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A Few German Bits

So here are three NOS items that are of German origin although one might not think so when having a fleeting look.

 

Let´s start with the Bielefeld made PWB Simplex three speed derailleur. Präzision Werke Bielefeld made it under licence, and not few either. It´s hard to impossible to snap, but it actually says three speed in German on the cage.

Next, a real beauty one might perhaps place in France. It´s an Altenburger rear hub, and the bright silver surface finish untarnished after all these decades speaks for itself. I´d put it in the late fifties. Also beautiful: In the high flanges there´s not just a circular or oval cutout, but the lying 8 of Altenburger fame. The waterslide transfer on the barrel reminds me of MaxiCar.

Lastly, a chain, not very spectacular, but the colour of the box somehow fits in with the hub and the derailleur.

All three items were purchased in a sale of a wholesaler´s giving up about 25 years ago. Purchased, big word for the few Marks I paid. That´s another story.

Ancient History

What´s this? Easy: It´s a torque arm off a 1950s NSU Superlux or Supermax front wheel brake. NOS, perfect chrome.

What is the connection to either bicycles or my Konsul restauration? There is none. I´m in the mood to write down an old story, that´s all.

In 1981, when I was in the Army, a friend got wind of a former NSU motorbike dealership being shut down, which was about time as there had been no NSU motorbikes for nearly 20 years. He only knew that it was in Liège, Belgium, and that was it. So the following weekend, a third friend who had access to an Opel Kadett C sat behind the wheel, I sat behind the second wheel so to speak (it was a car used in a driving school), friend #3 squeezed himself on the rear seat, and off we went to Belgium. Liège is a big place, but we were unbelievably lucky, the sparse directions we had were sufficient, and soon we found ourselves in NSU heaven.

We had not thought that the building was still full of spares, brochures, and other items, and everything went for next to nothing, with all paperwork being free as a matter of course. I had a 98cc Fox and a Superlux at the time and scavenged all the bits I could find, all NOS, like a Fox petrol tank in red, very rare indeed. The driver friend ran a 125 ZDB and found stuff or it, and the friend who had heard about the whole thing was the local NSU doyen anyway and filled the poor old Kadett (not an estate!) to the roof. I rode back with a pre-WWII OSL petrol tank on my lap and bags of stuff between my feet, carb parts if I remember correctly, and the driver had a Konsul frame wrapped round him like a safety belt. The whole thing was absolutely amazing, and the pictures have stayed in my head to this day. Also I still remember the smell of the place in Belgium. At the time there were still border controls, and border police officers just looked at each other and let us pass as quickly as possible. To the uninitiated, our car must have looked like a mixture of a rolling scrap yard and a Mad Max vehicle.

What followed was a large sale of those parts that didn´t go with my bikes, even then rarities all of them, and I remember being quite ok with money for nearly the rest of my stint in the Army. The NOS red Fox tank went to a man who was restoring his bike in red and wanted an exact specimen of the colour. He was very grateful to get it and paid me royally. He was also blind.

See about the torque arm now? It´s the only spare I have left of the haul.

These (motorcycle mudguard emblem, Konsul tank emblem and thirties bicycle mudguard emblem) look nice anyway, so here we go:

 

Woodentop Bicycle

Just a quick in between as time is at a premium atm.

In my opinion this LP cover is one of the best when it comes to integrating bicycle related design elements. Then there´s a pocket watch dial and a few tools too, giving an intriguing picture.

 

It´s Doing Me Head In

Why is it that nobody really seems to care about what cyclists need? Why is it that traffic is still seen as near exclusively car based? Aren´t we told all the time to cycle more, how environmentally friendly it is, how good it is for your health and how sustainable?

So why is it then that roads are built all new, using up square miles of landscape,

 

while the roads feeding this new motorway are fully refurbished

with miles and miles of brand new tarmac, while all the cycle path next to it gets is a couple of shovels full of winter mixture:

And don´t get it wrong, there are enough bits left like these:

They make the cycle path all but unusable, and hitting one of these when going downhill can be nasty.

