamination without destroying the brake linings?
Pete.....still wearing his shoes out trying to stop.
| Edward from Vancouver was able to find a brake specialist to custom reline his drum brakes. I don't remember any mention of the cost.|
| I know a collector in Ohio, who has many bicycles hanging up in the barn and he does not ride them because they are outfitted with drum brakes that have the oil contamination problem you mention. He rides other bikes, collects old police cars, and has a vast collection. He was always wanting more Raleigh rod brake D.L.1'S. Especially the 24 inch frame models!|
I sold a ton of stuff to him in years past.
| Contact motorcycle collectors. I don't know where, but I'm sure you can get brake lining material and the little rivets and reline the brake shoes yourself. IIRC, my old BMW shop manual describes doing just that.|
| I've just discovered English 3 speeds and I'm in love. My question is what are folks thoughts on a ridability/practicality/maintainability of Sports models vs. Roadster models. I'll be using the bike for things like running to the grocery and pulling the kids to the park in a trailer. I have a stronger emotional attraction to the rod type brakes and larger wheels of the Roadsters, but I'm concerned that it will be dificult to get parts (brake parts, wheels, tires) when needed. I'm also concerned about the stopping power of the rod brakes, as we have some pretty good hills in our area and I will sometimes be pulling a trailer. |
| I would go with a Raleigh Sports -- 26 inch wheels, cable brakes. My 1952 Sports is my favorite bike. I also have a couple of Raleigh Tourists, 28 inch wheels, rod brakes. They are fun to ride, cool to look at, but rod brakes don't stop you as quickly as cable brakes and the Sports is a lot more nimble. I use the Tourists on bike paths and side streets, never in traffic or on hills. If you are planning to pull a trailer with kids in it, I would go with the Sports.|
| I'm with Kevin and I think it would be bordering on irresponsible to haul kids with rod brakes if you could choose another bike with cable brakes. FWIW, this is coming from both a parent and veteran english bike geek but you must walk your own path. I've done a lot of miles with trailers and they quickly develop momentum on the slighest of grades. You need good brakes.|
I don't want to "pick a fight" with any of you out there who've safely used roadsters to haul their kids around without incident. That's not my point and as I've said, you make your own choices in life.
| Hi David,|
you could search out a roadster with drum brakes, they are about if you look. Well set up hubs will out brake caliper brakes or go for a 'hot-rod' and get cantilever fittings brazed on to roadster forks and frame (seat stays) to upgrade your roadster. I've yet to see disc brakes on a three speed bikes but you could be the first? Worth thinking about. Why should mountain bikes have all the good brakes?
| Mathew has a point...the name Shimano may be sacrilege on this forum but their latest drum brakes really work. I haven't tried the SA offerings.|
| Are the Sturmey three-speed hubs with coaster brakes any good? That would be another way to bypass the rod brakes.|
| I would concur with all pursuant to towing a trailer with a rod-brake machine. My choice would be a Sports model and depending on the weight of the load, I would look to perhaps change to a larger rear cog.|
All the suggestions here are quite good actually. Just goes to show you... whilst we area ll Roadster and Light Roadster traditionalists... a BIG part of that tradition is the pragmatic.
Not to mention, the collective attitude pursuant to safety, in this day of "Extreme" activities... is most refreshing.
Best of luck in choosing and fitting out your machine(s)!
Larry "Boneman" Bone
| Can't speak for the new ones but the old TCW has been pegged as prone to sudden failure. I've got one that works fine.|
| Of course, I forgot to mention Resillion Cantilever brakes from the thirties. You can also beef up the performance of your sport's brakes by fitting Weinmann centre pull callipers.|
My project bike has Weinmann centre pull brakes. I'm looking forward to enjoying a non-mountain bike which will stop, promptly.
On performance, my 1934 Herc stopped well on its KB4 rear hub and FB front hub.
