Ron Kitching catalogues - Everything Cycling (Aids to Happy Cycling)
Posted: Monday 21st September 2020
After Holdsworth’s Aids to Happy Cycling the Ron Kit catalogues are probably the second most useful resource if researching component history in the post war period. However there is a massive contrast between the two companies approach. Holdsworth settled on the pocket-sized guide which they kept until the late 70’s whereas the Ron Kit catalogues grew and grew until their zenith in the late 60’s when they were over 200 pages of detailed information, an encyclopedia of cycling.
Kitching’s first catalogue in 1948 was very slim publication entitled Ron Kitching ‘The Riders Agent’, then he was working out of a retail shop in Station Road, Harrogate. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of firms were British with only some of the clothing and tubulars coming from Europe (Belgium). Throughout the 50’s the number of continental names increases at a dramatic rate so much so that by 1963 British names were very much in the minority .
Later names like TA, Zeus, Cinelli, and Alex became synonymous with Ron Kit. From the mid 50’s the Milremo trade name appears (from the Milan San Remo road race). Amongst manufacturers making badge-engineered products under the Milremo marque were Lyotard, Super Champion, CLB, Christophe, Phillipe. Milremo included some innovation especially in the areas of brakes and pedals, their centre-pull of the early 60’s features an adjustable reach and is far more than just a copy.
It’s interesting to note that Kitching seems to have a dislike for products he had to share with other wholesalers, e.g. Campagnolo and Mafac, which had a fairly short life with him.
The 70’s reflect the shift to looking beyond Europe for new suppliers. In this era Suntour and MKS make an appearance. The last full catalogue is in 1983 – after this there was a move to make it purely mail order which didn’t last more than a few years.
The golden age was the late 50’s and 60’s, lavishly illustrated in many cases with Daniel Rebour drawings (the Frank Patterson of technical cycle drawings). They score highly over the Holdsworth Aids in having far more technical and specification detail (if you want to know the make-up of the different Mafac tool kits then the 1959 Everything Cycling is the place to look).