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Old 01-01-12, 06:40 PM   #1
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Ladie's Hercules Conundrum

Late last week, I managed to win an eBay auction for a Ladies Hercules bicycle. The bike has Raleigh lugs and a Sturmey AW hub dated 64 12. However, the headbadge says Birmingham instead of Nottingham. This is strange in that I thought all the production of Hercules bicycles had moved to Nottingham in the early 1960's.

Does anyone know if TI was still producing bicycles in Birmingham as late as 1964 or even 1965? This bike is no doubt a Raleigh frame, but the headbadge is confusing me to no end and it looks as if it belongs on the bike to me. There are no signs that the badge has been replaced as best I can tell. Also of note is that the bike has the Raleigh style mudguards with the brazed on stays instead of the wire stays which were standard on Hercules bikes even after the TI merger. As an aside, I have a 1964 Hercules Cruiser that Frank the Welder gave me which has a Nottingham badge affixed.

Anyone have any ideas on this? Pictures follow...


Ladie's 1964 Hercules Headbadge by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Ladie's 1964 Hercules - 1 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Ladie's 1964 Hercules - 2 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Ladie's 1964 Hercules - 3 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 01-01-12, 06:58 PM   #2
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I think there are too many possibilities here. it could be a frame that was produced before the move and assembled later. despite moving the 'old' headbadges were still used. the bike is a earlier model and the rear wheel was replaced at some point.

looks like a great little bike
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Old 01-01-12, 07:00 PM   #3
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Everything on that bike looks absolutely original. I'd think they were just using up existing stock.
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Old 01-01-12, 07:08 PM   #4
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I think there are too many possibilities here. it could be a frame that was produced before the move and assembled later. despite moving the 'old' headbadges were still used. the bike is a earlier model and the rear wheel was replaced at some point.

looks like a great little bike
I've thought through some of those possibilities, but the incongruity of the Birmingham headbadge tells me that maybe they still had some old headbadges they were using up or they were still producing some lines in Birmingham into the mid-60's. I have no reason to believe the hub is not original to the bike given all the other cues as to the year and model. This one is a keeper because it is pretty unique among Hercules with this being one of the "transition" models with the TI/Raleigh merger.
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Old 01-01-12, 07:14 PM   #5
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Everything on that bike looks absolutely original. I'd think they were just using up existing stock.
I wish there was better history about the transition of production from Birmingham to Nottingham. It seems that with the sheer volume of bikes being made between the BCC brands and those that were part of Raleigh, the production may have gone for a long while as they consolidated operations, but that is just speculation...
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Old 01-01-12, 07:59 PM   #6
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Clubman is probably right. I've had a 60's Herc with a Birmingham badge, they aren't that rare.
Raleigh must have inherited a million nice badges and kept using them.
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Old 01-02-12, 07:26 AM   #7
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Does it have a steel fulcrum with the plastic pulley for the gear cable? 1964 was the transition year for them.

I have a 1964 AMF Hercules that is very similar. I would suspect leftover badges, frame production moved to Raleigh, assembly still being done in Birmingham, without being there who knows.

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Old 01-02-12, 07:45 AM   #8
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Don:t count on those badges being related to where it was made, My 1975 Raleigh head badge says Nottingham, but the serial number says it was built in Canada....
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Old 01-02-12, 08:36 AM   #9
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Clubman is probably right. I've had a 60's Herc with a Birmingham badge, they aren't that rare.
Raleigh must have inherited a million nice badges and kept using them.
That makes good sense and I wouldn't doubt that there may have been some of that happening with their production lines.

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Don:t count on those badges being related to where it was made, My 1975 Raleigh head badge says Nottingham, but the serial number says it was built in Canada....
It is interesting that you have a Canadian build Raleigh with a Nottingham headbadge, but I'm guessing that may have been somewhat common since we are talking about a brand that just moved production facilities overseas. In the case of Hercules, it is a bit more complex because they had just merged with the Raleigh and it appears they were moving their production facilities.
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Old 01-02-12, 08:51 AM   #10
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Does it have a steel fulcrum with the plastic pulley for the gear cable? 1964 was the transition year for them.

I have a 1964 AMF Hercules that is very similar. I would suspect leftover badges, frame production moved to Raleigh, assembly still being done in Birmingham, without being there who knows.

