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A Different Kind of Hercules

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A Different Kind of Hercules

Old 02-25-12, 11:03 AM
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A Different Kind of Hercules

On Thursday, as I was perusing the CL ads doing my usual search for "Hercules", I happened across an ad for two bikes. One was a Hercules and the other was a Portland, made in Birmingham bike. As it turns out one of my friends in England asked me to keep an eye out for a specific Hercules that was made for only a short while. I never thought I would find one, but kept looking nonetheless because things do pop up on CL when you least expect.

This bike doesn't fit so neatly into the lightweight or middleweight category, but probably most neatly fits into the cruiser category and even then it isn't such a comfortable fit atmo. The gentleman advertised the bike as a Hercules Royal Imperial, but whether that is entirely correct, I do not know. The bike has been repainted, but appears pretty complete with the exception of the chainguard, chain and wheels. The rear mudguard is not on the bike, but was included with the bicycle. I have a similar Hercules but without the arching cantilever tube and I think Doohickie may have one like mine.

So, before the bike is repatriated to England and placed into the capable hands of my friend there, here are some pictures of a Hercules Trio-Tube bicycle for your entertainment.


Hercules Trio-Tube - 1 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 2 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 3 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 4 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 6 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 7 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 8 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 9 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 10 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 11 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 02-25-12, 11:06 AM
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Way cooler than the one I found!
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Old 02-25-12, 11:08 AM
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Hercules Trio-Tube - 12 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 15 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 18 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 19 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 21 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 22 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 23 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 24 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 25 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Trio-Tube - 26 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 02-25-12, 11:10 AM
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Neat bike, someone else around here has one, in champagne I think.
Is it Hercules, or Raleigh-Hercules, do you think? Are the chain-ring teeth the curved or wedge-shaped ones?
Have you ever seen a brochure describing the odd (for Brit) frame construction?
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Old 02-25-12, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by kiwigem
Way cooler than the one I found!
Indeed, WAAYY cooler!! Alas it is not mine. The interesting thing is that right after you sent your message, I did a search on my local CL and there was this. I can even justify the purchase to my wife because it isn't mine! How good does it get?

Here's the Hercules cruiser that I have... It's in line for restoration as it got leapfrogged by the Hercules Kestrel.


1959 Hercules Hawthorne - Before Disassembly - 6 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1959 Hercules Hawthorne - Before Disassembly - 1 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr

Last edited by photogravity; 02-25-12 at 11:16 AM. Reason: added link
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Old 02-25-12, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by David Newton
Neat bike, someone else around here has one, in champagne I think.
Is it Hercules, or Raleigh-Hercules, do you think? Are the chain-ring teeth the curved or wedge-shaped ones?
Have you ever seen a brochure describing the odd (for Brit) frame construction?
Definitely pre-Raleigh...

Very interesting bike and I would assume a bit on the rare/unusual side.

As far as brochures there is not much out there on Hercules bikes. I have a 195? Hecules Skyliner that we have never found in any brochure or advertisement.

Aaron
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Old 02-25-12, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by David Newton
Neat bike, someone else around here has one, in champagne I think.
Is it Hercules, or Raleigh-Hercules, do you think? Are the chain-ring teeth the curved or wedge-shaped ones?
Have you ever seen a brochure describing the odd (for Brit) frame construction?
I think you're right, but I'm not sure who it is. Doohickie has (or had?) one that doesn't have the cantilever tube. Going by the dropouts, fork crown and other cues, this is considered a pre-Raleigh Birmingham Hercules, but it would have been right on the cusp of the TI-Raleigh merger.

As far as a brochure, I've not found one yet, but I'm sure someone out there has one... As I understand it, this bike was made only for the American market.

The teeth on the chainset are exactly like the one pictured below.


Hercules Chainring by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr

Last edited by photogravity; 02-25-12 at 02:55 PM. Reason: added picture and additional commentary
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Old 02-25-12, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc
Definitely pre-Raleigh...

Very interesting bike and I would assume a bit on the rare/unusual side.

As far as brochures there is not much out there on Hercules bikes. I have a 195? Hecules Skyliner that we have never found in any brochure or advertisement.

Aaron
Agreed on it being pre-Raleigh. I was sort of surprised when it showed up on the Baltimore CL. My friend is very fortunate that I located one of these for him because if he hadn't asked me to look, this baby would be mine!! I'm going to have to think long and hard about the finders fee on this one.

