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  1. #1
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    Bring back the English 3-speed

    It seems to me the English 3-speed was the epitomy of what a utility bike should be, sturdy, dependable and low maintenance. It came as standard with mudguards, chaincase and usually a wicker basket. It had relaxed angles and a sprung saddle that made it easy and comfortable to ride.

    Yet the only place you're likely to see one these days is if you take a trip to Oxford or Cambridge, where dependability is a must for students and others who use their bicycles everyday as their main form of transport. Many of these bicycles are 40 years old, running mainly the same components as when they were originally built up.

    Elsewhere in the country, the cheap mountain bike is king. £90 for some dual suspension lookalike that'd crumble at first sight of a bridlepath. The fact that it is a "mountain bike" and has "dual suspension" is it's main selling point. Little wonder nobody cycles anymore.

    I can't help but feel the mountain bike, in however an unfortunate a manner, has had a sizable role to play in the demise of cycling in the UK. 95% of the riding done on these bicycles is on roads or paths. Their derailleurs come out of alignment too easily, the tyres are heavy and have high rolling resistance. These are not bicycles that are pleasant to ride on the road, least of all the £90 jobbies.

    Now you may say that Pashley still makes a nice traditional bicycle, to which I'd agree with you. But it costs £450, this means it is a specialists bicycle. The kind of person who puts down £450 on a bicycle usually knows enough about cycling to know what it is he/she wants from his/her bicycle that they are willing to pay that bit extra if it is to specification.

    What I believe we need is a traditional style bicycle, complete with mudguards, chaincase and wicker basket for around £200. True, it wouldn't be the nicest bicycle ever, but I believe a large manufacturer could put out a bicycle of good quality and dependability for such a price tag. Of course, such a bicycle would need to have a jazzy paint job or some such to appeal to the publics fickle tastes. But if we could get such bicycles into shops, into vogue and get the general public riding them, we might start to see a culture where the bicycle isn't looked upon as simply a toy or something to go out for a ride on with the kids on a summers day, but as a means to an end, a tool if you will.

    That's the dream, anyway. Discuss...

  2. #2
    Hazardous biker Ricardo's Avatar
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    I wholeheartedly agree with you. I had an old steel mountain bike and fitted it with swept handlebars, chainguard, slick tires, rack and fenders and it is a pleasure to ride. However, I would kill for a 3 speed internal gear hub like the old school ones. As for now, I have regular shimano gears.

    Ricardo

  3. #3
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    There's a whole generation of kids in North America who haven't ridden on well equipped bikes, like the English 3-speeds. They riide mountain bikes, even if they live in the plains. They don't know that a bike can be transportation.

    Bring it on!
    Cleveland, OH
    Breezer fan

  4. #4
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    I ride a Western Flyer 3-Speed, its at least 40 years old. It needs a little maintenence on the hub, but when the bike is greased and clean it rides like a brand new bike. This bike could probably last the rest of my life with a normal amount of care.

  5. #5
    jcm
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    I like to ride this one on some of the more relaxed rides with the club. That means 25 to 35 miles, but flat to mildy rolling terrain. I agree that a good 3-speed is probably about the most well thought-out bike ever built. There's something to be said for still being usable after over four decades. When I got this, it was a cast-off, one step away from the junk heap. A little cleanup and oil brought it back to life.


    http://i12.tinypic.com/4iens69.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    I like to ride this one on some of the more relaxed rides with the club. That means 25 to 35 miles, but flat to mildy rolling terrain. I agree that a good 3-speed is probably about the most well thought-out bike ever built. There's something to be said for still being usable after over four decades. When I got this, it was a cast-off, one step away from the junk heap. A little cleanup and oil brought it back to life.


    http://i12.tinypic.com/4iens69.jpg
    That is a great looking bike.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    They are out there but people aren't willing to spend the money. I realize that the OP is in England but we do have the Breezer Bikes available in the US, the base model lists for around $500. Raleighs were not cheap in their day. You were looking at spending 1/4-1/2 a month's pay to purchase one. I love my internal geared bikes...I have 7 right now and I am in the process of building up a couple more using more modern equipment. At least in the US bicycles have been looked as a toy or an oddball expensive piece of sporting equipment. I was in my LBS on Saturday and the bulk of the bikes that they were selling were high end MTB or Road. They do carry cruisers and comfort bikes. Until people's attitudes towards cycles change and fuel prices get high enough to hurt we aren't going to see many people on cycles.

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 01-08-07 at 10:25 AM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    Until people's attitudes towards cycles change and fuel prices get high enough to hurt we aren't going to see many people on cycles.

