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197* Harding? Holdsworth rebrand? Any thoughts?

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197* Harding? Holdsworth rebrand? Any thoughts?

Old 11-19-11, 05:30 PM
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197* Harding? Holdsworth rebrand? Any thoughts?

So I bit off way more than I could chew and attempted to buy a project bike as my first post-middle-school bike... too much.

It's an unknown year, branded as a Harding. The bike rides fine but there's rust in a few problematic areas- namely the spokes and rear brake cable guide. But overall, it's a pretty *****in bike. Reynolds 531, SunTour AR and ARX deraileurs, GB bars that show really well

I'm not going to try to pitch the bike, but I'm near LA and bikes are awful tough to come by around here. It seems like every time I try to snap up a good one it's gone in 2 hours.

Anyway, here's a pic, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Any more info that would be useful? Any ideas on value-adds?

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Old 11-19-11, 09:00 PM
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I was expecting to see an orange one. Harding was a private brand of Charlie Harding's Westwood Cyclery in LA.
The orange ones were made by Holdsworth, from 1974-75. It took a while for him to sell them off, so some were new but later.
I have never seen one of these. Small possibility that another Harding family member in Ireland had a hand in it.
Charlie also sold Falcon, so that is a possibility too as the builder.
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Old 11-20-11, 12:21 AM
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I would keep the bike and do some extensive research on it and become an expert on it because not much is known about these.

Your bike may turn out to be quite rare if Charlie Harding built it. Harding did build some of own, while others he had shipped frame and fork from England, those may have been the orange ones made by Holdsworth, since yours is not orange it could be very rare frame and fork actually built by Harding. Holdsworth also used a wrap over seat stay that wrapped over the seat tube at the top, it it's a Holdsworth of a different color that would be a big give away. See this for what I mean, this is a Harding Holdsworth by the way: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexjri...n/photostream/

Either way, if Harding built it himself it would be a very rare bike since he made very few and built them mostly for himself but did sell a few; or if the bike is a Harding Holdsworth it's still a rare bike since very few of those examples are still around today. There is another twist to this story. C. Harding had family in Cork Ireland who built bicycles for Harding! But that story takes on another twist of it's own because back then in Cork Ireland Raleigh had a factory there till it burned down...so did Harding's family own or run that factory or have their own separate small factory? or did Harding tell a story and was actually selling rebranded Raleighs with his name on it? that is what most people think what happened.

By the way his shop's name was: C Hardings for Bikes, it was located in Los Angeles. I believe he may have moved back to Cork Ireland because there is a shop in Cork named Harding Cycles there, the address is 19 Rutland Street, Cork Ireland. phone number is 02143211133 I have not tried to contact this info so I cannot guarantee if the info is still any good. And being that Charlie was born in the 20's there's a good chance he's dead, but maybe not, either way the family may still be operating thus they could provide you a wealth of info.

Please post pictures, not here so much but on the internet so others can readily see the bike, because all I could find was the orange Harding, thus others would be very interested in seeing pictures.

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Old 11-20-11, 03:35 AM
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I can't offer much information pertaining to the Harding brand, but I can help a bit with identifying vintage. Apply some of the information offered in How Old Is My Bike?, paying closest attention to Component Numbers. That should get you pretty close to determining how old the bike is.

As for Determining Bicycle Value, that is a whole different ball game and, generally, it is pretty difficult to predict how much a vintage bicycle is worth. Many things impact value, including location, time of year, size of bike and things like that.

Hope this is a bit of help and nice bike, by the way. I have had a few similar ones, including one still hanging in The Old Shed.
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Old 11-20-11, 06:38 AM
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Assuming the derailleurs arer original would place it no older than a 1981 model.
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Old 11-20-11, 11:21 AM
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My question is what are suicide levers, Suntour AR, and a cheapo seatpost doing on a (possibly handbuilt) 531 frame? I can't believe all that stuff is original.

