Category Archives: British

A Little Ray of Sunshine


One major attraction at Marten´s December open day was the presence of a Marston Sunbeam in good original condition and with some great extras like the two speed chainwheel gear. I´m not very familiar with these bikes, so I took a couple of photographs and let them speak for themselves.

This is not a 1920s cruise control but a blocking mech that facilitates any operation in which a non-moving front fork is needed – like repair, storing, or carrying.

A special fitting for the chainstays. Amazing.

The way the two speed lever is attached to the top tube.


The attention to detail in this bike is amazing and should attract the artist´s eye as much as the craftman´s. It´s not for nothing that Sunbeams were regarded as a brand apart, and among the best bicycles available anywhere in the day.

Carpenter – Pre or Post WWII?

The last remarkable thing to be reported of last year´s Tubes & Coffee was this marvellous

xcaradownttransfI´m not sure if it´s pre or post WWII, as the rear hub shell is stamped 1947, but the rest of the bike shows a lot of 1930s features. It´s probably really 1947 firstly because it´s so very orignal that it makes sense to assume that the rear hub shell also is, and secondly because a great many bikes from the immediate post-WWII period look still very much 1930s.

Later addition: Here´s the original 1939 warranty tag – that settles the dating queation:

Photo: Marten Gerritsen

Let´s have a look at a few snaps.

xcarfullHere it is in all its beauty. Great frame, superbly equipped. It must have been someone´s pride and joy, possibly as some sort of splash of luxury afforded in the years of extreme austerity and even danger.

xcarbsapedals xcarchainsA Chater chainset, BSA pedals – wonderful stuff, and among the best you could get.

xcarfthubxcarquadrThe Sturmey quadrant was already outmoded by the late 30s; the handlebar positioned trigger had been around since about 1938. Much as I like quirky and oldfashioned equipment, the idea of having to get off a bike equipped with a quadrant in a hurry doesn´t seem very attractive to me. I think I would have been an early adopter of the trigger.

xcarlauterwbarsThe handebars (they´re Lauterwasser bend, aren´t they?) are great, however, and I wish they were available today. I have a pair on my Evans Super Continental, and I like them a lot.

xcarrearresilion xcarresilionlevers xcarresilionlampbrThese I don´t like a lot – Resilion Cantilever brakes were effective, yes, but beasts to fit and / or set up. Again I have first hand experience, and I´d rather have centrepulls anytime, thanks.

xcarrimThese I think don´t fit into the picture. Could they have been 1947? They must have been later additions, possibly because the old ones (Constrictors perhaps?) were worn out.

xcarheadbBack to the frame. Have a look at this wonderful Art Déco headbadge. I love it. Why don´t they make bikes with so beautiful badges anymore?

Tell you what, I´ve always tried to ride bikes with headbadges, real ones, and I´ve nearly always found that they are superbe: Gazelle, old Raleighs, and so on. There´s one exception, though: My fascinating Ellis Briggs which only has a head transfer. But, me being me, I talked the good people at EB out of an old 1950s badge years and years ago, when they still were at the old premises, and if my frame should ever need a respray, or, god beware, a repair, on would go the headbadge.

headbebBut back to the regularly scheduled programme.

xcarforkcrlowerheadlugxcarheadcliptopThese headclip headbearings ooze 1930s, don´t they? And look at the marvellous lower headlug, how it varies its thickness. Cast, I assume.

xcarreyntransfThe whole thing is of course made from R531, what else.

xcarseatclLastly the seatcluster. Button seat stay tops also are 30s fashion, and again there is a member of the wonderful cast lug set. I wonder if it´s perhaps BSA or Chater. Also the braze ons for the Resilion brake cables are worth mentioning.

But that´s all the photos I could take, and some of them are out of focus because of the light at Marten´s workshop. It´s a bike shop after all, not a photo studio.

