09 December 2010

Eccentric Rings

Tonight, on my way home, I stopped in Flushing for a bite to eat.  Now, I've never been to Hong Kong, but Flushing is what I imagine Hong Kong would be like if it were transported to Queens.  Or, perhaps, with its ubiquitous neon, it could be seen as an Asian version of Times Square.

I wonder whether the makers of this Rudge-Whitworth ever imagined it in magenta neon light.  In some odd way, bike and light are not incongruous, at least to me.  

One particularly interesting feature of this bike is its chainring cutout pattern:

Is the hand halting or waving? Whatever it's doing, it looks good doing it on this bike.  

I'm guessing that the bike is from the 1940's or 1950's.  At that time there were dozens, if not hundreds, of bicycle manufacturers who made what we now think of as classic English 3-speeds.  (Many of those companies, including Rudge, were bought by Raleigh during the 1950's.) While, at first glance, they seemed almost the same, each model had its own particular set of details that set it apart. An example is in the chainwheel you saw in the above photo. Many other British makers used chainwheels with interesting and sometimes whimsical patterns cut into them.  The Raliegh three-speed I rode last year had a heron--Raleigh, which of course was Raleigh's corporate symbol. 

I've seen other chainrings cut out in interesting patterns. Here's one of my favorites:

It's on an AJ Warrant bike from Austria.  Although there's no earthly reason to use a cottered crankset today, I wouldn't mind having the one in the photo.                                                                       


  1. I've always liked the Rudge chainrings. I remember visiting a blog or website that had a large collection of vintage chainring photos. If I find it I'll send you a link.

  2. RTP: I'd be very interested to see it. And thanks for stopping by!

  3. I helped a friend dismantle a Rudge Whitworth and it was superbly made. I was envious of the stainless rims which though 20-30 years old looked like new

  4. Coline--You really have to wonder how many $5000 plastic, I mean carbon-fiber, bikes are going to be around in 20 or 30, or even 5, years.