What's the wheelset?
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Old 11-20-11, 02:45 PM
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The seat post is definitely not original- it has a Kmart seat on it at the moment, as found. I have some more shots that I will upload when I get home that will show the details

The wheels are 27" and any stickers that may have been on the rims are gone except one blue one that says 'competition.' Normandy hubs. The spokes are pretty severely rusted at this point
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Old 11-20-11, 03:17 PM
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And it's my understanding that Harding packed it in right around the same time these deraileurs were being made so I think it's safe to say they're not original.
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Old 11-20-11, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake
My question is what are suicide levers, Suntour AR, and a cheapo seatpost doing on a (possibly handbuilt) 531 frame? I can't believe all that stuff is original.

What's the wheelset?
Suicide brake levers are the levers that you see in his pics that allow a person to brake from the top of the bar, their connected to the regular brake on the drop. I don't think those are original either, because I've never seen a mid to high end bike with those, the suicide levers are a good indication a bike is a cheap low end job, but in this case I think one of the previous owners swapped the original brakes out for brakes he thought were better!

Suntour AR was a mid level derailleur in the Suntour line up, the ARX was above it followed by the Blue Line right below it. They were actually a very good derailleur, though I don't think that the AR was the original either on that bike, but could be wrong. It was still a better shifting derailleur then most of Shimano or Campy stuff!! But I would think that Harding would have spec'd a racing bike with a higher grade of components then that.

Again this is why you need to do some extensive research and contact as many people as you can, especially the contact info I gave you, and try to find out what the original components may have been. Due to the rarity of the bike I would personally attempt to restore it back to original specs and not bastardize into something else. Keep in mind that I own several vintage cars and my thought pattern is always about maintaining originality as much as humanly possible. And sometimes in that pursuit of originality it could take many months of research to acquire a certain part, and the part may be expensive. But for bike parts on that bike it shouldn't be rare or expensive to buy the parts, your difficulty is going to be finding out what parts went on it.
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Old 11-20-11, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake
My question is what are suicide levers, Suntour AR, and a cheapo seatpost doing on a (possibly handbuilt) 531 frame? I can't believe all that stuff is original.

What's the wheelset?
+10 No way those parts were original on that bike. I typically find AR bits on high ten steel bikes, or at best, bikes with generic cromoly main frames with the rest high ten. The 531 framesets I find with Suntour components tend to have parts that are higher up the product line. Nothing wrong with AR bits, I just tend to find them on lower end, recreational bikes.
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Old 11-20-11, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101
+10 No way those parts were original on that bike. I typically find AR bits on high ten steel bikes, or at best, bikes with generic cromoly main frames with the rest high ten. The 531 framesets I find with Suntour components tend to have parts that are higher up the product line. Nothing wrong with AR bits, I just tend to find them on lower end, recreational bikes.
Actually that's not correct, I've found AR level of components on 531 frames that came stock with this type of lower end component. Keep in mind AR is not the bottom end stuff, it was mid level and mid level stuff was found a lot on 531 tubesets. In fact a quick glance at the Trek history site to confirm one such brand that did shows that for 1981 model 613, the second lowest costing frame set was Reynolds 531 and that frame set came with Suntour Vx-Gt components, just a mid level component which is what the AR replaced. https://www.vintage-trek.com/images/trek/Trek81.pdf And I've seen many mid level bikes with 531 and mid level components slapped on.

The order of 1981 Suntour components when AR was introduced was from top to bottom: Superbe Pro, Superbe, Cyclone Mk II, Cyclone, BL, ARx, Vx, AR, Seven, Volante, Honor, GT, and Mighty Click. There is a controversy about the mid order between the BL, ARx, Vx and AR, a lot of people rated the BL below the AR due to it's weight and finish quality. And the ARx was an attempt at being aero but had problems with shifting as well as the others in the mid lineup so some placed that one below Vx but above BL if BL was below AR. Confused now?
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Old 11-21-11, 02:31 AM
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OK guys, get ready for some visual stimulus... Please, please forgive the oversharpened photos my iPhone took! I would go back and take new ones but they get the point across and it's 12:30 on a school night

















The headset is Campy, dropouts are Campy, every Harding I've found mentioned on this board for the last 5 years has been heavy on Campy, usually NR... As you can see from the pics, she's been pretty neglected for the past who knows how many years

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Old 11-21-11, 02:37 AM
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Also, here is a pic of the sticker on the rim - any idea on the brand or quality there?

