Tweed Ride

I look forward to our annual “Tweed Ride” every year. First off, I get to combine two of my passions – sketching and vintage bicycles. But more to the point, it’s just a cool, genteel event. Kindred souls get gussied up in their best thrift store version of 1930s and 40s era attire. We ride bicycles, slowly and leisurely. It’s a celebration of quieter, bygone time, a day when the bicycle was a very important mode of transportation and two thousand pounds of steel didn’t rule every paved road.

Our local Tweed Ride begins and ends in the old Northeast section of the city, adjacent to the Kansas City Museum. The neighborhood is a rich subject by itself – the museum, the houses… someone could spend months documenting the great architecture. Our gathering place is a park next to Cliff Drive, with some interesting architectural follies that provide a great spot for milling about in tweedy high fashion, lean vintage bicycles against tall stone columns, and socialize in well-mannered, courteous, and decidedly polite company. After the ride, we picnic and perhaps enjoy a cup of tea (or a glass of wine from a wicker basket that – in our case – also housed a luncheon of goodies from a local gourmet eatery.)

Turns out that I’ve sketched several of the musicians providing entertainment at previous events. I started with pencil and quickly decided those drawing had already been done and didn’t really interest me to do again, so I focused on the one guy I’d not seen before – the accordion player.

(Also published on my sketcher’s blog, Just Sketching.)

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Tweed Ride 2016

This year’s Tweed Ride was fun, but just a wee bit disappointing. Why? Well, I sure wish there had been more vintage bikes on hand – other than my own, of course. Modern bikes and dress up. Hmmm.

I do look forward to this event though. It’s fun to get out and ride one of my vintage bikes, get all duded up in something resembling period attire, and join a group of others of similar mind. This annual ride is sort of turning into a hip, fashiony event. But still cool. Folks are out on bikes, enjoying themselves and the day.

My bike of choice today was a 1946 Hobbs of Barbican. It’s a fixed wheel time trial bike. Staying true to the form of the time I was dressed head to toe in black as British time trialists would have done in the 30’s and 40’s. (An alpaca jacket would have been required – which I don’t have. Fortunately, it was a warm day so no harm, no foul.)

I arrived early, hoping to get in some sketching. Unfortunately, I found out the damn ink was running low in my pen.

Well crap. Guess I’ll just ride my bike.

Know-it-all

“Great looking chromed Capella lugs!”

“Thanks – looks pretty good for a mid-60’s bike.”

“Sure does, but I think you’re mistaken about the date – I’m pretty sure those Capella lugs place the bike at a 1973 model.”

OK, so maybe that’s not a verbatim transcript of the conversation, but it’s close enough. Our local tweed ride took place this past weekend, an event I always look forward to just because it’s fun to geek out gawking at the appearance of many vintage bikes all in one place. I was catching up with a fellow geek buddy when the gleam of chrome and electric green tubing caught our eye. A Raleigh International? A Carlton? We wandered over and found a Carlton-built Huffy, a bike I would’ve sworn was a Raleigh International.

In point of fact, I did swear it was Raleigh-built, and matter-of-factly stated it was built in 1973, the year Raleigh used those lugs on several models. Turns out I – Mr. Know-it-all – was off base by the better part of a decade. At least I was on target with the country – the All American Huffy Bike was built in England by Carlton.

Nathan, the bike’s owner, and I exchanged contact information. I promised to send him some of the online resources I frequently reference, and he provided me with some excellent background that he’d researched. Here’s what Nathan shared with me:

Hi Mark!

It was a pleasure meeting you as well. I thoroughly enjoy conversations with anyone who appreciates vintage steel!

After doing some homework, here’s what I was able to come up with:

  • As you stated, Raleigh bought Carlton in 1960.
  • 1973 was the only year Raleigh used Capella lugs.

However, from 1958/9 through the mid ‘60s Carlton still used Capella lugs:

http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/catalogues/carlton-gittins-cat.html

On the May 18th post of this blog, under the illustration of the Capella lugs, the author states:

“In 1959 Carlton reorganised their range. Out went all the various lugs and in came a new style of lug designed for Carlton – the Capella lugs. A new range of models utilising these lugs were announced and these models – the Catalina, Clubman, Continental and Constellation – were to continue through to 1965. The other models in the range used either Carlton or Italian long-line lugs, although Capella lugs could be fitted to the Flyer if ordered.”