BTW, today was the day this blog welcomed its 75.000th reader of a post, and next month I´ll have been on line for five years. Thanks to all of you, and while there have not been many posts recently (I´m suffering from acute work overload), I have not lost the motivation to carry on. I hope to become more active again next (yes, 2018) year.

Silverlight Marvel

Seen at Marten Gerritsen´s Tubes and Coffee, of which more later: The most interesting TS there is I guess.


Not much comment necessary – for those who have not been exposed to Silverlights yet: Please refer to Hilary Stone´s booklet on them, still the best publication on the marque, even after 30 years. Ease with Elegance is available on the author´s website and will be among the best cycling books you´ll ever buy.

Here´s some pics:


xthanderailauterwThis is the most phantastic part, to my mind: A Lauterwasser conversion based an a 1950 FM, giving 12 (three chain, four hub) gears in theory.

xthanderleverAll these braze ons show that the frame must have been equipped like that from new.


Can´t make out the frame # – not even when standing in front of the bike


Is this a bracket for a bottle type dynamo?


Sheer beauty – the “T” in the fork crown, the “S” in the headlugs


Happen to all of us, I guess – SA pulley should be metal


The original wing nuts are hard to find

xthan50fm xthanbbcradle xthanbilamseatcl xthanchainstay  xthanderfull   xthandunltransf xthanext xthanextfront xthanfronthub xthanftbrake xthanftforkhole  xthanheadb xthanpedal xthanrearmudg xthansaddlecurvedpin xthanseatstaytops xthansuperhlever xthantopheadl xthantyresize xthanwingnutIt´s Christmas soon… Wishful thinking.

A Wonderful Mercian

Having been a Mercian owner myself for the best part of three decades (see, I couldn´t resist snapping this one when I met it and its owner at Marten´s place today.TMercdowntubetransf

Very nice framebuilding, well-thought out detail and equipment, it seems to be a very able touring bike. Its owner has already taken it over half of Europe. Here are some photos which don´t need much comment.

TMercfullTMerccrankTMercforkcr TMercftderTMercheadb TMercupperheadl TMercstem TMercSON TMercseattransf TMercseatclrear TMercseatcl TMercreardo TMercrearder TMercrackeye TMercrack TMercmudflap TMercMafac TMerclwrheadl

H Williamson – or the end of it

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the Williamson frame is useless after all. I had been daft enough to do a lot of work on the bike before checking out the headset. What had happened I´m not sure, however, this is what´s left of the lower headrace:

DamraceIt has been worn away on the half that used to point to the front.


And this is what the race did to the fork column…DamForkcolside DamForkcr

… and the fork crown. The column could probably be replaced, but the bad thing is that the groove in the crown is really deep and will have weakened it.

Also the race wore away the front half of the lower headlug, and this is what to my mind has killed the frame off. The front half of the lug is only paper thin now – compare it with the rear half – and a ridge has formed where the worn away metal used to be.Damlug DamLug2 My guess is that the damage must have started right when the bike was quite new – possibly a fault during fitting, or a part which had the wrong measurements, but the outcome is catastrophic. It would have been so nice to have had a 62cm frame from the thirties – at least the many good and rare parts are worth the money I paid for the bike.

If I should ever have the chance again to work on a bike with a British headclip headset, I will certainly look there first.

Lastly, a Raleigh

The last machine I had the chance to look at in detail during my stay in the UK was a very nice Raleigh RRA – dating from the time when Raleigh, the largest cycle maker in the world, refused steadfastly to use any derailleurs, turning themselves into a fortress of British hub gear engineering in the onslaught of foreign wizardry. Perhaps another reason was that Raleigh owned Sturmey-Archer at the time. Anyway, here´s the outcome: A beautiful, desirable piece of British history.

Many parts bear the heron, and for once the RRA front wingnuts are on a correct bike. I´ve seen them on at least three other machines which were not RRAs over the years, including my own Evans.



1954 FM in an alloy shell – yummy.


Can´t do without a little bit of foreign metal.


