25 January 2010

1970s made-in-Canada Raleigh Cyclone High Riser

We bought this - for the kids to ride - from a 32-year-old in Fort Saskatchewan who remembers riding it in the mid-70s. The Made-In-Canada sticker (white rectangle above the bottom bracket) means it was manufactured after 1972 at the earliest, since that's when the Canadian factory in Waterloo, Quebec began production.

I haven't been able to find the serial number on the frame - does anyone know where I should be looking?

Based on the above photo from Kijiji, I was expecting it to be child-sized, but it turns out that it's teenager-to-adult-sized. The seat is set about 28 inches above ground level, and could easily go higher - in a pinch, I could ride it (although the front tire needs attention before it can go for a spin). The dark orange paint has inspired a temporary name: Gina. Orange Gina. Get it? Although it looks more like a boy. Gino, perhaps.


A better view of the Made In Canada sticker. The kickstand is just for looks - a couple of inches too short, so the poor bike falls over when you try to use it. Needs replacement. Also, notice the cotterless cranks.

Canadian-made Raleighs, like the Nottingham-built Raleigh offlabels built for foreign markets, often had names that were used for completely different bicycles that had been made by a company that TI (Raleigh's parent company) had bought out - which can make it hard to find information about them. In the case of the Cyclone, all that comes up in Google searches are references to a 1980s Raleigh(UK) mountain bike. Apparently it was groundbreaking - but it's not the same bicycle at all.

For starters, look at all the visible welds. Tsk, tsk.

The frame architecture of this bike is really similar to the Raleigh Burner or the (also Canadian) Raleigh MX, but with traditional forks and 20-inch wheels instead of BMX ones, and the handlebars, sissy bar, and Troxel pleated vinyl banana seat seen on the Fireball and Rodeo High Risers that Raleigh(America) introduced in about 1966 (pre-Chopper/Fastback) in response to the popularity of similar bikes that had been available from the American manufacturers Huffy and Schwinn since 1963.

Rear view.

The original seat cover has split on both sides, and that's rusty metal you see.

Front forks, with the remnant of the front fender bracket.

The rear coaster brake hub, in good working order, is (sadly) not a Sturmey...

...it's a Shimano.

One last beauty shot: the headbadge decal.

I think it'll clean up really nicely - especially the chrome, which has only superficial rust - and make a really fun ride.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who knows about Raleigh's high risers, or other Canadian-manufactured Raleighs, and hear how this one compares! I bet a few of you have memories of riding bikes like these as a kid...

22 January 2010

Antique Cycle Chic (1900s-1940s)

While I waited for a chance to bring Bert-the-Bike home and install my Christmas goodies on Mary Poppins, I creeped eBay looking for Objects Of Interest. It turns out that there are lots of wonderful early photographic portraits of stylish women with their rod-brake loop-frame lovelies available. Naturally I'm now a bit obsessed with them.

In the early 20th Century, getting a professional photographic portrait done was a Really Big Deal, and I imagine that having it done with your bicycle started as a declaration of independence, then as cameras became more common it gradually became more like a rite-of-passage (like teenagers getting a photo taken in the driver's seat of their first car now). I love that they're dressed in their finest suits and hats - oh, what hats! - and that they're looking so serious and pensive for the camera. I also love the later, more candid shots, which show how practical loop-frame roadsters with fenders, chaincases, and skirtguards were for riding in everyday clothes - but the early studio photographs with carpets and curtains are awesomely incongruous. Sometimes you can learn details about the bikes themselves, like how the skirtguards attached or how high the seats were set (no way could these girls put a flat foot on the ground, like my parents taught me was necessary - that must be a cruiser-bike thing).

These real-photo picture-postcards all came from eBay sellers. I scanned them on grayscale (some are actually sepia) at high resolution, which is like having a magnifying glass, then cropped them a bit and adjusted the fill light, highlights, and shadows so they weren't quite so dark.

This studio portrait was taken in about 1910 and is labelled R. Guilleminot, Boespflug et Cie. - Paris. Check out her elaborate hat! This is definitely a corseted dress, and when you zoom in you can see she's wearing (lace?) gloves, as often seems to be the case in photos of Victorian and Edwardian ladies. There's a tantalizing glimpse of chainwheel and a clear view of the headbadge's shape, so maybe someone who knows the continental makers can identify her bicycle.

Also Edwardian, but taken in England (the back of the card says it was taken by Valentine of Canterbury and Guildford). Great gloves, and I love the way she's tied her hat on with a long sheer scarf. The skirtguards attach both in front of and behind the fork, and seem to be tied in groups of three cords. I can't read the mark on the chaincase, but perhaps a collector can tell us who made her sweet ride?

Another English card, with "Mother" handwritten on the back. Her straw boater and ribbon tie with pin are great, the blouse is polka-dotted, and she's wearing dark (leather?) gloves. What looks like a smudge on her forehead is actually wispy bangs. The skirtguard looks like it might be made of wire instead of cord, and I think her rear fender is chromed. Look at that quadrant shifter - swoon.

