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Homepage. This page: A look at classic pre- and post-war bicycles, tandems, tricycles and penny farthings.
vintage bicycles

Collecting vintage and classic bicycles.

If motor-cars take up too much room, and motorcycles are a bit on the lary side, what else that is vehicle-related might be worth collecting? why not look at collecting vintage bicycles, or other forms of cycle? Cycles don't take up too much room, aren't as expensive to buy or run as a car (well usually..), and are a healthy way to get around (unless you get knocked off!).

Finding an old bicycle.

The plan is to feature some of the older makes and models of bicycle in this new section of the site. To kick things off, some things to consider when looking to buy a first 'classic' bicycle...
Interesting old pushbikes can occasionally be found for just a few pounds, although they will no doubt need some restoration or minor fettling, and supplies of real cheapies are drying up. Bank on spending say �50-�100 for a first bicycle, and for this money you'll probably be looking at a post-war Raleigh. Such a machine should be a painless introduction to the old-bicycle collecting hobby. Both Gents and Ladies models can still be found, the latter tending to cost a little less in most cases. Children's bicycles are also available if you search around, even early tricycles which have been forgotten about for decades in their owners' sheds.
A gent with his bicycle
Many bicycles have been home-maintained, and to varying standards, some good and others not so good. Many a bicycle ended it's day in pieces in the garden shed, never to speed down the lanes again. A good original bicycle, still wearing it's original paintwork and parts, will always be preferable to one that has had a quick brush job in Hammerite, or re-spray using an old vacuum cleaner, as often happened in the 50s and 60s to freshen up a weary-looking machine. Pieces are often missing, so bear that in mind when assessing an old bike, and non-original parts may well have been fitted during the bicycle's life. If a machine should have an oil-bath chaincase for instance, make sure that it is present and hasn't been replaced by a later, non-enclosed chain guard. Mudguards may also have been swapped for replacements, and later saddles may have been fitted - if an old leather Brooks' saddle was original fitment, then a later sprung saddle may be comfier, but will look a little odd. Talking of mudguards, during the war and the black-out restrictions, cycle owners were required to paint a while section at the back end of the rear mudguard. Chances are, if the bike you're looking at has such a white section on the rear mudguard, it probably is the original part.
Cracked and split tyres aren't usually a problem as new replacements can still be sourced, same for tubes. Incomplete bicycles can be restored, as there are stocks of used parts around if you go hunting - as with old cars, a lot comes down to knowing the right people, and joining up with a suitable historic bicycle club might be a good move.
Accessories have always been big business in the bicycling world, and if you're lucky, the post-war bike you've seen for sale may still have them fitted. Lights, either battery operated or powered by a dynamo or dynohub, are perhaps the most common accessories, with stands, racks, pumps and quirky items such as tennis racket holders, still quite easy to find. Even if you buy a cycle fitted with no accessories, there'll be little problem sourcing an appropriate-looking saddle bag and bell for it. A page elsewhere on the site describes the range of Terry's bicycle & motorcycle accessories that were on offer in the 1930s.
Pre-war bicycles are usually a little more expensive to buy, but are still quite reasonably priced when compared to modern bikes, which usually cost a great deal and are often built from inferior materials. Again, parts for the more popular pre-war models such as Raleighs and Humbers will be easier to find than for the rarer marques, such as the sought-after Lea-Francis bicycles for instance.

Bicycle Advertisements.

A number of adverts for classic bicycles have now been added in, featuring a selection of cycles from the 1920s, though to familiar models of the 1960s. As time goes by, more will be added in. To see the current list of old images and advert scans, please see the old bicycle adverts page. Further material relating to vintage and classic bicycles, as well as other cycles such as penny farthings and tandems, will be added to this section shortly.

Penny Farthings.

If owning a 'normal' bicycle sounds a little too easy, then there is always the option of hunting down a penny farthing (so-named due to the different sizes of front and rear wheel), although you really need quite deep pockets nowadays if a PF is what you want. Long legs help too. Even a reproduction penny farthing will cost several hundred pounds a time, and an original will usually be well into four figures sadly. Identifying the correct parts that should be fitted to a particular penny farthing will also need some research, so that you don't buy a bitser being sold as an original machine.

Tricycles.

De Dion Bouton tricycle
Tricycles have the advantage that they're very hard to fall off from, unless bends in the road are taken at an inappropriately frantic pace. Lyndon sent over a fine old photograph of a gent sat on a De Dion Bouton motorised tricycle, and it now features in this section of oldclassiccar. A couple of old photos also turned up of a Forecar being loaded onto a small boat. They were described as featuring a De Dion Bouton Forecar, but I'm hoping that a tricycling enthusiast will be able to confirm this identification. De Dion Bouton tricycle.
Three-wheeled cycles were often available for use at holiday camps in the 1950s, at least one example now features on a page I've added to the site that features pedal-assisted vehicles, other than bicycles and children's pedal cars. You'll find the page here.

Other items of cycling interest.

Bowden cables, period leaflet describing their products, circa 1940s/1950s.
Frank Morrish & Co.. Catalogue from 1904 referring to the Flying Monarch bicycles and powered tricycles.
Hercules. A letter from 1926, sent to all stockists of Hercules bicycles by the manufacturer.
Photographs of bicycles. A collection of original photographs, featuring the Dursley Pedersen and more.
Sidecars. Range of sidecars designed for 1920s & 1930s cycles.

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