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Charlie Harding mystery solved? Holdsworth built?

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Charlie Harding mystery solved? Holdsworth built?

Old 03-06-11, 02:57 PM
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Charlie Harding mystery solved? Holdsworth built?

a few weeks back i picked up this Charlie Harding that had been listed on my local CL for several weeks. when i emailed the seller he was out of town but he sent me additional pictures (as you may know CL pics SUCK!!!), based on those pictures i was able to confirm that it was equipped with mostly NR components. the real draw for me was the uniqueness of the frame, how many Charlie Harding bikes have you seen?

anyway, there's very little information online (or anywhere else for that matter) on Harding bikes.

some of the information i was able to gather was that Charlie opened a bike shop in LA, CA some time in the 60's/70's, the frames were built for him, which he then equipped with top of the line Campagnolo of the era.

with additional searching and reading through posts that had little to do with the "custom bikes" by Harding and more to do with his 90 speed bike, i was able to determine that the frames were perhaps built for him by his brother back in Cork, Ireland.

despite that, there is also quite a bit of speculation as to who actually built the frames, from Raleigh to Holdsworth.


anyway after picking up the bike, i removed the components for another build. the chrome is basically shot, the paint looks decent (although there's a good spot missing on the seat stays) and the decals are pretty well faded. it is a beautifully built frame with some interested details, Campagnolo drop outs front and rear, and what appears to be a missing Reynolds 531 tubing sticker (searchs also indicated full 531 construction). since the original disassembly the frame has been sitting.


yesterday, i'm scrolling through page after page of pictures on Flickr when i come across this picture...




...and a light goes off in my head.

the white stripe detail appears identical to the striping on the Harding, as well as the seat stay treatment, as well as the color, and seat lug and the fact that it also has 531 tubing.

full gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9157103...th/4820062138/


the bike in question here is a 1976 Holdsworth Professional with 100% exactly the same details of construction, i'd be willing to bet a million big ones that this Harding frame was built by Holdsworth. Most obvious would be the seat stay treatment, but also small things like the chain and seat stay bridges, the only braze-ons being the cable stop on the drive side chain stay, lugs, fork crown, bottom bracket shell are all the same, orange paint with white details, blue decals, chromed drop outs and placement of the serial number.

I would assume that whoever was building and finishing Holdsworth frames was also building the Harding frames.

of course, i'm not exactly sure who was building frames for Holdsworth back in the mid 70's, but i'd assume this is a top quality frame. NR derailleur patent date '78.
















full gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/3519041...7626210264280/


some other cool photos:




this Holdsworth has the same paint/chrome style:
full gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/2733863...th/5479065935/



anyway, maybe i'm a little too excited about this, but i think it's cool that by complete random surfing of Flickr i've almost certainly determined the origins of this particular Harding frame.

also, i hope that people searching for Harding information will happen across this post and find out some answers they might have been looking for

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Old 03-06-11, 03:04 PM
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would a rebuild using a mix of NR and stronglight 93 crank be uncalled for?
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Old 03-06-11, 03:06 PM
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cool! nice work. and my size. is it your size too?
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Old 03-06-11, 03:20 PM
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My first good road bike was a Harding. I remember it had "Harding Cork Ireland" on the headbadge, but I do not remember any of the frame details. Just your run of the mill good quality 531 DB race frame of the period.

