When They Were Good

A friend of mine owns a late 1980s Claud Butler roadbike. And whenever I have occasion to look at it, I experience a mix of feelings that, for the longest time, I could not quite place.

Once in a while the bike is extracted for show-and-tell. Neighbours gather round.

"Ah this one's from back in the day," one says, "when they were good." And he points to the lugs, the Reynolds 531 decal on the frame. Others nod understandingly.

To most present-day cyclists in Ireland and the UK, the Claud Butler brand means internet-bought budget bikes. But once, this name was associated with greatness.

And I realise the specimen in front of me somehow encompasses both ends of this spectrum: It is as if its look simultaneously tells the history of this renown make, and suggests the extent of its future decline.

Described by cycling historians as the 'king of lightweights,' Claud Butler was one of the better-known British Lightweight manufacturers of the 1920s - 1950s. And one for whom, the 'lightweight' description holds true even by current standards.

I grew fascinated with this, when I noticed how little my own, original 1936 CB mixte, weighs compared to similar bikes produced today. I then had a browse through old Claud Butler catalogues, and realised that for them this was pretty much standard practice. In fact, my befendered fat-tyred 26lb mixte was a monster compared to the sub-18lb racing bikes the catalogues offered at this time. To see such weights quoted in an era we tend to associate with 'outdated' equipment and 'heavy' materials was an eye opener.

But Claud Butler was revered for more than just their lightweight production. The proprietary lugwork,  the finishing, the overall workmanship were amazing. In particular they were known for the quality of their fillet brazing and bilaminate (lug/fillet hybrid) construction. And, although this is seldom mentioned and little known, they were also among the first (if not the actual first) to develop the solid top tube/ split-stay style of mixte frame construction - the likes of which we still see today (i.e. the Rivendell Cheviot/ Betty Foy).

But all this, alas, was in Claud Butler's heyday, which ended by the time the 1950s arrived. As the British interest in cycling declined in favour of motorised and televised entertainment, so did the population's eagerness to purchase hand-crafted cycles.

For many bicycle manufacturers, the sharp drop-off in business at this time proved lethal. Claud Butler hung on for some time yet, and in 1958 was purchased by (another well known British Lightweight) Holdsworth, which extended their production by several decades. The Holdsworth-era Claud Butlers were bicycles of good quality. However, they lost the characteristics which made the original brand remarkable and unique, becoming instead a rebadged sub-brand of Holdsworth, and growing more generic in construction and appearance with each passing decade.

Finally, by 1987 Holdsworth too was in decline. And the rights to both brands were sold to the conglomerate Elswick-Hopper, which continues to own the Claud Butler name today.

My friend's late '80s Criterium has to be from the early years of these conglomerate-ownership days, twice removed from anything resembling original Claud Butler production.

Judging by the lack of a "handmade in England" decal (which I am sure would have been present were this the case), I am guessing it was factory-produced, in the Far East.

None of this, of course, makes this Claud Butler a 'bad' bicycle. But other things about it strike me as peculiar.

For one thing, despite the prominent decals touting the Reynolds 531 frame (although none on the fork), the bike feels remarkably heavy. Much heavier 'than it looks' and heavier than it 'should be;' I am guessing close to 30lb easy.

The Shimano Exage compoments (comparable to today's Sora) no doubt partially account for this. And their choice by the manufacurer probably indicates that the handlebars, stem, wheels, and other parts, are of similar weight and quality.

The decision to combine heavy budget parts with a Reynolds 531 frame struck me as odd and mysterious at first.  But after studying this bike on several occasions now, I think I get it.

It was a bike made to look and sound the part, in a superficial sort of way, without costing the part. It seems a similar mentality that produced the Raleigh Rapide I featured here last year - but taken a few steps further.

The crisply outlined lugs, the sparkly metallic paint, the aggressive lines of the frame and fork (check out the rake on that!) - I imagine when this bike was brand new it all looked rather dreamy. Not to mention, the Reynolds 531 frame, which everyone knew was good! 

And to a fledgling cyclist, I can see how this made for an attractive package, with details such as the low-end components and the weight seeming far less important.

It is no surprise that several locals I know recall the Claud Butler Criterium, from this very era, as their first adult racing bike. To these folks, the bike, from back in the day, was 'good.' Good as in durable. Good as in tactile in a way a modern bike is not. Good as in bringing back memories of their first club rides and races, of old friendships.