Matthew - full stop.
| I've got several Raleigh Sports ('62 & '68) and pull my kids on a trailer. I live in a hilly area. I pull my trailer with my mountain bike for a variety of reasons.|
Although it is technically possible to pull a trailer with a Sports, I have a hard enough time climbing hills just by myself with a 22T cog. Pulling a loaded trailer up a hill would be very difficult on a sports. I often drop down to the lowest gear possible on my mountain bike when climbing steep hills.
Also if you keep your wheels stock and they are the slightest bit wet, the braking can suffer. I wouldn't risk your most precious cargo with so/so brakes.
Another item to consider is that a lot of modern trailers hook up to your bike through an attachment held on to the bike with quick release skewer.
| An old lady gave me (yes, gave me) a Raleigh Sports last weekend complete with nice sounding K7 hub.|
I went to collect some spare parts and couldn't believe it when she asked if I wouldn't mind getting the old dusty bike with flat tyres out of the way !
Needless to say, the deformed tyres and innertubes have since been removed and the wheels are waiting for a cleaning up session (the front wheel has chromed butterfly nuts, is this an original fitment ?), the frame is now relaxing in oil !
I'm quite looking forward to comparing this with my K6 Herc which is a similar set-up i.e. 26" wheels, cable brakes etc.
I have been looking at used trailers recently as my wife is loading so much on to her bike at the moment that she is bordering on dangerous and I'm considering making some "Danger Wide Load" signs. Seriously though, she collects mini hay bales (amongst much other junk) in order for our pets to live a life of luxury and I just think it would be safer to get a trailer.
So, it was interesting to hear the above trailer comments and I must confess that the bike due to be allocated the trailer when I track one down will be my wifes standard 62 Raleigh AW Three Speed cable brake job.
Question - What is the best/safest method of coupling trailer to bike ?
Steve - I remember reading an article last year in these very columns and it stated something along the lines of - "if you go looking without being pushy for old bikes you never quite know what will come out of the woodwork" !
Well, that very thing happened to me last weekend.
p.s. The bike is black but the headstock area around the "The Raleigh" badge is grey/gray, I've also gone over the frame with a magnifying glass and can't find a serial number anywhere - is this normal ?
| I don't think any trailer sold today has an unsafe coupler and they always have an additional safety strap. I prefer the design used by Burley.|
Those chromed butterfly nuts may be original Sturmey Archers. An NOS pair was at $160 on ebay earlier this week.
Try this link to give you dating info based on SA triggers....http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/hanczyc/pdfs/satriggers.pdf
| I use a set of alloy Resilion brake levers on my bike.Wonderful!|
| None of ya'll told David to change to Sun 26x1&38" alum. rims!!!!(HARRIS)Alum rims stop about 5 times faster than steel rims.Up-grade your rims first then a good quality brake set off ebay or nashbar or where ever you find the best deal. |
| I would like to thank everyone for their input; it will all be helpfull to me when selecting a bike. Also, I would like to compliment everyone on their civility. The last discussion group I participated in was a recumbent group several years back, which usualy off topic and downright hostile. From what i've seen of this group, things are warm and friendly.|
By the way, I was recently introduced to English 3 speeds at a shop called Budget Bicycle Center in Madison, WI. They actualy have four shops within a few blocks, each with a specialization. The used shop is jaw dropping, as they have literaly thousands of used bikes and dozens of
English three speeds under one roof. While there, I commented to one of the staff that I could spend several days looking around, he nodded knowingly and said "yeah, that's how I got a job here; I spent so much time hanging around, they just told me to start punching in." If you're ever near Madison, I recomend setting aside a half a day to check this place out. One note though, their prices seemed higher than what I've seen bikes go for on oldroads.com. But then again, I'm new to these bikes and I still don't know what's what.
Again, thanks everyone.
| Yes the BBC is a big ebayer and I find their prices far too high. I won't buy from large "stores" like this as they are dring the prices up. Everything has a "steep "Buy it Now " so it's not really an auction.|
| Sam is right on the money! I suggest on the top of this page here there should be a spot that you click on. Title it, "Upgrade your English 3 speed." Have a picture of a 3 speed bike. The visitor to this site clicks on it and is taken to a new page showing the bike and what all a new 3 speed bike owner can do to their bike and can buy (and buy from Vinny!) it here at old roads.com|
A section for wheel rims, with an explanation why somebody would want to upgrade their bike to aluminum rims as Sam pointed out.
