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Period correct components for early 60s English bikes

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Period correct components for early 60s English bikes

Old 10-01-15, 10:15 PM
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Period correct components for early 60s English bikes

Hi folks,

I recently acquired a bike built by Bill Soens, a member of the Soens cycling family and one of the Merryside builders from Liverpool. Bill operated his shop under his father Eddie’s name because the senior Soens was a respected cycling trainer at the time. Beginning in 1957, Bill built about 800 frames over a 10 or 12 year period before closing the business and moving on to other ventures.

Bill has confirmed via serial number and design characteristics that the bike/frame is one of his and was built between ~1960 and 1964, but he does not remember the details of this particular bike. Most of the frames he built were for racing, track use or time trialing. The bike I have is unusual in that it has braze-ons for bar end shifters or, God forbid, stem shifters. Who produced barcons in the early 60s? Bill’s records have long since disappeared.

My question is, what would have been the component groups used by an English builder during this time period? Some of the Soens’ literature from this period indicates that Bill’s time trial and road bikes were built in a 1 X 5 configuration using early Compagnolo components and equipped with sew-ups. Although the paint is tatty, the frame is in good shape. Over the years, my bike has been changed and bastardized. Most of the drive train components have been replaced with low end Shimano units. The best parts are the wheels. They are decent Campag hubs laced to MA2 rims and run reasonably true.

I will be building this bike to ride (and it does ride efficiently and handles well). With this in mind, I’d like to get as close to period correct without breaking the bank.

Any and all information will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and regards,

Van
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Old 10-02-15, 06:25 AM
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I'd think a custom Brit bike from the period could have had any number of components. If you want high quality components without breaking the bank then you'll have to be a thrifty shopper and take a little time. Maybe Simplex made bar end shifters at the time? Campy too? GB Coureur centrepulls would be a good choice of stoppers. Williams half-step chainsets if you want steel cranks or TA if you want period alloy. Or maybe a complete Campy Gran Sport group.

Hilarystone.com is likely the best resource for researching accessible parts and prices for your bike. His prices are definitely fair, though his service has been debated thoroughly in previous threads. I've had several straightforward transactions with him. Just be patient.
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Old 10-02-15, 07:43 AM
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Classic Lightweights UK is a great website for older British bikes. There lots of discussion of components, and a fairly large "readers' bikes" section with photos and descriptions.
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Old 10-02-15, 03:13 PM
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these catalogues may help in knowing what was available at the time

Holdsworth Bike Riders Aids 1961
Holdsworth Bike Riders Aids 1962
Holdsworth Bike Riders Aids 1963
Holdsworth Bike Riders Aids 1964-5

1963 Ron Kitching Catalogue
or buy a printed copy of the 1963 Ron Kitching 'Everything Cycling' catalogue from Velo-Retro

it seems like many in the the family liked building bikes

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Old 10-02-15, 03:59 PM
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Interesting problem!

Let's assume, first of all. That you're going to put to quality first, and "made in England" second. In that case, the crank would be Stronglight, Campy, or Williams. A Williams cotterless crank would be very nice. But hard to find.

Hubs might be BHC Racelite, but more likely Campy.

Brakes might be GB centerpulls, or MAFAC or Weinmann; if Weinmann, you have to find old ones. The design changed over the years.

Bar end shifters were not uncommon. Probably Campagnolo. What are the dropouts? I'd try to match them. If Campagnolo dropouts, then campy record derailleurs and bar end shifters; if Simplex, then Simplex. If your dropouts are Cyclo, try to get Cyclo gears... but it won't be easy.

Handlebar and stem should be GB. Seat post probably a plain steel pin with a Brooks seat and clamp, but maybe a campy post.

Rims... I'm not sure. Do you want tubular tires?
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Old 10-03-15, 09:25 PM
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Thanks for the info. I'm still in the decision mode. One thing for sure. It's got to have GB stem and bars. Weinmann 500 brakes would be preferred, but don't know about the availability of decent levers. I'd love to go with a Campag Nuovo Gran Sport drive train, but an concerned about the price and availability. I'll stick with the current mid 80s wheels for the time being.

