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Weird vintage tech thread.

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Weird vintage tech thread.

Old 11-28-21, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
from my understanding, the JcPenny bike had a cable that connected the brake lever to the caliper, in which the cable would operate a hydraulic piston that is on the caliper.
I have the brakes shown on Velobase - https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...8-19627E215492

which look very much like those on the bike pictured:




Mine are cable-operated, with a helix driving the pad.

See also:

Great American Bicycle Tour 1975, JCPenneys, Disc Brake
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Old 11-28-21, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
from my understanding, the JcPenny bike had a cable that connected the brake lever to the caliper, in which the cable would operate a hydraulic piston that is on the caliper.

Tektro markets a disc caliper nowadays on the same concept.

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Old 11-28-21, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
This had a freewheel at the crankset in addition to the usual freewheel on the rear wheel. This allowed the user to shift while coasting up to an intersection.

Steve in Peoria
Um, no.

Shifting while coasting requires that the chain be driven by the rear sprocket; were it to freewheel, that would not happen. FFS only had the FW at the crank.
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Old 11-28-21, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by oneclick View Post
Um, no.

Shifting while coasting requires that the chain be driven by the rear sprocket; were it to freewheel, that would not happen. FFS only had the FW at the crank.
not exactly.

the wikipedia page mentions:
"The Shimano Front Freewheel (FFS) was a proprietary bicycle drivetrain design of the 1970s that placed a freewheel between the pedal cranks and the front chainrings — enabling the rider to shift gears while coasting.[1] FFS rear freewheel is different than a standard freewheel because it's "stiff" with more friction than a normal rear freewheel. It will slip if necessary however, to stop the chain in the event of, for example, a clothing tangle — which could otherwise lead to injuries of the leg by the drivetrain, crashing of the bicycle, or both."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_freewheel

RJ the Bike Guy has a neat demo of the rear freewheeling mechanism. It's not just a stiffer freewheel, as I'd always heard. He demonstrates that each cog has the ability to freewheel independently, which both surprises me, and makes me wonder why.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 11-28-21, 08:18 AM
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FFS had its place in the cycling universe. Derailleur operation mystified a lot of folks who did could not grasp "You must be pedaling when you shift" and coordinate the movements. FFS solved that and was widespread at the time, found on several models of many U.S and Asian brands. Many of those bikes also featured Positron derailleurs, the granddaddy of SIS. Maybe not desirable high-end stuff, but it certainly simplified and improved the cycling experience for a whole lot of folks.
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Old 11-28-21, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Battaglin Pirana, with a front wheel designed to shield the rider's legs from airflow.
That was what I thought but I wasn't sure.
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Old 11-28-21, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
FFS had its place in the cycling universe. Derailleur operation mystified a lot of folks who did could not grasp "You must be pedaling when you shift" and coordinate the movements. FFS solved that and was widespread at the time, found on several models of many U.S and Asian brands. Many of those bikes also featured Positron derailleurs, the granddaddy of SIS. Maybe not desirable high-end stuff, but it certainly simplified and improved the cycling experience for a whole lot of folks.
My recollection of the FFS was that it was trying to be similar to the more common three speed internal gear hubs, a.k.a. "English racers". Three speeds were kinda fancy, back when I was a kid. If I recall... didn't those allow you to shift while coasting to an intersection?
Anyway, average people were indeed confused by derailleurs back then, and FFS, and probably Positron, were no doubt intended to make folks more comfortable with this new technology.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 11-28-21, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
not exactly.

the wikipedia page mentions:
"The Shimano Front Freewheel (FFS) was a proprietary bicycle drivetrain design of the 1970s that placed a freewheel between the pedal cranks and the front chainrings — enabling the rider to shift gears while coasting.[1] FFS rear freewheel is different than a standard freewheel because it's "stiff" with more friction than a normal rear freewheel. It will slip if necessary however, to stop the chain in the event of, for example, a clothing tangle — which could otherwise lead to injuries of the leg by the drivetrain, crashing of the bicycle, or both."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_freewheel

RJ the Bike Guy has a neat demo of the rear freewheeling mechanism. It's not just a stiffer freewheel, as I'd always heard. He demonstrates that each cog has the ability to freewheel independently, which both surprises me, and makes me wonder why.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J39t1IxAPcg

Steve in Peoria
I can confirm: The individual cogs of rear "freewheel" mechanism do indeed have the ability to unbind as a safety feature. I can't image the carnage potential of a chain powered by the forward motion of the bike & rider when a loose pant leg, sock cuff or big toe gets jammed in between the chain & a ring somewhere. High friction, but they can indeed be done by hand, with a chain whip.

What nobody really covers anywhere is the FFS rear cog can be substituted with a regular conventional freewheel if the FFS freewheel can not be found. The penalty is the loss of the shift-while-coasting function. The gain is the bike can remain in service.

Another weird thing is the Ashtabula style bottom bracket cups are threaded, use a freewheel socket to remove, & have 2 different bearing sizes; The bigger bearing goes on the drive-side. The bearings will "fit" if swapped around, but there will be interference caused by the plastic-rubber dust shield, making proper bearing preload a problematic nightmare. Also the rubber shield will thwart the FFS freewheel action because the dust cap can physically touch the chainwheel & act as a chainwheel brake.

The Freewheel mechanism is about what you'd expect. Regular servicing with Phil's Tenacious Oil keeps it quiet.
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Old 11-28-21, 11:29 AM
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Old 11-28-21, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
My recollection of the FFS was that it was trying to be similar to the more common three speed internal gear hubs, a.k.a. "English racers". Three speeds were kinda fancy, back when I was a kid. If I recall... didn't those allow you to shift while coasting to an intersection?
Anyway, average people were indeed confused by derailleurs back then, and FFS, and probably Positron, were no doubt intended to make folks more comfortable with this new technology.

