01 April 2012

A Bike That Could Have Been An April Fool's Joke

"To save weight, they used drilled-out tires and water bottles."

Yes, that is a joke.  But it was about a real bicycle.

Actually, the bike itself was a rather noble attempt to offer something unique.  Lambert bicycles were first built in England during the 1970's.  Apparently, someone bought the old Viking Cycle factory in South London and decided to make some high-quality bikes.

The frames were actually rather nice:  lugged and built from Cro-Moly aircraft tubing .  Later, after Yamaha (as in the motorcycle maker) bought the company, the frames were filet-brazed.  That is the same construction method used by the best tandem-builders and a few builders of single bikes. Still later production came from Japan, and then Taiwan (when the latter country was still making the worst bikes that weren't from India).  

The frames had a rather lively feel to them.  Unfortunately, they were paired with aluminum forks. Today that's not so unusual; however, at that time, I don't think anyone knew how to build aluminum forks.  The result is that several cracked and Lambert had to make a massive world-wide recall.  

Some of the parts weren't a whole lot better than the fork.  The original models had a rear derailleur that looked like a copy of the Huret Svelto and didn't shift as well.  (That's a bit like saying that some sandwich is a copy of a Big Mac but isn't as healthy.)  The front derailleur was like a Campagnolo Valentino--which had been an outdated design for at least a decade--and didn't shift as well.  Then there was the crankset, which looked like a TA Cyclotouriste but had more bolts, which meant that chainrings were not interchangable between the two brands.  Those cranks were attached to an axle that didn't have a taper:  Only a circlip separated the inside of the crank arm from the bottom bracket shell.

Probably the most interesting thing Lambert did, though, was to make a limited run of 100 bikes with an unusual finish.  It was gold.  Yes, that kind of gold, as in 24 karat plated.  Back in 1972-73, the complete bike, with alloy parts and sew-up tires and rims, sold for $259.95.

I can remember seeing this ad in Bicycling! and other bicycle magazines during my formative years.  


  1. As I recall, in the same period, a Raleigh Professional was far more expensive.

  2. Steve: You're right. And, if I recall correctly, the Schwinn Paramount was even more expensive than the Raleigh Professional.

  3. You are such an amazing source of bike info. Thanks!

  4. Cherilyn: Thank you. The funny thing is that I don't try to be a source of info as much as I like to talk about bicycles and bicycling from, what I believe, is a distinctive, if not unique, point of view.