It's pretty simple. It's the original English (country) spelling of an english (language) word. The 'e' is silent, so 'Superbe' is pronounced the same as 'superb' in the same way 'colour' or 'derailleur' are pronounced the same as 'color' or 'derailler.'
Mikehs, please don't call it a 'Super-bee'. It's a classic british roadster, so call it 'Superb'.
Cool, I didn't know you could order a Plymouth with an OEM bike rack back in the day.
Question for those who happily inhabit the kingdom of three speeds:
Anyone have any personal experience and be able to speak on the differences (functionally and in terms of quality/performance) between the famed British Sports models and the Sturmey-equipped 3-speed Schwinn Collegiates of the 70's-80's, such as the one depicted below?
(photo is not mine, found on web and used for illustration purposes)
Context is that I'm an old English 3-speed fan - Restored a '74 LTD-3 into a grocery bike about a year ago and it's now near the heart of my stable, and I ride it several times a week. I'm currently searching for a vintage ride for my older sister. She's a young professional inhabiting an urban downtown environment, and is in need of an around-town/errand bike. Like most people foreign to the C&V world, when she asked me to find her a bike and I asked "What kind?", she had no earthly idea.
After showing her photos of my bike and spending a few minutes discussing types with photos on google, she said she loves the look of (1) midcentury, upright European/Dutch city bike with sloping top tubes, (2) vintage, curvy Schwinn coaster-brake beach cruisers.
Immediately I dreaded having to tell her that those types of bikes are extremely difficult to come by because every woman in the world wants one of those two bikes! (not to mention that Vintage Dutch city bikes are extreeeeemely rare finds stateside, and their modern equivalents or knock-offs will cost you an arm and a leg!!)
Since I'm somewhat of a thrifty snob in all things bike-related, the thought of my sister either an asian-manufactured, poorly tig-welded, wally world beach cruiser knock-off or spending a small fortune on an unwieldy wannabe Dutch bike, I OF COURSE recommended fixing up a ladies' Sports for her. (How can you go wrong with a Raleigh Sports?? They're eminently available, ubiquitously praised for their simplicity and bomb-proofness, and almost universally admired for their beauty!!)
But she says the standard Ladies' Sports step-through frame just doesn't do it for her, and she's just stuck on curvy top tubes.
Thus, I've arrived at what I'm hoping could be the best of both worlds (fingers crossed!) -- a Collegiate 3-speed with lugged joints (more than I can say for the old Varsity's and suburbans!), a curvy, feminine downtube, comfortable and upright design, and bomb-proof English hubs/gearing! And with a new coat of paint and a can-light on the front with a Pletscher rack on the back, I'm thinkin' it'll be everything she was looking for in a Dutch city bike but never knew make finding one nearly impossible!
So a bit of realism please - are Collegiates of the same workmanship or worthy of the same lofty admiration lavished to the British 3-speeds of the 50-70s? Will it last as long and be as trouble-free, or am I only dreaming?
(and for the sake of splat, here is my 1974 Raleigh LTD-3, affectionately referred to as 'Sir Walter':
i somewhat went through the same notions had her try out the brown superbe then the sluggish heavier Schwinn breeze then a generic coaster brake beach cruiser with balloon tires. luckily in my favor the brown superbe won in looks, styling, comfort and ride! wish you luck lol! perhaps if you look hard enough you can score her a loop frame dl-1 which is extremely hard to find, but beach cruisers and Schwinn variety are a dime a dozen where im from
I finished moving all the parts from a size 21" Royal Scot to a 23" Raleigh Sports frame. The 23" frame came with fenders, cranks, and chain guard. All went well. Brake and shifter cables were more than long enough so I think they may have used same size for both frame sizes. I took your advice and replaced the chain with a new one. The Royal Scott is a B brand Raleigh but this one had a B-66 seat, but may be that was an upgrade. The only thing I have left to do is grease the bearings in the pedals.
Everything went well but on my first ride the "R" nut holding one of cranks to spindle came off about five miles from home on New Years day. I had taken it appart when I greased the crank bearings and apparently not tightened down sufficiently. So I replaced it with a nut from the Royal Scott which is just plain nut. They want a left nut for an "R" nut on eBay.
This worked! Thanks guys. Last night I applied WD-40 to the tire bead and inside of the rim at the badly seated section of tire, and inflated it to 80 psi (tire says inflate to 40-65psi).
Was not wearing earplugs, but was thinking of Sixty-Fiver's words as the needle climbed above 65.
Just checked and it's fixed!
I would have gladly tried talc but the can of WD-40 was closer. In fact I had already put talc on the inner tubes and inside the tires earlier, just before putting the tires on the rims, on the thinking (maybe an urban myth?) that it would make them more slippery against each other and reduce the odds of a pinch flat.
Funny thing is, I have pictures from when the tire seating problem occurred. A few weeks ago, I took my daughter on her first bike ride to the park.
When we got back, I showed her the Herc resto in progress, and she wanted to help. So I deflated a (correctly seated) tire and let her help pump it back up.
That's when it got seated wrong and stayed that way, despite my efforts till now.
