I live near the western terminus of the popular rails-to-trail Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) bike trail. This is a 45 mile trail that links with other bike trails in the Washington DC area providing ride opportunities of various lengths, eateries/vineyards/brew pubs, and historic points of interest. I wanted a comfortable bike to enjoy this great local resource, I have little interest in modern bikes I wanted a classic steel, diamond framed bike. I also wanted a bike that needed some TLC. I enjoy old-tech mechanical things, one of my other passions is classic British sports cars. I have a MGB that I restored and still keeps me busy. I have found there are many similarities between researching and restoring classic British cars and bicycles.
My search started with checking thrift shops, and searching local craigslist and ebay for a suitable bike. I found a 1949 Comrade Roadster nearby. I was unfamiliar with this make, but it was old, needed work, and had a Sturmey Archer 3-speed AW hub . There are more pictures here http://www.flickr.com/photos/73emgee/sets/72157624401628722/
The bike was built by the Comrade Cycle Company of Darlaston England. I learned about 3-speed hubs, cotter cranks, rod-brakes, quadrant shifters, dynohubs, and many other interesting subjects during the restoration. If you have any information on the Comrade Cycle Company please let me know.
Of course this bike is very heavy compared to my Reynolds 531 10-speed, but it rides nice, and is comfortable. Its been on many peaceful rides down the W&OD, DC Tweed rides, DC Seersucker rides, and recently a nighttime full-moon ice cream social ride ending on the National Mall. The dynohub with converted front/rear LED lighting worked great.
Next up is a 1953 Raleigh Sports Tourist Model 23 acquired from Velo Classique. I plan on documenting my efforts in getting this very incomplete, rusted hulk back on the road.
Please share your thoughts and experiences.