Bike of the Month – February 2022

This month’s Bike of the Month belongs to Karlis Skruzmanis who lives in Latvia. Karlis used to live in Dublin (Ireland) where he acquired the frame in the summer of 2020. He bought the frame from Dermot Linden who told him it was originally made for a member of his family called William Shannon who lived near Newry, Co Down. We think this is a very good example of how a bike can be beautiful without being shiny!

Karlis’s interest in vintage bikes started when he bought a vintage Japanese Kuwahara Hirame (one of the oldest Japanese bike manufacturers). Like a lot of collectors he went on build up quite an eclectic collection of bikes but as he says: ‘The Baines VS37 Whirlwind or Flying Gate would be special to me as it kind of reflects all my interest in vintage cycling, also it was last that I acquired in Dublin just before moving back to Latvia. So it will always connect me to Ireland and my fond memories of friendly people and their beautiful country. By some coincidence my first vintage bike and Flying Gate came almost from same place in Dublin’.

Bicycle Make:             Baines W&R

Bicycle model:                        Baines VS37 Whirlwind or Flying Gate

Date of Manufacture:             1947

The parts are mostly from 60s/70s.  Campagnolo shifters, crankset, Nuovo Record rear derailleur (Pat1972). Ambrosio stem (with incorrect spelling-made in Jtaly!). GB handlebars. Weinmann (730) brakes. Wheels have Campagnolo hubs. The pedals are Japanese SR s and of course the saddle is Brooks..

Other information:

Karlis acquired the frame in summer 2020 from very nice old gentleman, Dermot Linden, in Dublin, it was originally ordered/bought by close family member of his, William Shannon, who lived near Newry Co Down.

When contacted, Trevor Jarvis of T. J. Cycles who is still making similar frames, under license, and he was delighted to see the frame still had good original Whirlwind transfers. He reckoned the frame could be from around 1947.
The spacers in rear hub had to be changed to suit the 5 speed new Cyclo freewheel (14-18T). By changing the arrangement of the spacers I could still to still use same quick release.

There was  an issue with headset as the fork threading was probably damaged by old ‘headclip’ type headset but it was sorted out in a workshop in Latvia by a skilled mechanic/restorer called Toms Erenpreiss who deserves mention. In 2005 he opened his workshop specialising in the restoration and preservation of vintage bicycles. Toms is from a family that has long been involved in the bike business, his great grandfathers brother (Gustavs Erenpreiss) founded one of the most famous and oldest bike Lativian bicycle brands in 1922. (In 1940 they were producing 40,000 a year and had become the largest and most modern bicycle firm in Baltics.) Toms is now the owner of the ‘Erenpreiss’ bicycle brand .

Karlis was going to use 700c wheels rather than old style 27” x 1¼” but choose Weinmann brakes with long reach. In order to complete the restoration Karlis would like to fit Blumels mudguards when he can find a pair and of course an old aluminium pump.

Fitting a front derailleur was considered -Trevor offered an adapter but the owner is considering working something out himself or maybe just leave it as it is. This bike reflects his interest and passion for vintage cycling. It is old interesting piece of cycling history, it is lightweight and fast….and beautiful!? As the old saying goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

About Karlis:- he was living and working in Dublin for about 15years, and has returned home to his family in Latvia, settled down and enjoys cycling to work and tinkering  with his bikes.

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