Bicycle parts have been arriving in various sized packages over the last few days as John decided recently to remake his favorite bike. I say favorite because we now have five. That’s right, five bicycles for two people and while we don’t have as many as in the photo above, the garage is looking a bit like a bicycle shop these days.
John’s grandfather Percy probably did a fair amount of bicycle maintenance and building himself back in 1906 when he and his brother Roland owned several bike shops in England. They switched to automobiles well before John was born and he still remembers the garage where they sold and repaired cars until a few years after Percy’s death.
When I talk to people about my new bike and what it’s like to climb the hills with three gears, the men, and it’s usually just the men, will say something like, ” You must have one with Sturmey-Archer gears? ” Not knowing much about bicycles before being gifted with Dora, I’ve found a new level of interest in the history of Sturmey-Archer and 3-speed bikes.
I asked John for a photo of his grandfather’s bike shop the other day and was delighted to see a connection to the past in a way. If you click to enlarge the photo, you can see the wording in the center of the store window advertising Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gears.
While my interest in gears will never equal John’s bicycle knowledge, the writer in me wishes she could chat with the young Percy Winchurch of 1906. I imagine he would have been interested to learn that Sturmey-Archer gears and 3-speed bikes would still be popular despite the ability to choose from more modern bikes with as many as 27 gears for hill climbing and speed.
Based on the stories John tells of the grandfather he loved and admired, I think the 24 year-old Percy would have been most interested in the lovely grandson he would have one day. A first grandchild who would be born when he was 60 and would grow up to do many things, including surprising his American born wife with a gift that would curiously resemble the 3-speed bicycles with Sturmey-Archer gears like those in his shop 105 years earlier.
Here are a few advertisements from a very interesting Sturmey-Archer website.
My 2nd bike qwas a classic Raleigh 3 speed with sturmey archer gears, covered chain case and a back parcel carrier. BRG – was there any other colour except black? – with brown leather racing saddle seat. It was my father’s in college and he gave it to me after I had moved on from training wheels. He must have cried inside seeing the subsequent scratches and dents that appeared on it over the years. I apologise now to my dad as I even think of it. Nothing like a US bike in the day, with back brakes and so forth. When one of my brothers got a 10 speed bike we thought it was the nirvana of technology.Whoa, I feel old.