As far as brochures, you are absolutely correct: they are few and far between. There are maybe a half dozen to be found online if you look, but that's about it.

The interesting thing about Hercules is that it seems they had unique names and paint schemes for the US market. For instance, I have a 1951 Hercules Lion, a 1952 Hercules Windsor and a 1956 Hercules Royal Prince and they are all essentially the same bike, but with some minor detail differences.

So Aaron, about that Hercules Skyliner, do you have any pictures of it? Please?

Last edited by photogravity; 02-25-12 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 02-25-12, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by photogravity
~snip~
So Aaron, about that Hercules Skyliner, do you have any pictures of it? Please?
Just a couple from PastorbobNH. He rescued it from the town dump, it has been low on my priority list...

Unusual bike; step through, rod brakes, single speed freewheel, definitely pre Raleigh, also odd is that it uses the 590 wheel size.

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Old 02-25-12, 02:22 PM
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I also have a 1964 AMF Hercules that my sister rides. It was a freebie from my LBS...'cause the love me

Aaron


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RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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Old 02-25-12, 02:35 PM
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I had one similar to the Skyliner. I had to replace the Herc chainwheel, it was sawtoothed so badly it would cut your shin. I think mine was pre-war.

It was a great ride.

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Old 02-25-12, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc
Just a couple from PastorbobNH. He rescued it from the town dump, it has been low on my priority list...

Unusual bike; step through, rod brakes, single speed freewheel, definitely pre Raleigh, also odd is that it uses the 590 wheel size.

Aaron
Indeed those make it a bit odd, for sure. I was going to ask you about the stampings on the hub if it was a Hercules hub, but being a single-speed that won't help us with determining the year. I'd guess that if the cups on the BB are Brampton, they may have a 2-digit date code stamped in them.

BTW, I think the bike is actually earlier than you think because the headbadge affixed to the bike was pretty much phased out in the late 1940's and replaced with the shield shaped badge.

Also, I do think I've asked about that bike before and you've obliged in the past with posting the images. Sorry to bother you with posting them again.
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Old 02-25-12, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman
I had one similar to the Skyliner. I had to replace the Herc chainwheel, it was sawtoothed so badly it would cut your shin. I think mine was pre-war.

It was a great ride.
clubman, at least you know the bike had been ridden before you got it. What kind of mudguards are those attached to the bike, Bluemels?
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Old 02-25-12, 10:04 PM
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Am I wrong (often the case) but the hub looks to read 66 or 68 which would make it a raleigh, Hercules, no? Or the hub is not original to the bike. Either-or, it's a cool bike, almost looks like a badger all humped up to attack!!
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Old 02-26-12, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by photogravity
clubman, at least you know the bike had been ridden before you got it. What kind of mudguards are those attached to the bike, Bluemels?
Correct...Bluemel Lightweights but I assume they weren't original to the bike.

The rear wheel had been replaced with a Raleigh Westrick/SA AW combo but the front was the original 590 Westwood rim with "Made in England" hub.

Regarding the 3 tube Hercules...I'm sure I've seen more than a couple of this same frame with 60's AW hubs. I think they may have been distributed by AMF in NA for Raleigh. I know they don't have the correct fork or rear fender braze-ons but there it is. Maybe a clear out of a 50's production run that didn't make it to market? This is speculative, at best.

Edit...or maybe Sears and not AMF?

Last edited by clubman; 02-26-12 at 12:56 AM. Reason: Sears
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Old 02-26-12, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Velognome
Am I wrong (often the case) but the hub looks to read 66 or 68 which would make it a raleigh, Hercules, no? Or the hub is not original to the bike. Either-or, it's a cool bike, almost looks like a badger all humped up to attack!!
The hub does have a 66 stamped on it, which I assume is the year of the hub, but the entire rear wheel is not original to the bike. The front wheel has also been replaced.

I think your comment about it looking like a badger ready to attack is appropriate. It certainly has a different posture to it than a Schwinn Corvette or Raleigh Lancer which appear to have longer wheelbases.


Hercules Trio-Tube - 1 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


DSC_2461 by msu bikes, on Flickr


VIntage Schwinn Corvette by meadowman, on Flickr
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Old 02-26-12, 09:02 AM
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It's definitely an interesting blend of British and American bicycle design philosophies, much like was happening with automobiles. Obviously, it could not be as successful as the auto practice of installing a powerful American engine in a nice handling British chassis. While it looks like a middleweight, I'm guessing it rides more like a roadster?
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Old 02-26-12, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by clubman
Correct...Bluemel Lightweights but I assume they weren't original to the bike.