I was kicking myself for deflating that tire because, yes, it was a PITA to get it seated right the first time. Glad it's right again!
Another one to look out for would be the Austrian made Sears 3-speed, whether labeled Sears or JCHiggins. I've worked on a couple of those and was amazed at the quality and style; as good or better than Raleigh. Later Sears Free Spirit 3-speeds are Japanese or Taiwanese and resemble the Schwinn above, but are distinctly lower quality. I wouldn't prize one of those.
The Austrian made Sears 3-speeds that I have come across have the strait top tube, not curvy as your rider wishes.
Somtimes you can forgive the lack of graceful curves or paint by applying an attractive basket like thus:
It would even be better with a nice wicker basket with a rich brown color and a simple bit of flowery goodness.
Last edited by BigPolishJimmy; 01-05-11 at 10:30 AM.
The bikes tend to be small--18 frame or so--but if your sister is short, they may do.
Last edited by gna; 01-05-11 at 08:36 PM.
I am sure your sister would love a Raleigh DL-1 Tourist. Since I got mine, I have been looking for excuses to go out and ride it! The frames come in 22" and 24". Some women have said that the frame size can be a bit big unless they are tall. I happen to have the 22" frame. A 24" frame would work even better for me. If you and your sister are eventually successful in finding a DL-1 and if it happens to be that it is a 24" that is a bit too big, I am looking for someone to do a trade with! Keep me in mind, and in the meantime, good luck!
Another idea ... but a long shot: I have a 1955 Union Royce step through loop frame. The frame is 19-20 inches, looped, (but only looped on the bottom part of the tube, not the top part).
Here is why I say this frame is a long shot for your sister: the frame is bent from the operator (not me!), running into a parked truck. I don't know if old steel made in its heyday makes it any different from more modern steel in it's capacity to be salvageable...? I had planned to just take some parts off this bike and then give the frame to someone to use for a store prop, recycling, whatever... As a bonus, it also comes with that 1950s ill-fated TCW Sturmery Archer hub with the coaster brake!
Anyway, this gem is free-for-the asking!
Also, thanks for the recommendation on the Sears and JC Higgins 3-speeds. While I've read about Dunelt, Phillips, Royal Scott, Humber and some of the other British makers, I haven't really heard many reviews of the Austrian, German, or other European-market 3-speeds. Didn't really know how they matched up, but it's good to hear they're aok.
That's a beautiful specimen! - and pretty much precisely what I'm looking for, but I worry that it won't be big enough for her. She's between 5'8" and 5'9". I guess I'll have to keep my eyes peeled and see what pops up...
I'm definitely intrigued by the Union -- How badly bent is the frame? What size are the wheels? ...28" or 26x1-3/8"?
Do you have any photos of the frame or the damage you're describing?
My wife bought this bike at a yard sale for $5. It's a "Flying Eagle" that was "Made in Germany (West)" but pretty clearly for the American department store market. Twin top tubes (proto-mixte?) and gas tanks are not a German design feature. It had a Centrix coaster brake, but I upgraded to an F&S threespeed coaster brake hub. She loves it.
You might want to look at Ross bikes as well. They usually have Shimano gears, but they're pretty well made. American. Some are lugged.
Thanks, RHM. That's a fantastic looking bike. Definitely a wise choice with going to the 3-speed. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't stand single speed coaster brakes for more than very, very lazy riding.
The wheels are 26 x 1 3/8.
I understand what you say about living in the Western US and trying to find vintage bikes. I live in San Diego. I drove up to San Francisco In November for my DL-1s. You might want to look in the bay area. A few weeks ago, a woman had a Gazelle step through loop bike (more modern than vintage, but still evocative of that "look" all us ladies are oogling!) for sale near Sacramento. It was a fair price, too.
I'll take a photo of the damage to the frame and also as close up as I can get on the fork. I took it to an LBS and they just shook their heads...but then again, I am not sure this particular LBS knows all that much about the old english bikes. They swore I made an error when I told them I ordered 28" tires. They said "so rare I doubt you'd ever find one..."
Here is my description of the damage: there are two buckles right next to the down tube -- so it is certainly buckled, but not a lot (but maybe too much in that the bend conflicts with the rest of the bike's geometry). There is very minor paint cracking as well. I am not at all a bike expert and I really can't tell if there was damage to the fork. There might be damage there as well, but I don't know if structurally it is the same "kiss-of-death" a bent frame is.
I know that once steel transitions from its elastic stage to its plastic stage (by bending, for example), it is considered forever compromised. Question is: is it so compromised that it cannot bend back and remain relatively shatter resistant.
oh. And I'll try to get some pics.
I am still struggling with uploading photos. I usually have no problems e-mailing photos, though.
If you'd like, send me a PM with your email address and I'll send some pics of the Union.
Here is an e-bay uk sale for a 20's era loop frame raleigh, looks in really good shape, it has a buy now for about $140 US another 200 getting into the states and for $350 the ladies happy.
sekaijin, I adore the pictures of your daughter. So sweet.
Oh my God, Sixty Fiver. I adore your daughters.
Then again, I love kids!