    Aaron
    True enough, but of the few people I do see on bicycles, it'd be nice to see some on one fit for purpose, rather than something that might discourage them from cycling.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlyselassie
    True enough, but of the few people I do see on bicycles, it'd be nice to see some on one fit for purpose, rather than something that might discourage them from cycling.
    I agree whole heartedly but I suspect the biggest stumbling block other than ignorance is $$$. As an example; you walk into the local super center for "a bike" you don't want one with skinny tires they look uncomfortable, about all you are going to be left with are the mountain bikes. I am very fortunate in that I can afford the bikes I buy and I very seldom buy new. My latest score was a Staiger Florida from my LBS. It retails new for around $650usd I paid $200usd for it It is going to become my primary grocery getter. I don't particularly like the fact that is has a dérailleur and 24 gears, but for what I paid for it I can afford to play with that aspect of it. When someone walks in with $100-200 to spend they aren't going to get much for their money outside of the very low end mtb, they are going to have a trouble with it, trash it and go back to driving or sitting on their bums in front of the idiot box. I do what I can where and when I can. I have provided several low cost internal geared bikes for people at my office and at least two of them ride to work when the weather is nice. Unfortunately I don't work at my office most of the time and the commute is 43 miles one way (I need a new job one of these days and retirement sounds great )

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 01-08-07 at 11:11 AM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  10. #10
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    A store in Vancover sells those "Amsterdam" style bikes and is doing very well.



    Jorg & Olif is the only company in North America to sell Dutch city bikes. Their bicycles, sourced from a small traditional factory northeast of Amsterdam, are priced from CAD 875 for a 1-speed Oma (hers) or Opa (his) version. Three and eight speed versions are also available. The company currently only ships within Canada, and operates from a gallery-like lifestyle store in Vancouver. (in downtown Vancouver, about 33 per cent of people travel by foot and bicycle, approximately 28 percent take transit, and 39 per cent drive)

  11. #11
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by le brad
    That is a great looking bike.
    Thanks. Lots of people have forgotten how nice these bikes actually ride, too. I wonder if the boat anchor steel they used really absorbs as much as I think it does. This one also has new tires and tubes. At 80lbs, they ride as soft as you could want.

    It's a kick to show up and lead a ride on this thing. Kinda like when I pull into a camp spot with my '73 Ford Camper Special

    Tha Ultimate SAG Wagon:
    http://i1.tinypic.com/2wbyn4n.jpg

  12. #12
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker
    A store in Vancover sells those "Amsterdam" style bikes and is doing very well.



    Jorg & Olif is the only company in North America to sell Dutch city bikes. Their bicycles, sourced from a small traditional factory northeast of Amsterdam, are priced from CAD 875 for a 1-speed Oma (hers) or Opa (his) version. Three and eight speed versions are also available. The company currently only ships within Canada, and operates from a gallery-like lifestyle store in Vancouver. (in downtown Vancouver, about 33 per cent of people travel by foot and bicycle, approximately 28 percent take transit, and 39 per cent drive)
    Hmmm... I might be riding the RSVP this year. Maybe I'll stop in and take a look at those, since I'm a new Opa.

    BTW: who's that playing the Ricky bass in your Avatar? I can't make it out.

  13. #13
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    BTW: who's that playing the Ricky bass in your Avatar? I can't make it out.
    That's me, circa '78. I used to be a "Rock Star". My albums went "Plywood"

  14. #14
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker
    A store in Vancover sells those "Amsterdam" style bikes and is doing very well.



    Jorg & Olif is the only company in North America to sell Dutch city bikes. Their bicycles, sourced from a small traditional factory northeast of Amsterdam, are priced from CAD 875 for a 1-speed Oma (hers) or Opa (his) version. Three and eight speed versions are also available. The company currently only ships within Canada, and operates from a gallery-like lifestyle store in Vancouver. (in downtown Vancouver, about 33 per cent of people travel by foot and bicycle, approximately 28 percent take transit, and 39 per cent drive)
    $745usd...that is over a month's take home pay for a minimum wage person in the US. Not affordable in my book. For comparison my dad bought a 1962 Raleigh Sports for $48 in 1962. In 2005 dollars that would be about $295. Which would work out to about 1/3-1/2 the monthly take home pay of someone employed full time at minimum wage. There are bikes for sale in that price range out there but many of these people never consider a bicycle as a viable form of transportation and given our road systems I am not surprised.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  15. #15
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker


    Those are really cool bikes, a nice mix of classic and modern lines, makes my Breezer look a little homely. Maybe if Global Warming continues at it's current rate, I'll get tired of sweating my butt off in January and move up there, if so I'll definitely buy one of those.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeforums
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  16. #16
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    Those bikes are made by Azor, which is a classic Dutch brand. So, no modern lines, unless 1900's is considered modern!

    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson
    Those are really cool bikes, a nice mix of classic and modern lines, makes my Breezer look a little homely.