Charlie was a great guy, I think around 1980 I was one of his last steady customers. The shop was already a bit of museum as he did not really sell any MTB or BMX stuff (at least not stuff that anybody wanted at the time). If only I knew then what I know now, there were probably some rare UK pieces just sitting in the racks. I did buy all my jerseys there which were moth eaten relics from the 60's and early 70's. I think they were about $10 a piece. The whole shop was dying a slow death, but I loved going in there and getting advise on riding from the little Irishman. The shop had that great smell that bike stores no longer have as well.
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Old 03-06-11, 03:24 PM
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I don't want to rain on your parade, and it's certainly a really nice frame (rare too) but Holdsworth wasn't the only marque that used that style of lining on the stay caps, I have seen several other Brit bikes with that, don't know where it came from or which builder adopted it first, but others copied each other. Also note that the sloping forkcrown is not exactly the same as the Holdsworth Pro. last thing is that the color scheme was very recognizable as the Team livery of the Holdsworth-Campagnolo professional team, so there could be a case made that some other "wannabe" brand might have just copied it, but the Harding color isn't quite the "Kingfisher Blue" of the Holdsworth. Then again, you might be correct and have a contract-built Holdsworth Pro...edit, didn't see the serial number pic, but isn't quite the same as either of my 2 Holdsworths. I still have doubts about this Harding being a Holdsworth Pro, sorry.

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Old 03-06-11, 05:41 PM
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BTW: another tidbit from Nick Kilgariff's Holdsworth site: in the years around '75 (approx. '75 to '76) the use of chrome was cut way back due to chrome shortage from South Africa, so the 12" chrome on stays and all-chrome fork would not have been on a '76 Pro.
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Old 03-06-11, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
cool! nice work. and my size. is it your size too?
yes it is as a matter of fact, but this frame is down the line of possible projects.


Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
I don't want to rain on your parade, and it's certainly a really nice frame (rare too) but Holdsworth wasn't the only marque that used that style of lining on the stay caps, I have seen several other Brit bikes with that, don't know where it came from or which builder adopted it first, but others copied each other. Also note that the sloping forkcrown is not exactly the same as the Holdsworth Pro. last thing is that the color scheme was very recognizable as the Team livery of the Holdsworth-Campagnolo professional team, so there could be a case made that some other "wannabe" brand might have just copied it, but the Harding color isn't quite the "Kingfisher Blue" of the Holdsworth. Then again, you might be correct and have a contract-built Holdsworth Pro...edit, didn't see the serial number pic, but isn't quite the same as either of my 2 Holdsworths. I still have doubts about this Harding being a Holdsworth Pro, sorry.
i'm aware that there were other makers that used that weird lining design on the seat stay caps, not the first time i've seen this.

i'm not seeing the difference in the fork crowns, they look the same to me (although the 2 Holdsworth look slightly thinner on the back of the crown).

Harding


Holdsworth




i'm not saying it is a Holdsworth pro, rebranded as a Harding, i'm saying that the frames were probably built by the same builder. the variance in the serial numbers seems logical to me as Holdsworth numbered their frames one way and every other builder numbered theirs a different way. nearly exact same placement of serial numbers.

Harding


Holdsworth



the main reason why i make the connection is the fact that not only are they seemingly exact copies of one another, but during my searches (after finding the pic on flickr) i came across several threads that mentioned Holdsworth as a possible contract builder for Harding. in my mind that sealed the deal.

Harding also had a connection with Holdsworth as he sold them back in the day.

Originally Posted by John E View Post
C. Harding's For Bikes, near the UCLA campus, sold Holdsworth, Hetchins, and other high-end British marques in the 1960s and 1970s.
Originally Posted by John E View Post
... Your project reminds me of Charlie Harding's late 1960s 90-speed project bike, an old Holdsworth which had been fitted with 3 chainrings, 6 cogs, and a Sturmey-Archer 5-speed hub...
it's not going to break my heart if it's not a Holdsworth built frame, however, i've yet to see any other suggestions through all the threads i read through.

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Old 03-06-11, 06:07 PM
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I went into Charlie's in the 60's and early 70's, he sold Phillips, Raleigh, Carlton, Hetchins, Legnano and later American Eagle, (Nishiki/Azuki) He might have had a Peugeot or two for a time, when bikes were hard to find at the beginning of the bike boom. Some of the Hetchins bikes were on display for literally YEARS, a yellow and blue Hellenic stayed bike comes to mind and a red candy over chrome frame with the full on fancy lug treatment and curly stays.

