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Claud Butler Olympic Sprint - 1951

Posted: Wednesday 12th August 2020

Owned By: Huw Melliar-Smith

I acquired this Claud Butler Olympic Sprint track bike last year through a member of Macclesfield Wheelers Cycling Club, whose godfather was clearing out his garage and getting rid of several vintage bikes.

It was my initial assumption that I would be acquiring a nondescript old frameset that would make a good fixed-wheel project. When I went to see if the frame would fit me, I thought it was absolutely stunning. The bike had hung in his garage for over 40 years and was in mint condition and, apart from tubs, a saddle, bar tape and a front brake, was pretty complete and less of a ‘project’ than I expected.

The owner told me that he’d had her re-enamelled soon after he got her (possibly second hand) and at the same time had the ends of the forks and also the rear track dropouts chromed. The orangey-red colour seen on the head tube was her original colour scheme. He also explained that the sprint wheels had been built by the chap who serviced the legendary Reg Harris’s machines.

I had considered running modern 700c wheels, but the sprints seemed sound (the spokes were tied and soldered) and the Huret wing-nuts had such a sartorial elegance that I decided to keep her as I found her. Once it was roadworthy I took it for a test ride. It was fantastic, an average of 30kph over the club’s 10 mile time trial course was almost effortless (almost!). I serviced the hubs and the bottom bracket although more out of precaution than necessity. All the bearings, cups and axle were still in perfect condition, as was the grease.

Until very recently I believed her to be a CB-branded Holdsworth as the seat tube sticker has the SE 20 postcode that suggests the post-1957 era. I have subsequently deduced (thanks to Classic Lightweights and links therefrom), that this sticker must have been applied following the repaint job c.1962 (which also removed the models name) and she is, in fact, a 1951 Claud Butler Olympic Sprint, as evidenced by her lugs and verified by her frame number.  More information on this classic model can be obtained from:

Frame1951 Claud Butler Olympic frame with bi-laminated lugs, frame no. 511 127; 23" seat tube; 531 DB tubing and round fork blades
WheelsFiamme sprint rims 32/40 on Airlite large-flange hubs built with 15/17 spokes tied and soldered
ChainsetStronglight steel cottered cranks with single ring - Bayliss Wiley bottom bracket
GearsSingle-speed fixed
BrakesGalli front
Stem/BarsStrata alloy stem with Maes alloy bars
SaddleBrooks B17
Thanks for reading

Posted: Wednesday 12th August 2020

Owned By: Huw Melliar-Smith

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