Selbach Phantom - c 1930
Posted: Wednesday 19th August 2020
Profile of a Fine Cycle No 10
Machine: Selbach Phantom 23 ¾”.This triple-taper tube frame is from circa 1930. It has that “well used look” that is the exact opposite of the more popular glitz and chrome “Pebble Beach” look. This machine is fully roadworthy and has toured in both Ireland and Scotland during 07.
Owned by: Alexander von Tutschek
How long owned: About eight years
How was it acquired:– I bought most of the bicycle collection belonging to Midlands collector Mike Crumpton who was moving on to motorised bicycles. We couldn’t quite agree on the price, he wanted more than I was comfortable with. We settled, I paid him his price and he threw in an extra machine. This Selbach is that extra machine. Thanks Mike, you did me a favour!
The Features that make it special:
Although this Selbach frame dates from the early 1930’s most of the equipment is probably from the mid to later 1930’s with the exception of the wheels, which were changed in 1948. The hubs are alloy small flange Blumfields paired with 26 x 1 ¼ inch hollow section Constrictor Asp rims. Note that the spokes are the original black painted 15/17 gauge. The pre-war fluted back Chater-Lea chainset is equipped with my favourite (circa 1939) Chater Lea “Race” pedals with “tommy- bar” fitting. These were probably the very best pre-war pedal available. Were they the first to offer built in oil seals?
Note the tapered swan neck stem, the only example that I’ve ever found matched with what may well be Shallow Highgate handlebars, a wonderful combination that looks stunning. The Brooks B17 Champion Narrow saddle can be identified as pre-war by the in-build bag loops cut into the leather. It just goes to show just how good the quality of the leather was in Brooks saddles in the past (modern ones only look similar), this one is in very sound condition. How many cycles still in regular use have their original pre-war Bluemels celluloid mudguards still in situ? These ones, with a patent date of 1934 marked on, have the then required twelve square inches of white showing to the rear. The alloy Constrictor Conloy brakes (below) were really exotic in pre-war days, they were expensive and survivors are very rare.
Anything else: The very essence of the first generation of lightweight cycles was to ride as small a frame as was possible. This is why most pre-war sporting frames are small. At 23 ¾” this is the very largest Selbach that I’ve ever seen.