08 November 2010

bike time III - dago-style prewar shelby

For the third installment of Bike Time I've chosen another shelby.

Most bike restorers or aficionados are going to wonder -
why the hell would you put this bastard of a bike up here.
Well, its a fun bike to ride! And its almost 75 years old!
After the move down to San Diego,
I realized there was a movement towards the old 70's modification - hi-rise bars.
Not those lame new style super high bars that have the rearwards bend to them,
or BMX bars with the crossbar,
but the medium bars used on stingrays and schwinn exercycles.
We have come to call this "Dago-Style" and it is a phenomenon not of hipsters,
but the needs of actual bike riders.
Around here you will see sleeping bags tied in the bars,
recyclers with multiple trash bags hanging from the bars,
burnouts with hi-rise bars on there old 70's ten-speeds,
small children and girls sitting in the bars...
a real work bike.
Not only the great throw-back looks and useful - it's friggin comfortable!
Who needs to be hunched over to beat the wind.
Where are you going on a cruiser that you are in a rush all of a sudden?
I'll admit to riding on those crazy critical mass rides we have down here.
How can you not when there's 500+ people riding bikes down the 163 freeway at 9pm!
I can confidently attest that me and Luke were the only ones riding Dago-style cruisers,
but this will catch on once people realize you don't need to be uncomfortable.

Anyway this is the reason 2 shelby's have been posted on here back to back.
This is art, structural art.
This is a 1935-7 frame!
Who does this?
Shelby manufactured the tubing for lots of prewar bike companies,
and they ended up making some of the most bitchin bikes out there.
Someone handmade this frame.
The metal wishbone with the tapered tubes is unlike any bike.
This design helped me realize that structural metal could be formed in so many ways.

Search shelby airflow and hiawatha for some really crazy tanks they used.
(That reflector sucks but it's needed riding at night or I'll get pulled over!)
This restored Messenger seat still has chromed steel guards.
(the cool stamping from Bob Usazi was a second)
Really needs some more cushion though its a rock.
I painted this over 14 years ago with rattlecan!
Its been left out in the rain and generally abused,
so random stickers cover any significant scratches.
Gotta love the rattlecan.

The reason I think this is a 1935 or 36 frame
is that the space between the top bars is a little too tight for a peanut tank.
For that reason I threw the earlier square top forks on there,
however check out these beauties.
Holy shit.
These are called truss rods and these are the best out there, ever. period.
Not tube like schwinn used, but solid rod.
I scraped my face pretty bad jumping with a broken fork,
so I dig these things for their use as well.
Every curb-hopper should have them.
These are the later 37+ style as the earlier ones were straight,
and had a little bracket holding them, not as deco.
Also check out those fork bearing cups.
They're flush with the head tube, pretty trick.
Still need to put a badge on there, whoops!

An easy to tell a prewar bike is by the axle hanger -
rear entry with an axle positioner/chain tensioner kinda deal.
It was common for the nuts to squash the slot too wide.
These hangers were really smashed up so almost 3/16" was added to each side.
Actually the story is alot longer than this...
Almost 15 years ago I replaced the bottom of one of those hangers,
but I never checked the alignment so the wheel was crooked!
For some reason I painted it anyway and there it sat.
The fix ended up being really simple,
as that 3/16" was added to the top of one side and the bottom of the other.
This is a later style bendix hub with a lobdell rim,
still has the skip-tooth chain which is common prewar stuff.
And also the little oil cap right there in the center,
so oil sprays all over your pants when haulin ass down hills! Cool!
(the front wheel is an old aluminum rim we found at the scrapper,
making it an almost clunker style cruiser like the old mountain bikes)
The bubble front ring gear, dog-leg crank and chainguard are all shelby items.
Those decent Torrington #10 pedals really should be on a more complete bike.
Good old chinese repops of the Goodyear tread, whats better!
This frame sat bare for years until right before last years Santa Barbara cruiser run.
Just days before I dug out the parts it needed to do the 30 mile or so ride.
Good times even though a friend that went with us was thrown in the slammer - jailbird jeff!

So a good hint to a '35-early '38 frame in almost any brand is the downtube.
Almost always they are straight,
and during '38+ most companies had curved downtubes, like typical cruisers.
I've always liked the BMX look of the earlier style.
if a picture is worth a thousand words,
than here's 13000 words on what looks like such a simple bike.
Too much coffee!
Like the Rauler it's fun to have an old bike brought back from the grave
that can be really ridden without concern.

Try it, you'll like it!


1 comment:

  1. we have the crazy mexapixel camera phones all the time....we need to start a dago bike blog! get the word out that red ridding hood liked her bars juuusssst right.