The pump


Even if the hub isn´t quite right, the wingnuts definitively are.

MRchainwhl MRdownttransf MRforkcr MRforkcrside MRlampbr MRtrigger Now my holidays are well and truly over.


The Art of the Tricycle

The same collection where the Selbach resides also houses two tricycles, one of them a really marvellous

DFoldsdownttransfFolds not only was a great framebuilder, but he also had his own ideas about making a tricycle rear axle, using steerer tubes and headsets.

DFoldsdiffDFoldsrearaxle DFoldsrearaxleright DFoldsrearderThe rest of the bicycle is not only ingenious, but more elegant, too.

DfoldsfullIt was used by Folds himself and had to be rescued at some time.

DFoldsbbDfoldsseatclDFoldsBrooksseatpin DFoldschainsetAll components are of very high quality.

DFoldsheadclipDFoldsshiftleverIt´s a fascinating machine.

Also very nice, mostly because of its neat construction, is the Grubb, in the same herd again.

DGrubbfull DGrubbhead DGrubbrearaxle DGrubbseatcl

Twenties Selbach

Another really beautiful bike I was able to view during my visit to the UK was this ca. 1928 Selbach.


It has a Monitor Super Cam brake in the front and everything else would make a fixie fan´s heart beat faster. I also very much like the handlebars.

DSelbfullOK, minus the mudguards for the fixie fan. But in general it´s simple, well made, light; basically just what a bicycle should be. The front fork rake is remarkably modern for late twenties.

DSelbcockpit Dselbfthub DSelbMonitor DSelbrearhub DSelbseatcl DSelbsteerhead


Claudine Butler

On my recent trip to the UK I was able to take part in a V-CC run, in which there also was a beautiful original 1950s Claud Butler Avant Coureur Special Ladies – top notch.

SCfullThe whole frame building, as well as paintwork with double box lining and the build is just the finest you can hope to see anywhere.

SCbb SCfrontSCrearbk SCseatcl SCseatt

This must certainly be bilaminated, even if the headlugs and the b/b aren´t.SCseatttransfThere were so many other bikes in the run, and there was such a lot of talking to do, that I couldn´t snap any more details, sorry.

Ein englisches Dürkopp

Some time ago I obtained a rather nice ca. 1939 Dürkopp road frame, and for want of the original Dürkopp parts I unsuccessfully tried to build it up with an Osgear – you may remember There are some photos of frame details in that post, too.

Since then I had the brake bridge repaired so that it will now hold a sidepull caliper safely, and yesterday and this morning I built the bike up with the British parts I had mentioned in February. I even found the time to take it for a shakedown spin. It rides sweetly as the AR is a great hub, although somewhat limted in gear ratio – but then, that´s the idea.

DAfullHowever, I think the bike looks horrible with the long seatpin and the extension stem protruding from the frame which is far too small for me – there´s about 5 cms lacking. I´m not sure if I´ll leave it together even. Also not all parts are to my liking – i.e. having to make do with post-WWII brakes

DAbrakecalas well as 50s Chater pedals.  Here´s some details of the nicer bits:

DAfthubDAsaddle DAtriggerThe AR is an interesting item. You need to concentrate to find out if there is any difference at all between gears. It gives a 7.24% rise in third, a direct second and a 6.76% drop in third, as Tony Hadland says in his Sturmey-Archer Story. It wasn´t advertised as being ultra close-ratio for nothing.  It used two epicyclic gear trains and was made to withstand the rough and tumble and the high torques experienced in racing, not least because its internals moved more slowly than those of other hubs. You can actually hear this when riding – the pawls click very slowly.

The hub was only made for three years from late 1936 to the outbreak of WWII, and I feel privileged to be able to try one out. The “AR-8” means that it dates from 1938 and is the second version without the indicator rod on the left. Also it´s missing its q/r toggle – cable connector.

DAARAnd I do need a larger 12 spline cog.