Re: [CR] "Path Racer" "Road-Path" nomenclature (Ed Granger) (Long)

(Example: Component Manufacturers)

Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 12:40:46 +0000
From: "Hilary Stone" <>
To: <>
References: <> <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: [CR] "Path Racer" "Road-Path" nomenclature (Ed Granger) (Long)

They are called road-track bikes...

Hilary Stone, Bristol, British Isles wrote:
> What is the correct term to describe a bike frame with track dropouts but with drilled brake bridge and fork for front and rear brakes that also has road, not track, geometry? Is it path-road as Mick suggests? While I acknowledge that we Americans may have butchered the nomenclature by calling them Path Racers, it does seem to be a good descriptive term to me. This reminds me of the early 80s when off-road bikes first came out and the community argued about whether they were All Terrain bikes, Mountain bikes, or Off-road bikes. When I hear the term "Path Racer" I know exactly what someone is talking about. I have one myself, made by Jim Redcay. Sometimes our common language adapts, whether we like it or not. Lou Deeter, Orlando FL USA
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Daniel Artley <>
> To: Classic Rendezvous <>
> Sent: Tue, Oct 27, 2009 8:02 am
> Subject: Re: [CR] "Path Racer" "Road-Path" nomenclature (Ed Granger) (Long)
> When I first built my off topic Surly Steamroller (brakes and fat tires) for the
> 'path' rail trail next to my house, I'd used the term path racer since I'd heard
> rumours (English bikes after all) that path machines were the combination racing
> and hack bike, and was quoted back in the early days of the Fixed Gear Gallery,
> later to my chagrin when I heard otherwise. This is what I posted to the FG
> list back in 2005 from information acquired around 2002:
> I've been curious about the description of a path racer, and asked Mick Butler
> of the UK what his description was. Chuck Schmidt added some stuff for me from
> his off list questions, and I've collected the miscellaneous responses into one
> posting for those interested in a bit of fixed gear history. (Some responses
> are somewhat dated.) Enjoy!
> Dan Artley in Parkton, Maryland
> British Road/ Path or Road track Bikes
> The craze for this type of hybrid machine started in the mid 50's and lasted to
> about the early 70's. These dates are a general approximation. Road/Path
> models were used for everything from general club riding, time trialing, grass
> track and pure track. On the track they were used in sprints, pursuits, point
> to points and devils. Our outdoor tracks of this period tended to have quite
> shallow bankings.
> Basically they were 73 degrees parallel with a bottom bracket height of less
> than eleven inches and a wheelbase of around 41" invariably with mudguard
> clearance and brake drillings. The type of track ends used on these frames were
> the special 2" long slot type. This allowed wide variations in gear ratios
> especially when using inch pitch. Our pure track bikes of this period were of a
> much shorter wheelbase, less than 41" and with a bottom bracket height of over
> eleven inches. No mudguard clearance or drillings and free from any braze-ons.
> Typical head angle of 75 degrees and seat of 73. Just to confuse you even more
> on these type of models there was a fashion in the 60's to have a road/track
> built with Mafac cantilever bosses brazed on the front forks. Primarily used
> for time trialing the weight of these machines with all alloy parts was around
> the 16 pound mark on fixed wheel. These were also used on the track if you
> could get past the scrutinizers, sometimes they refused or just asked you to
> tape up the cantilever bosses if you were lucky. These frames were often fitted
> up with a trike conversion and used as winter hacks. If you care to dig out
> your old 60's Cycling's there is a road test on a Mercian built to this type of
> specification. I have a 1960's 24" Allin Stan Butler just like this for sale.
> Mick Butler
> Huntingdon UK
> Track bikes were known as track bikes in England from post-WWI onwards.
> Pathracer was a rather old-fashioned term used in some catalogues and just
> occasionally in the press in the 20s. It was not used then to describe
> multipurpose machines though back in the teens path racers were often used for
> time trials. Road/track iron or road/track bike was a term used mostly
> post-WWII (though I think it originated in the 30s) to describe a bike with
> rearward facing track ends which was designed for use on the road as well as the
> track. Road racing had not existed in Britain since the 1890s and it was only
> in1933 that the first road race was again rerun. Road racing bikes from
> about1933 onwards in England were normally fitted with gears, some early ones
> used hub gears but the vast majority were fitted with derailleurs and used on
> circuits such as Brooklands, IOM or Donnington prior to 1943. Time trial bikes
> were different, most bikes used for the shorter distances (10s, 25,50s) were