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Old 11-21-11, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Displacement
Also, here is a pic of the sticker on the rim - any idea on the brand or quality there?

Super Champion. In the less seen blue label. The significance of that I do not know, it shows up on clinchers and tubulars, usually the heavier tubulars if that means anything.
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Old 11-21-11, 10:52 AM
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As this is most likely an Irish Harding, your inquiries should go there. Anyone else's guess as if it was imported by Charlie or by an owner.
The oddball component group could well be original, Ireland had to import everything, so as they were not in the EU at the time, parts could come from anywhere.
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Old 11-21-11, 11:21 AM
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Nice lug work, but having seen the lugs I'm questioning the Holdsworth connection now. I don't recall ever seeing a Holdsworth with those kind of lugs, nor the seat stay spoons, typical Holdsworth spoons wrapped around the entire seat tube and they used short pointed lugs without the ornate style; but I haven't seen a lot of Holdsworth's so I could be wrong. I'm leaning toward either a Raleigh who did use lugs that looked like that on occasion especially the early Professional's, and Raleigh did have a factory in Cork; or it could indeed be a custom built frame built by his family in Cork.
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Old 11-21-11, 11:39 AM
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Repechage - What suggests it's Irish? This is the same headbadge as the Westwood Hardings and I bought it in Venice Beach
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Old 11-21-11, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata
Nice lug work, but having seen the lugs I'm questioning the Holdsworth connection now. I don't recall ever seeing a Holdsworth with those kind of lugs, nor the seat stay spoons, typical Holdsworth spoons wrapped around the entire seat tube and they used short pointed lugs without the ornate style; but I haven't seen a lot of Holdsworth's so I could be wrong. I'm leaning toward either a Raleigh who did use lugs that looked like that on occasion especially the early Professional's, and Raleigh did have a factory in Cork; or it could indeed be a custom built frame built by his family in Cork.
Thanks for the input- even though it'd be disappointing to find out it's not a Holdsworth I am glad to have the info
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Old 11-21-11, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Displacement
Repechage - What suggests it's Irish? This is the same headbadge as the Westwood Hardings and I bought it in Venice Beach
Where was your Westwood Harding frame built? In California? And are you 100% sure of where it was built? Like I said in an earlier post Harding did build a few custom frames in California, but he had most of them built in Cork Ireland. It is very possible that he may have built a few custom frames in California and got his decals, including the headbadge decal from his main source in Ireland. If this is the case then the bike we're all questioning about today could have also been built in California by Harding himself, but these were far and few between. Does your Westwood Harding have a serial number on the bottom of the BB shell? Whats the number? A longer number could indicate a factory built frame, a shorter or no number could mean a custom built frame. (notice I used the word could)

Again the op needs to contact people and have the serial number handy because it may help figure out where the bike came from.
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Old 11-21-11, 05:05 PM
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Sorry, didn't mean to sound hostile, just made sense to me that it was sold in Westwood if it wound up in somebody's garage 15 miles away 30 something years later. I posted the serial number in one of the photos, thought it might be helpful - it's 069236. I assumed it was a factory built frame sold here, I had hoped to get better information about which factory. I don't understand if you guys are suggesting this was something sold through Harding's Westwood shop or something sold later, through that Harding Bicycles that's opened up across the pond, then was later imported

Any ideas on value, assuming the worst? I really don't mind what the vintage is, it's still a very nice riding bike and pretty light. Just looking for some information so I'm an informed seller
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Old 11-21-11, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Displacement
Repechage - What suggests it's Irish? This is the same headbadge as the Westwood Hardings and I bought it in Venice Beach
Charlie had family in Cork, Ireland. It is not likely that it was built in this country. Charlie had time on his hands due to the way he ran his business, (or did not) rarely having an employee. His Personal frames of which I have only seen one, showed more interest than this, this bike appears production. One problem with his bikes is he had no place to paint. The paint on this looks production too, and better than his efforts.

