JRJ Track (Bob Jackson) - 1952
Posted: Wednesday 19th August 2020
This JRJ frameset, from the early days of Bob Jacksons of leeds, has recently been superbly re-enameled in gunmetal grey with the lugs picked out in red. The frame number is 512, stamped as usual with these early JRJs upside down on the upper portion of the right side dropout. Another JRJ which is number 468 and known to have been built in 1951, so it is safe to assume this one was made later that year or in 1952.
This a path /road frame, probably built for fixed-wheel time trialling, and some track use, although it is drilled for brakes front and rear. It is very light and is built with Reynolds 531 butted tubing throughout. The forks are round section, as are the chain stays and pencil seat stays. The chain stays have decorative sleeved reinforcements where they enter the bottom bracket (see image at bottom of page), which is another distinctive JRJ feature. The Nervex lugs are nicely finished, and the seat stay bridge is reinforced (image below) which I understand was only done on their top-of-the-range models.
|Frame||JRJ track frame no. 512; seat tube 23½"; top tube 23"; wheelbase 40½"|
|Wheels||27" Dunlop stainless HP rims on large-flange Bayliss Wiley hubs|
|Chainset||Chater-Lea round cranks with 52T Chater ring|
|Pedals||Chater-Lea Sprint with Christoph toeclips and Brooks straps|
|Stem/Bars||Titan Luxe stem with Major Taylor bars|
|Saddle||Brooks B17 Professional on Campagnolo seat pin|
|Extra details||I am an Australian living in San Francisco. The frame and most of the parts came from the UK, as you might expect. Build time was approximately 5 months.|
The JRJ track frame, beautifully renovated by local framebuilder, Chris Marshall, is probably the Olympic Sprint No2 model,that was designed for track use and short road work i.e. 10 and 25 mile timetrials…on fixed gear.. With a 40.5 inch wheelbase, it was just 0.5 inches longer than the Olympic Sprint No1 model, destined for serious track use and boasting a small braze-on lug on the top tube in front of the seat cluster, on which to bolt the saddle support that held the saddle nose rigidly in position. Both models were very popular with British amateur riders, and used by several UK champions. A larger frame such as this one will have 74/72 angles, whereas the midisized ones had 73 parallel.
Bob Jackson who produced this JRJ frame (John Robert Jackson) also produced in the same range the Olympic 25 Time Trial and Olympic International Road Racing models. Bob used to prefer to spray these frames with flamboyant transparent enamels over a silver base-coat. For £1 extra that finish could be had over an all-chrome plate. His favourite colours for road frames were flam ruby, flam royal blue, or flam emerald green. These finishes were accompanied by a white head panel, elongated diamond panels in white on the
down and seat tubes, and long triangles in white on the fork blades. All frames had double-box lining. He claimed that the white paint showed off the Olympic circles better.
The lugs on this frame are Oscar Egg Super Champion, model SC2 – this pattern being the most popular in the range. The decorative pipes have been drilled and filed to produce small spearpoints.
In the Leeds and Bradford area there was much competition among the various framebuilders because the two large cities are less than ten miles apart. Bradford boasted Baines cycles, who were content to produce their short-wheelbase Gate design, while well-known road racer and framebuilder, Geoff Clarke produced well-balanced sound, but unfussy frames. At Ellis-Briggs they produced their fancy lugged Superbe and International models, but preferred to nibble their fancy lugs out of Ekla or Brampton cast lugs.
The other popular Bradford builder, Whitaker and Mapplebeck (later to become Pennine Cycles under Johnny Mapplebeck), was the preferred shop of the breakaway road racers – members of the Britsh League of Racing Cyclists. They claimed that their frames were inspired by continental designs but this did not prevent them from attempting to copy, rivals and outdo JRJs, with their variations on Oscar Egg lugs – the brand that seemed, from memory, to be the most popular, more so than Nervex Pros.
I have frames from this era from both JRJ and Whitaker and Mapplebeck, with prettified Oscar Egg lugs that show amazing ingenuity and inventiveness.