  17. #17
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by econobot
    Those bikes are made by Azor, which is a classic Dutch brand. So, no modern lines, unless 1900's is considered modern!
    I think the chainguard and such make it look more modern, in an art-deco sort of way. Thanks for the tip, trying to find an English language Azor website now....
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeforums
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  18. #18
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson
    Those are really cool bikes, a nice mix of classic and modern lines, makes my Breezer look a little homely. Maybe if Global Warming continues at it's current rate, I'll get tired of sweating my butt off in January and move up there, if so I'll definitely buy one of those.
    I love the looks of the U frame version but don't care for the double bar in the diamond. Is that required for the frame strength? I'd take the Breezer that model. I just wish all the Breezers came in black. It's classy.

    That said, a no cable bike like that harken's back to the old days and wouldn't need maintenance.
    Last edited by thdave; 01-08-07 at 12:21 PM.
    Cleveland, OH
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  19. #19
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson
    Those are really cool bikes, a nice mix of classic and modern lines, makes my Breezer look a little homely. Maybe if Global Warming continues at it's current rate, I'll get tired of sweating my butt off in January and move up there, if so I'll definitely buy one of those.
    Here's one with a nice looking front rack.


  20. #20
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    I would like to disagree with everyone who has posted so far in this thread.


    1. There is no reason to revive the old 3-speed. If someone wants one, they can still be found, and a huge amount of effort/money is not required to obtain one.


    2. These bikes are not all that great. Here is a list of objections I have... mostly this is based on my experiences with an old Columbia that my mom has, perhaps the Raleigh is better:

    A. They are heavy.
    B. The internal hub is not as bombproof or maintenance-free as is commonly suggested.
    C. The frame geometry is weird: short cockpit and short crank arms.
    D. A lot of the components are real junk - brakes especially.


    Also, I strongly disagree with the notion that the reason more people aren't biking is because acceptable bikes for normal people are hard to find. Sensible bikes for normal folk ARE quite available; they just don't look exactly like English 3-speeds. And the primary reason more people don't ride bikes is because they are afraid of traffic.

    I would much rather use a classic rigid MTB for a commuter than an English 3-speed. I'd also prefer a modern rigid MTB (Trek SU300) or a modern "commuter" bike over the classic Raleigh. Who wants to ride a 40-lb relic?
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  21. #21
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantoj
    I would like to disagree with everyone who has posted so far in this thread.


    1. There is no reason to revive the old 3-speed. If someone wants one, they can still be found, and a huge amount of effort/money is not required to obtain one.


    2. These bikes are not all that great. Here is a list of objections I have... mostly this is based on my experiences with an old Columbia that my mom has, perhaps the Raleigh is better:

    A. They are heavy.
    B. The internal hub is not as bombproof or maintenance-free as is commonly suggested.
    C. The frame geometry is weird: short cockpit and short crank arms.
    D. A lot of the components are real junk - brakes especially.


    Also, I strongly disagree with the notion that the reason more people aren't biking is because acceptable bikes for normal people are hard to find. Sensible bikes for normal folk ARE quite available; they just don't look exactly like English 3-speeds. And the primary reason more people don't ride bikes is because they are afraid of traffic.

    I would much rather use a classic rigid MTB for a commuter than an English 3-speed. I'd also prefer a modern rigid MTB (Trek SU300) or a modern "commuter" bike over the classic Raleigh. Who wants to ride a 40-lb relic?
    Your A through D list is not true for the Breezer Citizen and it is quite a generalization.

    If you get a modernized new one, like the Breezer Citizen, you'll get a 32 pound bike fully equipped with high quality components. The frame is set up differently than my hybrid, but I prefer the geometry. The cranks are longer.

    Bottom line is that every bike is different and you just can't generalize like that, based on one experience.
    Cleveland, OH
    Breezer fan

  22. #22
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Electra produces modern bicycles with 3-speed internal hubs. The LBS sells more of them than any other bicycle in his inventory.
    You can easily purchase old 3-speed bikes at your local thrift store as well. I picked up one with a CC3 hub that only required pumping up the tires for $1. The CC3 hub is 3-speed with a coaster brake. I modified the drive sprocket to accept narrow chain and use a 52-42-30 crank and front derailleur and an old rear derailleur locked in position for chain adjustment.

  23. #23
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    This has been posted before so please forgive the redundancy, but this
    comes pretty close except for the corner cutting exposed drive train.
    At about 180.00 it seems like a good deal.



    www.pakebikes.com
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    While I think it would be fun to have a new 'english 3speed',I do think my Jamis Commuter3 is a much better bike,more versital with 8 speed nexus,much better brakes,lighter-28.5lbs-more modern tires-700c x32 and cheap@$535 list.

  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=-
    This has been posted before so please forgive the redundancy, but this
    comes pretty close except for the corner cutting exposed drive train.
    At about 180.00 it seems like a good deal.



    www.pakebikes.com
    Uhhh Lem...there must be some serious inflation going on...according to their website it retails for $299.99 But that is still a good deal in my book...now about that internal hub

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

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