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French and British content: the Riva-Sport 3-speed

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French and British content: the Riva-Sport 3-speed

Old 02-05-15, 11:09 AM
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Salubrious
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French and British content: the Riva-Sport 3-speed

I recently discovered this bike at a local junk shop, parked out on the sidewalk. I was driving by and of course bikes that look like 3-speeds always seem to get my attention. I know I should be spending my hard-earned dollars on something more exotic, but for some reason 3-speeds have been holding my interest.

I knew right away without knowing exactly how I knew that something was different about this bike so I pulled over an took a look. Sure enough, it had a number of traits that set it apart- the crank was fluted and looked to be designed to look like a more high end crank, the pedals had alloy hubs, there was a Brampton 3-speed shifter and hub installed with a metal pulley and fulcrum clip, always a good sign. So I bought it (cheap) and wheeled it to work a few blocks away. Some of the following photos are from the driveway and some from my basement- it began to snow rather hard...

Some of what I thought was rust turned out to be the dust of years on the fenders. Soap and water restored them- the chrome was in very good condition beneath. The fender stays are fixed to the axles of the wheels and appear to be cadmium plated and still in good shape. The rims are a loss with very heavy corrosion. The Brampton shifter and hub seem to be in fine shape and as soon as I got the bike on the stand the system shifted normally. The brake cables look awful but the brakes operate easily, although both brakes are slightly bent up and are in desperate need of new pads.

There is plenty of evidence of tampering.
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Old 02-05-15, 11:23 AM
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So far internet searches have not revealed very much at all, with exactly three hits that say anything at all. One is a Riva-Sport 3-speed using a derailleur. For some reason when Googling this name, the word 'Aviac' comes up. There was a French bicycle that carried that name just after WW2. Here are a couple of the hits that I got. I think this bike was made by Aviac.

AVIAC riva sport - Vintage Velo
Forum Tonton Vélo ? Afficher le sujet - AVIAC Riva Sport : Qui a des infos sur un velo en aluminium
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Old 02-05-15, 11:34 AM
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If you were looking for a 3 speed, this one found you!
I don't see anything French about it, except the lug lining.
It looks like a British "clone" bike, maybe Hercules or Elswick, but it doesn't look Raleigh.
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Old 02-05-15, 11:40 AM
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It was pretty obvious that the BB needs service. The first step was to remove the chainguard. Some of the hardware was correct and some looked like stove bolts, which I have found in a number of places on the machine. With the chainguard removed the drive train is revealed.


After some cleaning (rust and silver paint as well) as a logo was revealed on the crank arms:


I don't like sending stuff out for polish and re-chrome but the original chrome is in need and looks like it was dodgy in the first place- quite unlike the fenders....
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Old 02-05-15, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by David Newton View Post
If you were looking for a 3 speed, this one found you!
I don't see anything French about it, except the lug lining.
It looks like a British "clone" bike, maybe Hercules or Elswick, but it doesn't look Raleigh.
I agree, but unlike most British bikes it lacks eyelets in the vicinity of the dropouts. The cranks arms have French threads. The front hub is a 'New Star", which a Google search reveals as a French brand- there is a low flange rear hub on ebay right now. The stem is a steel AVA.

I am still thinking that this bike is French but built in the spirit of the British machines, for example the seatpost diameter is the same. As I get into more of the restoration some of these issues may be revealed. There is no sign of oil ports, something I regard as very British.
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Old 02-05-15, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Salubrious View Post
It was pretty obvious that the BB needs service. The first step was to remove the chainguard. Some of the hardware was correct and some looked like stove bolts, which I have found in a number of places on the machine. With the chainguard removed the drive train is revealed.


After some cleaning (rust and silver paint as well) as a logo was revealed on the crank arms:


I don't like sending stuff out for polish and re-chrome but the original chrome is in need and looks like it was dodgy in the first place- quite unlike the fenders....
Great thread! Is the bb French threaded or standard? Have you opened the headset yet? Make sure to take photos as I'm sort of a headset nut (vs just a regular one). How many teeth on that chainring & cog? Yeah, the shifter looks like a SA knockoff. Was it rideable? Did you ride it?
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Old 02-05-15, 12:00 PM
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It was not ride-able. The tires were flat and the wheels out of true. I did shoot a photo of the headset. It looks a bit like a vintage Stronglight. I really suspect French threads in the BB, but have not had time to delve into it that far, although I do have the crank off of it. Boy was that cotterpress handy!

The left side cotter pin had a loose nut! Upon removal, the pin looked cracked due to the activity of monkey doctors (the nut was an incorrect thread size and different from the drive side which showed no sign of tampering other than paint) but fortunately was only a surface garring so it looks as if it can be pressed (if you will pardon the expression) back into service. In the drivetrain photo, note the three braze-ons for the chainguard (the rear one being brazed to the rear of the chain stay) and the locknut on the inner tube air valve.
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Old 02-06-15, 11:59 AM
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If it helps Bramptons had a chain factory in France many years ago
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Old 02-06-15, 01:28 PM
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Thanks!