But of course - the bikes' former owners will add, snapping out of their nostalgia -  this good old bike was also heavy as heck! Naturally, because it was old. And made of steel. Which is why those who still cycle today will have of course long replaced it with aluminium bikes, and later still with carbon bikes weighing under 20lb.

I open my mouth to tell them, that an even older Claud Butler would have rivaled that weight. And sometimes I actually say it. But most of the time I do not.


  1. I heard nothing about Claud Butler as I got into cycling in America. I first saw them on the Berlin Steel Vintage Bikes site. Naturally, their examples were from the 40s/50s and were extraordinary, both fillet-brazed and one featuring cromovelato paint. When I saw a "later" CB, I did a triple-take. Nothing about the design suggested the CBs of decades past.

    It is surprising how light some of these old frames can be when built up with the right components. I built up a '75 Motobecane Grand Jubile mixte for a girlfriend. It's one of the only Reynolds 531 mixtes I've ever seen. With Velo Orange french-threaded headset and BB, vintage Belleri porteur handlebars, Stronglight 49d cranks, a Suntour Cyclone RD, and a 1x5 downtube shifted drivetrain, it was astonishingly light -- even with a fat Brooks saddle in back and a basket up front.

    1. For some reason I was aware of Claud Butler very early on... but initially I thought the maker was French!

      I have seen some truly beautiful Motobecane Grand Jubile mixte rebuilts. Hope your girlfriend is enjoying hers.

  2. Some food for thought, as I dust off my W.F. Holdsworth...

  3. How does it ride compared to the Raleigh Rapide? They do not look to be even in the same ballpark, but I get what you mean about the same mentality.

    1. The CB is not in ridable condition, and the Rapide is too big for me, so I've not tried either.

  4. This describes the period I started losing interests in bikes, the transition away from small companies towards giant manufactures who put out crappy products. Even the graphics looked terrible. This one hasn't aged well!

  5. Fred Baker's is still there, on Cheltenham Rd. I was in just before Christmas

    1. Nice. Bristol strikes again!

    2. Yes, I got a bit of a surprise seeing that label. I'd suggest though that the shop has followed a similar trajectory to the CB marque, but without sinking to the same depths. It's certainly changed since I first discovered it around the time that bike must have been sold; but then, what hasn't? Possibly of interest, at the Cyclists' Memorial Service in Castle Combe in spring 2015, the daughter of the original Fred Baker was presented with some sort of award for long service to Bristol's cycling community.

  6. I know this blog is called Lovely Bicycle and I know you like vintage bikes (whatever that may mean) but this particular bike is simple not attractive or lovely or interesting….Other than an example of what went wrong.

    1. I think that was kind of the point, mate. This bike represents what went wrong, despite the lugged 531 frame which I am sure once did look lovely, from a distance, and could be made so again.

    2. Yes, that was more or less the point.

      But I think what makes this bicycle look bad is not its pedigree or the fateful transitional era it represents, but mostly the handlebar setup and saddle. The bars are stuck, so I could not easily move them for the photos, and besides the bike isn't mine to alter. But it could actually look nice with fairly minor aesthetic adjustments.

  7. i bought a Claud Butler three speed at a police auction sometime in the mid-90s. When i finally got around to restoring it to ridable condition,i was very pleased with my find. It was apparently built in 1953, judging from the dates stamped on the S/A AW hub and on the Williams headset. i was later told that Butler produced the fillet-brazed 3 speeds with the model name "Coronation" in honour of HRH Elizabeth, and some were imported to the USA for a department store in ST. Louis, MO. My example bears decals for Colson's Stores and a decal from a Clayton's bike shop in St. Louis. How it made its way to the Chicago suburbs is a mystery. I know of one other example. The weight of the machine rivals that of my touring bike, and is several pounds lighter than my '71 Raleigh Sports.
    The owner of the bike shop i worked at in the early '70s had a Butler tandem, probably from the '40s that our younger mechs would take for joy rides from time to time.

  8. The angle of the handlebars tells an interesting story, not just about this bike but about so many like it.

  9. Wait a second... There were pre-WWII bicycles that weighed less than 8 kg?? What happened?

    I know brands like Alex Singer and Rodríguez are building very lightweight bikes out of steel, but I thought it was something like propietary technology or dark magic. Why would any factory invest in costly aluminium/carbon fiber R&D when steel can be made so lightweight? Something very bad must have happened to the industry.

    Where can I learn more about those antique lightweight cycles?

    1. If you ever get the opportunity to read the Rene Herse book (see my review here), it is full of references to bicycles of ridiculously light weight even by today's standards. And the French builders were not alone in this pursuit. See also: The Competition Bicycle.

