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Old 05-11-12, 06:09 AM   #1
ThatBritBloke
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How a bicycle is made ...

... or at least, how they used to be made:

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Old 05-11-12, 08:07 AM   #2
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This has been making the rounds on Facebook. Very interesting video. I'd like to see an updated version.
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Old 05-11-12, 08:29 AM   #3
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That was really interesting thanks for posting!
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Old 05-11-12, 08:39 AM   #4
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Reminds me of what in my view is the most interesting thread on BF.
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Old 05-11-12, 08:53 AM   #5
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Another... note how the modern guy uses a machine to install tyres while those ladies at the Raleigh factory were installing tyres with their bare hands.


Not much has really changed when it comes to the mass building of bicycles, or hand building for that matter.
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Old 05-11-12, 09:11 AM   #6
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The tire-fitting 'girls' didn't need no stinkin' tools to get the job done.

Narrator was a little off in saying 'a penny farthing of a hundred years ago.' The film looks to be from the 1930's (?) - penny farthings came on the scene in the 1870's.

What factory/company was this? (How a Bicycle is Made)
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Old 05-11-12, 09:16 AM   #7
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What factory/company was this? (How a Bicycle is Made)
Raleigh. 1945, I think.

Last edited by chasm54; 05-11-12 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 05-12-12, 09:05 AM   #8
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Impressive in the amount of manual labor that was needed to produce a bicycle. Makes me feel like I haven't worked a day in my life because most of our jobs these days don't require the degree of repetitive, manual tasks jobs of yore required. They are/were "The Greatest Generation", indeed.
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Old 05-12-12, 11:30 AM   #9
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The tire-fitting 'girls' didn't need no stinkin' tools to get the job done.

Narrator was a little off in saying 'a penny farthing of a hundred years ago.' The film looks to be from the 1930's (?) - penny farthings came on the scene in the 1870's.

What factory/company was this? (How a Bicycle is Made)
The "girls" were expendable. When they invariably developed debilitating injuries from repetitive use, they just hired another "girl". This was a post-war promo for an industry needed to fill factories vacated by war production and provide transportation in the face of continued fuel rationing.

When the war ended, and the men returned, most of the "girls" who had been doing men's work in factories were let go. My Mom, her sisters, and various other female relatives worked at Goodyear Aircraft in Akron during the war.

The "girls" and "men" nomenclature endured until at least the mid-1970's. Many industrial job descriptions included "man" in the title, such as "Chief Technical Man".

The amount of pollution, chemical exposure to workers and waste of resources in factories of that period was staggering.
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Old 05-12-12, 11:36 AM   #10
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The "girls" were expendable. When they invariably developed debilitating injuries from repetitive use, they just hired another "girl". This was a post-war promo for an industry needed to fill factories vacated by war production and provide transportation in the face of continued fuel rationing.

When the war ended, and the men returned, most of the "girls" who had been doing men's work in factories were let go. My Mom, her sisters, and various other female relatives worked at Goodyear Aircraft in Akron during the war.

The "girls" and "men" nomenclature endured until at least the mid-1970's. Many industrial job descriptions included "man" in the title, such as "Chief Technical Man".

The amount of pollution, chemical exposure to workers and waste of resources in factories of that period was staggering.
All this is true, in general. But actually, in the UK, the number of female factory workers remained high. That is not to say that women weren't discriminated against -my mother, a junior civil servant, was required to resign when she got married in 1944. Quite the reverse, in fact. Many employers here cottoned on to the fact that they could keep wages down by continuing to employ women in positions that, pre-war, would have been more likely to be filled by men.

And, of course, the post-war reconstruction meant that there was pretty much full employment. In the 1950s and 1960s UK unemployment averaged around 2%. We'd dream of that, nowadays.
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Old 05-12-12, 11:46 AM   #11
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All this is true, in general. But actually, in the UK, the number of female factory workers remained high. That is not to say that women weren't discriminated against -my mother, a junior civil servant, was required to resign when she got married in 1944. Quite the reverse, in fact. Many employers here cottoned on to the fact that they could keep wages down by continuing to employ women in positions that, pre-war, would have been more likely to be filled by men.