Aviac was a brand of high end bicycles specializing in high-end aluminum frames prior to and after WW2 as best I can make out. Their shop was in Paris. During the 1950s though motorcars and motorbikes became much more affordable and many bicycle brands, apparently Aviac amoungst them, did not seem to survive the resulting downturn in sales. I've found no other images of a Riva-Sport 3-speed that uses an internal hub gear (I have found a couple that used dérailleurs) ; its my assumption that this was an attempt to create a more pedestrian machine, to cut out a niche similar to what the British 3-speeds seemed to occupy. Its pretty obvious though that there were some problems with this idea- one of them being that the frame is hand-made rather than mass-produced. In addition, it has the more expensive Brampton drive train; I am guessing that the bike was seen as a bit over-priced as a result.

Here is an image of an Aviac Riva-Sport, likely from their heyday:

https://forum.tontonvelo.com/download...9056&mode=view

*****************

The rims were hopeless- the chrome was peeling off with heavy rust beneath, as if the wheels had been exposed to moisture and high humidity for much of its stay in the basement where it was found. I ordered a set of Sun CR18s for it. I was tempted to keep the original spokes but their finish was dodgy to start with and so I will likely replace them too. Beyond that I have to clean the cables and replace the brake pads as well as re-grease the BB and headset. At that point it might be possible to take if for a spin.

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Old 02-06-15, 02:08 PM
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I think you hit the jackpot with that bike just looking at it i would say with new wheels thats an armchair ride
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Old 02-10-15, 01:29 PM
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This is the condition of the original pedal and also disassembled. Normally, like for a Lyotard, I don't have to take the pedal apart to get it going. Usually I can spray some lithium grease into the pedal and all is right with the world. But not in this case- they were having none of it, being pretty desperate.

The dust cap was a press-fit having no threads. To remove it, I had to remove the blocks. The front flange for the blocks was captured by the dust cap. To remove both, I had to heat the hub body somewhat, as aluminum expands more than steel under heat. So I set it on a stove burner while I retrieved the mail. I then held the flange in a shop vise and knocked the dust cap off with a screwdriver and hammer. It seemed a brutal approach but all other attempts had failed and it didn't leave a mark

The hub bodies are going to shine up OK. I am debating sending out the flanges for polish and chrome. They are not too bad yet- but one of them is flaking so there may be nothing for it. I don't like to do the polish and chrome thing as the results often look over-restored. The blocks are definitely a problem. The threaded rod is actually square within the block, so replacement blocks suddenly got a lot harder as extracting the rod is not that hard if you don't mind destroying the block, but installing it in a suitable replacement might be challenging. I may have to fabricate something... I am loathe to reinstall the existing blocks as they are really worn and bear silver paint (which probably will come off fairly easily). I would love to get some suggestions on this (one idea is to fabricate wooden blocks).

Normally I would not go to such lengths but its not every day a person finds a pedal built with rubber blocks and an alloy hub body.

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Old 02-10-15, 04:37 PM
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The condition of the rims on this bike was pretty bad. They were heavily pitted, and apparently the chrome flaking off was a problem for a while, as silver paint was applied to try to cover the problem. I've gone down this path before- unless you really have an unusual rim of historic significance, its not going to end well trying to fix something this bad- the resulting chrome will still have the pits unless the part wa$ poli$hed, fla$hed with copper and re-poli$hed prior to chroming.



So a set of Sun CR-18s will be installed since the tire size is 650A. The front hub shined up pretty good with only minimal pitting on the portion that was pointed down during its long basement storage. Condensation left some mild pitting, but not enough to have me worried.
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Old 02-10-15, 06:49 PM
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I believe it's likely French, but you'll find out for sure when you start looking at the threads on the bottom bracket and headset.

Also, I think the French used a different diameter crank cotter: 9.0 mm instead of 9.5 mm. If you have a Park Tool spoke gauge it has some cotter gauge holes in it too. I've got the spoke gauge but have never had anything but 9.5 mm cotters so I've never measured one with it. Should rectify that so that I can say that I've measured cotters with the Park Tool gauge.

Did the French use the same size ball bearings as others or were they strictly metric? Seems that I saw something about bearing balls that were not the same diameter as typical fractional inch in size, but I can't remember what or where.
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Old 02-10-15, 09:38 PM
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Hard to imagine the frame not being French. The crank is French, with French threads. The front hub (New Star) is French (just finished the new front wheel tonight). The brakes are French, the stem is a steel AVA...

So far the British aspect seems to be limited to the Brampton 3-speed setup. I might expand that though- found a nice Brooks B-72 at the recent swap meet.

I'll be servicing the BB pretty soon.
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Old 02-10-15, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Salubrious View Post
Hard to imagine the frame not being French. The crank is French, with French threads. The front hub (New Star) is French (just finished the new front wheel tonight). The brakes are French, the stem is a steel AVA...

So far the British aspect seems to be limited to the Brampton 3-speed setup. I might expand that though- found a nice Brooks B-72 at the recent swap meet.