      And I mention Jan Heine so much, only because he is the only one with an industry platform to really be discussing this topic openly.

      As for your question, my best guess is that it's a two-fold thing:

      1. To achieve such light weight with metals, especially steel, requires expert artisanal skill and lots of hours hand-finishing. It cannot be done in a factory setting on a mass-produced basis. So, steel bikes can be made super-lightweight, but there will always be a cap on production volume, and production cost will be high. Working with CF lends itself better to mass production and high volume, lowering production cost.

      2. To make steel frames (and traditionally-built wheels) super-lightweight would render them unsuitable for heavy riders. Cyclists today tend to be significantly larger and heavier than they were half a century ago, so a good portion of the current market would not be able to enjoy these lightweight machines. Working with composites and modern manufacturing methods solves this problem, making it possible for a 200lb rider to enjoy a lightweight bike.

      Overall, this is a fascinating discussion that is worth having in broader context.

    2. I'd suggest as an adjunct to your point 1: The general increase in labour costs, which is a worldwide phenomenon but applies especially to The West. Sure, we complain about low wages nowadays, but they're still high (with regard to cost of living) compared to the 1980s, let alone the '30s. And non-wage labour costs, like pensions and social security payments, have probably increased even more. In other words, artisanal labour is less affordable than it used to be. As a more recent trend, shipping costs have plummeted, reducing the cost of transporting several thousand cheaply produced bikes from Taiwan to Europe or N. America, compared to in-country production of high-quality bikes in small volumes.

      Having said that, at the custom build end, artisan labour appears to be booming, at least in the UK.

      Oh, and my wife has a Falcon step-through thing; hi-ten frame, cheap components, but not a bad example of the genre. It's from 2001 according to a label but could easily be a '90s or older design, bar a few components like V-brakes. It sports a "Made in England" sticker, which I'm sure means nothing more than "the wheels were put in the frame at warehouse in England".

  10. Does the fact that the 531 label only mentions frame tubes mean that the fork, stays, etc are just straight gauge? I have a Mercian from the early 1980s with 531c tubing, and the label makes clear that the whole frame is constructed from that material. Anyway, if the forks, stays, etc were from made from lower quality materials it would help explain the bike's heaviness - and would confirm the impression that the manufacturer has gone to some lengths to make the bike look classier than it really is...
    On the earlier reputation of Claude Butler, I remember my father (born 1947) associated Claude Butler bike with quality, and he was not a cycling enthusiast.

    1. There is now a comment below that discusses this far better than I ever could.
      {See: "Anonymous February 21, 2017 at 4:07 AM"}

  11. I think I see what you're saying, but I like this bike. Looking at the pics makes me want to fly over there right now with a bottle of Dawn, a scrub brush, and a bag of new nuts and bolts, but that bike would make a perfectly serviceable rain bike/winter beater/whatever. Under all that grime the paint looks good, everything is all there (although the rims look worn). Shimano Exage is still Shimano: it works, has always worked, and will always work.

    The only thing I don't like is the name. I'm sure it's just me, but I don't like bikes with full names on them. Just seems weird to me. Anyhoo, interesting post as always.

    1. I'd have to ride the bike to decide whether I like it. I do like the way it looks, Exage notwithstanding, if it were cleaned up and made presentable. The paint is actually perfect, only the lettering of the decals is peeling here and there. The drivetrain is frozen solid and the handlebars are stuck, but I don't think the owner is too interested in getting it running again.

    2. The name probably reflects the UK pro scene at the time, dominated by the Kellogg city centre crit series, which was shown at least occasionally on Channel 4

    3. "Shimano Exage is still Shimano: it works, has always worked, and will always work."

      I agree wholeheartedly. My own bike has original Shimano Exage derailers on it. They've withstood thousands of miles and a criminally negligent maintenance plan and they still shift crisply. I couldn't ask for more from my derailers.

      I think I'll give them a good scrub-down when I get home tonight, just as a way to say thanks for thousands of miles of service.

  12. >"In fact, my befendered fat-tyred 26lb mixte was a monster compared to the sub-18lb racing bikes the catalogues offered at this time. To see such weights quoted in an era we tend to associate with 'outdated' equipment and 'heavy' materials was an eye opener."

    >"Which is why those who still cycle today will have of course long replaced it with aluminium bikes, and later still with carbon bikes weighing under 20lb."
    >"I open my mouth to tell them, that an even older Claud Butler would have rivaled that weight."

