Yes, I know it’s not a racer! But I had a bike like this when I was a kid. It followed a single speed coaster brake bike. Compared to that bike it was an English Racer, which is what all the kids in the neighborhood called it in the early and mid 1950s!


Jane surprised me with a new bike. My memory is that it was a Christmas present in 1972 or 1973. I’m pretty sure it had to be then because I associate the bike with where we were living at the time: Magie apartments - junior faculty housing at Princeton University. We lived there from summer, 1971 to summer, 1974. and I’m sure it wasn’t the first Christmas we were there. As part of resurrecting the bike, I found the date code on the hub. It’s January, 1972. So, it’s Christmas, 1972.  It’s conceivable that it was for my birthday in May, but I’m going to stick with Christmas!


Over the years I got it out for various things. I remember taking it to Woods Hole for a conference in the early 1980s, and taking it on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, where a group of us rode to a beach house for a party.


Around 1996 I started cycling seriously and used this bike. The first picture below shows the bike as it was in 1997. It’s pretty much as it came from the bike shop at that point. I no longer have the original seat bag. I still have the baskets although I’ve removed them. Can’t believe i rode it with the seat so low!


I believe I added a cyclometer and possibly a mirror. I also probably had to add a new indicator chain, and a new cotter (I found a mangled one in a parts box in the basement).


I had thought to ride it in the 1998 RAGBRAI, but finally decided it didn’t have wide enough gearing and bought a Bianchi Volpe. This pretty much consigned the bike to storage until I decided in late summer, 2018 to resurrect the bike for the more upright riding position to help with wrist pain, at least for relatively short, flat rides.


By the time I started taking photos of the process, I had already replaced the rims and brake pads, done a good cleaning, and got plenty of oil in the front and rear hubs.


I may still need to service the rear hub. We’ll see.


So far as I know, the bike is original except for: rims, pedals, brake blocks, indicator chain, cotters, seat bag, tubes and tires. I also added a mirror.


The bike is the 23 inch size. The chain ring has 46 teeth and the rear sprocket has 17 (apparently an unusual number!). So the gearing is 53, 70, and 94 gear inches. My Trek has a gear range of 16 to 107 gear inches (quite a bit lower than the stock gearing). The saddle is the original Brooks B72. The Sports weighs about 36 lbs.


Clicking on a photo below brings up a larger version. You can also activate a slide show.

Resurrecting an English Racer, Fall, 2018