Sorry it has taken me a few days to get back to you but I don’t turn the computer on every day, in fact I never used one until about 18 months ago, but using one has given me access to a world of parts to repair and upgrade my old ten speed. I’ll give you the whole story and you can use any of this information with the photos. First I’ll say I’m about 95% sure it was 1975. At that time my fathers days off were on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and my birthday did fall on a Wednesday that year. Back one day in the summer of 1975 my friend Ralph came to me and told me he was going to be able to get 10 speed bikes for $90. he said “off the truck”. Even at 12 years old it sounded fishy to me, I know his dad worked in the insurance business at the time. So I asked my mother about getting one and she said yes, it was going to be yellow but it never happened, better off I suppose, I would have had a yellow 10 speed with bad karma. I forgot about it and enjoyed the rest of my summer vacation but my mother did not forget and in the autumn when it was getting close to my birthday she asked me if I still wanted a new bike … I said yes. So when I came home from school on my birthday or maybe the day before my mom, dad and myself got into the station wagon and drove to Time Square Store, TSS for short, they went out of business in the 1990s, they were a store much like Sears. So we got there and walked into the department with the bicycles. I was shy about going over to the bicycles out of fear of picking something too expensive so the salesman came up to us and asked my mother what we were looking for mom says tell him,… I say a 10 speed… a yellow one. So the salesman walks over to the line of bicycles and pulls out a beautiful orange 10 speed, a Royce Union, wow that’s a nice bike, I say maybe it’s a little too big for me, mom asks salesman is it too big for him? salesman asks mom how old is he? 13, salesman says he’ll grow into it, mom asks do you want the bike? I say yes! I had myself a beautiful Japanese made 10 speed. On my first ride on it I felt very high of the ground even with the seat post dropped as low as it could go. I got used to it. I rode it for the next few years around the neighborhood until I entered my sedentary period, the 1980s. Also in the early 80s I would let my friend borrow it sometimes, the last time he used it he bent the rims, after that he got his own bike. Skip to the mid 1990s I finally listen to the
voice in my head telling me you’ve got to start riding your bike again. I buy new tires, tubes and wheels and the Royce Union is rolling again. I’m getting healthier and a problem I was starting to have with my left knee is going away. In the autumn 2003 on one of my rides the chain wore through the front derailleur, one of the links in the chain was binding, wheels need truing and the brakes are noisy . I was ready for a new bike. I bought a nice new white and blue 24 speed Trek Alpha 1000 and the Royce Union went back down to the basement. I rode the Trek exclusively until June of 2014 when the Royce Union would join the mix. In 2013 I was starting to get what I would call bicycle fever which caused me to buy a new Motobeane Sprintour carbon fiber bike. Once I had it I became obsessed with the Royce Union. After changing the handlebars from the touring position to the aero position I brought it to the bike shop to do a tune up and clean up and replace the front derailleur. I also bought clip in pedals, lights, a bell and micro computer for it. I had been riding my Trek through Williamsburg and Greenpoint Brooklyn a lot, and a lot of the old ten speeds now reside there . Seeing them and the challenge of doing the same rides with the heavier 10 speed as with the Trek may have been the reason, I don’t know but the spirit definitely moved me to start riding it again. So I picked the bike up from the bike shop and it looked good but the brakes were still rubbing the rims a bit . Anyway I put the new accessories on plus an air pump and started riding. I did 2- 44 mile rides with it and on the 3rd ride I decided to take it to the same bike path where the chain wore through the derailleur in 2003 where as could be expected and almost in the exact same part of the path one of the 11+ year old tires blew out and knocked the wheel even more out of true. It was then I decided to get new wheels and tires . I bought a pair of Weinnman R-19 27 by 1.25 alloy wheels. There is a lot of tiny pieces of glass in the streets around here so I needed a tough tire and got a pair of Continental Gator Hardshells instead of going with the gumwalls . I’ve only had one puncture since putting them on in almost a year now. One problem solved. Start riding the bike again. I’m up off the seat sprinting up a hill with the chain on the small cog there’s that binding chain link again making it feel like the chain is skipping. The bike is capable of going fast but not of stopping fast. Tried modern brake pads on the Shimano center pulls, even worse, the Shimano Eagle rear derailleur can’t be adjusted to shift into all five cogs it’s either the 28 tooth cog or the 14 tooth cog but I can’t get both. I decided I wanted to do the work myself so I bought a bike stand and the tools I needed to do the work as well as the parts. I bought a new rear derailleur and Sunrace freewheel cassette about $20. each a new KMC 5-6 speed chain and I searched on the internet for modern brakes for old 10 speed bikes and found a recommendation for Tektro R-559 dual pivot brakes along with all the cables and cable housing I needed to complete the job. After all that the bike shifts smoothly and quietly into all the gears and the bike stops like a modern bike. Better than it was in 1975 except for the paint. Another thing that I changed and this was after I took the photos was the brake levers and the handlebars. When I adjusted the handlebars to the aero position I also had to adjust the brake levers after which the right levers kept slipping down spreading the tape apart. I bought a pair of Origin 8 compact brake levers in black and Origin 8 compact drop 40cm handlebars. To contrast the black levers I used orange tape. The new look is more sporty then classic 10 speed. I love the chrome so I kept both chain guards on. I also put 2 Minoura clamp on bottle cage holders, one on the down tube and one on the seat post so I can do the long rides without getting dehydrated. I use the 10 speed for every other commute to work which is just under 8 miles each way and every 3rd weekend ride which is just under 74 miles. In the last year I’ve put over 2000 miles on it including using it in the New York City 5 boro bike tour, it was a blast. I guess most people would not put so much money into an old 10 speed but it’s something my parents bought for me and they’re both gone now. I’m proud to still have it. Whether it’s an old ten speed or new 22 speed I highly recommend riding a bike
to help you avoid the doctor putting you on meds for this and that and to keep the stiffness from settling in on you. I’ll have the Royce Union 40 years this November. The bike cost $127. plus $5 for the kickstand. It was a lot of money for my parents to spend on a bike in 1975. With the tax it would be about $600 in 2015 dollars.
About the photos
I consider Williamsburg and Greenpoint the land of the old 10 speed bicycle and I wanted to take the photos there. On the Kent avenue bike path in Williamsburg I saw the building with the wall art and I knew the orange bike would pop in front of it. I took the photos in October of 2014 and by May 2015 the building was torn down. Glad I got the photos.