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British Cycling in 1955

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British Cycling in 1955

Old 11-22-20, 10:41 AM
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daka
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British Cycling in 1955

I stumbled on this film clip while reading a guy's blog on his Jack Taylor.


Although it is a time well in the past, even for an Olde Farte (I was two years old when it was filmed) I took comfort from seeing people riding the way I like to ride - that is to say not dressing up like an Easter Egg before getting on my bike, wearing shoes that I can also walk in, and generally putzing along on my bike on scenic secondary roads (which would be a common denominator shared by most cyclists today, except for maybe the putzing rate of progress).

I was also surprised to learn that the term "bonk" was already common in cycling parlance in 1955.

Dave
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Old 11-22-20, 11:44 AM
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I think this is about the dozenth time a thread has been made about this video... It's great, I'm sure someone will see it for the first time, but yeah.

-Gregory
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Old 11-22-20, 11:59 AM
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Sorry. I didn't think to search for it before posting. Perhaps a moderator can delete the thread before too many folks are annoyed?

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Old 11-22-20, 01:01 PM
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It's good to revisit these old videos once in a while for those who are new to the forum and have never seen them before. Thanks for the link!
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Old 11-22-20, 02:48 PM
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Such cooperation, riding skills, and no helmets.
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Old 11-22-20, 04:24 PM
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Dang it, where’s the sequel!
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Old 11-22-20, 05:16 PM
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First time seeing it, great video!
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Old 11-22-20, 05:44 PM
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Fabulous!
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Old 11-22-20, 05:57 PM
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They briefly mention the "liveliness of short wheelbases". What's the context here? Were bicycles prior to this longer in the wheelbase? Since their bicycles were only lightly loaded is a shorter wheelbase preferred? This seems to potentially be the epitome of "sport touring" and sport touring bicycles, even if the term wasn't used yet.
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Old 11-22-20, 06:38 PM
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Fixies, pints for lunch, fenders and saddle bags - could have been last week's tweed ride

The last pub they visited is still there: https://whatpub.com/pubs/NTH/337/fitzgerald-arms-naseby
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Old 11-22-20, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
They briefly mention the "liveliness of short wheelbases". What's the context here? Were bicycles prior to this longer in the wheelbase? Since their bicycles were only lightly loaded is a shorter wheelbase preferred? This seems to potentially be the epitome of "sport touring" and sport touring bicycles, even if the term wasn't used yet.
Someone with more knowledge of mid-fifties frame geometry norms will be able to answer your question better, but I will hazard the guess that "short wheelbase" in 1955 was still in excess of 40 inches , a far cry from the wheelbase of an '80s bike. After all, virtually every bike in that video had enough clearance for fenders

As to load carrying, saddlebags have a limited amount of volume but even filled with spent uranium still carry all that weight well inside the wheelbase. My experience is that carrying weight in panniers, either front or rear, puts a portion of the carried weight outside the wheelbase where it appears to affect handling in a more negative way. Putting 10 lbs. in a saddlebag just tells you how your bike will handle if you put another 10 pounds on your waistline..

Dave
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Old 11-22-20, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
They briefly mention the "liveliness of short wheelbases". What's the context here? Were bicycles prior to this longer in the wheelbase? Since their bicycles were only lightly loaded is a shorter wheelbase preferred? This seems to potentially be the epitome of "sport touring" and sport touring bicycles, even if the term wasn't used yet.
Here's my 1951 New Hudson Silver Arrow. It was a base model "club" style frame and carried over the slack seat and head tube angles as well as the longer wheelbase that most prewar British road bicycles had - this frame is literally based on a prewar BSA model (BSA bought out New Hudson around 1947). By the late-1930s more upright frame angles and tighter wheelbases were catching on due to continental influences, right along with derailleurs and classic drop bars. Almost all bespoke or top model bicycles built for time trialing, touring, or general club riding in the postwar era utilized frame geometry that differed little from what became commonplace throughout the late-20th century.

And, indeed, for anyone used to riding frames with more upright and tighter geometry, these bicycles feel very relaxed and rather unresponsive to rider inputs. However, they have a charm of their own and the tucked-in riding position associated with being in the drops actually feels much more naturalistic for me, with little tension on the arms and shoulders.

-Gregory


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Old 11-22-20, 10:12 PM
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I really do love this bit of film, so much to think about, I like how organized the CTC must have been to schedule tours of his size using available rail and CTC associated business that were marked with the CTC flying wheel, much as modern hotels are marked with the AAA logo. The CTC was founded in 1878!!!

Also it's interesting that the form factor of the classic british audax bicycle is little changed today 65 years after this film was made, perhaps Carradice bags are forever also.