This was the first of many references I found to Carlton bicycles having the same model names as the imported Huffy’s. 

Here is a ’64 Carlton Catalina with Capella lugs:

http://classiccycleus.com/home/1964-carlton-catalina/

Just over half-way down this page there is a little more info on early ‘60s Carltons, and this was also the page that had the link (now dead) to the Huffy catalogs:

http://www.nonlintec.com/carlton/

Per this site:

“The Carlton Cycles site, which didn’t exist when the project was undertaken, has a list of serial numbers and corresponding dates. The serial number is M5992, which similarly dates the bike at 1964. It also notes that the Capella lugs were used only through 1965. 

Previous to this, I knew the following:

  • The bike was built after the Raleigh acquisition of Carlton, 1960 or 61. Raleigh continued to make bikes under the Carlton name for some time, although I’m not sure exactly when they stopped. In the 70s, some had both the Carlton and Raleigh names; eventually, though, the Carlton name was phased out. 
  • A 1967 Carlton catalog does not show the Catalina.
  • Pages from a mid-60s Huffy catalog (Huffy rebranded and imported Carltons in the 60s) show a very similar Catalina with quick-release hubs and the same color, brakes, and drive train. My bike has nutted axles, so it must predate the bike in those pictures.
  • The Weinman Vainqueur 999 brakes, of the style on my bike, were made from the mid 60s to the early 70s.
  • The serial number is nonstandard for Raleigh, indicating that the Carlton manufacturing process had not been fully integrated with Raleigh’s at the time the frame was made.
  • The Reynolds 531 frame decal is a very early one, common in the 1950s.”
  • Lastly, some of the Huffy catalog images themselves (at the bottom of the page, per Mr. Hufford): http://www.classicrendezvous.com/British_isles/Carlton.htm

A few Carlton Constellations:

http://spokessmann.tripod.com/id70.html

http://spokessmann.tripod.com/id32.html

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Huffy-Carlton-Constellation-Frame-Rear-Wheel-Rare-Chrome-and-Green-/251957434420

http://vi.raptor.ebaydesc.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItemDescV4&item=361289723925&category=22679&pm=1&ds=0&t=1447001022784

And some lugs on eBay with a little more info:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-Vintage-1960s-Carlton-Capella-Seatlug-/380828751860

http://vi.raptor.ebaydesc.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItemDescV4&item=361289723925&category=22679&pm=1&ds=0&t=1447001022784

Not exactly a smoking gun, but at least enough to challenge the Huffy being a ’73 Raleigh. Let me know what you make of all of this!

I’ll tell you what I think – I think Nathan’s got himself a damn cool 1964 Carlton.


 

Thanks to Nathan Lathrop for sharing photos of his Huffy Constellation. Incidentally, it turns out Nathan is a fellow graphic designer – learn more about his design firm, Tandem Creative Studio here.

1938 Schwinn Superior

Here’s a good one worth sharing – what I believe to be a 1938 Schwinn Superior – the first year of the company’s new lineup of lightweight, high end bikes. It’s in excellent condition and was ridden in last weekend’s tweed ride by the current owner, whose father purchased the bike used in 1940.

Provenance is often difficult to establish with old bikes, but this one comes with a bill of sale – dig those prices!

The new models, including the Superior, the New World, and the top of the line Paramount, were built in the “hand build shop,” a completely separate area of the Schwinn Chicago facility.

Definitely one of the coolest bikes I’ve had the privilege of riding alongside! Note that one of the differences that distinguish this bike from the Paramount is the fillet brazing. Sold as a lower priced alternative to the Paramount, I’ve yet to figure out just how in the heck they produced these terrific fillet brazed frames at a competitive price.

I’ve invited the owner – who lives very close by – to take the “cousins” (his Superior and my 1966 Paramount) for a spin sometime soon.

2013 Tweed Ride

Saturday morning was cool and breezy, and just about perfect for riding around a few historic neighborhoods, seated atop a zippy and lightweight three-speed road bike, garbed in a wool throwback cycling sweater. And this was also the day of our annual Tweed Ride. What more can I say? A bunch of vintage bicycle enthusiasts, hiply dressed in the costume of days gone by, mustaches and facial hair sculpted with wax…what’s not to love?