Get in touch

We’re always looking for new content submissions, please get in touch via our contact page here.

Vol. 2, Issue 71 - September / October 2017

Posted: Saturday 16th September 2017

Author: Peter Underwood

Apologies for this late edition of Lightweight News, the first time it has been more than a day or so overdue in all of its time. This is partly due to us having a holiday in Italy over publication day.

We cycled for ten days, sent the bikes home by courier and then caught the train to Venice for four days. If you get a feeling of déjà vous reading this it could be because we did the same thing two years ago so we must have enjoyed it then. Possibly this is because art is another interest of ours and Venice is the place for classic art, both Renaissance and modern.

We don’t ride classic bikes on holiday as I wouldn’t want to expose any of our machines to the ire of baggage handlers at the airport. We also need help from the third chainwheel, which comes into its own several times in the mountains. We use Airnimal folding bikes which sit at the conventional lightweight-use end of the market. Although equipped with 24″ wheels both of ours are set up identically to our normal road bikes and have the same running gear.

At the other end of the folding bike market is the Brompton which must be the most successful commuting folder ever. At our local station it is like a ballet movement as the train doors open and from every doorway emerges a passenger holding a folded machine which they convert to a rider in a balletic movement and give the impression of a choreographed performance.

Last weekend we held the umpteenth Ephgrave ride based on Cambridge and I am beginning to wonder if it would be a good idea for someone else to run this popular event, possibly in a different part of the country. If anyone has ideas please contact me and out of courtesy we will run it past Peter Holland, the UK Ephgrave marque enthusiast. Luckily the event again clashed with the Battle of Britain Air show at the nearby Imperial War Museum at Duxford and we took the opportunity when passing very close on the ride home after lunch to watch aerobatic displays by WWII and WWI machines.

We go on several rides a year catering for classic cycles and by the nature of things many of the riders are not very young. Some have reached the stage where they struggle to complete the thirty miles or so arranged by the organiser. It is becoming more common nowadays for the odd participant to have an electrically assisted bicycle which allows them to take part in the whole ride and social event. I have not yet reached this stage but I do ride in groups with younger riders and often yearn for a few seconds’ boost from time to time. Being rather vain I would want the bike to look like a normal racing machine and when I read about the odd cheat in races being detected by the use of heat detectors showing the battery and motor concealed in the seat tube I was inspired to do a bit of detective work. I discovered that the offending components were manufactured in Belgium but also realised that they don’t come cheap, involving costs in the thousands but I suppose if one was to get a few more years riding it would be worth it. (Hint to Patricia for my next birthday.)

On our trip in June to Bavaria to ride in the border area with Austria we were surprised by the huge rise in riders on electrically-assisted bikes, mainly mountain bikes, this being the Alps. One day we paid a visit to the Garmisch shop for Cube (a German-built bike) where at least 85% in the showroom were mountain bikes and of these I would say that 75% had the Bosch 500W power unit. The frame beefier by nature, the motors are not so noticeable on these machines.

In another popular German holiday region, the Bodensee (Lake Constance), where all-in package bike tours are arranged for the not-so dedicated-cyclist, a few years ago nearly every one relied purely on pedal power but now one can detect the battery pack on most bikes. The riders are not solely using them but spend a lot of time pedalling and again it allows many more to enjoy the freedom of two wheels.

I have friends who have fitted motors to existing bikes for friends and family and they speak very highly of relatively cheap Chinese ‘add-on’ motors but in these cases vanity is not taken into account.

My major test will be to fit a unit to a fixed-wheel track bike without anyone noticing! I think it will be some time before I have to recourse to assistance on a classic bike ride but one never knows what is around the corner.

A Gem Twinkles Again – Marek Kujawinski

I have been a cycling enthusiast most of my life. Being brought up in Nottingham in the 1970s Raleigh played a major part in influencing my early cycling tastes. I still own and cherish a 1981 Raleigh Team Replica. More recently I have become interested in English Lightweights, their pedigree and each builder’s unique story. I had been looking for some time for a project that would fulfil my dreams. Vintage bicycles have never been more popular than they are today with each and every quality cycle being snapped up or overpriced. With this I started to believe I was searching for something that did not exist until……….

One autumn morning quite unexpectedly I was made aware that a close friend of the family was clearing his deceased brother in-law’s house and had come across an old bike. I being a keen cyclist expressed an immediate interest: could this be what I was waiting for or would it be just another rusty old, mass produced heavyweight? After asking a number of question I became, ever increasingly, intrigued and arranged to look over the bike.

The Pennine bicycle leaned against the garage wall hidden behind other artefacts. I brushed several decades’ worth of grime and dust off the frame to reveal the text of the decals and what remained of the detailed paintwork on the lugs.

