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HI-E Cosmopolitan

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HI-E Cosmopolitan

Old 10-25-08, 11:32 AM
  #1  
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HI-E Cosmopolitan

Does anyone out there know anything about HI-E Cosmopolitan bikes? I remember having one of their flip/flop hubs, and I vagely remember that they also made a complete aluminum bike, featuring all of the components they made. I recall the hub I had was very well made, with sealed bearings, and pretty lightweight. Unfortunately, I was experimenting with different lacing patterns then, and I had laced it up with radial spokes on the drive side, and a 2x on the left. I guess it was too much stess, and the drive side flange cracked. Pity. Any info would be appreciated, history, where made, pictures, stories, who raced on them(if ever), and the like. Thanks! LATER.
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Old 10-25-08, 11:47 AM
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Harlan Meyers was the brains behind Hi-E engineering. Check the CR main page and look in the USA section for Hi-E, I think there are pics of a Cosmopolitan there. All riveted(!) aluminum construction I believe.
edit: here's a link to a pic of one, check out the "frankenstein" internal cable-routing thru the headlugs...scarey!
https://www.classicrendezvous.com/ima..._at_cirque.jpg

Last edited by unworthy1; 10-25-08 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 10-25-08, 02:09 PM
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I really like Harlan, some great ideas, some half baked. With more capital perhaps he could have done better.

Rich Hammond (Cap't America) came into the shop one day in the 70's wanting to know if we could fix his G. butler fork, seems the front Hi-E quick release had come apart, causing a fork plant, the fork spread one leg out 25 degrees or so, he repaired quickly, fork fixed until a replacement arrived.

In today's world, can you say lawsuit any faster?
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Old 10-25-08, 02:52 PM
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Thats one strange looking bike, I dont understand how the cable routing works without getting in the way of the steering! Looks like it has a prehistoric threadless headset too!

Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
Harlan Meyers was the brains behind Hi-E engineering. Check the CR main page and look in the USA section for Hi-E, I think there are pics of a Cosmopolitan there. All riveted(!) aluminum construction I believe.
edit: here's a link to a pic of one, check out the "frankenstein" internal cable-routing thru the headlugs...scarey!
https://www.classicrendezvous.com/ima..._at_cirque.jpg
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Old 10-28-08, 12:20 PM
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WOW! That frame looks like it would flex until sometime in the next century!! Are those things pedals, or some kind of prop to hold it up at shows?? After you mentioned Captain America, whom I remember racing when I started in '76, I didn't have just the rear flip/flop, I had a hub SET. The front was not much bigger than an axle, and it had a nut and bolt arrangement to fix it to the fork, NOT a QR. After about a week, I put a QR in it. I tried a Campy, but the hole was too small, so I put in a Maillard. That bike does NOT look raceworthy. I remember the first Trek aluminum bikes were glued and pinned, and they were flexy flyers as well. I also remember EXXon Graftek but together a Carbon Fiber bike,that wasn't as good as the current ones, but definitly better than the auminum bikes of that era. I wonder what the racing bikes will look like a hundredyears from now? Plastic??? Probably not bamboo, because there won't be any then. LOL.
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Old 10-28-08, 12:28 PM
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"Probably not bamboo, because there won't be any then"
don't tell that to Craig Calfee, then: https://www.calfeedesign.com/bamboo.htm
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Old 10-28-08, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
...Are those things pedals, or some kind of prop to hold it up at shows??...
Those are the late 1970's Hi-E pedals. They used a dropped pedal cage that placed the sole of the shoe on the axle centerline. This provided an extremely stable pedal platform that was not as prone to tipping, even when standing. They would become the inpsiration for Shimano's early 1980's Dyna-Drive pedals and were one of the company's better ideas.
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Old 10-29-08, 09:53 AM
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Obvious that they are clipless, but how do the shoes attach to the pedal?? What other components did HI-E make? It looks like the red bike in the picture has Huret Jubilee derailleurs. Did he ever make shift stuff? I remember a pedal make in the 70's that was very interesting. It was basically a pedal axle, with a needle bearing sleeve tube over the axle. Very simple and light. the cleat was a plastic snap-on clip, and it was extremely light. I can't for the life of me remember who made it, but it was a very ineresting design. Do you know what I am referring to? It seems like you have more experience with bike history than me, and I've never met anyone who knows what pedals I am talking about. Thanks for the info on HI-E. Oh. Where did he produce his components? Did he have a regular factory, or a machine shop where he punched them out one at a time?
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Old 10-29-08, 10:33 AM
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SpeedFreek, the pedal you refer to was the Aerolite. The titanium version is probably the lightest pedal ever produced, at 35g each. They were quite popular with the triathlon crowd. Personally, I found them more difficult to engage and disengage than other clipless designs. The engagement required a definite bounce with all your weight applied and there' was no aid to help position the cleat. The outward foot roll to disengage was not as natural as a foot twist. However, if you're a real weight-weenie, there is no substitute.

