1946 Hobbs of Barbican: A First Look

The serial number, near as I can tell, is 4601207, which is notable for a couple of reasons. First, the serial number indicates this is a 1946 frame. Second, if I’m reading the number correctly it is exactly the same as one that is specifically mentioned on the Hobbs website. Curiously, that site doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2002. It raises the question in my mind: If this is the same frame then where has it been over the past fourteen years and by what circuitous route did it travel getting to my garage?

Also interesting is the owner’s name and club affiliation painted along the top tube: ” A BURNET MIDDX R.C.” I interpret the latter to be “Middlesex Road Club,” which is still in existence, and which lists an “A Burnet” on the MRC Club Records page for the 24 hour men’s solo in 1947. I’ve reached out to the club in hopes of discovering a bit more information.

I rather fancy this frame and am a bit torn about how to build it up. First off, I do not foresee a repaint taking place – the aged surface is quite lovely and there is a real honesty to the beausage. Clearly every mark was earned over the life of this bike. In all likelihood, this model – a Superbe, if I’ve pegged it correctly – would have had a three speed hub. The 110mm rear spacing (actually, more like 113) leads me to consider either a three speed fixed, or a single speed fixed. Period Airlight hubs paired with 27 inch rims would be a really nice touch. I think I have a Williams 42t cottered crank in the parts bin, which might have been an appropriate choice back in the day.

There are lots of nice details to appreciate, tempered by a rather painfully ham-fisted repainting of the head badge graphic. The graphic appears to have been touched up with model paint, and I’m hoping to be able to gently tease that garbage off of the frame with a careful application of artist product…my fingers are crossed!

The Reynolds 531 transfer dates to the 1946 – 49 era, I believe.

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14 thoughts on “1946 Hobbs of Barbican: A First Look

  1. Really nice lugs and framesets. I would put the Williams on in as well! I had a Hobbs similar to that as well. I also had a lugless model. Paid and all…it never arrived in the US. Someone made out nicely! Here’s some pics of the lugless.
    Actually, just scroll down through the page. There are a few Hobbs in the album. I had purchased 2 Hobbs bikes and a McClean. None made it here…

    bike jan 2nd 057
    • There are numerous builders whose frames I covet, Walter. Some, like a Herse or a Singer, I doubt will ever grace the floor of my garage. (Frankly, the list of bikes I’ll never own is as long as my arm.) My short list has included a number of Brit bikes, but especially a Flying Scot or a Hobbs. I just like the way they look – and I’m ever a fan of nice lugs, of course. The old British approach to riding and racing holds more appeal for me than the Continental mass start, elbow-throwing, TDF sort of event. There’s something about path racers and club racers, IGH hubs and their ilk, that make me feel more connected to the bike.

      Sorry to hear about your bad experience purchasing abroad. I’m always nervous about long distance transactions myself, but one has little other option because this hobby is so esoteric, and enthusiasts aren’t usually right next door to each other. As a rule, the cycling community is usually a very trusting and trustworthy lot; outside of eBay nonsense, I’ve only had one negative outcome dealing with cycling enthusiasts over the internet. That’s a pretty good record, and far, far better than almost every other transactional experience I’ve engaged in otherwise!

  2. Re kitting ot the frame, I guess such a marvel would have originally had CL or BSA chainset/pedals. If you´re planning on shelling out on an ASC, one of those won´t be over the top. The upside is that you won´t need a perfect set, a 90 per cent one will nicely match the condition of the frame. A downside is that in ´46 there were no GB or MAFAC brakes – good luck with finding the elusive LAMs or Glorias or whatever people would have used. Any traces of Resilions on the fork or rear triangle?
    Did Hobbs use bilams, I wonder?
    In any case, the frame is just wonderful.

    • Resilion cantis are a possibility. No marks are extant – which one would expect to find, actually – but the lack of marks is hardly definitive. On the rear triangle, there is some sort of black crud that looks almost like tape or adhesive residue. It’s proving to be difficult to remove, and the location is just about where one might anticipate finding evidence of Resilions having been installed. I’ve no idea though if the residue is in any way connected. Could just be crud!

  3. graveldoc says:

    What a beautiful frame. Should make a very nice way to pass the cold, wintry days. Looking forward to viewing the complete bike.

  4. Shaun Underhill says:

    I was admiring your Hobbs frame and look forward to seeing any pictures of it fully restored for the road. In particular the reference to my club, Middlesex RC which will soon be celebrating 80 years of continued existance. Did you have any response to your approach regarding the former Middlesex RC owner of your Hobbs? If not please advise and I will check further for you. The bike of choice for many in the club was a Mal Rees, he being a founder member back in 1937. Kind regards, Shaun.

    • Tim, it’s been wonderful engaging in this unexpected, but entirely welcome intercontinental, trans-Atlantic conversation! I now feel a tie connecting my bicycle to a group and place and people and time, and there’s something very real and satisfying about that.

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