An Embarrassment

No, it´s not the bike which I find embarrassing. What it is you´ll have to find out by yourselves – I won´t tell. Only this much: It has been rectified by now, I haven´t a clue how I could have made the mistake in the first place, only I didn´t want to re-take the photos.

Anyway, here we go:

I bought the restored but otherwise naked frame years and years ago from Hilary Stone; I couldn´t resist as it is nearly my size, and as it turned out it rides really well. I was lucky enough to still have had many spares from the mid-fifties which I could put straight on the frame; the Blumfield hubs came from Hilary, too.

If you look closely at the front mudguard you´ll notice that it is very long, has the Bantel stamp but no mudflap. This is the story: About twenty years ago, maybe a couple more, I was able to secure the remaining inventory of a very old cycle shop in my home town. Much had already been binned when I realized what was going on, but there was some left which I could have for taking it away. Among all the bits there was quite a number of very nice guards, mostly Bantel, in many colours. There were two red ones, both were rears, and one had a few inches of one end broken off, so when I built up the Gillott I just took the broken rear and filed a spearpoint end. It doesn´t look too bad, actually, passes the three foot test any day, but the big giveaway is of course the rear mounting bracket which sits behind the fork crown.

The Simplex has an alloy arm and came off a French scrap yard. Simplex sold a licence to a Bielefeld, Germany, firm to produce their stuff for the German market, and in another shop I cleared about 15 years ago there had been a great number of German gear levers, but now I have a correct French one.

The Frame itself is quite a rarity; it seems that the combination of taper tubes and fleur de lys bilamination sleeves was only done four times. They are no lugs; it´s the same system Claud Butler used a lot (there´s a 1948 International coming up which has the same system). You can see this in the next snap: There´s a strengthening sleeve on the top tube, but if it were a lug it would also cover the top part of the seat tube – which it doesn´t. People are not quite sure whether the sleeves were done for embellishment or strengthening purposes; I like to think both applied. It is obvious that this lugless construction gives you free hand with angles, and of course finding lugs for the taper tubes (down and seat tubes have larger dia at the bottom bracket end) would have been expensive and difficult.

More eye candy at the front end. Sometimes you see a thing which looks just the way it has to look; to your mind it´s the perfect design and connot be improved upon. For me, in the way of communication equipment it would be a black bakelite W48 telephone, in computers the G3 iMac, in watches the Zenith El Primero “TV Screen” model, and in bikes it´s this:

Very nicely cut bilam sleeves, great design, present yet not overdone like on many Hetchins frames.

Lastly here´s a photo of one of the rear dropouts; it´s Agrati with a Simplex derailleur eye. Nothing else will fit, so I was quite pleased to have the alloy derailleur in my box.

I have nearly made up my mind to take the Gillott to England this summer where I hope to ride in the July 14 Oxford lightweight run. But then again I know it´s quite hilly over there, so maybe I´ll take something with lower gears after all.

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