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Indeed, it does have the steel fulcrum and the plastic pulley (cursed things). I didn't really have any doubts that the bike was a 1964, given it's detailing and overall condition. Also of note is that this has a different chainring that is not like most of those they used on their non-Raleigh bikes. Almost all of the bikes I've seen from that era have the chainring like that on your ladies Hercules.

As I'm thinking some more about this, and admittedly I'm probably thinking too hard about it, there is one commonality between the Hercules on your picture and the one I have: They are both step-through frames or ladies bikes. I have a theory (likely not a very good one) that they moved the production of gents bikes to Nottingham first and that ladies bikes continued to be produced in Birmingham for a while afterwards. That's the best I can come up with right now.


Ladie's 1964 Hercules Fulcrum by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Ladie's 1964 Hercules Chainring by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 01-02-12, 10:17 AM   #11
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You can buy steel replacement pulleys from ABCE (look down the page) I think the price is very reasonable. I have replaced most if not all of my fulcrums and pulleys with the steel version, just one less thing to worry about.

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Old 01-02-12, 10:19 AM   #12
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Almost forgot...I do have another step through Herc, but it is at least 10 years older and I am sure it was really built in Birmingham

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Old 01-02-12, 10:31 AM   #13
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I'm willing to believe that the location on the headbadges had nothing to do with the frame's location of origin. More likely than not, it was kept unchanged as a nod to the original origins of the brand (not to mention as a sly - and not necessarily honest - sales tactic). It'd also save on tooling too.

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Old 01-02-12, 11:06 AM   #14
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You can buy steel replacement pulleys from ABCE (look down the page) I think the price is very reasonable. I have replaced most if not all of my fulcrums and pulleys with the steel version, just one less thing to worry about.
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Almost forgot...I do have another step through Herc, but it is at least 10 years older and I am sure it was really built in Birmingham
I actually have a hand-full of steel pulleys hanging around, that I managed to either buy just the pulley wheel of the entire clamp assembly off eBay. I saw that they have been selling just the wheels, but haven't been desperate enough to where I've needed to buy them from the ABCE guys yet. Now that ball cup spanner is another story entirely. Mine is on the way!

About that red and white ladies Hercules: What is the stamping on the hub? I'd think it still has the original Hercules hub. I'd also be very interested to see what the rear dropouts look like. Also, how is the overall condition of the paint? It seems the Hercules red paint was especially fragile based on my Hercules Lion and one that Velognome has or, perhaps, had.
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Old 01-02-12, 11:16 AM   #15
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I'm willing to believe that the location on the headbadges had nothing to do with the frame's location of origin. More likely than not, it was kept unchanged as a nod to the original origins of the brand (not to mention as a sly - and not necessarily honest - sales tactic). It'd also save on tooling too.

-Kurt
Kurt, you're probably right and after 50 years it's hard to say what the reality was. There's a lot of conjecture mixed in with some known facts and all we can really do is speculate. Unless we can get someone who was actually with the company at that time to weigh in on this, and I'm not sure there are too many folks from that era still around much less reading these forums, it's one of those things we'll never likely know for sure.
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Old 01-02-12, 01:21 PM   #16
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Everything on that bike looks absolutely original. I'd think they were just using up existing stock.
I think this is the most likely scenario. Probably had bins full of head badges in storage.
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Old 01-02-12, 01:30 PM   #17
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I think this is the most likely scenario. Probably had bins full of head badges in storage.
I had two early 1970's AMF-Hercules examples a few years ago, plus a '69. All of them had the same Birmingham headbadge as the OP's. All three of them showed every indication of TI-era production at Nottingham.

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Old 01-02-12, 01:45 PM   #18
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Not to be a curmudgeon here, but as I see it:

1964 bike with Birmingham headbadge: interesting datum point.

All this speculation: not so much.
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Old 01-02-12, 02:00 PM   #19
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1964 bike with Birmingham headbadge: interesting datum point.

All this speculation: not so much.
Every single bike shown in this thread has definitively post-TI, Nottingham-production features (with exception to the aftermarket chainguard on the OP's example).

I might add that some of the bikes in the 1964 Raleigh range were subject to the same two-tone headtube and tapered spire designs as on the OP's '64 Hercules.

