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Sherborne Times November 2019 Moulton bikes

F Frame Moulton which returned to The Hall

 

Mike handing Mk 1 F type to Shaun Moulton

 

Mrs P’s Moulton

 

BP’s Moulton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CASE OF ‘COALS TO NEWCASTLE’

Written by Mike Riley, Riley’s Cycles

A few years ago I was invited to sell two small-wheeled bicycles for a lady in Nether
Compton. Her late husband had been an artist who was commissioned to paint each new ocean
liner when they were launched and his paintings hung in the offices of Cunard, P&O and Union Castle. The lady kindly gave me a memento: a ships crest from the Canberra, on which I had served as an officer.

The preferred steed of the artist was a Moulton F-type, suitable for attaching his easel to and carrying his paints. This load-carrying ability was a feature of the Moulton which had fixed racks front and rear. Due to the wheel size the weight was low and easier to balance: in one road test a journalist carried a crate of oranges across London. The suspension was also a benefit as the artist often rode along rough tracks to the location of his subjects. The Moulton bicycle was a revolutionary concept as it combined small wheels and suspension, making the ride more comfortable: it is considered a design icon.

Designer Dr Alex Moulton was an engineer specialising in suspension systems who also had
experience during the war in aircraft manufacture. When you learn he designed the suspension of
another ‘swinging sixties’ design classic, the Mini car, you can see the influences on his thinking.

The artist’s Moulton was in good condition, having been kept in the dry, and had none of the rot and cracks which some frames suffered with. A customer with a modern, small-wheeled bike we had repaired was browsing in our storage barn and said that he knew someone who would be interested in the Moulton bike. Sure enough, a few days later, I had a call. ‘Hello Mike, this is Shaun. I understand you have a nice Moulton F-type.’ We arranged a visit and it turned out it was Shaun Moulton, great nephew of Alex, who was sales manager of the Moulton bicycle company. Moulton were successfully exporting the new space frame designed models to Chinese entrepreneurs and supplying discerning  customers. So, the F-type was duly sent off to be refurbished by the Moulton Preservation Society and was to be displayed in the  reception of the Moulton production facility. Shaun told me a bit about the history of Moulton Bicycles and I have used the sources listed to add more detail. Dr Moulton offered his design to Raleigh bicycles who dismissed it. Undeterred, he conducted market research in Scotland and then took his prototype to the 1962 Cycle Show and was inundated with orders. He phoned HQ to say they should double the size of the production facility at the Hall. A few years later Raleigh acquired the Moulton business; more of that later.

In modern parlance, Dr Alex Moulton would be considered a disruptor as he challenged and shook up conventional thinking about bicycle design and manufacture. As well as innovation in appearance, the construction was novel; it used aircraft manufacturing techniques to make the frame from pressed steel, joined by riveting and brazing. Although traditionalists tried to fault the design, it was hard to dispute that it worked well, giving a comfortable ride, and it was demonstrated to be more efficient in some conditions. This was evidenced by Time Trial champion and record breaker John Woodburn breaking the Cardiff-London record on a Moulton Speed model in 1962. Moultons have also competed in the Race Across America where, it is reported, Moulton riders were the only ones who could write their names at the checkpoints due to the front suspension reducing the vibration transmitted to their hands.

The Moulton was a boost for a flagging cycle industry in 1963 when scooters and cars were replacing bicycles. There were 5 models including a folder and they received a great deal of free publicity from reviews in both the cycling and mainstream press. Demand exceeded production capacity at the Hall (estimated at between 1000 to 1500 per week from different sources) and the British Motor Corporation assisted with production in 1966 using a production facility in Kirkby, Liverpool, at which point 100,000 had been made. By then the bikes were exported internationally and built under licence in several countries. Quality problems at the Kirkby factory included forks, front suspension and rear forks. Eventually Raleigh acknowledged they were wrong to dismiss the Moulton design and bought the company and produced Moulton Mk III models for 3 years. In 1990 Pashley bought Moulton and it is under the Pashley umbrella that Moulton bicycles continue to be made in the old stable buildings at The Hall. 

A side point about the stable is that it was built in 1900, designed by Sir Harold Brakspear.  Edwin Lutyens selected The Hall to represent Britain as the British Pavilion in the Paris Exposition.

