Berry, Berry & Bentley

My visit to the UK netted two encounters with frames made by the famous Manchester cycle maker Johnny Berry. One, the tandem, actually is that old that it still says Berry and Bentley on it. The solo is in original paintwork, and look at the lugs… Fantastic. Not many more explanations necessary, I think.

First, the tandem. Headclip, Resilions, seat stay tops – it screams late thirties, and it is. Sadly it´s not in original paintwork and has a number of non-thirties parts. It does get ridden, though, and that´s something.

BBfullBBbrake BBforkcr BBftbb BBftseatclBBrearbb BBrearbrake BBreardoframeno BBrearseatclHere´s the solo, 1951, and so beautiful. I´m afraid my photos don´t do the frame justice. There wasn´t too much time to take decent photos.

BfullBbbBcableeyett Bdownttransf Bforkcr Bforkcr2Bhbars Bheadtransf Breardoframeno BseatclHere are Alan Woods´ erudite remarks on the solo:

“Many details of 1951 Johnny Berry No. 511301 are interesting and well done. When compared to many other frames made in the early 1950s, it is obviously exceptional.

Lugs have been extensively reworked; they have been tapered, beautifully thinned, and the shorelines have been well filed. Also, they have been carved into a pleasing shape that is quite different from their original look. A point, I think, has been added to the front of the head lugs. Clearly, lot of work and time has gone into the lugs to make them what they are. I don’t know who manufactured the lugs, but they look (to me) to be the same as used on a silver/red Berry & Bentley frame that was built in 1937.

Screen shot 2014-07-25 at 6.19.35 PM-1

(Photo: Rick Hart)

The fork crown was also beautifully crafted. I have not seen this crown used on many Berrys.

No. 511301 has a single gear lever boss brazed onto the right side of the down tube. Most Berry road frames from the 1950s had one or two lever bosses brazed onto the down tube.

No. 511301 is the second Berry frame that I have seen with a roller gear cable guide brazed to the top of the BB shell on the drive side. The other one, #511371, was also built in 1951; it had a double roller, instead of the single roller that is on #511301. I’d bet that #511301 was built to be used with a single chain ring (or a rod actuated double); originally, a single down tube shift lever would have controlled the rear derailleur via a cable that ran under the roller on the bottom bracket shell (#511301 continues to be set up like this). I’d bet that #511371 was built for a bottom-pull front derailleur and a twin down tube shifter mounted on the right shifter boss; the inner roller housed the front derailleur cable and the outer roller was used for the rear derailleur cable. A 1951 Hobbs Blue Riband in the Classic Components/Gears/Simplex JUY 51-53 section of has photos of this set up. However, there is no reason, that #511371 would be limited to using a cable actuated front derailleur; in fact, there are photos of the bike being raced with a rod actuated front changer.

Originally, #511301 and #511371 would, I think, have used a Simplex JUY 51 rear derailleur and Simplex down tube shift lever.



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