Edit: The Aerolite was a 1980s pedal system, not 1970s. I believe the inspiration occured in 1979 but the product did not come to market until the 1980s and was not popular until the late 1980s.
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Old 10-29-08, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
...Thanks for the info on HI-E. Oh. Where did he produce his components? Did he have a regular factory, or a machine shop where he punched them out one at a time?
Products included the Cosmopolitan bicycle, platform pedals, the dropped cage pedal, hubs, rims, aluminum spoke nipples, saddle frames and bottle cages. I believe the products were manufactured in Nashville, Tennessee and I vaguely recall reading that the "factory" was a 2 storey machine shop and warehouse on his log cabin property. Hopefully someone else can add to and/or confirm the above, as I'm pushing the memory banks on the manufacturing facility.
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Old 11-09-08, 11:33 AM
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T-Mar. Thanks for the photo of the Aerolite pedal. I didn't own them, my buddy Steve bought some in Pasadena, Ca. But, I'm trying to remember the year. It was circa 1980 possibly. He was pretty adept at using them, but eventually the cleats wore out from walking on them, and he couldn't get any more, so off they came, and he put on some old Campy's I gave him. Also, thanks for the Hi-E info. Wierd bikes, and you still haven't disclosed the method of attachment of the shoes to those strange pedals. Or is that info where you would have to kill me, if you told me? Later.
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Old 11-22-15, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
T-Mar. ...Wierd bikes, and you still haven't disclosed the method of attachment of the shoes to those strange pedals. Or is that info where you would have to kill me, if you told me? Later.
These pedals were not clipless - the picture is of the pedal as supplied, and hidden in the shadows are slot guides for toe straps.
Toeclips screwed on to the front of the pedal using the same screws that held that half of the pedal baseplate on.
There were large plastic shoe cleats that lined up with the gray inner platform to help hold the foot in proper position.

Last edited by exxongraftek; 01-15-16 at 10:15 AM. Reason: Add info
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Old 01-15-16, 10:13 AM
  #13  
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At the suggestion of some in the "C & V - What's it Worth" subforum who have asked me to cross-post, here's some pics.
These may better detail the construction of the Cosmopolitan frame and how Harlan put it and some of his other components together.
The headset is "threadless" and uses the same sealed bearings as the bottom bracket.
The frame is fully internal-cable-routed and poses no interference in steering due to the use of tiny tubes for the cables inside the over-sized head lug.
IMHO Harlan was years ahead of his time with the oversized headset, bottom bracket, internal cabling, sealed bearings, pedal design etc.


- and yes, I know this is a "zombie thread" but I think keeping the info here in one place makes it easier to find.
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31 Overview chain-side.jpg (99.7 KB, 229 views)
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32 Front 3-4 view.jpg (100.8 KB, 218 views)
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33 Headset detail.jpg (98.9 KB, 223 views)
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36 Rear stays 1.jpg (100.6 KB, 221 views)
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37 Front dropouts detail 1.jpg (99.7 KB, 220 views)
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38 RH Pedal.jpg (99.6 KB, 216 views)
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39 Crank, chainside.jpg (100.7 KB, 217 views)
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40 BB Shell detail.jpg (99.9 KB, 217 views)
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42 Rear view 1.jpg (99.7 KB, 216 views)
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Old 01-15-16, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Products included the Cosmopolitan bicycle, platform pedals, the dropped cage pedal, hubs, rims, aluminum spoke nipples, saddle frames and bottle cages. I believe the products were manufactured in Nashville, Tennessee and I vaguely recall reading that the "factory" was a 2 story machine shop and warehouse on his log cabin property. Hopefully someone else can add to and/or confirm the above, as I'm pushing the memory banks on the manufacturing facility.
Your memory serves you well.
The MOMBAT website has some additional info along with a bunch of pictures.
Some other components in those pictures are a prototype handlebar-actuated brake system, a later attempt at a clam-shell handlebar stem, and a seat post.
I've never seen evidence that he worked on or prototyped any gear systems. The Cosmopolitans are designed to use center-pull brakes (the rear at least).