Steve in Peoria
I know a guy who sold Schwinns during the seventies bike boom and he said the same thing. He said that people had to thick of skulls to realize derailleurs cannot shift while coasting, unlike the 3 speeds that they are used to. This caused people to go back in the shop claiming that their bike is not working.
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Old 11-28-21, 11:35 AM
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Here's a picture that I took almost 2 years ago. I believe it is a mid 80s Schwinn World Tourist with a 1×5 drivetrain.


Same bike, but as singlespeed. I wonder if anyone has fitted a fixed gear rear wheel to one of these bikes.



I've seen several schwin Varsity and Continental models with a one piece version of the front freewheel system. I recently saw an early 70s CCM with a front freewheel system that used cottered cranks.

Last edited by grant40; 11-28-21 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 11-28-21, 11:55 AM
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And here it is in its cotterless glory on a Panasonic Tourist, available in 5- or 10-speed versions. I gave my sister a 5 with a baby seat on it when she had a kid.
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Old 11-28-21, 12:02 PM
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Old 11-28-21, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
I know a guy who sold Schwinns during the seventies bike boom and he said the same thing. He said that people had to thick of skulls to realize derailleurs cannot shift while coasting, unlike the 3 speeds that they are used to. This caused people to go back in the shop claiming that their bike is not working.
yep, derailleurs were a big change in bike technology back then! It could be intimidating, especially since so many bikes were targeted at children.
Schwinn dealers had a little gadget that could sit on the display counter and allow folks to practice the shifting process without having to worry about riding a bike at the same time. Plus, the person could see what was going on during shifts, which is much harder to do while riding the bike.
One of the older shops in the area still has this one on display.



Considering how few people currently have experience with downtube shifters, maybe there is still a market for these training devices??

Steve in Peoria
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Old 11-28-21, 01:00 PM
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Wear And Tear Black Hole.






I also found this alternate design.
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Old 11-28-21, 02:12 PM
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Bike evolution occurred quickly in the early days, bringing us to the familiar "safety bicycle" configuration once the materials sciences made things like chains and ball bearings possible.
Still, some folks like to go back and take another look at some evolutionary paths, and Dan Henry was one such person.
This is an article he wrote for Bicycling magazine in 1968, describing the recumbent that he designed (excerpted from The Best of Bicycling).







I do wonder how long it took Dan to decide that the 'bent needed full suspension. As a part-time 'bent rider myself, I know that potholes are a bit of a challenge, since you can't just stand up off the saddle to compensate.

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Old 11-28-21, 02:15 PM
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Have a Hypercycle.
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Old 11-28-21, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
Have a Hypercycle.
A 'bent that puts about 80% of the rider's weight over a tiny front wheel?
What could possibly go wrong?

Steve in Peoria
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Old 11-28-21, 03:07 PM
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from tiny wheels to large wheels.... correction: "wheel"





as weird as it is, I'd love to see someone ride one in person!

Steve in Peoria
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Old 11-28-21, 04:19 PM
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Some of you know about the Cinelli Bivalent hub system. It was a scheme to keep the freewheel mounted to the frame...


Yep, Rene Herse used a hub called RAS in the 1946 Technical Trials, since points were awarded for not needing to touch the chain when changing a flat. I'm not sure if they developed it, or just used it.
In 1954 BSA produced a modified version of their amazingly venerable 'X' three-speed hub that allowed the wheel and hub mechanism to be removed from the cog. Very handy on bikes with full chain cases! This design was not done in by technical flaw or lack of consumer acceptance, but, alas, by corporate merger.

Diagram from Hub of the Universe by Tony Hadland.
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Old 11-28-21, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
An early drivetrain concept for the safety bike was the shaft drive. Not a weird idea, really, but just not practical for bikes. Most used bevel gears at the end of the drive shaft. One novel technology was the Victor Spinroller. Instead of bevel gear teeth sliding past each other, the friction was reduced by using rollers for gear teeth. Not sure how practical this was, considering the many small rotating parts. It couldn't have been too bad...
Guess not, since Major Taylor set records on a spinroller shaft drive bike!
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Old 11-28-21, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
A 'bent that puts about 80% of the rider's weight over a tiny front wheel?
What could possibly go wrong?
It wasn't as bad as you'd think. Our shop got one out of curiosity and we build it up and we all tried it out. Not dangerous-feeling but also not impressive, mostly because the front "beam" was not aligned with the centerline of the bike, so it felt like you were pedaling into a gentle right turn. I don't recall any bad vibes associated with the weight distribution or that wheelbase but I might have been preoccupied.
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Old 11-28-21, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
from tiny wheels to large wheels.... correction: "wheel"



as weird as it is, I'd love to see someone ride one in person!

Steve in Peoria
A more modern version appeared at the 2008 Olympics closing ceremonies. The wheel is made of plastic and has colored LEDs inside. There were several that did some choreographed maneuvers which looked pretty cool in the darkened stadium. This example is at the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, Ohio.

2008 Beijing Olympics Monocycle
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Old 11-29-21, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
Here's a picture that I took almost 2 years ago. I believe it is a mid 80s Schwinn World Tourist with a 1×5 drivetrain.


Same bike, but as singlespeed. I wonder if anyone has fitted a fixed gear rear wheel to one of these bikes.
What's "weird" here? Schwinn made zillions of 1x5 bikes and people converted lots of these old bikes to single-speed or fixed. Just removing the derailleurs and cutting the chain shorter was a common easy way to do it.
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Old 11-29-21, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
Wear And Tear Black Hole.






I also found this alternate design.
Who wouldn't want a (bad quality) bearing the size of a sewer pipe cover, when the alternative was a good quality small bearing perfectly up to doing the job.
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