Twice Round the Bend

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Jun 19, 2016
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My goal is to build something cool out of this old Elgin.
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Oh yeah!!! Can't go wrong with a twin bar!!!
Okay, time to get started. Last year I attempted to build this project in the build-off, but ran in to problems making decisions about which direction to go with the build. I am starting with a complete, all original prewar Elgin Twin 20. I was very fortunate to find this cool bike. I have all of the original and unique parts (minus tires, pedals, and grips). The original (and very rare) green finish has patinated beautifully. While this is a perfect candidate for a restoration, for now, I would rather make a cool cruiser out of it. But this is what it would have looked like when new. This is the only other green Twin 20 I could find:
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I usually only make 2 styles of rat rod builds. The first is a cruiser-style bike using original vintage bikes that I design for pleasure riding. The other is what I call my "FREAK" bikes. They are the wildly designed, almost un-ride-able bikes for which I have become known. While I did try fitting different style modified forks to this Twin 20 frame, that beautiful (but bulky) steering head shroud was not compatible with any type of springer or chopper fork I tried. The forks just wouldn't be able to steer the bike, or the forks wouldn't fit at all. While I still might do a mock-up of a FREAK bike to make the purists cringe, this bike needs to be a cruiser.
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My biggest stumbling block last year was mounting a seat and making it functional and cool all at the same time. I was trying to use the original seat because I like to use as many original parts as possible (when I have them). When I was going through my stash of parts, I found a seat that I had forgotten about. It is a high-end (but trashed) tricycle seat from the 1930's. It is small and the patination matches the patina on the frame nicely. I really like how this looks on the bike. It lays perfectly on the frame bars. I am going to make a wooden mounting block to attach it to the frame (barn find-style). Problem solved! I wish I would have thought of it last year. My outside-the-box thinking was blocked by the fact that I felt obligated to use the original seat. I will try to not let that happen again. Here is a mock-up of how the seat looks and fits onto the frame:
I have already installed the smaller chainring to make it easier to "cruise". It is a correct '39-'40 Elgin chainring but this is the smaller sized version from a girls bike. I have retained the longer cranks which also makes it easier to pedal. Increased pedaling torque and lower gearing all add up to a pleasurable cruising experience.
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I would prefer to use the correct style teardrop pedals if I can find an original set.


They are cool but I cannot justify the cost (and I don't like the reproductions). So, I will probably use a nice set of original period-correct standard-style pedals. I like to use he smaller pedals from a girls bike to increase the lean angle abilities of the bike. Every little functional detail adds up to a bike that is fun to ride.
I have been doing some measuring to compare certain dimensions of other period-type frames. When I compared a Monark Silver King Wingbar to a postwar Schwinn frame, the Wingbar was surprisingly 2.5" longer than the Schwinn! But this Twin 20 frame is actually an inch longer than the Wingbar frame, and a whole 3" shorter top-to-bottom (measured from the crank bearing housing to the seat). But that shorter top-to-bottom measurement is mostly due to the complete removal of the original seat bracket and laying the seat directly onto the frame. So all of the other components I use will be chosen to enhance the long, low aesthetics of the Twin 20 frame.