18 January, 2007

British Bikes

Though they are a little off our focus, the British built some fine bikes. Why, some Jack Taylor models could almost pass for French. I am thinking about this because Shigeo Toyoda emailed and introduced me to his wonderful British Lightweight site. Of course it's in Japanese, but we have those great translation engines now. (I've mentioned this before, but the Firefox browser with the FoxLingo extention makes it fast and painless to translate sites from almost any language and it's free). The photo at left is of a Paris Galibier (yes it's British) from Shigeo-san's site. The collection of photos there is astounding.

Here are a few other sites for interesting British bikes. Please add any additional links in the comments.

The Classic Rendezvous British page will give you an idea of just how many classic British marques there are.

The Hetchins site is not to be missed. They even have some French bikes ;<)

The Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour is a neat event.

Joel Metz has a great page devoted to Jack Taylor bikes. Also check out Joel's pages devoted to French components and little known builders that are linked from this page.

This is just a start, you could follow the links for weeks.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

France wants to combine with England: Frengland! Will never happen though.

david_nj said...

The Lake Pepin Tour sounds like one of the coolest things I've *ever* heard of. Now I'm really bummed to have sold my beautiful 1930s Humber 3-speed.

Alan said...

I first heard of the Lake Pepin Tour last spring. Unfortunately I was already booked for that weekend. However I set upon a quest to get a British 3 speed and put the 2007 date on my calendar in ink, not pencil. Via a contact of the tour organizer I was able to acquire a 1969 Raleigh 3 speed for the grand sum of $20. The bike isn't pretty, none of my bikes are, but it rides well. Between now and the tour I need to make myself a pair of wool knickers from an old pair of dress pants and acquire a proper British tweed jacket.

The Lake Pepin are is beautiful. Many of the towns in the area have gourmet cafes and bakeries. In spite of biking I am likely to end up with a net caloric gain for the weekend. This sort of ride is right up my alley.

nv said...

I'd LOVE to join the Lake Pepin Ride... Unfortunately, there is no way I would be able to attend.
We need a "Lake Pepin" ride in the Northeast!
Suggestions:
Quabbin Reservoir Ride - ride from Amherst/Northampton
-or-
Along the Champlain - ride from Burlington
-or-
Cayuga Lake Ramble - ride from Ithaca.

Hmmm....

nv

Mark said...

Hey, I've seen this bike before. Check out:

http://www.roadcyclinguk.com/news/article/mps/UAN/1816/v/2/sp/

Brian said...

"We need a "Lake Pepin" ride in the Northeast!"

Yes you do. Why don't you start one? In the interim you have the annual Great British Bike Weekend in Philadelphia.

neil m berg said...

I'm from Minnesota and I'm familar with the Lake Pepin area, but until Alan tried to recruit me, I was not familiar with the Lake Pepin Tour. Looks like I'm going to need another bike. 3-speeds here I come!

nv said...

brian-
I'm thinking about starting one - I guess the post was sort of feeling out if there would be any interest in this sort of thing in my neck of the woods...
The Philly ride sounds good - but I'm not particularly interested in an urban ride. 8 years of commuting by bike in Manhattan was enough.
nv

Anonymous said...

That Paris bike has one funky frame. I can understand standard frames, and those that directly link head stem tube to rear axle. But that one is way beyond my comprehension.

Anonymous said...

Information just received: IRD 5 speed freewheel is 5mm center to center sprockets like an expert also measured for his 7 sp IRD freewheel, so all 5, 6, 7 speed IRD freewheels are 5mm its safe to say.

Not that I plan to use ergo in Florida, but for future options elsewhere the 8 right side rear shifter will work, and 1999 and up on any campy ergo can be switched to 8, 9, or 10 speed.

If IRD advertised that, they would STEAL Shimano's and Campy business away rapidly, like Campy and Shimano stole Suntour's patents.

-----------------------------------

***NOW, for in the future, would a Suntour VGxT rear derailleur work with campy ergo 8, or is there some reason it would not?***

And please give you opinion of your best Suntour model and how it relates to Shimano or Campy rear derailleurs. I'm thinking, except for the cog wheel materials in rear derailleurs, the main (new) technology is in the hyperglide freewheels/cassettes. But for ergo option later, maybe a campy rd would be the safest option.

Thank You for being unbiased experts!! :-)

Anonymous said...

I now see that IF I did go to ergo, I would have a complete set of rear derailleur, freewheel, and chain for ergo and one for rachet shifting.

Doah!

I really don't know why would ever need ergo with rachets in my aerobar cockpit up top. Here's my rachets on Swift shift aerobar fixture and Suntour bracket converted to housing stops also in kit (with ok ss cables and housing). Pretty slick imo.

http://www.dooberywhatsit.com/files/RSC-1-14-7ShiftersAsms.jpg

Tom said...

I have heard that the "funky frames" on british bikes arose from the regulations which governed racing in this country in the first half of the 20th century. Road racing was almost outlawed, and for time-triallists, black was the usual colour for clothing. (Time trials in the UK are still organised in this clandestine spirit, with starts not long after dawn, so that they finish by the time the roads get busy). Bike frames were painted so as not to attract attention. So a distintive piece of equipment, or a distictive frame design, was a way of picking out a bike in a race.

