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Sometimes You Just Can't Help Yourself...

Old 09-08-13, 04:03 PM
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Sometimes You Just Can't Help Yourself...

On the afternoon of June 28, 2013, as I was puttering around the house doing chores, I stopped for a few minutes to check my email. My inbox contained a message from rhm with the subject line "A thread you'll want to check out". I clicked on the thread and, lo and behold, there was another Norman Rapide that forum member Ottorange had recently come across. (That story is here.) Of course, when I read the thread and realized that the bicycle might end up being sandblasted and powder-coated, my heart nearly sank just to think that the second documented Norman Rapide might be lost.

I immediately got in touch with Ottorange and over the course of the next couple weeks we exchanged emails as I had expressed interest in obtaining, or at a minimum getting pictures of, the bicycle. Well, one thing lead to another and Ottorange essentially was given the bike by his boss to do with as he saw fit. As it turns out rhm was headed down my way around the same time and I was able to get a frameset for Ottorange that more suited to his size and proceeded to use it as trade fodder for the Rapide.

What I can say about this Norman Rapide is that the paint and graphics are in rough condition and it appears there is nothing original on the frame other than the saddle, seatpost, headset and bottom bracket. Unfortunately, the bicycle was "upgraded" at some point in its life to include front and rear derailleurs, a double crankset, and new wheels. Despite these issues, the frame appears to be structurally sound and in good condition with no apparent rust anywhere, save for a little speckling on the fork which should easily clean up with phosphoric or oxalic acid.

What are my plans for this bicycle? rhm has asked me more than once what I plan to do with it, but I've not had much time to focus on it. I know that it needs a deep cleaning and reassembly, but whether I will try to put it back into its original and period correct state is unknown at this point. One suggestion has been to put all the original parts back onto the 1950 Norman Rapide and keep that in reserve for bicycle shows and vintage bicycle rides and then perhaps put a Sturmey S5 hub on this frameset and not be too horribly concerned with obtaining period correct parts for this one and have this one as a "rider". Again, I need more time to think about it and have to dig through my parts bins/boxes before I can really decide what direction this project will take.

Without further ado, below are pictures which some on this forum have been eagerly awaiting.


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 1 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 2 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 3 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 5 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 7 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 8 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 10 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 11 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 12 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 13 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 09-08-13, 04:07 PM
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1950's Norman Rapide Project - 14 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 15 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 16 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr





1950's Norman Rapide Project - 17 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 18 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 19 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 21 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 23 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr







1950's Norman Rapide Project - 25 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 26 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 09-08-13, 04:09 PM
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1950's Norman Rapide Project - 28 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 29 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr



1950's Norman Rapide Project - 31 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 32 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr



1950's Norman Rapide Project - 33 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 34 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


1950's Norman Rapide Project - 35 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 09-08-13, 04:14 PM
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I like the show/rider approach - that's what I'm doing with the Cinells.
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Old 09-08-13, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake
I like the show/rider approach - that's what I'm doing with the Cinells.
There is definitely some merit to taking that approach and especially so since I now have Rapide "twins".
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Old 09-08-13, 04:44 PM
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Such a graceful curve to that fork.
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Old 09-08-13, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill
Such a graceful curve to that fork.
Yes, indeed. It seems almost everyone that sees the fork on a Norman Rapide mentions the rake. Perhaps I need to put a load on the front to see how it handles, since the design is very similar to that of French rando bikes.
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Old 09-08-13, 05:17 PM
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out of curiosity, is it worth it to put money and time into a bike like that? it doesn't look like a mid range or higher end ride. (not trying to be rude, it's an honest question)
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Old 09-08-13, 05:33 PM
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Is it worth it from a money standpoint? Probably not. The best money is still to be had buying good original complete bikes and parting them out.
From a riding standpoint this is my favorite kind of bike. I hate the thought of parting out a complete original but then I like to get creative. I've got boxes of sort of period correct pieces that I move from frame to frame as they come along. Not only do I get to try different kinds of bikes but I can compare several different frames with the same wheelset and then several different wheelsets on one frame. So from an educational and entertainment point of view, it's very much worth it.
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Old 09-08-13, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by mapleleafs-13
out of curiosity, is it worth it to put money and time into a bike like that? it doesn't look like a mid range or higher end ride. (not trying to be rude, it's an honest question)
It is obvious your knowledge of English Lightweights is limited. The Norman Rapide sat at the top of the line for its production run. It is full Reynolds 531 double-butted tubing and we're not talking about just the triangle, but the entire tubeset of the bicycle. As mentioned in my original post, most everything on this bicycle was swapped out at some point in its life, so it is now a very fine Reynolds 531 frameset with crap components bolted on in place of the original parts.

