At the same time I dropped off the Raleigh Superbe’s rear wheel at the shop, I also dropped off my long-neglected Schwinn Heavy Duti. The 2.0 version had a good run for about a year and a half, but needed work. I fully intended to drop it off in January, when the shop was slow. Then I got broke, and didn’t get money until right around pandemic broke. The bike wasn’t a priority. But now is a good a time as ever to get some bike work done.
One thing I wanted done was the front rack. I swapped the smaller Wald basket with the Wald “Pizza Rack” on the Raleigh Crested Butte. I wanted the Crested Butte to be a lighter, nimbler bike. And I figured that the Heavy Duti should live up to its name’s potential: a freight hauler. With a giant porteur rack and a rear rack, it’d be great for grocery runs. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve mostly done grocery delivery and pick-up, so a grocery getter wasn’t high on the priority list. And while I could easily swap racks, turns out I needed a longer skewer for the front wheel, hence getting one from the shop.
But the bigger change was the rear wheel. When I got the work done to make it “version 2.0” back in May of 2018, I replaced the single-speed rear coaster wheel with a two speed kickback one. I wanted to give the whole “shifting gears without a shifter” thing a go. It was fun for awhile, though the change in gearing wasn’t that big. But after about a year of use, the hub shifted infrequently. Chalk that up to taking a chance on an inexpensive wheel by an unknown company. The brake still worked, so I could still ride around, but I was at a crossroads as to what to do.
Fortunately, luck called: In fall of 2019, my friend Vince asked if he wanted a wheel of his. He had built up a 26″ rear wheel around a modern Sturmey-Archer XRD-3 hub, and wasn’t using it anymore. It’s similar to the venerable AW in gearing (75%-100%-133%) but has a drum brake. Since the Heavy Duti wasn’t designed for rear caliper or cantilever brakes, the rear wheel has to have a hub brake of some sort. I said, “Heck yeah!”
I had briefly considered making the Heavy Duti a three speed when I was planning version 2.0. But I was intrigued by a two-speed kickback and didn’t want the complications that putting a three speed wheel would entail. So I passed then. But now my two-speed kickback was no more, and I had a free three speed wheel. So I handed the bike over to Geoff at Portland Bicycle Emporium to do the dirty work.
And “dirty” it was: now I’d need not one, but two cables to route to the rear, on a bike not designed for any cables. Thankfully, zip ties are your friend. I’d also need a rear brake lever, so Geoff dug up something suitable. As for a shifter, Geoff installed a modern but classic styled S-A trigger shifter. What I really would like is the S-A three speed thumb shifter, as it’d it’d look more appropriate. But I had that shifter lying around, and didn’t want to spend that much on the project. At some point I may upgrade, but I’m in no hurry.
I picked up the bike on Thursday June 18th. Later that night I did I little test ride (I wanted to make sure the dynamo front lighting was working properly.) The bike performed well, easily climbing the dreaded “NE 63rd Avenue Hill”, an 8% grade. While the Heavy Duti is indeed heavy, Geoff installed a 24 tooth cog on the rear. With a 44 tooth chainring, I get a low of about 35 gear-inches, pretty decent. Everything shifted as it should, and the rear brake was fine. While I’ve used a modern (grease lube, no “neutral”) Sturmey Archer before,* I’ve never had a bike with a drum brake, so a first! And since I no longer have a pedal-controlled brake, I don’t have to be as conscientious as to where the pedals are when I come to a stop.
Hopefully this bike will give me several more years of service! I don’t intend to do anything else to the bike, this is as far as I want to go with modifications. And without even planning it, I have another three speed, three in total.
I’ve had the Schwinn Heavy Duti for almost six years. When I got it in October of 2014, it was simply to scratch the itch for an industrial balloon tired cruiser. At the time I thought it’d be a bike I wouldn’t “fuss over” and leave it like it was. Of course, me being me, that didn’t happen! But now I have a great, useful, and fun to ride bike. Let’s hope for many more years of use.
*My 70’s Univega Safari three speed conversion, which I had from 2007 to 2010, used the modern AW hub.