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Old 01-02-12, 02:12 PM   #20
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Every single bike shown in this thread has definitively post-TI, Nottingham-production features (with exception to the aftermarket chainguard on the OP's example).

I might add that some of the bikes in the 1964 Raleigh range were subject to the same two-tone headtube and tapered spire designs as on the OP's '64 Hercules.

-Kurt
Yes, that is true. All these are interesting data. Clearly Raleigh-made Herculeses retained a lot of the stylistic traits of pre-Raleigh ones. Why that is, and how it was done (maybe there was a Hercules paint and assembly shed at the Raleigh plant?) is a matter for speculation. I, personally, find the data more interesting than the speculation.
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Old 01-02-12, 05:19 PM   #21
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Yes, that is true. All these are interesting data. Clearly Raleigh-made Herculeses retained a lot of the stylistic traits of pre-Raleigh ones.
I disagree. The only thing that differs are the pointed chainguard on some of these Hercs, and even those guards aren't even close to pre-Raleigh Hercules guards.

On the other hand, these frames have every hallmark of a TI-era Raleigh: Double-scalloped lugs, peaked front fender, spot-welded fender stays, Raleigh pattern brakes, Endrick base-model rims, paint jobs (1964), Raleigh S22/S22L-spec saddle, Sturmey-Archer rear reflector consistent with period Raleighs, and the same exact fork crown used on TI/Raleigh-built Robin Hoods, Dunelts and Triumphs.

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Old 01-02-12, 06:26 PM   #22
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That makes good sense and I wouldn't doubt that there may have been some of that happening with their production lines.



It is interesting that you have a Canadian build Raleigh with a Nottingham headbadge, but I'm guessing that may have been somewhat common since we are talking about a brand that just moved production facilities overseas. In the case of Hercules, it is a bit more complex because they had just merged with the Raleigh and it appears they were moving their production facilities.
Up until the mid 1980's there were high tariffs on bicycles imported into Canada, but not on bicycle parts, so what companies like Raleigh did, was set up assembly plants, so all the parts came from England, and were then assembled domestically. Sekine successfully did the same thing initially, but the parts came from Japan. An English built and Canadian built Raleigh were identical except for the assembly plant and possibly a different model name that was more palatable to the French parts of Canada. I would guess they didn't build enough of them to make a different head badge. What is interesting is that the missus' bike also a Raleigh has no name on the head badge, just lines, where the name would go. IIRC it was made in Malaysia according to the serial number.
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Old 01-02-12, 06:44 PM   #23
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An English built and Canadian built Raleigh were identical except for the assembly plant and possibly a different model name
There were some clones built here in Canada worthy of the name but by the 1980's, the wheels were falling off and some of the Sports models coming out of Quebec were just horrible. Paint, chrome, components, steel, pretty much crap. They were somewhat indicative the overall decline suffered by Raleigh but some of those bikes were barely Walmart (Kmart?) worthy at best.
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Old 01-02-12, 06:53 PM   #24
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Up until the mid 1980's there were high tariffs on bicycles imported into Canada, but not on bicycle parts, so what companies like Raleigh did, was set up assembly plants, so all the parts came from England, and were then assembled domestically. Sekine successfully did the same thing initially, but the parts came from Japan. An English built and Canadian built Raleigh were identical except for the assembly plant and possibly a different model name that was more palatable to the French parts of Canada. I would guess they didn't build enough of them to make a different head badge. What is interesting is that the missus' bike also a Raleigh has no name on the head badge, just lines, where the name would go. IIRC it was made in Malaysia according to the serial number.

Interesting! I think the tariffs in the US might have been the opposite!
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Old 01-02-12, 07:29 PM   #25
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There were some clones built here in Canada worthy of the name but by the 1980's, the wheels were falling off and some of the Sports models coming out of Quebec were just horrible. Paint, chrome, components, steel, pretty much crap. They were somewhat indicative the overall decline suffered by Raleigh but some of those bikes were barely Walmart (Kmart?) worthy at best.
The "clones" were genuine Nottingham machines made for the Canadian market. No different than any other Nottingham Raleigh, because they are.

The 1980's jobs that state "Made in Canada" are Taiwan-inspired junkers like any other Wally-World deal.

-Kurt
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