And, of course, the post-war reconstruction meant that there was pretty much full employment through the late forties and fifties.
Unfortunately, higher mortality in male population and massive destruction in the UK. I've always been thankful that I grew up near the red brick factories of Akron, rather than the red brick factories of Nottingham (Raleigh) or Berlin (Siemens).
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Old 05-12-12, 11:55 AM   #12
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Unfortunately, higher mortality in male population and massive destruction in the UK. I've always been thankful that I grew up near the red brick factories of Akron, rather than the red brick factories of Nottingham (Raleigh) or Berlin (Siemens).
Yeah, well. I wasn't born until the mid-fifties, but my parents lived though WW2 - my father flew in the RAF - and despite all the obvious downside, they were happy with their lot. Rationing persisted into the fifties, very few people had anything one would now describe as wealth, but there was a degree of social cohesion that we might now envy. They'd have had very little patience with the "greed is good" philosophy that has such traction today.

And, of course, whatever its shortcomings, that era built great bikes in huge numbers.
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Old 05-12-12, 12:11 PM   #13
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Impressive in the amount of manual labor that was needed to produce a bicycle. Makes me feel like I haven't worked a day in my life because most of our jobs these days don't require the degree of repetitive, manual tasks jobs of yore required. They are/were "The Greatest Generation", indeed.
I worked as a machinist and now work as a framebuilder... I understand what working a day in one's life is all about and people who come asking to have frames built often do not understand the amount of time and skill it takes to take 5 pounds of raw materials and turn it into a bicycle.

I would love to see bicycles being built here on a mass scale again... perhaps one day, as economies shift and change and outsourcing becomes less and less economical we may see this happen.
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Old 05-12-12, 12:24 PM   #14
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?..people who come asking to have frames built often do not understand the amount of time and skill it takes to take 5 pounds of raw materials and turn it into a bicycle.
Right. I don't know much about CF fabrication, but to produce a quality steel or Ti bicycle is still a craftsman's (or woman's) job. In my opinion, quality bicycles are, and have always been, remarkably cheap.
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Old 05-12-12, 12:39 PM   #15
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Right. I don't know much about CF fabrication, but to produce a quality steel or Ti bicycle is still a craftsman's (or woman's) job. In my opinion, quality bicycles are, and have always been, remarkably cheap.
A mass produced Raleigh roadster like the ones shown in the first video sold for around $120.00 in the early 70's... the modern equivalent runs $800.00 - $1000.00 as some of the technology has improved greatly. Bikes like this usually come fully equipped with racks, fenders, and some very nice lighting systems that are not cheap and do add several hundred dollars to the cost.

The Raleigh Sports was priced close to this and a basic mass produced three speed today costs around $600.00 - $700.00.

My wife rides a Breezer Uptown with an 8 speed IGH that is fully equipped with a nice parts spec and wonderful lighting... it was a $900.00 bicycle. Consider that neither of us drives and that this is her primary mode of transportation and that over nearly 5 years of use the bicycle has pretty much paid for itself.

Back in the 40's a bicycle was not the disposable item they are today and if one purchased a bicycle the buyer was looking at a bike they could ride for decades and these old Raleighs were built to be ridden 100 years.

Several of my older bicycles are Raleighs from the 50's... there is a '51, '54, and '55 in my collection that have seen a lot of use over the past 50 - 60 years as well as several 70's models that are all going strong.

If we were to build a custom like this the price would be in line with a Pashley which is a production built roadster and one might be looking at $2000.00 + for a fully custom made bicycle of this type as we build them one at a time and not in series of hundreds or thousands.

When my wife retires her Breezer or wants a custom roadster it will be custom built for her by one very loving husband.
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Old 05-12-12, 12:50 PM   #16
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When my wife retires her Breezer or wants a custom roadster it will be custom built for her by one very loving husband.
Lucky lady. Almost makes me wish I had a husband. LOL

As I've mentioned a couple of times elsewhere, I recently picked up a 1984 Raleigh Royal. It was their competitor for the Dawes Galaxy, the classic English tourer. I bought it cheap as a bike I could lock up in town and not worry too much if it were stolen.

But this is a beautiful bike. By 1984 Raleigh was going downhill, but many of their frames, including this one, were still hand built. A lot of work went into this 531 frame, racing dropouts, chain hanger, unobtrusive but beautifully-filed lugwork, the rake on the (chromed) fork is sublime. It is the most comfortable bike I own, I think it is the most comfortable bike I can remember owning. It soaks up the bumps as if it had suspension.

This bike is 28 years old and doesn't look as if it has had a sheltered life. And I will put a great many more miles on it. But I have absolutely no doubt that with a modicum of care it will be fit to leave to my successors when I die. And I don't intend to die for forty years or so.
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Old 05-12-12, 01:21 PM   #17
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If the film was shot in 1945, surprised that the Raleigh factory was completely back to making bikes instead of war materiel that quickly. Assuming that they weren't building bikes during the War. Is that accurate?
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Old 05-12-12, 01:30 PM   #18
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If the film was shot in 1945, surprised that the Raleigh factory was completely back to making bikes instead of war materiel that quickly. Assuming that they weren't building bikes during the War. Is that accurate?
Why would you assume they werent building bikes during the war? Petrol (gas) was virtually unobainable by ordinary people because it was requisitioned for the war effort. Bikes were used in the military, but more importantly, it was essential for the wartime economy that people should be able to get around, get to work etc. Everybody cycled, it was absolutely inescapable. I've no doubt that their production was compromised because lots of employees were siphoned off to do other things, but there would be no reason at all for them to stop making bikes.


EDIT

I've checked this out. Some of their facilities were converted to produce munitions, mainly cartridge cases. However, they did indeed continue making bikes throughout the war, including developing folding bikes for use in commando raids! Cool!

Last edited by chasm54; 05-12-12 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 05-12-12, 08:29 PM   #19
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Thanks to the OP. I enjoyed that a lot. Brings "relaxation, health, and happiness"... that explains everything! I also know why it is called a "bottom bracket" now.
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Old 05-12-12, 08:32 PM   #20
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Why would you assume they werent building bikes during the war? Petrol (gas) was virtually unobainable by ordinary people because it was requisitioned for the war effort. Bikes were used in the military, but more importantly, it was essential for the wartime economy that people should be able to get around, get to work etc. Everybody cycled, it was absolutely inescapable. I've no doubt that their production was compromised because lots of employees were siphoned off to do other things, but there would be no reason at all for them to stop making bikes.


EDIT

I've checked this out. Some of their facilities were converted to produce munitions, mainly cartridge cases. However, they did indeed continue making bikes throughout the war, including developing folding bikes for use in commando raids! Cool!
Very common in the States for factories during the war to stop making what they usually did and start making war products for the duration. It does make sense that they would continue to make some bikes.
Commandos on folding bikes! Interesting.
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Old 05-13-12, 05:55 AM   #21
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If you want to see how custom bikes are made today you need only visit a custom builder. Custom builders today make very few of their own components, they purchase tubing, brackets and such from suppliers and cut, weld, glue, the pieces together. When I toured the Serotta plant they were machining their own dropouts but their tube stock they purchased.
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Old 05-13-12, 05:49 PM   #22
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Remember during WW II in Belgium . . .
Pre-war, bicycles were always means of transport; however during the war there were no tires to be had; a few folks actually rode on the bare rims, but they did not last long.
Walking was about the only way to get anywhere; shoes were rationed to one pair per person per year, but there were no shoes. We reverted to the old Dutch style wooden shoes . . .
Good old days??? Not really!
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Old 05-14-12, 10:08 AM   #23
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Now I know why it's called a "bottom bracket"....

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Old 05-17-12, 12:27 AM   #24
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This very nice example of a British Raleigh Royal just popped up on my local Craigslist. If I didn't already have too many bikes, I would be sorely tempted because I think this is a very reasonable price.

http://madison.craigslist.org/bik/2982857993.html
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Old 05-17-12, 05:51 AM   #25
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A surprising number of bicycles were used in service by the allies and the axis powers during WWII. Watch the old "World At War" series or some of the other news real type shows available to us now. You'll see a lot of bicycles in use by messengers and such. Someone had to manufacture these. Raleigh and others combined there production facilities to produce war materials and service bicycles in England.
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