> fixed wheel in the 30s. >From the middle/late 30s gears were increasingly used
> for longer events (100, 12hr, 24hr). Gears were not used to win the National 25
> until about 1960. Derailleurs and hub gears were used initially with hub gears
> even then in the minority. Derailleurs gradually assumed the completely
> dominant position.
> Hilary Stone
> Bristol, England
> Path is the old fashioned Victorian/ Edwardian cycling term for track. So a
> path bike is purely for the track. High bottom bracket, no clearances and no
> drillings for brakes. A Road-Path is a bike with track ends that is dual
> purpose for both road and track racing, angles not quite as steep and bottom
> bracket lower than a pure path (track bike). Normally has the front fork crown
> drilled for a brake. Can also be built with mudguard clearances and mudguard
> eyes. 27" or sprints can be fitted. Another term for Road-Path is Road-Track.
> Makers like Selbach and others used to call this type of bike a D.P. prewar,
> which stood for dual purpose. Rotrax the maker coined their name by using the
> word play road/track.
> Mick.
> Just to elaborate on what Martin has said already, 'path' was a popular term pre
> WWII for racing on fixed distance (four laps to the mile?), i.e.: hard tracks,
> typically constructed of cement, cinder or asphalt. There were both amateur and
> professional World *Path Championships, first won by Zimmerman in 1893, and the
> Belgian rider Protin in 1895 respectively. His countryman, Jef Scherens,
> appears to have been the most prolific winner, taking the professional
> championship 6 times in a row from 1932 and finally a 7th time in 1947. Grass
> track was (and remains) popular in the UK, but apparently much to do with the
> distinct lack of decent hard tracks. The machines used for Path racing were
> essentially a modern track bike, and in England under the (National Cyclists'
> Union (N.C.U.) could not race with wing nuts, brakes, freewheels or any
> accessory whatsoever, and required bar end plugs. 74/75 deg. head tubes were
> popular as were so-called Path or Track outward facing ends, 11 inch bracket
> heights, short fork rakes of 1.5-1.75 inches and round section tapered fork
> blades.
> Though the magazine Cycling used and mixed both the generic term 'Path' and
> 'Track' pre-war and until the early 1950's to describe racing on hard tracks, by
> the end of that decade 'Track' became almost a universal description, and by
> 1960, 'Path' had all but disappeared. Manufacturers did likewise. When the
> word 'Path' was added to a model name i.e. Hobbs Championship Path, it was built
> as a track bike, with no drilled fork crown or brake bridge. Road / Path
> machines appear to have sold as purely a track bike but with the fork crown
> drilled to accept a brake caliper and little else. Whether anyone turned up in
> 1950, and stripped off their lights, brake caliper, brake lever, and mudguards
> etc. is debatable. Just how many would have fitted a freewheel to the machine
> that having arrived at the track meeting would either be removed or the wheels
> swapped even more so.....(though Cyclo did produce nice wee brackets for
> carrying them)....I guess in reality club-level folk turned up with only the
> front brake to remove (Hilary ?) The typical 30's road racing machine can be
> mistakenly called a 'path racer'- these were generally single speed fixed
> machines but with much more relaxed angles and short seat tubes against a long
> top tube (18"/23"), with a front and/or rear brake and more often than not in
> Scotland at the start of the season anyway - mudguards front and rear as well,
> and - as required by the reg's - a bell ! If you were a smart road man you
> would have a freewheel on the other side to get you home after the race when
> your legs were done-in apparently! I've had a 1937 Sun Wasp set up as such, and
> still have a 1930's Bates that came likewise.
> Bob Reid
> Stonehaven, Scotland
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> Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2009 20:11:22 -0400
> From: <edvintage63(AT)>
> Subject: [CR] "Path Racer" "Road-Path" nomenclature (Ed Granger) (
> )
> I would appreciate it if Norris (or someone else knowledgeable on the
> subject) would weigh in on this, as two different terms seem to be extant
> in the thread regarding KOF road-path frames. It's my understanding that
> "path racer," the term that inaugurated the discussion, properly refers to
> a "pure" track design - no braze-ons, higher bottom bracket, steeper
> angles. A "road-path," on the other hand, refers to a "hybrid" design that
> uses track ends (allowing the bike to be entered into races on shallower
> tracks), but with a lower bottom bracket, braze-ons, and more relaxed
> angles, to allow for use in time trials, club rides, and training. Some
> clarification here from the British cycling experts would be appreciated
> (by me, anyway).
> Ed Granger
> Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA