My friend JW is building a traditional British cafe racer from parts he’s been collecting for some time. He has a Norton slimline featherbed frame, a Roadholder fork, and Ariel pre-unit motor and a beautiful hand-shaped aluminum tank. He suggested that documenting the conversion of a Suzuki 4LS brake (four leading shoe) to an early Brit fork might make for a good read. I agree. Let’s do it!
This hub and brake setup is pretty sought-after for its significant stopping power and that it’s not a modern disk. I think they’re worth upwards of a grand, so I’m measuring three times for every cut. Modification is necessary because this hub is over and inch-and-a-half wider than the forks it’s going be used with.
My plan is to remove material from both the brake plate axle supports and the inside fork bosses to make it fit. The original brake stay boss needs to be removed from the fork leg and straps will have to be made to anchor the brake plates to the fender mount bosses on the fork legs. The speedo drive mechanism and associated features on the brake plate will have to be removed and welded in. A new axle will also have to be made once I get the hub fitted up nicely. I’ve decided to no attempt any lightening of this brake/hub (it’s HEAVY) as I don’t really see any opportunity for significant lightening. The internal aluminum webbing could be drilled but how much weight would a few slugs of aluminum save when compared to the four thick iron liners and various steel linkage parts? Not worth it to me. For now, JW agrees. But he’s one to tinker (and do it well) so we’ll see what he does with it after I give it back to him.
First order of business last night was to measure the fork and hub to get the final numbers for use in trimming down this hub.