Re: [Classicrendezvous] British cycle design and the UCI's vain attempts at keeping bicycle design in the 19th century

Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 19:38:34 -0500
From: Jerry & Liz Moos <>
To: Jonathan Cowden <>
CC: Hilary Stone <>,
Subject: Re: [Classicrendezvous] British cycle design and the UCI's vain attempts at keeping bicycle design in the 19th century
References: <>

Good points, Jonathan, I think this was well documented in The Dancing Chain, which recounted how tourists were using cable operated derailleurs from very early in the 20th century, while racers did not use derailleurs for several decades, and even then for several years insisted on devices like the Cambio Corsa which were very crude compared to the touring derailleurs of the day. BTW I do stand corrected for having repeated a myth which Hilary has now thoroughly debunked regarding the origin of unconventional British geometries.


Jerry Moos

Jonathan Cowden wrote:
> Hi Hilary. Two points. First, I don't understand why regulation
> and technological innovation need be mutually exclusive. To the extent
> that the customer bases for the various types of road and off-road riding
> are vibrant but not coterminous, manufacturers retain significant
> market-based incentives to explore avenues of frame and component design
> which may advance enjoyment and/or performance in various sectors of the
> sport, broadly considered. Take, for instance, an example which you
> mention, pneumatic tires. It is impossible for me to believe that the
> UCI stand on such tires would have had or would now have any effect
> whatsoever on their dissemination within the broader community of cyclists,
> or on market incentives to produce them. Many of the people who came into
> bicycle shops have no knowledge of what the pros are using or what they
> endorse; and quite frankly, they couldn't care less. What they desire
> are comfortable point and click bikes at reasonable prices.
> Second, I don't think that fancy technology will have much if any
> effect on cycling's status in places like the United States. As a
> matter of fact, I think that it is the mundane aspects of cycling that
> deserve more emphasis: commuting, recreation, safe streets, equal rights
> for bicyclists, and the like. I find it disturbing that in Ithaca, a
> very safe place to ride, large numbers of people stick their
> technow....e bike on their car and drive it to the trails, club ride, etc.
> As long as this sort of behavior remains, for whatever reason, the
> predominant paradigm of cycling stateside, I see little chance for the
> sporting aspects to move beyond second class status.
> My two cents. One's mileage may vary.
> Jon Cowden
> Ithaca, NY
> On Wed, 1 Nov 2000, Hilary Stone wrote:
> > I don't really know how many times it has to be said that Britain's RTTC ban
> > in 1938 (which lasted effectively just two years) on maker's names being
> > clearly shown in photographs had no effect on frame design in the UK. Most
> > of the funnies (Hetchins, Bates, Baines, Sun Manx, Saxon SWB, Moorson etc
> > etc) had already been designed and built prior to this and the ones that
> > came after were not aimed at time triallists (Paris Galibier, Sun Manxman TT
> > ­ road racers, Thanet Silverlight ­ tourists). It is a myth that needs to
> > be killed once and for all.
> > Similarly road racing had occurred in Britain pretty frequently during
> > the 1930s on motor racing circuits and airfields and with the formation of
> > the the BLRC in 1942 took off on public roads in a big way from the 40s on.
> > Would the same be said of France (Jacques Anquetil) or Spain (Miguel
> > Indurain) who produced two of the very best time triallists there ever has
> > been? Time trialling has continued in Britain to be a great sport in the
> > most part because any rider could ride a TT and compete against their own
> > best times rather than have to be really pretty fit for road racing. Out of
> > this tradition has come of course some pretty good TTers over the years.
> > But Verbruggen is simply trying to hold back progress. If the UCI had,
> > had a considerable amount more foresight in the 1930s recumbents would
> > probably play a much larger part in bicycle design and usage. I don't think
> > they would dominate the sport but there would be a much greater variety of
> > bicycles in useage today and some would fit their tasks that much better.
> > Is Verbruggen really suggesting that we go back to solid tyred
> > Ordinaries? For if he had been around in the 1890s both pneumatic tyres and
> > the diamond frame would have been banned as offering too many advantages.
> > The UCI might be wanting to reduce costs by their ill thought attempt at
> > keeping bicycle technology in the last century but the practice is the very
> > opposite. Hotta's new perimeter carbon frame is considerably more expensive
> > than their old monococque frame which also was a better performer. So what
> > you are getting is worse value for money. Does that make sense? And if we
> > are to really encourage cycling don't we want it to have a glamorous feel?
> > Then perhaps cycling won't be seen as a second class sport which it is in
> > most English speaking countries.
> > Hilary Stone
> >
> > Jerry Moos wrote:
> > > It's probably because I'm a stodgy old retrogrouch, but despite his
> > considerable
> > > other faults, particularly his handling of doping problems, I support what
> > Hein
> > > Verbruggen is doing in standardizing bike design and refocusing competition on
> > the
> > > athlete. I think maybe UCI is wiser in this regard than the federations for
> > skiing
> > > ans skating. As to toboggan, motorcycle racing and car racing, those are not
> > > athletic sports in the same sense as cycling and skating, and the equipment in
> > > motorsport has always been half or more of the point. Don't forget that the
> > FIA is
> > > constantly changing the formula for Formula 1 to try to slow down the cars and
> > make
> > > them less expensive - it's just that the designers alway seem more ingenious
> > than
> > > the FIA. And sometimes restrictive regulations in cycling can lead to
> > innovations
> > > as well. If the established stories are to be believed (though Hilary has
> > > expressed some skepticism about them, I believe) the pre-WWII ban on
> > manufacturers'
> > > names on racing bikes led to many of the marvelous British unconventional
> > frame
> > > designs, and with greater certainty the longtime British ban on massed start
> > racing
> > > led to the incredible strength of time trialing in UK, to which Boardman is
> > heir.
> > >
> > > Regards,