It´s Doing Me Head In

Why is it that nobody really seems to care about what cyclists need? Why is it that traffic is still seen as near exclusively car based? Aren´t we told all the time to cycle more, how environmentally friendly it is, how good it is for your health and how sustainable?

So why is it then that roads are built all new, using up square miles of landscape,


while the roads feeding this new motorway are fully refurbished

with miles and miles of brand new tarmac, while all the cycle path next to it gets is a couple of shovels full of winter mixture:

And don´t get it wrong, there are enough bits left like these:

They make the cycle path all but unusable, and hitting one of these when going downhill can be nasty.

When will authorities stop saying that cyclists will be catered for when there are any, while cycling is made all but impossible by dangerous, missing and neglected infrastructure?

Another Book: Nimführ, Luftschiffahrt

Found this litte volume in a fleamarket the other day. I consider it very interesting and it makes me divert from the NSU bicycle post I thought I´d write.

People who know my book on paced track racing might remember that there was a long history of cyclists who only used bicycles because at the time they were the fastest means of indiviual transport, and who didn´t bat an eyelid to leave bikes for motorized vehicles and then aeroplanes when those became available, or even already swapped over in the developing stages. That means that aeroplanes had much in common with bicycles if you look at design, going beyond the obvious landing gear wheels. For instance the Wright brothers were cycle shop owners and it shows.

Also, in this 1909 book on flying there are a few very interesting illustrations which I find merit a post. Not much comment is needed, so I just let the pics speak for themselves.

Sorry about the bad photos, scanning the fragile book would have destroyed its binding.

NSU Books

This month I will again divert from the strict rule of this blog being a bike blog in presenting a few books on one of the most important German makers of bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, cars and other machinery. NSU being all that, the brand has always attracted major interest from both collectors and historians, so a great number of books has been published on it. All of those presented here are either still in print or available used without large expenditure. They also are worth getting for the photos if readers´ German isn´t that good.

Starting with the exception to the rule though, a book that I obtained (free!) from NSU GmbH in 1998, when the brand had its 125th anniversary. This might be difficult to get now, but it´s slim and does not offer any info beyond what is found in the other books as well, so it´s not really worth hunting down.

The volume most worth getting for a general overview must be this one:

It´s the latest iteration of Peter Schneider´s work on the marque, Schneider having had access to the archives, producing ever larger editions of his monography. An earlier one looks like this: They all are well worth getting, but the later the edition, the more photos and info can be found.

Then there´s the little one which mostly consists of reprinted snippets of old sales brochures, commented ably though:

And this one which has much data:

It´s basically an abridged version of the NSU Story volume.

The weirdest one must be this, listing meticulously all info on mod/cons, prototypes, and other NSU based oddities over the decades. Pic quality is not good though, shame.

There are several book focussing on single models, like Ernst Leverkus´Max book, or this one on the tiny Fox:

My favourite of them all for decades was the NSU Renngeschichte, the Racing History. Fascinating, early research, again with poor pic qualty in places. I´ve had my copy for nearly 40 years. It cost 68 Marks in 1982, which was a whopper of a price in those days.

But nowadays there is this volume, well illustrated, partly in colour, well researched too, very technical and focussing on the world championship bikes of the fifties, also covering the races leading to the championship, more or less lap by lap. Several racing bikes were actually disassembled to take the pictures for the book.

Of course there must be hundreds of articles in bike mags and those “most famous/beautiful/fast/dangerous… bikes in world history” horrors. Representing the better ones of those, here´s two issues of a motorbike yearbook series which incorporate great and lengthy NSU articles.

Lastly, a biography of Austrian Champion Rupert Hollaus who was a member of the famous NSU team of riders during those few years in the mid fifties when Rennmax and Rennfox were all conquering on the tracks of Europe. Hollaus actually was killed on an NSU, largely because he was suffering from an unknown issue with his skull.

Next month I hope to extract info on NSU bicycles from these books as well as from some old brochures and mags in my collection.

Tubes and Coffee 2019

Last Sunday Marten again invited his fans to a bowl of groentesoep, some apple crumble and a lot of insights on bicycles. It was a grand event as always, only I lack the time atm to write it up properly. Will do over the holidays, here´s a few random snaps to begin with.

Tiny Bike Books

We all know those huge coffeetable books about bikes, lots of colour photos, luscious layout, heavy as hell, and decidedly better than any website. But the small books, very small sometimes, unobtrusive, get overlooked easily. So here we go with three of those.


Two of them are reprints of historical works, one English and one German, one is just a collection of poster which we will all know, together with a short and nor very precise history of the bicycle. Let´s start with this one.

No author dared connect his or her name with it, but what was cycle history in the early eighties when this book was given to me? Exactly. The Veteran-Cycle Club had been in existence for 25 years, but most of the groundbreaking books on cycle and cycling history hadn´t been written yet. I for one snapped up anything I could lay my hands on, and gratefully too, so for me this tiny thing was great.

Next it´s the German reprint.

Art Déco tittle looks nice, and as a source of info dating from the early 20th century it´s very capable.