Usually I ponder how to close, but this article almost wrote itself and there is a sense of continuity about the events. First a friend gave me a Moulton book today and another about the Brompton. Then I had a call this morning from a lady in Nether Compton asking if I would like to collect a couple of old, small-wheel bikes, giving me feeling of déjà vu. In this case it was a Raleigh 20 and an RSW 16. The RSW 16 was Raleigh’s attempt at a cheaper answer to the Moulton; it was a poor design as the balloon tyres made the bike feel ‘like waltzing in Wellington boots’ and the steering was ponderous as well as having more drag from the soft tyres. This competitor was launched with a massive marketing budget and many other small wheel designs were also being produced. This intense competition when added to the quality problems at the Kirkby producer were factors in the demise of popularity of Moulton, and small wheel bikes in general, and in 1974 production ceased.

I now have an early example of the Moulton space frame style called an APB made by Pashley which can be split for storage or transporting. And whom did I buy it from but the brother of the author of the book I was given about the Brompton. So, I conclude, in small-wheel circles there is no escaping small circles!
rileyscycles.co.uk

Credits:

The book used as a reference source for this article is “The F-Frame Moultons” by Tony Hadland.

The Brompton Bicycle book referred to is written by David Henshaw.

Thanks to my friend Bob for the white and blue Moulton photographs and encouragement to write the article.

The published Sherborne Times article can be found on pages 98-99 here Sherborne Times November 2019 Apologies that I miss-spelt Shaun as Sean in the printed article. Please note there are errors in the printed article which have been corrected in this post with the help of Jamie Hartnoll, one of Dr Moulton’s great nephews.  I have made corrections about continuity of manufacturing at The Hall, BMC production, what relative Shaun is to Dr Moulton (great nephew, not son) . Most importantly I repaired the APB front suspension and enjoy riding it!

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Exciting new brand to Riley’s, Wilier Triestina bikes now in stock!

 

Since 2006 Wilier Triestina’s history has been full of important achievements and acknowledgements at an international level. The victories of Alessandro Ballan at the Tour of Flanders in 2007 and Damiano Cunego at the Amstel Gold Race in 2008 and at the Giri di Lombardia in 2007 and 2008 are unforgettable. The apotheosis was reached in September 2008, when Alessandro Ballan won the world championship in Varese riding the mythical Cento1, followed by his teammate Damiano Cunego.

Also in the last great Tours, Wilier Triestina has led the way together with two first-class athletes. In the Tour de France 2010 with Alessandro Petacchi, who managed to win the green jersey, standing out as the leader in the points classification. Just one year later, in 2011, Michele Scarponi won his first Giro d’Italia (a victory awarded after the disqualification of Alberto Contador). Wilier Triestina then continued its era of Best Sellers with new two-wheeled jewels. Cento1: light, stiff, fast and receptive. Sales really took off with this model. Granturismo and GTR: for those who love pedalling with the utmost comfort while still enjoying the performance offered by the most receptive racing bicycle. TwinBlade: the time trial bike with a completely innovative aerodynamic design. Zero.7: the lightest frame ever built by the Rossano Veneto based manufacturer. Less than 800 grams. Cento1SR and Cento1AIR: the sum of all the distinctive features of the previous models. Aerodynamic, light, with torsional rigidity and comfortable. A continuously evolving range of models, consolidated by the results and experience of the professional teams sponsored by Wilier Triestina. Relying on the strong combination between quality products and professional results, in the last decade Wilier Triestina has increased and consolidated its international presence with double digit percentage increases in terms of turnover and bicycles produced.

A tale that is more than a hundred years old, with the certainty of many more achievements to be told by Wilier Triestina in the future. This explains the sentence written on the cover of the Collection 2014 catalogue.

Our history is the future of cycling

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Wilier Triestina CENTO 1 HYBRID

The Cento1 Hybrid was designed to re-imagine the traditional limits of usability of a high-level racing bike: a product that combines the special distinctive traits of Wilier Triestina products with the cutting-edge intelligence of the lightest servo-assistance system on the market. The result is a true racing bike with pedal assistance which weighs just 11,9 kilograms – a record in the e-road category.

 

GET YOURS

The first intelligent racing bike created with a specific mission: to give as many people as possible the opportunity to enjoy the emotions that only a high-end racing bicycle can offer.
Cento1 Hybrid was designed for you, whoever you are: Get yours!

  

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February cycling article – Weight Weenies

Weight Weenies

Darren and I have a challenge where we guess the weight of the bike. We can usually guess within a few hundred grammes, but the most recent challenge Darren won hands down by guessing exactly.

A long term project has been rebuilding a steel racing bike with modern components. I always incorporate learning opportunities in projects to gain the most value and expand our skills. This project had three learning points: 1. test methods for removing a stuck bottom bracket from a fragile frame 2. try out a new paint system 3. see how light we can make a classic steel racing bike in comparison to carbon fibre bikes.

