Steven assertions about the British contribution to what I call CR Cycling (lightweight sport cycling c. 1940s-mid 80s) are jawdropping.
The simple fact is that British produced more of what we like to collect and opine about, quality lightweights, than any country in the world. Indeed, most likely equal or greater to all of the others combined. And except for what was shipped to the USA, most of this was for dometic consumption. For, again, Britain had more folks doing what we like to do: sports and competition cycling, than any country.
Just take the circulation figures for the major cycling magazines in Britain during the time and tell me Britons had no real interest in or talent for sports cycling! Or did they just read the mag for the ads for jock itch cream and bodybuilding regimens? 60,000 folks read "Cycling" every week in the 1930s. And that was one of four or five major cycling magazines.
Steven also mentions "international" championships and the dearth of British champions. Here, he forgets that British cycling was rather provencial and national... the country had its own major cycling races and countless local time trials. It had its own flourishing national cycle culture that predated that on the continent in many aspects. Heck the British invented the safety bicycle and were the first to mass produce it. To assert that "internationalism" denotes quality is absurd. Coppi never contested in the Milk Race but we won't hold that against him.
During the CR period most of the "international" roadraces were not international but European. If your idea of an international event is three Italians, two Frenchman and a Dutchman heading a peleton, then you must think the World Series is just that.
Again, my point is not that one country is or was better than another in cycling but that there is simply no question that certain countries-- France, Italy and Britain--- had more of a defined sports cycle "culture" than others. If a zillion Chinese ride roadsters to work, does that translate into a sports cycle culture? No. Do a score or so talented American framebuilders and a core of dedicated and talented riders constitute a national cycling passion? During the CR "Period"? I wish. Then I could have joined my high school cycling team. Instead we had drivers ed and basketball.
I don't think one can doubt that this cycling culture in France, Italy and Britain influenced the design and manufacture of the bikes we collect. Anyone out there who thinks otherwise, can exchange his Italian made lightweight for a Chinese made one, no questions asked. How you guys can cherish an Italian or French made bike and think it was just an accident it was designed and built by those unique cycle nations is just beyond me. You've all gone native in your "global village".
Washington DC USA