Gallery: Wayne’s 1963 Royce Union

Wayne's Royce Union
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Wayne's Royce Union
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Wayne's Royce Union
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[Wayne sent us these photos of the 1963 Royce Union he refurbished for his daughter. —Alan]

This bicycle was purchased new by my mother in 1963. Although it was nothing particularly special at that time, over the years it has taken on new meaning. For the past 30+ years, it has sat in the garage, collecting lots of dust and slowly corroding. I decided to refurbish it as a unique gift for my daughter, who appreciates good things from the past.

Although the brand name is Royce Union, the bicycle was built in the Raleigh factory in Nottingham, England. Upon complete dis-assembly, I noticed that some of the components are stamped with the Raleigh heron. After cleaning, lubing, re-assembling and adjusting everything, it’s probably in better shape now than it was when new. When I took the Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub apart, I found it to be amazing and elegant in its simplicity. I decided against repainting the frame because that would have eliminated the character shown by the slightly worn decals; it polished up quite nicely. The only new parts it needed were a wheel bearing cone, tires & inner tubes, brake pads and saddle – and lots of elbow grease.

Having lived in Japan for a year where most people ride bicycles every day, my daughter has realized that these are for genuine transportation. Right now she uses it for recreational riding in the suburbs, but she has plans to use it as her main transportation soon when she moves to a more urban setting. She will get many more years of enjoyment and service out of this working-class bicycle, reincarnated for a new generation.

Wayne Bader

8 Responses to “Gallery: Wayne’s 1963 Royce Union”

  • Rick Houston says:

    Wayne, that’s just beautiful; please let your daugther know that these types of bikes have gained a following among urban twenty-somethings, and are therefore being targeted by bike thieves. She should have a good lock (my favorite: http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/abus-lock/31-472 ), and more importantly, know what is–and what is not–the best thing to lock her bike to.

    Cheers, and thanks for sharing.

  • bongobike says:

    Beautiful bike. I’m glad you have one of the “real” Royce Unions made in England. When I was a boy in the mid to late sixties, there were some Royce Unions imported from Japan that were complete garbage and fell apart very quickly, just like today’s Walmart bikes. I remember many of my friends getting them for Christmas and quickly disintegrating. The hot ride back in my ‘hood then was Schwinn.

  • Rider says:

    It looks a lot like my father-in-law’s Robin Hood, also built in Nottingham.

    I found the Raleigh heron stamped into the axle in the bottom bracket on that bike, along with a British honeybee. She’d been in there for some 30 years.

  • Wayne says:

    Thanks for your comments and advice! It’s great to hear from like-minded folks.

    This project was a re-introduction to bicycling for me, and the results were super gratifying. I’ve picked up a new hobby.

    As I remember, I found the Raleigh heron stamped onto the inner surface of the chainring, the lower part of the quill that extends into the steerer tube, and the pedal axle. Kinda like finding Easter eggs.

  • Gooseneck says:

    Hey Wayne –
    It’s a beautiful bicycle, and a great little story. Please submit a couple photos to the Three Speed Gallery! (Not my website… it’s updated by Jim from Hiawatha Cyclery).
    link: http://threespeedgallery.blogspot.com

    It would make a perfect addition. It’s always great to see a Sturmey Archer clicking around. I’ve been riding my Phillips to work every day, and can vouch for these machines being good city vehicles.
    Chris

  • dwainedibbly says:

    Her grandmother’s bike! Very cool indeed!

    I second the comment about thievery. Get her a good lock!

  • Eric Abrams says:

    I just bought the exact same bike from a college kid from UCR. Got it for $40 bucks. Is that a good deal. What are they worth to a collector? Mine only works in third gear. Is that an easy fix?

  • Wayne Bader says:

    @Eric Abrams:

    Eric, the value to you of an old bike really depends on its condition and completeness, and what you plan to do with it. In my case, the bike was complete and I planned to restore it to “like new but used” condition. However, I still had to replace a few parts, and chose to replace others. I ended up spending about $300 by the time it was fully restored. (The tires are responsible for much of this cost, as i purchased pretty expensive ones.) From one perspective, compare the cost of a brand new city bike today, say the Raleigh Classic Roadster, at about $500.

    If you choose to keep all the original parts, you could spend significantly less. However I strongly suggest you install a good set of Kool Stop salmon brake pads, because the original steel rims are slippery in wet conditions, particularly with OEM-type pads, and the Kool Stops provide significantly more braking power.

    As for your internal gear hub, the 3-speed Sturmey Archer is standard. Assuming that’s what you have, and that you’re willing to “get your hands dirty”, I suggest you start by looking through Sheldon Brown’s excellent resource site at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/sturmey-archer/aw.html. He describes how the hub works, how to adjust it (start there), and how to completely overhaul it. It’s not technically difficult, but requires care, and either some special tools or a little bit of ingenuity. But totally worth it!

    Best of luck to you!

 
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