I submit for your edification the following: A scan of the Norman catalogue with the specs for the Rapide and some pictures of my 1950 Norman Rapide. I think you'll see this is no low-end ride.




Norman Rapide on a Sunny Sunday - 5 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Norman Rapide on a Sunny Sunday - 6 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Dawg Daze of Summer Ride - 8 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr

Last edited by photogravity; 09-09-13 at 01:55 PM. Reason: grammar and typos
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Old 09-08-13, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by sailorbenjamin
Is it worth it from a money standpoint? Probably not. The best money is still to be had buying good original complete bikes and parting them out.
From a riding standpoint this is my favorite kind of bike. I hate the thought of parting out a complete original but then I like to get creative. I've got boxes of sort of period correct pieces that I move from frame to frame as they come along. Not only do I get to try different kinds of bikes but I can compare several different frames with the same wheelset and then several different wheelsets on one frame. So from an educational and entertainment point of view, it's very much worth it.
If you are looking from it from the standpoint of purely money, sure. What also comes into play is that I really acquired the bicycle for the frameset. I have some parts for the bicycle already and I have no plans of respraying it. As you say, from an entertainment point of view, a bicycle like this is very much worth it.

There is another piece to this equation: Until this Norman Rapide came around, the only documented example known to exist is the one which I am already the custodian and which came to me through forum member rhm. This is only the second one known to still exist, which makes it quite rare. That doesn't mean it is worth anything, but that it is highly likely I will never run into anyone with another Norman Rapide in my lifetime. That kind of exclusivity is hard to find, especially so for a production bicycle. Are there more out there? Probably so, but I'm still waiting for more to appear.

For someone like myself who really loves English Lightweights, this machine was among the best in breed when it was created back in the 1950s.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:02 PM
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thank you for my "education" that's how it's spelled by the way.

and yes i did read you original post about the bicyclette. oh it's correct that my education in english bikes is no where near yours, i'm more into the italian/japanese stuff. But one day i'll get there. i do have a soft spot for raleigh pro's and bob jackson's though.

I'm more than happy for you since you found your grail bike.

The only reason i asked was because the lugwork and rear drop outs didn't look like anything of a "high-end" nature. I wasn't trying to insult the bike or anything.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:05 PM
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Thanks for sharing! Really a great find, regardless of condition.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mapleleafs-13
The only reason i asked was because the lugwork and rear drop outs didn't look like anything of a "high-end" nature. I wasn't trying to insult the bike or anything.
Raleigh Pro's have their weaknesses in the brazing department, and I think that Bob Jackson would like to remove a few bad years of bottom brackets from their production run.

The Norman has cap-rounded stay ends and what look to be stamped dropouts. These were pretty common in the 1950s. By the 70s they are associated with lower-end bikes, but for the 50s they were just fine. The complexity and brazing of the lugs is fairly good for the 1950s. The lugwork is pretty good, and you've got to look past the paint.

IMO, not every bike is for flipping. You've got to look past the dollars and cents, here.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mapleleafs-13
thank you for my "education" that's how it's spelled by the way.

and yes i did read you original post about the bicyclette. oh it's correct that my education in english bikes is no where near yours, i'm more into the italian/japanese stuff. But one day i'll get there. i do have a soft spot for raleigh pro's and bob jackson's though.

I'm more than happy for you since you found your grail bike.

The only reason i asked was because the lugwork and rear drop outs didn't look like anything of a "high-end" nature. I wasn't trying to insult the bike or anything.
I used the word "edification" and that is exactly what I meant to use. Similar words, similar meanings.

Even high end examples of this period (1940s and 1950s) frequently did not have forged dropouts but instead stamped steel dropouts.

As far as a grail bike, I'm not sure this is my grail as I already own an example of one of these that is in as pristine a condition you will find a 63 year old bicycle. I don't typically use the term "grail" since it is overused, but a Norman Rapide is a fine bicycle for its day and, even by today's standards, is a finely built, high quality machine.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by nikku
Thanks for sharing! Really a great find, regardless of condition.
Thanks nikku. While this isn't nearly as nice as my other Norman, it is a fine machine and should be a nice rider when I'm done with it.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by TimmyT
Raleigh Pro's have their weaknesses in the brazing department, and I think that Bob Jackson would like to remove a few bad years of bottom brackets from their production run.