When will authorities stop saying that cyclists will be catered for when there are any, while cycling is made all but impossible by dangerous, missing and neglected infrastructure?

Another Book: Nimführ, Luftschiffahrt

Found this litte volume in a fleamarket the other day. I consider it very interesting and it makes me divert from the NSU bicycle post I thought I´d write.

People who know my book on paced track racing might remember that there was a long history of cyclists who only used bicycles because at the time they were the fastest means of indiviual transport, and who didn´t bat an eyelid to leave bikes for motorized vehicles and then aeroplanes when those became available, or even already swapped over in the developing stages. That means that aeroplanes had much in common with bicycles if you look at design, going beyond the obvious landing gear wheels. For instance the Wright brothers were cycle shop owners and it shows.

Also, in this 1909 book on flying there are a few very interesting illustrations which I find merit a post. Not much comment is needed, so I just let the pics speak for themselves.

Sorry about the bad photos, scanning the fragile book would have destroyed its binding.

NSU Books

This month I will again divert from the strict rule of this blog being a bike blog in presenting a few books on one of the most important German makers of bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, cars and other machinery. NSU being all that, the brand has always attracted major interest from both collectors and historians, so a great number of books has been published on it. All of those presented here are either still in print or available used without large expenditure. They also are worth getting for the photos if readers´ German isn´t that good.

Starting with the exception to the rule though, a book that I obtained (free!) from NSU GmbH in 1998, when the brand had its 125th anniversary. This might be difficult to get now, but it´s slim and does not offer any info beyond what is found in the other books as well, so it´s not really worth hunting down.

The volume most worth getting for a general overview must be this one:

It´s the latest iteration of Peter Schneider´s work on the marque, Schneider having had access to the archives, producing ever larger editions of his monography. An earlier one looks like this: They all are well worth getting, but the later the edition, the more photos and info can be found.

Then there´s the little one which mostly consists of reprinted snippets of old sales brochures, commented ably though:

And this one which has much data:

It´s basically an abridged version of the NSU Story volume.

The weirdest one must be this, listing meticulously all info on mod/cons, prototypes, and other NSU based oddities over the decades. Pic quality is not good though, shame.

There are several book focussing on single models, like Ernst Leverkus´Max book, or this one on the tiny Fox:

My favourite of them all for decades was the NSU Renngeschichte, the Racing History. Fascinating, early research, again with poor pic qualty in places. I´ve had my copy for nearly 40 years. It cost 68 Marks in 1982, which was a whopper of a price in those days.

But nowadays there is this volume, well illustrated, partly in colour, well researched too, very technical and focussing on the world championship bikes of the fifties, also covering the races leading to the championship, more or less lap by lap. Several racing bikes were actually disassembled to take the pictures for the book.

Of course there must be hundreds of articles in bike mags and those “most famous/beautiful/fast/dangerous… bikes in world history” horrors. Representing the better ones of those, here´s two issues of a motorbike yearbook series which incorporate great and lengthy NSU articles.

Lastly, a biography of Austrian Champion Rupert Hollaus who was a member of the famous NSU team of riders during those few years in the mid fifties when Rennmax and Rennfox were all conquering on the tracks of Europe. Hollaus actually was killed on an NSU, largely because he was suffering from an unknown issue with his skull.

Next month I hope to extract info on NSU bicycles from these books as well as from some old brochures and mags in my collection.

Tubes and Coffee 2019

Last Sunday Marten again invited his fans to a bowl of groentesoep, some apple crumble and a lot of insights on bicycles. It was a grand event as always, only I lack the time atm to write it up properly. Will do over the holidays, here´s a few random snaps to begin with.

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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Niceties

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.

SAM_1425

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.

SAM_1426

Parkes, Carlton and Raleigh, well known all three of them, and Carlton also ending up under the big Raleigh umbrella.

SAM_1427

Lastly two more well known lightweight makers, Fredie Grubb from London and  the Brum Viking.