Tuesday, July 18, 2006

1950s Raleigh Lenton Sports

Photograph by Martin Hanczyc

The Raleigh Lenton Sports was a budget bike with a frame of Reynolds 531 main tubes. Elsewhere in the web it has been praised with undue extravagance (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/retroraleighs/lenton-kohler.html). Far from being "the most popular lightweight British bicycle of a Golden Era," it was not much of a lightweight at all. Instead it was a throwback to bikes of the early 1930s, out of fashion from the day it was introduced, with a 71 degrees parallel frame (later changed to 73/71), old-fashioned lugs, a hub gear, and mostly steel components. The typical rider of lightweights in the era of the Lenton Sports would have purchased an all-531 frame, often custom built, equipped with some alloy components and derailleur gears - even though the derailleurs of the time shifted rather poorly in comparison to Sturmey-Archer gears. It seems that many more such frames than Lentons have survived and are ridden in the V-CC.

That being said, the Lenton Sports is an enjoyable bike to ride on its own terms, perfectly suitable for touring in the company of fancier machines. This bike began as a frame and right hand crank purchased at a cycle jumble in 1999. Original components found and fitted included a standard Raleigh sports light roadster stem (replaced by the time of this photo with a GB alloy spearpoint), GB alloy bars with 15/16-inch clamp diameter, Raleigh bottom bracket cups and spindle, steel seat post, Raleigh front hub, S-A AW rear hub, and a Brooks saddle. Many of the Raleigh components are interchangeable with the standard Raleigh Sports. On this bike the rims are ancient alloy Clement 700C, which fit the frame reasonably well, rather than the original 26 X 1-1/4 Endrick rims. The mudguards are Bluemel's Lightweight. In place of the stock steel brakes, the brakes here are Weinmann 500 and 730 - later production of a brake set that was listed in the Brown Brothers catalogues of the early 1950s.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

1969 Hurlow

W.B. "Bill" Hurlow is one of the foremost British framebuilders. He worked for F. H. Grubb, Claud Butler, Mal Rees, and Condor, and built under his own name as well. In retirement he remains an enthusiastic cyclist, and recently appeared in the V-CC magazine with one of his Condors.

Frames bearing the Hurlow label are rare in America. This machine was built for a New England cyclist in 1969. After his death, his family passed the bike to his younger cycling friend, who recently refurbished it and returned it to the road. The V-CC places great importance upon riding old bikes, not consigning them to displays or concours. On the road, the owner honors both the memory of his friend and the unsurpassed craftsmanship of Bill Hurlow, while gathering new experiences and memories that add to the bicycle's story.

Photographs by Scott Ebersole