I'll be servicing the BB pretty soon.
Take some good photos of the bottom bracket. I love to see that sort of thing!!! I'm excitedly watching this thread.
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Old 02-10-15, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Velocivixen View Post
Take some good photos of the bottom bracket. I love to see that sort of thing!!! I'm excitedly watching this thread.
I have some pictures of the Black Widow's bottom bracket from when we worked on her. I'll post them in your thread rather than here. Either is probably against the rules as being off topic. Maybe they will hold you till you get your French pics.

If you find it objectionable for me to post my pics in your thread, let me know, and I will delete them with apologies.

edit:
Oh what a knob I am. The proper thing for me to do is post the BB pics in the Black Widow thread--that's what I'll do.

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Old 02-10-15, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by desconhecido View Post
I have some pictures of the Black Widow's bottom bracket from when we worked on her. I'll post them in your thread rather than here. Either is probably against the rules as being off topic. Maybe they will hold you till you get your French pics.

If you find it objectionable for me to post my pics in your thread, let me know, and I will delete them with apologies.

edit:
Oh what a knob I am. The proper thing for me to do is post the BB pics in the Black Widow thread--that's what I'll do.
You're so polite. I appreciate it. You could have posted them and would have been fine. Thanks. I like seeing how things go together and how they look.
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Old 02-11-15, 11:07 AM
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I built up the front wheel last night- CR18 with DT Swiss stainless spokes in a one-cross pattern. It looks a lot like a radial pattern, but is a little stronger. I began removing the front fork. The headset has a washer with a flat in it the corresponds to a flat in the threads of the fork. That says 'French' to me.

Some of the box lining is damaged on the fork. Its done in gold paint- I might just go the art supply store and get a gold paint pen and see if I can touch it up. I don't want to repaint the fork; its not that bad and it has some appliques that cannot be replaced.
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Old 02-11-15, 04:40 PM
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I like the Von Dutch style red pin striping on the down tube
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Old 02-12-15, 04:48 PM
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They do have a Von Dutch look to them. They are appliques if in red, in gold its paint.
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Old 02-12-15, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Velocivixen View Post
Take some good photos of the bottom bracket. I love to see that sort of thing!!! I'm excitedly watching this thread.
Pretty sure I am looking at a French thread here. I got the BB removed and cleaned up. The stamp 'M1' appears on all the parts- spindle and both cups. The fixed cup was not a big battle to remove and the grease was really not that bad. Some nicks indicate that someone had the lock ring off prior.




Fork is next...
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Old 02-12-15, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Salubrious View Post
Pretty sure I am looking at a French thread here. I got the BB removed and cleaned up. The stamp 'M1' appears on all the parts- spindle and both cups. The fixed cup was not a big battle to removed and the grease was really not that bad. Some nicks indicate that someone had the lock ring off prior.




Fork is next...
I bet when you cleanse and polish this will look fabulous. I love this stuff!
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Old 02-12-15, 11:06 PM
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The finish on the stem was perfect and the handlebars are not bad. The shifter cleaned up pretty well too. I had a go-round with the rear hub- it used a track-style cog that threaded on. I found I could swap it carrier and all for one off of a Sturmey Archer hub- had to migrate some associated parts to really make it work, but the hub seems to work really well after that surgery. So now I can install a 22 on the rear which should help out a bit. I have to clean up the rear hub but other than that it looks like I can go ahead and build the rear wheel. In this case it will be a 3-cross.
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Old 03-25-15, 09:06 PM
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I had the fork off. The threads feature a flat face, with a matching lockwasher for the headset. Seems like another sign of French design.

The brakes gave me a few issues. The rear brake does not mount in the manner to which I have become accustomed. Its mounting bolt runs vertical though the bridge and simultaneously secures the fender to the frame as well as the brake via a machined fitting. Naturally the monkey doctors had installed a stove bolt complete with square nut having lost the original hardware. The advantage of this mounting system seems to be a greater ease in adjusting the sidepull brake- it was a breeze.

I shined them up, installed a proper metric screw and nut and installed new brake pads.

A detail of the front wheel. The spoke pattern is a one-cross.

The rear wheel is now compete as well. I had an issue with the Brampton hub- the oil port was missing its cap and had to be replaced. All the NOS ports I found (for Sturmey Archer) had a larger thread size. To deal with this, I removed two spokes so I could maneuver my hand drill into position and drilled out the hole for the oil port in situ. I did this with the hole pointing down so metal filings would not occur in the hub. Then I used a magnet to find any excess filings, finally a heavy shot of WD40 to clear anything out through the hub. I felt good about the fact that no swerf was in evidence in the latter steps. Then I tapped the threads and installed the NOS SA oil port, which fit quite well, and reinstalled the spokes.


There is a 22-tooth cog fitted. The bike is now awaiting the polishing on the crank and new tires. I'll have the tires first so when the crank comes back I'll be able to fit it and ride.
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Old 09-19-19, 11:00 AM
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Hello I acquired the same model of Riva Sport. Stripping off the old parts and rebuilding with modern parts. The double butted Vitus tubing makes for a good fixed gear.

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