Was it sold through his shop? Maybe, one interesting feature that this bike does not have is the typical sold by C. Harding's Westwood Cyclery transfer which he placed on all bikes I remember seeing at his shop.
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Old 11-21-11, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Displacement
Sorry, didn't mean to sound hostile, just made sense to me that it was sold in Westwood if it wound up in somebody's garage 15 miles away 30 something years later. I posted the serial number in one of the photos, thought it might be helpful - it's 069236. No idea what that means though.

Any ideas on value, assuming the worst? I really don't mind what the vintage is, it's still a very nice riding bike and pretty light. Just looking for some information so I'm an informed seller
Strip the bike, leave the headset in place, the parts overall do it no favors in this case.
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Old 11-18-12, 12:11 PM
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Not sure if this thread still has any relevance but Charlie is still alive and well. His family did and does have shops in Ireland. He was the owner during my time and may still be. He splits time there and here although the Westwood store is long closed. His brother (George I believe) made bikes but they did also sell rebranded Holdsworth's. I'll have to ask Charlie when I see him whether he ever made any of his own that ended up in shops. By the time I worked for him (and there was always at least one employee, part of my time we had 3!) he was spending about half his time in Ireland and managed the businesses - the Westwood shop, a shop in Cork and one in Dublin. There is more to the factory story but that is his story to tell not mine. His shop in Westwood didn't close until sometime around or after '87 - about the time he was down to no employees I may have been his last.

When he had the C.Harding logo on his own bike he didn't always (I'll never say never) also place our Westwood shop stamp on the bike. We also would sell framesets by themselves so this frameset could have been sold, as many of our frames were, to an enthusiast that built it up himself or ordered parts as opposed to purchasing a completed bike.

My two cents worth.
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Old 01-14-17, 02:44 AM
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I got sent a private message re Harding's bikes but since I have posted too little, I don't have access to respond privately so I'll post question and my response in this public thread:

"I am trying to decipher the Holdsworth serial numbers from the early 70's of frames that were rebranded by Harding. Would you know if these frames would have given a number by Charlie or were they "Holdsworth" numbers?"

First: this message is dated January of 2017 and I happened to visit Charlie today so I did enquire. Although there were actual "made by Harding" bikes, those were almost all made and sold in the Irish shops. 10 or so were sold out of the Westwood shop.

The Holdsworth Hardings were not simply rebranded Holdsworth, they were Harding's specs licensed to Holdsworth - so different designs from other Holdsworth production lines.

The serial numbers on the Holdsworth production line had their numbers go on in production from Holdsworth and Charlie simply doesn't recall whether he or his brother had Holdsworth create a separate or different serial number series, stream or sequence from Holdsworth's other production lines. Sorry Doug that I couldn't get any better info for you.
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Old 01-22-24, 09:16 PM
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For those of you who remember C.Harding's Westwood Cyclery, Charlie himself or the old crowd like Hans Ort etc, a couple corrections and sad news. I read someone here mention that C. Harding's became or was replaced by Helen's. Helen's was a late 70's Schwinn shop on Santa Monica Blvd. that grew - wonderfully. I used to work with some of the people who ended up there. They opened a second shop IN Westwood. Charlie was south of Wilshire -never the twain shall have met. He simply closed because the crew of worker's aged out - David, John, Doug/Dudla, myself... we ran out of younger riders-friends to bring in to replace us and Charlie finally had family and Ireland to enjoy. Well, Charlie passed away December 13, 2023 and has returned to Ireland. He was a brilliant mechanic, knowledgeable beyond what I could learn while with him, and a pleasure to work with while still being at times an irascible Irish curmudgeon. He had his own opinions about many things, including "innovation" - like every time oblong chain rings "cycled" around under a new name - Bio Pace just one of many versions he appreciated for the thought but not the marketability; and about who was really profiting by all the advancements that wall us into new systems and lend to quick obsolescence ... draw ratios never matter to a friction shifter! Yes, new technology is amazing - but at the same time, the simplicity of friction shifting, cones, cups, bearings, and a tube of grease make for a cheap and easy time for a weekend warrior mechanic. I will miss him dearly. you can find his obit in Cork by googling his name Charles Albert Harding and Cork...
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