14 June 2010

Laura's Eaton's Road King

Our friend Laura bought this beauty off Kijiji last week from the original owner:

This is BeBe (short for Blue Bike). Twitpics taken by Laura.

BeBe is an Eaton's Road King, all original (except for the kickstand we installed today at EBC), with 26 x 1-3/8 tires (with no recommended PSI marking), and paint and tire rims in incredibly good condition. We think it's a late-1950s design, based on the finned chainguard. How sweet is that? There are similar bikes pictured in a few places, but very little information online. Also, people we met at EBC and during the bike ride yesterday were very curious about BeBe. So with Laura's blessing we took some more photos after our ride to post for your pleasure.

The headbadge - there's a better photo on Flikr.

The front of the seatpost - painted using a stencil
not a decal as usually seen with English-, American-, and Canadian-made bikes of the period.
On the back of the seatpost: Made in Hungary

Lovely lines, and pretty pinstriping too. I think this was all done by hand.

The chainwheel, with cottered cranks.

The single speed coaster brake is labelled Super Granat.

There's a serial number stamped into the fork right above this dropout. I suppose if there was more information online we would be able to use it to date the bike for certain. It has the format HL #### 57 - which suggests that possibly it stands for the plant in Hungary, four digit production series number, 1957. But that's totally a guess.

From what others have posted on the net, it appears that this would have been sold by Eaton's, the defunct Canadian department stores, and would originally have had a white tool bag as well. Apparently the Road King house brand was made by a number of different manufacturers over the years, including CCM, and was also used for motorcycles


  1. Alright, I had a serious hard on for this bike. I didn't ask too much about it at the time because of the heat and my headache, but the first thing noticed was the chain guard.

    I should have test ridden it...

  2. Beautiful! I almost bought a frame that same style locally on Ebay a couple of weeks ago but decided to pass. Seeing this beauty makes me regret it!

  3. @miss sarah: Don was admiring it too! I'm pretty sure we can convince Laura to come on the next ride (I've assured her of residential suburban roads already)... I did get to test ride BeBe when I dropped Laura off. It moved just like my Mary Poppins, with that sedate steel single-speed pace and a slightly quicker coaster brake. Laura says she finds it a smidgen tall for her at 5'1"ish, but at 5'6" the proportions were really comfortable for me, if less spacious than Mary with her 28" tires.
    @MandG: Didn't an American manufacturer make an almost identically shaped frame? I wonder if this was a cheaper Hungarian-made knockoff?

  4. Hello!

    I think I can help you to identify your bike. It made in the Csepel factory, Budapest Hungary.
    The hungarian name was Csepel Tihany. (Tihany is a peninsula in lake Balaton.)
    Look at this: http://mgyvkvirtualismuzeum.gportal.hu/picview.php?prt=569286&gid=2418720&index=1
    and this:

    The framenumber.
    "H" means that it has bent frame, and "L" shows us the year. Unfortunately it's not as old as you thought. "L" means 1972.

    Super Granat was the hungarian copy of Torpedo hubs.


  5. David - wow, you are a goldmine of information! Thank you!

    It would be awesome to see that Hungarian reference sheet for the serial numbers (the last link) translated from Hungarian, wouldn't it?

  6. Well, it's a short explanation of Csepel framenumbers from 1961 till 1990 (point 1.), and after (point 2.). 1988 is the date of cooperation with Schwinn.

    1.1 The first letters means the frame.
    "Duplán hajlított"-double curved

    1.2 The second is the year

    2. After 1989-90

    2.1 First letter "H" means Hungary
    2.2 Second means the month of the production
    2.3 The first number in the framenumber means the last number of the production year.
    2.4 And a serial.

    I'm Hungarian and I searched the net to find pictures about exported Csepels.
    So I found your bike. :)

    Otherwise I've got two Csepels. From 1965 and from 1985.


  7. I just bought the same bike (sans rear reflector) here in Calgary! $70 and it's in fantastic shape. A few scratches here and there, but overall very nice. It even came with an original leather saddlebag to match the seat. The bike isn't for myself, it's about to be a fantastic wedding present for a friend in Victoria!

  8. i have the the same bike as well. But i mangaged to bend the frame going over a curb :( so now it's just sitting in my shed. i got it as a gift from a frind that just pulled it out of the dump one day he was there. it also has the little saddle bag and everything. pretty sick.

  9. I also have the same bike! i got it as a gift from a friend after he pulled it out of the dump one day. i have no idea why some one would throw it out, as it was in prefect condition. untill i managed to bend the frame going over a curb….:( now it's just sitting in my shed. but i also came with the little saddle bag. pretty sick

  10. I found an 90 something year old man that has one of these hanging in his carport.. I asked if he'd be willing to sell it, and his reply was "its a collectors piece now, I wont sell for less than $200"

    Is it worth it? The bike appears to be in good condition. Its been hanging in his carport since 2002 or early... thats when I remember seeing it anyways.


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