My first attempt at a vintage bike build, this single speed Coventry Eagle remains one of my all time favourite rides. I’m sorry to say I don’t own it anymore but I’m happy to say the guy who bought it from me works in the bike shop which now inhabits the very same premises this frame was originally built in – how cool is that! Also, the rather large amount of cash he put in my hand went a long way to easing my pain… It turns out this frame was beyond rare and I can’t help but wonder just how much it was really worth because the buyer was certainly convinced he was getting a bargain.
Anyhoo… onto some of the specifics:
When I bought it, all I had was the frame, fork and a very, very worn headset so it was basically a full restoration job. Well, not technically a restoration because I instantly fell in love with the ratty original paint and faded decals; also, I’d decided to do something semi-modern with it rather than try to replace all the original parts. That said, I did invest in a set of 27″ wheels which (considering its age) I figured must’ve been fitted as standard… oh, how wrong I was.
As you can see, there was literally only a couple of millimetres’ clearance between the rear tyre and the brake bridge so I figured it must’ve had 700c wheels after all. I even took it into the bike shop for advice and they were just as perplexed as me! The more we looked around the bike, the more confused we got… The bottom bracket shell was threaded with the usual 24tpi English thread which has pretty much become the standard for most bikes these days but the headset had the now obscure 26tpi thread found on only a handful of really old Raleighs. It would appear, therefore, this frame was welded together with whatever parts happened to be lying around on the bench at the time.
And so, after a lot of trial and error, I eventually settled on a pair of Weinmann DP18 700c wheels and (because money was short at the time) I threw on a set of Specialized Borough CX tyres I had lying around the garage. I think the combination of old and new worked out quite well and I was so pleased with how nicely the uber cool chainset from a 1960s Phoenix worked with the brand new Gusset Slink half link chain. It really is the only way to run a single speed bike, in my humble opinion.
In case you’re wondering, I decided to go completely modern on the front end with a quill to ahead stem adaptor, a Deda Zero One stem, Deda Crono Nero bullhorn bars and a pair of Cane Creek 200TT carbon fibre brake levers. Yes, I know the bar tape is a complete mess but in my defence, it was my very first attempt ever and since then I’ve got much better at it!