The President: a ’30s Jewel Ready for a Second Youth


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Royal Nord Logo

Let’s talk about my bicycle.

Some say I’m crazy wishing to ride this old piece of steel through central Asia. But I believe that pre-war handcrafting has never been matched in more recent times.

I want to know your opinion.

This is the President, a Belgian frame from Royal Nord, I think the early ’30s.

Royal Nord is a historical brand from Hasselt, better known for motorcycles and mopeds; very little information is available on the web about their bicycles.

The company was set up in 1927 by Jean Hufkens and his brothers as a bicycle factory, that turned into mopeds crafting in 1931. That’s all. I’m trying to get in touch with the Hufkens family, I’ll write a future post about that.

Sturmey Archer Dynohub
Sturmey Archer Dynohub

But I want to talk about my projects for this bicycle in this post. This was given to me by Willem Scholte from Kwikfiets, and its actual condition is the same as I got it. It features a Sturmey Archer Dynohub, which I think is a GH12 but I’m not sure yet.

This is the dynamo I want to use to power the automatic landscape sampling device, I’m studying that. The back wheel mounts a Torpedo 3-speed + coaster brake (pictures 4 and 6 of the top slide show), driven by a very rare shifter (picture 5). This is the part I’m gonna rebuilt.

Sachs 3x7 hub
Sachs 3×7 hub

I’ve got this beautiful Sachs 3×7, and I want to try to fit this into the president’s back wheel. This is a so-called DualDrive system, which means that 3 internal gears are paired with an external 7-speed cassette, giving you 21 speeds just in the back chain wheels, allowing you to use a thicker chain.

These hubs were produced in Germany from 1994 to 2000. More info can be found on this link to the amazing Sheldon Brown’s site. Unfortunately, the back fork is too narrow and needs to be bent about 1,5cm; some say it’s possible, some say “don’t do that!” so I’m looking for more opinions and for somebody that will do that.

Down here is an overview of the other parts I got that are gonna be part of President 2.0!


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  1. Ah-mazing!
    I think this is one of those pre-war Belgian manufacturing companies like Minerva that went bankrupt ‘cos nobody ever came back for a second set of wheels; built-in obsolescence was not yet invented back then!

  2. The brake calipers are CLB Racers. I saw them quite often on French bike boom bikes, used as an alternative to Mavic Racers. They’re quite decent, stop almost as well as the Mavic’s, can use the same brake shoe/pad assemblies. If anything, my biggest complaint about them is that they can’t be polished as nicely as the Mavic’s. And they are a touch heavier. Used on Roger Riviere $100 ten-speeds at the time. Brake levers definitely not matching to the calipers. They look Japanese, late 70’s or 80’s.

  3. I think it’s a great idea to ride your Royal Nord across Asia, but maybe you should make as much of the the equipment you take match the 1930’s period as well — clothing, headgear, eyewear, canteen, packs, tools, etc. Also, could you please email me or publish a better close up picture of the Cycles Royal Nord Marquee Posee President emblem on your bike. I would really like to see it in good detail. Thanks and good luck!

    1. I’m already touring, and i thought about your idea, but is too expansive to get all this vintage gear… and anyway i like the steampunk feel of my set 🙂 For the close-up picture i will upload it as soon as i can

  4. Hi! I’ve some questions about the bike gears. How did you manage with the rear rack? Is the frame designed for that?
    Same for the wheels which seem pretty large: Do they fit perfectly on that frame? Some old bikes doesn’t allow large tires.

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