The wheels were detached and lay forlornly on the damp floor. Their tubular tyres had long since perished: probably the same set that came with it over 50 years ago. The brake cables had fused with their housings. They were completely unsalvageable and would have to be cut. None of this deterred me in any way as I saw the true pedigree shine through the years of neglect.

The previous owner’s sister informed me, “It was my brother’s bike, it’s not seen the light of day since the early 70s. It has been sat in a spare bedroom as long as I can remember!”

Gleaned from my unexpected and genuine enthusiasm to restore the bike and a promise to show off the finished article to the sister, I soon found myself loading the wheels and frame into my car. As I drove away I smiled. Where she saw a pile of rust with sentimental value, I saw real potential. For so long I had searched far and wide and now here I was pinching myself in complete disbelief that I had found the bike that had eluded me for so long.

Upon getting the bike home it was quickly noted that two items had been removed, potentially borrowed. One was the front Campagnolo Gran Sport chain guide, the matchbox pushrod and changer were left intact. Also removed was one of the Campagnolo Gran Sport bar-end gear shifter levers. Other than these two items the bike was complete and although tatty in appearance was in good overall condition with only a small amount of corrosion to the chrome work.

Below is the detail of the bike and components when I took ownership. My intention was to keep the bike in as close to original condition as possible.

FramePennine “Scelta dei Campioni” circa late 1964 Reynolds 531 frame number 64251; 22” seat tube; dark green with gold pinstripes and white line detail around the lugs and seat tube decal. Campagnolo dropouts, with wheel position adjusters at the rear. Chrome plated frame with polished top-eyes, front lugs, fork crowns drop-outs and rear dropouts.
ForksPennine Circa late 1964 Reynolds 531, Campagnolo dropouts chrome plated and polished fork tops, drop-outs and bottom half.
HeadsetCampagnolo Gran Sport.
WheelsWeinmann Type Weltmeister “Champion Du Monde” tubular alloy rims on Campagnolo Gran Sport hubs. Campagnolo Gran Sport quick release skewers front and rear.
ChainsetStronglight alloy cotterless with 54/50 double rings on converter
PedalsCharter Lea steel pedals with GB Professional clips and straps
GearsCampagnolo Gran Sport front and rear with Campagnolo bar-end levers (one missing).
BrakesUniversal levers with Mafac centre-pull stirrups
Stem/BarsStem GB Forged Hiduminium, Bars GB
SaddleUnica Nitor plastic orange saddle with Campagnolo Gran Sport seat pin
Extra detailsBritanialloy pump with Campagnolo end for Presta valve

From the old frame decal I was able to decipher the original bicycle model Scelta Dei Campioni, “The finest racing cycle built by Pennine, incorporating a specification of the best British and Continental components, which make a machine worthy of a champion.” With this and information gleaned from the Classic Lightweights web site I became enthused with the project and set out a plan for a detailed and quality restoration keeping everything as close to original as possible.

The restoration, although very time consuming as every component was stripped to its bare bones, was not problematic. All the components had been well greased and the chrome-work, although slightly pitted in places, remained undamaged and in overall good condition.

The below is the finished Pennine restoration, a product of many hours of sweat and tears. For me every hour has been well spent and I look forward to spending many a sunny day putting miles onto her. There is no money that could repay the satisfaction and fulfilment of my completing this project.

Ken Russell

We don’t usually post obituaries as it seems as if there is a steady stream of older cyclists falling off their perches and some publications are full of such notices. However, the story of Ken Russell is rather unique and interesting in its own right.

We had the pleasure of meeting Ken a few times and he was such a lovely and modest man. In 1952 Ken Russell achieved something that has never happened since and will never happen again.  He won the Daily Express Tour of Britain as a lone entrant, i.e. no team mates. As the Daily Express were the sponsors of the race, it appeared on the front page of the publication, again something that has never happened since.

The final stage into the finish in London was unique in that near the finish Ken noticed that the bolt on the Stronglight Steel cotterless chainset was coming loose, and then he also had a front wheel puncture. Amongst the four riders in the breakaway group with him were two riders who were second and third in the general classification – they were Bob Maitland of the strong BSA works team and Les Scales of the Sun Cycles Works team.

The only rider who was not a threat to Russell was a member of the Belgian National team, named Marcel Micheaux. Ken managed to make him aware of his situation and the Belgian immediately gave Ken his bike, which he rode to the finish to take the victory.

