Subject [CR]George Longstaff trike ( Barra)

(Example: Framebuilders:Doug Fattic)

Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 12:01:52 +0000 (GMT)
From: "Michael Butler" <>
Subject: Subject [CR]George Longstaff trike ( Barra)
To: CR Rendezvous <>

Hello Steven, I will address this to you but post it on the list as you asked the question about long barrows. Down ere in the sarf we pronounce it barra. You did a pretty good job yourself on describing the delights of trike riding or the thrills and spills, yes inevitably there is going to be some of the last if you ride at speed. For me trike riding is a religion once converted it remains a lifelong passion. I know you shouldn't talk about religion and politics in cycling but hopefully I can do some conversions (Rogers of Course)and there will be a few more proselytes amongst you soon. Trikes are the ultimate fix or Adrenalin rush. They are best coke or Scottish malt if you are into drugs or booze, for me they are like sex without a condom. They are that much fun! Guaranteed to put the boy back into the man. Hopefully I have now captured your imagination, please if you can get a proper trike or scrounge a ride on one . Trike conversions are okay but as Steve says they ride totally different to a purpose built tricycle. All to do with bottom bracket heights. A tricycle should have a lower bottom bracket than a bicycle, this is why some trike riders use a smaller front wheel to help the handling on a conversion set-up. I have never owned a Longstaff trike or one of his conversion kits but his stuff is excellent but prohibitively expensive. A lot of the TA (Tricycle Association) lads called it the staff tax loose reference to the infamous poll tax. No Holdsworth, Rogers, Higgins and Whitt I have owned and all are equally good. This is purpose built trike or conversion axles. Ken Rogers built very good trikes not the finest of engineering when compared to Longstaff's but purposeful practical and relatively inexpensive.His Rogers twin wheel drive was a marvellous design and idea but needed a lot better engineering to make it a success. So here is the first bit of advice get a trike with a Higgins diff or go for a OWD (one wheel drive). Two or twin wheeled drive is not the same as a diff. In OWD you can get Lipscomb's (that's the Sunbury-on-Thames one not Walthamstow one) Holdsworth, Rogers, Higgins in diff also, Rogers, Longstaff and Thompson axles. Swallow in Essex also made an axle but I have no knowledge of these and they were never that popular. Now trike riding is akin to riding a motorcycle with a chair (sidecar) and tandem trike riding even more so. You need a brave stoker on a T.T someone who is not afraid to get his arse out over the rear wheels and friction burns on his shorts from the tyres. Tony Oliver the frame builder was the best stoker I ever had. Incidentally George Longstaff to my knowledge only let Tony build trikes with his axles, this just shows you what esteem George had for Tony's stuff. Now back to my first tandem trike. This was an F.W.Evans of Kennington Road made by Tom Board when old man Evans's widow still owned the shop. It was built in 1962 and the OWD axle was designed by Frank Whitt and made to his specification. Frank co wrote the famous book Bicycle Science and was a stalwart of that wonderful friendly club the Southern Veteran Cycling Club. It had 26" wheels the ideal size for a tricycle, 27" are okay but a trike handles a lot better with the smaller size. Brakes consisted of two both on the front wheel a Mafac Tandem cantilever and a British Hub Co. tandem hub brake. Gears were Simplex touring and Williams chainsets. The first thing we did was to get rid of those HORRIBLE Simplex gears and fit a Shimano 500 with a long cage. Now I know this is sacrilege to the purists and elitists on the list judging by the remarks made on and off the list about keeping bikes original but I am a cyclist or in this case a tricyclists who likes to get the miles in and wants good reliable equipment that works and old Simplex gears just don't. Back to me and Tony we had toured and boozed a lot together and had done a bit of tandeming together in Snowdonia and other parts of North Wales, neither of us cared who went on the front or back of the tandem as we both had mutual confidence in each other. Now Tony always wanted to own or build a tandem trike I can't remember which and after a very heavy session on the Wadworths (wonderful beer Gods nectar)it was rather rashly decided that we would follow next years Tour de France in the Alps on the tandem trike! This was the 1980 Tour and the Alp climbs were if I remember rightly the Galibier ,Telegraph, Madelaine, Joux-Plane, Colombiere, Aravis (where you do fell you are near the almighty stunningly beautiful), Champlaurent and Prapoutel. We were really slow on the climbs but were a constant source of amusement for the spectators awaiting the race whilst other cyclists passing by us labouring up the climbs loaded to the gunnel's with saddlebags and panniers took the piss remorsefully (especially the Germans) but little did they know. Now our it was our turn for revenge and little did they know but it was going to be there turn to look very foolish and gutless. Yes we hammered down the descents and I can honestly say that no one was brave enough to keep up with us or pass us, no bleeding bottle and this should have been easy on a bike to get pass us and drop us. One Dutch VW camper van tried hopelessly to keep up and one of the passengers was actually hanging out of the window video recording our descent, love to see the film, poor old Tony really worked his nuts off on the drop down the mountain, when we did finally get into the town on the flat we stopped at the first bar and waited for the rest to catch us up. You should have seen their faces they just couldn't comprehend how quick we were, some stopped and bought us drinks others shook our hands and slapped us on the back some just applauded and said "Trois roues incroyables rapides"! What a tour and what an experience and this will illustrate just how close we were to the edge. After the Prapoutel stage we rode down to our digs with some Flemish guys we had teamed up with when Bernard Thevenet (Teka) rode pass us on his way back to his team hotel and the Belgium's shouted to him and he kindly stopped to chat and sign some autographs what a gent one of my all time favourites. Sorry our hotel was a converted stable in the Haute Savoir which had a really steep drive up to it from the road and Tony being a ladies man couldn't resist giving all the French girls in the Hotel a go on the Evans TT. What happened next was frightening he came down the slope with this real pretty giggling French girl on the back when he had to apply the brakes rapidly because there was a car approaching on the main road by the entrance, yeah you guessed it the straddle wire on the Mafac snapped! Thank god it never happened on the mountains and just shows how close you can come. The tandem trike never made it home in one piece we couldn't get it onto the train at Grenoble it had to go on a latter train as freight for its journey back to Blighty. Well I kept on ringing Victoria station up for weeks enquiring about the Evans the thing had just vanished into thin air, finally one of the station staff said we have got a tandem which has been sitting here for weeks with a spare wheel strapped to it! I shot down there straight away and to my horror was our tandem trike with the nearside wheel snapped of its axle. This was a catastrophe as the axle was of one of only three in existence no spares anywhere. The trike then became the subject of an insurance claim against French railways S.N.C.F. We finally got paid out in old gold French Francs that was the system then but they would not let us get it repaired at Longstaff's because their estimate was to expensive, so off to Ken Rogers it went. Well anyone who has ever been to Ken's will no what a strange place this is, house full of cats and trikes, mountains of swarf in the garden and the whole garden looks like a graveyard for tricycles they are everywhere. Ours was there for nearly 18 months when I finally went down there to see what was happening I just found it rusting away in the garden so I cut my losses and sold it to Ken, whatever happened to it I shall never know. The Rogers are wonderful people sadly the old man died a few years ago but they are the epitome of typical British eccentrics and not very business minded or organised. Incidentally most tricycle competition records and RRA records up unti 1998 were held by riders using Rogers trikes. H.R.Morris always used rogers axles on his trikes as did Bob Jackson, Taylors and Mercian. Next the Hobbs Blue Ribband tandem trike and the three F's ride.

Thats all for now. Keep those wheels spinning, in your memories if not still on the road. Be lucky Mick Butler Huntingdon UK.