Charlie bought the old Ed Lynch shop on Westwood Blvd a few blocks South of Wilshire. Ed Lynch moved up North and did very well.
I think in 1962. He worked for Hans Ohrt prior to buying the Westwood shop. He was opinionated and did not take young folk seriously, (lost my sale that way). The shop was spartan, had some interesting inventory, but not well displayed.

At the time, we concluded the Harding bikes were private label Holdsworths, he did have family back in Ireland. We did note the headtube transfer, it was also known that Charlie was one of the few guys who could place varnish fix transfers reliably.
The conclusion was that the bikes were either private label Holdsworths or were rebranded here in Caifornia.

When the bottom dropped out of the road bike market in the early 80's it was over for him. No fire sale, he just closed up and went back to Ireland. Maybe someone bought the inventory.
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Old 03-06-11, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
BTW: another tidbit from Nick Kilgariff's Holdsworth site: in the years around '75 (approx. '75 to '76) the use of chrome was cut way back due to chrome shortage from South Africa, so the 12" chrome on stays and all-chrome fork would not have been on a '76 Pro.

classic rendezvous, 1971 Holdsworth: https://www.classicrendezvous.com/Bri...Holdsworth.htm




also on CR, same paint style and similarly greenish decals like the Harding: https://www.classicrendezvous.com/Bri...D-Pitman_1.htm




and a 1978 team professional:




"In the 1960's and 70's a large number of Holdsworths were sold in the USA (a bike boom started c1972). Hill Cycles, Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, imported Holdsworths directly and sold them either as Holdsworths or privately labelled, the shop closed, probably in 1993." -https://www.nkilgariff.com/
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Old 03-06-11, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by shnibop View Post

"In the 1960's and 70's a large number of Holdsworths were sold in the USA (a bike boom started c1972). Hill Cycles, Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, imported Holdsworths directly and sold them either as Holdsworths or privately labelled, the shop closed, probably in 1993." -https://www.nkilgariff.com/
now that is interesting. I think I've driven by that exact location within the last few weeks. Cool there is a philly connection
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Old 03-06-11, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
BTW: another tidbit from Nick Kilgariff's Holdsworth site: in the years around '75 (approx. '75 to '76) the use of chrome was cut way back due to chrome shortage from South Africa, so the 12" chrome on stays and all-chrome fork would not have been on a '76 Pro.
Actually British Empire Chrome was mostly from Rhodesia, a British colony, later Zimbabwe. In the middle 70's the country was subject to economic sanctions from the UK, as the Republic of Rhodesia was an "independent" but minority ruled region. So no cheap chrome anymore.
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Old 03-06-11, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by shnibop View Post
yes it is as a matter of fact, but this frame is down the line of possible projects.




i'm aware that there were other makers that used that weird lining design on the seat stay caps, not the first time i've seen this.

i'm not seeing the difference in the fork crowns, they look the same to me (although the 2 Holdsworth look slightly thinner on the back of the crown).

Harding


Holdsworth




i'm not saying it is a Holdsworth pro, rebranded as a Harding, i'm saying that the frames were probably built by the same builder. the variance in the serial numbers seems logical to me as Holdsworth numbered their frames one way and every other builder numbered theirs a different way. nearly exact same placement of serial numbers.

Harding


Holdsworth



the main reason why i make the connection is the fact that not only are they seemingly exact copies of one another, but during my searches (after finding the pic on flickr) i came across several threads that mentioned Holdsworth as a possible contract builder for Harding. in my mind that sealed the deal.