Harlan started (albeit a bit late) reinforcing his bike joints with epoxy so they were not just riveted together.
One of the early ones was raced...by Steve Dayton of Indianapolis/ Speedway Wheelmen, in the 1971 Senior Road champion jersey...Harlan is wrenching.

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Old 01-15-16, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
WOW! That frame looks like it would flex until sometime in the next century!! Are those things pedals, or some kind of prop to hold it up at shows?? After you mentioned Captain America, whom I remember racing when I started in '76, I didn't have just the rear flip/flop, I had a hub SET. The front was not much bigger than an axle, and it had a nut and bolt arrangement to fix it to the fork, NOT a QR. After about a week, I put a QR in it. I tried a Campy, but the hole was too small, so I put in a Maillard. That bike does NOT look raceworthy. I remember the first Trek aluminum bikes were glued and pinned, and they were flexy flyers as well. I also remember EXXon Graftek but together a Carbon Fiber bike,that wasn't as good as the current ones, but definitly better than the auminum bikes of that era. I wonder what the racing bikes will look like a hundredyears from now? Plastic??? Probably not bamboo, because there won't be any then. LOL.
No bamboo? Bamboo propagates like crazy; one of the things that makes it such a great material to build things with. Carbon fiber is pretty amazing, I think perhaps the composition and construction will continue to evolve. I don't think we are yet capable of imagining what could be next.
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Old 01-15-16, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by exxongraftek View Post
Your memory serves you well.
The MOMBAT website has some additional info along with a bunch of pictures.
Some other components in those pictures are a prototype handlebar-actuated brake system, a later attempt at a clam-shell handlebar stem, and a seat post.
I've never seen evidence that he worked on or prototyped any gear systems. The Cosmopolitans are designed to use center-pull brakes (the rear at least).

Harlan started (albeit a bit late) reinforcing his bike joints with epoxy so they were not just riveted together.
One of the early ones was raced...by Steve Dayton of Indianapolis/ Speedway Wheelmen, in the 1971 Senior Road champion jersey...Harlan is wrenching.
The first time I had heard of the Cosmopolitan was in a Bicycling article from the very early 1970s. I believe it stated that Harlan built the first Cosmopolitan because his son wanted a bicycle and, being an aero-engineer, he thought he could build a better bicycle using airplane technology. His son was the test rider and quashed the handlebar activated brakes. It was really light, about 16 lbs IIRC. I also recall him having a brake in development that was similar to an old spoon brake, in that it acted on the tire, as opposed to the rim. That seemed a bit outrageous to me, given the wear concerns. I probably still have the article, as I rarely throw out any of my cycling literature. If you haven't already seen it, I can try to find it.

My favourite Hi-E design was always the drop cage pedals. I was disappointed when I eventually found out that the basic concept dated back to the late 1890s.
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Old 01-15-16, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
My favourite Hi-E design was always the drop cage pedals. I was disappointed when I eventually found out that the basic concept dated back to the late 1890s.
Really? I had thought Shimano (dura ace AX) borrowed it from Hi-E. Perhaps it's time for it to make another comeback.

Is there any prior art on oversized aluminum tube frames, or was Hi-E the first? Seems like it was.
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Old 01-15-16, 03:04 PM
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I bet the transcripts of the Klien patent suit has the answer in it somewhere. Someone with a frame with that patent number on it may be able to reference the patent, I bet there is an annotation on that in the files that I would think would reference it.
From my memory, Shook (designer of the Weyless pedals and seat post) did one, as seen in an image in Competitive Cycling news rag from the early 70's.
I can remember the image, but not the when.
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Old 01-15-16, 06:07 PM
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I was given a pair of the Hi-E rims, 28 hole sewups that looked like they were made with a foil strip folded and with the seam riveted closed and that seam running around the inside circumference in line with the spoke holes.

While I was repping, one of my customers wanted to buy them from me so I took them to the shop on the next visit. The guy's buddies were there when I arrived and held them up, announcing their provenance as it had been related to me, "North Carolina State Road Championship, 1973." Everyone's jaws dropped as they stared at me, a becoming-overweight bike rep.