    This seems a bit misleading. The 17.5lb bike from the 1936 CB catalog is a high-end track bike. A high-end track bike today is ~15lbs, and that's with both a UCI weight limit and aggressively aero-oriented design holding its weight back.
    Things from a 1930s CB catalog that have a reasonable degree of functionality overlap with a modern road bike just about always weigh more than 20lbs.

    1. I haven't the time or the obsessive energy at the moment to go through all the CB catalogues I pored over at one point, but as I recall there were geared roadbikes (albeit not necessarily with any functionality beyond racing) in that weight range as well. I could be wrong. But I think not, as I remember then discussing this discovery with Jan Heine. If I were a fastidious scholar of cycling history I would keep a written record of such things, with citations and references. Alas.

      However, my general point is basically in line with what you say above: that CB-made road bikes from the 1930s 'overlap with a modern road bike.' Which in itself would be a mind-blowing idea to many (most?) of today's bicycle purchasers.

    2. HTupolev. I dont often add posts to blogs but as this peaked my interest in getting me to write the reams I did earlier. i would like to just side with Velouria to an extent.

      No not every CB was sub 20Ibs. But what i have found through just checking such things is that generally pre 1960 specifications for some reason seem to be much nearer the real thing than many modern ones. Yes it is hard to prove this as it means having a mint condition as spec 70 year old bike to hand and lots of them. But where i have had chance it seems to hold true. I am old enough to be OCD about such things.

      The other is that pre 1985 all bike mass (I am also a physicist) was reported with pedals. Now mainly it isnt. Yes I know knit picking. Also even where the spec is heavier than a modern corresponding analogy these would have been mainly steel equipped bikes. So that in itself does sort of send a message about the frames.

      Are "real" classic road bikes better than their modern children. No! even touring bikes (a randonneuring bike is not a touring bike) generally had a somewhat different purpose and were built for somewhat different conditions. British touring bikes in particular were designed for YHAing (mainly) not full blown expeditions. And even the celeste beauty that was the paris roubaix bianchi was certainly designed for a different time.

      BUT some of the beauties of engineering craftsmanship as opposed to engineering science real do push bubbles that may no longer be being fulfilled. And certainly in a like for like many Reynolds or Vitus or Columbus frames of the 1950s would surprise at their lack of mass. Reynolds are not likely to ever draw small batches of very thin walled tubes specially for certain builders as they did at times for the likes of the Taylors or I am just about sure they did for CB. If not for every frame but the ones ridden in Copenhagen in 31 and LA in 32 most likely

    3. I can't speak for what Reynolds might be willing to do this very morning. About a year ago I did correspond with the current owner of the Bates marque, who was musing about producing frames again. Getting Reynolds to make small quantities of Cantiflex tubes was not a problem. General experience with tube mills tells me their production methods are quite flexible.

      Well known and well promoted tubesets such as 953, 853 Pro, Spirit for lugs, Pegorichie, or Xcr are produced in very small runs.

      The Taylor brothers could get anything they wanted because they built far more frames than any normal small builder. And it was always a pleasure doing business with them. Being straightforward and honest counts for a lot.

    4. Super light parts of the past existed under different expectations. If a rider fitted 200 gram rims and damaged them on the first ride there were no warranty claims, no returns, little complaining, and no social media. You sucked it up and tried again. Hopefully you learned something. Conversation on rides was all about riding technique and everyone wanted to learn.

      Nowadays it is held that "everybody is different" and therefore we must all remain ignorant. Or if knowledge is admitted to exist it is the private property of paid coaches, available only for cash money. Just buy the most expensive stuff you can find and expect the blessings to flow. If that superlight part fails, throw a tantrum and convince the manufacturer to play it safe.

  13. I left the UK cycle industry just prior to the bike you show becoming available not through desperation but ..well I changed courses.

    However a few things strike me... and might lead to some clarity. The said Claud is a UK made bike and from memory thought the badging confirms is only 3 tubes 531 butted. Stays were not 531. They may have been 501 but most likely a either a generic imported chromoly or even possibly a seamless high tensile steal. From memory I can not be certain but the plain 531 butted tubes transfer suggest one or the other.

    At the time of the mergers..BTW the bicycle division of Elswick by that time was Falcon. In many ways itself an illustrious small builder. the UK cycle industry was in many ways on its last legs. Under Holdworth CB hand hung on with the brand used on the touring range and Holdworth retained for the racing range. Even early 1980s CB Dalesman were very nice very well built practical touring machines. But they were not Dawes Galaxy so sold in much fewer numbers.

