F’ugly 4 gill

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JA331

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I slammed this ‘39 Roadmaster 4 gill together over the past 2 days.

I set aside the original shockmaster fork and used a rigid swan fork of the same era so I could compare how it rode to my other bikes.

The wheels came with a bargain cruiser I picked up early this year for $30. The rims are Japanese Arayas laced to a Joytec front hub and 7 speed nexus coaster. The Taiwanese dog leg crank came off a parts bike as did the 44t sprocket. I wasn’t aware it was possible to fit a sprocket of this size to a cwc frame with the upswept chain stays as I read the chain would rub, but it all works fine. I have a 24t skiptooth sprocket on the way and will swap it later. I splurged on a pair of S&M 26 x 2.4 speedballs which I have on 2 other bikes that I own. The latest versions are rated at 70psi rather than 110psi but i’ve found pumping them to 60psi is more than enough.

The fenders, chainguard and truss rods are from a ‘47 cwc ladies bike. I had to cut some extra thread on the rods and then shorten them by the same amount. I used the seat and solid stainless post off my other Roadmaster.

I’m amazed how this thing rides with a frame and fork that was designed over 80 years ago. The geometry feels modern obviously helped by the taller and more upright head tube and it feels roomy like my 2012 Kos and Red Menace. The taller bars contribute to the feel but the same bars on my ‘36 Schwinn made no difference. That bike still felt small and it steered like a chopper.

The white repaint on the frame is very ordinary and I think I’ll have a crack in the future at doing a patina finish which matches the fenders and chainguard. For now I am just going to put some miles on it and enjoy it.
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I bought the frame, fork, headlight and a few other parts from the bike above which was parted out.

Originally the bike may have looked similar to the one below. I found black paint inside the bottom bracket when i replaced the bearings.
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Yes, I agree with doing something about the frame paint, it is lost between being good and being interesting
 

JA331

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Thanks mate. I may repaint it next year. The white is plain jane but i don’t mind it as much as before with the new black wheels going on it. The new front wheel is fitted and has a 100mm SA drum hub and I’m just waiting on a nos Japanese nexus 7 to arrive before i do the rear.
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Tallbikeman

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Shimano 7 speed IGH are pretty good. I've had trouble with their shifting mechanisms wearing out and failing after a number of years. Good hub otherwise. I used a SA 90mm front drum brake for a number of years and loved it. A powerful always the same rain or shine reliable braking performance. Good choice.
 

JA331

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I picked up the wheel set I first fitted to this bike with an unknown cruiser for $30. It looked like it had been sitting in the weather but unused. At first I wasn't overly impressed with the 7 speed. It felt draggy and the coaster brake was quite weak. I pulled the wheels to swap the tires to Cult vans which are 2.1" wide to prevent the front one rubbing on the front fender. At the same time I adjusted the cones on the nexus 7 a little looser and it made a massive difference. The bike was so much faster! Since then I've surprised a few riders and only this morning I was out riding and on a fast section was keeping up with a rider in front of me on a modern bike. When we stopped at the next set of traffic lights, another rider pulled up beside me and was looking at the fat nexus rear hub. He then asked if the bike was electric to which I replied a very proud NO.
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JA331

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The nexus compatible 11t skiptooth rear sprocket from Ichi bikes finally arrived in the mail today. I combined it with a 24t front sprocket instead of the original 26t which allowed me to gear the bike as I had it before. The new Japanese made 7 speed nexus hub was removed from a bike attachment for the disabled from a display unit in a hospital. I just need to lube the chain and I’m done. I may repaint the frame later but for now the contrast of the white frame with the new black wheels is an improvement over the natural finish alloys I had it on before.

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With new wheels
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With previous wheels
 
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JA331

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Agreed. CWC made some incredible bikes during that era and I’m so grateful I was able to get this one. If it would have been wearing its original paint I would have had no chance.

Its my favorite old bike not only for the beautiful design of the frame and fork but also for the way it rides. The geometry is very relaxed and it steers like a modern bike (even better than my ‘53 Roadmaster) although there is considerable flex in the fork. The large frame combined with the unusually long head tube, being the same length as in the ladies version also makes it comfortable for tall riders. The person who designed it back in 1939 did an amazing job.
 

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