The rear wheel had been replaced with a Raleigh Westrick/SA AW combo but the front was the original 590 Westwood rim with "Made in England" hub.

Regarding the 3 tube Hercules...I'm sure I've seen more than a couple of this same frame with 60's AW hubs. I think they may have been distributed by AMF in NA for Raleigh. I know they don't have the correct fork or rear fender braze-ons but there it is. Maybe a clear out of a 50's production run that didn't make it to market? This is speculative, at best.

Edit...or maybe Sears and not AMF?
I have little doubt that this style Hercules was either made into the 1960s after the TI/Raleigh merger or they continued assembling the frames to clear out the Hercules production runs before the merger took place. My 1959 Hercules Hawthorne cruiser has a SA AW hub. What would be useful to me would be to know when Hercules ceased production of their hubs. I've not seen anything past 1955 (B Type 5), but I've not been searching in earnest for Hercules hubs either.
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Old 02-26-12, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by PatrickZ
It's definitely an interesting blend of British and American bicycle design philosophies, much like was happening with automobiles. Obviously, it could not be as successful as the auto practice of installing a powerful American engine in a nice handling British chassis. While it looks like a middleweight, I'm guessing it rides more like a roadster?
It is an interesting mashup, as we would call it now. I've not ridden the bike since it doesn't have a chain affixed, though I may do that just for kicks. Since the wheelbase is shorter, has roadster-ish geometry and 26x1-3/8 wheels, I would imagine the ride is very roadster-like on the road.

I think I'm going to put a chain on this baby today and give it a spin before she gets boxed up and repatriated to England.
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Old 02-26-12, 10:13 AM
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That herc is something cool! ive never seen that one before, what the ballpark value of that guy there?

And while we are comparing British cantilever 3 speeds... heres a pic of (formerly) my rare '57 Indian scout... made by phillips i think if i remember correctly





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Old 02-26-12, 11:17 AM
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One difference in OP's bike is that the top tubes are "cantilevered" off the main frames where in most cantilevered frames its the lower tubes that cantilever off the frames and form the seat stays.
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Old 02-26-12, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ericbaker
That herc is something cool! ive never seen that one before, what the ballpark value of that guy there?

And while we are comparing British cantilever 3 speeds... heres a pic of (formerly) my rare '57 Indian scout... made by phillips i think if i remember correctly
Eric, I'm not sure about value. It is very hard to determine value on some of these less common bikes because they simply don't show up on eBay or CL on a regular basis and, of course, there's regional variations that affect value. I'm not even going to hazard a guess on value here.

That Indian Scout looks like it must have been a neat ride! Are those the only pictures you have of the bike? I'd love to see more.
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Old 02-26-12, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Schwinnsta
One difference in OP's bike is that the top tubes are "cantilevered" off the main frames where in most cantilevered frames its the lower tubes that cantilever off the frames and form the seat stays.
Correct indeed. In the case of this bike there are twin toptubes running to the headtube, then what would be a "normal" sized tube runs from the seattube to the downtube. It definitely gives the bike an interesting appearance.
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Old 02-27-12, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by PatrickZ
It's definitely an interesting blend of British and American bicycle design philosophies, much like was happening with automobiles. Obviously, it could not be as successful as the auto practice of installing a powerful American engine in a nice handling British chassis. While it looks like a middleweight, I'm guessing it rides more like a roadster?
PatrickZ, here's a quick update on your comment. I got the bike cleaned up and adjusted to a point where I took it for a ride. Indeed the bike rides and handles a lot like a roadster, though it seems to have a little firmer ride than other roadsters I've ridden. Also the bike is a snick more cramped than I'm accustomed to as it seems to have a slightly shorter effective top tube length than a traditional roadster though that could be remedied pretty easily with a longer stem or different bars.

Below are a couple pictures from yesterday's short ride.


Hercules Royal Imperial - C&O Canal Ride - 2 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Royal Imperial - C&O Canal Ride - 4 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 02-27-12, 08:24 AM
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Looks like a nice scenic route for a ride! Interesting to know about the short cockpit; the extra curved top tube makes it seem much bigger.
PatrickZ is offline  

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