I don't know how true this is, but I was told it by a real old-timer cyclist in a youth hostel or a B&B in the late 1970s. I had been admiring the curly stays on his hetchins, or the "diadrant" forks on his Bates (can't remember which) and he gave that explanantion.

Tom

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tom,

Knew there was a good reason. England taxes the daylights out of people but they consistantly support some of the most finely skilled manufacturers in the world. Maybe the last great middleclass society in the world today, although they are starting to feel the pinch by now I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Scott Mathauser rust pads this morning were like new pads, improved calipers, cables, and aero levers all in just a 40mm pads change. For you guys with Weinmann centerpulls, it is solid braking performance in a few minutes. I didn't even bother wiping black streaks off of AL rims. Maybe Kool Stops are same thing, but I'll never switch unless have they quit making Scott Mathauser's.

Andy said...

The Lake Pepin tour sounds like a perfect way to spend a weekend.

Does anyone know of a mapquest-type service that maps bicycle-friendly rides? Or another resource for good touring routes.

Anonymous said...

Andy said...


Does anyone know of a mapquest-type service that maps bicycle-friendly rides? Or another resource for good touring routes.


There are two mapping mashups that have many bicycle routes: routeslip.com and bikely.com. I have over 40 routes in southern Maryland and northern Virginia in routeslip.com myself.

For specific areas there may be other good sites. There's a terrific site for Hudson Valley bicycle rides, and there's a bike Connecticut site with dozens of different routes. And of course, there are many bike clubs with cue sheet libraries on line.

Andy said...

anon.,

Awesome! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering on Dynamo lights running off of tire edge, do you need new perfect straight wheels/tires for those to work effectively? My wheels/tires are fine, but not perfect maybe within a fraction of an inch that may be required for tire contact pressure. It seems they would either be excessive pressure on tires or gaps in current either one with that type of light and an older 'not so perfect' wheeled bike. This is for the economy Black model, lol, since current digital lamp should make it somewhat more effective.

Thank You

Andy said...

Now I can feel smug about my Raleigh "Made in Nottingham, England" bike... Still going strong having been ridden around Southern Germany (a very cycle friendly place) for ages. Just don't tell anyone it's a hybrid. Does that make me a heretic?

Craig McNeil said...

Andy,
You may be nuts like me as I have an obsession with old English made Sunbeam roadsters like these:

http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/Transport/bicycles/Sunbeam.htm

I just bought my fourth one last night and now have a 1927 "Golden", 1938 ladies "Silver", Late '30's men's (exact year yet to be identified), and a late '40's early '50's men's (made by BSA).

Sunbeams are rarer than hen's teeth in the USA and unheard of in the west where I live. They may not be fast and may not be French but to me they are the coolest thing on the road when you just want to go for a comfortable "upright" cruise around town.

I think I need to start my own west coast "Lake Pepin" tour so I can get a release for my "Sunbeam" addiction.

By the way, I believe that Sunbeam was the first manufacturer in the world to use aluminum wheels on their production bicycles.

Regards,
Craig

craig mcneil said...

The entire URL didn't completely show up above. Let's try again:

http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.

uk/Museum/Transport/bicycles/Sunbeam

.htm

Anonymous said...

Use Tinyurl

craig mcneil said...

Good Tip Anon.. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Craig McNeil said...

Andy,
You may be nuts like me as I have an obsession with old English made Sunbeam roadsters like these:

http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/Transport/bicycles/Sunbeam.htm

I just bought my fourth one last night and now have a 1927 "Golden", 1938 ladies "Silver", Late '30's men's (exact year yet to be identified), and a late '40's early '50's men's (made by BSA).

Sunbeams are rarer than hen's teeth in the USA and unheard of in the west where I live. They may not be fast and may not be French but to me they are the coolest thing on the road when you just want to go for a comfortable "upright" cruise around town.


You sure don't have to apologize for liking Golden Sunbeams. Berto on p. 61 of The Dancing Chain says, "Many people consider that the Marston Golden Sunbeam was the finest mass-produced British bicycle." He also says on p.60, caption to the photo, that "This 1907 Golden Sunbeam with the 3-speed hub gear was the quintessential British roadster."

Steve Beech said...

Chris, your opening line makes it sound like there aren't any British builders still making nice bikes!

Check out:

http://www.airnimal.com/
http://www.argoscycles.com/
http://www.bobjacksoncycles.co.uk/
http://www.bromptonbicycle.co.uk/
http://www.burls.co.uk/
http://www.colinlaingbicycles.com/
http://www.condorcycles.com/
http://www.longstaffcycles.co.uk/
http://www.merciancycles.co.uk/
http://www.donohuecycles.co.uk/
http://www.peter-mooney.com/
http://www.robertscycles.com/
http://www.terrydolan.co.uk/
http://www.tifosi-cycles.co.uk/
http://www.tjcycles.co.uk/
http://www.villiers-velo.co.uk/
http://www.windcheetah.co.uk/
and last, but definitely not least......
http://www.daveyatescycles.co.uk/

..to name but a few. I hope this helps correct this unfortunate implication.

Nice site b.t.w!

steve@wheelism.co.uk