Anyway, I digress.
So these books talked a lot about gears. Anyone who wanted to seriously tour back then had to build up a better, more appropriate gear ratio than what was given on their bike, so they had to know exactly what they wanted. And you only had 10 gears to choose from, so they better be just right. (Triple chainrings were almost unheard of, and considered by some to be unnecessary. One book flatly said if the hill was too much, just walk. Wonder what they think about 11 speed cassettes?)
But it didn’t stop there. Once one figured out what gears they had and what gear-inches they translated into, some books went as far as saying they should write down their gear-inches for each gear, and then tape to handlebars so they could be memorized. I found this a bit amusing since I subscribe to the school of thought that if the gear you’re in feels too hard, downshift. Memorizing gear-inches sounds way too complicated! And unnecessary. Some things about the 1970’s I just don’t understand, like bellbottoms and pet rocks.
But something about the taping the gear-inch chart to the handlebars stuck with me.
I found a gear-inch chart for Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hubs in an old bike book. So for fun, I figured out what the gear-inches for the three speeds of the Rudge were, wrote it down, and taped it to the stem.
Don’t know if I’ll memorize it, though.
And if you are curious, the Rudge has a 48 tooth chainring with 20 tooth cog, on a 26″ x 1 3/8″ (650A or 590mm) wheel. This translates into 46.8 inches for low (1st) gear, 62.4 inches for middle (2nd), and 83.2 inches for high (3rd).
Yes, I am a bike geek.