[CR] Falcon Professional frame

(Example: Component Manufacturers)

Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2010 20:32:26 +0200
From: "Norris Lockley" <nlockley73@googlemail.com>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR] Falcon Professional frame

Recently arrived at my house near Sancerre, and fellow CR List member nelson Miller is letting me use his computer, so I will attempt to catch up on those emails that reached me before I left home but which I could not answer due to a glitch on my adsl line.

Working from the top of a long list of emails I came upon the correspondence about Gile's metallic green Falcon Professional..with its mystery Chro-Moly TUBEING.

This is not a team frame of the type ridden by Sid Barras, Keith Lambert, Phil Thomas etc..it is a standard catalogue item from somewhere in the early 80s. There was an identical frame called the Gran Sport, that was finished in flambouyant ruby paint with all chrome rear triangle and front forks. This was equipped with a Campagnolo Gran Sport groupset.

The frame was introduced at the time when that wonderful all-rounder Billy Holmes was working as Sales manager for the firm. I remember being over at Falcon's one day picking up a pile of accessories at the "stockade" as the stores building was called, when Billy led me by the elbow into his office to admire first of all his new secretary, and secondly, and more importantly , the all-new Gran Sport bike. Billy was keen to tell me that the non-Reynolds 531DB frame had a main triangle that weighed in the 22" form, four ounces less than the similar sized Reynolds frame.

The tubing is English and will be well-known to afficionados of the Trusty Viscount Aerospace series - the bronze-welded ones. The tubing is Phoenix 101, made in Wednesbury in the West Midlands by the Phoenix Tubing company Ltd. If you look at Nick Tithecott's H Lloyd cycles site you will find this transfer listed right at the very end of the list alongside the Reynolds ones.

Not much is known about this tubing ie whether it is butted or plain gauge, seamed or seamless. It might be seamed and single gauge, but of a fine wall permitting the 27.0 seat pillar.

The give-aways on this model of frame are the rear triangle stays and the front fork. Certainly the front fork which usually has a hollow pressed crown with two vertical prongs similar to certain ones on some Benotto frames, was of Tange manufacture. The ends of the chainstays are cut off obliquely rather than being domed or chiselled. Top eyes are normally long flat chamfers..possibly hollow ones...and probably Tange too.I think that the somewhat idiosyncratic Chro-Mo transfer hailed from Japan rather than the West Midlands.

The frames were built at Falcon's plant at Brigg in Lincolnshire in large quantities, and sold on to other firms. MKM, in its later years took some of them...so if you have an N MKM check out the chainstays and top eyes.

Some time in the mid-80s I remember quite a lot of club cyclists from Lancashire visiting my shop and recounting the stories of large stocks of Reynolds 531 DB frames flooding the market in their area. The frames were often available in bare metal or sometimes with a second-rate spray job. Prices were ridiculously low ranging from 18 pounds to nearly forty.

The explanation of this flooding of the market was due to a large fire at Falcon's spray plant. A certain Lancashire businessman wishing to set himself up in the cycle trade bought some 3000 of these frames from the fire sale at the astonishing price of less than one pound per frame. I met the chap in the gent's toilet at Milan airport in 1983/84, after we had disembarked from a flight from Manchester; he asked me if I was going to the Bike Show and did I want to share a taxi. En route he gave me his business card - Townsend Cycles..a newcomer that I had recently heard of. He explained how he had managed to launch his business so quickly but complained that it cost him more to transport the 3000 or so frames from the east coast of Yorkshire to Warrington , about a hundred or so miles.

Quite a few of these frames have come through my shop and I have yet to hear a single complaint about any of them. If Billy Holmes thought they were a good ride..then that's good enough for me.

Norris Lockley...down Memory Lane,..or should that be Rue de la Nostalgie ,Sancerre, France