Classic Lightweights UK
Classic frame builders
L E (Les) RigdenPeter Underwood
Once upstairs the whole workshop was full of interesting items as well as frames and bikes Les was always busy but still had time for a chat, his work was faultless and to a very high standard.
He had been a member of Camberley wheelers when he was younger and was friends with Frank Colden, BAR winner in 1962. In early life Les had been a printer but his love of bikes won him over and he decided on a career shift in 1973. Initially he specialised in restoring classic frames to a very high standard and soon earned a reputation for high quality work which was worth waiting for as these things couldn't be rushed in his eyes.
After some eight to nine years restoring and selling bikes he got the framebuilding itch and started to create a small number of very personalised frames for customers. He created some very intricate lugs, cut his own headbadges and would engrave the owners name on the topeyes. He also produced a short-wheelbase frame (see image below) with Hellenic seat stays and the seat tube canted forward at the bottom to join the down tube several centimeters in front of the bottom bracket. He then added a further tube from the bottom bracket to the seat tube some half-way up to triangulate thus stiffening the bottom bracket area. This build entailed some acute mitreing but allowed the rear wheel to sit nearly up to the BB shell. The machine shown below was obviously built for a woman, a very short rider or a youngster as it looks to be about 19". As set up it looks as if it is to be used for a hill climb event with the stubby hood on the right side of the bars. It is built with extra long track ends which were a hallmark of some Rigden frames when Les cut dropouts of some two inches (5cm) to allow ample adjustment to cater for sprocket and chainwheel changes.
L E Rigden Cycles advert, post-1976 (when 753 was introduced by Reynolds)
Two close-up shots of a Les Rigden Hobbs of Barbican restoration for Pat Curtis showing top-eye, lug and box-lining
If you have more information on Les Rigden please send to Webmaster (email address on Home Page).
Thanks to Tom Bogdanowicz (some images and text from Bycycle Action, May 1987) and Pat Curtis
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