This pretty lady has a gorgeous netted skirtguard. Divine pleats on her dress, and charming layering of necklaces, but what I'd most like are frameless glasses like hers. Notice that she's not wearing gloves. The back of the postcard has a handwritten date of 23 Novembre 1918 and other markings in French:

If I'm reading the handwriting correctly, it translates as, "23 years old" (not shown) and "A souvenir of beautiful days passed (adverb?) in Veron - H. LaForge". (Maybe someone whose French skills surpass mine can help me with that word?)

This is a 1920s portait of a 'sportswoman', according to the seller. I love her flapper bob with pearl teardrop earrings, and the slightly rumpled pinstriped jacket and matching cap - which look almost like they might be her boyfriend's. Her dress might be seersucker, and has a couple of dirt smudges, probably acquired while riding to this destination. Is that a lucite bangle? The back of the card is unmarked except for CARTE POSTALE, Correspondance, and Adresse - so she must also be French.

Closeup of her netted skirtguard.

I covet these German girls' cloche hats and swingy coats. Photograph (the only one that isn't an RPPC) taken in the 1930s, according to the seller.

I love this young lady's confident pose, the cardigan with mother-of-pearl buttons, matching hat, and long pearl drop earrings.

She seems to be wearing culottes, stockings, and ankle-high boots. Her bicycle has front-rod-brake handlebars, but where are the rods? Is that little flap between the front tire and the mudguard the braking surface? The logo on the chaincase says Brennabor, who were originally a prewar manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles, and automobiles in Brandenburg, Germany, and at some point became a Dutch-based brand instead. I'd guess she's from the 1930s-40s, based on what she's wearing, but the American seller didn't give any information to help date it. The postcard only has "Foto Bayer" (that's German) printed on the back, and two handwritten words: Kaaza (I think?), Kaan (a town in Rheinland-Pfalz).

Closeup of the Brennabor chaincase and netted skirtguard.

You can find more such photos on eBay or on Flikr by using the search terms "vintage", "bicycle", and "lady" or "woman". Sadly most of the Flikr ones are All Rights Reserved, so I can only link to my favorites: 1895Edwardian, Edwardian, 1911, 1927, 1930s-40s slacks, 1966 culottes. Do follow the links - all these ladies and their steeds are magnificent. One of the commenters on one of these suggests that the girl is just there as window-dressing, since she obviously couldn't ride dressed like that. Isn't it telling that nobody (to date) has challenged his assumption in the comments?

This has me fantasizing about having a girly lets-dress-up bike meetup, in the Spring or early Summer, before it gets too hot, with a photo booth so we can all have great photos taken of ourselves with our steeds...

16 January 2010

Introducing Nicki and her loop-frame... and a little Canadian bicycle history

I spent part of this afternoon checking out this lovely creature with Angel and Nicki. The Kijiji ad only said Antique Bike, so the single photo was what caught our eye. It looked superficially like 40s or 50s Raleigh-type loop frame - very similar to Mary Poppins - but really, it could have been manufactured by almost anyone. We knew from the photo that it had a coaster brake, vinyl saddle, bottle-generator light set, Wald-type wire basket, and clamp-style rear rack. So we went to see. Then Nicki bought it. The former owner's earliest memories of it are from about 1957 in Westlock (near Edmonton).

The view from the front. Yes, the tires are both flat.

The lack of headbadge will make identification trickier. You can see here that there's paint on the chromed fork crown, and someone seriously MacGyvered that basket to get it to stay on. I think Nicki wants to remove it and replace it with a period-appropriate one.

The chainring is one I hadn't seen anywhere: the closest I've found online is 1940s USA unknown manufacturer, according to the chainwheel tattoo project page (aside: that chainwheel sleeve is going to be *hot*). The cranks are cotterless, and the replaceable rubber pads on the left and right pedals don't match each other. Hopefully we'll find an identifying stamp when we're cleaning the crankset. I think we're going to install the Pletcher kickstand that came with Bert on here too.

The single-speed coaster-brake hub has a metal oiler cap, and is stamped CANADIAN PAT. 1937 - it turns out you can read the actual patent online. Turns out this single coaster hub was manufactured by The Canada Cycle and Motor Company, now known simply as hockey-equipment makers CCM. A little history of CCM's cycle division can be found at Wikipedia and the Canada Science and Technology Museum website.

The tires read NEW IRC ROADSTER, SIZE 700 x 38, 28 x 1-1/2 CANADIAN SIZE. That valve for the inner tube is a harder-to-find Presta valve. No marks that we found on the painted rims. Notice that there's some red paint on the spoke nipples - evidence of repainting, or just sloppy work on the factory floor?

The vinyl seat is in astonishingly good shape if it's original. It's the metal-pan dual-spring variety, painted black underneath, not a trace of rust.

I love the English-made Miller bullet-shaped chromed dynamo lights. 
No idea if they work. 
I suspect that the black Pletcher-style rear rack isn't original.

After some research online, we now think that this might be a Raleigh-manufactured Eaton's Glider. Sheldon Brown is remarkably silent about the Glider, saying only that it was a Raleigh-made house brand of Eaton's in Canada, so let me provide you with some context.

