1993 Longstaff tricycle:

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In January 2016 I finally stopped resisting those (100% English) tricycles I was seeing in the British cycling books and old CTC gazettes. So I joined the TA, and embarked on what became a longer-than-expected but also about-the-proper-level of-effort-to-do-it-justice search for a trike. Problem is there are very few in North America, and they're wider than bikes so harder to ship. After a dozen leads, half a dozen of which looked good, and only one of which continued long enough to buy the trike, I finally got a real good one.

This is an English upright tricycle (or, as the recumbentists apparently say, 'upwrong'), and completely different from the recumbent trikes you see much more often (on my first ride with this trike for example I saw two recumbent trikes within minutes, but besides mine I have never seen another upright trike in real life!). In some ways similar to a regular touring or racing bicycle (or as one or more English upright tricyclists call them, 'falling down machines') in construction, geometry, and mechanics - save for that it's got two wheels in the back and somewhat more complicated transmission between the chain and wheels. Superficially similar to a 'leisure tricycle' like what Schwinn used to make, but with high quality handmade frame, lightweight top of the line racing & touring components, and made to be ridden fast (if one wishes). Very English!

For years I'd been seeing pictures and mention of these mysterious tricycles in the various British cycling books, magazines, websites, etc. I read. But only there - nowhere else. A few years ago I really started reading a lot more about Britain's landscape geography & history (probably because of a precipitous decline in interest in studying the xUSSR & Russia because of the situation there recent years). Along with this geographical study I dove deeper into British cycling (small c) literature, especially 1920s-1980s stuff, especially touring, especially Cyclists Touring Club & Rough Stuff Fellowship stuff.

And I kept seeing those trikes! I tried to ignore them as long as I could since they were so different from the bikes I had, but at some point a year or so ago I stopped resisting and figured I'd just take a little look 'about' them, just out of curiosity... Before long, and with help from tricyclists on the CTC forum, I found the Tricycle Association (TA) (a UK-based group that's been around since 1928), and the on3wheels.myfastforum.org (O3W) upright trike discussion group! Anyway, before too many weeks I had convinced myself that I 'needed' one, joined the TA and started reading and asking questions on the O3W forum.

And then I realized how rare upright trikes are outside the UK, and how few are for sale outside the UK, and how expensive they'd be to ship from the UK or elsewhere! But too late, I was convinced. I actually found 4-6 leads in the US & Canada, but none proved fruitful - even though the trikes in question weren't being ridden, the interest of the sellers never got much above, say, your typical country hillbilly with a yard-full of rusted junk 'for sale': were interested to talk for a little about selling, but slow and then nonexistent to offer details, real price, and check shipping options. Even on an ebay ad from a large eastern US bike shop. Then silence (old country hillbilly goes back into shack 'just for a second to use the john' he says, then you never see him again...)

The frustrating thing is there seems to be a surplus of trikes for sale to riders in the UK, and I'd see nice ones mentioned on O3W and in the TA Gazette, even ebay now and then, much cheaper than the very few I'd managed to get approximate asking prices for used ($1000-2000 in the US; and £250-750 in the UK). So after many months of dead-end leads I decided my best bet on actually getting a trike might be to get one from the UK as shipping, while expensive, might in the end still be no more than the cost of one in the US. I placed an ad in the TA Gazette and immediately got a few leads, and then this Longstaff 'appeared' to me (indirectly but as a result of the ad) from a British expat living in the US who is retiring from active cycling and moving to an apartment and selling his bikes and trikes.

This Longstaff trike was custom ordered in November 1992 by Terry Trickett; the original owner, and delivered (I think) spring 1993; it cost £1,416.42 (for comparison, about us$2100 at the time, or ~us$3700 now, and a similar Reynolds steel frame Longstaff trike now starts at £3500). He rode it in England before moving to California in 1994, and rode folding bikes but not much triking after that (maybe the traffic was too bad there).

When I bought it in March 2017 it had probably fewer than a few hundred kms on it, guessing from the wear (Terry had an older Bob Jackson trike he put a lot more miles on).

It was also in very clean shape, though hadn't had any use in about 20 years or so. A little sad maybe after the high price paid (and the shipping UK>US), but on the other hand, it helped the stars line up extraordinarily well for me - the would-be triker stranded across and ocean from trike-land... So maybe the Tricycle Gods took pity on me. It'll be well used and appreciated!

As an indicator of how much more difficult it is to ship a tricycle than a bicycle (because trikes are just enough wider to make their box dimensions too big for most reasonably cheap shipping methods like UPS, etc.), the shipping on this from California to the UP of Michigan was over $600 (including professional boxing, insurance, etc. - Terry was sure to see that this trike would be shipped properly & safely). It, as expected (and thank goodness!!) arrived unscathed; the biggest hassle being how to get rid of a volume of Styrofoam 'peanuts' approximately the volume of a (US sized) washing machine box!