    The Holdworth pro frames of that era were just that 531 pro and very well built by the main UK supplier of Campagnolo. Look at the mess the Italian giant was in by 1987.

    BMX had come and mainly gone by then. But had opened the door in many ways to the real killer of the British cycle industry. Mountain Bikes. Yes the UK based Muddy fox branded Araya bikes sort of made bits of the UK industry look good and Madison starting the Freewheel catalogue spread availability but what Joe Bloggs in the street wanted was to be Joe Breeze or Tom Ritchey. As with BMX British made bikes couldnt compete. So they mimicked awful colour schemes from MTBs of the time. Cyclings equivalent of padded shoulders and AOR bouffant.

    Quality mass market handmade UK bikes just could not compete with very well made mass produced bikes from Japan and Taiwan.

    So the late 80's became littered with partial gas pipe OK machines. Often made in relatively large batches but not as full production runs to use up inventory. When Falcon took over Holdworth they not only had their reynolds inventory but also the inventory from London, which if I do remember Holdsworth were still a tube supplier to other builders.

    I remember a conversation with Barry Hoban (who at the time owned Coventry Eagle - who at the time made some nice basic handbuilt road frames in 531 and Tange) about why most UK cycle manufacturer also supplied components. His answer was something along the lines of to compete with imported MTBs and to get components at a price that would not make their bikes stupidly expensive UK medium size builders were almost forced into taking inventory of lower spec ranges just to get the better mid line components especially with the market flooding of index.

    Also the British Standards Institute hand by that time made it almost impossible for mass market producers to produce bikes i thin wall any more. Similar I guess to your comments about the Soma Randonneur

    So to return to the CB.. Yes in many ways it is not a 1930s CB. Nor is it even an early 1980's Dalesman. But maybe a flagship of a fight that quite few companies kept up for as long as they possibly could. Realistically against so many market forces. It even got the Phoenix in the end and I doubt there was ever as much a lusted after bicycle as a Red, black and yellow 753 team bike with full Super record from the SBDU. Lusting for quality might not always pay the bills

    1. Do I understand correctly, you are saying they would combine a hi-ten rear triangle and forks with a Reynolds 531 main triangle? That would explain a lot.

      I wonder at what point production was moved overseas for the Falcon-Elswick brands. I am guessing that possibly when this happened, anything that had been gleaned from the original manufacturers was abandoned and new styles and methods of manufacturing were adapted. The question interests me only because a few people now have asked whether it could be pinpointed when brands such as CB became 'what they are now.'

      As for the bike in this post: I agree with you that it symbolises the industry's fight, just as it does its decline. It is why I found it so interesting, and why seeing it gives me mixed feelings.

    2. Hi Velouria
      firstly sorry for the rambling nature of the comment. I was typing it while pretending to be working on something else. The joy of distraction.

      As I said I left the UK cycle industry in around 1988. I do not remember this exact model and so it "feels" post 88 but may be a smidgen earlier. Falcons production up to 1988 was almost certainly UK made especially if Reynolds tube sets were involved.

      Yes it was not uncommon for larger builders to use higher quality main tubes with lower quality stays and forks. Peugeot and Gitane as well as Raleigh also did this. The Reynolds transfer is for butted tubes only so refers only to the main triangle not double butted throughout. Seem to remember this version of the transfer came out around 1982ish.

      It is also worth remembering that the acceptance of chromoloy as a "good" tubing for lightweights is a fairly recent trend in the UK (less than 30 years). A direct consequence of 531 being a manganese mol steel. So even the term lower quality and higher quality is relative and to a point subjective. TI as in Tube Industries produced a range of tubings not just Reynolds. Many were has high a quality just not as light. Add in the availability of French and Belgium tubing in the UK and unless you have a sticker claiming origin then it is very hard to know exactly what tube sets were used.

      As I mentioned Coventry Eagle used a range of tubing. They made a lovely series of quite nice off the peg road frames with 531c main tubes, Tange (I think) stays and a glorious tange fork with semi sloping crown. The fork had campagnolo dropouts and the frame the beautiful Suntour superbre dropouts. At the time I road a Peugeot professional (531p) but the Coventry Eagle was actually a nicer ride even with a much shorter rear triangle.

      I am guessing now but after the break up of TI and Reynolds moving part of their extrusion to Asia would be around when Falcon like Saracen made the move to import rather than build. But on my part that is purely speculation.

