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.

Holten Ride June 2, 2019

Again, pics only, but I suppose you will be alright.

I was a marvellous ride of roughly 60 km in hot weather, and the whole peloton was even invited to the refreshments pictured. Thank you very much to the organizers, including families. Definitively, tot volgend jaar, see you next year.

Scroll down for some bike detail snaps.

Stalen Ros Deurne 2019


In spite of what I said last month, here I am again.

Deurne was quite OK this year, and I took loads of photos (bought some nice and useful (yeah) stuff too), so no text, just a photo bomb. This might actually be a way to go to have a few posts off and on, just photos of special bikes, or events.


Here goes:




Instead of a proper post this month, for reasons of lack of time just a few impressions fom the first commuting cycleride this year. Taken in brilliant spring weather, the 65 km roundtrip was a nice start to the season.

Nature is awakening, and cycling to work makes for a very much more relaxed working day than driving, especially now as locals petitioning and pressurizing authorities for cyclepaths has not (yet) succeeded.


The relatively heavy KFS bike with the Rohloff hub is still my vehicle of choice for those rides as I need to carry much luggage, too much for any lighter cycle.

Over the winter some direly needed servicing brought a change in the sprocket, me choosing the largest there is. My rationale behind that was that I wanted to try to use the higher 7 speeds as much as possible to get out of the ratios that produce a grinding sound which I feel also makes pedalling heavier. This was successful as there is hardly any more of that nasty sound at least. Should have done that years ago.

Now, looking at my time budget things have not improved over the last years, and while in the beginning of this blog (seven years ago now!) I was full of ideas and energetic about it, I feel now that my posts have become less than inspirational. ATM I´m pretty sure I´m giving he blog up.

As I have no idea regarding the rules pertaining to a disused blog, if it will eventually be taken down or so, it might be a good idea for readers to scan it for any possible photos or info they want to keep, unlikely as this may be, and download them. Always the optimist, me.



Time Capsule Ellis Briggs

This wonderful 1983 Ellis Briggs surfaced this year in a charity shop in the East of England.

A friend of my son spent a year doing an internship at a school there, and volunteered as a helper in the charity shop to which on one of his last days of the internship, the bike was found leaning one morning. My son´s friend had seen that we already own a good flock of EBs, and thought he´d send us a text while the people at the shop were affixing a very moderate price tag to the bike, and after a short exchange of messages I was able to acquire it.

As if there had not been enough good luck, my son´s friend owns a 940 Volvo estate car in which the bike fitted easily, and it was expedited in all comfort and style to Germany. What a story.

But it goes on. Paul at Ellis Briggs was contacted, and promptly sent a scan of the page in his build book which described the bike, and it turned out that it was a veritable time capsule. Paintwork down to the sticker of the bike shop that is mentioned in the scan, and all the rest too seems to be original, save the saddle and the seatpin, which had over time been replaced with really cheap horrors, but I had better ones in my Box, so that was good too.

So, the bike itself. No chrome, Campag only where absolutely necessary, TA as an added bonus, my favourite derailleurs, early SunTours, and also the blue handlebar tape and toeclip straps go well with the blue lug lining. Exceptionally beautiful in its simplicity. Money spent where it was necessary to achieve a good ride, but no shying away from less prestigious Japanese parts where they had proved to do a good job. OK, the pedals, I would have chosen others there, but ok, that´s how it is. It´s precisely what I would have ordered for the job at hand, which seems to have been Club Riding, as there is no lighting or any luggage capability visible, save a saddle bag support which is not pictured.

Also looking at the rims and the mudguard flap as well as at the near absence of any scratches, let alone dings or dents, it seems the the bike has not been ridden a lot.

What will I do with it? I think I will leave it just as it is, riding it easily and rarely (the chain is nearly worn). The only SR seatpin in 27.2 I still had is a long version, slightly younger than the bike too, but I chose it as the frame has 62 c-t while I usually need about 4 cms more, so a slightly longer seatpin came in handy for moderate riding of a bike which is a bit too small.

Hey, what an enormous pleasure this bike is, and completely unexpected too.

Enjoy the rest of the pics.