These bikes are very hard to find, at least here in Seattle. I was surprised and very excited to see one pop up on the local Seattle craigslist. The seller was looking for a "best offer," so I did my research on eBay and put forward my best number. It was more than I usually like to spend on an old bike, but this one is something a bit special, so I emailed him and crossed my fingers. After a few emails, we met up in person near Boeing's massive plant/factory in Everett, WA. We met in the parking lot of a non-descript office park nearby, chatted for a couple minutes and then he pulled this out of the back of his SUV….
…an all original Moulton F-Style 4 Speed! My initial impressions were that it was in real good condition for a 50 year old bicycle. There was rust, but none that seemed too deep. The rubber bits on this bike are critical and near impossible to find. These all looked in great condition. Original tires have some cracking, but still hold air. The Sturmey Archer FW 4-Speed hub was not functioning well. I didn't really want to try riding it for fear that I might break something inside. I was sold.
The story behind this bike is practically more interesting than the bike itself. Many years back when my seller was just a boy in a nearby small town, he had an elderly neighbor whose house burned down in a fire. The boy's dad spearheaded the effort to rally the community to re-build his house. After it was re-built, the elderly man told the father that he didn't have any money to repay him. Of course the father waived off the offer as un-necessary. The elderly man looked at the fathers two sones and said " I DO have something for you two…" He proceeded to walk out into the middle of a field, the boys trailing behind. He removed a large clump of brush to reveal a 4x8 sheet of plywood lying on the ground. He slid it away to open a vault he'd dug in the field and in it were two bikes, brand new. He gave this F-style to my craigslist seller as a gift when he must've been around 6 years old. It was his childhood bicycle until the day he stashed it in his fathers house and it sat until a few weeks back.
I love that story!!
Here are a few more pictures of the bike in it's original condition…
So that is it for now. A Moulton 4 Speed in very original condition. This bike has already been fully taken apart and is ready to be sent in to the frame shop to have a welding repair done to the front rack and have the rear part of the frame repaired. After that, it will go on to the powdercoater for a fresh coat of finish. I am debating keeping it its original gray, or trying to match the blue or red these came in as well. I still have a few weeks to make that decision. In the meantime, I'm going to be throwing myself at the wheels and try my hand at a Sturmey Archer FW 4-Speed hub…