Freddie Grubb Restoration

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I got my first bike at the age of 13. I can recall the date precisely - 31st May 1962. It was Ascension Thursday, which being a Catholic feast day meant I was at church with my father. I knew something was up - why, I don't know, but after church we didn't take our normal route home and instead found ourselves outside Ritchie's Cycle shop in Western Road, Jarrow. My father said something along the lines of "about time you had a bike," and in we went. I knew exactly what I wanted - a Triumph "Palm Beach." They didn't have the right size for me, but a phone call established that there was one at the branch in nearby Hebburn. An hour later I was riding home from Hebburn on my dream machine - 3-speed Sturmer-Archer hub gear, a Sturmey-Archer hub dynamo, and all the trimmings. I spent the rest of the day polishing it.

That bike took me everywhere, but as I got older it began to lose street credibility. By the age of 16 I had swapped the rather tame straight handlebars for a set of racing drops, and the 3-speed hub for a 4-speed one. It wasn't the right sort of bike for derailleur gears, but the 4-speed was fine, given that most racing bikes at the time only had 5-speed freewheels. Most of my friends had similar mounts. Then one of them, Shaun Mitchell, got a second-hand "proper" racing bike. It was a Freddie Grubb frame which I think he picked up in one of the second-hand bike shops off Shields Road in Byker. I thought it was fantastic, and was really envious. I began to take more notice of racing bikes (we didn't call them "road bikes" in those days), with their spindly frames, oversize flanged hubs, centre-pull brakes, wing nuts, and of course the derailleurs they sported. The best derailleur available at the time was the Campagnolo "Gran Sport."

I briefly flirted with cycling in the 1970's, buying a Raleigh racing bike and venturing round the villages of north Cheshire. I had too many other things to occupy me however, and it wasn't until the 1990's that I really got into cycling again with the purchase of a Giant "Cadex" carbon fibre mountain bike in 1994. A few years later I bought a Klein Mantra full suspension bike. Mountain biking became a passion. I had to give it up though when a back injury left me with severe sciatica. Then, when I took up cycling again in 2011, I did a 63 mile sportive on the Klein. It nearly killed me, and seeing all the roadies flying past me effortlessly I decided it was time to try a road bike. I bought a Bianchi Infinito, and it was a revelation - I started looking for hills to climb instead of avoiding them. As I got more and more into road biking I remembered my earlier obsession with my friend's Freddie Grubb. Seeing one for sale on eBay, I half-heartedly joined the auction, but lost out. The interest grew into a need - I had to get one, and eventually I successfully won an auction in September 2011. This page records my efforts to restore this old bike to its former glory.

freddie grubb

1960's Freddie Grubb - as received (more pictures)

The bike was in remarkably good condition when I received it, and I took it out for a short ride just to get a feel for things. It felt fine, though the brakes were a little weak, and the gears - a 47T chainring matched to a 16-20 freewheel meant that it didn't climb quite as well as my Bianchi. The next thing to do was to thoroughly strip it and catalogue all the individual components, which are listed in the table below.

FrameFreddie GrubbReynolds 531minor chips to paintworkFrame number 11233 (on n/s rear dropout): head badge (Man on Bike) indicates a pre-1963 frame: bottom bracket shell marked RGF (Raccords Garette Frères)
Forkno maker's marksteel, blades part-chromedpoor paintwork
Headsetno maker's markchromed steel-threaded, 1" steerer tube
BrakesWeinmann centre pullaluminiummetal components excellent; hoods perished"Vainqueur 610" front, "Vainqueur 750" rear
Mudguardsno maker's markchromed steelexcellent"shorties"
StemGBaluminiumgoodquill type
DerailleurCampagnolo "Gran Sport"chromed bronze?chrome part-worn
ShifterCampagnolochromed bronze?good
FreewheelRegina "Gran Sport Corse"steelteeth good, but some play in bearingsthreaded, 16-20
SaddleBrooks (?)leatherpoorhad been hand-trimmed severely at some time
Seat postno maker's markchromed steelminor scratches26.2mm
Pedalsno maker's markchromed steelgoodmarked made in England
ToeclipsChristophe "Brevette"chromed steelexcellent
ChainringDLRA Forcealuminiumexcellent47 T, made in France
Bottom bracketGnuttisteelgoodcaged race bearings
RimsWeinmannaluminiumexcellent - wheels true27" x 1¼"
TyresMichelin Selectgum walltread excellent, but some minor cracking on sidewalls27" x 1¼"
Front hubSachsaluminiumexcellent
Rear hubMaillardaluminiumexcellent
CranksSolidachromed steelgoodcotter pinned, made in France

The plan was to re-use as much as possible of the original equipment, however I decided to fit a number of new components as detailed below.


The freewheel bearing was clearly worn, and these components are notoriously difficult to service. I was unable to find a more suitable second-hand one, so I replaced it with a new Elan 14-24 freewheel from SJS Cycles.


The Gerry Burgess handlebar was in good condition, however I am a fan of randonneur-style bars, finding them much more comfortable, and therefore I replaced it with an On-One "Midge" handlebar.

Head Set

The head set was unbranded, and was replaced by a Stronglight A9 Classic, which has the advantage of sealed cartridge bearings.


These were almost certainly not original, and served no useful function. They were replaced with full-sized SKS Bluemels mudguards.


The left-hand one was partially seized; it could have been serviced, but as these were unbranded components I replaced them with MKS Sylvan Road Cage pedals, which resemble Campagnolo pedals of the 1960's.


This was somewhat perished, and had been rather brutally trimmed in the past. I initally replaced with a new Brooks Team Pro, but later changed this for a Brooks Swift, and added a Brooks Challenge tool bag for good measure.

Seat post

The chrome-plated seat post was also unbranded, and to save weight was replaced by a new aluminium post from Push.

Seat post bolt

The nut head was somewhat rounded; this was probably due to the difficulty of getting a spanner to it because of the close proximity of the seat stays. To avoid future problems it was replaced with a modern bolt with an allen head.


Although the tread on the tyres was in excellent condition, the gum sidewalls showed signs of deterioration, and consequently they were replaced by Continental Gatorskins.

The restoration would not have looked right without copies of the original transfers, but fortunately these were available from H. Lloyd Cycles of Penrith whom I strongly recommend. Many thanks to Nick for a great service.

With the frame fully stripped down, (with the exception of the headset cups and the o/s bottom bracket cup), I visited Bob Jackson Cycles of Bramley, near Leeds, armed with an outline respray specification. The manager, Donald Thomas, was extremely helpful, and with his assistance my outline specification was firmed up. A lead time of 4-5 weeks was quoted; I left the bike with them on 25th October and collected it 4 weeks later on on 21st November. The respray had transformed the old frame into a thing of beauty.

Rebuilding the bike took a week, and on 30th November I took it for a 40 mile circuit round the Tyne Valley. Getting used to toeclips and non-indexing gears took a while, and the steering seemed more lively than my modern bikes, but it was a real pleasure to ride! I look forward to taking it to France in 2012 and having a go at Mont Ventoux or Alpe d'Huez.


1. I also fitted modern brake blocks, as the rubber on the originals had hardened considerably and were better at squealing than stopping the bike.

2. After completing the restoration I came across a pair of wheels built on Weinmann rims and Campagnolo large flange hubs, which I purchased, and after having them rebuilt with new spokes these now serve as the #1 choice of wheels for the bike.

freddie grubb

1960's Freddie Grubb - after restoration (more pictures)

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