So other than re-greasing and polishing (in which I took great pleasure), it didn't require much - well, that and tyres (the Continental Super Sport Kevlars were probably the original set, and still had most of the casting flash on, though the walls were getting cracky (they held air firmly in shape at 110psi, though!). After doing some study into what constitutes tyre qualities for trikes (for instance, I learned that trike tyres wear only in the centre because they don't lean, - unlike bikes - so the centre is the only important part of the tread and in fact a heavy tread on the sides may be detrimental if you rub against it in a lean!), I decided on the Schwalbe HS-420s; although there is some tread on the edges, the most important thing to me is their good wear (in my experience and that of others), and their reflective sidewalls. I also replaced the tubes and rim strips.

Since the brake shoes were getting old (though still felt OK) I replaced them also, and the cables because the ends were frayed to various degrees from the disassembly & shipping (ha! I bought the cables but a month later I am still using the original, frayed ones!).

Because I am a big fan of them, I replaced the cantilever cable hanger with a QR steering tube version (so now both the cantis and sidepulls have QR capability, making wheel removal much easier).

As the rear hubs did not have bolt covers, I added them (threads, and even the wheel fasteners, are the same as for standard cranksets).

And as the chainset itself didn't have bolt covers, I decided to get 'best use' out of a Shimano auto-extract outer part, paired with the inner bolt from a NOS Sugino Autex set, since I like the functionality and even more, the look, of this. Silver and silver!

The biggest change is probably the pedals; because the originals (spec'd by customer as Shimano Ultegra clipless) were kept by the seller (I don't use clipless anymore, plus don't have the cleats for these, and prefer standard quills nowadays anyway), I added a set of Suntours that I came across at the same time (my last set of these I bought new ca. 1986).

These, besides having black cages (and thus matching the 'a little black' flavour of the trike [bottle cages, bar tape, etc.]), also match the late 80s-very early 90s period of the trike; and I like to think they were maybe also used on some new Longstaffs of the period. I added new (but unchanged for many decades) Christophe toe clips & straps, and a Campagnolo strap-end pull, even! (thanks my Velo-Stash, where I have a bunch of these that I bought cheaply 10 years ago!)

And since I might take this to the pub when I get that good (already: it has been done!), I added a bell and rear-view mirror (carefully removing & squirreling away the original chrome Cinelli bar end plug).

Did I mention the photos? Follow the links at the top of the page!

Specifications (parts I changed or added in blue):

Frame: Early 1993 custom, serial GL-879-C (is that 879 or 878?). Frame is bronze-welded, 22" TT & ST. Reynolds 531 'designer select' tubes, Cinelli BB shell & fork crown, Campagnolo fork ends with single eyelets.
Color: Cream-white with dark red 'fade', gold outlining on braze-ons, fork crown, etc. Chromed fork ends.
Headset: 1" threaded, Tange Levin-225 MTB.
Crankset: Shimano Deore FC-MT60. Chainrings 24 (stainless), 36, 46. Sugino Autex bolt & washers (NOS) with used Shimano 'One Key' outer (identically sized; used for crank match!).
Pedals: Suntour Superbe Pro, with Christophe Special toe clips & ALE Allara art. 90 straps, laminated with nylon reinforcement and buckle pads (red). Campagnolo NOS strap pulls, too!
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace cro-mo, ball bearing, 68 x 117.5.
Derailleurs: Shimano Deore DX FD-M650 front & RD-M650 rear.
Shift levers: Shimano Ultegra SL-6400 (now on friction mode of course).
Shift cables: Shimano Dura-Ace Stainless Steel.
Freewheels: Sachs-Maillard Longstaff modified 2wd (one with 6 of 7 cogs, the 7th position coupled with the other, cogless freewheel to provide drive to the tracking wheel; see here for more), xx-25 cogs.
Chain: Sedisport black.
Wheels: Mavic MA-2 Ceramic rims; 32 spoke rears & 36 front, Campagnolo (Triomphe?) front hub; 3x lacing with DT single-gauge stainless spokes. NOS 1990s Specialized crankbolt covers on rear hubs.
Tires: Schwalbe Marathon HS-420 700c x 28mm, Schwalbe tubes.
Brakes: Dia Compe 983 eccentric (canti) & 500a (side-pull).
Brake shoes: Kool Stop Eagle 2 black (on canti) & Shimano Dura-Ace-Ultegra-105 Ceramic Brake Pads in BBB Brake Cartridge (on side-pull).
Brake levers: Shimano 105 #1055.
Brake cables:: Clarks stainless.
Seat: Selle Italia Turbo.
Seatpost: Primax, 27.0 mm.
Handlebars: Cinelli #66 Campione del Mondo, 42 cm.
Stem: Cinelli 1A, XX mm.
Tape: Leather perforated (black).

Rack: Longstaff tubular brazed, custom for trike.
Bell: Lion Bellworks, silver, stem mount (made in England).
Pump: Zefal HPx, with Jandd velcro strap.
Mirror: Mirrycle bar-end.
Mudguard: Esge Chromoplast with integral mudflap (but I need to replace with wider, probably new SKS Bluemels, because my 28mm tyres are fairly tight in these).
Water bottle cages: Specialized.

Photos: See links at top of page!

More trike & bike stuff on my velo pages.

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edition: 2017.05.14 | ©robert liebermann
url: http://rjl.us/velo/longstaff.htm
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