Show the new part with prices and a shipping / shopping cart thingie.
Then show brakes new pads and prices,
show tires and tubes
all of it.
Also, we need a page where the basic 3 speed Raleigh sports is shown and, step- by- step the bike is taken to bits and overhauled.
mending a tube by patching how to do it.
The people log into here with an old bike and they are all excited about it. Few think to go to the used bookstore and a bike shop gets expensive with labor charges and few folks
possess the knowledge that we all have here.
Lets make it easy for the new folks and sell a lot of replacement tires and tubes and replacement wheels and brake pads and rims that improve braking power and so on.
I want Vinny to make a ton of money and help folks in the process.
Helping somebody who cannot afford gasoline who is riding the bike but is not knowledgable about bikes is a great thing to do. Especially if we help them make it safer and when you put on aluminum rims the bike stops sooner and that is a improvement that can and does save lives. If the bike stops before it hits the car, that is a good thing.
I go into a lot of shops and ask the owner. I recently went into a new one and the guy has a Robin Hood bike that is not for sale and I needed a circlip for a 3 speed hub and as I looked around and drooled I asked the fellow,
Ever hear of Old Roads.com?
He did not know what I was talking about.
Still, so many people don't go online.
Perhaps the don't realize there are web sites on line that cover old bicycles and old British bicycles.
My first time on line, I was stunned. Blown away and very happy to see this site and Sheldon's sits and many others.
They look at me and don't know what I am talking about.
I know that Vin is getting more and more traffic thru here every day.
Also, Sheldon Brown had a long history of helping people the world over and has a huge page and all that, but Guess what?
A lot of bike people looked at me and said: "Sheldon Who?"
A lot of folks have never heard of Sheldon Brown.
We are all here to help the new person also to learn and share what we know. It's a love, an adventure. (For me it was an obsession)
We all understand how much better the old English 3 speed bike handles and brakes with new alloy rims and new brake pads and it's a safety thing so lets show and explain this to every new visitor to the old roads. com roadster section.
This way, we don't have to keep repeating ourselves over and over.
I suggest that Vin stock some alloy rims, and brake pads and be ready when somebody who has seen the new section on this page here, orders a set of aluminum rims for their old Raleigh or whatever bike that uses the 26 x 1 3/8 rims.
One thing I have always enjoyed is finding the old bike and enjoying the way it rides and handles and turns and flys along and the freedon and joy and fun of cycling on an old English 3 speed bike.
The things that makes it possible and promotes old bikes are:
new high pressure tires, tubes
a new seat
aluminum rims and brake pads
overhauled or replaced gears.
I have shared my ideas and Vin, if there is anything I can do to help you free of charge please e- mail me.
| Great ideas Sam and Chris.|
The timing is interesting, too. I spent 2 days last week being filmed for a series of how-to vintage bicycle videos and never got the chance to really go into detail on English 3-speeds. I did prepare a lot of material which would be of use in your idea.
Also, there has been a big increase in the number of people asking for a hardship discount on the cycles we've been selling lately. Particularly the local sales. Frequently people mention the high price of gas and food.
Makes me want to re-read "The Grapes of Wrath" By John Steinbeck.
| I can only echo a lot of Chris's comments to Vin.|
Being a bit of a "new boy" to this fascinating hobby I have at times had to delve quite deep for the information I required.
Fortunately I do have a few decent tools and I'm also one of those people who will sit and stare at a piece of machinery until I can figure out a way of fixing it (most of the time) !
Anyhow, as I've just acquired a Sports model, I'm all ears on the Sports versus Roadster topic (if that's the correct way of phrasing it).
| The sturmey coaster brakes work well, but finding parts may pose a challenge. I would strong endorse alloy rims. They may not be original, but with the added mass of a trailer, they do a good job of stopping the bike faster. Keep the original rims, though. Some day you may want to go back to them!|