[CR]Ron Kitching and Hiduminium Brakes

(Example: Production Builders)

From: "David Blight" <davidblight@rya-online.net>
To: "Classic Rendezvous" <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 11:33:50 -0000
Subject: [CR]Ron Kitching and Hiduminium Brakes

An interesting combination of subjects as I think that GB brakes were one of the few things that Ron Kitching didn't distribute.

I only knew RonKit as a trader in the last few years of his original business. Like all true businessmen he had his critics but most of us newbies in the bike trade found him an extremely generous individual, well-known for picking up hotel tabs for impoverished cycle traders at the shows. I will always keep the mental picture of a big grin beneath a shiny bald head, the grin so wide that he reminded me of a friendly version of Toad of Toad Hall. His reputation went beyond the cycle trade when in the late 80s he hit the headlines after selling his business for 2 million to Bluemels only to buy it back for 1 million from the receivers a year or so later. With the death of Percy Stallard earlier this year, this means that the golden age of bike builders and characters is probably at an end.

Hiduminiums. It was interesting to see Bob Reid's explanation. As far as I can see from the 1956 catalogue, GB were only offering three different models - all Hiduminium. Standard, Coureur and GrandTour. All were priced the same at nineteen shillings and sixpence (just under a pound) per caliper including either the standard hooded lever or if you paid a little extra - the Superhood lever with the knurled adjuster built into the hood.

The standard version has the words Hiduminium deeply pressed into the caliper arm and has no quick-release catch. The Coureur has 'GB Coureur' engraved into the side arm more delicately and has the quick release. . The Coureur was clearly a better de-luxe item, but offered at the same price as the standard! Strange bit of British marketing logic. The GrandTour was similar to the Coureur but with a deeper reach. Although the GB stems are not quoted as being made in Hiduminium, I have polished several of these and have come to the conclusion that the grade of aluminium used in the brakes is the same as the stems. Quite a bit harder than the aluminium used in say Weinneman or Universal and not needing anodizing although it has a greater tendency to go grey with age.

David Blight in wintry Exeter UK