When steel was the main material for bike building, British Reynolds tubing was used to build world beating bikes. Reynolds still produce some of the most advanced steel tubing available. 531 was most popular, but 753 was lightest and this exotic, delicate tubing was only available to approved frame makers who built world beating bikes for professional teams and cycling cognoscenti. When I found a Ribble 753 project on eBay I took a punt. Terry Dolan made some of these frames originally and I assumed he had retired, but I speculatively emailed Dolan Bicycles to ask if they could burn out the rusted in bottom bracket without damaging the frame. I was delighted when Terry himself called me and undertook the work successfully. For Point 2 I experimented with different paint removal methods and used the Spray.bike paint system in the jersey colours of Sherborne Cycling Club. For point 3 I scoured used component sources including bike jumbles and online adverts and assembled components over 12 months.

The finished weight of the project bike was bang on 8.5 kg. Earlier, when I compared weights of carbon, aluminium, and modern Reynolds 853 steel bikes on our blog; the carbon bike was 8.78kg. The “team” bike is lighter than the carbon example, so the project was a success showing a steel bike can be as light as a production carbon bike.

Where is most benefit achieved? Wheels, Frame, Rider?

An opinion I frequently hear is that many amateur riders could shed weight for no cost by dieting, but saving 100 grammes off a bike can cost getting on for £1 per gramme. Without breaking down exact costs, this is an example of Pareto’s principle or 80/20 rule, say I can shave 1kg off a bike, the first 800g costs 20% of our budget, but the last 200g costs the remaining 80%.

Manufacturers build bikes to meet a price point and there are two approaches. Decent brands like Merida start with a good frame and adjust the components to create different priced models, riders can upgrade parts as they wear out and the bike will be as good as a more expensive model. Other brands offer what appears to be a more attractive bike with higher specification components, but the frame is often inferior and based on a generic older design. The truth of the matter is you get what you pay for and the frame ultimately decides a bike’s capability. Bikes made with cheaper frames known as open mould have their place, but it helps to understand where your hard earned cash is targeted when making an expensive purchase and looking for a competitive edge.

 

So where did I save weight on the Ribble? First I found alloy Dura-ace wheels and shod them with lightweight Hutchinson tyres and tubes, then added a carbon seat post, handlebars and saddle, a carbon chainset, Time pedals and titanium skewers. The final choice was a SRAM Red groupset and Dura-ace titanium cassette, about the lightest transmission available. This may seem profligate, but all items were used and bought at bike jumbles or surplus from Pro riders who were upgrading and I reconditioned them. I also had a dry November and lost a couple of kg from my waistline.

A cyclist’s adage says to go faster “ride up grades, not ride upgrades”, meaning time spent climbing hills will achieve more benefit than spending money and time changing parts. Sherborne Cycling Club run two indoor cycling sessions a week for members and I can assure you instructor Andy puts us through our paces including simulated gradients. The most zealous weight savers are hill climb competitors, their bikes are stripped of every gramme possible, bar tape is discarded, seat posts and handle bars cut down, even saddle covering is removed.

Psychological Benefit or Facts and Physics?

It is accepted that the most bang for buck upgrade is new wheels, so another project to test the hype rife in the cycle industry was to build a set of carbon wheels. Darren and I had many discussions trying to justify a cost difference of around £500 to save 250g on a wheel set. Eventually I decided our wheel builder, Paul would learn how to work with the latest wheel technology and I would achieve real-world experience to serve and advise customers better. Paul carefully assembled a custom set of wheels at similar cost to a production set. Another learning point was ticked off by fitting tubeless tyres and when I rode the bike with the new wheels, it was transformed. There may be a tendency to justify this kind of expense with a sort of Emperor’s new clothes mindset, but I found real performance gains and greater comfort and even tested their durability riding cross country at night in the New Forest by accident. Before splashing out on wheels I recommend trying different tyres as this can make a big difference to the feel of a bike.

hand built carbon wheel

Last minute shopping

Weight saving is not always the most important factor for a bike and on a touring bike strength is essential, however even tourists succumb to weight weaning and cut down their tooth brush handles for example.

project finished just in time for Christmas

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Bikes for Zambian School

bikes for Zambia

As part of the drive to tidy up our storage spaces we are clearing out older bikes that have come from trade ins and donations. Thirteen bikes are being sent to Zambia for the Vinjeru School charity. The nicer ones are boxed to protect them in transport and George the teacher has one with his name on, I am assured they will be used because at present the children and teachers walk for miles to get to the school. Sherborne Community Church Pastor Adrian Bright is a trustee of the charity and is driving to Kent accompanied by Andy Seward with the bikes,  spare parts and a suitcase full of Bibles ready to be loaded in a container and shipped off to their new home.

http://www.vinjeruschooltrust.org/