Harding also had a connection with Holdsworth as he sold them back in the day.




it's not going to break my heart if it's not a Holdsworth built frame, however, i've yet to see any other suggestions through all the threads i read through.
well, those are good arguments you make, I bow to you. I didn't read Holdsworthy ever did contract-building in the '70s, but just because there's no mention of it in the usual sources doesn't rule it out ... and tho the forkcrown looks "funny" compared to a full-sloping Prugnat, it could be just the camera angle and a strange reflection on the inside leg. For dating it would seem clear that the '78 patent date on RD is too late, your Harding would have to be pre-'76. There could be a range of colors, but the pics in Nick's site that have a greenish cast to the panels he says might be color-shifted jpegs...and it's noted that the early shop-built pros were lighter orange than the factory built.
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Old 03-06-11, 08:41 PM
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well, i'm not claiming to be some expert. just some detective work using only the internet and hearsay gathered from this forum and other websites.
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Old 03-06-11, 09:10 PM
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Well then I'll call you an expert, as that's what you've become. You stumble onto a rare bike, and with no other good sources of information, do the detective work and become the expert. I speak from experience.
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Old 03-07-11, 11:13 AM
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Just to aid the sleuths who might come afterward and read this: too bad we don't have Skip Magnussen back with us to update the serial number database he was compiling. Nick Kilgariff's site has erased anything he once had about serial numbers and he refuses to take any emails on the subject (totally understandable). One thing I've noticed is that many examples of Holdsworths built in the shop (not in the factory) have serial numbers "stacked" top-to-bottom, as shown on this BB shell of my Touring model:

whereas my factory-built Super Mistral has both a smaller font and placement, plus not stacked in a column as with the Touring. (I can't find a pic of it right now, will update later)
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Old 10-14-11, 02:43 AM
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Sacrilege or Oh The horror... the horror!

Late to the party...

There's a widespread misconception among many US bike fanciers that there was something sacred and holy about the classic European frame builders and component makers.

Bike shops and frame builders regularly farmed out work to outside sources especially during the bike boom era of the early 70s. They were businessmen and were far more interested in selling products than creating sacred collector objects!

The Brits were especially bad about that with the famous Italian marques not far behind.

Many well known British frames were made by contract builders and in the same note many of the bigger companies produced frames for other shops or brands.

No chins in the family, inbreeding was rampant!

It's quite possible that the bike in question was made at one of the various Holdsworth facilities.

Holdsworth as well as Mercian and all of the bigger name British frame builders produced frames of many different quality levels. Reynolds 531 frames with cheap stamped steel dropouts. Nice looking frames with cheap tubing and fancy dropouts and so on.

A number of years back I bought a Holdsworth on US eBay that the seller was trying to pass off as a Team Professional. I knew it wasn't but I bought it anyway because I liked the orange and kingfisher blue Team kit.

I figured that if it was a bad riding bike I could part it out and use the components on other bikes.

It took me a number of months of researching but I finally figured out what the bike or at least the frame was.



Because of some weird tax laws in the UK many bikes were sold as bare frames and then assembled with the buyer's choice of components.

The bike that I bought had a 1973 WF Holdsworth Competizione frame cobbled together into an interesting frankenbike.

The 1974 WF Holdsworth catalog described the Competizione frame as "Built with good quality tubing these frame are designed for racing and are ideal for the young enthusiast". In other words an entry level racing frame!

During the 70s Holdsworth didn't use tubing decals on their frames for the domestic UK market unless requested.

At best the frame on my Competizione is made of straight gage Reynolds 531 tubing. It could be made of some lighter weight gas pipe tubing too.

I venture that it's well over 26 lbs. It takes a 26.6mm or 26.8mm seatpost which indicates the tubing is quite thick.

It rides and handles pretty well so I decided to keep it.

Here's some Flickr pics:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/2826722...7627858982976/

About 6 months later I picked up a real 1973 Holdsworth Team Professional frame, serial number 350xx.

The serial number on the Competizione is 0041???