The Norman has cap-rounded stay ends and what look to be stamped dropouts. These were pretty common in the 1950s. By the 70s they are associated with lower-end bikes, but for the 50s they were just fine. The complexity and brazing of the lugs is fairly good for the 1950s. The lugwork is pretty good, and you've got to look past the paint.

IMO, not every bike is for flipping. You've got to look past the dollars and cents, here.
TimmyT, you are spot on. It appears mapleleafs-13 is comparing a bicycle from 1950 with ones of an entirely different era and that just can't be done. You definitely need to look past the paint too, though I suspect once the dust, dirt and grime are cleaned off the bicycle, it'll look a lot better than it does now.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:31 PM
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well i'll look forward to seeing it after it is finished.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by photogravity
TimmyT, you are spot on. It appears mapleleafs-13 is comparing a bicycle from 1950 with ones of an entirely different era and that just can't be done. You definitely need to look past the paint too, though I suspect once the dust, dirt and grime are cleaned off the bicycle, it'll look a lot better than it does now.
Its an old bike. Just like everyone else's on this site. Some people like it, some people don't. If you can't take legitimate questions without finding offense, maybe you shouldn't post it.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by fender1
Its an old bike. Just like everyone else's on this site. Some people like it, some people don't. If you can't take legitimate questions without finding offense, maybe you shouldn't post it.
Hey fender, I'm with you. I wasn't offended by the questions either, but I wanted to help him understand what the bike was, since he didn't seem to have any knowledge of the marque and the quality of the frame set, the real reason I got the bicycle.
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Old 09-08-13, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by photogravity
Hey fender, I'm with you. I wasn't offended by the questions either, but I wanted to help him understand what the bike was, since he didn't seem to have any knowledge of the marque and the quality of the frame set, the real reason I got the bicycle.
My error then. Carry on!
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Old 09-08-13, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by TimmyT
Raleigh Pro's have their weaknesses in the brazing department, and I think that Bob Jackson would like to remove a few bad years of bottom brackets from their production run.

The Norman has cap-rounded stay ends and what look to be stamped dropouts. These were pretty common in the 1950s. By the 70s they are associated with lower-end bikes, but for the 50s they were just fine. The complexity and brazing of the lugs is fairly good for the 1950s. The lugwork is pretty good, and you've got to look past the paint.

IMO, not every bike is for flipping. You've got to look past the dollars and cents, here.
+2

If you're trying to retire on bikes, best of luck to you. This is a hobby - and I try to be revenue neutral, but ultimately you have to judge what something is worth to YOU. Sometimes it might be worth more to you than what we consider standard value. I work hard - and part of why I work hard is to be able to afford things like overpaying for c-record pedals.

I have a solid $800 into my wife's Panasonic DX-3000 with powdercoating and the head badge...it's probably worth less now then it was before I did those things. My wife loves it and she thinks about me every time she rides it. She proudly tells friends and family about it and how I set it up for her. She rides it 5 days a week +. Money well spent.
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Old 09-08-13, 08:49 PM
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Great looking bike! Congratulations! They are definitely hard to come by, along with other high end 40s, 50s, and 60's bikes. Unfortunately, I have not scored a single one in my 5 years of looking for these gems. I wonder if many were thrown away, or taken to the scrap yards? How unfortunate if that was their fate. If I find one in my continuous and never ending searches, I will definitely let you know. :-)

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Old 09-08-13, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake
+2

If you're trying to retire on bikes, best of luck to you. This is a hobby - and I try to be revenue neutral, but ultimately you have to judge what something is worth to YOU. Sometimes it might be worth more to you than what we consider standard value. I work hard - and part of why I work hard is to be able to afford things like overpaying for c-record pedals.

I have a solid $800 into my wife's Panasonic DX-3000 with powdercoating and the head badge...it's probably worth less now then it was before I did those things. My wife loves it and she thinks about me every time she rides it. She proudly tells friends and family about it and how I set it up for her. She rides it 5 days a week +. Money well spent.
Off Topic: That is great story about your wife, and how she loves her bike that you set up for her! "Appreciation" quite rare now a days! And Aaron...you're only allowed to have one Cinelli in your life-time, so can you please send the other one to Central Florida? :-)

I apologize!

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Old 09-08-13, 09:25 PM
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Great bike, and you deserve it.
I'm glad that 99.9% of the world thinks they are just rusty old bikes.
We are the enthusiasts!
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