Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Raleigh" by Tony Hadland

Tony Hadland's book "Raleigh" tells all. A 370 page chronological account of the development of the Raleigh company. Answers to any question you might have had regarding Raleigh. From start to finish this book is a joy and something I have wanted for a very long time.
Loaded with hundreds of great photos and illustrations, Tony covers every step in time of what was one of the largest company's in the world. Bicycle or otherwise.
Coffee table sized, this book is fun and easy to read, both as a reference book and a good read from cover to cover.
Its a captivating story of how the love for the bicycle turned founder Sir Francis Bowden from a sickly man into a healthy cyclist and founder of the Raleigh company.
Important dates of development are cleared up from what over the my past years of me collecting bicycles had just been hearsay. For years I had talked to shop owners here in the US that were part of the Hamilton Osgood second coming of the Raleigh in the early 30's as my only source. It was if it was simply was not important for them to know. The Bicycle for them was to make money and not an art piece or a collectors item. The oldest shops Like Ben Olken's Bicycle Exchange and Bill Vandel's in New Bedford were proud to have sold the Raleigh, but had very little knowledge of its history.
Sales in North America in the late 1800's are covered in detail in this book. World bicycle history makes this book a treasure.
Answers to questions like why the iconic tubular fork crown looks the way it does is covered. How the frames were made and how manufacturing had evolved over time to keep up with demand. Simplifying construction without skimping on quality.

During the World Wars, the company was converted to support the war effort. Photographs of machinery and specialty bicycles are covered in this book.
Introduction of the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub is covered in detail. Photos of early shifters and advertisements. Most of the early photos from catalogs I had never seen.
Managing the work force is covered and how Raleigh made is safe and fun. Sports facilities were formed for employes to join together on week ends.
My favorite parts of the book are the photos and illustrations of the Raleigh models from the 20's to the 30's. Truly a time gone by. Gear cased roadsters as well as lightweight racers in ads and reprints from catalogs are beautifully presented in this book.
The introduction of the Moulton and the RSW models are covered as well as the Chopper. Even the early Brompton and how Raleigh turned the designer and his design down in 1977 because they thought the design needed more work.
BMX and the Mountain Bicycle and Raleigh's attempt in England and the US to popularize the sport are discussed.
The most important question answered for me was "What Happened to Raleigh quality after the late 60's?" If you collect Raleigh's, you know what Im writing about. In 5 years the Raleigh went from one of the nicest roadsters ever made to a bicycle most mechanics dreaded working on. The answer is the TI take over.
The acquisition of Carlton in 1960 for the building of special lightweight frames. At that time Gerald O'Donovan joined Raleigh
The book has a section on frame building and Raleigh's specialty unit in Ilkeston. Run by O'Donovan, the book covers step by step construction of a 70's pro racing frameset. Reynolds tubing and explanation of the name,number designation is covered, (532,753)
Motorized Raleighs over the years are covered at the end of the book. Employing Sturmy Archer gearing, some of these cars and motorcycles are still in use today.
A chapter titled "The Art and Image of Raleigh" tells about how Raleigh advertised and worked its way into the hearts and minds of the cycling public. Color photos of catalog covers over the years follows in time trends and fashion.
The appendix has seral numbers of framsets built from the start of the company. The dating of Sturmey Archer hubs is also discussed. There is a great little section on the evolution of the head badge.

I kept my review small and easy to read, I have not nearly covered the full content of this book, It is just a tease to inspire you as a "Raleighest" to go and buy yourself a copy.
The book retails for $49.99 in the US and can be found on Amazon.

Thank You Tony Hadland for another great and important book on the bicycles we all love!

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