: Mike
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Old 11-22-20, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
Here's my 1951 New Hudson Silver Arrow. It was a base model "club" style frame and carried over the slack seat and head tube angles <snip>
Gregory, if I'm not mistaken that seat angle was intended for the saddle clip flipped the other way, with the bolt in front of the pin. Maybe a catalog pic or advert could settle the question. Here's a similar '51 model from Raleigh, which does have the saddle clip the way I described:



That puts your saddle about an inch farther forward, equivalent to a seat angle about 2 to 3 steeper. Though you still have the same range of adjustment, so it doesn't necessarily have to be that large a change, unless you currently have it all the way back in the range.

Flipping the clip puts you that much closer to the bars of course, which might be good or bad depending. I'm guessing from the amount of seatpost showing, this bike is a little small for you, so you probably wouldn't like the reach to the bars shortened that much. And you probably don't want to go changing the stem to a longer one, if keeping the bike all original is important to you. And from the looks of it, I'd say it is.

I know you have likely thought all this through already. Just keeping the conversation going...

Mark B in Seattle
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Old 11-22-20, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie View Post
I know you have likely thought all this through already. Just keeping the conversation going...
Indeed, but I'm 6'1" and the 23" top tube with the zero extension stem make it cramped enough for me as things are... Obviously those old seat posts with the vertical extension forward were critical for many riders to get into the "proper" position during the prewar years, and again, just to illustrate the differences once frame geometry changed, those posts all but disappeared by the time the war rolled around!

Also, it's notable that the Raleigh Lenton you posted already has updated frame angles and is not as set back as my New Hudson. It was a major selling point for the entry-level Raleigh racers that they had modern geometry compared to a lot of the competition. However, the idea of having the seat post tilted forward even with very little stem length remained popular, and observing photographs of men riding such bikes shows off just how compact and rather "scrunched over" they were compared to being stretched out on modern road bikes.

When I drop the stem on my Silver Arrow to a "competitive" height, I am essentially in the same position. In the photo below my stem is jacked up quite a bit because I prefer to use this bike for leisure riding!

-Gregory


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Old 11-22-20, 11:21 PM
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I'll note that during the prewar years it was common for most manufacturers to make no road frames taller than 22" or 23", and Raleigh even remained strictly with 21" frames for its sporty models except the custom-built R.R.A.s. Hetchins, Hobbs, Claud Butler and other bespoke makers began offering taller frames to suit taller riders just before the war began and that trend continued apace once the war was over. However, as with other aspects of bicycle manufacture, there was a trickle-down effect with the technology and cheaper road bicycles continued to only be offered in sizes up to 23" throughout the 1950s, like the Raleigh Lentons and their ilk.

A fellow my size who couldn't afford a custom frame would certainly be riding around on a 23" with a high saddle and probably a longer stem than what I've got on the New Hudson, which I actually am planning to amend. It was originally advertised as having a 2" extension, which is 2" more than I've got now!

To highlight just how high serious riders would frequently hike their saddles and stems up, the illustrations from these contemporary reviews by "Nimrod" from throughout the 1930s should suffice! Thanks to Peter Kohler for putting the following article together with numerous reviews.

https://on-the-drops.blogspot.com/20...ght-cycle.html

Strangely, it became popular in post-war advertising to show the saddles very low over the frames even though they were mostly small to medium sizes to begin with. In fact many riders would have their seat posts in positions we would consider unusually high and forward-set on later bicycles (compared to frame height), like in this lovely photograph from 1936 below. The girl in front, for example, clearly has an inseam that would allow her to ride a frame that was a couple of inches taller than the one she has. However, that just wasn't normal practice yet!

-Gregory


Last edited by Kilroy1988; 11-22-20 at 11:34 PM.
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Old 11-22-20, 11:37 PM
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And just to keep the information flowing, in the photo below from a C.T.C. ride from the mid-1950s, you can see the two extremes side-by-side! The fellow on the left prefers the tallest frame he can mount while the man standing in the center still doesn't mind having his saddle and stem situated high over the top tube.


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Old 12-06-20, 07:24 PM
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bulgie Is this better, sir? First time with a fresh stem on the Silver Arrow! I also added reproduction Gripfast wingnuts to the front wheel to match the original set on the rear. A couple more light modifications are forthcoming then I'll update the thread I have about the bike.

I didn't have much air in the tires so I barely rode a few hundred yards in this fresh configuration, so I couldn't tell much difference in my position over the crank set. However, I'm sure that after I start some new sojourns the benefit will make itself apparent.

Cheers!

-Gregory


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