Ken breasting the summit of Holme Moss in the 1950 Brighton to Glasgow race in the company of Len West of the Frejus team and Ken's team mate Ken Jowett of the I.T.P. team.


by ‘Wingnuts’

1. British winner of 1952 Prague-Berlin-Warsaw ‘Peace Race’ (3, 5)
6. To the average cyclist, the chances of winning a big race is precisely this (1, 5)
8. Claud Butler and Jack Taylor were noted classic British builders of this type of machine (6)
9. The time trialist who has a good cadence may be said to do this (3, 4)
10. Noted small Italian component manufacturer (5)
11. French term for a bicycle (4)
12. The “Road Record —‘ was a classic British machine built by 9 Down (3)
13. First word in the title of an early season Belgian one-day classic race (3)
14. What races ‘against the clock ‘ are all about (4)
15. Belgian city in which the oldest one-day classic known as ‘la doyenne’ starts and finishes (5)
17. Surname of noted British pre-WWII lightweight builder whose first name was Maurice (7)
19. Famous brand of French lightweight steel lugs (6)
20. What the long-distance cyclist needs to keep doing to maintain energy levels (6)
21. The British cycling time trial record from Land’s End to John o’Groats (3, 2, 3)

2. A classic Italian lightweight brand (5)
3. A strategy often used by track match sprinters off the banking to steal a march on an opponent (3, 4)
4. A standard necessary feature on a traditional cycling shoe (4)
5. When a gear or brake cable is too long it is necessary to do this (5, 2)
7. Classic British stage race first held in the 1950s (4, 4)
9. Famous British lightweight brand produced in Nottingham (7)
10. A cyclist who insists on avoiding a lightweight with a ‘bling’ frame finish can be said to have ‘’… …..’ (3, 5)
12. Famous model of British lightweight hub (7)
13. Classic French lightweight as ridden by Jacques Anquetil (7)
16. Colour of the Tour de France points jersey (5)
18. Device for securing a water bottle to the bicycle (4)
Answers below.

Metro Cycle Racing Club, Greenwich, UK

Many years ago I supplied the Classics Lightweights site with some history and photos about the club and its links to the Metro and Meridian frames.  Recently, six of the original club members have been reunited, all in our later 70’s and dedicated to tracing some of the others.  One particular colleague is John Rawlinson who also posted information on the same page as my piece.  We think that he could be the link to finding the others from the early 60’s and wondered if you still have a record of his contact with you (sadly I do not Ed. – can any readers help?), would you kindly let him know my email address with the request that he contact me. Brian Ward

Dominic Austrim: -

I don’t know if anyone can help me answer this question. I am currently restoring a 1957 Flying Scot. Upon removing the pump clip I found a decal of the Union flag with British Cycling Federation written on it in a circle and a man on a bike in the middle. Unfortunately while I went to get a camera most of it fell off – rather annoyingly! It is probably too much to expect that anyone would have such a decal but it would help if anyone had a good scan or image of the B C F badge. email:-


1. Ian Steel (1928-2015). A Scot, he was the first British cyclist to win a major international stage race. From 1951 to 1955 he was a professional with Viking Cycles.
6. A Dream.
8. Tandem.
9. Rev Well.
10. Galli. Established in 1930 in Turin, this company went on to manufacture brakes, cranksets, hubs and derailleurs.
11. Velo.
12. ‘Road Record Ace’. Raleigh model introduced in the 1930s, it continued to be built into the 1950s and was a great favourite of British clubmen.
13. ‘Het Volk’. First held in 1945, this 200 km. event, held annually in late February, is the season-opener in Belgium.
14. Time.
15. Liège. First held in 1892, the 260 km. Liège-Bastogne- Liège, known as ‘la doyenne’(‘the old lady’. because of its long history), is one of cycling’s five ‘monuments’.
17. Maurice Selbach (1889-1935). Noted cyclist in Britain pre- and post-WWI, he became established as a leading lightweight builder in London in the post-WWI period.
19. Nervex. Quality lug set produced by the Franco-Suisse company in St. Etienne, France.
20. Eating.
21. End-to-End. Time trial record from John o’Groats to Land’s End traditionally over a distance of 874 miles (1 407 km).

2. Atala. Lightweight builder established by Gatti in 1907.
3. The Dive. Match sprinters use this tactic to outwit opponents.
4. Lace. Traditionally, cycling shoes relied on laces to secure them firmly to the foot.
5. Sever it.
7. Milk Race. First held in 1958 sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board.
9. Raleigh.
10. Got Taste.
12. Airlite. Produced by the British Hub Co. (BH) in both large and small flange models.
13. Helyett. Ridden by many top continental pros in the 1950s, production ended in 1962.
16. Green. The Tour de France green points jersey for sprinting was introduced in 1952 with the Swiss, Fritz Schär, being the first overall winner.
18. Cage.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Saturday 16th September 2017

Author: Peter Underwood

Rate this page

How would you rate the quality of this article?

Average Rating: 0 / 5. Ratings: 0

Be the first to rate this post.

Upcoming Events

Whether you are looking for a gentle social meet up, or a 100-mile ride browse the community’s upcoming events and plan your next weekend outing.

Join our community

Get the latest news and updates from us directly when you sign up to our newsletter.