Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pre-War Evans

      F.W. Evans was an innovator in lightweight cycles during the 1920s and 1930s, notably a specialist in machines for the touring man and woman. This bicycle, which dates to the second half of the 1930s, is used for commuting and touring by a member of the New England Section - testimony to the excellent riding qualities and durability of then-new Reynolds 531 frame tubing. Usually it is equipped with a Sturmey-Archer two-speed fixed gear hub. For L'Eroica, the famous veteran cycle ride on the strade bianchi (unpaved "white roads") of Tuscany, it was fitted with the S-A FM hub.

     The owner relates that in the 1920s, F.W Evans advocated using small frames at a time when people were riding very tall frames with the seat positioned as close to the top tube as possible. The new style, also associated with the innovative maker Granby Cycles, was favored by the influential cycling writer, Wayfarer. Hilary Stone credits the French manufacturer Bastide as the innovators of the design. [However Fitzwater Wray ("Kuklos"), writing in 1927, related that the secretary of the CTC at that time - G.H. Stancer - ordered a lightweight machine with 26-in. wheels and a low frame to be especially made for him by an unnamed  British manufacturer in 1903 - before the Bastide appeared, and ten years before it was imported into England]. British makers carried the design forward by employing Reynolds's butted tubing, culminating with the introduction of 531 manganese-molybdenum tubing in 1935.

frame: Reynolds 531 butted tubing, 24 inch; no Silver Plaque rear dropouts, standard horizontal dropouts
headset: period head clip, steel, unknown maker
stem: period steel, unknown maker
handlebar: The Shirley, steel. Evans offered several type of handlebars including own-make bends. The Shirley is similar to North Road Bars.  From their catalog: "The Shirley 18" x 2" is an example, this being suitable for conversion from 'dropped' to 'upturned' on the back of Evans Touring Tandems."
saddle: Brooks Swallow
chainset: Williams steel
pedals: modern alloy
brakes: Resilion, The Cantilever
levers: Resilion, The Cantilever, with locks
front wheel: Sturmey-Archer Dynohub and matching front and rear Sturmey-Archer roadster type lamps.  In summer I switch out the wheel with dynohub for a standard wheel with no dyno.
rear wheel: S-A TFB (1934) 2-speed fixed hub. 700c rims with 35mm width all terrain tyres.
mudguards: Bluemel's Lightweight

     For more information on Evans Cycles, see Hilary Stone's article at

Photos by Martin Hanczyc
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