A New Class of Cyclists: Banham’s Bicycle and the Two-wheeled World it didn’t Create

Bruce D Epperson is, among other things, an eminent American cycle historian. His paper ‘A New Class of Cyclist: Banham’s Bicycle and the Two-wheeled World it didn’t Create’ should be compulsory reading for anybody studying the history of cycling in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s. It appeared in the journal Mobilities, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2013.

Here’s the abstract:

While not uncommon for innovator and innovation to merge into a single identity, it is more unusual for this to occur between object and critic. But it did happen in the 1960’s with a novel small-wheeled bicycle, the Moulton, and the British architecture and design critic Reyner Banham. Banham believed the Moulton would give rise to a new generation of middle-class urban radical cyclists who would eventually come to rely on bicycles for their transport needs. While this did not happen, the Moulton’s attention-getting technology did lead to a revived market in bicycles among young, newly affluent consumers who bought small-wheeled utility bicycles as fashion statements and status symbols.

The article is particular relevant to those interested in the history of Moulton bicycles, the Raleigh cycle company and the Raleigh 20 series of small-wheelers – Raleigh’s biggest selling product line in the mid 1970s.

The article can be purchased online here from the publisher, Taylor & Francis:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17450101.2012.659467#.VRKlAGbEigc

Web of Science provides more information about the article, including contact details for the author:…

The rarely seen Moulton Stowaway joint that looks like a hinge

Alex Moulton hated the idea that his bicycles would be considered as folding bicycles. He always made the point that his aim was to produce a better bicycle, not a folder. A small proportion of the 1960s Moultons were separable for stowing in the boot of car, as were the majority of his post-1983 spaceframe machines, but Alex never, ever, made a folding bicycle.

A number of people have adapted Moultons into folding bicycles but Alex never did. The question that many Moulton researchers and enthusiasts have asked themselves is “Did he ever, in secrecy, produce a folding prototype?” More than 20 years ago, when I first saw a colour slide in the Moulton archives of the bike featured here, I thought for a few seconds that I had found evidence of just such a machine. But it did not take long to establish that this, too, is a separable machine, albeit a unique variant on the theme.

The original Moulton Stowaway joint, used in a minority of production F-frame Moultons in the 1960s, was very unforgiving if the bike was ridden without the joint bolt being fully tightened. Just one short ride with the bolt loose would distort the joint, making it looser in the vertical plane when ridden yet harder to separate.

In the 1970s, Alex Moulton made a little known attempt to improve the Stowaway joint. The only known example exists in a prototype Mk 4 Moulton. (The Mk 4 was a development of the Mk 3 that never went into production.)

Alex’s aim was to produce a joint that was fail-safe and that would not be damaged if ridden without being fully tightened. The resulting design is shown in the photos below. The front section of the main beam has a primary hook at the lower end of the joint end. This hooks over a peg on the rear section of the main beam. The top of the front section of the main beam bears upon a “hooded” forward extension of rear part of the main beam, thus holding the two parts of the main beam loosely together.

Rather than just relying on the primary hook joint, there is a pair of secondary pivoting hooks within the front section of the main beam. These hook around a peg that runs through the central axis of the rear section of the main beam. To complete assembly of the bike, the frame’s short “carrying handle” is swung into its horizontal position and fastened around the seat tube, just above the squashball suspension unit, using a bolt with a quick-release lever. A cam on the underside of the carrying handle, near its pivot, locks the secondary hooks in position. The combination of the secondary hooks and the bracing effect of the carrying handle make the joint tight in the ridden mode.

To separate the frame, the carrying handle is unbolted and swung forward, which releases the pair of secondary hooks via the cam in the carrying handle. The two parts of the frame can then be separated by releasing the primary hook.

In conclusion, this prototype joint is certainly a belt and braces job but is very complicated, expensive to manufacture and relatively heavy. It is not surprising that it never saw the light of day.…

Vic Nicholson – more wins on the Moulton than any other rider

In 1965, Vic Nicholson won 15 major time trials on the Moulton bicycle, was placed in 9 others and won the Reading Track League. In 1967, again on the Moulton, he broke the Birmingham-Bristol-Birmingham record by more than 25 minutes and regained the Cardiff-London record for Moulton by an 18 minute margin.

In this interview, recorded in February 2015, Vic talks to Tony Hadland about his cycle racing career, with special reference to his time on the small-wheeler. The interview is just under 32 minutes long and can be found in the Cycling section of this website. (Hover your mouse pointer over the word “Cycling” in the banner at the head of the page, then click on “Interviews”.) Or you can go straight to the Interviews page via this link:…

Sturmey’s right-hand ball rings: are you losing the thread?

Some instructions for disassembling Sturmey-Archer gears include a mysterious statement such as this:
“Next, unscrew the right-hand ball ring but because it has a two-start thread and must be replaced in its original position, that position must be marked. String or adhesive tape may be attached to the spoke nearest to the letters ‘SA’ which are stamped in one of the notches on the ring.” (From the 1956 Master Catalogue, sub-section 4, page 15, paragraph 1.)
The reason for replacing the right-hand ball ring in the same position is as follows. If the ring is screwed back in the alternative position, 180 degrees out from its original position, there could be some slight distortion of the completed assembly, due to a very slight difference of alignment between the hub shell and the ball ring. Whilst not noticeable at the hub end, it can result in the rim being slightly out of true. (The longer the spokes, the more the discrepancy is amplified.) So the precaution is in order to avoid the possible need to re-true the wheel.
This matter is not well documented but the rare 1992 Sutherland’s Handbook of Coaster Brakes and Internally Geared Hubs makes the point clearly. To facilitate correct re-assembly, Sutherland’s advises marking the ball ring at the point nearest the lubricator, rather than attaching tape or string to a spoke.
The reason for the two-start thread is to facilitate screwing the ball ring in relatively quickly, while having a stronger mechanical connection than an equally fast single-start thread would offer. For a given screw pitch, a two-start thread will screw in twice as fast as a single-start thread.

A Motorised Raleigh 20

Here’s something you don’t see everyday. It’s a UK street-legal moped based on a Raleigh 20 and was created by consulting engineer Chris Sawyer. It has a Cyclemaster engine and front suspension. Apparently it works quite well and it demonstrates the rigidity of the folding version of the bike. Many thanks to Chris for permitting use of his photo.

The folding Raleigh 20 converted into a moped by Chris Sawyer…

Get my Moulton books for less

Never assume that Amazon’s prices are always the lowest! Sometimes they are even lower than the normal trade price but in some cases they can be quite inflated.

Via the Amazon UK website, if you click on the tiny links for ‘New’ copies from other sources, you can get the reprinted hardback edition of The Spaceframe Moultons for £43.40 (Amazon’s own price is £70.90!), the softback pocket-size version for £17.95 and the hardback The F-Frame Moultons (the new reprinted edition of The Moulton Bicycle) for £25.21 (Amazon’s own price is £36.76).

The two hardbacks come straight from the publisher in Switzerland, so you can see the enormous mark-up applied further along the supply chain. All prices quoted above are as at 17th April 2015 and exclude postage but this is clearly shown on the website and is not very expensive.…