1950s Bauer

This nice little bike apparently is nothing a serious collector would get excited about, but I like it. I´ll explain why in a moment.

xbdownttransfxbmodeltransfThe bike was built at Fahrrad- und Metallwerke L. Bauer & Co in Frankfurt. The works were founded in 1911, so the bikes you still see around with the headbadge alluding to the firm´s 50 years anniversary are all later than this one. Its rear hub bears the year stamp “56”, so it must be about that time.

It´s not one of the famous Bauer Weltmeister bikes, although the World Championship attained in 1952 on a Bauer is mentioned on the seat tube transfer:

xbseatttransfSadly, this is the only badly worn part – should have been the nicest.

But here the bike is in all its glory:
xbfullfront xbfull

The frame is not the greatest example of craftsmanship. For instance you get mid – to – late fifties stamped sheet metal dropout ends instead of the nicer drop forged ones that were still the norm a few years earlier:

xbreardoIn the front, the chrome´s a nice touch though.

xbfrontdoHere you can see how dirty and neglected the bike has become after about 30 years of disuse. Ah well. It was cheap.

The seat stay tops are OK, really, as are the lugs and other frame components all round:

xbseatclxbtopheadlxblowerheadlxbbbxbcarrier-eyes

xbforkcr

Also the Mod. 55 F&S three speed is equipment which one wouldn´t find on too many bikes at the time as it was quite dear still. The bike came with an ugly black later model plastic trigger, which of course couldn´t work correctly either, but I had a blue Mod. 55 trigger in just the right state of dilapidation in my Box:

xbthreespxbtriggerI haven´t seen one of those for ages – getting rarer and rarer it seems.

The chainset is above average too, I think it´s Bielefeld made. Plus I forgot to snap the alloy rims – another unusual and expensive touch at the time.

xbchainsetIt´s counterweighted by this unavoidable, horrible, useless and even dangerous anti-theft device which buggered German bikes for decades. The only chance it would stand against thieves was that they would laugh themselves silly when seeing it, forgetting what they had come for.

xblock

But now to the points I really like. It was of course the fashion up until the sixties to adorn bikes with as many branded components as possible, but this Bauer has a lot of them, most still present, and they are above average good looking too, like the extension or the mudguards which are alloy and nicely lined.

xbrearmudg

rear mudguard transfer

xbmudguardmascxbheadlxbheadbxbextension xbdynamoxbchaingxbbellSo, what do I make of this bike, then, after having been told by a major collector that it being a 26″ wheel size one it would only be good for breaking for parts?

That´s not going to happen at least until my tenure ends. I can´t stop wondering if the first owner wasn´t very proud of it – he (probably a he) spent a lot of money on it for sure, and received a bike which in 1956 or 57 was above average, frame wise, equipment wise and by the looks, too. The headlight, the deep bend mudguards, and the extension even add a French touch. Apart from the slightly wrong saddle, the lost tool pouch and the wrong handlebars, there´s nothing amiss with it. Looks a bit like a time capsule to me, it even seems.

I hope to find a few hours during the next vacation to polish the chrome up, use black wax on some of the rusty spots, to repack the bearings, renew the cotterpins and so on. If the bike´s back to a little more splendour, maybe it will make people see its real value.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good for you for seeing value where it is, in conserving and maintaining a well-used and unique bike, regardless of its “snob appeal”–or lack thereof.

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Jon. I guess in this case it´s idealistic value above all 🙂

  2. Sergio Montes
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    You have been lucky to find a bike of this vintage in such good condition, it has many happy details, nice frame, especially good mudguards, well-fitted,which is not that usual. The side view is very informative .
    For what can be seen from the photos it needs a bit of cosmetic care, not much else, and if it was cheap, who’s to complain? I have two bikes of this type, and they give good service. I have updated them by fitting two sprockets (24 and 19 teeth) to the 3-speed hub, using an inexpensive Shimano derailleur. The update is needed as where I live, a 3-speed hub is not enough for the wind and hills, lower gearing is a must. One of the 3-speed hubs is a Sturmey Archer, alloy case AW, the other a Sturmey clone by Steyr, with the same ridged case as yours, both early 1950’s. But no coaster brake, as in the Bauer. Please keep us informed about the restoration of this interesting find.

    Sergio Montes

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink | Reply

      You´re right, Sergio, these little things can give unending stalwart service – I should have mentioned that. However, in this case the Mod. 55 threespeed wasn´t one of the most durable or reliable hubs.
      It might be an idea to spruce the bike up a bit by adding a second sprocket and a derailleur – I think I´ve even got a German Durex made copy of a French Simplex derailleur lying around somewhere. Need to check if it works – rear width, chainguard. I wouldn´t want to let go of that nice chainguard in any case.

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