Chas. verktyg
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Old 11-19-11, 05:59 PM
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shnibop, did you check the to see if there is a SN on the fork that matches the one on the BB? I have a couple of Holdsworths and they both match up. One is a , I think, 1976 pro sprint no chrome except on campy dropouts, the whole dropout not just the frame. The other has been ID'd as a 1977 pro, but it is a platinum gray, also no chrome, so I would think like the others that if it is UK bike it is early 70's. The first thing I did with the 77 was take off those darn Shimano stickers.



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Old 11-20-11, 07:55 AM
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By Jove I think he's got it. I vote Holdsworth Pro. I have a 73 Super Mistral Fastback, so other than the seat lug details the Harding looks the same. The original striping on the end caps and lugs, and the original orange paint color make it even more likely there's a real connection.
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Old 06-12-15, 03:29 PM
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came upon this thread by chance when searching for something else. only wish had run across it a few weeks earlier...

one of these machines came up on the san francsico cl some weeks back. it looked to date from 1975 and was built up all campag nr, save for phil bb and hubs. it was transferred a bit differently than the other harding-holdsworth cycles shown in threads here at the forum. these transfers made it clear that it was both a harding and a holdsworth. frame was a least at the level of a mistral and had lots of chrome. bike was in showroom condition. appeared someone had built it up in '75 and placed it into storage. iirc it had been set up for touring with a triplised campag nr chainset and a rally rear mech.

kick myself very hard for not saving the pictures now that i understand what it was...

purchased my first road machine from charlie about 1965.
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Old 11-23-15, 08:40 PM
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I found a Harding frame in good nick that will fit me.
If anyone is interested I can post more pictures.
I don't have any additional information for the question of "Who built this frame?" but did get a brief response from someone in Ireland.

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Old 11-24-15, 05:17 PM
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A few more pics of the Harding frame, purchased recently from a Boulder shop.

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Old 11-26-15, 10:40 AM
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Here is the serial number on my Harding frame = same location as on the Holdsworth above. Also it's interesting this frame appears to be the same color as one of @terrors Holdsworth, identified as a '77 Pro.



Also this one has a chrome fork with matching serial number.
I think @verktyg has it spot on with the Holdsworth comments.
I'm convinced the Harding is Holdsworth built. Takes my info hunt in a slightly different direction.

Maybe @Wileyone can give info on his Holdsworth.
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Old 11-26-15, 02:52 PM
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Hi Wildwood,

For what it's worth your Harding frame #037443 , fits with a Hodsworthy Oakfield factory build c. 1982. You might want to look at discussion under thread "Need help dating a Holdsworth" and Jetboy' s c. 1982 Holdsworth #037416 . See:
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...h-frame-2.html
You might also be able to narrow down model it is closest too by looking at Kilgariff's site and '82 catalogs. Figuring out angles and wheelbase would help as well.

Doug
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Old 11-26-15, 03:23 PM
  #24  
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Wildwood

Duh... Assuming original, "Special" decal on top tube is a good clue as to model of Holdsworth! A very nice frame.

Doug
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Old 11-26-15, 03:53 PM
  #25  
Wildwood
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Originally Posted by allend View Post
For what it's worth your Harding frame #037443 , fits with a Hodsworthy Oakfield factory build c. 1982. You might want to look at discussion under thread "Need help dating a Holdsworth" and Jetboy' s c. 1982 Holdsworth #037416 . See:
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...h-frame-2.html
You might also be able to narrow down model it is closest too by looking at Kilgariff's site and '82 catalogs. Figuring out angles and wheelbase would help as well. Doug
Thank you for the other thread and references. It's most helpful.

Still a bit curious about George & Charlie Harding. Both ran shops (Cork & Dublin; Los Angeles). From a few sources it would seem there was a racing and organized cycling effort in Ireland around George Sr.

Thinking something shiny -- but not top-end as this fork & frame seem up to 30 - 32s for an off-pavement rider. Or at least that's the first plan. Was really hoping it was late '70s, but fits in with the other '80s bikes.



Was there a Holdsworth Special? Guess I should look that up.
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