Thanks again,

Van
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Old 10-04-15, 07:07 AM
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If you favor Weinmann 500 sidepulls, why not classic standard Weinmann brake handles, which were used on everything from Schwinn Varsities to Paramounts and other high-end bikes. I like these because they fit my hands so beautifully (and they are original on the two Capos and period-correct on the Peugeot).
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Old 10-04-15, 07:39 AM
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I have a 1960 Ken Ryall that's I've mostly fitted with early 60s components: Campy Nuovo Record mechs (no pat # on RD; cable stop on FD), GB bars, stem, brakes, and levers, straight pin seat post, B17 saddle, Stronglight 99 crankset w/ drilled rings, Bluemels mudguards. The wheels are a bit more 1970s: 27" Super Champion rims and Maillard hubs. And rather than Campy bar ends, and I have SunTour barcons, which are far easier to set up correctly and run smoothly.

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Old 10-04-15, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by kroozer View Post
Classic Lightweights UK is a great website for older British bikes. There lots of discussion of components, and a fairly large "readers' bikes" section with photos and descriptions.
I could stay in that " Reader's Bikes " section all day. These last few rainy days gave good opportunity to do just that.

I have an early 60's Rudge Rapide that came as a 10 speed. Sadly the Huret is beyond saving except for parts. I tried it with a Campagno Valentino drivetrain but the front dr just won't cover the outer chainring. I would have to slide the cage so far off the post that I would be afraid it would come off on the road.My plan is to convert it to a 3 speed clubman type bike.

I have to go find a donor bike now.

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Old 10-04-15, 08:24 AM
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I have a set of Weinmann 730 brakes, complete with levers, dating to that era. The way to tell the date is the lettering on the calipers. I'll post a photo in the "for sale" thread later ...
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Old 10-04-15, 09:52 AM
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I think that British cyclists were quite eclectic in their choice of components in the 60s, so I wouldn't sweat having a "group" at all. Britain's economy was almost decimated by WWII, and didn't recover that quickly. British people cycled not only because they had a pretty strong tradition of it, but also because not that many of them could afford automobiles and their upkeep. And frugality (bang for the pound) was therefore a sort of tradition, even in club cycles and higher-end examples; seems to me anyway.
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Old 10-04-15, 12:22 PM
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If you want to put on all or mostly period-correct British components it can get expensive, but many of those bikes were set up with parts from all over Europe. That gives you a lot more flexibility and it shouldn't be too difficult to find some nice stuff for reasonable prices. Many common 1970's bike boom-era components were already in production in the early 60's. My own definition of PC is something that was designed during or before the time the frame was built, even if the actual part I have was produced somewhat later.
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Old 10-04-15, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Block View Post
Very interesting resources, gotta make a note of these!
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Old 10-05-15, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
If you favor Weinmann 500 sidepulls, why not classic standard Weinmann brake handles, which were used on everything from Schwinn Varsities to Paramounts and other high-end bikes. I like these because they fit my hands so beautifully (and they are original on the two Capos and period-correct on the Peugeot).
Yep, got to love the fit and feel of those old levers. There's also a few drilled ones out there.

Thanks for the input.

Van
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Old 10-05-15, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by kroozer View Post
If you want to put on all or mostly period-correct British components it can get expensive, but many of those bikes were set up with parts from all over Europe. That gives you a lot more flexibility and it shouldn't be too difficult to find some nice stuff for reasonable prices. Many common 1970's bike boom-era components were already in production in the early 60's. My own definition of PC is something that was designed during or before the time the frame was built, even if the actual part I have was produced somewhat later.
I have to agree. There is what is called a "street or ride able" restoration. Use the best functioning components that are close to the era of the frame. The idea is using the bike regularly, not just displaying it.

Regards,

Van
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Old 10-06-15, 06:43 AM
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I'll throw one more thing out for defining "period correct". If there is an accessory or modification that was common for the time, then it is period correct, even if it wasn't that way coming out of the factory.
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