RE: [CR]In Praise of Pre-War American Cycles

Example: Framebuilders
From: "Mick Butler" <>
Subject: RE: [CR]In Praise of Pre-War American Cycles
Date: Mon, 07 Jun 2004 16:49:57 +0000

Marvelous posting by Art Smith. In answer to what were ordinary Brits riding prior to the Second World War. If it was new probably a Hercules the original "Fifty Bob Bicycle" £2.10.0. which was really cheap. The equivalent Raleigh was nearly double the price. New Hudson's were also an everyday inexpensive alternative. Think this is why Hercules got so heavily involved in sponsoring professional riders to try and tart up their image. The rest who couldn't afford new were riding hand me downs or cheap secondhand mounts. Leisure riding in the UK has always been predominate, much more than in Europe. You only have to look at the names of our cycling clubs Friendly, Social, Co-Operative etc. To see what the core riding was about. My own club the "Clarion" was formed by church going socialists who combined their weekend leisure riding with distributing the "Clarion" a socialists newspaper to the towns and villages on route whilst on their weekend runs. The Clarion has lost nearly all its political routes but to this day you still here riders call out "Boots" to which the reply if you are a Clarion person is "Spurs". I was born in 1948. How about some postings on American riders such as Cecil (Rabbit) Yates, Heinz Weltroski, Lew rush, Gus Rys and Jerry Rodman. Bet none of them rode a Cinelli or Masi!

Best wishes and be lucky. Michael Butler Huntingdon UK.

>From: "Art Smith" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: [CR]In Praise of Pre-War American Cycles
>Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2004 09:08:53 -0700
>I couldn't agree more with Mick Butler's post on early American bicycles.
>While the stated time period for discussions on this site encompasses turn
>of the century and pre-war bicycles through 1983, I think the lack of
>postings on pre-war cycles can be attributed to a number of factors. I
>that often times ordinaries and early safety bicycles get lumped in with
>balloon tired bikes. While balloon tired bikes were often geared toward
>young people and sold as toys, early bikes such as your previously
>Pope, Iver Johnson, and Fowler, were built for adults.
>As discussed numerous times on this site, a person's age, and when they
>to cycling often dictates their interest. I was born in 1949 and while my
>first road bike was a boom Astra, I've always felt an attraction to pre-war
>cars and trucks, Buddy L pressed steel toy trucks, and Veronica Lake. I may
>be wrong, but I would assume a number of Cinelli and Masi fans are under
>Another factor that has hurt the study of early bikes is that there are so
>few really comprehensive books on the subject. The Pridmore book, The Dodge
>book, and the two volumes of the Evolution of the Bicycle books come to
>as references. Another factor is that these bikes were used and abused.
>Constantly built and rebuilt, handed down to children and cousins, the
>integrity of the bikes was altered. Hard to tell what was original and what
>wasn't. There were also so many manufacturers that to catalogue them is
>Often times it seems, it takes non-Americans to see the value of things
>American. It took English rockers to help American youth in the sixties
>rediscovery the American Blues of John Lee Hooker and Elmore James and
>others. Sometimes we just don't see what is in front of our faces.
>As far as frames styles go, I love the simple diamond frame styles of the
>earlier bikes, as well as the curved top tube camelback and straight bend
>versions. I own a Fowler with a split seat tube from the turn of the
>century. The Iver Johnson Truss Bridged Bike is awesome. I found a
>photograph from 1910 of two men on recumbents. I can't tell if they are
>manufactured bikes or custom built. For me, by far the most interesting are
>the double top tubed moto bikes. I have seen the top tubes spaced close
>together or far apart, even side by side. Equiped with a hanging tank to
>hold a thermos and lunch or tools, these bikes, in their fixed gear state
>gave working men transportation (and women the freedom to travel). Like
>English club bikes, they could be stripped for road racing or track racing.
>I have seen them with 28" or 26" wheels. Brakeless, with kick back brakes,
>or with after market bolt on brakes these early bikes hold much more
>interest for me. For my esthetic, the art of these bikes, their place in
>history, and the individual histories of these cycles are what this hobby
>all about.
>I am curious as to what was being ridden in England (and France and Italy)
>at the turn of the century. I'm familiar with some early English bicycles,
>but not bikes from 1900 to 1930. I have seen a small Italian book that is
>fairly common that documents early Italian bikes. What were the common men
>and women of this time riding?
>Art Smith in Phoenix