"Not ME. Some other guy."
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Old 01-15-16, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Really? I had thought Shimano (dura ace AX) borrowed it from Hi-E. Perhaps it's time for it to make another comeback.
The 1890s pedals by Ramsey and Diebel have the cage below the pedal axle axis, so it's not quite the same, though I consider them to be the same basic concept. .However, there was a French pedal in the 1950s called the Sanasax (translates to without spindle)which placed the cage top in line with the pedal axle axis, just like the Hi-E and Shimano AX pedals.The concept was revived about 10 years with a clipless version called the SMp Side Mount pedal). What we would consider the pedal body is actually a cleat that clips onto a sealed cartridge bearing with axle! This makes the float plate completely independent of the cleat retention. I've never seen one in person but they are out there. It only goes to show that great ideas never die, though market acceptance can be problematic!
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Old 01-15-16, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
...Is there any prior art on oversized aluminum tube frames, or was Hi-E the first? Seems like it was.
Aluminum frames go back to the 1890s too. The first commercially successful one was the 1893 Lu-Mi-Num, which used a cast frame. Not sure about the first oversize aluminum frame but I wouldn't be surprised if someone had tried it before Hi-E and Klein.
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Old 01-15-16, 07:54 PM
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Owned a pair of Hi-E bottle cages that weighed 27 grams and lasted well over a hundred thousand miles; even transferred them from tandem to tandem!
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Old 01-15-16, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
The first time I had heard of the Cosmopolitan was in a Bicycling article from the very early 1970s. I believe it stated that Harlan built the first Cosmopolitan because his son wanted a bicycle and, being an aero-engineer, he thought he could build a better bicycle using airplane technology. His son was the test rider and quashed the handlebar activated brakes. It was really light, about 16 lbs IIRC. I also recall him having a brake in development that was similar to an old spoon brake, in that it acted on the tire, as opposed to the rim. That seemed a bit outrageous to me, given the wear concerns. I probably still have the article, as I rarely throw out any of my cycling literature. If you haven't already seen it, I can try to find it.
Here's the article, from January 1971 - it references the things you accurately recall.

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Old 01-15-16, 10:10 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
The 1890s pedals by Ramsey and Diebel have the cage below the pedal axle axis, so it's not quite the same, though I consider them to be the same basic concept. .However, there was a French pedal in the 1950s called the Sanasax (translates to without spindle)which placed the cage top in line with the pedal axle axis, just like the Hi-E and Shimano AX pedals.The concept was revived about 10 years with a clipless version called the SMp Side Mount pedal). What we would consider the pedal body is actually a cleat that clips onto a sealed cartridge bearing with axle! This makes the float plate completely independent of the cleat retention. I've never seen one in person but they are out there. It only goes to show that great ideas never die, though market acceptance can be problematic!
Well, I saw a set of those SMP pedals for sale at the last SF bike Expo/Swap meet. A complete set, looked to be lightly used, in their original box and instructions. IIRC the guy was selling them for 75 bucks....
The certainly were unusual and most likely rare to find in that condition, I thought of getting them........ but I just wasn't convinced they were such a good idea as IIRC, you pretty much have most the pedal always attached to your bike shoes (with a big chunk sticking out the crank sides of the shoes) when you are dismounted. It's hard enough to walk around with smaller LOOK plastic cleats under one's bike shoes, what more with that whole metal thing under them.....
If they weren't bought (Hardly anyone seem to be interested in them), they will most likely pop up again at the swap meet next year, then I might get another shot to consider buying them.....

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Old 01-16-16, 07:19 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Chombi View Post
Well, I saw a set of those SMP pedals for sale at the last SF bike Expo/Swap meet. A complete set, looked to be lightly used, in their original box and instructions. IIRC the guy was selling them for 75 bucks....
The certainly were unusual and most likely rare to find in that condition, I thought of getting them........ but I just wasn't convinced they were such a good idea as IIRC, you pretty much have most the pedal always attached to your bike shoes (with a big chunk sticking out the crank sides of the shoes) when you are dismounted. It's hard enough to walk around with smaller LOOK plastic cleats under one's bike shoes, what more with that whole metal thing under them.....
If they weren't bought (Hardly anyone seem to be interested in them), they will most likely pop up again at the swap meet next year, then I might get another shot to consider buying them.....
Yes, that is correct. Only the bearing with integral retention spring is left attached to the axle. However, it was designed as a more efficient competition pedal and is not intended for recreational use.
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