Hey kids. It’s another installment of “Other People’s Bikes” here on this beautiful Tuesday in Portlandland. You’re tuned in and hanging out with your old buddy Shawn Granton. It’s a chilly but sunny December day and traffic once again is backed up on the Banfield. But it doesn’t matter, we’re on bikes. Anyways…
Yesterday (Monday December 6th) I had a morning meeting with Mirk at Floyd’s Coffee on SE Morrison. In front of Floyd’s is one of Portland’s on street bike corrals. This one happens to be unique because some resourceful and crafty soul or souls has decided to yarn-bomb many of the “staples” in the corral.
With the colors of the rainbow!
Of course I chose the “blue” one. Color coordination and all, since I was riding the Raleigh.
In the non-yarn-bombed area of the corral rested two interesting bikes: a Jorg&Olif loop-framed lovely and a Gary Fisher Simple city bike.
I believe the Jorg&Olif belongs to Michelle P. Cute front wheel bottle dynamo and decorated light.
The Gary Fisher has a Shimano Nexus three speed hub.
Later I had to run a couple errands around SE Grand Ave and Stark Street. This is where I spotted this interesting specimen:
A Columbia Sports 3. Columbia was an old American bike manufactures. During the first bike boom of the 1890’s, Columbia under the direction of Colonel Albert Pope was the dominant and most prestigious bicycle manufacturer in the United States. Eighty years later during the 1970’s, when this bike was most likely manufactured, Columbia was an also-ran, not as good as Schwinn, yet not turning out millions of pieces of crap like Huffy or Murray. The “Sports 3” was Columbia’s attempt at an adult “lightweight” bike in the tradition of a British three-speed. By the ’70’s, three-speeds were also-run bikes in the U.S., not as cool as a 10-speed.
By itself the bike is not that remarkable. But here’s what makes it unique:
A SunTour three speed hub!
SunTour was a Japanese bicycle parts manufacturer renowned for their derailleurs. Their “slant parallelogram” derailleurs revolutionized the industry and they became the dominant and best derailleur manufacturer until their patents ran out and Shimano basically ran them out of business. I’ve seen SunTour derailleurs before, but never an internally geared hub.
I’ve seen older Columbia Sports 3s with Sturmey-Archer hubs. When Shimano started making their less-expensive “333” three-speed hub, pretty much all American companies that made three-speeds switched from Sturmey-Archer to Shimano. So I would assume the Columbia would have a Shimano hub for this bike. Why a SunTour? I can only guess it was cheaper.
But how cheap?
Intrigued by the hub, I went to teh internets to find out more. Turns out according to this article that SunTour did not actually make internally geared hubs. They simply had Sturmey-Archer make them some AW hubs and stamped “SunTour” on the shells. This would explain why the SunTour trigger shifter looks more similar to a Sturmey-Archer trigger shifter:
Rather than a Shimano trigger shifter:
It still boggles the mind, though. The Japanese during the 1970’s were renowned for taking bike componentry originally designed and/or manufactured in Europe, the UK, and US, and making cheaper and usually better versions of it. Why did SunTour have an English company make their internal geared hub? And wouldn’t that make the hub more expensive than it should be? Why would a bike manufacturer like Columbia get a rebadged Sturmey-Archer hub from a Japanese company when they could just get a Sturmey-Archer instead? Global capitalism is a weird thing that I don’t fully understand.