      As an interesting aside in the 1960 early 70's Falcon had a contract to distribute Eddy Merckx bikes. Ernie Clements tied the deal up and through that beautifully made (not) Molteni coloured bikes started to appear in the USA. I think but am not sure that these bikes were assembled in Brigg on Humber using Campagnolo parts from Falcons own "for dealership" stock, which at the time they probably sourced from Holdsworth. In their own time Falcon produced some very nice frames but never the quality of the great British builders such as the Taylors, Bates or Flying Scot

    3. Besides using Reynolds butted tubes for the main triangle only, straight gauge tubes were frequent in lower cost bikes. Using the good metal in production frames kept factory volume up for Reynolds. And made nice frames.

      I had a couple of very fine Falcons. They were specials, not ordinary factory production. Who made them or how it was all arranged is beyond me, but there are some top bikes out there under Falcon decals.

    4. To clarify, I knew they combined 531 main triangles with 'less good' rear triangles and forks, I just assumed it was something better than hi-ten.

      The Moser road bike I keep recalling nostalgically was a Columbus (which exact tubing I don't know) 'tretubi', with god knows what kind of rear triangle and fork. Yet it was light and quick.

      Thanks for the history lessons in these comments; very interesting when told firsthand.

    5. Anonymous is correct about mix and match tubes. My Raleigh Super Course has the familiar 531 sticker, with a notation that specifies "Butted Frame Tubes." The Raleigh Catalog says the Super Course fork and seat stays are 1020 tubing. My Raleigh Competition GS from the same era specifies 531 in the frame, stays and fork. I bought the Super Course new and also test rode the Competition. I remember the Competition had a much better ride but I couldn't afford the higher price tag at the time. I finally picked up a Raleigh Comp frame with stem, cranks, brakes and derailleurs, a couple years ago, a $50 ebay bargain. It rides just like I remembered. The catalog lists the Super Course at 26 pounds, the Comp at 24.

  14. When she was good
    She was very, very good,
    And when she was bad she was horrid.

    So: Longfellow or Roth?

  15. The frame looks pretty good, actually. Very nice lugwork, especially for a bike that was originally inexpensive. I'd want to strip off all the parts and see what's left. Weight of a complete bike doesn't tell you anything about the frame weight or quality. Exage works fine (as someone pointed out) but it is heavy. For example, I'm seeing rust on the steel headset and maybe even on steel chainrings.

    You say the current owner isn't interested in fixing it up, which is a real shame. My advice (free, and worth every penny) is buy it, clean it up, hang on some decent parts, and go for a ride. There's no way to judge it properly until then. You might find a great ride after all that.

    1. He's not interested in fixing it up, but I don't think he would sell it either; keeping it for sentimental reasons - which I can understand.

      I need another project bike like I need a hole in the head to be honest! I am now officially the new generation crazy bike lady here. People will just leave their old discarded bikes outside my house. The barn is getting filled up! Not only do I not have the time or resources to get them all running, but sadly I'd have no one to give them away to even if I did. Not many people around here are interested unless it's a carbon racing bike. The pendulum will swing back at some point, but it hasn't yet.

  16. If I remember right, chromed forks and stays meant butted tubes used throughout the frame. Chromed forks meant butted main tubes. No chrome, probably straight gauge tubing.

  17. With new handlebars and saddle, a general clean-up, no clutter from contraptions/baskets/bags, I think it could be quite attractive with nice clean lines and quite suitable for someone who isn't worried about pedigree v mass production.

    1. If this bike were part of a garage sale and I could buy it for under fifty dollars I'd change it up and make it a single speed and maybe change the fork. Handlebars are fine, change the crank and pedal about my neighborhood.

  18. My 1974 Falcon Olympic is all 531 plain gauge ( including forks and stays). I attribute this combination of relatively thick but supple classic steel to its continued integrity over 40 years of commuting and occasional off roading in our rainy Pacific NW climate. As with a beloved elderly horse put out to pasture, this faithful steed now is still ridden frequently, but reserved for days when rain is not in the forecast.

  19. If I may add my 1 gramme's worth on tbe subject of frame weight. All steels, from the humblest of pig irons right up to the super-duper aerospace grade exotic steel alloys have a density of 7.8 gm/cc. What makes one steel frame apparently lighter is the tube wall thicknesses which for modern exotic steels can be as low as 0.4 mm. But that makes them more prone to buckling and denting. So an older, lighter frame is one where the builder chose lighter gauge thicknesses for a bike designed for competition and careful handling as opposed, to say a tourer made for carrying heavy loads, therefore stiffer, and possibly subject to rougher treatment.

    Great blog by tbe way!


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