To quote Raleigh Chopper Info, talking about rebranding of Raleigh bicycles in Canada:
However, the largest re-branding operation carried out in Canada was through the Eaton chain of department stores. Eatons were a large department store, based in the larger cities in Canada. Formed in 1869, Eatons were one of the first large Canadian owned Department stores, but of course one factor hindered their growth, Canada is a very large country, and its small population was very widespread. The answer was the mail order catalogue. The Eatons catalogue became a way of life for Canadian families throughout the early decades, and absolutely everything was available from it. Eatons realised early on that it needed a good reliable range of bicycles to sell. With no dealer network to service warranties, any defective items had to be mailed back to Eatons. This meant reliability in everything they sold was a priority. Eatons turned to England's Raleigh to supply a range of bikes for sale through the catalogues. Raleigh supplied a range of bike called the “Glider”. These bikes were built to Raleigh standards at the Nottingham factory and badged up as “Eaton Gliders”. This relationship proved a success, Eatons got a reliable supply of good quality bikes, and Raleigh got an independent widespread distribution network.
 Gliders included the standard Raleigh 3-speed, as this owner notes:
I noticed that this bike resembled a typical Raleigh Sports (of which my Raleigh Superbe is an upgraded version), in that it had a pointy front fender, Sturmey Archer hub (dated 10 - 72), and the whole geometry just looked very familiar. The name on it said "Eaton's Glider", and Eaton's was until recently one of Canada's largest department store chains. I found out later that Raleigh supplied all of Eaton's bikes, starting way back in the 1920's! So, this one was basically a re-badged Raleigh Sports.
Loop-frame ladies' Gliders were also offered, as this owner's bike shows (follow the link for his photos for comparison to Nicki's bike).

So what about the tires, non-SA hub, non-Raleigh chainwheel, and so forth? Well, if you look at the photos above, the bike looks like it was repainted at some point. Here's our theory: somebody left the bike out all winter for a couple of years when they were no longer using it, then it got new tires, a new seat, new handles, replacement bottom bracket set, and a new paint job - and possibly a new chain guard - sometime in the 1950s. This might sound far-fetched, except that a Glider with similar replacement parts to this one has been documented by a user on the OldRoads forum (about 1/3 of the way down the page).

The way to confirm this hypothesis will be to see if we can find the frame serial numbers in the Raleigh database, compare the frame and handlebar measurements to mine to confirm they're identical, and see if there are twin rivet holes where the Eaton's Glider headbadge would have gone.

An alternative hypothesis, and a simpler story, is that this is a CCM-built bicycle with CCM parts. Occam's Razor says that's more likely, after all. If we disconfirm our Glider hypothesis with measurements, I think we'll definitely need to research the bikes listed by the Canada Science and Technology Museum: the Cleveland, Silver Ribbon, Ivanhoe, Perfect, Columbia, Rambler, and so on.

Bike cleaning party tomorrow - stay tuned!

Update 1: Flikr seems to be siding with the Occam's Razor hypothesis that this is a CCM bike. No loop-frames for comparison, but check this stuff out:

First off, for rivet hole placement where the headbadge should be:
- the classic CCM headbadge:
- an alternative (off-label) headbadge with same rivet hole spacing:

Example 1:
- same chromed fork crown:
- and same cranks (different chainwheel) & chainguard:
- and same coaster hub:
- on this balloon-tire CCM cruiser:

Example 2:
- same fork crown:
- possible missing decal:
- another headbadge beauty shot, note the pinstriping:
- and same chainguard and rear rack, all on this 1942 CCM Rambler:

Confirmation one way or the other tomorrow afternoon...

Update 2: I found some more CCM goodies through a Google Images search.

First of all, Gerry Lauzon at howtofixbikes.ca has an indispensable post about finding his 1950 CCM ladies-frame bike, which includes serial number information. The photos show a bicycle that's very similar to Nicki's. He went on to do a series of posts at a separate blog about the restoration and rebuild process for "Victoria" that's pretty interesting reading.

It just so happens that we took a photo of the serial number. It's a bit blurry, but it looks to me like it's xxxxxC, which corresponds to a 1951 manufacture date.

Montreal's La Bicycletterie J.R. have great photos right now of another restored 1950 CCM loop-frame bicycle that they're selling, including one of a more recent headbadge than seen in the Flikr examples, with a red-painted background and the same rivet spacing as the others. Again, the bike looks eerily like Nicki's, right down to the red tire rims with white pinstripes. I love that they've swapped out the plastic handles for cork ones. Yum.

The Canadian Design Resource post on the CCM Imperial Mark II includes a great photo of that same CCM headbadge, sans red paint, and CCM-marked fork crown - and some post-1960 serial number information in the comments.

Finally, one more neat link: North Vancouver's HUKK Bikes have photos of a 1940s CCM bicycle they sold which features an original painted headbadge, which was used instead of the embossed metal one due to rationing.

My money is now on this lovely bicycle being a 1951 CCM. We'll find out for sure tomorrow, I guess. So, what should we name her?