Meant as an introduction to beginners of the sport, it´s nice today to introduce people to old bikes. The connection of motorcycles and bicycles was still very obvious, and motorpaced trackracing was in its heyday, which I find most intriguing of course. We mustn´t forget that cyclists at the time were considered iron hard sports people, and only a few years before the bicycle had been cutting edge of speed technology, being the fastest form of individual transport, so courage was deemed to be required first and foremost when attempting to master the wheel.

Lastly, a reprint of a book dating from the 1860s, and still looking back on the history of cycling.

The title is of course ridiculous, but luckily the text abstains from any more childish puns.

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This month there´s just a little placeholder again, a few headbadges dug up frommy Box and on which I guess I don´t have to give much info, and that´s the purpose, no time. I really should stop this blog, but can´t bring myself to do that after all.SAM_1424

So to begin with, here´s two super famous ones, Claud Butler, and BSA. While BSA were most famous for their motorbikes, CB was instrumental in creating the modern massed start road frame in the UK. The BSA badge is a late one, originally affixed to a frame made in Holland I think.

The middle badge is by Ellis Briggs, the story of which has been told elsewhere in this blog. My favourite brand, and a very nice early badge too.


Clifton Cycles were a small maker in the Merseyside area I think, while Avon is still made in India. Phillips, originally Birmingham based, had had a somewhat adventurous history, mostly made value bikes, but nowadays the name is licensed in China as well as in India after being bought by Raleigh. Phillips parts were available in lightweight catalogues in the thirties and fifties, being the solution that didn´t require as deep a pocket as CL, BSA or Continental brands.


Parkes, Carlton and Raleigh, well known all three of them, and Carlton also ending up under the big Raleigh umbrella.


Lastly two more well known lightweight makers, Fredie Grubb from London and  the Brum Viking.

ESCO Daily Rider

A quick placeholder showing a few pics of a bike I came across recently.


Surviving in Manchester – Musings by a Pampered German Cyclist

Having been to Manchester recently in order to explore a city I knew 35 years ago, and found greatly and positively changed upon a visit about last year, I was amazed at how much time and energy the powers that be invested in creating a cycling infrastructure there, and shocked by how ineffective it is and how little motorists care for cyclists.

The first thing you note when cycling in the city are these, traffic islands, pylons and green fields:

You cycle up to a crossroads, wedged between buses and cars, tucked away on bumpy (!) cycle lanes that I didn´t particularly like,

and then you stop at a red light. You are going straight ahead, car next to you too. Or so it seems, because upon the light turning green, that car goes left without having indicated once and takes your right of way with such an easygoing causalness that you begin to think that maybe in the UK cyclists don´t have right of way at all, and only a conversation with one of the few other cyclists around reassures you that you do have rights in traffic. So, next time you use that green rectangle and move in front of the cars, only way if you want to live.

And so it goes on. Look at this:

Or even this:

Do I need to comment on this situation? I mean why bother with designating protected lanes at all? After a very short while I didn´t any more as the surface in the car lanes was much better anyway.

Then you have these green rectangles which should make cars take special caution with regards to cyclists.

Reality however…

And so, despite tons of green paint having been used, thousands of pollards and other items having been erected, you still find ghost bikes.

Still, making use of all due caution, I did have fun on the bike, and found it superbly useful to have had it with me, my trusty Rohloff equipped steed, light pannier and two massive locks.

On Hartshead Pike, overlooking Manchester, the Welsh hills and most of Cheshire

With which we´re hitting on the second part of my rant. Wonderful cycling paths along the picturesque canals that crisscross Manchester. Yeah. Look at the surface. It´s unbearable even on a well shod bike.

And some stretches are dangerous too:

And then, to add insult to injury, in those few places where you can attain a speed above walking pace on horrid hand laid tarmac, there are real honest to God speed bumps, that actually end a few inches away from the edge of the path too, tempting cyclists to use the small space between the bump and the drop to the water.

Very cute also, these green solar powered lights that in theory show you the edge of the path. In practice they are that weak that a strong light shining on them (headlight even) will make them invisible.

The rest of the canal cyclepaths is nice and suitable for post cards photos, but not very suited to be used as a regular channel of traffic in order to make commuters use bicycles more. This for example is the entrance to one towpath, findable only for locals:

Historic, but cyclable only for seasoned cyclists. Both are steep ramps of bridges, sorry not overly visible in the snaps.

So would I recommend anyone exploring Manchester by bike? I guess, it´s still so practical. Only look out you don´t get killed.

Very Funny!

It was 1992, the time of Miguel Indurain and well before the Jan Ullrich and Team Telekom hype that a board game appeared in Germany that was called “Um Reifenbreite”, “By a Tire´s Breadth”. I haven´t  played board games for ages, but kept it on my bookshelf because of its colourful artwork. The jokes displayed are insider jokes, so maybe the draughtsman or -woman was a cyclist him- or herself.

The game basically works as so many of them, you have a board, a few dice, a few markers, and some cards that together with the dice decide who wins the game. That´s it, and it being so full of drawings that leave little room for imagination, unlike Ludo for instance, I can imagine that it gets boring soon.

Anyway, here are a few impressions.